Posts tagged winter
Monday, December 14, 2009

guinness stout ginger cake

guinness stout ginger cake

This is not a cake for the faint of heart. No, this stout ginger cake is bold, serious, intense, brooding. Yes, brooding. A cake can brood; this one does. Trust me. And if you’re the kind of person who only likes yellow cake (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love yellow cake myself) then this might give you pause. Because this is a cake for those who like their sweets scaled back. It balances bitter notes with the spices, and adds a doze of restrained (we like our sweets restrained), mature sweetness. It’s complex, yet comforting; dark, yet not heavy and, unlike its last year cousin which goes much better with tea, this Guinness ginger cake is the perfect candidate for your Christmas morning coffee, making it a perfect accompaniment to opening presents. Besides, if you make it the over Christmas eve, you’re in luck–the cake tastes better the day after you make it. And who doesn’t love a make-ahead cake?

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

pear compote poached in vanilla bean and star anise

poached pear compote in vanilla bean & star anise

Oh mid-December with your mercurial weather–I cannot figure you out! Are you freezing cold with temperatures nearing zero or are you the kind of December that lingers in the forties, rainy and damp, like this morning? Do I warm up some soup and curl up with a book dressed head to toe in fleece, or do I just go into deep nesting mode and emerge outside when asparagus arrives to the greenmarket? Either way, I want to stay indoors and make lovely things in the kitchen and then eat them. Not terribly ambitious, am I? You see, inside my head, I am cooking all kinds of things for the holidays: cookies, and cupcakes, and brittles, and toffees. But in actuality, I can’t even bring myself to put the book down and wash my dirty pot from last night. I promise, I’ll do it as soon as I post this. Or after I eat some pear compote I just made.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

turkey chili

onions instead of sour cream

Ever since I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” I’ve been rather preoccupied with eliminating high-fructose corn syrup from my diet, and trying to get my hands on grass fed meat and true free range chicken. Yes, I’ll eat whatever meat is being sold in Whole Foods from time to time, but when I can, I will try to get the stuff from small family farms, and by small, I mean small.

welcome, fall!

In general though, we’ve been trying to decrease the red meat consumption – for health reasons more than anything. And as temperatures suddenly dropped last week and we all felt a fall chill, my mind turned to chili. Everyone marks fall in their own way and for me, nothing signals the change of seasons more than crisp, fall apples (preferably Cortlands) and a steaming bowl of chili. And yes, chili con carne is the traditional way to go, but I’m making a few alterations.

dried poblanos
without planning and in a hurry, canned beans will do turkey for me, turkey for you

And if anything, seeing King Corn this afternoon with KS and his younger sister made me feel a lot more vindicated for abandoning the classic oldie-but-goodie and sticking with something slightly healthier (nevermind the whole Topps debacle). For the record, the film is great and I was (for the most part) engaged and entertained. I’ve learned little new as Michael Pollan has obliged in educating me in this matter, but it did drive the point home yet again – we are what we eat and for the most part, Americans are children of the corn.

oh the goodness!

I have to confess that eating this batch of chili made me realize that I actually prefer the turkey version to its original “con carne” one. I suppose that “chili con gobble” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as “chili con carne” does, but I’ll get used to it – my palate has already.

Since we’re decreasing/limiting dairy consumption in our household, we chose to top our chili off with some chopped onions and added some hot sauce (when do we not). But I think that the most preferred way is to give your generous bowl some sour cream, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and green onions and award yourself with a heaping spoonful!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

russian borscht

soup - ready to eat

Sometime last week, I felt the inspiration to cook and toss all my daily tasks to the wind. I suspect that sudden burst of energy and desire were prompted more by the cold weather and bone-chilling wind than by anything else. My mother, one of the best soup makers I know, happens to have an amazing borscht recipe under her belt. And when seasons shift definitely colder, borscht is one of the soups, along with Russian cabbage soup (schi) that I turn to.

Many an American has wrinkled his nose when a beet is introduced into a conversation. Growing up in suburban America, I was always defending the virtues of root vegetables: turnips, carrots, beets, radishes. Because I was an immigrant, my food preferences were considered strange at best, and disgusting at most. And I grew up thinking that not only beets were uncool (albeit tasty), but they were also a form of lower-income diet. Imagine my surprise when my monthly issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived (I must have been the only 16-year old with a MSL subscription) and I found a salad of beets and chevre beautifully displayed as one of the recipes. Either beets were gaining ground or Martha was going back to her Polish roots. Either way, beets were comin’ up!

These days, you will find beets in the most illustrious of restaurants. They’re tucked into salads, displayed in vegetable arrangements, cooked in soup, and hidden in chocolate cake. Their deep, rich color and sweet earthy flavor and texture are both filling and surprisingly light. They smell of the earth, of winter, and of home. And despite their lowly upbringing and modest looks, they’re quite elegant and sophisticated.

Borscht is a little bit of a commitment. Set aside a few hours over a weekend to make it if only because you want the flavors to gradually develop. Deeper flavor means more delicious borscht. To make up for taking its time, borscht is not a complicated soup to make. And as most soups often do, borscht tate better the next day. If you make this soupd with beef, it’s a meal in and of itself. Russians often serve it as a first course at dinner, but in smaller portions. Whichever way you choose to eat it, borscht is guaranteed to make this winter season a little more palatable.

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