Sunday, November 16, 2014

And Then There Was Cake

Dear Reader,

This weekend went by in a flash! I wish I had one more day just to myself to binge watch Gilmore Girls (please don't judge me....). But it's Sunday night and before I get myself ready for bed I wanted to do a post on something pretty amazing. Ice Box Cake. Have you heard of it? I hadn't either, until I listened to a podcast from Spilled Milk (my favorite! Next to Serial) and Molly and Matthew were discussing how easy it is to make Ice Box Cake. Since I was hosting a dinner party this weekend and attending another, I knew I wouldn't want to do much cooking for the latter but I wanted to bring something special and homemade. Ice Box Cake seemed to be the perfect solution, and Reader, it really was. Simple, sweet and it received way more credit than it deserved. The perfect contribution.

Traditionally, Ice Box Cake requires Nilla Wafers from Nabisco, you know the ones I'm talking about. Since they can be difficult to find and apparently they can also be pricey, I went to my good ole Trader Joe's where an appropriate substitute was readily available.

Ice Box Cake - adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar, which gave the cream a beige tint)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 box of wafers (I used the Trader Joe's 13 oz. Ultimate Vanilla Wafers)
Fruit for topping (I used banana slices)

Vanilla Ice Box Cake
In an electric mixer combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until peaks start to form. On a flat plate, take a spoonful of the whipped cream and spread into a medium sized circle. This is to just hold the first layer of wafers in place. Place 7 wafers in a circle, with one in the middle. Add on another layer of whipped cream (about 1.5-2 heaping spoonfuls), and spread evenly across the cookies. Add on another layer of cookies. Continue until you are out of cookies and finish with a thick layer of whipped cream. Add fruit slices on top of the cake for decoration. You can leave as it is or sprinkle chocolate shavings, cinnamon, whatever you'd like. Voila! It can come out a little sloppy, but who cares, it's delicious!
Leave in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Bring it to your next dinner party, it'll be a hit!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pistachio Pound Cake and Other Happenings

Dear Reader,

Time has been passing all too quickly in my little corner of the world. Halloween has already gone and November is here. Soon, with all the prepping and flurry of holiday festivities, it will be 2015 before you know it. I have developed a habit of counting time, a form of holding on, which I can't decide if it makes me more mindful and aware of time, appreciative, even, or if I am dreading the passing of time, mourning the loss of my "youth" (that has been long gone, I seem to also be struggling with denial). What I know is, the more you try to hold on the faster time seems to go and I have been trying to adopt the attitude of "life is short". Because it is, dear Reader. Take it from someone who has been carefully monitoring it. It goes by in a pinch.

Fall weather to me triggers pies, loaves of bread/pastries, and hearty stews. When I was a little girl, my father frequently baked a killer banana bread and zucchini bread. Until I was too old, I thought he had cleverly invented zucchini bread and swore that he was a culinary genius of his generation. Clearly he did not invent zucchini bread, but I still believe that his culinary endeavors were adventurous and exciting for a man of his age and circumstance. Pound cake was another one of his favorites, and so in memory of my "youth", I bring you Pistachio Pound Cake. Happy fall weather!

Pistachio Pound Cake - adapted from Leite's Culinaria

I substituted the granulated sugar with Coconut sugar, and used european unsalted butter. I also did not bother with the frosting since we planned to eat it over days for breakfast with coffee. E and i found the cake to be quite dense and a little flaky, but not as moist as I am used to for pound cake. Mr. David Leite has informed me that the lack of moisture may be due to the sugar substitution. Still, i loved the nutty texture added to my morning feed and found it to be a treat.


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Butcher, The Baker ...

Dear Reader,

We have been having some chilly and rainy fall days over here in Brooklyn, NY, but fall days in NYC are almost never wasted in my book and I love them all the same, just because they are part of the very few days that make up my favorite season. With that said, those grey days seem to be made for curling, cozying and cuddling into a favorite throw blanket and binge watching tv show after tv show, or book after book. Days like these call for something homemade and warm, like tea and a nice big piece of fluffy buttered toast. Toast! Aha! Says the brain. We shall make toast, and we shall make it chewy and soft just like the big loaves you can get at almost any Asian bakery. Have you tried them? If not, please do yourself this one great favor and go to your closest Asian bakery and buy a loaf. You can toast them, eat them plain, pull them apart - they are just pillowy and magnificent and so perfect. A statement toast, really. French pastry, I'm sorry, but you ain't got nothin' on Asian bread, a.k.a. Milk Bread, a.k.a. Hokkaido bread.

Here are two recipes. I have tried the NY Times version and may try the Food52 version next. I won't even attempt to write out the instructions since baking bread is quite a sensitive topic and instructions should be followed very closely.

