It was Thanksgiving. I made a chocolate stout cake in a beautiful bundt pan, but it didn't release properly. So... what to do when your bundt ends up looking like a misshappen blob? Tell yourself it'll taste good and that's all that matters, and then drizzle melted white chocolate over it. Dip a fork into melted chocolate- you can practice flicking your wrist and making lines into the bowl of white chocolate if you want to practice. Once I started drizzling white chocolate over it I thought, "just a little bit more, that's all it needs"... and it ended up being mostly covered. Oh well- nobody guessed that it looked like a mutant.
Turkish coffee pots, or cezve/ibriks, are *perfect* for melting butter to pour over air-popped popcorn. Trust me, I do this all the time. For the uninitiated, Turkish coffee is similar to espresso, but the grounds are brewed with the coffee and fall to the bottom of the cup. As a child, I would watch my aunts and uncles sip their Turkish coffees and then place the cup upside down when they were finished. Once the cups were dried, they would be flipped over and someone would read out fortunes based on the way the grains dried in the cup.
I spent many summers with my Mom's family in Michigan and Texas, and sometimes our Uncle Koko would babysit us. He didn't get the opportunity often because his idea of watching us kids was to make us Turkish coffees and tell us bad fortunes. I remember us sitting at a round table in my grandma's kitchen, my uncle sitting with me and my two cousins, blowing smoke from the cigarette dangling from his lips, and then read us our fortunes, which were usually dismal. To his credit, when we complained about our dire futures, he would immediately change them to something more appealing.
Below are some alternative uses for the Turkish coffee pot.
- Melting butter to pour over air-popped popcorn
- Drawing a bath for a gerbil
- Heating up small amounts of things for baking
- A makeshift vase for tiny wildflowers
- Last but not least: making Turkish coffee
Treat your fruit right.
I'm saying break out the good liquor- the cognac, brandy, rum, you name it, and give your fruit a good soak. Sometimes when you're baking cookies or cakes/breads you get to the part of the recipe where you lovingly fold in the extra bits. The crunchy, munch, chewy and salty bits that add texture and major "nematode"... I'm trying to write "nom-itude", please forgive me. At any rate, you're looking to inject flavor into every nook and crevice of your recipe, starting with the humble raisin.
Soaking dried fruits in hot rum or brandy prevents them from absorbing too much extra liquid from the batter and adds a subtle layer of flavor.
Heat up a few tablespoons of liquor per every 1/3rd cup of dried fruit. You don't want to boil it, just heat it so that is very warm. Pour it over the dried fruit, stir, and wait a few minutes until you see that it's absorbed. You want the fruit to be plump and boozy, so adjust the liquor as needed.
BY MARIA DI MEGLIO
Pomegranates are gorgeous... Little sparkling seeds bursting with a tart, sweet, refreshing flavor. The only problem is how to open them!
Be careful: pomegranate juice stains! Put on an old t-shirt or an apron, just in case. CAUTION! The juice stains wooden cutting boards, so use a plastic board. You can use lemon juice to remove any stains.
- The word comes from the Latin word pomum, meaning apple, and granatum, meaning seeded.
- Peak season in the USA is from late Oct-Jan.
Large wooden spoon
With your paring knife, remove the crown of the pomegranate, including the pith around the area. Then lightly score the skin into quarters. Separate the pomegranate gently yet firmly into four quarters.
Working one quarter at a time, hold the pomegranate quarter in your hand over a bowl, skin side up. With a large wooden spoon, vigorously whack the pomegranate! The seeds will fall out of the pomegranate into the bowl. Make sure you knock on the pomegranate over thoroughly to loosen all of the seeds.
If any small pieces of pith fall into the bowl, you can remove them with your hands. Rinsing is optional. Do you have a favorite/preferred method, what do you think works best?
If any small pieces of pith fall into the bowl, you can remove them with your hands, or rinse them. Do you have a favorite/preferred method, what do you think works best?
BY MARIA DI MEGLIO
Have you ever baked a cake and had it cling to the pan defiantly when you tried to release it onto a plate? And then tell yourself that it's okay, that it's how it tastes that matters, not how it looks. I've found that lining circular baking pans with parchment paper when you make cakes really helps them get on their way. Lightly oil the bottom of the pan, then place the cut parchment paper in the pan, then lightly oil the parchment paper, and sides of the pan. The oiled pan will help the parchment adhere. When the cake is done and ready to be removed, the parchment will allow it to easily pop out- brilliant! I hate cutting parchment, but I fold the paper into quarters, and then use one of the pointy middle corners as the center, from which I cut the ends to size. Don't worry about how the edges are crimped and folded. Once the batter is poured into the pan it will settle. Everything will be all right.