Friday, June 17, 2011

Chocolate Fudgesicles

My kids' idea of summer vacation involves endless supplies of food and entertainment around the clock. Since I try to keep their snacks homemade, I've spent the past several days whipping up simple treats that will last them all week long. 

Making ice-cream is a lot of fun even though it gets a little labor-intensive without an ice-cream maker. These fudgesicles, though, were very easy to make and as chocolaty as promised. I found the recipe while browsing on Babble and made a test-batch with half the recipe. They were so well-received that I had to immediately make a second, larger, batch. 

I can kiss my diet goodbye because I do not understand the meaning of moderation lately & have had these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yup, they're that good. 

Homemade Fudgesicles
barely adapted from the recipe on
makes 6

1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp strong, brewed coffee (I used decaf)
a pinch of salt
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla extract 

Place the chocolate chips in a medium, heat-proof bowl. 

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium-low heat. Whisk in the cocoa, sugar, salt and coffee. Once the mixture starts steaming, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 

Pour the mixture over the chocolate chips. Wait a minute for the chocolate to melt, then whisk till smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze at least 4 hours. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Trip to Paris

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month. I have no excuse for my tardiness except that I've been both busy and lazy. So I decided to sit down today and finally write about what I did while in France.

Remember the ever-expanding wish-lists I made before I left? I'm sort of embarassed to say I got to do barely three things out of my entire list. I was there for 6 days which I thought would be more than enough to do and see everything I wanted to. But I wasn't counting on how time-consuming my photo workshop would be and how little time it would leave for other things, especially because I had to go back to my apartment and do some (unrelated) course work before turning in for the night. We finished with the workshop around 7 p.m. which meant there was no time for museum visits or many of the other things that I had planned. .

However, the plus point was that I got to spend 3.5 days walking around Paris with 7 amazing women from around the globe who are all now friends. Despite the fact that the workshop around 10 hours a day, the pace was perfect and & we all had fun while seeing the city and learning about photography.

Sophie is very charming, extremely personable and a very encouraging teacher and I came away with a lot of practical information on technical aspects as well as a new perspective on composition.

At least I can now finally move away from the 'auto' modes on my camera and play around with more features. The workshop was definitely the highlight of my trip and I wish I could go back and do it all over again!

On my last day in Paris I took an early morning train to Vernon with a friend from the workshop. We reached at 8 a.m. and decided to walk the 7 k.m. from there to Giverny because we had read so many rave reviews online about how wonderful the walk is.

I wouldn't want to disagree because the village really is charming but we didn't have a lot of time to stop and look around given our intention to get back to Paris on the first train in the afternoon. And, for us, the long walk just meant we would have less time seeing the village and Monets' gardens.

On the way we stopped to talk to this lovely old lady here who told me how she brings apples for this horse every day. . .

When at last we reached Monets' house it was early enough in the morning that hordes of tourists weren't yet there and we could walk around and photograph some of the many, many beautiful flowers.

The house tour itself took no more than 20 minutes & looking out of the windows on the upper floor it was easy to imagine how inspired he must have been by all the colors in his garden.

My favorite rooms in his house were the sunny yellow dining room and the little sewing room on the upper story. The latter offers a broad view of the entire estate and I assume Monet's wife kept an eye on their eight children through the windows while she sewed.

We could have spent the entire day in the gardens photographing the many varieties of beautiful flowers. But an hour after we arrived the place was hit by an onslaught of tourists and it became impossible to walk without bumping into someone else who was stopping to pose for or take photos.

We spent a lovely morning there, regardless, and only wished we'd had more time to explore the gardens at our own pace. We decided then that we'd just have to come back next Spring and spend all day in Monets' gardens, taking photos!

Once back in Paris, time flew. I had just enough time to meet Paule of Promenades Gourmandes and then rush out to buy gifts for my kids before shops closed for the day.

I took a walk to Rue des Rosiers for the second time that day to get some famous Fallafel but was finally rewarded with a sign that said the restaurant would remain closed for another week. There was nothing to do but walk back and grab a quick meal at a small Vietnamese place around the corner from our apartment. My plans to take a last trip down to Trocadero & photograph the Eiffel Tower at night fell completely flat since I lacked the energy to do any more walking that day.

There's always next year . . or the next. I'm sure I'll go back. I must!
 I love Paris - just walking around the charming, winding streets and seeing the old with the new. Or the unexpected ...

This is a love affair that's not ever going to end. I can't wait to be back there again . .

Monday, June 06, 2011

Baking With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Five kinds of chocolate in a fudgelicious brownie. 

This is the gooiest, most chocolatey treat I've made in a while. Dense and so fudgy you need to chase these brownies down with a glass of cold milk. But I'll be honest. I don't like the white chocolate frosting and wish I had paid attention to my instincts and left it out. Maybe it's the quality of the white chocolate I used. Or maybe it's the fact that we're not a white-chocolate-loving family. 

But don't let me dissuade you. These brownies are good. Very, very good. Chewy & packed with chocolate flavor. I don't think I need to say a lot more to convince you what a great idea it is to bake these. 

For the recipe, please head over to Shahieda's blog Decadent Delectables, or to page 99 of Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. Please visit the blogroll here to check out everyone else's posts. 

Next up, we're baking Rhubarb Cherry Cobbler, picked by Ryan. If you'd like to join our baking challenges, please drop me an email at needfulthings at ymail dot com. We'd love to have you bake along with us! 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Curry-Palooza: Muttar Paneer

Muttar Paneer reminds me of one of my closest friends. It used to be her favorite thing to cook. I haven't seen her in a few years so while I was stirring up a pot of it for Curry-Palooza this week, I wondered if she still likes to make it.  

I'm not very fond of peas but my husband and kids are. I had a bit of a disaster with the paneer that I burned over-fried but otherwise this was a fragrant, flavorful curry that my family enjoyed very much. My curry had a thinner consistency than the ones Rocquie & Margie made and I served mine with Pita breads instead of Rice.  I had planned on making my own Paneer but was then short on time so I used a bag of cubed, frozen paneer. For those who don't know - Paneer is simply cottage cheese that has been drained, pressed into a container with something heavy placed over the top for a couple of hours so that it retains a solid shape. I did a post on making homemade cottage cheese early last year & will hopefully get around to making my own Paneer soon!

Please check out Rocquie's blog for the recipe for Muttar Paneer, or the original source at A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit. 

Curry-Palooza is a monthly event & we take turns picking random Indian recipes each month. If you'd like to participate, please email either Rocquie or myself. I hope you will join us!


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