Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sights and food of Seattle

My time was short for my trip to Seattle. I was attending IFBC 2013, a food blogger conference. This year I did not have a lot of time before or after to do a lot of sightseeing. I had to try to pack in as much as I could in a few short days.
Of course I went to the Space Needle, a Seattle landmark since the sixties. I rode the historic monorail as well. The Chihuliy Gardens are there as well. But were closing for a private function the day I tried to visit. 
I was desperate for a cup of coffee that was not Starbucks, so I let social media help me and someone recommended Top Pot Hand Forged Doughnuts they serve Zeitgeist coffee. So it was up and out early one morning for doughnuts and coffee. On my way back to the hotel I had to stop at Dalhia Bakery for their famous cookies and they did not disappoint nor did they make it home! 
Of course there is the famous Pike Market all the vendors and the famous flying fish. I did find a local brewery in the market so on a rainy Sunday afternoon I had a pumpkin ale and mac & cheese loaded with Dungenss crab meat and gilded with bacon.
Since I did miss the Chuily Gardens it's on my to do list for next year. The conference is back in Seattle so am I and just maybe I can sneak in a extra day.
Dahlia  Bakery 

Top Pot Doughnuts and really great coffee!

Dahlia's famous cookies that did not make it home

The famous Space Needle landmark

View from the top
The Pike Place Market
Dungeness Crabs
Pumpkin Ale from the PIke Place Brewery
Loaded Mac & Cheese with bacon thrown in for good measure

View of downtown

Saturday, November 16, 2013

IFBC 2013 Seattle Conference Swag

Suitcases overflowing with free goodies. If you have ever attended a conference you know what I am talking about. SWAG! Attending a food conference is just like any other conference for the swag but I think that it's possibly the best kind of conference to attend. Can you say lots of food samples! 
I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) again this year and I can tell you the freebies did not disappoint. I have a confession to make- I may be a little addicted to the swag. 
Last year I learned the hard way and had to mail the swag home so, this year I brought an extra suitcase (thanks Southwest for no baggage fees) to check my swag bag. I also brought wine bags and bubble wrap, just in case. 
Thanks to all the wonderful sponsors to this year’s conference. Looking forward to next year? Perhaps,
maybe I’ll attend two conferences just so I can compare swag! (Of course I always meet really cool foodies and learn a thing or two in the process).
Live tweeting session. Sponsored by Amazon Grocery

Sponsors of the conference

Just a small snapshot of the swag

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I did in Seattle 2013

Well it’s been a couple of months since my trip to Seattle to attend the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC2013) sponsored by Foodista
What a whirlwind trip it was. I only had a few days to try to pack in as much as I could see and eat. What else you do at a conference about food but eat and drink. Throw in some photography and writing sessions and the conference is complete. I had a blast. I took the optional pre-conference excursion to Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, WA. We toured the facility then sat down for a wine/food paring.
Dorie Greenspan was the keynote speaker and I was able to gather my courage and ask her to sign one of my favorite cookbooks. I even was able to tell her a funny story of my pies. The food never disappoints it gets better and better. Friday was the fabulous Taste of Seattle dinner. Lots of restaurant samples and wine to taste. One of my favorite food samples were the fresh oysters from Taylor Shellfish. I would walk around to the different tables but kept returning to the oysters. I did eat my fair share!
 Urbanspoon sponsored the secret dine around Seattle dinner on Saturday night. My  dinning companions and I found ourselves at the Golden Beetle a modern organic Mediterranean restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood. YUM!
What else is there to say? There was LOTS of food and wine. I am very glad that I brought an empty suitcase (I learned the hard way of having to ship my goodies home in 2012). The conference seems to get better and better every year. I am already making plans for IFBC 2014, again it’s in Seattle so I will get to see the things I missed and eat somethings a second time. This time I'll bring them home to share.  Well maybe, shhhhhhhh.
Grapes still on the vine

Food and wine paring at the winery

OMG! It's Dorie Greenspan!

Oysters from Taylor Shellfish, YUM and my favorite

Another food and wine pairing session

Wood burning oven at the Golden Beetle in the Ballard neighborhood Seattle, WA

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grandma's Lemon Cheesecake Cake

My Grandma would have been 109 this November 10th. So, today I created a meal that she used to make when family came to visit. According to my cousin she would have made fried chicken, cornbread, okra, stewed tomatoes and for dessert there would have been two cakes a coconut and her lemon cheesecake cake. She was a Southerner to her soul.
 I remember spending the summer of 72 with my grandparents. They lived in St. Augustine, so what kid didn't want to spend time Florida?  I remember standing in her kitchen by her side and watching her make this cake. It was simple cake but the icing was more of a glaze and it made the cake taste like cheesecake. Well, at least that's what I remember.
She wrote it down for me, but what young person thinks ahead, and I lost it. It wasn't until I attended a panel discussion on food memories at my first food bloggers conference that I gave that cake much thought. After that I knew I wanted to recreate that cake.
So, here I am two years later, many inquiries to family members, and hundreds of Internet searches later I think that I found it. It's like lemon curd but not. The one thing that I really remembered was it made with cornstarch, No?, yes, I know it sounds weird but that's what's in it. So it hit me a few weeks ago, I searched the Internet with lemon glaze and cornstarch and there it was on the Argo Cornstarch site for recipes. So, on this what was her birthday I made the cake and a modern interpretation of her meal. I forgot the stewed tomatoes, I made polenta instead of cornbread and you can just forget the okra. Bad memories of seeing that as my grandma scooping it of the big pot. That's another story altogether.

