Category Archives: Eat Me

Eat Me (or, How One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Strictly for High Rollers – Millionaire’s Shortbread
by Clare Nisbet

Shortbread crumbs mixed and ready for pressing The perfect Scottish trifecta - shortbread, caramel, chocolate

It’s a gloomy Monday morning at the downtown headquarters of OSB and the fact that it is a holiday inspired me to write about some serious Scottish dessert – Millionaire’s Shortbread. Besides, the baseball card series is getting old for me and it’s time to inject some good, old-fashioned variety back into this blog. I hope the NWTVS and Ace follow shortly. In my next blog I will take a much needed departure from dessert and Scotland but in the spirit of dusting off the cobwebs at OSB headquarters I am going to stick with what I know and love for one more week. Besides, is it just me or is it enough with the baseball cards already?!

Millionaire’s Shortbread is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s actually likely to push those weak of heart over the cardiac arrest edge. It is a traditional Scottish treat that I used to love as a child – likely contributing to both my chub and my janky teeth. I recently made it for a bunch of Americans at our annual Festivus celebration as a sort of sociological experiment and they couldn’t get enough. It’s true that most Scottish food is based on a “survival of the fittest” mentality and ideal for only those blessed with an iron gut. That being said, if you are tough enough – these are some of the best mouthfuls you’ll ever experience.

This shortbread is a perfect combination of traditional shortbread, homemade caramel, and chocolate. It’s also a great dessert because it’s got a couple of tricky elements that are good for practicing. You can perfect your shortbread and caramel techniques and your patience in the kitchen and what results is to-die-for good.

Here are the three stages for perfect Millionaire’s Shortbread. The best tip I can give you is patience – make sure that the recipe is cooled completely after each layer is completed.

Shortbread

6oz butter6oz granulated sugar
8oz plain flour
2 oz corn flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat over to 350. Grease and flour a 12 inch baking tin (the deeper, the better). Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, corn flour, and baking powder. Gradually beat this into the butter and sugar mixture until you have beautiful shortbread crumbs (see photo for example). Spread the mixture into the baking tin and press to create shortbread (with clean fingers is the most old school, and most effective method). Bake shortbread for 20 minutes and cool completely while you prepare the caramel.

Caramel

6oz sugar
6 oz butter
I can (15 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients except the vanilla into a saucepaul. Over very low heat stir until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved (this can take several minutes – just hum and stir, hum and stir). Then bring mixture to a gentle boil and boil for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Take the mixture of the heat, let cool for 1 minute then stir in the vanilla. Stir final mixture for 2 more minutes and then pour over the shortbread. Place this in the refrigerator until caramel hardens completely.

Chocolate

All you need is your favorite chocolate. In the spirit of Scotland I use Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Dark Chocolate.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. A touch of butter gives the chocolate a beautiful sheen. Pour it over caramel when it is completely hardened. When the three-layered goodness is completely cooled, cut into squares and enjoy. Guaranteed mad props.

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Scottish Rocks
by Clare Nisbet

Rock Cakes

Now that I am nestled comfortably back in the chair at the Goleta desk of One Sorry Blog, I felt I should get to cooking and back to my Scottish roots. I am currently without permanent digs and therefore enjoying the privilege of using Mary Nisbet’s kitchen; rivaled only by that of Martha Stewart. Needing a last minute contribution to a baby shower this weekend, I turned to a Scottish favorite – Rock Cakes.

These little Scottish cakes are like scones without the fuss. You can almost always make them with ingredients you already have in the cupboard, they are supposed to look bumpy and lumpy so you don’t need pastry skills, and they bake in 20 minutes with as little as 10 minutes prep time. Traditional recipes use raisins but for the holidays I mixed in cranberries, cherries, and other dried fruit. They are always best right out of the oven and a hit. Here is a recipe to get started but, as always, the recipe is better the more you add your own personal touches.

Rock Cakes

1 stick (8oz) butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp all spice
Rind of half a lemon (or orange, lime, etc.)
8oz chopped dried fruits
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
Milk to add if necessary

To prepare combine the butter, flour, and baking powder in a mixer until you make a mixture with the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the dried fruit, sugar, fruit rind (optional), all spice, and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly until your mixture hardens into a doughball. If needed, add a pinch of milk for consistency.

