cake or death, eddie izzard, legos

Cake or Death

Brilliant Comedian, Eddie Izzard, reanimated through LEGO’s–God Bless YouTube

Myself, I would prefer the offer of “Boobs and Cake” or “Death,” as I am a huge fan for the former two.

candy canes, caramel anything, fleur de sels, holiday candies, sugary goodness

Christmas Munchies

I sit here, partially encrusted in chocolate and wayward caramel, with the faintest hint of candy cane dust clogging my nostrils. In fact, if you were to run your finger along my counters, thousands of sticky sweet microbes would instantly adhere themselves to you. This is the one time of year when, instead of baking armloads of cookies, I dip those arms into pounds upon pounds of chocolate and corn syrup.

To choose one over the other is merely an issue of space over preference. Working with almost no counter space caramels and chocolate enrobed things occupy less space then a dozen cookie sheets sprawled out on every clear surface in the kitchen. Very little of this will actually be consumed by anyone living under this roof… instead, it will go to relatives and co-workers to keep them sugared up, and their teeth slightly aching, over the next week.

Fleur de Sel Caramels from

* 1 cup heavy cream
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 1 teaspoon fleur de sel*
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 cup water

* Special equipment: parchment paper; a deep-fat thermometer

Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.

Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

Using the “Chocolate Dipped Anything” recipe for tempering chocolate from Mark Bittman from the, I took some Deli Style Pretzel Crisps and slathered them in the tempered chocolate and topped half with pulsed bits of candy canes. The true gem of these are the crisps, themselves. Full of a hearty snap and just enough salt, they provide a wonderful base for their sweet counterparts.

In the face of all that I know and hold dear, I made fudge with Fluff and I have no shame about it. Sure, I can pull off the Fleur de Sel with no issues, but I was not in the mood to push my luck and copped out completely. I am now in possession of five pounds of candy cane laden fudge that would kill my dentist with the mere mention of a whopping five cups of sugar that were used to make it(I made double the recipe below, without nuts)

Never Fail Fudge

* 2 1/2 c. sugar
* 3/4 tsp. salt
* 1/2 stick butter or margarine
* 1 5 oz. can evaporated milk (2/3 c.)
* 1 Jar (7 1/2oz) Marshmallow Fluff
* 3/4 tsp. vanilla
* 1 12-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
* 1 /2 c. chopped walnuts

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended. Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add nuts. Turn into greased pan and cool. Makes 2 1/2 pounds.

The only things left now, if I can fit them in, are a few batches of Peanut Butter Buckeyes(a batch made w/Tahini for a friend w/a nut allergy, though we’ll see if it translates) and Biscotti for my partners aunt and mother. Then I fall into detox next month after all of this sugary goodness.

Merry Christmas!

drinking, holidays, obscure holiday cocktails, whiskey drinks

Obscure Holiday Cocktails

I have a holiday confession… I’ve never had spiked Egg Nog or a Hot Toddy or Christmas Punch or any other popular cocktail that pops up this time of year. The truth is, I don’t really drink and if I do it’s nothing more than a glass of wine every few months when the meal calls for it. My take on alcohol, in general, has always turned me to respond with a Ralph Wiggumism: “It tastes like burning!”

So, when the opportunity was presented to attend an “Obscure Holiday Cocktail” tasting with some fellow local bloggers, I was slightly scared. It was more my baby sized tolerance that frightened me the most as I was deeply concerned that I would make a complete and utter ass of myself in front of these new friends. Thankfully, things were paced enough and there was enough food to ease the way, that I walked away with dignity intact.

The evening the brain child of Dawn, from Appetite Portland, and Kate, from The Blueberry Files after a conversation they had with well known local author and bartender genius, John Myers. I volunteered to pair cheeses for the drinks, but had to resort to asking my father, a part-time bartender, for flavor profiles on many of the ingredients in the drinks. It made me laugh, and slightly anxious, that I had absolutely no point of reference for any of them outside of Southern Comfort and Port. In the end, I chose cheeses that I knew, even if they weren’t perfectly paired, would at least be enjoyed.

