Thursday, December 13, 2012

What did we eat this week? It's been cold, seasonably cold, so the wood is stacked and ready to go in the stove, and the oven has been doing its thing. Although I didn't make the gingerbread house below (it was from my son's preschool class--each kid got their own house to decorate!), I did suddenly decide to make fruitcake after decanting some boozy cherries. Usually I forget about my fruit in booze, sitting and steeping in the basement, which is just fine for the booze, but the fruit suffers. After about two or three months, the fruit will go from boozy delight to shriveled and desiccated, depending on the fruit. I caught these cherries in time, and once the brandy was free --gorgeously red and full of cherry and almond flavors--I pitted the soaked cherries and thought: fruitcake. I also used some local, and home-dried apricots and prunes. At the moment the cake is being basted with cherry pit liqueur. I can't wait 'til Christmas!

Home dried prunes. 
I used the first recipe I saw, this Free Range Fruitcake from Alton Brown. Yeah, yeah, I know Food Network whatever, but it was a very honest and easy recipe. Speaking of bashing things, people are over their weirdness about fruitcake, right? Because fruitcake is really very special. Especially with brandy soaked cherries. And all local fruit. If I don't say so myself. But it's still special even if it's not all local fruit, for goodness sakes! Make some fruitcake! I liked using a round spring form pan for mine, instead of a loaf. Someone made a suggestion that I eat it for breakfast with mascarpone on it. That sounded like a good idea to me.
The fruitcake.

The other night we had braised short ribs followed by apple pie for desert. The short ribs were gifted to me from a friend--do my people know me or what? Grass-fed local beef, big huge blocks of meaty short ribs. My quandary: no red wine in the house (gasp!), which if you do a search on short ribs you will see that few recipes don't ask for at least a bit of red wine. The two just go together. No worries though, I'm not big on requirements. The ribs came together nicely with red wine vinegar and red wine syrup--two homemade things in my pantry. I also added tomato paste and very reduced pork stock, both of which were frozen in cubes, handy in the freezer. The ribs cooked, after browning in cast iron over a flame, in a slow cooker for about six hours on high. They were perfect when I came home, and we had them on mashed potatoes. (It looks like I'm not the only one with these kinds of ideas: Michael's beef stew sounds perfect, though I think I'd really like to make his rouladen recipe.)

Apple pie with leaf lard crust.
We had this apple pie for dessert, and it was made with leaf lard using this recipe. I have decided that the best leaf lard pie has four ounces of leaf lard in it. Any more, as in this case there were equal parts butter and lard, the finished product in my case was crumby, fell apart easily, much like a soft shortbread. Still we ate it all up!

Bananas with chopped cashew-date-cocoa truffles.
Yes, lots of baking this week. This is the beginnings of the banana bread recipe from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. It's an incredible recipe, especially if you happen to have four very ripe bananas hanging around. You can see the recipe here (pretty much exact same ingredients). I chose to put mine in a cake tin (and nested it in another cake tin, as Laurel suggests to keep it from burning at the edges). I also added chopped up cashew-date-cocoa truffles instead of nuts. This took it to a really stellar level, I might add. Plus a thick layer of crunchy sugar on top, that I'm pretty sure took this quite away from the healthy bread that Laurel intended. But I'm okay with that.

Laurel's Bread Book Banana Bread


  1. do you cook on a wood fired stove? in that case i just want to sit inyour kitchen and read a book and inhale the aroma.
    as goes fruitcake: funny how you beat me so often to the punch. not that this blogging is competitive, i'm simply amused at the synchronistic occurrences. the fruit has been in the "rum topf" since late august. mother took pride in using as little as possible dough to hold things together. the cake (this is germany, no way of growing figs or oranges, not even plums)
    largely existed of gooey apricots, dried apples, figs, cherries, raisins and various nuts and the various candied fruit, angelica, citron etc. preserved in high octane rum, or vodka. virtually nothing else, even the dough was happily "spiced" .
    so, now that you have inspired me again, i guess i'll have to do the work.
    i'll publish my result, may be, if it turns out like memory insists.
    thank you, it is nice to know that you read my stuff.

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