Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Pie

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Miss Fats calling it: pie is a breakfast item.

She’s being completely serious.  No eye rolling or outrage.  Pie belongs in the early morning hours.  Fruit pie?  Custard pie?  Cream pie?  Aren’t these all qualifiers associated with breakfast, anyway?  Is a flakey crust and tender fruit filling all that different from your standard danish?  (Well yes.  Miss Fats upholds they are different objects.  However conceptually they are closer than one thinks with regard to food genre.)  But can’t we replace those boring fruit parfaits with a silky banana cream?

The reality is that sweet breakfast treats are almost always glorified dessert items, hiding beneath a whole wheat flour or bran addition.  (Or even just parading its sweet self for all to see.  Miss Fats is talking to you, french toast.)  Miss Fats doesn’t understand why the donut should sit comfortably in the breakfast genre, while pie remains in evening hours.  If anything the deep-fried dough item, perfectly crafted to send you to bed, should be flip-flopped with a bright and tangy slice of fruit pie in early hours.

Why should all the round sliced food objects be confined to the second half one’s day? (Pizza?  Also breakfast.)  Their perfect portability and triangular shape make for an ideal nutrient delivery system during the hours when your brain is still waking up and struggling to organize yourself in the morning rush.  Sure, it’s not the healthiest of breakfasts, but if you’re going to reach for a sweet morning treat, pie at least holds the promise of breakfast flavors.  Plus a pie is almost always waiting for you.  No need to mess with flour or a pesky waffle maker first thing in the morning: a big slice of pie is just sitting there on the counter, waiting to be consumed.  Throw a big dollop of greek yogurt on that apple pie and you’ve basically got a power breakfast.

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Look: Miss Fats realizes she probably hasn’t convinced you of breakfast pie yet.  But she’s sure this recipe makes a strong enough case for itself.  Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Pie combines the chewy oatiness of a granola with the flavors of banana bread.  Welcome to layers of flakey pie crust, silky chocolate, gooey banana custard and toasty oatmeal top; a veritable stratum of flavors and textures.  This pie manages to straddle the line between granola bar and pecan pie: teetering deliciously between breakfast and dessert.  Perhaps it’s actually meant to be consumed at the end of a late night around 3 am: right between the two.  Miss Fats can get on board with that.

This pie started as Four and Twenty Blackbird’s Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie.  Blackbird’s “poor-man’s pecan pie,” received rave reviews from a group of Miss Fats’ dear friends.  The crazy-simple recipe made for the perfect game night pie on a Sunday night: no fuss, just good clean fun.  However, always looking to innovate, Miss Fats’ friend I, suggested a banana cream hybrid.  They all agreed the pie had an air of breakfast and would happily begin any day with a big slice and cup of coffee.  But I was interested in producing the ultimate breakfast pie object.  The custard center seemed to be begging to mate with a banana cream friend, so I tasked Miss Fats with the challenge of melding the two.

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Through some simple substitutions and modifications, Miss Fats created a breakfast dessert monster.  She also simplified the whole thing by throwing all the ingredients into a blender and allowing the machine to do all the work for her.  Reducing the sugar and adding bananas makes for a pie that holds all the power of a pie, banana bread, and granola bars. Topped with chocolate. The custard center is the real revelation here.  Miss Fats upped the salt (as she does)  to highlight the creamy, caramel-y flavor fruit to produce a homey richness akin to a beautifully simple slice of moist banana bread.  Pie crust creates a tender base, followed by a bit of bitter chocolate (again, perfectly salted), then comes the smooth banana custard-y center, topped off with a chewy layer of toasted oats.   The ultimate geological formation: the perfect stratification of discrete breakfast treats that come together in pure mouth harmony.  Morning bliss.

Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Pie:
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbird’s Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie

1 9-inch single pie crust (Miss Fats prefers this one from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
3 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream divided
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
5 tbs melted butter
4 eggs
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Par bake the crust, rolling out the dough, lining a 9 inch pie pan and crimping the sides.  Puncture the bottom to allow air to escape and line the crust with a piece of parchment or foil. Weigh down the center with beans or fancy pie weights, if you have them.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove weights and foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the bottom of the crust looks dry.  Set aside to cool. (Can easily be done in advance.)

2. Toast the oats by spreading them evenly on a lined sheet pan and baking for 10-12 minutes.  Toss every few minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

3. Heat 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave for about 2 minutes or until scalded.  Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and throw in a big pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth.  Pour into the bottom of the pie crust and spread evenly.  Allow to cool in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

4.  In a blender, throw in all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.   Stir in the oats with a spoon.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

5. Bake the pie for 1 hour, rotating once approximately 30 minutes into baking.  The pie is done when the edged have browned a bit and the center is set.  The center should be completely set but have a little give: imagine gently poking a fluffy cake.  Allow to cool fully: about 2-3 hours, or leave that guy sitting out over night to chow down on in the morning.

Miss Fats highly recommends consuming a big slice of this pie with a fresh cup of coffee.  She’s pretty sure a big dollop of full fat yogurt (or whipped cream.  She doesn’t judge early hour whipped cream consumption) would send this over the edge.  Waking up to a slice of this pie just might make you a morning person.  Watch out.

Recipe Review: Pear Ginger (Walnut) Muffins

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Miss Fats has been lazily loaving around her winter workshop baking.  Friday mornings were once a scheduled place for baking experimentation in sweet breakfast delights.  However the cold and apathy has resulted in a continuous slew of breakfast loaves week after week for her regular Friday meetings.  While Miss Fats is relatively sure folks are satisfied with a blackberry lemon pairing, or carrot cake crumble, there’s something a bit lifeless about the loaf object that doesn’t make for baking blog fodder.  So she apologizes to all of you who came here to today to hear about the variations of spice cake that have come out of Miss Fats kitchen (she knows you’re all incredibly disappointed).

In an effort to liven her baking efforts (and frankly, get her blogging again), Miss Fats finally tried out Food52′s Pear Ginger Walnut Muffins by Ms T.  These little guys have been mocking Miss Fats from her Pinterest for months now.  Every week she goes to browse the bounty of breakfast snacks collected on her board, and each week assumes she’ll give this muffin a try.  But she’s been damn lazy; and the idea of portioning out twelve whole muffins on a Friday morning just seems like too much (see what this damn vortex does to people?  Can’t even scoop muffins anymore #notarealproblem).  But February brought a little break in the weather (high 30s have never felt so good), so she rode that heat wave right to muffin town: time for something shiny and new.

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In order to cut down on morning baking, Miss Fats went ahead and made the pear ginger sauce the night ahead.  Ms. T’s instructions were relatively easy to follow, however she found that she needed to cook the sauce for quite a bit longer than the specified 15-20 minutes.  Maybe Miss Fats was dealing with some juicy pears, but hers sat stewing for a good 30-40 minutes.  This was fine, because she just let them hang out while she went about her business.  The sauce simply sat overnight waiting to be muffined the next morning.

