Saturday, May 26, 2007

85 Recipe Road

Yes, it's time to post some recipes I'm considering for inclusion in le menu. So here goes a lemony recipe that has been empirically tested on unsuspecting guine... erm...coworkers and friends (I'm actually baking the lemon almond cookies as I type.. yumm. I don't remember where I got this recipe, so I'll randomly credit my mom, Adelaide Redondo in Edmonton, AB, who generously gave me most of my good recipes anyway (and who has to be the greatest cook in the western hemisphere... :)

Warning: these are not exactly part of a sensible health plan :)

Lemon Almond Cookies

3/4 Cup butter (softened)
1 Cup sugar
1 egg (large)

1 1/2 TB lemon zest (freshly grated)
6 TB finely ground almonds
1 1/2 Cup flour

Cream together the butter and sugar with electric mixer. After it's smooth, beat in the egg, zest and almonds. Beat in the flour a little at a time and beat dough until it is well combined. Chill it in the fridge for two hours, covered.

After chilling, form dough into walnut-size balls and place 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Dip bottom of a glass in some sugar and use it to flatten balls into about 2 in diam. cookies.

Bake in middle of pre-heated oven at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes (no more or they'll be hard) until golden around the edges (not brown :)

Shoo gluttonous husband off ...oops, those are my notes.... :)

Oh, where's my head... what kind of blog would this be w/out the keywords for my oriental friends?? Chinese (cookie), Peking (duck), Mandarin (oranges)... ;)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So COLD.....

I've been sadly neglectful of this blog. Although the china/food/dinner party is still happening (yes, in this lifetime), these days when I get home, all I want to do is curl up with a good book and complain about the weather. I need some sun! You know, yellow dwarf, planet revolves around it, irradiates all sort of wavelengths, especially in the infrared range? Let's see more of that! I'm getting sick and tired of "arctic air mass," "below seasonal averages," "northerly flow" and "wet and unstable."

Seriously! I have a banana tree at home that's starting to look like ragweed -- I actually (no lie) harvested some sort of alien yellow mushrooms off the soil in my hibiscus pot! Enough with the cold and the rain...If I hear "global warming" one more time...

And since I'm already ranting, what's with Ottawa's tulip festival? Yes, it's very nice, stunning views, great international pavillion, good food, but where are the tulips??? I expected endless vistas of undulating colours, awe-inspiring beds of different petal varieties, people traipsing through the... ok, perhaps not that last one :)

Alas, there were only a few beds, maybe four or five colours at best, and endless waves of.... grass! Yes, the trees were in flower, it was nice, but... Well, perhaps next year. I know they've had financial trouble lately, perhaps I'll send them a few bulbs for next spring.

Cat and I actually had a lot of fun when we went on Saturday. It was a beautiful day -- almost warm!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Skipping dinner....

....and going right to dessert! Yes, I'm good at that... Continuing with the dinner party saga (by the time a morsel of food meets a guest palate, we'll be talking EPIC), I've decided to deal with the many indecisions that sabotage my ongoing planning by sticking to something I know well: dessert.

This week I dusted off my dessert books, consulted the mom-in-law (awesome baker), bought sugar, eggs, lemons, exotic creams and other diabetes-inducing ingredients and set to the arduous task of experimenting with different recipes. I've already decided on the chocolate beet cake as a staple and mama's chocolate mousse with Port as a finisher... what I need is something that will appeal to those alien/mutant/sadly damaged amongst us who don't care for... for... ggnnkk... chocolate (I can't believe my keyboard just survived that sentence without disintegrating into subatomic-hell particles.)

Cat was (not exactly unwillingly) recruited as a guinea pig and I proceeded to measure, sift, beat, blend, mix, curse, peel, grate and bake my way into icebox lemon dessert and lemon bars. I prefer the first (nice, moussy, lemony and light), while Cat prefers the latter (substance, he says, has to weigh down my stomach, he says). Hmmm.., I murmur.

Speaking of delicious (and I digress, I know, but this is worth it) I've been looking for a good sweet and sour soup since I died and went to soup heaven at The Peking in Leicester, if you recall from the previous UK-trip blog. We haven't found anything better here in Ottawa, but I'm happy to say that our fave Chinese take-out makes a mean almost-as-good s&s soup. The place is called Hing Lung at Dalhousie and St. Andrew, and they also make the BEST, simply the best, better-than-all-the-rest (thanks, Tina) Szechuan bean curd we ever had. Again, not getting paid, cajoled or blackmailed into advertising, just like to spread the good word about good food when I find it. We're still looking for good sweet&sour in this here town, so if any of you have suggestions, addresses or good stories, let me know.

I would get back to the lemons, but alas, that was a long time ago, and besides, the wench is dead. Which is to say (whooo was that a ...BROAD reference?...that wuz just for you Steve :) that Cat wolfed down both desserts in record time and now I'm ready to move on to ... hmmm lemon almond cookies. Ok, I'm going overboard on the citrus thing... perhaps I was a sclerotic scurvy-infested sailor in another life.

So... dessert is shaping up. I would also like something with a nice sauce on it, but that will depend on the season... warm boozy sauce in the winter, a nice coulis in the summer... who knows? Ok, you putative guests, and you know who you are, this is your chance to put in your two cents. I can't promise I won't ignore your suggestions but I can promise not to laugh. Ok, I can't, but nevertheless I would much appreciate your contributions. And if I don't "see" you before the 14th, Happy Valentine's Day!! (including the visitor from Guatemala... Guatemala? Well, if you pay your way here, you're welcome for dinner and bring us some coffee!! ...hmmmm coffeeeee....:))

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I need a mousse...

