Monday, January 6, 2014

Twelfth Night, New Year, Lettuce, Shylock.

I have been writing a blog for a number of years now, written well over 2,000 blogs but don’t know the actual number because in the early days Blogger got up tight when you had too many labels so Feet uprather than mess with them, I deleted the blogs (I have paper copies of them mind you), anyway, this is the first time ever I have taken so much time off. I decided to have Christmas and New Year’s without having to worry about personal deadlines or what I was going to say exactly. Today is the day that we take down our Christmas decorations, in religious terms today is Epiphany, to me it is 12th Night and traditionally that was when we took them down although when I lived in the UK, we didn’t put them up so early so they weren’t hanging around for a long time. I understand these days they do decorate much earlier in the UK.

Of course I haven’t wished you all a Happy New Year, but I take the opportunity to do so now and hope it will be happy, prosperous and full of good health for you.
Happy New Year

Having supper the other night, I had made a simple salad with iceberg lettuceIceberg Lettuce. I got to thinking about iceberg, I was eating it with no dressing, just a little salt and the flavours from the other salad ingredients. Experts say iceberg is nothing but water and is tasteless. I totally disagree, I think it has a great taste and I prefer it to most other lettuces. Another way I enjoy it is with a simple vinaigrette, particularly the nice crispy centre. I don’t know why the “experts” put it down.

Just caught a story; in Stratford, Ontario, they put on a play with real merchant-of-venice-trialjudges and lawyers to see how The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare) case would play out under Canadian law in this day and age. The event is fascinating but the case doesn’t seem to have reached a verdict although maybe it isn’t over. The play was just called Shylock. I would love to have seen it. This picture shows Shylock going to extract his pound of flesh from Antonio. It was staged as an appeal which one judge objected to after 400 years. Another wanted to know if Shylock expected his 3,000 ducats with compound interest.

This looked like an unusual dessert from Food and Wine although apparently pretty simple to make.

Flaky Blood Orange Tart

Contributed by Zoe Nathan

Zoe Nathan, the pastry chef at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, California, prefers to be called a baker, which better reflects her unpretentious style. "I like making crostata, which uses juicy blood oranges at their peak, is nothing but sweet-tart oranges and a bit of sugar on a flaky, buttery crust.
Quentin Bacon
desserts that go from oven to table without a lot of fussing and futzing," she says. Her stunning yet simple crostata, which uses juicy blood oranges at their peak, is nothing but sweet-tart oranges and a bit of sugar on a flaky, buttery crust.

  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, the stick cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  6. 3 tablespoons ice water
  7. 8 to 10 blood oranges (about 5 ounces each)
  8. 1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  9. Salted Caramel Sauce, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the baking powder and salt. Add the stick of cold butter and pulse several times, just until it is the size of peas. Sprinkle the dough with the ice water and pulse just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a work surface, knead once or twice and pat the pastry into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to an 11-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper–lined flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chilled.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the blood oranges, removing all of the bitter white pith. Thinly slice 2 of the oranges crosswise; remove the pits. Transfer the orange slices to a plate. Working over a sieve set over a bowl, cut in between the membranes of the remaining oranges, releasing the sections into the sieve. Remove the pits and gently shake out as much juice as possible without mashing the sections; you will need 1 cup of sections. Reserve the orange juice for another use.
  4. Arrange the orange sections on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the oranges. Using a paring knife, thinly slice the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the oranges. Fold up the pastry over the oranges, leaving most of the oranges uncovered. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Arrange the orange slices on top, leaving a 1-inch border of pastry all around. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar on top. Freeze the tart until solid, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake the tart directly from the freezer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is deeply browned. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the tart cool for 30 minutes. Carefully slide the parchment paper onto the rack and let the tart cool completely. Serve with the Salted Caramel Sauce.
Make Ahead The unbaked tart can be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Contributed by Zoe Nathan

SERVINGS: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons gray sea salt, crushed
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil over high heat until a deep amber caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream, butter and salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature.
    Make Ahead The salted caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm before serving. Serve With Flaky Blood Orange Tart.

Have a great day


  1. It's good to take a break now and then, although bummer you had to delete those posts. My parents are also taking down their decorations today.

    1. I enjoyed my break. Place looks bare without the tree and stuff. Will get used to it once again of course.

      At least I have copies of the blogs I deleted. Didn't remember you lived in London.

  2. Those are oranges? Never thought about what they'd look like cooked.

    We decorate the day after Thanksgiving, so by New Year's Day, we are more than ready to take down the tree.

    1. Nor me

      I guess a lot depends on what your traditions were when you were brought up. We seem to have ended up adopting some Canadian and retaining some English. Hence we have ours up for a looooong time.


  3. Yummy. Happy 2014, Jo. I tried to take a break, but it didn't work out so well. *shrugs* There's just too much excitement on the interwebs -- but I am going to slow down after this week. I need some time for actual writing, eh? =)

    1. Thanks and Happy New Year to you too. I guess you need to take some downtime to write. Complicated and time consuming job.

  4. Happy New Year Jo
    Our local steak house serves ¼ Icebergs as a 'side' to the steaks, with a choice of dressings, but we like the simple vinaigrette (or perhaps the blue cheese if feeling a little naughty)!

    1. That sounds good. Never actually tried blue cheese dressings. Not sure why.

      Happy New Year to you too Sue, and to David of course.

  5. Happy New Year, Jo!
    I love iceberg, especially with bacon, chopped up egg, bleu cheese crumbles, shredded cheddar, and bleu cheese dressing, then drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. Not exactly a diet salad, but it's served as a wedge and is all the rage in CO restaurants these days. Everyone has their own version. The one I described is a mixture of my two favorites. Made is for Christmas dinner this year as my contribution at my in-laws and made it like a salad bar to accommodate everyone's individual tastes. It was a big hit. Oh, and garlic and butter croutons.
    Tina @ Life is Good

    1. Thanks Tina - the same to you and your family. That sounds pretty good too, I will have to try that. Not exactly diet food though is it?

  6. Happy New Year, Jo. I'm not a fan of iceberg lettuce, I'm afraid, mostly because it makes me feel nauseous. I always thought I hated salad (because in my youth the only lettuce you could get where I lived was iceberg) then I went to live in England for a while and discovered there was much more choice. Now, of course, there's a huge range available and I love salad greens.

    1. Happy New Year to you too. How odd that iceberg should make you feel sick. I wouldn't have thought there was enough in it to affect you but obviously there is.