Sunday, June 27, 2010


The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I completed my 2nd challenge as a "Daring Baker" and it was not only fun, but also super rich and delicious.  For all of you chocolate lovers out there, I highly recommend this chocolate mousse, as well as the crunchy/crisp pavlova.  The pavlova is a traditional Australian dessert and can be had in various forms of meringue, but is usually topped with some sort of cream and berries.  While generally not being a fan of overly sweet meringues, this chocolate pavlova recipe, with the addition of Callebaut cocoa powder, is truly decadent.  Making the pavlova is actually quite simple with only 4 ingredients: egg whites, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Here is the "batter" before piping into rounds on parchment paper:

The entire batter could be formed into one cake shape round or piped into individual servings, which is what I did:

I then tried my hand at making homemade mascarpone to add to the mousse, and it was easier than I thought.  
Here is how you can do it.  I had trouble with using the indirect heating method, and ended up putting my bowl right on top of the burner with a low flame.  Even with the slight technique alteration, it turned out thick and creamy the next morning!  The mascarpone also was added to a creme anglaise as a drizzling sauce over the chocolate dessert.  

Since I had plentiful strawberries from Shepherd Farms I again topped the dessert with a fanned out strawberry.  Mmm...delish!  

A bonus is having leftovers, including enough mascarpone cream to make an ice cream.  Jason and I enjoyed parfaits layered with the mouse, mascarpone ice cream, crumbled pavlovas, and strawberries!  I think we have enough for one more parfait tonight...hooray!

For the recipe, click here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Lily!

It's official!  Lily is 1 year old.  It is hard to believe that a whole year has flown by.  June 12, 2009, this sweet little girl made her entry into the world:

We have had the joy of watching our precious girl grow and her personality to continue to blossom.  With plenty of spunk and an independent spirit, Lily is on the move, and we are trying to keep up!  :) 

She had a blast at her birthday party with plenty of family, friends, and yummy food.  As you can see, she takes after her mom in her deep appreciation of food (translation: she loves to grub down).  Fortunately for her, she got to dive into Indonesian BBQ'd chicken, nasi kuning (a celebratory rice), salad, fruit, and chocolate beet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Here is a view of the food table:

In order to get a little nutrition into her first bites of chocolatey, sugary goodness, I added pureed beets (before you say "yuck!" - you must try the moistest cupcake ever, with barely any taste of beets).  And, rather than using that nasty red food dye #40, I colored the frosting with the beet water from the roasting pan, rendering beautifully pink frosting!  How did she like the cupcake, you might ask?  Well, see for yourself: 

She ate the ENTIRE cupcake (after eating a whole drumstick, rice and watermelon juice).  What was Lily's method of destruction?  It started with a fistful of frosting that was administered to the mouth and held there, as if she needed a ventilator for oxygen.  After mommy broke the cupcake in two, it was then followed by grabbing an entire half and placing it in the same position, so she could conveniently get more as needed.  Here you will see her going in for the cupcake (just after eating the frosting):

As you can see, she is not afraid to be in front of a crowd.  Her focus is astounding! :)  

Our friends, Bart and Linda Tarman, provided the space for Lily's birthday bash.  Here are some friends and family, eating out on the patio.

Jason was the grill master, delivering tender and perfectly bbq'd chicken!

Here some friends enjoy the Swedish game, Kubb, provided by our friend, Sean Whiting, who lived in Sweden for 3 years (or so?).

Lastly, Lily had a great time with her Oma, who came down from Oregon for 10 days to celebrate and play with her.  Lily ate Indonesian delights, knocked down towers that Oma built with foam blocks, danced, and giggled.  She can't wait 'til the next visit!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our Little Busy Bee...

I realize I haven't posted anything lately on Lily, so I owe it to my dear family and friends to update you on Lily's activities.  And, of course, it is best to show you, rather than just tell you :)  With her one year birthday coming up (a week from today!), she is keeping busy as well as keeping us busy!  So here it goes:

Lily helped her Daddy put together the desk that we moved into the kitchen nook.  Here she is trying to climb up the leg of the desk!

Lily has definitely formed a love/appreciation for my cookbooks.  What can I say?  You gotta start 'em while they're young!  Here she is pulling them off the shelves, one by one.  

And, here is the aftermath...

We've also been going to My Gym, which is a children's gym for all ages.  The class she goes to is for crawlers to walkers.  She loves to ride on swings, climb up play structures, walk on the balance beam (with my help, of course!), and play in the ball pit.  Here she is showing off her bottom 2 teeth while lounging in the ball pit!

We have also continued to take her swimming, as she just loves the water.  She kicks like a little dolphin, holds onto the side of the pool (almost without my support), climbs out of the pool (with only a little assistance from me), floats on her back (with a finger to a hand of support at the nape of her neck), and dives down with the swim instructor to pick up objects off the bottom of the pool in 3 1/2 feet of water.  I think she'll be a better swimmer than me by the time she turns 2!  Here she is smiling for the camera :

Needless to say, we've been enjoying our 1st year with our little girl!  Look for a posting after her birthday to see how her first bites of a sweet cupcake will go!

I couldn't finish the blog without a picture of a delectable treat.  Since we've been continuing to get the deepest red, most juicy strawberries in our CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture, basically a farm share) from Shepherd Farms, I have been loving eating them and using them in cooking and baking.  Here you will find our breakfast this morning of Strawberry Buttermilk Scones that we served up with eggs and fresh squeezed orange juice (from our orange tree).  With it's crunchy, flaky exterior and layered, soft interior, these are the best scones I've made to date. Life is good!

Because it was soooo good, I will type out the recipe from The Foster's Market Cookbook, a borrowed cookbook from my friend, Kelley Johnson.  Thank you Kelley!

Foster's Strawberry Scones
makes 1 dozen

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 lb (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
*I was out of unsalted butter, so I used regular salted butter and cut down the salt by half
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs buttermilk
2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 2 Tbs milk

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets (or use parchment) and set aside
3.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
4.  Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles course meal.  (Or use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour mixture by pulsing 10-12 times.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to continue making the dough.)  Do NOT overwork the dough.
5.  Add 2 cups hulled and quartered fresh strawberries to the flour-butter mixture.  (You may need 2-3 Tbs less buttermilk depending on the ripeness of the berries.)
6.  Add 1 1/4 cups of the buttermilk and mix until just combined and the dough begins to stick together.  Add the remaining buttermilk one tablespoon at a time if the dough is too dry.
7.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll or pat into two 6-inch rounds, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Cut each round in half, then cut each half into 3 triangles (pie-shaped wedges) and place on baking sheets.  Brush the tops with the egg wash.
8.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately.