Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR WITH DANTE & SASCHA!

Happy New Year to you all!

Dante and Sascha would like to share with you their official engagement photo.  They are certainly starting off 2013 IN THE PINK!



May their days of wine and roses last a lifetime, and may love surround you in yours!




Monday, December 24, 2012

CHRISTMAS DAY WITH DANTE & SASCHA -- THIS IS IT!

On Christmas Day, Dante gave to Sascha ...

... a PURRposal of marriage ...


... along with some engagement BLING!

Now we all know that RINGS are anathema to cats and can be very painful.  So, Dante had thoughtfully selected a gorgeous golden topaz necklace with a diamond pear-shaped pendant!  He had chosen the golden colour to complement the beautiful apricot fur of his beloved.

Sascha nearly fainted when she saw it!  This was her dream come true. The necklace was stunning, but she was more excited about the gift of Dante, himself.

"Yes, yes, yes, my darling!  Of course, I will marry you!".  And they kissed.


"Let the bells ring out and the banners fly!", shouted Dante.  He wanted the whole world to know about their Christmas joy!  So, he and Sascha sang "Joy to the World" together in PURRfect harmony!

Dante had one more surprise for Sascha.  He had arranged for all of their new clients to come and PURRform a Christmas Concert in celebration of their engagement.  The Dancers had now been added to their client list, but Sascha didn't know she was about to see them again so soon.




The show started off with the Nine Dancing Ladies who did a choreographed modern dance to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" -- how approPURRiate!





And as luck would have it, there was a large pond as part of the concert venue so the Seven Swans could make an appearance.  They were the second act up and PURRformed, oddly enough, the Second Act of "Swan Lake".  Once again this was such an approPURRiate tribute to the two love birds (who are actually cats, well you know what I mean).






Next up were the Ten Leaping Lords of 'Riverdance'.  They all leapt in a circle in a number called "Eternal Love" which was quite reminiscent of something you might see at "Cirque du Soleil"!  The lighting really enhanced the beauty of their dance, which was elegant and controlled (unlike when Dante and Sascha first saw them).  







The Eleven Pipers mounted an elaborate light show. It was simply speCATular!   They played "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", yet again very approPURRiate since Dante's proposal came at midnight on a clear night where you could see all the stars.  The sounds of the pipes, too, were true and crystal clear and most certainly resonated with the audience.







For the finale, the Twelve Drummers PURRformed "The Little Drummer Boy" while marching around the Christmas tree.  Even after it was over, Dante and Sascha kept on singing "Pa rum pum pum pum, Pa rum pum pum pum pum, Pa rum pum pum pum ..."   

It was a great ending to a fantastic Christmas Concert ... and now for the refreshments!  No celebration is quite complete without some kind of nosh.  And this turned out to be quite the posh nosh!


The Eight Maids had opened up their own milk bar.  They served delicious fresh cold milk by the glass or bowl, and vanilla milkshakes for those who preferred something a little sweeter.  They even had a CATpuccino machine which frothed the milk, for those who have to get their CATfeine fix.

Unbeknownst to Sascha, Dante had roasted the remaining geese and arranged the slices on several platters surrounded by all the fixings.  He invited all of the PURRformers to partake in the engagement feast.  Thankfully there was just enough for everyone to get their fill.    


And for dessert, he made his friend Connie's recipe for Panna Cotta, and topped it with Cranberry Compote and Chocolate Tuiles.  He used cream skimmed off the top of the fresh milk to make the panna cotta, so it was very rich, indeed.  The milkbar that the milkmaids had set up served more than one PURRpose tonight!


Yum!

What a Christmas Day it has been, from morning until night!  After all the excitement and fanfare, Dante and Sascha just wanted to be alone together to celebrate their engagement in their own special way.  They started off by toasting each other with Dom PURRignon.




Then they put the champagne on ice.  And after that?  Well, we'll leave it up to your imagination ...


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, which you may also know as Christmas Eve, Dante's true love gave to him:

"TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING"

This gift was a real smash!  "How cool is that?", asked Dante.  "I have my very own MARCHing band -- in DecemBRRRR!"

Dante had always been one to march to the beat of his OWN drum, but on this occasion he was happy to merrily march along proudly with Sascha on his arm following the twelve drummers.  It was rather thrilling actually.  There's nothing quite like a PURRade!

Of course, both Sascha and he, had already asked the drummers about signing with their theatrical agency.  And, of course they agreed.  "Wow!", said Dante. "Drumming up business is becoming a daily affair!"

