Home Cook: Millennial Foodie & Author

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard about Ashley Blom on this blog. That’s because I wrote about her first book here. Ashley is a force. She’s a published author, a food writer/blogger, she does improv, just got married, and somehow fits a pretty ambitious day job into that schedule. My head spins. All that and she still has time to cook up a storm. “I grew up in Western Massachusetts, in a little rural town with 28 kids in my public high school graduating class I moved to Austin when I was 25, with my now-husband, after one too many New England winters. We’ve been enjoying the year-round sunshine ever since.” Note that the photos in the post were all taken by her husband Cory Sorel.

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I can especially relate to Ashley’s move from New England to Austin, as after living there for seven years, I also moved here, and she’s right about those New England winters. They’re long and can be brutal especially when hurricane season is rough and kicks off the cold months with some scary rain and wind storms. Ashley grew up there, so she gets points for enduring more winters than myself.
I had to ask her what foods she misses from the east coast. For me, it is the Italian food and the seafood. Sounds like we have something in common. Ashley shared that “cooking clam chowder is still on my list, but it is pretty hard to find fresh clams that are up to snuff. One of my favorite dishes my mom made growing up  was mashed potatoes with beefy gravy. I make it when I’m feeling nostalgic. And a guilty pleasure comfort food is Encore Chicken Parm Family Dinner. It’s the chicken parm I grew up with, and now when I have the “real” stuff it just doesn’t taste as good to me!”
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Braised Coconut Curry Chicken with Cauliflower Rice from her blog Forking Up

 

How did she learn to cook? Google! Or, well, a lot of years of trial and error that started with some family jabs at her first tries. She shared, “I was pretty terrible when I was younger, and it was kind of a family joke. When I was in college and living on my own, I was constantly googling how to make things. Eventually, I started a blog to keep track of recipes that went well.” So…now we’re seeing a framework upon which she began her blog habits! A-ha!

I asked Ashley what’s the first thing she could remember making in the kitchen and her answer did not disappoint. “When I was little I used to mix together every drink in the fridge in an attempt to make fizzy lifting drinks.” I’ll bet Ashley isn’t the only one who did this type of experimentation! It reminds me of the under-told story of how Pop Rocks were invented, which I learned about in “I’m A Spam Fan” — a book I occasionally pick up and peruse for a pop-culture fix. I didn’t ask Ashley if she ever succeeded with her formula, but I will assume she did.
Aside from the fancy formulas, Ashley has cooked for her family back home a few times, but mostly as a kid, she steered clear of the kitchen. Her husband is also a good cook, but since Ashley is the primary cook, she mentioned, “I cook so much that when I actually let my husband cook, I’m always super surprised that he can cook as well as he does. I forget sometimes!”.
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Lazy Ass Sangria from her blog Forking Up

 

Ashley enjoys making Italian. “Spaghetti carbonara is so simple, I end up making it when I’m lacking inspiration. It’s pretty dang tasty too.” She loves herbs de Provence and exploring “pretty much anything I’ve never tried before. I love exploring new cuisine!”

When asked about Sunday dinner, like other home cooks, she likes variety. When she cooks Sunday dinner it is with lunch during the week in mind. Go big!
Ashley doesn’t stick to a basic boring menu every week. She likes to change it up and go with her whims. That’s what lead me to ask her what’s her favorite thing to cook, and she said, “I just made homemade chicken and dumplings and made the dumplings out of a sourdough starter I’ve been feeding for weeks… it was divine.” Which isn’t a surprise, as she’s an advanced cook, and she loves doing it. For those of you who’ve worked with a sourdough mother, it is no joke. My hat is off to Ashley.

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Guilty pleasure foods are always fun to hear about, and when I asked Ashley what her guilty pleasure foods to eat out or cook at home, she shared “Oh boy. Everything? I love poutine. I’ve made it myself but Banger’s on Rainey has the best in town. Also, I am big on fried chicken, but I haven’t made it at home yet. Tumble 22 or T22 on Burnet are my absolute favorites, they’re perfectly spicy and so tasty!” I have to agree…that is some amazing chicken!

So now that we’ve established that Ashley adores food and cooking, please enjoy a recipe Ashley first published on her blog here and is sharing with permission here at M Delish Boutique:

Mini Croque Madames

  • Blom
    Photo Credit: Cory Sorel

    1 loaf French bread, sliced

  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 lb Black Forrest Ham, cut into strips
  • 1 cup caramelized onion (about 2 small onions, cooked over low heat with a tablespoon of butter and a bit of salt, stirred occasionally until caramel in color)
  • Dijon mustard (enough to spread on each sandwich)
  • 6 small eggs (or, enough to top each sandwich)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

For the bechamel sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of parm, cheddar, and gruyere)
  • 1 tsp parsley

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.-Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter, and whisk until a thick paste forms. Slowly pour in the cream, and whisk until thick. Add the cheese and parsley, and set aside.-Brush one side of each French bread slice with melted butter. Arrange half the slices on a cookie sheet, butter side down. Top each with onions, ham, and cheese.-With the remaining slices, spread a bit of Dijon mustard on the non-butter side, and place on top of each assembled sandwich, Dijon-side down.-Bake for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through and topping with a bit more gruyere. The sandwiches are done when the bread is golden brown.-Generously oil a 6-well muffin tin. Crack an egg into each well. Bake until the whites have set, 8-10 minutes, checking halfway through.-To assemble the sandwiches: top each with cooked egg, a drizzle of bechamel sauce, and the egg.

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