Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thai Tea Cake with Creamed Coconut Frosting


Right now Jeremy and I are at the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival taking in the amazing desert scenery and the delicious food, (and wine too of course!) On top of the fun of the festival, which I'll talk more about next week, this weekend is even more special because Monday is my birthday, so I've declared these two days to be my birthday weekend extragavanza! And no birthday weekend would be complete without a birthday cake. So this year I decided to turn one of my all-time favorite drinks, Thai Iced Tea, into my birthday cake. To get the Thai tea flavor I finely ground the Thai tea leaves in my little coffee/nut grinder, and then I mixed them together with sweetened condensed milk (the other standard addition to Thai Iced Tea) over low heat to help the flavor steep a bit. I also learned here that canned coconut milk can be whipped up to a near-whipped cream-like consistency, so I used a similar tactic to create the frosting. Once it was all put together in cake-form, it was like the heavens parted, and the gods of Thai food smiled down on me, giving me this wonderfully delicious and adorable gift. Basically, Jeremy and I inhaled it. Entire cake gone within a few days between the two of us. Kind of gross, I know. But to be completely fair, it looked smaller than it actually was, so we didn't realize how much we were eating. The great thing about this cake, from a decorating perspective, was how firm and spongey it was; which made it perfect for lots of layering since it wasn't going to get all crumbly and break apart when I started to stack it. I love it when cake decorating can be made that much easier, since it's usually such a tedious and gentle process. I could have dropped a layer on the ground by accident and it wouldn't have broken!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Barbequed Maple Balsamic Burger with Sharp Cheddar Cheese & a Giveaway

It is that time of year again, the one where we finally get to bust out our barbeques after (ideally) keeping them tucked out of water damage's way over the winter. Huzzah! I will be the first to admit, I'm not very experienced with the barbeque, I usually leave that up to Jeremy while I remain indoors making biscuits and stews and the like. But I do love barbeque flavor, and there's no better way to get better at something than by practicing it, so I went ahead and jumped right into the hot, fiery coals of our teeny tiny patio grill. And while it doesn't have the simplest layout, I found this website to be very helpful. To make the burgers a bit smokier, I placed hickory smoking chips over the coals when they heated up, right before placing the patties on the grill. The chips started smoking while the patties were cooking, giving them a hint of that nice, mildly sweet smoked flavor. And then to top off the burgers, I whipped up some balsamic ketchup. Heinz made some a little bit ago, if you recall, but it wasn't balsamic-y enough for my taste. So I added Devo's Maple Balsamic Vinegar in the patties and mixed them into the ketchup, which ended up complimenting the smokey flavors in a really wonderful way. There was just enough tang and sweetness to round out the savoriness of the patty and the sharp cheddar cheese. I served them on a pretzel bun because honestly, who doesn't like soft pretzels? Jeremy and I sat down to eat them and holy crapoli, they were gooooood. Like, the kind of good where nobody talks for a while and it isn't weird because everyone's so focused on what they're eating. The patties were huge and really filling, but that didn't deter Jeremy from having two of them since he liked it so much. Highly recommend making this, will be a crowd-pleaser for all types of folks, aside from vegetarians, but I have a feeling that if they tried this, even they would have to admit that it's pretty darn tasty.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

English Crumpets and a Shutterfly Giveaway

A little over a week ago Jeremy was out of town for work and I was left with the apartment all to myself. What is a young lady to do under these circumstances, you ask? Why, throw a Downton Abby-themed view-a-thon for herself and for her friends, of course! I absolutely love that PBS series, and decided to make some very undeniably English food items to nibble on while we watched the first season. I made cucumber tea sandwiches with a dill cream cheese spread and hazelnut shortbread cookies, both of which I'll post about later on, but what I enjoyed making most was the crumpets, the recipe for which I found here and shrunk down a bit since there were only four of us. Crumpets are to the English what English muffins are to us, meaning they spread butter and jam on them eat them along with tea, coffee, or breakfast. Crumpets are made from a basic blend of yeast, flour, water, and milk, allowed to rise, and then fried on a griddle like tiny tea saucer-sized pancakes. Normally, you place something called crumpet rings on the griddle, which are little circular metal cookie cutters that you pour the batter into so the crumpets can grow  taller as they cook. But I didn't have crumpet rings and didn't want to buy any, so, I made them without and although they were a bit flatter (about 1/2 inch thick) than modern crumpets, crumpet rings weren't invented until a couple hundred years ago, so I figure that mine were just ultra-traditional. The best thing about crumpets are the trademark holes that appear on top of them when they're frying. These make for excellent butter and jam holders and make each bite of the crumpet explode with tiny pockets of buttery jelly goodness. Needless to say, all 18 crumpets were gone within a day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chocolate Meltaway Brownies

Last weekend I had an itch for something chocolatey, and after hearing Jeremy mention that brownies were one of his favorite desserts, I decided to whip some up. They were easy to make, and although this recipe does call for some chocolate and butter to be melted down in a double-boiler, you can make your own makeshift double boiler by filling a large-ish pot about 1/3 full of water and nestling a slightly smaller pot within it to put the chocolate and butter in. I especially liked how these turned out because of the hint of amaretto, which is one of my absolute favorite flavors when used in combination with chocolate. They were nice and soft inside too, with the milk chocolate morsels all melty and smooth, but not gooey to the point where you can't eat them with your hands without them breaking apart everywhere. 'Twas the ideal brownie consistency.

I also had some very good news last week which was definitely worth celebrating with some brownies. Me and Jeremy got our wedding location secured, we'll be wed at Mount Hood Organic Farms on September 1st, 2013! I am so excited, and very relieved. Having the location contract signed and secured is light a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I feel like now that I know when and where it will be I can start getting everything else arranged with a nice sense of security. So excited about it! We'll definitely have a wedding cake, but these brownies might be fun to have on the dessert table too...