Our menu for the evening:

Whiskey Mac
1 1/2 oz Scotch whisky
1 oz green ginger wine

**Dawn, the bartender for the evening, informed us that the only ginger wine you can use is Stone’s Green Ginger Wine.

Cheese: Quadrella di Bufala: a buffalo milk Taleggio.

This was a hell of a way to start the evening. Made with Johnny Walker Black, this was all whiskey, or rather what I imagined it to be–heavy, sweet and toasty. The ginger wine was completely lost under the weight, only showing hints of spiciness to remind us it was in the glass. The thick paste and cream of the buffalo milk cheese, with it hints of earth and must, were enough to cut through the after burn of the whiskey. While the textures worked for me, I wasn’t completely sold on the flavors as I found something off about the mushroom/caramel mixtures. If it was available to me at the time, I think I would have gone with Ardrahn, a washed rind from Ireland.

Rye Flip
Rye Whiskey
Maple syrup

Cheese: Gabietou: raw sheep and cow’s milk from Herve Mons of France.

This was the oddest of the night for me. The color was a washed out yellow that had a stronger flavor of whiskey than I had expected. It was nice, especially when the nutmeg came through but had no maple flavor and seemed like it needed, as Adam pointed out, cream to give it more heft. I could easily see this as being an alternative for some to Egg Nog. For many, the cheese, made partially of sheep’s milk, added weight to the mouthfeel and brought the drink to a higher level. Dawn pointed out that it was normally the drink that brought up the food and found it interesting to see it reversed.

Christmas Pudding
100 ml Southern Comfort
100 ml Drambuie
500 ml Guinness Stout

Cheese: Landaff: Raw cow’s milk, milked in NH and aged in VT at Jasper Hill Farms.

When I saw the ingredients for this one, I didn’t want anything to do with it. Not only was my last experience with Southern Comfort a bad one, but I can’t stand Guinness. That being said, I don’t think it was anywhere near as bad as I feared. Overall, as wisely pointed out by A. from PFM, this tasted exactly like root beer. Flat, slightly boozey, root beer. Overall, the reception for it was pretty bad, but I didn’t mind it. The cheese paired nicely, reminiscent of an english farmhouse cheddar, but there was nothing remarkable about the two together.

Our recipe:
* 8 ounces water
* 1 cup raisins
* 3 cinnamon sticks
* 5 whole cloves
* 12 cardamom seeds
* 2 dry orange peels
Boil ingredients for 10 minutes in saucepan, then add:
* 1 gallon port wine
* One 750-ml. bottle brandy
* 16 ounces rum
* 1/2 cup sugar
Bring to boil and let simmer 1 minute, then turn off burner and ignite. Allow the mixture to burn for about 15 seconds. Serve hot.

Cheese: Rogue River Blue: raw cows milk blue wrapped in brandy soaked grape leaves

Easily the most enjoyed of the night. Warming to the belly and easy to sip, it was simply great mulled wine. And really, what drink isn’t great when you have to set it on fire? Once I saw Port and Brandy were ingredients, I knew right away that Rogue River Blue would go amazing with this and it didn’t fall short of expectations. Both buttery, slightly salty with just a hint of peppery blue it is, to me, one of the most perfect cheeses in the world.

It was truly a great night of conversation and tastings and I want to thank my hosts again for opening up my palate to a world of new flavors. Cheers!

maine shrimp, ridiculously spoiled cats

Big Shrimpin’

Actually, it’s quite ‘Wee Shrimpin’ isn’t it?
Tiny, bright pink nuggets of fishy sweetness are finding their way onto the market as we come into the first full week of Maine Shrimp season. I picked up a quarter pound late last night at WF’s for $5.99/#, headless. While I’ve fallen in love with the lil ones over the past few years, this batch was almost exclusively purchased as a treat for our cats.

C’mon, we’re lesbians–this is nearly fucking protocol to dote on cats like this.

Having nearly od’d on them last season, I’m trying to pace myself before it becomes a habit. So, we ate the first few that came out of the water (boiled for 30 sec., then shocked in an ice bath) and then I stood and unshelled the rest for the cats feast.

I don’t tend to do much than the preparation above, so I’m always looking for different ways to enjoy them. If you have any recipes or suggestions, feel free to leave them.