One of my favorite Christmas presents Jamie gave me was a vintage cookbook he found at an antique store. The book is full of hilariously sexist illustrations and phrases, such as meals "meant for men" and suggestions to help women ensure that the meals they're serving, as well as the appearance of their home and themselves, are all presented in a way that's most pleasing and relaxing for their man after his long stressful day at work.
I had a good laugh reading that cookbook cover to cover one evening this winter.
Admittedly, I enjoy fixing nice meals for him - and looking pretty and sexy while doing so (whenever possible). But I also enjoy being taken care of, and our system of taking turns for grocery planning/shopping and cooking dinner has worked well for us, so that we each get a whole week off of cooking duties. Hopefully it's a tradition we can continue when we have kids, too.
While skimming through my cookbook, I pictured ladies in 50-style dresses, aprons and heels, their hair perfectly coiffed, their lips dramatically stained with red lipstick. Their husbands were relaxing in an armchair, sipping scotch on the rocks, waiting for someone to bring them their slippers. Or sitting at the kitchen table, gripping their silverware in both hands, impatiently waiting to be served pot roast and mashed potatoes.
I remembered an ad in one of my mom's old magazines in the 80's, a picture of a woman leaning back against a chair, maybe talking on the telephone, shoulder length dark brown hair brushing her shoulders, impossibly thick mascara-ed eyelashes framing her green eyes, pale skin and perfectly applied red lipstick. As a little girl, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen, and I wanted to look just like her when I grew up.
And now, I have a shade or two of red lipstick tucked away in my makeup case, as most women do, yet I rarely wear it. It's so bold, so dramatic, so daringly womanly that when I put it on I get nervous and usually end up blotting it or blending it with a more subdued color before leaving the house.
I'm not sure why it scares me so much to go out wearing red lipstick. Maybe because it's so attention-grabbing, as though, without a word, my lips are saying to anyone who glances my way, "Look at me!"
Well. That's just silly, though, right? We should be able to wear red lipstick without fear of what anyone else thinks.
After baking two loaves of chocolate espresso loaf bread, or loaf cake if you prefer, I brought one to my work and sent one with Jamie. One of his coworkers loved it so much, he requested some for himself for the next weekend, so I wrapped up two freshly baked loaves of the bread in brown paper tied with red baker's twine. A pretty little vintage touch, I thought.
I dabbed on red lipstick the morning I photographed the bread, and even though I didn't leave the house, I felt quite bold. Someday, maybe I'll be brave enough to go out with red lipstick and all.
One Year Ago: Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Brown Gravy and Couscous
Two Years Ago: Citrus Swirl Bundt Cake and Red Grapefruit Curd
Chocolate Espresso Loaf Bread
· 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
· ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
· 1 cup sour cream
· ¾ cup whole milk or buttermilk
· 2 cups sugar
· 4 eggs
· 1 tablespoon vanilla
· 2 ½ cups flour
· 1 cup unsweetened special dark cocoa powder
· 3 tablespoons espresso powder
· 1 tablespoon cinnamon
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup chocolate chips
· ½ cup granulated sugar
· ¼ cup coffee liqueur (for a non-alcoholic version just use strong brewed coffee)
· ¾ cup powdered sugar
· ½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350. Line two standard-sized loaf pans with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the sides of the pans, and spray the inside with non-stick spray.
Place the chocolate and the butter in large heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water so that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally, until melted, and set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the sour cream, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla into the chocolate and butter until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; stir the dry ingredients into the wet, just until moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and immediately make the glaze.
In a saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and coffee liqueur; warm over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Remove the loaves of bread from the pans by lifting them out by the parchment paper. Drizzle the hot glaze over the hot bread, letting it drip over the sides. Let cool for about an hour before slicing.
Yields 2 loaves
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen