the sesame seed bagel

gluten-free Sesame seed bagels

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have absolutely no modesty when it comes to this creation. After all, it’s not only the flavour, but the appearance which makes it such a winning thing.

I’ve heard some great reviews out there about gluten free bagels from the people who know what they are talking about. I’m always a little disheartened by the images though. Sure, they may taste like a bagel, & have the general shape of a bagel, but somehow the final result always looks unkempt & there’s a note from the author about how tricky the dough is to work with.

With what I’ve done here, not only does it have the soft, chewy texture that a bagel should, but it actually LOOKS just like a proper sesame seed bagel. & to add to my boasting, I can say that the dough was a charm to work with.

Unfortunately, you’re going to hate me with what I’ll say next, & for that I apologise… I’m not sharing the recipe. At least not yet. It’s such a winner that I want to save it for a surprise in the cook book I plan to publish.

Please, try not to loathe me too much. I assure you it will be well worth the wait.

the egg trick

It’s one of those lazy Sunday afternoons spent lying on the couch. The kind where I sleepily rolled out of bed in the morning & wandered down to the park to enjoy a coffee in the sunshine. Also the kind where I baked an over indulgent chocolate cake & sat with the tin in one hand & a spoon in the other… yes, I may have eaten the whole thing.

It’s the kind of Sunday where I’m partly curious how much sugar & butter may be floating around my blood stream, & the other half of me is accepting the feeling of fullness in my belly with a sly smile on my face.

It’s just one of those lazy Sundays.

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There may have also been a fresh banana & some strawberries cut up on top of the cake as an afterthought… the perfect touch to that rich, moist, bitter chocolate sponge. An added compliment to the vanilla cream & milky chocolate ganache.

Do I regret it? Of course not. It was good for my soul.

So, whilst I sit here like the fat cat who devoured the canary, I scroll through my pinterest, my Facebook, & all associated social media I may subscribe to & I just happened to come across this video. A neat little trick on separating egg yolks. Thought I might share it & maybe recant my story about the mishap during my baking…

Last night, whilst I was putting together the sponge batter for the chocolate cake, I decided to be somewhat lazy & just crack my eggs straight into the bowl of my already running stand mixer…. Being the butter fingers that I am of course, I managed to drop the first egg, shell included, straight into the bowl & watched as it was smashed to smithereens & dispersed amongst the cocoa & butter. Horrified, I attempted to salvage what little shell I could before eventually waving the white flag. It did cross my mind to start from scratch, but then again, I’d just used the last of the butter & my good Valrhona cocoa.

“Well shit (pardon my language). F*** it, I’m the only one eating it…..” & with a shrug of my shoulders I continued, hoping that the motion of my balloon whisk on high speed would eventually pulverise it into oblivion & I could just learn to appreciate the extra calcium.

On occasion durring consumption, there was an added *crunch* to my mouthful… but I wasn’t trying to win any awards.

Lesson learned. First crack eggs, then add to batter.

Any way, enjoy the video. Maybe incorporate it into your baking routine. Or just snicker at my story. Either way, I hope your sunday is as lazy as mine xxx

your favourite…

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Do you remember what you said to me on our last day together? You told me that by the weekend, you’d be eating that banoffee pie that I had stashed away in the freezer for you. It was supposed to be your reward for losing the last of the weight you’d put on during your last trip to Athens. I knew it would work too since it was always your favourite.

It all seems so silly now.

The banoffee pie is gone. I think the movers threw it away when they were packing up the kitchen & transferring our life as we knew it into boxes…

I sat, watching them as they picked up the pieces that you left behind. Not that it matters really… our home could never be ours again as long as you aren’t there to share it with. Just a painful reminder of the beautiful life that we shared.

I haven’t baked in your absence. Actually, I haven’t even picked up a knife. It just hasn’t felt right. At least, not until now. The urge is coming back & I can’t get the thought of banoffee pie off of my brain. I think it would be good for me to make one again… not that I need it to remember how you would commandeer the whole pie & sneak off to a corner of the kitchen with the pie plate in front of you & a spoon in your hand.

I loved you for that. You always made sure I knew when you thought what I’d made was incredible. You gave me the confidence to try harder & get better.

I wont write a new recipe for the banoffee pie, you loved the original one so much you used to beg me not to change it. I will share the old one again though… I’ll share it with the hopes that anyone who misses you as I do will make one for you.

