"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mop Philosophy Monday

 Have you been organizing your baking cupboard?  Me too.  You know what they say about dividing your kitchen into work zones... it's all true my friends.
Welsh Pie Dragon
My wee bottle of Grand Marnier
I like to cook up an occasional pudding with a dash of Grand Marnier... buying these little bottles keeps me out of trouble.  Of course I get myself into trouble with other things but never mind!  Have you got yourself a Pie Dragon, or perhaps a Pie Bird?  My dragon belonged to Grandma Jean.  She never did go to Wales but a friend did and brought it back for her.  I don't think she used it much as she was never much of a baker, she's more into beer and sausages!

I made a resolution this year to eat more cognac filled chocolates.  Also to bake more desserts and breads for MrBP and The Rascals.
My breadboard at the ready.
 Cinnamon buns are a popular stand-by.
Cinnamon buns.
MrBP loves these with a coffee.
 I like to dress up every day so aprons are a total must.  There's no hardship in that when Williams Sonoma makes them in such fetching colour combinations.
Williams Sonoma apron in gold and grey.
 I baked a sour apricot upside down cake without any flour and it was so delicious.  I made up the recipe as I went along but luckily I took photos for you so I've remembered the ingredients.
 Sour Apricot Upside Down Cake

Boil 1 heaping cup of dried sour apricots with 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of organic sugar for 10 minutes, then set aside...
Preheat your oven to 350 and mix together the following:
1 cup ground almonds
3 medium eggs (or 2 large)
1 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 and 1/4 cups of extra smooth ricotta cheese

 Mix the batter ingredients until you get something fairly smooth looking.
 Pour your hot apricots with their syrup into a parchment covered round cake pan...
Careful not to burn yourself.
 then pour the batter right on top before sticking it in the hot oven.

Once your cake is golden looking and cooked through (mine took 35 minutes) remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Grab a plate and place on top of the cake, then with a skilled deft motion flip the whole thing upside down.  Peel away your paper and voila!
 It was quite good with a glass of Hungarian dessert wine.  I think this cake could also be done with sour cherries substituted for the sour apricots.

I'm keeping procurement for the household to a minimum this year but one item I have purchased will help me along with my New Year's Resolution (not the cognac filled chocolate resolution... the baking resolution).
 A new stand mixer!  Mine went kaput sometime in 2013 and it's really cramped my style in the old Mop Philosophy Kitchen.  It didn't owe me anything, I used that thing steady for 12 years.
My new one is "Willow Blue".  Do you have one of these deluxe treat machines, and if so which colour?
I hope your New Year is off to a brilliant start.  Let's make 2014 a good one.
xoxDani


52 comments:

  1. This cake sounds yummy. I had also organized my baking cupboard. And I try to keep it this way... I don't own yet a stand mixer and every year in January I say that I won't cook anymore for Xmas as long as I haven't one and every year I just cook without it...
    Yes we will work to make 2014 a wonderful one. I wish you the best of all during this year and to begin with a wonderful week.

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    1. Hi Steph, maybe you should buy one now while you're thinking of it! Also you might find a sale, I bought mine for half price at a department store. All of the colours were on sale, what choice! I wish you all the best as well!

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  2. Snap with the mixer! I got mine back in 2000 as a wedding gift from my sisters, and at the time in Australia you could only buy them in Red, Blue, White, Silver and Black. No other colours. I'm a blue person, so blue it was, and I'm still happy with my colour choice. I have the pasta attachment too, and will make fresh pasta with it. Enjoy the baking. I couldn't agree more with you about zoning your kitchen. My new kitchen is a total joy to cook in because of this - I have a baking cupboard too, and it makes life so much easier to just grab what I need out of that including all the bits and pieces you need to bake with (cupcake wrappers, measuring spoons, pie weights etc etc) xx

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    1. Heidi your new kitchen is such a dream. I hope you are enjoying it, and feeling better (I left a long comment on your blog that was eaten up and then I was called away, I need to visit you again to leave another). My kitchen is zoned fairly well though I am not a fan of the cupboards and the fridge/stove arrangement. I didn't install the kitchen but it was new when we bought the house so I can't justify replacing it quite yet... though in 2-3 years yes. I'm dreading it as it will be a big mess!

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  3. I love, love, love my Kitchenaid! I've had it since 2001 and it is as true as can be! I've had to replace the bowl in my food processor several times, but no issues with the kitchenaid! Mine is bright red and always on the counter as is the food processor as they are used constantly! I cleaned up my baking drawer (should take a pic before it is messed up again!) and made chocolate cupcakes yesterday as tonight we are doing a birthday supper for our son's girlfriend. I will make the 7 minute frosting for them today! I have a blue le creuset pie bird and I do love - is out on one of my shelves where all can see it sing! This week on my to do list is to clean out the fridge, but am off now to write, write, write! Back to the coal face!

