Monday, October 22, 2012

The Shadow of the Sangria (La Sombra De La Sangria)

¿Hablas español? If you do, you should probably read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in its original Spanish. Boyf did, but I read it in English.

I suppose I would call this book a mystery based on the definition of the word rather than on the general idea of the genre. This is not a "whodunit"-type story. It is intrigue and family and heartbreak and inspiration. I can hardly resist a story about words, and this one starts with the description of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

It takes place mainly in Barcelona, which is interesting given that Catalan, and not Spanish, is the language of the region. It was especially exciting to read this book the first time around, as I had just been to Barcelona a couple of months before. 

Have I ever told you all that I studied abroad in England? I did, and my last trip from Canterbury (where I lived and went to school) was to Barcelona. The trip itself was incredible and beautiful, the art and life of the city breathtaking. I fell in love with everything Gaudi created, and could spend all day wandering around his whimsical city.

Reading a book set in such a magical place, told in such gorgeous, mesmerizing ways was a fabulous experience. There are a few characters of this book that I cannot believe are merely fiction, and I count their stories as history. This story does a beautiful job of showing a person as multifaceted; what you are today is not what you were yesterday. It's hard to recognize that in everyday life, but impossible not to notice in Zafón's masterpiece.

The book has also got a fair bit of romance in it, and what beverage is more romantic than wine? I'm giving the wine a bit of a Spanish twist in the form of sangria. In a word? Yum. In two words? More, please. And in three? It gets better.

My mom and I made a few batches of this a while back, and kept the leftovers in a plastic pitcher in the fridge. It tasted better every night, growing more and more colorful from the fruit until the last glass I drank was a warm, peachy orange.

This is going to be another recipe without measurements, because I trust you all to know what you like. Want more citrus? Slice up another lime. Need a little more kick? Pour a more generous serving of brandy. Feeling like you need a bit more refreshment? Try some slices of cucumber! I bet that'd be delicious.

Shadow of the Sangria

Wine (red or white!)
Brandy (gives it an extra kick)
Fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, mango, pineapples, strawberries, grapefruit, cucumbers, or whatever you'd like! I used lemons, limes, oranges, and pineapple.)

1. Slice all the fruit. It's prettier if you keep the slices all looking nice, but no one's going to complain about an imperfect slice in their glass.

2. Pour a bottle of wine into a pitcher, as well as a generous shot or three of brandy.

3. Put all the fruit into the pitcher.

4. Let it chill for at least a couple of hours; even better, let it sit in your fridge overnight! But be sure to cover it so it doesn't taste like refrigerator.

This sangria is best enjoyed with some tapas and a good book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dorian Gray's Garlic Cheese Bites

I have missed you all so much! Of course, in my mind there are masses of you all awaiting my next blog post with bated breath, rather than the few of you who read this blog and whom I actually see on a pretty regular basis.

But no matter! The Baketress is back to share with you her cooking adventures. I'm only including one recipe in today's post, but I think I want to reward you all with your patience by posting a bonus recipe later this week.

As mentioned recently, I have just moved. I am still working as a barista, but now I am a barista who lives much closer to her family and Boyf (though I miss those I've left behind every day).

Now let me tell you all a story.

At the beginning of September, my email ( was flooded with anonymous comments on my various posts. I read through them all, learning they were all signed by "Dorian Gray", a humble and educated-sounding reader of my blog. And yet, he had left no email, nor any clear indicator of who he (or she!) might be.

You may have noticed a note I left for my mysterious Dorian Gray on my Cinnamon Cupcakes post, but alas! No response.

I wish I could tell you that this is me. But it is my talented brother.
And so I went on with my life, wondering what sort of recipe I could create to honor both my eloquent mystery blog-reader and his horrific and intriguing namesake (I love The Picture of Dorian Gray). The thought sank further and further into the back of my mind, finally pushed aside by the insanity of moving.

Last week, I walked into the kitchen to find a big bowl of these.

"I finally perfected the recipe!" my brother told me. "Try one!"

With my first bite, I knew I had to know how to make these. With my second, I knew it had to be on the blog as soon as possible. And with my thirty-eighth, I did not regret that I might get sick from eating far too many of these incredible little masterpieces.

"Can I put this on my blog, and feature you as a guest contributor?!" I asked. "I don't even know what book I'll use yet but I guess I'll probably pick something we read together..." I trailed off, trying to brainstorm a potential book. He had always been the one interested in cooking; my own obsession only came along recently, and I've learned so much from him. He'd be a perfect first guest!

"Sure," he said, then paused. "So what will the title be? 'Guest recipe by Dorian Gra- Oops! I mean by The Baketress' brother…"




After all, he is related to me…

Dorian Gray's Garlic Cheese Bites 
by The Baketress' Brother AKA Dorian Gray

Plenty of butter
Cayenne powder
Minced garlic (the kind that comes in the jar is best for this)
Loaf of soft French bread, cubed
Oodles of parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in a large pan.

2. Add garlic and cayenne pepper. Lots of garlic, and your preferred amount of cayenne pepper. The smell is a pretty good indicator of amount here.

3. Let the garlic caramelize on medium heat until it's light to medium brown.

4. Reduce the heat and add the cubed bread. Toss the bread in the pan until it's all coated in the garlic butter mixture. Add more butter if you need it!

5. After a few minutes, raise the heat back to medium, to give the bread a little crunch.

6. Once bread is at the desired texture (because there's no going back after this part!), sprinkle on glorious amounts of parmesan cheese. You want the cheese to melt but not burn, so toss it quickly and have a bowl ready!

7. Try to share.

These garlic cheese bites are best shared with your sibling, while enjoying a good book.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Delay

I am mid-move, mid-recipe, and mid-work. But I'll have something delicious to share with you later this week! Hang in there!

Much love,
The Baketress