RECIPE Make Your Own Twix Bars

I have a sweet tooth. I’ve had one since I was a child, it got worse as a teenager and worse still as an adult. One of the nice parts about being an adult though is that I have my own kitchen and can produce candy for myself in far larger batches and portion sizes without having to leave the house and deal with humans on the days when people are probably the last thing I want to navigate.

One of my great candy loves is the Twix bar. Eating one reminds me of coming home from seeing the pediatrician, because my mother would always get me one when there were antibiotics to pickup at the pharmacy. It was the “you can eat this when you’re feeling up to it” treat, and it always marked the end of one month or another of bronchitis or strep throat or whatever I had managed to acquire.

I made my first batch of Twix bars while drunk and slightly high on pills. They turned out more like a Twix sheetcake, but I didn’t complain. However, I didn’t take any notes as to how I made them. Those notes (which became this recipe) came later when I made them a third time.

The Ingredients

Shortbread Layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon salt

Caramel Layer
2 cups caramel
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Layer
3 cups chopped milk chocolate or dark chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional)

The Person Layer
1 beverage of choice

A Twix is a sandwich candy, so it’s a trio of layers. We’re going to start with the shortbread.

The How-To

  1. Get your oven to 300 degrees F. If you’re like any of my friends, take the pans out first. It’s an oven, not a second drying rack for the three pots you have, guys. C’mon.
  2. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. With a piece of parchment paper, line a 9″ x 13″ pan. If you’ve got a shitty pan, spray the parchment.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour (GO SLOW AND MAKE SURE THE 2 CUP MEASUREMENT IS ACCURATE, THIS IS NOT A CASE WHERE ‘A LITTLE MORE WON’T HURT’) and salt. Mixture will be dry but will come together after mixing. The consistency you’re looking for is sort of between thick frosting and the good wet sand for sandcastles. It won’t start that way, but keep beating until it does.
  4. This is where you open your beverage of choice and have some. SOME, NOT ALL. We’re about to go do things with fire and sugar, so don’t go overboard. Just have a third. God, I can’t take you anywhere.
  5. Press the dough into the pan. This does not need to be super pressed tight because you still have to get this stuff out of the pan when it’s done, but try and get the dough in an even distribution across the pan. If you have lumps and ridges, call them artisanal.
  6. Take a fork and poke holes evenly spaced throughout the whole pressed-in dough. DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS. If you need to tell yourself that you’re doing this so that you have little divots for caramel and chocolate, do that. This is going to help the dough turn into the dough you expect in a Twix. I like to do this methodically and pretty uniformly, though I didn’t always and my previous Twix bars were awful for it.
  7. Get this pan in the oven about 37 to 42 minutes, until it’s a very pleasant golden brown color. In my old oven it was either 39 or 41 minutes, in my new oven it’s 37.  When the time’s up, take the pan out of the oven (it’s gonna be hot, use a potholder, don’t be a savage) and immediately take a sharp knife and trace the shortbread’s perimeter. This is going to make it easier later. Don’t worry about cutting the parchment paper, you’re not going to eat it (RIGHT, YOU KNOW NOT TO EAT THE PAPER, YES?). Get the bread away from the pan’s edges. Then let it cool. It can hang out on the counter or something. Let’s go play with fire and sugar.
  8. Take two bags of soft caramels (yes, you can use the kind you can impulse buy at the checkout line in CVS, I use the caramel bits from Kraft) and dump them into a decent pot you’d make soup in with the cream (SPRAY POT WITH NON-STICK PAM FIRST OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE TO CLEAN THE POT LATER). Start the temperature at low and work it up to almost medium (DO NOT GO TO MEDIUM), and using a nice silicon spatula, stir this together until it melts. Yes, you can make your caramels from scratch if you want to break out the sugar and karo, but dude I want some Twix bars sooner rather than later, and I don’t want to do that many dishes. You want to keep stirring until it’s sticky and all melted. DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGER IN TO TEST IT, IT’S HOT.Yes, you can also melt this in a microwave in 25-second bursts.
  9. When you’re satisfied with its melted state, pour the caramel over the shortbread. Use your spatula to get all the caramel out. Make sure the caramel is also evenly covering the shortbread, then get the whole thing in the fridge to firm up. This is gonna take about as long as 1 episode of any non-sitcom on Netflix (figure 43-48 minutes)
  10. Once firm, take it out of the fridge and using a sharp knife, cut the pieces into the Twix bar shape or whatever shape you . No, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, you can take them out of the pan after you cut the bars but you don’t have to (see next step)
  11. In a method similar to when we made caramel, melt the chocolate. And then we have a choice to make:If you want to dip the bars, use tongs and dip each bar in the melted chocolate, then get it on a cookie sheet or back in the pan to freeze.

