So finally–! My entrée into the world of cakes, after a long interlude on the back burner. We went to LA for Labor Day, where my lovely aunties had a surprise birthday party at Fraîche ready in waiting for Daddy. Anyways, I found the recipe for this chocolate pistachio & marzipan petit-four cake at Smitten Kitchen, and baked it for Daddy’s birthday, very covertly schlepping it down by plane. It only occurred to me partway through that a three-layer cake was probably a little daunting for my very first cake bake, but it was actually simpler than I thought and turned out spectacularly. And it was perfect — nice pistachio cakes separated by layers of chocolate ganache, homemade marzipan and apricot preserves.
Posts Tagged ‘recipes’
Back in August, when I was exploring cakes to make for Daddy’s birthday party in LA (a long overdue post that is coming shortly — I promise) I found the recipe for this cake on Smitten Kitchen that was deemed a must for all chocolate-and-peanut-butter lovers. That would be Mommy. So when she came to visit this weekend, I baked her her own itty bitty, four-inch, triple-layer chocolate peanut-butter cake. Note: itty bitty four-inch cakes require a (successful) search for itty bitty four-inch cakepans.
Recently, I finally made 鹹菜肉絲 — one of my (many) favorite Chinese home-cooked dishes growing up and which, for some odd reason, I’ve never made yet myself. The four characters, translated literally, mean “salty vegetables” and “strips of meat”, though I think the actual term is “雪菜” (lit. “snow vegetables”). In any case, this dish involves pork stir-fried with chopped pieces of preserved (and very salty) veggies. And it’s delicious with rice or these yummy udon noodles.
We’ve been having hot summer days out here, which have been particularly inspiring when it comes to buying lots of fruit, drinking lots of iced water & juice & lemonade, eating chilled vegetables and lounging around in the shade with a book. I also threw together a tomato salad this evening (my uncle’s idea), with heirloom and plum and vine-ripened Campari tomatoes, Hawaiian alae salt, cracked pepper, shallots and some of the 2006 L’Ostal Cazes extra virgin olive oil that 姨媽 and Mommy got me while I was in LA. So good, and so refreshing!
After spending the early afternoon under a tree at one of my neighborhood coffeeshops, I went to a gallery event showcasing Afro Celotto’s Murano glasswork. The glass was beautiful — and whimsical at times, which was a delight — but my favorite discovery was a small painting (aptly named called “Hummers”) of these two lovely creatures.
Later, since this weekend had me back on bake fiend mode and Trader Joe’s had some great strawberries, I spent a few hours baking a strawberry pie (which Mommy has been making me since before I can recall), eating fresh strawberries and cream on the balcony, and leisurely reading the Sunday paper.
Cucumbers have long been famed for doing wonders to your eyes, supposedly reducing puffiness (though it’s unclear whether this is due to their innate properties or simply to the coolness of the slices constricting blood vessels and thereby reducing fluid into the soft tissue around the eye). But they seem to also refresh the eyes just by looking at them, and I had a soothing time slicing one of the cucumbers that I picked up at the little farmstand in Livermore.
I had lovely guests over yesterday evening for a cheery dinner on the balcony to take advantage of the balmy summer weather. I picked up some fresh produce and flowers at the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market and from Whole Foods, and cooked leisurely through the late afternoon. It was actually a bit of an adventure, being that I developed a sudden hankering for Israeli couscous a few days ago. So we ended up with lamb chops, a tossed baby spinach salad, plus a roasted tomato couscous I adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
Now here’s the funny thing — I don’t really like eating salads that much (or at all, unless I have to). But I looooove making them, so I get a kick out of having guests over in order to have someone to enjoy the ensuing creations! I started by making my own wheat-bread croutons … details on these, the salad, and the lamb to follow!