As per usual, Miss Fats refused to use more than one bowl for these baked goods.  She simply began with step three, using a whisk instead of an electric mixer.  The dry were added to the wet and produced a thick thick batter of gingery goodness.  Obviously, after a bit of tasting, she upped the salt by about half a tsp.  Now Miss Fats isn’t rolling in walnut-money so she ended up leaving out the nut action.  The muffins baked up in almost exactly 20 minutes, which combined with the ten minute cook time (thanks to sauce prep) made for the ideal morning baking project.

The real beauty of these muffins is their outsides match their insides: mainly they’re both aesthetically pleasing and truly tasty.  Their plump, slightly crisp muffin tops provide the perfect shell for the tender, moist crumb inside.   The sauce only partially broke down the fruit, leaving tender chunks of spiced pear throughout the muffin.  The ginger flavor is subtle and frankly the pear flavor is nonexistent.  However these muffins are more about the gentle flavor and homey texture of a fresh, moist breakfast treat.  While Miss Fats is usually a fan of bolder flavors, she recognizes that not everyone wants kick in the face first thing in the morning.   These ginger pear muffins are the perfect hit of spice and sweet to sit along side a big cup of coffee on a cold morning.  She will definitely be making these again.

Now the real question is how can Miss Fats mix this thing up?  She wonders if there are variations on this sauce-muffin action that can exploited for future breakfast baking projects.  She supposes that any hearty fruit that lends itself to a fruit butter or mash would be appropriate.  That means apples, peaches, and rhubarb had better watch their backs.  Miss Fats is coming for you.

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mini lemon layer cake

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There are no excuses.  Miss Fats has been exceedingly lazy in the new year and apologizes for her absence (she doesn’t need to hear about all about your tearful two months away.)  But this winter has been rough, people.  Miss Fats won’t continue to bore you with tales of windchill or triple socks or ice cabin fever, but she will allow herself to hide behind the fridged fortress of double vortex that sucked a good deal of joy from the month of January.  Alright.  Cold complains and lazy excuses complete.

Miss Fats is back in action this lunar new year (real new years resolutions, people) with some tasty treats to push (aspirationally) into warmer times ahead and remind us all that a damn good meal can make about any slip on the frozen Chicago sidewalks a hell of a lot better.  So in honor of these bright blue skies between snowfalls in the Midwest, Miss Fats baked up a sunny lemon cake.  This mini layered cake provides enough tang to remind us you can still feel something beneath that thick wool sweater.

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Now “winter citrus” is certainly hot right now (exploding pinterest), Miss Fats would like to think this little cake takes your winter concerns a bit more seriously.  She’s so tired of the new years healthy resolution business.  Let’s get real people: all those heavy, welcoming, holiday treats bring joy and celebration for a reason.  They’re damn warm and inviting.  And guess what?  January is colder.  So throw the resolution garbage aside, stop torturing yourself and go for the gooey mac n cheese so your toes don’t fall off.  Continuous cold salad meal is doing nothing to encourage circulation.  In an effort to keep blood flowing to all appendages, Miss Fats tried to create a mini cake that both brightens and satisfies.  She’s down with the abundance of winter citrus (can’t get enough of those satsumas), but she doesn’t think they need to mean light and healthy desserts meant to refresh folks on a hot, sticky summer day.  As much as we’d all like to fantasize about the summer months, we have more practical concerns: like how to regain feeling in one’s face.

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This little lemon cake is a dense, decadent dessert that helps you keep that winter insolation on the below-freezing bright blue days of February.  It begins with layers of coconut lemon cake that is closer to a rich pound cake.  Then comes homemade lemon curd and a thick, creamy cream cheese center.  All of this is wrapped in a blanket of fluffy whip cream that disguises the dense lemon attack inside.  Now there are a number of steps to this recipe.  However Miss Fats encourages folks to take the necessary shortcuts: buy the lemon curd.  She totally understands.  Trader Joe’s makes a damn fine and affordable one that could easily make due here.  Don’t have cream cheese around?  Skip it or make it well in advance (it can easily hang out in the fridge for a few days).  The creamy, tangy, cheesy filling is delightful, however an extra dollop of whip cream can make due in a pinch.  Miss Fats went ahead and stabilized the whipped cream with gelatin, but if the cake is for immediate consumption there’s no need to take this step.  The most important thing here is that you’re indulging in the sweetness of dessert during the dead of winter. Get on it.

Mini Lemon Layer Cake
makes one six inch cake

cake:
adapted from Baker’s Royale Coconut Citrus Cake

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
6 tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs oil
1 cup flour
1/4 cup coconut milk

lemon curd
Miss Fats used David Lebovitz’s excellent curd recipe cut in half

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3 tbs butter

cream cheese filling

4 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

stabilized whipped cream

1 tbs cold water
1/2 tsp gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbs lemon zest (reserved from the curd)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Make the Curd.  Miss Fats simply halved the recipe followed David Lebovitz’s instructions to a T.  Worked out perfectly.  Make that curd and set aside until assembly. Reserve about a tbs of the zest for the whipped cream.  In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar for the whipped cream and the zest, rubbing it together with your fingers to release the oils.  Let this hang out while you get to business with the cake.

2. Bake the Cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two six inch cake pans.  In small bowl (Miss Fats recommends a small measuring cup), combine the sour cream and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, yolk and sugar.  Mix until combined.  Add the melted butter and beat on high for 3-4 minutes.  Add vanilla, zest, baking powder, lemon juice and oil.  Mix until combined.  Add the coconut milk to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Using a spoon or rubber scraper, fold in the flour in two batches, alternating with the milk/sour cream mixture (ending with the milk).  Divide batter between the two pans and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.  Allow cakes to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, remove and allow to fully cool on the counter.

3. Make the Filling.  In a small bowl, heat the cream cheese in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds or until slightly softened.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Set aside until cake assembly.

4. Make the Whipped Cream (right before cake assembly.  do not do this ahead of time).  In a small bowl, add the water and sprinkle the gelatin over top.  Allow the gelatin to bloom while you begin whipping the cream.  In a large bowl (or stand mixer), combine the cream and zesty sugar, and beat until fully combined.  Add the vanilla and salt, beat on high until very soft peaks begin to form.  Zap your gelatin mixture in the microwave for about 10 seconds or until melted.  With your mixer on high, slowly stream in the gelatin to your whipped cream.  Continue to beat until still peaks form.

