Friday, January 27, 2006


On Sunday Dieter made a yeast rise coffee cake that was nothing like I have ever seen or tasted before. This recipe came from the "Bread Bible" by Beth Hensperger. The recipe originated in Poland. For this recipe Dieter used "Saf Gold instant yeast" from the Bakers Catalogue, a type of yeast specifically designed for sweet breads.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Food Erotica: It is Unavoidable

they really can't be seious... can they?

The image above comes from a book titled “Good Housekeeping Ten P.M. Cook Book: Refreshments Designed with Guests in mind.” The spread depicted here gives the host or hostess ideas about what to serve for a “Stag Party”. A party just for men, with overtones of misbehavior, according to Dieter. If you look closely you will see an arrangement of wieners thrusting upwards from a bath of baked beans. Other references to the thrusting wiener appear throughout the table landscape. Can you locate them? make sure to double click on the image to see it a little larger, you won't want to miss any details.

The can of “Parky” or Czech sausage was something we found in a remote village grocery store while visiting the Czech Republic. The softporn Rudolph Valentino meets a sausage was something I could not leave behind, so we carried a can of parky home for our food label collection. After two years it remains unopened. I think we are afraid of what's inside.

The food erotica we find to be the most amusing is that which is accidental. Like the "buckeyes" Dieter made for Christmas. We discussed the candies various anatomical associations and chuckled about it before taking them to a party. There, everyone who picked one up made the same comment before popping one in their mouth “they look well...a bit phalic.”

The funny ceral box link was sent to me by my friend Miranda. To see their whole line of wacky boxes visit “Main Street Sonoma”. Wouldn't it be alot more fun to go grocery shopping if you could put a box of “Cheery Ho's” or "Great Nuts" in your grocery cart? The usual voyeristic routine of looking to see what the person in front of you is putting on the conveyer belt could be much more revealing if you spied a box of “Fruity Loops” or “Kinx”.

Pane alla Cioccolata

Sunday is traditionally bread baking day at our house. Dieter spends his day in the kitchen doting over his doughs with love and the house fills with the warm aroma of freshly baked bread. This Sunday's bread was particularly surprising a "Pane alla Cioccolata" (Chocolate Bread) from the book "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field. The recipe is on page 212 in the "Lightly Sweetened Breads" section. When I tasted the slightly warm bread with softened chocolate chunks, I was subtly reminded of eating a chocolate croissant, but the bread was not nearly as sweet. Carol Field says to eat the bread with Masacarpone cheese, a glass of red wine, or a cup of coffee. This bread really gets your oohhs and ahhs going.

Pane alla Cioccolata
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1pkg) active dry yeast
    or 1 small cake (18 grams) fresh yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 4 1/2 cups (600) grams unleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    makes 2 round or oval loaves

    These are the directions for making this bread by hand, for directions on making the dough by mixer and by food processor consult "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field.

    Stir the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into 1/3 cup plus 1 table spon water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the cocoa, and salt. Stir 11/4 cups water, the egg yolk, and butter into the dissolved yeast; then stir in the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips last. Knead on a lightly floured surface until velvety, elastic, and moist, 8 to 10 minutes.

    first rise: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

    shaping and second rise: Punch the dough down and cut in half on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a round loaf and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

    baking: Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and b bake 30 minutes longer. Cool completely on a rack.

    Because the bread is dark and contains sugar, it is difficult to tell if it is burning. My suggestion is to retrieve the loaf at 20 minutes and thump the bottom. It it sounds hollow the bread is done. If not, put the loaf back in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes. Watch over this bread like a mother hen. And of course if you have a convection oven, the time would be reduced greatly.

    Regarding the chocolate, use your favorite dark chocolate and break it up in the food processor or by some other means to get a variety of chunk sizes. This bread is best eaten within three days, after that it dries out quickly. Freeze the other loaf or treat your friends. If it dries a bit just put a slice in the microwave for about 9 seconds or just until the chocolate softens and slather with butter.

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  • Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Masala Chai

    My first cup of chai was made by a friend from India where the word chai is a generic name for tea. I missed how he prepared it and when he moved away, I was left on my own to search for a real masala chai. First I went to my local Indian grocery and found a tea called "Fantasy" which was a flavored loose black tea claiming to be masala chai (spiced Indian tea). It smelled and tasted like a potpourri. I then ordered some chai from The Republic of Tea. Here I found a "Republic Red Chai" which is caffeine free and made with herbs and spices. This was not even close to what I remembered of the real masala chai. I also ordered a green tea chai from the Republic of Tea that is really tasty, but not what I was looking for. My mom gave me an instant chai variety pack including "elephant vanilla" and "chocolate chimp" flavors for Christmas, just add water or milk. When Mr. Dieter tasted it he said "it's just like a christmas spice cookie". Then I read the ingredients to him: cane sugar, non-dairy creamer (partly hydrogenated coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate ... ) he exclaimed" I'm surprised you would even drink that, why would you feed me such poison?" To my delight in the Saveur Magazine: Issue number 56 from 2002, I found a recipe claiming to be masala chai. In this recipe you grind the spices in a mortar and pestle then steep them with a black tea. I use the "Taj Mahal" brand loose tea that comes from my local Indian Grocery. After making my own fresh chai, I have no desire nor do I understand why others would consider the cheap artifical taste of anything but the real thing. Here is the recipe for masala chai as written in the Saveur magazine. This is a comfort drink if there ever was one.

    Masala Chai
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamon pods
    crush with a mortar and pestle, then transfer to a medium saucepan.
  • add 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/4" thick slices of fresh ginger root
    bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and set aside to steep for 5 minutes.
  • Add 5 tbsp loose Darjeeling tea and 4-5 tbsp. sugar, cover, and let steep for 3 minutes more.
    Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into 4 heatproof glasses or teacups. Discard solids. Serves 4

    I use "Silk" brand soymilk in place of regular milk and I use brown sugar in place of refined sugar. For the tea I use "Taj Mahal" brand.

    My friend Miranda recommended I try this brand of chai. I did and I like it. Not as good as grinding your own spices, but sometimes you just don't have the time. The photo on the back of the box depicting a delicate hand dipping a teabag gives me the feeling of being elegant while drinking this tea. Maybe I'll bring out the white gloves for my next cup.
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  • Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Pie of the Month Club

    We just became members of the "Pie of the Month Club". For twenty five dollars you receive a "Pie of the Month" postcard (above see the beet pie and funeral pie postcards). Her passion for pie is evident on the website where you find useful information to any person who likes a good pie, and who doesn't? It includes an archive of unique postcards, each with a recipe on the back, an ask the expert about pie problems page, a map of the U.S. with good pie locations, and more.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Do you, or do you not Garnish?

    If you send us your address, we will mail you the postcard "To Garnish or Not to Garnish". Complements of "The Second Helping House" designed by Polly Johnson.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    The Fresh Lobster

    To get a glimpse of what will probably happen if you eat lobster before going to bed check out "The Fresh Lobster" at". Here you can watch (for free) a great short film showing you what really happens in your stomach when the lobster meets the hot dog. "The Fresh Lobster" is a campy combination of live action and animation starring Billie Bletcher as a man who is haunted by a very large lobster with attitude.

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Libation Information

    We listened to Ian Lender talk about his new book
  • "Alcoholica Esoterica"on the NPR website this morning. Find out everything from the "Grand Horizontals" to fried canaries. It will put meaning to your next hangover and we love the cover design.