The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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Tis the season of good eatin’

38769165_500387043756234_7140208985856016384_n copyFoodies rejoice! Once again restaurant week is upon the city of Huntsville. From August 10 until the 19th restaurants across Madison County are offering their fare at promotional prices. Even the breweries are jumping into the fun with new brews. As part of the promotion for Restaurant Week, I got to sample some of the promotional dishes with the Resturant Week Blogger tour. This is my fourth year to participate (I missed last year because was visiting my in-laws in France! Lucky me!!) and I love it! I get to eat good food with lots of talented food bloggers. What’s not to love. Plus it’s nice because food bloggers don’t even notice the weird things I do like stand on a chair to photograph a piece of cheesecake or gush about how adorable that curl of lettuce it in a salad. Normal people just don’t understand, but food bloggers will offer to hold the reflector. Below: Bloggers doing their blog thang!But seriously how pretty is the salad below!!!!  This year I got to try the special dishes at two restaurants I’d never tried before: Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Keegan’s Public House.Let’s start with Ruth’s Chris. Great restaurants, but I find the name super confusing. Nine times out of ten I call it “Chris’s Ruth” or “that Ruth Steakplace” or “Ruth Christoper’s Resturant”. I digress. As I said before I’d never been, so I let me GPS lead the way. This was a mistake because it led me straight to the Publix Loading Dock. As I walked to the back of Publix I thought, “this is a weird place for a fancy steakhouse” and I was right because there was nothing but some confused employees and dumpsters back there. I eventually got there. It wasn’t confusing, but GPS was just a jerk.1y2b7594-e1533774057866.jpgI met an assortment of extremely talented bloggers and got to eating! Please check their blogs out as well. I know I will. www.diningwithdeliajo.com happeninsintheham.com the bitter socialite rocket city eats hvsfoodlifeWe got to try an assortment of dishes but my absolute favorite was the scallops!! I really wanted to try to Lobster Mac and Cheese, but I have an allergy, but dang it looked GOOOOOOD!!!!!Earlier in the day, I tried Keegan’s Public House. I did not get lost, so I was actually on time to this one.  The restaurant itself is really fun. It is located in the AL.COM building (shout out to all my journalist besties! You rock!! May the Fourth Estate Be With You!)There were different bloggers at this event and I got to meet Love at First Bite and Ihearthsv.comWe started out with the house chips with blue cheese.I ordered the Shepard’s Pie, which was everything you want comfort food to be: warm, tasty, the vegetables hidden at the bottom.  There was also a nice salad

 

Bloggers taking the shots of the dessert on the left. It’s amazing that it wasn’t melted by the end.

…and most importantly yummy, totally unhealthy, but oh so good dessert. It was Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Ice Cream and Whipped Cream on top. Yes, you read that right. It came with 4 spoons to prevent anyone from overeating and slipping into a food coma.

 

As you go into Restaurant Week make sure you tag all your local food pics on social media with #dinehsv to win prices and if not prices glory. There are also the most adorable gifs from your posts on Instagram. Just search for #dinehsv. 

So grab your forks and see y’all out and about from Aug 10th to the 19th!


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Local Taco

untitled-11A couple of weeks ago I got invited to the soft opening of Local Taco.  I walked in hungry, but I waddled out so so full and so so happy.    untitled-13The restaurant is located at the Shops at Merchants Walk, close to downtown Huntsville, but also convenient to my neck of the woods, Madison. 1y2b7688The restaurant has a cool, open floor plan with hip, clean decor.  The polished concrete flooring and restoration-style lighting makes this place perfect for young professionals, but it also very accommodating to families.  It’s a great versatile place with delicious food.   untitled-2The hubby came with me on this adventure and we both had a blast.  We started out with a quadruple sauce tray that included guacamole, two types of salsa and smokey jalapeño queso.  Everything was delicious, but our favorite was the queso.  untitled-1We KNEW we needed to pace ourselves because we would be served numerous dishes, but everything was so good that we royally failed.  With our dips and chips we each had margaritas: mango strawberry and peach strawberry. Both were too yummy for their own good.untitled-1aThen the tacos started coming out. This is when we over indulged, but the food was so good. All of it!   untitled-14We started with the chef’s recommendations and got Nashville Hot Chicken (one of my several favs!), Al Pastor, El Carnicero, and the Mission Smoked Chicken.  We did spilt the tacos, but they are still quite filling.  untitled-17They also have gluten-free options, so it is a great place for dietary restrictions. At further recommendations we went with the Dory, a catfish taco with pickled onions, coleslaw and pico.  It was by far my favorite taco. The restaurant is officially open, so make sure you pop in.  If you are a catfish fan it is imperative that you order the Dory. You won’t be disappointed!untitled-12


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Behind the Scene of a Blog Tour #dinehsv

1Y2B57721Last weekend I participated in my 4th food blog tour to celebrate a Restaurant Week.  They are always fun and interesting, so I thought I’d give an inside look of this year’s tour. behind the scenes

The tours actually start out kind of awkward, especially if you don’t know anyone. You’re just eating with a bunch of strangers and though you’ve read their profiles you don’t really know much them. I’m always worried that I’ll do something stupid, because I usually do, this year I misplaced my shoes and may or may not have accidentally mooned someone when a gust of wind caught my skirt. I was fulling immersed in photographing a beautifully plated dish and didn’t pay attention to how windy it was getting. To that person walking by on the sidewalk I’m sorry..  or you’re welcome.

But in the end the bloggers all become fast friends, because we are brought together by food and the experience of eating 3 meals together. In the beginning we are so polite and proper, but by end we are sharing food off each other dishes, recommending places to get good photographs, and laughing and joking with each other.

And it always nice to read each other’s experiences on the blogs afterwards and I recommend you do the same.

Katherine photographing some amazing sides at the Toybox Bistro. Photo on the left courtesy of KatieActually.com

Katherine photographing some amazing sides at the Toybox Bistro. Photo on the left courtesy of KatieActually.com

We also risk life and limb to get a shot. As a photographer you get yourself worked up about ‘finding the right light’ and ‘making sure you captured the ambiance of a place’.  You know that friend that is SO annoying Instagraming every piece of food that goes in their mouth, and then your food, and then the food of the people at the table next to you, well that is child’s play when it comes to a food blogger. I come to a restaurant with a full camera bag, I shoot with a reflector and sometimes a tripod. I climb up on chairs to ‘get the shot’. So obnoxious. The nice things is I am not alone on a food blog tour!

Jennifer photographing at Beignet Cafe. She's a shorty like me so Charles kindly steadied her chair so she didn't die. Worth it though! Her photo is on the left courtesy of SweetTMakesThree.com.

Jennifer photographing at Beignet Cafe. She’s a shorty like me so Charles kindly steadied her chair so she didn’t die. Worth it though! Her photo is on the left courtesy of SweetTMakesThree.com.

It is also nice because you have people who help aka egg you on to do something crazy.

Thank-you to the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor’s Bureau for hosting us and thanking to all the restaurants and bloggers for making it a great experience.

Make sure you check out their blogs!

Katie Actually: http://www.katieactually.com

Charles Hunter III: https://thesaltedtable.com

Jennifer Garvens: http://www.sweettmakesthree.com

Bo Williams: http://bowilliams.com

Stephenie Walker: http://www.rocketcitymom.comsarahDid I get the shot? Yes I did! Thank-you to Charles from TheSaltedTable.com for making sure I didn’t break my neck or really embarrass myself by getting stuck in a chair and having to have firefighters cut me out or some nonsense like that.

Thank-you to Katie for letting me use your shot from KatieActually.com.

Me shooting over the years at blog tours! Thank-you Constance, Sarah and New Market BBQ for taking pics of me.  12


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Eating In London:Westminster Arms

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Mary Poppins has been digitally added to this photograph in order to create a more accurate view of the London skyline.

Over the Christmas holidays my husband, my sister-in-law and I jetted away for a whirlwind, two day trip to London. We were going to spend several days in the city, but (London Fun Fact) the trains shut down on Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23rd) so we shortened the trip.

Since we only had two days we hit the highlights and stuck to the most stereotypically touristy parts of London: Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, fish and chips, tea, etc., but it was still immensely fun.

