Hungry Critters Open Thread

Here are a couple of beautiful, voracious birds I saw hunting for dinner yesterday evening. First up, an osprey perched in a tree looking for fish:

The same osprey giving the wings a stretch:

I had hoped to capture video of it diving for fish. It perches nearby and dive-bombs fish just about every day. But after training my camera on it for several minutes, I got distracted by other things. Immediately afterward, I heard the splash (which sounds like a small child doing a cannonball into a pool) and knew I’d missed the shot.

Also, this gorgeous woodpecker was in a nearby tree pecking for bugs:

Speaking of dinner, I tried something new for our’s yesterday evening. Our local grocery chain (Publix) sells packets of “skillet gnocchi” in the dairy aisle near the fresh pastas. I’d never noticed it before but thought it would make a relatively cheap and quick weeknight dinner — instructions said to sautée it in a couple of tablespoons of butter for five minutes and serve it with sauce.

Instead, I sautéed it with butter and a drizzle of olive oil and added a handful of mushrooms and a couple of julienned sage leaves, then threw in some minced garlic for the last couple of minutes (so many recipes instruct people to burn garlic!). Then I squeezed a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice on it and topped it with grated Parmesan.

My husband put red sauce and yet another sprinkling of Parm on his because that’s how he rolls, but I had it as described above, unadorned. We both agreed it was fantastic. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but so easy and tasty!

Got any cheap, fast dinner hacks to share? Feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!








“What in tarnation?”

Badger always looks super alarmed when I’m dusting in his location:

I mean, I know dusting is rare around here, but really?

We’re having a chill day. The mister took the kids fishing upriver, and what do I do when I finally have a moment to myself? Dust and make fun of my dog on the internet.

Hope y’all are doing something more exciting. Open thread!

ETA: I’m also making a big pot of ropa vieja using Ingrid Hoffmann’s recipe. It’s a great recipe, and I’ve made it dozens of times, but Hoffmann must have servants because she unnecessarily directs you to dirty an entire sink full of dishes when in reality all you need is one big pot and a large bowl.

PPS: I’d link the recipe, but the WP mobile interface sucks great big green gators…








This Is Not Going to End Well for Europe: EU Regulator Denies McDonald’s Big Mac Claim

From Courthouse News:

(CN) — There’s only one Big Mac, right? Not so fast. In a supersized trademark controversy, a European regulator has ruled in favor of an Irish fast-food restaurant chain and stripped McDonald’s of its exclusive use of the name Big Mac in the European Union.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office, based in Spain, recently ruled in favor of a popular Irish burger chain called Supermac’s and said McDonald’s had failed to prove it can claim ownership of the Big Mac trademark.

McDonald’s on Thursday vowed to appeal and claims it still retains the trademark rights to Big Mac, the iconic stacked hamburger with its special sauce and storied history of Big Mac lovers, among them President Donald Trump, and John Travolta’s character in the film “Pulp Fiction.”

Supermac’s has challenged the American giant since 2014, claiming McDonald’s engaged in “trademark bullying” to stifle competition and stop it from expanding into Great Britain and across Europe. Supermac’s line of burgers and meals are similar to McDonald’s. On its menu is a Mighty Mac burger and it has plans for a SuperMac burger.

In its filings, McDonald’s claimed Supermac’s name was confusingly similar to Big Mac. McDonald’s Big Mac trademark covered not only burgers but also franchises.

The first Supermac’s restaurant opened on the main street of Ballinasloe in County Galway, Ireland, in 1978, and today there are more than 100 outlets across Ireland and Northern Ireland. Pat McDonagh, the chain’s founder, says Supermac was his boyhood nickname when he played Gaelic football.

If you’re still hungry for more, click the link and dig in!

How long until the President nukes Ireland and Spain?

Open thread!








A Late Evening Snack: Flourless, Sugarless Chocolate Cake!

