Pear galette with rosemary and Chevre.

Nick and the cat are fighting over bedtime (they holler at each other while he completes his nighttime routine), and she needed to have her claws trimmed a week ago and now it’s his problem, and it’s laundry night but the sheets came out damp, and we’re all out of Glee episodes to watch and books to read and original thoughts to think. But the apartment is clean, scrubbed down to its grout even, and we have a week of relaxation planned, of catching up on lost sleep and homemade dinners and digging in the garden. We’re not driving places or spending money. We’ve booked ourselves an entire weekend of going nowhere and doing nothing but slow-cooking beans and brisket for Sunday dinner. I’m looking forward to it.

Every so often it becomes urgent to not do anything for a week or two, to be very boring until the bags disappear from under our eyes for awhile. We generally eat well during these lulls, because we are not always worrying about what to wear before dashing frantically off to some thing. It’s during these breaks that we sometimes get to eat pie for dinner, so even if the lulls sound terribly dull, at least there is pastry. And that is a thing to look forward to in itself.

Pear galette with rosemary

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 5 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 lb. firm-fleshed pears
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Chevre
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp. water

Make your dough. Combine flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and drop each cube of butter in, squishing them between your fingers. The end result before you add the water should be a crumby mixture with larger chunks, some as large as kidney beans or peas. Stir in water, a bit at a time, to form the dough – you may not need all of the water; the dough should be just moist enough to hold together. Press into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until pears are done.

Quarter pears and remove centres, and cut each quarter in half. You can peel them if you want to but I didn’t feel like it, and it didn’t make a difference in the end. Place pear pieces into a saucepan and pour over balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and enough cold water to just cover the pears. Add the remaining salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and the sprig of rosemary. Bring the pot to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll pie dough onto a sheet of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Place parchment with pie dough onto a sheet pan.

Place pear slices in the centre of the dough in a circle. Sprinkle Chevre and remaining pepper over top, then fold the edges of the dough over the pears. It will be rough and rustic-looking, but that’s perfectly all right, because who wants to make a perfect pie after working all day? Not me. Place the remaining sprig of rosemary over top, paint the edges of the pie with egg white, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden.

Serve with gently dressed greens and hot black tea.

Guest post from South America: Maracuya Sour

This post comes from Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic, which is a blog we absolutely need right now. Look her up, and live vicariously through her as she has adventures in warmer climates while the rest of us toil up here in the cold. Here. Have a cocktail.

I’ve been traveling through Latin America for ten months, but while saving for the trip back in Canada I was glued to this site as I vowed not to eat out but still to eat well. Well fed, flat broke was a savior as I share the love for sriracha and found one of my favourite recipes, the bulgur risotto.

So when I landed in South America, I wanted to give something back, to contribute a recipe to show you can both eat AND drink well at home and on the road.

Mojitos are so popular now that they’re almost banal and while cairpirinhas will likely be this summer’s big drink,  you can stay one step ahead of the hipster crowd with the hottest drink in South America – the pisco sour, specifically the maracuya (passion fruit) pisco sour.

I  fell in love with this drink when I landed in Peru,  but it’s price hurt my heart like a scorned lover. At $6 a glass, it really cut into my budget of $30 a day. But when I arrived in Cusco I landed a job working at a hostel and there learned how to make this drink on my own which turns out to be so cheap and easy that I asked my co-worker, Miguel, to make one for me so I could share it with you.

Maracuya Pisco Sour

1. In a blender, place 8 ice cubes and 2 oz. of frozen maracuya (the size of two ice cubes).

2. Add 6 oz. pisco alcohol and 2 oz. simple sugar syrup.

3. Add one egg white.

Note: In South America they only use very fresh eggs for pisco sours, if you are uncomfortable with raw egg white you can make it without, it will simply be a little less frothy so blend it a bit longer

4. Blend for a full minute and pour into two glasses. At this point you can top the traditional way with bitters, which don’t add much flavour – it’s more common for it to be topped with cinnamon.

5. Enjoy with someone special!

 

 

 

Ayngelina left a great job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to find inspiration in Latin America. Follow her adventures on her blog Bacon is Magic, on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Orange upside-down cake.