Grab of crude balls of dough (the lumpier and more rock-like the better!) and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Watch the little suckers because they get overcooked very quickly.

Hope they help your holiday party. Stay tuned for more recipes from Martha’s… I mean Mary’s kitchen.

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Frutilla con crema – Make “to die for” Dessert in Seconds

By Clare Nisbet

Frutilla con crema on sale at the Rural fair in Argentina Strawberries and cream are a tasty cupful of fun

Argentines love fruit. They loved canned fruit even more. I have never seen as much canned peaches consumption since I left Scotland. Maybe it’s a poor people thing? I can’t be sure. But peaches and cream or strawberries and cream (frutilla con crema in Argentina) is one of the most simple, popular desserts around sold at street fairs and celebrations. It’s not easy to imagine why. It’s easy to prepare and damn delicious so both seller and consumer leave happy.

On one of my last evenings in Buenos Aires I had the good fortune of being invited to a giant asado at a friend’s house complete with stray children, bloody meat, unattended house pets, lots of laughter and giant servings of frutilla con crema for dessert. This, however was the best banana, strawberries, peaches or whatever fruit and cream I have ever tasted. And even easier to make than my can’t-fail recipe for panqueques! Seriously, people, easy.

Just buy enough tubs of heavy whipping cream for however many people you are serving (Maybe 1 small tub for 2-3 people). Add sugar to your liking. We had cream for about 15 people and about 7 teaspoons of sugar. Whip this mixture until it’s thick, thick, thick. Thick means you can hold the bowl upside down and the cream stays. Now, while the meat is sizzling on the grill and the kids are chasing each other around the table, just put the whole bowl in the freezer to cool. What come out is not exactly ice cream and not exactly whipped cream but a thick, cold, sugary mixture in between. It’s light for dessert in small portions but wonderfully sweet and a perfect accompaniment to absolutely any fresh (or canned for the super pobres) fruit you can think of. It’s ready in seconds and you can’t argue with that.

Thanks Luis for the asado invitation and thanks Susana and family for treating me to my best frutilla con crema experience. Dessert in seconds for unexpected visitors is always, always handy.

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Fear not mate!
By Clare Nisbet

Argentine mate gourds come in every imaginable shape and size

I have to ease back in to writing something, ANYTHING, about food. Spending these months schlepping around South America eating some of the greatest food known to man is so inspiring. I can’t wait to get home and try out some of these recipies and now that Ace Cummins and Network TV Slut are back in business, I feel ultra motivated.

I suppose the best way to ease back into it is with the ultimate South American staple: yerba mate. A little background: It’s a member of the holly family and it is best cultivated in the northeast of Argentina as well as Paraguay and the south of Brasil where the climate is ideal for growing. First used by the Guarani Indians for cleansing, healing, stimulation, remedies, hunger combat, and much more. The claimed benefits include: it’s frickin’ chock full of healthy minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, provides physical recovery from a variety of ailments, improves indurance and breathing, is a mild stimulant, appetite suppressant, heightens concentration, relieves stress, improves sexual stamina.

Well, shit. We should all be mateando right now.

Over the course of my travels in South America, I have found three principle methods for drinking mate. Here they are so that you can give them a try.

1. Traditional mate. The Argentines claim this one though, per capita, Uruguayans drink it the most. This usually consists of lose mate leaves sipped from a gourd or mate (also the name used for the wooden vessel to drink mate from) with a metal bombilla or straw. EVERYONE will give you their own special version of how to prepare the perfect mate but you usually fill the gourd about 80% with the yerba, add the bombilla , make a little hole, fill the hole with water (JUST below boiling), drink, spit, fill, drink. Repeat a thousand times until you get a mate high. Gringos often find the taste very bitter and even Argentines drink flavored (orange or mint) yerba mate or dose their gourds with sugar. Don’t be put off by the first taste… it really does grow on you. A friend of mine also wrote a wonderful article on the Argentine drinking of mate which you can read here.

2. Tereré. My personal favorite. A favorite in Paraguay where they serve it in restaurants, in bus stations, and on street corners and where they have more sense than to drink hot mate in 100 degree weather. Yay, Paraguay! Take the same steps as above to prepare the mate but drink it with VERY cold water. In lieu of the traditional thermos that is used for hot water, you can use a pitcher of ice water and add lemon, sugar, limes, etc. Delicious and refreshing. When I open my empanada restaurant, I am going to serve tereré there.

