Archive for July, 2008

Chips Ahoy and My First Giveaway!

July 31, 2008

I recently received a most unusual but wonderful gift. Neighbours were moving and giving away all the pantry supplies they couldn’t take with them, and I was consequently the recipient of a massive supply of baking chips! I’ve been slowly using them up but with my own move cross-country approaching, I think I need to step up my chippage.

So I pulled out one of my favourite cookbooks, Nancy Baggett’s The All-American Cookie Book. It features page after page of delicious cookie recipes and mouthwatering full-colour photos, each accompanied by a short narrative of the recipe’s origins and regional history. For example, there are black-and-whites from New York City, Pecan Meltaways from Georgia, and that treat with most elusive beginnings, the Snickerdoodle. I chose a cookie loaded with add-in’s for maximum chip usage…scroll down for the info.

Chips_and_book
(book image courtesy of Amazon.com)

But first, in honor of my serendipitous chips, A GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment between now and Monday August 4 at midnight, and I’ll send you your very own copy of The All-American Cookie Book. In your comment just tell me your favourite regional dessert—cookie or otherwise, American or otherwise—with a link to the recipe if you want to get really fancy. I’ll randomly select a name from the entrants and announce the winner on Tuesday August 5. Is this a cheap ploy to get readers to comment on my post? Absolutely! But I love hearing from you, and if it scores you an awesome cookbook in the process, then why not?


Death_by_chocolate_cookies

Okay, enough boldface type. The above cookies are called "Death By Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies". They’re quite a mouthful, both literally and figuratively. Dense and heavy, you can smell them from across the room–and they melt most sinfully on the tongue. They contain a tablespoon of corn syrup, which I think adds to their chewy fudginess. I like this recipe because you can throw whatever you like in. I used semi-sweet, bittersweet, white chocolate, and butterscotch chips, but coconut, dried cherries, and even candied ginger would be tasty too. Just be careful not to overcook them; remove them from the oven when you get your first whiff of chocolatey goodness. They’ll look underdone, so just let them firm up on the baking sheets before removing them.

Death by Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe courtesy of The All-American Cookie Cookbook)

1 cup butter (I used margarine)
scant 1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon light or dark corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla (I used a full tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups add-ins, any type of chips or nuts, etc. that you like

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then mix in cocoa powder. Add baking soda and salt, stir to mix, then beat in eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Stir in flour until smooth, then toss in chips and combine. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees–though of course this baking time will depend on the size of cookie you make. I’ve done both bite-sized and monster-sized with this recipe. Just adjust baking time longer the bigger the balls of dough. Just watch them carefully and remove when you get that first whiff!

Copper Glow

July 30, 2008

With my wedding a month from today, I have a serious case of
‘wedding-on-the-brain’. So here’s a wedding inspiration board based on
this gorgeous photo by Roland Bello.
His photos have appeared in Epicurious and Domino, among others.
There’s a sleepy, sultriness to his work—some of it can actually be
quite dark, almost like a Southern Gothic novel.

Still_life0_6

This board is an homage not only to the photo above, but also to one of my favourite sources of wedding inspiration, the blog ‘Snippet and Ink‘.
Not only is every image set perfectly curated, I love how each is
accompanied by a succinct and vivid epitaph. So with thanks to Roland
Bello and Snippet and Ink, I give you…

The Mood: Polished and warm, with a touch of homespun glamour.
The Palette: Apricot, copper and ivory

Copperapricot_board

Row 1: Coffee and dessert by Roland Bello; marigold girl and lantern light, Martha Stewart; neoclassical centerpiece, Brides.com.


Row 2: Juicy cocktail table and romantic candle glow, Martha Stewart; elegant A-line, Simple Silhouettes; say it in style, Vanessa Cavaco Designs.

Row 3: Sweet, ladylike flats and grandma brooch from J. Crew; sunset calla lilies, The Knot; extra foamy, Roland Bello.

Row 4: Tie it with a bow, Martha Stewart; gentlemanly tweed, The Knot; caramel tower power, Martha Stewart; have your cake and eat it too, Rebecca Thuss.

Copper Glow

July 30, 2008

With my wedding a month from today, I have a serious case of
‘wedding-on-the-brain’. So here’s a wedding inspiration board based on
this gorgeous photo by Roland Bello.
His photos have appeared in Epicurious and Domino, among others.
There’s a sleepy, sultriness to his work—some of it can actually be
quite dark, almost like a Southern Gothic novel.

Still_life0_6

This board is an homage not only to the photo above, but also to one of my favourite sources of wedding inspiration, the blog ‘Snippet and Ink‘.
Not only is every image set perfectly curated, I love how each is
accompanied by a succinct and vivid epitaph. So with thanks to Roland
Bello and Snippet and Ink, I give you…

The Mood: Polished and warm, with a touch of homespun glamour.
The Palette: Apricot, copper and ivory

Copperapricot_board

Row 1: Coffee and dessert by Roland Bello; marigold girl and lantern light, Martha Stewart; neoclassical centerpiece, Brides.com.


