Monthly Archives: December 2014
Post by Alison Hein.
Remember those Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I was talking about recently? A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island, and I used that info as inspiration to make Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups . This past week, I decided to give the pancakes a shot. At issue? I hadn’t exactly seen or tasted these illustrious flapjacks. No matter. I just made something up. 🙂
There is something about the combination of tart and tangy citrus with fresh, creamy ricotta that is almost impossible to get wrong (that was my hope at any rate). I decided to make my batter a little sweeter than usual, to offset the sharp lemon flavor. And, because the ricotta tends to make the batter a little thinner than regular pancakes, so that it spreads, crêpe-like, in the pan, I cooked them a bit longer at a slightly lower flame height. Since these were special hotcakes, I made a simple syrup, substituting lemon juice for water. Just a touch goes a long way due to the intense, concentrated citrus flavor of the syrup. (Use any extra to sweeten and lemonize hot or iced tea in one fell swoop!)
The result? Aerated, fluffy hotcakes infused with a little zing for a zesty breakfast in bed. Someday I’ll have to go to Stoneacre Pantry for a tasting and to see if I’ve come anywhere close to the original. 😉
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons (one half stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus additional for cooking
Zest and juice the lemon. Set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in milk, then the eggs one at a time, then the lemon juice and zest, mixing well after each addition. Gently stir in ricotta cheese. Slowly add melted butter to batter. The batter should be thick, smooth and creamy.
Place a pan or griddle on the stove over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake and reduce heat to medium low. Ladle batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancake, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until golden brown, another minute or two. Adjust heat and add butter as needed while cooking. Serve hot with lemon syrup.
Makes 8 to 10 4-inch pancakes.
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
Pour sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Add lemon juice and mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until syrup is thickened. Set aside to cool.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Snarked! Volume One: Forks and Hope by Roger Langridge.
This week I am delving into the world of graphic novels. Or maybe it’s a comic book. Honestly, it’s difficult to tell the difference. Either way, graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant readers into reading. My kid has been one of those. Those pages of text, only occasionally rewarded with a black-and-white drawing, can be intimidating, especially after years of big colorful pages with words at the bottom. We picked up “Snarked!” at the used book store for a quarter. It was a quarter well-spent! Set in a world that is firmly set around the imagination of Lewis Carroll, it features characters from Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and “The Hunting of the Snark”. In the story, a young headstrong princess named Scarlett is trying to find her missing father, the Red King. Assisted by the unlikely helpers, the Walrus and the Carpenter, she is pretty sure he has been dumped on Snark Island so that a puppet government can be installed.
Although the Walrus talks in an excessively florid prose that may be confusing to younger kids, the story is otherwise totally approachable for kids. It’s exciting without being scary or violent. There are several volumes available, so I look forward to reading the rest of the series with my son.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Grasscloth is unlike any other wall covering. With its unique texture and array of colors and patterns, this natural paper can transform any space, including a bedroom. The look of grasscloth is classic, timeless, and elegant.
Most often made from hemp, jute, reed, or arrowroot and adhered to backing, you’ll find that most have a horizontal linear pattern, while others go in both directions. Seams are common and nearly impossible to disguise, so they usually become an important element in the design.
Used in modern spaces and traditional homes, grasscloth happens to be lovely in a bedroom, and can add texture and interest to an otherwise lifeless room. Here are four bedrooms I love with grasscloth.
I adore the mix of muted blues and bright accents in this room. Grasscloth creates a wonderful background for the custom tufted bed and scalloped shams.
Gray looks sophisticated on the walls of this Chelsea bedroom designed by New York’s Drew McGukin. Powder blue on the bed marries nicely while the black and white photographs keep the room feeling restful. This grasscloth is from Phillip Jeffries.
What an interesting texture combination with grasscloth on the walls and velvet on the headboard. This room feels luxurious. The dotted pillows add a touch of whimsy, and the neutrals introduce calmness into the space.
