Friday, January 23, 2015

Our new "regular" pecan pie.

Blueberry-pecan pie with fresh whipped cream and blueberries. © Ryan Schierling
This year marks a season of pie milestones for me. I'm finally feeling confident and consistent with the quality of my pie dough. I baked my first pumpkin pie completely from scratch in early November when our CSA delivered a perfect little sugar pumpkin to our door. I followed that up with what turned out to be an amazingly smooth and delicious little pie using buttercup (not butternut) squash instead of roasted pumpkin at Thanksgiving.

Then, over Christmas, I was launched into pecan pie territory.

When Ryan requested pecan pie (holy crap, he requested a dessert...!), I jumped at the chance to make one from scratch. After the holiday, I had enough pastry dough to make a second version and in the spirit of bourbon pecan pies I experimented a bit with a boozy-orange flavor complete with orange zest. I was quite fond of the extra depth and complexity the orange brought to the pie and it started me thinking about other flavors that complement pecans. It occurred to me that the intensely rich caramel custard of this pie would be wonderful flavored with blueberry. I mean, blueberries and pecans are a natural together. Why not as a pie? And so was born a new family recipe.

Pie-making has not exactly been my personal forte up to this point in life. But as it turns out, pecan pie is probably one of the simplest. It's been many, many years since I made a pecan pie, and when I did I'm pretty sure it was back when I was assumed it was standard operating procedure to use the regular recipe (you know... the one on the Karo bottle). This one, however, is straight-up sugar out of your pantry – the way it was meant to be – with eggs, butter, and pecans. Mix and pour into the pastry shell.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Huevos ahogados mas fácil? Nope.

Huevos ahogados with crispy masa nest. © Ryan Schierling
Historically, on New Year's Day, we make a big deal out of eggs. Anyone can scramble, fry and boil. If you're adventurous, you can sous vide or smoke, or just straight up Rocky Balboa it, and swallow them raw. 

For the last decade, we've prepared Scotch eggs on the first of January, which are hard-boiled eggs, peeled and wrapped in heavily-spiced breakfast sausage, breaded, and deep-fried. They are ridiculously satisfying, delicious dragged through tangy HP sauce, but so intense and heavy we could only justify eating them once a year. So we've been thinking about this since... last New Year's eggs.

Maybe it was time for a change?

For 2015, we adapted a Mexican poached egg dish, huevos ahogados – drowned eggs – with a pair of sauces and a fried masa nest. It was so simple when we concepted it months ago. It ended up absolutely ridiculous when we were trying to figure out the nest. It was silly, and better than it had any right to be once we figured it out, prepared, brought everything together and ate it. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: The Year of Chips, Dips and Dorks v2.0.

(L) Hot meat dip. (R) Hot meat. © Ryan Schierling
2014... whew. You were a challenging year. We slowed down a bit, opting to spend some much needed time with close family and putting a renewed focus on home, but we still managed to get a few things done.

We defended our 2013 East Austin Salsa Shootout win at Tamale House East and were unfortunately defeated. Sigh. You can’t win them all. But we did have a great time and put a few more faces to names that we'd only read on the pages of food blogs and restaurant "About" pages. Matt Taylor of Swift’s Attic took home the hot sauce crown, and hats off to the man, the mettle, the restaurant, the recipe.

“Ryan and Julie of Foie Gras Hot Dog, in a giant fuck you to convention, returned to defend their title with a new recipe. Eschewing last year’s formula took some serious guts and we salute them.”  - RL Reeves, Jr. 

We were truly surprised and delighted when the Austin Chronicle named us one of the top ten local food blogs of the year. I can’t remember the last time we blushed this much... so many gracious things said, and they called us young!

“This charming, iconoclastic blog presents the foodways and recipes of Julie and Ryan, a young Austin pair with a laudable amount of style and confidence, not to mention excellent taste.” - Kate Thornberry

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beer, billiards and bisque.

Tomato mushroom bisque with bread and butter. © Ryan Schierling
I moved from Emporia, Kansas to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1991. I was 19, and the little college town was blowing up with micro-breweries crafting incredible beer. If my parents are reading this, I certainly did not partake of alcoholic beverages until the day I turned 21. If you're anyone but my parents reading this, spending the previous year on a University of Kansas dormitory floor of brilliant art majors made creating fake IDs far too simple. Mine was used regularly until the day it was taken away by an overzealous doorman at a Fort Collins bar that shall not be named, and has since shuttered. No hard feelings.

