Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! And a special thank you to my lovely friend Courtney who invited Mr Cooksister to share Thanksgiving dinner with her and a Certain Someone
I've always rather liked the concept of Thanksgiving – the secular universality of it (Christian? Jewish? Muslim? Hindu? Not a problem – let's celebrate!), and the underlying idea of focusing on the things we have to be thankful for. The older I get, the more I try to make a conscious effort to remind myself of how good I have it, and try not to take anything for granted. So as my small celebration of Thanksgiving, here is what I am thankful for right now:
1. My slightly-chubbier-than-it-could-be, strong, healthy body. It can walk up mountains, it can run around parks and it can ski down mountains… umm, hills. Every morning I open my eyes, swing my legs out of bed, stand up and walk to the bathroom without having to think about or doubt the possibility of any part of that process. And every morning I am thankful, because thousands of people can't do this.
2. My husband – nearly nine years of marriage and still no family murder! ) Yes, sometimes I want to smother him with a pillow, but other times he will do or say something that will make my love for him flash like a bolt of white hot lightning, and I'll think "Ok, we can do another nine years of this".
3. My brother (the only person I know with a more encyclopaedic knowledge of trivia and 80s music than me, and the person who can without fail tell me what new music I'll like. And he cracks me up. And he reads my blog! You rock, bru.) and my sister-in-law, whom I love at least as much as if we were related by blood.
4. My nephews – Davey's smiles, Sam's deep voice, their totally different personalities – I love being an aunt!!
5. My parents: the wonderful relationship I had with my mom and the wonderful memories I have of her. She and I were so similar that my dad used to refer to us as The Clones, and there's nobody I'd rather have been cloned from. I'm thankful that I still have my dad around at age 86 and that he and I probably have a better relationship now than at any other time in my life.
6. My inner circle of friends, many of whom I've known since childhood and all of whom I would trust with my life – especially the Lurpak Girls, who know who they are
7. My job and my witty, erudite colleagues who make every working day a pleasure.
8. The opportunity to live in London, one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. If my nineteen-year-od self knew that she would one day be able to live in this city of her dreams, she would probably have swooned with pleasure.
9. A roof over my head (one that I like so much I've been renting it for 8 years!), enough food in the cupboard and on my table, and a working boiler (!).
10. The fact that, by sheer good fortune, I am here in London and not in Mumbai, Zimbabwe, Congo or any other place where people are living in terror, poverty, hunger and despair.
So what do YOU have to be thankful for?
Well, let me give you something to be thankful for - how about a flourless chocolate cake so decadent it'll knock your socks off? The recipe comes from Caffe Caldesi where I attended a cooking class a couple of years ago. The class (never blogged, aaarrgh) was excellent and I managed to produce a delicious focaccia and pizza bases. But the best thing I gained from Cafe Caldesi was this recipe. Not only is it salvation on a plate for gluten-free friends who are tired of being served only fresh fruit platters after a meal (as if being gluten-free autimatically makes you chocolate-adverse too!)- it's so delicious that your coeliac friends will have to defend their cake agains gluten-eating raiders!
Go ahead – make one today. You can always thank me later.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE (serves 6-8)
225g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
100g unsalted butter
175g icing sugar, sifted
4 large free range eggs, separated
mascarpone to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a loose-bottomed 25cm cake tin
In a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter together. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and icing sugar together until they are creamy. Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mix.
In a clean bowl (and using a clean whisk), whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites gradually into the chocolate mix, in three or four portions.
Using a spatula, pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, until the top of the cake is slightly cracked but it is still gooey in the middle. Allow the cake to cool on a rack and then remove from the tin.
Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar, cut and serve with a dollop of mascarpone.