Madame Clovery

Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned lots of things from my mother – probably because she’s told them to me again and again (and again and again). The current proverb is to always pay off my credit card in full. When I was 16 it was that not getting the lead in the boys’ school musical wasn’t the end of the world. And when I was a child, it was to at least try what was on my plate at the dinner table; I might be surprised by something delicious.

I’ve always had an aversion to vegetables, particularly the ones that sound particularly heinous, like parsnip and turnip. But – as every mother loves to hear – my mom was RIGHT! Parsnips, when cooked and seasoned properly, are sweet, warm, and autumnally satisfying. Perhaps Gustave Flaubert’s title character in Madame Bovary, who found herself hopeless and in debt, also should’ve listened to my mother. Maybe if she had paid off her credit card in full, the book would’ve had a happier ending…

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Mulled Parsnip Crisps:

8 parsnips

1 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 star anise piece

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup olive oil

Instruction:

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thin strips of parsnip “ribbon.”

2. Combine all spices in vegetable and olive oils. Heat mixture for about a minute, then turn off heat to let flavors infuse.

3. Strain oil and toss parsnips in the mixture.

4. Spread chips evenly on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes – until edges are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool and crisp up for several minutes.

Enjoy mulled parsnip crisps with Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

How the Blintz Stole Christmas

This past weekend I had one of those magical Christmassy Sundays, where the streets are bustling but not overcrowded, the weather’s cold but not bitterly so, and the time period left until Christmas still makes gift buying exciting, not stressful. To perfect the scene, a mulled wine stand right in the middle of Covent Garden was serving Big Gulp-sized portions. After several sips, I was certainly feeling the warmth of Christmas cheer (and the inspiration to write up a blog post!). And though I came to the end of the day having successfully purchased only one gift, I still felt a great sense of accomplishment.

I have found as I’ve grown older that it’s not the number of presents that make my loved ones and me happy during the holiday season. In Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the title character cannot understand why the Whos down in Whoville still have a joyful Christmas even when he has stolen their various whimsical toys and gifts. For them, and for me, it’s more about sitting down, holding hands, enjoying a nice meal (perhaps with wintry blintzes for dessert), singing carols, and simply being together.

And as Cindy Lou Who so famously said, “Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we.” (Though some mulled wine and holiday blintzes certainly wouldn’t hurt.)

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Use The Book Cook’s crepe recipe.

Filling:

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup sultanas

1 cup mulled wine

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

Instruction:

1. Make crepes using The Book Cook’s crepe recipe. Blintzes should be paper thin (even thinner than crepes!), so will need less time to cook in the pan.

2. Put sultanas and mulled wine in a saucepan. Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Allow sultanas to steep for 10 minutes, then drain (*but save the liquid!).

3. Mix ricotta cheese, sultanas, orange zest, sugar, and half of orange juice in a bowl. Transfer to piping bag. Pipe filling into each crepe and fold into a roll.

4. Sift a bit of icing sugar over each blintz. Add other half of orange juice to mulled wine liquid and reduce down to a syrupy consistency and drizzle as desired.

Enjoy winter blintzes with Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!