Now let’s be honest, Great Britain isn’t exactly known for their culinary prowess. True they have tea, scones, and fish and chips, all of which are lovely, but they also have a mysterious, slightly scary, tar-like substance called Marmite, which I’ve gathered you eat on toast (Is it like jam or closer to peanut butter?) and Stargazy Pie, which maybe delicious, but honestly just looks terrifying. (Are you supposed to eat the fish heads?) My point being, I had very mixed expectations when it came to English cuisine.

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By Krista – Baked Stargazy Pie Uploaded by Diadoco, CC by 2.0

I am happy to report that most of the dishes were wonderfully delicious and I would eat them again.  That being said, I played it pretty safe and avoided the fish head pies and jellied eels (look it up).

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A view of what my husband was convinced was London Bridge, but was in fact not London Bridge. It was London Bridge adjacent.

In the morning went sightseeing, shot the obligatory photo at Big Ben, toured Westminster Abbey with an audio recording by Jeremy Irons (fancy), complained about the pesky tourists (Wow, Americans are SO loud! Sorry rest of the world), and in general enjoyed this wonderful, exciting city.

When we finally decided to stop for lunch we had no plan, so we picked the first interesting place we across: Westminster Arms. Apparently we picked well because in addition to being frequented by politicians and journalists, it has also been visited by Desmond Tutu, Angelina Jolie and Bill Clinton. All of this I learned after I got back to the States.Untitled-1We walked downstairs to the crowded restaurant portion of the pub and I fully expected to be turned away or a long wait.

“Are you here to eat?” asked a man brusquely.  He definitely seemed like the owner, so from henceforth I will refer to him as such.

“Yes” I answered.  I reined in my Americanness and said it with polite, deference rather than the exuberant, enthusiasm I’m used to in the States. Polite, deference would never fly at T.G.I.Fridays. They waitstaff would harass you until you faked absolute bliss to be eating artichoke dip. Being an American can be exhausting, who wants to be that upbeat and energetic all the time.

The owner walked up to a table filled with pint sipping patrons and said to the people “These people are eating, you need to leave.”

My husband and I were shocked, but the people seemed to take it in stride, got up and headed upstairs so we could take their table.  I guess it is tavern protocol.

I ordered the most tourist dish possible, fish and chips, which was more for the mashed peas than the fish and chips. I’ve tasted canned Mushy, which I wasn’t a fan off, but it made me want to try the real stuff. As I suspected, real mushy peas are delicious! Of course the fish and chips were also wonderful. 9My husband went for the second most touristy dish, bangers and mash, which was also quite good. I’d like to visit again and try something less obvious, but overall everything was well-cooked and plated.   Untitled-1a The tavern itself was nice with booths, tables and a bar at the front. Everything was covered in wood and complimented with appropriate art and decor.

The ladies’ toilets were also an adventure.  There was a sink with two facets: one for hot water and one for cold water, but none for comfortable temperature water.  I’ve been told this is fairly common in Great Britain, but this was the only sink I encountered like this, granted I was only there for 2 days.IMG_2737The restroom also had charming wall art to keep you entertained during your visit. IMG_2736I’m not sure what ‘cor scrummy’ means but I take it to mean something good.  ‘Sexy’ maybe, ‘tasty’, it’s possible.  If anyone knows please feel free to educate me.


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S’more (or is it S’mores) Soufflé

Smores SouffleWhen I was first dating my husband we decided to go on a camping trip with several international friends.  I wanted my husband to have the true ‘American’ camping experience, since he was french and hadn’t been in the states very long.  And what’s more American than getting sick and sticky on s’mores.  I couldn’t make it to the grocery store so I asked him to pick me up graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.  He came back with saltines, impossibly tiny marshmallows that would never fit on a stick and Nutella (chocolate spread).  Needless to say the s’mores were a french interpretation of the american dish.

ingredientsThe S’more Soufflé is a perfect combination of American and French cuisine.  It is a light and sweet dish, enhanced by pouring dark melted chocolate for the top of it.  Yummy!  It is also impossibly hard to photograph.  Soufflé is stunning… for about 30 seconds and then it collapses into a delicious dish of flatness.

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The recipe was created by New York City Chef Elijah Belanger.  It is perfection.

