Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ho-ho-ho-liday Lunch is my favorite lunch of the year!!!

I should be home right now, sleeping this off:

One Empress Josephine down the hatch...
Another one down the hatch.
Hey, it's Christmas. And Thursday.

If you didn't know, I work for an independent cookbook publisher in the South End. This means we don't go just any old place for lunch.

We go to AWESOME DELICIOUS places for lunch!! Did you know that The Gallows is open for lunch? Oh yes they are, Thursday through Saturday. Totally worth it.

Thanks boss*, for the really great holiday lunch. I know we all quite enjoyed ourselves today.

*For the record, it makes the boss bats when I call him boss. Ergo I must call him boss. Can't help it, it's how I roll.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Remnants of Sunday lunch...

I do love Baby's Breath all on its own.

A little cedar to make things a bit festive. 

More Baby's Breath in the entryway. 

Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, I hope it is a lovely one.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What's the Swedish word for "super delicious!"?

I finally, FINALLY, got around to making those Swedish cinnamon rolls ("kanelbullar") that I have been so obsessed with lately.

It was totally worth the effort. I used this recipe from the Scandinavian Kitchen which is a shop over in London because a) the recipe is in English, and b) the measurements are metric. Also partly because the recipe called for fresh yeast which I prefer for no other reason than that I love the texture.

If you have trouble with the measurements, try the converter at but also keep in mind that most kitchen scales have an option to measure in grams and most measuring cups have milliliter (ml) marks on the opposite side of the cup marks. Lastly, the recipe tells you to bake them at 220 degrees - this is not the Fahrenheit number. You want to cook them at 425F and in my oven it took about 12 - 15 minutes to get them to the lovely golden color.

As for using fresh yeast, well I love it. I was introduced to it years and years ago when I worked at Flour Bakery and have preferred it to dry ever since. It can sometimes be hard to find, but if the supermarket is going to carry it, it will be in the Dairy department, usually by the fake butters and string cheese.

If you can't find it and you are in Boston, send me a message and I will tell you my secret source.

The recipe makes about 30 rolls, a little more if you cut them thinner. Apparently once they are fully baked, you can freeze them. Just defrost and warm them up a little. A freezer packed with kanelbullar ready to go? Why yes, please!

A few observations after making these:

These are not too sweet. I say that because a typical American cinnamon roll is very ooey-gooey sugary sweet and usually the dough is unflavored. These rolls are strongly flavored with cardamom and the filling is a little bit of sugar and lot of cinnamon. If you don't like those flavors then this is probably not the roll for you.

It is totally worth it to use the pearl sugar. I got a giant bag from The King Arthur Flour store because I also plan on using it for other things, like decorating sugar cookies. There are plenty of other places to get it though - Amazon probably carries it, and if you are in the Boston area you can probably get it at Cardullo's or at Whole Foods. The pearl sugar makes for a sweet little crunch that is perfect for these not so sweet rolls.

Also, how adorable are those red stripey muffin papers? Those are from King Arthur also, a total impulse purchase that I wish I'd gotten more of, but then again I am partial to stripes.

If you are feeling a little more ambitious (but not much more) you should check out the rolls at Chez Larsson: Kanelbullar Knots.  And while you are there you should check out the rest of her blog because it is terrific. She has a really cool site full of great organizing tips and lovely design ideas. I spent a good chunk of time on it just getting inspired!

Here's to Sweden, and to delicious kanelbullar!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Alone, in the kitchen, with a fruitcake

I am recipe testing a fruitcake recipe for a friend.

Let me tell you that admitting to liking fruitcake is akin to admitting that you smoke crack twice a day and have a bottle of Hot Damn for breakfast.

No one ever believes it.

And if they do, they pity you. Love for fruitcake is the love that dare not show its face, it is the butt of every cake joke, the JuJube of the cake world, you get the point.

So when a fellow fruitcaker asked me to test out a fruitcake recipe I jumped on it like white on rice. And then I waited two weeks to make the damn thing.

Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am thinking.

Anyway, I think the recipe is a smashing recipe! Well it looks beautiful anyway. I am supposed to wait an hour before I can cut into it and use that hour to saturate it with bourbon cherry bounce.

Hmpf. We'll see how long I last.

Clearly my cellphone is working against me, not with me!

All hail almighty Kale

I love kale. For the longest time I thought chard was kale and I do not like chard.

Personally I think that this is true for a bunch of people. Between that and the fact that most people think of kale as the limp bit of greenery under the dried up slice of orange that is the garnish on a million diner breakfasts, I can see why so many of my friends are like "eh, meh, kale".

But let me tell you, kale is DELICIOUS. I am convinced it is what Grimm intended for Rapunzel to crave like mad, only the word "rapunzel" was more exotic than the word "kale".