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    1. Whistling a Welsh mining tune for you WMM - sure there must have been a Lady in Harlech.

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    2. Wendy I think they are very good products, my Cuisinart only last a few years and I never replaced it. I did buy a very small one and it is good enough and was inexpensive so no tears when it breaks. Yesterday I accessorized the inside of my fridge with a bottle of Veuve! No detox for me though I am exercising more and have cut out sweets again, I was just kidding about the cognac chocs, I'll have to wait until next Christmas to have more of those.
      Snow Day here today, it is looking like NB outside this morning!

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  4. OVEN FRESH Dani, that apricot cake looks like a good flourless solution, almost like a cheesecake or a calfouti. Pie bird box made me laugh, they are everywhere in Welsh souvenir shops, along with love spoons. As for the KitchenAid, I am serious but dull, have one of the pro versions, but all industrial metal. And thanks to condo kitchen island, it is practically first thing you see as get in door. In big news, it will soon have a new friend. Range hood is finally dying as well, so will be replacing whole above cooker unit this week. Lasted well over a year sans microwave. But this one has convection option and better fan.

    After that and Brora sale (a frock can you believe it) I am firmly back on straight and narrow. Hope oldest rascal makes home soon. Have a great week, stay warm.

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    1. Hi GF yes it is very like a clafouti! We had it on Friday evening while we played boardgames with the rascals (though without ole rascal who we missed very much, in a panic he caught a direct flight home yesterday at great expense, otherwise he was to wait until Saturday and he just couldn't tolerate missing a week of class). You'll be amazed to know I did not shop the Brora sale though I had a list long as my arm. After cleaning my closet again last week I've decided that nothing is needed, big post coming on that one though I hardly know where to begin.
      Okay which frock do tell!

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  5. The color of that mixer is gorgeous! I have an old one, I keep waiting for it to die. I'm not the baker in the house, though if it comes time to buy a new kitchen aid, I think I'll choose the color. The red is striking. We love apricots in our house. I'm writing down the recipe, thank you!

    I'm almost ready for 2014. House is tidied, closet purged, reorganizing done. I'm not quite finished with the life reflection exercise I've embarked on. Still some writing to do there.

    I hope 2014 is wonderful for you and your family, Dani!

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    1. DF the dessert is delicious though I think the sour apricots are key, a regular apricot would be too bland. Lucky you with the cooking baking Hubs! Are you through with the closet? I have another afternoon at it, I've had to approach it in stages as it was quite overwhelming and I've been busy with everyone at home... I might get to the last of it today and then there is a long post to write on it as it has been so epic!

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    2. I'm about 90% done, Dani. I took 4 large bags to the exchange yesterday and made a nice sum. Other items went into a donation bin, some to person starting out in the job market. I feel pretty good, I have gotten rid of so much. I think I will have to wait until next weekend to finish up. I can't wait to see your post! I am sure you will feel as accomplished as I do.

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    3. DF miles away yet we've been up to the same. The donate truck came today despite the absolute hideous weather and it was a big relief to see it all go. I still have to get my bags to the consign, maybe tomorrow if it gets up above -20. I'll work on my post over the next day or two though it will be a long one so it might take some time, where to start? I do feel accomplished and after a day of sorting and scrubbing my house is getting back to normal, it was a lovely break with everyone home for most of it!

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  6. Am not a baker but a fryer! But am eater of baked goods. That cake looks yum!

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    1. Naomi it was delicious. I am not a fryer as I burn things that require fast attention. Do you have Jamie Oliver's new book, my gosh it's the best cookbook I've bought in ages!

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  7. I am going to try this cake Dani! It will be quite a surprise for my husband who loves this sort of thing. Thank you for the recipe and photos.

    My stand mixer is red. It is beautiful, but I love your blue one.

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    1. Susan I hope the recipe works for you, I always hesitate to post a recipe as I am a very amateur baker who literally throws things together and baking is not supposed to work that way... though strangely it seems to at least for me. I love a red one that would be my first choice but it would clash with my yellow kitchen!

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    2. My kitchen in Dallas is in shades of gray and white an a bit of blue--so the red one is ok.
      I appreciate that you throw things together. That shows some real independence and flair! I tend to be a recipe follower, but I do have the ability to eat a dish (savory ones mostly) and then reproduce it through trial and error.

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  8. Hi Dani, your Kitchenaid looks great, I bet it goes well with your Le Creuset. I'm still using the hand mixer I bought from a Canadian officer in Lahr around 22 years ago! I'd like a Kitchenaid mixer one day, just hasn't been a priority so far.

