Birthdays sometimes go unnoticed in my office, and while I can’t bake a cake for everyone, I try to do something. We hired a new project assistant a couple months back and we kind of forgot her birthday. My excuse was that I was working from home because of my never-ending knee problems. But I decided I would bake a cake for her 25th birthday + one week. You know, keep everyone on their toes about whether or not there was going to be a cake.
I didn’t really know what kind of cake she liked, but I figured that most people like chocolate (how can you not?) and I had seen this stunning cake on tastepotting. I was a little thrown off by the ingredients because I was unfamiliar with golden syrup. I knew it was popular in England (coincidentally, I had read about it just the day before I cake across the recipe), but I didn’t want to go from store to store trying to find it. I have since learned that it’s actually available in every single grocery store I shop in. Oh well.
I love baking for other people. There’s just so much satisfaction in giving someone one of your favorite treats, like chocolate glazed gingerbread cakes, chocolate raspberry cake, apple cider cake, or a cranberry upside-down cake (can you tell I like cake?). But what about when that person is on a diet? You’d hardly be a good friend if you showed up with these sinfully delicious, rich, gooey, brownies.
This chocolate angel food cake has become my answer to that. It’s light and and airy and chocolatey and oh so very good, and the best part? There’s no butter, no egg yolks, no oil, and hey, it’s half air! How bad can it possibly be? It’s a much healthier alternative but it’s still so good, especially served with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.
So when I said I’d bring dessert to a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a friend that has lost over 30 pounds through several months of hard work and dedication, this is the dessert I immediately thought of. But I was still pretty wobbly after knee surgery and was a little nervous to committing to that much time standing in the kitchen. What if I got halfway through and just couldn’t stand long enough to finish it? Continue reading
We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.
The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.
We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries. We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem. Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.
Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass. Anyone want any winery wine glasses? We have enough to stock a small restaurant.
Did you know that this past Sunday was Macaron Day in NYC? I got an e-mail about it yesterday and then this afternoon a friend told me about her weekend in New York and all the macaron shops she hit up while she was there. Oh man was I jealous. If only I had known! The good news is that Anne told me that the Danish Pastry House, which I absolutely love and is just a short drive from our place (or a longer walk when my knee is up to it), has awesome macarons. Yes!
The other good news is that my own macaron making skills have improved. Dramatically. Remember my horribly failed cinnamon apple macawhoopsie pies? That were supposed to be macarons? Right, well, I was kind of afraid to try making macarons again after that. But my wonderful husband got me a class on macarons at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts as well as a cute little book on macarons for Christmas.
Growing up, I was always very proud of my Irish heritage. Every St. Patty’s day my mom would make her version of colcannon (basically mashed potatoes with shredded cabbage, bacon pieces, and grated cheddar) and currant scones. The scones were always my favorite part. As an adult, my celebration of St. Patty’s Day has changed considerably (hello, Guinness and Irish Coffee!), although I still always make scones.
This year was my most uneventful St. Patty’s Day to date. I had class that night and hadn’t been since my knee surgery and didn’t want to miss another class. Not just that, but I haven’t been able to get in the kitchen and cook with my bum knee and didn’t want to ask Joseph to go out of his way to make an Irish meal for me when he has a lot going on himself (plus, he’s already been waiting on me hand and foot ever since the surgery). Continue reading
Let me get straight to the point and tell you that this is one of my very favorite cake recipes. It’s chocolate (which scores it several points right off the bat) accented by a delightfully tart raspberry filling. The layers are moist and rich and the three of them piled up together give it some impressive height.
The cake is a little more complex and the ingredients are a little pricier than the average cake (especially because I always seem to accidentally buy twice as much chocolate as necessary because the original recipe calls for a ganache filling instead of raspberry), but it’s definitely worth it. Still, I currently only make it once a year for the annual February get-together for the birthday celebration of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
This year’s family get-together was especially fun with the addition of Jill, an old college friend of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and because my niece, Amelia, is now nearly 2 1/2 years old. We don’t get to see Amelia nearly often enough and each time we see her it’s like I’m looking at a whole new person! She grows and develops new skills so quickly and it’s so cool to see how much she has changed. Continue reading