Hey friends! Hope everyone is well on this Friday morning. I have been anxiously awaiting the weekend; plans to see the lovely Emily to get an exciting recap of her London vacation. I expect to be green with envy. A trip to the Oakland Zoo (my favorite) and a few new recipes to share with all of you. But, for today some exciting news. I have been featured on Babble.
After a much, MUCH needed rest, I am back.
First things first, I want to thank everyone for their support and good thoughts after my diagnosis. It’s been really heartwarming to know I have so many wonderful people in my corner, and I have definitely been keeping all of you in mind while I make my way through getting healthy again. I will be perfectly honest, the past two months have been a huge struggle. I had a much stronger reaction to the anti-seizure medication than I expected, and spent the first month struggling with bad tremors, balance issues, and exhaustion. I was having memory retention issues (makes sense, considering the part of my brain that is most affected by the epilepsy), and even had bouts of stuttering and stammering due to medication side effects. Work was difficult during all this, as I struggled with having the energy just to get through the day. But, it seems the worst of it has passed now. I still have occasional tremors (mostly when I am really tired or stressed), and my energy is not 100% back, but I finally feel like I have some control over my body now. I took a much longer break from the blog than I expected, but I decided that focusing on my health was my #1 priority, and I knew that you would all understand that. So, now that I am beginning to feel back to normal, I will be easing my way back into the blog. I’ve really missed you all.
So, as my first post back from my medical leave, I am going to switch it up a bit. My darling friend Emily has nominated me for a Liebster Award. You like me, right now you really like me!
What is a Liebster Award, you ask? It’s a bit of a blogger chain letter. The blogger that nominates you posts 11 questions for you to answer on your blog. THEN, you post 11 questions and invite 5 blogger friends to answer. It’s great fun, and a lovely way to get to know others throughout the blogger community. So, without further ado, bring on the Liebster!
1. What is your nickname? I have about a million; Jillie, Jay, J-Bird, the Bird (mainly my aunt), Scully (high school nickname), X Files (college nickname), Ladybug (camp counselor name). But, since Emily was the one that posted this question, I will also add Scullybug, a special nickname created for me by Em herself when we were 14. Love you Moemar.
2. If you could live in another era (past or future), which would it be and why? I have always had a huge connection to the 1920s and 1930s; I love the music, the clothing, the art, the culture, everything (well, except the Depression, though I do find it historically fascinating). Anyone who’s known me longer than about 15 minutes knows that I am inexplicably drawn to this period of time.
3. What would your superhero power be? I can never decide between flying and invisibility. Today, let’s go with flying.
4. Where is your favorite place to get away? The coastal redwoods, up near Oregon. I went camping there as a kid with my family and loved it so much, Shawn and I went there again for our honeymoon. So beautiful and serene.
5. What drew you to blogging? You know, not one particular thing. I was interested after talking about it with Emily, but it took me awhile before I decided exactly what it was I wanted to blog about. I finally decided to do a food blog when I realized just how much time and energy I put into food, cooking, recipe experimentation, and eating.
6. Which school subject was your favorite? Well, besides theatre, probably a toss up between English and history, especially world history and California history. I like any subject that involves some level of storytelling.
7. The five phone apps I couldn’t live without are … (In no particular order) Pandora, Instagram, Facebook, Food Network Recipes, and Candy Crush. I am SO addicted to that game.
8. What is your favorite movie? Seriously, Em? This is a really intense subject for me. I am a rapid movie buff, and I have tiers of favorite movies, based on time period, genre, writing, acting talent … but, if I have to name only one, my go-to is “An American in Paris.” One of the few truly perfect films in existence. Watch it. Watch it now.
9. Who would you most want to have dinner with tonight? My husband, of course, but, if I could pick anyone alive, I would probably have to say Stephen Sondheim. Only because I feel like I really need to meet him, and if it means inviting him to Wednesday night dinner, then so be it.
10. What do you like on your sandwich? Sourdough bread, Dijon mustard, fresh turkey, tomato, dill pickle, and green bell pepper, with a little oil and vinegar. Delicious.
2. What is the one book you can read over and over?
3. What are your top-three must read blogs?
4. What celebrity do you look the most like?
5. What is your favorite article of clothing in your closet?
6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party (dead or alive)?
