Blood Orange Marmalade


What are your thoughts on marmalade?

I really am on a bitter kick lately, although wait be fair!  This is only just a little, teensy weensy bit bitter.


The peel is softened overnight, soaked in water and juice to lose most of its bite.

Most of it...not all.


Strawberry jam it ain't, is all I'm saying.

But friends and neighbors if you put this junk on a bakery-fresh English muffin you picked up while jogging (jogging with muffins in hands is an acceptable way to add strength-training to your cardio regime)...


Top it with clotted cream, which is like butter but creamier and without the salt.  Like if whipped cream and butter had a baby...

And then dollop on this bittersweet madness, you will just go to food heaven.


You will, I promise.

Sort out your affairs, because it will be the end.


Blood Orange Marmalade
adapted from the love website Food in Jars

1 lb blood oranges (4-5 medium sized fruits)
2 1/2 cups white sugar

Wash oranges well.  Trim away ends and slice in half.  Core with very sharp knife, removing white inside.  Pluck out any seeds you see.  Keep ends and cores for now.

Halve oranges and slice them very thin, about 1/8 inch thickness.  Keep slices together in shape and cut again, quartering the orange.  You should have little triangles of orange.

Bundle up seeds and cores in cheesecloth and tie tightly.  Place chopped oranges and cheesecloth bundle in a medium bowl.  Cover with about 3 cups of water, chill overnight.

Discard cheesecloth bundle.  Combine remaining fruit and water with white sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring marmalade mix to a simmer and cook until reduced by more than half and sugar thermometer reads 220.  When it is finished, pour into prepared jars.  Wipe rims and put on lids, turning them to 'fingertip tightness'.

Submerge jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes,*  Leave to dry and seal overnight.

*!arning, read up on canning here if this is your first attempt.  I can't take responsibility for anybody's botulism!  But really, it's pretty easy once you know the rules.  The botulism-destroying rules.

Thai Lemongrass Sugar Cookies


A little bit of Valentine's love, belated.


These babies are a jealous green, with a mild coconut crumb and a lemon-with-a-twist frost.


Are they really Thai?  Well.  There's a lot of ways to answer that question.


Maybe we should all just travel there and see.


I hope you got good Valentines this year.

Thai Lemongrass Sugar Cookies
Makes 24, cut thick

3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cup)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons coconut extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For cookies:  In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in dry ingredients.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Heat oven to 400F.  Roll out dough on floured surface to 3/4" - 1" thickness.  Using heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 24 heart shapes.  Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets, bake 6-10 minutes or until lightly crisp on edges and firm in centers.

Lemongrass Frosting

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 drops lemongrass essential oil (food and therapeutic grade both acceptable)
3 tablespoons milk
Food coloring as desired

Whip butter and sugar together, until combined, about 2 minutes.  Add essential oil, milk, and color if using.  Beat 1 more minute.

Cocoa Tea


Success

You guys, sometimes I just think I'm a little bit different.  Taste-wise (and, I guess, hair-wise).

I like things bitter.  I like them dark, and smoky, and if we could get a hint of something being roasted in there, let's do that.

So I've always had a bad relationship with hot chocolate.  I want to love it, I do (it's chocolate! it's hot! what's the problem!).  But it's always a little too much for me.

Much too much.


The powder packets are, of course, far too sweet and often taste artificial.  So I've experimented the past few winters with making my own.  Melting dark chocolate down, whisking in milk and cinnamon.  And sugar.

Still too much.

So I did it, I threw out convention and made it how I wanted it, which was coffee-like.

Dark, hot, bitter.  Customize-able, like coffee. They're both beans, after all.



You could add anything you want - cinnamon, chili powder, coconut, maple, orange.  Making your own is a great toddler activity.

But I like it white - black chocolate, organic cream.  Bingo.

It's not for everybody, I know that.  But I'm so happy I finally found my chocolate.


Cocoa Tea

Makes 1 cup of tea/hot chocolate

1 tablespoon cocoa (any type will do, but the higher quality the better, well, quality)
1 cup water
Cream/vanilla/cinnamon/chili powder/whatever to taste

Put water in pan.  Put cocoa in water.  Bring to boil, remove from heat (it will boil over!).  Pour in cup, customize to liking.  Repeat daily.

Recipe for: Blond Hair

Hi all!  Sorry no recipe tonight.  No time for baking - we have a hair emergency on our hands!

I like my hair blond.  Today I went in to get my roots blonded.  The lady yellowed them.

That is not the same as blond.  It is, however, what happens when you get it done at the hair school and the LADY mixes up the BLEACH with the TONER.  TWICE!!

Blurg.

Yellow hair against my pinkish skin makes it look sort of like I have permanent sunburn.

So I'm blonding it myself.

Behold!  DIY blond hair!



Yes, west-coasters, that is a Winco bag.  I forgot to buy a cap.

And gloves.

Winco forever.

Results to be posted soon!

Unless they are terrible.

In which case, hats for us all!  Hooray for winter!

(I should do something about that mascara, I know.  But one thing at a time please.)

