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Knickerbocker Glory

I was blessed to have breakfast in bed this morning via my two beautiful daughters, so in thanks I decided to let them have ice cream for lunch, along with other fixings for Knickerbocker Glory.

We found this recipe on page 35 of Gordon Ramsay’s Family Fare. One of my daughter’s has an affinity for sweets, and when she happened upon this page, she let out a squeal of delight.

Essentially it is just a collage of fruit chopped the way you like it, with vanilla ice cream, and crushed Amaretti cookies on top. We got the special cookies double-wrapped for freshness, but next time, I’ll just use almond cookies, or even crushed almonds.

The fun part of this recipe was manipulating the Cherries. I went to the liquor store and purchased, for the first time ever, Kirschwasser, a Cherry Liqueur.

Basically you pit the cherries, halve them, toss them into a pan with the Kirsch and Sugar, and light it on fire. This then gets tossed with the other fruit after it cools.

I don’t have permission to print the exact recipe here, but you get the idea. It’s a simple way to enjoy the last days of summer. Try it!

Orange Cream Cake {Recipe}

It all started one night when I was lying in bed using Stumble Upon on the iPad, dazzled by each blog story sliding across the screen with the tap of my thumb.

One site caused me to linger for a moment longer, caught up in the uniqueness of the concept and my imagination. It’s called Handwritten Recipes and you can link to it here.

Michael Popek describes his website as “A collection of the handwritten recipes I’ve found in books.” What a great concept, and one we can all relate to. How many of us have ripped off a corner of paper, hastily written down a recipe on it, then later shoved it into a book?

Michael has asked for people to make some of the recipes to get a sense for how they actually taste, and I took the challenge of making this Orange Cream Cake.

This is a picture of the recipe posted on the website. It was found in The Two Vanrevels, a book published in 1902. Notice that there aren’t any instructions for what kind of dish to cook it in, or at what temperature, or for how long.

My imagination gets the better of me sometimes, and I imagined that this woman probably made this recipe a million times and therefore the dish, temperature, and baking time was already safely stored away in her mind.

I also imagine her to be somebody living out in the country, much similar to myself. The  handwriting looks circa 1950′s to me, and I guess the age of the woman to be somewhere around seventy. I imagine her to be a sweet and kind grandmother, great grandmother even, with a life behind her which is full and pleasing.

And then while I was sitting down this morning to finish this post, I saw it…there on the top right corner. In parenthesis, my long lost grandmother wrote “Mystery Chef.” Come to find out, the Mysery Chef was a television show featuring John MacPherson in 1949. It was also a radio show prior to that from 1931-1950. (I promise, I guessed the approximate year of handwriting before I found out this little tidbit).

THE RECIPE

After creaming together the butter and sugar, it was time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. These days recipes will tell you to whisk the egg whites into soft or hard peaks. This recipe just stated to cut and fold them into the recipe. I opted to whisk them into soft peaks and added them to the batter.

That morning when I first saw the recipe, I was excited to note that I had all the ingredients, except the orange extract. So I opted to use freshly squeezed orange juice instead. From this, I also made an orange glaze to go on top of the cake by mixing the juice with powdered sugar. I decided to bake this cake in a pie dish, in a 325-degree oven for approximately 1-hour.

The cake was a hit with my family, and I enjoyed the first slice with a bottle of lavender soda on a warm, breezy August afternoon sitting by an open window. I encourage you to do the same! See the recipe below.

Orange Cream Cake (Mystery Chef)

  • 1/4c. butter
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar (I used raw, organic)
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 1 1/2 c. sifted flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. orange extract (I used about 1Tb. of freshly squeezed orange juice)

Cream butter and sugar, beat egg yolks and add. Sift flour, baking powder and salt, add alternatively with milk.  Whisk egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the batter.

Bake in a buttered pie dish in a 325-degree oven for 55-60 minutes.

Orange Glaze

  • Mix together the remainder of the freshly squeezed orange juice with powdered sugar to the consistency you like. When the cake is cooling, poke holes in the top with toothpicks, and pour the glaze over the top.

Cherries Cliche’

If life really is like a bowl of Cherries, than why aren’t there any that smell like dirty laundry and refrigerator science projects, and taste of damp rain and  burnt Crostini- a frequent aroma in my house?

I do appreciate the cliche’ of choices: there are so many, when one door closes another door opens, when one window shuts…well, then…you know what I mean.

So, even though my family and I just love diving into a bowl of Cherries just for the sake of enjoying them in their natural form, I will remember that sitting down to enjoy these baubles from Heaven together, is the best choice of all.

