December 31, 2006
If you’re sick of hearing about my recent love of Dorie Greenspan, (but really, how could you be???) then you can just go ahead and skip the first half of this post. If you scroll on down, you’ll see a delicious lobster sandwich. Either way though, you’re gonna have to pass by an equally delicious Black and White Banana cake which I jacked up with some Spiced Rum Butterscotch sauce, so you might as well enjoy it. The recipe called for this cake to be made in a loaf pan, but I decided to give my “mini” bundt pans another go. Last time, (and the first time) I used them, they produced not-so-mini cinnamon cakes. They were supposed to be cute but instead they were just big. In an effort to produce a visually appealing dessert as opposed to a comic one, I made a conscious effort not to overfill the pans this time. For the most part I succeeded. The batter was so good that I may or may not have eaten a few spoonfuls off of the top to even things out. I was debating whether it even needed to be cooked because the batter was delicious all on its own. I don’t think my guests would have been too keen on raw cake batter though, so into the oven they went.
Before I even started making this cake I knew that I wanted to douse it with a Spiced Rum & Butterscotch sauce that I had been given for Christmas. I hoped the sauce would be good, but I had no idea that it would be so outstanding! It was a sauce worthy enough to serve to Dorie herself. And when I ran out of cake, I started eating the sauce with a spoon, it was just that good, (and I’m just that pathetic…). I’m sorry I can’t give a recipe for the sauce, trust me, I wish I had one. I will have to set about trying to make my own rum and butterscotch sauce. But seeing as though sugar sauces are not my forte,
I would welcome a recipe from anyone who makes their own. Better yet, just send me some, that would be super.
Perhaps you are asking what kind of dinner warranted a dessert such as this one? Would lobster be a good enough occasion? I think so. Lobster was on sale so we had a pre-New Years feast. Unfortunately I didn’t snap any pictures of the little guys before they were nothing more than empty vessels. I did, however, save the tail of my lobster to make this incredible sandwich. Saving the tail took every ounce of willpower I had. The lobster was so sweet and succulent, I could have had 5 of them. But as everyone else dismantled and devoured their lobsters, I was consoled by the knowledge that I would be having an amazing lunch the next day and nothing that they’d be eating would compare. The lowly sandwich is elevated to new heights when filled with lobster. There is really nothing better as far as sandwiches go and I’ve been privileged enough to be enjoying lobster sandwiches for a long time. When I was little and we ate lobster, I never knew how to get the meat out of the body so Dad would always save mine for the following day when he would painstakingly remove all of the little bits and make a sandwich for me.
Today I made my own sandwich and it was much easier to do using the tail meat, but every bit as scrumptious. I decided to test out the new multi-plated waffle maker I bought Dad for Christmas, (ok, so maybe it was for me too) and added brie to my lobster sandwich to make a melt. I also used homemade multigrain bread and mixed some chopped celery, purple onion, orange pepper, lemon, mayo and pepper in with the lobster. I think this was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
One other thing- who's the wise guy who posted a comment on the last post "from Dorie"? As much as I love her, I know Dorie's not reading my blog...
Happy New Year!
Dorie Greenspan + Banana + Chocolate + Baking + Lobster + Sandwich
December 30, 2006
If I have children, I might have to name my first born Dorie. You’d think after the mass amounts of pre-Christmas baking I’ve done, that I’d be sick of baked goods for a little while. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My new Dorie Greenspan cookbook has simply thrown gasoline on an already steadily burning fire. I have a strong desire to make every recipe in this book. And then to eat it all myself... And then to live in a cave underground because I will be such a whale that no one will want to look at me.
After enjoying a trio of Dorie’s muffins, I moved onto brownies. As much as I wanted to continue making muffins, I also wanted to see what else this book had to offer. Blame it on A.D.D. My parents were going to some sort of soirée and Mom asked me if I could make something for them to bring along. I had also had a request from a friend for brownies so I decided to make two types, divide them up and send half with my parents and bring the other half to my friend. I settled on French Chocolate Brownies and Espresso Cheesecake Brownies.
