eggs benedict

This one’s been on the “to-try” list for a while. Eggs Benedict seems like an intimidating thing to make between the poached eggs and the Hollandaise sauce, but I didn’t find it that difficult. It was my first time making poached eggs and I was greatly helped by the Jamie Oliver method. He cracks the egg inside of saran wrap, ties it up in a knot, then plops it in the water to cook. The eggs retain a perfect shape and it makes the whole thing much less intimidating to try. The method is detailed here.

The Hollandaise came out pretty well consistency-wise, but I still want to play around with seasonings. And there’s no ham under the egg, sorry. We’ll pretend I was vegetarian for the day and not just that we had to go grocery shopping.

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-Sophie

breakfast tacos

When my head hits the pillow at night, I am most likely thinking of my breakfast the next morning. Often, more specifically, I am inventing breakfast taco combinations in my head as I try to fall asleep. I am extremely passionate about breakfast, and there are few things I love more than taking the time to make myself a nice one. To me, breakfast tacos are pretty close to a perfect breakfast: they’re simple enough to make every day (if you so desire…), they’re filling but don’t lay heavy in your stomach like a stack of waffles, and most importantly, you get to eat a taco before noon. When I’m eating a truly great one, I’m filled with more Texas pride than if I just stormed the Alamo myself (it should be said here that Texas History was the first class I ever fell asleep in).

This morning, though I didn’t try out one of my nighttime-fantasy-breakfast-taco-inventions, I did make one with Ina Garten’s maple roasted bacon. That idea came to me last night and I was so excited to make it this morning that I couldn’t get back to sleep even though I woke up way too early for it to be just three days into my summer vacation.

The taco DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

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This bacon is outta this world, y’all. Crispy and sweet and perfectly maple-roasted…I made an extra slice for myself just to eat. It’s so good and so easy– line up your bacon slices on a baking rack over a baking sheet, roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, brush it with maple syrup, then stick it back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.

Otherwise, this is a pretty self-explanatory recipe: soft scrambled eggs cooked over a low heat, mozzarella cheese cooked in with the eggs, and a flour tortilla warmed in the oven. Normally (and I’ve just discovered this is an anomaly), I’m partial to corn tortillas, but NEVER in breakfast tacos. On one of our many taco dates during our sophomore year of high school, one of my best friends and I talked it out for a long time and realized that corn tortillas are simply too abrasive in breakfast tacos. Flour all the way.

-Sophie

boeuf bourguignon

Ever since I saw Julie & Julia, I’ve wanted to make boeuf bourguignon. I’ve had it a few times, one time in France cooked by my lovely host mother, but I’ve never made it. In Julie & Julia, this was a milestone dish of sorts, and I consider it one for me as well. I’ve found that I love more complicated recipes, ones where I have to spend lots of time in the kitchen. I find it much more rewarding.

I chose to use Ina Garten’s recipe because it’s a version of Julia Child’s that doesn’t take quite as much time and uses a less expensive cut of beef. Also because Ina is my queen and it’s sometimes difficult for me to accept that there are other people who write cookbooks.

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I made some egg noodles to go underneath (my family chose this route), but I preferred Ina’s way, with a slice of French bread rubbed with a garlic clove underneath the stew. Delicious.

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With every new endeavor, I become more and more comfortable with touching raw meat. I was chucking these beef cubes around like nothin’ (note that this is hilarious when you consider the fact I was working with BEEF CHUCK. High-level comedy here). I’m just working through my meat issues one dish at a time.

Overall, I loved making this dish a lot. I loved the time it took, I loved the steps involved, I loved the rich, layered end result.

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I think I’ve all but secured a job at Dallas’ most delicious bakery this summer, which I am extremely thrilled about. If it does work out, I’ll be juggling that with my advertising/graphic design job– my hobbies blending very nicely in order to make me BANK!

– Sophie

dinner party

When this whole cooking idea began to form in my head, I knew I wanted to throw a dinner party. I love watching Ina Garten throw parties too much to not try and throw one myself. So I did just that last night! The menu was as follows (all from various Barefoot Contessa cookbooks):

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

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Parmesan Chive Smashed Potatoes

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Crispy Mustard Roasted Chicken

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Salted Caramel Brownies

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Everything was a ROUSING SUCCESS! Even though I was sweaty for a lot of the beginning. Still cool. My friends all praised me appropriately and I was very proud of myself. One thing that always bothers me about the “grown-up” dinner parties my parents throw is that people take so damn long to get to dessert. With this ragtag group of teens, we can go to this brownie immediately after we’ve finished our dinner. Which was quickly. It makes for a pretty fast dinner but that just gives us more time to play Taboo and watch Rugrats in Paris.

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– Sophie

Much-better pictures courtesy of my sister.

eggs and toast two ways

This summer, I studied abroad in a little town in France called Tours. Every morning for breakfast, I ate three pieces of crustless white toast (it comes crustless in the package! It amazed me for some reason) smothered in Bonne Maman blackberry jam. This is a jam we have in the US, but it was only in France where I ate it on a daily basis and fell completely in love with it.

AND….I finally ate it again. I don’t know why it took me so long. IMG_3411

Breakfast brings me so much joy. Even bowls of cereal make me excited to sleep at night. Scrambled eggs and toast isn’t a particularly opulent breakfast, but it still feels a bit fancy to break up the routine, especially with the addition of my favorite jam in the whole world on toasted sourdough.

For lunch, I did a bit of an open-faced sandwich on that same sourdough with prosciutto, mozzarella, and a fried egg. I wish my fried egg was a bit more photogenic, but that will come with practice, I suppose.

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salmon with lemon herb spaghetti

My first real meal! I approached this meal right off the heels of my first failed dessert in quite some time. I had attempted Ina Garten’s Decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake and ended up with a flat, bitter-chocolatey disaster, but I tried not to let it dishearten me too much. This was what I made my family for dinner tonight: salmon on a bed of lemony spaghetti with a lemon-herb butter sauce on top of the fish.

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I am a big fat BABY when it comes to fish, but I always love a good salmon. This was actually my first time handling a raw salmon myself and I think I’ve successfully conquered my small fear of touching raw meat. For now. All I did to prepare the salmon was brush it with olive oil as well as some good salt and pepper, then broiled it for about fifteen minutes. I took a small shortcut and tossed the spaghetti with an amazing salad dressing my aunt made for a dinner party we threw yesterday– I don’t know what exactly was in it, but it was lemony and fantastic.

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To top the fish, I used this sauce recipe (minus the dill and chives because HEY! I didn’t have any. It was still good). Overall, this was a pretty manageable (and quite delicious) recipe for my first dinner in this cooking odyssey. I’m pretty proud of handling a salmon. My mom passed down a lot of meat issues to my sister and I.

And just for shits and giggles, here is the lovely display of cupcakes I made for aforementioned dinner party (my plan B after the disastrous cake). I made Martha Stewart’s One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, which is my go-to recipe. I also made Ina Garten’s lemon bars. If any lemon bar I eat reminds me of the perfect ones served at every fancy reception that my high school had, I count it as a success.

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– Sophie