5. Assemble the cake.  Carefully even out the top half of the cake with a serrated knife, then cut each layer in half to form four even layers.  Place the first layer on a small plate or platter.  Spread half of the curd on top and top with a second layer of cake.  Spread the cream cheese layer next.  Top with the third layer of cake.  Finish with the remaining curd and cake.  Spread a thin layer of the whipped cream all around the cake to create the crumb layer.  Don’t worry: this will be super ugly and messy.  Put the cake in the fridge and allow this to set for about 30 minutes.  Clean up or something.  Finish off the cake with a thick layer of the remaining whipped cream.  (As you can see from the pictures, Miss Fats did not layer enough cream on the outside of her cake.  She hope you’ll make wiser decisions.)

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Slice into this little guy for full flavor bomb.  A baby bite of this cake packs a heck of a lot of lemony, tangy flavor that makes all that layering and labor worth it.  Since you worked so hard, you should probably also top it with a healthy dollop of extra cream if you have that lying around.  Call it a “snow blanket” if you will.

Best snowy, sunny day ever.

grumpy cat crack cake attack

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Miss Fats is mid birthday rush this week.  She has two “high seasons” for birthday cake baking–May and November–when she’s convinced a ton of parents got together and conspired to breed an entire generation of children born in the same week, spaced perfectly six months apart. 20-30 years later, Miss Fats is busy crafting three cakes in one week to celebrate all that Valentine love (gross) that bred an entire generation of pod people. ( i.e. her near and dear friends.)

Now, she began #birthdayweek (if it’s a conspiracy, it may as well have its own hashtag), with a classic birthday cake (a rare request!), but she’s going to save that post for later; because she is damn excited about the craziest of 30th birthdays “cakes” she put together this past weekend for her friend E’s bash.  Meet the Wacky Crack Attack.

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Miss Fats loves to bake for any crowd, however she has a couple of favorite individuals who she’s always eager to feed and please with decadent desserts.  E is right at the top of the list thanks to his insatiable sweet tooth and affinity for seconds (that’s appreciation, people).  She knew there was no way to get any specific flavor requests from him for the big day (he will eat anything and loves all things sweet), so Miss Fats just decided to dream up the most insane cake monster she could think of.  Initially, she was gravitating toward an ice cream concoction, since he and Miss Fats have been known to venture far across the city in search of giant creamy cones.  However there were already plans for frozen custard on the night of the celebration (double dessert. duh.); And she knew any old chocolate layer cake thing wouldn’t do.  Not to mention it was E’s 30th and therefore required Miss Fats to kill him via sugar object.  As you know, Miss Fats has got pie on the brain, and she had a recent conversation about the Momofuko Crack Pie that had been nagging at the back of her head for a couple of weeks now.  That was it.  Crack pie.  The name and object were ideal for E: done and done.

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But this is a birthday, people.  And a big one.  For an important friend.  So Miss Fats could hardly stop there.  So what does crack need?  More crack, apparently.  Something she adores about Momofuko’s pie is it’s complete and total acceptance of ugly.  None of that prissy, fancy pants dessert garbage (all prim and proper: boo), but  instead a total embrace of disgusting deliciousness: truly privileging taste over aesthetics.  Naturally this meant Miss Fats wanted to extend this aesthetic to the cake (pie) topper.  She decided to make excessive clusters of salty sweet goodness to mound on top of the ugly monster pie base to create a Frankensteinian sugar object capable of catapulting insulin levels and destroying any pancreas in its way.  You can’t even imagine how excited she was.

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This was Miss Fats first Momofuko recipe attempt and she knew they were notorious for being somewhat finicky and required great attention to detail.  Therefore for the actual pie, she stuck straight to it and executed the body of the beast step for step, to the t.   It was really that crack topping where she got to work on her salty-sweet craft, improvise and (literally) sculpt the perfect collection of morsels.  So what goes into wacky crack, you ask?  Well the short answer is: whatever the hell you want.  This is really more of a method (methodology?) than a recipe.  Miss Fats is going to share her mixture for you all, but she encourages you to get down and dirty with it: be creative: be cavalier.

wacky crack clusters:
makes about 2 cups of clusters

3 crunchy chocolate chip cookies (Miss Fats used Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chip Dunkers, but Chips Ahoy would also be good here)
3 peanut butter sandwich cookies (Nutter Butters)
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup pretzels (broken up a bit)
1 chopped candy bar (Miss Fats used a mini M&Ms bar she had on hand)
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
1/4 cup melted peanut butter chips
sea salt

salted caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs water
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt (to taste)

1. Make the caramel sauce: in a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over medium, carefully stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Once dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and DO NOT stir or take your eyes off it.  Allow the sugar to caramelize and turn a deep amber (about 5-8 minutes), swirling the pan by the handle every so often.  Once the caramel has deepened in color, remove from the heat and add the butter and cream (be careful: it will bubble rapidly).  Stir until completely smooth.  If it seizes up, return to medium low heat, and stir constantly until smooth.  Add salt to taste.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Cluster assembly: line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (makes for easy clean up).  Throw down all of the dry cluster ingredients and roughly mix.  Drizzle the caramel, chocolate and peanut butter over top.  Toss together and roughly pat into a single layer of goodness.  Drizzle another layer of caramel and chocolate over top and sprinkle with salt to make it nice and pretty.  Allow to cool completely by either leaving it to harden on the counter, or sticking in the fridge for about an hour.

3.  Once cool, break into large chunks and enjoy.

To top the pie, mound the clusters into any monstrous form you’d like.  Donezo. Miss Fats’ wonderful roommates also created the perfect topper using some creative pen work and some printed off images of Grumpy Cat.  Since E looks like grumpy cat with a mustache, it was the ideal expression of birthday affect for an aggressive dessert.

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In the end, her pie wasn’t perfect (but should it be?).  Her oven had some hot spots that caused the custard to bake slightly unevenly, and the crust baked a little more than she would have liked.  However, anyone who’s executed this pie knows, the whole thing isn’t really meant to be eaten like a pie.  Instead, the crack pie creates a salty sweet object that is to be scraped from the pan and consumed in a messy pile of all that is good in life.  Yes people” the crust sticks to the pan.  It sticks real bad.  And she’s sure that one could do some serious greasing and throw down some parchment.  But that would probably ruin part of the joy of crack pie: this is as much of an aesthetic–tactile–experience as it is about taste: embrace ugly. The crack clusters added a crazy crunchy layer to the chewy, creamy pie custard and cookie crust to make for a mouthful of all things good.  This is some serious mouth porn.  Pure dessert filth.  She highly recommends it.

