It has been a rather packed month since last I posted. I’ve not been idle in that time, although I have been slackardly about my camera-wielding. In that time, The Boy and I have attended a friend’s beer-themed 30th birthday, celebrated the Chinese New Year with The Boy’s parents — although I was all by my lonesome for the superstitions and goo-eating, seen a surprisingly good university student production of Don Giovanni (complete with fire alarm!) with the girls, missed the All-Star game, arbitrated a pulled-pork-off (and found an awesome new addition to my cornbread: chipotles in adobo), started a cake decorating course, missed an (apparently) awesome party to head to Montreal for another 30th bash, and had lunch at a no-longer-celebrity restaurant, followed by some awesome strolling around the quay. (Middle two pictures by the very talented Khoa.)
In between all that, there’s also been rather a lot of cooking. And baking (we did, after all, start a cake decorating course!). Chief among my kitchen adventures, possibly because this one happened tonight, is one I’m happy to report as it means I can cross another item off my list: moussaka. I’ve never had moussaka (see: eggplant, long-standing hatred thereof) but reading Eunny’s version, was sufficiently tempted by the sound of the meaty mixture that I decided to try it. Consequently I have no idea how “authentic” her recipe is, but it was delicious. (Also: I’ve discovered a new love for bechamel. I foresee some oldschool mac ‘n’ cheese in the near future.)
Although I was concerned that The Boy mightn’t appreciate it, after discovering that the dish was, in fact, Eggplant With Some Other Stuff, he actually commented that it was quite tasty. Success! When I bubbled on about how happy I was to have finally found an eggplant dish I liked, so now I could stop worrying about it, he just looked at me quizzically and asked why I hadn’t just counted spicy marinated eggplant (famous condiment of a sandwich joint in town) and… I still don’t have a good answer. I guess that means there are two preparations for eggplant I find palatable. Well then!
On the baking front, I finally got around to buying kamut, thus enabling me to try Kim Boyce’s take on challah. (Yes, yes, I know; her version also has millet. Whatever. One unknown-to-me grain per bread is enough, I think.) Although I feel a pang of guilt at abandoning my dad’s recipe… it was the right decision.
Despite being half whole-wheat, this eggbread had the silkiest grain of any loaf I’ve baked. I was so impressed, I decided right then and there that for my birthday I didn’t want cake: I wanted the chocolate babka Boyce describes in Good to the Grain which uses the same dough (but with twice the butter).
More bread-baking expreriments? I’ve officially switched English muffin recipes. I will warn that the dough in this one is very wet (she’s not kidding!), but I still find it easier to work with than Reinhardt’s “batter”, and the results are slightly better. Thanks to my weekly soup regime, I also finally tried out these oatmeal rolls (amazing, but very time-consuming), tried Heidi’s rye soda bread from Super Natural Everyday (not impressed, although I very much liked her little quinoa patties from the same book), and this buttermilk oatmeal bread (good, but way too much honey). Inspired by Maria, I also shook off my long-time fear of homemade pizza (one too many experiments with crappy dough) and tried Nancy Silverton’s much-lauded recipe that’s been making the internet rounds of late*. SO worth it.
This was actually the second (of four) pizzas made that night. The Boy and I devoured the first three, then begrudgingly admitted that the last one would probably best be saved for a lunch. We tore through the first one so fast I didn’t even think to take pictures. (It’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to eat the crust on a pizza!) This is the second one, which I was in the middle of slicing when The Boy commented that he couldn’t believe I wasn’t photographing the momentous pie. So you have him to thank for that shot.
* As a bonus, I also got to use my shiny new cake lifter (yes, I bought a “cake tool” whilst on course; hush) as a peel — it works beautifully, and I no longer need to worry about melting the edge of my plastic cutting board on my pizza stone!
Speaking of the cake course… I would be remiss if I didn’t post a picture, wouldn’t I! Our second lesson fell on Valentine’s day, in the same week as The Boy’s birthday. Knowing that he’s not really one for cakes, I still wanted to celebrate a little, so I tried to make a hybrid Valentine’s day/Birthday cake.
I learned the subsequent week that while cake isn’t his thing, The Boy apparently harbours an enthusiastic appetite for cupcakes. So I get to practice my new frosting skills, after all! (No, I didn’t take a picture of the cupcakes; they all got eaten too fast.) Still, this reassures me. Although we’re wrapping up week 4 with a proper cake, I have high hopes for St. Paddy’s day cupcakes!
…and that pretty much brings us up to date. I do have other projects (seedlings! knitting**!) but I think I’ve rambled on quite enough for one post. How’s your rapidly winding-down winter been progressing, Internets?
** P.S. Finally finished those New Zealand socks. (Took me two tries as the “elastic cast-off” is not nearly as elastic as you’d think.) Verdict? Love the yarn, despise the short-row heel. Lesson learned, I guess.