It was plum season when I wrote about upside-down cakes, and I mentioned then that you would want to try making upside-down cakes with oranges in the wintertime. I love being right – and with oranges baked in caramel, how could you go wrong?

On an unrelated note, the lighting in my apartment continues to be terrible, despite my best efforts, so even with my shiny new camera the photos are turning out yellow. If this is something you can solve for me with a simple explanation (Fuji FinePix JX250, in the hands of an unskilled clicker), I will love you forever AND be your best friend.

Anyway.

When I got home from work I was too tired to do anything about feeding myself, so I slumped onto the couch with a can of room-temperature PBR and watched RapCity while Nick made merely adequate grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. For an hour or two I was resigned to an evening of staring blankly at the TV with my mouth hanging open.

Then Nick went out to play boardgames with his boyfriends, and I felt repentant for my earlier uselessness but also disinterested in washing dishes or bending over to collect his socks from the floor, so I made a cake.

This is a variation on October’s upside-down cake, as I’ve decided that cornmeal is what I am in the mood for. You could make it with the other cake if you want, but the yellow of this version is nice, and the citrus in the batter brightens it up enough that you’ll almost forget you haven’t seen sunlight in a month. It’s just about healthy, with its corny base and orangey top, and something about it tells me it will be as satisfying reheated for breakfast tomorrow morning as it was fresh from the oven tonight.

Orange upside-down cake

Top:

  • 3 to 4 small navel oranges or blood oranges (or a combination)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • Pinch salt

Cake:

  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using a knife, peel your oranges. Cut slightly on the diagonal, running the blade along the flesh of the orange, being careful not to leave any of the bitter white pith behind. Slice oranges horizontally to about 1/4″ thick. Test to be sure they fit into the bottom of a 9″ cast iron pan; they should fit comfortably with only nominal overlapping. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine orange and lemon zests, cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, melted butter, honey, milk, and the egg.

Place the 9″ cast iron pan over medium high heat, melt butter and sugar together until bubbling. Turn the heat off, and carefully add orange slices, placing them evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and pour into pan on top of the butter-sugar-orange mixture.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is golden, edges appear crisp, and caramel has bubbled through in places.

Let stand five minutes, then carefully turn out onto a serving plate. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

PS – Lisa over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies asked me to share this at her linky party. Since I like parties and adjectives that end in “y,” I said yes. Go check out her line-up of awesome desserts!

Feuerzangenbowle!

A few weeks ago my mom and I went on our annual holiday outing to Christmas shop and eat and generally be merry, and we went to the Vancouver Winter Market beside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre downtown because the ad said there would be food and festivity and because this was the first time we’d ever heard of the thing.

When we got there, the first thing we saw was a kiosk dispensing something German we couldn’t pronounce, but it smelled good so we put a deposit on a pair of mugs and had our first round. Feuerzangenbowle, the thing we got, is mulled wine with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, orange, and rum, and when I did a bit of research I discovered that it’s also something that involves fire, which stirred my mild pyromaniacal urges in the best possible way.

The most important thing about feuerzangenbowle is zuckerhut, a sugar cone which is doused repeatedly in rum and set on fire above the heated wine mixture. The sugar caramelizes and melts into the wine, and the result is magic. I wanted to create this on Christmas, so I asked Brigitte, a German lady I work with, how to spell the thing I wanted to make (I still can’t, and pulled the name from the email she sent me, which also included this recipe for “rumtopf,” which I also must make) and where to buy the zuckerhut. I ended up not being able to find it in town, but she would be going to Greco’s Specialty Foods in Surrey and she had called and found that they had some, and she would pick one up for me. And she did.

To find zuckerhut, visit your local German deli; if they don’t have it, they may be able to order some in for you.

And so, on Christmas Day, we poured two bottles of cheap, off-dry red wine into a Crock Pot, and set it to heat for an hour. We added strips of orange and lemon peel, and two cinnamon sticks and two cloves to the pot and let it simmer with the lid on; next time, we’ll add two star anise pods and slice the orange and lemon into the pot so that the fruit flavour is more pronounced. Our adapted recipe comes from this one from WikiBooks, but deviates significantly enough that I’m okay calling the recipe below an original interpretation – we wanted it to taste like the drink we had at the Winter Market, and I think we made it work.