New Belgium Brewing Company had just opened up shop with a dubbel named Abbey and a great little amber called Fat Tire. They only came in 22-ounce bomber bottles, and were unlike anything I'd ever had. O'Dell's Easy Street Wheat and 90 Shilling (still one of my favorite beers of all time) were of the same era, Left Hand Brewing started up in Longmont with their Sawtooth Ale, and soon it seemed you couldn't walk around the block without a new brewpub or home-brew store opening up.

CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing was in Old Town Fort Collins, and a short walk from my first apartment. A few years later, it was a short drive down College Avenue from my second apartment. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Give thanks for the unlikeliest of seven-layer dips.

Seven layers of Thanksgiving classics, served on toast points. © Ryan Schierling
It's the last day of November and your Thanksgiving leftovers, if there are any left over, are languishing. 

Every turkey-day legacy recipe has already been searched for and modified. There's nothing new or interesting under the waning Fall sun, and you're about to dig the remains out of the fridge and drop them into a pet dish. It's the feast he/she/it has been waiting for all along – so many hours of preparation and work, the vestiges dumped into your dog's bowl on the floor and devoured in large, breathless, indiscriminate gulps in a matter of seconds. 

Though sometimes disturbed, I am not weak and/or unimaginative in the kitchen (see this, this or this.) Chez nous, these pets, our cats, are absolutely not getting my leftovers, my legacy. Cranberries and dressing probably aren't even good for them.

If you're lucky, you should have at least a wee bit of six of these seven layers already. There is dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, sweet potatoes in some form or fashion (this year we had sweet potato gratin in poblano cream), green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. The odd man out is turkey liver pate, which both utilizes some of the giblets and provides the backbone for this spread. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

All about a cheesy broccoli noodle casserole.

Broccoli noodle casserole with cheddar and Boca chicken. © Ryan Schierling
It's Fall and, naturally, the topic around the proverbial water cooler turns to casseroles. Doesn't it...?

Well, around our house it did. Ryan was busy innovating his riff on a Texas standard, when he looked up from his King Ranch in progress and asked... "So, when are you going to make your broccoli noodle casserole?" Um, you mean the one where I channel my inner 1950s housewife...?

<flashback>

One day, back in the aughts, I have a moment where I decide to get all retro and make a casserole. I mean... how hard can it be? Open a can of Campbell's and I'm half way there. I don't have a particular strategy in mind, just an inclination and the mandatory tin of Cream of Something soup – assemble, bake at 350-degrees, now you're cookin'. 

It's a big casserole, so I share it with my neighbors. It gets raves, which throws me for a bit of a loop – it's very tasty, but come on... no one's supposed to get kudos for an old-fashioned casserole like this, right? Perhaps it's the richness of the sauce or the texture and tooth of the broccoli, though I suspect a bit of noodle casserole nostalgia is at play. Whatever the case, it is certainly classic comfort food and well worth the time it took to make. Recipe carefully documented for future reference.

</flashback>

I have since made this dish again and again – with nary a variation. My inner 1950s housewife can follow a recipe, and has no shame.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

King Ranch Salmon.

King Ranch Smoked Salmon Casserole. © Ryan Schierling
I've been threatening to do this casserole recipe for a while now, and I'm kind of surprised there's nothing like it out there on the whole wide world of internets. Searches for King Ranch Salmon turned up lots of hits for "King Salmon," "Used F-150 King Ranch edition in Salmon, Idaho," and "Carole King's ranch on the Salmon River for sale." The internet – insultingly enough – even asked me "Did you mean King Ranch Chicken?"

King Ranch Chicken is the only casserole that matters in Texas and there are rules. There may be as many subtle individual adaptations and family variations as there are Junior League cookbooks, but most will concur this is a dish best kept simple – with shredded chicken, cans of cream of this-or-that soups and Ro*Tel®, corn tortillas and a ton of cheese. 

This, however, is not King Ranch Chicken.

There is no condensed soup, no Cheese Whiz, no crushed-up nacho-flavored tortilla chips or tins of tomato and green chile. There is no chicken. This is the king of Texas casseroles meets the king of all cold-water fish. It is SXNW. It is smoky, creamy, rich, and as satisfying as comfort food gets. Great Republic purists will inevitably call this just another sensationalist bastardization of a classic Texas dish, but they can go put a sockeye in it. 

This is my King Ranch Salmon.


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