8. What was the last thing you ate?
9. What is your favorite flower?
10. If you could go back to school and major in any subject you want, what would it be and why?
11. What would you consider your “signature color?”
1. Kat from Mekatsu Mekatsu
2. Andrea from Tomato Tango
3. Karista from Karista’s Kitchen
4. Kristianne from My San Francisco Kitchen
5. Rachel Fawkes from FawkesHunter
Just wanted to take a quick minute to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! A day of turkey, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, sweets…basically the greatest day of the year for anyone who loves to eat as much as we do.
Our kitchen at 6:00 a.m. today – completely unaware of the craziness that is about to commence.
This year, Shawn and I are hosting at our new home. A small dinner of family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for this year, that we couldn’t think of any other way to celebrate than to host the people we love in our home.
Check in next week for some photos and a couple of recipes of our actual meal.
From me to you, a very happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for each and every one of you!
This blog has been quiet the past few months. I know it. You know it. Between moving and renovating and housewarming and changes at work (both my own and Shawn’s), I’m having difficulty finding the balance in everything. I want to post more, have more recipes, more photos, more sharing. But wanting to find the time and actually finding the time are very different things. I struggle with the balance.
Shawn, clearly demonstrating that he is great at finding balance
In taking this time off (intentional or not), I’ve realized a few things about me and my connection to this blog:
1. I really love blogging, and I really love blogging about food.
2. I want to improve on this blog, posting more regularly, improving the quality of my photos, the range of recipes, the look and design of the blog itself. I want this to be a place of loveliness and deliciousness for you to visit each day.
3. I want to start bringing my life into this blog more. I’ve been keeping my personal life at an arm’s length thus far, and I don’t exactly know why. But I know that the blog’s I enjoy reading have a personal level to them, and that’s what I want here. Something that you can connect besides (super delicious) recipes.
As I’m nearing my one-year blogging anniversary (crazy!) I am making a personal vow to really turn this blog around and into what I want for it. There may be a few changes around here (I am looking to change domains soon and will keep you well-posted when that happens), but know that I am only looking to improve both yours and my experience at The Humble Gourmet.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone of you who reads, comments, and supports me in this (not so little) side project. I appreciate every last one of you. Thanks so much for helping me figure out the balance!
Two crazy busy weeks at work with a million and a half deadlines to meet. Because of that, I was unable to take any photos of our meals
Sorry about that. BUT, I did manage to take some Instagram pics of our dinners. So, who’s hungry?
You can follow me on Instagram @thehumblegourmet. Next week I’ll be back with some proper recipes.
What have you been eating this week? THG
This week has been overwhelming. I’m pretty glad it’s over.
Sometimes life becomes too much, you know? Stress and heartbreak and worry and guilt all pile on at the exact same time, and it’s hard to see your way out of it. Sometimes you need a push, sometimes you need something new to look forward to. Sometimes you just need time.
We lost our family dog, Delaney, this weekend. It was sudden, and shocking, and incredibly heartbreaking. Trying to navigate this has been really difficult and the only way to get through it is with routine. Food, photos, blog. Rinse and repeat.
For Mother’s Day, my brother Ryan decided to make gumbo for our mom. Mom loves New Orleans and all things Cajun/Creole, so gumbo it was. I was in charge of dessert.
Coffee and doughnuts. Or, more specifically, café au lait mousse and homemade beignets. A little twist on a Southern classic.
The mousse is made with instant espresso (available at most grocery stores) and white chocolate. I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to help mimic the chicory flavor that is usually found in New Orleans coffee. Light, frothy and rich, with a nutmeg whipped cream on top. Delightful.
The beignet recipe came from the New Orleans cookbook Cooking Up a Storm. Most beignets are made from a sturdier dough that is rolled out and cut into squares before frying. This recipe is a bit more rustic; a thinner batter that is spooned into the oil like a fritter. The result is smaller, lighter, oddly shaped little doughnuts. Still delicious.
It’s amazing how much a sweet treat can improve a crappy situation. Tons and tons and tons of sweet treats.
