A Toast Addiction

I watched a cooking show the other day.  There is nothing extraordinary about that, and in the opinion of my husband I probably watch them more than I should.  It was a show I had never seen before, and honestly I can’t even tell you the name of it.  What I can tell you is that after that show I acted like a pregnant woman out of control, on a quest to satisfy an overwhelming craving.  It was a craving for toast…..oh, but not just any toast.

IMG_6659

It was toast browned in a skillet with a mixture of maple syrup and butter. It was toast that was caramelized until it had a sugary, crunchy coating and then topped with a slice of creamy, yet savory cheese.  It was more than toast and I wanted to try it.

IMG_6667

I am not usually a maple syrup on anything kind of person.  Not even as a child did I like French toast or pancakes smothered in that syrupy sticky sweetness.  I do like the taste of maple syrup, but more in the one little bite kind of candy you get when you go back to New Hampshire or Vermont for a visit.

For some reason, however, this had really caught my eye.  For the next week I thought of nothing else and so finally over the weekend I decided I was actually going to make it.

I wish I hadn’t.  I was like a drug addict on crack I loved it so much.  I made it three times and went through a whole loaf of bread and a round of brie.  I did have a little help eating it all, but quite honestly,  if I didn’t have to share, I probably wouldn’t have.  It was just that good.

IMG_6672

I curse you and thank you Amy Thielen of the Food Channel.  I am now an official Maple Bread lover,  or otherwise known as a toast addict . My disclaimer is,  I cannot be responsible for you once you try this.  I will, however, welcome you with open arms to my support group.

It really is that good.

Pecan Squares and Class

No matter what we do in life, we all need to continue learning our craft.  It only makes us better at what we love..  I started this blog a year ago, jumping in and not really knowing what I was doing.  And if we’re really being honest here, I still wonder if I know what I’m doing!

A friend and local food expert teaches a class in food writing, called “Expressions in Food”.  It’s instructional in writing blogs, journals, and food reviews so I thought it might give me some insight and help improve my blog I share with all of you.  (you’re still out there….right?)

Our first class suggested we bring snacks to share.  I had a weekend of Super Bowl, moving into a new office and this class so I decided to bake Pecan Squares, courtesy of Ina Garten.  The recipe makes so many I could cover everything with one dish! So I trudged in with my plate of bars, everyone brought their food of choice and our instructor, Patrick brought wine.  Now that is my type of class!

IMG_6463

For two and a half hours, we shared our interest in the class, drank wine and ate our snacks, all while learning how to describe what we were eating.  It was a cornucopia of smells, textures and flavors, from creamy onion dip that jumped off the salty crunch of the potato chip around the plate to the sweet caramel and sandy texture of the pecan squares.  What a tasty way to spend my Sunday afternoon!

I left the class, happily anticipating the next one and I hope it helps me to relay to you my love of food and recipes in such a way that you will love to read my blog even more than you do now.

Happy reading (and eating everyone)!

IMG_6460

 

Cream Cups with Raspberry Sauce

Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to do a cooking demo for a smallish group of women.  The smallish group turned out to be about thirty, so I was a little out of my comfort zone.  However, they made me feel such a part of the group and were so fun, that I couldn’t be nervous!

I had put together a menu that was easy, could be prepared ahead of time and hopefully tasteful and something they would be happy to serve to their guests.  I decided upon Shrimp Toasts (recipe posting in the near future), Roasted Fennel and Sausage  (one of my earlier posts) and for dessert, Cream Cups with a Raspberry Limoncello sauce.

IMG_6411

I’ve always loved the Cream Cups. I first had them at a dinner party hosted by my former neighbor and friend Leanne Yocke.  I’m not sure where she got the recipe from but I adapted it a little and have an easy yet elegant dessert that literally could be thrown together at the last-minute.

IMG_6412

The recipe follows as I made it, but you can do so many things with this.  You could make it with just a fruit sauce or a reduced wine sauce, for just a couple of ideas.

