happy endings in the kitchen episode 13: Cinnamon scrolls with bacon and maple syrup icing

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Secret Mission Fail

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was SecretAgent.

Yes, SecretAgent.  I had been traveling around the world and had recently arrived in Toronto, Canada to visit and stay with a close girlfriend, her husband, and two small children.  They were situated outside the city in a beautiful log cabin nestled by trees of every glorious colour, and surrounded by bulbs bursting forth with happy flowers.  We spent a relaxing few days or so catching up, talking life, drinking hot chocolate, and being entertained and exhausted by small children.  But on the last day of my stay we weren’t to stay in by the fire.  My girlfriend’s husband was an army officer and I had been invited to join them in Toronto for the annual army ball.  It was a big, posh event with fancy food, flowing champagne and visiting English royalty.  Dressed to the nines in borrowed black velvet that clung to every part of my terrain I was feeling excited for the night ahead.  And I had a pre-arranged date.  He was the best friend of my friend’s husband, personable and charming, attractively sharp and debonaire, looking like a newly initiated member of the rat pack in his his freshly pressed Italian suit, he worked as an undercover agent and had just returned from a mission in Afghanistan, his disguise beard shaven off only that day, and his liveliness and vigour for life was infectious to everyone around him.  Note: He was also married, and had left his wife and newborn baby at home for the evening.

And so, it was nothing.  The night started with all of us sharing a glass of champagne, engaged in great conversation and eating any of the hors’d’oeuvre that wandered past temptingly on a plate.  But as we sat down at our designated table and found ourselves next to each other SecretAgent unveiled his secret agent.  He was full of wild stories, devilish humour, and the energy he was giving out was anything but that of a taken man.  He paid keen attention to my wine glass, making sure to refill it if it started looking thirsty, always keeping his focus entirely on my person. And as we started on dessert his focus only intensified.  “Where did you come from?”, “you are breath-taking”, “where do you travel to next? Maybe I could meet you there?”.  Thinking that SecretAgent was being a little forward and perhaps forgetting the existence of wifey I had a quick word of concern with my friend.  She expressed surprise at SecretAgent’s bold manner but was convinced that his intentions were friendly, and promised to keep an eye out for any frisky naughtiness in the meantime.

By this stage I was feeling very tipsy and slightly euphoric, so I decided to relax and keep having fun.  But at some stage not too long after I went from feeling tipsy to drunkety drunk drunk.  Perhaps I hadn’t been paying attention to how often my glass had been refilled.  And from then on the details of my memory become a little sketchy.  Although I do recall SecretAgent running his hand down my back whilst whispering “I can’t wait to take this dress off you…”.  Frisky naughtiness indeed.  But from there my memory fails me completely.  It’s a black hole.

However, thankfully my friend had been keeping an eye out as promised as she happily informed me of the missing details the next day.  Apparently her husband had come to the rescue and man-handled SecretAgent and I away to the safety of the shared hotel room that we were all intended to sleep in.  I was put to bed and SecretAgent was banished to sleep on the other side of the room.  But when the lights were out I proceeded to remove my top and attempt to climb “like a tiger” on all fours across the obstacle of each bed, including one containing two small children.  My mission was to get to SecretAgent.  Word was that I put on ‘quite the show’.  Perhaps there had been something other than wine fuelling my obscene antics?  Never before had I behaved in such an uncontrolled lascivious fashion after a glass of wine or five.  And I can’t help but speculate that SecretAgent may have had a ‘briefcase’ of antidotes that could assist on such occasions.  But by the next morning the only thing in my head was a will to survive the most incredibly painful hangover I had ever experienced.  That and the feeling of relief to have avoided being poked by such a danger seeking, drink spiking(?), marriage faking, ingenuine, non-valiant, similarly short but not so attractive try-hard version of Tom Cruise.  Time to put this one to bed, with a clear head.  I’m getting me some maple syrup and bacon and turning up the oven.  This one has to be tasty, for sure.  And this time I’m going to remember every moment of it.