Row 2: Juicy cocktail table and romantic candle glow, Martha Stewart; elegant A-line, Simple Silhouettes; say it in style, Vanessa Cavaco Designs.

Row 3: Sweet, ladylike flats and grandma brooch from J. Crew; sunset calla lilies, The Knot; extra foamy, Roland Bello.

Row 4: Tie it with a bow, Martha Stewart; gentlemanly tweed, The Knot; caramel tower power, Martha Stewart; have your cake and eat it too, Rebecca Thuss.

Barefoot in Chocolate

July 29, 2008

It’s been a little while since I posted a recipe, so here’s a good one for no other reason than ‘I felt like it’!

I baked this chocolate cake a while back for a co-worker’s birthday and it turned out beautifully. A chocoholic’s dream, it’s everything a chocolate cake should be: foolproof in its preparation, with a resulting treat that is deep, dark and intensely fudgy, yet light and moist with a tender crumb. You can eat a whole piece and not feel like it’s sitting in your stomach like a brick. I think it’s weightless quality comes from the buttermilk in the batter, the acid in which reacts with the leavening agents to produce air bubbles that make the cake extra fluffy. I love baking with buttermilk–it always seems to make everything just a little bit better.

Inas_chocolate_cake_2

The recipe comes from one of my favourite–and most reliable–cookbooks, Ina Garten’s ‘Barefoot Contessa at Home‘. This was one of those books that I picked up simply because the photos made me ravenously hungry at the bookstore, but unlike most impulse cookbook purchases, I’ve actually used it quite a bit. The chapters on desserts and breakfasts are especially droolworthy (but that could just be my penchant for sweet bready goodness speaking!)

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I use my stovetop espresso maker for extra vim and vigour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. (Ina says line them with parchment but I can’t be bothered with that).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low until combined. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer still on low, slowly add wet to dry, then add the coffee until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes (until a tester stuck in the middle comes out clean). Cool in pans for 30 minutes then turn onto a rack and cool completely. Frosting recipe below.

Ina’s Chocolate Frosting (a medium-depth frosting that perfectly complements the richness of the cake)

6 ounces good semi-sweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I just used 1 tablespoon espresso left over from making the cake)

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, then add egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. On low, add sugar gradually, scraping bowl as necessary. On low speed, add coffee and melted chocolate until just blended. Ina says, "Don’t whip!" So don’t whip. But do slather generously between, on and around the layers of chocolate cake. And be sure to save a dollop for eating straight up!

Barefoot in Chocolate

July 29, 2008

It’s been a little while since I posted a recipe, so here’s a good one for no other reason than ‘I felt like it’!

I baked this chocolate cake a while back for a co-worker’s birthday and it turned out beautifully. A chocoholic’s dream, it’s everything a chocolate cake should be: foolproof in its preparation, with a resulting treat that is deep, dark and intensely fudgy, yet light and moist with a tender crumb. You can eat a whole piece and not feel like it’s sitting in your stomach like a brick. I think it’s weightless quality comes from the buttermilk in the batter, the acid in which reacts with the leavening agents to produce air bubbles that make the cake extra fluffy. I love baking with buttermilk–it always seems to make everything just a little bit better.

Inas_chocolate_cake_2

The recipe comes from one of my favourite–and most reliable–cookbooks, Ina Garten’s ‘Barefoot Contessa at Home‘. This was one of those books that I picked up simply because the photos made me ravenously hungry at the bookstore, but unlike most impulse cookbook purchases, I’ve actually used it quite a bit. The chapters on desserts and breakfasts are especially droolworthy (but that could just be my penchant for sweet bready goodness speaking!)

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I use my stovetop espresso maker for extra vim and vigour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. (Ina says line them with parchment but I can’t be bothered with that).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low until combined. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer still on low, slowly add wet to dry, then add the coffee until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes (until a tester stuck in the middle comes out clean). Cool in pans for 30 minutes then turn onto a rack and cool completely. Frosting recipe below.

Ina’s Chocolate Frosting (a medium-depth frosting that perfectly complements the richness of the cake)

6 ounces good semi-sweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I just used 1 tablespoon espresso left over from making the cake)

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, then add egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. On low, add sugar gradually, scraping bowl as necessary. On low speed, add coffee and melted chocolate until just blended. Ina says, "Don’t whip!" So don’t whip. But do slather generously between, on and around the layers of chocolate cake. And be sure to save a dollop for eating straight up!

