Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black and White Dessert Table

 Recently I created this black and white themed dessert table for a reception at the Carnival Museum. I am so in love with dessert tables! There is just something delightful about a table decorated with a variety of sweet confections.
 White chocolate cheesecake pops. Cheesecake is always a hit...and as a lollipop...even better.
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. A southern favorite! They look gorgeous in these black and white wrappers from Bella Cupcake Couture.

Glass vases with black and white candies served as a centerpiece.
Dark chocolate with vanilla bean buttercream, my specialty. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Persimmon Bread

On my last trip to the farmer's market I ended up with several persimmons. The goat cheese lady gave them to me and said they were great for making persimmon bread. I can't say that I've ever had a persimmon until now. An internet search lead me to David Lobovitz's blog and a recipe from James Beard for persimmon bread. Here's my adaptation:

Persimmon Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup dark rum
2 cups persimmon puree
2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 cups dried fruit, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans and flour the bottoms of the pan. 

The persimmons need to be very soft before using them.  Spoon the pulp out of the persimmons and into a blender and puree to get a thick persimmon puree.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and sugar. In a separate bowl lightly whisk together the butter, eggs, rum, and persimmon puree.

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined.

Now fold in the walnuts and dried fruit to the batter. I used 1 cup of dried cranberries and 1 cup of dried apricots.

Bake the bread for about an hour until dark and golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The finished product...a moist, dense cake studded with walnuts, apricots, and cranberries. The best part was the whole house smelled like Thanksgiving. Happy fall baking!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Local Farmer's Market

One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning  is to ride our bikes downtown to our local farmer's market. The Market on the Square goes on twice a year: once in the spring into summer, taking a break during the heat of August and September, and then starting up again in the fall.

Right now the weather is just perfect for the fall farmer's market. The mornings are cool and the humidity is low.  Saturday morning we enjoyed our coffee on the front porch and then hopped on our bikes and rode downtown to the market.
The farmer's market is in the picturesque Cathedral Square. What a gorgeous day!

An impressive plant selection from local grower Darryl Miller. If I hadn't been on a bike I would have been tempted to take something home.
Beautiful zinnias 3 for $1.00! You can't beat that! I love love love fresh flowers!

It's that time of year again! Pecan pie, homemade candy, cookies, pecan crusted fish, pecans in dressing...nothing beats local pecans. They're my favorite.
Turnips. I don't know much about turnips except that they're very photogenic.
Josey and Jasper love these all natural sweet potato biscuits from the Bread Lady. We buy these quite often.

Delicious fresh produce!

My favorite local farmer! Fresh goat cheese and farm fresh eggs. You can't beat fresh local eggs. The goat cheese is to die for! I bought the garlic and herb variety...creamy goodness...so delicious. I also scored some persimmons, which I have yet to try.

 Locally grown! That makes me happy!
There are plenty of wonderful local artists at the market too.
Quilting has become my new obsession, although I have so much to learn. Such fine detail!
More quilts. Unique designs made with decorative fabrics. Beautiful!
All that shopping made me hungry!

We couldn't have asked for a better day! Buy Fresh! Buy Local! Support your local farmers!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sewing...My New Hobby

I received a sewing machine as a gift two years ago. It was a Christmas gift from my in-laws. Cheryl is an amazing seamstress. She cans make anything. She gave me a sewing lesson and taught me how to use the machine.

 Sad to say, ever since it's been in the closet collecting dust. I finally pulled it out and dusted it off. I thought if I look at it long enough I will eventually learn to sew.

It has been the perfect time to learn to sew since I've been trapped inside the house by the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. It has even been too hot to cook!

I decided to start with pillowcases as a quick and easy project. Simple rectangles seemed like a perfect beginner project. Of course, I had to take my machine to Cheryl to learn how to work it again and how to cut fabric. Before long I got the hang of it and  I had these beautiful pillowcases within a couple of hours.

Our bedroom really needed some color and these funky, colorful pillowcases really gives the room some style.

The fabric is from Amy Butler's Belle collection. I have fallen in love with all Amy Butler fabrics. They are gorgeous and have a vintage look!

I found a wonderful store in Atlanta, Intown Quilters, that carries a huge selection of Amy Butler fabrics as well as other designer quilting fabrics. The store is amazing! I could spend hours in there. It was really difficult to make a decision. Tons of inspiration!

