Jennifer Stevenson | jenniferstevenson.com
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BVC Eats: Intense fresh mushroom soup

BVC Eats: Intense fresh mushroom soup

This is a thick, rich soup like canned mushroom soup on gourmand steroids. More of everything. More flavor, more butter, more cream, more mushrooms! For dried mushrooms, I use the dried shiitake mushrooms found in  Asian food stores, but sometimes I also dry white mushrooms myself. Tips for drying white mushrooms: put a scant handful of white mushrooms in an open cardboard box or their original foam carton put the open container in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator give the mushrooms enough room that they won’t touch each other; this will prevent slime (decomposition) dry the mushrooms in your fridge, exposed to circulating air, until the skins are dry and a bit wrinkly—they may discolor a bit, and they will be smaller than when fresh but not greatly shrunk put the wrinkly mushrooms into a large jar, layered with dry rice; I use basmati rice, which has a nice nutty fragrance You can also cook with the rice when the mushrooms are dried out. The rice absorbs moisture from the mushrooms. With time, the rice acquires a more and more intense mushroom flavor. This process might work for drying any kind of mushroom, but I have only tried it with white mushrooms. I have never added the rice to this soup but I bet it would be good! If you do, cook the rice until very soft, then run the rice through the blender before adding the cooked sliced mushrooms back in, to retain the thick, silky mouthfeel. INTENSE FRESH MUSHROOM SOUP by Jennifer Stevenson serves 4 1 oz dried mushrooms or more (any kind, although I use shiitake or white) 1 c boiling water 8 oz or more fresh mushrooms, cleaned & sliced white or portobello or oyster or shiitake, or a mix 4 T butter 1 clove garlic, sliced and crushed 1 T butter 1 or 2 T flour ¼ c to ½ c heavy cream ¼ c white wine if desired salt & pepper to taste A day in advance, put dried mushrooms in a clean jar, add boiling water, and cover tightly. Next day, before preparing soup, squeeze out and discard the soaked mushrooms. (Their texture is too chewy for the soup.) Reserve mushroomy liquid. Melt 4 T butter and sautee fresh mushrooms with garlic until soft. Add mushroom liquid and half the wine and mix thoroughly. Remove all from pan and set aside. In the same pan, melt 1 T butter and make a roux with the flour. Cook until the flour taste is gone and the roux is tan-to-brown and bubbly. Add the cream and the sauteed mushrooms in their liquid, mix thoroughly. Heat through, stirring, until thickened. Add more white wine to thin and flavor the soup. Salt & pepper to taste. This is a thick soup, very rich. Serve hot in small cups, about ½ cup per...
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BVC Eats: Welsh cakes a la Venusienne

BVC Eats: Welsh cakes a la Venusienne

This recipe was given to me by our landlords in New Haven. They were odd folk. Mark was a pagan, once the Pursuivant of Arms for the New London Barony of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and Becca was into EST and the Hunger Project. My husband and I called them the Venusians. We pretended that their pickup truck, which was red and named Fafnir, was really a spaceship, and that when they disappeared for the weekend it was because they were phoning home. They were by far the coolest landlords we ever had, and they were also into good food. WELSH CAKES A LA VENUSIENNE 2 c flour 1/2 c sugar 1 t baking powder 1 t ground allspice 1/4 t salt Sift these dry ingredients together. (Actually, I always just put ‘em in a bowl and use a french whisk or pastry cutter to fluff them up and mix them, but that’s because every sifter I ever owned was a bloodthirsty machine that bit me.) Add to the dry ingredients: 1/4 c butter 1/4 c crisco or lard Cut the fats into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. 1 egg 1/4 c milk 1/2 c currants —not raisins! Stir in the currants. Stir the egg with the milk in a separate bowl. Add egg and milk to the flour mixture and blend into a dough. Form the dough into a ball. Roll the dough flat on a dishcloth sprinkled with flour. Cut it into squares or cookie-shapes or what-have-you. Fry the cutouts on a smoking-hot, heavily buttered pan until browned on both sides, turning once. The more butter in the pan, the better they taste! Serve hot with more softened butter to spread on top. This dough is not fragile. You can reshape / remash the fragments and it won’t hurt...
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BVC Eats: dirty rice

BVC Eats: dirty rice

Jen’s Dirty Rice 3 cups hot, freshly-cooked rice (rice can be made with a knob of butter and maybe meat stock instead of water) ¾ to 1 lb chicken livers, washed, patted dry, cleaned, and diced 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick or ¼ lb) 1 T kosher salt 1 T dried oregano 1 T dried basil 1/8 t powdered cayenne pepper 1 T powdered garlic (yes, because it tastes different from fresh) Crush all the dry seasonings in a pestle until they’re aromatic. Put them in a large frying pan with the butter and heat the pan. Saute the chicken livers in the seasoned butter until they’re barely not-pink. With a pastry cutter, smash the chunks of cooked liver until they resemble ground beef in texture. There will be some bigger chunks, which is fine. Do not put the livers in a blender or food processor. That way you will get liver butter, which messes up the texture of the recipe. Mix the cooked rice into the liver mixture. Cook it all a little longer, until there’s no pink left in the livers. This is a blander dirty rice than my Southern friends talk about. Theirs tends to be much spicier. Mine is comfort food—dense, rich, salty and savory, porridgy in texture, with just a touch of peppery zip. You can make this with any kind of rice. I use Basmati, a nutty-flavored rice found in the Indian section of your grocery, but try it with wild rice, brown rice, plain white long-grain rice, whatever. The magic is in the chicken liver and the butter. Don’t skimp on the...
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Can it be done? A sex scene in ten pages or less

Can it be done? A sex scene in ten pages or less...