Berries, Basil, Booze and BBQ

I just got this delightful assortment of Berries from my local farmer’s market in Snohomish, WA. This is Berry season and there are so many things you can do with this delectable treat, besides eat them straightaway out of the container.

1) Last week, I made a Simple Syrup of Berries and Basil to make homemade soda. You could really detect the hint of Basil, and I for one, loved it.

2) I don’t think your guests would be offended to find an assortment of Berries in the bottom of a tumbler carrying Sparkling Wine or even a Pinot Grigio.

3) On Friday we are having neighbors over for a BBQ, and I’m going to baste our organic Chicken from Firsthand Food in a Berry Medley that has been mascerated and reduced into a nice sauce.

How will you use your Berries this season? Don’t miss out. They only come around once a year, fresh and off the vine. Enjoy!

The Elegance of Parsley

Back in the 1980′s Dallas was a popular television show about a big oil family in the state of Texas. I grew up in a family who loved watching this show, and so on Friday nights, everything stopped like a traffic jam on I-5 at precisely 8 pm.

All I remember is big hair, southern accents and a lot of drama centered around Larry Hagman. I remember wondering if life was really like that in Texas. I still wonder, only having flown in and out of the airport on my way to some other locale.

My world at that time was centered around rainbows, horses and Ricky Shroeder (you might remember him from the sitcom Silver Spoons). And so when my parents told me that we were going to a local equestrian center for an event, and that famous actors would be there, including the cast of Dallas, and The Rickster, I was thrilled to go.

The memory of this day came back to me as I was harvesting Parsley. I couldn’t help admiring the way the stems swayed in the gentle breeze. For some reason they modeled a stylish elegance which reminded me of that day long ago at the equestrian center.

We had seats on bleachers with handrails seperating the walkway where the stars made their way down to the VIP area. People were holding out their hands for a covetous handshake, asking for pictures, and shouting out the names of their favorite actors.

I can’t remember with what kind of force she shook my hand, surely gentle as only a lady will do, but as she let go and continued down the red carpet, I looked at my hand where Eva Gabor left a dusting of glittery talcum powder. I’m sure this is how I first became a glitter monger…glitter dust from the elegant Eva Gabor.

And so when harvesting Parsley, I remember the past, and glitter, and elegance and how I vowed never to wash my cheek because, I fogot to mention, The Rickster kissed me there after he took a photograph with me.

I’ve since grown up and have washed my cheek a zillion times. I use glitter at every opportunity, and love being inspired by food to remind me of the past, ponder the future, and marinate in the moment.

My advice to you today is to go out and make a memory. It might come back to you in thirty years, like a soft peck on the cheek or an elegant sprinkling of stardust.

Seaweed

We are in the thick of summer by all standards, except if you live in Seattle as we do. But even though it rains a copious amount here, I think we appreciate a lackadaisical day filled with sunshine, puffy-clouds and blue-sky more than almost anyone else in the nation…maybe even the world.

So while shopping at Trader Joe’s today, I found a package ([package] which I normally avoid) of Seaweed.

I have a fondness for Seaweed, and wish I could manipulate it the way they do in Japan. It has amazing health qualities and it is one of those mysteries I want to break down.

But today, in the car, after shopping at Trader Joe’s, I just threw my molecular curiosity aside and ripped open the package to reveal these thin sheets of pressed Seaweed. After delicately placing a rectangle in my mouth, I passed a few sheets to my children, who exclaimed that these little green sheets of goodness were the only green items they considered edible, and more like candy than the Broccoli I make them eat once a week.

This was not how I viewed them though. When I gingerly took a bite of these tasty seaweed rectangles, my mind made a memory time travel to the sea.

I have the fondest memories of growing up in california. One of the best times I can remember is going to Huntington Beach several times each summer with my family. My grandfather napping under a palm and my cousins and me making sand sculptures. Driving home for an hour with sand everywhere and the heat of the sun still steaming off of my skin.

And while I never ate Seaweed, I remember it tangling itself around my heels as the waves made their retreat back into the ocean. I never considered actually eating it. That would come much later.

When you have children, they reveal this sense of responsibility you didn’t even know existed in your single, college-filled, safety-88 nights of wonder. But they come into your life, and once they start eating, you turn into this ultra-healthy super-kitchen-mama. Seaweed was one of my experiments.

