Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

March 1, 2013

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It’s here! It’s here! Day #1 of my St. Patrick’s Day countdown of Irish-y recipes. And ya’ll, I’m starting off with a great one! Who doesn’t swoon at the thought of Buttermilk Doughnuts? And these particular Buttermilk Doughnuts are filled with a Chocolate & Raspberry Jam that will bring tears to your eyes. Now I’m sure some of you folks out there in internet land are saying “Uh…How are Chocolate Raspberry Doughnuts particularly Irish?” Well now, keep your britches on for a just a minute and I will make the Irish connection clear.

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The food scene in Ireland today is really changing rapidly. For such a long time when one spoke of Irish cuisine, bland boiled meat and potato was the unfortunate stereotype. But now a days I think most folks are aware that there is a real food renaissance going on in Ireland. The traditional Irish dishes, which were always rustic and filling but were for quite some time ignored, are being revived and served in the most hip restaurants to be found. You see, that wonderful mild climate that gives the country such gorgeous green vistas also produces an abundance of world-class fresh ingredients from wonderful grass-fed beef and dairy cows to gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables. There is an emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced, quality food. And this new-found emphasis on fresh and local has created a resurgence in artisan producers. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of farmers markets in the country. Now farmers markets are amazing because you often get to meet the actual people who grow and craft the delicious food you are purchasing. (Lets take another look at those doughnuts…)

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Last October, Jay and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel over to Ireland to visit friends and family. Much to our delight, The 6th Annual Dingle Peninsula Food Festival was taking place while we were there. Now, if you are planning a trip to Ireland, let me just say, the Dingle Peninsula is a must see for your trip. National Geographic has declared it “the most beautiful place on earth” and it is ranked as one of Trip Advisors “Top 100 destinations in the world”.

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So, if you can manage to plan it so that you are there during the Food Festival, it will just be icing on the cake. The little town of Dingle really turns out for the festival! They have a “Taste Trail” which encompasses over 60 locations from pubs to galleries to shops. Walking that food trail was incredibly fun and tasty! The way it works is that you buy a book of taste tickets and then set off on the trail. Each location has a sample of featured local cuisine. We had kangaroo skewers (betcha didn’t know there were kangaroos in Ireland huh?), Spinach and Gruyère crepes and charming butterfly cakes, a pint or two of micro brew, plus many other tasty delicacies. We could barely waddle back home! But in addition to the food trail frenzy,  there are cookery demonstrations, food workshops, live music, the Farmers Forum, farmer’s/food markets and the Annual Blas Na hÉireann (Taste of Ireland): National Irish Food Awards. Blas Na hÉireann is the biggest competition of its type in Ireland. The prestigious awards, given as gold, silver and bronze in over 60 categories, are considered to be the ultimate benchmark of quality Irish produce and its passionate producers.. That’s where the Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves that I used to fill my lovely Buttermilk doughnuts come in. (Ahhh…it’s getting clearer…) My friend Theresa and her family own The Green Apron,  a small artisan preserve company located Derryclough, Ballingarry, (overlooking Knockfierna – the famous fairy hill) in County Limerick, Ireland. She makes those stunning preserves, which won a silver award in the Blas Na hÉireann Jams, Marmalades and Conserves category! That in itself was fantastic, but she didn’t stop there. Oh no. Theresa also won the Gold in that same category for her Apricot, Orange & Almond Conserve,

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Theresa & her daughter Athene accepting the Gold and Silver Awards

and she won a Silver in the Dips & Seasonings category for her Italian Butter Mix and last but not least The Green Apron won Best in Farmer’s Market for Small Producers for their stand in the Limerick Milk Market.

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Four awards! Woohoo!!! Over that exciting weekend Theresa also taught a cookery class entitled “Preserving Your Harvest” and was able to man The Green Apron stall, with the help of family and friends. I tell you, she is unstoppable! I was lucky enough to bring a jar of the award-winning Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves, with a clear Irish pedigree, back home with me. Now, I must confess, I can’t tell you the recipe for it. No, no, no. Top secret and all. Well, I guess I could divulge it, but then would have to track you down and kill you all before Theresa was able to take me out. What I will say, is that if you are in Ireland, you simply must get ahold of a jar. You can find the Green Apron in the Limerick Milk Market every Saturday. They also do some other markets and fairs from time to time, so check their Facebook page for updates. Or you can email Theresa directly to discuss the possibilities of mail order. For all of you in other locales, if you’re in Ireland, try to catch her at the Milk Market, or you can find her at the next Dingle Peninsula Food Festival.

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Otherwise, you’ll just have to find your own favourite, scrumptious jam to fill your doughnuts with. Check out your local farmer’s markets and I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful artisan producers. Or get busy and make up a batch of your favourite fruit. A quality jam will make all the difference in your doughnuts. I can remember I wouldn’t go anywhere near a jam or jelly filled anything when I was younger. It was something about the texture and that fact that the jelly tasted sort of plastic and not like any particular fruit. If it was supposedly strawberry or raspberry, it often just tasted vaguely “pink”. There was never any real fruit flavour shining through, just sweet goo. That is not the case with my Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts. Not only is the cake portion of the doughnut moist and tender, but it is also bursting with vibrant raspberry preserves, with a rich chocolate undertones.

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For those of you who just can’t get enough chocolate, I dipped several of my doughnuts in a chocolate glaze. I also covered some with granulated sugar. Now you know how parents supposedly don’t favour one child over another, or at least would never admit to it? Well, I gotta say, whilst the sugar tossed doughnuts are lovely, but the chocolate glazed, Chocolate & Raspberry filled ones will make you go weak in the knees!

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These doughnuts are baked, not fried, sooo….I guess that means they’re good for you? Alright, it probably means they are less bad for you than their deep-fried cousins, which you will not miss in the least, especially not the calories and fat part, after you get a bite of these much trimmer little devils. There is no yeast involved, so you don’t have to worry with rise times. And the recipe is flexible, if you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can make these up as muffins and stuff them full of the jam of your choice as well.

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Easy and Delicious! Now that’s what I like to hear!

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Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

yield: 8 doughnuts

Recipe adapted from: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Ingredients:

For the doughnuts:

  • 7 Tablespoons (3 1/2 oz/105 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup (5 oz./155 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves (or your favourite preserve)

For the toppings:

Sugar coated:

  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Chocolate Glazed: 

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon hot water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C). Grease Doughnut pan with butter or butter-flavoured nonstick cooking spray.

In stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well to incorporate  until pale and smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the butter milk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. the batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon batter into each doughnut cavity until it is 1/3 full. Place Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserve (our your favourite jam) in a pastry bag and pipe a line of the preserves in the center of each doughnut. Cover the preserves with doughnut batter until each cavity is approximately 2/3 full. Don’t overfill the individual doughnut cups or you’ll lose the doughnut shape during baking.

Bake the doughnuts for 10-12 minutes or until the top of the doughnut spring back when touched. Let them cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing.

To add sugar-coating:

Place granulated sugar in ziplock bag. Dip the cooled doughnut in melted butter. Place doughnut in bag and gently turn until coated with sugar.

To Glaze with chocolate:

In medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Add hot water and mix until the glaze is smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more water until it reaches desired consistency.

Dip doughnuts into chocolate and place on wire rack until glaze has hardened.

Enjoy!

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Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Da!

December 6, 2012

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So would you believe me if I told you I had caught yet another vile cold straight from the pit of Hell? I must admit, I almost don’t believe me, but right after I posted my last blog about how sick I’d been, Wham-O…I was afflicted with yet some new virus. Luckily I was able to kick that one sufficiently to make it to my Mom and Da’s big day. Back in 1962 they got hitched! 50 years together! You don’t hear of that much any more these days.

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For the celebration, my self, my brother, sister-in-law and husband took them to the Inn at Little Washington. Located about 2 hours from Washington DC in the scenic little town of Washington, Virginia, The Inn is a 5 star restaurant which is ranked as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World. I’ve been hearing amazing things about it as long for as I’ve lived around here and always wanted to go, so I was very happy we could take our parents here to commemorate this special occasion.

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The Inn At Little Washington

Though I must admit, with all the rave reviews folks were giving the place, I was a bit nervous it might not live up to all of the hype. As it turns out, there wasn’t any need for me to worry whatsoever. The Inn not only met, but quite simply exceeded all of my expectations. The entire staff from the valets on were warm, friendly and made you feel welcome.

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The whole gang at the Inn

The service was incredible! It was as if you were dining in the finest French establishment, but without any stuffy attitude or pretension. There was a wonderful attention to detail. We were all quite pleased to see “Happy Anniversary to Russell and Joan” printed across the top of our menus. The decor was romantic and whimsical. Oh, and let me tell you about the food. Phenomenal! Without a doubt it was the best meal I’ve ever had! Chef Patrick O’Connell is amazing. His focus on using locally grown and organic ingredients and long predates the recent farm to table movement. He is so proud of all of the neighbouring farms from which he sources the outstanding ingredients that he features in his superb dishes that he notes them on the menu. Chef O’Connell’s creations not only look spectacular but you just can’t believe how incredible they taste. After eating our first amuse bouche, which was pork belly, my husband, who grew up in Southern Virginia said, “I’ve eaten a lot of pork belly in my life, but none of it can compare to that! It’s almost as if it were a different animal!”

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Our second amuse bouche was called a Shot of Liquid Autumn. It was a shot of butternut squash and apple soup served with a Gruyère puff pastry.

Liquid Autumn

Liquid Autumn

Unbelievable! It really was like drinking in Fall. I could go on and on about this sublime dining experience! But I will simply show you the pictures of these exquisite dishes and tell you that the taste of each decadent offering far exceeded anything you can imagine.

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Selection of delicious breads and a delightful amuse bouche

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse -Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse-Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops Sauteed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops sautéed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Although this indulgent meal was a bit of a splurge, it was worth every penny and was the perfect way to celebrate a 50th Anniversary!

The Happy Couple!

The Happy Couple!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Middleton Inn, as it was a big part of what made this Anniversary celebration so special. When we made our dinner reservations, there were no rooms available at the Inn. (Seems apropos around Christmas, no?) Luckily I knew of a beautiful B&B, The Middleton Inn, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Inn at Little Washington.

Middleton Inn

Middleton Inn

They had rooms available, so my Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister-in-Law all stayed in the Main House. My husband and I stayed in the cozy Guest Cottage and were thus able to bring our dog along with us.

The Guest Cottage

The Guest Cottage

Our stay in this historic, elegant country Inn was utterly fantastic! The house sits up on a hill and commands gorgeous views of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from the front porch

View from the front porch

The proprietor, Mary Ann, was very warm and friendly and  just embodied hospitality. She truly went above and beyond to make this weekend special for us. My parents found a complementary bottle of chilled Champagne awaiting them when they checked in to their room.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Because our dinner reservations were earlier, she set out some complementary wine and cheese for us to enjoy a bit ahead of the usual schedule. And she even went as far as to leave a little gift package for our pup, complete with two chew toys and bag of  chicken griller treats!

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

And then there was breakfast. After our indulgence at the Inn the night before, you’d think it would take a lot to get our attention. Well, that is just what we got! Breakfast was just delicious.  Light and fluffy Cherry Scones right out of the oven, fresh fruit and an amazing Italian Eggs Benedict.

The breakfast crowd

The breakfast crowd

A stellar breakfast!

A stellar breakfast!

Further culinary bliss in a weekend that already held so much! What can I say, if you’ve never considered splashing out at the Inn at Little Washington, start making plans. If you have, but haven’t acted yet, do so NOW! Life is too short. Everyone should experience this culinary nirvana at least once! And Happy 50th Anniversary to my wonderful parents! May they see many more!

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Arwen 1994-2012

May 2, 2012

It is with great sorrow that I write that on Friday evening, April 27th, 2012, my darlin Arwen kitty passed away in my arms with Jay right by her side. She was 18 years old and had a very long and happy life. Arwen came to live with me when she was just a kitten.

Baby Arwen

Arwen & mouse

My kitty Aragorn had passed away when he was quite young, from a congenital lung defect.

Aragorn

I was shocked and heartbroken, but my other cat, Tierann,

Tierann

who never seemed to like him much while he was alive, was truly bereft. She prowled the house endlessly looking and calling for him. I decided to go out and find another companion for Tierann and found Arwen in a pet store not far from my house. She was there with her littermate, a sister. As I took Arwen out of the cage, I dared one look back at that remaining kitten, who just look so sad I couldn’t stand it and turned right on my heel and took that one, my Mistletoe, as well. I mean, if you’re getting one kitten, what’s two? (the answer to that is twice the work…but never a regret here!)

Double Trouble!

Bathroom mischief!