Lemon Sauce
Adapted from the Argo
All the ingredients for the glaze

Whisking the corn starch mixture

Glazed cake

EUREKA, that's it!
Lemon Sauce
Adapted from the Argo Corn Starch website
Prep time: 10 minutes
Yields 2 cups
 Let the glaze completely cool before using. It gets thicker as is cools.

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup Argo or Kingsford Corn Starch
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon peel
  • 2/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1. Combine sugar, corn starch, and water in a 2 quart saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil of over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter until well blended.

3. Serve warm or chilled.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


IFBC 2013 Seattle

Foodista is proud to present IFBC 2013, Seattle and that means it's almost time to go. I packed this year with enough room for the swag. Looking forward to meeting new bloggers, the winery side trip to  Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville @SteMichelle,  the dine around Seattle dinner, the speakers, and a chance to see a city that I have never been to before.  So, come 4 am Thursday I'm off to Seattle. 

Travel books, map and itinerary 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Don't be afraid it's only pate a choux

Water, butter, eggs they don't seem scary do they? No, but if you want to make Pate a choux pastry it may seem intimidating well, at least to me it does.  I want to  make eclairs and you need to make pate choux pastry first.
I mean really, how difficult can it be? Melt some butter in water add flour, stir stir and stir then stir in some eggs. In my mind I am  French and a master at making pastry in a small bakery. In reality I can't speak French swear  a lot when I bake and hope it turns out and doesn't make anyone sick. So this is my first attempt and good or bad here goes.

For those who know me, know my love/obsession with cookbooks and French ones at that. So, I gleamed through the stacks of books that I have and I decided on the recipe from Sweet Paris by  Michael Paul.
They weren't really that hard to make and by looking at the pictures they were a success and as for the  reviews from my tasters they were AWESOME!

Well, I did learn one very important detail while baking. The directions say do not open the door  during the baking time, it really means DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. I learned the hard way. I opened the door when the timer went off thinking they were done. They weren't. So when I finally took them out most of them flattened like a pancake. I filled and iced the ones the were usable and discovered that even if they are flat as pancake you can still schemer pastry cream on them and still eat them. And they are just as yummy aa the pretty ones.

Pastry Cream

Eclairs ready for the chocolate

My eclairs on the left compared to the ones in the book 

Finished eclairs

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'm Baaaak

Things are starting to pick up around here. Summer is just about over and my taste tester has been back for a few months now. It’s time to get back into the kitchen and start baking. Since the hubster was deployed I really didn't go out much or bake. So, I’m back at it now.
September, according to my scheduling, is going to be busy. Testing recipes for the DC State Fair, going to a cooking demonstration/tasting to raise money for Cancer research, and later this month I’m traveling to Seattle to attend IFBC 2013 (more on that later). 

Props are ready, camera has been dusted off, and ideas are churning in my head. So thanks for waiting for a new post all these months. This line from one of my all-time favorite movies sums it up, I’M BAAAAACK!*

 *It's from Independence Day.         

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade marshmallows

Oh, baby it's cold outside. Winter arrived this week with a little snow, and I mean a little, and sub zero temperatures. When the fluffy stuff is flying outside I make fluffy white marshmallows inside.

I traditionally make these in December and share as Christmas gifts to friends and family. I confess, I wasn't going to make them this year but it's tradition and who can argue with that. Even though it's  January better late than never some would say. 

You could could had a bit of food coloring or peppermint to change things up if you choose. 

One of the main ingredients 

Waiting for the sugar to reach 244 degrees

Whipping the mixture

Marshmallow in the pan "curing"

Marshmallow ready for hot chocolate

Marshmallows are ready for hot chocolate

Homemade Marshmallows

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand 30 minutes.
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.

With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.

Generously dust an 8 x 12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ode to the Haggis or Happy Birthday Robbie Burns

Robert Burns is Scotland's best-loved bard. Among many Scots, his best know poems are Auld Lang Syne and Ode To A Haggis.
Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759, in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland, to William Burnes, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun.  Robert Burns was the eldest of seven children. He spent his youth working his father's farm, but in spite of his poverty he was extremely well read - at the insistence of his father, who employed (1772) a tutor, John Murdoch, for Robert and younger brother Gilbert. At 15 Robert was the principal worker on the farm and this prompted him to start writing in an attempt to find a suitable outlet for his circumstances." It was at this early age that Burns penned his first verse, "My Handsome Nell", which was an ode to the other subjects that dominated his life, namely scotch and women.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
You pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead
His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!
Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive
Bethankit hums
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle
Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,
Gie her a Haggis!

