Thursday, May 14, 2015

May Day, May Day


A birthday toast and cupcake to me

May Day, May Day, May Day, is normally the distress call at sea but for me it is the call of my birthday. Yes, I still love to celebrate. Why would you stop celebrating? It’s a day or month for some people that will not be named, that revolves around you! Presents, cake, dinner perhaps. Cake did I mention cake?
This year's celebration was a cupcake and a sip of Birkin, that oh so delicious liquor from Iceland. 
And as treat my plan was to make chocolate puff pastry. And I failed, well not that is was terrible or didn't puff up type of failing. I failed early in the process. What happens when you put the wrong paddle attachment on your stand mixer? You end up with cocoa and flour everywhere and a shirt that looks like you slept on the ground at Mardi Grais. It took an hour to clean up and I wasted the last of the flour and the KerryGold butter that I had. Needless to say there was no puff pastry for my birthday. I ended up making Pots de Creme a week later. Well since I celebrate all month then it's ok. The Chocolate Puff Pastry will have to wait for another time or another birthday! 

Aftermath of a flour and cocoa mishap


Pots De Creme


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Travel Ephemera or Souvenirs



the best bags and boxe

Trip ephemera or Souvenirs. It’s all the stuff you have to find room for on your return home from your trip.  Our last trip was no exception. No tee shirts or magnets this time. The one thing that I find myself in abundance this trip is bags and boxes. But not any ordinary boxes and bags, but boxes of gold foil  that once held the ever delectable French Macarons for the oh so chic Laudree. That recognizable green bag. I have started a collection of chocolate wrappers that are too pretty to throw away. They have the most unique origami illustrations on them, those are from Iceland.  Of course there are the beautiful tickets from the Opera house, even a lowly metro ticket. I also brought back paper models of city landmarks. They are fun to put together. I have others from Giverny, Arc de Triomph, Knossos and now the Opera House and Reykjavik.
The hubster’s souvenir of course is the marathon medal, the marathon bib, the bags and all the things he collected at the sports expo and the signs that we held along the race route for encouragement. 


souvenirs from the race and sports expo

Since we rented an apartment it was great not having to go out for every meal. Our breakfasts of course had croissants, cheese meats and all things for a proper continental breakfast. Including yogurt. These yogurts were pretty fancy in style but not price. At only 2.59 euro for two they were amongst the best buy of the entire trip. Yogurt in a stoneware crock! 


yogurt crocks

So now that I am the proud owner of 6 deciding what to make was easy. Chocolate pots de crème. I used Martha Stewart's recipe http://www.marthastewart.com/354091/chocolate-pots-de-creme
        
Adapted from Martha Stewart.com
I didn't use the Frangelico. And I used the 70% cocoa that I bought in Reykjavik.


INGREDIENTS


  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur, such as Frangelico (optional)
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bring half-and-half just to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together yolks, vanilla, cocoa, salt, and liqueur if desired. With a fork, stir chocolate mixture until smooth, then gradually stir into yolk mixture. Pour through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup.
  3. Place 4 custard cups or ramekins (3 to 4 ounces each) in a shallow roasting pan, and divide chocolate mixture among them. Pour hot water into the pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of cups.
  4. Bake until custards are almost set in centers, about 30 minutes (custards will firm as they cool). Carefully remove cups from hot-water bath; let cool slightly.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Just before serving, dollop with whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Land of Fire and Ice, Icleand

The Blue Lagoon

Sun Voyager sculpture
Hallgrimsskirkja Church and Leif Eriksson stattue

Iceland has been describes as the  Land of Fire and Ice, Land of the Midnight sun, Land of elves and the Northern Lights. I call it unearthly and beautiful.
Our travels this spring included a stopover in Reykjavik for a few days on our way home from Paris. This was no accident. Besides the best airfare, it has the Blue Lagoon.  A hot spring filled with minerals to soak a wearing body from running 26.2 miles was the main reason for stopping in this moonscape of a country.
We had been to Iceland once before and vowed to come back and many years later a promised fullfiled. 

Puffin with Brenivin blueberry sauce, Minke Whale, and blue ling 
The BEST hot dogs, ever!

Fish and Chips 

Since I missed out on eating puffin last time I made  sure to do my homework and found a restaurant that not only served puffing but whale too. It was a Spanish Tapas bar, Tapas Barrin. We settled on the       Icelandic Gourmet Feast menu, you only have to order one feast to have enough for two. And we were not disappointed. A 7 course tasting menu. So, we tasted puffin and yes, minke whale. Niether tasted like chicken, both had a unique taste and texture and both were delicous!  Hubster says that the Minke whale tastes like a cow that lives in the ocean.  
Our culinary adventure had us eating what now I can say is the best fish and chips I have ever eaten from Icelandic Fish and Chips which is just down the block frock from another fish and chip place so don't be fooled.  Make sure is says Iclandic Fish and Chips. and of course we didn’t forget about the famous Icelandic hot dog from
Bæjarins beztu pylsur
I didn’t try the fermented shark on this adventure but I found out I could order it online. Maybe, I'll just pass on that one.
We bought all sorts of chocolates at the airport duty free shop as well as Bjork and Birkir liquor which is distilled birch bark. We waited until we got home to taste test and after sipping we wished we  bought a few more bottles home.  You can see that the Bjork is at a lower level.   

Need to get more of this.

Notes for next trip:
Southern Coast excursion
Fermented Shark (maybe)
And bring back more chocolates and liquor.