Sunday, November 21, 2010

Irwanh Banshee Special Blend

Some say it’s the beginning of the end. Others say its an epic way to start off the holidays. Personally, I find it an excuse to wear my robe in public and drink butter beer like a grindylow. Here in Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse not only has butter beer, but serves both an alcoholic and an mugglebaby-friendly version. MWI (Magic While Intoxicated) FTW.

That is Brasnose.

Some butter beer links:

Fox News thinks they've found THE recipe for butter beer here.

Gastronomy Blog has actually been to Hogsmeade (aka Orlando, FL).

The Huffington Post also boasts of a prized butter beer concoction. I just want to say I've always thought the Huffington Post sounded like a wizarding publication.

Witches Duel: my thesis adviser and her daughter

I’m renaming my cat Crookshanks and I’ll be sporting an extra messy head of hair for the weekend a la mode Hermione. The creaks and groans of my old house will be attributed to Peeves and I might slip and call the boyfriend Ron. When I studied at Oxford I may or may not have pretended I was at Hogwarts and that the staircase to my little room changed between breakfast and class. Our meals at Hogwarts Brasenose College were served on long wooden tables complete with benches, a headmaster’s table, and crocks, bowls, and pitchers of fascinating foods and drinks. This was less an issue of magical gastronomy and more of a British- American culture clash. Stewed sausages, choco-“qwasants”, bacon that looked nothing like bacon, bangersnmash, shredded cheese sandwiches, prawn flavoured crisps, maltesers, bounty bars, garlic soups, squash drink, chocolate penguins, barley water, and figgy pudding to name a few. Mind you, these are muggle British foods. While in Oxford, instead of befriending the locals, the cluster of proper Brasenose students or my fellow Americans, I snuck into the kitchens. My room, conveniently in the tower, yes tower, above the kitchens, seemed to draw up he intoxicating scents from below.

Just add the stupid 3/4

I would rush down the stairs before breakfast to peek through the grease stained windows, past the stocked larder and to the stoves hot with bubbling pots and cauldrons (maybe). I was caught a few times when some of the sous came out for a smoke. They couldn’t understand why I would be interested in the kitchens when I was there to study stuffy Jane Austen. They should take a look at my current thesis. During my last week in Oxford I mustered the courage to ask for the head chef and her recipe for the sticky toffee pudding we had been served a few nights earlier. The next day, by way of proper oxford student named Tom, I was delivered a cleanly folded piece of notebook paper with a hand written, personal recipe for the Brasenose pudding. Tom thought it a little weird that I would want a recipe but I knew the other students were a little jealous of my acquisition (maybe).

In the kitchens

In the spirit of the holidays and peeing-in-pants excitement for HP 7 here’s my secreted recipe for sticky toffee pudding straight from the house elves that work in the kitchens at Brasenose.

Sticky Toffee Pudding: 6 portions

50g margarine

150g granulated sugar

250g Flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

150g stoned dates

½ pt boiling water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda, yanks)

1 tsp vanilla essence

65g brown sugar

35g butter

2 tbs double cream (heavy cream)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Sift the flour and baking powder. Beat the whisked egg into the creamed mixture with a little of the flour. Continue beating for a minute or so before mixing in the rest of the flour.

Flour the dates lightly and chop them finely. Pour the boiling water over them. Mix in the bicarbonate of soda and vanilla. Add this mixture to the batter and blend well. Turn it into a buttered cake tin. Bake for about 40 mins at 160C ( 320 F).

For the Topping:

Heat the brown sugar, butter and cream and simmer. Pour over the hot pudding. Place under a grill until it bubbles.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Service Announcement: In effect through the end of Winter

Smelling slightly putrid yet fresh and grass-like at the same time. Leaving stringy bits, impervious to soaps, oils or lotions, and staining the hands a happy shade of orange. At this point, ethics begin to meddle with holiday festivities. It boils down to one question: Do you relish being squash-stained up to your elbows or do you carve-and-run?

I speak of innards-abuse. A terrifying annual occurrence that rips families apart, literally reeks havoc on your garbage bin, litters your lawn and frightens pumpkin purists like myself. If you find yourself in the carve-and-run category you cannot claim environmental management; there is no catch-and-release in the pumpkin world. Do not fall for the common misconceptions of gourd rights or pumpkin mistreatment. Take a cue from our hunting forefathers: if you kill it, use all of it. The common pumpkin can be rendered down into pounds of fresh meat, pulp and seeds. The outer shell makes an acceptable jack-o-lantern, soup receptacle or cat house. The stem of course can be whittled down to toothpicks, carried around as a lightweight weapon, or glued to other non-natural products to make it appear as if you grew it (i.e. TV, fake pumpkin bought lacking stem, vehicles, small or large cats).

You ask then, "what am I supposed to do with all those pumpkin guts?!" Scoop them, Cook them and Save them. Then you can go back and do any number of these fun things:

1. Bake the pumpkin seeds like so, so (salty)or so (sweet).
2. The traditional pumpkin pie from Martha Stewart, she's a fellow pumpkin purist and encourages you to use a real sugar pumpkin.
3. pepita (pumpkin seeds) brittle
4. Salted Pumpkin Caramels from
5. pumpkin soup from The Merry Gourmet
6. pumpkin mac n' cheese from (never home) maker
7. pumpkin souffle from everyfoodfits
8. pumpkin face cream