After the rather large gluttonous feast of yesterday, I have no business eating for a week!
So thank goodness, I have 3 ravenous boys (err, a man) to help polish off the leftovers. I'm like a vulture when it comes to leftovers - we're going to pick them bones clean down to the teeny tiniest morsel.
Fact remains that since Thanksgiving, I'm all turkey schmurkeyed out. I have probably eaten my weight in bird and am determined to stay away from turkey recipes for a while. But fact remains, I've still got the detritus of yesterday's meal to deal with.
But then providence has its own plans and send a dazzling smile my way - no I didn't win the lottery and you'd think among the gargantuan crisis of world hunger, poverty and global warming, the Big Guy may be a wee bit too busy to keep an eye on my refrigerator and pantry supplies, eh?
You get it don't ya - the whole connectivity bit? I mean come on people, who do I have to dig up from his subterranean resting place, Carl Jung?
Anyway, providence need say no more. I donned my flowery apron and off I went slightly adapting Chef Kraft's original recipe taking artistic liberties and all. The end result, I must confess is as dazzling as a smile from sky above.
No doubt you feel strongly about your Stollen so I do not claim that this is THE definative stollen recipe but I do vouch for the fact that it IS a dry fruit studded, mouth-wateringly delicious and incredible cake-like bread.
You will therefore forgive me if you like your stollen hard as Bratt Pitt's bottoms because mine is moist in it's texture. You will also find yourself disappointed if you like yours as a log because I have chosen to gowith the much more rustic, fold-over version.
Quite honestly, I wouldn't dream to claim that this version has the artistry of the 150 Official Dresden bakers, who make their famous Dresden stollen sold at the local Christmas market Striezelmarkt, distinguished by a special seal depicting King Augustus II the Strong but as Stollens go, it's a star and sure to be polished off, toasted for breakfast (or not!) and slathered with buttah (oh yes!).
"What's the point of living if you can't take a moment to smell the roses"?
So used to say the Nepali foreman on my job site in Singapore.
A lovely thought.
But right now, being at the helm of Holiday baking & kiddy concerts and class parties that seem to have taken over my existence, smelling the roses seems to be the farthest thing from my mind.
I am sure most of us women sometimes feel like the hamster on a ferris wheel where the endless rigors of the day take its toll. Days filled with picking up kids, dropping up kids, waiting during their activities, cooking, cleaning, shopping etc etc. Not to mention the demands of a full time job with equally demanding & relentless people. And that's not even during the holidays!
Yes smelling roses is a distant notion indeed.
On such days, I take solace in a quick and elegant dinner. Something that forces me to take a deep breath, reminds me of fresh baked bread, cobblestone streets, azure waters and a bright golden sun. And few places in the world inspire a cook like Italy. And so with a handful of 'Oh so Tuscan' ingredients, a glass of wine and 15 minutes to spare, a dinner worth mention is created.
So I guess one man's roses, is another woman's soup.
Banoffee pie which as the name suggests is essentially a shortcrust pastry topped with homemade toffee filling i.e. dulce de leche, bananas and whipped cream is an English classic.
It is also a recipe that shouldn't be made by goofballs!
By that I mean, people who cannot, will not or simply don't believe in following directions to save their lives, people who leave stuff on the stove and fall asleep or worse walk out the door for a shopping spree.
What's really getting my knickers in a twist is this bit - the homemade toffee, dulce de leche which is essential as the filling.
How to make home made dulce de leche a.k.a toffee filling?
It involves these steps to be followed meticulously - The evening before fixing the pie, roughly 3 hours before going to bed:
1) Use 2 unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk
2) Use a large stock pot and immerse the 2 unopened cans of condensed milk in water. Make sure there is 9 inches of water above the surface of the cans. Cover the stockpot with a tight fitting lid.
3) On medium high heat, simmer the cans for 3 hours. Use a timer to keep track.
4) On the hour, every hour, keep checking to ensure there is at least 6 inches of water above the top of the cans. Replace with hot water as needed.