It was a bomb. On Cypress Island in the San Juans, a form of Seaweed comes to the surface and swims onto the sand in an effort to find a reprieve from floating around aimlessly in Strawberry Bay. I decided to “harvest” this Seaweed and steam it. Long story short, it didn’t turn out.

So I’m stuck ordering it online: Wakame, Arame and the like. I believe it cured an upset stomach I had a few years ago.

But for now, I will continue to introduce Seaweed in doses, and not try to manipulate something that is so perfect in it’s natural form.

And you know…I’m going to do that with people too. If you are reading this right now, you are perfect just the way you are. Don’t let anyone manipulate you.

You are perfect!

Caprese Salad at Botero

Caprese Salad has got to be one of my favorite salads. If you read this blog, you know how much I love a ripe-from-the-sun Tomato. Botero at Encore in Las Vegas serves up their version sans extra carbs, like Crostini, and serves the ensemble with Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil oil and Balsamic Vinegar on the side. I would’ve licked the plate, had we not been eating poolside.
This summer I’m going to get my hands on some heirloom Tomatoes, and make Basil spheres using Molecular Gastronomy and serve with Balsamic Reduction. I’m salivating already. And this my friends is what summertime is all about ;-)

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Personality in a Triple Coconut Cream Puff

Prepare for a small rant.

Lastnight I watched Next Food Network Star. I felt embarrassed for the contestants, irritated by the judges, and left wanting more from the food.

A food show should be about the food. The beauty, history, culture, facts, and various ways it can be manipulated to achieve the desired result.

Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mind to watch NFNS, having just watched an interesting documentary on Paul Liebrandt of Corton, and his long rise to the top.

The hours it takes to become a professional chef is astounding. It seems they never sleep, and when they do they are dreaming of food. The kind of stars they are working toward are Michelin’s.

I’m also reading Herve’ This’ book, Building A Meal, about molecular gastronomy, intuitiveness, and cooking with love.

In addition to that, I’m reading a cookbook by Jacques Pepin. He even goes so far as to say that writing a recipe on paper “destroys the idea or essence of the recipe.”

I have to think that creating a show around the personality of the host instead of the food, does the same thing.

Do you see those Triple Coconut Cream Puffs in the photo. I ate two of those at a recent workshop I attended. They had a depth of personality one can only achieve with talent, creativeness and skill.

That is how I’m inspired. Show me the food.

By the way, you can eat these Triple Coconut Creampuffs at any of Tom Douglas restaurants in Seattle, and get inspired yourself.

The Confidence of Asparagus

Asparagus is one of those vegetables commanding respect in the grocery store. They stand upright in bunches boasting portly or svelte stalks (my favorite) with unique heads, that when looked at overhead resemble a type of berry.

They also challenge the novice cook to maximize flavor and reduce the “stalkiness” of texture, so people don’t feel like they’re flossing while eating.

In a word, they seem “unapproachable.” Onlookers take sideways glances, trying to figure out what to do with them.

Sometimes I think we do this with people. We see them from a distance and try to figure out the best way to approach them…wrapping ourselves up in our own insecurities, replete with a chocolate brown silk organza bow.

That’s why I like this photograph so much. The bunch I picked out to take pictures of at a recent workshop is imperfect, with a broken stalk in the lower corner. A good reminder that everyone lacks the sheen of perfection. So why do we stand on the outskirts of the pedestals we’ve created for everyone else?

We all have something to share, something to say. We all want validation, to be heard, to be noticed. And not everyone is as mysterious and complex as we think.

Asparagus, while seemingly complex, is actually straightforward and like putty in your hands when you pay a little attention to it. Trim the ends, peel the outer layer, steam, grill, blanch or saute, add a little Kosher or Sea Salt and a little pepper, some Olive Oil, and a bit of lemon juice before serving, and you’ve got what could possibly be your favorite vegetable.

If you have someone in your life that seems unapproachable, pay a little attention to them and you may discover they aren’t as complex as you think.

Sunsets in Snohomish

It was finally a glorious Saturday in the NW, filled with the usual springtime activities: bonfires, baseball and parties. After dropping the kids off at aBirthday party, I set out to do some shopping for this busy time of year, in my city, Snohomish, WA.

Snohomish is the antique capital of the Northwest with a bustling historic district. Think of a Thomas Kinkade painting of a small town replete with bakery, pie shop, laughing children and couples walking hand in hand.

And to my surprise, it was the first Sunsets in Snohomish event, showcasing six local wineries nestled in six different shops around the district. This was a perfect reason to slow down and partake in a casual stroll, sip wine, shop slowly and meet new friends.

