Category Archives: dessert

Disaster!

Come on, now. You know I would only post a disaster with promise.  This one starts with meyer lemons and ends in a sweet pudding, which would have been intriguing if only I could cook rice.

It all began with a mysterious package that arrived on Saturday. No note — just a meyer lemon, a massive shallot, and a bag full of jerusalem artichokes.  The leaf on the meyer lemon told me that this was FRESH, most likely from some warmer, more pleasant coast, and therefore might have something to do with my friend P’s attempt to coax me back to CA.  (Well, that and she told me the package was coming, but that wouldn’t make the story nearly as exciting, right?)

Anyway, I knew I had to do something special with the gift. Just the night before, I was reading The Spiteful Chef, and came across a post where she recommends adding condensed milk, cinnamon, and vanilla to some parboiled rice for a quick rice pudding.  I LOVE condensed milk, in a ridiculous, irrational, will eat an entire can if I’m left to my own devices kind of way. And I happened to have one on hand, along with some arborio rice, this meyer lemon, some raisins, and homemade vanilla extract.  With tea in place of stock, and the condensed milk to make things creamy and delicious, I figured it’d be the best way to stretch the meyer lemon out just a little bit.  After all, I could use the zest in the rice pudding and save the juice for something else.

And so I did. Here’s the final result:

You know what? It was tasty. The cream Earl Gray (Earl Gray with less bergamot and more vanilla) complemented the fragrant scent of the Meyer lemon, and the condensed milk made the lemon peel and raisins taste like candied goodness was sprinkled through each bite.  Unfortunately, it was also a little crunchy. Yup, that’s right — I undercooked the rice, thinking that cooking in the condensed milk would help soften things.  Boy, was I wrong. So file this under work in progress. I’ll post the recipe as I think it should be, with a note where I modified things. I’ll try this one again and update a final version when I get a chance.  In the meantime, thanks for making winter a little nicer, P!

Recipe after the jump.

Continue reading

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under dessert, Meyer lemons, raisins, rice, tea, work in progress

Pie-eating hypocrite

The infamous breakfast slice

The infamous breakfast slice

I promised vegetables, healthy dishes, and quick meals, and have totally failed you. But my intentions were good, and yes, I will get there. We’ve been doing well on reducing the amount of meat we eat, despite long hours and not much time to cook.  And I have the makings of a gorgeous onion soup in the works, if the smell of the stock I’m cooking in the next room tells me anything.  For now, though, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m horrible at making pie crusts.

Pie in the making

Pie in the making

It is the one thing that I don’t usually think twice about buying, even if it does cost about 5 times as much as it would for me to make at home.  But as a wannabe food person, I still felt this lingering guilt. I mean, it should be easy as … pie. Right. Whoever came up with that phrase obviously didn’t have to actually make the stuff.

Good thing James seems to have the touch. He’s patient, and meticulous, and apparently has cooler hands that I do, because he made this crust, and it was gorgeous.  Either that or it was the homemade butter (I swear — It was the store’s fault all along).  Anyway, I won’t give you the recipe for the crust, because it’s the same as all the other recipes, and why would I ever pretend to be an expert when I can send you here, here, and here?  I will tell you that we used 5/8ths homemade butter, 3/8ths shortening (it was on sale, what can I say), and the leftover buttermilk (not the same as the stuff in the store!) instead of water.  I will also tell you that she is sooo right about keeping the butter VISIBLE in your crust.

The filling recipe is posted here, however. It is beautiful, not too sweet, a little tart, and incredibly simple. And you don’t even need to blind bake your crust! It’s a double crust anyway, so that’s probably not exactly unexpected, but hey, celebrate the little things.  This recipe is adapted from The King Arthur Flower Baker’s Companion All-Purpose Baking Cookbook (phew, that’s a long title).  So, in that spirit, I’ll give you another one:

Sweet tart cherry pie (or why Mr. Washington shouldn’t have chopped down that cherry tree after all, even if that story was a myth)

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under baking, cherries, dessert

Corona cookies

Corona cookies

Corona cookies

You came here expecting Thanksgiving recipes, didn’t you? Well … I don’t have any new ones. In fact, we’re not doing a traditional thanksgiving dinner at all, so I won’t have any to share this year. We’re cooking chicken, and yorkshire pudding, with potatoes and gravy and oh, maybe a cherry pie. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll just make a batch of these cookies.

Prep work

Prep work

See, Thanksgiving at our house is always an international affair. I’m usually the only one who actually grew up with the turkey and stuffing and the occasional helping of that spectacular tin can-shaped cranberry (only at Grandma’s house, of course — my parents made the real stuff, which really isn’t that hard to do), so I figure sticking with the spirit of the holiday is the best way to go. To me, that means my guests should feel at home somehow. For a lot of people at my table (including James), a “proper” roast (like the menu above) is the best way to ensure that. Hence the chooks.

