Tuesday, October 5, 2010

a quick story

in the picture you can see all the stuff i received after winning a giveaway on one of my favorite blogs. surprising factors: i won - i never do - and also, this is a romanian blog. you don't see that many giveaways on romanian blogs, especially not ones that allows u.s. residents to participate. cristi's bucatar maniac, which translates to maniac cook, has been gathering momentum for a while now and i'm besides myself to see his talent validated. if you don't speak romanian, there's the google translator in the sidebar. but seriously i doubt you'll need it, because cristi's shots are so incredible, they don't require explanation. you'll find lots and lots of stuff - jams and preserves (wait until you see those pics - if that won't make you crave jam, nothing ever will) a big dessert category, and an amazing savory section. what i really love about it though is that cristi will post every now and then about a simple, peasant dish or a very traditional pot, or better yet, snacks we all grew up on that i'd forgotten about. it takes me back and it warms my heart. lastly, cristi has a daughter. how is that relevant? pony cakes. cakes with ponies on them! multicolor, psychedelic ponies!!
about a month back i went over on my regular round, to find him hosting this giveaway for a $100 csn store gift card. can't hurt, i thought, and i left a comment, although i've never won anything before. well, won i did and i got a pasta machine, a silpat and a dough mat. and even though i had to chip in a bit to get the rose muffin pan, i couldn't resist. you see how cute it is! the dough mat - the yellow roll -  is wonderful. it stays into place on your counter, and its easy release helps tons when you work with difficult dough. it's also big enough to roll a 16 inch pie. i've been using it intensely. the silpat works exactly like you'd expect. nothing ever sticks to it, so it's a great piece to have around, especially as i've been baking some meringues. the pasta machine has yet to meet pasta dough. i've been busy, but apparently not sufficiently so that it would keep me from spending half the night trying to roll chocolate plastic through it. i've discovered it works good and dandy, but it helps to have another set of hands. it's not the kind you screw to the table, and it tends to get a bit hairy when you're trying to hold up a sheet in the air, crank the machine and hold it in place at the same time. i'm keeping my fingers crossed, waiting for the magical intersection of enough time, husband home, and husband willing to make fresh pasta. finally, look what the muffin tin produced, much - much - to my daughter's delight:

edible roses. i had picked up a delicata squash, and made it into a side dish by braising it in apple cider, with pineapple sage and rosemary until the cider reduced into a glaze. she did not eat it. (i've given up wondering why she doesn't like foods kids usually fight over). anyway, i refused to end it there, and as the squash was quite perfumed and sweet i pureed it with some ricotta and used it as a filling in these. i made a regular vanilla muffin batter, filled the tin half-way, spooned some squash in each and topped with more batter. did i mention the rose shape? zhara begged for more. if your picky eater might like these, please leave a comment for details.