Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I need a (festive) drink.

Or want, rather.  I want a (festive) drink.  "Need" implies that I'm stressed, which is so not the case, at least not at the moment.  I'm actually quite stoked (brah) for a number of reasons.

  • Thanksgiving weekend positively ruled.  And I hope yours did, too.
  • In 19 days, my pudgy brew belly will be sprawled out on a beach towel in Kauai.
  • Approximately 35% of my gift list is complete.
  • The Carpenters Christmas Portrait album.
  • Seasonal beer.
  • Seasonal beer.
  • Seasonal beer.

When a really, really good beer is available only once a year, it's a pretty big deal when that beer makes its annual arrival.  But when it's released only once in a lifetime?  That takes a whole new level of planning, especially when it comes to issues of storage space, consumption and your willingness to share with others.

The Bruery created a series called The 12 Beers of Christmas.  Every year, for 12 years, a new beer is brewed for the corresponding gift given in the song.  They kicked off the series in 2008 with Partridge in a Pear Tree.  In 2009, it was 2 Turtle Doves, brewed with cocoa nibs, pecans and caramel malts (mmm...turtle candies.)

For the 2010 holiday season, my true lush gave to me:

Holy sweet tidings.

Those Bruery folks can brew no wrong.
(Har?  Fine, no har.)

But seriously, this stuff is fantastic.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to sample the first two in the series, not by choice but by lack of distribution in this area.  Therefore, I plan on securing the nine remaining gifts and cellaring them in a safe, dark place until 12 Drummers Drumming is released in 2019.  That, my friends, is going to be a very merry Christmas.

Looking for a cool gift idea for the ale lover in your life?  Here you go.  Start with a bottle 3 French Hens and, chances are, he or she will most likely covet the entire collection going forward.  That takes care of one person on your list for the next 9 years.  Beats giving a one year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking a post break so that I focus on making this ridiculous pumpkin tart (thanks Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon!) and spending time with my crazy awesome Brady Bunch family.

Have a happy, relaxing, warm, chaotic, blissful, memorable, elasticized-waistbanded Thanksgiving, everyone.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sugared Cinema: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I (2010)

It all ends here.

As Harry Potter Week draws to a close, I just wanted to thank you guys for politely putting up with my fanaticism (smiling through clenched teeth, I'm sure) but most of all, for taking the time to comment and enter the giveaway!  I really enjoyed reading all of your movie-going quirks and techniques...who knew snack smuggling was such a common thing?  If anyone figures out a way to sneak in beer (oh hai Mia and Kristin) without it getting warm or losing its fizz, find me.

Without further ado, the winner of the $25 Fandango Movie Gift Card giveaway is:


Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-11-19 12:04:11 EST 

Congratulations Jami!  Send me your email address at threebakingsheets [at] yahoo [dot] com.

For the last HP-related recipe, I was feeling inspired by Fred and George Weasley, who are known for always injecting some humor into an otherwise dreary situation.  Dark times are ahead...might as well go out with a bang, right?

Exploding Bonbons
Recipe from About.com

Here's what you'll need:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
4 ounces heavy cream
5 packets of Pop Rocks
12 ounces chocolate candy coating (for dipping)

Pour the chocolate into a medium heat-safe bowl.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute.  Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the ganache chill in the fridge for 3 hours while you watch Half-Blood Prince to recap.

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Scoop small amounts of ganache into your hand and roll into 3/4-inch balls.  The chocolate needs some coercing when you're trying to make them round.  Really get into it.  Don't be afraid to make that truffle your bitch.

After you've rolled them all out, pour 4 packages of Pop Rocks onto a shallow plate.  I found these Candy Cane flavored Pop Rocks at Michael's but you can use any flavor you want.

Roll the balls in the Pop Rocks and return to the baking sheet.

 Slide the pan of truffles into the freezer for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the dipping chocolate.  If you can't fit them in the freezer, the fridge is fine, too.

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate candy coating according to the directions on the package.

Take the truffles out of the fridge.  One by one, dip them in the melted chocolate, making sure they're fully covered.  Use a fork to lift them out, tapping the side of the bowl to take off any excess chocolate.  Place them on the baking sheet and sprinkle some of the Pop Rocks from the remaining package on top as a cute garnish.

Educational Decree Number Sixty-Seven:  Exploding bon-bons are no longer permitted to explode. Hand in immediately to Ministry disposal unit.
Umbridge can bite me.