 What is haggis? Haggis is a dish containing sheep's heart, liver, and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt. It is mixed and traditionally simmered in the sheep's stomach. Although modern haggis is prepared in a casing rather then the actual stomach. So, haggis is a sausage or pudding cooked in a casing. I have to admit the thought of innards in a recipe isn't so appealing. But I have to say the haggis we had celebrating Scotland during our stay at the Kilconquhar Castle Estate in 2008 was really good. It was very moist and flavorful and nothing like I was expecting. I really wasn't sure what to expect. I heard stories, most of what legends are made of. It was nutty, spicy and was actually quite good. The haggis is a traditional dish of Scotland and is served with "neeps and tatties" to us that is yellow turnips and potatoes.
 The recipe pictured above is called "Haggis Jacobean"put  2-3 oz of haggis in an individual serving dish. Add an extra teaspoon of whisky and heat in oven or microwave until piping hot. Serve with a generous portion of fresh cream.
And there you have it. Happy Birthday Robbie Burns a toast to the haggis

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shaker Lemon Pie for National Pie Day

Winter time needs days that celebrate good food. Citrus is in season to help us get through the cold winter months, So, it's a win win all around, well at least for me. Today is National Pie Day. And to celebrate all things pie and citrus I made a Shaker Lemon Pie. I love tart pies ( I love all pie, I don't discriminate).

Last week I  asked my friends on Facebook if anyone had seen Meyer lemons in the stores yet and low and behold the next day was a  bag of Meyer lemons so I decided to make this pie for pie day.

This recipe comes from the Shaker community, maybe from Southern Ohio.  The Shakers are very frugal and this recipe is no exception, it uses the whole lemon rind and all.

Once again I'll take some to work and some to share with my neighbors. Like the fig newtons if this turns out well I will make it for the hubster when he comes home in June. I'm sure he won't complain about being my taste tester again.

Meyer lemons awaiting their fate

Lemons starting to macarate in sugar

Pie crust dough

Pie awaiting the oven

Out of the oven and cooling, HURRY HURRY I want a bite
Let's eat

This recipe is adapted from, Kate McDermott.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A little quiet time

It's late in the morning, a pie is in the oven for my National Pie Day post, the cat is finally asleep so the house is really quiet.

I wanted to take some time to figure out what I wanted  blog about this year. I really didn't make much time to blog last year. This year I'd like to change that so instead of focusing on food holidays (well let's not totally forget to celebrate those) I'll still do those occasionally.  I want to focus at least the bake part on all  the things that have intimidated me. Since my pie crust fears have been conquered I now want to take on puff pastry, choux pastry and macarons. And create all the pastries I LOVE to eat in Paris.

On the eat part I do want to get out more, by myself and when the hubster gets home. DC restaurant week is in February and I do have reservations for at least one restaurant. I do want to take an excursion to Union Market in my Ward and visit and get to know the vendors there. I would like Union Market to become my go to place for my baking and cooking needs.

And last is the travel part. We do have two trips planned so far, a cruise and our annual trip to Massanutten. Massawhaten? Massanutten it's our go to get out of the city escape. It's in the Shenandoah Valley and for us it is a chance to get away relax, play golf, go the the spa, eat good food, drink good local beer and wine.

So there is, written down for all to see.

I hope you will continue to follow me on this part of my journey. I hope to have more successes than failures (oh, you'll see those). And as always there will be a little swearing, cut fingers and fingernails a long the way. Thanks mom for setting me on this different journey.

Make time to eat out more.

There will always be an excuse to make pie 

Travel should always be part of life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Holiday in Prague

This Christmas  was a weird year for our household. Christmas was very low key o real Christmas tree,  no lights on the house and no presents around the small artificial tree,  How can these things happen? Well, the hubster was unable to come home for the holiday this year. So, if  the Christmas spirit won't come to me I will go to it. I really wanted to find a place that really had all the Christmas I could soak in.
Our original plans fell through so  I was desperate to find a spot for our rendezvous. I was at a loss, Pairs, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Moscow? Nope, no and no. SO, where to go? We chose Prague. We have never been there, didn't speak the language didn't really know much about it, so why not?  It's know as the Art Nouveau capital of Europe and did not disappoint. Most of the buildings are painted lovely shades of yellow, blues, greens and pink. Exteriors are adorned with fancy trim and some even have statues.
It was everything I had hoped for cold, snowy and Christmasy.  The city was old world Europe. With cobblestone streets twists and turns and all the streets all seemed to bring you back to Old Town Square. Prague is very walkable city  and we boy did walked it, everyday. The view from our hotel was right in the heart of the old square across from the famous Astronomical Clock and main hub for the annual Christmas market.  Looking forward to going back, oh Yes!

One of the many decorated buildings

Up close

Astronomical clock in the Old Town Square

One of the many church spires

Painted facade

Buildings in Old Town

Franz Kafka

View of Prague Castle

One of the Christmas trees in the market

St. Charles Bridge

View of the city from the castle

One of the many ornate doorways

St. Vitus cathedral

Turn a corner and there is an other painted building

Ornate work over a door

Ornate decorations

Iron Work

Old Town Square

Ornate door work