I foolishly decided to mess with Dorie’s recipe for the French Chocolate Brownies. Sacrilege! The recipe called for rum soaked raisins which I decided to omit because I wasn’t sure how they would be received by my friend. I had actually been looking for a strictly chocolate brownie recipe for her, but all of Dorie’s recipes are jazzed up with nuts or fruit or multiple forms of chocolate, (and not everyone’s a fan of the white stuff). Instead of inquiring if my friend would enjoy any of these things in her brownies, I just went ahead and made them without. Don’t worry, I’ve given myself a firm slap on the wrists for this violation. I’ve learned my lesson, I promise to never do it again. The brownies were good, but I could almost taste how much better they would be with rum and raisins. I would make these again and tell you how they were, but instead I’m challenging you to do that for me. You all have the book, right? If not, get off your butt and go get this book. Or better yet, stay on your butt and click on over to ebay where you can find Dorie’s book for the ridiculously low price of $20. I don’t know what you’re waiting for. This book is worth its weight in gold! I’ll believe you if you make them and tell me they’re amazing.
As for the Espresso Cheesecake Brownies, I’m struggling to find words that can adequately describe how amazing they were. Let’s break it down into its most basic form: cheesecake + brownie = so damn good. I strayed slightly from the recipe this time, but I didn’t omit any of Dorie’s ingredients. She said to used bittersweet chocolate and I used half bittersweet, half dark. That’s a completely acceptable substitution. Dorie said to use espresso, I used a specialty coconut coffee. Again, perfectly reasonable. Dorie told me to make a sour cream topping but I didn’t have any sour cream. Not a problem, I simply substituted another Dorie icing recipe and adding more of the coconut coffee to it. I’m sure she would approve. These morsels of heaven were gobbled up very quickly. It’s a good thing I was giving them away, (but not without conducting a thorough quality control test) because I wouldn’t have been able to resist eating the entire pan of brownies. Sadly, I’m not really joking…
Coconut Coffee Cheesecake Brownies, (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours)
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chococlate, chopped
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp coconut coffee
1 T boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 T all purpose flour
Icing (originally used for Dorie’s Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread)
3 ounces bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 T coconut coffee
3 T unsalted butter
3 T confectioners’ sugar
Preheat over to 350F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Set heatproof bowl over simmering water. Put the butter in and top with chocolate. Stir until just melted, don’t let it get too hot. Remove from heat.
Whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Whisk in the vanilla and beat vigorously for a few seconds. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Set aside.
Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water, set aside to cool.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes until incorporated. Beat in vanilla and coffee mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Then, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the yogurt, followed by the flour. The batter will be smooth.
Pour ¾ of the brownie batter into an 8” square baking pan, lined with tinfoil and greased. Smooth the layer, then pour cheesecake overtop. Dot the top of the batter with remaining brownie batter, the swirl the two together, careful not to plunge the knife too deep.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan and the cheesecake layer is beige in the center, lightly browned around the edges and puffed all over. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temp.
When the brownies are completely cool, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
In a double boiled, combine chocolate and coffee, stir until melted. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter until blended. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar. Spread over brownies.
Brownies + Baking + Chocolate + Cheesecake
December 27, 2006
When I didn’t get Dorie’s book for my birthday back in November, I wasn’t too impressed. I thought I had made it abundantly clear that someone should have bought it for me. At first I thought maybe someone would grace me with a belated birthday present, but that didn’t happen either. I decided I would have to campaign harder for Christmas. I made Chapters-Indigo and Amazon wishlists which both contained one book and one book alone: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours. I sent those lists to everyone. It’s a good thing my brother was paying attention. On Christmas morning I sat happily reading my Dorie book, oblivious to what was going on around me.
There were so many amazing recipes, and of course I’d already seen a ton of them from all of the other lucky bloggers who own this book, that I didn’t know where to begin. Here’s a thought: Why not start at the beginning? The first recipe was for Orange-Berry muffins. They didn’t disappoint. Nice and moist and citrusy with bursts of blueberries. They were gone in less than a day and requests were coming fast and furious for more. I’m not a fan of repeats and with so many recipes to choose from, it’s going to be a while before I get back to the beginning. Next up on my list to make were Great Grain Muffins and Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. They were quite successful as well, although there will always be something special about your first. I liked the Orange-Berry ones best.
