Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD: I was ready......

I was excited about this pick, and even went to my favorite cooking store on Sunday to pick up two mini tart pans so I could try both the original version of Chocolate Cream Tart and the Coconut version (love the coconut and have some left over from the Coconut Butter Thins). Unfortunately a few hours later I learned that a relative had passed away. It was one of those situations where you're grateful for the person to not be suffering any more, but saddened for the loss of those left behind. This part of the family has been through a lot in recent years, so my heart goes out to them.

Needless to say, my plans for the week have changed. Tomorrow I will be taking a short roadtrip up the state for the funeral. As a result I will miss work at our absolute busiest time. Being the good worker bee that I am I stayed late to be sure all was covered in my absense. My hopes of squeezing in a baking project tonight didn't make it past my return home at 9pm.

I'm hoping to make this later in the week, as the reports are that it is quite good, and I have my mini tart pans and all. And frankly this is what life is all about. After any loss you simply must pick yourself up and keep on moving, enjoying the good stuff while you can. Horribly cliche, I know, but go on you must, so you might as well do it with some yummy desserts as comfort along the way.

My apologies to Kim over at Scrumptious Photography for not being able to bake along in a timely fashion. Her pictures are amazing, and further inspiration for trying this dessert. I will catch up with everyone as the week progresses. In the meantime -- bake on!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

First, I'm going to apologize to any of you who live in cold climates. Really, I've been there, I know how painful these words are this time of year. The words are these -- it is too dang hot to bake (cruel! I know!). Today wasn't nearly as hot as yesterday. It would be impossible to bake yesterday (actually, just walking into my house at 8pm last night felt like I was baking). This brief warm spell we're having is making me worry about what I'll do this summer. No air conditioning. Little house. I'll have to participate in TWD at 3am. Oy!

Moving on -- it's been awhile since I've done the TWD thing, so I felt a little out of practice. Good thing there weren't too many ingredients. And in this heat, "chopping" the chocolate was pretty darn easy.

I first thought I'd go the 8x8 Pyrex route, but upon looking over some of the comments in the P&Q I decided I really liked the idea of ramekins (ah yes, my still new ramekins in their shinny new roasting pan). I made half of the recipe, and divided into four. It was at this point I remembered the whole "take pictures as you go" thing. As many of you have no doubt discovered, this is not a pretty dessert. Not at all. I find myself trusting in the power of Dorie. Were it not the experience of knowing her desserts taste divine, I would have serious reservations.

This baked for 45 plus minutes, and it still didn't look appetizing. But oh boy, is it yummy! Super rich (perhaps a little too rich even in a 6 ounce ramekin portion) with just the right balance of chocolate and bready goodness. My intention was to only take a bite for the sake of the picture. Alas, the container is almost empty at this point (someone save me from myself!).

Many thanks to Lauren of Upper Eastside Chronicle for choosing this week's recipe!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the cutting edge....?

If there is a hip new thing in the world, something very cutting edge, be it in food, or pop culture, fashion or music, at the very forefront of it -- you won't find me. Or even second in line. Or even in the middle somewhere. More likely than not, I'm in the back of the phenomenon saying "what....!?! what are you talking about?"

Want examples? I just joined Facebook. I'm very proud of the fact that I did not need a "young person" to show me how. Even more impressive than that -- I now have 10 friends. TEN! Okay, some are relatives, but you know what I mean.

Another example? I thought the idea of a reality TV show where people are thrown into the most primitive of conditions and vote each other out of the tribe each week the stupidest idea I ever heard. Ditto American Idol. Alas, I won't grow up to be a network executive.

Food example? Krispy Kreme Donuts. Don't get me wrong, they are a darn fine donut. But.....they're a donut, not the cure for cancer. Why people used to drive from LA to Las Vegas for one is beyond me.

So while in LA this week I decided finally check out the phenomenon that was Sprinkles. Note the "was." I think the cupcake craze has come and gone. Also gone are the 45 minute lines out in front of the Beverly Hills store. Good thing too as I didn't have much change for the meter and was on a schedule to meet my cousin for lunch. (I sensed the tide had turned on cupcakes when parking was a snap).

The staff was super nice, and I decided I'd only try two (at $3.25 a cupcake, who can afford a dozen or so??). I picked the Chocolate Coconut and the Peanut Butter Chocolate. They were nicely packed and I was good and didn't dig into them until I was safely back in San Diego.

They were tasty and pretty, and the presentation was very nice. The coconut topping was good, but the chocolate cupcake was a little bland. Not so the peanut butter cupcake -- both cake and topping were delicious.

According to their website Sprinkles has 6 stores currently open with more stores opening in other parts of the country (including one here in San Diego). I feel kind of bad for them -- I just can't imagine in this economy people plunking down hard earned money on cupcakes. But as I've shown above, I've been wrong before. It will be interesting to see what happens to them once they get out of California and into Kansas City.
So......have you had these cupcakes? What did you think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TWD: No posting (again!)

This will be quick, as I'm getting ready for a short road trip. Alas, no contribution from me this week. This is the first time since I've joined that I've missed two in a row, and I feel really bad. On the up side, I have just a smidge more room in my pants I've noticed.

Anywho........I've looked over the next recipe carefully, have plotted out time, and have access to all the ingredients, so I'm good to go. I will bake enthusiastically upon my return. And will post any cool pictures if I come back with them (a wee little trip to Hollywood -- will post interesting food and star sightings if I have any. I'm not so good with the star sightings, but who knows!).

See you all soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: No Banana Cream Pie for me

With apologies to Amy at Sing for Your Supper (who has a cute dog in between the pictures of yummy looking food!) I am sitting out this week. Partly because I have no pie making equipment. I can make cakes in 3 different sizes, but no pie. Partly because it looks a little messy to lug to work. And mostly because I ate waaaaaay too many Coconut Butter Thins last week. They were just too good.

While my waistline takes a break, I'll leave you with some pictures of spring from just outside my tiny house. My landlords love to garden, so I get the benefit of that. I came home last weekend with the sun shining and the birds singing (more on that in a second) and the flowers blooming and I opened the gate and said "PRETTY!" out loud (my neighbors must think I'm a little nutty). For those of you who are curious, the dang bird is still singing his nighttime song. Apparently he is looking for a friend. As a result, I've learned the benefits of running a fan at night.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of you did this week. Amy's pie looks yummy -- anyone want to send me a slice??
Our color theme this season - Orange

This is my favorite picture and it uses the macro setting on my camera. The purple flower is the size of the tip of my little finger. The orange flower the size of a quarter.

The orange flower in a group (note that I use the specific Latin term for each plant). The flowers are from a type of ice plant.

This one I know! California poppies (our state flower).