welcome ... enjoy yourself

Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Friday, October 3, 2014

vintage cakes


A few weeks ago I promised a peek inside the latest pretty book I checked out from the library: Vintage Cakes.  Author and baker Julie Richardson includes some of her most popular and delicious cake in this cookbook.  Some of which I was lucky enough to sample at the Cakery during my last visit to Portland!  I still haven't tried making a cake from the cookbook, and I think it might have to wait until my baking habit kicks back in in December.  But I promise to share photos from all my vintage cake baking endeavors with you :)




This is the Cakery's most famous cake and the one I would really love to learn how to make.  I can bake pretty well, but I've never tried making a layer cake.  I imagine I could make it, especially with practice, but something about the stacking just seems pretty intimidating.  But I think the final product would be worth facing that fear. 
 
 
 

Can you imagine making this?  How fun would that be to try to eat?
 

My mom used to make Texas Sheet Cake pretty often when we were growing up.  It was my brother's absolute favorite.  Make sure to enjoy with a large glass of milk.

Hope you enjoyed this dose of Friday cakes.  And hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

reykjavik part 1


Welcome to post three(ish) of our Iceland travel photos.  I don't think I've mentioned yet that we traveled to Iceland with five other friends Paul went to college with.  I was completely impressed that they were all able to coordinate this kind of trip, and now I'm inspired to plan a similar trip.   Probably not to Iceland, but anywhere would be cool really.    

We stayed at an Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik, about a 25 minute walk to downtown (5-10 minute drive).  During our first full day in Reykavik (after we recuperated from our trip to Blue Lagoon and went grocery shopping), we walked downtown along the ocean path.  These first two photos are of the views that met us when we got to the water about 10 minutes into our walk.  


Walking further along the shoreline, we came to the Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture.  It was unveiled in 1990 on Reykjavik's 200th birthday.  It's actually a dreamboat, not a Viking boat, and represents the "promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress, and freedom."  

Harpa: Reykjavik's concert hall and conference center. It's home for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera.
 
 
The Reykjavik Cathedral Hallgr√≠mskirkja that can be seen around the city.  I'll be sharing a post on the church next week!

The best advertisement I saw: share a Coke with an Icelandic friend!  Will you share with Helga or Uglu?!

You can bet that we had to make a stop here.  Luckily they had some wine for me since my stomach doesn't seem to mix well with beer.  Sorry beer.  Sorry tastebuds.  

And now the rest of the this post will be dedicated to restaurants, food, and eating.  The best meal I had in Iceland was at Restaurant Lokjarbrekka (don't ask me to pronounce that for you - or any of the Iceland words for that matter!).  
 



This restaurant specialized in Icelandic delicacies like fermented shark, puffin, and whale (seen above).  I sampled the fermented shark, and I'll say that it earns its reputation as Iceland's most polarizing dish.  It had a squishy texture and smelled strongly like ammonia.  I won't go on.  (This was the table's appetizer.  I felt too guilty to eat the puffin or whale.)  My main course was arctic charr, and I had some kind of chocolate cake amazingness for dessert. 

We also tested the local grocery store, bakery, organic food store, and hot dog restaurant closer to our apartment.  The ability to visit these places was one of my favorite parts of staying where we did.  It felt like we got a more real taste of what Icelandic daily life is like.

This is the Mondlukaka we found at the bakery; it's an Icelandic almond cake.  We got one for dessert the night we ate a home cooked spaghetti dinner at the apartment, and everybody gave it two thumbs up. 

And finally: the hot dog restaurant!!  Hot dogs are one of Iceland's most popular foods.  Crazy huh?  After I saw what counted as a hot dog I understood a little better why they were so popular.  The kind we tried were closer to sausage than American hotdogs are.  They were super flavorful and smelled amazing!

Look how happy those hotdogs made them!  

Thanks for reading :)  More pictures coming in Reykjavik part 2.  

P.S. Have you been taking any autumn themed pictures?  Share them on Instragram with the hashtag #findingjoyinautumn to enter my autumn Instagram challenge!  More details here.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

earl grey lavender ice cream




I woke up this morning to find that Diego had chewed a huge whole in one of my favorite jackets.  I decided we could all use a little virtual ice cream to get us through this Monday and to start get our weeks started off on the right foot.  This is my first time sharing an ice cream recipe here on the blog, and I am really excited to tell you all about my recipe for Earl Grey lavender ice cream. 
 
