Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Converting the Skeptics: Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

I made sticky toffee pudding for the first time back in November – I'd been invited to a British-themed dinner party and I had no idea what to bring for dessert (having of course claimed that course before my phone had even registered the invitation email).  Normally I count on my large roster of American sweets to wow the Brits among me with little effort, but I didn't think it would be fair to break from the theme just because it was outside my comfort zone.  Still, what exactly constituted a British dessert (or, as the Brits say, 'pudding' – actual pudding is 'angel delight'...don't ask me why)?  Most of the really successful dishes have American and European counterparts: lemon drizzle cake, shortbread cookies, fruit crisps...  I didn't want to make super-classic Eton mess or a Bakewell tart (I actually hadn't thought of that one, but it would have been too much effort for the day anyway), so I was at a loss.  Until I remembered that old pub classic, and one particular skeptic to whom I still have something to prove.

I have a personal bone to pick about sticky toffee pudding: I need to prove to my older brother that a dessert made mostly of dates can be indulgent and delicious and completely unfruity.  I tried to explain sticky toffee pudding to him last summer and he wouldn't listen to my description of the dish itself, just kept making that irritating 'blegh' face that only brothers can keep mastering to such an infuriating degree well into seeming adulthood.  I swore up and down that I would make it for him someday and he would eat his words (and facial expression), along with half the pan.  So when I was trying to think of a British dessert to bring to girls' night I decided this was a good opportunity to practice, ensuring that when I do eventually make sticky toffee pudding for my family in SF, their socks will be duly knocked off.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

How to Tart up a Dinner Party: Easy Apple Tart

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I have a fantastic friend here in London who used to be my tutor and is now the source of most of my shocked belly laughs – he's crude and shameless and hilarious and I love being around him.  So when he invited the BF and me to dinner at his house, of course we rearranged our schedules to make it work.  I offered to make dessert, and my request for preferences was met with the line 'A tart sounds appropriate.'

Well, what could that be besides a challenge?  (Okay, yes, it could be an insult, but it was written in a cheeky tone, not a mean one.)  I immediately started going through my recipe bookmarks in search of the perfect tart – I wanted to make this super-easy showstopper, but of course we couldn't find raspberries anywhere in London in the dead of winter, so it had to be apple or pear.  The tricky bit: as I had plans that day to go to the Taste of Christmas event, it had to be something I could make either very quickly or in advance.  As it turned out, the recipe I used was a little bit of both.

Easy apple tart