What is your favorite comfort food in times of distress? THG
Café au Lait Mousse
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. instant espresso
1 Tbsp. hot water
12 oz. white chocolate
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large pinch nutmeg
1 large pinch ground cinnamon
5 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar, divided
Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together espresso powder and hot water until a thick syrup forms. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and butter over medium high heat. Once melted, whisk in espresso mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the double boiler over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and 1/8 cup sugar. Continue to whisk over heat until yolks reach 140ºF. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk egg whites on high speed until cooled down and thickened considerably. Set aside.
In the double boiler again, whisk together egg whites and remaining sugar until whites reach 140ºF. Transfer to stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks.
Fold egg whites into yolks. Fold white chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Finally, fold whipped heavy cream into egg mixture. Spoon into coffee cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. Serve chilled with spiced whipped cream.
Makes 8 coffee cups
Beignets (from Cooking Up a Storm)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, whisk water, milk and egg together. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Whisk well to combine until smooth and free of lumps.
In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3” of canola oil over medium high heat to 350ºF. Drop spoonfuls of batter into canola oil. Fry until golden brown all around, turning once, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Makes approximately 2 dozen
I have an insane sweet tooth.
Really. I challenge any one of you to a sweet-tooth-off. It is sickening the amount of sugar I can consume in one sitting. I can have frozen yogurt, ice cream, candy, cake, cookies anytime, anywhere. I sometimes have to deliberately decide to NOT eat sugar. It’s a disease.
These babies are an indulgence. A sweet, salty, rich indulgence. An absolute must for anyone with a sweet tooth. An absolute must for anyone, period.
Okay, so they’re not technically truffles. They’re caramels. But “truffled truffles” sounds so much cuter than “truffled caramels”, don’t you agree?
Quick sidenote: Shawn took the photo on the right. I love how they look suspended in air.
Chocolate-covered salted caramels. Sounds fairly basic; delicious, but basic. The thing that heightens these particular treats is the addition of truffle salt and truffle oil.
The salt is just a sea salt with small pieces of shaved truffle added in. Very, very flavorful. Truffles have such a unique flavor; earthy, rich, sweet, salty. They taste like everything all at once. I received a jar of truffle salt and a can of truffle oil in the stocking this year at Christmas. I’ve used them fairly sparingly; neither of them ingredients I can afford to regularly stock in the house (this is the Humble Gourmet, remember?). But, I decided to be bold. Daring. Frivolous. I added the salt and oil to my caramel with wild abandon. Totally worth it.
Truffle and sweet go incredibly well together. It’s just so complex a taste. You get that great, sea salt hitting you right as you bite in, the rich bitterness of the chocolate, the creamy, sweet vanilla flavor, and then, at the very end, that savory, subtle taste of the truffle.
These are definitely one of the most decadent, luxurious desserts I’ve ever made. The caramel is so smooth and creamy, with a thin layer of dark chocolate, and that truffle. The truffle is totally what elevates these little confections from sweet little candy to rich indulgent dessert.
I must make these again. And again. And again.
Drat. There goes my modest truffle budget for the year. THG
Truffled Truffles (Chocolate-Covered Truffle Caramels)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp. truffle salt, plus more for topping
1/4 tsp. truffle oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
To begin, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray or brush the parchment with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar, water and corn syrup over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Continue to let boil, undisturbed, until the sugar melts and caramelizes to a light, golden amber color.
While sugar is caramelizing, combine cream, butter, salt and truffle oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Allow butter to melt and cream to simmer. Do not boil.
When sugar has caramelized, remove from heat. Working quickly, whisk the cream mixture into the sugar mixture; be careful, it will bubble up quite a bit. Add in vanilla and whisk to combine. Set over medium low heat and continue to cook until a candy thermometer reaches 250ºF. Remove from heat and carefully pour onto parchment paper lined baking sheet into a thin layer. Refrigerate until set, about 2-4 hours.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add chocolate chips and nuke for one minute. Remove and stir well. Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Remove caramel from refrigerator. Cut into thin strips. Roll each strip into a ball, about 3/4” in diameter. Add caramel ball to chocolate to coat completely. Remove with a slotted spoon, being sure to drain off excess chocolate, and place on a fresh parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a small pinch of truffle salt. When done, refrigerate again until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Serve chilled.