I miss you with my whole heart…

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a letter for him

My Mel,

It’s been a month since you slipped away in the night & vanished from my life for good. Can you believe it… because I can’t. I keep hoping that the days will get easier with the passing of time, but without you, my love, every moment is agonising. You’ve left this empty space where my heart should be & I’m beginning to fear that nothing in this world will ever fill that gap. People keep assuring me that “time heals all wounds” & that “life goes on”… I wish they would shut up. I can hear you in my head saying “Baby, don’t be so strict with people” & encouraging me to find a softer approach. The truth is I wouldn’t know where to start. You always showed me how to be kinder & more forgiving… a little less socially awkward too. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m having to learn how to breath all over again & sometimes that just feels so pointless.
I’m back in Boulder again. I really wish you would have just come here with me last year like you promised. At least last year I had hope that I would eventually win this battle & bring you to this beautiful place. Maybe even get you to finally meet my sisters. I find myself often wishing that I would have pushed you more… we both know that wouldn’t have worked though. Anyone who knew you would know that the more you were pushed, the less likely you were to ever do it. Still… I look up at the skies & I find myself begging to some unknown deity to bring you back to me. WHen I actually force myself to remember that I will never again be able to touch you, kiss you, or tell you that I love you, I’m overwhelmed with this crippling pain.
I’m still mad at you, you know. I know it does me no good to hold on to anger, & ultimately nothing in this world will bring you back…. but I am angry. I think about all the conversations we had about this very thing happening, & all the times I made you promise to be careful or begged you not to go at all. I think that’s why I’m angry, because you knew better. You knew the risks & you took them any way. You swore you never could nor would leave me, & yet here I am, having to learn how to live my life without you. I don’t know how to do this. It feels like I’m having to learn how to put one foot in front of the other again, & all I’m doing is clumsily tripping over my own feet & falling on my face. I don’t know which part of me still exists if it’s without you. You are my soulmate, dammit. I knew it from the second I laid eyes on you again… the only thing I wanted was you. Don’t worry… I may be mad, but none of that clouds the fact of how much I love you. Nor does it take away from how thankful I am for the time we spent together. We had four incredible years together my love, but more than that, I was lucky enough to have known you my whole life. Your time with us was too short, but I will be eternally grateful for every moment we got to share.
Want to hear something funny? I never told you this before because you’re supposed to keep wishes secret… Remember when I became obsessed with folding origami cranes? Well, I had heard once that there was this Japanese legend where by anyone who folded 1,000 cranes was granted one wish. Do you know what I wished for when I got to 1,000? I wished for us to spend the rest of our lives together. I suppose in a way it came true… you spent the rest of yours with me. You’re probably laughing at me right now & muttering about what an idiot I am, the same way you always did when you thought I was being ridiculous but incredibly adorable at the same time. Yes, I know you found my oddities endearing… you thought you kept these things secret from me, but your smile always gave them away. I miss your smile. Your smell. Waking up next to you in the morning. I long for you….
Every day I have a moment where I look forward to seeing you so I can tell you about what happened to me… & then I remember. You are my best friend, my love. I don’t know where you are, or if you can hear me when I talk to you… but no matter what, I need you to know how much I love you. How much I have always loved you, & will forever love you still. I need you to know that you’re the reason I made sense. I am lost without you.

I will always love you my darling. Always & forever. I miss you….

Your moushka

peach & rosemary preserve

peach, rosemary & white wine preserve... gluten-free

I think I’ve got the canning bug. Although of course I just had to wait until all the good fruits were out of season before I decided I wanted to try to preserve them.

Still, managed to get my hands on some peaches.

Here’s my dirty little secret though. I didn’t reach for those nice, fresh, just ripened peaches with that beautiful yellow coloured flesh…. I wanted my peaches close to death. All soft & squishy. Starting to turn colour. Completely unappetising to eat with that horrendous overly-rippened-now-starting-to-rot mushy thing going on.

Want to know why? These are usually the sweetest & make the best jams. Doesn’t do wonders for my pictures though… but holy toledo Batman, that flavour is GOOOOD!

What I’ve got here isn’t your typical preserve either. I mean, it’s not something I’d put on pancakes in the morning. It’s more for toasted english muffins, or paired with brie & prosciutto. It’s for the more savoury of pairings with the earthy undertones of the rosemary & the slight hint of spice from the pepper corns. Personally, I’d like a little less sugar in the recipe, but then we start getting into the realms of adding more pectin & it’s just not something I want to deal with.

I think maybe I’m going to start going crazy with the preserving process & start getting ready for homemade christmas presents. Continue reading

tall tier madness

three tiered wedding cake with pipped lace, peony flowers & an extended middle tier

 

I had the honour & privilege of attending my vet’s wedding last night. Not as a guest of course, but rather as one of the catering servers & also as the cake designer along with my partner Eirini.

Nice event, small, beautiful location… & of course, lots of booze. Like any good wedding should have.

Did I mention I also had the fortunate luck to witness my vet dancing on a bar wearing his wife’s veil & exposing his midriff? Oh yes, good fun. Going to have a hard time keeping a serious face the next time Loki needs a checkup.