Further note: I was lucky enough to have had a friend looking out for me on this particular occasion but drink spiking is no laughing matter and certainly can’t be forgiven with a plate of fatty goodness accompanied by a story shaming.  If this happens or has happened to you the best course of action is to seek medical advice and emotional support, and report any suspicious goings-on to the police.  I have no proof if I was a victim to such foul play but am so grateful that I didn’t fall victim and become his foul prey.

A taste of Canada

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Cinnamon scrolls with Bacon and Maple Syrup Icing

Ingredients:

7 g package dry or instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
76 grams butter
2 eggs
4 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
76 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
5-10 pieces middle bacon, thickly sliced
Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
50 grams butter
3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
Combine your dry yeast with the warm milk and leave for 5 minutes.  If using instant yeast you can just add it to the flour.
Beat 76 grams of butter with the white sugar.  Add eggs and whisk.  Add in flour, yeast and milk and combine.  Knead the dough until it’s a good consistency, so it’s not too tacky to the touch and it binds smoothly.  Place in bowl, cover, and leave to rise until dough has doubled in size, for an hour to an hour and a half.  Make sure the room is at a suitable temperature for this to occur, around 27 degrees if possible.
In the meantime cut up the bacon into strips as you like.  You can either pre-cook to make sure they are crispy or leave to cook inside the scrolls when they go into the oven.
In a separate bowl combine the other 76 g of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  When risen adequately roll out your dough on to a floured surface until it’s approximately 20 inches by 16 inches.  Once rolled spread the cinnamon butter evenly across the surface.  Now scatter the uncooked or pre-crisped bacon over the dough.  Carefully roll the dough until it is a log.  Cut into 2 inch pieces with a hot knife and place side by side on a well greased baking tray.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until risen and golden.
Prepare icing mixture by combining icing sugar, butter and maple syrup.  Add maple syrup to taste or if you prefer your icing a little runnier.  Spread across the top of each sweet, cinnamony, bacon loaded treat.

Um, think I may have cardiac issues if I keep eating these but right now I have no conscience.  This is a taste memory worth keeping.

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happy endings in the kitchen episode 12: Irish Guinness Stew

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No luck with this Irish

Are you suffering from dating exhaustion? Tired of swiping right to disappointment? Kissed too many amphibians in princely clothing?

Well then there was NearlyKilledMe.

Yes, NearlyKilledMe.  Saturday night and it was a party.  For a one year old.  Hosted by a close friend it was one of those gatherings busy with screaming children, family, friends of family with more screaming children, and an endless supply of fairy bread and creaming soda.  I felt naked childless, and nervously aware of my tendency to use crass humour and drop the f-bomb.  Not a good mother figure.  I was standing alone, avoiding soda-foaming-at-the-mouth children, a piece of fairy bread in hand and a glass of wine in the other when I heard a humoured voice from above, “interesting combination”.  I looked up and up and up to where the voice fell from.  He was tall.  Very tall.  He stood at 6 ft 7, a gentle giant and a work colleague of the host, a chef by trade who preferred eating toast and yogurt on his nights off, he was a motorbike enthusiast and dog lover with shoulder length sun streaked curls and clear celestial blue eyes who spoke lovingly of his family and desperately longed to have a family of his own, and spoke proudly of his Irish heritage but had sadly lost any trace of an accent to the Australian surf at the age of eight.  Note: He had just been in an on-off-on-off relationship with a woman with two small children, and his eyes may have sparkled a little and his brow may have creased a tad when he talked about them.  But we talked and laughed and made our very own party.  And before we knew it there was not a frankfurter, party hat or screaming child in sight.  There was a spare bed though and we decided to share it, fully clothed, still full of conversation and slightly in awe of what we were discovering.  It was a largely sleepless night but I awoke entangled in his long branchlike arms feeling invigorated with a heart ready for love.  And with details exchanged we planned to meet again within the week.

