Monday, November 25, 2013

Get Ready: Sticky & Boozy Chocolate Prune Cake

One month.  One month until Christmas.  Someone tell me how the heck that happened, and what exactly happened to the year 2013?  Maybe you've already sorted out your decorations and strung your lights or played a little Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack to get yourself in the mood.   Seeing as I have a wee kitten in the house who basically enjoys climbing on and destroying everything, I'm almost certain there will be no tree this year, unless I want to come home to one that's toppled over and my vintage ornaments in tiny pieces.  And that would make me sad, and I've already pledged that I will not cry this holiday season.  It never fails.  There is always some sort of meltdown-inducing incident and this year I'm not going to let it happen.  No puddle of melodrama for me, I swear on Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.   Sleep, exercise, chocolate and a little bit of booze will be my saving graces I'm sure, with hefty doses of good friends and Love Actually thrown in at the right moments (how is that movie 10 years old?!!).  Christmas isn't easy for everyone.  Whether you're working too much, or missing someone who should be by your side, or just consumed will all of the pressure and stress that somehow tags along on this holiday that should not be about any of that.  One month.  One month to get yourself ready, and my hope for you is no tears either.  Feel free to steal my route of self-medication.  Remember, there's not much that Colin Firth and caramel popcorn can't fix.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Deep & Dark: Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Before we get carried away with all that is Christmas and Holiday baking, I must I must I must tell you about this banana bread.  I first made it a couple of months ago, thinking how nice it would be to pack along on my little yurt retreat.  And it was.  I broke off chunks of the bread while I sipped tea and relaxed on the deck, the wind rustling leaves overhead.  A brave squirrel ventured forth, but in the end he may have gotten only a few crumbs.  This deliciousness was also my dessert, as I wrapped myself in a blanket and read for hours, wind howling outside the yurt.  And I won't fib ya, it may have also been breakfast.  Accompanying good coffee, it was a mighty fine way to start the day.  Baking the bread recently, I felt like I was back in that time, that place.  Does that happen to you too?  One taste and your mind travels backwards.  Food and memory are forever intertwined; a way of rousing the good times when you may need a little comfort.  I hope you grow just as fond of this bread as I have.  It's got loads of deep, dark chocolate flavour; the pockets of melted chocolate are the best part, especially when the bread has the warmth of the oven still clinging about.  The crumb has a dampness to it, thanks to the buttermilk and banana.   A substantial loaf, one worthy of a good slather of butter if you're feeling ever so indulgent.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Everyday Magic: Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby

I don't quite believe it's already time to talk about gingerbread, but time (the trickster) it marches on, doesn't it?  Snow has already fallen, and while I do wish it didn't come so soon, it does add a sparkling beauty to the world around me.  When I step out into the world around 6 am most mornings (baker's hours, eeep!) there is a hush over the city while it still sleeps and I'm surrounded by an amber glow from the snow that has freshly fallen.  It kind of takes my breath away, this beauty.  I stand for a moment in the stillness, breathing in, out.  No doubt looking up trying to find the stars; stealing a moment in the stillness before I must carry on with my day.  Cycles of seasons never cease to amaze me.  Just a couple of months ago, there was a whirlwind of harvest activity.  In two more, we'll be fresh into another year.  There are bound to be all sorts of big and small and in-between moments ahead.  Little bits of everyday magic, too.  Girl talk over good coffee.  My mom's hands rolling dough.  The laughter of a kid down the street.  The quite roar of my kitten's purr while I rub his belly.  Fresh flannel sheets, still warm from the dryer.  Sleep that comes quickly, easily.  An episode of Sex in the City you've never seen before (and you thought you saw them all).  The voice of an old friend.  Whipped cream, still on the beaters.  Flakes of snow on an eyelash.  The magic that is eggs, milk, flour and butter in a frying pan.  And maple syrup.  Always maple syrup.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grilled Cheese with Apples, Arugula & Fig Jam

Oh goodness, I've been gone far too long.  We really need to catch up, don't we?  First off I'm happy to report that the foot is healing nicely; just a week or so longer in the sexy walking boot then I should be back to "normal" walking.  Cross your fingers.  This also means I can ditch the crutches and go back to work in a limited capacity.  Last week I went back for four days and it was great; good to get back into the rhythm of things again, though I'm still taking it easy.  Plus I needed a little more interaction with humans than felines, if you know what I'm sayin'.  Speaking of felines, I adopted another one, making me an official member of clan cat lady, or cat woman, as I like to call it.  My neighborhood is chock-full of strays at any given moment and there must be some secret code among them that says "hey, go to her house, she'll feed you and if you're super cute she'll take you in."  A couple of weeks ago there was a wee grey kitten among the bunch.  Tiny, adorable and in good shape, he was hanging around the yard, making his cuteness known.   I didn't have the heart to let him suffer through the cold nights, plus my fat orange guy already loved him to bits.  So a trip to the vet and a clean bill of health means he's now snug as a bug in my house, wreaking havoc like kittens usually do - climbing up trees and refusing to come down unless you open 8 cans of cat food and call their name in all sorts of sing songy ways. whilst cursing under your breath.  And then there is the constant counter jumping - I even caught him lapping up a bowl of Sriracha mayo while my back was turned for 2 seconds.  Apparently he liked it.  But these are the small things; he gives good cuddle and makes me laugh all the time.  He must have known I saved his life because he follows me everywhere.  In fact he's curled up beside me now as I type this.  I call him Rocky. 

But enough cat talk!  (The dog people probably already dozed off.)  In between adopting kittens and shuffling around the house, I made a sandwich.  A really great sandwich.  And I made it a lot.  And I would have told you about it sooner, except my computer was in the computer fixing place for 8 days.  You know when they say they'll have it back in 4?  Yeah, that.  But like most things, this is worth the wait.

Grilled cheese is the best comfort food.  Raise your hand if you love crispy, cheesy bread.  Seeing as these are the two most important ingredients, it's key to use the best you can find.  Good sourdough from your favourite bakery will suffice, as will a sharp, aged white cheddar, or any other cheese that packs a decent punch.  I sliced crisp, sweet apples and layered them in once I had buttered and broiled the bread in all of its cheesy glory.  A slather of fig jam and garnish of peppery arugula bring this into grown up grilled cheese territory.  Remember that other grilled cheese with fig jam?  Yeah, this is just as good.  Bacon lovers, yeah, I'm looking at you, feel free to add a few crispy slices if you like.  Amen.  Now you'll have to excuse me while I get the kitten off the bookshelf.  He's eating the plants again.  Oy.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Apples, Arugula and Fig Jam

4 thick slices of fresh sourdough bread
4 tbsp butter
12 slices aged, white cheddar
10 thin apple slices
2 tbsp fig jam
2 handfuls of arugula

Butter the bread on both sides.  Fry all slices in a large pan over medium high heat, flipping over and frying the other side as well, just until golden.  
Remove bread from heat and place slices on a bakesheet.   Divide cheese among the slices.  Place under broiler and broil until melted and golden.  Remove from oven.  Put apple slices on 2 sides, dollop fig jam on the other two.  Put a handful of arugula on top of the apples and top with the fig jam cheese slice.  Cut in half.  Eat.  Makes 2 sandwiches.  Adapted from Flourishing Foodie

Seriously.  How could I say no to that face?  And those paws!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...