But I’m here to talk about cookies.  For those of you who are already thinking about holiday cookies, try these, but replace the orange with lime zest, skip the cinnamon, replace the liquor with lime juice, and throw in 1 t. of vanilla. Sprinkle pretty sea salt (Hawaiian red, in this case, from TJ’s) over the top. And there you have it — cookies faintly reminiscent of a day at the beach, beer in hand, which I could seriously go for after weeks and weeks of bone-chilling weather.

(Alternatively, you can use lemon or orange zest and play with spice combos, like the original recipe states. I prefer the juice to the liquor — the cookies turn out a bit better texture-wise, in my opinion).

4 Comments

Filed under baking, dessert, limes, olive oil

Chocolate and physics

Mexican drinking chocolate in Poland

Mexican drinking chocolate in Poland

Poland began with a bumpy, five-hour bus ride that felt like it was designed to weaken our resistance at the start of what would prove to be a very long week. Not a bad week — just a long one. I was there for a conference, so the bus was full of physicists from all over the world, and once the castle filled, conversations on cocktail napkins and in dungeon “night clubs” were impossible to avoid.  Ryn, where the conference was held, was literally a few corner markets and bars at the edge of one of the Mazurian Lakes. The castle — built by Teutonic knights — was first mentioned in 1377, though the renovations for the hotel had just been completed in 2006.  What, you may ask, did Ryn have to offer? Well, not much … We ate a buffet in the hotel every day, three times a day, and walked out to the undeveloped shore on our breaks. Occasionally, we’d get a local bar to stay open late, and order piwa (beer) after piwa until we got chased out into the night. Physicists are serious drinkers, for the most part.  But what else do you do when the most exciting thing you see all week is a goat?
The famous goat

The famous goat

Yah. Well, the people I met on this trip happened to be great. My roommate was awesome, which I was pretty happy about, and the people I ended up hanging out with were a lot of fun.  So yes — a week in Ryn wasn’t so bad after all. But you’re probably wondering at this point why I’m going on and on about Ryn and this conference when I’ve placed a picture of a lovely looking hot chocolate up at the top. Well, I had an evening in Warsaw, after yet another bus ride. I’m getting to the chocolate in a bit.
Old Town Warsaw

Old Town Warsaw

Warsaw itself wasn’t the greatest thing I had ever seen. I can’t say I’d seek it out as a prime tourist spot. It feels like a Soviet construction, which it is.  It is Soviet style block architecture crumbling with age, mixed in with its grand Palace of Culture and a million fast food-filled underground passages, and the meticulously rebuilt Old Town section, which was beautiful but sterile, somehow. I sort of like the appearance of age on buildings — the way the dust and grime of hundreds of years settle into the cracks just so, and manage somehow to be charming despite its dirty origins. There was none of that here, as Warsaw was leveled in the war.  I’ve been told Krakow and Gdansk are better destinations. But Warsaw had one thing going for it: excellent drinking chocolate.
E. Wedel Chocolate Shop

E. Wedel Chocolate Shop

We visited the E. Wedel chocolate shop and cafe in Old Town, which reminded me of the coffee shops in Vienna with its luxurious decorations old-fashioned feel. Their specialty was a traditional drinking chocolate, which we (my roommate from the conference, one of her colleagues, and me) sampled. They were delicious — rich and thick and proper dessert, if you know what I mean.  It was a proper end to a long trip, I think, and when I got on the plane the next day, I was quite happy to be heading back home.
Chocolate shavings

Key ingredient.

I did bring a little something back for all of you, of course. Here’s my Mexican drinking chocolate recipe. It’s simple, actually, and really, really tasty. But of course, the better your chocolate, the better this tastes.
Mexican Drinking Chocolate

Mexican Drinking Chocolate

Mexican Drinking Chocolate

  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1.5 oz. chocolate, chopped into slivers.
  • Chipotle or chili powder, to taste (start with a small amount and work up!)

Heat the milk slowly in a heavy saucepan over low heat until a decent amount of steam rises from the surface. Place the chocolate shavings in a bowl. Pour the hot milk over it, stirring the chocolate/milk mix, and continue stirring until all the milk has been added and the chocolate has melted. Add in the appropriate amount of chili. Drink immediately.

You can experiment with other spices and flavors. For mint drinking chocolate, steep a decent peppermint tea bag in the hot milk for a minute or two until mixing with the chocolate. Try a bit of cinnamon. Or try something a little more adult — ammaretto, schnaps, etc. Just make sure to add any alcohol or flavor syrups to the milk first.

1 Comment

Filed under chocolate, dessert, stories, travel

Getting lost in Canberra

Parliament, from the rear (aka, what you see if you get lost on your way up)

Parliament, from the rear (aka, what you see if you get lost on your way up)

If I had a sense of direction, I wouldn’t stumble upon Asian lions guarding the rear end of the Australian Parliament house, ready to pounce upon diplomats intent on a secret smoke break. But then again, I wouldn’t feel like I was going to be hauled in by the Federal Police, for wandering into somewhere I really shouldn’t be. I forget sometimes that I’m in Australia, where they seem to be a little less uptight about that sort of thing. I mean, you can walk on the roof of the Parliament House here, provided the grass isn’t frosty. There aren’t even guards with funny black earpieces and formidable eyeglasses to avoid.