And so, it was the beginning of something special.  My phone became my heartbeat in the days that followed as we shared practically every living moment with each other by text, counting down the seconds until we saw each other again.  He even opened a Facebook account so we could have another point of contact.  Ah, infatuation.  And the date was to be a surprise.  He would pick me up at six and take me to an unknown secretive destination.  I was dizzy with excitement.  So when he arrived on his motorbike with an extra helmet I nearly lost my pelvic floor.  I’d never pillioned before but I was so willing to try for my Irish giant.  Little did I know of the journey ahead and how unprepared I was for it.  It was nearly two hours on an open road in 56km/hour winds wearing no more than a pair of jeans and a lightweight jacket, nearly being blown into oncoming traffic, chilled to the very core, and clinging on for dear sweet life.  And our point of arrival was the same place we had met.  Only this time there were no screaming children and there was a hot meal and a bottle of wine waiting.  The first words out of NearlyKilledMe’s mouth were “man, I thought we were going to die”.  My heart pounding I was in a state of wired shock, almost convinced by the joyful adrenaline coursing through my body that I’d just had a good time but realising as my heart slowed and clarity returned it was just because I was simply still alive.

It was no surprise that the wild weather inhibited us from returning until the following morning, and so another sleepover was on the cards.  Heart rates normalised, nuzzled by wine and good food we found ourselves lying once again in the same bed.  But the rough ride had created an awkward tension between us and sleep was preferable to talk.

The ride home was far less chaotic but memories of the night before still made me cling a little desperately by the knees.  We parted on good terms and he scooped me into his branches, promising to think of a way to eclipse the memory of our first nightmarish bike ride.  Would he cook for me?  That could potentially put us back on the love track.  Or perhaps a trip to the beach with his dog followed by home-made cocktails and a massage?  My mind was running with it.  But then I noticed as the day went on that my phone had lost it’s heartbeat.  And the following day it was flat-lining.  I checked Facebook and discovered that NearlyKilledMe had acquired a number of new friends.  Trying to resist the panic that was setting in I stayed busy for another day before attempting to make contact.  After writing and deleting multiple text possibilities I went a little stalker and checked in on Facebook again.  Only this time he had some fresh action on his page.  It was a simple message, four little words, but those four little words eclipsed the memory of that nightmarish bike ride.  “I love you babe”.  Apparently the ex was not so much of an ex anymore.  Her message seemed to confirm it.  All I can say is in that moment I hoped that all of that clinging for dear life by my knees pillioning had ruptured his testicles and rendered him sterile.  But I’m not going to let a rebounding, date spoiling, slightly balding, toast eating, promise-failing L-plater get the better of me.  He needs to be sent to the jacks.  But first I need to get me a pint of Gat and escape to the kitchen to create something tasty to put in my mouth and warm my belly.

A taste of Ireland

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Irish Guinness Stew

Ingredients:

800g chuck steak
3 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 sprigs of thyme
1.5 cups chopped mushroom
8 small shallots
butter for cooking
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup Guinness beer
2 cups beef stock
sugar to taste
1/2 cup extra beef stock

Directions:

Cut up your steak into large cubes and toss with flour, salt and pepper.  Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to a deep saucepan and brown off the beef in batches.  Once cooked set aside and add onion to the pan allowing it to soften.  Add four sprigs of fresh thyme and heat until fragrant.  Then add the carrots and tomato paste and stir through.  Pour in the Guinness, stock, and worcestershire sauce.  Leave to cook on a low heat until the meat softens.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add a little sugar if you would like it sweeter.

In a separate pan sauté the mushrooms with a little butter and olive oil and the remaining sprig of thyme.  Season with some salt.

Place your shallots and a little butter in another pan and cook over a low heat until just browning.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup beef stock and cover with a lid.  Cook until soft.

Add the mushrooms, shallots, and celery to the beef mixture.  Leave to cook for another 15 minutes.  Serve with hot potato mash.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  That is good.  Bad taste gone.

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