3. Mate Cocido. This is generally what people in the US understand as Yerba Mate which is prepared mate usually served in individual tea bags. It is prepared just like a tea and, you know, you can buy it at Lazy Acres. Good times. No muss, no fuss. Also, iced mate cocido is good with a little sugar as a summery beverage.

After schlepping through Corrientes, Argentina where I never actually saw anyone do anything other than drink mate, and Paraguay where they drink it cold, we find ourselves in Bolivia where mate is increasingly harder to come by. I must say, I am missing it a little.

I once met a girl in San Martín de los Andes and I asked her if her teeth didn’t get green from drinking SO much mate. She replied, “Pues, sí, mis dientes son verdes… pero mi corazón es azul y amarillo.” I suppose there are still some obsessions that are greater.

Happy sipping!

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Homemade chips taste so much better, it’s ridiculous!
By Clare Nisbet

Knead that masa!

I’ve been making my own tortilla chips for a year, and not by any choice of my own. Since living in Buenos Aires, I have had to become accustomed to manual labor in the kitchen that was never necessary with all the convenience available in the US. I never thought I’d beat a giant chocolate bar against my tile counter to make chocolate chips (hello, Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Chips!), make giant pitchers of fresh iced tea (can anyone say Snapple?!), or grate tomatoes to make fresh homemade salsa (oh how I miss Trader Joe’s). But living in Latin America has made me draw a line between the things that I miss and the things that I refuse to live without – Tortilla Chips are part of the latter group. Making them from scratch and perfecting the process at home has only enlightened me as to how much better, warmer, saltier, crispier and mouth wateringer homemade tortilla chips are compared to the store-bought kind. Here is how you can really make those Tostitos shake in their bag. There are two ways to go about making your own, homemade, fresh tortilla chips from scratch (or not so scratch).

Method 1: Designed for sissies that still demand taste
A really great description of how to make your own tortilla chips at home is available at Muffin Top, another WordPress blog. Muffin Top is one of my favorite blogs, and even better because it’s about cooking. Here, I was a little unimpressed that they took the easy way by using packaged tortillas instead of making them, but they thoroughly demonstrate the process for baking and frying using a package easily found in the US. In Santa Barbara, we buy Milpa Real corn tortillas for super tastiness. Anyway, the point is that even if you are too chicken to get your hands dirty making dough, five minutes with a package will yield warm, fresh chips that will knock your socks off. Basically, it boils down to buying a bag of corn tortillas, cutting them triangles and frying them. Not exactly rocket science, but still a concept new to most and still blows doors on store-bought chips.

Method 2: Designed for maximum pain-in-the-ass and ultimate flavor

This method involves getting your hands dirty and assembly line manpower, but in the end it’s more fun and rewarding. Combine masa harina (available in any US grocery store – I use Maseca brand) with water and a pinch of salt to make a big ball of dough. Divide masa into balls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Here I cheat using a tortilla press (mine was $19.95 from Sur Le Table and a bit of an extravagant purchase for me) to make flat tortillas while the expert Mexican doñas flatten them by hand, Jedi mind force and years of practice. They are warmed on a medium-hot skillet about 30 seconds on one side, 60 on the other, and then you have homemade corn tortillas that don’t just rival any bought in a store – they heartily kick their ass and make the best, warmest, tastiest, crunchiest, saltiest, most satisfying and delicious homemade tortilla chips you’ll ever try.

Those new to frying can give the super-easy first method a whirl to see how it goes. Those who just want homemade tortillas could go for number two. The point is, at home or abroad you should never deprive yourself of the goodness of warm, homemade corn tortillas. Baked versions are also tasty, but be warned that baked versions can become soggy, stale, and unsightly for party time much faster than their lightly-fried cousins. Baked versions also require a lot more finagling, and baking in single layers takes a lot of time and patience. Chips, in general, whether baked, fried, homemade, or bought, are always – if you ask me – worth the trouble.

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Everything’s better upside-down
By Clare Nisbet

Homemade upside-down cake - mmmmmmmm

Time for sweet treats, people! Sweet, sugary treat recipes are fun for those of us who might not be able to filet a salmon or poach an egg but do get a real kick out of wearing flour-coated aprons and serving warm cookies to visitors and friends. Underneath it all, we’re all still suckers for cakes, cookies and milk.

