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Kafka Confronts Nature And A Bird

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In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I follow a couple of years of Kafka’s life through diary entries. He was very interested in wildlife, though not too happy if it intruded into his own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 September 1917

There was a knocking at the window this morning. A polite and concise rap rap rap. It awoke me while the room was barely light.

Who could want me so early? And then again, an insistent rap rap rap. I was confused, wondering where I was. The panic of Prague weighted down the covers, and I was sorry I had opened my eyes. The room, the smells – even the bed – was not familiar, so I was both bothered and assured by the strangeness.

When I realized I was not in Prague – for who could knock on my third floor window – I remembered I was in Zurau, where things were different. Here my window looked onto a yard, and anyone could  be at it. Was there something wrong? Was Ottla after my help? I even wondered, as I searched for my slippers, if her young man had somehow arranged leave from the army, and after much travail had managed to reach the wrong room. I could understand that very well.

I walked hesitantly over to the window, and cautiously pulled back the curtain. Such a commotion ensued that I stepped back in some fright. A bird flew immediately past the glass, its wings frantic as it screeched in agitation. It had been perched on my window ledge, pecking away at the frame. Ottla says it may have been after insects or grubs settled in for the winter.

“Insects in the walls of the house?” I asked.  “Yes.” She was quite matter-of-fact.  “It is a warm place for them during the cold months.”  I was not inclined to argue with the logic, but neither had I thought I would be existing in such close proximity with the tenants of nature.

Houses for warmth and bugs for food. It is a blend of the base and the subtle which I can appreciate. Much – I like to think – as does the annoyed bird.

(Image) https://sweetbellavita.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/img_6492.jpg

Will A Lucious Cake Help Seduce Alison Alexandra?

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Alison Alexandra is back for her second trip on The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express – and why not? The first led to a supper with three sisters/widows (none of them wearing black) that is as memorable as any Alison Alexandra has had. And that’s saying a lot.

But on this trip, Alison Alexandra dines alone, and piques the interest of the chef. And there is no better sweet talk, than with a sweet dessert.

So, I went in search of a decadent dessert, looking as gorgeous as I am sure it tastes. And up I end with a Fragilité Cake, which I would appreciate having delivered to my door after the sun has set, whether I was on the The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express or not. And, I would not automatically be predisposed to ignore any other intentions in the eye of the beholder.

Just be sure to bring a fork.

++++++++++++++++++++

The classic fragilité cake with coffee buttercream originates from the same Danish pastry chef, Johannes Steen, who also made The Sarah Bernhardt cookie. And must originate from the beginning of the 1900s, when Denmark was very influenced by everything French.

Fragilité means fragile, and it describes the cake well. It’s made with delicate layers of crispy meringue with hazelnuts, layered with a mocha/coffee buttercream. The cake feels very light and fluffy, but don’t let it fool you, it’s filled with great tasting calories😋

Ingredients:

Meringue:

  • 100 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g confectionary sugar
  • 4 egg whites

Mocha buttercream:

  • 3 pasteurised  egg yolks
  • 100 g confectionary sugar
  • 150 g butter, salted and room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1,5 teaspoons instant coffee

Directions:

Preheat the oven for 400℉ (200℃).

Chop the hazelnuts. I used the mini chopper that came with my immersion blender, and ended up with a coarse hazelnut flour. Mix the hazelnuts with half of the confectionary sugar.

Whip the egg whites, in a stand mixer, until you have soft peaks. Add the sugar and keep whipping until you have a shiny meringue with stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.

Fold the hazelnut mixture in.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray it and sprinkle with sugar. I used a 9″ x 13″ (20×30 cm) pan.

Spread the meringue evenly in the pan, and level of the top.

Bake the meringue for 2 minutes at 400℉ (200℃), then lower the temperature to 305℉ (150℃) and keep on baking foe another 40 minutes.

