pallas_athena: (Default)
This cheesecake was well-received at my recent Thanksgiving dinner, and there have been so many requests for the recipe I thought I would put it up here.

The basic recipe came from The New Best Recipe cookbook, published by the magazine Cook's Illustrated. I highly recommend both. The book is available here [US] or here [UK].
Cheesecake below )
pallas_athena: (Default)
To me as to many Americans, summer means lemonade. Not the fizzy kind, but the kind you make. If you've never done it, here's how:

Large jug
2 lemons or 3 limes (or some combination thereof)
some sugar
Sprig of mint (optional, yet recommended)
Water

Squeeze the lemons or limes into the jug (I just cut them in half and use a fork). If you're using mint, add it early on so the leaves get nice and bruised. Fill the jug most of the way up with water. Start adding sugar in small amounts; stir to dissolve, then taste. If it needs more water or more sugar, add them. Add ice if you have it.

There you go: about the same time to make as a cup of tea, and perfect for a sunny summer evening. The only thing is that it doesn't keep-- even covered and refrigerated, the best of the flavour will be gone within hours. So it's more of an instant-gratification thing.

I need hardly add that Pimm's made with this stuff is basically the best thing on Earth.
pallas_athena: (Default)
For the past few days, I've been in Vienna at a very fancy hotel. This hotel is so fancy that among the drinks at the breakfast buffet are 4 pitchers of water with crystals in them. This morning there were little notes in English beside each one, detailing the effects that drinking the water will have on you.

Which one would you like? Photos below )

Words

Nov. 19th, 2010 09:43 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
Today was a day of interesting conversations with random people.

It started out with a couple of non-random meetings which went well, including getting some excellent language coaching from a Welsh friend. It's a lovely feeling when an entirely new language starts to make sense of a sort. I feel rather elated by it. The key to it, so far, seems to be that Welsh has a whole different alphabet which just happens to use English letters. Once you've learnt the alphabet the pronunciations seem to be mostly phonetic, except the letter Y, which is just weird.

In the evening I went to Borough Market, where I ended up chatting to the amiable proprietor of East Teas. His stall is always an oasis of calm, even when Borough is heaving. He let me taste some Chinese tea which had been aged since the 1970s! That's pretty old. They dry the leaves, then dampen them, then make them into a sort of round brick called a bing and leave them with a weight on top until they dry out again. The resulting tea tastes sort of like lake water-- that warm-decaying-vegetation smell-- but in a good way.

Then on the Tube home I got talking to a man in full Highland dress who was about to do some bagpipe busking on Westminster Bridge. He turned out to have served in the military-- I didn't ask where. We had a surprisingly interesting conversation about waterboarding.

So... Welsh, tea and waterboarding: just another day in this fascinating city of ours.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I have made a salad!

Specifically, a tomato/basil/mozzarella salad. It's August, and all those ingredients are fine and fabulous, especially the tomatoes.

Now, I know that some of you just read that and thought "eeeeyyyyucccchhh." It seems a growing number of my friends are tomato-haters. But this blog is NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY, and therefore I shall forge ahead with my paean to the red fruit of summer.
Attack of the killer tomatoes )
pallas_athena: (Default)
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat...

W B Yeats, A Prayer for my Daughter


Last night, I made my favourite summer salad. Seriously, this is summer in a bowl. It sounds incongruous but tastes divine:

-Cubes of watermelon
-Pieces of fresh tomatoes
-Leaves of basil
-Crumbs or cubes of feta cheese
-balsamic vinegar (The secret ingredient that ties all the flavours together)
-a splash of olive oil
-black pepper

And as a bonus, a piece of silliness I randomly posted to MetaFilter a year-and-a-bit ago:
Your own personal cheeses )
pallas_athena: (Default)
I have:
Flour
Sugar
Eggs
Milk
Butter
Prosciutto
Cheese
Lemons
Bananas
Nutella

I lack:
Pancakes

Let's just redress this, shall we?
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tonight I hosted three friends for chili con carne and cornbread. (Why do British people spell chili with two Ls? Does this have anything to do with how hard it is to get a decent bowl of chili in this country?)