I wrote this story for an RWA critique session. My chapter does “hot nights.” The authors bring sex scenes to read. I was feeling pretty cocky, because whatever I decided to read, people always loved my sex scenes, right? Then I noticed that the fine print said, “Bring ten pages.” Turned out that all my sex scenes run fourteen to forty pages. Oops. So I wrote Dezyrah’s Talk Dirty To Me. I did it in all-dialogue for two reasons: one, I’d read some Terry Bisson short stories in all-dialogue which blew my mind, and I wanted to try that. Two, it was the only way I could think of to get all the sex in in ten pages. I just didn’t have room for all the other stuff you have to have in a good romance sex scene: setting, context within the relationship arc (did they just have a fight? is this their wedding night?), what they’re both wearing and doing and feeling and thinking, action and reaction, plot movement, character growth, oh lordy you need all that and more.  Plus good sex. This is why all that mushy genre romance is so damned hard to write. So I thought, I can imply 90% of all that if I just do the dialogue, right? If I’m good. Read it, please, and let me know if I’m that good. Dezyrah’s Talk Dirty To Me by Jennifer Stevenson Dezyrah’s Talk Dirty To Me, How can I help you honey? Um, is, is this Dezyrah? Nobody but, honey. Hi, uh, my name is Wayne, and I’d like to, to…. Spit it out, loverboy. You shy? This your first time with Dezyrah? It’s my first time with any pho—I mean, yeah. Good! I mean, I want to be your first, Wayne. I want to set the standard…high for you. Thank you. I guess. You sound very sexy, Wayne. I can tell we’re going to have a good time. Now give me your big, loong credit card number and we’ll start rocking. Um, okay. Uh, Discover Card, expires June 2010, 1212-3434-5656-0000. I do love a man who ends it with lots of Ooohs. And what do you know, Wayne? Your credit checks out hot! We can talk all night if you want. That’s nice. I mean, I like your voice, Dezyrah. You sound sort of familiar and homey…and sexy. I’m so glad to hear it. Now tell me what you like. For the next ten minute minimum, Dezyrah belongs to you. Um, well. Uh. Y-e-e-s? Uh. Shy, hm? Okay, let’s do a little intake. Costs another dollar but you’ll be glad we did. Intake? Tell me about the best time you ever had, ever, Wayne. Who you were with, what truck you were driving— How did you know I have a truck? Oops. Doesn’t every macho guy have a truck, loverboy? Actually I was on my bike. On your bike. Yeah. I met this incredible waitress and, but, like, no way I was doing it on my Harley, and my buddy lent me his Chevy. Oh. Whew. For a minute there I thought you were going to tell me you were on your ten speed. You sound like an early developer, Wayne. Do I? I bet you were a demon at spin-the-bottle. I was. I mean, was I? I guess. Wayne, I don’t want to make this hard for you—well, I do, but in the best way. But Dezyrah’s Talk Dirty To Me has a...
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BVC Eats: Chorizo empanadas

BVC Eats: Chorizo empanadas

JEN’S CHORIZO EMPANADAS Quick’n’dirty, delicious, no leftovers! Makes four to six empanadas. Preheat oven to 350 or 375oF 1 lb chorizo, nuked 4-8 minutes but not drained a rich pie crust 2 cups flour ½ c sugar 1 t salt 2/3 cup butter or a bit more (up to ¾ cup) 5 to 7 T cold water Mix the dry ingredients well. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add cold water sparingly, mixing gently, rather than beating or kneading. Break pie dough into clumps and roll out one clump at a time on a floured pastry cloth or floured board. Make rectangles (not squares) about 4 inches x 6 inches, not too thin. Thicker is better. Spoon chorizo, with juice, onto one half of each pie dough rectangle. Fold over and crimp shut. Place on a baking sheet. Brush the tops of the empanadas with melted butter. Don’t be chintzy with the butter. Bake at 350 to 375oF until the crust is done. Hint: For extra richness, I brush on melted butter before baking, then twice or three times during the baking. If you can’t take the heat of picante chorizo, get the no picante version. The sweetness of the buttery pie crust offsets the spiciness of the chorizo. You will like these just as much as my Mexican Casserole, but unlike the casserole, this recipe gives you only four to six spicy empanadas with an irresistable flaky, browned-butter crust and a juicy chorizo center. The finite number of empanadas means you can overeat, but you won’t actually...