Yes, Parliament and my lab have something in common. Somehow I think this execution was a little more successful, despite a few leaks in the glass roof.

Yes, Parliament and my lab have something in common. Somehow I think this execution was a little more successful, despite a few leaks in the glass roof.

Yes, I had my first tourist experience in Canberra. I had a little tour (there are more pictures on flickr, of the inside of the building), and I also walked to the National Museum and had a look. This is where I ran into this guy:

This guy knows how to live.

This guy knows how to live.

He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. It was a gorgeous day, so I don’t blame him. The Museum was actually pretty awesome, and free. The building was impressive, in a very modern, “I intend to be an important piece of architecture” sort of way:

Imposing. But free!

Imposing. But free!

That’s Canberra for you, though. The whole city is relatively new, and is full of man-made monuments symbolizing all sorts of things. It also happens to be huge, despite its relatively small population. I walked to the National Museum and Parliament house, and it took me about 5 hours to get through both of them by foot. It’s definitely a collection of suburbs, spread out and designed for automobile transport. So it’ll take me a while to see everything. After all that walking, I really wanted food. Lots of it, fast. So I did a warm salad, with bits and pieces from the fridge.

Apples and bacon are actually a perfect pair.

Apples and bacon are actually a perfect pair.

I threw free range bacon, mushrooms, pecans, apples, bok choy, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a pan (add the bok choy last), cooked it until everything was nice and soft, and threw it over some mesclun greens. It was just the thing after a long walk — sweet and savory and warm (it’s winter here, remember). And with the blue brie, fresh bread, and fig jam with fennel, it was a nice way to end a rather long day.

Oh yah — I almost forgot:

I could only afford this if I consider that I almost bought a $20 bottle of vino cotto instead.

I can only afford this if I consider that I almost bought a $20 bottle of vino cotto instead.

That was pretty good, too.

Tomorrow? Well, there’s work, and dinner at a collaborator’s house, for which I’m making truffles. And the experiment. Of course. But I bought a book on Canberra. Hopefully I’ll find something a bit more interesting food-wise to share. I know it’ll involve a bus or two, or perhaps a bike rental. The supermarkets around here have been rather mundane, so I’ll have to try a bit harder to find some of the more interesting ingredients I was hoping to try. Not that I’m complaining.

5 Comments

Filed under Australia, bacon, dessert, main, politics, quick meals, stories

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Beautiful

I thought I’d share this one while strawberries and rhubarb are still in season. We had a pile of each sitting in our house, wilting in the humidity, and I decided to take matters into my own hands and do something about it before they both went to waste. A good thing, too, given that strawberries were $6 a quart last week, and they weren’t even that tasty.

Compote

I can’t blame them, really — with all this rain, we haven’t managed to actually harvest any of ours before they’ve started rotting. But onto more pleasant things…

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under dessert, local, rhubarb, strawberry, vegan, vegetarian, wine

My first Pav

I think I finally figured out how to get James to eat some fruit.

Pav

Seriously — this is it. Those kiwis? He bought those about three weeks ago. I’m shocked — shocked — that they’re still intact (and tasty). And the strawberries? Leftovers from a cart I bought at TJ’s a whole two days ago. Why I still buy fruit at TJ’s is beyond me — I swear every “fresh” thing that comes from that store goes bad within a few days. But the ones we did manage to salvage were tasty, especially after I glazed them with some passionfruit pulp in syrup that James brought all the way back from Perth.

Pavlova in the oven

So, this is definitely my first pavlova. You can tell because I somehow wasn’t concerned about the fact that the recipe didn’t seem to indicate whether the pan should have a shape of some sort. Just pour it on a sheet pan and go, right? Um… NO. Not unless you like the smell of burning sugar.

Pav burning!

Despite the mishap, though, it turned out pretty well. Mostly, it just didn’t have the body I was hoping for. (Kidding! I’m trying to see the bright side of all the footy going on in our house right now … Cut me some slack?) Ok, seriously, though — use a cake tin lined with parchment paper, so you’ll have a pretty cake-like thing to decorate. Just don’t forget the parchment; you need to flip it upside down to decorate it, and the underside will be spongy, a bit sticky, and almost marshmallow-like:

Pavlicious

Not to mention delicious. And after you’re finished devouring this (decorations and all), you’ll have the energy to make the whole wheat challah I’m working on as I type. Stay tuned? In the meantime, counteract this dessert with Rachael’s awesome bran muffin recipe. Here’s my version, with chunks of marzipan and dried cherries in place of bananas:

Rachael's muffins

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under baking, dessert, kiwi, passion fruit, strawberry