I was having dessert at my in-laws house last night and it occurred to me that strawberries and cream is probably one of the most tastiest things on this planet.
Let me start by saying that I’m in Ireland and the dairy here is fantastic, so the cream is out of this world. Let me also point out that I have an intolerance to cows milk but it doesn’t seem to bother me that much when I’m here. Either that or I just choose to ignore the uncomfortable bit. I actually don’t think the dairy here effects met like at home. Either way, dairy here is better and I eat every chance I get when I’m visiting the Irish contingent.
A plate of yummy strawberries and cream!
Back to my point, which was suppose to be short and sweet, cream and strawberries are divine and in my opinion is the cure to any woe. Next time you need a pick me up grab some strawberries and cream and all
will be well with the world. It is natural and without preservatives. Plus strawberries are super good for you. Don’t take my word for it, go out and get some. Oh and a cup of good tea to wash it down wouldn’t hurt either or glass of bubbly;)
Hi all!!! This post is long over due. I wanted to post this at the very beginning of January but life just got in the way. I am in the midst of planning my wedding in April and my life has basically revolved around that. I am super excited but it has really taken over my life and it is now time to get back to my baking and blogging because if I don’t do this now I never will.
Anyway, I really wanted to start a new project that would help me get back into the kitchen for more than just the everyday purposes. As you all know, I love to bake but recently I have felt too tired and uninspired. I just felt like I was too busy with every day life to do what I love, but every time someone asked me to bake them something or even baking over the holidays I was so excited to just have the excuse to actually bake. I shouldn’t have to have an excuse. I should just do it. Well, the inspiration to do something about this rut came in the form of a Christmas present from my lovely sister. She bought me a French pastry cook book. You have no idea how excited I was. Upon opening I knew this would be the answer to my problem. The book is called Patisserie: Mastering The Fundamentals of French Pastry by Christophe Felder.
It is huge, glossy, pink and oh so pretty. I love it. Right then and there I decided to teach my self the fundamentals of French pastry using this book. I have done a basic baking course that covered things like pies, cakes, tarts etc… but as an intro course it did not go into too much details. I could never learn the basics of French baking at a course in school, at least not as a part-time student, but I could teach myself with the help of distinguished pastry chef Christophe Felder. I do plan on taking more baking courses but I think for now with my busy life this would be a good place to start. I am already going to school for wine appreciation and with work I cannot afford to do both subjects at the same time. But I digress, the point is I need this, this is an opportunity and I am going to take it.
Before I go any further with the actual plan, I have to mention the second thing that inspired me to take on this humongous project. I got an email from a fellow blogger Genie at Bunny Eats Design (check out her site it is awesome!!), inviting me to a link up party called Our Growing Edge. This is a monthly event that aims to push food bloggers to try new things and to compile a monthly snapshot of what we are getting up to. This month is hosted by Francesca from Fearless Kitchen. I saw this as a further sign from the universe to get back into the kitchen.
So here I am and this is my plan, in 2015 I would like to teach myself the art of French pastries. The book Patisserie is 799 pages long so I don’t think I can get through the entire book this year but I can try. Realistically, I think I can do a 2 to 3 recipes a month. I don’t think I will go from start to finish but pick and choose what I want to learn as I go along until I get through the entire book. The idea is to explore, learn through doing, and push myself to just go for it. Anything is possible but you have to try.
So the first thing I am going to try is Créme au Beurre or Buttercream (Lesson 68, pg 276). The recipe is split into two phases. In the first phase you make Italian Meringue, a staple for any pastry chef. In the second phase you make Egg yolk buttercream and then mix the two together. I have learned to make buttercream in my intro class. It isn’t hard to make but you have to be patient and follow the instructions. I really have only made this type of buttercream a few times and it doesn’t always come out. I hate not knowing if a batch will come out right or not, especially if I am doing it for someone other than myself. Its inconsistency is just too stressful. I think my downfall in the past has been just not being patient. If making Italian Meringue is anything it is a lesson in patience. I decided to give chef Christophe Felder’s method a try. I began with phase one. Here are the ingredients:
The actual recipe consists of five steps that outside of the ingredients require a small sauce pan, a candy thermometer, and stand mixer. I said a little prayer, took a deep breath and went right to it. I am so glad I did because the outcome was awesome!!!
I still have to tackle the Egg Yolk buttercream. I figure this weekend I can make it and then make a new batch of Italian Meringue and post the final product. So, I will leave it here with a bit of a cliff hanger if you will. To be continued…..
It has been a busy year and one that has brought about a lot of changes in my life. Some were not sought after but they gave me a chance to reflect and take steps toward a happier life. I look forward to getting back into the kitchen and baking because it brings me joy. I want to take on new projects and really push myself in the new year. So from my kitchen to yours Happy New Year!!!
So this posting is long over due. A few weeks ago I posted about how I was making all things pumpkin. Well, I got super busy after that and had no time to post. Now I have found some down time and I can finally post a follow up to my Pumpkin Madness post. Here are the Pumpkin Spice cupcakes with Cream Cheese icing I made.
I used Martha Stewart’s cream cheese icing. I love the taste but I find it is a bit too soft for nice piping so I used an offset spatula to ice the cupcakes. The first ones I just decorated with orange sugar sprinkles. I brought these to a girls night to celebrate my friends birthday/baby shower. They were a big hit. I then decorated another set of cupcakes to bring to a belated Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Halloween was a bit of a bomb this year because the weather was so bad. I had so much leftover candy so I decided to use some to decorate the cupcakes I was taking to my family. I used fun sized Kit Kats and Aeros for the ones below. Festive, no?
I decided to decorate some other ones with leftover Halloween Smarties
They all came out very good. The icing was the best and the cake was so moist. Damn, I love pumpkins.
So that was my cupcake post for Pumpkin Madness. Next I will post the pumpkin cake truffles I made. You have to try them!
Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween may be over but pumpkins are still everywhere. I have a couple of dinners and stuff I have to make dessert for so I decided to make pumpkin my main ingredient. It is cold and rainy out and I all I can think about is warm pumpkin pie and a hot toddy. My fiance has already had his first hot toddy of the season but I have decided to wait because once you have one it is hot toddy all season long. Anyway, right now I am planning the desserts I am going to make. Stay tuned for pumpkin spice cupcakes, pumpkin custard, and perhaps pumpkin cake balls. It is going to be busy in my kitchen!!!
Today I am continuing a family tradition with my fiancé. We prepared mince meat for Christmas which will sit for at least 7 days before tarts and puddings can be made for the holidays! This is so exciting because making Christmas pudding has become a tradition in our little family. I use my fiancé’s mother’s recipe and it brings a bit of an Irish Christmas to him here in Canada. I can’t wait to start baking!!!
Last week my niece requested a strawberry cake. Now, being the family baker I often get requests for very specific things that my family wants me to make them for their birthdays and other occasions. I never say no, even when my nephew asked for a taxi cake at a time when I first started cake decorating for fun. It was my first time using fondant and I thought it was so hard at the time. It came out ok. Really rough around the edges but he loved it. One day when I am feeling brave I will post a photo of my very first fondant cake. When my niece asked for this cake I had to make it for her. She did not ask for any specific design or anything, just that it be pink. So I decided to make her a vanilla strawberry cake with a strawberry butter cream. It was a simple cake but I am happy with it and so was my niece. It has been a while since I had made a regular birthday cake so it was a great opportunity to get back into making cakes like that. Here is a photo of the finished product: