Thursday, July 5, 2012

S'more Nut Bars and Lemon Poppyseed Coleslaw

Still recovering from the pool party, fourth of july snuck up on me.  I mean, it was only a few days away and i spent two of those sleeping.  My house is still in mild disarray (i have no idea how to disassemble the rockem sockem robots to get it back in the box) and i have been eating leftover cookies and whatever riffraff from the fridge i could scrounge up (it is currently mostly condiments) because david will be gone this weekend and i know i will probably just eat ice cream for every meal so it has seemed pointless to grocery shop.  Except that i did grocery shop, but just to make some food for the fourth of july party we were invited to yesterday.

I have a really awesome recipe for smores bars that i made last year for another fourth of july party.  I did not make them again this year.  Breaking rule number one in Making Food for Others is my specialty.  So instead of making something tried and true i made something completely new and potentially terrible, like usual.  This is the first recipe i have made out of Baked, after being terribly disappointed with it upon receipt, feeling like i was tricked by david lebovitz who recommended it on his blog or website or something, and loving his taste in other things (especially his chocolate almond buttercrunch recipe) i trusted him and got it.  But i felt it was filled with mostly uninspired recipes, such as german chocolate cake and lemon lime bars and monster cookies.  I knew the recipes were probably sound and good but i was expecting awesome innovative and challenging things that i would kick myself for not thinking of first or something.  At any rate i figured for this event i could test and review one of the bajillion cookbooks that i normally use as very expensive dust displays. I actually did that for two cookbooks but that in a minute. dessert first.

S'more nut bars are an example of something i considered meh.  But i wanted something quick and new and plus i already had most of the ingredients on hand.  They are a layer of thick graham cracker pie crust topped with chocolate ganache that has peanuts and marshmallows mixed in.  As simple and straightforward as they are they were a huge hit at this party. I ended up being introduced to everyone new who arrived as "the girl who made these."  So i present to you the recipe that david says tastes like a nougatless snickers bar, adapted from Baked.

S'more Nut Bars - makes 24 bars 
2-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 17-20 crackers)
1 Tblsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
7.5 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
7.5 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1-1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
10 marshmallows, cut into quarters
1/2 cup lightly salted whole peanuts
1/2 cup chopped lightly salted peanuts 
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking pan or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. 
In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar.  Add the butter.  Use your hands to combine the mixture, then turn it out into the prepared pan.  Using your hands, press the crust into an even layer along the bottom and up the sides of the pan (i did not put it up the sides).  Use the bottom of a measuring cup to create a perfectly even crust. 
Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. 
In a large heatproof bowl, toss the chocolates together.  Drizzle the corn syrup over the chocolate and set aside. 
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil.  Remove from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate mixture.  Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.  Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture in a circle until completely smooth.  Fold in the marshmallows and the whole peanuts.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to spread it as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts. 
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until set.  Cut into squares and serve.  The bars will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.

i crushed my graham crackers with a meat tenderizer mallet.  i could have used a food processor but if i did that i wouldn't have that little muscle on the back of my arm that makes my elbow look round instead of pointy. 


The other recipe i made is coleslaw.  Again, i have a ridiculously good recipe that i love to use from another recipe book but i went with something new from a cookbook i had yet to use.  I got this book from the kitchenaid party where i won that mixer a few months ago.  It's called Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love.  The recipe i tried is Crunchy Coleslaw with Creamy Poppy-Seed-Lemon Dressing.  It wasn't bad but it wasn't anything to write home about either.  I think i am spoiled with my other recipe.  I am kind of sad i used about a cup and a half of my condiment of choice, hellman's bestfood mayo, in this when it was so watered down with lemon juice and vinegar, which in turn wilted my cabbage to no longer very crunchy, and i even had dressing to spare.  I will post the recipe anyway because some of you out there might like it just like everyone liked the smore nut bars when i was just okay with them.  I say i am not really picky but i guess i am.

Crunchy Coleslaw with Creamy Poppy-Seed-Lemon Dressing - makes 6 to 8 servings 
1 head Savoy (Napa) cabbage (i used a giant one and it all wilted down to half the original amount)
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tblsp poppy seeds
2 tsp kosher salt
Cracked pepper 
Chop the cabbage into small pieces and place in a bowl. 
In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegars, cayenne, and poppyseeds.  Pour the dressing over the cabbage, and mix well. (i put this in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld as recommended by the cookbook author.  then i assembled everything just before bringing it to the party) 
Add the salt and pepper to taste, cover, and chill at least an hour before serving.

I have to admit that i also attempted a red, white, and blue layered jello shot thing.  I have a few flavored vodkas from smirnoff that are terrible.  Truly unpalatable to me.  I bought them before i discovered the amazing three olives brand.  I didn't really want to foist half-used bottles onto someone else as my rejects (like i have a ridiculously insulting habit of doing that i'm trying to break) and in lieu of dumping them out to make room for good stuff in my liquor cabinet i thought maybe i could mask their disgustingness with more artificial fruit flavoring and a lot of sugar.  I used real sugar jello because i am pretty sure my friends are tired of me tricking them into eating/drinking sugar free stuff.  Except the only container of cool whip i had on hand was sugar free, so i used that in the white layer.  I didn't use any recipe for it and i also wanted it to be more like jello jigglers than regular jello shots so i just made up my own thing.  It came out kind of sloppy, mostly due to trying to make this in half the time i should have allotted and once i messed it up in the slightest i sort of gave up from there.  I would have served it anyway except it was AWFUL. i am dumping the smirnoff. The cool whip layer with the knox gelatin and pinnacle whipped cream vodka was pretty good but the other two layers... no matter how drunk my friends were expected to be at any point in the night i was not going to serve them that crap.

oh, this doesn't look so bad, does it? what was she talking about?

this is what i was talking about.

How about a flag cake my friend made:

And some cats:
monkey has a compulsion to hide in things

orange cat is not fooled

one of their more civil moments

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