I attempted to make a sensible, middle-of-the-road chili that you could serve to normal people with normal palates. [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia, who yields to none in her knowledge of Mexican cuisine , accompanied me to Whole Foods and advised me on spices. I ended up using no fresh chiles: jalapeños aren't in season, habañeros would have caused the heat death of the universe, and [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia turned up her SoCal nose at the Scotch bonnets. Instead, I used two different chili powders: cayenne pepper plus a chipotle powder from The Cool Chile Company, source of relief for us poor stranded Mexican-cuisine-starved Yanks.

The chipotle powder turned out to be delightfully strong and smoky, but only two tablespoons rocketed my perfectly civilised chili into blow-your-head-off territory. Watching an Englishman, a Welshman and an Aussie try to be polite about it was incredibly entertaining. Luckily I had plenty of sour cream around on the side. (I remember being stricken with horror when the normally excellent White Horse and Griffin in Whitby served yoghurt with their chili. Yoghurt is for curries, you heretics.)

Why am I telling you this?... Well, are you coming to my pre-Leipzig dinner? Guess what we're having!

Actually, since the Leipzig sendoff involves catering to a large group of people with wildly different food requirements, my strategy will be to make an assortment of smallish dishes and hope everyone finds something they like. So I will still fully sort of respect you as an individual if you decline to eat the Blow Your Head Off Chili.



And now, a meme! From the ever lovely [livejournal.com profile] zoecb:

1. Put your media player of choice on shuffle.
2. List the first fifteen songs that come up (skipping titles like "Fugue in D Minor") and add "in my pants" to the end.
3. Bold the ones that actually made you LOL.

Playlist In My Pants )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tonight I hosted three friends for chili con carne and cornbread. (Why do British people spell chili with two Ls? Does this have anything to do with how hard it is to get a decent bowl of chili in this country?)

I attempted to make a sensible, middle-of-the-road chili that you could serve to normal people with normal palates. [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia, who yields to none in her knowledge of Mexican cuisine , accompanied me to Whole Foods and advised me on spices. I ended up using no fresh chiles: jalapeños aren't in season, habañeros would have caused the heat death of the universe, and [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia turned up her SoCal nose at the Scotch bonnets. Instead, I used two different chili powders: cayenne pepper plus a chipotle powder from The Cool Chile Company, source of relief for us poor stranded Mexican-cuisine-starved Yanks.

The chipotle powder turned out to be delightfully strong and smoky, but only two tablespoons rocketed my perfectly civilised chili into blow-your-head-off territory. Watching an Englishman, a Welshman and an Aussie try to be polite about it was incredibly entertaining. Luckily I had plenty of sour cream around on the side. (I remember being stricken with horror when the normally excellent White Horse and Griffin in Whitby served yoghurt with their chili. Yoghurt is for curries, you heretics.)

Why am I telling you this?... Well, are you coming to my pre-Leipzig dinner? Guess what we're having!

Actually, since the Leipzig sendoff involves catering to a large group of people with wildly different food requirements, my strategy will be to make an assortment of smallish dishes and hope everyone finds something they like. So I will still fully sort of respect you as an individual if you decline to eat the Blow Your Head Off Chili.



And now, a meme! From the ever lovely [livejournal.com profile] zoecb:

1. Put your media player of choice on shuffle.
2. List the first fifteen songs that come up (skipping titles like "Fugue in D Minor") and add "in my pants" to the end.
3. Bold the ones that actually made you LOL.

Playlist In My Pants )
pallas_athena: (Default)
After a long day of sorting out boring serious stuff, I went slightly insane and roasted a duck for dinner.

The duck turned out to come with ORGANS inside. I am a grown woman and I ought to be able to cope with ORGANS. Instead I stared at them for a while, then made a small pitiful noise and-- shame of shames-- asked my mother to extract the ORGANS from the duck's cavity.

(My mother cannot read Stephen King novels or watch movies with swearing in them, yet she can be perfectly relaxed while up to her elbows in duck viscera. Go figure.)

I did force myself to chop the ORGANS along with the neck and the wings and make gravy out of them. The rest of the duck got rubbed with oil/soy sauce/sake/5 spice powder and stuck in the oven. It was pretty damn tasty.

The one ORGAN that didn't get used for gravy was the duck's liver. All through the roasting-and-gravy-making process, this shiny red liver was lying there staring at me. As you probably know, the liver is the largest organ in the body. This duck liver appeared bigger than an actual duck. "Just throw it out," said my mother as she left to go out to dinner.