Baking sweet treats is relatively easy and fun. Lots of us still stick to traditional cake mixes, and why wouldn’t we, when U.S. shelves are stocked with cakes in a box on sale two for $1? The secret is that, although using a packaged cake mix is not ideal, homemade food is easy fast, cheap and doesn’t have to be boring. This week I recommend an easy way to spice up a regular old cake mix and make it into a party winner. I tried out the recipe when pressed for an offering for my 80-year-old neighbor’s birthday party. If you are pushed for time and money but dare not show up to a shindig empty handed, or if people decide to drop in on you on short notice, give this upside-down cake a whirl.

Creamy chocolate upside-down cake – a good way to go
Start by buttering and flouring your usual cake pan. Layer the bottom of the pan with any sweet treats that suit you (pecans, coconut, walnuts, chocolate chips, etc.) creating a ¼ inch layer across the bottom. Prepare a chocolate cake mix as instructed. Pour mix evenly over your bottom layer. Now comes the fun part. Combine a package of powdered sugar, a package of cream cheese, and a cup of melted butter and mix until you have a thick, goopy, creamy, sweet mixture. Spoon the filling mixture into the pan over the chocolate cake but leave an inch border on each side. As the cake cooks, it will rise over and encase the filling. Cook as directed or until a fork comes out clean. Once removed from the oven, leave to cool completely (otherwise you risk the health of your beautiful layers!). Turn over onto a plate and check out your creation: a neatly topped and good looking cake that will spill with creamy, sweet filling when cut, delight your guests, and that no one will believe came from a box. Congratulations! Spice up your pantry with easy tricks like these.

The cake pictured is the cake that I made for my neighbor’s birthday, adding banana, chocolate and coconut topping to the final product. I totally cheated and it was a hit. Being in a hurry doesn’t need to make you dull anymore.

Enjoy your tea and cake time.

Eat Me (or, One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Calorie-filled, carbohydrate-crammed, creamy, coronary-damaging carbonara
By Clare Nisbet

Of course carbonara’ll kill you - that’s what makes it goooood!

Best cooking show of all time? I can’t say but high in the running is Britain’s Two Fat Ladies. While Julia Child was always a heroine of starting any recipe with equal quantities of lard and white flour, the two fatties Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson-Wright took the use of fat, cream, lard, butter, salt, cheese and other such ingredients to whole new levels as they cruised the English countryside in their Triumph Thunderbird and sidecar. Better still? Paterson polishing off every meal with a cigarette and a big glass of something alcoholic. Totally wicked hotness.

Something about Atkins, the Zone, calorie counting, lite products, bad marketing, and an overabundance of eating disorders has helped developed my new mantra – everything in moderation. In honor of Two Fat Ladies and raging against the skinny machine, I challenge you all to prepare the following super-rich, delicious, and artery-clogging recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara (which for the sake of this photo I made with Tricolor Rotini because it was the only thing in the house – shame!). Keep portions small, serve with a giant green salad and tell your skinny friends to go chew a celery stick and leave you be to enjoy all the deliciousness of bacon and cream. This meal is fun, hearty, and a guilty pleasure and should be enjoyed with friends and only once in a while.

What you will need: spaghetti, cream, egg yolks (use the whites to make egg white omelets in the morning – yum!), bacon, parmesan, salt, pepper. Optional but yummy: onion, peas, garlic, oregano.

Mix three egg yolks, a cup of cream, half a cup of fresh parmesan cheese, and a dash of salt and pepper in a bowl. In the meantime, fry up a bunch of bacon, onion and a little oregano, plus or minus whatever ingredients suit you. Cook the pasta (al dente is a way of life!), and when it’s drained and rinsed, place the pasta pot over a very low flame and stir in cream sauce. Simmer in sauce for about five minutes, making sure pasta is covered and sauce is warm. Add the bacon mix, and fresh peas can be added to cooking pasta if you like. Yummy warm tummy in a bowl, calories be damned!

I know it’s controversial. Call me a fatty, call me a porker, call me a promoter of coronary disease. I’ve been called them all before. BUT, PEOPLE, there’s a reason Italians invented these delectable dishes and still manage to enjoy a much longer life expectancy than the average fast-food devouring American – everything, but everything, in moderation.