April is coming to a close, and all month I’ve been looking at this adorable picture here at work. Roman Holiday is an adorable movie (definitely some weird parts though). Only 5 weeks till the big two-week trek across Italy!
Here’s the scene that this is from, right in front of beautiful Capitoline Hill in the heart of Rome! I remember standing in that exact spot just a 3 months ago, after spending hours walking down the Via del Corso with Teresa Ann, eating pizza and gelato, taking the side roads to the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column, spending money on things I don’t need, taking videos of street performers, and just chatting about girly things with Mom. Then there is was! Sigh. 5 weeks….
I was in Urban Outfitters last month trying on some stuff from the clearance rack (yay recession!) and thought their fitting rooms were so great. Love the wallpaper and light blue door together. So chic. Only paid $20 for that red shirtdress hangin’ there too!
Made these sweet things for my big sister to take to a baby shower a couple weeks ago. I guess she’s resigned to leaving her baking duties to me; last time she tried she used regular flour instead of cake flour and didn’t use any leavening because she was out, resulting in an inch-high birthday cake. Still tasted great though, Mel! Love ya!
For these I whipped up a batch of the ever-trustworthy Swiss meringue buttercream, and my secret chocolate cake recipe that—after almost a year and half of making—I have finally perfected. Sorry, no sharing of this recipe. For the stars on top, I just used a good-ol’ store bought brownie mix (why not? It’s just for decoration. Don’t hate), baked off in a jelly-roll pan, and cut out with a cookie cutter while still warm. Easy as pie!
Congratulations on your baby boy, Meredith!
PS: The Cupcake Courier is God’s gift to bakers everywhere!
So you’ve heard me go on and on about Jamie at Home and my garden. Sadly, my basil was attacked by a faceless enemy in the middle of the night (slugs) and I have but 3 leaves left. But before this horribly tragedy occurred, Zack and I got to take advantage of my herbs and have a great dinner.
It all started when I got the notion to make his Quickest Tomato Sauce:
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- A bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
- 3 x 400g (14 oz) tins of good-quality, whole plum tomatoes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in 4 generous glugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to colour lightly, add the basil and the tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using your wooden spoon to push any larger bits of tomato through. Discard the basil and garlic that will be left in the sieve, but make sure you scrape any of the tomatoey goodness off the back of the sieve into the bowl.
Pour the sauce back into the pan, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to concentrate the flavours. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.
Store the sauce in a clean jar in the fridge – it’ll keep for a week or so. Also great to freeze in batches or even in an ice cube tray, so you can defrost exactly the amount you need. But to be honest, it’s so quick to make, you might as well make it on the day you need it.
Next we grilled up some refrigerated pizza dough. Just unroll, brush with olive oil, douse your grill with some non-stick spray, and grill over direct heat till it’s the way you want it.
Then we topped it with some unbelievable goodness: the homemade tomato sauce, roasted tomatoes and peppers, seasoned grilled chicken, feta cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, onions, basil and a little bit of thyme, compliments of my garden…you name it and it was on there. We popped it under the broiler for a couple minutes to get the cheese gooey and just a little golden…
And guess what? We still had leftovers of the sauce. Didn’t make it till the next weekend though.
One of my favorite people in the world, Kamin, is getting married next weekend. She comes from a very crafty family, and since I made her a little silk flower hairpeice for her reception, she had her dad make this for me:
Isn’t it great?! You know how much I love typography and monograms, so I’m pretty much obsessed with this. I’ve spent the better part of the morning thinking about what color I’m going to paint it and where I’m going to put it. Thanks K! You are my friend-friend Can’t wait till your wedding next weekend—It’s gonna be the purdiest ever.
My favorite restaurant in the whole wide world is Bacchanalia in Atlanta. Both times I’ve been there, the pastry chef sends out a tiny plate of gougéres for us to enjoy at his compliments. Making them is really simple; it’s just a basic pâte à choux recipe with shredded Gruyére mixed in. I found this recipe in the current issue of Bon Appétit magazine, daydreamed momentarily of a 4-course dinner including drinks, then ripped it out the story, dashed to Publix, and made them that evening. There’s a great essay by fellow bloggette Molly Wizenberg, who is also the author a beautiful book called A Homemade Life. They’re not exactly the same as Bacchanalia’s, and Zack thinks they taste like Goldfish crackers, but personally, I am a huge fan of this recipe.
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, chilled
- 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring 1 cup water, butter, and salt to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter melts. Add flour; stir rapidly with wooden spoon until flour absorbs liquid and forms ball, pulling away from sides of pan. Stir vigorously until film forms on bottom of pan and dough is no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat; cool dough 2 to 3 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in cheese and pepper.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Using damp fingertip, press down any peaks of dough.
Bake gougères until golden brown, about 30 minutes, reversing position of pans halfway through baking. Using small sharp knife, pry open 1 gougère to check for doneness (center should be slightly eggy and moist). Serve hot or warm. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 hours ahead. Transfer to racks; cool. Rewarm in 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.