There's a somewhat famous pumpkin festival about an hour from my house, which came very highly recommended when I first moved to the city six years ago. It's standard fair and festival stuff: touring food trailers and games, local non-profits and faith communities fundraisers, student art, etc. It's kinda crazy and kitschy and pretty awesome, and certainly worth a visit. But, after a few years, my attendance slowed: mostly 'cause all we'd do is stand around and eat mediocre food that's really bad for you, look at the cloggers, get stuck behind the parade, and stand in line for forty-five minutes for some seriously tasty, piping hot fresh pumpkin doughnuts, the highlight of the festival if you ask anyone.
So, this year, we decided to skip the drive and the parking fiasco and the food-on-sticks, and just make pumpkin doughnuts at home.
And they were incredible.
Pixy Sticks are one of those nostalgic childhood treats - along with Lik-M-Aid/Fun Dip and Frankenberry - that I still turn to as an adult, because of the ridiculous fact that it tastes like nothing but sugar and citric acid. I figure, if you're gonna eat junk, eat junk. And, they're still crazy fun to eat. 'Cause, as it turns out, flavored sugar in a straw is a mostly brilliant idea.
At the risk of saying something that'll probably make you roll your eyes and scream, "No kidding" with considerable volume, sriracha is amazing and addictive stuff. This decidedly American sauce has its roots in Thai and Vietnamese condiments, and is know for its iconic rooster. A perfect balace between spicy, tangy, and garlicky, it's surprisingly versatile, working equally well in Mediterranean and Latin dishes as those from Southeast Asia.
Over the weekend, my friend Laura, a M.D.-to-be in her intern year, came for a visit, and we did what we always do: we baked.
Normally, I cook a lot, but I do savory food: go to the market, see what's in the fridge, saute/roast/grill, season, go. It's more intuitive, tasting as you go, adding/subtracting, etc, etc. But not baking. That's science, friends. It's chemistry, not really open to interpretation unless you really know what you're doing. Neither of us do it regularly without the other.
But, when we're together, it's time. Music + crossword puzzles + coffee + good times.
And this weekend, we nailed it with this fresh cinnamon rolls.
Yep, you learned it in first grade, and it's still true: breakfast is important. It's an investment in efficiency - you'll end up eating less during the day, saving you money and calories, and it can actually help you lose weight by supporting your metabolism, and remedy nights of restless sleep. And for creative types, its essential for your mind and body to have the resources they need to be their most productive. Plus, you know, breakfast foods are delicious.
But, of course, they can present the "ultimate Catch-22[.] Without breakfast, we are not fully awake. But to prepare breakfast requires more than a dollop of alertness. Boiling water for poached eggs, hot butter for pancakes — the hazards! And the time — who has the time? Let us help you. Bypass the morning Catch-22, and make your breakfast the night before."
My buddy Adam works at an awesome farm, and through all his deliveries and CSAs and interactions, he comes across all kinds of local goodies. So, sometimes he'll show up at my door with a box of veggies, some artisinal foodstuffs, or the best - a gallon of fresh, non-homogenized milk. It's usually stored in some random container, not the packaged stuff the dairy sells in the store. and though I have no idea if it's raw or not - since it's illegal in many places, including where I live - it doesn't taste like it taste when I buy the same product at the market. So, let's just assume it's as minimally processed as possible, which is fine by me. It tastes amazing - it's sorta grassy, but creamy, and basically...tastes like milk should taste.
So, this isn't the kind of thing you wanna just pour on your cereal, or dunk your cookies. It deserves something special.
Like homemade queso fresco, the ultimate expression of fresh farmer's cheese. If you don't have access to special milk, don't worry; it's still delicious to make at home, and way less expensive that buying it in the store. Here's how:
The brilliant staff of Saveur magazine have discovered a brilliant way to peel an entire head of garlic in a mere ten seconds. Not just a clove, but the whole head. And the whole process is fingertip free, so you won't get the pungent allium aroma all over your heads.