Sunsets in Snohomish is a BYOG (bring your own glass) event, organized by Historic Downtown Snohomish. Since I was joining this stroll on a whim, I didn’t bring a glass. Luckily the nice guys at Mac Donald Distillery let me borrow a teeny cordial glass, if I promised to bring it back with friends. I chuckled when I saw a couple sipping out of Mason jars, the BYOG concept is a lot of fun.

The Speckled Hen and Dubindil Winery

My first stop was at The Speckled Hen Country Store where Dubindil Winery was featured. I tasted a delicious Syrah and learned that they set up shop on the west end of the city for wine tastings.

Bite Me Cupcakes and Lantz Cellars

Next I found myself at Bite Me Cupcakes. They did an amazing job offering wine-infused cupcakes and chocolate-dipped Strawberries using the wine that we would actually be tasting. Lantz Cellars offered a variety of wines to taste, but I settled on a Cabernet. It was delicious.

Faded Elegance and Northwest Totem Cellars

Off I went to Faded Elegance, one of my favorite shops in town. The picture at the top of the post was taken inside this beautiful shop, where they offer antiques, garden wares, home decor, and unique gifts. This is not your typical antique shop, and every time I walk in I feel mesmerized by the decor, and inspired to create.  Northwest Totem Cellars was featured here and I chose to taste a nice Merlot while taking pictures and searching for gifts.

Ruffles & Rust and Barrage Cellars

Ruffles & Rust Square was my next stop…again. I had been in earlier looking at some items for myself…ahem, even though I was supposed to be shopping for others. This usually happens though, doesn’t it.

The square offers an abundance of items from different sellers, but owner Timi and her team have done a great job of making it feel cohesive, and not like your typical multi-vendor shop.

Barrage Cellars was featured here.  They offered a variety of wines to taste, but I only had two tickets left, and I was saving the last one for my next stop. I’m so glad I got to try the soon-to-be released Trifecta Merlot. Love the name and the wine. Can’t wait until it gets released with a new label.

Catering for Ruffles & Rust was Table 9, who did a whimsical display. My kids would eat more veggies if I displayed them like this. The Charceuterie platter was equally gorgeous, and I look forward to recommending them for events in the future.

Le Gourmet Depot and Martedi Winery

My last stop, and the place where you could by all the featured wines, was Le Gourmet Depot. It is becoming a second home for me because I take cooking classes here, pop in to buy wine for certain meals, and join others on Farmer’s Market Thursday to find out what’s cooking.

I was thrilled to see that John Miglino of Martedi Winery was pouring here, because at my last cooking class I was introduced to their Tuesday Cellars No. 11 Red, a wine I enjoy with company on a casual weekend get-together. I used my last ticket to try their Syrah, and I just had to try the Sangiovese, which required a small fee of $1 since I was out of tickets. So worth it. I also purchased the 2007 Martedi Riserva, which John told me was To. Die. For. I don’t think I’m capable of hearing those words without taking action. I will serve this with a special Italian meal.

When I first got in to town, I could smell something amazing coming from Le Gourmet Depot, so I went in. It turns out that Chef Dana was smoking Halibut, which she turned into a delicious Smoked Halibut Torta by the time I ended up at her counter inside the shop. It looked and tasted amazing, alongside a beautiful Beet Hummus. I signed up for her next class, and I can’t wait to go.

GROW Washington and Alia Wines

Sadly, I missed Alia Wines at GROW Washington. I’m not sure how it happened, but I will not make this mistake next time, which happens to be July 9, August 13 and September 10, in case you want to make plans ahead of time. You can get tickets here.

I really enjoyed spending a casual evening in my city. Usually I am rushing in and out to pick up this or that on my way hither and yon. It was an event I’m looking forward to over the summer. Will you join me?

Helpful Hints

  • Buy your tickets early. You can purchase tickets at the shops the day of the event for $5 before 5:00pm, otherwise they are $8 at the event tent. You can also buy them online using the link above
  • BYOG and show off your personality
  • Bring some spending money. Many of the shops are open late, even if they aren’t hosting a winery, and you don’t want to miss out on all of the good stuff they have to offer
  • Bring an appetite. Not only do some of the shops offer nibbles and bites during the event, but many of the restaurants are offering dinner specials and staying open late
  • Bring some friends. I am inviting friends next time, now that I have the dates. It is a fun time!
  • Hours are from 5-8pm

The Shops Hosting Sips

The Wineries

The Chefs/Catering in specific shops

For More Information and to buy tickets, visit Historic Downtown Snohomish website

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