All posts by The Gentleman Caller

Just Hanging Out (of a fourth floor window)

Hi, friends! This is a re-post from last spring, but it seems to be that time of year yet again! Enjoy!  xo-TGC

 

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy holiday weekend. Everyone leaves New York City, and for those of us who have to stay it’s party time! This particular morning I am skipping the gym and enjoying the break in the oppressive heat to plant my window boxes. I assembled the boxes and filled them with dirt earlier in the week – you can see that article here, too.

So, with a cup of coffee in one hand and Country Legends 97.1 streaming through my bluetooth, it’s time to get our hands dirty.

plant1

Earlier in the week I went around town and sourced my plants. I ended up with the following:

  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Dill
  • Flat Leaf Parsely
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Thyme
  • French Lavender
  • Sweet Potato Vines
  • Geraniums (for color)

Different plants like varying degrees of moisture, and for that reason I grouped the more tuberous, leggy things together (the first six herbs) and the woodier herbs together (the next 5). I also dropped a sweet potato vine and a geranium in both boxes for color and aesthetics. Yes! geraniums are basic, but the petals are edible. I wanted marigolds – also edible and a natural insect repellent – but sometimes you use what you got.

plant6

plant7

Get those suckers in the dirt. Leave ample room around them, and encourage the ones that cascade to do so. Be sure and plant the vine near the edge. It will cascade spectacularly. To avoid transplant shock really give them a solid watering once they’re in the dirt. You will eventually need to spike the basil if you choose to plant that, but that’s down the road. Mint is very leggy and can get aggressive; you’ll want to harvest it whether you choose to use it or not. Give it to your mojito loving friends!

plant2

OOOWEE the Oak Ridge Boys are singing to me! Time to warm up for the show. Enjoy your beautiful boxes and start planning how you’re going to use your window box bounty! The Gentleman Caller will continue to share articles and ideas about how to creatively use your home-grown herbs.

plant3

The Gentleman Caller signing out.

xoxo

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The Gentleman’s Cucumber Trellis

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Here it is once again, my friends. Creeping up on one of my favorite times of the year, when the temps get warm enough to start thinking about putting plants in the earth.

Getting my hands dirty is one of the most satisfying things you can possibly do. I come from a long line of gardening gentlemen on both sides of my family. When I was a kid growing up, I never fully appreciated the gift of fresh from the garden food. It doesn’t taste the same as store bought food.

So I am challenging you, friend, to take up the task and feed yourself!

If you think you have a black thumb, stop. The Gentleman Caller is here to offer you some tips and insights to make your experience easy and efficient.

Today I offer my cucumber trellis.

The cucumber trellis is a simple lean-to structure. You can affix it to a fence, outdoor building, garage, any structure with some integrity.  It will allow your cukes to grow upward rather than spread on the ground. This makes harvesting easier, and will likely give you an increase in your yield.

I used a wooden fence. Watch the YouTube video for full instructions.

I hope you are motivated to get a-growing!

All for now,

The Gentleman Caller

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The Gentleman Caller’s Mardi Gras King Cake

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Hi friends! First of all, please forgive the brief silence here on the site. I have been navigating this change of coasts and it has taken some time and effort. But it seems that things are stabilizing! This coming week brings adventures of re-recording audio for the movie I shot in the fall and other fun stuff.

BUT, for now, let’s talk about the King Cake! Ash Wednesday arrives very early this year (on Valentine’s Day to be specific). So you best be finding your plastic babies!

I make King Cakes every year because, well… they’re freakin hilarious. They have plastic babies in them. They have garish icing, and in the case of the cake I have displayed here, edible glitter. I mean, WHY NOT!?

An added bonus is that my King Cake is dumb delicious. Trust.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (**Vanilla sugar even better if you have)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons butter flavor Crisco, melted
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated preferred
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 plastic king cake baby
  • 5 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from a lemon, not a bottle)
  • Icing colors – purple, green, “gold” (yellow)
  • EDIBLE GLITTER

Warm 1 cup of milk on the stove or the microwave, then stir int he yeast and allow it to bloom. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached and immediately add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Give it a stir. Add the melted butter and butter flavor Crisco. Please do not question my choices, you know I love butter flavor Crisco and it really does slightly alter the texture.

