They Did It!!

 

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The happy couple :)

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My sister’s wedding has officially come and gone. We spent an amazing weekend in Napa visiting vineyards, eating amazing local food and of course celebrating my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding. First things first is that they could not have chosen a better city or venue for their wedding. The feel of Napa is so laid back and it is absolutely gorgeous. Second their venue was incredible. They had the reception at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards which is up on a hill with amazing views and we had dinner in the cave which was spectacular. Unfortunately since I was on maid of honor duty my friend was on photo duty so I don’t have photos for your now, those will be coming hopefully next week, but what I have today are cake photos, as you see above! The cake was a three tier, two layers of chocolate and one vanilla with raspberry filling, frosted with a swiss buttercream. The peony is for Kara and the Texas Ranger’s T is for John, something for both of them. I made the cakes on Thursday night and froze them and frosted the cake Saturday morning and gave it to the caterer so I could focus on the wedding day which was Sunday.

Below you will see the process for the cake. I made the fondant pieces a week before then carried them with me so I didn’t have to take the time to make them there. It was an awesome experience and I loved making this for them!

Cake recipes from Smitten Kitchen

Vanilla buttermilk Cake and Chocolate Butter Cake

Swiss buttercream frosting

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Letting the fondant dry in the wine glass cabinet.

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The stove I had for cooking! It was awesome!

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Making the frosting

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Rehearsal dinner.

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Luck O’The Butter

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When it comes to the wonderful holiday of St. Patty’s Day we all know the typical corned beef and cabbage, shepards pie and of course green beer.  But what I think that I have been missing out on the past years has really been the butter.  I’m serious, Irish butter is delicious and very important to the Irish. They even have a museum in Cork.  It has a higher butterfat content that gives it a richer, creamier flavor. They also say its due to the fact that the cows get to indulge on a daily basis on the lush Irish green countrysides and I agree, because it is just better.  I attempted this year to make it (without Irish grass fed cow creams) and it was so easy and awesome.  You just mix, set and whip and done!  You have the creamy, beautiful yellow butter to enjoy on the holiday. Make it even better by washing down a scone with this butter with a  green beer! Cheers!

Irish Butter recipe from Big Girls Small Kitchen

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Book Signing – The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

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Last night I went to The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook book signing with Deb Perelman.  I went straight after work and got there probably 10 minutes after they started handing out tickets.  I got number 131.  It didn’t really dawn on me what that meant.  What 131 means is if Deb took the time to chat with each person for one minute per person that means two hours till my turn.

Deb spoke and filled the room with her humorous stories and advice.  It was fresh and fun and lots of question time.  Deb was great and gave each person the time they wanted. I sat around for about 45 minutes till it dawned on me what my number 131 meant.  It meant time to just go switch my cookbook for a signed one and head to sushi and wine with the sister.  I figured I already got my time when I interviewed her.

 

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More French

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This past weekend was my sister’s birthday, which brought the birthday count to four for the month of February alone.  February is not about Valentine’s day its about birthday’s, or at least those are the cards that Hallmark is making a profit off of from me.  One perk of all the birthdays is it give me an excuse to head into the kitchen to bake.  And not just bake but to bake things I wouldn’t normally think to bake. When I sat down to think of what to make for Kara, I decided to shy away to the tycical favorite dessert of her’s such as crème brûlée or a fruit tart and go for the old favorite eclair.

I’ve made cream puffs before which is the same batter mixture, so I wasn’t intimidated by these delightful pastries.  From this time baking I decided to stop living in denial and believe that the altitude is affecting my results.  I’ve found things to be a bit dryer, cook quicker and not rise as well.  Luckily the only one I saw that effected the eclair was the rising part.  Some puffed up but some not too much, but fortunately though it might have not look as fluffy and delicate as it should have, but it tasted like cloud.  A chocolate, covered, cream filled heavenly cloud that is.

Eclair recipe

Pate a Choux

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Cream filling for eclairs

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~Happy Chinese New Year~

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Happy Chinese New Year everyone!!  Make sure to eat at least one dumpling today to ensure yourself good luck in this new year of the black snake!  That’s my motto at least.

Check out some of my dumpling posts from the past years.