Tierann seemed less than pleased with this development, but the kittens charmed everyone else (and I suspect, Tierann was secretly taken with them as well). Tierann was quite the legendary character among those that knew her and Mistletoe was also unique and spunky to say the least. Arwen was quiet, laid back for the most part, very sweet, full of purrs and always the lady. She had the longest whiskers imaginable and took great care in keeping her long fur appropriately groomed.

She was a great sport, unlike my other girls, about all of the various costumes in which I dressed her up.

Lobsters!

Arwen Court Jester

Space Cat 'Wen

Arwen Bunny

Arwen Witch

Princess Arwen

Howdy Partner!

She even seemed to like wearing her Christmas collar.

Merry Christmas!

Tierann left us at 19 years of age in 2007 and Mistletoe passed away 1 1/2 years ago. I feared Arwen would be inconsolable, having been with a pack of cats her whole life. However, although I’m sure she loved her sister, she was ecstatic at being the only cat. Finally, she was the star of the show and Jay and I were happy to give her top billing. I can’t tell you how much we will miss her.

As it turns out, I am the one who is inconsolable at the loss of my pack.

Arwen, Tierann & Mistletoe

Rest in Peace Sweetness.


“Bon Voyage Fitz!” – We Toasted with Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails!

June 6, 2011

The other evening we had our friend, Fitz, one of our oldest and dearest friends, over for a “Bon Voyage” dinner. He is soon to leave for an approximate 3 month adventure. We are very sad to see him go and know we will definitely miss him, but are very excited for him as well as about his journey. (More on this later…continue past recipe for full story)

Fitz, our Best Man at our wedding.

To get the evening started off right, we began by sampling a new cocktail I’d been dying to try out – the Sapphire Con Diablo. Bombay Sapphire is the only gin my husband will drink, especially if it’s in a Sapphire Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire Gin, lime juice and tonic water). Indeed that particular cocktail is essentially our “house cocktail” and lots of folks have kind of grown to expect one when they come by for a visit. When I saw the recipe for the award-winning Sapphire Con Diablo at the Brave Tart blog (fantastic blog if you haven’t been there yet), I jumped at the chance to try it out! It was really pretty easy to make. You do need to prepare a Spicy Simple Syrup for one of the ingredients, but that came together quite easily. And let me tell you, my “Diablo syrup” had quite a lot of devil in it….whew! SPICY!!! There is also a raw egg involved in this drink which may make some folks nervous about salmonella. However, as was mentioned on Brave Tart’s blog, one should always expect to incur some risk when dealing with the devil. So if you think you’re up to it, give this killer cocktail a shake! “Vaya con Dios” – especially since you’re going to be drinking con Diablo!

Jay & Fitz after merely one sip of the Sapphire con Diablo!

Sapphire Con Diablo

recipe by Paul Borntraeger via Brave Tart

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 1 1/2 ounces Jalapeno simple syrup, strained (recipe below)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 slice lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp. corriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Remove the spring from a Hawthorne strainer and have it at the ready. This will be your “whisk” when making the drink.

Fill a shaker 2/3 with ice. Crack the egg into the shaker, then pour in the gin and infused syrup. Add in the spring, and then shake all the ingredients until frothy. Strain into a martini glass.

Dust the lemon peel in the coriander and nutmeg. Then run it around the rim of the martini glass before floating it in the center of the drink.

Paul’s Sweet and Spicy Simple Syrup

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely, seeds included
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients together in a small pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bottle without filtering and store, refrigerate until chilled. Makes enough syrup to create 8 Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails.

But back to Fitz’s story…Fitz had been working as a web developer for many years. He had a well-paying, secure job. However, he yearned to do something else. He understood that the path of least resistance would be to continue on with his daily existence, merely hoping things would improve. However, he knew he didn’t want to wake up 10 or more years down the road, wishing he had undertaken the effort to turn things around. So, he decided to make a BIG change. He moved against life’s inertia, quit his job, has packed up a few meager belongings and will be hitting the road in his Honda Element to hopefully gain a little perspective and insight into what his next career move will be.

While soul-searching, he will be travelling, first exploring the Southern States and then possibly even moving on to Mexico, Central America and then perhaps even onto Southeast Asia! Along the way he will be continuing to record music while on the road. (Fitz is the singer and bassist with the Mesmers, the band with which my husband plays guitar) These new “road songs” of Fitz’s will be available on Bandcamp. This service is particularly cool because you can pay what you think a song is worth (including nothing if you want to download it for free). You can also find his compositions on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.

