I've been part of a wine club with friends from grad school for over 5 years now. The wine club has survived jobs starting and stalling and ending, relationships coming and going and marrying, people moving across the city and beyond, and even members quitting drinking. It has turned out to be one of the more stable things in our lives, and I am pretty impressed that we've managed to keep the club going when every meeting ends with us drunkenly choosing a next date and then forgetting what date we chose immediately afterward.
This is what you need to know about our wine club - we make Power Point presentations. We do research. We have blind taste tests. We take notes. We send letterpressed invitations to guests. We watch the music video for Lisa Loeb's Stay at the end of every meeting. It's serious business (before we get too drunk to remember who is hosting the next meeting) (Ok, maybe Lisa Loeb happens after the drunkness).
Lately, when I have had the honor of hosting the Wine Club,...
Have you ever been eating a delicious piece of cake and said to yourself, "This cake is good, but it would be so much better if it were gold?"
I feel certain that you have said that, and I am here to help.
For Valentine's Day, our neighbors had a small wine and dessert get-together at their house. I brought Queer Martha's famous chocolate tart, but Valentined it by adding red raspberries on top. Once I finished placing the raspberries, I took a step back and looked at my handiwork. Then I, like I am sure you would, said to myself, "This tarte needs some fucking gold dust."
I've been living with edible gold dust in my kitchen for about 7 years. Rachel and I went through a homemade chocolate phase - a phase I keep hoping we'll relapse into - during which we bought edible gold dust to decorate our truffles. We never figured out how to use the dust without it clumping or sticking to our fingers instead of transferring to the chocolate, so the wee jar was relegated to the back of the baking...
Are you looking for a quirky theme for your Christmas dinner? Perhaps a last-minute effort to spice up your holiday? Have you run through the fun decade-themed holiday menus (Victorian, mid-century, Star Wars)? Do you want a very good excuse to wear your fuzzy Santa slipper socks to a formal dinner? Then you should think about hosting Christmas in the North Pole!
The idea for this Christmas dinner came from the desire to have a party that was a little goofy and required less research and costumes than the typical dinner party [at our house]. The vision for the party was more or less "Santa's elves on their night off throw a dinner party and trash talk their office culture." We thought a Christmas in the North Pole menu would be part Scandinavian, part sugar plums dancing in your head. What we ended up serving is this:
First course: Candy Cane Salad
This was a goat cheese and beet salad. We sliced the beets and cheese into same-sized rounds and arranged them in the form of a candy cane a...
Lately, I've been feeling rather meh about - you know - everything. It's been a lot of this face:
My question is: can you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder during every season? After how many seasons does Seasonal Affective Disorder just turn into "your personality?" That's my question.
Luckily, our fair city has cooled down whiplash quick, and it is now cool enough to bake in my kitchen! When you are feeling blue, my advice is to crack open a beer and break out the mixing bowls. This week I alleviated my melancholy by baking a French dish called un cake. The French do this funny thing where they take an English word and use it to mean something that is just not quite what the word means to its native speakers. For example - un cake. A French cake is more like a loaf of bread filled with random bits of delicious. Often these are savory bits of delicious, but you can make a sweet cake if you are motivated to do so. A savory cake will be eaten for lunch or...
My addiction has not subsided - I still eat at least a cup of sticky rice every day - but I have a very important update. My mother bought me a rice cooker for my birthday. It has changed my life.
We got this one. The key component that makes this rice cooker my new best friend - besides looking like a space egg - is that you can preset the machine to have rice ready to eat the next day. You tell it at 9PM that you want to eat rice at 6AM, and the machine is on it.
I used to wake up 30 minutes earlier than necessary - at 5:30AM! - to start cooking the rice for the day. Was it worth it? Yes. But now I can set the rice cooker up before I go to sleep, and when I wake up there is hot, steaming, sticky rice ready to go! And it is perfect every time! Waking up in the morning is super hard. Knowing that there is fresh rice ready to be rolled into a triangle is one of the grea...
