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Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict

A few weeks ago Dan and I hopped on a plane and (many hours of no leg room later) went to California. Dan’s work sent him to a conference in Los Angeles and I tagged along for the vacation. It was awesome. The first four days we were in LA I pretended I was a rich housewife, going for runs, drinking smoothies, lounging in the hot tub. Then I’d hop on a bus and head into LA to see the sights. On Thursday when Dan’s conference wrapped up we rented a car and drove down to San Diego.

We had such a good time. In LA we visited museums, saw crazy attractions like the Tar Pits, ate a TON of tacos, and enjoyed the warm, breezy weather. I lunched with colleagues from other Museums, saw exhibits I’ve been wanting to see for years, and walked up the biggest hill ever over and over again. I read and sat by the pool, worked on plans for the Pie Fest, and read some more. It was wonderful.

On Thursday we packed up to go to San Diego, which was a beautiful drive. What is it about the ocean? It’s so magnetic, driving down the coast always feels like an adventure. We woke up Friday morning with a full agenda. First we went to Coronado Island to take in the sights (hello, dolphins!) and watch the Carolina game. On our waitress’ recommendation we drove up to Mt. Soledad, which had the most incredible view. From there we went down to La Jolla to see the SEALS (oh my bacon I died).

That right there is a dolphin jumping. I took probably a gazillion photos of a pod of dolphins before I got this one, but damn am I pleased with myself.

After tearing myself away from the seals we headed to Escondito to visit the Stone Brewery. This was pretty  much the whole reason we decided to trek down to San Diego in the first place, and it didn’t disappoint. We love brewery tours, and Stone has a very impressive set up. But better than hearing a schpeal on hops was the dinner afterwards. Stone has one of the most stunning restaurants I’ve ever seen. It’s mostly outside and from the koi ponds that doubled as fire pits and the grounds where a waiter will serve you as you sit on a grassy knoll, it was almost unbelievable. The food upheld the standard of perfection– Dan and I left feeling completely, overwhelmingly blissed out. It was easily one of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed together.

photo by Dan

After leaving Stone we decided to fight our desire to go to sleep and check out a heavily recommended bar in San Diego, The Blind Lady Taphouse. It turned out to be a great call because they had a beer Dan’s been wanting to try for years. They also had pizza that smelled so good I almost ordered one, despite being overfull of deliciousness.

Duck tacos and yakisoba at Stone

photo by Dan. Also, my hair is blonde again. My father should be pleased.

On Saturday morning we got up and set out for brunch. We headed to a place heavily recommended by the internet, something or other hash house a something. They had an hour wait and I am not that patient (especially not when it comes to breakfast), so on their recommendation we headed down the street to a place called the Tractor Room. I will pause here to confess that brunch is one of my favorite times of the week for two reasons– breakfast booze and breakfast meat. I love these food groups dearly.

The Tractor Room upheld our growing standard for food in California. In fact, it exceeded it. Now, I’ll say right now that (probably because we lived in DC), I am used to mildly overpaying for food, especially brunch. So when I see a flapjack for $12 I think, okay cool. Chalk it up to the brunch movement. But OH MY GIANT FLAPJACK. San Diego doesn’t mess around. Every dish I thought was just overpriced ended up being the most giant portion ever. I’m not complaining. Did you know you can carry leftovers onto a plane? The leftovers from eating out in San Diego fed us for an entire weekend. It was incredible.

Now to get to my point. At the Tractor Room we ordered two things- chocolate chip flapjacks (huge) and a Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict. This beauty below is a biscuit (sitting on top of potatoes because… America), spinach, tomato, fried chicken, bacon, fried cheese, scrambled eggs, chipotle aioli, and green onions. It was incredible. So incredible and so ridiculous that I had to recreate it as soon as I got home. I tweaked some things when I made it (mostly due to convenience), and the results were insane. Just… my goodness San Diego. You had me at seals, but I really did fall in love with you.

See more pictures from our trip here.

Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict
The Tractor Room

Serves 6

biscuits:

1 1/4 cups self rising flour

3/4 cup pastry flour (or cake flour)

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp cold butter

2 tbsp melted butter (for glazing)

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

eggs:

9 eggs

1/4 cup milk

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder

fried chicken:

3 large chicken breasts

1 pint buttermilk

Salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic, chipotle for marinade

1 cup flour

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic, chipotle

chipotle aioli:

1 cup mayonaisse

2 tsps chipotle powder

Juice of 1 lemon

Spinach

12 pieces bacon

Green onions

Cheddar Cheese

Peanut oil for frying the chicken

The night before you’re going to make this, place your chicken in a large bowl. Cover with buttermilk. Stir in spices (to your taste). Soak in the fridge overnight.

The next morning start with your biscuits. Preheat the oven to 475(f).  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Use fingers to incorporate cold butter.  With the butter, you really just have to knead it with your fingers until the mixture has a course texture, like corn meal.  Pour in cream.  Stir (preferably with a wooden spoon) until dough forms.  It’s okay if the dough is a little sticky, you’ll work it out on the countertop.