So there I was: duck roasting in the oven, duck gravy simmering on the stove, huge pot of red cabbage looming on the back burner-- and, lying on the counter, this shiny red raw liver that, only a short while earlier, had been helping the duck's body filter toxins out of its system. What toxins does a duck consume? Do I even want to know?

Various thoughts went through my head:
1) Aaaagghhhh slimy duck liver.
2) You're not a vegetarian. Eating meat means consuming dead animals. Deal with it.
3) Out of respect to the animal, you shouldn't waste any part of it.
4) Even the ORGANS aaaaagghhhhh.
5) This was a happy organic free range duck. As duck livers go, this one is probably quite classy.
6) I like pâté, and I've never made it.
7) I'm a grown woman and I ought to be able to cope with ORGANS.
8) Aaaaaaagghhh slimy duck liver.
9) PÂTÉ. NOW.

So a quick Google search led me to this recipe. You'll note that it says "any sinewous bits removed." Both "sinewy" and "sinuous" mean something very different from the consistency of raw duck liver, which is about like meat Jello. ["jelly" to you Brits.] I found this out by extracting bits of stringy connective tissue with my fingers. I think it's safe to say I am now slightly more au fait with ORGANS. Plus, the pâté turned out pretty damn tasty. I used the zest and juice of an orange and some ginger liqueur. It got the [livejournal.com profile] speedlime seal of approval.

Post-duck, Speedy and I got creative. I'm painting a rather frightening sea monster onto a square of silk, and Speedy is doing something unnatural to the seat of her trousers with acrylics. Apparently it is meant to give male onlookers an "insta-boner." I'm impressed with this term. I think we have all learnt something today about ORGANS.
pallas_athena: (Default)
After a long day of sorting out boring serious stuff, I went slightly insane and roasted a duck for dinner.

The duck turned out to come with ORGANS inside. I am a grown woman and I ought to be able to cope with ORGANS. Instead I stared at them for a while, then made a small pitiful noise and-- shame of shames-- asked my mother to extract the ORGANS from the duck's cavity.

(My mother cannot read Stephen King novels or watch movies with swearing in them, yet she can be perfectly relaxed while up to her elbows in duck viscera. Go figure.)

I did force myself to chop the ORGANS along with the neck and the wings and make gravy out of them. The rest of the duck got rubbed with oil/soy sauce/sake/5 spice powder and stuck in the oven. It was pretty damn tasty.

The one ORGAN that didn't get used for gravy was the duck's liver. All through the roasting-and-gravy-making process, this shiny red liver was lying there staring at me. As you probably know, the liver is the largest organ in the body. This duck liver appeared bigger than an actual duck. "Just throw it out," said my mother as she left to go out to dinner.

So there I was: duck roasting in the oven, duck gravy simmering on the stove, huge pot of red cabbage looming on the back burner-- and, lying on the counter, this shiny red raw liver that, only a short while earlier, had been helping the duck's body filter toxins out of its system. What toxins does a duck consume? Do I even want to know?

Various thoughts went through my head:
1) Aaaagghhhh slimy duck liver.
2) You're not a vegetarian. Eating meat means consuming dead animals. Deal with it.
3) Out of respect to the animal, you shouldn't waste any part of it.
4) Even the ORGANS aaaaagghhhhh.
5) This was a happy organic free range duck. As duck livers go, this one is probably quite classy.
6) I like pâté, and I've never made it.
7) I'm a grown woman and I ought to be able to cope with ORGANS.
8) Aaaaaaagghhh slimy duck liver.
9) PÂTÉ. NOW.

So a quick Google search led me to this recipe. You'll note that it says "any sinewous bits removed." Both "sinewy" and "sinuous" mean something very different from the consistency of raw duck liver, which is about like meat Jello. ["jelly" to you Brits.] I found this out by extracting bits of stringy connective tissue with my fingers. I think it's safe to say I am now slightly more au fait with ORGANS. Plus, the pâté turned out pretty damn tasty. I used the zest and juice of an orange and some ginger liqueur. It got the [livejournal.com profile] speedlime seal of approval.