Alright, go on.  Go and enjoy your weekends, everyone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter Week: Treacle Tart

They chose the one nearest a gold-colored cauldron that was emitting one of the most seductive scents Harry had ever inhaled: somehow it reminded him simultaneously of treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle, and something flowery he thought he might have smelled at the Burrow.

Now would be a good time for one of those "Woooooo!" clips they play on Saved By the Bell when one of the cast members gets some lip action.

Alright, alright...settle down.  We need to focus on what's really important here:  the fact that the first thing that comes to Harry's mind when he gets a whiff of Amortentia (the strongest love potion in the world) is a baked good.

And this is why he is the Chosen One.  Well, one of the reasons why.

Treacle Tart
Recipe from Evelyn on Food.com

Here's what you'll need:

pie crust pastry for a 9" tart
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup golden syrup*
2 Tablespoons lemon juice 
whipped cream, for garnish

If you're not familiar with the stuff, golden syrup is a sweetener made from syrups that remain after sugar is removed from the refining process (thanks Wiki.)  It's popular in the UK and the most well-known brand is Lyle's.  

 If you can't find it in your local grocery stores, you can order it online.  Or, if you're fortunate enough to live in the vicinity of a World Market, you can score some there.  They have an awesome imported foods section.  And throw pillow section.  And rug section.  And glassware section.  And...

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out your pastry and press into a tart pan.  Trim off any of the excess dough.  You'll want to use it for the top of your tart.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, lemon zest and ginger.

Sprinkle half of the oat mixture over the pastry.  Pour the golden syrup on top.

Drizzle the lemon juice over the syrup then sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top.

Roll out those dough scraps from earlier and cut them in strips to make a lattice top.  To think this technique used to look impossible when I was a kid.  It's all an illusion!

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Oops.  Sides are a bit high.

Treacle tart is a simple, comforting dessert that takes very few ingredients to make (assuming you use pre-made pie crust pastry like I did) but it's also very, very sweet.  Just a heads up.  Whipped cream really helps cut down on some of that sugariness.

Love potion.  With a crust.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter Week: Pumpkin Pasties

"Anything off the cart, dears?" 

Harry had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry - but the woman didn't have Mars Bars.  What she did have were Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life.  Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.
Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.

"Hungry, are you?"

"Starving," said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.

See, that's something you just don't get out of the movie.  The food cravings.  How can you read that and not crave a pumpkin pasty?  Granted, my knowledge of pasties prior to reading The Sorcerer's Stone had less to do with pumpkin and more to do with sweater puppies...but now?  Pasties will always and forever be Harry's first taste of sweet, flaky freedom on the Hogwarts Express.

 Pumpkin Pasties
Recipe from Britta Blvd.

Here's what you'll need:

pumpkin pie filling, prepared (see below)
pie crust pastry, enough for one 9-inch pie

For the filling, use your own favorite pumpkin pie recipe.  I went the easy route and used the classic recipe on the back of the Libby can.

For the crust, you can use your own recipe or take another shortcut and buy it pre-made.  I bought the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts - my new favorite baking staple.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  

Prepare the pumpkin pie filling and pour it into a large, ovenproof dish (the crust will come later.)  Let it bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or so.  When a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, take it out and let it cool on a rack.

Corner bites taken for scientific purposes.

Once the filling has cooled down a bit and you're ready to make your pasties, heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or use parchment paper to line a baking sheet.

Thinly roll out the pie crust and cut into 4-inch circles.  If you don't have a cookie cutter, use a wide drinking glass. 

Spoon a small dollop of pumpkin pie filling onto each pastry circle.

Fold the crust over, forming a little pocket and seal the edges with a fork.

Using a sharp knife, give the top a few steam vents.

Lightly brush each pasty with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Or leave them plain.  Totally your call.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown.  Let them cool down.

These definitely qualify as a fun food.  Right up there with animal crackers and dino-shaped "nuggets."

Perfect size for smuggling into a theater.  This weekend.

Enjoy, friends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter Week: A Giveaway!

You know when you recommend a favorite band or movie or book to someone and, even though they initially show some interest, you sorta already know that they won't listen to or watch or read your suggestion?

Yeah, lame.

So then you know how awesome it feels when someone actually follows through with your suggestion.  It's grand!  You get genuine excitement out of it and your automatic reaction is to grab them by the shoulders, give them a few hard shakes and scream into their face, "GET OUT!  What did you think?!"  Instant bonus points to that person for taking interest and not pressing charges.

But sometimes people need a little incentive.  With the right blend of Red Bull and Jessie Spano pills, I could talk Deathly Hallows for days (and lose a good number of readers, friends and risk possible family disownage.)  Instead, I'm giving away a $25 Fandango Movie Gift Card so that one lucky reader can witness the beginning of the end on their own.

