A group of friends and I have decided to watch all the Bond movies in order. Something to do on Sundays, right? For the first movie - Dr No - we’d had a massive yum cha brunch that morning and so decided that mini foods were a brilliant idea. Marc made these adorable tiny cheeseburgers, complete…
Ordinarily, I object on principle to vegetables in desserts. Carrot cake is only useful as a delivery mechanism for cream cheese frosting, and we have invented red velvet, so that’s not even a valid argument. But, alas, I am slowly realising I am in the minority here. I wanted to make something…
Returning to the point - Ruby’s Tea Party entails coding over tea and pastries. Since I can’t code and the Enspiral office is renowned for its tea collection, that left pastries for me. The blueberries have been taunting me at the grocery store lately, so they seemed a natural choice. I found this cupcake recipe and fell in love with the colour of the icing.
God bless the fine nation of Switzerland for making it okay to eat a bucket of cheese and call it dinner. It’s basically an instant party in a colourful vintage pot. Just add a few delightful friends, wine, and a couple rounds of Cards Against Humanity.
There are a lot of fondue variations in the world. I’m personally a fan of the classic, but the beer-and-cheddar variations are equally delicious. Classic Swiss is made with a 50-50 split of Gruyere and Emmental, but you can also add other Alpine cheeses. I’m wild about Appenzeller but it doesn’t appear to be available in New Zealand, so I used Comte instead. Tete de Moine is also a beautiful cheese, although I prefer it as an appetiser because (if available) using a girolle is immensely satisfying and results in such pretty presentation that it seems a shame to melt it.
- 1 c white wine
- 3 1/2 c assorted Alpine cheeses, grated
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- Dash nutmeg
- freshly ground pepper
- crusty baguette, cut into bite sized pieces
- Other dippers: vegetables, olives, sausage, apples, etc.
Toss the grated cheeses in the flour to prevent clumping. Most respectable fondue pots are stovetop-safe, so I find it easier to make the fondue on the stove, then transfer it to the stand to serve. Heat the wine to just before it simmers and add the garlic. Gradually add the cheese a handful or two at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon until each batch melts and the fondue is smooth.
Meanwhile, task your guests with preparing the dippers. With the bread, make sure each piece has some crust so the bread will stay on the fork under the weight of the cheese. Other classic vegetable dippers are carrots, celery, and bell peppers. I typically also use granny smith apples, but forgot this time. However, we did discover the joys of chunks of chorizo as well as crumbed mushrooms.
Season the fondue with a dash of nutmeg and pepper to taste before lighting the sterno can and transferring to the table. Be sure to stir the cheese regularly as you dip so the bottom doesn’t burn (but the slightly browned crispy remnants are delicious!). Tradition holds that if you drop something into the pot, you have to kiss someone at the table. Or do the dishes. Depends on the sort of party, I suppose.
[Serves 6 as a main]
It’s impossible not to get excited about fondue.
Booze & Musical Pairing
Currently having a love affair with Mt Maude Vineyard’s Riesling, out of Otago. Not the dry one though, it’s rather lackluster. As for music, in the spirit of the 1970s and all, I suggest Forbidden Ensemble's Porno Soundtracks Volume 1.
I love caramel. A lot. I think this is because it’s a socially acceptable way to basically eat sugar, which is something I used to do as a kid. And by kid, I mean I stole and ate the sugar cube from my friend’s Mexican coffee at #TacoThursday this week. My other favourite thing is meringue, again likely because it is essentially an adult sugar delivery system. Kelly made a pavlova that we never got around to eating on Christmas and getting to take home and eat the entire shell in two days was a highlight of my holiday.
It is a wonder I am permitted to live on my own.
Which brings us to these Tasty Kitchen Butterscotch Meringue Bars. I’ve made some changes because I have found, in my old age, that I like less chocolate and more meringue. Also, I couldn’t be asked to go down the stairs and across the street to the store to get more. The original recipe is also delicious.
- 225 g butter, softened
- 2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- 2 c flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 125 (ish) g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- pinch of cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 180*C.
2. Cream butter, 1 c brown sugar and 1/2 c white sugar in large bowl. Add egg yolks, whiskey, and vanilla, blend well.
3. Add dry ingredients and beat on low until just blended. Spread batter into greased 9x9” (for thick brownies) or 13x9” (for more of them).
4. Sprinkle chocolate over the batter and press into the dough.
5. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until stiff peaks form. Add remaining 1 c of brown sugar and beat on medium until all the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is thick, shiny, and a uniform colour. Spread over the top of the batter, being sure to touch all the edges of the pan.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove and let cool completely (at least a couple of hours) before cutting into squares. They will be sticky and gooey. The meringue will crack. These are not destined to become your best work on Instagram, but such is life.
(NB: I used a 9x9” pan. So thick and gooey!)
Booze & Musical Pairing
I’m not really much for serious resolutions, mostly because I’m terrible at them. And let’s be honest, if I still don’t love waking up early to work out, it’s probably not going to magically happen this year. I’ve made my peace.
This year, however, a couple of friends and I are going to attempt to bake something every week. I blogged about baking once and it was super fun for me, so I’m going to try to do that more often. I, personally, plan to take a generous interpretation of ‘bake’ to include ‘cook things that are more nutritionally diverse than the candy floss I ate for breakfast yesterday.’ I should probably cut back on the butter and sugar anyway, so the occasional savoury isn’t a terrible idea. A cute boy also made a delicious steak for me recently, which forced me to reexamine some deep-seeded prejudices against beef and now I have a quarter century of catching up to do. But I digress.
Jamie and I will also be attempting to read the entire Scrabble dictionary cover to cover. She will likely be better at this than I am, but I promise to at least tweet fun words. As soon as I have a dictionary, that is, which is proving a bigger challenge to acquire than I anticipated.
Returning to the topic at hand:
BakeClub52, Round 1: Snickerdoodles
Let’s start this little adventure with my favourite cookie. One of my best friendships from the Marshall Islands began when my new flatmate arrived from the States bearing his own personal jar of cream of tartar. I’ve moved to a number of countries in the last few years with some questionable packing choices - e.g. I still don’t have a raincoat in Wellington - but am never without cream of tartar. Priorities.
Snickerdoodles are a quick bake, virtually fail-proof so long as you don’t burn them, and delicious. They are also fun and easy to make with small children, if you’re into that sort of thing. Or you can make a Manhattan and dance in your kitchen with no pants. Whatever floats your boat.
- 100 g butter, softened
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- dash salt
- cinnamon & sugar
Preheat oven to 180 C. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl, add egg and mix well. Add dry ingredients and blend until dough forms. Form one-inch balls of dough (these are actually better when small and delicate, so resist the urge to make giant cookies) and roll them in cinnamon and sugar. Place on a non-stick (or lightly greased) tray.
Bake for 6-7 minutes, until puffy, just barely golden, and beginning to crack on top. Place on a cooling rack for 1-2 minutes to set, then remove to a plate to finish cooling. Snickerdoodles are terrible if they burn even a little, so watch them closely.
Makes three dozen cookies.
Booze & Musical Pairing
Nothing says happy new year like The Mountain Goats and a Manhattan with an extra cherry. Or two.