This life decision certainly did not come easily for him. There are many logistical, social and financial hurdles to be overcome. Fitz is not independently wealthy, so will need to adhere to a strict budget lest his trip be shortened dramatically. Therefore, hotels are right out, and camping in his Element is in. He will also be doing some CouchSurfing.This is not the couch surfing you might have taken advantage of in college where you just call up your friends and ask to sleep on their sofa for a few days. This is a world-wide network which connects travellers in need of accommodation with locals who have a bit of extra room in their homes and are willing to offer strangers hospitality in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Pretty cool huh? Take a look at the CouchSurfing site and be amazed!

No doubt, Fitz’s adventures will be fascinating! He has chosen to take that road less travelled by, and lucky for us, he will be documenting his journey on his site CitizenFitz. Make sure you don’t miss his weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also catch him on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to support him financially, if you are so moved, by purchasing the new music he will be making along the way. Exciting huh? The adventure starts Friday June 10th. Don’t miss out on the fun!


Back to New York-Finally!

May 27, 2011

Jay and I travelled up to New York a few weeks ago. Jay’s work is headquartered there and it had been quite some time since he’d stopped in. We were a bit nervous they’d forgotten what he looked like! To smooth his long absence over a bit, I made a batch of Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies for him to take along with him into the office.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies

We stayed at the Standard hotel as usual and as usual it was fantastic!

Standard King Room

While poor Jay slaved away at work, I strolled all around lower Manhattan. The weather was perfect. Once he finished up his day, we met back up and went out to Fig and Olive for a really wonderful dinner.

Truly it was great in every way. The food was delicious and for once, the atmosphere was great – beautiful decor, not crowded, not ear splittingly loud and no detectable attitude. Amazing! Jay and I have not had great dining history in New York in the past. One restaurant we visited previously had some of the best mexican food I’ve ever tasted, but was a nightmare of an experience – crowded (sitting butt-cheek to butt-cheek with strangers crowded- on the verge of a panic attack crowded – and loud to the point we even gave up trying to talk to each other, we just stared across the table at one another in disbelief. One other restaurant had made us wait for over an hour for very bland, yet very expensive dishes. How disappointing! So we were so incredibly happy to find Fig and Olive, which was such a breath of fresh air (another unique experience in NYC)! This restaurant serves Riviera and Coastal Cuisines from the South of France, Italy and Spain. You definitely feel the Mediterranean ambiance as soon as you walk into the restaurant -stucco walls, rosemary and olive trees throughout, lots of candles, olive oil and wine bottles. The restaurant was really quite spacious, but our table felt very warm and intimate. And let me say the food did not disappoint either. We started off with their crostini with three different toppings – mushroom artichoke truffle parmesan, eggplant basil and sundried tomato, and manchego fig spread and almond. They were all great but our favourite was the mushroom artichoke. Jay ordered Penne Funghi Tartufo with Grilled Chicken – cremini mushroom, parmesan, black truffle paste, fresh parsley and scallions with a white truffle olive oil. I had the Grilled Truffle Chicken Paillard – a free range chicken breast marinated with thyme and served with truffle mashed potato leek confit. We washed it all down with an Abruzzo Montepulciano wine. YUM!  Truly a spectacular dinner! I can’t believe we didn’t save room for dessert, but I have no doubt we will definitely be visiting this establishment again. Sorry I didn’t get any photos of the food. The candlelight contributed immensely to the mood but not so much towards any viewable food photography.

The next day, I dashed out to Chelsea Market first thing in the morning on a mission for coffee and some fabulous bread from Amy’s Bread in particular.

The mission was easily accomplished and I returned to the room with caffeine in hand as well a a mouth-wateringly delicious chocolate sourdough twist and a hunk of brioche toast. Sorry no photo of these item either, we ate them too quickly! What a wonderful bakery. It took amazing restraint on my part not to purchase one of everything they had. I’ve recently gotten very interested in trying to bake my own bread. I’ve been pouring over Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and scheming. Amy’s Bread in Chelsea market is fun because you can actually watch the bakers at work through these huge glass windows. I spent quite a bit of time gazing in the day before, so I knew I had to get over there for breakfast and get some of that awesome bread.

