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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Foodie Penpals

It's that fabulous time of the month again, where we reveal what was sent as part of the Foodie Penpals program.
I have to say, I totally love participating in this.  A box arrives on my doorstep after the 15th of the month, filled with goodies.  It's equally fun trying to pick out what to send to my penpal.  If you're not involved in the program currently, head over to The Lean Green Bean and check it out--this is my third month participating and it rocks.

My penpal this month was Rona from Berrymorin's Bits and Tips.  She sent me a gorgeous tea basket with a small teapot and six kinds of flowering tea, which is especially appropriate considering that it has suddenly become subzero in Alaska.  If it's going to be this cold, though, I really want snow!

My box went to Geneva in California, who was kind enough to supply this guest post in response to my "Baby, It's Cold Outside"-themed box.  Can we just say how envious I am that she got to attend a playoff game for the World Series?

I received a package from Krista all the way from Alaska. In the package were 2 biscottis. One was almond dipped in dark chocolate. The other was blueberry drizzled with white chocolate. They were so delicious with my coffee. I had them on 2 separate days even though I was tempted to scarf them both down the first morning.
Also in the box were 2 packages of hot cocoa mix. One was plain and one had picante spices added. I was lucky enough to get invited to attend one of the San Francisco Giants vs the St Louis Cardinals playoff game. I made the package of the plain hot cocoa mix, put it in my thermos and added some peppermint schnapps. Later that evening when it got chilly we drank the contents of my thermos and it warmed us up all the way down.
I'm saving the cocoa picante one for a special occassion.
There was a package of mulling spices in the box. I'm gonna use that to make mulled wine on New Years day when I have people over and make ollie bollen (a dutch donut). Making ollie bollen on New Years day is a tradition at my house that was started many years ago by my Mother-in-law whose family was from Holland.
There was a dark chocolate bar with spiced pumpkin seeds on top. I haven't tried it yet, but am sure when I do it will be excellent.
The last item in my package was a jar of maple cinnamon toast sprinkle. Sunday I made plain french toast, slathered it with butter and sprinkled on the contents of the jar. It was delicious. It took me back to when I was a little girl and my granny would make french toast and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. The added maple sugar was a great touch.
I want to thank Krista for the package of unique goodies. October was one to remember.
Geneva, you are so welcome!  Now I have to plot a theme for next month's penpal...and make some French toast with cinnamon toast sprinkle.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sugar & Spice

Allow me to recount a conversation I had with David yesterday as we were compiling a grocery list for last night's dinner party:

Me:  Do we have molasses?

David:  Yes.  Two kinds.

Me:  Is there at least a cup?  That's how much I need for this cake.

David:  Definitely.

The problem was that I didn't ask what kind of molasses.  I assumed one was milder and the other was darker.  Little did I know that one of them was pomegranate molasses, typically used in Middle Eastern food but not exactly suitable for a ginger spice cake.  However, by the time I discovered this all the ingredients were on the counter and I had to get started.

This cake was probably meant to be ginger-spicy and sweet, but ended up slightly tangy due to the pomegranate molasses.  Although it was tasty, it wasn't quite what everyone was expecting.  It was amazingly tender, though.

The original recipe is for a snack cake to be dusted with powdered sugar, but I added a light layer of cream cheese frosting and sprinkled additional candied ginger over it to dress it up for the dinner.

Farewell to The Cake Book as the Cake Slice book for the year!  It's been interesting (and by interesting, I mean there were some interesting cake fails in my kitchen), but next month we start working from Vintage Cakes.

Ginger Spice Cake
Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup mild molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I used dark)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9-inch springform pan. 

Whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt;  remove two teaspoons of this mixture and transfer them to a small bowl.  Mix the candied ginger with the two teaspoons of flour.

Mix together the molasses and brown sugar in a large bowl, then add the eggs and mix until blended.  Add the candied ginger and mix again.

Heat the butter and water together in a small saucepan, and whisk until the butter is melted.  Stir in the baking soda, and then remove from the heat.  Add half a cup of this to the molasses mixture to temper it--this will foam wildly, hence the need for the large bowl.  Then whisk in the remaining butter mixture.

Whisk in the flour mixture and candied ginger, then pour the batter into the springform pan.

Bake for approximately fifty minutes.  This time is approximate, so use a toothpick and check at the forty-minute mark.  Cool the cake on a baking rack before removing the side of the springform pan.

Dust with powdered sugar or add cream cheese for a "dressier" cake.  Serves 10-12 depending on the size of the slices.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I'm Back!

Too much to say in this post...but the executive summary is that On Golden Pond is open, it's going well and I would be starting to have my life back...if I weren't finalizing an enormous appellate brief that's due on Friday.  More on all of that later.

Sorry for the poor quality of these photos. 
Who said iPhones were so great?
I received my monthly Foodie Penpal box at just the right time, before I went into technical rehearsals.  The lovely Gigi from San Antonio sent me a sampler of dried fruits, candy and other treats, all packaged into little parcels that I threw into my bag and ate during the last week of rehearsals.  Who knew wasabi sunflower seeds were so good?  And that candy corn, something I have historically not liked, tasted good when flavored with blackberries?
It was an embarrassment of riches that arrived at exactly the right time.  Thanks, Gigi, for such a fabulous box!

In other news, David and I came out of the opening night of On Golden Pond to find the first snow of the year falling.  It didn't last past Saturday morning, but it's a sign that winter is on its way in Alaska.
Also, this week marked the end of the Jewish high holidays, so a belated l'shanah tovah to all those who observed them.
Back soon with the promised Vegas restaurant reviews and the first post-show meals!  But first, the accursed, appellate brief...