I can’t lie to you guys. 2011 was quite the blogging fail, on my part.
For the past week or so, I’ve been walking around, lounging in my house, and chatting at bars about how I needed to write something for this post. Walking. Lounging. Chatting. Designing offensive Valentine’s Day cards. And not writing.
I hesitate to count the posts that I wrote in 2011, in fear that I could count them on the fingers on just one of my hands. Fail, fail, fail! It really doesn’t feel like so much time has passed since I wrote my last 2011 new year post, vowing to blog more, and essentially turning down the idea of new years resolutions.
2011 involved a lot of not taking action. Also, a lot of mistakes. But another year goes by, and I catch myself doing things that I’d rather not be doing. 2011 was a strange year – I baked less, cooked more, and photographed less. I worked too much.
I’m currently sitting in a close friend’s studio apartment, multi-tasking between petting her eighteen-pound cat and typing. It’s the same apartment that we celebrated the New Year in – a tiny, four-hundred square foot, dark-wood-floored and window-ridden feline abode, decorated in her own botanical drawings and her scattered book collection.
The dinner we planned was beyond phenomenal: cheese and sausage stuffed mushrooms, a pear and toasted almond salad, parmesan-crusted salmon smeared with a collection of pestos, and these chocolate covered cherries for dessert.
I enjoy throwing dinner parties – it’s a simple way to show off, hang out with friends, and enjoy something decadent. In my head, the menu-planning takes more creativity than anything, but it seems as if the timing of the cooking appears to be the greatest challenge, in the eyes of my guests. Honestly, timing itself is an art form, but it’s included in the menu-planning stage. Especially at our age, when you probably only have one oven and a frighteningly small kitchen. I’ve willingly volunteered my services to help my friends learn how to plan and cook a full meal. Perhaps, it will someday turn into a business venture. Like most things, it takes hard work and preparation. I memorize all of my recipes long before execution, and usually have a friend play sous chef or dishwasher to keep things moving along.
Then again, if I ever open a supper club, I already have a list of friends/besties who’d make excellent hired sous chefs.
With the new year comes a renewed need to do what I love – enjoying my life, and making sure that every day is fulfilling and worth every second. Savor every bite, be creative in every measure, and know my body. After all, I started 2012 with a fairly intense training schedule, and a much appreciated winter trip to a beach on the Chesapeake Bay.
Bourbon Chocolate Cherries
1 bag of dark cherries (I adopted these ones because a roommate swore she wouldn’t eat them before they went bad)
1 lb milk chocolate
Enough bourbon or whiskey to just cover the cherries in a bowl
First, pit the cherries using a cherry pitter – I used the blunt end of the chopstick to push out the pits. Warning: do not wear white when you do this. My UCLA sweatshirt will never forget the night I pitted cherries.
Place all the pitted cherries in a large bowl, and pour enough bourbon into the bowl so the cherries are just covered. Drown them. Let them soak in the liquor for one to two hours – but no longer. After they’re done, strain them, and save the liquor for something else (if anything, you have cherry-flavored bourbon).
For this recipe, I learned how to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate ensures that, when cooled, the chocolate hardens correctly, and has the right color and sheen to it.
Chop the chocolate with a serrated knife, and simmer an inch or two of water in a medium saucepan – simmer, do not boil. Place a metal bowl over the saucepan, and melt two-thirds of the chocolate in that bowl. Have a candy thermometer handy – bring the chocolate to 115 degrees while on the stove.
When the chocolate in the bowl is completely melted, remove from heat, and pour in the remaining chocolate. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Then, measure the temperature. Continue stirring until the chocolate reaches 87 degrees Fahrenheit – at this temperature, the chocolate is ready to use. You can only temper milk chocolate a few times at most, so you want to keep the chocolate at this temperature (or else what cools too much will not be usable).
Take one of the cherries with a spoon, roll it in the melted chocolate, and lift it out. Place it on a cool cookie sheet, and repeat until all the cherries are completed. I sprinkled a little bit of salt on some of the chocolate covered cherries.
Once finished, it’s not necessary to cool the cherries in the fridge, but it will definitely speed up the process.