The poppy seeds muffins looked the prettiest, but the poppy seeds were suspect. I made the muffins at my Grandparents house and my Grandma wasn’t sure when she had bought them. She said something about last using them to bake for a friend of hers who liked poppy seed cake. That particular friend died at least two years ago, may she rest in peace. And may she have taken her rancid poppy seeds with her… I have confidence though that these muffins would be much better with a little more lemon juice and zest, (I was using what may have been the smallest lemon in the world), and with fresh poppy seeds.
The Great Grain muffins were good in that they didn’t taste whole grainish. You know when things are supposed to be good for you and they taste like it? These muffins weren’t like that. They were soft and full of fruit and although they couldn’t compare to my precious Orange-Berry muffins, in a pinch they would be a decent substitute. Three recipes down and I’m still studying the first chapter of the book. Dorie and I have got a long way to go but I have a feeling we’re going to be very, very good friends.
Muffins + Baking + Orange + Lemon
December 24, 2006
When I first heard that Danielle of Habeas Brulee had chosen Sugar Art as the theme for this month’s Sugar High Friday, I immediately had visions of the amazing pieces I would create with spun sugar of all colours, balanced delicately on top of more sugar. It was going to be so elegant. Then I remembered that I’m afraid of hot sugar. I also remembered that I’m incapable of producing elegant, delicate things, I’m like a bull in a tea shop. Smashy smashy. I would also like to add that I’m definitely not an artist, those talents were given to other members of my family. This made SHF a whole lot harder. Well, instead of fancy I could just go for ridiculous. I think that’s more my style. I’m a living joke.
A while back I was tagged by Artizenkitschen for the 3 Things meme. One of the questions asked for 3 things I’d like to learn and my response was: how to get someone to be my life sponsor, how not to ruin perfectly good food, how to make marzipan Mario. The life sponsor role is still up for grabs if anyone’s interested. I’m still ruining perfectly good food.
Strike one, strike two. Then the pitcher gave me a nice ball right over the plate and I hit that baby out of the park, (or at least a ground rule double…). I would make marzipan and then I would make Mario. Surely that would be a respectable addition to SHF. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. First came Mario, then Luigi, then Princess Peach, then Toadstool and finally, the green guy himself, Yoshi. When they were all finished, I stared at them proudly, but then had a pang of sadness. I had dragged my poor friends out of Marioworld and left them in the middle of nowhere. They needed a house or something, a place to put their feet up.
For the past few years during the holidays, I’ve gotten together with two of my friends and we’ve decorated gingerbread houses. I’m not going to lie to you, mine was always the nicest. That’s not boasting, it’s the truth. I even received a certificate one year proclaiming mine to be Most Liked by Martha Stewart. The other two also received certificates; however theirs were for things like Most Creative Use of Gum Balls and Most Unstable Gingerbread House Ever. This year, unfortunately, the three of us weren’t able to get together, but I was determined to carry on some form of the tradition. Usually, we had simply bought premade gingerbread and candy from the Bulk Barn. Our houses definitely never received any culinary awards.
This year, I decided I would make my own gingerbread. This would also be a service to my cousins who routinely destroy my house, tearing it apart bit by bit. I don’t think they really care what the gingerbread tastes like, they’ll eat anything with sugar in it, but I would feel better knowing that they were eating a quality house. As soon as I decided that I would make my own gingerbread I once again slipped into Fantasyland and had visions of an enormous gingerbread castle. I would recreate Princess Peach’s castle! Genius! I even planned on making round turrets, the whole works. That plan lasted as far as 3 failed attempts at making gingerbread turrets. I can’t even believe I tried 3 times. After that, my gingerbread castle quickly deteriorated into a much more reasonable gingerbread cottage.
Due to my failed attempts, as well as a request for a few dozen gingerbread men, I ended up making about 11 batches of gingerbread dough. This was not a good thing. I happen to have a weakness for raw gingerbread. I’m weird, I know. But I like it. A lot. I will eat it until I feel sick, (which I did, repeatedly). I don’t even like baked gingerbread that much, but if I’m rolling out gingerbread for say, a cottage, or gingerbread men or failed attempts at castle turrets, I will eat the vast majority of scrap pieces. This cottage that I built was a multiple day affair and that meant rolling out gingerbread everyday. It also meant that I had a stomach ache by the end of most days as well. I’m like the stupid hamster that keeps getting shocked and never learns avoidance.
