Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our 900 Mile Journey to Houston

Blessed be the powers of wifi and cable. We've officially been Texans for about 8 days and we finally were able to get our apartment operating in the 21 century. To say these past couple of weeks were crazy would be a vast understatement, here are just some tid bits of our journey from a small town in GA to the big city!
Despite me reserving a 17' truck a month in advance, they decided to "upgrade" me to the 26' beast at the last second so that was fun. Thankfully our awesome parents came up to help move us out while my parents also drove "the beast" up to Houston.
Goodbye country apartment, I miss your quiet woods already!
Beanie of course was very concerned the whole trip up but she ended up sleeping over half the time anyway so that was awesome (there miggght of been some special pills involved).
We decided to make a pit stop in New Orleans which probably wasn't the best idea considering it was spring break AND the day before St. Patrick's Day but it was an experience none the less. We of course had to stop by for some hot chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde!
When we finally reached the Texas welcome center it was a beautiful sight to behold (Houston is about an hour from here).
Here are Dublin vs Houston pictures of Bean aka our trusty navigator.
After 3 hot and sweaty hours of hauling all of our crap up a flight of stairs (sorry Dad) we decided to have a night in and picked up some goodies from the nearby grocery store. My parents could only stay a couple of days so we explored the city a bit and took them to one of our favorite spots we discovered on our previous visit, The Hobbit Cafe (post soon to come). As of now it still doesn't quite feel like home but I am excited to see what opportunities lay ahead.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An Anniversary Cake - Dark Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Mousse Filling & Chocolate Ganache

I cannot believe that our one year anniversary is upon us, it seems like yesterday we were celebrating with friends and family (while simultaneously freaking out about moving to a new town). One year later and things aren't that different, yet again we're packing up all our things and moving to a bigger, better, completely foreign city.
For a couple of hours we decided to take a little break from work/packing/travel craziness and take part in a little chocolate indulgence. While it might not be the prettiest cake (I packed most of my baking tools, hence the sloppy ganache..we'll just call it "rustic") I gotta say this is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe.
I've said it before how much I love using coffee in my chocolate cake recipes - it makes such a difference in flavor to me, bringing out that rich chocolate flavor while adding some moisture. This was also my first time making strawberry mousse which has become my go-to filling - not only is it refreshing and delicious but you also get that pretty natural pink color without having to use artificial additives.
I gotta say it's been a semi crazy year, there were definitely a lot of firsts and it was not without it's challenges but I am super excited about moving to a big city and all of the culinary adventures that are to come!

For the cake...

recipe adapted from Ina Garden

Butter, for greasing the pans (or non stick spray)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Method:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans.

2.Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and extracts. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

For Strawberry Mousse...

1 cup finely chopped strawberries
Splash of orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream (chilled)

Method:

1.Add strawberries, oj, and sugar in a blender and pulse until almost a liquid but still a little chunky. You can strain to get rid of the seeds but you honestly don't notice them anyway.
2.In a mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in strawberry mixture and serve. (note: some might suggest adding gelatin to the strawberry mix but I found it wasn't necessary).

For ganache...

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3-4 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Constantly stir until chocolate is silky and smooth in texture.

To assemble:
1.Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with mousse. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Place in the fridge for at least 30 min.
2.Once cake is cool, using a ladle, carefully spoon ganache over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.




Friday, February 27, 2015

Fashion Friday: Spring 2015 Trends

Spring 2015


Here are some of my favorite upcoming trends for Spring 2015. I know I am going to rock a lot of hats, sheer kimonos, and gingham shirts this spring/simmer - what about you?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chickpea & Tempeh Sunbutter Curry Over Jasmine Rice

I probably should be packing a box or working on my finals right now but it seems the internet has other plans...Upon this highly distracting internet adventure, I realized whilst perusing my recipe lists that I had not included a recipe with tempeh...I've had some killer tempeh dishes at places like The Bee's Knees and the late Amy's Cafe but despite my pescatarian lifestyle I don't actually cook with this ingredient often...
Tempeh is essentially made from the same ingredients as tofu just processed in a different way. Since tofu is made from soy milk, it has lighter texture than tempeh which is fermented whole soy beans. Because of it's more substantial texture, tempeh also has a higher amount of protein and fiber per serving (boy, I bet all this talk about yummy fermented soy beans and fiber has you really psyched to try this stuff - trust me, it's better than it sounds).
I will say that I think still prefer the taste and texture of tofu, but I am still willing to experiment with this ingredient. As far as the sunbutter twist, it happened to be the only thing in our pantry even slightly resembling peanut butter, you could also sub out cashew butter too if you have a peanut allergy.