How to win?  Leave a comment answering this question:

What kind of movie-goer are you? 

Do you arrive early to score the money seat?  Do you load up at the concession stand or smuggle in your own goods?  Are you an "opening weekend" or "wait until the hype dies down" type?

The contest is open to US residents (sorry non-USers) and ends Thursday, November 18 @ 11:59pm EST.  The winner will be selected at random and announced in Friday's Sugared Cinema post.

Good luck!  Now would be a good time to drink that Felix Felicis you've been stashing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter Week: Butterbeer

In four days, the hunt for horcruxes continues.

In four days, we get to see Severus Snape sporting a longer, piece-y-er 'do.

In four days, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Part I hits the theaters.


As if making you sit through my Hogwarts slideshow a few weeks ago wasn't torture enough, this week we're celebrating Friday's epic cinematic arrival with some HP-related treats.

Butterbeer is easily the most well-known out of all the food and drink mentioned in the books.  I scoured the internet for a recipe that would closely replicate the J.K. Rowling-approved butterbeer served at The Wizarding World theme park.  I used a recipe from Dana Zia's blog and it was exactly what I was hoping it would be:  freakin' delicious.

The Three Broomsticks Butterbeer
Makes two Butterbeers

Here's what you'll need:

1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
3-4 Wether's Original candies or caramels
1 Tablespoon of mulling spices*
1 12-ounce bottle cream soda

*I didn't have mulling spices so I added a few dashes each of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the cider, mulling spices and candies.

Stir constantly until the candies have melted.

Remove from heat and strain the mixture.  Let it cool down a bit.

 Failed attempt at conjuring a patronus in the measuring cup.

Divide the mixture between two glasses.

Top if off with the cream soda.

Mmm.  A nice little sugar buzz waiting to happen.

If you want a little extra warmth in your cheeks, spike it with some apple brandy or rum.  Enjoy, muggles.

(Four days!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sugared Cinema: Wayne's World (1992)

 Uh, Wayne?


Do you ever get the feeling Benjamin's just using us?

Good call.  It's like he wants us to be liked by everyone.  I mean Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everybody liked.  They left that to the Bee Gees. 

Wayne's World had a lot more going for it than all the other SNL sketch-based movies.  Let's take a look:

Mike Myers
Dana Carvey
 a mobile rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody
Milwaukee: Its History, Its Pronunciation by Alice Cooper 
The Graduate: The Remix
Stan Mikita's Donuts

In 1994, King's Dominion, our semi-local amusement park, added two Wayne's World-themed attractions to the park:  a wooden coaster affectionately named The Hurler and a Stan Mikita's.  I'm not sure if you could actually buy donuts there or if it was just a gift shop.  Either way, I remember thinking it was pretty sweet when I was 14.  Since then, Stan Mikita's has been turned into a generic diner and The Hurler has been stripped of all its Wayne's World likenesses.

But after 18 years, Wayne's World is still one of my favorite 90's movies.  And without fail, I'm always left with a craving for red rope licorice, Doritos and, most of all, donuts.

Baked Donuts
Recipe via Steel City Flan (thanks Billie!)

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95-105 degrees
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons unbutter, diced
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/3 cup of the milk and the yeast.  Let it sit for five minutes.

Add the butter and sugar to the remaining milk.  

Stir well then pour into the yeast mixture.

Add the eggs, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt to the yeast mixture.  Use a fork to stir until all of the flour is moistened.

Attach the dough hook then beat the dough for two minutes on medium.  You want it to be smooth, not sticky.  Feel free to add a little milk or flour until the dough reaches the right consistency.

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover it with a towel.  Place the bowl in a warm area and let it do its thing for an hour.

Lightly degas the dough (knead out some of the air.)  Flour your working surface then roll out your dough to 1/2-inch thickness.

Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out your donuts.  

Transfer the little dough rounds to the baking sheets.

Use a smaller round cutter to cut out the hole.

Cover the donuts and let them rise for 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are a light golden brown.

Move the donuts to a cooling rack then doll them up.  Glaze 'em, powder 'em, dip 'em in chocolate.  I used Alton Brown's glaze recipe.

 It will be mine.  Oh yes.  It will be mine.


Well, that's all the time we had for our movie.  We hope you found it entertaining, whimsical and yet relevant, with an underlying revisionist conceit that bullied the films emotional attachments to the subject matter. 

Party on.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Past 48 Hours.