Archive for the ‘In the kitchen’ Category

First harvest

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Just desserts

Ava found an old issue of Martha Stewart’s  Everyday Food in an Ashland antique store, and she just had to have it. She paid 25 cents of her own money, and has studied most every recipe since.

She’s absolutely determined to make this cake. And, I’m all for baking, but maybe let’s start with a blueberry buckle or a pound cake. (Because, dear MARTHA, this is not EVERYDAY FOOD). Moreover, she’s making it with the cream puffs, which will of course be filled with raspberry cream. It’s the weekend, and what else is there to do, really?

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I forgot to mention, she’s making two—one for brunch with Tom and Katie, and one to take to her grandparents. Two entire cakes, each with 30 cream puffs. NBD.

Send wine; stay posted. In the meantime, let’s hope she doesn’t find the 15 years of Living back issues I have stashed in the basement.

Hot and cold

Over the last few weeks, we’ve had an opportunity to sample a number of spicy drinks. The first was a tequila-based cocktail with jalapeño in Aspen. Then, this nearly undrinkable, pepper-infused ale from Stone, and finally, a vodka cocktail with cucumber, lime, mint and serrano chiles at 715. The latter was most definitely my favorite, and I did my best to recreate it this weekend.

My initial plan was to muddle the chiles with the mint and sugar, but a cocktail-saavy colleague suggested making a chile-infused simple syrup. This plan allowed for easier experimentation and heat control. To make the syrup, I boiled a half cup each of water and sugar along with one and a half sliced serrano chiles. Then, I chilled it for several hours.

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I found a cucumber, lime and mint cocktail (which, by the way, was great on it’s own after the syrup was depleted) and altered it just a bit. Here’s my recipe:

Muddle five mint leaves in each of four rocks glasses. Add crushed ice. Mix the following ingredients and pour over ice.

4 parts vodka
2 parts serrano syrup
2 parts lime juice
1 part cucumber juice
1 part triple sec

The heat from the chile was immediately behind the sweetness of the syrup, but the lime juice kept the cocktail crisp and clean. After far too many weeks of heavy white russians and other holiday drinks, this tasted like a green smoothie in comparison.

Apricot-Almond Tart

This month’s Saveur focuses on Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma—in fact, the editor’s note specifically mentions our little city, and several recipes are from restaurants in nearby Leawood.

I made the fried chicken cover recipe Sunday night, and this Apricot-Almond Tart served as dessert for neighbors on Saturday. (I didn’t have almond flour, so I made a frangipane base, similar to this recipe).

Up next, a lemon curd layer cake. Kansas is pretty darn sweet. 

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(Not exactly) a piece of cake

I offered to make Katie’s wedding cake, assuming somehow that years of cupcake baking had prepared me for what is actually a rather monumental task. After a few months of testing recipes, I decided to use this very moist yet airy vanilla iteration. In a dozen trial runs (including four for a practice cake), I found Madagascar vanilla played better than Mexican, and that bake-even strips are miraculous.

My main concern was icing, knowing that I lacked the truly professional skill needed to create a picture-perfect cake. Thankfully, though, Katie liked this very easy rose treatment, and the swiss meringue buttercream stood up beautifully in the warm air.

My step dad made the cake base, and my mom tailored the ribbon. I used pearl pins to adhere the tiny twine bows, then the groom and my father-in-law helped me transport the cake from the house to the tent via golf cart. I was more nervous during those five minutes than I was throughout my own wedding. The bride and groom cut the cake with Gramma’s cake knife, and there was just enough for the entire party.

Tom and Katie’s cake top is tucked away in my freezer, awaiting their first anniversary.

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Ava’s favorite

Ava’s most favorite food also makes for a pretty picture.

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Pink, petite and perfect.

Last week, I happened across this tiny cake stand, which holds a perfectly small four-inch layer cake. It makes me inordinately happy.

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