Beat that for a couple of minutes, then add the egg yolks. Add flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest. Allow to incorporate and form a ball.

Find a bowl about double the size of your dough ball and coat the inside with vegetable oil. Put the dough ball in the bowl and rub the exterior of the dough ball with vegetable oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and put it in a warm place to rise. Let it double in size. This should take a couple of hours.

Make the filling while you wait. In the bowl of an electric mixer blend the cream cheese and 1 cup of confectioners sugar. (I sometimes throw some lemon zest in this as well, and sometimes a whisper of salt.)

Flour a board or countertop. Turn the risen dough onto the surface and spread into an approximately 30 x 6 inch area using only your fingers. Spread the filling over one half, allowing some room at the perimeter to form a seal. ADD THE BABY. Just shove it in the filling somewhere. Fold the other half of the dough over the top of the filled half and pinch the edges together to seal it.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Carefully form a ring with the dough on the parchment, making sure the seam is at the bottom (as in under the cake). Seal all edges.

Cover it with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again for about an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the risen cake with milk.

Put into the 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow it to cool completely.

Now the fun starts!

Seriously, there is right or wrong way to decorate this cake. It’s Mardi Gras. More is more. I like the frosting colors to be very saturated and I want that thing to sparkle.

Make the icing. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, combine remaining milk (3 tablespoons), lemon juice and remaining 4 cups confectioners sugar. Here’s where you use your judgement… is the icing the consistency you want it to be? If you want a thinner icing, add a bit more liquid. If you want a more robust icing, add more sugar. I like it pretty thick. Once you’ve made your judgement call, transfer into zip-top bags and color it. Or don’t. White is fine, too, especially if you’re using tons of glitter. (It has to be EDIBLE glitter. Glitter from the craft section at Walmart will not work.)

Add food coloring to your zip-top bags and mash/mix until you get the desired effect. Cut a tiny slit into a corner of the bag and pipe onto your cake. As you can see, I used a simple zigzag and then glittered accordingly. Be creative, take risks, have fun with it.

Now your cake is ready to EAT! Be sure and warn friends and family so no one chokes on the baby and ends up in the ER. This cake is divine, especially with a strong cup of coffee.

Happy Mardi Gras!

xoxo,

The Gentleman Caller

Full printable PDF here: The Gentleman Caller’s King Cake

 

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Happy Hanukkah from The Gentleman! Leek Kale and Yellow Potato Latkes

Knock knock knock.
Gentleman Caller.
It’s holiday time, friends, so happy Hanu-Kwanna-Christmas to all!I like to celebrate any and everything, regardless of weather it’s my culture or someone else’s. So today I am offering you a delicious savory latke for Hanukkah. This latke isn’t the straightforward potato pancake that so many people think of when they hear the word “latke” – it’s enhanced by the gentle oniony-ness of leeks and the healthy crunch of kale. Add to that the earthiness of ground coriander and you have a delicious alternative to the traditional latke.

What you need:

  • 2.5 – 3 cups grated yellow potato
  • 2 leeks, the dark green trimmed, cut lengthwise
  • 2 cups of kale, tightly packed*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 clove garlic, microplaned
  • ¼ cup cornstarch 
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1/4 cup grape seed oil (or other vegetable oil with high smoke point)
The Gentleman Caller grew this frilly tender kale variety

This is very easy.