IMG_6436

If you have unexpected guests, are planning a romantic dinner for two or stepping out of the box and wanting to do something a little different, give this a try.  I really think you’ll be glad you did!

 

Spiced Honey Cake with Caramelized Figs

I was in Fresh Market the other day and saw they had fresh figs.  I’m not sure where they were from and honestly I didn’t care.  It was the last hurrah of summer and I was going to make something with them.

I brought my delicious little turkey figs home and immediately started looking through my hoard of recipes. (yes, I am a recipe hoarder). I had so many, but I wanted something different from the jam that I had made previously and I finally settled on this Spiced Honey Cake.  It was from CHOW.com and posted by Kate Ramos, although I’m unsure if she was the actual creator of this cake.  Whatever the case may be, this was an incredible looking cake and I was anxious to see if it was going to taste as good as I thought it might.

It did.

IMG_5656

I want to let you know that the honey liqueur that it requires is not the turkey honey whiskey stuff my husband likes to bring out at the boy’s card games.  There is a real honey liqueur and I would recommend Celtic Honey, a product from Ireland, or Bärenjäger.  Either one will work well.

This was a very nice, moist cake and the fig mixture on the top really enhanced the flavor of the cake.  If you love figs, you need to make this.  Well, even if you don’t like figs…you should still make this.  It’s that good.

I am already looking forward to next year’s crop of figs.  Yum.

mango tapioca ambrosia

It seems I’m always thinking.  Depending on the day depends on what it’s about and sometime it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.  The one constant thing, however,  is I am always thinking about what I can make and how I will make it.   And that is exactly what happened on the day I was looking through one of my food magazines and saw a recipe for a mango and tapioca parfait.  I wanted to make it.

But I didn’t have a chance to make it as soon as I had hoped to,  which was perhaps, a blessing in disguise. I just couldn’t find small pearl tapioca anywhere!  I honestly think it is a rare commodity in my area, but if you have as much trouble finding it as I did, check your local asian market.  They will have it.  During the search, however, I was looking through my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “Dishing up Virginia”, and came across his Ambrosia recipe.  I now wanted to make that too.

Here’s where the thinking part came in.  What if I combined the mango parfait with the ambrosia recipe?  Now that was something worth thinking about and I have to say,  this one thought was with me almost every day.  How would I combine them, what would I take out and what would I keep?  For days I had both recipes open on my counter, reading and re-reading.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.

I may have blown a brain cell with all my thinking but I honestly believe I came up with a really great combination.  I have Patrick’s Ambrosia in a whole new way.  I don’t think Patrick would really mind me taking liberties with his recipe, in fact,  I’m almost positive he would love the fact that I did!

So the next time you see a recipe you like (including this one), think about popping a few brain cells, taking a few liberties and see what you come up with.  I think it could be something amazing!

See…..there I go again…. always thinking.  However, I believe this time it worked and it was a good thing.

 

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Do you remember when you were younger and you would go blueberry picking?  I do.  Half the blueberries would be in the bucket and the other half in my mouth.  My shirt and fingers would be blue with the juice, but it was something I looked forward to every summer when they were ripe.  Now I just go to my back yard where I have two little starter bushes.  My only problem is I have to race the dog to see who gets there first!

IMG_5005

With blueberry season its natural to want to make blueberry pies.  I love a good pie but it is a little basic at times.  Imagine how pleased I was when I looked through a “Fine Cooking” magazine and discovered this blueberry pie parfait!  I had to give it a try…and taste!

This recipe had a white chocolate whipped cream and it was a welcome addition.  It lightened up the dessert without taking away from the blueberry pie flavor I expected and the white chocolate added a rich undertone.  The buttery almond-thyme streusel added more of a textural crunch than would a standard pie crust, which I really loved.  For me, this dessert was a huge winner on the flavor thermometer.

What I also liked about this is that if you’re tasting as you go along with the recipe, you can change it up to make it more to your personal liking.  A little more white chocolate in the whipped cream,  an extra squeeze of lemon into the blueberry or another shake of cinnamon into the streusel.

