For the first book in Ken Follett's Century trilogy I made the original WWI "doughboy" doughnuts. When it came time to pick a dish for the second book in the series - Winter of the World - I was a bit stumped. The novel picks up a few years after the first book left off and focuses on World War II. Kinda hard to pick an appropriate dish when the novel contains so much suffering told from the perspective of Russians, Germans, English and Americans fighting in the war or victimized by it. The only choice that seemed right to me was doughnuts in coffee - when the American, Woody Dewar, is set to storm Normandy the next day the only thing he can manage to eat is a doughnut and coffee. The only other food in the book that seemed somewhat appropriate were the dried figs that Lloyd Williams, a British intelligence officer, was able to eat as he helped people escape Nazi occupied Western Europe during the height of the war. So I combined the two and made fig speckled buttermilk donuts with coffee glaze. As for the book, it was an engaging follow up by Follett that would especially attract 20th century history buffs. It continues my trend of late to read really hefty books - it weighs in at over 900 pages.
Here is this year's cocktail in honor of St. Patrick's day. It is called the Irish Cure, and it is almost like an Irish version of Long Island Iced Tea because there it is a lot of booze in this drink (whiskey, rum and apple brandy)! The good news is that despite all the booze, the drink is very smooth and drinkable and definitely will cure whatever ails you! This is just what I need this St. Patrick's day weekend, which also happens to be my birthday weekend. I may be celebrating a bit of a milestone bday this year (yes, I am turning 30... I wish ; ) I am vacillating between having a bit of the birthday blues and feeling surprisingly OK/excited about it. This killer cocktail will help me get through it! Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy Birthday to Me!
For those of you unfamiliar with them, hamentashen are cookies that are made every year to celebrate the Jewish holiday Purim, which is next week. Purim is a holiday that usually falls in March and celebrates the Jews survival against a plot to destroy them in ancient Persia. What I have always loved about Purim is that the hero of the Purim story is Esther - a woman. The villain of the story is a man named Haman, who was an adviser to the king of Persia who planned to kill all the Jews is Persia (as described in the book of Esther in the Old Testament). As I remember the story, Haman wore a pointed hat and the triangle shaped cookie - hamentashen - was named after him. Purim is a fun holiday which is often celebrated by costume parties and pageants with the story of Esther. For many years now I have yearned for the hamentashen I ate as a kid - doughy with rich fillings of apricot, poppy seed and prune. I have not been able to find cookies like that anymore as the number of Jewish bakeries in Boston has dwindled to 1or 2. I never made them as a kid so the past few years I have been meaning to try, then March comes and goes and I don't get it. Finally this year I found the time. These are pretty easy cookies, and the ones I made were delicious, but did not quite replicate the ideal hamentashen of my youth (these are more shortbread consistency rather than doughy). Isn't that always the way, I will just have to try again next year!
For cocktail hour this week I had the choice to go with Mardi Gras theme or Oscars. Since I could not find passionate fruit syrup for hurricanes (I have already covered Sazeracs and Gin Fizz here...), the Oscars it was! You can call this some cute name - red carpet or something like that - for me it is just Spicy Pom Bourbon cocktail. It follows the trend from last week of spicy paired with fruity. But a new element is added - smokiness from bourbon. I love bourbon and know I should drink it neat, but it is a refreshing change to have it in a fruity drink, where tequila or rum would usually live. This is great for the Oscars (I am sorry for posting too late for you to make this for the show, unless you have jalapeno and pomegranate juice around?) but also great for just a regular night.
Every once in a while (and lately, more often) a book labelled for "young adults" breaks through to the "adult" reading world and becomes a must read. Perhaps this started with Harry Potter, continued with Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent. For the most part the YA books I always here about are series, are fantasy of some way. The Fault in Our Stars is a YA book that has broken through but is different - it is just one time thing, and rather than taking place is some futuristic world or have teenagers changing into werewolves, it is firmly grounded in reality - the sad reality of kids with cancer. While it may seem callous, if you haven't read the book, to make some sort of food associated with a book about kids with cancer, John Green treats the subject with the seriousness it deserves, but also with wit, whimsy, romance and humor. The book is a tearjerker, no doubt, but it is also an eye opener that shows tragedy is not one dimensional.