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Between eight people, they only managed to get through half of the pie.  It’s fucking intense.  The rest was sent home in a glorious pile to be eaten while standing over the kitchen counter with a fork in hand.  Probably in your underwear, at 3 am.  Crack pie will definitely make it into Miss Fats’ recipe arsenal, but clearly must be accompanied by some sort of chocolate pretzel object. ( She feels no need to explain this.  It’s self-evident that chocolate and pretzels make everything better.)  She hopes E is enjoying his leftovers and that Wacky Crack Attack was all he could have dreamed of for his big birthday celebration.  Or she hopes he’s dead of diabetic shock from pie overload.  Either or.

recipe review: cranberry apple pie

IMG_7703And so pie month continues at chez Miss Fats.  In order to motivate her baking and force her to tackle the classic and simple pies she fears most, Miss Fats participated in the recipe testing for Food 52′s latest “Best Thanksgiving Pie” contest.  As a tester, you simply execute the recipe per instructions are provide a 100 word review for the site.  Each pie ideally has three volunteers who provide feedback on the taste, instructions and over all experience.  However 100 words is damn short, and Miss Fats is pretty sure no sweet treat can be accurately summed up in such a short space (eating and food description demand [illicit] excess).

So she’s sharing a fuller review of the pie recipe here for you all, complete with modifications and tips for the baking process.  Miss Fats wound up selecting the Cranberry Apple Pie for testing.  This was primarily for aesthetic reasons (hey, Miss Fats is a visual person, and firmly believes in the power of good food porn), but she also had some extra cranberries on hand and liked the simplicity of this pie’s filling: no crazy spices or techniques: just fruit hanging out with more fruit.  Additionally, the crust recipe seemed standard enough: the usual all butter recipe with a little lemon zest to complement the tart fruit.  Simple.  Done.  She even had all the ingredients on hand.

Unfortunately, Miss Fats hit problems early on.  She meticulously following instructions to test the rhetoric and measurements of the recipe.  However, as the mound of flour piled up, it was incredibly clear to Miss Fats that there’s no way 1/3 cup ice water would be sufficient.  She went ahead, adding the specified amount, praying that by some pie miracle it would come together (she actually believed this given her amateur pie status–so naive).  However, she instead encountered the exact reason she hates making pie:  She felt as though she was scrambling against time as the butter warmed and threatened to create a gummy, dense crust, but the incredibly crumbly, dry dough just would not come together and instead created a mess.  She quickly sprinkled an additional 1/3 cup water over top, working it into the dough with a rubber spatula.  Though the dough began to form, she was facing her most annoying enemy: fucking butter/flour crumbs at the bottom of the bowl (she hates that shit).   Finally ditching the spatula, she went for a last sprinkle of ice water and went elbows deep, pulling together the uneven dough and cursing flour out lout (literally).  Scrambling to get that butter business into the fridge as soon as possible, she used the plastic wrap to assemble the hunks and hoped that if we all just calmed down a bit (dough included), it would come together in time.

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After eating (critical) and some quiet time, Miss Fats returned to the pathetic butter disks, assuming they’d developed into impossible masses of gluten and dry hunks of powder resembling the old container of Play-Dough she has lying around.  She prepared herself for some serious elbow grease and frustration tears during the rolling process, throwing the disks down onto her floured countertop, prepped to let disaster ensue.  However to her surprise, the dough proved surprisingly pliable and only cracked a bit at the edges where she clearly had failed to mix properly.  Carefully turning and working the disk outward, she rolled out a fairly thick twelve-inch crust and transferred it to her pie pan.  She was calming down.  It would be ok.

The filling was incredibly simple, both in technique and ingredients.  Miss Fats was surprised (and slightly disappointed) to see how few apples the recipe called for (only 5??).  However she executed them to a t, and loaded her prepared pan with the spiced fruit mixture.  Layering her second crust, she did her best to make the edges as pretty as possible (not easy for Miss Fats), which essentially resulted in some bloated, sausage-like crimping that would undoubtably end up underdone.  On with the egg wash and a sprinkling of raw sugar, and into the oven for an hour.  Smooth sailing from then on out.

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In the end, the pie was fine.  She was pleasantly pleased by the filling, which had a sharp, tart flavor and a really nice balance of textures between the slightly softer, sweeter pink ladies, and grannies that still had a bit of a bite.  The cranberries themselves, sprinkled bursts of tartness throughout and created a pleasing marbling effect.  Her number one complaint?  Not enough.  She could have seriously used more of that filling action. The crust-fruit ration was way off. Hell, from now on she’ll probably just go for that portion of the recipe sans crust, throw in the oven to get caramelized and soft, and then go topping a cold, creaming scoop of vanilla ice cream with all that apple-cranberry business.  With a drizzle of salted caramel.  Obviously.  Despite the beautifully browned, surprisingly, non-chewy texture, she frankly, found the crust bland.  And too thick. (Well, that’s probably more of Miss Fats fault; but also there should not have been three cups of flour in that recipe.)  The lemon zest was a nice touch, but it could have seriously used more salt (Miss Fats would up it to about 1 tsp) and a bit of sugar given the tartness of the filling.  Oh well.  The important part is that Miss Fats was not beaten by this baking beast.  She’s a bit bruised (well, more like scolding herself for being a whiney little child about pie crust), but she’ll take away some serious experience from this pie.  Fruit pie has yet to be conquered, but she’s well on her way to proficiency.

Up next?  Pure crack.

recipe review: salted chocolate pecan pie

IMG_7626Miss Fats is going to share one of her biggest fears with you: pie.  Clearly she has a bit of a bias toward fluffy cake objects and their bready relatives, but this mainly stems from her crippling fear of pastry.  The simplicity and precision required to execute even the simplest of pastries requires a restraint and attention that Miss Fats rarely has.  She needs a bit more wiggle room.  Because she’s lazy.  And hates measuring.  As a result, she stays away pastry, hiding behind a defensive layer of language that suggests it’s “too fancy” or “fussy” for her taste.  This is a load of crap.  The reality is that Miss Fats just hasn’t been practicing and fears the perpetual disappointment that it can often create.  She hates nothing more than when a carefully labored pie crust, chilled and minimally handled, winds up too chewy or dense.  This may be because she believes that in order to be a truly great baker, one should have a grasp on a standard crust.  And when it comes down to it, Miss Fats just doesn’t.  And thanks to grad school logic: thus she is not a real baker.

Ok enough self-loathing and indulgent nonsense.  She knows the only way to really get past this hang up is to approach it like every other pastry novice: practice, practice, practice.  So in the spirit of the season, Miss Fats is taking pie on for reals this time.

Her resistance to pie primarily stems from not only this fear of pastry, but the number of flubbubs that can occur with any pie production.  Is the fruit too sweet?  Too moist?  Did I add enough flour this time?  Is it going to boil over and make a big sticky mess at the bottom of my oven?  Will my crust shrink in the pan?  Or will it absorb my filling and turn into a soggy mess? Ugh I cannot roll out pie dough.  Why is it so ugly? See: so many anxieties go into a pie.  Miss Fats is a such a coward.  Get over it.

So in order to ease her way into the pie game, she decided to go for a single crust, non-fruit pie in an attempt to eliminate as many potential problems as possible.  Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching and she loves herself some pecans, Miss Fats settled on a classic pecan pie: only naturally, this required the addition of chocolate and salt.  Duh.  The final pie ended up being a hybrid of Smitten Kitchen’s Foolproof Pie Dough and David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Pecan Pie for the filling.

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She ultimately stuck pretty close to the original recipes, particularly with the dough.  Miss Fats anxiously measured, pulsed that food processor exactly the right number of times, and carefully added the freezing cold liquids to the batch.  Reluctantly to even touch the dough with her hands, she scraped it into the plastic wrap, played a bit of hot potato with the disk and threw it in the fridge.  Miss Fats was pleasantly surprised to find that the dough rolled out with ease and didn’t crack or she wasn’t forced to stretch her gummy over-mixed mess like in past pie experiences.  Her pie vanity issues were rendered null thanks to her roommate’s beautiful pie pan complete with a wavy mold, that she gently pressed the dough into.  For the filling, she omitted the bourbon (only because she didn’t have any on hand), upped the salt content to a full teaspoon, and went with semi sweet chocolate chunks instead of chips.  She decided not to pre-bake the crust (out of laziness and lack of baking beans), and simply allowed the filling to fuse with buttery crust.  The finishing touch was brushing the crust with a little egg wash and sprinkling it with some raw sugar crystals before baking.  Then obviously, after cooling the topping got a heathy sprinkle of sea salt to add those perfect bites to cut the gooey sweetness of the pie filling.

The pie was a freaking miracle.  Somehow the damn thing turned out and it looked good.  Miss Fats couldn’t have dreamt of a better outcome given her inexperience.  The crust’s mixture of butter and shortening gave it both a chewy and flakey texture.  It remained crisp on the bottom but managed to soak up some of that caramel-y filling, creating a nice contrast with the decadent insides.  Next time Miss Fats makes this pie, however, she’ll be using bittersweet chunks instead of semi-sweet.  She actually found it to be just every-so-slightly too sweet for her taste: she’s pretty sure a hit of darker, bitter chocolate is just what this pie needs to send it over the edge.  Overall the pie was not perfect, but well beyond expectations and enough to keep Miss Fats’ hopes up and baking until Thanksgiving.  She feels restored and ready to take on these scary dessert objects.  Just you wait: soon cake pans may be exchanged for rolling pins… though who is she kidding?  Probably not.  (There’s just more options for peanut butter with cake…though maybe not?)

stuffed carrot peanut butter muffins

Miss Fats has had a busy back to school month.  That means lots of events, meetings and trying to keep up with coursework, and of course, a ton of baking.  Sunday Sundaes is currently a poor reflection of her efforts since returning to Chicago (and so is, frankly, Miss Fats’ phone), but she’s literally been churning things out too fast to photograph.  Now that she’s fully settled back into the pace of the year, she’s sharing one of her favorite morning baked goods to usher in a whole slew of pastry posts she’s got in the works for you.

IMG_7565Miss Fats’ most regular baking gig includes the bi-monthly workshop she co-coordinates for graduate students, faculty and visiting guests.  This means churning out platters of scones, muffins, loaves and all that bready, breakfasty fun on Friday mornings.  This past week featured one of Miss Fats’ favorite people to bake for, I.  She’s a big fan of any friend who willingly takes seconds and thirds without asking.  I is always game to grab an extra cookie, slice of cake or giant bag of baking bits that Miss Fats shoves into his hands.  So she gave him full license to pick a breakfast item or flavor profile for his workshop.  His choice was the result of a little brainstorming ‘sesh that ended up circulating around the crazy delicious dessert team Miss Fats dined on at Blackbird last spring.  In pure pastry genius nonsense, Blackbird served her up a carrot cake with peanut ice cream that sent Miss Fats over the edge and she’s been dying to try out that flavor combo ever since.  I’s workshop was the perfect place to test out the peanutty waters.  Luckily adores carrot cake and anything peanut butter related, so the challenge was to transform an elegant, James Beard award winning pastry chef’s plate into a bready, handheld breakfast object.  Game on.

The end result was the craziest muffin Miss Fats has ever created: carrot cake stuffed with a cream cheese filling and topped with a peanut streusel and peanut butter drizzle.  But it totally worked.  You got every necessary flavor profile: the sweet spice of the moist carrot cake, the gooey tang of the cream cheese filling, and the salty crumble crunch of the peanut topping.  She might have a new all time favorite muffin.  This muffin boasts the perfect harmony of texture and fall flavors to take your ‘buds to a harmony party (whatever that is).  Though there’s a lot of steps with these suckers, she suspects they could easily be transformed into a lazy loaf or cake as well.  Not to mention, they’re totally worth the muffin work, because who doesn’t love a hand-held object that packs this much flavor and contrast.

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They’re not so pretty, but they’re damn tasty.

Stuffed Carrot and Peanut Butter Muffins:
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s carrot cake
makes 24 muffins

filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

muffins:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots

topping:
2 tbs natural peanut butter
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs flour
large pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (unsalted, or be sure to adjust salt if yours are salted)

glaze:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt (depending on your peanut butter)
water (if needed)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake pans.  Make the filling: heat the cream cheese in a bowl in the microwave for approximately 1 minute.  Stir in sugar and vanilla and set aside.

2. Prepare the streusel: Melt the peanut butter and butter in the microwave.  Using a fork, mix in the flour, brown sugar and salt, until combined and you have a slightly-moist, crumbly mixture.  Add the chopped peanuts.

3.  Make the muffins: In a large bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and sugar.  Mix until will combined.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in the carrots.

4. Assemble the muffins: Distribute approximately 2 tbs of the batter into each cup (filling about half way).  Then follow with about 2 tsps of the cream cheese scooped into the center of your cups.  Top them off with another 2 tbs of muffin batter (Miss Fats actually recommends filling these nearly to the top.  She was disatisfied with how flat her 3/4 filled muffins turned out).  Finally, sprinkle the topping on your filled muffins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Make the glaze: while the muffins are baking, heat the peanut butter in a small bowl.  Whisk in the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla.  If the mixture is proving too thick to drizzle, add a little water (this will depend on the consistency of your peanut butter).

6.  After your muffins have cooled for approximately 10 minutes, drizzle the glaze over top.

Six steps to salt-sweet bliss.  The beauty of this recipe is that all its components are tasty little devils on their own.  To cut back on work, Miss Fats recommends skipping the glaze or filling (though she’s pretty sure you’ll regret it!);  though do not skip that crumble, people: crumble is crack.  These guys will store just fine at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  Though she doesn’t understand why they’d need to: she dares you to just eat one.  No wait, Miss Fats takes that back: don’t even bother.  Just fill your mouth with the crunch-salt-sweet-creamy-tang that is the perfect morning muffin.

the business of breakfast: Malaysia (recipe included!)

