Hit Me With Your Best Shallot Burger

Last summer while reeling from John Snow’s death, we came across this epic Game of Thrones menu for die-hard fans from Bon Appetit. It was the first of what I now realize is an entire genre of movie and tv-show-inspired cookbooks and menus. This past weekend at Barnes and Noble, we perused Eat Like a Gilmore Girl, True Blood: Eats, Drinks and Bites from Bon Temps, and Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook.

This could be the next big thing.


Because we’re extremely cultured, we bought none of these, opting instead for The Bob’s Burgers Burger Cookbook. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Bob’s Burgers is a Simpsons-esque adult cartoon featuring Bob, owner of a local burger joint, and his quirky family. In each episode, the Daily Special is a different fantastically punny burger written on a chalkboard. Some of our favorites include the Poblano Picasso burger, the Girls Just Wanna Have Fennel burger, and the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Zucchini burger.


An especially creative blogger started The Bob’s Burgers Experiment where he created real burger recipes inspired by each burger name on the show. He collaborated with the writers of the show and a professional chef to publish the cookbook. It’s our family’s new favorite book – even Sam loves looking at the hand-drawn burger diagrams.


On Saturday, we made the Hit Me With Your Best Shallot Burger, and it was a serious work of burger art. It consists of a burger with arugula, sautéed shallots and goat cheese on a toasted brioche bun. It was one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth in a while.

Hopefully this is the first of more burgers and other pop culture-inspired recipes to come… What should we take on next?

Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks

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Bake America Cake Again

Yesterday, millions of people worldwide joined peaceful protests at Women’s Marches in 500 US cities and on all seven continents. Experts are calling it the largest peaceful demonstration in US history.

The magic of social media has allowed me to see my friends and acquaintances in the Twin Cities and around the country with their frickin’ awesome homemade signs participating in the demonstrations. It was powerful and inspiring to see so many amazing people I knew and didn’t know letting their voices be heard.


I didn’t make it to the march in St. Paul, but I was feeling the need to express my support. So, my protest sign comes in the form of this cake. For me, it symbolizes diversity, unity and love, three things that I’m feeling the need to embrace. I brought it to a little NFL playoff gathering today with some of our close friends. I wish I could have given a slice to each person who participated in the marches.

The cake itself is the best classic yellow layer cake I’ve found, appropriately coming from America’s Test Kitchen. This recipe just works – perfect texture, flavor and bakes evenly with no mounds in the middle. I frosted it with an equally simple and impeccable Buttercream Frosting. The heart is made from Nerds ropes.

Speaking of politics and cake, I must share this trivial but poignant story about the cake Trump cut at the inaugural ball. Best use of puns of any article I’ve ever read.

Credit to the Vanilla Bean Blog for the title of this post and one of my favorite hashtags ever.

#LoveTrumpsHate. #BakeAmericaCakeAgain.

Two Happy Cooks

Scratch

There’s something wonderful about creating from scratch.


My parents came to visit this weekend, and we celebrated 60 years of my amazing dad! Having exhausted most of the attractions in the Twin Cities, we took a daytrip to Faribault to see the Faribault Woolen Mill. This place absolutely blew my mind. They start with raw wool and after 22 steps on 100+ year old equipment, end up with the finest quality wool blanket you can find anywhere. The process is very hands-on and a true craft; pride just oozes out of the employees. As for the blankets and scarves? They make me want to curl up by the fire with hot chocolate and never leave. You better believe I’ll be back to Faribault for the next tent sale.

Accurate depiction of Sam’s experience at the woolen mill.


We embarked on a few scratch cooking projects to make my dad’s 60th birthday celebration extra special. The journey started with Mike’s mom’s incredible gumbo recipe. This is a special recipe where some extra time and work more than pays off. From making a roux to lots of hand chopping and shrimp peeling, it all comes together in the most satisfying gumbo this side of New Orleans.


Our scratch journey continued with a birthday cake for my dad – Coffee Angelfood Cake from the American Cake cookbook. Hearing that angel food cakes from scratch can be difficult, I was this close to using a mix. I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s amazing what can come from a little time, some egg whites and a Kitchenaid mixer. The highlight of this cake was the Coffee Butter frosting – espresso, sugar and butter… I mean, come on.


At the end of the day, I found myself with nine extra egg yolks after making the angel food cake. Facebook to the rescue – my Facebook family gave me so many great ideas of what to do with the yolks. I ended up making lemon curd – why had I never done this before? Plopping fresh lemon curd on my yogurt this weekend felt ultra luxurious.


Scratch can be tough – it takes time and it takes work. It’s not every day that I make time to cook from scratch, but I’m feeling like I should more often. Not only is the result usually better, but the process is beyond satisfying.


Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler

January 6 officially kicks off King Cake season in New Orleans. What a better time than New Year’s Day to get a head start and embrace the Cajun spirit of “laissez les bons temps rouler”- let the good times roll.


Our good friends the Zhangs joined us for New Years brunch today, and I was pumped to make a King Cake for the occasion. King Cakes are a Mardi Gras staple, and because nothing could be more logical, each one contains a plastic baby. The lucky cake eater whose slice contains the baby is responsible for providing the next cake. The Zhang’s 3-year-old was the big winner… he better deliver the goods next time.


We were fresh out of plastic babies, but luckily Sam’s in the thick of a major farm phase right now. His plastic pig toy was the perfect stand in. The recipe came from my new favorite cookbook, American Cake. The book tells the story of how many of our favorite cakes started, along with providing recipes and gorgeous photos. I can’t way to bake my way through it.


