Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snow to Beach in 1.5 hrs

In hopes of keeping you up-to-date with Lily (not just food!), some of our latest endeavors encompass water (or as Lily says "agua") in its various forms. Yes, Santa Barbara has had some good amount of rain this year. Apparently it has been all over the news, but for a NW gal, it feels pretty normal :) Lily and I have been enjoying playing in the rain, especially checking out the creek that is only 4 blocks from our house at the nearby park. She loves to poke sticks at the rushing water, throw in an unsuspecting leaf, and climb on the nearby rocks. We both just put on our hoods and enjoy the rain and the rushing water, 2 natural resources not usually touted by Southern California.

Due to all of this rain, our backcountry has been receiving a good dusting of snow. Thanks to a suggestion by Jason, we capitalized on this one day, so Lily could see and touch her first snow! We tried to teach her to throw snowballs, and it seems that she only wanted to do so at our friends' dog:

We also enjoyed a visit from my (Heather's) mom for her birthday in February, as well as her sister, Nicole, and niece, Grace. Lily adored Grace and wanted to copy her with most things. Here the girls are on the beach together:

Here we are with Nicole and Grace in front of a our favorite beach pancake spot.

Happy Spring!

A delicious breakfast treat

One of our guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures is a stroll to our favorite French patisserie, 1/2 mile from our house, to snatch up one of the buttery, flaky treasures. Yes, we are talking melt-in-your-mouth almond croissants (the best ever, maybe even in Paris!), pain au chocolate, plain 'ol butter croissants with homemade jam, and various brioche rolls. The pastry chef also creates the most beautiful little confections that look almost too perfect too eat. However, it is easy to quickly change one's mind after taking a bite of these little treats. Even Lily has started a sophisticated croissant palate at such a young age :) Let's suffice it to say that Renaud is an absolute French genius! Croissants and other complicated French treats are just one of those food delicacies that I am willing to not try to make, but rather enjoy the fruits of another's labor!

When I came upon this month's Daring Baker's challenge, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this breakfast bread, as if I was sitting on the patio of Renaud's Patisserie. This, I decided, is the closest I get to such French pastry deliciousness. For surprisingly much less work than that of a typical french pastry, this treat tasted much like a lightly sweetened brioche filled with yummy things :)

The March 2011 Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

After making the "brioche" dough and allowing it to rise, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle and spread with a vanilla meringue. I chose to top it with an orange sugar I made using orange zest and organic sugar, dark chocolate, and toasted slivered almonds.

Then, you gently roll the dough up and shape it into a wreath, snipping around the wreath to expose the hidden treasures.

After a 2nd rise, the dough gets brushed with an egg wash and placed in the oven. The inside yumminess peeks out through the slits in the dough and the whole round becomes beautifully golden.

Finally, the bread gets a nice dusting of powdered sugar.

And, voila! A light, buttery dough hugging melted chocolate, scented with orange and crunchy almonds awaits!

Oh, and this recipe is both adult and kid-tested and approved!