 They also offer sewing classes and have quilting groups.  Visiting this store, of course, has piqued my interest in quilting.

I also bought  a couple of yards of this Amy Butler Midwest Modern 2 fabric.
I used this fabric to make the  Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress. You can download the pattern for free from her website. The pattern looked easy enough for a beginner, so, I thought I would give it a try on my own. I emailed the dress pattern to Kinko's. For about $6 they printed it to size and I  picked it up an hour later.

 The pattern had pockets but I decided to leave the pockets off of my dress. The top of the sundress has smocking which is  made by sewing rows of elastic thread. Once rows have been sewn, spraying the top of the dress with water and ironing the elastic thread causes it to shrink up giving it the elasticity. Washing the dress will also help it shrink up.

The finished dress:

I was going to make the dress strapless, but  it is not quite snug enough on top.  Eventually, I plan on adding some straps to secure the top, otherwise, the top of the dress will slide right down.

I'm digging the whole sewing thing. There is something very satisfying about creating something beautiful and learning a new skill. 

Next project: Amy Butler Lotus Quilt

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento cheese is a southern classic. My Aunt Betty gave me my first taste of pimento cheese as a child, an orange concoction spread between two pieces of white bread. My mom makes it when we are picknicking at the beach or camping. It's easy to make, it requires no cooking, and can fill up a bunch of hungry kids. Cheryl, my mother in law, makes it  too. They both have their own way, both equally good, but completely different. When we were in Atlanta a few weeks ago Cheryl had a huge bowl of pimento cheese in the refrigerator. It was a great afternoon snack spread on crackers, but also a delicious lunch on slices of homemade bread. You just can't beat that!

Since our visit I've been craving the stuff. I decided I wanted a big bowl of pimento cheese in the fridge too. I just like it being there. I can't get enough!

Pimento Cheese Spread, my way:

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, or pimento peppers
4 green onions

Shred the cheddar cheese in the food processor

Drain the pepper and then chop them up. I pulse them in the food processor.  

(Mom: I know it's not really pimento cheese if I'm using roasted red peppers and I should call it "Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Spread". This is the way I like it.)

Finely chop the green onions. I love the flavor of green onions, especially with cheddar cheese. And it gives some nice color to everything.

Now just add everything to the cheese.
I like a little fresh cracked pepper in there too.
Now just stir it all up. A fork works well.
Heavenly...it really is!

If you have never had homemade pimento cheese you are missing out. The stuff in the tub is just not the same.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Vegetable Galette

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner: a vegetable galette is perfect for any meal, served warm or room temperature.  Recently, Deb from Smitten Kitchen featured a beautiful zucchini and ricotta galette. I knew when I first laid eyes on it that this was right up my alley and I had to try it immediately. I have had an infatuation with galettes ever since I first saw the Apricot-Blackberry Galette in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. However, I've only attempted to make a galette once and the results were mediocre. Nonetheless, I have ogled over the rustic open faced pies on the glossy pages of magazines and cookbooks. Finally, I was inspired to attempt a galette once again and I am hooked.  I can't wait to try new flavor combinations. I will be hitting the farmer's market tomorrow in search of local veggies and fresh goat cheese for another savory pie. 

And this crust....AMAZING!  I've been intimidated by pie crusts and this one is just delicious...buttery and flaky. Yum!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and refrigerated
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon basil, chiffonade
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Begin by making the dough. Combine the flour and salt . Cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of small peas. In a separate bowl stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water. Add the liquid to the flour and stir just until the mixture begins to come together. With your hands, pat the mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling lay out the slices of squash, eggplant, and tomatoes on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Allow the vegetables to sit for 30 minutes to pull out the moisture. With a paper towel wipe the salt and water off of the vegetables. In a bowl, mix the goat cheese, Parmesan, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the galette:  Preheat the oven to 400. Roll the dough into a 12 inch round on a lightly floured surface and then place on an ungreased baking sheet. Cover the dough with the goat cheese mixture leaving a 2 inches around the edge of the dough.  Begin alternating the vegetables on the goat cheese, starting at the outer edge and working your way to the center in a circular pattern. Drizzle the vegetables  with the last teaspoon of olive oil. Fold the edges of the dough over the veggies to form a crust around the pie, pinch the dough as needed to make it fit.

Bake the galette for about 40 minutes until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and top with the basil. Let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting.