Chunky Guacamole

guacamole

I never liked guacamole as a kid. In fact I only just started coming around to avocados a few years ago. I think that’s because the avocados we can get here in Wisconsin aren’t the greatest. Even when soft and ripe, they’re generally bland. I’ve been told that in places like California, they’re much more flavorful. I’ll have to take their word for it.

So, I prefer my guacamole to be a pico-like salsa with creamy avocado as a binder. Lots of tomato, white onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice are key, as far as I’m concerned. Even if you mash the avocados smoothly, it’ll still be chunky. I’m still not a fan of the totally smooth stuff with little else in it besides avocados.

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Double Chocolate Layer Cake

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This is a great everyday cake. Because other people make cakes just because, right? It’s also a great birthday cake, retirement cake, anniversary cake, Valentine’s Day cake, Arbor Day cake, Brewers finally won today cake, you had a hard day at work cake… See, you can come up with a cake reason any day of the year. Plus, this cake is so easy to make. Mix dry ingredients, dump in wet, mix. That’s it.

For me, it’s only made from pantry ingredients that I normally have on hand anyway, so I really can bake it up whenever the mood strikes for chocolate. The cakes bake up light and springy with a high dome. Most people cut off the dome to even it out for easier layering, but to me that’s just wasted cake. I just keep the dome and fill in where I need to with extra frosting glue. Plus I don’t care how it looks when it’s done; if it’s domed on top, fine, just means more cake. If you’re feeling fancy, cut that dome off.

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Singapore Noodles

singaporenoodles

I had never been a big fan of Singapore noodles. Every version of this Chinese-American was bland, gritty and boring. Then, I tried the version at RuYi, a surprisingly good restaurant in the Potawatomi casino, and found it better than I had remembered. And more recently, I tried the version at Kim’s Thai to Go, my favorite Thai place located in Pacific Produce on the south side of Milwaukee, and that version was a revelation. It was bright with curry and heavily seasoned; a cross between Chinese noodle stir fry and Indian curry. 

So when I had a couple pork chops to use up before they expired, I decided to give Singapore noodles a shot myself. I cobbled together a few recipes around the internet, and followed Cook’s Illustrated’s general method. The verdict: a definite make again recipe.

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My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Forget apple pie, chocolate chip cookies should be America’s iconic baked good. Everyone loves them, you can get them anywhere, and they’re easier to make than apple pie. 

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It uses browned butter to impart a toffee-like flavor that you generally only get from aging the dough in the fridge for a day or so (as started by the NYT famous recipe). While I’m sure that recipe is pretty damn delicious, I never plan ahead to make cookies. When I want chocolate chip cookies, I need them NOW. Maybe other people can plan ahead for their cravings, but not me. (That is also why my most common brownie-baking time is midnight.)

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Apple Sour Cream Crumb Pie

applesourcreampie

I’m not a math person, but I am a dessert person. So pi day becomes pie day, because any excuse to make pie is a good excuse.

Apple Sour Cream Crumb Pie is a mashup of apple pie, creamy cheesecake, and apple crisp. Apples are sliced and mixed with an entire 16-ounce container of sour cream, cinnamon and vanilla, plus eggs and flour for binding, then mounded into a pie crust and topped with a nut-studded pile of cinnamon crumbs.

This recipe makes a monstrous pie. The apple filling will need to be placed and poured carefully since it stands a good 4 inches above the rim of the pie dish. Maybe if you placed the apple slices more carefully instead of dumping them all in like I did, you can avoid stray slices falling on the floor. As it is, just do your best to arrange the apples so things aren’t sticking out, because those bits do get pretty dark in the oven. Because this pie is so dense, it needs almost 2 hours in the oven.

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