The low platform bed, botanical print, gold accents and wall covering create an Asian-inspired theme in this bachelor bedroom. Although I’m not usually fond of dark wall colors in a sleep space, the light/dark texture works and contrasts with the creamy yellow curtains and light flooring in this San Francisco home.
Post by Alison Hein.
My sweet little German cousin Nina recently visited us with her charming boyfriend, Michael. Two weeks after their departure, I received a large, intriguing envelope postmarked Munich. Inside I found Grandma’s German Cookbook by Birgit Hamm and Linn Schmidt, which contains an extensive and authentic array of traditional recipes. Nina and Michael had also annotated, peppering the pages with bits of information, advice, and favorites. Smack in the center of the book was Kaiserschmarrn – a much beloved Austrian and Bavarian indulgence, and one which I had not considered in quite some time.
Etymology for this butter-crisped, shredded pancake is interesting. Kaiser for emperor, and schmarrn for a word which means mishmash, or mess. Stories abound regarding how this dish came into being, but I prefer to think of it as a happy accident – a crêpe gone awry, miraculously rescued by an innovative (or desperate!) chef and transformed into a delicacy fit for a king.
Crisp, beaten egg whites aerate the batter and keep the Kaiserschmarrn light. Use a gentle hand folding them into the somewhat thick batter to retain the airiness. There are many variations to this delectable recipe – replace cream with milk for a thinner result, or add extra sugar to the batter for a cake-like feel. Serve with fruit, or sweet sauce; soak the raisins in apple juice instead of rum; or dust the Kaiserschmarrn with sugar and caramelize it under the broiler. Or, perhaps best of all, dress your crispy Kaiserschmarrn with powdered sugar and eat it straight from the pan for a breakfast in bed that’s fit for a king.
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon rum
3 eggs, separated
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Place golden raisins into a small bowl. Cover with rum and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
In large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, heavy cream, flour, sugar and salt until thick and smooth. Fold beaten egg whites gently into batter.
Place a 12–inch diameter heavy frying pan on stove over medium heat. Add butter to pan. When melted, pour in batter to cover. Sprinkle rum-soaked raisins on top. Continue to cook over medium heat. When batter begins to set, gently tear and push apart the dough (using a wooden spatula) into bite-sized pieces. Flip pieces to cook other side. Cook until lightly browned and crisped. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Makes 1 Kaiserschmarrn; or 2 servings.
Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
If you are a fan of the Old Kingdom Trilogy, you have probably been awaiting this novel with much anticipation and maybe a little bit of fear. After all, new additions to much-loved and long-completed series often promise much and deliver little. If you don’t know what the Old Kingdom it, now is a great time to find out. The original series, written by Australian fantasy/sci-fi author Garth Nix, was started in 1995 with the novel Sabriel. In this novel, and its subsequent two follow-ups, we are introduced to the world of the Old Kingdom, an ancient land of magic, necromancy, and a world still in a semi-Medieval feudal system. Across the Wall to the South, there are cars, phones, conventional weapons. Magic is mostly unheard of. None of this works beyond the Wall, which is why horseback, sword and arrow are still the norm. The kingdom is ordered around the Charter, which is a magical system which keeps order and structure. Think of it like the light side of the Force. There is also a dark side, the Free Magic used by rogue magicians and necromancers. The Abhorsen is the Charter’s answer to Free Magic. Like royalty, it is passed on in the bloodline. When an Abhorsen comes of age, he or she will wear the spelled bells and keep the dead from rising again. Creepy stuff, but important.
Clariel is set several hundred years before Sabriel. She is a fierce and fiercely independent young heir to both the Abhorsen and the royal bloodlines who wants nothing more than to live in the woods, protecting the woods and the wilderness. She is the very definition of a reluctant hero, as she and her family move to the capitol city of Belisaire in order to further her mother’s career. This book does not fail to deliver. It never tries to ride on the coattails of the previous books to carry itself and works as the first book in the series, or as a prequel to read after. Great fantasy for adults or middle-school aged kids and up.