After an hour, we placed the zuckerhut in a wire mesh strainer and held it over the pot. We poured rum over top, and then lit the cone on fire. It was awesome. We ended up using about a cup and a half of rum; the cheap white stuff worked better than the good amber stuff for burning. When there was no more rum and we couldn’t light the sugar on fire anymore, we stirred the remains of the cone into the pot and let it dissolve. We served it in mugs immediately, and felt very warm and delighted and then had naps.

Feuerzangenbowle

(Serves six.)

  • 2 bottles of off-dry red wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 zuckerhut
  • 1 1/2 cups rum

Heat wine with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, orange, and lemon slowly. If using a Crock Pot, set on high heat and let sit for about an hour. Do not bring to a boil. If heating on the stove, heat over medium-low heat, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Suspend zuckerhut in a wire mesh strainer (one that has no plastic on the edges of the strainer). Pour two tablespoons of rum over top, ignite, and continue feeding the flame with small amounts of rum until no rum remains. Do not pour rum directly from the bottle.

Stir any remaining sugar from the zuckerhut into the pot, test temperature, and if it’s warm enough to serve, ladle the drink into mugs.

Persimmon oatmeal cookies.

I have had a headache for three days. THREE DAYS. I think it’s the combination of too much to eat this past weekend and too little sleep, and whenever I can’t sleep my arthritis gets uppity and my mind races and all of a sudden I’m imagining worst-case scenarios like the student loan people beating down the door and shooting my cat because they want Nick and I to pay a combined total of $998 per month in loan payments so we’re always coming up short because that is too many dollars and they would shoot the cat, I just know. So, to counter that, I have been taking melatonin by the handful to get sleep, and Nick says that you really can take too much of that.

So, sleeplessness, oversleep, chemicals, joint pain, and never enough caffeine, and my head hurts. Also, logic has gone right out the window. With it, focus and discipline. Also, I’m a complainosaurus.

But because of all this, and because I had nothing to do tonight, I made cookies, and now I am happy and the universe promises to right itself. Tonight I will get a good sleep. Or I will smother the cat in a valiant attempt at saving her from my bad dreams. Either way, the apartment will smell like cookies!
These are made with persimmons, because we get a lot of those around here when they’re in season. Peel them first with a paring knife, and mince them fine. Their mindblowing sweetness is tempered here, balanced with salt and spice, and they make the cookies chewy and delicious. They’re crisp outside, and soft in the centre – all good stuff here.

Persimmon oatmeal cookies

(Adapted from Fannie Farmer. Makes about three dozen.)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely chopped persimmon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal (not the instant kind)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cream together butter, sugar, and molasses. Add egg, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add persimmon.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Pour gradually into wet ingredients, beating all the while. Add oatmeal slowly, and beat until well mixed.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Cool on racks. Eat almost immediately.

The autumnal spiciness of these will make any kitchen smell just wonderful, curing headaches and cookie cravings. I’m taking a plate of these to bed, where I’ve got a cold glass of milk waiting with a book by MFK Fisher, and by tomorrow I expect I’ll be a superhero. You too?

Plum upside-down cake.

You see that pretty red pan? In the hierarchy of Things That I Love, it’s between The Cat and Butter. Nick bought it for me for my birthday in July, even though my birthday is in April, and since then every time I open its cupboard and it beams up at me, so Crayola-coloured and perfectly suited to meals for two, I feel a rush of joy and an urge to cook something at once.

It’s a pan that insists on upside-down cake. You could make it with pineapple, I guess, but pineapple upside-down cake (you know, with the maraschino cherries?) reminds me of elementary school bake sales and this cookbook my mom had from the 80s where all the pictures were really orange and all the food looked just terrible, and there that cake was, illuminating the page like a fussy yellow and red-nippled monster. My mom says that in the 80s, no one cared as much as we do now about food, and that dinner parties were about party games. Which sort of explains food photography; maybe all the photographers were so exhausted from too many rounds of beer pong that by the time they got to taking pictures of the food, they all decided, “Enh, good enough. Whatever.”

