Saturday, June 25, 2011
Then PJ toasted the coriander seeds until they started to pop and smell delicious- he threw in some whole black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.
He added white vinegar and heated it so the salt could dissolve, then he chilled and diluted the brine with ice cubes.
I piled in the cucumbers in the clean jar with peeled garlic cloves and sprigs of fresh dill, then PJ ladled the cold liquid over top.
And into the fridge!
Two days later the cucumbers have already taken on a tart dill-pickly flavor that will just keep getting better. Putting the cold brine on them has kept them crisp and bright green in color.
Finally, a solution to our pickle- we'll be enjoying these crunchy beauties for months to come. Stay tuned for updates!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I've never been one for getting my hands dirty- with dirt, that is- but those of you who know my mother know that gardening has long been a passion for her. How many sweltering summer afternoons could I spot her floppy canvas hat out in the flowering beds in our backyard, down on her hands and knees, orange clogs on her feet and trowel in hand? And me, sitting inside where the central a/c kept me nice and cool, shaking my head and thinking she must be crazy. But I guess it's like they say, eventually we all turn into our mothers.
|Chives, Oregano, Basil and Thyme|
|So it begins!|
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
A few months back I booked a HUGE wedding cake for a bride who dreamed of a cascade of hand-made sugar flowers sweeping down her six tiers. It had been a while since I spent any serious time making flowers out of gum paste- not since my days as an unpaid intern at the flower factory so many years ago.
Back then I was at the bottom of the chain of production, and we interns were in charge of making most of the filler flowers- hundreds of hydrangea, slews of snapdragons, rows and rows of rose buds, and leaves, leaves, leaves… I passed an entire week- every day, all day- rolling, cutting, veining and shaping leaves on wires for our delicate sugar roses that came in all colors- the week after was spent dusting the leaves with colored powders, dipping them in a noxious sticky glaze and tying them together with floral tape. And when I had tied the very last leaf with a sigh of satisfaction and relief, I was instructed to pull out the green gum paste and start production all over again.
I never got my hands on any of the really fun stuff- like the shimmery green Cattleya orchid petals or the bright red parrot tulips, or even the blooming roses, though I saw hundreds of them being made around me. So it was no wonder I always thought flower making a mind-numbingly monotonous endeavor that just wasn’t really for me.
Making gum paste flowers, just like growing real ones, takes a lot of planning, labor, and a practiced hand. Every bud and center is shaped between the fingers, each orchid throat painted with a thin brush.
For the Cattleya orchid and the Peony, each petal is cut separately, pushed onto a wire, shaped and dried wavy to give it movement.
Other flowers like roses, hydrandgea and calla lilies are shaped and dried upside-down overnight.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
|Vanilla cake with sliced Strawberries and Lemon Buttercream|
I had quite a few leftover strawberries after making this simple cake, so I threw together these muffins for a late breakfast treat.
Strawberry Oat Muffins
2 cups Rolled oats
2 ¼ cups AP flour
2 T baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 ½ t salt
1 t powdered ginger
2 cups milk
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups strawberries, chopped
Yield: 2 dozen
Muffins need very little mixing so I opted to stir by hand in a big bowl- I figured my poor overworked KitchenAid needed a much-deserved rest anyway.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to break up lumps. Mix milk, eggs and melted butter in another bowl.
3. Pour liquids into dries and stir until just combined, then allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes to let the flour absorb the liquids. Stir in the strawberries and scoop batter into lined muffin pans. Top each muffin with a strawberry slice, then sprinkle more sugar on top and bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
The smell of these muffins baking is filling my apartment with the aroma of Strawberryland, and I can hardly wait to crack one open...