    If you just want to pour the chocolate over the bars while they hang out in the pan THEN cut them, that works too. Either way, get the chocolate all over your bars.

  12. Here’s the tough part. Get this back in the fridge for AT LEAST 2-4 episodes of whatever you’re watching. Ideally it’s 3 hours minimum, and I’ve had good luck with 4.  Finish your beverage if you haven’t already.
  13. Eat them after they are nice and cold and Twix-y.

And that my good friends, is how John makes Twix bars.

Posted by johnadamus in feasting horn, recipes, 0 comments

Things You Can Do To Steak

Hi, I’m an omnivore. I believe passionately and vocally that humans are on top of the food chain and the point of eating is to fuel our bodies, and that meals are the truest divine experience possible – food is love, and you share it and you put it in you.

I understand that many people have other viewpoints, most of which I disagree with or find speciously supported through assumptions. But hey, if you don’t like meat, you don’t like meat. Skip this blog post and we’ll catch up later.

But now, here, have two meals that will knock peoples’ socks off:

Steak with Bordelaise Sauce

1 cup red wine (No I don’t care what kind, I’d recommend you use the same stuff you’d drink with this meal — If you don’t drink wine, I’ll point out you can have a beer with this meal)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 shallots, finely diced (they come in bundles usually, get 1 bundle, use 2 shallots from the bundle. Save the rest for making recipes fancy by using 1 in place of an onion)
1 bay leaf
6 tbsp. Demi-Glace (for now, you’re going to buy this in a store. Later, I will show you how to make this)
Steak! I don’t care what kind of steak, but let’s assume you’re cooking for 2, so get a decent pair of filets or ribeyes or something thicker than skirt and ideally with the word “Choice” on the label.

** I’m assuming you’re going to make this meal to impress someone, so let’s say you spend that extra money you were going to spend on porn in case your date didn’t work out and buy 2 filet mignon **

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme


Before you start – Heat your oven to 500° F

1. Make the sauce: In a 2-quart. saucepan (you may recognize this as the thing you make soup in), combine wine, thyme, shallots, and bay leaf. Reduce wine over medium-high heat until almost completely evaporated (that means look for steam and it should smell like wine). Discard the thyme and bay leaf; stir in demi-glace. Yes, it’s supposed to look shiny. Yes, it can be a little thick. If it’s watery or not shiny, you need to keep cooking it down. You can test this by putting a spoon in it, then watching it drip off the back. Does it look like Nyquil? Awesome. Cover it, remove from the heat, and set it aside.

2. Prepare the filets: Season filets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 10″ skillet (that pan you use every time) over high heat. Sear steaks, flipping once, until browned, 4 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven; roast until steaks are medium rare, 4–5 minutes if your oven is fickle. Place steaks on a plate; let rest.Take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the plate loosely. Leave them alone. They’re fine. Don’t poke them. Just let them sit there.