That’s not to say I have anything against pineapple upside-down cake; it has it’s place, to be sure, and whenever I’m visiting octogenarians, there it is.

As nippletastic as the typical upside-down cake is, sometimes it’s fun to deviate from tradition just a touch. And some ingredients lend themselves to caramelization and baked goods. Plums, for example, which are glorious right now, and the farm market is bursting with them in every shade. I have red and purple ones right now. You could use any fruit you like, at any time of year – how lovely this would be with cherries, or peaches. Or oranges – oranges in caramel are almost as seductive as a shiny new cast iron pan, and we’ve almost reached mandarin season. Improvise. Have fun. Giggle inappropriately at every opportunity to do so.

Plum upside-down cake

Caramel

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Cake

  • 5 or 6 plums, enough to fill the bottom of your pan
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Halve and pit your plums.

In your nine-inch cast-iron pan, heat butter and sugar until bubbling. If you don’t have a nine-inch cast-iron pan, you can use a nine-inch pie plate or cake pan, but your steps will be different; if you’re using a pie plate, heat butter and sugar until bubbling and then pour them into the pie plate.

Meanwhile, beat together sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together wet ingredients and dry ingredients.

Place plum halves cut-side down in caramel. Pour the cake batter over top, and then place in the oven.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool five minutes in the pan before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm, or reheat later on as needed. There should most certainly be whipped cream or ice cream.

Meatless Monday: Fried tofu with plum sauce and some rambling.

You see those pretty things? I think they’re pluots. I bought them from a place that labeled them “dino egg plums,” which is why I bought them, but I’m pretty sure they’re pluots. I’ve misidentified produce before, however, so please correct me if I’m wrong. But that’s really not the point.

The point is that today was incredibly challenging, with the temperature of my office soaring to an inhumane degree (which is to say somewhere over 30°C), the servers at work having exploded leaving me with literally nothing to do, and with coming home to disappointment – though, I saw it coming.

A proposal I had submitted for a book was declined, which I sort of expected because it was not the book I was sure of three months after pitching the thing, but still. Allowing delusion to take the place of rational thought has always served me so well, and I had convinced myself that within a year I would be a famous food writer and then the Food Network would offer to throw Guy Fieri off a bridge and invite me to live with Ina Garten if I’d just give them a late-night cooking show on which they’d allow me to swear. But it’s okay. I wasn’t sure of the thing after the fact, and it’s not a cookbook that I really want to write. I have an idea though. I’ll keep you in the loop. I’ll try not to forget.

But anyway, it’s Meatless Monday, and I’d best not let the heat lead my mind to wander, because this beer is hitting me hard and in a few short paragraphs I could forsake the recipe entirely for an unsettling peek into my soul or for a photo I’d surely regret. My goodness, it’s hot. But dino egg plums. They are what’s really important.

Fried tofu with fresh plum sauce

(Serves four, with four large pieces of tofu per person.)

Plum sauce

(Makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, such as Hungarian, finely chopped (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. plums, diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (adjust to taste – if you’ve got very sweet plums, dial it back; if they’re bitter little things, add more to your liking)
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. red chili flakes

Tofu

  • 2 350g blocks firm or medium-firm tofu (if you choose medium-firm, it will be softer but more like the agadeshi tofu you get in Japanese restaurants; if you go firmer than that, it’s heartier and denser – chewier, but Nick thinks more filling)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

In a small pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, red pepper, ginger, and garlic in oil until all have begun to sweat and their smells have co-mingled.

Pour the sweaty mess into a blender or a food processor, add the plums, and set the thing to spinning until the fruits and veggies are puréed. Pour back into the pot.

Taste the sauce at this point, and add the sugar in carefully, a little less than is called for at first, adding more as needed. Stir in soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chili flakes, and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill the bottom of a large, nonstick pan with oil, about a half-inch deep. Heat until shimmering.

Cube tofu, cutting into roughly 16 pieces. Whisk the egg, sriracha, and soy sauce thoroughly, and dredge the pieces in this. Place them in a large bowl filled with the cornstarch, and toss to coat.

Place cubes of tofu in the hot oil and cook until their one side has achieved a gently golden hue, two to three minutes. Turn and cook the other side for a similar amount of time.

Serve hot, with plum sauce, possibly with chopped scallions if you have them, or minced shiso leaf, which is more elusive but worth the search.

Oh! If you have leftover sauce, which you may because two cups is a lot of sauce, the sauce keeps well in a sealed jar in the fridge, and you can use it for all manner of things. It’s good as a dipping sauce, but it’s also nice with pork, or even with cheese and crackers.

Blueberry crisp and a lot of procrastination.

This post is a little overdue – I bought many pounds of blueberries a few weeks ago at the UBC Blueberry Festival, but I put them all in the freezer  in order to procrastinate … because I don’t like blueberries. Or so I often think.

Blueberries, picked at their seasonal peak under the warm July sun are really very nice. They’re sweet-tart, not mealy little perfume balls, which is how they taste to me whenever I have them at any point during the rest of the year. I get cranky when I find them in muffins where they usually turn out to be flavourless little wet spots in what would otherwise be a perfectly edible baked good. And their unusually floral musk turns up in smoothies and juice – there was awhile there, before manufacturers started whoring out pomegranate or açai, when blueberries were deemed the healthiest thing ever and they were in everything. I had a tantrum one morning when I went to put my lunch together and found that Nick had eaten all the other flavours of yogurt, leaving only blueberry behind.

But they’re not all bad, and I forget that, and then July comes and I eat one and it’s a surprise every time. Oh! These aren’t yucky at all! I think, and then I enjoy blueberries for two weeks until there are none left and then disregard them again until the following year. That’s what happened here – I was afraid of them, then I ate some, and then blueberry crisp.

The recipe that follows has lived in my head for as many years as I can remember – for a long time, “crisps” were the only dessert I knew how to make. It’s a crisp like my parents would make, and there are no oats in it. No nuts, because my Dad is allergic, though if you’re not feeding him you can go right ahead and toss a handful into the crumble and he won’t mind. Just butter and sugar, and some flour to keep it all together, and that’s really all you need. You can make this with apples, peaches – any fruit you like. When I was a kid it often contained rhubarb from the plant out back, and that was very good. You can make anything tasty, even a blueberry, by simply topping it with butter and brown sugar.

Blueberry crisp

  • 4 to 5 cups blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup (if your blueberries are very sweet, you might like a squish of lemon and a sprinkle of white sugar instead)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (all-purpose is totally fine if that’s all you’ve got, but I like the deeper flavour that whole wheat gives)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Lightly grease a 1.5-quart baking dish. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Create a slurry out of the cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the maple syrup, then pour over blueberries and toss to coat. Put blueberries in baking dish.

Combine flour, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, butter, and cinnamon, and crumble with your fingers to create a lumpy, streusel-looking mixture. Dump on top of blueberries, pressing down gently do ensure your crumble stays put.

Put the whole lovely mess into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden and blueberry goo is bubbling up on the sides. Serve warm, with ice cream. Though if, like me, you are bad at planning ahead and don’t have ice cream, it’s just as delicious without.

Meringue held up my fruit and yogurt this morning, and thus Tuesday was vastly improved.

After a rather indulgent weekend I felt more than a little hard done by, repentantly enduring my hot whole grain cereal with almond milk on Monday morning. Usually that’s a breakfast I enjoy, but after the delights and feasting of Saturday and Sunday, it felt a little bit like punishment, or like the shakiest part of withdrawal. Sure, it was good for me. But there was no zing, no glorious gluttony high.

So last night, with the dry air suggesting the perfect time to whip egg whites into a glossy frenzy (not a drop of precipitation in all of July so far!), I made six brown sugar meringue shells, and this morning filled them with pink, local yogurt and juicy Okanagan cherries, and felt enough zing to last the week, and all of the high with none of the actual gluttony. One meringue shell is significantly fewer calories than a slice of toast, with none of the kneading and hardly any real effort to prepare.

If you care about that sort of thing.

Calories, I mean.

Which I do not.