Post-duck, Speedy and I got creative. I'm painting a rather frightening sea monster onto a square of silk, and Speedy is doing something unnatural to the seat of her trousers with acrylics. Apparently it is meant to give male onlookers an "insta-boner." I'm impressed with this term. I think we have all learnt something today about ORGANS.
pallas_athena: (Default)
In honour of International Pixel-Stained TechnoPeasant Day, on which the mandate is "Give away professional quality work online," I would like to share my favourite DIY cold remedy.

As a rule, singers are horrified by colds. If you have a cold and meet a singer, it's polite to announce "I have a cold" before you hug, kiss or shake hands with them. The singer will then proceed to treat you like a leper for the duration of your time together. This is completely normal. They don't hate you, just your cargo of bacteria and viruses.

On the other hand, if you become ill while at the house of a singer, you will receive excellent care. Singers have a medicine cabinet full of vitamin C, throat lozenges, decongestants, cough syrup and aspirin. They have weird herbal tea that tastes vile. They have all the alternative-homeopathic-organic hippie shit known to mankind. They worship the Great God Ricola. If you hold still for long enough, they'll have a saucepan of water simmering on the stove and be holding your towel-draped head in a deathgrip above it. If you know singers, you'll know that it's generally best to offer no resistance and let them do their thing. Besides, steam is good for your pores.

So here's the recipe:

Ingredients: ginger root, lemons, honey, water

Peel and chop up some ginger root. (Tonight I used about 2 tablespoons' worth.)

Put the chopped bits in about a pint of water in a saucepan.

Cover and boil for a while. (The longer you boil it, the stronger it gets).

Pour into a mug with a squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful or two of honey. (You can, at this stage, add some whisky, brandy, bourbon or whatever else you've got in the house.)

Stir and drink slowly.


I've had several mugs of this tonight, and I feel a bit better. Hurrah.
pallas_athena: (Default)
In honour of International Pixel-Stained TechnoPeasant Day, on which the mandate is "Give away professional quality work online," I would like to share my favourite DIY cold remedy.

As a rule, singers are horrified by colds. If you have a cold and meet a singer, it's polite to announce "I have a cold" before you hug, kiss or shake hands with them. The singer will then proceed to treat you like a leper for the duration of your time together. This is completely normal. They don't hate you, just your cargo of bacteria and viruses.

On the other hand, if you become ill while at the house of a singer, you will receive excellent care. Singers have a medicine cabinet full of vitamin C, throat lozenges, decongestants, cough syrup and aspirin. They have weird herbal tea that tastes vile. They have all the alternative-homeopathic-organic hippie shit known to mankind. They worship the Great God Ricola. If you hold still for long enough, they'll have a saucepan of water simmering on the stove and be holding your towel-draped head in a deathgrip above it. If you know singers, you'll know that it's generally best to offer no resistance and let them do their thing. Besides, steam is good for your pores.

So here's the recipe:

Ingredients: ginger root, lemons, honey, water

Peel and chop up some ginger root. (Tonight I used about 2 tablespoons' worth.)

Put the chopped bits in about a pint of water in a saucepan.

Cover and boil for a while. (The longer you boil it, the stronger it gets).

Pour into a mug with a squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful or two of honey. (You can, at this stage, add some whisky, brandy, bourbon or whatever else you've got in the house.)

Stir and drink slowly.


I've had several mugs of this tonight, and I feel a bit better. Hurrah.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tonight my old friend Pete and I got together with a few other folks for a MARDI GRAS PANCAKE ORGY.

I have made an important discovery, to wit:

Sliced bananas in a bowl with some sugar and brandy and cinnamon on them+ 1 minute or so in the microwave+ rolled up in a crepe = REALLY GOOD.

Bonus points if you add Nutella.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tonight my old friend Pete and I got together with a few other folks for a MARDI GRAS PANCAKE ORGY.

I have made an important discovery, to wit:

Sliced bananas in a bowl with some sugar and brandy and cinnamon on them+ 1 minute or so in the microwave+ rolled up in a crepe = REALLY GOOD.

Bonus points if you add Nutella.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Having spent most of yesterday travelling to the Butthole of Beyond* for an audition that I didn't get, I decided that tonight would be a Quiet Evening In.

