What I'm up to
  • Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon
    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

  • Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan
    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

  • Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset

    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    by Amanda Hesser
  • Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware

    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

flora and flying. Get yours at bighugelabs.com


Homemade Marshmallows - easy peasy and fun to do 


towers of mallows

Wow, where has the month gone?

Mine has been spent in a frenzy of whipping eggs whites, conference calls, chasing tails, decorating pink hippos and keeping us all amused while house bound through band after band of storms drenching Seattle. The dog is not very happy and neither are my hostas.
There are now 10 days until Christmas and seven until Solstice.  I cannot wait until Solstice- the
days slowly get lighter and it feels like even for the gloomiest Gus, things are going to get better
from there on. Soon we can leave our offices in the evening dusk and by March, we're able to do all
our dog walks in the light. We won't feel so housebound. I long for that. In order to keep myself busy in the evenings, I have been making marshmallows and foisting them upon friends, colleagues and neighbors. 

They are so simple to make and taste nothing like the overly sweet  uniform cylinders you have leftover from your July attempt at making s'mores or the stuff you used to get in your bowl of lucky charms. These are a rustic concoction that take only about 25 minutes to make and can be flavored with many different extracts or liqueurs to appeal to any taste.

If you have kids you are trying to amuse during the holidays, this might keep them occupied for part
of the afternoon.  Mostly helping you measure, watching the marshmallows form as the gelatin and the
sugar syrup combine and then helping you cut and coat the final product. 


Then you can all relax with a cup of hot cocoa topped with one of these beauties.

Basic Marshmallows with a few variations (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes approximately 36 marshmallows

stand mixer with a whisk attachment
9" x 9" square pan
or 13" x 9" pan
saran wrap
heavy bottomed 1 qt pan
wooden spoon

Base Ingredients
3 packages knox or equivalent in powdered gelatin
1/2 t flaked sea salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup (I used karo)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup potato flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Flavorings - use on of the following, or experiment


2 t vanilla extract


1/2 t peppermint extract
1 drop electric pink or green gel food coloring (optional)

1/4 t orange extract
1 drop electric orange gel food coloring (optional)

1/4 t lemon extract
1 drop yellow gel food coloring (optional)

1 T framboise liqueur


3 T cocoa
3 t cointreau


Cut saran wrap to cover the bottom, sides and give you over hang on your pans, this may vary depending on your pan size.  Make sure all sides of the pan are covered with saran wrap. Spray generously with spray oil. I suggest doing this in the sink, the stuff goes everywhere and is slippery.

Pour gelatin into bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle 1/2 cup of water on gelatin, let sit for 10 minutes.
While gelatin is sitting, combine sugar, corn syrup and water into a heavy bottomed pan and stir over
medium heat until all ingredients dissolve. When dissolved, increase heat to medium high and let
mixture come to a vigorous boil for 2 minutes making sure to brush down sugar crystals from the sides
of the pan back into the mixture.
Remove from heat.

With whisk attachment running at medium speed, add salt to gelatin. Carefully pour hot syrup mixture
into bowl of stand mixer taking care to try and have the mixture run down the side of the bowl.  This
decreases the chance of it splattering hot syrup on you. Increase the speed to high and whisk for five
minutes, at this time, you can add the gel food coloring to your marshmallows.  Fear not. The color may
seem intense at first, but as the volume of marshmallows increases, the color will dissapate and

At 10 minutes, add flavoring or in the case of the chocolate/cointreau add both cocoa and cointreau now.
At 14 minutes, turn off mixture and working quickly with a cooking oil coated spatula or hands (I use a spatula), remove the marshmallow mixure from the bowl and place into prepped pan, smooth out with spatula which you may need to coat again. It is not going to be completely smooth, they are homemade.  Spray the sides of the saran wrap overhang if you haven't already and cover the top of the marshmallows so they are completely covered.

Let them sit to cure for approximately 6 hours.  I like to do let them sit overnight.
When they are ready to cut, mix potato flour and confectioner's sugar together and place in a flat
rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. A pie plate will work too. Sprinkle a generous amount of the coating mixture onto your work area.Unwrap marshmallows and depending on the size of your pan, you will cut or use cookie cutters to cut out the marshmallows.  Coat knife in spray oil, cut marshmallows into approximately 1" squares and toss in coating mixture.  For marshmallows formed in a larger pan, you have the option to cut into squares (you will have many more) or use a sprayed cookie cutter and cut out shapes. Depending on your pan volume, you should yield 36-40 marshmallows.

Place coated marshmallows into a air tight container and use within a week. If you have friends like
mine, they should last approximately one day.

Package in acetate bags and tie top with ribbon. If you want to be really nice, add a small whisk and
a tin of sipping chocolate with your favorite recipe.



Alice Medrich in Seattle results in the best cookie exchange ever


Making marmalade from lemons

We be jamming, more later.



Give thanks to those whom you call family.


Tarte tatin 101 - the easy hack

Tired of pumpkin pie? Stuffing? Your relatives?

How about a nice piece of tart?

Tarte tatin is my standby quick dessert. Its a lovely french tart that often is served cold and not very attractively at those formule restaurants near train stations in Paris. Those restaurants that attract people who need something to do before the train their train to Dieppe leaves. If I was to judge tarte tatin by those standards, I would never eat one again.

I used to use the Chez Panisse Dessert's recipe. Create a simple caramel with sugar and butter, don't over cook it or it'll crystalize and you'll have to start all over again, slice some apples or pears, place them decoratively in a pan and cover with pastry or puff pastry. Bake. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit and flip over to serve with the baked fruit glazed with caramel on a now soaked crust. Easy Peasy.

I have made it easier.

At first I used caramel sauce to replace the homemade caramel.

Then I found a stash of French salted butter caramels that I had misplaced in the fridge.  What about using these caramels? They are the same thing, just in a solid form.

Yup, that worked.

Before you go off looking for the best flight deals to Paris to get caramels, recognize that we have amazing caramels here in the US.  Look for local sources at farmer's markets, farm stands and your grocery store.  You'll be surprised by what you will find.

Three simple ingredients - a hunk of pie dough or frozen puff pastry, a few caramels and a ripe pear or apple or three and you have heaven on a plate.


Tarte Tatin aux poires (with apologies to Julia Child and Lindsey Shere)

Serves 6, with no leftovers.

Prep time: 15 minutes, baking time 35 minutes, to table ca. 1h 10 minutes.

1/2 lb all butter puff pastry or a 3" ball of pie crust (usually what I have left over from a standard recipe in this case, Kate McDermott's fabulous recipe)

2 ripe, but still firm pears or 4 ripe apples depending on the size of your fruit

3 T caramel from a jar or 4 or 5 1" caramels with wrappers removed

Preheat oven to 350.

Find a heavy cast iron skillet or a heavy bottomed skillet that is oven safe. Place skillet over low heat. Add caramels and allow caramels to melt but not bubble or burn. Remove from heat. Peel and core fruit, slice in half and then into quarters.  Place with either the round side down on top of the caramel in a lovely arrangement as seen in the picture or onto the side with the tapered side to the middle of the pan in a circle. Don't worry if all the pieces are not coated with caramel, it will redistribute as it bakes.

Roll out the puff pastry or pie crust to fit the pan.  Place on top of fruit mixture and tamp the sides down to go under the fruit. This way you will form an crust to keep in the juices and the caramel when it is flipped. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is burbling. Remove from oven, let sit for 15 minutes and then flip over onto a plate. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or just plain.

pears are better served in caramel, non?

Depending on the juiciness of the fruit (pears being more juicy), you may want to eat this sooner than later. It does keep for a day, but my guess is that it won't last that long.

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