Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This weekend, a good friend of mine, Ms. M from Cleavland came to visit. In honor of it, I thought it might be fun to make buckeyes, a peanut butter-chocolate confection most folks from Ohio (and beyond, I'm sure) are familiar with. For me, it was a Christmastime treat my Ohio State alum parents included in our regular holiday fare. It was the first time I ever tried to make them on my own and it was a bit of an adventure! Also, it seems that paraffin is not a staple of any of the grocery stores around me. We omitted it without difficulty. Ms. M and I made the peanut butter balls without trouble, but once we started melting the chocolate in a double-boiler, we ended up with a congealed mass of rather gross looking chocolate. We tried again (this time with a recently and generously gifted copper beating bowl), to great success. Amazing what a difference a pot can make! And slow, low, steady heat. Much better results!

Buckeye Candy
Courtesy of The Ohio State University

1 lb. bag of powdered sugar
2/3 lb. creamy peanut butter
2 sticks soft butter
16. oz. chocolate chips
1 Tbs. Paraffin
1 wood toothpick

Blend sugar, PB and butter
Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet
Freeze for about 5 minutes
Melt chocolate and paraffin in double boiler (over low heat!!)
insert toothpick into peanut butter ball and dip into chocolate leaving "eye". Refrigerate until served.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Literary, culinary

First, my apologies for the long absence. It's been an exciting time - Mr. Pleasant and I got engaged! Plus, I got to spend a week in Paris - pity I didn't photograph my meals - they were fabulous!!!

But, back to the present - we have a monthly book club, and this month was Mr. Pleasant's turn to pick. He picked "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle. Not bad culinary reading. Inspired by the book, as we were hosting, we put together a French-inspired meal with our new Williams Sonoma Bride/Groom cookbook (courtesy of Mr. Pleasant's brother and sister in law). Not only does it have great, basic but delicious recipes but it also has helpful advice about setting up and stocking a kitchen. Sure, it could be read as one giant ad for W-S, but it really is a valuable resource. It was the first time we used it and we were very impressed with the results! As were our fellow bookclub members.

First up was a fabulous marinated goat cheese. So easy! It's great to be able to do things ahead and this even tasted better for it! Dinner was red wine braised chicken with a mixed green salad and my standard roasted potatoes. I was very pleased with the chicken, although due to some regrettably over-the-hill chicken legs, we had to substitute boneless, skinless breast at the last minute, but it turned out okay. The salad was a triumph too - I've never actually made a salad with different greens before. Sure, I've bought lettuce mixes, but never before have I bought greens like frissee, watercress, endives and arugala separately and really thought about how all the flavors would meld. It opened up a whole new world to experiment with. It was all set off nicely by a lovely vinaigrette and pomegranate seeds. It really does add a whole new element to a bookclub when you can have a literal taste of what you're reading!

Here is what we did for the marinated goat cheese. We doubled the amount of cheese with great results, by the way.

Marinated Goat Cheese
W-S Bride and Groom Cookbook

4 rounds fresh goat cheese, each 1/2 inch thick sliced from a 2 1/2" log
3/4 C olive oil
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme (used dried thyme)
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted (this is easy to do in a nonstick pan- heat on medium for a few minutes - careful not to burn!)
2 dried bay leaves

Place the goat cheese in a shallow dish (we found a pasta bowl worked well). Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme, chili flakes, fennel seeds and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 day and up to 3 days. Remove from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.