Now that Sascha had presented Dante with all of his gifts, Dante had an equal number of wrapped packages for Sascha.  One for the First Day of Christmas, two for the Second Day, three for the Third Day, etc ...

 ... making a total of 78 wrapped gifts!

Dante instructed the drummers to give them a drumroll to heighten the suspense and then handed Sascha the gift he wanted her to open first.  She was breathless with anticipation.  And when she unwrapped it was ...


... Dante's Calendar for the Year 2013!

"Oh, I love it!", said Sascha enthusiastically.  "Now, even when you're not here with me, I can look at your handsome face every day of the year."  Sascha gave Dante a big smooch, and eagerly awaited her next gift.

"Drumroll, please!", requested Dante.
But when she opened the box, it was empty!!!

Dante said "I blew you a kiss and sealed it in this box."  "How romantic!", replied Sascha, still keeping very upbeat (with the help of the drummers, of course).

And the drummers drummed through all the rest of the 76 gifts, and every one was empty!  Each time Dante had placed something intangible inside the wrapping, and each time it was something so sweet that Sascha just couldn't be angry about it.


Sascha still checked each box very carefully, though, to make sure she wasn't missing anything.  But she wasn't.

What she did receive was "Winter Love, Spring Love, Summer Love, and Autumn Love, a box of Tenderness, a gift bag filled with Understanding, a large container of Caresses (something like Hershey Kisses, but without the chocolate) ... well you get the idea.  There were a whole lot of "Sweet Nothings" -- all except for the one where Dante's brother Dylan had slipped in one of his farts as a PURRactical joke!  That wasn't too sweet, I tell you.  It actually cleared the room until Dante got the 'Glade' and did a good spritzing.

Now some ladycats would be dismayed, but not Sascha.  It just made her love Dante all the more.  "How thoughtful!", she declared.

And then when Sascha's head was turned, Dante took out one more box which he had hidden deep under the tree.



At that moment, the clock meowed midnight ...


... and something magical happened!


This box contained something very special indeed.  The first thing to appear was an envelope addressed to Sascha.  It fairly floated out of the box on beams of light!




Sascha's paws were shaking as she opened it ...

Sorry, but you'll have to come back Christmas morning to see what was in it!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

"ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING"

Being a theatrical agent, this was MEWSic to Dante's ears!  He was so glad that the pipes were more like flutes, and not those noisy bagpipes he'd heard so much about.  He felt sure that they could find work for these pipers in some orchestra, perhaps even for a Christmas concert.

"Thank you, thank you, Sascha!  This is just great!"

"You're welcome, sweetheart", said Sascha.  "I wanted to pipe up and let you know how I truly feel about you."

"Hey", Dante said.  "I wonder if these pipers could help us round up some juicy ratsies -- you know, just like the 'Pied Piper of Hamelin", except there are ELEVEN of these guys, so we should get eleven times the rodents!".

And sure enough, after Dante spoke with the pipers, they played their best tunes, guaranteed to attract the "Rat Pack".  Who knew you could play 'Do Be Do Be Do' on a flute?  And before you could say "Sinatra", the rats had formed a Conga line and followed merrily along after the pipers.


They conga'ed themselves right into a rat trap that Dante had set.  "So much for the rat race!", he said.  Dante knew just what he was going to do with them.

In some Asian countries, rats are eaten like chicken. Also, in parts of Africa, the giant rat, cane rat and common house mouse all grace the dining table and, in fact, are very popular.

And here's a Thai recipe that Dante found:


    DEEP FRIED RAT

    Ingredients

      Fresh rats
      Fresh herbs
      Cooking oil
      Chilli peppers
      Butter
      Peanuts
    Preparation:
  • Blow the rat skin with a blowtorch.
  • Leave rats to cool down.
  • When they are cool enough, clean the rest of the skin with a steel wool.
  • Eviscerate the rats and split them.
  • Put all the good rat parts in a jar, with the fresh peppers, herbs and oil.
  • Leave this for half an hour in the fridge.
  • Deep-fry until brown in a mixture of butter and peanut oil.
  • Serve hot with some crunchy peanuts. 
Dante put his culinary skills to the test once more, and presented Sascha with this exotic deliCATcy.  The pipers, on the other paw, declined to join them for supper.

Dante couldn't help but reflect on the day's events.  "Wow", he said.  "This gift was really a two-fur!"  We signed some new clients to our agency and got a great meal out of it, to boot!"