During our 24 hour trip to Seattle a couple months ago, we made time for a trip to an ice cream parlor called Molly Moon's.  It's one of the new types of local ice cream shops that are popping up around the country that place a lot of value on fresh, local ingredients.  I tried as many samples as I could (before the server gave me the stink eye), and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Earl Grey.  Earl Grey is my current favorite tea, and the ice cream version basically tasted like a frozen cup of tea with more vanilla, cream, and sugar.  Basically like heaven on a spoon.  
 
I bought the Molly Moon's cookbook thinking the recipe for Earl Grey ice cream would be included, but I was heartbroken to see that it wasn't.  So the creative juices started flowing, and I put pieces of a few different recipes to get the final product you'll find below.  (I used a Molly Moon's ice cream base and added the tea and lavender leaves based on the ratios I saw in some other online recipes.  I followed a similar tea-based Molly Moon's recipe for the making part of the recipe.)  
 
 

I don't think the original Molly Moon's flavor included the lavender, but since Earl Grey has undertones of lavender - and because I had lavender growing on my porch - I thought it would add nice depth to the ice cream.    

 

INGREDIENTS: 

5 Earl Grey tea bags
1 tablespoon fresh lavender leaves (use about half this amount if using dried lavender)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (more fat content = richer ice cream, I use 2%)
¾ cup white sugar
1teaspoon vanilla (my addition because I love vanilla in my ice cream)

**You will need an ice cream maker to complete this recipe.  I use a Kitchen Aid Mixer ice cream maker attachment Paul got me for Christmas, and I highly recommend it.  After my ice cream mix is prepared, it gets pours into the the ice cream maker, and 25-30 minutes later I have ice cream!!! 

 
A note on ingredients: Molly Moon's attributes a lot of its ice cream's fantastic flavor to using the best local ingredients available.  I tried using the best ingredients I could find when making my ice cream.  I used Tazo tea (but you could substitute your favorite brand of tea), organic Wisconsin milk, organic sugar, and lavender from a pot on my front porch.  I haven't done a taste comparison, but I can imagine that my ice cream turned out better than if I had used cheaper, lower quality ingredients. 


RECIPE: 

Mix the cream, milk, sugar and pour in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the tea bags and lavender.  Cook uncovered over medium heat while stirring occasionally until the sugar.  Bring cream mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover with lid.  Keep tea bags and lavender steeping in the mixture for 30 minutes at room temperature (it will be like super tea!).  Then pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down firmly to squeeze out leftover liquid.  You will not need the tea leaves or lavender any longer, discard these.  Pour the now flavorful cream mixture into a pan or bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled (about 1-2 hours).  Remove mixture from refrigerator and mix in vanilla.  Your work is almost done!  Time to tag off to the ice cream maker! 


Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to freeze your ice cream base.  Kick off your shoes and relax while the maker takes over!  After my ice cream finishes in the Kitchen Aid Mixer attachment, I usually put it in the freezer overnight.  This way the texture is closer to store bought ice cream and less like frozen yogurt.  

 
Final note: since this is Earl Grey ice cream, remember that there will be caffeine in it!  I learned this the hard way one night when I couldn't fall asleep after having a post-dinner bowl of ice cream!  Basically, I'm giving you permission to have ice cream for breakfast. 
 
Hope you enjoyed your virtual bowl of ice cream!  Hope you have a great start to your week!
 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the cakery


During our recent trip to Portland, I stopped by a special bakery.  When Paul used to live in Portland, I would grab breakfast or a treat at Baker & Spice during my visits.  I was pleasantly shocked to find out that this bakery is responsible for The Cakery *and* a beautiful book called Vintage Cakes.  The Cakery makes the most beautiful cakes and bakery goods and has the coolest baking accessories and books for sale.  

Vintage Cakes!  Don't worry, I've rechecked it out from the library so I can try to make my own layered cake.  Just have to decide what the special occasion will be...


An amateur baker's dream - all those amazing books!  And that mixer!  And the colors!  Ah!  


Of course my eye was attracted by these macaron books.  Can you blame me? 

 
Look what else I found: People's Pops.  The Cakery has great taste.  
 



 
I loved the Cakery so much I visited twice during our four day trip to Portland.  I sampled macarons and one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.  
 

 
Paul and I also picked out a special lemon cake for our little celebration of his dad's birthday.  The taste was so good it made me really want to try out one of the cake recipes from  Vintage Cakes


One of the cake makers in action.  It reminded me of watching the wedding cake makers do their magic at the cake shop I worked at in high school.  Maybe with more practice I can be a tiny bit as talented as they are some day.  Anybody want to volunteer to eat my practice cakes?



Until then I'll keep dreaming...and reading Vintage Cakes.  Check back next week for some peeks inside the book!