Tuesday, January 27, 2009

end of winter eats, two book reviews, and one book that scared me.

it's been a long winter, and it's not over yet. I've done plenty of stews, plenty of hot pots, plenty of meat / potatoes / barley / comfort food. know what? i could really use some green stuff and some fruit. you know, stave off that scurvy?

Here is a simple winter fruit bread and salad that use some of the same ingredients, which makes it really easy to make both dishes on the same day. The bread also goes great dipped in the salad dressing or used for french toast.

What I call winter bread, your Mom or Grandma might make for Christmas. To me, it's just a tasty, fruity, invigorating winter bread - Stollen! This is a german version that I found in The Breadwinners Cookbook, with slight modifications, since I couldn't find any candied orange or lemon peel.


you'll need:
1 cup raisins
1 orange
1 lemon
1/4 cup rum
1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 warm water
1 cup milk
2/3 cup butter
1/4 honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
approx 4 cups flour
3/4 cups slivered almonds
another tbsp butter

with a very sharp, serrated knife, peel the top later of the peel off the lemon and the orange. this is a little like zesting, but you want a thicker layer of skin than just the zest. It will probably come off in chunks, so be prepared to slice the chunks very thinly. Soak the fruit peels and raisins in rum for an hour, stirring occasionally. drain and reserve rum.

sprinkle yeast into warm water and add a little bit of the honey. let stand about 10 minutes. heat the milk and butter on the stove over medium low heat just until the butter melts, then set aside. when cooled, pour into a large bowl. add honey, salt, drained rum (keep fruits aside for now), and almost extract. then mix in the eggs and the yeast. Add the flour one cup at a time, to make a soft dough. you may need more or less flour, and the dough will appear stickier than it really is because of all the butter. dredge the fruits in a few tbsp flour, and add to the mixture along with the almonds. mix well, and knead for about 10 minutes. place in a greased bowl, and put it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

punch down, and divide into two peices. roll each peice out into a large oval. brush the top of the each oval with melted butter, then roll up tightly, and brush the top with a little more melted butter. place on a greased cookie sheet to rise for another hour. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. let cool on racks before slicing or ripping apart and eating. Mom always said don't eat bread right out of the oven, it will give you a stomach ache!

That lemon and orange you just destroyed by semi peeling? don't throw 'em away, you'll need them for this easy and addictive salad.

adapted from one of my many Mediterranean Cookbooks:

Morrocan Date and Orange Salad
1 small romaine, bib, gem, or other interesting lettuce
about 3/4 cup carrots, very thinly sliced
2 oranges (one of them being the one from Stollen)
about 1/3 cup dried dates, chopped (look for these near the raisins at the grocery store)
about 1/3 cup dried figs (also near the raisins at the store)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
the juice of 1 lemon (remember the lemon from the Stollen? use that)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

clean lettuce, and tear into bite sized peices. put in a big bowl. put the carrot on top of the lettuce. peel and segment the oranges, and place the segments around the lettuce on the edges of the bowl. sprinkle the dates, figs and almonds on top. to make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, salt and sugar, and mix well. Sprinkle the dressing over the salad, and serve immediately.

I've made the salad twice in two weeks. that's how good it is.

Onto book news! I know it's been ages, but i've got some new book reviews up:

China Mieville's The Scar, my hands down favorite Mieville book

Tim Powers' Three Days to Never, not a bad book by any means, but not his best work.

I'm working on a review for S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire, and this better be part of a series, because it kind of doesn't end. I can't believe it took me this long to discover Stirling, he (she?) is the real deal. Dies the Fire starts at the end of the world. Some kind of EMP goes off, and everything electronic poops out, and some stuff that isn't electronic poops out too. the story follows a few family groups, and their survival strategy. Luckly, each group has a few people trained in wilderness survival, old school weaponry (can you say bows and arrows?), and medical knowledge. the scenes of fighting off the cannibals gave me enough nightmares, and that was before I realizes that in this kind of future, i would be beyond useless. my expensive formal education and fancy resume would make me a prime candidate to be left by the roadside. that's what scared the shit out of me. Longer book review coming.

1 comment:

S.M. Stirling said...

Yup, it's part of a series, all right!


then, set 22 years later, and mostly featuring the children of the characters in the first books;

THE SWORD OF THE LADY (just finished, out in Sept. 2009)

And there's -lots- of food stuff.

Liked the recipes, by the way.

Steve Stirling