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June 25, 2011 / Natalie G.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

I have an addiction and I’m not afraid to talk about it because I know I’ll never recover: I’m addicted to this food blog. Her recipes are foolproof and over the last 2 years I would say half of the things I have baked have been from her recipes. And the photographs are amazing. The good news: she is working on a cookbook! The bad news: it doesn’t come out for another year. I actually blogged about making these rice crispy treats on my other short-lived food blog and when I recently made them again I decided they were too good and too easy not to share.

Butter is amazing – Julia Child was a fan and so am I. This recipe employs a nice little technique that gives these rice crispy treats something the original doesn’t have, elevated flavor. Now I’m not saying they are something you would find in a high-class restaurant but they should be and someday if I open a restaurant (or more likely a bakery) they’ll be on the menu. Brown butter is a French technique known as beurre noisette and is the process of browning the milk solids and salt in butter while cooking off all of the water present. The resulting butter has a much nuttier flavor than melted butter and is a delicious addition to some baked good recipes. I imagine it would also be good with vegetables or in a sauce for fish – although I try not to slather my vegetables in butter to maintain some of the nutritional value.

This recipe also comes with a bit of warning: if you let the butter brown without watching it closely it will burn – I actually burnt butter for the first time after making this recipe numerous times because I got impatient and turned the heat up too much. Here is my advice: melt the butter until it begins to foam over medium to medium high heat but watch it very closely. Once it is all melted and it starts to foam, reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly. It helps to have a kitchen with good light at this point because as soon as you start to see small brown particles forming on the bottom of the pan wait five to ten seconds and remove it from the heat. Continue to stir and the residual heat stored in the bottom of the pan will continue to cook the butter. The butter should smell nutty and be a light brown color – if it smells burnt or tastes bitter at all you have over browned it and will have to start again… which is sad and a waste of a perfectly good stick of butter. When in doubt use low heat and pull it off before you think it is ready – it is better for the butter to not be browned enough than for it to be burnt and unusable.

As for the salt in this recipe do not use regular table salt – it is very important to use sea salt in this recipe and I would argue in all of your cooking. But that is a whole different discussion for another post – and my friends will tell you, I’m really into salt. Trust me here – just go to the store and buy something that says sea salt – not rock salt, or kosher salt. A sel gris works nicely and I most recently made this with maldon salt. Yes. I’m a nerd who is really into salt.

Also: I’m headed off to Costa Rica for ten days with my family starting tomorrow. I’m going to try to write a post to publish while I’m gone but let’s be honest – I’m not packed yet and my cousins are coming over for dinner later and the house is still a mess… so we’ll see.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
From: Smitten Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter
1 10 ounce bag of marshmallows
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups (192 g) crisp rice cereal

Butter an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with 2 inch sides. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat until it is melted and begins to foam. Stir frequently. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly until brown particles begin to form on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for about 30 seconds – keeping the butter moving as it will still be cooking and is at risk of burning. From the time it begins to take on color to the time it will burn is less than a minute so watch it carefully!

Add the entire bag of marshmallows and stir until smooth. I find that sometimes in order to get them to melt completely it is necessary to return the pan to low heat and use the end of the spatula to chop them up into smaller bits. Once smooth, add the crisp rice cereal and the salt and stir until mostly combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and use the back of the spatula to push it into the pan firmly and evenly. Allow to cool and cut into 2 x 2 squares – or however large you choose. Enjoy!

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June 14, 2011 / Natalie G.

Today I’m Loving: Terrain

Look at these great kitchen items and accessories from Terrain. I really love the whole aesthetic of the website and all of the gorgeously styled category photos. I wouldn’t be sad if any of these things arrived in my mailbox.

{Clockwise from top left: Tru Bee Honey, Slate Cheese Board, Set of four 12.5oz Weck Jars, Adorable Kitchen Tools Tea Towel, all from the amazing Terrain store. All photographs courtesy of Terrain.}

 

June 13, 2011 / Natalie G.