Makes approximately 30 “truffles”
This is Caiti.
Quite aerodynamic, isn’t she?
Caiti is my baby sister. And yesterday was her 23rd birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAITI! And, in typical Caiti fashion, we started celebrating on Friday and will continue through to the 18th, which is my mom’s birthday. Yup. February pretty much revolves around her. Total baby-of-the-family behavior.
Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago Caiti asked me if I would make cupcakes for her birthday.
“I definitely want Funfetti cupcakes. But from scratch.”
Funfetti cupcakes. Only the most sophisticated and nuanced of flavors for such a discerning palette.
Oh, who am I kidding? Funfetti is DELICIOUS.
I used Martha Stewart’s white cake recipe and folded in some rainbow jimmies.
(Sidenote: I could only get rainbow and chocolate jimmies combined at the grocery store. So I handpicked all of the chocolate jimmies out of the mix. Seriously. Feel free to not adopt my completely OCD level of anal-retentiveness when making these cupcakes and just use whatever sprinkles you have. Spare yourselves; it’s too late for me.)
So I was definitely making Funfetti cupcakes, that was clear. But I decided to do a second flavor, just so everyone could have a choice. But what to do?
I was on my way to work one morning and talking with my mom about it.
“I don’t know what second flavor to do for Caiti’s birthday cupcakes. I could do chocolate or red velvet, but I really want to do something different, something special, something very…Caiti.”
“Why don’t you do a cupcake after her favorite ice cream?”
Oh, Mama. You’re a genius.
Cherry Garcia cupcakes my friends.
Cherry cake, cherry chunks, chocolate chips and chocolate buttercream frosting.
It tasted like a little baked cake of the ice cream. Seriously good.
I decided the cupcakes needed a little something extra, since they were birthday cupcakes for little sis. SO, I made cherry marshmallows and coated them in sprinkles: red glitter sugar for the Cherry Garcia cupcakes, rainbow non-pareils and pink glitter sugar for the Funfetti cupcakes.
(Second sidenote: I made sure the pink glitter sugar was in, as Caiti refers to it, “Betsey pink”. Meaning, Betsey Johnson pink. Caiti’s favorite designer. It’s crazy how much of her money has gone into Betsey’s pockets. But that’s a story for another day
I was hoping to cut the marshmallows into little balls with the melon baller. But have you ever tried to cut fresh marshmallow with a melon baller? What you end up with is knotted, shapeless lumps of soft, gooey candy. Not so pretty. So I just cut them into squares and tried to make them look as cute as possible. I think they still worked.
I decided to keep the Cherry Garcia cupcakes a secret until Friday, which was when we had her family celebration with everyone over. And I’ll tell you, the look on her face when I told her what kind of cupcakes they were was totally worth everything. She’s such a little kid when she gets excited; all giggles and little dance moves.
So, Happy Birthday to my little brat. You’re a pain, and completely ridiculous, and you drive me totally crazy sometimes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love you Caiti-did. THG
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe here)
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 jars rainbow jimmies
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line regular-sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. In a large mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in sugar and beat until incorporated. Whisk milk and vanilla together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low, add in a third the flour mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add in a third of the milk mixture and beat until combined. Repeat, alternating each mixture, until all is added (being sure to end with the flour mixture). Set aside.
In the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter. Repeat until all egg whites are added. Fold the sprinkles into the batter until well distributed.
Pour batter 2/3 way up in each cupcake liner. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
Makes approximately 12 cupcakes
***For the cherry cupcakes, reduce milk to 1/4 cup and vanilla to 1tsp. Mix 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice into milk mixture. Fold in 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups chopped maraschino cherries.
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Cream butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until well incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and beat until just incorporated.
***For chocolate buttercream, reduce vanilla to 2 tsp. and add 3 heaping Tbsp. of cocoa powder to butter before beating.
1 1/2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup maraschino cherry juice, divided
1 cup sugar
large pinch of salt
In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice. Whisk to coat all gelatin. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice, water, sugar and salt over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover pot for 3 minutes. Remove cover and wash down sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallization. Heat syrup without stirring to 240ºF. Remove from heat. Quickly whisk in gelatin mixture, making sure not to let it bubble over.
