Books that influenced me…

April 7th, 2010

Juan recently encouraged me to read Marginal Revolution, a blog written by two economists that link to and write random and interesting blog posts…I really enjoy it!  I’ve learned a lot of interesting facts and it is entertaining to read.  Recently, Tyler Cowen (who is also loves food) wrote a post about the books that have influenced his worldview the most.  This has started a huge slew of blog posts by economist and such listing their favorite books, most of which one would expect… Plato, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Proust, Nietzsche, Keynes… just to name a few… well, it got me thinking… What books have influenced me?

These are the books that come to mind as those that have some influence on me and my world view… my current list…

1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

3. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

4. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (not the movie!)

5. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

6. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

7. Joy of Cooking

8. No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

9. Declaration of Independence/Constitution

10. The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci (it counts- I first saw it in a book!)

What influences you?  In particular, what are your culinary influences?

These Classic Brownies are adapted by Post-Collegiate Cooking a Deux from the Joy of Cooking.  I halved the recipe and substituted 3 tablespoon of cocoa for one of the ounces of baking chocolate.  I also did not have baking power so I nixed it and I used about 5.5 tablespoons butter.  They worked and did not last long… very fudgey!

The minnow would be lost…

March 9th, 2010

…I’ve been singing this all day… not quite sure why, perhaps it is the state of my brain… Tuesdays are always really long days… well, frankly, all my days have been long as of late but in a good way… good things are happening… some of which I hope to share soon… the excitement has put me in a bit of silly and hyper mood… haha!

Today, I give you these Agave Brownies.  I made these a while ago during one of Juan’s visits. I threw everything together, while he ran down to the corner to buy the eggs. I only had half the amount of Agave so I substituted honey for the other half. We liked them. They are more cakey, which makes them perfect with a glass of milk. However, I was not blown away and would not make them again.


March 4th, 2010

…according to the dictionary… the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune; a state of happiness or felicity… it has been a good week…

To spread some joy… I give you White Chocolate-Coconut Souffles. I made these for Juan as part of our post-Valentine’s dinner… he loves white chocolate and coconut… Ginny happened to have a white chocolate coconut Lindt bar… hence, a fancy dessert was born…The top got a little toasty but it had that caramelized sugar taste so it ended up working well…

White Chocolate-Coconut Souffle
(adapted from here for two)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus additional for coating soufflé dish
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolks
1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces fine-quality coconut-white chocolate bar, chopped fine
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 one cup ramekin and coat with additional granulated sugar, knocking out excess sugar.

In a bowl whisk together flour and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. In a small bowl whisk together egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk and add to flour mixture, whisking until smooth.

In a heavy saucepan heat (I used a frying pan) remaining milk over high heat until it just comes to a boil and whisk into yolk mixture in a slow stream. Transfer mixture to pan and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until it just comes to a boil. Cook mixture at a bare simmer, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in vanilla and chocolate until custard is smooth. Transfer custard to a large bowl.

In another bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites with salt until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining sugar in a slow stream, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks. Stir one fourth of meringue into custard to lighten and fold in remaining meringue gently but thoroughly. Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Soufflé may be prepared up to this point 1 hour ahead and chilled, covered with a paper towel and plastic wrap. Do not let paper towel touch surface of soufflé. Put cold soufflé in preheated oven. Bake soufflé in middle of oven for about 20 minutes, or until firm and set in center.