Thursday, December 20, 2007

Settlers of Catan -- best board game ever!

Ottawa is currently experiencing a surge of interest in an unassuming board game -- Settlers of Catan. It seems that Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's is the only retailer which regularly stocks this German game (at a reasonable price, anyway), and they were sold out across Ottawa yesterday evening (as well as last week when I checked, and should've put my name on their next shipment). Settlers is literally being sold as soon as it's unpacked from Toronto! Sale clerks were perplexed as to the cause of the game's sudden popularity...

Settlers of Catan has a boring name, the box's design is outdated, and the description doesn't make it sound any better. In short, unless someone else has forced you to try the game, and you survived the learning process, there is no way you'd begin playing on your own. Settlers simply isn't the type of game you pick up thinking "Oh, this looks fantastic -- I'll get it for Suzy!"

Settlers requires an introduction by an experienced player. It's like... a virus.

I've gone the the States a couple times in the past month for Christmas shopping, and have looked everywhere for Settlers to no avail (I've gotten a number of strange looks). I was hoping for a cheaper American price, but it appears that the only US retailers which carry Settlers are the online variety -- they haven't even heard of the game in Waterstown or Messena.

Will Nathan receive Settlers for Christmas? Or an IOU? Stay tuned for the final outcome this Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tiramisu #4

It's that time of year again -- Tiramisu time!

I'm heading over to the Polizogopoulos' for dinner on Saturday, and offered to make dessert. Christmas/New Years' just wouldn't be the same if I didn't attempt to make a wonderfully delicious light, smooth and creamy Tiramisu.

I looked over my past recipes, and decided to try a new approach -- beaten egg whites. There's a risk of salmonella, but I'm counting on the alcohol to kill any bacteria... what doesn't kill us, eh?

So I found a recipe for Zabaglione on that had slightly different proportions than what I'd done previously, so I thought I'd try that out. Here's what I did...

5 Eggs, separated
1/2 c Sweet (Cremova) Marsala Wine
1/4 c White Sugar
475g Mascarpone (Trestelle)
1/3 c Espresso Forte (Second Cup)
1/3 c Kahlua
2 dozen Ladyfingers (sugar-coated)
Cocoa for dusting

1. Beat egg yolks, Marsala and Sugar until smooth.

2. In a double boiler, continue to whisk Marsala mixture over high heat until it thickens (10-15 minutes). Cover and cool in refrigerator.

3. Beat egg whites in a glass bowl until soft peaks appear. Set aside.

4. Beat Mascarpone cheese until smooth.

5. Add cooled Marsala mixture to Mascarpone cheese. Beat until smooth.

6. Gently fold Mascarpone mixture into beaten egg whites.

7. Mix Kahlua and coffee.

8. Dip half of the Ladyfingers into coffee mixture and arrange across bottom of an 8" springform pan.

9. Gently spoon half of the Mascarpone mixture over Ladyfingers.

10. Lightly dust with Cocoa.

11. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers and Mascarpone mixture.

12. Lightly dust with Cocoa.

13. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

14. Serve well chilled, with chocolate dipped Ladyfingers and strong coffee.

Update: I tried a scoop this afternoon, and was pleased with the overall taste. It's hard to tell from the sides, but I think I should've soaked the ladyfingers a bit longer than I did (they were pretty dry/stale to begin with), and I probably could've done without the egg whites. Maybe I'm just not used to my Tiramisu being light and whipped -- I prefer denser, custardy layers. I just don't think it's worth the risk of eating uncooked egg whites =/