Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A (non) White Wedding

If you know me in real life you probably already know that my dad got married over the weekend. My sister and I made the cake and put together quite the spread of food.

Putting together the cake. Chocolate with vanilla buttercream decorated with fresh native strawberries and peonies from the garden.

The official taste tester and mess maker.

Everyone LOVED the cake. This is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe. From Cooks Illustrated. Moist but not too dense.

This is the spread of appetizers. Three different dips, veggies, olives, antipasto plate, shrimp cocktail...I think that was it!

This was my favorite of the three dips, Garlic Thyme. Just mix up a package of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of sour cream and add 1 T chopped fresh thyme and chopped garlic with some salt and pepper. Oh so garlicky and flavorful. Recipe from Bon Appetit.

The other two dips were baked potato (chives, cheddar, bacon and sour cream), and cucumber yogurt (my second favorite).

Gorgeous veggie platter!

Caroline stopped on the hill in Providence and bought stuff for the antipasto platter. Four kinds of olives, marinated mozzarella, provolone, capicola, prosciutto, mortadella, and salami. Oh. My. God.

I grilled some veggies for my special vegetarian.

Oh and then there was the booze. Lots of it! People had gin and tonics, vodka and homemade lemonade, mojitos, long island ice tea, margaritas, and then Cara was whipping up some odd ball shots. I wasn't daring enough to try any!

The happy couple. We sang and danced well into the evening. Even the bugs couldn't keep us away!

The whole family minus grandkids Casey and Cate. We're a good looking bunch!

Here are the grandkids with Auntie and Seth. We are a silly bunch!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What do you do with your kitchen scraps?

Do you trash them? Do you feed them to your farm animals? Are you like me and toss them in the compost bin?

Some weeks I have a lot of kitchen scraps. Some weeks I have hardly any. Those are the weeks when we get busy and eat tofu pups and veggie burgers every night. Quick and easy!

Lots of lemons in that compost pile!! I do love homemade lemonade.

I'm too cheap to buy a compost bucket so I use this old bread crumb container. Works like a charm.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Turning 25 (again...for the 4th time)

I joke about my age a lot. On my birthday I joked that I was turning 25, or was it 26? I'm really 29 and I am completely OK with it. Yeah, I've got some wrinkles. Probably under all this chemically processed blonde hair I have a couple grey hairs. Yeah, I'm getting fatter (could that be all the baking I do and put on this blog??!!). I'm cool with all of it. I'm content.

I lucked out that my birthday was the nicest day we've had in weeks and looks like we won't have any more for another week! It was sunny and 80 all day. After my husband surprised me with a massage at a local spa I spotted a farm stand with those recognizable green boxes. NATIVE STRAWBERRIES!! I was beside myself. I love strawberries still warm from the sun. I brought home this box, sat in the sun (with my SPF 45 on), read my book, and ate the WHOLE quart of berries. I enjoyed every second of it.

Now onto my killer birthday cake. I wowed myself. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull this off since it involved skills that either I had never done or I had done previously and sucked at. One of those being splitting a cake. I still suck at that.

I had never made REAL butter cream. I'm not talking about butter, shortening and powdered sugar. I'm talking the syrup, the egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. Oh. My. God. Probably the best thing I have tasted this year.

This is a four layer cake, soaked with a simple syrup flavor with rum and coffee. The filling is the buttercream, and then the cake is frosted with a chocolate frosting. Amazing. One of the top things to come out of my kitchen.

Did I say amazing? I wish I had some more.

Classic Birthday Cake
Source: Williams Sonoma
Yield: 8-9 servings

You can find this details recipe here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blackberry Muffins

I've gone through a muffin kick. There was a period of time that every Saturday or Sunday morning I'd get up and make a batch of muffins. To me, there isn't much like waking up and having a warm muffin, a cup of coffee, and watching the news or The Soup from the night before. A great way to start any day.

Blackberries were on sale which spurred this batch of muffins. These were excellent fresh out of the oven with the blackberries steaming and juicy.

