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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I’m making Eccles cakes today.  I first had these when I worked at a dry cleaner’s in Providence in my late teens.  My boss brought them in from a Portuguese bakery near her house.  I always thought they were Portuguese in spite of the English-sounding name, but they’re not.

A and B love these sweet and flaky little currant pies. A high school friend of B’s came in the house when the Eccles cakes were cooling one afternoon.  B offered him one.  He took it, examined it closely, asked what was in it, and then took a tentative bite. Then he handed it back to B.  “You can have the rest, dude.” Fine, more for us.

After you make the dough, you’re supposed to wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for a while, like pie dough. I ran out of plastic wrap some time ago and haven’t bought more, and goodness knows I don’t want to waste a plastic bag on something that makes the inside buttery, so I put the dough in a Pyrex container with a lid. Well! That works just fine.

Eccles Cakes

Dough

4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. cold water

Filling

2 boxes currants (more or less 28 oz. of currants total)
1 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. sugar (Original recipe, wherever it came from, called for 1 cup sugar.  Do what you like.)
water

  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal.
  3. Add water slowly until mixture clings together.
  4. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll about 12 inches long.  Chill rolls for 30 minutes.
  5. Mix filling ingredients together, adding only enough water to help the mixture hold together somewhat, about 1/3 cup.
  6. Cut each roll into 12 pieces.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and butter a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

For each cake:

  1. Roll a piece of dough into a 6 inch round.
  2. Place a heaping spoonful of filling (or two) on the round.
  3. Gather up the dough and pinch together on top securely.
  4. Place on cookie sheet gathered side down. Gently press down with your palm until the filling begins to show through the pastry.
  5. Make 2 cross cuts through the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Eccles cakes.  Yum yum.

Eccles cakes. Yum yum.

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Oh, we had a great dinner tonight, a repeat I had with my friend Egghead Jr. on Sunday.  Fresh pasta with the last batch of cherry tomatoes from the garden, olives, garlic (also from the garden), olive oil, and parmesan.  AND one giant shiitake mushroom from the log I gave A for Christmas last year.  In about March we got 4 mushrooms from it, and then none until now.  I made a salad of arugula, peppers, and cuke, all from our garden or our neighbors.  Bread from Wheatfields, our spectacular local bakery.  Wine. Homemade brownies

I am very happy the meal was largely local.  Is it possible to have a plastic-free meal?

  • The bread comes in a plastic bag. I reuse these over and over.
  • The pasta comes in a non-recyclable, non-reusable plastic box. This is the most annoying item.
  • I put the leftovers in a plastic Glad container.  I have had these for years, but someday they’ll break and be thrown away.
  • I made the brownies yesterday and froze half of them in plastic bags.  The remainder are stored in a Rubbermaid container.

It’s going to get harder as we move into winter.  I froze lots of garden produce in various forms.  All stored in plastic.

I wonder how many plastic bags have ever been made.  Wouldn’t it be good if that number were made public, along with the information that they are all still around and will be for thousands of years?

The mushroom was my favorite part.

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I read a lot of blogs, especially food blogs.  Oh, I do like good food, can you tell?  Hate plastic, love food, love dogs.  Could that be the theme of this blog?

In any case, the blog I use the most is The Apartment Kitchen.  There’s the link, sitting over there in the right sidebar, not making a big fuss.  I think it deserves a plug, especially because the author, Erin McDowell, is giving away a free cookbook in honor of her 100th post. Maybe one of my readers would like to win that book.  I certainly would.

Erin is a friend of ours, a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, an excellent cook and an excellent writer.  She posts frequently, but not so often that I get overwhelmed by posts.  I’ve made quite a few of her dinners, the most recent being the Thai-flavored burgers with peanut sauce, which was eye-rollingly good.  Oh, and the salmon with yogurt sauce and Asian cole slaw is another fave. The recipes are generally quite easy to make but never boring.

Really, go over there.  Look around.  Try out some of the recipes. Click the link in the sidebar to win the book. And if you try something you like, let me know.  And let Erin know too, of course.

Note:  Erin also writes Appetite for Adventure, about food and her travels.  Go there too.

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My friend Alan just sent me a link to a New York Times article on Twitter and recipes.  I’m not interested in Twitter, but I think what this woman is doing with it is amazing and wonderful. Read it, it’s great.  It fits in six of my blog categories!

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First harvest

 

We've waited three years for these four spears of asparagus. We're not having dinner at home tonight, so we'll just have a preprandial spring snack.

We've waited three years for these four spears of asparagus. We're not having dinner at home tonight, so we'll just have a preprandial spring snack.

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Easter desserts

We went to an Easter party today. Our friends have given this party for many years, starting when everyone’s children were little.  Now all the children are grown up and gone, but we still have an excellent time, seeing people we know well, people we see only once a year, and people we’ve never met before.

My pictures of humans in their Easter finery didn’t come out well at all.  On the other hand, the dessert pictures are fine.  The dessert bakers were ashamed of their work and thought we should vote for which dessert was the ugliest.  All I can say is, they tasted perfect.

Bunny cake #1

Bunny cake #1

Cherry pie

Cherry pie

Bunny cake #2

Bunny cake #2

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