Anyways, without further ado, Jumbo Empanadas presents: The Marzipanrio Show, in association with Marzipan and Gingerbread Productions Inc.
Living in Marioworld can be stressful. You’ve always got to be jumping, running, flying, sliding down tubes, fighting evil and collecting coins, ALL the time! Sometimes you need a break from the everyday… It’s a good thing Princess Peachipan has a cottage in the woods, far outside of Marioworld, in Gingerbreadland. So when the ‘world was getting them down, the gang hopped in their karts and off they went for a weekend of relaxation.
Side & Back
I’ve Got ‘Em Now!
Taste the Sugar High
Due to my technical incompetence, you'll have to click here to get the sound that I would have liked to accompany this post...
Happy Holidays everyone! Don’t forget to eat your sugar…
Marzipan + Blogging Event + Gingerbread + SHF26 + Mario
December 21, 2006
I was up late last night baking. My inability to refuse a challenge may have been partly to blame as can be seen in the following conversation between Dad and I:
Dad: Wanna go for a bike ride?
Me: I have 25 dozen cookies to make.
Dad: We’ll just go around the block. (*Note- my “block” is 12km long)
Me: But I just started the cookies.
Dad: Come on, it’s sunny out.
Me: What’s the temperature?
Dad: 5.4°C and it’s going up, and it’s sunny, so it feels warmer.
Me: But the weather network said that with the windchill it’s -1°C.
Me: Let’s go.
And so off we went for our bike ride. The wind was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to return soup in a deli. Dad graciously let me take the lead, and the wind in my face. I felt like I was going backwards. Then when I got home I felt the need to take a break. And I got distracted, (gee, what a surprise) and decided to go turn a wooden bowl on the lathe. I got ¾ of the way through turning my bowl when it exploded. Kablamo! No more bowl-o. Curses, foiled again. So then I was angry and put off making cookies until later. Eventually I got myself back into the kitchen and started to make whipped shortbread, chocolate shortbread, lemon bars, traditional shortbread, chocolate mint cookies, gingerbread men, sugar cookies, chocolate peanut butter cups… it was a lot of cookies.
My oven is not big enough for a production of such magnitude. Nor do I have enough pans or silpats. I tried to get a system going so that I’d always have a pan ready to go into the oven when one came out. The problem was that I was also trying to make about 4 different kinds of cookies at once. I’ve never been good at following one recipe, let alone 4 of them. I started getting backlogged when the oven was full, all of my trays were in use, all of my bowls were in use, and the sink was full of dishes. A wiser person would have done some of the dishes, organized the kitchen, you know, something useful. Instead, I combined scraps of chocolate shortbread with scraps of traditional shortbread to make striped cookies, thus requiring me to stay up even later to bake them. At one point I even started getting delirious and seeing animals in my cookies.
Just try to tell me you can’t see the monkey in that picture. What? I think the baking needs to stop. I’m concerned that my oven is going to revolt, possibly explode like my bowl. I think I need to start eating carrot sticks. Let’s not be drastic, maybe I just need a nap. Then some ice cream… That doesn’t require heat. Mmmm ice cream… Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Baking + Shortbread + Lemon Bars + Cookies
December 19, 2006
The first recipe I tested for Cooks Illustrated was a Crumb Cake. It was good but I wasn’t overly impressed. I thought it was plain, and I don’t like plain. The second recipe I was asked to test was for bbq brisket, and seeing as though I don’t live in the southern USA and it was in the negative digits outside when I got the recipe I didn’t feel like it was something I really wanted to delve into. Then along came a third recipe to test: Gyros. Well sign me up! In the recipe it said to use store bought pitas since they were aiming to make this a meal that could be accomplished in less than an hour. I chose to kill two birds with one stone and make my own pita. This wasn’t entirely by choice. Quite some time ago, a friend had requested I make homemade pitas. He wasn’t even going to be the recipient of the pitas. He just wanted me to make them, (I presume) so that he could live vicariously through me. He claims to cook, but I don’t believe it. In any case, off I went, in search of a pita recipe. I looked at two possibilities; one looked fairly authentic and the other looked easy. I went with the easy one. Give me a break, I’ve been fighting with gingerbread all day long, (more on that in a post coming soon, in the meantime, I continue to curse gingerbread). And so, with my easy pita recipe in one hand and the gyro recipe in the other, I set to work.