    School day today, but I still have to go to the dentist - think I'll walk, our roads are pretty bad.

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    1. Patricia the KitchenAid mixers were on major sale this past weekend at The Bay, much less expensive than my first mixer purchased 12 years ago. Hand mixers are easier to store and if it has lasted that long you'd best keep going with it!
      Snow day here as well, the roads are terrible. I had to shovel the driveway this morning and I nearly fell over the snow is sooo heavy, I managed half of it!

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  9. I'm in love with the colours of the apron and totally in awe of you dressing up every day, I'm such a sweats and Uggs lazybones character.
    I don't bake at all now, maybe once a year, in fact I need to get rid of my mixer, I used it maybe once last year, so for me it's been a bad buy.

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    1. Tabs don't get rid of it yet you never know. After the recent closet cleanse I've realized it's okay to wear the same skirts and sweaters every day, I hate pants and only wear them for Classical Distress. Yet all I ever do is clean and cook, aprons are my absolute friend and probably why door-to-door salespeople ask me if I'm the maid!

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    2. That's just made me laugh - the maid in Brora!!

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  10. love your apron dani. they do make such beautiful ones. i have one that is at least 20 yrs old and still in great condition. i've never owned a kitchenaid stand mixer. hard to believe, even through my catering years! love that blue willow color.

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    1. Janet the mixers are sooo great but I do A LOT of baking for The Rascals and MrBP. I try to bake everything from cookies to breads so that I don't have to buy it at a store. Yesterday I made cinnamon buns and then naan bread to go with our curry dinner.
      A stand mixer would look fetching in your pantry though!

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  11. I'd be lost without my kitchen aid mixer. It is graphite grey and gets a regular workout here in the Humble Bungalow.
    Like you I wear aprons when cooking and baking. The print is quite charming, I wish we had a Williams Sonoma here. You've inspired me to clean out my baking cupboard. It is long overdue....I wonder if I will find anything nasty hidden on the shelves...there is probably a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream from last year when I made the Xmas trifle :-))

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    1. Hostess maybe there will be a nip left in the bottle, here's hoping! There is a Williams Sonoma in Toronto but I rarely get there, this one I ordered online for $15, they have good sales. Even using that pricey Borderfree service it's not expensive.
      I can see the grey in the bungalow, that's perfect!

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  12. Have loved my KitchenAid for over twenty years now and it's just like new! Yours is a beautiful blue...and the apron is so cheerful and welcoming with this winter blah! Gorgeous, as ever! Now, off to find some sour apricots! Have a lovely week!

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    1. Rebecca 20 years is excellent! Only I could break a KitchenAid mixer, I have a special talent for ruining appliances. Oh this winter has me beat. It already seems endless and it's only Jan 6th!

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  13. That cake sounds yummy-- love apricots in every form.

    My kitchen aid is kiwi green; I usually beat by hand, though. I should lug it out more frequently.

    I did spend 3 hours with my unsealed 6 burner stove, soaking the parts, scrubbing. The only down side to having one of these. Also, I have my linens all over the floor for a major decluttering-- I no longer need to keep old twin size sheets as girls no longer are in college. Old towels, no I don't need that many rags so out to the animal shelter they will go ( after no use for years). Not very good at letting go, but improving, yes, I am.

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    1. Atta gal Lane! And old towels, blankets etc. always needed at shelters, rescues need all the warmth and comfort can get.

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    2. Lane GF makes a good point, these are welcome donations, I only learned this in the autumn working with the social justice committee, towels and sheets are treasured donations for shelters. I dream of a 6 burner stove! But 3 hours, I don't know. What a job!
      Kiwi green I love it!

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    3. Keep encouraging me-- I need it! Things become invisible after a while.

      You can get a sealed 6 burner that will not be as much work.

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  14. Dani, you are an inspiration and a wealth of kitchy (not kitschy!) intel. I'll bet one of those fashion houses will be approaching you re a line of glam aprons.
    Freshy, please upload one of your Welsh mining tunes to youtube as cabin fever has set in here at HQ with minus 15 keeping me indoors.

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    1. ...I'd love to give that sour apricot pie the Little Jack Horner treatment..."what a good boy I am"

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    2. GSL you can have dessert without sitting in the corner, that method never worked on the Rascals and I'm sure it wouldn't work on you! How I would LOVE to design a line of aprons, I have so many ideas. I've though of asking my Aunt Renee who owns BedHead Pajamas if she would design some really terrific aprons in her gorgeous cotton prints that she sources, then they would be made in Glamourous Los Angeles so even better.