Blackberry Muffins
Source: Rasa Malaysia
Yield: 10-12 muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups blackberries

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper muffin cups or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. In another bowl, together the melted butter, egg, and milk. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just blended (mixture should be slightly lumpy). Add the blackberries to a bowl and stir them in just enough to combine.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffins cups. Bake the blackberry muffins until golden, for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the blackberry muffins from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Birthday Wish List

I like surprises. So when this list gets to a point where you say, "My word Brianne...greedy?" just keep in mind that I am listing all of this so that I am surprised by what I get. I don't want it all...any of it would be fabulous. I can't list three things because more than likely I would get all three and there would be no element of surprise and really...what are birthdays all about??! (definitely not about getting older...DEFINITELY not about getting one year closer to thirty).

In no particular order:

Pretty pink watering can.

A BIG fit ball...the cats got to mine.

Lupines...you can just dig some up from the side of the road...

Pnut Jewelry...**sigh**

LL Bean anchor belt or skirt. I'm probably a medium.

I go through vanilla quickly.

I don't really know what "web premium" means but now that I am out a job I don't have access to CS3 and I use Illustrator a lot.

Now I'm just day dreaming.

This is what popped up when I searched for a labor image. I would like someone to cut an inch or so off each of my bar stool legs. They are too tall for the island.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Snacktime (Taralli)

Don't be jealous of my snack.

OK. Go ahead and be jealous because if the tables were reversed I would be so very jealous.

Bing cherries, Italian fennel and pepper biscuits (taralli recipe below), and sun tea.

I sat in one of our Adirondack chairs enjoying the sunshine (with my SPF 45 on) and watched Boyd try to catch the chipmunk. I swear this will be the year he catches it. Boy does it wear him out though.

Have you ever made sun tea before? My mother used to make it ALL the time in huge pitchers. I make mine in a mason jar and it serves me about twice. I just stick a couple tea bags in some water...set it in the sun...wait a few hours...sweetened or unsweetened it is so good and reminds me of my childhood.

Source: Pepsakoy Blog
Yield: about 20

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

1.Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Mix the flour, salt, fennel seed and pepper in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add yeast, wine and oil. Blend together and gradually incorporate into flour then knead for 10 minutes.

2.Place the dough in oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with towel and let rise until doubled in bulk.Preheat oven to 375ยบ.

3.Break off small pieces of dough and roll into ropes about 6 inches long.Form a ring and pinch edges together.Place on baking sheet and let rise 20 minutes.

4.Fill a large saucepan half full of water; bring to a boil. Drop taralli into water and boil for 1 minute. Remove from water, letting both sides dry on a sheet of waxed paper. Brush with oil and bake 25-30 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet, turning a few times during baking until medium brown and crisp.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My friends...I'm so sorry that I allowed my blog to go with out an update for so long. Sometimes life gets turned upside down and all around and in the last two weeks...mine has been upside down, on it's side, upright, and crumbling at times. BUT I have been through worse and this is just a bump...or two...or three all at once. (Can we get some road repair?)

I've been dying to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. I was going to make one for the people in my office but I thought about how much I love making pie, how much people appear to like my pies, and those people aren't worth it. (is that mean?)

I waited until my sister and niece were here visiting to make this pie for a BBQ at my father's house. Not only was my sister home but my dad's girlfriend's daughters were home. One home from her first year at UNH and one home from a year abroad in Thailand. Now these are people that deserve my pie!!

Rhubarb fresh from the garden.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Source: Keep Cooking the Maine Way
Yield: One pie

3 cups diced, fresh rhubarb
10 oz. strawberries
3 T. minute tapioca
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. melted butter
Double pie crust

Mix all ingredients but butter together. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. During this time prepare the bottom crust and brush with half of the melted butter. Fill with the rhubarb mixture and drizzle the remaining butter over the top. Top with crust. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes and then lower heat to 325 for 15 minutes more.