Friday, June 22, 2012

Fish Cake

When I recently got a request to make a fishing cake, I'm not going to lie, I was a little intimidated. Not to mention, I had never sculpted with rice krispies or used food coloring as paint and I would have to do this in order to make this cake realistic.

It took a few days, but overall this was a really, really "fin" cake to make (sorry, just couldn't resist that one). The request was for chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream, yum! Around the cake it said, "Thank you for teaching us to fish. Happy birthday". I was so honored to be able to make this cake, it definitely reminded me of the blessings in my life and the joy I have found in baking.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mini Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pies

Ryan's favorite dessert of all time is my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. Recently we had guests over and I  had an itch to use my Le Creuset Mini Cocottes, so I decided to do individual pies for everyone. I just love the bright colors of these little dishes and I love how special they feel when each person receives their own!

My recipe is an adaptation of this Paula Deen recipe. For the individual pies I crushed the pecans though so they would better fit in the cocottes and then I added a few whole ones on top. I love to add a dollop of lite whipped cream and raspberry balsamic to the top of mine, but you don't have to do this of course.





Saturday, June 9, 2012

Captain America Cake!

I had a last-minute request for a birthday cake and I  just happened to have two 8 inch cake rounds laying around, one was blue, the other was red. So we decided this would be a Captain America cake!

I used a stiff buttercream for the frosting since this cake would be traveling for 6 1/2 hours to Florida. I also made fondant accents to carry through the Captain America theme. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Heart the 90s.

I came across a little gem of a post on Facebook about the 90s and couldn't help but share!

Ok, all children of the 90s (yes I was technically born in the 80s, but whatev, I only REALLY recall my 90s childhood), so do you remember these things:

Takes ya down memory lane right?!

So here's the brilliant link10 Things 90s Kids Will Have To Explain To Their Children.

Some things I would have to add to the list that I will need to explain to my children are:

  • Pogs - Yes we collected, traded and lusted after circles of printed cardboard.

  • Hanson - No, mommy didn't have a crush on girls. Those are indeed, boys.

  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Yes, this still scares me. And yes, I still may be afraid of the dark.

  • Brittney Spears - Was, like, at one point, like, the totally coolest girl on the planet. 

  • Clueless - It's ok she fell in love with her ex-step-brother. They're not technically related and you know what, that's not the point anyway. High fashion and how to be a well rounded "Debbie" is the point.

  • Abercrombie & Fitch - Paying high dollars to advertise a company across my pre-teen chest was the cool thing to do. And no you can't do it. And yes, I still love the LFO song about this very thing.

Peace, I'm outties.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Louisville Trip :: Day 2 :: Buffalo Trace Distillery :: Part 1

My 24th birthday was the second day of our Louisville trip and it was a blast. Not surprisingly, I wanted to go on a distillery tour - but not just any tour - the Buffalo Trace Distillery tour. This is the bourbon tour of bourbon tours, anyone can go on the Jim Beam or Makers Mark tours, but we made sure to call ahead and reserve our spots on the Buffalo Trace "Hard-Hat Tour" (much longer and more in-depth than the typical one-hour, run-of-the-mill tour).

The Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in Frankfort, KY, about an hour away from Louisville. It is one of the longest continuously operating distilleries in the US, here is a quick description from BT's website:

In Kentucky, buffalo carved a pathway that was followed by America's early pioneers. On the spot where the buffalo migration route crossed the Kentucky River, we've been making legendary bourbon whiskey for over 200 years.

We literally saw everything from the corn, rye and barley being dropped off, to the barrel warehouses. I already had a great appreciation for good bourbon, but now I have an even stronger appreciation for everything that goes into every drop of brown water.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Buffalo Trace, is because it's where Pappy Van Winkle bourbon is made. In my mind, this is the only place that is awesome enough to house such an amazing bourbon - the grounds are like an estate, similar to what I'm sure it feels like to drive up to Augusta National.

One of the trucks dropping off some corn - according to Federal Regulation, Title 27, in order to be considered a bourbon, whiskey must contain at least 51% corn:

“Bourbon whisky” is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers.

The corn is mixed with rye, barley, and sometimes wheat (Maker's Mark and Pappy are "wheated" bourbons), then combined with water (AKA - Mash) to begin the Mashing Process:

To avoid writing a novel, I am leaving a lot out. Once the mash is made, it is transported to gigantic 3-story chambers where the yeast is added to the Mash. Two types of mash are combined, sweet mash and sour mash.

Pappy Van Winkle sweet mash tastes like corn flakes:

That's Part 1, next up is the actual fermentation process... then the best part, tasting!

- Ryan

Louisville Trip :: Day 4 :: Blackberry Farm

And this my friends, is why Day 4 may have been the best night of the trip. Blackberry Farm.

Really y'all, I'm having trouble even starting this post. I just know nothing I say or show you is going to even get CLOSE to how spectacular this experience was.

Blackberry Farm is always a place that Ryan and I have wanted to visit. We just didn't think that we would ever get the chance until we were older and retired, or if we won the lottery. If you're not familiar with Blackberry Farm, go check it out now. They were even just rated by Travel + Leisure magazine as the number seven resort in the world for exceptional service, being the only resort in North America to place within the top 10.

