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Archive for the ‘cookbooks’ Category

It’s no secret we’re more than a little mad for Paddington here at Alphabet Soup.

The resident bears were extremely excited about the new movie (have you seen it yet?) and Michael Bond’s latest novel, Love from Paddington. The lovable bear from Darkest Peru is fast winning new fans on this side of the pond, marmalade sales are booming, and plush Paddingtons are flying off the shelves. Yay!

Recently, we happily read about a Paddington Bear who’s been in the same window of a home in Maidstone, Kent (about 35 miles SE of London) since 1970. He was purchased by the Waite family a month after they moved into the house, and has been charming and cheering up passers-by ever since. I can easily imagine myself purposely walking by the Waite house in Sittingbourne Road whenever possible just to catch a glimpse of him. :)

Now an adult, Sittingbourne resident Tracey Cooper first saw Paddington when she was six. Through the years he made such an impression on her that she decided to write a poem to thank him and the Waites for the joy they’ve brought to the community. There’s nothing like a beloved bear to warm your heart.

PADDINGTON BEAR — a poem about myself as a child

Bundled into the car again, this girl of six,
Travelling from Lordswood, Chatham (out in the sticks).
Cutting through Boxley and fields stretching wide –
A regular car trip, our “Hospital Ride”.

Turning left at Penenden Heath and heading straight on,
We approach Sittingbourne Road, on the outskirts of Maidstone.
Swinging right at the end, we start to roll down the hill,
Past neat rows of houses with empty window sills.
Then all of a sudden, we look and he’s there-
Standing dutifully in his window, it’s PADDINGTON BEAR!

Dressed in his outfit that is suitable for the day,
Our little furry “weather forecaster” gives up his time to play.
He proudly does his duty with his shoulders pulled back,
Awaiting some eager faces to notice his shorts or plastic Mac.

I can’t help but feel affectionate towards this wee brown bear,
And dread the thought of passing by and finding him not there.
It’s thirty years later, and I am still looking with my Son,
Through a steamed-up car window, (I’m a sentimental mum!)
To find Paddington still standing there, in clothes all shining bright,
Has his jumper now got holes in? Or his Wellingtons feel too tight?
Does he have the same family, with children now all grown?
Is he tied into the deeds so that he will never lose his home?
Has he ever been photographed, his story put to print?
If you find a few minutes would you kindly try to fill me in.

Transferred to Medway Hospital, my trips are more remote,
But I still look out for my old, old friend, with his smile and duffle coat.

~ Copyright © 2010 Tracey Cooper, reposted by permission of Kent Online.

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Naturally Paddington answered Tracey with a little poem:

I watch for my friends

As I look from this place,

So as you pass by

I’ll know your kind face.

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The bear in the window is so well known, that should the Waites ever move, they’ve decided Paddington should remain at his post. You just never know when someone might need to see his friendly furry face. :)

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Most of us remember when we first read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and how it profoundly changed and affected us. It’s just that kind of book.

I was in sixth grade and read it for Mrs. Whang’s English class. We were all a little afraid of Mrs. Whang — she was notorious for being unfailingly strict and rarely smiled. No matter the assignment, only the best would do. For Little Women, we were divided into groups of four and asked to act out our favorite scene(s).

We decided on the first chapter and I was to play Jo. We dressed up in long skirts and shawls and I remember bounding onto the “stage” in my best tomboy fashion and blurting out, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” So began a lifelong love for all of Alcott’s books and a fierce yearning for the quintessential New England Christmas — a dreamlike fantasy of snow-blanketed landscapes and cozy fires, something about as foreign as you can imagine when you live in the land of palm trees and eternal summers.

(click to enlarge)

Heather Vogel Frederick’s new picture book adaptation of the Christmas episode from Little Women is a lovely way to meet the March sisters for the first time and bask in cherished holiday scenes brimming with the spirit of giving and gratitude. Frederick interweaves key elements from Alcott’s novel as she distills the essence of this holiday story (Beth’s frail health, Father away at war, Jo and Laurie’s friendship, Jo cutting and selling her hair, making do with what they have).

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You’ve got last minute guests coming for dinner and you need to whip up a quick and easy dessert.

Or maybe you’ve already made your Thanksgiving pumpkin and pecan pies, but need a little extra sweet something for holiday weekend guests.

What’s an adorable, well-intentioned host like you to do?

Ta da! Dorie Greenspan to the rescue with her Custardy Apple Squares!

You’ll likely have all the ingredients on hand already for this recipe; this baby can be eaten warm or cold, and it’s also good for breakfast. :)

This is just one of the goodies included in Dorie’s latest cookbook, Baking Chez Moi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). I just love Dorie and this book is definitely on my holiday wish list. :)

Check out the video:

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CUSTARDY APPLE SQUARES

  • 3 medium juicy, sweet apples (Gala, Fuji), peeled
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

3. Slice the apples from top to bottom using a mandoline, Benriner or a sharp knife, turning the fruit as you reach the core. The slices should be about 1/16th inch thick—elegantly thin, but not so thin that they’re transparent and fragile. Discard the cores.

4. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

5. Working in a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and, more important, the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by the milk and melted butter.

6. Turn the flour into the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the bowl, switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold the apples into the batter, turning everything around until each thin slice is coated in batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can—it will be bumpy; that’s its nature.

7. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed— make sure the middle of the cake has risen—and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

8. Using a long chef’s knife, cut the cake into 8 squares in the pan (being careful not to damage the pan), or unmold the cake onto a rack, flip it onto a plate and cut into squares. Either way, give the squares a dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving, if you’d like.

~ adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

BON APPETIT!

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Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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“The best way to make pie is to learn how to trust yourself and follow your nose — and the rest of your senses. That’s a poet’s advice too.” ~ Kate Lebo

Some of you may remember when Seattle pie poet Kate Lebo visited Alphabet Soup back in January to talk about A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press, 2014) — a delightfully quirky collection of prose poems, recipes, baking tips and ephemera. *licks lips*

In essence a fantasy zodiac that upends our assumptions about what poetry is and can be, her pie poems invited us to look at ourselves, face our fears, and articulate our desires.

Now we can delve even further into our tantalizing pie obsessions with Kate’s brand new cookbook, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter (Sasquatch Books, 2014), a between-the-covers sampling of her popular Pie School pastry academy classes. Oh, what a beauty it is!

Sure, there are many good pie cookbooks out there with tasty recipes and advice about how to fashion the perfectly tender flaky crust. But how many of these contain chapter intros and recipe header notes that read like prose poems? How many that serve up pie making process, social history, personal anecdotes, gorgeous photos, vintage chic, sass and class with such verve and heart?

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The furry helpers in the Alphabet Soup kitchen are just counting down the days till the new Paddington movie premieres in the U.S. on Christmas Day, which just happens to be Paddington’s winter birthday (he also celebrates June 25).

Though we’re disappointed Colin Firth decided to leave the project, and that the bear in the first movie trailer didn’t quite feel like the same character from the books, we’re still very pleased that Paddington will likely win over millions of new fans.

HarperCollins is re-releasing some of the Paddington novels and picture books, Michael Bond has written a new novel, Love From Paddington (hitting shelves in December), and there’s the wonderful Paddington Trail with 50 bear statues scattered around London. And what about all the coolio movie tie-in merchandise? Yes, please!

New PB Finger Puppets are faboo!

The set comes with Paddington and Aunt Lucy finger puppets, a two-sided backdrop and 24 stickers.

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