Chickpea & Tempeh Sunbutter Curry Over Jasmine Rice

serves 2-3

2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
1 TBS coconut OR vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely sliced (about 1 cup)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced small, seeds removed
2 tsp dried basil
1 TBS Peanut butter OR Sunbutter
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 package of tempeh or tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 TBS yellow curry powder
2 tsp paprika
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (about 2 tsp)
Salt to taste

Sliced green onions and toasted sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)
1/4 soy sauce mixed with 1 TBS honey (for marinade)

Directions:

1.In a sauce pan heat oil on medium heat, add onion and saute until translucent. Add peppers and garlic and cook for at least 6 min.

2.Marinate tempeh in soy sauce and honey - set aside.

3.Add spices to onion mix (adding more oil if needed) and toast spices until fragrant. Add coconut milk and mix. Add sunbutter, chickpeas, and tempeh, and let sit on medium low heat for 10-15 min, stirring often. Add basil and cook until chickpeas are tender. Finish with lime juice and serve atop jasmine rice.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Classic Pot Roast With Carrots & Fingerling Potatoes (and some pretty big news)

So I'm gonna be honest here, I totally winged this recipe and I pretty much had no idea what I was doing or how it was going to turn out (just what you wanted to hear from a food blogger, right?!)
I haven't really cooked a big hunk o' beef since culinary school so when Lewis mentioned he wanted pot roast for dinner, I knew it was time to dust off my culinary knowledge. I remember that there was at least three necessary steps in making a delicious pot roast,
Step 1:The cut of meat, you want a cut with some fat like a chuck roast because as you know, fat = flavor.
Step 2: Brown your meat before roasting (aka braising). This step is crucial in order seal in all those tasty juices annnd helps on our next step which is...
Step 3:Use the juices and crispy bits leftover from browning the meat to cook your veggies.

I included the choice of using either red wine OR balsamic vinegar because if you're not fond of that slightly alcoholic taste, you can just use that semi-sweet acidity in the vinegar to balance out the savory flavor of the broth.

Classic Pot Roast With Carrots & Fingerling Potatoes

serves 2-3

2-3 TBS vegetable or canola oil
1-2 pound Chuck Roast (I choose a smaller cut since it was only for one person)
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar OR red wine
2-3 TBS Dijon mustard
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1-2 tsp dried thyme)
pinch of dried rosemary
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
2 bunches small carrots, with tops cut off
1 pound very small baby potatoes or fingerling tricolored potatoes
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 275F. Place potatoes and carrots in roasting pan.
2.Heat oil in a large dutch oven over high heat (if you don't have a dutch oven like me then just use a sauce pan then transfer to roasting pan later on). Season chuck roast well with salt and pepper, add to pan and brown well on all sides (a few minutes a side). Remove roast and set on top of carrots and taters.
3.Add chopped onions to drippings in pot and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar (or red wine) and deglaze pan, increase heat to medium-high and boil until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 4-5 more minutes. Stir in Dijon and stock.
4.Pour onion mix on top of meat and all over veggies, add herbs and cover and bake for about two hours or until tender (check after an hour).

Speaking of big hunks of meat, I thought this would be a fitting post to announce that after applying pretty much everywhere across the U.S. Lewis and I will be moving too...

*Drumroll .........................................................................................................................

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Yep, Houston, TX ya'll a place that is pretty much a complete mystery to us - which is both thrilling and terrifying. While it's not my first choice (I was hoping for mountains and cooler weather) after splitting my time/work between rural GA and Jacksonville, FL it's going to be a breath of fresh air finally settling down in one place, not to mention all the new food places we get to explore! We'll be flying out there next week to scope out the area and hopefully find a place to live so if any ex or current Texans are out there feel free to comment and give us some advice!



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