Dante was truly grateful, but most of all he was thankful for his intelligent, thoughtful and stunning girlfriend, Sascha.



Tomorrow is the twelfth and last day before Christmas, itself.  Please join Dante and Sascha once again to see what Sascha has picked out this time.  Here's a hint:  "Drum roll, please!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

"TEN LORDS A-LEAPING"

When Dante saw all these grown men leaping towards him he was a little taken aback to say the least.  "Oh Lord", he said "What have I done to deserve this?"  He wanted to tell them to take a 'flying leap', but it was a little redundant.
He rushed to protect Sascha from getting struck by flying feet, and asked her what she could possibly be thinking.  These lordly lunatics just couldn't stand still.  They were beginning to make him feel dizzy.

"I know", said Sascha.  "Maybe we could lasso them like cattle and then hog-tie 'em!"  Indeed these ten not-so-little piggies required something to bring them down to earth.  "It sure would be great to harness all that energy!"

"Actually, that's not such a bad idea", said Dante.  "Let them leap, I say!  It's better than locking them up and only bringing them out every Leap Year.  But if they're going to leap, they shall leap with a PURRpose.  I think they are PURRfectly suited to the stageshow "Riverdance".  I can be their agent, and make a little money on the side.  It's a win-win situation!"

So Dante booked the ten lords with the "Riverdance" company that very day.  They were so happy to have them, they didn't even ask them to audition.  "It certainly has improved our show by leaps and bounds", said they.

Dante and Sascha attended the evening PURRformance.  It was so much better when the leaping was contained just to the stage.  It didn't feel so out-of control anymore.  And the lords were all very happy, and thrilled to have Dante as their agent, because now they would get paid for doing what they loved to do best.


Dante was proud when he saw HIS ten lords on stage.  Never mind the moon landing -- this was TEN giant leaps for mankind!

And they fit right in with all of the other PURRformers.  See!



So, once again everything has worked out marvelously.  Sascha and Dante have opened their own theatrical agency.  They named it after their Elizabethan ancestors, SimaCATTA and DemoCOÖN, by combining parts of both names.  And here is their business card.


They wanted to come off as snazzy and sophistiCATed.  Do you think they have succeeded?

So what started off as being something rather frightening, actually turned into something quite intriguing.  Not to mention that Sascha and Dante both scored new jobs as entrePURRneurs!

Things just seem to be getting better and better for these two.  Will the trend continue?  You'll have to return for "The Eleventh Day of Christmas with Dante & Sascha" tomorrow, if you want to find out.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

"NINE LADIES DANCING"

These ladies were all young and very hip.  Dante knew he couldn't keep them, but he thought they could give he and Sascha dance lessons.  Why not?

In fact there was a "Ball" that very night, but Dante didn't really know how to dance, and he didn't want to step on poor Sascha's toesies.  So, the nine ladies all gathered round them and they danced from morning till early evening -- taking a break here or there for some snacks and the call of nature, if you know what I mean.  They were also sure to keep well hydrated, so it was a good thing he had plenty of cold milk in the fridge.

It sure was nice to share the product of yesterday's gift with this group of young ladies -- and, Sascha, too, of course!  She's his number one lady.

So, after a nice supper of leftovers from all their recent meals, Dante and Sascha felt well-fortified and were both keen to 'rock the night away' at "The Snow Ball".  They sure had some interesting moves!

Dante, who before hadn't been too confident in his dancing abilities, now threw caution to the wind (as well as a snowball or two) and boogied down with a flourish while Sascha kept rhythm with the beat, and really got into the groove.


Sascha and Dante are getting down to the tune of "Jingle Bell Rock"

Here are the lyrics in case you want to sing along.

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowin' and blowin' up bushels of fun
Now, the jingle hop has begun

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell twist
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancin' and prancin' in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air

What a bright time, it's the right time
To rock the night away
Jingle bell time is a swell time
To go glidin' in a one-horse sleigh





Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock
Mix and a-mingle in the jinglin' feet
That's the jingle bell rock, yeah!



After the ball, Dante and Sascha were absolutely exhausted, but it was the good kind of tired.  Needless to say they both fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their cat beds, but even in their sleep they still couldn't stop  dancing.  Ah, life is but a dream, or at least it seems so with these two!

How on earth can Sascha top this gift?  You'll have to come back tomorrow for "The Tenth Day of Christmas with Dante Sascha" to see what she gives him next.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

 "EIGHT MAIDS A-MILKING"

Now we all know that you can't really give human beings as gifts, so it was the services of the eight maids a-milking that Sascha was giving to Dante.  And he was absolutely thrilled!  After all, milk is one of his very favourite things, and it's so very versatile, too, when it comes to cooking.




