Hot Lemon Shrub

Hot Lemon Shrub.  So they DID have tastebuds in the 18th century after all...  This is good!

Several years ago I got into the Aubrey/Maturin series of books by Patrick O'Brian.  And by 'got into' I mean that I obsessively read all twenty one books (including the unfinished one)  back to back so quickly that I can't remember what happened in which novel.  There was hardly a moment when one of O'Brian's books left my hands for longer than it took to whip up a meal or change a diaper.  The books, aside from being some of the best, if not THE best, historical novels ever written provide a wonderful chronicle of foods prepared in the Napoleonic Era by both lubbers and sailors.  Among others, Spotted Dog (or Spotted Dick), Boiled Baby (NOT really a baby, so don't freak out!), Skillygally, Jam Roly-Poly, Solomongundy and Lobscouse were all prepared and enjoyed (?!?) by cooks of the time.  Jack Aubrey, a ship's captain, and Stephen Maturin, his friend and ship's surgeon -both central characters in the books- share a love of music and food. Which brings me to another (and related) obsession. My sweet friend of too many years for us to decently admit, Alison (the mother of Leif's future wife), got me the book "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels" by the mother and daughter team of Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas.  I have now read this book cover to cover twice.  The first time was for the sheer enjoyment of the book.  The Grossman ladies were brilliant, humorous and thorough.  They tested and … {Read on...}

Eggs in A Basket: Baked Eggs in Toast Cups with Melty Cheese

This one is for Liam.  "Straight up with green onions, please, Mom."

Update:  This recipe was submitted as an entry in the NYC Eggland's Best Recipe contest... Yesterday, Bacon Toffee.  Today?  Eggs in a Basket.  Bacon and eggs.  See?  I'm practical... And this dish?  It hits all the right buttons. It is flavorful, cheap, easy to prepare, simple to customize, cheap, and kid friendly.  And did I mention it's easy on the wallet?  Seriously.  Can you think of a less expensive complete protein than eggs? We're talking about bread, eggs, and cheese in the dish's simplest form.  It is a classic combination that doesn't need much tinkering.  You can, of course, add anything else you want to the mix; crispy bacon, diced ham, a spoonful of lentil soup or beef stew, sauteed or caramelized onions... Let your tastebuds be your guide.  And you can vary the overall flavor by playing with the type of bread you use; rye, whole wheat, white sandwich, cinnamon raisin... The sky is the limit. I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize just how easy this dish is to customize for various members of the household.  Around here we have three who like their yolks runny and four who like the yolks firm.  Since I cook these in ramekins, I put the runny-yolk lovers' ramekins in the oven several minutes after I start baking the ones intended for the firm-yolk camp.  No ramekins?  No problem.  Use a muffin tin.  When the runny-yolk E-I-Bs are done, pull out the muffin tin and carefully remove the requisite number of toast cups.  Return the tin to the oven and finish … {Read on...}

Bacon Toffee

Ain't it pretty folks?

Did you see the Maple Bacon Cake over on Thursday Night Smackdown?  Michelle, the proprietress of TNS, is a true lover of the bacon and made ample use of bacon toffee on her cake.  I've been meaning to make a sweet bacon dish for about a year.  A few months ago sweet bacon recipes started popping up all over the place.   I drooled over the bacon ice creams and cried massive croccodile tears over the thought of munching on a pound of candied bacon.   The only reason I didn't make any of this stuff is because I made an error of epic proportions.  I talked about the idea with The Evil Genius first. Don't get me wrong, he's brilliant, but if there's one place in his superhuman-smartitude that The Evil Genius has a blindspot it is the application of beloved foods in new and wonderful ways.  By way of proof, I offer you the examples of him finally switching from Goya coffee (to which he swore fealty for many years) to Cafe Altura's French Roast.  I also offer this bacon-laden example. Several months ago I pointed excitedly to a picture of bacon ice cream on Tastespotting and said, "Hey!  Doesn't that sound amazing?  I might make that this weekend."  He pulled a face that can only be described as 'blond puppy dog'' and begged out of me a promise that I wouldn't 'go and ruin a perfect batch of vanilla ice cream that way.'  What can I say?  When he looks at me with those gorgeous, evil blue eyes I melt like so much ice cream.  I promised.  And immediately regretted it as the … {Read on...}

Chocolate Chip Drop Scones (A.K.A. Breakfast Cookies)

Are they Breakfast Cookies?

I am about to let you in on a secret.  I routinely lie to my fourth born child.  But I confine it to food and hope that since it's with the end design of nourishing him that eventually I'll be forgiven.  He has such strict (and arbitrary) rules about what he will and won't eat.  He won't touch 'green stuff', all vegetables with the exception of raw carrots, parsley*, cornbread or biscuits. *I am aware that parsley falls in the 'green stuff' category, but I've tried steadfastly to pass it off as an herb -which I think we'd all agree it actually is- because herbs are acceptable to Leif.  See?  I told you it was arbitrary.  Rosemary=good.  Parlsey=gag.  Can someone explain this? Why biscuits?  Dunno.  Leif can't even explain it.  This is the same child who inhales cookies, bread, breadsticks, brownies, blondies and soft pretzels.  So clearly the situation called for subterfuge.  Scones have been a favorite around here for a long while and I shamelessly stole the idea for chocolate chip drop scones from my friend Beth.  What Leif doesn't and won't know is that these scones are actually buttermilk biscuits all gussied up.  Ha HA!  And take that! These are the most fabulous breakfast treats.  They throw together so easily in the morning.  Easily enough that I can whip them up even before I've consumed my first two cups of tea.  Believe me when I tell you that is an accomplishment. I make this with plain old vegetable oil.  I know that isn't traditional and I know that … {Read on...}

So do I believe him or don’t I?

So my question is this.  Do I believe him or don't I?

{Read on...}