...or is that a muse? One good thing about being totally uninspired and neglecting your blog is that now you (and by you, gentle reader, I mean me) are now fully acquainted with writer's block. Why is that good? I could say, wax poetic mayhap, but it all seems so hard right now... (lifts trembling hand to fevered brow...)

The dinner-party planning is proceeding.... slowly. I'm worried about logistics and ridiculous details (do tablecloths have a thread count? Do I trust my beer-swillin' friends with the Baccarat? Do I know where the Baccarat is? Speaking of which....OO la la, la beauté n'est pas raisonnable? What the...? Advertising is going insane...) OMG Battlestar Galactica is on! Oops, sorry buds, I'm so outta here...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007! Feliz Ano Novo! Joyeux..yea yea...

First: The dinner party

Yes, another year and getting closer to the dreade... erm... much-anticipated dinnerpartytime. I have cloth, I have dishes, I'm working on the crystal and I'm coercing my friends into bringing their own a tithe. Ha ha ha. Ha. No, really. I have those covered too.

I'm sure this is all a huge surprise to you gentle reader, as I have not posted for many a fourtenight (ME for those of you anal-retentives who are thinking of inundating my inbox with spelling suggestions and mean-spirited cackles of orthographic superiority). Anyhoos (really, just control yourselves) I have indeed not been neglecting my hostess planning duties and my brain has been busily working on those details that make or break a truly elegant function, such as the crucial (and oh so oft neglected!) issue of chargers vs. placemats. The truly discerning amongst ye (ME ibid) of course already know the answer. In a most felicitous example of serendipity gone wild, the Spode store downtown is selling nice gold chargers for $1.99 ea. instead of the regular usurary 8 buckz or some such. Unfortunately, in a blatant example of stupidity gone even wilder, I neglected to buy some the last time I was there. What can I say, I had been to the cinnabon store and was suffering major sugar-rush neuron shutdown.

I'll keep you updated on my second excursion to aforementioned china store.

Second: Our trip to England

YEESS!!!!! What a GREAT TIME we had!!! We walked, we shopped, we dined, we visited St. Paul's Cathedral (the unfortunate setting of my cowardly behaviour but more on that later), we travelled up North and took in a soccer game, oops football match, we ate full English breakfasts, some delicious fish & chips, we visited the Space Centre in Leicester and then we shopped some more.

Oh, and let's not forget one of the best epicurean experiences EVER! In Leicester, we happened upon a most amazing Chinese restaurant, The Peking. What can I say: the sweet and sour soup was the BEST I ever had (and Cat concurs with me here), the fried rice was simply sublime, and the beef era de comer e chorar por mais. (For you non-lusophones, I just wrote something about eating and crying with ineffable happiness.) Cat was equally impressed with his tofu dishes. We chose the special pre-set meal and it was so much cheaper than their regular fare that we thought we would be getting smallish portions, but nothing was further from the truth. We were well well served!

And speaking of SERVICE.... what a pleasant surprise!!!! Ladies & Gents, we were treated with the utmost courtesy, given free seconds, assiduously helped and smiled at... WOW! We even got a cool 2007 calendar when we left! I will make a point of going back next time I travel to the UK. Lest ye suspicious minds think I'm getting some sort of bonus for advertising the place, or that I'm related in some way to those good people... I'm not, and I wish! Yummmm...

Why Leicester you ask? The UK National Space Centre! Yep, we went and had a terrific time. They happened to be in the midst of a busy Dr. Who weekend, so the place was full of kids (including the big kids :) and rather suspicious, odd-looking (possibly even non-carbon-based) life forms.

One of us (the tall one with the stripy scarf) was mistaken for a certain Dr. and threatened within an inch of his life, as you can see by the rather plungy object perilously near his carotid.

Well, the place is amazing! I learned quite a bit about the early space program and the current UK and European Mars projects (no, they haven't heard from Beagle II yet... sneef). We also learned about underwear-hungry bacteria (click on pic of Cat pointing) and the evolution of space suits.

If you ever go, be sure to check out their spaceship landing simulation! We waited in line for almost an hour and I have to tell you, IT WAS SO WORTH IT!! I just about screamed as we "crash landed" on an inhospitable world (ok, ok, I did scream) zooming through the atmosphere and crashing through ice mountains. WOW!! What an experience!! We LOVED it!!!

Ok, so I still have a lot to say about the delectable shopping (hint: it's true that the regular stuff is way more expensive in the UK, but the designer duds are CHEAPER!) Yes ladies, hold on tight to your YSL and Dolce & Gabbana, I fool you not! My wonderful husband did buy me my heart's desire, TWO pairs of really funky (and yet oh-SO-classy!) Docs but I must confess that a part of my left ventricle is still stubbornly attached to a pair of pumps in Covent Garden.... sneef. Sneef. I think I have lost those heart cells forever. And by forever, I mean next season.

More on St. Paul's, the gallery of whispers and my abject cowardice next week, aka acrophobia ruins my fun.... gnnkkkxxxx...

Anyways, feast your eyes on some oddly hungry bugs...:) No, don't get your knickers in a knot, they won't be invited to the dinner party.... :))