Dumplings in Sydney Australia and a recipe to make dumplings at home .

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The Tale of the Butter

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This is a story of the butter that just would not soften…

On a cool winter evening the butter was purchased from the local grocery store.  The butter took a bumpy ride in the back seat of the car in the plastic bag, then was carried inside to the warm house.  By his forgetful owner he was then put into the fridge when he was supposed to be on the counter warming for the cake he was to be put into. An hour passed by when the owner jumped from the couch and realized that the butter was in the fridge.  She moved the the butter to the living room with hopes that it would warm quicker there.  But as the night crept on the butter stayed hard and cold.  The butter’s owner finally accepted defeat and knew the butter would not be soft enough to whip with the sugar and decided the cake could not be baked till tomorrow.  She decided to put the butter by the vent in her room while she slept so it would be perfectly soft in the morning.

When she arose she was excited to check on the butter, but once again she was disappointed by the lack of softness. The butter felt responsible but he knew deep down that it was just that he lived in an older house that was colder. The owner of the butter decided there was only one solution, she would take the butter to work.  Off he went back into the plastic bag and into the backseat again.

He was set out on the desk and left to warm for eight long hours.  When 5:30 p.m. rolled around she reached to the butter it at last was soft.  It was perfect and ready to be whip with the sugar.

THE END

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Good Luck Pretzel’s

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Happy New Year!! I hope everyone had an amazing time welcoming 2013 last night.  I found a recipe for a German new year’s pretzel that is supposed to bring good luck throughout the year.  We used the pretzel loaf for French toast this morning— fingers crossed we ate enough.

German New year’s Pretzel from America’s Test Kitchen

Makes 2 large loaves

Dough

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

1/3 cup warmed water (110 Degrees)

4 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

6-6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground mace (I used nutmeg)

1 large egg for eggwash

Glaze

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

pinch salt

1. For the dough: Whisk milk, eggs, water, and melted butter together in liquid measuring cup.  Combine 6 cups flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, and mace in stand mixer fitted with dough hook.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add milk mixture and let dough come together, about 2 minutes.

2. Increase mixer speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  If after 4 minutes dough seems very sticky, add remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until dough clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom.

3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball.  Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Turn doug hout onto lightly floured counter, divide into two equal pieces, and cover with greased plastic.  Roll one piece of dough into 36-inch rope, about 1 1/4 inches thick, then transfer to prepared baking sheet and shape into large pretzel following photos.  Repeat with remaining piece of dough.

5.  cover pretzels with greased plastic and let rise in warm place until nearly doubled in size and dough barely springs back when poked with knuckle, 45-75 minutes.

6.  Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush pretzels with egg mixture and bake until deep golden brown and centers of pretzels register 200 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.  Let pretzels cool on baking sheets for 15 minutes.

7.  For the glaze: whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk, almond extract (if using ), and salt together in bowl.  Brush glaze evenly over warm pretzels. Transfer glazed pretzels to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

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That’s a Wrap!

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Christmas has come and gone and what that means is lots of dishes are left in its path.  This year our traditional polish meal of pierogis and mushroom borscht were created in the tiny kitchen of my sisters new house in the Highlands in Denver.  It’s a tiny kitchen but we made it work with all of us rolling, mixing, and of course singing.

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Kapusta filling, which is sauerkraut and mushrooms.

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Above is my sister’s fiance John playing Subway Surfers a phone game. Do not let your friends or family play it if you ever want to talk to them again.  Adding my sisters fiance to our mix is great because he made a beautiful orange star anise brown sugar glazed  ham.  One of the many reasons we love him.

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And We’re Back

This was my first trip in, I don’t-know-how-long, that I didn’t bring my computer.  For almost a solid four days I was computer free.  I must say it was pretty amazing.  I also bought a ticket, so no standby traveling for me this time, which was also pretty amazing.

This Thanksgiving we went to New Hampshire for my cousin’s wedding at the Omni Resort in Mount Washington.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt’s in Exeter, New Hampshire.  I of course brought the cake, which means I brought it on the plane.  If anyone wants to make friends on a plane or in the airport carry a container with cakes in them, people will comment.

Hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving and are ready for the transition from pumpkin everything to gingerbread.

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