I’ve made these several times since my discovery of the recipe and it always gets rave reviews.  A few nights ago, we had been invited over to a friend’s home for dinner and I wanted to bring this but wasn’t sure about the trip.   It was easily solved when I used jelly canning jars, topped them with a lid and no spill! And I got extra points for presentation.

So enjoy your summer and bring some tasty fun to your family and friends.  They will love you for it!

Smore’s Cupcakes

My idea of camping is a reservation at a Holiday Inn.  With that said, I do enjoy the benefits of camping…….like smores.   Who doesn’t love smores?   Warm melted chocolate and marshmallowey goodness. (is that a word? Yes,  I think it is now)

I got an idea for this cupcake when I saw a brownie recipe where they added a couple of mini marshmallows.  I started imagining how melted marshmallow would taste in a cupcake and before you know it my mind had me sitting outside the Holiday Inn at a fire pit and I had smores in my hand.  A chocolatety smores cupcake. (and yes, chocolatety is a word too)

This recipe does take a few steps but the process is worth it.  You will not be able to do this over an open fire but you can make them and eat them in front of a fire.  It’s the same thing.  Just like a reservation with the Holiday Inn is like camping.  It’s all how you look at it.

I hope you enjoy these.  Bon Appetite!

Rowena’s and my winning recipe!

I first discovered Rowena’s almond pound cake many years ago when I had a little sample at some show I can’t even remember.  I was in love and totally hooked!  At the time, it was just my two children and I so i would buy the little loaves and we would freeze them so we could have them all the time.  It never occurred to me that we could actually go to Norfolk and buy more.  We became Rowena Almond Pound Cake Horders.  They should have made a show about us.

You can imagine my delight when I saw there was a contest Rowena’s was hosting on National Pound Cake Day.  I really didn’t have anything that I made with pound cake so I was a little nervous about attempting this, but what did I have to lose?  I loved their pound cake so I did something that was so unlike me…..  I actually entered the contest.

And guess what?  I WON!!!    Wow…never did I expect to win in a million years!  This was one of my most exciting moments EVER! (i think i actually cried a little I was so happy)

IMG_4669

I was equally surprised when I received the package from them.  Not only did I have the winning options of almond pound cake and lemon curd (which also happens to be the best lemon curd), but I also had several other items that I’m excited to try in future recipes.  Raspberry curd, Lavender sauce and Jalapeno Ketchup, to name a few (the ketchup might actually help me to win in next year’s Don’t Let Your Meatloaf Party!)  I was also fortunate to receive Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new products that he is starting…the Historic Hot Chocolate and Chesapeake Bay Seasoning.  Can’t wait to try them all!

IMG_4733

You really need to buy an almond pound cake from Rowena’s for yourself.  If you love almond you will love this cake.  Just opening the package is an aromatic experience.  The almond scent is better than…..dare I say it?…..yes, for foodies, better than sex.  The cake is so moist and so flavorful that it takes all the self-control I have to not eat the entire thing myself.

This recipe is so easy to make.  It is great for a dinner party or if you’re all by yourself.  The only stipulation I have is to make sure you have a Rowena’s almond pound cake if you’re going to make it.  Any other would be a total disservice to this dessert.

Bon Appetite!

Brownie Pudding

Dessert.  Sometimes we all have to have some….and especially if it’s chocolate.  That was my husband and I not too long ago.  We wanted something with chocolate, something gooey and warm…what to have?  We couldn’t decide. But, as luck would have it, I was looking through recipes by one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, and low and behold there it was.  Brownie pudding.

Is there anyone that doesn’t love a brownie?   A little crust on the top and gooey goodness all the way through.  This was more than that.  The combination between the brownie and pudding was delicious.  Almost like an underdone brownie.  And who hasn’t been there?  (come on, remember when you begged your mom for the bowl or the spoon?)

This will take you back to your childhood.  It’s easy, it’s good and it’s definitely going to take care of that chocolate craving you are having.  I give it a glorified YUM!

 

Pin It on Pinterest