S’more Soufflé

Preheat Oven 375 F

Serving Size 6

1/4 Cup Milk

 1/2 Tbs Water

3 Tbs Sugar

8 Marshmallows

3 egg yolks

6 egg whites

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Graham Cracker

1 Dark Chocolate Hershey Bar

2 Tbs Butter

 

1. Heat milk in saucepan, add marshmallows, heat lightly as marshmallows dissolve.

2. Wisk egg yolks in medium bowl, slowly add heated milk, then transfer back into sauce pan and lightly heat until mixture thickens enough to coat spoon. Remove from heat/Allow to cool.

3. In kitchen aid mixer, whip egg whites with a teaspoon of salt, until soft peaks start to form, add 2 tbs of sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip, or the whites will begin to fall apart.

4. Add crushed graham crackers to the milk/marshmallow/egg base. With a rubber spatula, Fold 1/3 of the whites into the then another third, then the rest.

Note: Be careful not to over mix, as the air you have whipped into the whites, will then escape, and you’ll have non rising soufflés.

5. Butter soufflé dishes, coat insides with sugar, carefully fill with soufflé mixture, and then with any flat tool, butter knife, back of chef knife etc., scrape the top of the soufflé off creating an entirely flat soufflé. Then with a towel, clean the lip of the soufflé dish, so that there is no uneven residue that may bake on and then cause the top of the soufflé to bake on to the lip of the dish.

6. Bake soufflé’s in oven, should rise 1″, take about 15 minutes, depending on size of soufflé dish.

7. While baking, place Hershey bar in bowl over a pot of bowling water, allow to melt, wisk in butter, and pour into butter warmer, or dish for serving etc.

8. Serve soufflé immediately, before it collapses, stab middle with spoon, pour in chocolate. Enjoy.

For another recipe from Elijah check out his Arnold Palmer.

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Tea for You

Untitled-1aI’ve always enjoyed the occasional cup of tea, but I never really understood how people could be as passionate about tea as I was about coffee.  That was until I was on a plane to Ireland.  The flight attendant was doing the breakfast service and asked if I wanted coffee or tea and on a whim I selected tea.

“Would you like cream?” she asked. And though I had never had cream in my tea, I thought what the heck.  The tea came in a Styrofoam cup, with cheap half and half and stirred with an ineffectual plastic straw, but it was the best tea I had ever had in my life. I couldn’t believe it. It was rich and flavorful, creamy and comforting, definitely a different experience than the stale bags of Celestial Seasonings that I was use to.untitled3My whole world expanded and I finally understood people’s passion for tea. I loved it (almost as much as coffee).  I started drinking it more frequently and was very excited when I noticed a tea room, Tea with Thee, opened up near my house.  I decided for this week’s post I would write about tea.

Untitled-1cOwner Vickie Barlowe was absolutely lovely.  She took the time to teach me about tea and let me photograph her beautiful shop.

If you live in the North Alabama region you should definitely visit her wonderful tea room.  You can also follow her tea room on Facebook no matter where you live.Untitled-1bThe duration and temperature you brew your tea is very important.  It is possible, especially with more delicate teas like green tea, to scourge your tea leaves.

Untitled-1dSteeping Times for the Perfect Cup of Tea:

Green Tea – 2 to 3 minutes at 167-176 °F

White Tea – 2 to 3 minutes at 149-158 °F

Oolong Tea – 3 to 4 minutes at 176-185 °F

Black Tea – 3 to 5 minutes at 210 °F

Herbal Tea – 4 to 5 minutes at 210 °F

There are different ways to steep your tea, and different products that can help you steep it. On the left is a tea ball infuser and on the right is a disposable tea steeper, which you can buy at Tea by Thee

There are different ways to steep your tea, and different products that can help you steep it. On the left is a tea ball infuser and on the right is a disposable tea steeper, which you can buy at Tea by Thee

Tea Facts:

It is believed that Chinese Emperor Shen-Nun discovered tea 5000 years ago after tea leaves accidentally blew into boiling water and made a pleasant drink.

Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, after water.

White, Yellow, Green, Oolong, Pu-erh, and Black tea all come from the same plant: the Camellia Sinensis. The differences in the tea come from how the leaves are processed.

Black tea goes through an oxidation process called fermentation. It is the most popular tea in the United States.