The gyros called for ground lamb. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen ground lamb at the grocery store. There’s typically legs of lamb, but rarely ground. Friends of ours raise sheep, (they have a wool company) so I used to get lamb from them all the time. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any lamb from them in a while, I should look into that one. Anyways, not to worry, I bought a lamb flank and ground it myself. I’m resourceful like that. Other than that there were no major problems, I made a couple changes to the CI recipe, but for the most part kept it the same and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even made some extra lamb patties to put in the freezer for a quick lunch someday. As for my easy pita, it was ok, but it didn’t puff. I guess I’ve failed the pita request and will have to try again with the better recipe. They weren’t bad by any means, and served as a nice base for my rather deconstructed gyros, but they could have been better.
I’m aware that the last picture has nothing to do with food, but watch me tie this whole thing together: Remember how I said I had friends who raise sheep? And how I said they raise sheep because they have a wool company? Well, the wool that was used to make this sweater is from those friends. And although the sweater is not edible like most pics you see on my blog, I made it, which is like most things. It's the Baby Genius' Christmas present, he'll grow into it. See how I’ve wrapped this all up and tied it with a neat little bow? I’m now sitting here smiling quite smugly.
Gyros + Cooks Illustrated + Lamb
December 17, 2006
During one of my random recipe searches I came across a recipe for “The Ultimate Brownie.” I know what you’re thinking, and I was thinking it too: Yeah right. I’ve seen countless recipes for The Best Brownie EVER, The Perfect Brownie, The Last Brownie You’ll Ever Eat, etc… There’s always someone who thinks they have the be all and end all recipe for brownies, (this also applies to chocolate chip cookies, pie crust, lasagna… everything) but I find most of the time their recipe will disappoint, because no matter how good it is, I can’t help but hope that there’s something even better. What fun would it be to think that I’ve tasted the best? I might as well roll over and die if that’s the case. Anyways, I filed that recipe away, figuring I might give it a try at some point, as it will probably produce a brownie that is at least edible, (and who am I kidding? Even if it wasn’t, I’d probably eat it.) For some reason I kept coming back to this recipe, but each time I shied away from making it. Maybe it was the fact that it called for SEVEN eggs. Maybe it was because it called for THREE cups of sugar. It could have been the POUND of walnuts. And it could have been the fact that all of this was to be baked into a measly 9x9 pan. Finally, I sucked it up and set about making “The Ultimate Brownie” despite the fact that I found the whole recipe rather suspect.
Even though I had my qualms about both the ingredients and the directions, I persevered. Even though I worried that mixing eggs into hot sugar would scramble them, I persevered. Even though I emptied my supply of organic cocoa into these brownies, I persevered. And even though I had no walnuts and not quite a pound of pecans, I persevered. But I drew the line when I came time to pour that vat of brownie batter into a 9x9 pan. There was NO freaking way that was going to fit. Unless I had a 9x9 pan with sides that are 6 inches high, that batter would have ended up all over the bottom of the oven, and God knows there’s enough crap down there already. Instead, the batter went into a 9x13 pan and I held my head high as I poured it in. It was for the good of the brownies, (and my oven).
Now then, I went about setting the oven timer and was still thinking rather highly of myself as I had the good sense to reduce the recommended oven time since my brownies would obviously me slightly thinner than they would have been in their crazy high 9x9 pan. I patted myself on the back and went to sit down and relax and wait for my precious brownies to be done. A couple minutes later, Dad called me to help him move a dresser upstairs. No problem. We lugged the dresser upstairs and that was the end of it. But then I passed by my bedroom and happened to glance inside. Yeesh, what exploded in there? And in a moment of what can only be called sheer insanity, I decided to clean my room. So time passed and I worked away, unpacking bags that have sat on my floor for months, making my bed which generally isn’t ever made, doing laundry. I even vacuumed and dusted. I found things I thought had been lost forever. I was in a pretty good mood. Then, all of a sudden I caught a whiff of chocolate.
AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!! How long had I been up here and how could I possibly have forgotten the brownies??? I raced downstairs, taking them two at a time, tearing through the house, scaring the cat half to death and skidding into the kitchen at breakneck speed. I threw open the oven door, reached in to pull out the pan, had a brief moment of clarity and grabbed a dish towel, and then removed my poor brownies to a cooling rack. I stared at them. They stared at me. I glanced over at the recipe which was sitting on the counter. In giant letters at the bottom of the recipe were the words DO NOT OVERBAKE. I looked at the oven timer which had long since expired. Exactly how much longer the brownies had been in, I had no way of telling. I poked at the top of them. Hot. I took out a toothpick and stuck it in the middle. I was somewhat reassured to see that it wasn’t completely bone dry when I removed it. But my heart was already feeling heavy and I knew I had wasted a ridiculous amount of ingredients on brownies that I couldn’t pass off as anything other than “The Ultimate Disaster.” Why did I pick today to clean my room? I never clean my room. It’s a constant disaster and should have continued to be that way so that my brownies could have stood a chance at being good. I should have known better. It was basic high school physics at work: Disaster cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. Disaster simply moved from my bedroom to the brownies. Science wins again.
Baking + Brownies + Recipe + Chocolate
December 16, 2006
So in the past week I’ve made butter tarts, mincemeat tarts, chocolate-chocolate cookies, lemon sammies, tangerine drops, rum balls and chocolate chip cookies. You thought I was done baking? I’m just getting started. Nothing says Happy Holidays like the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Apparently the gym I go to disagrees. The gym is probably against cookies in general, but they haven’t come out and said that to me, yet.
Instead of greeting me with a plate of cookies, (just what everyone needs when they go to the gym) they’re greeting with an obnoxious electronic Santa voice. Usually when I swipe my card at the gym a little bell dings, signifying that my card has been accepted. Since December, all that has changed. Now when I swipe in, bells start jingling and are followed by a very loud and drawn out “Ho ho ho! Meeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyy Chriiiiiiiiiisstmmmaaaas!” I can’t get away from it fast enough. This supposedly jolly voice follows me down the hall as I rush towards the changeroom. I can handle a little ding, no big deal, but Santa and his bells have got to go. I offer my deepest sympathy to the girl who works at the desk and hears this roughly a billion times a day. I’m sure it haunts her dreams.
And speaking of Santas who have got to go; add mall Santas to that list. They’re just creepy. I question who the person is that wants to have whiny children sit on their lap all day long… The worst is if you happen to be in the mall when it’s not very busy, like in June (it’s getting to the point where Santa lives at the mall year round) and you walk by and he calls out to you with something like “Have you been a good girl this year?” or “What would you like for Christmas little girl?” Look Santa, I was never a little, let’s not get into the naughty or nice thing, and I don’t care what you say, I’m not coming to sit on your lap. I just want to buy myself a new cookbook and get out of here.
The kids love Santa though, so I guess that’s why he stays. And in the end he’s teaching them life lessons. How so? The year they learn Santa’s not real, (sorry if you’re hearing this for the first time) is traumatic but it serves a purpose too. Welcome to real life kids, it’s not all sugar plums and fairy tales. I happen to be one of the eldest of 32 cousins and as such, I’ve witnessed the hopes and dreams of many children dashed when they find out that Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and the rest of them don’t actually lug around a fat guy in a red suit delivering presents. Christmas at my Grandparents’ house every year involves one of my Uncles dressing up as Santa and handing out the presents. And every year, that Uncle is conveniently missing when Santa shows up. It’s very much a Polkaroo situation, with my Uncle returning after Santa has gone and saying things like “Santa was here?? And I missed him AGAIN?!”
We need to simplify this whole holiday thing, all of them, no matter what you celebrate. Mr. Costanza had it right, what we need to do is gather ‘round the Festivus pole, (and in my version of Festivus) eat cookies and be happy. Today’s cookies, (in order of appearance) were linzer cookies, sugar cookies, snowgingerbreadmen, coconut cookies, oatmeal cookies and more linzer cookies. Happy Festivus everyone! See you at the pole.
