Hell Nall, but this is just a taste. Promise

Hey y’all.  We have been working on some pretty tight stuff over here at Hell Nall.  But before the big reveal, let me refresh your memory to keep you busy and to hold you over for some upcoming posts:

Remember these lavender lemon ricotta cookies?  I do.  I think about them all the time.  I know you do, too.

And how about this fresh cocktail – hey, it’s warming up.  Get out on that porch (or, you know, get in that parking lot..wherever) with one of these.

I guess we should eat some real food.  I guess.  But like, priorities.  Let’s make our moms happy and eat a salad.  

Sweet.  Refreshed.  

 

I’ve been doing a lot of recipe testing!  A lot!  I’ll hit you up with the posts REALLY SOON I PROMISE love you.

 

Hell nall, this is not scary.

So you know how cooking Thanksgiving dinner seems like running a marathon?  Or at least a 5k.  And since the pièce de résistance is the turkey, obviously, that is the most daunting part?  Maybe the fear of roasting the Thanksgiving turkey has trickled down to scare us from roasting other fowl, because I was afraid of roasting regular ass chickens for the longest time.

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I mean, scared.  Kind of like how I’m scared of baking bread now – it’s the YEAST, guys.  How does it even work?  Why can’t I do it? – I promise I’ll tackle that, too.. eventually.  But for now, I’m going to advocate for the ease of cooking roast chicken:  guys, it is EASY.  It gets a little gross, but eh.  You wash.

Okay, AND.  Guess who taught me how to man up and just roast an effing chicken?  My man, Thomas Keller.  Yeah, I can make the same thing Thomas MFing Keller makes and it tastes REALLY GOOD.  I promise you can make it, too.  I also promise that you’ll feel like an adult who can cook for yourself and stop eating yogurt and handfuls of popcorn for dinner every day.  We’ve all been there, and will probably be there again.  It’s okay.

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This chicken recipe is really special, but so accessible.  It’s from Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, and while his list of ingredients is really specific, I think TK would want you to work with what you have.  I did.  I couldn’t find a tennis ball-sized parsnip to save my life, so I bought I real big one instead and that’s okay.  Basically, you chop, you rub, you truss, and you throw the whole mess in the oven.  Dinner is done, everyone is all impressed, and you look like a kitchen master, when really, the dish is secretly low-maintenance.  These sorts of recipes are the best.

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Also, uncooked chickens are not the most photogenic little guys.  Joke’s on me.

Here we go:

Ad Hoc at Home Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

(Adapted, slightly, from Thomas Keller’s recipe)

  • one 4-4 1/2 pound chicken
  • two tennis ball-sized turnips
  • one smallish onion
  • three tennis ball-sized parsnips (or one big ass one, like I used)
  • six golf ball-sized baby red potatoes
  • four medium carrots
  • six cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • six or eight sprigs of thyme
  • two tablespoons of butter, cut into six pieces
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • salt and pepper

So, step one is pretty important (but if there’s a time crunch, it’s chill if you skip it):  let the chicken air out in your fridge, uncovered, for a day or so.  This helps the skin crisp up really nicely when it roasts.  On the Roasting Day, get the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature for an hour or an hour and a half.  Pre-heat the oven to 425°.  Peel and cut your turnips and parsnips into 3/4 inch wedges.  Clean the carrots, then cut them into 2 inch chunks.  Cut the onion, peeled and with root end intact, into quarters.  Toss the vegetables in about half the oil and half the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves from two of the sprigs.  Massage the inside of the chicken (ugh gross I know) with the rest of the garlic (and leave those suckers in the cavity) and cram the remaining thyme sprigs in there, too.  Bend the wing tips behind the breast, and truss the bird with some kitchen string.  Cover the chicken with the remaining oil, and then season with salt and pepper.  Dump the vegetables into a 12-inch cast iron skillet, or a roasting pan, and then nestle the bird on top.  Nestle it.

Roast it all with the oven at 425° for 25 minutes, then lower the temp to 400° for another 45 minutes.  Check the chicken’s doneness (no pink meat and clear juices) at this point.  If it needs to go longer, check every five minutes.