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Miss Fats apologizes for neglecting you all.  It’s been a crazy month back in the U.S. that has mostly consisted of overwhelming work nonsense and persistent cravings for Malaysian cuisine followed by acute stints of post-travel depression.  She is not happy that her life is no longer organized around which dirty alleyway or food cart contains her next meal.  #firstworldproblems

But Miss Fats’ spirits have been successfully raised in the last week.  After the slow accumulation of ingredients, she managed to recreate one of her favorite Malaysian dishes: Nasi Lemak.  This weird little bundle of joy is a very traditional morning meal.  Though it varies across the country, Nasi Lemak is typically coconut rice topped with spicy sambal, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), peanuts, an egg, and chopped cucumber, all wrapped up in a banana leaf or butcher paper for your on-the-go convenience. This breakfast prism can be found at most nasi kandar (Mamak buffet-style) stands, Malaysian food cars/trucks/bikes, or hawker centers.  Miss Fats became obsessed with the spicy sambal “crack sauce” that seeped into that coconut rice, hiding the crunchy bites of peanuts just waiting to be unearthed from beneath the fried fish bites and crispy cucumbers.  She cannot convey just how amazing a perfect bite of nasi lemak can be: you get a little egg, little saucy rice, little fish, and a peanut all in your spoon and you’re in crazy mouth explosion territory.  The best part of this bundle?  Going rate was around 1.50 ringgit (that’s less than 50 cents US). Needless to say, the Malaysians have breakfast figured out.

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Miss Fats has been dying to recreate the experience since returning to the US, and finally, last week, she was able to collect all the necessary ingredients (and substitutions) to make it happen. It wasn’t the same—no banana leaf, no crispy whole mini fish bites—but the flavors of that sauce were close enough to briefly transport her back to the sticky plastic tables of a Malaysian roadside stand.  So in celebration of her relatively successful virtual food-cation, Miss Fats will be running down some of her favorite breakfasts she had abroad, and share her America-friendly recipe with you all.  She hopes by the end you are all converts to the proper way of eating: excessive meat and bread breakfasts for all.

Roti Canai or Pratha

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This might be the breakfast.  Or at least wins Miss Fat and T’s “most consumed” contest.  T was essentially obsessed with this bready breakfast from the first time she laid eyes on it in Singapore.  Walking by the local banana leaf shop, she eyed the crispy naan-looking flat bread on everyone’s plate.  She immediately declared that they would have to stop tomorrow morning to investigate.  The next day, after the usual ordering protocol of pointing and asking for “whatever they are having,” they discovered the simple magic of pratha (or roti canai in Malaysia).  This chewy and crispy flat bread may look similar to naan, but is incredibly different.  After some research, Miss Fats discovered it’s made with standard wheat flour and ghee (no leveners here).

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Unlike naan’s place in a tandoori pot, roti canai is made on a scorching hot flat top where it undergoes a process of stretching and folding, giving its crispy, slightly puffed chewy texture.  She wishes she could count the number of time she just stared at the cooks effortlessly pulling the little balls of dough into paper-think sheets and throwing them down on the stove.  Using two flat spatulas, they’d fold and pull, fold and pull, eventually fluffing the bready pocket, only to beat it down at the last minute, allowing for one last crispy layer to develop on the bottom.  Roti canai are typically served up with two spicy bowls of curry business: one is usually a yellow milder daal, alongside a deep red spicy sauce.  Unlike many other Indian-influenced Malaysian dishes, you actually consume this with a fork and spoon.  Tearing the bread apart, you dunk those bites into both sauces and shovel away into your mouth.  Not to mention you can get these buttery pockets stuffed with a whole range of items, the most common being: egg, onion, butter, sardines, cheese (like American cheese, y’all), and banana.  Miss Fats tended to favor the standard roti canai, served up with a milky teh tarik (pulled tea with sweetened condensed milk), but she was a HUGE fan of the roti kaya variation.  This option featured the roti stuffed with a healthy scoop of kaya (coconut egg jam) and was still served up with the two standard dips.  The sweet coconut jam, bread and spicy curry all melded into the most insane sweet, savory mouth time ever.

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Perhaps the strangest, but most exciting variation was the roti tisu.  This was T’s favorite sweet version of the classic, featuring paper-thin bread, stretched and molded into a towering cone.  The whole thing is then drizzled in honey and you’re left to go at with your fingers, cracking off pieces of flaky, honey-soaked bread.  Unfortunately the tisu doesn’t typically come with those spicy dips, but T was always snagging some of Miss Fats to ensure optimal sweet/spicy/savory flavor action.

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Kaya Toast

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Since Miss Fats has already introduced you to kaya, she thought she should talk a little more about a favorite breakfast that essentially revolves around the magic egg jam.  From the limited research Miss Fats has executed, she believes kaya toast comes from Hong Kong.  However it seems to be a favorite in Malaysia, particularly in areas populated by Chinese immigrants.  This simple breakfast features a thick piece of perfectly toasted egg-y Asian bread (no crusts!) topped with a healthy spread of kaya jam and margarine.  The toast is served up alongside two soft-boiled eggs and spoon full of sugar.  After watching many old men eat this dish, Miss Fats and T discovered that you’re supposed to drizzle a little soy sauce into those eggs and mix them up real good.  Then you dip your toast in sugar and then the eggs, sopping up all that yolky goodness, and again, diving right into the sweet savory breakfast party.

It wasn’t until Miss Fats arrived in Penang that she had the chance to try this dish out, and boy was she pissed that she’d wasted so much time without kaya toast in her life.  Determined to try this dish, she researched the best toast in Georgetown (not an easy task: Google hates Malaysia).  She settled on a little café where an old woman spends four hours slowing cooking the jam and even sells jars of it for all the kaya addicts out there.  Naturally Miss Fats bought a ton and proceeded to carry these strange little jars of coconut jam around with her for the next two weeks, dipping any cracker-like object into the sticky sweet tub permanently sitting on her bedside table.  Why kaya doesn’t exist in the US is beyond Miss Fats; and unfortunately her hoarded supply is dwindling.  She is seriously going to have to work on her egg jam skills, because Miss Fats is fairly certain she will die without it.

Dim Sum

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Alright, this is hardly new.  However Malaysia has a huge Chinese immigrant population, so dim sum breakfast is a standard throughout the country.  Miss Fats and T ‘summed it up a couple of times: indulging in as many pork and leek dumplings, sticky rice and bowls of congee as possible.  She’ll save you the detailed descriptions of each and every little dish, and instead allow the beautiful pictures to do the talking.  Some of Miss Fats’ favorites included the fishcake stuffed Japanese eggplant and peppers, BBQ pork stuffed folded rice sheets, and steamed shrimp dumplings.  Miss Fats and I would load up their table with as many little bowls as possible and pop little dumpling bite after bite.  It’s hard to say how different Malaysian dim sum is from giant restaurants stuffed with people every Sunday in the US: Miss Fats is no dim sum expert.  However she will say that she had some of the best BBQ pork of her life, stuffed in a perfectly steamed hum bow in Penang.  Whatever they’re doing to the pork in that city: keep it up.