Green tea is much less processed than black tea and therefore has more natural antioxidants that help prevent a myriad of diseases.

Earl Grey Tea is named after a British Prime Minister from the 1830’s.

The United States actually has a tea plantation in Charleston, South Carolina called the Charleston Tea Plantation.

untitled4Tea Etiquette

The spoon should not touch the cup when you stir your tea. Gently swish the spoon in the tea without clinking against the sides of the cup.

Do not put the spoon in your mouth or drink from the spoon.

After you have stirred your tea, remove the spoon and place it on the right of the cup on the saucer.

If you are sitting at a table, your saucer should always remain on the table. If you are not at a table, hold the saucer below the cup as you drink.

When all guests have arrived to tea, the hostess will signal the beginning of tea by placing the napkin on her lap; guests should follow suit.

If you must leave the table mid-tea, place your napkin on the chair not the table.

The hostess will signal the end of tea by placing her napkin on the table to the right of the teacup.

untitled2Scone Etiquette: 

Eat a scone by breaking small pieces off and covering the bite with a condiment as you go. Scones should be eaten with your fingers and NOT a fork.

Scones are typically eaten with clotted cream, lemon curd or a jam.

Do not dip your scone in the tea.untitled5“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

― C.S. Lewis

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Peanut Butter Pupcakes

Untitled-1 copySeveral months ago I had the opportunity to photograph Ms. Lacey, a sweet dog with lots of energy.  The shoot was for an article about homemade dog treats for the magazine Rocket City Pets.  So my plan was to create mini scenes, dress my friends dogs in costumes, place the treats on the plate in front of the dog and effortlessly get amazing photographs.  Sometimes I can be really naive.Untitled-3The idea for the shoot was a good one.  I wanted to create a birthday scene, with the pup cakes front and center, candles lit, and Lacey dressed in her birthday finest complete with a tiara and tutu.  I bought a tiara and custom fit it with elastic to stay on Lacey’s head.  I converted a tutu with a tie on the front so it would be easier to fit onto a dog.  I even got tissue paper balls to create a nice birthday feel.  But alas, “the best-laid plans of mice and men, often goes awry” to paraphrase Robert Burns.  This quote is nearly always true when it comes to photographing children or animals… and sometimes awkward adults.  Untitled-2Lacey was surprisingly blasé about wearing the tutu, but the tiara was really asking a lot.  Every time we would get the tiara on her she would shake it off and then we would put it on her again and she would shake it off.  We played this game for quite a while until Lacey gave up and let the tiara stay, but she wasn’t happy about it.  She turned her back to the camera, laid on the ground and sulked.  Her owner and I thought she might cheer up with a pupcake, and she did, immensely.  The problem was she LOVED them and every time her owner (human mother) would place one on the plate she would gobble it up before I could snap the shutter.  I got shot after shot of a blurry Lacey licking her lips after inhaling the treat.  There was also an alarming moment when we thought she had eaten the candle, which I at least had the foresight to not light.  I began to worry she would get sick after eating so many treats, and yet I didn’t have a usable image.  At this point I opted to photograph Lacey in front of an empty plate and Photoshop the cake into the image later.coverHere is the before and after shots.  I don’t usually do this much post-production work, but this just goes to show you even dogs get unrealistic makeovers for their cover shoots.

Below is the recipe to make your own peanut butter banana pupcakes.  I can’t speak for all dogs, but Lacey is a HUGE fan.

Also I wanted to give a shout out to Lacey’s adoption agency Two by Two Rescue in Helena, Alabama.  I don’t currently own a dog, but I am a big advocate for adopting rescue and shelter dogs.  If you get one half as sweet as Lacey you have hit the jackpot.lacey1

 

Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes

1 cup peanut butter, divided

1 ¾ cups brown rice flour (for gluten-free) or whole wheat flour

1 cup milk

½ cup mashed ripe banana

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 12 regular-sized muffin tins or 36 mini muffin tins.

2. Combine ½ cup peanut butter and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling cups almost full. Bake 18-20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes; 12-15 minutes for minis. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with remaining ½ cup peanut butter.

If you would like more dog treat recipes visit my other blog posts: Doggie Pumpkin Biscuits  and Oatmeal-Cinnamon Biscuits.lily8