November Foodie Penpals

How can it possibly be the end of November already? Sheesh! The good thing about that, however, is that it is the time to reveal our Foodie Penpal for this month, Laura of Wylde Thyme! We received a very thoughtful box of goodies from Laura who said that she was sure things were getting hectic (with the arrival of the holiday season and all) and that she wanted to put together some date night snacks for the two of us. How sweet is that?!?!? Her suggestion was to add a bottle of wine and a movie, and we took it one step further and added some soup to make it into snacks, wine, a movie and dinner!

Here's a list and some photos of what Laura sent us:

Pepperoncini Peppers that were salty, spicy and sitting in a perfectly pungent vinegar.

Laurel Hill Berry Nutty Mix, a delightful mix of almonds, cashews, peanuts, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, and golden raisins with just a hint of sugar to sweeten it all up.

A variety of snack crackers, including Westminster's Parmesan Peppercorn - a tangier version of their plain oyster cracker.

Olde Colony Bakery Cocoa Crisp Cookies, amazingly crunchy crispy chocolatey buttery cookie bites.


And, last but not least, Yancey's Fancy XXX Sharp Cheddar from New York, which made Chris chuckle "A triple-x date night, eh?" Men.

We noshed and sipped and watched a movie and then used the leftover cheddar mixed with some provolone from the fridge to make grilled cheese sandwiches on rosemary bread with a side of tomato and sweet basil soup (garnished with a couple of those crackers!). So the date went from nuts to soup ha ha!

It was great, and we got to try some fabulous new snacks, including dessert (heart those cookies!), all provided by our Foodie Penpal! Thank you, Laura! We loved it!


Please Vote for Our Molecule-R Recipe

Some time ago, we started experimenting with molecular gastronomy. You know, Chris being a science geek and all. Well, we entered one of our experiments into a contest and would love your help in trying to win it! Our recipe was for Gravlax with Spherified Mustard Sauce and it came out looking like this:

Yes, folks, that is not an egg yolk but in fact a sphere of mustard sauce. Gotta love chemistry. Anyway, if you like what you see, and you have a minute to spare, please go HERE and vote for the Gravlax recipe (the one by Chris and Amy White of CT - that's us!) pictured above. Voting ends December 9.

Thank you so much!!! We'll let you know how it goes!


Bison Shortribs Dorie's Way

We love Dorie Greenspan, and the short ribs recipe from her book Around My French Table can not be matched. That's why after we purchased a few pounds of bison short ribs from Creamery Brook Bison in Brooklyn, Connecticut (read about our visit here), we took out her book, found the right page, and got straight to work.

As a general rule, we prefer not to copy recipes from cookbooks into our blog, and we won't do that today. Around My French Table really is a treasure trove of amazing recipes, photos and stories, and we encourage you to buy it (makes a great holiday gift for you or your fellow foodie!). Nonetheless, in the interest of sharing, we have taken step-by-step photographs (with captions!) of how we made the short ribs and we think you can get the gist of it from those. So here goes.

Lay the short ribs out onto a foil-lined cookie sheet, pat them dry and ....

...broil them until they are browned on both sides.
Then turn the oven to 350.

Prepare some herbs (rosemary, parsley, celery leaves, bay leaves, thyme, star anise)...

...and wrap them in dampened cheesecloth.

Cut up some vegetables (parsnips, celery, onion, carrots, leeks, ginger, garlic)...

...and place them in a pan. Season with salt and pepper and toss with a mild oil.

Turn on the heat and start to soften them (about ten minutes).
Then add some tomato paste. 

Keep stirring and cooking until it looks something like this.

Then add about a bottle's worth of red wine such as this shiraz, and a cup of port if you've got it.

Put in the bouquet of herbs.

Bring the whole thing to a boil over high heat until the liquid reduces by about 1/3.

Put the browned short ribs in the pan (bone side up) and cover them with beef broth.
Cover with foil, stick a tight lid on it, and put in the oven at 350 for two hours. No peeking!

Remove the foil, put the lid on loosely, and continue to cook for another hour.

While the meat cooks, make your side dishes and set your table.
When the meat's done, remove it from the pan and let it rest.
Strain out the vegetables from the sauce and reduce the sauce by half.
Serve the sauce over the shortribs; it will still be thin but it's really
tasty from all the herbs and vegetables.

The results? Stellar. Talk about amazing. Falling off the bone. Fork-tender. Not one bit gamey. Slightly sweet yet savory from that wonderfully flavorful sauce. With buttermilk mashed potatoes? You gotta try it! It's a whole lotta love. Enjoy!


Creamery Brook Bison Farm, Brooklyn, CT

Amy: "What do you want to do today?"
Chris: "I don't know. What do you want to do?"
Amy: "I don't know. What do you want to do?"
Chris: "I don't know..."
Amy: "Okay, enough. Let's just go for a drive and see what happens."
Chris: "What direction?"
Amy: "I don't know..."
Chris: "I think it's time for the magic nickel of indecision."

It was a sunny fall day, just a few weeks ago, and we had nowhere to be but couldn't seem to decide what we wanted to do. So we flipped a coin (the aforementioned magic nickel) and when it turned up heads (heads = east, tails = west), we turned up the radio and headed east on CT Route 6. We thought for a minute that we might end up in Providence, perhaps hit up the ole' Federal Hill neighborhood for some Italian chow, but that was not meant to be. For when we saw the sign announcing that we were entering the little haven of Brooklyn, Connecticut, a glimmer of recognition went through Amy's head.

Amy: "I think there's a bison farm around here. How big can Brooklyn, Connecticut be? Let's find it and buy some bison meat!" 

We stopped at Brooklyn Beef and Fish, thinking that if they didn't sell bison, they would know where the farm was. In fact, they did. And so it was we ended up at the Creamery Brook Bison Farm. Following the butcher's directions and then, the signs to the farm, we passed a long gated pasture where we stopped and watched the buffalo roam.