So I made a rhubarb-and-apple crumble. This was my first attempt at cooking with rhubarb, and I'm pleased with how it went. I did the thing where you boil the rhubarb beforehand in a little water with some sugar and vanilla, and I used ground almonds and rolled oats in the crumble topping instead of flour. Add some cinnamon and ginger, and you have one serious dessert.

If I could, I'd share it with all of you.


*or "Bury St Edmunds," as it's known to cartographers
pallas_athena: (Default)
Having spent most of yesterday travelling to the Butthole of Beyond* for an audition that I didn't get, I decided that tonight would be a Quiet Evening In.

So I made a rhubarb-and-apple crumble. This was my first attempt at cooking with rhubarb, and I'm pleased with how it went. I did the thing where you boil the rhubarb beforehand in a little water with some sugar and vanilla, and I used ground almonds and rolled oats in the crumble topping instead of flour. Add some cinnamon and ginger, and you have one serious dessert.

If I could, I'd share it with all of you.


*or "Bury St Edmunds," as it's known to cartographers
pallas_athena: (Default)
In honour of the Valerie Plame trial, I'm making leek-and-potato soup.

This is pretty easy. 2 leeks, 2 big white potatoes, some vegetable or chicken stock and one big pot. Cut off the tough green parts of the leek, cut them in half lengthwise, and wash the grit out. Then cut off the root ends and chop them into little pieces. Sauté them in a little oil til they're soft but not brown. Chop the potatoes and add those, plus enough stock to cover (about 4 cups US.) Cover and let simmer for about half an hour, or until the potatoes are soft. Mash with a potato masher. Eat. (This goes well with a toasted onion bagel and some feta cheese.)

While chopping leeks I had the following thoughts:

Why do leeks not make you cry when onions do?

Leeks are a major motif in Shakespeare's Henry V. Directors tend to cut the St David's Day scene where Fluellen forces Pistol to eat a raw leek, though it's one of my favourites.

Backstage at the Folger Theatre in DC is a piece of graffiti that says EAT MY LEEK! It may possibly date from the production of Henry V which was the first Shakespeare I ever saw. (I think I was nine?) The director was brave and did not cut the leek-eating scene.

Henry V was also the inaugural performance at the replica Shakespeare's Globe in London. I paid £5 for a "groundling" spot standing in the yard. I remember the sun on the timbers, and the sound of drums, and tears in my eyes as I stood there. Those close to the stage got bits of chewed-up leek spat into their hair (since that director, too, was brave and did not cut the leek-eating scene.)

The Czech word for "leek" is porek.

When is St David's Day, anyway?

These were my thoughts. Look at that, my soup's almost ready. Have a good Saturday, everyone!
pallas_athena: (Default)
In honour of the Valerie Plame trial, I'm making leek-and-potato soup.

This is pretty easy. 2 leeks, 2 big white potatoes, some vegetable or chicken stock and one big pot. Cut off the tough green parts of the leek, cut them in half lengthwise, and wash the grit out. Then cut off the root ends and chop them into little pieces. Sauté them in a little oil til they're soft but not brown. Chop the potatoes and add those, plus enough stock to cover (about 4 cups US.) Cover and let simmer for about half an hour, or until the potatoes are soft. Mash with a potato masher. Eat. (This goes well with a toasted onion bagel and some feta cheese.)

While chopping leeks I had the following thoughts:

Why do leeks not make you cry when onions do?

Leeks are a major motif in Shakespeare's Henry V. Directors tend to cut the St David's Day scene where Fluellen forces Pistol to eat a raw leek, though it's one of my favourites.

Backstage at the Folger Theatre in DC is a piece of graffiti that says EAT MY LEEK! It may possibly date from the production of Henry V which was the first Shakespeare I ever saw. (I think I was nine?) The director was brave and did not cut the leek-eating scene.

Henry V was also the inaugural performance at the replica Shakespeare's Globe in London. I paid £5 for a "groundling" spot standing in the yard. I remember the sun on the timbers, and the sound of drums, and tears in my eyes as I stood there. Those close to the stage got bits of chewed-up leek spat into their hair (since that director, too, was brave and did not cut the leek-eating scene.)

The Czech word for "leek" is porek.

When is St David's Day, anyway?

These were my thoughts. Look at that, my soup's almost ready. Have a good Saturday, everyone!

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