Listen Here: Adele

I may be the last one to figure this out but Adele’s new-ish album 21 is phenomenal. Every single song is great. Her voice is so refreshing and the songs are great to sing really loud to in your car while sitting in LA traffic – not that I know from personal experience or anything… Although her single “Rolling in the Deep” is a fantastic track I don’t think it is my favorite on the album. I’m quite partial to “Rumor Has It” and “I’ll Be Waiting” I highly suggest checking the album out.

Although it isn’t my favorite track, Rolling in the Deep” is a great song and the video is one of my favorites to date. I absolutely love the glasses full of water and the simplicity of the large folded piece of paper taped up on the wall behind her. I only hope that some day I am as brilliant as whoever production designed this video and can make something equally as beautiful. Happy Monday!

June 8, 2011 / Natalie G.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (Heaven)

In my previous post I mentioned the incredibly delicious, incredibly cheap strawberries I found at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market on Sunday and how patiently I was waiting for the ice cream mixture to chill before I put it in my ice cream maker. Well, let’s just say if all patience was rewarded with this ice cream I’d be a much more patient person. Holy cow. David Lebovitz – I think you may be a genius. (Not that I was unsure of this before but now I’m pretty much convinced.)

My mom got me an ice cream maker as an apartment warming gift when she came out to visit last year. We had an ice cream maker when I was growing up but it never really produced anything to write home about. We’d drag it out each summer hoping to produce amazing treats and then realize what a pain it was to churn the ice cream by hand, quickly lose interest and my lovely mother would finish it herself. My current ice cream maker (a self churning model) has changed my life which might sound like an exaggeration but once you’ve had homemade ice cream all other ice creams simply can’t compare. So, if you are an ice cream lover who is interested in making your own ice cream I highly suggest you go out and get yourself one of these and a copy of this.

And now, on to the ice cream. Many of the recipes in Lebovitz’s book are “French Style” ice creams made with a custard base that relies largely on egg yolks and cooking custard precisely and correctly. This takes a bit of practice and I’m finally learning when it’s ready just based on sight. This recipe however has no such complicated custard making involved – just six ingredients blended together to create perfection. I believe in using whole, natural ingredients as much as possible. I try not to buy products with ingredients I can’t identify and I avoid high fructose corn syrup all together. If something made with six simple ingredients tastes this delicious, why would I ever want something from a test tube in my ice cream? But I suppose that is a topic for a whole different post.

I will be snacking on this for a long while seeing as it made more than I expected – probably close to a quart and a half. Delicious.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
From David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

1 pound (450 g) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 tablespoon vodka
1 cup (240 g) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and the vodka and stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice in a blender until almost smooth but still slightly chunky. Refrigerate for one hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. That’s it. Really. So very simple. Now, go buy yourself an ice cream maker.

UPDATE: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, David Lebovitz provides instructions for making ice cream without one here. No excuses now!

June 5, 2011 / Natalie G.

Larchmont Farmer’s Market

We have lived in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles for almost a year and one of the major perks is having a weekly farmer’s market that we can walk to.  The produce is amazing, there are always gorgeous flowers and it is worth wandering down just for the people watching. Growing up in Portland I’m used to the fantastic farmer’s market in the Portland State park blocks on Saturday mornings but I must say, Los Angeles has a pretty extensive farmer’s market network. A full list of markets can be found here.

Another excellent thing about living in LA is that there is an excellent selection of produce all year round. In the winter we still have green leafy veggies and apples and aren’t just stuck with root vegetables. Berries appear in mid April and last easily through the summer. And they’re cheap – I got three pints of strawberries for five dollars today – and they are insanely good and locally grown. Bonus.

One of our favorite finds at the market is the incredible bread at La Boulangerie. The sourdough is divine but unless you’re there by about 11:15 good luck getting any. We arrived around 11:00 and snatched up one of the last three loaves – thank goodness.  They also sell incredibly delicious baguettes, multi-grain loaves and plenty of traditional french pastries. Plus, the owner Thierry always addresses ladies as Mademoiselle, which I adore. After some googling it appears that Larchmont is not the only lucky market where La Boulangerie makes an appearance – full schedule here. Trust me folks – it is worth visiting, the baguettes are as close to fresh as you can get and taste just like the ones you can get in a bakery in Paris.

