Monday, August 31, 2009

'de duivige duizel...'

This summer has been a whirlwind, in a happy laugh-till-you-cry way. I planted my feet back on Canadian soil in June, and - being a reluctant creature of habit - promptly burst into tears over an absolutely Perfect small double-double. I need to get a handle on this weeping-over-inanimate-objects-and-food thing.

I also got married, which is ABSURD to see typed out like that. Married! We planned for a year and it still came out of nowhere! And just like that my Indian family blossomed into an Indo-Scottish-Dutch clan, and I love it. Tonnus Oosterhoff, a Dutch poet, captured my summer in one of his poems with the line: 'the dovey dizziness' - I love this.

So the other day I was assigned the task of making dessert for a get together with the newly joined MacKinnon clan and Grandma Betty - quite the mixing of cultures and traditions - they perfected chicken vindaloo and coconut rice, and I drank scotch (woohoo! I'm getting better at it - 2 Christmases ago I had 4 sips of scotch and felt my toes curl, thinking my throat was on fire).

I knew I wanted to make something sort of french, but crème brûlée seemed a tad heavy. So instead - petit pot au chocolat, with a bruléed top. Mmmmmm. With a generous glug of Kirsch underneath it all.

The recipe worked! Jubilations! It felt...healthier, although let's be realistic about the caloric consequences of chocolate, cream, brown sugar. But still. It's not overly sweet and still worked well as a dessert, and as always, cracking through the top made me smile.

Recipe - Chocolate Strawberry Brûlées (for 6)

250g strawberries, halved or quartered (about a cup and a quarter)
2T Kirsch
2 cups cream
115g semisweet chocolate, melted then left to cool
1/2 cup brown sugar

-Divide the strawberries among 6 ramekins (preferably cute ones!) and sprinkle with the Kirsch
- In a large bowl whip the cream until fluffy, add the cooled chocolate and whip until thick. Spread the mousse over the strawberries, cover with cling film and freeze for at least 2 hours
- Preheat the broiler to high, sprinkle sugar fairly thickly over the mousse and place under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes. Be sure to watch it lest it burn! It only takes about one and a half minutes. Let the brûlées sit for about ten minutes, spruce up with fresh mint or strawberries, and feast!

One last thing. Dutch women above the age of, say, 40, should be allowed to say whatever they want, at all times. The cracking of tops, cluttering of spoons, and soft chocolate sighs were followed with one of the most whimsical compliments I've ever heard, courtesy of Betty:

Alsof een engeltje op je tong piest
[As if an angel peed on your tongue]

They have a way with words.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

calloo callay!

This is the beginning (of what I'm not quite sure yet) and I'm giggling nervously, which is usually a good sign. I miss writing. I miss writing, and I love food, tea, and teetering stacks of books (not precisely in that order) - so here we are. It's not so much the individual things - the act of eating vs. the act of reading a book - but all of it at once, done over and over again. My husband/photographer/guinea pig (a winning combination!) describes it as 'atmospheric eating', in the most flexible certain books need a good snack, how certain teas pair with specific writers, how certain poets make me want to feast for days.

As a very serious disclaimer - these are in no way strict pairings, as a scone devoured in the morning requires a literary counterpart entirely different from the midnight-snack-scone, and t.s. eliot seems to make me hunger for new things each time.

I was reading about whirling dervishes in Istanbul yesterday, and in the interview one of them had said something profound...which I can't remember. In a nutshell - it frees him, and it makes him feel connected to the world in ways that standing still can't. All of this, the reading, the eating, (the eating my way through books?) echoes that, in a small, small way. And its fun. I've been stockpiling cookbooks like its my job, and am tinkering here and there with recipes - sometimes clumsily, often hungrily, and always with gallons of tea.

That seems like a far too serious beginning. Round two: Feast! Read! Share! If I know you, come over for food - I need more people to feed (how does banana bread sound? hot chai? pancakes with obscene amounts of butter and love!). If I don't know you - hi!

With that, it begins.