Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Let's face it. There are times even my cakes want to look pretty.
My friend asked me to bake for a small wedding reception that she was attending. Although the reception was to be held in informal locale, the occasion certainly calls for something special. I mean, wedding is wedding! It's not an everyday event. My friend knew I don't do designer cakes but her request got me thinking. I wanted to make a memorable cake; not just it tastes good but also comes with the 'wow!' factor.
Well, you can't tell from the picture, but it is actually a green tea flavor cake. I covered it with white frosting made from combination of cream cheese, Mascarpone, and whipped heavy cream (it was SOOOO good if I may say so myself.) On it, I dusted some green tea powder and arranged the beautiful bright orange Nasturtium flowers I bought at the Greenmarket. When I looked at the finished cake, I was really happy because it came out exactly the way I envisioned. I also baked 3 doz. apple-cranberry cupcakes to supplement for the 30-plus crowd.
Of course the only thing I wasn't sure was....will the bride like it?
Happily, my friend reported back it was a big hit! Phew. I was relieved, and knowing I was able to contribute to her special day made me feel content. Thank you for letting me be the part of it.
Monday, May 25, 2009
After picking up a bunch of fresh asparagus, organic eggs, and a hunk of bread from the Saturday Greenmarket, I now prepare a leisure weekend breakfast.
First, make coffee (saving the used grinds for the yard, of course.) While it's brewing, I put a greased frying pan on the gas, wash and snap the ends of asparagus. Let's not skimp at all, let's cook a handful! As I sip coffee, I slowly pan roast them, turning once or twice for an even roast. When they are done, take 'em out, and add a pat of butter. It slides down to the middle of pan where it creates a foamy puddle, quietly sizzles, browns a bit, releasing the sweet aroma. Two eggs into the pan, sunny side up. Oh, and let's not forget the toast.
The whole process could take up to 30 minutes until I can sit down. But, patience my dear...this is so good...
Monday, May 18, 2009
It's been a while since the last time I invited some ancient friends, some recent friends, and some whom I didn't know, for a get-together. I don't remember exactly when that was, but I do remember it was very hot. So this time I wanted to have it in May. It's a good month in many ways. First, the winter weather should have been gone. Second, the heat wave shouldn't have arrived. And third, the yard should be in the state of the best looking - dead leaves cleaned up, new crop of flowers, herbs & tomatoes planted, and thank goodness the weeds are not quite yet taking over - oh how I wished each year I could keep this up for the rest of summer!
The month of May is a tricky one though, because there are not many weekends without plans or obligations. The 2nd weekend is reserved for the Mother's Day. The 4th weekend is already the Memorial Day Weekend; the first official summer getaway! So I announced well in advance that people should pencil in the 3rd Saturday for this party. The total of 27 people came between 6pm and 11pm.
The miracle of miracles; rain held up. From the morning it was foggy & cloudy, with chance of thunder shower all afternoon & evening. So I was begging 'someone upstairs', please no rain between 5 and 12. I even made some Teru-Teru-Bozu, the little paper doll you make when you want to fend off the rainy weather. And it worked! Literally ten minutes after the last guest left, I heard the rain coming down. Amazing.
Meatball Sliders (2 of my friends who don't eat meat, ate them. I take that as the highest form of compliments)
Shrimp Cocktail [cocktail sauce, lemon wedges]
Falafel [tahini sauce]
Sauteed Spinach & Ramps
Bell Peppers in Balsamic Vinegar
Asaparagus, Baby Carrots, Broccoli [garlicky cheese dip, roasted pepper dip]
Black-eyed Peas in Basil Vinaigrette
Pasta with Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms
Olives, Pickled Ramps
Rainbow Fruit Salad
Grapes, Mini Clementines
Maybe I want to make this an annual event...? It was so great to see everyone at once! And I didn't have to travel 'home': I guess that's the best part of throwing a party at home...
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Holy Mackerel! Last week there were tab full of them. This week they are gone for the season.
I like mackerels because: a) they are small and easy to handle, b) they are great source of Omega-3, Vitamine D and B12, and perhaps most conveniently, c) there aren't scales! (I guess that makes them certified kosher.) You know how messy and annoying it can be...finding bits of scale dried stuck everywhere in the kitchen!
Before its abrupt disappearance, I was able to haul them back home a few times to practice my fish cleaning skill, which I think is showing improvement. Like I said, it is relatively easy. First cut off the head. Then slit the underbelly and take out innerds. After that, you can either keep it whole or fillet. A few of them were even carrying delicate egg sacks that I cooked in style of "Nanban-zuke", similar to "escabeche". They were delicious.
OK, gorgeous mackerels, we'll meet again when the water gets cold and air clean & crisp. See you later.