Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crème Brulee

I didn’t think I was much of a crème brulee person. I’m not sure what I thought crème brulee was but I have an issue with custards that appear lumpy and especially anything that might resemble tapioca type filling. Ugh. Just the thought.

I went to a parochial school first through eighth grade. Since we lived two houses away from the school, I always went home for lunch. Back in the day when you could walk unsupervised and you could leave the school premises without anyone giving it a thought. Now you’re padded down to come and go and have to be chaperoned to and from the school.

So back in the good ole days, I begged to buy my lunch. Please, please, pretty please. One day I was allowed.

It was exciting standing in line waiting for the hot plate lunch.

I watched as a girl younger than myself got up to throw her trash away and leave. But Sr. Mean Nun pointed her shaking finger at her, scowling, and telling her she had to eat all of her dessert. It looked like pudding. We girls whispered and stared. I overheard someone say it was tapioca pudding. I stood in horror as I watched Little Ms. I Hate Tapioca spoon tapioca pudding in her mouth only to vomit it in her school uniform. Bite by bite, vomit by vomit she carried on until she was finished… eating every last drop of that tapioca pudding.

Never having had tapioca pudding, I knew I wasn’t going to like it now. I wondered how I was going to get rid of my tapioca pudding when it came time to do so or how would I avoid Sr. Mean Nun. I’ll never beg again to buy my lunch were the thoughts running through my head. I was never so grateful to find someone who wanted my tapioca pudding and gobbled it right up. I turned away and thanked God privately.

My best friend who stood beside me on that day can’t eat any type of pudding or custard. Mention tapioca in front of either of us and we, “ewwwwww” in unison. Some moments one never forgets.

Now that I’ve ruined your appetite, try not to think tapioca but luscious cream that’s cooked to a smooth goodness, velvety and rich. I wish I could remember the restaurant we were at when I had a bite of my husband’s crème brulee because that was heaven. That’s when I discovered it was smooth and not lumpy. The crusty brown sugar on top gave it that lumpy appearance.

I made crème brulee for a special dinner I created for my hubby and unfortunately I don’t know where I got the recipe. But I do know there’s a recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I plan to try some day. I’m sure it’s good… so long as it doesn’t call for tapioca. It doesn’t matter what kind of recipe it is, if there’s tapioca involved, I skip right over it.

Here’s a few pictures of making crème brulee.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garden Cupcakes

By now, if you’ve been following this blog, you know I like the cookbook, Hello, Cupcakes! by Karen Track & Alan Richardson.

I belong to the St. Louis Gateway Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS). I had the annual planning meeting at my house a few times. I wanted to make a little treat and thought these garden cupcakes would be a hit.

Just like the Doggie Cupcakes that had multiple dog breeds, the garden cupcakes had each row of cupcakes a different design. They were vegetables. Since our club is about rocks and plants, I thought the shovel and seeds would work better. You can find chocolate rocks at specialty stores and had I been thinking, I would have used those instead of the chocolate covered sunflower seeds. The chocolate rocks would have looked more like boulders next to my little shovels, but then again some of us have unearthed rocks that were bigger than our little shovels could handle.

The dirt on the cupcakes were crushed up chocolate wafers. The shovels were pretzel sticks and chewing gum.

After working hard in the yard, a garden cupcake is a nice reward. (And I didn’t even try and make all that rhyme!)

I dig rocks… and cupcakes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Elizabeth Berg's Wickedly Delicious Chocolate Cake

As a writer, I fell in love with Elizabeth Berg’s writing book, Escaping into the Open, The Art of Writing True. Her last chapter talked about food and she listed some of her favorite recipes. Since the writing book was great, I knew the recipes would be too.

I made this cake for my older sister’s birthday. Since this cake doesn’t require icing – or at least it wasn’t recommended, I decided to serve this cake with a little more pizzazz than just bringing out a plain ole cake. Not that there was anything “plain ole” about this cake. I made a heart stencil and then used powdered sugar to make the design.

Berg said the recipe came from Parents magazine. She also suggested serving it with a strawberry on the side “or be a real swine and eat it with ice cream.” My older sister—okay all of us in the family are ice cream lovers, so home-made vanilla ice cream was the perfect combo with this cake. We didn’t mind being swines.

If you love to write and eat, I highly recommend this book. It’s a win-win with me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Doggie Cupcakes

If you really want to be creative—and use a lot of time doing so—try making these doggie cupcakes. This came from the cookbook, Hello, Cupcakes! by Karen Track & Alan Richardson. They have some of the cutest and most clever ideas on cupcakes.

I made these doggie cupcakes for my granddaughter, Logan’s birthday one year. You were supposed to make each dog a different breed. HA. Making the same breed for all cupcakes proved challenging enough. I picked what I thought would be the easiest. Not so sure about that.

When my granddaughter first saw the doggie cupcakes, she wanted to know if they were elephants.

“What? Elephants? Do you see trunks on those heads?”


“Come again.”

“Oh... doggies.”

Woof, that’s better.

The ears are tootsie rolls—rolled out (after warmed a slight bit in the microwave) then shaped. The eyes and nose are black jelly beans. The tongue is a strawberry starburst—kneaded like silly putty, then shaped.

The cookbook called for a chocolate icing, but my chocolate icing was a lot darker than the ears and well, I wanted it to match. I took some white icing and mixed it with the chocolate until I got the desired result.

Who says I just sit around and eat cupcakes… errr… I mean bon-bons?