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Nasi Kandar

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Nasi kandar has come up a couple of times now, and is hardly specific to breakfast.  In fact, it’s really more of a twenty-four hour buffet of Mamak delights.  However, Miss Fats and T frequently began their day at the kandar (and they were hardly the only ones at it).  The basic premise is a you’re given a heaping plate of rice that you top with as many scoops of Malaysian curry, vegetables or meats as you’d like.

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Now it took a long time for Miss Fats and T to figure this shit out.  And she’s not even entirely sure how it works now.  Typically, you’ve got a wide spread of dishes including various meat curries, stewed vegetables and big trays of crispy friend chicken.  You’re then welcome to scoop (or sometimes there’s someone there to serve them up for you) as many of them as you’d like.  Now it’s the payment part that always confused them.  You are typically charged per scoop, or per hunk of meat; vegetables cost less and the chicken is most expensive.  Now this is a problem if you’re like Miss Fats and T who like to sample absolutely everything.  Coming off their experience at the Indian buffet—where they’d perfected the tiny sample scoop technique to ensure optimal testing—this made for some expensive trips to kandar in the beginning (see above: not how you kandar).  They would often get very confused looks as to why they would waste a scoop on such small portion of curry.

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Kandar is incredibly affordable if you work it like a local, and by the end, Miss Fats getting the hang of things.  Essentially you should pick one meat curry—Miss Fats’ favorite was typically mutton—and go for one big hunk.  With the meat curries you’re allowed additional scoops of all the saucy goodness it’s sitting in, so go ahead and dip back in for some of that meaty curry business.  Then you follow with a good scoop or two of vegetables—typically some sort of cabbage, or if you’re lucky, okra. Then just throw down an egg for good measure. Top that all off with some of the free crushed peanuts and cucumber slices sitting at the end.  Boom: the most hearty meat breakfast of your life.  Good fucking morning.

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Now, what Miss Fats and T could never figure out was the extra sauce scoop action she frequently saw locals indulging in.  Apparently one can ask for just a scoop of a meat sauce to top off their meal mound, but whether there was a charge and how much that would be, is beyond Miss Fats.  She eventually succumbed to just being careful about the number of meat pieces and just paid whatever price she was told at the register.  Who knows: maybe she doesn’t understand kandar at all.  Other than it’s worth any cost because frankly, a good day should begin with a hunk of mutton on bed of fragrant rice. Topped with an egg. Obviously.

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All the rest:

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It’s difficult to say whether some of the dishes they had were standard breakfast fair, however Miss Fats and T found that most cities served up all meals, all day (and all night).  Therefore they were often indulging in giant steaming bowls of noodle-y soup first thing in the morning.  Or consuming piles of “dry” wonton noodles and dumplings with a smattering of duck sauce over top.  They operated under the premise that breakfast was important primer step for their day of eating ahead.  Therefore copious amounts of meats and carbs were meant to both fuel and stretch their bloated bodies and allow for optimal consumption and energy throughout the day.

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So in the spirit of beginning your day with a meaty gut-brick meant to power endless consumption and mindless wandering, Miss Fats would like to share her recipe for nasi lemak with all of you.  The traditional dish has been significantly altered due to missing ingredients stateside (not to mention Miss Fats land-locked geographic location), but she found this recipe to produce satisfying flavors of Malaysia that brought her right back to those banana leaf prism bundles of joy.  She hopes you all will give this a try so you can get a little taste of just how goddamn amazing Malaysian flavors can truly be.  For realz: it’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

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Nasi Lemak
makes 4 servings
adapted from Rasa Malaysia

2 cups basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
good pinch of salt

4 shallots
1 clove garlic
15 dried chili peppers*
1 tsp jeotgal (Korean salted, fermented shrimp) **
1 small can of anchovies in oil
1 half red onion, sliced into thin half rings
1 cup tamarind juice***
1 tbs sugar
salt to taste
water

1 can sardines in water, drained
4 hard boiled or fried eggs
chopped cucumber
crushed, toasted peanuts

*Miss Fats still has no idea what kind of chilies she was supposed to use.  She went with the dried serano peppers that you can find in big bins in the produce section of the grocery store.  Who know if she was right.  She recommends going for whatever is the most red, or the largest if you’re afraid of it being too spicy.

**She substituted the Korean fermented shrimp because there was no damn way she was going to be able to get her hands on Malaysian belacan (traditional salted shrimp paste).  She’s pretty sure you can also use a Chinese version of shrimp paste.  Both should be available in most Asian grocery store and lasts in the fridge for basically forever.

***Supposedly you can soak that boxed tamarind you find in some produce sections and Indian grocery stores.  Miss Fats has no idea how to do this.  She instead dissolved about 1 tsp of tamarind paste in water.  She found the tamarind paste at Whole Foods (vastly overpriced) and eventually was able to pick up some tamarind concentrate at an Indian grocery store.

1. Cook the rice as you typically would, simply substituting the water with coconut milk.

2. In a food processor, combine the shallots, garlic, chilies and shrimp.  Blend until you get a relatively-smooth paste.

3. Heat a saucepan and cook the paste until fragrant.  Stir in the anchovies, red onion, sugar and tamarind juice.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the onion rings become soft and nearly disinegrate into the sauce and you get a thick, dark red gravy.   Salt and sugar to taste.

4. To serve, lay down a bed of rice, top with a healthy scooping of the sauce.  Top with the fish and garnish with a small pile of cucumbers and a sprinkling of peanuts.  Finish it off with the egg.

Miss Fats highly recommends just mixing all that rice and sauce together and then trying to get spoonfulls that perfectly balance the soaked rice with a crispy cucumber and bite of peanut.  She can’t even describe how good that perfect marriage of egg, sauce, peanut, fish can be.  Just eat it now, because there’s no possible way your brain can try to imagine this flavor/texture combination.  It’s something you have to try for yourself and allow your imagination to implode as your entire flavor palate becomes refigured through the flavors of Malaysian cooking.

Miss Fats and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Meal

A very sad thing occurred on Friday.

Miss Fats went to Xoco and got froyo afterwards, at Froyo.
Oh no? What could possibly be wrong with such a delicious combination? Well, one half of Miss Fats (M) got a fairly mediocre bowl of pozole, but followed it up with a tasty bowl of fro’ed yo.

The other half of Miss Fats (J) SPENT THE NEXT THREE DAYS PUKING. Miss Fats shares everything – so the culprit has been narrowed down to a lousy TWO shrimp that were swimming in the seafood caldo, or some poisoned passion fruit boba. There will be no photo of this meal because J already got to look at it again. And again. And again. And then was forced to eat nothing but freaking Saltines, applesauce, and Gatorade; and now is coming down from a three day high fructose corn syrup high.