Food + Cookies + Baking + Gingerbread + Christmas
December 14, 2006
Hollywood parties are full of glitz, glam, celebrities… liquor. There’s designer outfits, salon styled hair, outrageous jewelery… liquor. People are talking, eating, drinking… liquor. Sometimes all of this excitement is just too much and leads to things like pantyless pictures and nonsensical ramblings on The View. But the people to whom these tragedies occur are usually such respectable individuals, what could possibly be the cause of their downfall? I would wager that a Bailey’s Toboggan helped them slide down that slippery slope.
Stephanie, of Dispensing Happiness is hosting Blog Party #17, with the Hollywood theme of “Lights, Camera, Action.” Typically Stephanie’s parties require a finger food and a drink, but given the Hollywood theme and the propensity of celebrities to consume more than their share of beverages, I thought I’d just go with a liquid dinner. I looked around my kitchen for inspiration but all I saw were cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. There were gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate-chocolate cookies, cookies everywhere! But I couldn’t put them into a drink, or could I? From the oven to the glass, the Bailey’s Toboggan was born. Appropriately named because after one or two of these, it’s all downhill from there…
1 ½ ounces Baileys
1 ounce Spiced rum
1 ½ ounces chocolate milk
Chill a martini glass, then rim it with crushed gingerbread cookies. In a shaker, combine ice, Baileys, rum and chocolate milk. Shake and strain into the martini glass. Garnish with a gingerbread cookie. Consume with caution.
Drink + Gingerbread + Blogging Event + Rum
December 13, 2006
I’ve got two types of tarts for you today, and no, I’m not one of them. Allow me to present the wondrous butter tart (applause heard all around) and the lowly mincemeat tart, (booo, hiss!). I had request for both of them and that’s the only reason a mincemeat tart was produced in my kitchen. Honestly, who eats this stuff and actually likes it? As far as I can tell, it’s like a fruit cake threw up in a tart shell and they called it mincemeat. Bleh. None for me thanks. If I’m going to be intaking calories, they’d better be good, like the ones found in chocolate, caramel, maple syrup and butter.
I was happy with the way the butter tarts turned out, (if you’ve been paying any attention, you’ll know that’s because butter is an acceptable source of calories) they were super good right out of the oven, nice and warm and gooey. The recipe was courtesy of Joy of Baking, which I always seem to forget about for a while and then rediscover some time later. That site always has pretty pictures to accompany their recipes. As for the mincemeat, which isn’t even worthy enough to call itself a tart, I used the same pastry shell and then just threw in some store bought mincemeat. There was no way I was going through the trouble of actually making mincemeat for a measly two dozen tarts.
Now then, the biggest problem I have with mincemeat, (other than the taste) is that it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I hate to say it, but mincemeat tarts are fairly nice looking, what with their little star tops and dusting of icing sugar. It’s easy to get suckered in by looks and then fall victim to the awful taste of mincemeat. It seems like every year I unknowingly pick up a mincemeat tart because of how pretty it looks and how tasty it therefore must be. And every year I’m horrified to find out I’ve just taken a big bite of mincemeat and rush to rinse the taste out of my mouth with whatever happens to be closest; wine, gravy, cranberry sauce, it’s all good so long as it’s not mincemeat. However, since I’d like to think of my blog as educational, I believe we can all learn a valuable lesson from my misfortune: it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The pretty tart is poison, she’s nothing but trouble. Choose the plain tart, she’ll take good care of you. Looks fade, taste is forever.
Food + Tarts + Baking
December 12, 2006
Guess what I’ve been doing? I’ll give you a clue; it starts with b and ends in –aking. Yes, that’s right, lots and lots of eating, I mean baking, (the two go hand in hand, don’t they?). There’s no particular reason for my recent baking spree other than the fact that it’s more acceptable around the holiday season to do so. Quite frankly I’d bake mass quantities of things all the time because it makes me happy to do it, but not everyone is as willing as I am to indulge in sweets the whole year through, breakfast, lunch and dinner. They don’t know what they’re missing.
