Original

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Improvisation
Black Forest Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe - The Messy Baker I think I've created a new, never-heard-of-before dessert. Bundt Trifle. Not because I'm trying to be different or start the next food craze, but because my imagination plays tricks on me. I had wanted to make a trifle in one of those clear, straight-sided dishes that shows off all the layers. I knew my mother had one. I just knew it — as in Bet-Real-Money-on-It knew it. I could see it clearly in my head. I could even tell you where it was stored. So I phoned my mother and made arrangements to pop over and pick up the bowl. When I arrived, my mother handed me the cut-glass bowl with sloped sides she uses every year for the Christmas trifle. "Thanks, Mom. But I want your other trifle bowl." There was no other trifle bowl.
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Pushing Boundaries
Onion Bhaji with Chaat Masala Recipe - The Messy Baker I did it. Despite containing three ingredients I've never used before, I made onion bhaji. And I pronounce them to be good. Make that "very good."  Andrew, who inspired the selection, claimed they were "delicious" and "as good as the restaurant's." So, with a flourish of my typing fingers,  I am proudly striking the first item off my 2013 Culinary Bucket List. Onion Bhaji recipe. Done. And done well. But I can't take all the credit. Monica Bhide suggested I look at her recipe for Onion Rings with Chaat Masala. I did. But I hesitated at the list of ingredients. I didn't know what chaat masala was. I had never heard of carom, and thought fenugreek was like fennel. Thanks to this recipe I got schooled. And it was far less painful than writing lines.
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Soup for Breakfast
Breakfast Soup Recipe - Asian-Inspired Quinoa and Chicken Soup - The Messy Baker I struggle with breakfast at the best of times. Winter only makes it worse. It's cold. It's dark. One look out the window and any sensible person would dive back into bed until spring -- or at least 10 AM -- not head to the kitchen and prepare food. I think the issue lies in my genes. I am a Night Owl. My natural rhythm seems about 2 hours behind the rest of the world. I simply am not hungry when I first wake up. Having talked to several other people who also describe themselves as "not a morning person," I know I am not alone. Unlike the Early Birds, who leap from bed starving, our sluggish morning metabolism shuns food. After I've been stumbling about for an hour or so, and the caffeine has pried my lids open, I am ready to munch, but on something sweet. Like cinnamon apple muffins or sour-cream-topped waffles dripping with maple syrup. I slurp hot popovers, crumpets or English muffins drooling butter. But I don't. Experience tells me the surfeit of carbs will come back to haunt me. But in the dead of winter, where does this leave me? It's too cold for my summertime fallback -- berries, yogurt and granola. I'm not big on eggs. Gag at the texture of oatmeal and would not feel the least bit cheated if I never saw, let alone ate, another sausage. After much thought, I have decided to embrace soup. For breakfast.
savory biscotti
Damn You, Biscotti! Die! DIE!
Savory Biscotti - The Messy Baker Three tries. It took me three kicks at the proverbial can (or pan, in this case), several hours and a couple of meltdowns to figured out how to make savory biscotti that A) didn't taste like stuffing and B) didn't fall apart like a cheap particle-board desk the second you breathed near it. When the aimed-for results emerged from the oven, I should have been elated. I should have danced the Biscotti Boogie, high-fived the cat and plastered photos on Instagram. But all I could see was an impossibly messy kitchen and four gigantic pans of unservable baked goods. As I stood at the counter feeling sorry for myself, Andrew walked in, nibbled a lump of should-be biscotti and said,
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Tempura Zucchini
The zucchinis just keep coming. So I pulled out the big guns and fried the suckers in hot oil. None of this namby-pamby healthy oven-baked stuff. I went deep fried all the way. And I think I just might have scared them off. To shake things up a bit, I used a tempura batter and a spicy dipping sauce. I got the batter ratio from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner ©2009). While tempura is far from everyday in my world,  it is an effective way to use up the zucchini that arrives in relentless waves like zombies. It is also messy. Not only did I get batter all over the stove and counter, my shoes and hair somehow got into the act. By the time I'd used up all the batter, I looked like I'd lost a paintball match.
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Zucchini Fries | A Baked Version
These came from my section of The Family Plot. The one on the right is about the size you find in the supermarket on any given day. The one on the left? It dwarfs a butternut squash. At a whopping 5 pounds, 5 ounces it's bigger than some newborns. And I'm not talking premies. Folklore says the cabbage patch is the source for babies, but this bambino came from a singe zucchini mound. My sister planted four. I fear for our sanity. Just as I was figuring out what to do with the six pounds of bland squash, these arrived.
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Mixed Berry Semifreddo
Okay, now I feel guilty. What was I thinking? Posting two recipes in a row that required special equipment. First a food dehydrator, then an ice cream maker. Let's blame the peaches for being so enticing. As an apology, here is a recipe for a frozen treat that requires nothing more elaborate than a loaf pan. Oh yes, and that pesky blender. You do have one, don't you?
peach sorbet scoop
What to Do with Less-than-Perfect Peaches: Peach Sorbet
Peach Sorbet is dairy-free, gluten-free and delicious - TheMessyBaker.com The other day I posted about fruit leather (aka fruit roll-ups), which is an easy way to use up fruit that's no longer ready for its close-up. Whether you make it in an oven or dehydrator, the method is embarrassingly easy. Just blend, pour, then abandon for hours on end. It's ideal for lazy people like me. And the results are quite possibly addictive. Just ask my sister. The astute reader will notice that I had more peaches on hand than a couple sheets of fruit leather required. And you'd be correct. I had enough on-the-cusp peaches for a batch of  peach sorbet. Clean, refreshing peach sorbet. See, it's already beginning to melt in the heat. 
Peach and Ginger Fruit Leather - The Messy Baker
What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather

[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignnone" width="500"] You don't need a dehydrator to make fruit roll-ups, but if you're looking for an excuse to buy one, these will seal the deal.[/caption] What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a...

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Corn with Cilantro-Lime-Chili Butter
Cilantro, Lime, Chili Butter turns plain corn-on-the-cob into something special - TheMessyBaker.com This week's Gastropost challenge was to "recreate or revisit a food experience that will refresh sunny memories of summers past." With strawberries and peaches already covered, my mind went to corn — a food that leaves me conflicted. In season, corn-on-the-cob means both the height of summer and its dreaded end. The following essay was published in the Globe and Mail a few years ago. I think it's time to pull it out, pluck the corn silk from between its paragraphs and see how it goes. The recipe follows. We never had any exotic toppings when I was a kid. It was just plain butter and salt. And plenty of it.

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