Saturday, May 30, 2015

National Burger Month

Grandma's burgers


May is National Burger Month! Yup that’s right a whole month to celebrate all burger goodness. In fact did you know that there is a holiday to celebrate food every day? Everyday. 
Now I could just throw a burger on the grill, slap condiments on it, photograph it and post it. BORING!! No, I going to turn it up a notch and cook it the way my grandmother did. Have I mentioned my Southern grandmother? So, I’m going to fry it in bacon fat, yes I did go there, and I said BACON FAT.

Bacon fat makes everything taste better!




I spent the summer of 72 with my grandparents. Hamburgers were the one thing I wanted her to make morning, noon and night!  They were magical to me. Today I would call them crack burgers but when you are twelve and grew up way back when, then magic is what they were. Now my grandma was very southern and I seem to  remember she cooked and fried most things in bacon fat, burgers, cornbread and I’m many other things as well. I think that she had a jar of the stuff by the stove.
Now, back to those burgers. She would fry them turning only once. Once turned she would place one half of the bun on top to soak up the burger juice. What seemed like forever the burger was cooked she would place the burger on the bottom portion of the bun and serve them. Mustard, katsup whatever you need to put on your bun go ahead. Maybe a side of potato salad or a deviled egg or two and a big glass of tea, sweet tea to the south, just plain iced tea for me.          

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.

                  

Monday, May 4, 2015

French Pastries

Too many eclairs

Salted caramel, raspberry, cherry and chocolate and hazelnut.

The highlight of our quick trip to the city of lights, cheese and bread had to have been the eclairs, at least for me. Our apt was up the street from L'Éclair de Génie and when confronted with the enviable question of which one will you have? It was  hard not to order one of each, but we settled on just 4. The cherry, chocolate caramel, raspberry and the grand prise winner the salted caramel. Works of art! As hard as it was, we were pretty good about enjoying them and not scarfing them down in one sitting.  


Citron tart, Isphan, hazelnut millefuille and chocolate noir pastries
chocolate covered marshmallows, jelly candies and a box of chcoclates

picnic in park

sandwich, wine and chips 

During our trip we picked up pastries at la mère de famille and Pierre Hermé and headed to the Le Jardin du Luxembourg Luxembourg for a nice picnic in the park. Which I am really not sure if you are allowed to drink wine in the parks so we tucked out bottle in one of our bags and poured into the glasses thinking that no one was watching. We thought we would be caught as 5 police officers were interrupting a chess match. No one was carted away so I guess the game continued uninterrupted. After a nice break in the garden it was back to Pierre Hermé for more pastry, late night snacks need to be tamed! 
We took a break at Angelina for lunch. Since it was a little chilly and rainy it was a perfect day for the famous hot chocolate and their signature pastry, The Mont Blanc.


Mont Blanc and hot chocolate

There is nothing wrong with hazelnut millefuille a Chocolate Noir Cake with your morning croissants, is there?  

Friday, May 1, 2015

26.2 miles and the sights



April 12, 2015 will live forever in our minds and the feet of one. The hubster ran and finished his last marathon, ever. And I finally made into the Paris Opera House.  Hubster unfortunately didn't.  Don't tell him we went.  We promised we wouldn't look up at the glory of the ceiling.
The race for the hubster started at 10:05 on the Champs de Elysee under the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe. What a great sunny day for running it was turning out to be.
We left the chaos of the starting line, marathon map in hand and a plan to meet up and cheer on the hubster at certain points along the race.

Our goal was to meet up at 3 check points. We missed him at the first check point only because we were enjoying the beautiful interior of the Opera House, don't tell. I had come to see the Chagall ceiling and was not disappointed. The Opera House was built in 1861, Grand Staircase, the Grand Foyer and of course the ceiling. That beautiful ceiling I could stare at it all day. It depicts scenes from operas by 14 composers. Installed in 1964 was of course controversial. I think it's a masterpiece.
Now back to the race. We met up a the 30 km and I gave him a big hug and helped him over the 30 km marker. So now I can say I crossed the 30km marker in a marathon! We helds up signs and cheered on the racers that looked like they needed much encouragement.









We raced onto the next check point, the 26 mile marker. Again we cheered those racers that needed an extra ump!  Some runners remembered us from the earlier checkpoints! They kept smiling and some even said Chuck Norris was going to kick my ass. Only .2 miles to go and the hubster pushed on to the finish! Who says you need to train to run a marathon! Well for the very last marathon for the hubster it was a true test of determination but for us it was a great day of sights!