My mother found a recipe for a chocolate cake made without flour or sugar in some magazine and brought it to me and asked me to make it. This was for two reasons. The first is she wanted to try it. The second is that she knows that my system does not react well to flour, sugar, or other refined carbohydrates. So today I  took out the emergency tiara, the matching apron and oven mitts, and the wand and conducted an experiment with a little long distance collaboration with TaMara. Specifically, I don’t have a large food processor. I just don’t have use for one. And the recipe, as you’ll see below, calls for mixing everything together in a large food processor. After a couple of emails back and forth, I went with her recommendation to just use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Before I provide the recipe, this one has some interesting items in it. Specifically avocados. The cake batter gets three and the frosting gets two of them. Instead of cake flour or all purpose flour, it gets almond flour. And instead of sugar, this cake gets honey as the sweetener. I also added a bit of vanilla to the frosting even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, as well as adding an additional 1/4 cup of honey to the frosting as I thought it needed a bit more sweetness.

The cake is very rich. And it’s chocolateness is very rich. The texture is amazing, it is silky smooth. The flavor is a very deep chocolate with just a hint of sweetness. If you’re a dark chocolate fan, especially the dark chocolate that isn’t very sweet, then this cake is for you.

Here’s the recipe:

Cake

3 avocados mashed (this is 1 and 1/4 cups)
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or standing mixer using the whisk attachment until smooth. Divide the batter into two 9 inch cooking spray coated cake pans for 20 to 25 minutes until done. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

2 fresh avocados mashed (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup honey (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil (I used grapeseed oil as I don’t have any coconut oil)

Blend all ingredients in a standing mixer using the whisk attachment until smooth. Chill at least 30 minutes before spreading on cake. Makes 6-8 serving.

When I assembled the cake I used a good quality orange marmalade in between the layers and to crumb coat the top of the cake. The next time I make this I think I’m going to make an amaretto* flavored whipped cream for between the layers and to crumb coat the top. I’ll garnish a slice of the cake with that same whipped cream.

Here’s some pictures.

(Ready to be crumb coated and frosted)

 

(Crumb coated in orange marmalade and ready for frosting)

(Crumb coated in orange marmalade and ready for frosting)

(Frosted and ready to serve)

Bon apetit!

We are off the strainer and through the cutting board…

Open thread!

* You can use the liqueur of your choice: amaretto, Bailey’s, kahluah, whatever you prefer. Or you could just flavor the whipped cream with almond extract. Or orange extract. Or lemon extract. All of those would pair very well with this cake.








Sunday Morning Open Thread: Fruits of the Season

When I was growing up in NYC, the “Man o Manischewitz” jingle was so much a part of the holiday season that I never realized other people might not have the same memories. The Spousal Unit (raised in rural upper lower Michigan) just wandered in to ask why I was playing old radio ads. But he remembered his elderly *very* respectable Midwestern Ohio grandmother back in the same time period, after being ordered by her doctor to drink a glass of wine every evening for her heart, using Manischewitz for that purpose. So the advertising must’ve had some outside-the-Northeast impact.

In hindsight, I suspect Manischewitz might’ve been the secret ingredient in quite a few of the alcoholic-enough-to-make-the-kids-tipsy fruitcakes baked by the local Italian nonnas. (My Irish neighbors weren’t much for baking; we had Italian bakeries and Jewish delis to supply our culinary shortfalls, which given the state of Irish-American cooking in those days was probably for the best.)

Manischewitz wine has long enjoyed crossover appeal. Last year, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about its popularity in Asian-American communities and in the 1950s and 60s it was also a popular wine in the African-American community

He says when Jews first arrived to New York they needed wine for most religious ceremonies and holidays.

“The only grapes that were available was something called the Concord variety of grapes. They’re not sweet,” he says. “So in order to make them palatable, they would make this very sour grape into wine and then they would add sugar.”

It turns out, the very, very sweet wine is just the right flavor profile for Bethel’s go-to Christmas drink, sorrel. In Trinidad, she says, it’s not Christmas without the fragrant drink made from hibiscus blooms…

I’m sure some of you sophisticated readers will have OPINIONS about black cake: