Monday, October 5, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
7. Listening & watching to the rain while sitting on my couch, sipping on something hot, reading a wonderful book. Or watching Breakfast at Tiffany's.
There are so many more reasons to enjoy Autumn and I just can't wait! What are you looking forward to?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When I first found out about this month's challenge I was so excited about all the possibilities. I immediately thought about the different shapes, flavor combinations and other variations that would be delicious with this cake. I kept the basic cake recipe but I decided to go with a peanut butter-chocolate layered torte and some caramel shards for topping.
The layers of sponge cake were alternated peanut butter buttercream and chocolate buttercream and were either frosted with chocolate or peanut butter buttercream. The two flavors of rich buttercream combined with the light sponge cake was delightful. My husband said it reminded him of a wafer cookie and claimed that it was his favorite cake. Not too bad! I also enjoyed it but it is definitely best when served on the same day it is made or the next day. I will definitely try this recipe again with even more flavor variations!
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
Complete Recipe can be found HERE. My variations and additions are below.
Makes about 1 cup
2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Fine salt (optional)
Cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed. On low speed, mix in sugar until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste, if desired. Use to frost outside of cake and to alternate layers with chocolate buttercream.
1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 pound), softened, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
Using a mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl until soft, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla and salt. Increase mixer speed to high and cream the ingredients until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Melt the chocolate and the remaining butter in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Beat into the buttercream mixture until well combined.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Finally, after 8 years of growing grapes in our backyard we hit the jackpot! I harvested 7 pounds of red grapes this afternoon! I got to them before they turned into raisins, before the birds ate them and frankly before I forgot about them, again. I don't remember the exact grapes that we planted but I think these are red wine grapes. They taste sweet, have a tiny seed and are very juicy.
So now, what to do with 7 pounds of grapes? Attempt to make a very small bottle of wine? Grape juice? Grape jam? Let me know what you think I should make and if you have any advice for how to go about making wine.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Isn't this happy little owl adorable? My friend Vicky is a wonderful artist and makes natural toys, art and accessories from wool. Yes, needle felted from wool. The process, according to Vicky, "involves taking a sharp, barbed needle and poking loose fibers thousands of times until the desired form is achieved" and I know these are very labor intensive and are just amazing! She started making these wool toys for her boys to play with and recently started selling them on Etsy.
She is super talented and I absolutely love all her work. This owl is one of her more recent designs and I loved it so much that I just had to buy it! I recommend that you visit her site and check out all the wonderful toys that she makes. She accepts custom orders and each toy is made to order. I promise that you will love all her beautiful art!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I had quite a few fresh raspberries that were going to waste so I found a delicious way to extend their life! A fresh raspberry vinegar. Delicious, easy to make and has so many uses. One of the first things I made was a wonderful chicken salad using the vinegar for the dressing. Perfect for a warm Summer evening. Enjoy!
Simple Raspberry Vinegar
(Recipe from The British Larder--an amazing blog!!)
1/2 cup overripe raspberries**
1 1/2 cups distilled or white wine vinegar
Remove any moldy raspberries and lightly wash under cold water and drain.
Lightly mash the raspberries.
Add the vinegar of your choice and let it mature in a jar/container for 5 days.
Pass the vinegar through a fine sieve into sterilized bottles/jars. Store in the refrigerator.
**You can also use blackberries, strawberries or other seasonal berries.
Grilled Chicken, Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry and Walnut Dressing
(Adapted from Cooking Outside the Box by Keith Abel)
4 chicken breast, boneless & skinless
Cooked bacon crumbles
Salt & pepper
3 T. olive oil
2 T. walnut oil
2 T. raspberry vinegar
1 T. honey
Salt & pepper
Lightly brush chicken with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill until just cooked through and set aside to rest.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season. Adjust quantities of oil, vinegar and seasoning to your tastes.
Toss dressing with mixed greens and plate. Top with goat cheese, almonds, crumbled bacon, tomato and sliced chicken.
Serve with a chilled Riesling and fresh, crusty bread.
Monday, July 27, 2009
If you are a fan of the Pepperidge Farms chocolate milano cookies then you must give these a try. A chocolate ganache filling sandwiched between soft, delicate lemon-vanilla cookies. I enjoyed each of the elements separately and together. The cookie would be great on its own with a cup of tea and the chocolate ganache can just be eaten with a spoon! Or maybe with some vanilla ice cream.
My friend Amy & I made these together and we had so much fun! This recipe was very easy so we were able to take our time baking and spend some quality time talking. I left her with quite a few cookies to share with her daughter and husband then I put together a cute box full of these and brought them for my mom to enjoy at work. A nice Friday afternoon pick me up, right?
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. I didn't have time to make the marshmallow cookies but I will definitely try those sometime!
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Makes: about 3 dozen cookies
Note: These cookies spread quite a lot so make sure to space them about 2" apart
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested
1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.