Sage Buerre Blanc

I’ve been craving a lot of thing recently. The cinnamon rolls, brownies, hot chocolate. Given that I have some time off, I’ve actually indulged in baking, but today I wanted sauce. A warm, buttery sauce. Most of my sauce experiments were paired with meat dishes and since we’ve had more meat dishes than I really want in the last few weeks, I decided to try a vegetarian dish with a killer sauce.

I started with roasting some butternut squash and getting a pot of egg noodles going. I though about quinoa or another healthier option, but today was about indulging so I went with the noodles. For the sauce … One shallot, two tablespoons white wine vinegar, about an eighth of a cup of white wine and some chopped sage. My little sage plant is still hanging in there. Every time I think it’s done, it just comes back enough to keep it in the ground. I brought this to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it reduce until there was a thick, almost syrup in the pot.

Once it was reduced, I added some water. I didn’t measure, but somewhere around two tablespoons and then about four to five tablespoons of butter, chopped into pieces and added one piece at a time. I kept the flame super low so the sauce wouldn’t break, and stirred constantly. I added salt and pepper to taste but skipped the squeeze of lemon as the wine I used had a pretty good lemon flavor in it already.

I originally bought the wine because of the label, but go back for it because it is a good wine for both cooking and drinking. It’s not fancy, but it had a nice acidity without hitting you over the head with it, and no grapefruit flavor. Sorry, but I really do not like grapefruit – as a fruit or in my wine.

But the dish. I drained the egg noodles, added the butternut squash then added the sauce and mixed it all together so the sauce would coat the noodles and add an extra flavor to the squash. The results were a resounding success and it didn’t take long at all. For a total experiment it was great and I’m just sorry there aren’t any leftovers.

Coffee Cake Muffins

I wanted cinnamon rolls. That was the plan this morning. Coffee, walk Jessie, make cinnamon rolls. I wanted the spice of the cinnamon, the sweet of the brown sugar and the goo-y tooling that make them so decadent. After three days of a horribly sore throat thanks to the strep infection I picked up at work and *nothing* sounding good, I finally felt better and finally wanted something. Cinnamon rolls.

Yes, I know that is not a picture of cinnamon rolls. I wanted cinnamon rolls but I forgot one thing – my rolling pin broke a few months back and I haven’t found a replacement beyond a wine bottle. Today I didn’t feel like fussing with the wine bottle (and the dough sticking to the labels) so I improvised. I found a recipe for coffee cake muffins. It had all the markings of a good cinnamon roll. Pecans, cinnamon, sweet topping. This could work. No rolling dough, no waiting patiently for said dough to rise (twice if you are really going to do them right) and I could almost have cinnamon rolls. They would just be without the roll.

So I mixed up the topping and mixed up the batter then began assembling. Batter, filling, batter, topping. Layered like a cake, cinnamon goodness between cake like dough. Quick, easy and in no time I had muffins going into the oven.

And then coming out of the oven to be topped with the glaze. I need to work on the glaze just a bit. Make it a little thicker so it stays more on the muffin. It might also help if I water more than thirty seconds to top them and begin eating, but that is a whole different discussion.

They were almost perfect. The dough isn’t the yeasty dough of a good cinnamon roll, but that’s ok. They filled the void and took care of the craving. They even filled me up until dinner when I managed to put together a Kung Pow Soba noodle dish for dinner (Bob’s request).

And just because I think it is adorably cute …


That is Ms. Leia in her usual sleeping on Bob’s lap, using his arm as a pillow as he tries to play on the computer. He even commented that he’s gotten so use to this that it feels strange when she *isn’t* there. The second picture is all three of the trouble makers. An unusual sight to have them all together like that. Taken yesterday as I recuperated on the couch.

The Brownie Quest

For the last decade or so I’ve been on an off-and-on hunt, a quest if you will, for the perfect brownie recipe. I was on the hunt for the perfect brownie, but we found that in Belgium. Admittedly after *the* brownie in Brussels I almost gave up on finding a perfect brownie recipe. That brownie was so good, so perfect I was sure I could not come up with a close approximation, but the call of brownies was too good, so I’m still searching.

A few weeks ago I came across this post. About half the time I drool over the food but am too intimidated to try recreating it. Sometimes I find something I have to try, like the corn soup, but end up changing it to suit my tastes a little more. But these brownies looked so good, so perfect, I decided I had to try.

What makes a perfect brownie? A few things. My perfect brownie has no nuts. Sorry if you are a nut in brownie fan, but I think they detract from the overall experience. They are an extra that a perfect brownie doesn’t need. The perfect brownie also needs to be dense and not at all like a cake. You want cake like brownies, make a cake. Make a dark chocolate cake, but leave out the brownie designation. The perfect brownie has to be slightly gooy, but not from under cooking, and it cannot be too sweet. The chocolate must be the star of the brownie, not the sugar. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. I’ve tried dozens of brownie recipes over the years.