A Savvy Blog

July 28, 2008

I spent the weekend in the Bay Area dealing with wedding stuff after a long hiatus from planning. Mr. Groom and I met with our florist, did our tasting at the reception venue (the Sonoma Mission Inn), and even went to a Sunday service and had coffee with our officiant at the church where we’re having the ceremony. It’s funny how many details there are to manage… How many cocktail tables do we want? Do we want hemstitched napkins? Are we providing our own toasting glasses? And I haven’t even started to do the seating plans yet…yikes!

With so much to worry about, I’m super glad to be working with Kelly, the wedding coordinator at the Inn. She’s got our back when it comes to those small details. Kelly is a terrific resource with a wealth of experience, and she’s a joy to hang out with as well!

Kelly has a terrific event blog with great ideas and lots of inspirational images. It’s called ‘A Savvy Event’. Isn’t that a fun name?

Finalbanner_copy

She also writes a really entertaining moms and babies blog called ‘A Savvy Baby‘. But I think I’d better focus on surviving the wedding before I start in on that side of things 🙂

A Savvy Blog

July 28, 2008

I spent the weekend in the Bay Area dealing with wedding stuff after a long hiatus from planning. Mr. Groom and I met with our florist, did our tasting at the reception venue (the Sonoma Mission Inn), and even went to a Sunday service and had coffee with our officiant at the church where we’re having the ceremony. It’s funny how many details there are to manage… How many cocktail tables do we want? Do we want hemstitched napkins? Are we providing our own toasting glasses? And I haven’t even started to do the seating plans yet…yikes!

With so much to worry about, I’m super glad to be working with Kelly, the wedding coordinator at the Inn. She’s got our back when it comes to those small details. Kelly is a terrific resource with a wealth of experience, and she’s a joy to hang out with as well!

Kelly has a terrific event blog with great ideas and lots of inspirational images. It’s called ‘A Savvy Event’. Isn’t that a fun name?

Finalbanner_copy

She also writes a really entertaining moms and babies blog called ‘A Savvy Baby‘. But I think I’d better focus on surviving the wedding before I start in on that side of things 🙂

Sexy Swedish

July 24, 2008

As promised, here’s the inspiration board based on this photo from Things That Inspire. I was so attracted to the soothing hues and interesting shapes and textures:

Showroom

The resulting collage…

Swedish

Turned Pedestal dining table and Moulure Ledge shelving, Brocade Home; Kate Spade Rutherford Circle dinnerware; Arne Jacobsen Ant Chair at Bonluxat; Mary Upholstery Fabric in natural by Rubie Green; Jonathan Adler Pinch Vase; Isa Chandelier at Jayson Home and Garden; Jonathan Adler Plume Rug; Carthage Lantern, Jayson Home and Garden; background fabric is Petter from Country Swedish.

In imagining this dining area I tried to avoid the obvious–which
would have been an assemblage of Swedish-style objects–and instead
drew from the bulbous forms of the clocks, the muted yellows and aquas,
and the ornate surfaces of the carved woods. It’s sort of a
quietly sexy mod take on inspiration shot. The jury’s still out on how
I feel about the result. What do you think?

Inspiration image courtesy of Things That Inspire.

Sexy Swedish

July 24, 2008

As promised, here’s the inspiration board based on this photo from Things That Inspire. I was so attracted to the soothing hues and interesting shapes and textures:

Showroom

The resulting collage…

Swedish

Turned Pedestal dining table and Moulure Ledge shelving, Brocade Home; Kate Spade Rutherford Circle dinnerware; Arne Jacobsen Ant Chair at Bonluxat; Mary Upholstery Fabric in natural by Rubie Green; Jonathan Adler Pinch Vase; Isa Chandelier at Jayson Home and Garden; Jonathan Adler Plume Rug; Carthage Lantern, Jayson Home and Garden; background fabric is Petter from Country Swedish.

In imagining this dining area I tried to avoid the obvious–which
would have been an assemblage of Swedish-style objects–and instead
drew from the bulbous forms of the clocks, the muted yellows and aquas,
and the ornate surfaces of the carved woods. It’s sort of a
quietly sexy mod take on inspiration shot. The jury’s still out on how
I feel about the result. What do you think?

Inspiration image courtesy of Things That Inspire.

Coming Soon

July 23, 2008

Things are super busy today at work and at home, so in lieu of a
longer post I’ll have to just whet your appetite with the inspiration
image I have planned for tomorrow…

Showroom

Aren’t the colors here lovely? I don’t know yet what I’ll do with
this photo, but I’m excited to see where it takes me. The image is from
a brilliant blog I recently discovered called Things That Inspire; check it out–it’s loaded with tons of gorgeous photos and insightful commentary on art, architecture and design.

See you tomorrow…and if you’re stopping by for the first time this
week, be sure to take a peak at Monday and Tuesday’s inspiration
boards and tell me what you think!

Photo courtesy of Things That Inspire.