Just a heads up, Chicago: WATCH OUT. SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF XOCO. Which is so, so, SO sad. Because Miss Fats loves that ahogada.

 

 

Seattle round up part 2

Alright.  Miss Fats is taking a very short breather from Asia treats to finish up her time in Seattle.  She could have easily moved on with strange Malaysian meals, but looking back at her two weeks in the PNW, she couldn’t resist sharing some of the insanely indulgent foods that kicked off her seven week vacation.  So take a look and make some notes for your next trip to the Northwest: there’s ample face-stuffing to be had.

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1. Korean Tofu House: bulgogi hot pot, seafood hot pot, bbq bulgogi beef, assorted kimchi and taste goods.  This was a new one for Miss Fats.  Even though she spent years living just blocks from this popular Korean joint, she’d never experienced it in all its bubbling, spicy glory.  Big mistake.  She’s sad to say that this place was outrageously good and she essentially wasted her undergrad years fucking around (or blindly shoving as much pho in her mouth as possible. Not necessarily a bad thing.)  Luckily she now knows where to get steaming hot, cheap and tasty Korean when she’s back in Seattle.

2. Oh hell yes.  Miss Fats loves berry season.  As much as the local foods movement can get ridiculously pretentious in Seattle, she seriously appreciates the fact that she can stop on by her local roadside stand and pick up a flat of plump, juicy berries, fresh-picked from a Washington farm.  These blueberries were out. Of. Control.  Eaten with every meal.  Hell, eaten every time the fridge was open.

3. Miss Fats, despite vacation status, could not resist baking for two weeks.  She had a little family BBQ to attend in celebration of a couple birthdays.  Obviously this required cupcakes.  Since apparently Miss Fat’s brother has no idea what carrot cake is (doesn’t it have chunks of carrots?) she served up a platter of simple red velvet and carrot cupcakes.  That cream cheese frosting did double duty.  She even shared a few of her precious berries to pretty them up a bit.

4. Il Corvo.  Week two in Seattle marked Miss Fats’ attempts to see what new (or at least new to her) restaurants were popping up in her hometown.  Top of her list: Il Corvo.  Repeatedly topping Best New Restaurant lists, this Pioneer Square lunch spot promised $9 handmade pasta.  You read right: nine. Fucking. Dollars.  For handmade pasta. Naturally this comes with long lines and hidden menus (Il Corvo posts its pasta selection online when they open).  Miss Fats and her friend J were first in line (10:45 am lunch. Aw yeah.)  and blindly ordered one of each of their specials.  Glancing up at their antipastas, Miss Fats’ eyes zeroed in on “spicy chickpea salad.”  She was all over that.  Added. Done.  It was only after they sat down that Miss Fats investigated what they had ordered.  She craned over the long line at the handwritten chalkboard.  However due to her limited knowledge of pasta and Italian, this wasn’t the biggest help.  Instead, they patiently waited for the kind man to bring out three steaming bowls of noodle goodness. Some investigation revealed a simple burst tomato sauce with garlic and basil (so damn fresh and bright.  Cheers to tomato season), a squid ink pasta tossed a deep tomato and anchovy-based sauce, dotted with red pepper flake and sharp romano cheese, and finally a roasted pork ragu over thin ribbons of perfectly cooked pasta.  Each of these deserve posts in themselves.  Miss Fats favored the squid ink, which was the perfect salty, slightly fishy, spice she’s always dreamed of.

IMG_4433IMG_4502IMG_4469IMG_44685. The weekend sent Miss Fats to Ocean Shores on the Washington Coast.  She spent two days indulging in some serious middle aged vacation.  On their bike ride into town, Miss Fats and her friend K happened upon this little farmers market where they picked up a bountiful crop of local peaches, zucchini, corn and peppers for dinner.  Redic.

6. Apparently it was national s’mores day.  This required K to spend an entire afternoon tending to fire, toasting up marshmallows for excessive s’more consumption.  Miss Fats is sad to report, however, that K did not manage to reach her goal of twenty s’mores.  Maybe next year.

7. And here comes the highlight of Miss Fats’ time in the PNW.  Fresh crab.  Right off the boat.  Killed and cleaned right before her eyes.  Every Saturday and Sunday, you can stop off at the docks in Ocean Shores and pick yourself up some live dungenous crab for a measly $11.  Last summer, Miss Fats had missed out on this delight and had spent an entire 365 days regretting it.  Now, K does not eat seafood, so she was not so into the idea of a crab dinner.  Like that was going to stop her.  Miss Fats rode her bike beach and picked up a two-pound sucker for herself.

8. The kind man in the rubber apron with giant muscles and a huge crab tattoo who killed and sold the beast to her instructed Miss Fats to boil the fresh crab corpse for eight minutes.  Following his instructions produced the following shmorgosborg of shellfish goodness:

IMG_4553IMG_4581IMG_4646IMG_46619. Yep. Miss Fats had all that to herself.  However you may notice that dish of melted butter artfully sitting on the plate.  Not needed.  The crab was that sweet.  No lemon. No butter.  Just pure, flakey, meaty goodness.  This was literally the best crab Miss Fats has had in her entire life and now she’s not sure she can live without dining on a two pound freshly caught and killed crab every night. #firstworldproblems

10. Aftermath.  Mission accomplished.

11. Obviously Miss Fats final dinner in the U.S. for a month had to be Mexican.  Thanks to good fortune, she also discovered that one of her closest friends would be in Seattle at the same time to reunite her favorite dining threesome.  Miss Fats and friends, J & A, frequently ate Seattle during their college years, systematically stuffing themselves with all the sweet and savouries the city has to offer.  This last dinner stateside was a rare opportunity for the three of them to come together and eat like it was their job.  They ended up trying out Mezcaleria Oaxaca, a small plates, slightly upscale place in Queen Anne.  For those of you who know the place or their other Ballard eatery, La Carta de Oaxaca, you’ll know they know what’s up with those crazy good Oaxacan flavors.  In typical style, the three of them ordered a huge chunk of the menu, sampling their tacos, tamales, pozole, meats and fish galore.  The hands down winner of the night was the tamale smothered in an incredible mole sauce.  That plate was licked damn clean.

12. Portage Bay Café.  For her final meal in the U.S., Miss Fats dined with Obachan and her dad at the Seattle brunch spot, Portage Bay Café.  Now she stands by the fact that this place is vastly overrated and over priced, however Miss Fats wasn’t paying and she can admit they make a damn good pancake (though she upholds that their French toast is on the dry side).  Here she indulged in a heaping last American plate of local huckleberry pancakes topped with a mountain of fresh fruit, maple syrup and whip cream, with a side of bacon.  She also instructed her dad to order up the lemon blueberry French toast so she could nom on it as well.  One last bread/pork buffet to remind her of the portion sizes she’d be missing for the next month.