The amount of baking I’m doing is getting a little ridiculous though. The cookie jars are overflowing and I’m considering buying some chickens because I’m going through an absurd amount of eggs. It wouldn’t be the first time that there have been fowl residing at my house either. One time Dad came home with a rooster. I have no idea why he did, but I hated that roosted. It never knew what time of day it was. Roosters are supposed to crow in the morning. This one must have been dyslexic or something because it didn’t matter if it was the middle of the night or the middle of the afternoon, this rooster would happily shout out his cock-a-doodle-doos. The rooster didn’t last too long.
Then there was the time we had a pair of turkeys. Dad took great delight in telling people that the turkeys had names… Licious and Dee. He would then go on to explain “Get it? Dee---licious, delicious!” Clearly they were destined for the table from the very start. We also had quail for a while, they were kinda cute. And if I recall correctly, they actually did lay eggs. You should never get attached to edible animals at my house though, those quail dressed up nicely in a morel and white wine sauce. Don’t even try to call the deer in my backyard Bambi, a more appropriate name would be Tasty.
Wasn’t this post about baking? Meh. Look at the pictures. The Lemon Sammies were previously named Angel Whispers, not in my kitchen! (I’m still on the fence about the word “sammies”). They were a bit of a pain to make though, the dough was way too dry and I knew this early on but still put two trays into the oven before adding some orange juice to the remaining dough to fix it. The tangerine drops were supposed to be orange drops. Tangerine is exponentially better. These were more cakey than cookie. The rum balls weren’t the best I’ve had, but that’s what I get for finding an inferior recipe. The chocolate chocolate cookies are borderline dense brownies, and that’s A-okay in my books! I will be making these again. Lastly, there are some unnamed cookies. The recipe I used calls them “Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies”, but there’s really nothing outrageous about them. They’re good enough, but what’s so shocking about peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chips? Nothing.
I’ll leave you with one last photo, both animal and food related. A photo which is of a variety I never thought I would post. Although she’s been mentioned here before, my cat Kishu has yet to appear on my blog. Yes, I know there are even events specifically for showcasing your animals, but I’m not one to participate in weekend cat blogging, it seems like it verges too much on “cute” and you know I feel about that. I’d like to think of my cat as tough as opposed to cute. And so here’s my tough cat, causing trouble by interrupting my photo shoot.
Food + Cookies + Baking + Lemon + Rum + Tangerine
Here's a thought: instead of putting out stale candy that's probably leftover from last Christmas, how about putting out a bowl of cookies? Who wouldn't love that? And to spread even more love this season go to the Well Fed Network between now and Friday to nominate your favourite bloggers for the 2006 Food Blog Awards. There are a myriad of categories, so I'm sure you'll find a place for everyone you love.
December 11, 2006
I don’t even know where to begin. I got a package in the mail today from Anne of Anne’s Food and it fulfills my love of food, presents and food related presents. I was ecstatic this afternoon when Dad informed me that I got a package from someone named Anne. Immediately I replied “I hope it’s from Sweden!” Best of all, it was. Anne is always showcasing wonderful goodies like Cheese Pierogi, Lingonberry Toffee and Chocolate Truffle Cake just to name a few and I’m beyond thrilled to receive a package from her as part of Blogging By Mail, hosted by Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. And how cool is it that Anne has her own cards made up with pictures from her blog? Very cool.
My package was carefully wrapped and obviously much thought had been put into packing the following goodies: gingerbread hearts, a Kex chocolate bar, cardamom seeds, gingerbread spices, (which Anne has used to make toffee, and which I will soon be using to make toffee!) a spice mix for Christmas bread, (ha! That means more bread posts are imminent, the only problem is that the directions are Swedish, minor detail) foamy Santas, (Juleskum, for those in the know) spiced tea, two truffles, (which are already gone and were very tasty) and a beautiful handmade scarf to keep me warm!
I recently read a post by Bron of Bron Marshall: Classic & Creative Cuisine, entitled “Food Blogging Friends are the Bee’s Knees!” and I really couldn’t agree more. Seriously, Anne knit me a scarf and gave me ingredients to fuel my bread making, that’s awesome. It’s like Christmas has come early. So thank you a whole bunch Anne, you really made my day! For anyone who hasn’t read Anne’s blog, I don’t know what you’re waiting for, get over there.
Food + Blogging By Mail + Sweden + Blogging Event