One of my friends is having one of those roundy birthdays soon. Those milestone birthdays still mean something, even at 40, 50, or 60 when the annual ones lose their luster. In this case, part of what it means is an excuse to throw a party. A huge one.
Hours of live music, potluck dinner, friends from near and far. someoneElse had a rehearsal yesterday. From what I hear the music is a fantastic assortment of (mostly local) talent. The cooks out here get serious when it comes to potlucks and midsummer means their gardens are bountiful.
This is going to be fun.
Not being a musician but still wanting to contribute something more significant than a side-dish, I offered to make the cake. At the time, the guest count was ~50 and the party had no particular theme. Fifty people means a lot of cake so I started playing with ideas for how to make it all work.
Fast forward a bit and plans have firmed up.
This barely qualifies as a recipe, but I suppose it has more than one ingredient and some instructions, so it'll pass.
I found myself in the kitchen earlier, staring at yet another possible chocolate cake for the book. It wasn't quite what I was after, but it did leave me with a couple of very handy things leftover:
aka: deconstructed Nutella mousse
So I constructed it.
To make the mousse, stir the Nutella frantically for a minute to loosen it up a bit. Don't heat it, it just doesn't seem to help. Fold in about a quarter of the whipped cream to lighten the Nutella a bit. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Drool for 10 minutes while trying to get the glam shot of the not-so-photogenic brown glop. Eat.
Many questions have plagued humankind for eons:
One might wonder how dull my day was to spend it hunting down the answer to such a question, and one might be right. In my defense, however, that's not what I started out to do...
When you bake bread as often as I do, it is easy to find yourself looking around covetously at ingredients in your kitchen that might have been headed for another use. Cooked cereal is one of those things that lends itself to ad hoc bread making, adding a whole grain depth to otherwise white bread. This also appeals to the frugal side that many home cooks have, turning leftovers that might otherwise be thrown away, into tasty bread.
This is less of a recipe and more of a formula to use up leftover cooked cereal, which it seems all too easy to end up with. I have a soft spot for oatmeal bread, but you can make this with any cooked cereal. Or leftover brown rice, for that matter.
Having been MIA for far too long, I've been looking for a way to sneak back onstage without making a big deal out of an entrance. Something subtle, yet striking. Quiet, yet audible above the din. Notable, yet seeming like I've been here all along. You know, like whistling in a purple hat. I had pictures. I had recipe ideas. I had all sorts of funny-as-hell ideas...at 4.30 am.
Several false starts later, I've discarded anything cute and/or complicated — apparently my off the cuff wit has abandoned me, perhaps headed to a tryst with someone less absorbed and more amusing — and have come to a not-so-stunning conclusion: Simple is good.
...what kind of cookies would you be baking?
Realizing this morning that I had neither bread nor cookies in the house — and with the last round of project editing coming up, we need both — I set about remedying the situation. I just pulled five loaves (2 regular and 3 pint-sized*) of Honey WheatBerry bread** from the oven, which has left the house smelling like breakfast.
Next up is cookies, which is why I am here. (because it is easier to bake cookies while typing on a computer in your office, right?) I'm feeling uninspired, I've got specific requirements for this batch of cookies, and none of my tried-and-true recipes beckon. Most of the time, this would send me to the cookbook shelves or on a multi-hour blog crawl,*** but this time around the first item on the requirement list is a reliable recipe from a trusted source. While I generally love new, even untested, recipes, I've know I've got time tonight but tomorrow may be another story entirely. Hence the need for a recipe I know will turn out well.
Here's where you come in...well, if I'm lucky. What's your go-to recipe for cookie-jar cookies? I've ruled out the brainless ideas (is that an oxymoron?) like oatmeal, chocolate chip, and peanut butter but that's the sort of thing I'm after. Not biscotti, not kiwi-pistachi macarons, nothing with more steps than ingredients.
The pantry is well-stocked: several kinds of nuts, 3-4 kinds of chocolate, an assortment of dried fruit, oatmeal, as well as the usual ingredients like eggs and butter...and half a dozen kinds of flour, if that matters. I've even got a decent selection of less usual things: dulce la leche, coconut milk, some Nutellaesque stuff from TJ's and almond paste. I don't have coconut or peanut butter.
So, whatcha got? Inspire me. Dazzle me. Make me gain weight. laughs
* one of the rare times this is true, they actually are about the size of a one-pint canning jar... grin
** a recipe I think is almost ready to go public...as Farmgirl would say, soon...
*** (hi, my name is kitchenMage and I am a blogoholic...)
Although you'd never know it by reading this site, I've been managing to do a lot of cooking even during the crazy writing project. Last night's midnight treat was going to be this wonderful looking Strawberry Ouzo Mock Napoleons that I saw on She Craves the other day. Looks terribly elegant and truly simple: a few sheets of phyllo, strawberries, cream and a shot of booze. What could go wrong?
There are two schools of thought about schools of thought: one says you can divide the world into two kinds of people...the other doesn't. I belong to the latter group and have never understood the reductionistic thinking that goes into black-and-white, us-or-them, 'with us or with the tourists' kind of thinking.
It only gets worse, however, when the talk turns to all things kitchen. Seems the common wisdom is that cooks can work freeform, pitching all caution and planning to the wind Iron Chef-like and creating dishes ad hoc, while bakers must follow a recipe, doing exactly what they are instructed lest their creation — perhaps sensing fear — fails to rise, gel, puff, cream, melt-at-body-temperature or otherwise perform as desired.
I stand (okay, sit) here as a proud believer in the other kind of people: bakers without recipes. I do this absolutely all the time and one of the places I do it most often is in baking bread. (oh, stop cringing, it only hurts the first time!)