Happy President’s Day! I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day, and more importantly, a great start to both the Olympic games at Sochi and the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The Olympics are still going on, and have brought with them a series of highs and lows for the US—high: the USA hockey team’s win against Russia, low: Shaun White. While the US is currently a bit behind in medal count, the dog show this past week certainly must count for something. The (sometimes called?) “Olympics for Dogs” is actually a few years older than the Modern Olympic Games, yet it seems like Sochi-fever has overshadowed some of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the annual dog show. It is with that in mind that I decided on a particularly easy, no-bake recipe this week (who has time to bake with all of these televised dog and human sporting events?)—a very dog inspired Peppermint Bark.
Just like dive bars with Sochi-inspired drink specials, dogs seem to be another commonplace in New York City these days—just check out this blog. Once thought of as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy that could afford their care, the friendship between people and dogs has overridden practicality, and our tiny island (not to mention nearby Brooklyn) is full of domesticated city dogs, both on the streets and on the walls of its museums. While having a dog in a small city with an extremely small green space to occupant ratio is still only reserved for those “who really have it together,” new luxuries such as dog walkers (who get paid extremely well, and sometimes employ assistants), doggy daycare and apartment buildings that allow dogs (except mine) have made it easier for the average city dweller to own a happy and healthy (and maybe award-winning) dog.
Hanging at the Frick, William Hogarth’s Miss Mary Edwards depicts his wealthy patron sitting for a portrait with her dog, which looks up at her admiringly. A woman with great fortune, this portrait shows her decked out in her finest red dress and jewels, next to a business letter, illustrating her as both financially independent and intelligent, the ideal New York City lady.
Hanging nearby at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Thomas Eakins’s work of 1889, The Artist’s Wife and His Setter Dog. Like so many other artists working as “Realists,” Eakins’s work is blatantly unidealized, showing his wife looking up at him from her reading, her dog at her feet. The negative space surrounding Eakins’s wife, Susan (an artist as well) is dark and muted, while her light blue dress and red feet stand apart, as if a spotlight is shining down only on her. This spotlight brings me back to this Peppermint Bark, whose star ingredient is the left over candy canes, which if you are anything like me, you definitely still have lying around. If not, check your local Rite Aid or CVS, I have still seen them lying around the clearance section.
2 pounds white chocolate, melted
12 large candy canes
½ cup semisweet chocolate, melted
½ teaspoon peppermint oil
The steps here are extremely simple: first, place all of your unwrapped candy canes in a Ziploc bag. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the candy canes into pieces over a cutting board, set aside. In a large bowl, mix the melted white chocolate, candy canes and peppermint oil until combined.
After covering a baking sheet in parchment paper, spread the mixture evenly, making sure that the outer edges are not too thin. Finally drizzle the melted semi-sweet chocolate over the cookie sheet, swirling with a wooden stick if desired. Chill in the fridge for about 30 min. When ready, cut into bite-side pieces to serve/eat right away, or store in an airtight container until they all disappear!
And lastly, huge congratulations to this year’s dog winner: “GCH After All Painting the Sky” a.k.a. “Sky,” 2014’s Best in Show!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Featured art: William Hogarth, Miss Mary Edwards, 1742, oil on canvas
Thomas Eakins, The Artist’s Wife and His Setter Dog, oil on canvas, 1884
Last image via the Westminster Kennel Club, 2014