Our anniversary present to each other was dinner at Blackberry and Ryan gave me a lot of trust in doing this. He didn't know where we were going until one week before we left for Louisville. But I did give him a clue each (business) day for awhile. He first thought we were going to Dollywood, then he was just confused, and finally on the last clue he figured out where we were going. This is largely thanks to the Blackberry Farm Apple Butter in our fridge right now!

Here are the clues:

1.      Involves something smoky

2.      Dolly could get there in 40 minutes

3.      People have been visiting here for over 35 years officially, although people have enjoyed this area since the beginning of time

4.      Its name came from Florida

5.      A guy named Juan may have been one of the first to set foot here

6.      The owner has four human kids

7.      The place where we’ll be the longest involves reclaimed wood and manure, but you must wear a coat and tie

8.      Make sure you bring your walking shoes

9.      It has been endorsed by a top company that has been around since 1856

10.  We’ll visit a bar named after one of my favorite trees

11.  Dierks Bently frequents this place

12.  The man with the “uni” also frequents this place

13.  They spell Pie with a “y” (pye)

14.  Things will just get better over the “course” of the night

15.  Get ready to be “slap/happy” after you get a “taste” of this place

16.  Southern Living and many others think its #1

17.   You can find the name in our fridge right now

We got ready at our room at Dancing Bear Lodge where we stayed for the night and grabbed a taxi to Blackberry's property. The drive was so beautiful as we started zeroing in on the resort.

We arrived and went to check in before we were escorted in a new Lexus LX to The Barn where we started with a round of drinks in a lounging area. My night could have ended here and I would be a happy woman. Thank goodness it didn't though!

My Charbay Champagne Cocktail was the best drink I've EVER had in. my. entire. life. No lie. It was Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Rum, House Made Strawberry Syrup, Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters and House Champagne.

Ryan had a bourbon, the E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, with a really cool story. It was extra special to us because we came from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Apparently, when a tornado ripped through the town, some of the barrels were exposed to all the elements that a tornado can impart upon a barrel and then it was pulled and bottled as a very rare and delicious blend.

Then we were so eloquently seated for diner. We each did the Tasting Menu and I had the wine pairings, while Ryan continued with the bourbon drinks and a glass of wine too.

So here we go...

This was our amuse bouche, never have I had  boiled egg like this!

The Sommelier for the evening was gracious enough to give me a custom print out of what I had for my courses. I unfortunately didn't grab one for Ryan's dishes, so bear with me as I try to remember.

Here is my first course: Green Tomato and Brebis Cheese Tart :: Roasted Green Tomatoes, Ramp Aioli, Carmelized Onions and brebis Cheese.

My wine pairing was a 2011 Chateau Des Annibals La Jouveneelle from Coteaux Varois en Provence. (Gosh I hope I put that right)

Ryan of course had the Charcuturie Plate with House Made Pickles.

It's no secret by now that dessert is my favorite course. But, y'all let me tell you, this entree made me question my reasoning. Chicken and Dumplings.

And let me tell you, these are definitely NOT your Mama's chicken and dumplings. No gooey. No ooey. No soupy blend of flavors.

I wish I could do this dish justice, but I just can't. Here's how Joseph Lenn and his staff explain them, "Chicken Confit, Potato Dumplings and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms". I rethought my dislike of mushrooms real fast when these babies melted on my tongue. Even Ryan said it was one of the best dishes he's ever had.

My next wine pairing went absolutely perfect with these Chicken and Dumplings. A perfect compliment. It didn't overpower the food, I still could taste every divine taste.

Ryan had the Farm Egg which came highly recommended.

By the time the main course came out, I was sure there couldn't be much food on the plate, but then this appeared:

Wood Roasted Guinea Hen. Deeeeelish! Rice Grits (part of what sold me on this dish), Forest Mushrooms, Cippolini Onions and Broccolini. Again, the mushrooms. So great! The leaves sprinkled around the plate were just beautiful too (look in the bottom right side).

Wine was on par, no doubt. I don't normally love reds, but this 2005 Pinot Noir was just what I wanted and needed, but never knew.

Ryan also knew he wanted wine with his main course, Cabernet's being his favorite. This was no disappointment:

Here is his Beef Tenderloin with Tobacco Onions and so much more (Ryan's entree):

And then the dessert menu came.

Duh I chose the one that had funnel cake. Here's two great snaps of my Honey Ice Cream with Funnel Cake and Blackberry Compote. Out of this world. Just wonderful!

I've found that I can't do a Port by the time my dessert comes, so I was elated to taste the 2003 Kiralyduvar that was brought out.

I was so glad Ryan ordered this deconstructed smores-like dessert (sorry, don't have the correct translation). The presentation was so great too, check out that smudged marshmallow!

And if that all wasn't enough, they brought out a celebratory little cake for our anniversary. It's like they researched everything I loved and made this menu for me. Or hey, even things that weren't on the menu like this little, petite Red Velvet Cake:

I was so excited about the whole night I almost forgot to get a picture of the two of us at our cozy, private little booth. Best night EVER!

Of course we couldn't leave without visiting the shop, gotta love all that Le Creuset. We bought some surcie's for friends and family before buying a Blackberry Farm cookbook for ourselves. Since we collect signed cookbooks, we asked that Sam Beall and Joseph Lynn sign the book for us. I'll let you know when its shipped our way!

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