Goofball alert!* It is absolutely vital to top up the pot of boiling water as needed during the cooking process. 3 hours is a long time and if allowed to boil dry, the cans will explode guaranteeing a trip to E.R. with risk to life, limbs and kitchen ceilings!
5) After 3 hours, turn the stove off, leave well alone and go to bed.
6) Remove the cans from the water the next morning, open and what you will end up with is this -
......absolutely perfect, delicious, creamy soft toffee, dulce de leche filling
And this dearies is step uno to this ~
Absolutely decadent & Utterly Delicious Banoffee Pie
Invented in East Sussex, England at the Hungry Monk in 1972, Banoffee Pie is even rumored to be Margaret Thatcher’s favourite pudding. The recipe followed in this post is based on the original recipe from the publication ‘The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk’ in 1974.
There are cooks who advocate cooking the condensed milk in a pyrex dish for hours in the oven but in my experience it results in a tough and hard toffee filling that is impossible to cut through once the pie is chilled and at the risk of your teeth falling out of your head.
The 'cooked can' method used here to make the toffee is widely used all over the U.K and is original to the 'Hungry Monk' recipe.
Cook's Note - The toffee, dulce de leche can be made a week in advance and stored in a airtight plastic container in the refrigerator till ready to use. Unopened cans of toffee (the cooked cans) can be stored in the pantry cabinet for upto 3 months and is a great way to always have the fixings of Banoffee pie at hand for that last minute craving or unannounced company.
The fact that I am fixing Palak Pakoras must mean one and only one thing ~ it's raining cats and dogs & pails!
In fact it gets much much worse. Tonight's forecast reads verbatum from the National Weather Service is as follows....
.........WINTRY MIX OF RAIN AND SLEET CHANGING OVER TO SNOW.
* ACCUMULATIONS... 2 TO 5 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET.
So you see, pakoras it is! Pakoras and rain (or sleet) go together like Jack and Jill, cucumber and dill, Lewis and Clarke....you get the drift.
Growing up in India, I urge you to find me one family that didn't wake up on a cold rainy morning to the words "Pakora aur chai ho jaaye"which loosely translates into " Pakoras and tea it is!". Call it cultural, I call it utterly delicious.
What's not to love of besan, a chickpea batter flavored with whole spices like coriander and carom seeds, red chillies and turmeric into which is nestled fresh spinach leaves, fresh ginger and onions, globs of which are dropped into hot oil just so they rise to the surface all light and airy?
Now imagine eating these hot off the stove with piping hot chai ~ see what I mean? Some traditions are just meant to be.
So why not I give you one of mine and you give me one of yours?
As people we have always been told that fear is at the root of all evil and this is almost always true. However, I confess that fear is at the heart of this recipe. You see I am what you call a 'strudel wimp'.
I don't mean strudel made out of pre-packaged pastry bits found in the freezer section of ones supermarket. I refer to the traditional method. If you've been reading this blog long enough you know by now that for most part I am a stickler for the authentic especially when it comes to traditional recipes that have been part of a culture for hundreds of years.
So I refer to the traditional method of 18th century strudel making that entails stretching the dough to the size of ones dining table and then folding over and over, repeating the process countless number of times. First of all, Lord knows how many laws of physics the dough is breaking to achieve this - not to mention the thought of my 5 year old grubby fingers poking and prodding the dough joined only by our Golden retriever and his propensity to stick his tongue at anything and everything remotely akin to food.
Needless to say - I am ways away from making traditional strudel at home. Having said that I love German cakes - especially the ones that have all those wonderful fresh fruits and dry fruits soaked in booze. Traditionally, Gugelhupf is a dry- fruit filled yeast cake which is then folded over into a log and baked. It's part cake and part bread and delicious.
So I decided to combine my yearning for apple strudel (the filling at least) and Gugelhupf making some major changes which makes life a whole lot easier -
1) instead of dealing with the rolling etc, I simply use the dough as dumplings which is easy peesy.
2) Serving this with an apple cream sauce takes from delish to decadent. Yumm....
In fact so easy is this to fix, not to mention delicious that it's a piece of cake...err...bread!