I love scones! After I finished The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters, a spooky post-war British "great house" novel, it seemed inevitable that tea and scones were in order. The Little Stranger tells the story of the Ayres, an aristocratic British family that have fallen on hard times and their family doctor, Dr. Faraday. The real star of the novel is their home, "Hundreds Hall" a once great house now shabbily falling apart and seemingly haunted by some malevolent spirit. The characters in this book drank a lot of tea. Tea seemed to be a cure all for all the creepy goings on at Hundreds. So I settled on old fashioned currant scones, with an earl grey tea infusion. As you will see below, I made a big error in my tea infusing (good tip - don't heat buttermilk, it separates!) but I was able to recover the scones and they were delicious. Along with it I made a quick strawberry jam from Ina Garten. This is not the canning kind of jam but one that will last in the fridge only a couple of weeks.
Swedish author Steig Larsson's so called Millennium trilogy has become a phenomenon of the publishing world, much like Dan Brown’s books or Harry Potter. The three books, first published in Sweden (in Swedish) were major best sellers in Europe before being translated into English and becoming hits in the U.S. Part of the hype surrounding the books is caused by the fact that the author, Larsson, a Swedish journalist, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 50, before the books were released in the United States. But the books are also deserving of the hype because they are dramatically plotted, tightly wound thrillers – the type of book you don’t want to put down. I found this to be the case with the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, in particular. While reading the book I actually looked forward to going to the dentist and being kept waiting for 20 minutes or so before my appointment (which is the typical waiting period my dentist puts me through) so I get in some more reading time! I have read the first two books in the series, the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, is being released this week, and according to Michiko Kakitani of the New York Times, it is even better than the first two. As for what recipe to make, it was tough to come up with something, because (1) the books are pretty twisted and dark and do not make you think of food and (2) the characters, especially the heroine, Lisbeth Salander, seem to subsist on lots of coffee and lots of fast food In particular, there was a lot of mention in the second book of something called "Billy's Pan Pizza", which I discovered via google is a popular frozen pizza in Sweden. So I decided to combine the pizza idea with something Swedish, and settled on gravlax, a cured salmon kind of like smoked salmon, but less smokey. The gravlax was super easy as was the pizza dough, enjoy.
This week we have our first foray into both "chick lit" and nonfiction in the form of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by GuiliaMelucci. This book is in a format I really like - a dating memoir with recipes. Another great book in this genre is Amanda Hesser's Cooking For Mr. Latte. I chose to do a post on Melucci's book because her stories and recipes are less perfect, more messy, which I identify with both in my cooking life and my real life... Enjoy
Lark and Termite is a poignant and somewhat strange novel about an unconventional family in West Virginia. The title characters of the book – Lark and Termite, are siblings. Lark is nine years older than her brother Termite, who is both mentally and physically disabled. Lark is Termite’s devoted caretaker. Neither Lark nor Termite know their actual birthdays, so every few months, Lark bakes her brother a birthday cake. The cake she describes in the novel is a cake she dies the three layers blue, pink and yellow. In addition, she flavors the blue layer with some anise and the pink layer with almond. The piece de la resistance is the fluffy white “divinity” frosting. I thought recreating the cake made sense for this entry. The flavor combinations were surprisingly delicious. This is a perfect spring birthday cake, and you can play with the colors and flavors endlessly. For the recipe and more on the book