11 June 2012

Sophie Dahl - Girl Crush - and her bread pudding

I need to blog, so I'm blogging about bread pudding.

Bread pudding is a very ugly thing. Even the name, before I ever tasted the dish, sounded ugly and unappetizing to me as a child. Bread? Pudding? Being offered bread pudding was not unlike the first time I was ever offered an ice cream sandwich, which I turned it down in absolute four-year-old disgust. An ice cream sandwich? Get real mom. I do not want Meadow Gold French Vanilla smashed between two Wonder Bread slices, thanks. (My mom didn't actually buy Wonder Bread - the horror - but you get the idea.) But as I meekly nibbled at the ice cream sandwich, my taste buds were converted and dessert discrimination came to an end. Don't judge desserts by their name, folks. Take for instance, the rhubarb buckle that's on my roster of things to bake. What the heck are they doing naming desserts after belts? Are they trying to keep it all to themselves? What's the deal here exactly in the dessert-naming department? But as a proper adult, it is my duty, nay, privilege, to indiscriminately sample all desserts, regardless of the thoughtlessness of their little dessert-y names.

And so on to bread pudding. Find your stalest bread. One should always have a loaf of stale bread on hand for things such as bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs; among other such delicious things. You should have fancy bread, namely panettone, but my luck in finding said fancy loaves is slim. A good sweet-crumbed bread will suffice. Roughly cube your bread and layer in a pretty baking pan. I used my vintage Le Creuset pan that I scored at a flea market for $15, but we aren't all so lucky, so make do as you will. Pour on top a custard of cream, eggs, milk, and vanilla. And other things, I think, but I'm not looking at the recipe. Bake for a long time. You should probably have a nice snack, like hard-boiled eggs and radishes dipped in butter, for waiting. Serve the bread pudding warm with tea.

Pannetone bread-and-butter pudding
From Sophie Dahl's Very Fond of Food

2 1/2 cups/600 ml half-and-half
1 3/4 cups-450 ml milk (I always use whole milk)
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean (or about 1 T. good quality vanilla extract)
1/2 cup/150 g superfine sugar
1 medium-sized panettone (or other sweet-crumbed bread)
Butter, for spreading
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted the nutmeg for cinnamon, as nutmeg feels a little too Christmas-y for a summer bread pudding)
1/4 cup/150 g brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C

Whisk together the half-and-half, milk, and eggs. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the egg and cream mixture. Add the superfine sugar and whisk some more.

Slice the panettone into thick slices and butter each slice. Arrange the buttered panettone slices into an ovenproof dish. Scatter with the apple and sprinkle with the nutmeg (or cinnamon). Pour over the custard and make sure the panettone is evenly soaked. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (I swear, 30 minutes feels so much longer when you're hungry) or until golden and crispy. Serve hot. (With tea!)

03 May 2012

Vanderbilt Gates & Conservatory Garden via 105th

    It is never a bad thing to get lost in New York, because you stumble upon treasures like this. Actually, I wasn't lost the day I found this garden, way back in the spring of '09, but I was well out of my neighborhood. I was attending an Earth Day exhibit at the Museum of New York; I don't remember much about the exhibit, save for the fact that the United States hates bicyclists and Amsterdam loves them. Or something.

    But I do remember strolling along upper-Fifth Avenue and walking through the Vanderbilt Gates to see this: 


     The Vanderbilt Gates used to adorn the Fifth Avenue mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. There are two clues and to how legitmate this man was: One, his name was Cornelius. Two, he owned a mansion. In New York. On Fifth Avenue. It was no homely Park Avenue penthouse. Oh no.

     Determined to reign supreme, Cornelius II built a mansion so large that it took up an entire city block. Three brownstone houses had to be demolished in order for the property to be complete. Now that's a man.

This chap approves. (Vanderbilt mansion seen in the background.)

30 April 2012

sound advice

No more degrees. Say it nice and slow,"No. More. Degrees!"

The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a jumble of five monasteries from medieval France that were disassembled and reassembled all together in one lovely museum. Many medieval religious relics and zen courtyards abound. It is nestled at the tippy-top most point of Manhattan in Fort Tyron Park. (It is owned by the Met, so plan on hitting both museums on the same day for one entrance fee!) It is located in the neighborhood of Inwood, so it's safe to say that not many people venture there. After trekking up to 200 Street on the A train, one must embark upon a mini-hike through the park with views overlooking the Hudson, until you reach the top where the museum is located. It was one of my most favorite retreats when I lived in New York and I love taking people there. It is such a respite from the rest of the madness of Manhattan. 

The Cloister's tower.
Overlooking the Hudson River.
One of many courtyards. 
Spring flowers in Fort Tyron Park.

Many more pictures from New York to come, so please stay tuned!

13 April 2012

Homework: 5 things I'm totally into right now.







01. The color mint.
02. Paris.
03. I must have these flats in every single color. 
04. J.Crew's spring catalog.
05. These spectator flats from Pilco and the Letterpress.

10 April 2012

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