23 January 2010

Fly away

Tonight I took the children on a bird's back across the moonlit countryside.
Thank you Susan Marie Swanson for your book The House in The Night, and the beautiful illustrations by Beth Krommes,
Did you spot the child ?

So glad that the magical adventures to be had between the pages of a good book is something I get to share with these little people in my life.

20 January 2010

The almond blossoms have come again.

19 January 2010

Qaqoc at last

Finally cooked up some artichokes, using the local recipe recommended by Zen. There are many variations on this, but the one I tried proved very tasty and I may not stray far.
Maltese Stuffed Artichokes
(serving for three large artichokes)
4-5  large olives, pitted and chopped
 1 Tbs Capers
 handful of fresh parsley (around 1/4 cup when chopped)
2 garlic cloves finely shopped
three sun dried tomatoes finely chopped
4 anchovies
 four slices of stale bread toasted

If using a food processor start with the garlic and toasted bread and chop fine, then add parsley, capers, anchovies and olives and lastly the wet ingredients ending with a tablespoon of olive oil, dash of vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper. I would separately chop the dried tomatoes and add them towards the end, as they can clog up the machine. Whiz it to a rough paste and then spoon the mixture behind each leaf.
Place the artichokes in a covered  pot with at least two to three inches of water (they take around 45 min to cook) try an outer leaf to test.
Can be eaten hot or cold.

18 January 2010

You win some you lose some,

As is the game of life.
Why the post title? Well am happy to say that I did find something to make with those kumquats,  a ricotta kumquat cheesecake, which came out perfectly, well would have been perfect except I somehow managed to burn the bottom in the last 10 min. Having read in another cheesecake recipe to bake it on the lowest rack was I believe my fatal error. This was twofold as I simultaneously managed to also burn the dark chocolate brownies which then had to be on the upper rack. So yes, two baked items ruined for a dinner party just in the final moments. Will have to wait till next January I guess to try this kumquat cake again. Sigh, you win some you lose some. There are bigger things to get upset about than baked goods. Although it was more than a little frustrating. In any case here is the recipe for the ricotta cheesecake, which apart from the burned taste had a great texture and flavour.

Kumquat and ricotta cheesecake 
500 grams ricotta 

1 cup marscapone
1 cup plus 1 Tbs powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 Tbs Brandy (optional)
4 eggs
2 Tbs milk or cream
pinch of salt

2 cups crushed graham crackers or digestive biscuits 
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
125 grams melted butter (1/2 cup)

2 cups kumquats (peel and chop) 
4-5 seeded kumquat insides  
1 cup sugar 
1/4 cup water (enough to just cover the peels)

Step 1. Melt butter and mix with sugar and crushed crackers then press into 9 inch pan and set in fridge.
Step 2. Cook down kumquat peels with sugar and water into a thick glossy syrup, adding in the kumquat insides (tart juices) just at the end and puree.
Step 3. Beat until smooth ricotta, marscapone cheese and powdered sugar, add in brandy and beat, then add in the flour. Once the mixture is smooth then add in one egg at a time, finally drizzle in the cream.
Step 4. Pour mixture in prepared crust and bake for 60 min on a low (but not the lowest) rack till slightly golden on top, once done turn oven off and let the oven door stand half open, when the cheesecake cools take out on a cooling rack and add the topping on the top (if you like you could drizzle it on each
individual piece).

of note:  I didn't realise just how burned it was till it was plated and served at my friends house!
Thus the smiling happy picture.

17 January 2010

Lets dance

Yes, after almost a year of meaning to start, we have finally begun tango lessons. I have to admit for being the one dragging my feet (prone to giggles in situations of stress) I actually really really enjoyed it.

(kinda fun retro heels don't you think)
As was quickly evident in our first lesson though, my big doc martin boots just didn't cut it on the dance floor, ho hum shall have to find some tango shoes...some heeled items of which I so often make fun of.   Confession: after being in layers of sweatshirts and loose running bottoms for the last week and half it was nice to feel... feminine again, the movements of this dance are so graceful and playful. 
Even with the boots I felt all swishy, can't imagine what it will feel like to wear heels!?

(There may be a broken ankle post in a weeks time).

ah yes- the flu/cold is nearly done with thankfully, just a tickly ever present cough
(cuts down on the swishy graceful feeling admittedly)

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