The flowers at the Larchmont market were gorgeous this weekend.  There are two cut-flower vendors (and one guy who sells orchids) with regular booths. I tend to alternate between the two and this week one had a selection that far outdid the other. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous – I had such a hard time deciding but ended up with some beautiful and fragrant purple flowers that I can’t identify. I love having fresh flowers in the house and hopefully these will live until next week.

Another thing that you definitely shouldn’t miss are the farm fresh eggs. Until I had farm fresh eggs I had no idea what I was missing but the difference is pretty obvious. Once you go farm fresh you never go back – willingly at least. I picked up a dozen eggs from the Healthy Family Farms booth and I can’t wait to make something delicious. A Quiche perhaps? Or fresh pasta? Decisions, decisions.

I am currently waiting for my Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream mixture to chill before I put it in the ice cream maker later this afternoon – the strawberries we bought at the market are some of the best I’ve ever had. I’ll post photos and a recipe for the ice cream soon. Once I finish eating more than my fair share that is.

Visit the Larchmont Farmer’s Market just below Beverly on Larchmont Blvd. Sundays from 10AM – 2PM.

June 2, 2011 / Natalie G.

Letterpressed

I’m a horrible blogger. I know. I probably don’t even fit the qualifications for a blogger – I have a blog but I don’t use it.  I find it very hard to motivate myself to sit down and write and I don’t quite know why.  Perhaps it is because I never know what to write about because there isn’t a cohesive theme to this blog other than “Things I Like” which is kind of lame…er unfocused.  I had a food blog at one point and although it was fun it was nearly impossible to keep up because I wasn’t baking/cooking regularly and I never took pictures that I liked and typing recipes was exhausting blah blah blah.  But seeing as I am between projects right now I really want to try and devote a little bit of time every day to blogging.  So, onward to something I love: Letterpress anything.

A few weeks ago I took a letterpress workshop at Pasadena Art Center’s wonderful Archetype Press. I booked the class months ago and I couldn’t have been more excited. Seriously, first day of school excited. It was glorious. I learned all about wooden type and metal type. We printed a poster as a class using the word of the day “Rapture” (seeing as the class took place on the 21st of May, Rapture day) and learned how to set type.

When it came time to start developing and setting our own projects I couldn’t come up with an idea that I liked and I started to get frustrated because I knew that this could be the only opportunity I would have to letterpress for a while.  On the drive home I was thinking that it might be interesting to do a card that was useful for more than one occasion – an idea that developed into an incredibly complicated design using four different fonts, ornaments and two different type sizes. Go big or go home I suppose…

Once everything was set and double checked it was time to print. I chose a press that already had a nice aqua ink on the rollers and loaded my paper. The first time you print something that you have designed is amazing. It was so incredible I still get excited thinking about it. I’m very proud of my card  and I can’t wait to take another class. I now truly have an appreciation for letterpress artists – it is an extremely time consuming and labor intensive process. The result is well worth it but I can understand why letterpress card are $5 – each card is handmade and so much work goes into each one. With that said I encourage you to support your local letterpress artists and buy their cards!

Also: if anyone knows where I can get a press and drawers full of type for a reasonable price in Southern California, please let me know.

May 5, 2011 / Natalie G.

Listen Here: The Avett Brothers

Writing a blog post is hard. I keep worrying that I’m going to sound dumb or that my topic will be boring and I’ll just be writing for myself. But I think I’m okay with that.  So for my first official post that includes some form of content I’ve adopted an idea from one of the many blogs I read, Paper Tastebuds.  Occasionally she does a great post called Bryn Listens and shares a video or an audio track that she likes.  I like that this inspires me to mix it up and listen to things I may never have heard. And so, Listen Here was born.

Today I’m featuring the Avett Brothers, a band my lovely sister brought to my attention a few years back.  She recently suggested I check out the NPR: All Things Considered: Tiny Desk Concert Series, especially this one. But, since I can’t seem to upload that video specifically here is the video for “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” off their album I and Love and You.

Enjoy!