Japanese Milk Bread Recipe - from the NY Times
Hokkaido Milk Bread Recipe - from Food52

Fresh made Milk Bread for Saturday morning toast.
My first batch (pictured above) came out fabulously. I baked into the night and it was well worth it. My second batch...not so much. I doubled the batch in order to get 2 loaves but something must have gone wrong. Lesson learned. If you are a fan of good bread, please make this. And make frequently.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's for Dinner Tonight?

Dear Reader,

There are some days spent in Brooklyn where everything seems to just make sense. Work. All is well. Like putting that last piece of a puzzle together and looking with sudden clarity at the “big picture” – ohhh, so that’s what I spent hours upon hours sifting through cardboard cutouts for! All the good and bad had and to be had makes sense on this very day. 

I’m so very thankful for such days because it’s when I feel most grateful for my life and I certainly do count my blessings. This week, E and I went for a long walk through our neighborhood, hobbling through cobblestone streets and maneuvering through tourists admiring the NYC skyline (a picture never does it justice, does it?) and our conversations tend to always center around the same vibe. We are so blessed. Even when facing the worst of circumstances, I am so thankful to E for keeping my mind in a high spirited place filled with gratitude instead of resentment or disturbances of my peace. It’s in these moments where we are often overwhelmed with joy and with a real need to celebrate life.
And I have a tendency of celebrating such said life by throwing dinner parties.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fake It 'Til You Make It

This is one of the many mantras in my life. There are many others. Lately, a lot of people in my life have been in a transition phase of their lives, myself included. Change and I don't do well, unless it's completely by my own choice. I remember when my dad told me that we were moving from San Francisco to New York, I was devastated and refused to accept it. At 13, such a move can be traumatizing. But he made it clear that he was leaving with or without me (obviously with), so none of my pouting was going to change the situation. In fact, I remember him saying, as he looked at me through the rearview mirror of our really awesome Toyota Cressida, "You are so resistant to change and you're life is going to be pretty rough if you don't start getting used to it". True story dad, true story.

Oftentimes at my job, I'm faced with very overwhelming and foreign tasks, with high expectations and tight time frames. I used to handle these situations better my first year, since I was "allowed" to make mistakes. My second year, I was a complete wreck. I would cry in my office, call my husband sobbing, and cry at home. I'm so glad that time has passed. Now, in my third year, I've come to accept that I'll get these hard tasks, and there is nothing I can do about them but try my best. So what do I do? I smile, be calm, and say "Great, I'll have this to you soon." I'm sure the girl in me is having an absolute meltdown, but perception is everything. So I've been saying this mantra more and more. I'm faking it til I make it. 

It's been doing wonders for my wardrobe, since retail therapy seems to be my outlet.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Working on the Weekends Suck

I think on my top 10 list of things I absolutely abhore is working on the weekends. It actually and physically upsets me to have to work on the weekends, unless, of course, it's due to my own diddly daddlings. I think there are only a few things worse (excluding catastrophes or the real tragedies of the world) than getting that Friday afternoon call with a assignment that just has to be done by Monday morning. Sigh.

I recently made a switch within my department to the corporate side of things. This is great news because I wanted to switch to corporate and I really really dislike legal writing. But the flip side of that is what I'm doing now, which is massive amounts of diligence on things that I do not understand nor can summarize.

The good news is, the Husband and I made a trip to Ikea yesterday and not only did we spend a gaggle of money, but we were finally able to put up the new bookshelves! He will be building the dresser today. The bad news is, we have a lot of junk and now with our extra storage space gone, I'm not quite sure where we will hide everything. To be continued...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remodeling

I love interior decorating. I don't really know where it comes from, but I was obsessed with Domino Magazine when it was in circulation and wanted to cry when they stopped (they really shouldn't have, I think that was an awful call by Conde Nast). I think it has to do with my never ending need to nest. I lived a large part of my post 17 years old life not really feeling like I had a home, or a place to call my own, and now, when I get the chance I try to make my space my sanctuary (sort of). I used to live in a room at my dad's friend's apartment during my college summers and I just hated that unsettled feeling. Like, huh? I'm living out of your friend's family's apartment? So I literally tore down everything on the walls, plastered any holes, bought new shelves and curtains and just went to town.

Needless to say, after moving in with my wonderful husband, the itch is back, full on. We put the redecorating off for a few months since we didn't really know where we were going to end up, but life is too short to keep waiting, and it literally affects my insides. Here are some of our recent purchases.

Petrie Sofa from Crate and Barrel in super large. My 5'11 husband can lay down flat on it and still have room!