3. THIS STEP IS GOING TO REQUIRE YOU TO PICK UP A POT IN ONE HAND AND USE YOUR OTHER TO STIR. THAT POT IS GONNA BE HOT. BE CAREFUL. Let’s sauce the steak: Put the saucepan back on medium heat. Whisk in butter (that means either use a wisk or a fork, let’s be real here – you probably have more forks than whisks). Remove saucepan from heat; stir in parsley and season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer steaks to cutting board; add juices from plate to pan and stir. Spoon 2 tbsp. sauce onto each of the plates. Slice steaks into ¼”-thick slices; divide between plates. Sprinkle with rosemary and thyme; drizzle each steak with 1 tbsp. sauce. Serve with salad or something green on the plate so people can be proud of you, if you like.

Steak Diane

2 tbsp. canola oil
STEAK. I like 2 ribeyes for this, because you can slice them.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ cups beef stock (buy it in a carton)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced (or take 2-ish large spoonfuls of the jarred stuff)
1 shallot, minced
4 oz. mushrooms that you’re going to cut into pieces
¼ cup cognac or brandy (this is because we’re going to do something fancy to it. This isn’t for drinking)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard (it’s gotta be Dijon. Yellow and Deli DO NOT work)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or whatever you dig, but you need some)
1 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tbsp. minced chives

** mincing something means cutting it into TINY pieces, Think pencil erasers or smaller.**

1. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper, and add to skillet; cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked about 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to a plate, and set them aside. Take a piece of aluminum foil and cover them.

2. Return the skillet (yes we’re using the same pan) to high heat, and add stock (WARNING: This is going to hiss and smoke. Be careful. Go slow); cook it down until reduced until it’s about half gone, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl, and set it aside. (Also, congratulate yourself, you just deglazed something. You’re like four times cooler than anyone on Chopped.)

Return the skillet to heat, and add butter; add garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes (you want them to be sort of shiny). Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until they release any liquid and it evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 2 more minutes.


Move the pan to a part of the stove not hot (like the other burner!) Add the cognac, and light with a match to flambée (you won’t need to do much, the fumes will catch. THIS WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A CAMPFIRE. THIS WILL LOOK LIKE A BIC LIGHTER); put it back on the fire and cook until the flame dies down. It won’t take long. When you don’t see fire, move to the next paragraph.

Stir in that stock you used over in step 2, the cream, Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, and then return steaks to skillet; cook, turning in sauce, until warmed through and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Transfer steak to serving plates and stir parsley and chives into sauce; pour the sauce over steaks to serve.

Enjoy your food.

Posted by johnadamus in cooking, recipes, 0 comments

Cooking: Recipe: Turkey Mondor

Okay, it’s recipe time. And this one goes out to all my friends and followers on a budget, without big family obligations and who just want something simple but tasty. (Okay wait, that’s one of those dumb cliches like “I play as hard as I work” Let’s just gloss over it.)

I’m going to try and present to you a recipe for prepping a small turkey breast that shouldn’t tax you financially or timewise. Though, it’s a holiday, so what else do you have going on? You’re not going to watch that canned, scripted parade nonsense are you? Listening to the vapid dreck “Here comes Snoopy” is a great way to murder the brain cells that managed to avoid the alcohol poisoning.

Things You’ll Need:

  1. 1 turkey breast (it’s thawed out, right?)
  2. 2 celery stalks, sliced into sticks
  3. 2 large onions, sliced into either itty bitty pieces (diced) or into bits of rings, you pick
  4. 2 medium (fist-sized) apples, peeled and sliced into sections (please try not to eat these while cooking)
  5. 1 whole lemon
  6. 2 tablespoons butter (look at the stick of butter, cut one-third of it off,  then cut that third in half, that’s about enough butter, more is always better, so be generous)
  7. 2 tablespoons your choice of flour (all-purpose or whatever)
  8. 1 cup of dry white wine (you can use really any not dark booze)
  9. 2 egg yolks (here’s a video on how to take just the yolk from an egg. Save the egg white for breakfast)
  10. 1 cup heavy cream (no, you can’t skimp on this part, sorry, you need the fat from the cream)
  11. 1 ounce cognac (or brandy or dark rum, whatever you pick, it’s gotta be dark and strong)
  12. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  13. 8 ounces grated Gruyere (You can use one of those Gruyere-asiago blends of cheese in pouches, or you can substitute any hard cheese that isn’t parmesan, but it’s gonna change the taste)
  14. salt and pepper to taste
  15. Tin foil, aluminum foil, a big towel – something you can cover the turkey breast with
  16. OPTIONAL crushed nuts (usually pistachio, but you can use anything that isn’t a peanut) (Put the nuts in a ziploc, hit it with a heavy can, hammer or step on it)

