Thursday, May 29, 2008

Redecorating the Beach

The Wudgie seems to have some obsessions about neatness and organization and is showing some decorating skills at an early age (I wonder where she got that from?). She even redecorated the beach and added some sand-pile embellishments to a beach chair during our last visit. Having sand on her feet and bottom really bothered her though and someone had to be at the ready with a small bucket of water to rinse them off on command. And we did. While there is nothing worse than an 18 month old diva, there is also nothing cuter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Heart Anchovies

I am the one. I am the one person you probably know that loves anchovies. No one else I know even likes them. I prefer them cured in olive oil and even will eat them from the little tins with the roll up lids. When we traveled to Italy, we were served fresh anchovies marinated in lemon juice. They were definitely different and very sour from the fresh lemon juice. I love anchovy paste and how it seasons sauces and dressings with just a squeeze from the tube. I love anchovies in Ceaser salad and criss-crossed on that fabulous French pizza called pissaladiere.

When I was growing up, I loved to have dinner at Ann Schroeder's house. Ann's mother was straight from Finland and cooked authentic Finnish meals. Ann's mother was a beautiful tall and slender platinum blond with a thick accent. She was quiet and reserved and their home was decorated in what then was called "Danish modern" style. I now know it was clever Scandinavian contemporary and was very sleek with clean and simple lines. She would cook fried smelts and I would eat them like french fries. I loved the crunchy coating on the outside and didn't mind the tiny little bones that were a part of every bite.

Here's a great article about anchovies, that very misunderstood little fishy fish. And here's a recipe for fried smelts. I wonder if you can still find them for sale in the frozen fish aisle or if I have to go to Finland for some. My next dream vacation is to go to the "motherland" (Norway for me) and eat lots of smelts and lignonberries and visit the Dale of Norway factory!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mother Blue

I love Carlo Dolci's Blue Madonna. This magnificent original oil is in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota as part of one of the finest Baroque art collections in the US. I took this photo of the piece (one of the few museums that allow cameras, without flash, of course) when we visited on Mother's Day weekend.

The photo doesn't do the blue color of the Madonna's robe justice. It is so brilliant even after 400 years. I can't keep that color saturation in our clothes even with my award winning laundry techniques and my ever-faithful box of Biz. Dolci's secret for the blue? Crushed lapis lazuli, probably from Afghanistan.

Award winning laundry techniques? Well, not really, but there oughta be such an award and I oughta win. Often.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sugar High

When I was thinking about recipes for today, I couldn't decide between these two easy-peasy (and delicious) snacks. Then I looked at what recipes I have been posting lately and a storm of pure white cane sugar blinded me. Lotsa sweets. Oh well. To counter the sucrose overload, I have posted some warning signs of high blood sugar. Just in case.

Easy Chocolate Croissants

These are a wonderful and VERY quick sweet snack. Satisfies that mid-week I am craving something but I dont know what it is and what the heck can I make in 15 mins or less thing.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease cookie sheet or use a silicone mat.

Unroll 1 tube of crescent rolls. Unroll each roll (!!) and place about 2 tsp. of chocolate chips (or whatever will fit without making a spill-over mess) on the wide end of the dough and roll up.

Bake 12-15 mins.

Eat while hot. Don't worry- they wont last until they get cool anyway.

Sugared Almond Cracker Cookies

40 Keebler Club crackers

1-2 cups Sliced almonds

1c. butter

2/3 c. sugar

Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Then place crackers (leave crackers in whole rectangles) on foil and sprinkle with nuts. Melt the butter and add sugar to dissolve. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken; do not overcook. Pour over the crackers and nuts and bake in 300 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then break into pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mellow Yellow

The weekend away was wonderful. Had a few moments to play with my camera, read and just plain relax.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clowning Around

Nothing like a child with a sense of humour....and a big red clown nose.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Say Cheese.....Cake

I bought a new springform pan and the label thingy glued to the bottom of the pan had this recipe on it. So I tried it. WOW. And amazingly, it turned out to look almost just like the label. The photo above on the right is from the label (as if you couldn't tell). And it didn't even crack like most cheesecakes I have made before. I have read that the secret to no cracks is to have the cream cheese and the eggs at true room temperature (which means you have to be patient) and to not overbeat the eggs once they are added (again with the patience). Big pay off here if you can make it through the laborious makings.
Tuxedo Cheesecake
3 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp melted butter
2-1/2 lbs plain cream cheese at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
5 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup mini choclate chips
3 ozs unsweetened chocolate melted
2 Tbsp Kahlua
Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
To make crust: mix together all crust ingredients and pat into place on bottom of buttered springform pan. Make sure layer is even.
Make filling: beat the cream cheese on med high speed with flat paddle. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until light and creamy, making sure to scrape sides and incorporate all sugar. Add the flour and mix to incorporate. Reduce mixer speed to low and add eggs one at a time and mix just to incorporate after each egg. Do not overmix batter once all eggs have been added.
Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls. Add chopped pecans and mini chips to one bowl and mix just to blend. Pour batter over the crust layer and spread evenly. Place pan in freezer for 60 minutes until batter is firm.
Leave remaining 2 bowls of batter at room temperature.
Once bottom layer is firm, add melted chocolate and Kahlua to another batter bowl and mix to blend. Pour this over frozen bottom layer and spread evenly. Return to freezer for about 45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a bain marie (hot water bath) by using a large roasting pan that the springform pan will fit fully in.
Remove pan from freezer and spread remaining batter on top of layers. Wrap bottom of springform pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil and place in roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with HOT water (almost boiling) until water is half way up sides of cheesecake pan. Place roasting pan with cake in oven.
Bake for 1 hour and 20-25 minutes. Cheesecake should be slightly soft in the center and slightly brown around edges. Remove pan from the roasting pan and then remove the aluminum foil. Transfer cake (still in springform pan) to wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Chill the cake for 1 hour in the refridgerator and then remove sides of pan. Cover with plastic wrap and chill several more hours or overnight before serving. Note: Original recipe said to top with prepared fudge sauce (see photo)...I didn't.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The End.

The Wudgie and the Mr. in the back yard. Topsy-turvy upsy-daisy over-dramatic landing after going down the 2 foot slide. Add much squealing and the word "more" over and over again. And the Wudgie enjoyed it, too.

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