The Pit and the Passion

She held her gaze steady, mainly so she could delve deep, deep into those chocolate eyes. Together with his sharp, angular nose and intense, almost predatory, expression, he reminded her of a peregrine falcon on the hunt.

The Pit & the Passion

Friday, January 22, 2016

Exquisite Christmas, an anthology of 21 authors’ stories and recipes, is still available!
My story, Che Gelida Manina, is a sweet,  romantic story of how love can come a second time around—if you let it.

Grace is devastated by the loss of her husband—the most romantic person she has ever known—and is determined to avoid any contact with the things they had loved. She refuses to walk her beloved beach, or light candles under the stars, or listen to his favorite opera, La Bohème.

When she meets Edward, she insists that he abide by her wishes. He does without argument, but as the weeks go by, she begins to wonder if she's made a mistake. Will she let the chance of an unexpected happiness slip through her fingers? Will Edward?

One of the two recipes of mine you can find in Exquisite Christmas is for Swedish Coffeebread. Adapted from my Swedish mother-in-law’s recipe, it has become a tradition in our house at Christmas, although it’s delicious any time of year. In fact, my daughter made it for the first time this Christmas—using the recipe in Exquisite Christmas!

Here it is:
Swedish Coffeebread

Preparation time: about four hours (three for rising).


2 packages dry yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup milk (2% or more)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2  teaspoons salt
5 to 5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
Shortening to grease rising bowl

For the glaze:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons sugar

You will need a spice grinder, a small cup, a small saucepan, a large mixing bowl, a food mixer or food processor (optional), a large cookie sheet, cooling rack, brush for glaze.
A bread machine is not recommended for this recipe.

1.       Grind cardamom pods very fine.  Set aside.
2.      In a small cup dissolve yeast in the warm water.
3.      Scald milk: heat either in a pot or in the microwave (about 4 minutes) until foam forms on the milk.  Allow to cool slightly.
4.      Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of the flour. Beat well.
5.      Add eggs. Beat well.
6.      Stir in yeast, cardamom, and remaining flour to make a soft dough.
7.      Knead 8-10 minutes by hand or in mixer (with kneading arm inserted).
8.     Remove dough from machine and place it in a large greased bowl. Cover with oiled wax paper and  set in a warm spot away from drafts. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
9.      Remove dough from bowl and place on floured board. Punch down and divide into 3 equal parts.  Let rest 10  minutes, covered with a damp kitchen towel.
10.  Take  one of the sections and cut into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms until you have a rod about 12 inches long. Lay the three rods side by side. Pinch three ends together, then braid loosely, pinching the opposite ends and folding them under. Repeat with the other 2 sections. Place braids on a greased cookie sheet, cover lightly with wax paper or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
11.   Fifteen minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º F.
12.  Melt butter and keep warm until you take the bread from the oven.
13.  Bake the loaves for 20 minutes or until golden and you hear a hollow sound when rapped on the bottom.
14.  While still hot, brush the loaves with butter and sprinkle with sugar and any leftover cardamom.

Makes 3 loaves; freezes well.

To read the stories and find all the wonderful recipes, see here:
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