I've mentioned already how ambivalent I am to the season we call summer. One additional reason I find summer to be the absolute pits is that I love baking, and the heat of summer strips me of the simple joy of being in the kitchen next to an oven. This explains the Baking & Beer hiatus here at Queer Martha headquarters. We also spent much of the summer with all of our kitchen gear packed in boxes after our move to the house called Lady Mildred. When we invited our friends Maurie and Casey over for dinner, however, my desire to give them a full meal was more powerful than my aversion to sweating (Ugh, sweating). I wanted to give them a cooked dessert that highlighted summer's produce, counteracted the stifling heat, and tied me to the stove for less than 30 minutes. Thus the grilled bourbon peach a la mode was born.
If you are looking for a quick and easy summer dessert that does not betray your commitment to butter (And wh...
"Dairy free??" I hear you say, "But, Lizzie, you love butter more than anyone I know. Your love of butter boarders on wildly unhealthy!"
I know, I hear you. But I also love my sister-in-law, and she is dairy-free at the moment, so we are going to explore the exciting world of dairy substitutes!
Rachel and I hosted a dinner for my mom's 60th birthday recently, and the whole thing - with the exception of the cheese course, naturally - was an adventure in the dairy-free. We made Madeira sauce with margarine, roasted vegetables with olive oil, and cakes with coconut oil. Let me tell you something. Even though all of those things should be made with honest-to-goodness butter from a cow, I would not have been able to tell the difference if I wasn't in the kitchen with the impostor dairy as we were mixing it into our dishes. You can trust me because I am normally not one to swallow my pride. I am fiercely loyal, and butter is more or le...
I should start this post by letting you all know that my deathbed meal - the last food that I want to savor before I leave this world one day - is without a doubt Stouffer's Mac & Cheese and a big ol' bowl of Jello. I love Jello. In general, I like food that you don't have to chew much (which I suppose bodes well for this being my deathbed meal). Jello is, as far as I am concerned, nectar from the gods. This is all to say that I have a natural propensity to gelatinous things that perhaps not everyone shares. Nevertheless, you should try agar agar. Yes... you.
Though I do appreciate the charm of plain old Jello, I am going to put this out there: agar-agar is Jello for adults. It is less sweet, less floppy, and it's made from algae. It actually involves chewing! It has similar health benefits as seaweed. It's an all-around classy jelly. Agar-agar: the algae so good, you get to say its name twice.
Agar-agar is common in desserts throughout much of Asia. Oh, but wait, it...
I had really good dinner game last week, guys. Between work events paying for my fancy meals to friends heating me up delicious leftovers, I ate super well and cheap! You want to know what pushed my dinner game over the top, though? Monday was Pi Day, and my office had a pie party.
Here's a bit of advice for you - pie dinner is always a good idea.
I brought my caramel-coffee-chocolate tart. This is an incredibly rich tart with a satisfying chewiness and a delicate, flakey crust. It is pretty much perfect. When I say, "my caramel-coffee-chocolate tart," I really mean, "the recipe I took from David Lebovitz." Picasso said good artists copy, great artists steal, so.
This recipe comes in two parts. The first is the tart crust. You need to know about this tart crust. This tart crust changed my life. There are three things to know about this tart crust: it is delicious, it is fast, it is easy.
Sometimes you don't need to break open a beer when you start baking because sometimes you are already a bit tipsy when you come home, you know? You walk through the door after a work happy hour and you say to your wife, "I think we need some coconut peanut butter cups right now, don't you?" And then your cat is like, "I'm helping." You can't say no to Riley, so she is co-blogger of this week's Baking & Beer: Coconut Peanut Butter Cup Edition.
Ok, seriously, the greatest thing about coconut peanut butter cups (and peanut butter cups in general) is that they take a total of 30 minutes to make a big batch of fresh, homemade coconut-chocolate-peanut butter magic. Nothing could be easier. You can even make them when you are drunk.
Here is what you need:
About a half cup of coconut peanut butter
About a cup of powdered sugar
About a cup of chocolate to melt
I found coconut peanut butter at the grocery store near my house, but I live in a weird hippie neighborhood, so y...