Hi everyone-- thanks to all those who gave words of comfort and encouragement after last post's sadness. I'm really touched. Anyway, my dear Jen of Use Real Butter has featured my humble kitchen in a recent post, do take a look if you like! And my right column now has links to 5 of the most recent reviews from my newest baby, The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. I hope you drop by (and subscribe)!
It's never a good sign to have to preface your posts with reassurance that you're alive, but since I got back to the Philippines, things have been crazy. I won't go into the details, but the worst among the things that have piled up is that the internet connection has now been reduced to intermittent. After giving me around 4 minutes (30 if I'm verrrry lucky) of blissful browsing, the line will die for maybe another 4 minutes (30 if I'm verrrrry unlucky), then repeat ad nauseam. Not exactly ideal circumstances for catching up on the blogs you've missed reading so much, as well as responding to my own comments and e-mail. Graeme once told me, "If you have time to blog, then you have time to comment." It's just common courtesy. Sooo... It turns out, I couldn't blog either. (By the way, just to drive the point home: The Philippine Long Distance Company is the worst broadband service in the history of telecommunications. Congratulations!)
Instead of pulling my hair out, I ended up doing chores, the most pressing of which (ooh, pun) was washing and ironing the clothes I'd brought back from my trip. Having become used to washing my own clothes when I was in the States, I thought I'd flex those self-dependence muscles by usurping the person we hire to do the laundry, and at the same time learning to treat my clothes with respect (i.e., actually following the care instructions on the tags). Never mind that chapter one of "self-dependence" actually involved calling Duncan up and asking him how to iron a shirt. Oh, we grow up so fast! (And yearn for no-iron shirts!)
I did have it a lot easier in the States, though, as laundry was an automatic piece of cake. Here we only have a semi-automatic washing machine, which involves:
- manually filling the tub with water
- manually draining the tub
- manually transferring the clothes to a spin-dry canister
- repeat steps 1 through 3 (for rinsing)
- make you fall in love with me, er, not really, cos that's it. No tumble drying here, but the sun will gladly oblige and throw in a free sunburn too.
It seems like I actually enjoy this, but I guess many of you are thinking it'll be a few weeks before my spirit is broken like everyone else. But right now, after everything that's happened, I have to say it feels freaking great to get a job well done.
... Okay, I realize it's usually a happy ending when I cook too, but just let me have my small triumphs :) Next on the list is blog-related housekeeping!
Here is something I made and photographed in New Jersey. The recipe was a little problematic as the ultra-thick cheese layer did not want to behave, but maybe it'll work for you. As for me, delicious as this was, I think I'll just keep the sauce and stick to labor-intensive blintzes. At least I can control the amount of filling that goes into each and won't be serving up acute coronary events on a plate.
Baked Blintzes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
I definitely had problems with this one-- the baking time was way too short. It seems the filling needed another 15 minutes in the oven to set, and even then it needed a trip to the fridge to become stable enough to serve. If I'm going to make this a second time, I'll definitely cut the amount of filling in half (thus baking it for 30-45 minutes), as I found it too rich. I have a few more issues with the book that you can find in my review of Back to Basics on The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. The blueberry sauce, though, is a winner.
- 300g (1-1/4 cups) milk
- 30g (2 tablespoons) sour cream
- 56g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 185g (1-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 25g (2 tablespoons) sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 720g!!! (24oz or 3 cups) ricotta cheese
- 240g (8oz) mascarpone cheese
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 67g (1/3 cup) sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 30g (2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Place all the ingredients of the batter in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade or blender (or a whisk, because that's all I had) and blend until smooth. Pour half the batter into the dish and bake 10 minutes, or until set.
For the filling, whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Spread over the baked layer, then carefully spoon the remaining batter over the cheese layer. Return to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes (... or longer) until the top is light golden and the filling is set. Remove from the oven and let stand 10-15 minutes (... or longer). Cut into squares and serve with blueberry sauce.
Fresh Blueberry Sauce
- 180g (3/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
- 133g (2/3 cup) sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 900g (2 pounds) fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and boil, stirring occasionally, until translucent and thickened. Stir in the blueberries and simmer 4-5 minutes. Stir in the zest and lemon juice and cool.