Once the chicken is done, take it out and let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes.  Re-heat the vegetables on the stove top for a few minutes and toss them in the delicious chicken juice.  Then carve and serve and be like “hell nall, that wasn’t so hard”.

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Damn, now I’m hungry.  THANKS A LOT Thomas Keller.  Jeez.

Hell Nall, This Isn’t Fancy

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This is not a fancy post.  I’m not really a fancy lady.  I think that’s fine, right?   I can sometimes fake it well enough, but the majority of my time is me being like pretty swank-less.  Like right now, I am sitting in my bed, in a house dress, with my cat (who is much fancier than I am), eating cheese crackers that I made.  That’s got to be the least fancy situation ever.

Hm?  You want to make cheese crackers too?  Hell yeah, let’s do it.

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Okay, so I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m like “Oh damn, I could really eat the hell out of some cheese right now.”  If you ever feel that way, you don’t have to start just gnawing on a block of cheese, or go scoop up some nachos from the Taco Bell, or put Cheez Whiz on anything.  Instead, you can make some crunchy cheese crackers.  Think Goldfish but without the fish.

And you’re probably thinking “Um.  Tray I can just go get some cheese crackers at the store.  Why I gotta make them?”  And yes, you can just get some at the store.  But check it:  the ones at the store are not nearly as cheesy AND there are hella chemicals in them.  Plus, you can totally put these crackers in a tuxedo or opera length gloves simply by changing the cheese from cheddar to something classier.  (No offense, Cheddar, you know you my girl.)  The black pepper in these ones really adds some spicy goodness, too.

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Oh and basically when you make these you will smell like cheese for the rest of the day.  Own it.

Cheese Crackers

You just need a few things:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (half a stick) of butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese

Into the bowl of the food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and pepper a few times.  Then add the butter and cheese and pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal.  Add two to four tablespoons of cold water, pulse again, and keep pulsing until a dough forms.  If you don’t have a food processor, mix the flour, salt and pepper, cut in the butter and cheese, and then mix in the water.  Turn out onto a floured board.  You may have to knead a few times, especially if you’re not using a food processor.  Don’t overwork the dough, though.  Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap, then chill the dough (and your nerves) for at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours.  When you’re ready to roll out your dough, preheat the oven to 350°.  Roll out the dough onto your floured board to about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Cut with a cookie cutter, rolling pizza cutter, or a sharp knife.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, and then place the unbaked crackers on the baking sheet, then prick each cracker with a fork so they don’t get too puffy in the oven.  Stick them back in the fridge to chill for a few more minutes while your oven preheats.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Let cool completely.
Eat all that cheesy lifeforce.

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Hell Nall, It’s Not a Normal Pie

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Okay so I moved to Nashville.  It is amazing, and such a vast difference from the strange and vapid desert where I used to live (oh btw I used to live in Los Angeles, California…which I like, well enough, and totally respect if you live there and love it – like, do you, you know? – but it was time for a change, forreal).  I feel like I’m in a different country, but there are still a bunch of little things here that take me back to LA.  Like I can still go to the “cool guy” area and get a fancy-ass latte, which I have definitely done several times.  For nostalgia.

So good news:  I have moved to Nashville (I live on the East side of town in an adorable, historic neighborhood.  Porch, willow tree, the whole thing.  It’s love.) right in time for the East Nashville Tomato Festival. Um, I love tomatoes, and I’m totally going to that.

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So let’s get hyped for the Tomato Fest.  Let’s make a Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Galette.

Galette is French for “kind of like pie”.  …No, it totally isn’t, that was a lie.  I’m sorry.  This thing is kind of like a pie, though.  It looks really neat, and you can basically fill it with whatever you want, and if you mess up and it gets a lil ugly, that ends up being more pretty.  I’m like a professional at messing up so this is clearly the pie-esque medium for me.  The tomatoes reduce and get super sweet, and then the basil does its dance with the sweetness.  Don’t forget the salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of sugar on the outsides of the crust, just to tie it all together.

