A SMOOTH ENTRY INTO THE NEW YEAR....AND A PACKAGE IN THE MAIL
I have been much remiss in keeping up with events, keeping in touch with friends. My time these past months has been swallowed whole by the big, bad monster of disorganization and craziness: a trip to the States, writing for other blogs, trying to make changes to my own blog and spending more time writing. Not to mention the holidays. And now the month of January will be an absolute madhouse as far as blogging responsibilities and home duties, a trip to Germany and the possibility of organizing a trip back to Florida (for fun this time!). Whew! So before I move on to more exciting things, I’d like to, well, catch up.
I was the happy recipient of a Pay It Forward package by Sophie of Sophie’s FoodieFiles. Sophie is a friend and food blogger who lives in Brussels (a city JP and I have long been meaning to visit) full of incredible, yummy treats and some fabulous non-food treats too. But before I show you my package, let me explain about Pay it Forward – because then you too will be able to participate in this fun food blogging project.
A food blogger (me, for example) receives a package from another food blogger (here, Sophe) full of food products and other food/cooking/baking-related gifts as well. This very excited food blogger rips open said package, screams with delight as she pulls out her gifts, discovering them one by one. She quickly dashes to her computer and rushes out an excited e-mail to the sender of the package full of goodies, writing “EEK! It’s arrived and I love everything!” She jumps up and down and waves her arms around, shrieking to anyone in the house that cares to listen (which in this household means…. no one except Marty).
Then it is her turn to Pay It Forward. Any food blogger who agrees to receive a Pay It Forward package chock full of goodies must in turn send a package to 3 other food bloggers (or non-food bloggers if they agree to follow the rules), no geographical restrictions or limitations, paying for a nice, hefty box full of goodies as well as all shipping costs, taxes, stamps, etc.
I was one of the three food bloggers chosen by Sophie to receive her Pay It Forward package and now I am offering each of you the possibility to receive one from me. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post letting me know clearly that you wish to participate, making sure that I have your e-mail address so I can contact you if you are chosen. If more than 3 people tell me they would like to Pay It Forward, then I will choose 3 of you randomly (the old hat trick). The 3 chosen ones will then receive a package from me in the next 365 days. They then in turn must let me know when it arrives, post it on their blog and then choose 3 bloggers from around the world to send packages to in the following year.
So let me know.
Now on to my box that I received: Sophie was kind enough to include a typed-up list of everything she sent to me with explanations and the story behind each item. As you can see from the picture, Sophie obviously knew that I had a weakness for chocolate! I got a box of Corné Royal Champagne truffles (to be nibbled on while sipping a glass of chilled champagne, of course!), a bar of Callebaut Matinettes milk chocolate, to be eaten for breakfast on a slice of buttered bread, Côte d’Or dark chocolate filled with marzipan (now we in France know Côte d’Or quite well, it is thought to be one of the best chocolates there is, but I have never seen it filled with marzipan! Yum!) She included a sachet of Café-Tasse chocolate-coated raisins which, little did Sophie know, must be one of my favorite things. She included 2 little sachets of hot chocolate mix, too. Mmmm. And, of course as it is holiday time, chocolate-covered candied chestnuts (marrons glacés).
And some special items from Brussels: De echte Luikse siroop met pruimen (what?) which is Plum syrup – or apparently more like a thick plum butter. Wow! I used to eat Apple Butter in Philadelphia and I loved it so I can imagine how delicious this plum butter must be! Speculaas – which we all know – and which I used in my Holiday Macarons – but Sophie says that she lives close by the factory where these are made and her winter days are suffused with the fabulous smells of freshly baked speculaas! Lucky girl! She also sent a pack of Brugse kletskoppen, lacy-thin cookies from Bruges, a gorgeous town that I love.
And she sent me 2 fabulous cookie cutters that I absolutely adore: the Knight on his Steed and the Brussels Pisser! Yay! And thanks for these, Sophie. I love fun, unusual cookie cutters.
So there you have it! A great way to connect and share with other food bloggers. What a treat! Thank you Sophie for a great Pay It Forward box!
And now for something completely different: a Mont d’Or Fondu eaten in the style of a Raclette. Raclette is a special cheese, which is heated and then the melted, the hot gooey cheese is scraped from the block onto a cooked, boiled potato and eaten with charcuterie, or dried cured meats and sausages. A fondu is a melted cheese dish in which bits of bread or potatoes are dunked in to the melted cheese, scooped up and eaten hot. We took the two ideas and plunked them together to create a wonderful, warm, cozy meal reminiscent of snow-covered mountain chalets, thick, heavy woolen socks and plaid flannel shirts, blazing fireplaces and the scent of evergreen.
Mont d’Or is a creamy, mild cow’s cheese produced in the mountains along the French-Swiss border with a delicately fuzzy rind, which appears at the Cheesemongers only in Fall and Winter, nestled in its little wooden box. The perfect dessert cheese, it is often served at the end of a meal with a light red or white wine. But ideally, this is a fantastic cheese heated and eaten, smooth, creamy and warm, as a main course when it is icy and snowy outside.
MONT D’OR fondu à la mode d’une raclette
Not for the dieter.
This is a traditional way to eat this delicacy. You need one Mont d’Or cheese (or similar) in its little box, white wine and 2 cloves of garlic. Boiled potatoes (still in the skin) and a good selection of cured meats and salamis, speck, cured ham such as Parma, dried salamis, coppa, for example.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Carefully scrape and lift off the top crust/rind of the cheese. Peel and slice the garlic cloves and press the slivers of garlic into the cheese. Sprinkle the surface of the cheese with a tablespoon of white wine.
Place the box with the prepared cheese in it on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The cheese should be hot throughout, creamy and runny.
Eat right away while still hot: spoon out the gooey cheese onto slices or chunks of the boiled potatoes and fork up with some of the cured meat. Serve with the white wine used to cook the Mont d’Or and a loaf of warm, crusty bread.