Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Always open.

I was raised for a healthy appreciation for restaurants that serve breakfast all day long. Diners have always been some of my more favorite places, especially when they rise above their giant menu and deliver a few true specialties. (Even if that just means they have seriously excellent coffee and fries.)

Austin, no doubt, has many of these kinds of diners. It is, after all, a city obsessed with both food and late night live music sessions, so there has to be somewhere to caffeinate and chow down after midnight. 24 Diner, the one I visited (twice) on this most recent trip isn't quite like the diners of my childhood (which featured neither local produce nor grass-fed beef), but it has something of the same ethos.

Witness their 24 Hash. It's made with potatoes, jalapenos (this is Texas, after all), sausage and bacon, and topped with two eggs cracked right onto the hash and cooked over-easy. It manages to be crispy and chewy at the same time, the dark edges of the potato segueing into bits of sausage brightened by the tiniest specks of pepper.

The egg is rich and a bit gooey, and I found that the whole thing benefited immensely from a healthy pour of Cholula. That bit of spice took the hash from rich and sinful to perfect - so perfect, in fact, that I ordered it on both visits. Don't judge.

Oh, by the way: they also have chicken and waffles, if that's how you roll. Cholula doesn't hurt here, either. Trust me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

An ode to migas.

Ah, migas. That incredible, undeniably amazing breakfast concoction made of eggs, tortilla strips, peppers, onion, cheese - and, at Magnolia Cafe in Austin - spicy garlic butter.

Oh, yes indeedy. I highly recommend you check it out as soon as possible. And, if you're not planning to be in Austin anytime soon, maybe you can give this devotee's recipe a try; I plan to try and recreate them myself sometime in the near future.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Saturday, everyone! After a bit of a hiatus, the Treasury is back in business. I'm pretty psyched about what I'm sharing with you today, so let's get down to business!

First up, this adorable, gold-spotted bowl, which I discovered via Concrete & Honey, a fabulous Australian blog. I absolutely love white and gold ceramics, and I can't help but crave a whole set of these. The rest of the collection (including a creamer and bowls decorated with gold flowers) is pretty stunning, too.

Next up, from the same creative mind that brings you Simply Breakfast (the lovely and talented Jennifer Causey), comes The Makers Project, a set of photographs documenting the artisans and and foodcrafters of Brooklyn. I especially (and unsurprisingly) love the set featuring The Jewels of New York, food stylists and caterers. (They have the same impossibly thin glasses I do!)

Finally, courtesy of Katie Armour, some seriously gorgeous starfish earrings from Oliphant Designs, which strike me as the perfect summertime accessory. Yes, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I somehow feel that by putting these earrings on, I'll bring the warmer weather out to play. Makes sense, right?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Austin, so far.

Sherry and apple liqueur cocktail.   

Gold boat shoes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Going back for seconds.

Hey, kids! Things will be a bit quiet around here for the next week or two, as I'll be down in Austin (again)!

That's right! I'm headed back to the city that is home to the Deathstar Sundae, among other things. I'll be there for work, and later for fun, but things promise to be crazy all around. I hope to have a few fabulous guest posts lined up for you while I'm off enjoying barbecue and tacos, and may even have a few anecdotes of my own to relay.

I'll definitely be tweeting, so make sure to follow me, and I'll see you back here shortly!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gooey goodness.

There are few things in this world that I love more than s'mores. While my urban lifestyle means I typically only enjoy them when I roast marshmallows over my gas stove, I still can't get enough. I've always loved everything related to marshmallows, and that includes the slightly disgusting, sublimely wonderful processed food product known as Marshmallow Fluff.

Fluff is the sort of processed, pure junk food that never graced the shelves of my mother's house; I first experienced its wonders at a babysitter's home, where we were fed fluffernutter sandwiches. I recall these as being transcendent; I'm still trying to get my hands of Momofuku Milk Bar's croissant version.

When I recently ran across Crepes of Wrath's recipe for s'mores cookie bars, I knew I had to give them a go. S'mores? In transportable, cookie-esque form? Could such perfection actually exist? Yes, in fact, and mostly thanks to the miracle of Fluff. Fluff has less gelatin than fully-grown marshmallows, so it never hardens, even when cooked. That's how these bars retain their gooeyness all the way through the baking process. Genius!

The original recipe called for milk chocolate, but between the brown sugar in the cookie crust and the sweetness of the fluff, I decided semi-sweet chocolate would be a better bet for me and my fellow eaters. (My long-time testers Jeremy and Miriam, along with our friends Ken and Celeste.) I also upped the graham cracker content by 1/4 cup, to make sure the flavor of the crackers came shining through.

Whatever you do, make sure to enjoy these with a glass of milk and a couple of napkins at the ready.

S'mores Cookie Bars
Adapted from Crepes of Wrath

9 graham crackers
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff

Break the graham crackers into large pieces and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times until the crackers have become a relatively fine, even crumb.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8x8 baking dish and line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light, at least 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry flour mixture in, continuing until the dough is evenly mixed, but only just. Don't over-mix, or it will get tough.

Press half the dough into the bottom of the pan, covering the surface area evenly, all the way to the edges. Spread the fluff on top of that, then evenly spinkle the chocolate on top of the fluff. Cover with the remainder of the dough, spreading it as evenly as possible across the top. (Your hands may work better than a spatula here.)

Bake the bars for 25-35 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. The bars keep well for up to two days, so long as you cover the pan tightly and store at room temperature. (Slice them only just before serving.)

Makes 15 bars.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I wish!

Hey there, cats and kittens. Sorry for being so MIA this week - life chez Queenie has been busy, to say the least. While I wish I'd spent it sunning myself by a pool, I've actually been working like a madwoman and sleeping when I can.

I do promise that the coming days will be filled with sausage, browned butter and s'more bars. Though not in one dish - that would be less than pleasant, no?

Thanks for your patience and loyalty, and I'll be back soon!
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