Sprinkle all purpose flour onto the countertop and scoop your dough onto it.  Use your hands to flatten it out.  I like to flatten it a little, flip it, and flatten it some more.  This method ensures that one side doesn’t get over worked, which is important.  If your dough (and this goes for any dough, really) ever gets too sticky and unmanageable, pop it into the fridge for twenty minutes or so.  The stickiness is really coming from the butter getting too warm, so cooling it off will allow it to firm up a bit.  Using a biscuit cutter (or whatever you have laying around), cut the dough into circular shapes.  Place on ungreased baking pan.

Now, I put aside the measuring cup that I used to hold the heavy cream and melt the butter for glazing in that.  It just gives it an extra creaminess.  Using a baking brush, brush melted butter on top of the biscuits.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Set the biscuits aside. Fry your bacon and set aside.

Heat your oil in a deep pan. Your oil should be 1″ deep. Heat to 350-375. Mix together flour, breadcrumbs, and spices. Take your chicken out and cut each breast in half. Dip in breading and, when the oil is hot, place in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes each side. Set aside to cool. While these are frying, make your aioli by mixing together lemon juice, mayo, and chipotle.

Time for the eggs. Based on our Tractor Room experience I scrambled the eggs. In retrospect I would prefer a runny fried egg, I think. There’s a lot of dry going on, and the egg yolk would be the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and the biscuit. Next time I think I’ll go that route. If you want scrambled you should whisk together eggs, milk, and spices. Cook over medium heat until scrambled.

Time to assemble! I layered biscuit/bacon/spinach/egg/chicken/aioli/cheese. I think it might be easier to go biscuit/chicken/aioli/egg/bacon/spinach/cheese. Either way, pile all of your ingredients up on plates and dig in!

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Carolina Blue Russians

I just want to say this- Go Heels. We may have lost tonight, but we played a great game against big odds. One of our star players was on the court on a sprained ankle, another was out with a fractured wrist. We had a few freshman on the front lines and as a team, they held their own. It was not the blowout that it could have been, and while I always want a Carolina victory, I was proud watching them play. And the best part? Because it’s a young team, I know that I’ll be drinking a lot more Carolina-colored cocktails next year.

I learned yesterday that North Carolina’s state beverage is milk. And as Dan and I were brainstorming what Carolina-blue cocktail we could drink tonight to watch the game I thought “what if we made blue white russians- it would be the perfect marriage of the state beverage and the state’s oldest public university.” I thought, that would be so hilarious and weird. And then I said it out loud to Dan. And then I thought… that’s no weirder than drinking blue Gatorade, let’s do this. And they were awesome. And weird. Also… milk?

Carolina Blue Russians

1 shot espresso liquor

2 shots vodka

1/4 cup cream (or half and half)

2-4 drops blue food coloring

Combine espresso liquor and vodka in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a glass. Top with cream. Stir in food coloring. Enjoy.

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Ginger Rhubarb Pi(e)

Happy Belated Pi(e) Day! This past Wednesday, March 14th, was one of my favorite math-related holidays. Only because it is also a holiday that involves pie. 3.14, pi, that mathematical constant that only a handful of showoff kids ever knew *all the numbers of, is celebrated on March 14th (3.14) by eating pie. At least that’s how we celebrate it.

*clearly not all the numbers, because it goes on forever. I remember something from math. Sort of.

This year we decided to use the occasion of Pi(e) Day to celebrate another wonderful cause, the 2012 B’Eat More Pie Fest. For those of you who don’t remember (or who have blocked my incessant discussion of it last year from your mind), I am the co-founder of Baltimore’s own pie festival. Last year the festival was small (we had about 135 attendees), fun, and a huge success. This year we’re in a bigger space and we’re planning a bigger festival with bigger goals. To help us reach the goals and make a sizable donation to the charity the fest benefits, we’re launching today an indiegogo campaign. If you feel so inclined, check it out. Also note that every time that video jumps is because I’m a doofus.

This year for pi(e) day I was able to snag some rhubarb, which I combined with candied ginger for a pie that was light, tart, and the perfect contrast to the months of cream and mousse pies we’ve been eating over here. I even got up at six am on Wednesday morning to candy the ginger, which either exhibits dedication or a need to get my head examined.

Ginger Rhubarb Pie

candied ginger:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

20-30 pieces thinly sliced ginger

pie dough:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 sticks butter, cold

1/4 cup shortening

1 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1/4-1/2 cup cold water

filling:

10-12 stalks rhubarb

Juice of 3 limes

2 tbsp corn starch

1/4 cup sugar

Start with your dough. Combine dry ingredients. Add shortening and incorporate with your hands. Cube butter and work in with your hands until the consistency is like cornmeal. Stir in water, a little at a time. Only add as much as needed to form a ball. Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Thinly slice your ginger. Put in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat. Then add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to the pan. Bring to a boil and let boil until the syrup thickens, approximately 15-20 minutes. Let sit in the liquid for at least an hour.

To make the filling thinly slice the rhubarb. Combine with remaining ingredients.

Roll half your dough out and place into pie dish. Pour in filling. Chop up the candied ginger and sprinkle throughout. Preheat your oven to 350.

Roll out the other half of the dough and either cut into shapes or roll into one large piece. If you’d like a pie with a top, lay the rolled out dough over the pie and press the two sides together. Cut slits in the top for ventilation. If you’d like shapes cut them out and lay them over the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

B’Eat More Pie Fest from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

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