Happy Birthday, Mum :*
My mum always says she was probably French in another life, because while the rest of us are excited by waffles, pancakes, parfaits and sweets, she's in her own world when she has a good croissant, some jam, cheese and a mug of perfect coffee.
I've almost always made something for my parents' birthdays, but there's only so many things I can sew, construct or sketch for her. That's why this year I decided to cook something instead: I'm still making something, but she can actually enjoy it and it doesn't need bedside table drawer space to store it for the next several decades.
I knew this would be ambitious, and I was wary of how they would turn out, but I definitely wanted to try them.
I started these 3 days in advance and baked them the night before her birthday because they have to proof for a couple of hours before baking and I didn't think that would work out before school.
They were nowhere near perfect: 1. during the multiple dough-rollings the dough started to tear and the butter began oozing out 2. the shapes weren't absolutely right 3. they didn't proof properly- the layers were supposed to separate more 4. they were denser than they should have been.
But they tasted admittedly yummy (perhaps the 10 inch square of butter in the middle had something to do with that...) and I enjoyed mine thoroughly, as did my mum and dad :)
I also had a blast making them-- hammering butter, folding dough and rolling the croissants... even if it was kinda (read: totally) messy.
Even when you're really tired and dead, baking something is quite irresistible.
I had had my eye on this recipe for over a week, so I set aside Friday afternoon for making them. The recipe described them as moist and full of autumn spices and several readers said they were fantastic; some even said they were the best muffins they had ever made. It's hard to go against so much positive feedback...
I knew I had to get up early for MUN and I don't usually bake so late in the evening, but I really didn't feel like letting myself down and giving up on the beautiful recipe that had been open and gawked at on my iPad for days.
These came out perfectly round and- my favourite part- sticky on top :) I've only ever had that in my mum's banana muffins, so I was thrilled when I saw the tops of these.
I ran out of space in the muffin tray, so I made a bunch of mini muffins too! They're super fun to eat...
I brought a couple along for two of my friends to have in the car the next morning on the way to school and Z only wanted half because had a huge breakfast, so P snatched it from her and popped it into her mouth with a smile. If picky P liked them that much, they worked out.
Gah I have autumn fever!
And I'm living in a place where it's still 95º outside...
Every single blog and website and article is writing about leaves falling, pumpkins coming, warm drinks at Starbucks, boots and long socks, cute jackets and cardigans, Halloween costumes and candy, crisp air, bright skies...
As a result, I have been spending my time daydreaming about it all and filling my notebooks with autumn doodles. Yesterday, after a super hot day, I wanted a cup of warm milk with honey, simply to feel like it's the snug-drink season.
These pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream epitomise autumn. The first whoopie pies I ever had (and my favourite to this day) were the pumpkin ones from Trader Joe's which would come every autumn. Here, fresh pumpkin is actually available most of the year, but I just haven't really gotten into cooking it.
So let's pretend that it's pumpkin season. There are jack-o-lanterns on all the doorsteps and every cafe and barista is engulfed by the smell of warm baking. I've just come back from a beautiful walk in my boots and my cozy long socks and my fleece.Vermont is ecstatic, whipping up maple syrup and the farmer's market made me buy a load of pumpkin. So we have no choice but to whip up a batch of whoopie pies.
It's sunny but chilly and I'm sitting down with a book and a cup of hot chocolate.
Life doesn't get much better than this, does it?
My dad had been dying to make whoopie pies for ages and he happily agreed to pumpkin-maple. He gets the same super-excitement as I do when he bakes; he started maniacally laughing with evil and glee and we bickered over getting to frost them. He also sat and had a whole photoshoot with them... no prizes for guessing where I got that from.
He worked on the pureeing the pumpkin while I prepared the spices and the batter. He was really happy with the fluffiness of the cakes, but I really don't know what I did apart from, well, mix...
By the way, he made monstrous whoopies... I mean huge. He dolloped big ice cream scoops on to the tray and after frosting and adding the other half, they look like softballs.
They're very visually appealing and very tummy sabotaging.
By the way, does anyone have a teleporter? Can you kind of, zap me back to Chicago autumn?
My dad and I ding-donged between a dozen dinner ideas on Saturday, but when I showed him this recipe he fell for it (luckily, because I've had my eye on the recipe for ages).
I was wary of making them because last time I made a savoury cake it wasn't a huge success.
But these actually came out lovely and I also discovered how yum sauteed aubergine is; I kept munching it out of the pan :P
The muffins themselves don't have much salt, but you can adjust that. We didn't but it was nicely balanced by the feta. These are warm, soft, herby and flavourful. My sister really doesn't like aubergine, and she liked this :O
I ended up putting them under the grill for the last few minutes (long story of batter being added with the feta) to cook the top and it made a nice, crisp coating. If you want to try it, just dip your feta cubes in some batter before you bake the muffins and then add the feta according to the instructions.
I read about cauliflower cous-cous on multiple sites, but I referred specifically to Stonesoup for this one. There's no real recipe for the actual cous-cous: just chop some cauliflower and put it in a blender!
I was keen to try it because I am almost subconsciously drawn to healthy recipes and dishes that work on using more vegetables. Instead of being a side-dish, cauliflower was the star of the show.
The interesting part was that my dad and my sister, who didn't know what I was making, couldn't tell that the cous-cous wasn't really cous-cous, which means it worked out.
I am particularly please with the grilled vegetables. I had some really flavourful ones on top of a plate of quinoa at Café Zoe and I wanted to replicate them. If I may say so myself, mine were better :) You get a really nice flavour of parmesan and olive oil coming through them.
I'm also excited because I invented both recipes! :O
Lottie + Doof inspiration...
The title was inspired by one of Lottie + Doof's most beautiful posts: Gratitude + Orange Rolls, written after Tim was nominated for 2 (yes, 2) Saveur food blog awards. The rolls look divine and I was so excited to hear about his nominations. The name has for some reason stuck in my head, and I couldn't help using it because it just seemed perfect.
I baked these cupcakes out of gratitude, and they also happen to be orange :)
My week at Indigo was just fantastic: I actually got to cook in the kitchen! I helped make gayozas, phyllo pastries, macchiato brulées, almond-date tarts, and I even learnt some molecular gastronomy. Everyone showed me what they were doing, talked with me, showed me around and let me help make things... In an award-winning fine dining restaurant...
My days working in service were a blast because everyone felt like family. They're bonkers, funny, energetic and oh-so-sweet. I really can't believe how close I became with them all, and how much they did with me- showing me how to make cappuccinos, taking guests to their tables, serving at parties and just having a good time.
I wanted to make something to thank everyone for the time they gave me, so I spent Saturday baking. These came out a little dry, but still yum.
I realised I don't have a photo of the cupcakes with their frosting! I (tried to) make royal icing and after much error, a ziploc piping bag, toothpicks and a bunch of cocoa powder, my mum and I frosted each cupcake with a part of the Indigo logo- the grain, leaf or fish. They were pretty cute :)