Let’s cook this:

  1. 10 minutes before you want to start cooking, set your oven to 350 degrees
  2. If you haven’t already, wash the turkey. It’s gotta be thawed. If it isn’t, go thaw it out and come back (turn the oven off if you do)
  3. In a huge oven-capable dish or pan or platter (the thing you’re going to cook the turkey breast in) lay the breast down and spill the celery, onions and apples all over it. Try to keep it all in one dish or pan.
  4. Slice the lemon in half, then rub the turkey breast with 1/2 of a lemon. Feel free to squeeze the lemon (a little!) while you do this. Save the other half of the lemon (we’ll use it soon)
  5. Take your paring knife and lightly stab the skin. No knife? Use a fork. No, you can’t stick it in your mouth in between or after stabbing. You just want to poke some holes in it, not treat it like Caesar.
  6. Bake this thing in the oven for 1 hour, 45 minutes. Do not baste the breast, don’t goof with it, don’t do anything to it for that time. Just let it sit in the oven and bake. Go write something while this happens.
  7. When the time’s up, take the whole thing out of the oven, and move the breast to somewhere you can cut it. You can toss the celery, onions and apples. No, really, they’re done. Keep the pan though.
  8. Cut the breast into slices or serving pieces. If you’ve never sliced a turkey breast, face the pretty part away from you, slice down and away. Use a big fork in one hand, a knife in the other. Use a sharp knife, and sort of saw through the meat. Yeah, it takes practice. Here you go.
  9. Arrange your now sliced turkey back in the pan or dish or platter you just used and cover it to keep it warm.
  10. Crank your oven up to 450
  11. Go get a sauce pan. (something with not too big a diameter and high sides). Put it over medium heat.
  12. Melt the butter. Once it’s melted add the flour. Mix together. (This is called a “roux” and is frequently used in cooking, also it’s a great thing to tell someone to impress them). Your mixture may darken and thicken a little. That’s okay. I’m assuming you’re using a whisk or a fork to mix this stuff together and not your finger. Don’t use your finger. Stir this for three minutes. Seriously. The whole three minutes. Don’t stop.
  13. Add the dry white wine or whatever light alcohol you’re using. Keep stirring, it should thicken a little. Totally okay when that happens
  14. Take the pan OFF THE HEAT. (like move it to another not in use part of the stove) Get a friend or at least a third hand to help you. Keep stirring. While stirring, add in ONE egg yolk. Keep stirring. Stir a little faster and a little harder (eggs are down for it, yes you can totally talk dirty to them). Add in the second egg yolk. Make sure that when you’re stirring, you’re breaking up the yolk like you’re scrambling them. No, you’re not really scrambling, just use that motion.
  15. Put the saucepan BACK ON THE HEAT. Add the cream. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL. Just let it warm up. This may take somewhere between 45 seconds and 2 minutes. You DO NOT WANT THIS TO BUBBLE. Bubbles are bad (and if you see them, turn the heat off for thirty seconds and go to the next step ASAP)
  16. Add the other booze element (the cognac, brandy the whatever dark). Add the nutmeg. Stir. Stir more than that.
  17. Okay, taste it. No seriously, get in there and taste it. Be careful, it’s hot. Add salt and pepper until it tastes “best” to you. You’re looking for something creamy and a little fragrant.
  18. Turn down the heat (it should be on low by now) and let this simmer (that means quit touching it) for 3 minutes. Go get the turkey in the pan that’s been hanging out. Squeeze that other half of the lemon all over it.
  19. Add the cheese to the turkey in the pan. You cannot go wrong with the cheese, so more is better than less.
  20. Pour this sauce all the hell over the turkey. It’s absolutely okay to think this looks dirty.
  21. Put it in the oven for FIVE minutes. Maybe six, you’re looking for things to brown.
  22. Take out of the oven and take those crushed nuts and sprinkle them all over like it’s glitter at summer camp.
  23. Eat while it’s still warm. Yes, you’re going to have leftovers.