Birthday Cake - Spice and Lemon



Birthday follow-up!

Sorry it's late - we went to Seattle this past weekend and I am suffering from a smoked salmon hangover.

Worth it.


But if I think back a week in time I remember my beautiful birthday cake!

On my birthday I like to make things I like, including things other people think are gross.  One of those things is spice cake.

Why does everybody hate spice cake?


You don't hate spice cake???  WE ARE FRIENDS.

Everybody has time for carrot cake (gross) but nobody has time for spice cake.  What a world.

All right I'm done being a spice cake martyr.  The other thing this has is lemon frosting.


Because I don't like the cream cheese frosting that usually comes with spice cake (this is also what puts me off from carrot cake, incidentally) I wanted something else with a tang.

Lemon!  And cinnamon!  Together at last and doing the tango.

Happy birthday to me indeed!  Parte deux!  NEVERENDING BIRTHDAY


Cocoa Citrus Spice Cake with Lemon Frosting
adapted from Joy the Baker

makes two 9" round cakes (I used a slightly smaller circumference yet deeper dish for a taller cake, I think it's something like 8" round and 3" deep)

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon zest
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease cake pans.

Mix together dry ingredients: flour, soda, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Cream butter, zest and sugar together until well-blended, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well between each addition, about 1 minute.

Add dry mixture to wet in 3 batches, alternating between it and the buttermilk until all is added.  Turn off mixer and finish mixing together by hand.

Pour into greased pans and bake - 45 minutes for a 9" cake, 25 minutes for cupcakes, an hour for a tall cake like mine.

Lemon Frosting

1 cup butter
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 tablespoons milk

Blend together butter and sugar until well-blended, about 3 minutes.  Add in zest, extract and milk and beat 1 minute more.  Frost over cake as desired.


Belly


Belly is the best restaurant in Eugene.  When we first moved here I saw it described as "French Soul Food."

Then we passed by it walking around downtown and it had a hanging metal pig silhouette for a sign.

It was love at first sight.

Yesterday was my birthday and we went to there.


Appetizer!  Oxtail and shitake mushroom empanadas with a persimmon-habanero salsa and green onions on top.  All of that just sounded like a list of random ingredients to me when we ordered, but when you pair all of them up with the richest, flakiest pastry in the world?  Mouth magic.


Tyrosalata with Moroccan bread - a spicy, warm feta dip served beside bread flavored with rye.  It couldn't go wrong, and it didn't.


This little baby was the showstopper.  A kale salad ("I like this kale!" shouted my husband in shock) with apricots, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds and a freekeh/sunflower oil vinaigrette.  Such a parade.


My husband ordered the winter vegetable pot pie.  That's a broccolini slaw on top and MORE of that wonderful pastry!  Inside was a beautiful gravy full of all the best vegetables including, most charmingly, little fat whole mushrooms.  But what was really remarkable about this dish was the flavor - it could have been just salty fat, like any old pot pie (and which I have no problem with).  But it had this delicate, vegetable sweetness to it.  No sugar, just a long-simmered broth I am betting.


And I ordered the special (always a good plan, I feel) which was a duck leg confit over ham and bean stew.  I was a little leery of combining meats, did I really need a duck quarter AND a hammy soup?  Spoilers:  yes.  The soup was rich and salty, and the duck leg?  Have you had confit?  First the meat is brined and preserved, then fried at a low temperature.  It is salty and crispy and meaty and sweet.  Every bite was bliss.

Always get the special.

Happy birthday to me!  Oh and sorry about the yellow pictures - beauty of pictures is inversely related to seductiveness of restaurant ambiance.  In this situation the pictures lost out.

Caramel Snaps


Hello, the friends!  Sorry for my long absence.  Holidays and such yadda yadda.  Will be better and such yadda yadda.

Now I will share with you my most favorite cookie.  It is the cookie-est of all cookies, the heart of what every good cookie should be.

It is the caramel snap.  I invented them, yes, me.  (I haven't bothered to Google yet to see if anyone else has also simultaneously invented them a la Picasso and Braques with Cubism...I probably never will, because I DID IT ME!)

I'd been experimenting with caramel sauces, specifically Joy's Almost Burnt Salted Caramel Sauce.  Her recipe made more than I knew what to do with (I'm sorry to admit there are times even I don't know what to do with so much caramel).



Then one night I was craving gingersnaps and I thought, molasses = sticky sweet sugary substance that is key to cookie perfection.

And here I have all of this caramel sauce.

!!

Do it.  Do it.  Do it now.  Put salt in it.

I love you.



Caramel Snaps
adapted from Ginger Snaps on Sally's Baking Addiction (these are my favorite soft ginger snaps)

Makes 2 - 2 1/2 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup caramel sauce
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand or handheld mixer, cream the butter for about 1 minute on medium speed.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about another 2 minutes.

Add the caramel, egg, and vanilla.  Beat well, about another minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet on low speed.  Cover dough with foil and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar, because I had it on hand).  Place balls 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 6 - 8 minutes, or longer if you like them crispy.  Cookies will be puffy.  PUFFY IS GOOD.