Add syrup mixture to stand mixer and whisk, starting on low to prevent splashing and gradually increasing to high. Whisk until tripled in volume and fluffy, about 10-12 minutes.
Spray a 3×9 inch glass meatloaf pan. Blot to remove any excess grease. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Let set, uncovered, for 4-6 hours.
Dump marshmallow out on a greased cutting board. Using a hot, sharp knife, cut the marshmallows into 1” squares. Roll in the coating of your choice.
Makes approximately 30 marshmallows
This Saturday, my dear friend Emily and I took a trip across the Bay Bridge and to the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend going. Right now. I’ll wait while you book your plane/train/boat ticket.
Anyway, the Ferry Building, for those who don’t know, is an incredible marketplace, with every type of organic, local and (high-end) specialty food you can think of. A butcher shop, a wine shop, a tea house, herbs, honeys, oysters, oils, spices, cheeses, breads, baked goods, even an entire shop dedicated strictly to mushrooms. It’s, for lack of a better word, totally awesome. I could spend hours just pouring over every last item in every last shop, spending my entire year’s salary in one trip (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration).
So, down to the Ferry Building we went. It was cool, but sunny, which was perfect for the massive farmer’s market they have down there every day. Seriously. It’s pretty huge. We stuck mainly to inside the building, where all the permanent shops are set up. It was completely packed; not totally out of the ordinary,especially during tourist season. We mainly just windowshopped, chatted, giggled, and mooned over all the delicious foods and beautiful cookware.
We started out with a visit to the Blue Bottle Coffee Co., a huge staple in San Francisco. It’s coffee is delicious, very smooth and flavorful. I had a soy latte (my usual coffee drink) and Emily had a mocha. The baristas always do designs with the milk, adding a touch of artfulness to your morning coffee. Such a lovely touch.
Next we moved onto Heath Ceramics. It’s full of beautiful ceramic dishware, glass jars, cutting boards, pottery and all kinds of cookbooks. It’s all colorful, very classic and simple designs. Emily bought a couple of small glass jars while we were there. I didn’t get anything, but would love to get one of those beautiful, two-toned dish sets. So lovely.
My favorite cheese shop, Cowgirl Creamery, is in the Ferry Building. It’s like heaven. Piles and piles of every type of cheese you can think of, olives, salamis. Sigh. I could spend an entire 2 weeks paycheck just here.
When Shawn and I were living in the city, we would come down to the Ferry Building on nice weekends. We would get a few slices of cheese at the Cowgirl Creamery, a couple of bread rolls from the Acme Bread Co., some fruit from Farm Fresh to You and a couple of cupcakes from Miette. We would take our little lunch and sit out on the pier. Some of my favorite memories of two broke college students having a lunchtime date.
A visit to Stonehouse California Olive Oil. Some of the freshest, most unique olive oils you will find. Lovely. I’ve gotten bottles of the Blood Orange and Persian Lime olive oils in my Christmas stocking a few years past; simply delicious. They leave out all of their olive oils with pieces of bread for tasting. You could make a whole meal from these delicious dipping oils.
While we were there, I had Emily try the Arbequina olive oil. Very grassy, green and fresh; one of the freshest, lightest olive oils I’ve tasted. I told her it had a very earthy taste to it, which made her a bit hesitant. Apparently, my love of all things earthy has translated to “Jillian eats things that taste like dirt”. Oh, Emily.
Far West Fungi. Every type of mushroom you could possibly think of, fresh and dried. Every type of truffle product you could think of. Truffle salt, truffle butter, truffle oil. So decadent, so appealing, so out of my price range.
I generally just look in that shop.
It’s just such great fun. So many delicious foods, so much to look at, so much to taste. We ended up splitting a vegan Meyer Lemon doughnut that was simply heavenly; I was surprised it was vegan for how light and almost buttery it tasted. They know what they’re doing.
If you are ever in San Francisco, I highly encourage you begin your adventures at the Ferry Building. If you live in San Francisco, well, what are you waiting for? Those Scharffen Berger chocolates and Hog Island oysters aren’t just going to eat themselves.