Happy eating.

Posted by johnadamus in cooking, 0 comments

Food and Eating, an explanation first

If you follow me on Twitter, or have conversations with me at all, chances are I’ve talked about food at some point. Maybe I’ve asked you if you’ve eaten recently or maybe I’ve talked about what I’m having for dinner. And to some people, given the specifics of what and how well I eat, I guess that comes across as bragging or showing off. I don’t mean it to, this is certainly not said in that sort of “Let them eat cake!” tone of royalty to peasantry (okay, a few times, I admit I’ve done it just so people will stop talking about ramen noodles or freeze-dried whatevers), but it’s because food means something to me.

First and foremost, food has never broken my heart, hurt my feelings, betrayed my trust, manipulated my feelings or misunderstood me. Food has never said it has hated me, food has never left me for better relationships, jobs or living arrangements. Food has never told me that it ‘didn’t feel about me the same way’ or that it just wanted to be friends. Food never judged me for needing medication, staying in instead of going out, or talking to myself over the company of others. Food has never rejected me, teased me or been rude to me.

Secondly, food is something I can produce with confidence. When I was in various treatment facilities and programs, they always urged us to find a hobby or skill. Maybe that was pottery or painting. I knew a man who got into woodworking. I always connected with food. The production of it, the pageantry, the preparation and the consumption. It was skill and art, and didn’t really require some talent I never thought I could foster or develop. Anyone, with practice and discipline and knowledge can prepare good food, at least for themselves. I could be good enough to make food for myself and others.

Food also is an expression of how I feel. I may work with words for a living, but I struggle with them in terms of quantifying or qualifying my feelings. They get stuck in my head, mutate when they hit my throat and leave my lips as X when I mean Y. If I take you to a meal, if I cook for you, I care about you. I want you to feel good. I want you to be happy. I want you to know the same joy and love I do when I eat.

The preparation and consumption of food is as holy as I get. Not in that Judeo-Christian sense of transfiguration, I mean in terms of ritual and craft. To prepare a thick steak, sizzling and crusted brown with just the right vegetables in a beautiful array of colors and tastes is divine, second only to the momentary joys of orgasm, and sometimes it lasts longer and is more satisfying. To know that you can mix a few things in a bowl, apply heat and then be able a short time later to be able to provide the people you care about with sustenance is enormously gratifying to me. It makes me feel like I matter. It makes me feel like I have a way to compensate for being the sick madman who spends days thinking and writing and listening to music at all hours.

I eat well now. By many accounts, I am a foodie’s foodie. I don’t hide from this. I don’t deny it either. Yes, I eat well, and enjoy going to the best places on the planet for the best meals. I love feeling stuffed and double love the idea that I do enough good work to be able not to flinch when the check arrives. One of my great sentences is, “Don’t ever look at the price of a thing.” because I live well enough now so that it’s not a problem.

See, it used to be a problem. I grew up eating meals that came in boxes, and things that amounted to just chicken breasts with maybe salt and pepper on them, and maybe a salad that came out of a bag. The steaks were thin, and lower grade cuts. Salads were dominated by lettuce, not greens or dressing. Luxury items were pizzas with more than one topping. And my great indulgence was ice cream out of a container, maybe with a sauce on it. I grew up eating middle class food. It wasn’t bad. I still like a lot of those things and I still snack that way. But I knew there were other tiers.

I had friends who lived on canned goods and powdered things that had neon colors, or things that you reheated in the microwave. I had friends who used those deli containers you get pre-fab potato salad and coleslaw in as drinking cups. They drank water you had to boil first, and there weren’t very many second portions. I would go to their houses, be at their tables, and know that because I was the guest, whatever meal we were having would be a big deal, maybe even stretching their budget a little thin. It didn’t humble me, it embarrassed me. I was sorry to be taking their time and money over something like a roasted chicken.