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Um, dear smoked mozzarella:  you are crazy potent.  Your smokiness is delish, but a little of you goes a long way.  Too much of you, and things get bitter and start to taste funny.  I’m just being honest, friend.  Check yo’self.

The cheese is really important in this recipe, because it will melt and create a waterproof sheet for the crust, so the tomato juices don’t absorb into the crust bottom.  And the bottom stays crispy.  It stays so crispy.

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Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Galette

  • for the pastry, use 1/2 of your favorite savory pie dough recipe, or 1 round store-bought pie crust – either should be rolled out into a circle, at about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 to 2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced to about 1/8 of an inch thick (use a mandolin, man, SO worth it.  Watch your fingers, though)
  • 1/4 cup of smoked mozzarella cheese, grated finely
  • 10 big basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • salt and pepper
  • sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°.  Take your rolled-out pie crust, and lay it flat on the counter, topped with the parchment that you’ll use to line the baking sheet.  Just build the galette on top of it.  Leave about two inches of crust diameter, and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly, in a circle, in the middle of the crust.  Then take about half of the basil ribbons, and layer them on top of your cheese circle.  Arrange the tomato slices on top of the two established layers of goodness.  Try and make it look neat and tidy.  Be sure that your layers of filling aren’t too thick, or else the galette will get soggy, and no one wants that.  Season layers with salt and pepper.  To fold the crust, grab a section of the diameter and bring it up and over the filling layers.  Keep doing that all around the crust.  If the filling gets stuck in the fold, that’s okay, and if the crust tears, that’s okay, too.  Just pinch it and seal up the crack.  But I mean, even if it’s ugly, it’s still pretty.  Sprinkle the edges of the crust with sugar, and carefully slide onto the back of a baking sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the tomatoes have reduced, the cheese is all the way melted, and the crust is snappy and crisp and brown on the edges.  Top with remaining basil ribbons, and maybe some more salt and pepper, if it feels right.

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Also, and unrelated:  I’ve been listening to Little Tybee a lot, lately.  Like almost exclusively.  I cannot get enough.  Try them, they’re really good.

Hell Nall’s the Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You’ll Ever Need

No joke, these cookies are the business. The. Business. So please excuse two cookie posts in a row, but you won’t even be mad.

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I am overdue for this post, y’all. I’m going to sound so conceited right now (I promise I don’t mean to), but I get asked for this recipe a lot. By like..moms. My mom, and friends’ mothers whom I’ve known for 20 years and whose chocolate chip cookies I’ve eaten countless times, moms who are now grandmothers, moms who have seen me be super-embarrassing and weird and have offered guidance. Those moms are like “Tray, do you do something special to these cookies? Why are they so good I NEED THE RECIPE.” Moms are professional chocolate chip cookie bakers, and now they want my recipe. It’s surreal.

Well here it is, everyone.

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The secrets are a good amount of kosher salt, LOTS of chocolate chips, and to make the cookies really big.

I adapted the great David Lebovitz‘s recipe a little bit, which I realize is a little baking sacrilegious, as his recipe obviously needs no improvements, but I changed it anyhow. Hear me out, though.

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
  • About 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups of semisweet chocolate chips
  • More kosher salt for sprinkling

To start, make sure your egg and butter are room-temperature. Adjust your oven rack to the top 1/3 of your oven and preheat your oven to 300°. In a large bowl, combine sugars and butter with a hand mixer until smooth (or for about five minutes). Mix in egg, vanilla, and baking soda completely. In another bowl, stir together flour and salt, then add to the wet ingredients in three phases. Use some muscle and fold in the chocolate chips (this step is kinda hard, since there are SO many chips, but try and make the chips even throughout the dough). Use a large cookie scoop like this one to scoop out cookies onto two parchment-lined cookie sheets. The cookies are big, but you should be able to get 8 onto each sheet – though the cookies will probably become friends during baking. It’s nbd. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with kosher salt

Bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven. I check mine at about 15 minutes to see what’s up. Let cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. Makes 16 or 17 cookies.

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Now get out there and impress some moms.