Julie Seyler is a foodaholic, writer, and author of the blog, TwoBitTart.com. A graduate of culinary school and an itinerant student of gelato, pastry, and, most recently, Italian pasta, she labels herself neither Chef nor expert, but a chronicler of culinary vice. Follow her on Instagram: @TwoBitTart.
When I created this summer salad, I was envisioning the corn on the cob sold by our neighborhood Mexican elote street vendors. “Elote” simply means “corn on the cob” in Spanish. The vendors traditionally serve the cobs coal-roasted with a squeeze of lime juice, slathered with (imitation) butter and mayonnaise, rolled in Cotija cheese and sprinkled with Ancho chile powder or cilantro. Sounds like overkill, but when done properly, they’re utterly addictive.
For my salad version, I originally envisioned closely following the traditional list of ingredients, but since I was making this side dish for a sweltering June afternoon barbecue, I decided sunbaked mayonnaise may not be the best choice for a food-poisoning free day. My consternation then turned to cilantro. While I love the bright-green herb (especially on sandwiches and in salads), I realize there are many cilantro-haters out there, claiming it tastes like soap (others even asserting “cilantro allergies,” but color me doubtful.) Accordingly, I opted for the less-divisive dried Mexico oregano. The final recipe resembles nothing of Mexican street elote, but, nevertheless, it’s quite tasty and perfect for a summer backyard barbecue.
July 4th in her city – there’s nothing safe nor sane about it. It starts early in the morning with fire crackers, cherry bombs and M80s and increases throughout the day to a crescendo of sky rockets and mortars with skyward explosions akin to a war zone, putting Disneyland’s nightly display to shame. By 10 p.m., a sulfuric haze has blanketed the city and she’s thankful her roof hasn’t caught fire.
Her dog-owning neighbors hate this time of year. She, on the other hand, delights in it, lucky to be owned by two unruffled felines. This one night, her city is alive and decidedly lawless. She celebrates with a backyard party each year – more anarchistic that patriotic, except for her choice of dessert.
Coconut in the crust, and coconut milk and shredded coconut in the pastry cream ensures coconut lovers won’t be disappointed.
Coconut Pastry Crème
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
7.5 oz. Graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Assorted fresh berries
¼ cup apricot jam
Sweetened whipped cream
Make coconut pastry crème: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, corn starch, salt, and sugar. Whisk in eggs, then milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until custard is very thick, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Scrape into bowl, press plastic wrap against the surface of the custard, and chill in refrigerator for several hours until cool.
Make graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, coconut and salt until ground into crumbs. Add butter and pulse until combined and beginning to clump together. Press in the bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
To assemble: Pour pastry crème into crust and smooth. Cover with fresh berries. Heat apricot jam for 1 minute in microwave and strain. Brush berries with jam, decorate with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Last week, a male reader questioned a slang word in one of my posts – “mansplaining.” He hadn’t heard the term. Merriam-Webster describes mansplaining as, “what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”
Some men consider the term to be a sexist Feminist word describing a non-existent phenomenon. I am here to assure my male readers that mansplaining exists. I’m not asserting that women don’t do something similar to men or that men and women don’t do it to each other – but mansplaining is a specific type of behavior perpetrated by men that, at one time or another, most women have experienced.
The larger category of behavior would be categorized (for men and women) as “talking out of your ass.” Example: A childless woman, who has changed exactly 3 diapers in her life, telling a parent of 5 children the best way to change a diaper = talking out of her ass. Within the larger “talking out of your ass” category is the subset “Mansplaining.” It’s real, it happens…trust me on this. My ultimate mansplaining story:
A male friend tried to “educate” me on what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle. Yep – I. Swear. To. God. Kudos to him for reading one article about the female body. High five for learning words like “follicular phase” and “luteal phase,” however, knowing the words doesn’t mean he will ever understand what it’s actually like to have a cycle until he’s experienced – oh, I dunno, 12 a year for 30+ years.
I’d never be so bold as to tell him what it’s like to have an erection – no matter how many articles I’ve read or how close I’ve…ehem… been to the experience.
Not all men mansplain. How do you know if you’re a mansplainer? If a woman responds to your explanation with, “You DO realized I have a degree in (fill in subject here)” [and you don’t] or “Were you aware (fill in subject here) has been my CAREER for the past 10 years” [and it’s not your career] or even a “I’m familiar with (fill in subject here) since I’ve been doing it since I was 12.” [and you’ve only read about doing it], then…you are a mansplainer. But there’s hope – the first step is admitting it.