Money and food have always been tied together. I spent years as a “starving artist”, living on maybe a hundred dollars a week, stealing utilities and sneaking produce out of stores. I thought that’s what made you have the “right” kind of artistic talent. I thought that’s what made you a “better” writer. When I did get money, I spent it on alcohol or something harder. I wished I could have the big meals, but made due with peanut butter and jelly on white bread. I pretended it was duck or steak or fish. It was Arnold’s white bread, Skippy and Welch’s (it’s still a favorite). I remember being in middle school and thinking that the bill at the grocery store being $104 was astronomical, and that we should be eating multi-course meals, when in fact it was just a food budget for two weeks growing up. I used to frequently hear, “Enjoy this, because it’s cold pasta for a while.” I hated when my father would say it. It wasn’t funny. It was a hurtful reminder that the good things in life come at too high a cost, and that you always have to sacrifice so much to get even a meal, so really, you’re not eating food, you’re just counting the minutes until you shit away the money.

That’s how I grew up. Partner that with regular “discussions” about how I was a fat ass, how I was lazy or getting heavy, or needed to lose weight or “work on my gut” or “put on some muscle” and you may come to understand that I learned to get by on one meal a day as a teenager, and that I avoided cameras because I used to sneak food, or “you can’t fit all of you in the frame, can you John?” When I got sick, and ate and ate, thanks to a combination of anxiety, depression and a crushed metabolism, and ballooned my weight to over three hundred pounds, I didn’t feel like I was harming myself (I wanted to die so often back then), I felt more like I was making the outside-me look like the inside-me. I kept hearing how fat I was, how worthless I was, how I could never afford to eat well, so I believed it. Every meal. Every day. For years.

I’m an adult now. I just turned 35. I have reached a point in my mental health where I am in charge of my faculties, and have reached a point in my professional career where, when the money comes in, it’s large sums and it can be consistent. I’ve also learned the value of budgeting, so that helps. But I remember my old relationship with food: as secret lover, as indulgence, as rare occasion and want to spend every lucid and stable second of my life never feeling like that again.

Every meal I eat or prepare is a rebellion against those old ways. Every old recipe that calls for exotic ingredients isn’t just a luxury, it’s a testament to my hard work. I’m going to eat this ostrich quesadilla because dammit, I can afford ostrich. I’m going to make french vanilla ice cream from scratch because it brings me joy to do so. And if you seriously are going to tell me to check my food privilege, then come to my house, sit at my table, and share a meal with me, if you’re not a jerk about it. I would cook for you ahead of cooking for myself, but since you’re not here, this meal is for me. Ask anyone who’s been out to eat with me, or anyone I’ve cooked for, anyone with me is my guest, and I will be the greatest host they’ve ever had. The smile and blissful sounds you make of enjoying your meal tell me “I love you.”  “I accept you for who you are.” “You are good enough John.” more than you realize. So, please, take your expectations of privilege and choke on them. I eat good food because food is life and love and this is how I share my experience with others.

At times on this blog, I’m going to share recipes. I can’t promise they’ll be the NSFW recipes that other people share,  but I’m going to effort to show you that you can eat what I eat, without needing “a fish guy” “a butcher” “a meat guy” (no of course they’re not the same thing), four different markets within 5 miles and regular food deliveries to your house because it’s more appealing to stay in that go outside and possibly get your heart hurt again. I will always speak plainly about cooking equipment and terms, and I will always do my best to suggest alternatives. Though I might not know your budget, I will assume you’re trying to spend less than $50 a meal.

If this sounds agreeable to you, awesome, I hope you enjoy what I’m going to do. If this irritates or discomfits you, all the posts will be tagged “cooking” and you can just skip them.

Ready? Let’s talk about the basics in the next post.

Posted by johnadamus in cooking, 0 comments