Hannah Glasse Google Doodle

Yesterday’s Google Doodle was in honor of Hannah Glasse (born on 28 March 1708).

Isn’t it adorable?

Hannah Glasse Google Doodle

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Daily Diversion #358: Russian Apple Cake

If autumn and apples are the perfect couple (and they totally are), then Sharlotka (Russian Apple Cake) is, perhaps, the most delicious expression of that union.

Sharlotka

Sharlotka

I baked one yesterday, to accompany the newly cold weather ’round these parts. Even better: the cake is served warm. The leftovers are fantastic, too. (I’m currently eating a slice and drinking a cup of hot Russian tea.)

This Sharlotka is fluffy, light, a bit tart (thanks to Granny Smith apples), and not too sweet; the top is crusty and golden.

Slice of Sharlotka

Slice of Sharlotka

I use Chef Matt Danko’s recipe (which is actually his dad’s). It’s even tastier than it looks! 

Daily Diversion #216 (and a Bonus Recipe): Summer Corn

Food is magic, so it’s no wonder that I feel deeply, divinely alive and loved when The Chef cooks for me. His most recent culinary offering started like this:

Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob is beautiful in and of itself, but my husband, The Chef,  decided to transform it into something even better! See below for details.

CHEF LEIGHTON’S GRILLED CORNFUSION

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 OR 6 EARS OF CORN ON THE COB
  • 1/2 OF A FRESH PINEAPPLE
  • HABANERO SUGAR
  • 6-8 THIN PATS OF BUTTER
  • SRIRACHA SALT, TO TASTE
  • DRIED CHILIES, TO TASTE

DIRECTIONS:

  1. GRILL THE EARS OF CORN USING YOUR PREFERRED METHOD. SLICE OFF THE KERNELS AND PLACE IN A MEDIUM BOWL.
  2. CUT THE PINEAPPLE INTO LARGE SLICES; RUB ONE SIDE OF EACH SLICE WITH A THIN LAYER OF HABANERO SUGAR. GRILL BOTH SIDES UNTIL SLIGHTLY BROWN. YOU CAN GRILL THE CORN AND THE PINEAPPLE AT THE SAME TIME. DICE THE PINEAPPLE AND ADD TO THE BOWL WITH THE CORN. STIR.
  3. ADD PATS OF BUTTER AND STIR WELL. ADD THE SALT AND CHILIES, TO TASTE, INCORPORATING FULLY.
  4. SERVE!
Corn

Grilled Cornfusion!

It is slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and 100% marvelous! Kind of like a certain special someone I know…

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”-George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Daily Diversion #123: Baking, Not Crying/Dutch Baby

It wasn’t all tears and boredom whilst my Internet was down. I made this scrumptious Dutch Baby for my mom’s birthday breakfast. If I cannot write, I bake. It’s therapeutic, creative, and opens my writing mind like a fierce, bracing gust of wind.

Mixed Berry Dutch Baby

Mixed Berry Dutch Baby

Easy, gorgeous, and light.

Slice of life

Slice of life

What beautiful berries!

Cast-iron skillet

Cast-iron skillet

This is no ordinary skillet. No, it has an impressive pedigree. It was purchased, second-hand from a Goodwill, for my mother-in-law by her mother-in-law in 1953. She, in turn, gave it to my husband, The Chef, about 3 1/2 years ago. Before we married, before I became part of its story. Now, by baking this simple Dutch Baby, I’ve joined the line. Melded myself to their family history. Our family history.

Baking Madeleines for Proust

I baked my first cake from scratch when I was nine years old: a simple cocoa cake, round, one-layer. I decorated it by throwing a handful of confectioners’ sugar on top, the powder landing sparse and uneven in spots, heavy like a snowdrift in others. It was beautiful, and tasted like spongy hot chocolate. From that moment on, standing triumphantly in my aunt Lauree’s small kitchen, I had a new hobby.

I found my sole domestic comfort early, unless brewing a perfect pot of tea counts. To this day, I would rather write and read than do anything else. Baking is my only life-long hobby, the one non-verbal art I have never ignored or repudiated altogether. My favourite time to bake is in winter, when the cold starts pushing through the walls of even the most solid structure. I meet Jack Frost head-on, with a hot oven and a swirl of sugar and spices at the ready.

I’m in the habit of reading as I bake. Consuming a few sentences of Hardy or Plath or Trollope whilst blending cake batter or folding in nuts and sultanas is appropriately meditative for this most serene of the creative arts. The uncontrollable frenzy of the holidays officially starts in America on Thursday. The next month will be a kaleidoscopic whirl of shopping, parties, and working with all of my settings broken, but one: overdrive. A few hours spent baking cookies, bars, brownies, and pies will preserve my nerves and restore my balance close to something I can call normal.

I am dedicating today, the 18th of November, this lovely calm before the holiday storm, to Proust and his madeleines. I was born on Marcel Proust’s birthday, 10th July. Today marks the 90th anniversary of his death. He was 51 years old, and left some of the most lyrical, evocative, and intensely beautiful writing in literature. All of that, and an unbreakable association with French tea-cakes called madeleines? Delicious.

Madeleines require very few ingredients, are easy and quick to make, and can be adapted to fit your whimsies. As they are shaped like shells, they require a special but inexpensive tray, but if you are ambitious you could try shaping them by hand!

MADELEINE COOKIES

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • the zest of 1 lemon

Ingredients (minus milk + a decorative pumpkin). Ingredients (minus milk + a decorative pumpkin). Continue reading