Most of us wouldn't admit it freely, but American cheese is awesome. No, it's not the ultimate expression of what milk and time can do, but you can't deny it's uniqueness and nostalgia. It's likely the first cheese that many of us in the U.S. ever tasted, and you can't deny its melt-ability on a burger or grilled cheese.
But, it's not quite cheese...that is, innoculated and pressed milk. "Instead, it’s either a blend of cheese and additives, or it’s a highly processed mixture of ingredients such as water, milk, milkfat, milk protein, whey, food coloring, flavorings, and emulsifiers."
Whether you've had your scarf and sweater ready to roll for weeks as you gear up for apple picking time, or are still trying to squeeze in a couple more days of shorts, sandals, and blockbuster watching, you can't deny it: fall fell this week. The world, as you look out the window, just looks different than it did two weeks ago. Really. Look outside. Right now. See?
Knowing the basic recipes for a few classic cocktails, and the proper way to shake or stir them up, is a classic guy skill. But they rely, of course, on a first step: having the proper home bar staples around so you can show off your cocktail-making skills whenever you have guests over.
It's September, friends, and for many, that means the return of the fall favorites, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Though rumor has it that you can actually get these year 'round if you just ask, they're certainly just right for autumn time, and the kind of thing you wanna drink this time of year. And it turns out, you can make them at home. So, whether you want to enjoy instead of braving the blustery autumnal winds, or wanna save some serious cash, you can whip some up any day of the week, at home and on the cheap.
It's no secret here on ManMade that I'm eternally in love with the food and flavors of Mexico. I just think there's something about the flavors of chiles, corn, lime, and cilantro that simply meshes with my palette.
And while I love a tender, toothsome fresh tortilla as much as anyone, and I'll gladly give an unnecessary bodily organ for a slow roasted cochinita pibil, the defining characteristic of Mexican flavors, for me, is salsa.
Oh, romesco, you are the bestco.
I don't generally take pictures of my dinner or culinary creations and share them on ManMade. One, I figure there are thousands of food bloggers who are way better qualified; two, I usually cook in the evenings, and it's often too dark to take photos; and three, cooking serves as the creative thing I do where I don't feel required to blog about it. Which I like.
But, there are some things that just need to be shared, and I'll make an exception to preach the gospel of romesco sauce. This Spanish-standard is a showstopper, and tastes, well, like summer.
I'm not a huge dessert guy. I mean, I like sweets as much as anyone, but I don't crave them often, and would much rather waste the calories on salty, savory foods than baked goods.
Well, except for one thing: pudding. Well, doughnuts, too, but those aren't really desserts. But pudding, mousses, chantilly creams, custards, and other whipped and airy delicious sauces in a bowl? Gimme please.
So, last night, I tried this chocolate mousse. It was the most amazing one I've ever tried, took me four minutes to make, and involved only two ingredients.
Yeah, I know. The idea of grilling vegetables isn't new. Everyone who does outdoor cooking knows those hot grates are a perfect space to heat and char up some sides to go with that main course, or that some Tuscan grilled veggies, a bit of cheese, and a loaf of bread makes a perfect summer meal for two.
But what about taking grilled veggies seriously, opting for thick, meaty cuts that make you forget about grilled meats altogether?
The Bloody Mary.
While it certainly has its share of key ingredients: tomato juice, vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire, it's also somewhat of open canvas on which to cast all sorts of flavors. Do you like some briny olives or pickled peppers in yours? How about some fresh lemon? Do you opt for hot sauce or a few twists of black pepper? Does the celery flavor come from a fresh stalk, celery salt, or both?
But, mainly, when you get right down to it: why doesn't your Bloody Mary have a bacon swizzle stick? I mean, think about it: bacon and tomato are classic. Bacon and vodka have to be good together. And all those salty, savory umami flavors are a perfect match.
So, let's make one. Shall we?
It's a holiday weekend, which means you've got an extra day to get creative and make stuff. Since it's summer, you could make all kinds of fun, vacation-y sorts of things, delicious foods made from summer produce, or, if you're super ambitious, DIY fireworks!