In a large bowl combine the grated potatoes, super thinly slices leeks, kale (I chiffonade the kale), baking powder, salt, pepper, coriander, onion powder, grated garlic, cornstarch and eggs. Mix thoroughly.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Ready a sheet pan with a rack on it. This is to keep the latkes warm after the pan fry.
Bring a heavy skillet to high heat. Add a few tablespoons of oil and allow it to get almost smoking hot. 
Using a scoop or tablespoon, drop heaps of the latke mixture onto the hot oil. Smash is flat with a spatula. I found that I could do about four at a time. When one side is crisp and brown (3-4 minutes), flip to the other side and allow it to crisp. Once cooked, remove to the sheet pan with the rack. A whisper more salt on top couldn’t hurt.
As you continue the process, excess liquid will likely accumulate at the bottom of the bowl. Avoid it by squeezing the scoop to the side of the bowl to mash out any excess liquid. Continue the process till you’re out of latke mixture; probably a scant 2 dozen.
Serve them warm with sauce of your choice. I like greek yogurt and horseradish. Trader Joe’s makes a “Green Dragon” sauce that is really an ideal compliment if you can find it.
Leek Kale and Yellow Potato Latke
Happy Hanukkah and happy eating!
Till next time,
The Gentleman Caller
*note about the kale: I grew this very tender variety. Using a frillier or baby variety will be most ideal.

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The Gentleman’s Egg Nog Ice Cream – your children will sleep past 6am Christmas morning…

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

When I was a fat little kid down in Texas, I couldn’t get enough eggnog. And even though I was 8 or 9, dad would still spike it a little for me. Probably because he realized it would make me sleep.

Christmas Eve was the most overstimulating day of the entire year. Family, church, singing, Mawmaw time, presents, driving around looking at lights in Hillcrest Village, more church, more singing, cousins, cousins, cousins, eating, more eating, more presents, baby and toddler meltdowns, envelopes of money, TV specials, more eating, and EGGNOG.

We never made eggnog from scratch, nor did we make eggnog ice cream. I didn’t even know making eggnog was a “thing” until I was well into adulthood. So, here I will offer you two versions: version 1 being the overachiever method and version 2 being the “I still have 30 presents to wrap, I am not making homemade eggnog” method, and then the freezing process.

VERSION 1

What you need (approximate 1 pint yield):

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar (superfine works best) + an additional tablespoon
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey or bourbon**
  • 1 tablespoon spiced rum**
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, or the caviar of 1/4 of a vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 3 egg whites

**may be doubled or eliminated. 

This is very easy. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks for about 2 minutes. Add the 1/3 cup sugar gradually. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Add milk, cream, booze, nutmeg, and vanilla.

In another bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the 1 tablespoon sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the mixture, chill.**

**Yes, this recipe contains uncooked eggs. Yes, the FDA says eggs should get to 160 degrees for “food safety.” However, you eat steak medium and raw oysters and over easy eggs, don’t you? And most dietitians/nutritionists agree that raw organic eggs are the cleanest, safest form of protein available. So screw the FDA.

If you don’t want to make ice cream, you can serve this as is right now! It’s delicious!

VERSION 2

What you need:

  • 1 pint commercially produced eggnog, your favorite variety*
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey or bourbon**
  • 1 tablespoon dark spiced rum**
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, or the caviar of 1/4 of a vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

*Not the kind from the liquor store. It won’t freeze. The kind from the dairy case.

**may be doubled or eliminated. 

Mix all the ingredients together and chill to very cold.

MAKING THE ICE CREAM

I use this with my Kitchenaid Mixer:

http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/product/kitchenaid-kica-ice-cream-attachment-kica0wh?ID=481896&pla_country=US&cm_mmc=Bing-PLA-_-Home-HomeCoop-_-Kitchenaid-_-50946960197USA&CAWELAID=120156070003174529&catargetid=120156070003728566&CADEVICE=c

I think it’s a great tool. Super easy, no fuss. You use what works for you.

Pour the well-chilled liquid into the SUPER FROZEN bowl of the mixer attachment. Process on slow/stir for about 25 minutes.

Remove the dasher and put the ice cream (should be about soft serve consistency) into a bowl or container, and quickly get it into the freezer.

It will continue to harden. Allow it to sit for a few hours before you serve it so it’s nice and firm.

Shown here with The Gentleman Caller’s Spiced Up Holiday Apple Pie http://thegentlemancaller.net/spiced-up-holiday-apple-pie/

Do your best not to eat it all before your guests arrive!

That’s all for now, little fatty.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

THE GENTLEMAN’S EGG NOG ICE CREAM

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