Thursday, December 9, 2010

Drunken Tiramisu

We've been attempting to try tiramisu for awhile now.  It is one of my favorite desserts after all.  However, John has been the master of the cheesecake.  Why ruin a good thing, right?  

Throughout our dating I've been dropping blatant hints about how he should try his hand at tiramisu.  

It finally happened this week.

And it was glorious.  And really alcoholic.  I'll explain later . . .

Instead of a nice brandy, like the recipe called for, I suggested we use the Disarrono that we had in the cabinet.  It added the necessary sweetness, but also twice as much alcohol content.  A good and a bad thing. 

The evening already involved a few alcoholic drinks: Crown and Seven, Rum and Cider, Diet Dr. Rum, and beers, to name a few...

So we may of had a slight buzz by the time we tried the cake after an hour of rest in the fridge.  A 2 x 2 inch piece may have sent my faithful assistant, Morgan, and I to the ground.  (And thanks to her for taking some of these shots.)

Two days rest in the fridge helped some of the alcohol to burn off and settle into a beautifully layered dessert.  A few more days and it won't be the drunken cake anymore.

Tiramisu di Toscana:

3         egg yolks

3 tbsp  caster sugar
1 1/3c  Vinsanto or Marsalla or Brandy (Not Disarrono!)
1/4      cooled espresso
8 oz.    Marscapone cheese
1/4c     whipping cream (We doubled this and still didn't have a lot)
1         egg white
4 oz.   Savoiardi or Lady Fingers (We actually used pre-made cookie layer sheets that we found at a European mini-market.  They worked fabulously.)

Beat 3 egg yolks and sugar on top of a double boiler until they are an ivory color (this takes some time and patience).  Add 1/3 cup of liqueur to the zabaglione (what you just made) and whisk gently.  Remove once it has thickened and let cool.

Separately, stir the espresso into the marscapone.

Whip the whipping cream into heavy peaks.

Beat the egg white until it stiffens and peaks,

Fold the egg white into the zabaglione to make an airy texture.  Dip the ladyfingers into the remaining liqueur.  Some of the remaining coffee can be added to reduce the alcohol level.

Arrange lady fingers in the bottom of the dish.  Cover them with 1/2 the marscapone mixture, 1/2 the zabaglione, and 1/2 the cream.  Repeat the layers as needed.

Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

And eat responsibly!!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Have I ever shared with you...

My parent's second home, and a place where I spent a good portion of my childhood?

Of course, as a child, I did not appreciate being whisked away from all of my friends and away from society on weekends.  Away from cell phone signals.  No I did not appreciate it at all.  

Only now can I appreciate it.

In the small town of Ft. White, Florida, and even outside of those city limits, down winding dirt roads, and past several country neighbors, is the River House.  It's often called the Lake house by people who have not experienced it-- and even those who have.  But it's located on the Sante Fe River.  Ten minutes by boat from the mouth of the Ichetucknee River which flows into it.  The two conjoined rivers then flow into the Suwannee River, which then flows into the gulf.

The Sante Fe River is almost entirely spring fed, so the waters sparkle.  As a matter of fact, we have a spring right next door.  Beautifully chilly and sparkling waters bubble out of the earth.  We drink it on occasion.  How many people can say they have had water directly from the springs source?  Not bottled.  But cupped in their hands.

By boat we can access numerous springs along the river banks, and probably tons more that we don't even know exist.  With the water table so low, who knows where the next one will spring up next?

The river floor is widely varying.  It takes an experienced boat driver to navigate the river.  Rock, shoals, and channels occur throughout the river.  It is important to know where they are, lest one lose a prop.  The river floor is full or gashes where boaters have made this mistake.

One of my favorite parts of boat rides in watching the river bottom as we glide over it.  Many areas of the river it is possible to watch the fish, turtles, rocks, and snails fly past.  In others, it drops of to an unknown depth where you lose sight and wonder what actual resides down there.

The river is full of Native Florida wildlife.  So many people imagine dolphins and flamingos when they hear Florida wildlife.  But it's so much more.  This ecosystem is so underrated.  It's full of manatees, turtles, alligators, fish, crayfish, and a variety of birds and snakes.  Yes, even vultures.

The line markings on the trees indicate where the water level has been in the past.  And don't be fooled.  The water has been much higher than that.

The river is always changing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


For all the people with Holiday Blues, this should make you feel better!!

I give you.....

cute puppy!!!!!

She was present for Thanksgiving celebrations, the newest acquisition to my cousin's family.  She was shy but so playful.

Now for the opposite end of the spectrum.  This is Tinkerbell, the cat from hell, as John calls her.  She is John's sister's cat.  One massive cat.  But we bonded and she took a liking to me.