Still, I do have a certain soft-spot for weddings. Between the booze & cake, there really can’t be anything but a good time.

This cake here gave us a hell of a time though. Even though the weather has cooled off, it has been humid as all hell. Do you have any idea what humidity does to fondant? Huh? Do you?!

Humidity makes fondant sticky. I mean stickier that superglue. Shiny too. It becomes a sticky, shiny mess that just loves to rip & mark all over the place.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that every road in Syros seems to be either on a steep incline/decline or on a hairpin turn. & the potholes! Did I mention that the design of the cake made it have a very high centre of gravity? Oh, yea. Transporting it was a JOYOUS occasion.

Still, for all the complaining I seem to be doing, Eirini & I were honoured to have the opportunity to put this thing together. Just getting to play with gold luster dust, pipping lace & an extended middle tier, more than made up for the frustrations that awaited us.

So here it is. Our newest creation. I think it may even be our last wedding cake for 2013 seeing as wedding season is over. That does make me a little sad. Anywho, still thrilled to have had all the opportunities we had this year, both of us have been incredibly grateful for all the work that has come our way.

my blueberry birthday

blueberry birthday cake with a light cream cheese filling

This is my birthday cake.

I am absolutely, 100%, not ashamed to say that I baked my very own cake.

Mel’s been making fun of me since last week. He keeps telling me that a person absolutely should not be making their own cake. He might be right.

I on the other hand absolutely insist that it’s not a birthday unless there is cake. Which presents me with a problem. There are no gluten-free bakeries on the island, & other peoples ovens make me nervous. I want a reaction-free cake. Then there’s the problem that Mel’s no baker. Which leaves me with my one & only options of….. You guessed it… ME!

I had wanted a cherry & amaretto cake since I’m absolutely addicted to the combination at the moment…. but I’m a moron & forgot that cherries were out of season. Didn’t want chocolate. I feel like all I ever do it use chocolate. Carrot cake I’ve made countless times. So, what else? Banana? No, Eirini doesn’t like banana. Vanilla? Too boring. Fruity. But not peach.

Lucky for me, I love the colour purple & always have blueberries in my freezer. Problem solved. Blueberry cake for Lauren.

Don’t make fun. I put my age on it too. Yeah, I’m a bit of a strange one. Enjoy the recipe!!!

As for me, I special ordered the harvest moon tonight & it should be arriving here in an hour. How’s that for a birthday present!

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the seductive side of spinach tortillas

gluten-free spinach tortillas. Perfect for wraps!

I’ve been wandering around my kitchen all morning wondering how in the world I can make spinach tortillas look seductive…..

Do you know how hard it is to make green food look good?!  I’m not talking about salad green, or fresh cucumbers… I’m talking about baked goods that look green. It’s almost like asking the Grinch to pose for glamour shots.

The pictures fail though.

I’m telling you, I kept frying up tortillas & before I could even plate them, I was stuffing them in my mouth. I made my way through FOUR before I managed to actually set one aside for the picture.

So much flavour!

Immediately after I was done photographing them… I whipped myself a scrambled egg & quinoa filling with fresh parsley & sweet chili sauce. I know that probably doesn’t sound appealing, but it was frickin’ amazing.

I assure you… the colour of these tortillas are all natural & the flavour is overwhelmingly delicious. I can’t wait for Mel to come home so I can get him to make me chicken burritos again!

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cherry & amaretto pavlovas

mini cherry & amaretto pavlovas

I tossed & turned last night, somewhere half way between sleep & wake. Obsessing & dreaming about how I was going to enlighten you with my pavlovas & convey their magic through the use of the written word. I was brilliant, well spoken, & had a delicious vocabulary to impress you with. You would have been impressed with my ability to articulate their beauty in a seamless fashion.

Now?

I can’t remember a damn word.

It would appear as if I’m only competent when I sleep. & then it becomes a question of “am I actually competent, or does my subconscious just think I am?”

I suppose we will never know.

It’s a pavlova. By all rights, it really shouldn’t be all that interesting. I mean, it’s meringue. I never understood what the fuss was with meringues. They’re basically just crunchy, chewy sugar. & yet…. in pastry shops they always look so exquisite. Big, cloud like formations that come in gorgeous colours. I wonder whoever thought them up.

I’ve also come to understand that pavlovas were originally made for a Russian ballerina by the name of Anna Pavlova. Would you buy it if I said that my little pavlovas look like the frilly skirts that ballerinas wear?  Maybe that’s trying to stretch it a bit too far.

I did try to do the dessert justice though… A delicate balance between black cherries & a sweet amaretto cream.

They are what they are & I like them as is. Try ‘em & let me know what you think. Continue reading