Friday, December 24, 2010
Take care, stay safe, warm, and cozy!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
(1) Downtown San Francisco
(2) Pike Place Market, Seattle
(3) Snowshoeing in Stevens Pass
(4) My desk
(5) Greenhouse in San Francisco
(6) Montana skies
(7) Cherry blossom buds
(8) Cookie from wonderful friend
For the cake: * 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/342 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature * 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar * 3 eggs * 3 egg yolks * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * 3 cups (360 grams) cake flour * 1 teaspoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt * 1 cup (240 grams) nonfat buttermilk
For the chocolate ganache frosting: * 12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped * 1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream * 1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature * 1 cup (140 grams) confectioners' sugar * 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions For the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or a handheld mixer), cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3–4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (This step will take 8–10 minutes if using a handheld mixer.) Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla just until combined. On low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl and paddle again, then beat on medium speed for 20–30 seconds, or until the mixture is homogeneous. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. On the lowest speed, add about one-third of the flour mixture to the egg-butter mixture and mix just until barely combined. Immediately pour in about half of the buttermilk and continue to mix on the lowest speed until the buttermilk is almost thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Again on the lowest speed, add about half of the remaining flour mixture and mix just until barely combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk and mix just until combined. Be careful not to overmix. At this point, it is best to finish the mixing by hand. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using the rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture just until the batter is homogeneous. As you fold, be sure to incorporate any batter clinging to the sides and bottom of the bowl. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 40–50 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the cakes spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks. (The cooled cakes can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to 1 week. Thaw at room temperature, still wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.) For the chocolate ganache frosting: While the cake layers are cooling, put the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, scald the cream over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the cream is not boiling). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let sit at room temperature for 1–2 hours, or until completely cool. (Or, refrigerate the ganache until cool, about 30 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes). Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld mixer) and beat the butter on medium-low speed for 10–15 seconds, or until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, and vanilla and continue to beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and smooth. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. On medium speed, add the cooled ganache and beat for about 2 minutes, or until completely combined. Stop to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute, or until the frosting lightens in color and thickens. You should have about 4 cups. (Use the frosting the day you make it, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature and paddle again for a few minutes until smooth before using.) Remove the cooled cakes from their pans. (Be sure they are completely cool. If they are even the slightest bit warm, the frosting will melt and you will have a mess.) Using a long, serrated knife, trim the top of each cake to level it (the layers will have rounded a bit in the oven; the trimmed scraps make great nibbles). Place one cake layer on a cake plate or cake pedestal (if you have a revolving cake stand, use it). Spoon about 1 cup of the frosting on top and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges. Carefully place the second cake layer, top-side down (so the even, sharp edges will be on the top of the finished cake), on top. Spoon about 1 cup of the frosting on top and spread it over the top and down the sides of the cake, smoothing the frosting as well as you can and covering the entire cake with a thin layer. This is the crumb coat that will keep any loose crumbs from migrating to the surface of the finished cake. Spoon a heaping cup of frosting on top of the cake, and spread it evenly across the top and down the sides. This is the finishing layer of frosting. If desired, spoon any remaining frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a small round or star tip and pipe a decorative line along the top and/or bottom edge of the cake. The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
And in doing so, I found a kindred spirit. I am not a stranger to Laurie Colwin's writing. The first time I read a column by Mrs. Colwin was in an old issue of Gourmet magazine. I was struck then by her writing style: honest, witty, warm, and friendly. However, reading her collection of essays truly made me feel as if I were in her kitchen, gabbing about the merits of mushrooms, biscuits, and of course, books. In her book, Mrs. Colwin too, writes about her love of cookbooks and novels with fantastic cookery. And here I thought I was the only one who could gain 5 lbs from reading a book. Finding Mrs. Colwin's book made my weekend, as I curled up in a couch, hot chai in hand, and savored her words. Sadly, Mrs. Colwin died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the too-early age of 48 in 1992. I imagine that she is still much missed, though it has been nearly 20 years since her death. But I am glad that the author was able to share so much in her short time, making friends and breaking bread with all of the foodies out there, for generations to come.