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    3. Your Aunt Renee has really got something going on with those Bedhead Jammies; I think you two could hit a glam apron line out of the park!

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  15. Oooh, your new mixer is gorgeous! Mine is industrial gray, it was bought at Costco by my parents for me as a housewarming gift. I guess it's a good color; it will go with any kitchen! I love it. I also got a food processor for Christmas that is already coming in handy. It's hot pink... which does not go with any kitchen, but I love it even more for that! I need to get a pie bird, or dragon. They are so cute! Your cake looks really good, and I love how you just made up the recipe. I am too scared to do that, especially with baked goods!

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    1. JCrewJD nice parents you have! I make up most of my baking as I go along, I don't even measure, I just eyeball it. That is not supposed to work but it does. I did bake with recipes for many many years though so I learned something I guess...

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  16. My mixer is black…closest to navy I guess:) My mother is quite a baker and I do believe it skipped a generation straight to Emily. You go girl…while everyone is thinking about starving themselves, oops I meant eating healthier, you are making cinnamon buns and cake! Love it!!

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    1. BB yes but I'm not eating any of it and it looks so good so I'm not much of a Rebel Hero though I would dearly like to be one. I am on a strict gluten-free diet so I can only eat things like that apricot cake, and honestly I'm trying to shrink my derriere like everybody right now. I need your Em here to put me through butt bootcamp!

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  17. Love the new mixer color and that pretty apron Dani! My baking cupboard is fairly organized, but that's only due to the recent move, not to my organizing skills. I have a red Kitchenaid and it's wonderful. I need to get baking a bit more -- I prefer it to cooking actually. Perhaps I'll bake up something warm and toasty for this frigid weather. At last look it was -17F (-45 windchill), madness! Luckily a heatwave is coming through in a couple days, with some 30-degree weather.

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    1. Melissa baking is a good remedy to this cold we're having, it warms up the house with good smells. Is your little guy interested in cooking/baking yet? I started teaching my son to cook at around age 7, by the time he was 9 he could make a dinner on his own. It's really helped him in his life and he is a rare 20yo now in that he hates take-away and thinks it a terrible waste!
      Stay warm and cozy.

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  18. The cake looks delicious. I love ricotta cheese but have never made a dessert with it. Congrats on your mixer. An elegant color in Dani style. My KitchenAid mixer is white, a bit boring but they didn't have all of the fun colors when we got it many years ago. You will love making dough with it. I can't live without my Cusinart which is over 20 years old. Even though there is a crack in the handle I'm afraid to buy a new one because Cusinarts quality has declined so much. The KithchenAid mixer on the other hand is built like a tank. Enjoy.

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    1. AmW don't buy a new one they are not the same! Mine lasted maybe 3 years, terrible considering the expense. Now I use a mini Cuisinart and it already has a crack in it, errrrgh.
      Ricotta really lends itself to desserts and it is high in protein, I recommend you try it!

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  19. That cake sounds delish. I got my mixer from hubs for Christmas 20 years ago. He's no dummy. It's just plain silver but a regular fixture on my counter. I always wear an apron when I cook and always shocked at how much I've spilled or splashed on it when I'm done. Anthropology carries some pretty cute aprons. Hubs started bringing me aprons as souvenirs from his business trips several years ago so I've got quite a collection. I kept asking for Jewelry but getting aprons :)

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  20. Dani, you are the real domestic goddess! I am in awe, especially when you say that you dress up on a daily basis. Most days, it's jeans and sweaters for me! My Kitchenaid is a robin's egg blue colour - lucky score from Williams Sonoma several years ago. It was a seasonal colour that went to clearance so I got a good deal and a nice colour that always makes me happy to look at it. The apron is gorgeous, must definitely head back to Williams Sonoma to check out their aprons!

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  21. Your apricot cake and cinnamon buns look delicious! I liked the buns Starbucks used to sell, but they discontinued them last year or so. So now I must get one every time I am in te US. Would you mind posting the recipe for them? TIA

    I'd really like a mixer but my kitchen is so tiny that counter top space is limited. If I got rid of the dish rack, then maybe, just maybe, there might be some room for it. Even though I used the dishwasher for all the dishes, occasionally I need the rack for some stuff too. I wish I cud get rid of it, though... it's not very pretty to look at, even though it's stainless steel.

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    1. Oops! My keyboard is acting up. Apologies!....

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  22. I wear an apron too. They are a necessity for me as I tend to splash. I have a pink & gray toile from WS that gets the most use.
    My KitchenAid is less than 10 years old but the on/off lever is broken so I have to use the plug instead. I was thinking of getting another one but they dont seem to be of the same quality. Like many things, their quality has diminished while their price has increased.

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