Yes, bison is buffalo. They are one and the same, and it's thanks to farms like Creamery Brook that the bison population continues to be on the rise. Here, they feed them corn and grass, no hormones or antibiotics, and the result is a flavorful, slightly sweet, not-at-all-gamey, tender meat with fewer calories and less cholesterol than beef, chicken or turkey. The healthier red meat!

We made our bison purchases and stepped out to enjoy the sunshine and visit the animals. One of the younger bison had stealthily entered the emus' home. The emus, therefore, were chillin' by the fence, far from young Mr. Bison, curiously checking us out as we did them.

A rooster crowed, a peacock ambled by. It was quiet and peaceful and perfectly New England. That magic nickel sure comes in handy.

Wondering what we did with our bison purchase? Come back tomorrow and find out.


Happy Thanksgiving

To quote Jacques Pépin:

I fell in love with Thanksgiving, and it has remained my favorite of all holidays — maybe because it makes no explicit appeal to patriotism, politics or a particular religion, and it’s not centered on children, like the egg roll at Easter or the Santa Claus tradition, with its largess of Christmas presents. There are no gifts to bestow on anyone, except the gift of being together and sharing nourishment.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.


Texas Roadhouse Rolls (Secret Recipe Club)

It's November's Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day and boy, did we get lucky! We were assigned 365 Days of Baking and More, an incredible blog by Lynne filled with sooo many baking (and non-baking!) recipes that we had a very difficult time choosing one. We were quite tempted to stay in our comfort zone and make something that didn't involve baking. As you are probably aware, we've had some baking issues in the past. But then, we decided to challenge ourselves. Lynne's blog is primarily about baking, and we should embrace the theme! So, then, the questions were: should we make one of Lynne's dozens of cookie recipes? Homemade Suzy-Q's in tribute to the (oh-so-sad) end of Hostess? Donuts? Muffins? Brownies? Cupcakes? Then we saw it: a copycat recipe for Texas Roadhouse's famously fabulous rolls with cinnamon honey butter. Woot!!!

If you have ever been to a Texas Roadhouse, you know what we're talking about. These rolls are light, fluffy, slightly sweet, amazing bites of paradise. We love them and do our best not to fill up on them before the rest of our food comes. We often fail. We were so excited to see Lynne's recipe, punctuated with her enthusiasm for how good they come out. To quote her:

           "This is one of those recipes on the 365 blog that I STRONGLY recommend that you make!  I'm not trying to force you into anything here, but I really don't think you'll be sorry. These should be served at EVERY special occasion!! Even when there isn't a special occasion you just NEED, yes you NEED to have these in your life. They. Are. Almost. Better. Than. Chocolate. Almost."

That did it for us. We were going to make rolls. From scratch. For the first time, ever. Here we go! We followed her recipe exactly. Her blog had clear, step-by-step directions and pictures to go along with them, so it was easy to follow. Nothing about it was especially difficult, although it was sort of time-consuming, you know, waiting for the dough to rise and rest and all that. At the same time, it was kind of fun!!! Baking?!?! Fun?!?!? Yes, we said it.

Results? Our rolls were a teensy-weensy bit dry. Nothing that delicious butter couldn't take care of. We ended up with 21 rolls, so as usual, we shared with the neighbors. Perhaps we are too critical of our own work, because D texted, "OMG. #%@ amazing. It was perfection. I could eat 10 of those. Like a dessert." Enough said. Thank you, Lynne! You may have converted us!

How great would these be on the Thanksgiving table?!?!?

Texas Roadhouse Rolls


4 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups milk scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
7-8 cups flour, divided

2 whole eggs
2 teaspoons salt

Cooks' note: Since we had never made bread by hand before, we found this website about kneading dough very helpful!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast with the warm water and the teaspoon of sugar. With the dough hook attachment, mix in the milk, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and 2 1/2 cups flour to make a medium batter. Mix thoroughly. Allow to stand until light and foamy, about 8-10 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter, eggs and salt. Continue to mix with the dough hook until well combined. Slowly add remaining flour, to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. While dough is resting, prepare a large bowl by spraying it with cooking spray. Knead dough until it is smooth and satiny (we did this by hand and it took about 7-8 minutes). Place into prepared bowl and turn over, coating it with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set to rise in a warm area until double in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten dough into a rectangle until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the rectangle in half the short way so that it is about 1-inch in thickness, and lightly roll together to seal the sides together. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. With a dough scraper, cut into rolls. Place rolls on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm area until double in size, about 1 hour or so. Preheat oven to 350 and bake rolls for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Upon removing from oven, brush tops with melted butter.
Serve with Cinnamon Honey Butter.

Cinnamon Honey Butter


1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for approximately 30 seconds until lightly whipped. Add honey and cinnamon and beat until smooth and thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Dissolve the yeast with water and sugar.

Scald the milk and allow to cool to lukewarm.
The yeast starts to foam up in the bowl.

Add the scalded milk, sugar and flour and mix with the dough hook attachment.
Allow it to stand until it is light and foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the melted butter, eggs and salt.

Mix in remaining flour using the dough hook attachment until it forms a soft dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead dough until soft and satiny. When you pinch it, it should feel like an earlobe.

Turn into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, then flip it.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it doubles in size.
It doubled!

Punch it down. It's amazing how full of air it is!

Roll it out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface. It takes up our whole baking mat!

Fold it in half and roll it to be about 1 inch thick.

Use a baking scraper to cut into desired size rolls.

Place on a greased cooking sheet.
Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Brush with remaining tablespoon of melted butter.

Huzzah! We made rolls!!!

Serve warm with cinnamon honey butter.