Monday, June 28, 2010

Patrick's 13th Birthday dinner

Jim's (and my) cousin Patrick is also his godson. He turned the big 1-3 this weekend, and we volunteered to host the family birthday dinner at our house on Sunday.

Didn't get any photos of the main course, but the spread was delicious:

Mozzarella and Prosciutto Chicken on the grill
Prosciutto wrapped beef on the grill
Steamed veggies
Baked potatoes
Cheesy garlic bread
Chicken tenders for the kids, or the kids at heart :)

Dessert was simple:
Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing
Vanilla cupcake cones with chocolate icing and magic shell chocolate sauce

My sister-in-law got me a few great cookbooks for my birthday - one of which was this "200 Barbeque Recipes" book - so I thought I'd try some new recipes

Great stuff in there! There I found the recipe for the chicken, the beef, and the cheesy bread. All easy. All delicious. The book does not come with my husband though - griller extraordinaire!

For the chicken, it said thighs but I used breasts. Pound them until somewhat thin. Season with salt and pepper. With the smooth side of the breast down, place a basil leaf or two on the breast. Then add half (they said quarter) of a bocconcini ball. Roll up the chicken, and wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Skewer it to keep it together, and grill until cooked through.

For the beef, it called for two eye round roasts (about 1 1/2 lbs each). Then make a rub with olive oil, lemon zest, fresh chopped thyme, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Rub all over the two cuts of beef. Then wrap the beef in about 6 slices of prosciutto each, and secure with bakers twine. Roast on indirect heat for 25 minutes, then wrap in a double layer of foil and rest until cooked to perfection - about 20 more minutes.

Cheesy bread was great. One small french loaf. Cut into about 20 slices, but not all the way through the bottom crust. Mix olive oil, crushed garlic and chopped fresh thyme and set aside. Then slice about 4oz of mozzarella thinly, and insert a slice in between each slice of bread. Then brush the entire olive oil mixture all over the bread. Wrap loosely in foil and grill on indirect heat for 5-10 mins until the cheese has melted.

For dessert...I used the old standby. Martha's One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe. This time I used her chocolate version of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Why had I never tried this before?? It was TO DIE FOR! I guess I fell in love with the chocolate cake and original buttercream so long ago, that I never even considered making the chocolate buttercream. But Patrick likes chocolate cake so I thought I'd make it. YUM!

Just some large sprinkles around the edge and a quick royal icing to pipe. A little too runny, but oh well.

Martha's recipe recommends two 8" rounds when making this for a layer cake, but I think I am more comfortable with the 9" rounds. Makes for more manageable slices, and there is certainly enough buttercream to cover the larger cake. Even 10" would be fine.

For the cupcakes, this was a collaboration between my sister-in-law (check out her blog) and I. She made the cupcakes - but baked them right inside the ice cream cones. Yummy already, right? She used a light and airy vanilla recipe from Magnolia Bakery. Then she brought them over to my house, where we topped each one with real chocolate ice cream. We immediately doused them in magic shell chocolate sauce and sprinkles. YUM! Then we popped them in the freezer until ready to serve.

LESSON LEARNED: Make room in the freezer ahead of time AND put the cones in some kind of container that will keep them upright in the freezer. You can probably guess that we did not do the above steps - hence the "lesson learned". And that's why you can see choclately fingerprints all over the cones in the photos. Oh well. They were DELICIOUS!

Happy 13th Birthday, Patrick!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day Dinner - Dessert Recipes

As promised, here are the recipes from the three desserts I made on Sunday for Father's Day Dinner.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

This recipe is straight from The Joy of Cooking - page 876. If you read it from the book there's a lot more explanation on how to bake covered fruit pies, etc - and variations of the pie. But I'll just list it the way I make it.

The crust I use is the same crust I always use. A pate brisee (deluxe butter flaky pastry dough) that I make in the food processor. Yep - you read that right - the food processor. All those years of trying to make the perfect pastry at the speed of light so as not to melt the butter with my warm hands...and all I had to do was stick it in the food processor?? It's so easy! Thank you Ina (Barefoot Contessa) - she taught me that trick a few years ago and I have never looked back. Simply put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Add your chunked up cold butter, and pulse until you get those pea-sized pieces. Then add the shortening and pulse a tiny amount to work it in. Then drizzle in your cold water while pulsing, until it just starts to come together. The second it makes a ball inside the food processor - stop, and remove it. No kneading. Just divide the dough in two, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. SO EASY.

Anyway, back to the recipe:

Make your pastry crust and after it has been refrigerated, roll one of the halves into a 13 inch round, fit it into a 9 inch pie dish, and trim the overhanging dough to 3/4 inch all around. Refrigerate. Roll the other half into a 12-inch round for the top crust and refrigerate it.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Without peeling, cut into 1-inch lengths: 1 pound of rhubarb stalks.
Measure 2 1/2 cups and put into a bowl.

Hull, and halve lengthwise 2 1/2 cups strawberries and add to the bowl of chopped rhubarb.

Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1/4 cups quick-cooking tapioca.
Add 1/4 tsp salt.

Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into the bottom crust and dot with 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. 
(I almost always forget the butter, and the pie turns out great - so I would call this step "optional") :)

Brush the overhanging edge of the bottom crust with cold water. Cover with the top crust, then seal the edge, trim, and crimp. Cut steam vents in the top. Lightly brush the top of the pie with milk or cream. Sprinkle with 2 tsp sugar. 

Bake the pie for 30 mins. Slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees, and back until thick juices bubble through the vents, 25 to 35 minutes more. Let cool completely on a rack before serving. This pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

**I recommend serving with vanilla bean ice cream**

Shoo-fly Pie.

Strange way this recipe came about. The ladies in my family have a few recipes in our arsenal that use Lyle's Golden Syrup. If you've never heard of it - it's English. Kind of like corn syrup but incredibly sweet - I'm not really sure how to describe it. Anyway, it's somewhat hard to find, and when I do find it, I stockpile it for use in recipes whose appearances are rationed. Anyway, a few years ago when my parents first started looking to move to South Carolina, my mom found this:

King Syrup. Thinking that it might be a great and amazingly cheap alternative to our imported Lyles, we gave it a try in a favorite recipe. WRONG. Totally not the same - not even close. Then of course, we had to find something to use it in (it apparently only comes in 1qt bottles).

**I thought King syrup was only available in South Carolina, but when we moved to our house in the Philly 'burbs, I found it in a local Giant. So take a look in your grocery store - they may carry it.**

Enter,the internet! I googled "recipes with king syrup" and found this shoo-fly pie recipe. Amazingly simple and utterly delicious. I adjusted the cooking time on it, because I prefer my shoo-fly pie to be a little more solid in the center than not - but you can adjust your cooking time accordingly if you prefer your pie a different way.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tbsp shortening
1 cup King syrup
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
1 beaten egg
Dough for single pie shell.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix flour, brown sugar, and shortening into crumbs. Split the crumb mixture in half. Set one half aside for later.

Pour the King syrup into the other half of the crumb mixture. Mix the baking soda in the boiling water. When this fizzes, pour on top of the king syrup/crumb mixture. (If the baking soda/water doesn't fizz, either the water wasn't hot enough or your baking soda is bad.) Add 1 beaten egg. Mix with a fork.

Pour in unbaked pie shell, and top with the remaining half of the crumb mix.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Without opening the oven door, turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 30 - 40 minutes.

Old Fashioned Berry Layer Cake

This one is Martha's. From the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, page 154. Also on the front cover :)

You can assemble this showstopping dessert up to eight hours ahead of serving; leave off the last layer of cream and fruit, and refrigerate along with the partially assembled cake. Just before serving, top the cake with the remaining cream and berries, and garnish with the mint leaves. If you can't find beautiful small strawberries, halve or quarter larger ones.
Unsalted butter, for pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 large whole eggs, plus 4 large egg yolks, all at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
1 pint small strawberries, hulled
1/2 pint blackberries
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint golden raspberries
1/2 pint blueberries
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9 by 2 inch round cake pans, set aside.
In a large bowl sift together flour and cornstarch, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until thick and pale (it should hold a ribbon like trail on the surface when the whisk is raised), about 5 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add flour mixture to the egg mixture. With mixer on low speed, beat until just combined. Add oil in a steady stream, mixing until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer. Using the whisk, fold mixture several times.
Divide the batter between pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Immediately invert cakes onto a wire rack. Then re-invert cakes and let them cool completely with the top sides up.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attached combine cream, confectioners' sugar and remaining teaspoon vanilla extract. Scrape in the vanilla seeds, if using. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes to make level. Slice each cake in half horizontally into two layers. Place one of the bottom layers on a serving plate. Spread a quarter of the whipped cream over the layer; arrange a quarter of the mixed berries on top. Repeat with remaining cake layers, cream and berries. Garnish top with mint leaves, if using. Serve immediately; slice with a serrated knife. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Dinner

Yesterday morning Jim got up VERY early to golf with his dad, brothers, cousin, and uncle. I got up a little bit later :) to prep for the father's day dinner we were hosting. 10 people for dinner - my in-laws and my in-law's in-laws. Good times.

My plan to have dinner under our big beautiful walnut tree was ruined by the humidity, so I was forced to set up inside. We still all fit at one big table :)

Dinner menu:
Buttermilk chicken on the grill
Grilled kielbasa
Skewered vegetables
Grilled corn on the cob
Potato Salad
Pasta Salad
Corn Muffins

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Shoo-fly Pie
Old Fashioned Berry Layer Cake

The buttermilk chicken was found in the June 2010 edition of Martha Stewart Living. We had the cut-up chickens marinating in buttermilk, garlic cloves, and rosemary for about 18 hours. It was so moist and delicious!

Photo: Martha Stewart
Recipe HERE

Grilled kielbasa doesn't really require a recipe - just cut it up and stick it on the grill. Yummy. Slice it lengthwise and then on the diagonal to make it look pretty.

Skewered vegetables: I used what I like - red and green bell peppers, vidalia onions, mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini.

Grilled corn on the cob. If you still boil your corn in water, please stop immediately! Put it on the grill. You'll thank me later.

Potato Salad. This one is my mother's recipe, and I haven't decided if I will share it on my blog. Not yet at least. It's kind of my secret weapon :) I make it all the time, and everyone loves it. It's kind of a big deal - the potato salad, that is. I mean, I hate mayonnaise, and I LOVE this potato salad - that's how good it is. We'll see - I won't post it yet, but one day I might :)

Pasta salad. I'm no pro, but I basically use the following: some kind of veggie or whole-wheat pasta. Recently I have been using Wacky Mac. Cook the pasta, and let it cool. Chop up your favorite veggies - I use red and green bell peppers, broccoli (this time I used Trader Joe's broccoli slaw - so easy!), shredded carrots, english cucumber, and some celery. Then I just use whatever oil-based italian dressing I happen to enjoy at that time of year. Yesterday I used my old standby - the Good Seasonings italian salad dressing mix that comes in the packet that you mix up yourself. Done.

Corn Muffins. Thank you again, Martha. This one came from the July edition of Living that showed up in my mailbox last week. They were delicious. I only just acquired the taste for corn muffins. These were yummy.

I'll link to the recipe when she puts it on her website. Or if you have the magazine it's on page 115.

Desserts were quick and easy, but oh-so delicious. In fact, I will post the recipes this week.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. I've made this one at least 4 or 5 times now, and every time people rave about it. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream. YUM.

Shoo-fly Pie. The recipe I found for this is amazing. I tweaked the cooking time a bit and love it.

Old Fashioned Berry Layer Cake. It's on the cover of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and I've been wanting to make it for years. Finally did. So worth it. With raspberries from our garden, no less!

Recipes tomorrow!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Happy Father's Day to all the great Dads out there - especially mine!

Mom, Rach, Dad, Me, and Jim at an Auburn game last year.

I won't be seeing my Dad for Father's Day this year - he's in South Carolina and I'm in PA. But we did get to spend some good time together in Panama, and he and my mom will be heading up to visit in July.

Hopefully he's spending today on the golf course or taking photos. Yesterday he did a wedding in Atlanta - photos should be up on his blog soon.

Check out his blog at Hey Morand! Photography.

I wanted to share the column my sister wrote about our Dad in this week's Auburn Villager. She's the sports editor for the local paper in Auburn and has a weekly column that recently won the award for "Best Local Sports Column" by the Alabama Press Association.

I'm not the avid baseball fan that my sister is, but we do share the same memories that combine sports and our Dad.

If you live in or around Auburn, or are a Tigers fan - please get a subscription to her paper - it's cheap too! Click HERE to go to the website.

Enjoy the column, and again - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD!

(This was the latest version my sister emailed me - the print version may be slightly different)

Rachel Morand
The Auburn Villager

I am often asked why, of all the different fields in journalism, I chose to go into sports.  
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I started receiving gold stars on my English work in elementary school and was asked to read my essays aloud during Parents’ Night. But my interest in sports came from one person.
My dad. 
An avid fan of baseball, football, golf, and well, any sport, my dad has two daughters. Needless to say, we were bound to be sports-oriented girls.  
Growing up, my sister Abigail excelled in tennis like our mother, while I took up softball and dabbled in sports like soccer, golf and flag football.
At about age 14, with Abigail away at Villanova University, my dad and I started to have the normal father-teenage daughter issues. At the time, my biggest concerns were where NSYNC came in on that day’s episode of MTV’s Total Request Live or if I was starting at shortstop. Outside of softball and school, we didn’t have much to talk about.
But that changed when I discovered my love of baseball that year.
I’d always enjoyed watching the sport and going to our hometown Florida Marlins’ games. And between Abigail, our dad and myself, we can quote the entire filmMajor League on command. But I wasn’t attached to any particular MLB team.
One night during the summer, my dad, a New Yorker, was watching his beloved Yankees play the Baltimore Orioles on TV. Not having anything else to do, I sat down to watch with him. 
As the game went on, I found myself memorizing the Yankees’ line-up and batting averages while my dad told me about the different types of pitches being thrown and why. I was slowly getting hooked. 
Then I saw him. Shortstop Derek Jeter. I knew the name, but didn’t know much else about him. At 14, one can imagine the ridiculous school-girl crush Iimmediately developed. 
I’ll admit that during the next few months, my main motivation to watch games was because of Jeter. But for every game that came on TV, my dad was right there in the living room watching with me. He was happy to finally have some company, even if that person was planning a Morand-Jeter wedding in her head.
Over time, my adoration for the Yankees was about more than just the young shortstop. My dad and I would holler and high-five every time Andy Pettitte picked off a runner at first base or groan whenever Scott Brosius bobbled a grounder at third. We now had something to bond over.
 Throughout high school, while friends vacationed or hit the beach, my dad, my always-supportive mom and I attended as many Yankees spring training games as the schedule allowed.
That zeal for sports eventually tied in with my love for writing. “I can get paid to watch and write about sports?” I thought.
At 17, I was accepted to Auburn to major in journalism, but wasn’t sure how my quest to become a sports writer would begin. Cue my incredible father. 
He found the e-mail address of the only female sports writer at The Palm Beach Post and suggested I send her a message asking for advice. I did, and a short time later was interning at the sports night desk and covering local soccer games. That small amount of experience assured me of my eventual career path.
Without my dad’s guidance and passion for sports, I haven’t the slightest idea what job I would hold today. 
In recent years, my dad has become as big an Auburn football fan as any alum. Along with the Yankees, the Tigers have presented another way for us to bond. My dad took me to my first Yankees game, and I took him to his first SEC football game.  
He is also a talented photographer and his great action photos have been seen in The Villager’s sports section on several occasions. I’ll often send him rough drafts of my stories for him to look over the day before deadline. My dad continues to contribute and play a key role in my life because of sports. 
We won’t be able to see each other this weekend, but we are having our own version of Father’s Day next Sunday. Where? At a baseball game, of course. Neither of us are fans of the Braves or Detroit Tigers, but hey, its a chance to watch baseball together. That’s all we care about. 
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Now back to the kitchen. Dinner for my Father-in-Law and family tonight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I've been featured!

Ooh how exciting! One of my past blog posts was featured over at The Idea Room!

I love Amy's blog and all the wonderful ideas she has. Thanks so much for putting a piece of the spotlight on my blog!

The post she featured was the cake I made for the birthday party for my sister-in-law, who happens to have a blog herself - check it out HERE. She's pretty darn creative with the cupcakes she makes - and yummy to boot! :)

The cake:
See the post HERE.

Thanks again Amy! Be sure to head over to The Idea Room and check her out!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Panama wedding details - the chupah

For anyone visiting for the first time, to get the background on this story, read anything in my archives called "My Best Friends Wedding" and/or labeled "Panama Wedding". Too many posts to link to, but I will link to a few throughout.

So the biggest design element of the wedding ceremony was the chupah. I came up with the idea almost immediately after Zett and Bryan got engaged, and am thrilled that they loved the idea and trusted me with the implementation.

The idea behind the chupah ended up having even more meaning once they had settled on the idea of a destination wedding.

The idea was to send every invited guest a piece of fabric with their wedding invitation, and invite them to write some sentiments for the bride and groom on the fabric, and then return it with the response card. I would then take all of the squares of fabric, and make them into a "quilt". Then the "quilt" would be hung from four poles, held by dear friends, and Zett and Bryan would be married underneath the chupah made from all the love and best wishes from their friends. Of course the even more sentimental piece was that the fabric was representing the presence of some friends and family who could not travel the distance to Panama.

To get the ball rolling early, I spent a long time in JoAnn fabric trying to decide on what patterns of fabric would be good to use. 

Back in the beginning stages of the wedding planning, we decided on a color palette of turquoise, orange, and red - as discussed HERE.

Then, I found these 5 fabrics and decided that they would make a wonderful quilt.

Then it was time to design the invitations. What a stroke of luck that one of the fabrics I chose, and the rubber stamp we decided to use had a very similar flower!

The fabric, and...

The rubber stamp detail on the invitations. See more about the invitations HERE.

So I cut up all the fabric into 10"x10" squares. Each invitation got a square of fabric - no preference as to who got what color - just random.

(Note: the Obamas have not yet returned their fabric!)

Once the responses started to roll in, it was time for me to start sewing. 

First, I randomly paired up two squares at a time, and sewed them together side-by-side. I didn't exactly use precise measurements either - some people wrote pretty close to the edge so I tried my best to show all the writing. I had rough guidelines I used on my sewing machine - basically a half inch in from each side is where I started stitching.

After I got all the squares paired up, I laid them out on my living room floor - trying to make a totally random pattern - but also having no two alike patterns next to each other.

At this point I was still waiting for some fabric - don't worry I had enough to make a rectangle!

I had Zett and Bryan write messages to each other on separate squares. These two squares were the center of the quilt.

Then, I just sewed everything together (the lines were mostly straight!) to form a rectangle. I decided against making it a real quilt because I thought it would be too heavy for the poles. Good call I think based on the good breezes we had during the ceremony.

I offered to make it into a real quilt after the wedding if they want one. Or it could stay as is as a wall hanging. Their choice.

To finish the quilt I made sure to trim all the loose threads on the back, and then just edged the whole thing in some teal colored quilt binding.

Then, to be able to have a way to secure the quilt to the poles, I simply sewed two long lengths of satin ribbon to each corner.

The quilt was finished! I folded it up and brought it with my carry-on - I could not risk that getting lost!

After the rehearsal on Saturday, we discovered that we would need a little something more than just a knot to keep the chupah tied to the poles.

Luckily I had brought my trusty hot glue gun with me, so we just hot glued the knots to the poles. Actually, Jim did. Thanks babe!

The end result was just as I imagined it. Colorful, meaningful, and beautiful. I think everyone loved it.

For more wedding photos, visit my Dad's blog - the official wedding photographer - HERE at Hey Morand! Photography.