Bannetons Stacked-Up at Amy's

Before we left to catch the train we were able to grab a burger for lunch at the good old Standard Grill at the hotel. These burgers are the best! We always try to budget in some time for them!

The Standard Burger

All in all a great visit! Looking forward to the next.


Octopus iPhone Case

April 10, 2011

I thought I’d take a wee break from the cooking today and show you the other “crafty” things that I’ve been up to. My husband and I are now the proud owners of iPhones. We have waited quite a loooong time for this. I know iPhones have been out for a while and we could’ve had one years ago. However, Jay and I both have an extreme dislike, dare I say “hatred” of AT&T. It was actually one of the things we discovered that we had in common when we first started dating. AT&T had done both of us wrong in the past. I had vowed to never use their services, EVER again if I could possibly help it. Jay felt the same. So even though we own all things Apple and were drooling over all of our friend’s iPhones, we held out with our pathetic old mobile phones until the Verizon iPhone made its appearance. Joy!!! We actually got up at 3 a.m. so that we could do the pre-order with Verizon online, not wanting to go one more minute without that tech than was necessary. We now are proud owners and couldn’t be happier! We love our iPhones! Of course we needed cases for them to protect their pristine screens. We didn’t actually see any we were crazy about after a bit of a poke around online. Jay had mentioned he would love to have one with an octopus on it. (He may have a “thing” for octopi) So, I went ahead and made him one and am quite pleased with the results! It’s a hand-stitched, felt case with velcro closures, sporting an adorable appliqued octopus.

Front of case

Back of case

A bunch of folks who have seen it, id’ed the critter on it as Cthulhu. Not my intention. I think my guys looks a bit cuddly for one of the Lovecraftian Great Old Ones, whose mere visage is known to strike abject terror and insanity in those who are unfortunate enough to meet him, but I guess to each his own. Now I have to get started on one for myself. I’m still carrying my beloved iPhone around in a very undignifed sock! Stand-by for more yummy food coming your way soon-think home-made pizza!


Post Patrick’s Day

March 22, 2011

Whew! I’m still not quite recovered from our St. Patrick’s Day party and the cooking blitz that lead up to it! Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun. I got to see a lot of our friends who I had not seen in a while and all of our usual characters were here as well!  The food actually cooperated, no cooking disasters, and was quite tasty! My friends have kindly given me wonderful reviews on my efforts. I asked everyone what their favourite dish was and it was a tie between the Beef and Guinness Pies and the Pork Tart. The Curry Sauce I made to go along with the Chips was a big hit as well.

St. Patrick’s Day Party Menu

Mini Cheese and Onion pies (I wish I had gotten a picture of them, but folks gobbled them down too quick!)

Mini Boxty, stuffed with corned beef and cheddar

Mini Beef and Guinness pies

Celtic Pork Tart

Shepherd’s Pie

Brown Bread and Irish Butter

Home-made Chips served with choice of ketchup, malt vinegar or curry sauce

Drunken Irish Brownies

Car bomb Cupcakes

Chocolate Cups of Chruachan

Chocolate Cups of Chruachan

Mini Beef & Guinness Pie and Mini Boxty stuffed with corned beef and cheddar

Car Bombs and Drunken Brownies Galore!

In order to have all of that done, I started cooking Tuesday and evening and continued cooking right up to Thursday at party time. I have to really thank my husband Jay. He stood at the deep-fryer and fried a mountain of chips as well as a somewhat smaller hill of mini Cheese and Onion pies.

Mountain of Hand-Cut, Home-Made Chips

He was literally there for over an hour. Also, a big shout out to my friend John who was sous-chef extraordinaire, helping with last-minute finishes, plating and serving the food. I wish I had gotten more pictures, but it was getting dark when the party was starting and the food was ready, no light-and you know what flash can do to food pics! Not to mention, once the guests started arriving, taking pictures of the food was not a priority.

St. Patrick's Day Character #1

Character #2-Showing off his "Lucky Charms"

All in all, it was a great shindig! Good food, good music, great company. We are hoping to make it an annual event. Next year St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday so folks will really be able to let their hair down. Shenanigan levels should be high! However, I must say, cooking for 20 people was quite an undertaking! I’m a bit “cooked-out” at this point. I really haven’t even entered the kitchen since March 17th! But don’t despair, I haven’t forgotten about you. I will be back with another great recipe later this week. Think “pears”…..


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