The recipe is adapted from a recipe I posted in the fall, from Saveur (such a messily dressed pavlova), with the only difference being that I halved the recipe and used brown sugar instead of white. The recipe assumes you have a stand mixer; if you don’t, the time it takes to whip the whites will be a bit longer. I’ll let you know how you’ll know when the mixture’s done.

Brown sugar meringues

(Makes six)

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 4 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Whip egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form, about 14 minutes using a stand mixer.

Meanwhile, make a slurry of the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. When egg whites stand up on their own and do not fall when shaken, whisk in the slurry and beat for another five minutes, until peaks are smooth and shiny.

Using the top of a one-cup-size ramekin, trace six circles onto a sheet of parchment paper that is just a bit smaller than a baking sheet, leaving an inch between each circle. Turn the parchment over, and divide the meringue evenly between the six circles. It’s okay if there’s overlap. Gently press a dip into the centre of each one, building up the sides a bit so as to form a shallow bowl.

Place in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 215ºF, and set the timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not open the door at any time. When the timer goes off, leave the meringues in the oven to cool overnight, or at least three hours. Remove the meringues to a sealed container and store in a warm, dry place. Do not refrigerate.Serve meringues with yogurt and fresh seasonal berries. If you’re using cherries, pit them the night before and stick them in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. Feel good about breakfast.

I should mention that if you’re used to something heartier, this is not terribly filling – if you’re a bacon/eggs/toast enthusiast, use this one at brunch with lots of other things. But if you’re a fruit and yogurt fan, like I am, this will be plenty sufficient to get you through the morning.

Also, I told you I’d tell you about blueberry crisp. I haven’t forgotten. I just get distracted so easily.

Orange granita that tastes like Creamsicles.

I have had three cold showers today.

Outside is lovely, bright and beautiful and exactly what I was hoping for, but inside – my goodness. Everyone is flat. And covered in a sticky, glossy film of the kind of sweat that never dries. There is no air conditioning here, or at work. And yet, I have not adapted. The cat seems to be suffering the most, and looks like a puppet without a hand, just tossed on the floor. And I think she might be losing it. Do cats get the heat crazies and hallucinate? Am I projecting my own neuroses? Should I stop talking about my cat? Okay. I will. After this photo.

So, yeah. We’re a little warm. We haven’t been eating any of the kinds of things that demand high heat or long cooking times. We have been drinking homemade iced tea by the gallon, and eating a lot of fruit. And today, granita. Because I don’t own an ice cream maker (I really have to do something about that) and there is no place to buy Slurpees within walking-without-sweating-distance.

Granita is actually the perfect hot-weather dessert, because it’s completely no-stress. You just haul your sweaty ass off the couch every so often to scrape the ice crystals – no churning required. It takes about three hours, but most of that time can be spent procrastinating over other things. And this granita? It tastes like Creamsicles.

Orange granita

(Serves four to six.)

  • Zest of 1 large navel orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a pot over medium-high heat, combine citrus zest, juices, sugar, and salt. Whisk until sugar has completely dissolved – two to three minutes.

Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and cream, and pour the whole thing into a glass pan or pie plate. And then put it in the freezer.

Every hour for the first three hours after that, pull the juice out of the freezer and scrape with a fork to move the ice crystals around, which keeps them from becoming a solid mass. After that, just pop in every once in awhile to be sure that all is well, scraping as needed.

Serve as is, or with whipped cream.

Every hour for the first three hours after that, pull the juice out of the freezer and scrape with a fork to move the ice crystals around, which keeps them from becoming a solid mass. After that, just pop in every once in awhile to be sure that all is well, scraping as needed.

... then you're cold.

Remove from the freezer about ten minutes before serving, and scrape with a spoon into serving dishes. Serve as is, or with whipped cream. Swoon.

Delicious.

Did I just tell you about dessert first? I guess I did. Come back soon – I have lots to tell you, all about baked beans and ribs and cornbread with blackberries and wonderful things like that.

Preview.

*Note: I originally called the grapes “concord” because until this morning when I read the package, I thought that’s what they were called. No. They’re coronation grapes, and they’re marvellous. But you can make this with concord grapes if that’s what you’ve got. Cheers.

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