Here is the excerpt from the Grimm story of Rapunzel:

Through the small rear window of these people's house they could see into a splendid garden that was filled with the most beautiful flowers and herbs. The garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared enter, because it belonged to a sorceress who possessed great power and was feared by everyone.
One day the woman was standing at this window, and she saw a bed planted with the most beautiful rapunzel. It looked so fresh and green that she longed for some. It was her greatest desire to eat some of the rapunzel. This desire increased with every day, and not knowing how to get any, she became miserably ill.
Her husband was frightened, and asked her, "What ails you, dear wife?"
"Oh," she answered, "if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I shall die."
The man, who loved her dearly, thought, "Before you let your wife die, you must get her some of the rapunzel, whatever the cost."
So just as it was getting dark he climbed over the high wall into the sorceress's garden, hastily dug up a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife. She immediately made a salad from it, which she devoured eagerly. It tasted so very good to her that by the next day her desire for more had grown threefold. 

See, most little girls would be like "ooh let's find a nice man who will go to any lengths to make us happy" whereas I was like "ooh, I want some rapunzel".

I have found my rapunzel and it is kale: fat, juicy, green leaves that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Last night I sauteed it with onion and garlic and then cooked some ground turkey with a can of chickpeas and mixed it all together.

With a splash of vinegar and little salt and pepper, it was so very good.

I had some at lunch, and now I cannot wait for dinner!

Haters gonna hate

Look what I inherited from La Mamma!

Two Dansk enamel pots.

These are the most versatile pots. Before scoring a maslin pan for short money, I used the big one for making jam. I use it for making soup and stew and pasta sauce. The nice thing is is that it can go from the stovetop to the oven to the table. I've made casseroles in it and it works beautifully.

It also doesn't hurt that I find them really good looking. Probably because I am going through a phase of loving all things Scandinavian.

PS: The minute I buy reindeer jerky is the minute before I need an intervention. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Terrible Tues

Somedays it's just better to stay in bed and today was one of those kinds of days for me.

For the record, I am completely ignorant when it comes to computers and networks and megabytes per second and subnets and proxies and firewalls.

Which means that three days of trying to straighten out sh*tty, sloooooooow internet service at the office is about the same as taking an immersion class in Russian for three days straight. With a 87 year old teacher who has a big old beard and who mumbles.

I am pooped and confused.

I want something small, sweet, and delicious for dinner. I want affogato.

A simple supper, that is exactly what I need. And a hot bath. And for it to be Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ol' Timey

Ol' my gawd I am SO sick of Ol' Timey.

An ol' timey hobo wedding!

Ol' timey subway sign art!
Just as bad as all those "Keep Calm and..." signs
Ol' timey saloons! Opening any minute now in Davis Square!

Don't get me wrong, I am all for people opening new business, but I just don't get this "old timey is the now/new timey" stuff.

The idea of a pre-Prohibition saloon that serves housemade Pork Belly Rye Whiskey and Ploughman's Platters and classic meat pies makes me wonder if the staff is also ol' timey - chaps with sideburns and suspenders and sleeve clips and ladies with rock-a-billy clothing and artful tats. Only because I feel like I have seen this done before. more than once, in real life and you know, in the history books.

If I sound sort of cynical, I am. This kind of carefully "curated" atmosphere makes me think of Plimouth Plantation. Pubbing as a sort of living museum experience.

Honestly I would not want to go back into the past, to pre-Prohibition. Firstly I never have the right outfit on for that sort of scenario and secondly I like my modern freedoms, like being able to vote and stuff.

How about a future bar? But then again the future bar would be something we imagined in the now which would make it retro in the future, like all those atomic themed bars in Vegas.

Well, it doesn't matter really. There are plenty of right now bars to pick from as it is.  At least that is what my liver tells me.

Not a Scandinavian bone in my body...

I am pretty sure that there is nothing far northern European about me, except for being white, that can explain my sudden love of all things Scandinavian. It's borderline creepy. I haven't even BEEN there which sort of makes this obsession a little weird. 

Anyhoo, it seems that in Sweden there is this thing called "fika" which seems to be a coffee break, the real kind of coffee break. I am not entirely positive, as I've never been to Sweden nor do I speak Swedish, but the translation is that you take a break with coffee and a treat. Yes please! Let's fika!

I am bored to death of the desultory coffee mug that sits lamely on my desk going cool. I want to have a proper coffee break with friends and kanelbullar! Seriously, that would definitely make the day go a little better! Sadly in the US this sort of thing would be tough to start. Everyone is so busy being busy (or hoping to be seen as being busy) that taking a break to chill and have coffee would be mistaken for slacking off from being busy, real or imagined.

Which means I ought to figure out how to make kanelbullar so that I can get people to join me for fika.

Because people will usually stop for food. 

This is what kanelbullar are supposed to look like and the recipe seems pretty straightforward. 

Well, except for the part where the recipe is in Swedish, oh and the measurements are possibly metric. I say possibly because the recipe calls for things like "1,5 dl gr├Ądde" and "1 msk flytande honung".

Maybe I will get a recipe elsewhere. But I still hope they look EXACTLY like that photo.