Buttercream:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and whip the buttercream until thick and fluffy over a double boiler. I used a saucepan with very hot water, and placed my bowl on top of that. I didn’t have it on the stove. It takes some time to get the buttercream nice and fluffy.

 

Cut the meringue in two, and place the one part on a cake stand, spread all the buttercream  on it in an even layer. Put the other half of the meringue on top.

Decorate the cake with some melted chocolate or a sprinkle of confectionary sugar.

(Found At) https://sweetsoursavory.com/blog/2014/2/16/classic-fragilit-cake

(Image) https: //i.pinimg.com/originals/14/b6/49/14b6491cfc731a143c195a3927623c4c.jpg

Italian Onion Meal From The Liver (Not The Heart) of The Fourteenth Century ~Fegato alla Veneziana

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(photo) https://www.zainoo.com/media/medium/4603.JPEG

As I wend my way through my second Onion novel, China Lily, which is taking too, too, long to put into the computer, I approach page 300. The end is in sight.

My intent was to write a trilogy that followed a Fourth Century Italian farm family, as it developed into an International business empire. There was to be 1,000 years between the first and second book, and the third book was to be set in the present day.

I confess, my interest might not be sustained for the third novel.

However, as I soon describe this recipe – and its creation – in detail, I thought it might make someone a nice supper.

Fittingly, this recipe is from Harry’s Bar, in Venice.

DE

When we visited Venice, we asked the locals where to find the definitive calf’s liver and onions. Everyone said Harry’s Bar, and, after trying it there—and lots of other places—we had to agree. This is Harry’s recipe.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food

serves 6

Ingredients

2 lb. calf’s liver, trimmed and thin membrane peeled off
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 small yellow onions, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. butter
12 bunch parsley, trimmed and chopped

Instructions

Cut liver lengthwise into 4 long pieces, then, using a very sharp knife and pressing the palm of your hand firmly against the meat, slice each piece crosswise into pieces as thin as possible.
Heat 4 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 2 tbsp. oil. When oil is sizzling hot, add liver and cook, in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until brown and crispy on the edges, 3-5 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then add reserved onions and accumulated juices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring and turning liver and onions constantly while shaking skillet over heat. Transfer to a heated serving platter.
Add butter to skillet and scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of skillet as butter melts. Remove skillet from heat and stir in parsley. Spoon butter and parsley over liver and onions. Serve with Grilled Polenta, if you like.
https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Calfs-Liver-and-Onions

Nothing Finer Than A Diner / Cash Only

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I’ve lived long enough that all of my favourite restaurants are gone except two. Don’t worry, I still manage to eat out – I adapt.

Of those two, one is the long-lasting Ardmore Tea Room. And if I didn’t enjoy this place enough already, when I dined there yesterday I was asked “Would you like fried onions on your hash browns?”  I was tempted to answer “Is The Pope Argentinian?” but, instead, I just gleefully said “Yes!” Gleeful – in part – because they were accompanying Eggs Benedict. {You can note a bit of food = religion theme.}                                

                    

As far as I know the Ardmore has been in the same location, and has been there for decades. It opens at 5:00 AM and closes at 8:00 PM. You don’t open this early in the morning if you don’t get steady customers. People on their way to work, and people coming home from work. A restaurant of the people, it is obvious.

The seating is at booths, and I have never been there when at least half of the booths were not occupied. The age range of the diners covers the decades, and I’d guess their economic backgrounds are just as diverse. I’ve never seen anyone encouraged to depart as soon as the check was paid, and as far as I know the coffee is bottomless.

By the way – the food is great!

There is an array of diner staples, plus dinner selections ranging from lasagna to chipolte chicken wraps. You can get shakes and sundaes. And rice pudding.

$Cash$ only – no credit cards.

As I sat over my third coffee and empty plate, listening to the murmur of many conversations and bursts of laughter, I finally realized what I had noticed during my meal. Noticed by its absence, so it took a while to register.

Not one person was using their cell phone.

DE

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