So the eight maids milked and milked, until each had filled up one large can of milk.  Dante had to find room in his refrigerator to keep all that milk cold.  He had plenty to share with family and friends and wanted to make sure that none of it went to waste.



"Yup! We've got milk, all right!", exclaimed Dante.  Anybody out there want milk?"  They even went around town advertising "free milk".  Man, they were milking it for all it was worth!

Of course, Dante kept enough for his own purposes, and made one of his favourite desserts for dinner that night.  And here's what they had ...




CLASSIC CRÈME CARAMEL

Ingredients:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
Cooking spray
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Fresh raspberries (optional)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325°.
 Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Continue cooking an additional 4 minutes or until golden. Immediately pour into 6 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray, tilting each cup quickly until caramelized sugar coats bottom of cup. Set aside.
 Beat eggs and egg white in a medium bowl with a whisk. Stir in milk, vanilla, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt. Divide the mixture evenly among prepared custard cups. Place cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cups from pan. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.

Loosen edges of custards with a knife or rubber spatula. Place a dessert plate, upside down, on top of each cup; invert onto plates. Drizzle any remaining caramelized syrup over custards. Garnish with raspberries, if desired.



Dante felt very pleased that he'd made some sweets for his sweetheart, and they both fell asleep that night with very full tummies and smiles on their faces.

Tomorrow is the "Ninth Day of Christmas with Dante & Sascha", so come on back, willya?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

NOTE:  Today's post contains another history lesson, so if you find such things interesting, please take a close look.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

 "SEVEN SWANS A-SWIMMING"

Dante was truly overwhelmed by this gift, and once again, wasn't quite sure what to do with them.  He had never even heard of anyone cooking a swan!  Somehow, it didn't seem quite right.

So he did some more investiCATing on the internet, and it turns out that it was quite common in Medieval times.  He even found copies of old Elizabethan recipes, crude though they may be.

While he was at it, he did a little geneological research, and dug up some information on one of his medieval ancestors, and one of Sascha's as well.  He was beginning to think that he and Sascha had been together in previous lives because several of their respective ancestors seemed to know each other!

PURRhaps they belonged together for all time.  It sure was starting to look that way.

Dante found likenesses of his and Sascha's medieval ancestors in an early Elizabethan engraving.  (Note:  Their names are 100 purr cent authentic to the times.  Rather ironic, I think.)



                
 DEMOCOÖN and SIMACATTA 
  

It really makes you wonder if their ancestors actually swanned around together, and maybe even partook of a little roasted swan for dinner.

Hereunder is a representation of a roast swan and an authentic Medieval Swan Recipe.  The Old English word for recipe is "receipt".  The receipt itself is written in Medieval English and is followed by a translation in modern English.



MEDIEVAL SWAN RECIPE


For to dihyte a swan
PERIOD: England, 14th century | SOURCE: Utilis Coquinario | CLASS: Authentic
DESCRIPTION: Roasted swan with Chaudon
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ORIGINAL RECEIPT:

For to dihyte a swan. Tak & vndo hym & wasch hym, & do on a spite & enarme hym fayre & roste hym wel; & dysmembre hym on þe beste manere & mak a fayre chyne, & þe sauce þerto schal be mad in þis manere, & it is clept:

Chaudon. Tak þe issu of þe swan & wasch it wel, & scoure þe guttes wel with salt, & seth þe issu al togedere til it be ynow, & þan tak it vp and wasch it wel & hew it smal, & tak bred & poudere of gyngere & of galyngale & grynde togedere & tempere it with þe broth, & coloure it with þe blood. And when it is ysothe & ygrounde & streyned, salte it, & boyle it wel togydere in a postnet & sesen it with a litel vynegre.

(FROM:  Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.)
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GODE COOKERY TRANSLATION:

For to prepare a swan. Take & undo him & wash him, & do on a spit & lard him fair & roast him well; & dismember him on the best manner & make a fair carving, & the sauce thereto shall be made in this manner, & it is called:

Chaudon. Take the issue of the swan & wash it well, & scour the guts well with salt, & boil the issue all together til it be enough, & then take it up and wash it well & hew it small, & take bread & powder of ginger & of galingale & grind together & temper it with the broth, & color it with the blood. And when it is boiled & ground & strained, salt it, & boil it well together in a small pot & season it with a little vinegar.