This recipe is an ode to non- or recovering mansplainers in my life. You deserve a cookie – a rock-star of a cookie like these Compost Cookies.
All my favorite cookie flavors – plus some surprises – packed into this version of Momofuku’s famous cookie.
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup toffee bits
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup Graham Crust (see below)
⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 ½ teaspoons ground coffee (not instant)
2 cups kettle potato chips
1 cup pretzel thins, roughly broken or mini pretzels
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
Combine the butter, sugars and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Add the chocolate chips, toffee bits, sliced almonds, shredded coconut, graham crust, oats and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Fold in the potato chips and pretzels. Don’t overmix – try to keep the potato chips in large chunks.
Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Slightly flatten the tops of the cookie dough domes. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.
Heat the oven to 375°. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.
A fancy version of a graham cracker crust. You can use your own version for the recipe above if you prefer.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup powdered milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup heavy cream
Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
Whisk the melted butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute.
Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
When I started back to work in late February, I’d awake at 6:00 a.m., make myself a frothy cappuccino, warm a homemade muffin and spend the next 45 minutes leisurely reading the news while curled up on the couch, sipping coffee and nibbling baked goods.
Alas, that morning tranquility didn’t last.
These days, you’ll find me dragging myself from bed closer to 6:45 a.m., gulping down an espresso with a splash of milk, racing to work, and grabbing a prepackaged Lärabar for breakfast.
Lärabars are my energy bars of choice because they’re made with real, simple, non GMO ingredients. Sure, they may have a few more calories that some “thin” bars and less protein than others with 20 grams of whey, but they’re real food – made with a handful of familiar ingredients.
This weekend, I realized that real ingredients meant I could make them myself – and choose my own flavors, my own handful of ingredients; make my own breakfast again – even if it isn’t a warm, baked muffin.
Commercial Blueberry Muffin Lärabars aren’t made with lemon zest or cinnamon – those are my addition, just like my real blueberry muffin recipe.
Homemade energy bars packed full of flavors and simple, healthy ingredients.
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup packed dried blueberries
1 cup packed dried apples
½ cup packed pitted whole dates
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Line an 8×8” cake pan with wax paper including an overhang. Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and resembling breadcrumbs. Add blueberries, apples, dates, zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Process until the fruit is finely chopped and the mixture begins to clump together.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place additional wax paper atop the mixture and use it to flatten evenly in the pan. Leave the wax paper in place and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Flip the pan over onto a cutting board, remove the pan and the wax paper. Cut into eight 4”x2” bars. Tightly wrap each bar in plastic wrap. The bars will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Researchers have discovered it takes a mere seven seconds to make a first – and lasting – impression.
I’m partial to the convenience and practicality of online dating – I can quickly weed out the jesus freaks, the ones who can’t string words together into a coherent sentence, the boring, the gym rats, men who live with their mamas. But still, sometimes I get it terribly wrong.
As he walked towards me, I know I’m wasting my time. What looked like “ska” in his profile, reads “dork” in person (and not the cute geek-chic kind). What read as manners on the page is really an obsessive adherence to gender roles. Once we sit down, I ask questions and he talks…about himself…I essentially interview him so he can hear himself speak. He drones on about his brainiac career, his adult children that attend MIT and Yale, about his expertise on every subject – homelessness, drugs, religion. There’s a brief pause in his self-aggrandizement to proclaim I can’t call myself an atheist since I haven’t studied the bible cover to cover (as, of course, he has). There’s mansplaining, condescension, boasting. I feel my V-jay snap shut like an abalone. I gulp down my scalding cappuccino and furtively scan the coffee house for the nearest escape hatch.
I long for a dating convention where it’s entirely acceptable for either party to walk out in the first few seconds without explanation – the seven second rule. All I think about for the next 44 minutes and 53 seconds is…I left my kitchen for this?
A roasted garlic version of Greek Htipiti, similar to romesco and a healthy yet flavorful sandwich spread and dip. I've been eating a liberal dollop of this spread on my chicken, mushroom, and spinach wraps all week. Mmmm.
8 roasted garlic cloves
8 oz. feta, crumbled
2 fire roasted red peppers (hand roasted or jarred)
2 pepperoncini, stemmed and seeded
Parsley sprigs from 6 stems parsley
Dill sprigs from 3 stems dill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off about 15 times until well combined yet still slightly chunky. Use as a sandwich spread and a dip for toasted pita chips.