But enough about cake… luckily we have Mike to balance things out with some bacon. Mike made the most incredible shrimp and grits, you must give this Saveur recipe a try. If you like extra sharp cheddar cheese, bacon bits, garlic and shrimp, you’re in for a treat.

It’s going to be a good year. Among our resolutions: More vegetables. More time with our favorite people. More making things that make us happy.

I hope that 2017 really does let the good times roll for all of you.

Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks

Feast of the Nine Fishes

I’ve heard tales of a mythical Italian Christmas meal called “The Feast of the Seven Fishes.” In my mind, I picture Giada bring platter after perfect platter of crazy crustaceans, mollusks and fish to a table of adoring family members. Each dish is probably accompanied by lots of wine, and stories, and laugher.

Sounds like heaven.

If the Feast of the Seven Fishes lasted an entire week, it would be the week we just had in Florida visiting Mike’s parents. Like my imaginary Feast of the Seven Fishes, our week was glorious in many ways. We enjoyed built-in babysitters, lots of naps and time outside. In between trips to the beach, pool and swamp, we managed to eat no less than nine types of fish. Many of them were prepared by Mike’s mom Leanne, with your truly as the occasional sous chef.

In addition to Sam’s Goldfish, here are some of the other fishes we enjoyed this year:

Crab Cakes with Pepper Aioli: I made crab cakes! Had never done it before. This recipe calls for blending up 2 scallops to put into the mixture to help everything stay together. Leanne tip: get the lump crab meat from Costco. Another Leanne tip: Get a nutribullet to help blend up the red peppers for the delish aioli.

Firecracker Shrimp: This is a Hearne classic. Super simple shrimp wrapped in pancetta and grilled. Perfection.

Scoma’s Cioppino: Like many foods, I had never heard of cioppino until I met the Hearnes. It is a tomatoey seafood stew of the gods – you can put whatever type of seafood is freshest. Ours included shrimp, turbot and clams.

The USS Nemo: This Naples restaurant has a cult following on Yelp for their Miso-Glazed Seabass. It lives up to the hype… we also had delicious grouper and Salmon/Tuna Poke.

So there you have it… our very own Feast of the Nine Fishes.


Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks

Thanksgiving in the Heartland: Plan B

Honestly, our Thanksgiving week did not begin how we had imagined. Sam infected myself, Mike, my dad, my brother Jeff, my aunt Trish and uncle Andy with a stomach bug. Plan B consisted of my mom’s homemade chicken soup and lots of naps, which ended up being pretty wonderful. We all rebounded quickly, and whether by force of luck or Clorox, my mom and sister in law Lisa managed to stay healthy.

And so, we ventured to Tulsa later than planned but just in time for our annual Stolperfest Thanksgiving.

Aunt Susie’s Famous Relish Tray


The Newest Ping Pong Spectator


This Year’s Ping Pong Champions – Jeff and Stephen


We made a special excursion on our way back to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see Ree Drummond’s Mercantile.  The Pioneer Woman opened a restaurant, bakery and shop in her hometown. The line to get in was far longer than our patience would allow, so we only saw it from the outside.


What I can tell you from our visit is that there’s a stark difference between the Pioneer Woman’s lifestyle as portrayed on the show and the real Pawhuska. Ree married into a very wealthy family who is near the top of the list of top 100 land owners in the US, so her life is different than many others in the town. We enjoyed wandering around the historic downtown and exploring a different side of the local culture.


Instead of the Mercantile, we went to Braum’s. As a religious bowl-a-night ice cream enthusiast, my grandpa Phil used to say that his car would automatically turn into Braum’s whenever he drove by. Grandpa Phil knew his stuff – I’m quite sure our meal at the Mercantile couldn’t have been better than a bag of burgers, crinkle cut fries and plain old delicious ice cream.

Sometimes, Plan B ends up working out better, anyway.

Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks

A Very Hearne Halloween 2016

Last weekend, we hung out with the likes of Corduroy the bear, an astronaut, a sailor, a pig, a ghost, Marshall from Paw Patrol, a lion, two princesses, and our own Uncle Sam. We fed a monster, decorated cookies, and ate generous amounts of spooky treats. All in all, a pretty nice little Sunday.

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Halloween is magical, if you think about it. It’s the only holiday I can think of where the whole point is to eat candy and not take yourself too seriously. Having a kid has taught me that we could all use a little more Halloween in our lives.

In this election year, we decided to go patriotic for our family Halloween costume theme. Knowing that our years of picking Sam’s Halloween costume are numbered, we made him into Uncle Sam before he is old enough to protest. Mike and I joined in the fun as Ken Bone (check out that ‘stache!) and Rosie the Riveter.

One thing I admittedly did take too seriously was the quantity of dessert needed for our little Halloween party. I got excited, one thing led to another and pretty soon I had made five desserts. Note to future self – you do not need to make five desserts. For real. After a full week of pawning the desserts off on neighbors and coworkers, we’re almost down to a reasonable level of daily sugar intake.

Nonetheless, here are the culinary highlights of this year’s Hearne Halloween:

Mummified Brie (thanks Laura!)


Hot Apple Cider: Simple and delicious Bobby Flay recipe

Halloween Bark: There are no rules. All you do is make this stupid simple Trisha Yearwood Sweet and Saltines recipe and throw whatever Halloween-themed goodies you want on top.


Dirt Graveyard: Mike’s only request… how could I say no?


Monster Cookies and Mummy Brownie Bites: Inspired by a post I had seen on Pillsbury’s website, I loved these quirky monsters from the moment I laid eyes on them and knew I had to make them myself.


Bundt Cakes: Mini bundts by the lovely Erica, Pumpkin Bundt by the lovely Marni, and Boozy Spice Cake by yours truly.


Until We Eat Again,

Two Happy Cooks