While Dante found his hiss-tory lesson very interesting (swans do hiss, after all), he wasn't exactly burning to recreate the recipe (er receipt).  But now that he was actually in receipt of the swans, he had to find something to do with them.  Then it suddenly hit him!




"I'll make a pond for them in my new garden in the Spring", he said, "but in the meantime I'll make arrangements for them to live at "Swan House" in Ottawa during the winter."

Dante lives in Ottawa which is known as 'Swan Central' by some, because in 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II gifted the City of Ottawa, Canada's capital, with six pairs of Mute (Royal) swans. Her Majesty's gift was in celebration of Canada's 100th birthday.

The swans are housed in a nursery during the cold weather and released onto the Rideau River in May of each year.  We are pretty sure that it's actually illegal to eat one, so Dante made a very good decision -- again with Sascha's approval.

Join us again tomorrow for "The Eighth Day of Christmas with Dante & Sascha".  It's definitely time for something a little different.

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WITH DANTE & SASCHA

On the sixth day of Christmas, Dante's true love gave to him ...

"SIX GEESE A-LAYING"

As roast goose is the centerpiece of a typical Victorian Christmas dinner, Dante and Sascha decided to have a little fun and dress up for the occasion.  To honour both past and present, they chose to go Steampunk style.

For those of you who may not know here is a brief description of Steampunk:

In general, Steampunk includes any recent science fiction that takes place in a recognizable historical period  in which the Industrial Revolution has already begun, and it places an emphasis on steam or spring-propelled gadgets. The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Steampunk as it PURRtains to fashion comes from remixing styles from the Victorian era, classic Goth, gypsy, and industrial fetish.  It creates a unique and beautifully old-fashioned yet offbeat look. 



And who better to cook this classic Victorian feast, but one of England's foremost chefs and popular TV PURRSonality, Gordon Ramsay.

They popped over to jolly old England to eat this savoury dish at one of his London restaurants called the "York and Albany" where traditional English fare is featured.  They packed only one of the six geese into the PTU this time, and are keeping the rest for another time (and meanwhile, they'll have plenty of fresh goose eggs to harvest).

This is what they were served:


Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Roast Goose
Ingredients

4 - 5.5kg freshgoose
4 lemons
3 limes
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
small handful each of parsley sprigs, thyme and sage, plus extra for garnishing
a little olive oil, for browning, optional
3 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp thyme leaf

Method

1. Calculate the cooking time (see roasting times, below). If the goose is ready-trussed, then loosen the string and pull out the legs and wings a little – this helps the bird cook better. Check the inside of the bird and remove any giblets or pads of fat. Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly score the breast and leg skin in a criss-cross. This helps the fat to render down more quickly during roasting.

2. Grate the zest from the lemons and limes. Mix with 2 tsp fine sea salt, the five-spice powder and pepper to taste. Season the cavity of the goose generously with salt, then rub the citrus mix well into the skin and sprinkle some inside the cavity.

3. Stuff the zested fruit and the herb sprigs inside the bird and set aside for at least 15 mins. Can be done up to a day ahead and kept refrigerated.

4. Heat oven to 240C/fan 220C/gas 9. If you want to give the bird a nice golden skin, brown in a large frying pan (or a heavy-based roasting tin), using a couple of tbsp of oil. Holding the bird by the legs (you may like to use an oven glove), press it down on the breasts to brown.

5. Once browned, place the bird in the roasting tin. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Roast for the calculated time, turning the heat down after 10 mins to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Cover the goose with foil if it is starting to brown too much.

6. Every 30 mins or so, baste the bird with the pan juices, then pour off the fat through a sieve into a large heatproof bowl . You will end up with at least a litre of luscious fat – save this for the potatoes and other veg. At the end of the cooking time, leave to rest for at least 30 mins, covered loosely with foil. The bird will not go cold, but will be moist and much easier to carve.

Roasting times
Cook for 10 mins at 240C/fan 220C/gas 9, then reduce to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and cook for 20 mins per kg for medium-rare, 32 mins per kg for more well-done, plus 30 mins resting.

So, it looks like this time Sascha really got Dante's goose!  And when it arrived at the table, he couldn't help but say "Take a GANDER at that, will you?".  It was a thing of beauty, indeed.  As was his gorgeous girlfriend, of course!

They'll be back tomorrow for "The Seventh Day of Christmas with Dante  & Sascha", so make sure you don't miss it.  I've been told there's going to be quite a bit of 'swanning around'!