So how did this one do? Well, I did mostly follow the recipe. I could not find black coco in my grocery store, so I used Hershey’s Special Dark Coco along with regular coco. I ended up cooking them about ten minutes longer than the recipe called for because they were not cooked, much less set, at 25 minutes. But …. Oh, they are close. Very rich, but not sugary sweet and dense, but cooked. The sprinkle of sea salt on top was an unexpected delight that I thought would detract a bit, but it didn’t. It added to the chocolate taste. I do think I need to find good Irish butter for the higher fat content and really good coco – both real black coco and really good regular coco. Those changes may, just may, make this the perfect brownie.

Now if I can just figure out how to make a Vanilla Anglaise to go with it, we might have the perfect homemade brownie.

Christmas in the City (part 2)

Holy cow it is taking me a long time to get these up. I may actually make a New Year’s resolution to post faster in 2015. … Probably not, but it’s a thought.

Day two of our trip centered around meeting up with Karen, Brenden and the kids. We hadn’t seen them in several years so I was particularly excited about this. Bob and I always talk about wanting to get back to DC and see everyone but we just don’t get there. But we finally did.

We started at Congress and took a look at the massive tree and the decorations there. Then we wandered a bit before heading down to the American History Museum to meet up with everyone. I was excited to be in DC, excited to see everyone and just excited to be away for a few days. Making it more exciting – the band was playing!

That is the Air Force band playing Christmas songs (and other things) in the American History Museum. I love DC.
We did wander the museum with everyone for a while. We were seeing how long the kids would last since they already had the drive into the city. They did really well and for longer than I expected. We mostly stuck to the bottom floor of the museum with all of the trains, cars etc. the kids had things to climb on, things to touch and explore. When it looked like everyone was starting to fade, we made a quick trip to the chocolate demonstration, which peaked their interest for a little bit longer.



Best part – we got to taste really fresh, really crafted hot chocolate. I think the adults like it more than the kids, but it was tasty.

After the museum we did lunch at one of my favorite spots – The Dubliner. Kid friendly, but with great food (and beer for the boys). It was so much fun just hanging out with everyone and catching up. Definitely something we have to do again before another half decade passes us by.

In the evening, despite the rain, we did the other thing I was determined to do while in DC – the trees. Every year the Ellipse has the official tree, a tree for each state and territory, the trains, Yule log and menorah. It is one of my favorite displays. This year it was raining, chilly and crowded, but we persisted. The National tree was actually very pretty this year.

The train set did not disappoint.

But … And I HATE to say this … The state trees were boring, and the same and not anything like they should be.

Yes, technically the light patterns are different for each tree, but they all looked the same. They all felt the same and it too away from the idea behind the individual trees. Add to this, no Yule log and we couldn’t find the menorah and it was the only disappointing thing about the trip. I was also a little stunned at the extent that they closed the area around the White House. I remember walking Jessie right by the fence and now … Can’t even get close. But it is what it is and we still had fun.

The other really should do that we did fit in was the old Brickskeller. It is now the Bier Baron but they kept the look and feel of the old place. Bob had never been, so I was really glad we made the trip. He even found the coolest beer …

Needless to say I texted that picture to a few people. But it was a really good time, and very relaxing. A great way to end the trip.


Christmas in the City (part 1)

There is something special about D.C., especially around Christmas. You can insert whichever political joke you would like, but I love D.C. around the holidays. Don’t love the weather, but I do love the city.


We hadn’t been to D.C. in a couple of years, which means we have not seen Karen and family in that long. I mean to head up there every year, but something always happens and the trip doesn’t. This year we found some great airline flight deals and a hotel deal and decided to just book it. It was a short trip, but we packed a lot into it. Best part we got to see not only Karen and family, but Ed and Erin also. It was a fabulous trip.



Let me first say this was the easiest trip, travel wise, that we have had in a decade. Security at the airport was reasonable and fast with none of the usual hassles. Boarding was quick and efficient (I do love Southwest for that reason alone) and we were able to grab the first metro train and head straight into the city. It was lovely.

After meeting up with Ed and Erin we decided to grab lunch. Since we had no plan we started to wander, but about three blocks in I realized I was headed to one of my favorite go-to restaurants in DC – Jaleo. I could taste the croquettes before we even got there and knew they have a great selection of both meat and vegetarian dishes so we would all be happy. It is a great relaxed atmosphere for catching up and the wine is good. It was perfect.



After lunch we hit my favorite “museum” in DC, especially around the holidays – the Botanic Gardens. this year’s Christmas display was lighthouses, which were beautiful, but I love the tree. The tree with the ultra cute decorations. You have to smile.

Bob and I had planned a dinner at The Partisan so we headed there for dinner. It was ok. I went into this knowing that the restaurant was meat based. It is attached to a butchery but I think I failed to realize that every single item had meat in it in one form or another. The food was good, but it wasn’t spectacular. Bob did get the coolest looking dinner, however, do I will give it that.


Hopefully I will get day two of the trip up soon. Hope everyone is having a great start to the holiday season. Merry, merry and happy happy! Deck the halls and all that!