Goodbye Thanksgiving, Hello December!!

As I listen to my Christmas playlist, I cannot believe how fast the holidays are flying by.  I remember gearing up for Halloween, only to see it go by, quickly followed by Thanksgiving.  Why can't I enjoy the holidays?  Oh right, because I work all the damn time.  Well, at least, on that front, I've almost saved up enough to pay for a good portion of my school next semester.  Minimal loans for me!  Well, I say that now...

Anyway, I was able to sneak off for a few days down to Florida to see my family for Thanksgiving.  John and I split time between our families, two days with mine in Jax, a day and a half with his sister in Gainesville.  Hectic, lots of driving, but well worth it.

Thanksgiving morning presented us with a beautifully foggy morning.  As soon as I came downstairs in my pajamas and looked out the window I gasped and ran around trying to find my camera.  I threw on some shoes and a pullover and ran outside in my pajamas snapping pictures of my neighborhood.  I'm not sure how the neighbors felt about that.

My neighborhood is in a little nook where the Arlington River flows into the St. John's.  All of the houses around us are on the river.  The fog flows in from it, then the ancient oak trees trap it in.  It's a wonderful feeling.

Once the sun came out full force, it burned most of the fog off and presented a beautifully pleasant day.  That Florida sun.  I do appreciate being able to lay out on New Years Day...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

With colder weather comes my desire for comfort food.  And comfort food for me is soup and carbs,  Mmmmm, carbs..... 

For a few weeks now, I have been dropping heavy hints to a certain someone about a certain delicious bread he makes.  Well, actually, it didn't take much.  I just had to go buy more whole wheat flour and a few jalapeños.

Finding time to enjoy this bread has been the biggest issue.  I have been consistently putting in overtime hours at work, week after week.  Yay for holiday money! But nay for spending time with my man.  We joke about having parallel lives at this point.  Me off to work at 4:30 am to come home to him leaving for rehearsal.


Plus, the speedy loss of October made me remember that I'm going to start grad school in January.  OMG, so close.  I realized that I hadn't set up my email account, hadn't registered for classes, hadn't verified my citizenship, hadn't taken the music diagnostic test, hadn't gotten an ID card....

To be in school again.   .   . what will that be like after a year off?  I've been so slack on the singing lately.  I have so much work ahead of me, yet I'm so glad I took that time off.

What I will be working on full force when I get back to singing will definitely be my Dvorak song cycle.  So beautiful and so much potential.  (And so much Czech to study.)

Oh, and my allergies have screwed me!  Apparently I have a ragweed allergy.  Why do I never see it coming?!  And my new state is one of the top offenders.  Great.  Congestion headaches are running rampant. 

Well, back to the bread, it was delicious!  So moist and flavorful.  However, due the aforementioned points in my life, I didn't get to enjoy as much as I perhaps should have.  After several days, some mold spots appeared and I was informed to eat it or toss it.  The last pieces are in the freezer now. 

When I asked for the recipe to post here, I was denied.  In jest, but also in feigned offense.  

Maybe I can coax it out of him. 

In the meantime I'll be finding new ways to incorporate this bread into my meals.  I'll have to slice some and take it to work... at the bakery... where we bake and sell tons of bread.... oh boy.  I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eggs and Cream Cheese on English Muffins

Did I mention I like Breakfast?

because I do.

On days off, or days where I run the close shift, I lavish sleeping in and having the apartment to myself.  As a matter of fact, this shouldn't even be called breakfast, because I ate it during a clearly delineated lunch period.

And it was good.

Have I told you of my love for cream cheese?  I could really put it on anything.  I've been known to dip many things in it: cheez-its, animal crackers, black olives, any kind of chip, carrots, celery, apples, my own finger-- wait-- you weren't supposed to hear that part...

Anyway, this cream cheese is featured on top of a whole wheat English muffin and topped with lightly scrambled eggs.  Had I not been so lazy, I would have grated some sharp white cheddar on top.  Alas, it was my day off.  And then I would have had to wash the grater.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Granby Park and Fuzzy Friends

I've been meaning to post these for a while now...

These come from the weekend that my Parents and Nana came up to visit.
It had rained all day.  Towards late afternoon it cleared up enough for us to take a stroll in Granby Park along the Congaree River.

Everywhere we looked, we saw these fuzzy friends.  I must also say that I am mildly infatuated with caterpillars.  I used to "collect" them as a kid.  Then they would cocoon and emerge as beautiful moths and I would set them on a warm tree branch.  So wonderful.

I didn't touch these, don't worry.  They were a little too Maltese looking for my liking.

And also a picture of this animal: My Mother