Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Eating with Jamie

February 15, 2009

Cause I got this for Valentine’s Day!

jamieoliverathome

For those of you unlucky gals (and guys) who didn’t get it, here’s a recipe.  I’ve never had a rhubarb before, but I think I need to try it!

rhubarb and custard kinda soufflé

rhubarbandcustard

Serves 6

Ingredients

• 400g rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm chunks
• 100g caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
• 25g softened butter
• 6 gingersnap biscuits
• 150g readymade custard, plus extra for serving
• 1 large free-range or organic egg yolk, plus 4 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon plain flour
sea salt

This is like a cross between a soufflé and a light pudding. A soufflé is an old-fashioned classic that I always try to avoid making these days, as I made so many of them when I was at college! Like a good omelette, a soufflé is the test of a really good cook – if you don’t get your temperature, speed and stages right you can end up with something as flat as a pancake. But now I’ve come up with a recipe that’s so delicious, with such a beautiful flavour and texture, it doesn’t really matter if it sinks. My favourite bit is getting everyone to make a hole in the top of their hot soufflé and pour in some very cold custard. There’s nothing better.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and put in a baking tray to heat up. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan with the 100g of sugar. Put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft. Put to one side and leave to cool completely.

Get yourself six ramekin dishes and rub their insides with the butter. Put the gingersnap biscuits into a sandwich bag, tie a knot in the top and smash the biscuits with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pan to make quite fine crumbs. Dust the insides of the buttered ramekins with the smashed biscuits, then shake out any excess crumbs and keep them for later. (You can put the dishes into the fridge at this point until you’re ready to put your soufflés together.)

Blob a tablespoon of the cooled stewed rhubarb into each ramekin dish. Mix the rest of the rhubarb with the custard, the egg yolk and the flour. In a large, clean bowl, using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have soft peaks. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk on a high speed until the whites are very stiff – this should take about 3 minutes.

Working gently, fold 2 spoonfuls of the stiff egg whites into the rhubarb mixture. Tip this into the bowl containing the remaining egg whites and fold together very carefully. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and level the tops. Wipe the rims of the dishes clean.

Remove the hot baking tray from the oven and place the ramekins on it. Put back into the preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the soufflés are a lovely golden colour and have risen nicely. Serve immediately, sprinkled with your leftover gingersnap crumbs.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

February 9, 2009

animalvegetablemiracle

Last night I started reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.”  It’s bascially a collection of essays from Kingsolver, her husband, and their daughter about a year of them growing and eating their own food or, if they were missing something, locally grown food.

When I was a young girl and lived on a pretty nice sized piece of property, we had a great family vegetable garden.  I distinctly remember two things about it, the sunflowers that ran down the middle of the garden – whose seeds I would eat when the heads fell off the stems, and the cucumbers we grew.  Apparently my black thumb was not as prevelent then as it is now, and my dad gave me the responsiblity of caring for the cucumbers.  That meant that I would look at them every once in a while and when I picked them, I could declare them mine.  We had one that I swear was about a foot long and I declared it the biggest cucumber ever grown in the world.  My parents took a picture of me with it and we promptly cut it up for our dinner for the night.

When I have my own house, I really hope to have a vegetable garden.  I try to eat fresh vegetables and fruit as much as possible, and growing them myself will be environmentally friendly and cost-effective, well, that is if I don’t kill what I grow.  I also think that being in a position to provide food for yourself is a fulfilling experience, I think it’s terrible how sometimes we (or maybe just me) are so disconnected by what we put in our mouths, without thinking about how many miles it traveled to get on your plate or what is involved from planting to cultivation to picking to packaging to delivering.

This summer, I am getting a small start with cultivating my own garden by growing my own herbs.  I am enlisting my dad, who is a great gardener, to help me out in the early stages and hopefully I will be able to provide my family and friends beatiful herbs to cook with all summer!  I have also made a resolution to try to get more produce at Farmer’s Markets.  If I eat fresh vegetables and fruit anyway, I might as well help out local farmers and business owners.  So, we’ll see if my exciting plans for the summer works out.  I’ll definitely keep you all updated!

Here’s a good article about Barbara Kingsolver’s year of vegetable in the NY Times, definitely check it out.

She also has a very cool website, www.animalvegetablemiracle.com, that talks about the book, gives recipes, and offers suggestions for other people who want to eat more locally.

Read with Me!

February 4, 2009

Reading is a big part in my life, and I hope you’ll share it with me!  Join me on Goodreads and see what books related to food and cooking I have read, am currently reading, and hope to read!  It’ll be a great way to share cooking resources and even just fun books that have food in them.  I’d love to hear what you’re reading. 

I hope to post a new book and review here once a month or so.  I started yesterday with Amy Sedaris’ “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,” so check out that post if you’re interested.

Sign-up today and request to be my friend.

You can find me at: goodreads.com/diningdarling

I Like You Too, Amy

February 2, 2009

While waiting for The Office to come on last night, I stumbled across Amy Sedaris’ book tour for “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.”

This book is one of my favorite gifts to bring a party hostess or as a default gift to a fellow pseudo-party planning lover.  There is really no faults to this book, and it makes me happy whenever I look at it.  My dad, who is one of the only other people I know who share my sense of humor, likes the book so much that he once opened it up and started reading to me all the parts he thought was funny.  It got to a point where I asked him to be quiet and that I would read the book to myself.  He was quiet for about five minutes before getting started again.

Really, if you haven’t picked this up, flipped through it, and purchased it, then go to the bookstore now!

ilikeyou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy also makes cupcakes and cheeseballs in her kitchen under the business name “Dusty Food Cupcakes.”   She occassionally sells the cupcakes at a coffee shop called Joe in Greenwich Village, NY (at least that’s what I read).  I wish I had managed to meet her when I was in NY.  I would have happily stalked Amy, shrunk her down, and put her in my pocket.  And, of course, she came and spoke in Frederick, MD this fall and I was a jerk and missed it!

Here’s her cupcake recipe, enjoy!

Amy Sedaris’ Cupcakes

1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, ’cause I’m doing something wrong.

Frosting

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 box of Domino confectionary sugar
¼ cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

Whip for a while, color if you want.

Paper Sweets!

January 30, 2009

My friends and I got really into origami this winter.  We folded 1,000 origami cranes to give to our best friend’s mother as a source of inspiration as she battles throat cancer.  It started off as a huge project, but as we continued folding, we all really enjoyed the art of origami.  I want to learn how to fold new pieces – so far I am stuck at a crane and a heart – but can’t quite find a class where I can learn how to be a great origami folder.  My most recent attempts to fold a rose ended up with me cursing at Youtube and storming away while whining to my beau that I just can’t do it.  He told me to get a grip and try again.  I will when I’m emotionally ready for it . . . .

While doing my origami class research (seriously, how could my former college offer an origami folding class for credit and I can’t find a class anywhere just for fun!), I stumbled upon a very fun book called Girligami.  What does origami folding have to do with food?  Plenty if you fold out of this book!

The author has paper and folds for chocolate covered strawberries, candy hearts, ice cream, and cupcakes.  You better believe that I’m combining my skill for folding origami hearts and the pieces from Girligami to make valentines for all of my loved ones this Valentine’s Day!

girligamistrawberry