August 7, 2013

Voted 'Most Likely to Make Her Own Wedding Cake'

Mr. Right is getting married, and I'm making the cake(s). For the chocolate lovers, I'll make my signature wedding cake, the Chocolate Blackout Wedding Cake with Coconut Buttercream, pictured at the last wedding I made it for --

Chocolate Blackout Wedding Cake with Hydrangeas, by kimberlykv

And for chocolate abstainers, there will be a Lemon Ricotta Cake filled with berries and lemon whipped cream.

Some of the quantities on the shopping list that caused my eyebrows to go up:
12 cups sugar
10 large lemons
2 lbs. chocolate
22 large eggs
20 egg yolks
2 egg whites
3 quarts heavy cream
7 pounds butter

Mr. Right might have preferred someone else make his wedding cake, but I felt it would be a personal contribution I could make to the dinner. And besides, have you priced wedding cakes lately?

February 21, 2013

Lemon Love

I believe I found something that Mr. R and I can disagree about: I use ketchup in my Chicken Marsala. Horror of horrors! To my credit, it's not Heinz ketchup I use, and I still think a couple of teaspoons' worth of ketchup is better than opening a can of tomato paste, but nevertheless... I also wanted to buy pre-sliced white button mushrooms and he wanted bulk portabellas that he would slice himself. I've been outgunned. The man also makes a mean Caprese Salad, hunting for heirloom tomatoes and the good balsamic. I think I'm in love.

One thing we can agree on is our fondness for lemon desserts. Of late we've made two recipes with Meyer lemons, mousse and sherbet. The sherbet was just right, with just enough sourness to wake you up and a perfect creamy soft texture.

Meyer Lemon Sherbet
adapted from Cook's Illustrated


1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from 1 to 2 lemons
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice, plus 1 cup water
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier, optional
2/3 cup heavy cream, chilled

  1. Process zest, sugar, and salt in food processor until damp, 10 to 15 short pulses.
  2. With machine running, add lemon juice/water mixture in slow, steady stream. Process until sugar is fully dissolved, about 1 minute.
  3. Strain mixture into medium bowl (I skipped this step because I don't mind the zest) and stir in Grand Marnier, if using. Chill until very cold but not frozen.
  4. When mixture is cold, whip cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Whisking constantly, add juice mixture in steady stream, pouring against edge of bowl.
  5. Immediately start ice cream machine and add juice/cream mixture to canister; churn until sherbet has texture of soft-serve ice cream, 15 to 25 minutes.
  6. Transfer sherbet to storage container; press plastic wrap directly against surface of sherbet and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

Lemon Layer Cake

January 1, 2013

The Year That Was - 2012

It was a very good year. Tangerine Tango was the color of 2012, and orange being one of my favorite colors, I took it as a sign that this would be my year. (FYI, the color for 2013 is emerald.)

In new foods this year, I discovered and developed many ice cream recipes. Among the most interesting: Bangkok Thai Peanut, Chocolate Cayenne, and Olive Oil. I attended a 3-day chocolate candy making class in Chicago at the Callebaut Academy. While in Chicago, I ate at Alinea, rated by some sources as the best restaurant in North America.

I spent New Year's Eve at Sitka & Spruce with my gentleman friend. Once again, we walked off in the wrong direction and couldn't locate the restaurant immediately. Seated at our table, the view was now blocked by an unfinished multistory building that had been constructed in the last 5 months. How things have changed! But we had a lovely and romantic dinner. Afterward, we watched the Space Needle fireworks show from Capitol Hill with drunk hipsters.

New Years 2013: Space Needle Fireworks in Seattle 
Image by Michael Holden

In travel, I hit the three places on my 2012 wish list - Australia, Chicago, Hawaii - plus visited Seattle 4 times during the second half of the year. I took at least one trip with my favorite people in the world. I visited 5 U.S. states and 2 Australian states. I flew 42 flights and hit gold status on American Airlines. Here's my year in cities:

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Richmond, New South Wales, Australia
Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Austin, Texas (March and April)
Houston, Texas
Columbus, Ohio
Dallas, Texas
Chicago, Illinois
Carlsbad, New Mexico
Seattle, Washington (July, October, twice in December)
San Juan Islands, Washington
Hawaii (Honolulu, Waikiki, Hilo, Kona, Laie, Kanehoe, Naalehu, Punalu'u)
Albuquerque, New Mexico (August and November)

Previous years: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

What's on your 2012 list?