Recipes of what I ate while enjoying Laurie Colwin's words:
I got this recipe by way of 3191 (thank you Stephanie!):
Stand-by Family Granola inspired by/adapted from Crunchy Granola in How to Cook Everything & 3191
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I only had nuts on hand, so it was a combination of hazelnuts and pine nuts)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy honey
Dash Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a baking pan (at least 9 x13) over medium heat on the stove top. Add the oats and toast, stirring for a few minutes. Add the coconut, nuts and seeds and spices and continue to toast for a few minutes more until everything begins to brown and become fragrant. Warm the brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Pour over oats mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (it depends on the size of the granola batch and the size of the pan). Check every 5-10 minutes or so and give it a good stir. Allow to cool and store in an air-tight jar.
Chai (from chai concentrate recipe found here)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Store in refrigerator.
To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, such as Assam, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.
To give: Pour into small jars with lids and tie with an attractive bow, or wrap the jar first. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.
To keep: Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Take care and break bread friends!
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sorry it's been awhile, August kind of just flew by, and before I knew it Autumn and September arrived on my doorstep. But what a fun month August was! My friend Dao got married, and I got to learn how to do many things: decorate cans as vases, make flower centerpieces, bake her wedding cake (with accompanying cupcakes), etc. It was such a joyful day! One project that I really enjoyed was decorating aluminum cans as vases. The cans are great because they are: 1) Pretty! 2) Environmentally friendly, and 3) Really, really, easy.
All you need are: old cans (big soup cans work well), cardstock paper, modge podge (or some sort of sealant), scissors, brush, and vintage labels. Here's the how-to:
1. Clean and dry outside of cans.
2. Cut and measure cardstock paper to the proportions of the can. It does not have to be exact measurements. In my case, using a 12" x 12" piece of paper, I eyeballed the approximate height of the can (about 8") and then chopped off 4 inches of paper. Now, a 12" x 8" piece of paper was not enough to make it around the particular can I was using, so I cut the 12" x 4" piece of paper I had leftover to cover the space. Because a vintage label is going to be going over this layer of cardstock, the end results from this step does not have to be neat.
3. Slather on a layer of modgepodge on the can.
4. Press cardstock onto can. Then modge podge this piece of paper. Continue doing this until your can is covered with cardstock and modgepodge.
5. Allow to dry for 4 hours, or for best results, overnight.
6. Slather modgepodge over the area you want you label to be.
7. Press label onto modgepodge.
8. Paint yet another round of modgepodge over your label.
9. Let dry for at least 4 hours.
I found my vintage labels here and here from i-DiY, which stand for i-do-it-yourself weddings. Great site for very pretty labels and other goodies! Here is a preview of some the labels available:
Okay all, take care, and catch you all again soon!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
They have everything from rubber stamps (above) to gift tags (below).
Monday, August 2, 2010
I can never get enough of Pike Place Market. Love it, love it, love it. My very first photo adventure took place here as well. So, some very good memories brought me back for another go.
Fresh veggies. Makes me think of Deborah Madison's book Local Flavors. Time to get started cooking! I'm excited.
Fresh lilies. They are so pretty, that I think I will have to incorporate these into my friend's wedding (see Tams's previous post). Won't these look nice in a bouquet with some gerbera daisies, rosemary, and sage?
The sight of these striped umbrellas and flowers in window boxes really make me happy.
I ate a big bowl of salad for dinner after taking pictures. Pretty sure this is the reason why...
Fresh juice bar. Yum! Sadly, as it was the morning when I came down to take pictures, I opted for a caffeinated drink.
My friend Monica checks out miniature cheesecakes. They had some delicious sounding flavors! It's a must-try one of these days.
Been a sucker for interesting labels and signs lately. Like the vintage tone of this one, not to mention the contents of the shop itself.
Olive oil, such an essential cooking item. The display and layout of this shop are so pretty too.
Dried fruit stand is practically mandatory every time I go to the market.
Label says it all. Dried strawberries and dried sour cherries are my favorite!