Thursday, 22 December 2011

Buon Natale di Roma!

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Ciao, tutti!  I'm on a much-needed vacation in Rome right now, but I couldn't neglect the blog during the bakingest season of the year, so I'm leaving you with this recipe for fabulously easy, majorly impressive homemade biscotti.

I made these guys for a dinner party back in early November (more on that to come, as it was my first time doing a full-on dinner for a vegetarian-inclusive crowd), and everyone was so surprised to hear that I'd baked them from scratch.  I just brushed off the oohs and aahs with a shrug: no biggie.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Can't Afford Ornaments? Make Your Own!

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The bf and I bought our first grownup-sized (6' +) Christmas tree this year, and after we hauled it home (well, he did) and set it up, I looked up at the giant beauty and realized something: we didn't have any ornaments, and we were far too poor to buy enough of them for a tree this size.  We were going to have to do a homemade Christmas tree, and all we could do was pray it didn't come out too wonky.

Okay, okay, technically we could have found a way (probably through IKEA or Poundland) to afford a whole, big-ass tree full of ornaments.  But I'm not sure how much longer we'll be here in London – not more than another year for me, and hopefully not more than 2 for the bf – so it doesn't make sense to acquire even more stuff than we already have, and anyway, making things is fun!  So I hopped on the internet to find a recipe for a baked good that wouldn't spend a lifetime on my already-ample hips: salt dough ornaments.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Finally, a Cure for American Fall Nostalgia!

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Back when I first moved to London, one of the things I missed most about the states was hot apple cider.  The fall snap in the air that first year hit my nostalgia buttons hard, and I found myself aching to crunch through an autumn wonderland, breath clouding, hands wrapped around a hot cup of steaming apple cider.  But alas, I was disappointed again and again – even Starbucks didn't have it, and there was nothing resembling cider (to mull myself) in the shops.  The closest thing I found was something called mulled apple cider at Covent Garden, but one sip of the revolting alcoholic brew dashed my hopes against the cobblestones and shattered them into a million shards of sad.

All that fall and winter I had to content myself with coffee, which, luckily, is one of my favorite things.  But it still didn't hit the spot.  I guzzled the real stuff on brief and wonderful trips home, and resigned myself to a life without sweet, cinnamony comfort.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Pretty Little Snack: Dairy-Free Blueberry Corn Muffins

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I made these little beauties for a group of friends who came over the evening after I got back to London from Thanksgiving – in other words, I made these muffins, and the other snacks I'd promised (thank god for truffle salt and hardboiled eggs) in a haze of jetlag and exhaustion after a full day of work. 

I wasn't expecting much from them; I threw the ingredients together based loosely on a basic muffin recipe and the random ingredients we had in our cupboard, and I was more than a little worried that they'd turn out strange.  But lo and behold, they came out looking fabulous (if I do say so meself)!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The 'Other' Thanksgiving Dessert: Apple Crisp

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You guys already know I'm obsessed with pumpkin, and especially with my family's pumpkin pie.  So of course when I was home in San Francisco for Thanksgiving I ate a ton of the stuff.  But what you don't know is that there's another dessert my family serves every year, and it's not pecan pie (we do serve that sometimes, in which case it's a third option) – it simply has to be something fruity.

'scuse the iphone pics – didn't bring the big camera home.*

My mom and her sisters, the current matriarchs of our big, female-dominated clan, aren't super big on sweets.  They're salt folk, and they often skip dessert altogether on Thanksgiving, preferring to eat a slice of pumpkin pie at 6am the next day, for 'breakfast' (my mom never eats breakfast, besides these rare morning-after occurrences).  So if there's going to be another dessert on their table, they require it to be something a bit less sweet, less rich, more fruit-based, and that usually means an apple crisp.