Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Lemon Curd

I tried out a new flourless chocolate cake recipe last weekend. As I may have mentioned, my youngest sister is eating gluten-free these days, so I've been trying some new recipes. Most flourless chocolate cakes are very fudgy and dense - which is delicious but not always what you're looking for in a cake. I bought some Gluten Free Baking Mix but realized later (too late!)that I have to buy Xanthum gum (?) in order to make anything. Anyways, in my travels around the internet, I came across this recipe:


The crumb/texture is more like a regular chocolate cake but is still very moist. I decided to forego the white chocolate whipped cream (not a fan of white chocolate), poured chocolate ganache over the top instead and served with whipped cream and raspberry sauce. I don't think anyone would have guessed the "secret" ingredient if I hadn't spilled the beans.

My other project this week was making lemon curd from scratch. I don't know why it took me so long to try this out; I guess I assumed that it must be difficult since the little jars sell for $5 a pop at the store! Anyway, it's super easy and turned out great! The hardest part was saving it to fill these little bouchees made from store-bought puff pastry and not just eating it straight up with a spoon!

I used the recipe here, with the only substitution being that used vanilla sugar (we were out of regular):


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Macys Flower Show Starts Tomorrow!

I like the poster this year; it reminds me of a children's book. I'm hoping to make it downtown this week and will post some pictures if/when I do!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Birthday Cookies, Salad, and Tulips

Today is the first day of spring and my mom's birthday (Happy B-day, Mom!) - a perfect occasion to use my new butterfly cookie cutters. Unfortunately, these pictures aren't great but I put some of the cookies on sticks and stuck them in the cake and others were stuck around the sides.

The cookies are pretty much a chocolate shortbread and aren't too sweet. They hold the cut out shape really well. I pressed the stick into the top of the cookie and reinforced the area with a little scrap of extra dough. Baking didn't take too long. I used the recipe from here: www.bakeitpretty.com/blog/?=owl+cookie

And the icing recipe is from here: www.kneadtobeloaved/2010/02/10/valentines-day-sugar-cookies . Definitely wait until the cookies cool before frosting. These butterflies had a real tendency to break down the middle :(
Below is a the awesome salad we had. Isn't it pretty? I was very excited to make the radish mushrooms along the edges. They're super cool and easy to do. I'll try to include a tutorial soon but there are a bunch elsewhere on the web.
And finally, look at these beautiful tulips! They coordinate well with the radishes, eh? I was looking for a way to display them and thought putting the vase in this gift bag looked nice (especially since my mom would be taking the flowers home at the end of the party).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Liberty of London Update

(the cat checks out the loot - no food in sight so he decided to obey me and get off the table)

It took two Target trips, but I was able to find all of the Liberty of London houseware stuff that I wanted. My Target started putting stuff out on Friday but didn't have most of the housewares out yet. I couldn't get back to the store until Sunday (the day it was supposed to arrive in stores) and the shelves were completely picked over! It must have been a shopping frenzy! Frankly, it surprised me but people around here don't usually get excited about the same things I get excited about. It was also disappointing. So, I decided to check out the Target in another (less hip) part of town and was able to find the patterns I wanted! Below is a pic of my loot: the tiered serving tray, four cute pink cereal bowls ($2.50 each!), and a couple of gift bags. I also got some plastic tumblers with the black and white floral design but forgot to include them in the pic.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring (a little early) and new links

We are all wishing hard for an early spring but it's not quite here yet (who am I kidding, it will be another month before things really start growing). I got these daffodils for $1.99 - pretty cheap for a little sneak preview of spring on such a grey day.

No new projects to report, mostly just baking for school. The pic below shows my "tablescape" for a little brunch gathering I had this weekend.

Meanwhile, here are some new links to check out:


http://simplegoodandtasty.com (Minnesota foodie news)

http://www.kneadtobeloaved.com ( a friend's blog)


http://sweetpaul.typepad.com (lifestyle, crafts, and food)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A, B(rioche), C(roissant), D(oughnut)

It's been breakfast for the last week - well, in class, anyway. Last Friday we made the doughnuts above. They are part way between a cake doughnut and a raised doughnut. We made them with a sweet dough. The trick is to make sure your oil is the right temp or your doughnuts will be too greasy (too cold) or burnt on the outside and doughy in the middle (too hot). We also made cinnamon rolls, which I forgot to photograph.
We also made brioche - a great bread for french toast or bread pudding. Pictured above is the traditional "tete" shape with the little knob on the tob. Brioche is actually a pretty basic bread to make; I think I could do it at home with no problems.
Next up - danish and croissants! Both are made from the same laminated dough (think layers and layers of butter rolled into the dough), they get their puff from steam as they bake. As you can see, my pinwheels (above) were a little thin so the points started to get a little too dark. They are filled with cream cheese filling and maple pecan filling. Also, my croissant-shaping (below) could use some work (they still taste delicious, though!)
This last pic is a little tin of monkey bread (also called pull-apart bread). We're encouraged to use our scraps for monkey bread whenever possible; it's a shame (and expensive) to waste all that butter.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thrift Score

Had a good trip to the thrift store today (Savers), which isn't always the case. We were looking for new dining room chairs (anyone who has been to my place can tell you that the old ones are literally falling apart) but weren't so lucky in the furniture department. BUT - look at the cool vintage textiles I found. Especially loving the granny square afghan and the floral print on top (a photo with detail below).
I also found a great Sunset (like the magazine) cookbook from 1960 with truly awesome illustrations. I don't think the woman who owned this cooked anything from it (or she was a particularly neat cook) as there is not a mark on it except on one of the dessert pages.

As always, the mismatched dishes drew my eye. I ended up with two of these strawberry print ones from Mikasa and the little blue saucer shown in the bottom pic.

Liberty of London for Target

Check this out! In Target stores starting March 14th - a line of clothes, accessories, and home decor from Liberty of London. I have to say that I've been rather underwhelmed by the last few seasonal lines from Target but this truly makes up for it (all is forgiven, Target). In case you missed it, I LOVE FLORALS! These floral designs are exactly the kind of thing I look to for inspiration (can't you imagine a wedding cake with floral designs like the orange and pink pattern above?)

*Picture from casasugar.com (a pretty awesome blog, actually)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Latest and Greatest

Here are some pics of what I've been up to lately. Above is the result of a temporary lapse in willpower - a whole bunch of new spice blends from Penzeys! Hopefully this will jazz up those winter veggies and hold me over until real spring arrives!

And now for some flatbreads.....

More focaccia! We made one with olives in it (ick, but I know people either love them or hate them) and one with fresh herbs incorporated in the dough. Very, very sticky dough!

Above are the tortillas I made in class last week. Let's just say that I won't be making homemade tortillas; they're a pain to make considering that you can buy good tortillas pretty cheap at the grocery store. Each tortilla takes quite a while, between rolling them out very thin and then cooking them in a dry pan.

The most exciting flatbread, and my personal favorite, is pizza! We didn't throw our dough up in the air all crazy, but we did get to use the pizza peel (wooden paddle dealio shown in the pic at the bottom) to throw our pizzas right on the deck oven. Delicious! I think I just might need to get a pizza stone for the home kitchen.
Below is an action shot of one of my classmates, Jon, preparing his pizza for the oven!