Wednesday, April 29, 2009

31 Cent Scoop Night

Don't miss out on tonight's 31 cent scoop night at Baskin-Robbins! The third annual 31 cent scoop night benefits our local firefighters. Cool your tongue on your favorite flavor in honor of our firefighters efforts to keep our community safe coolin' fires.

That's at least 3 scoops for under a buck!

Go out and show some love for the firefighters (and your sweet tooth)!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Raspberry Squares

I have this thing for French pastries. So does my waist, but we won't talk about that.... ;-)

I pine for the buttery croissants of the boulangeries and the sweet layers of fraisiers from the patisseries. Last summer I spent 6 weeks studying in Paris. And each day during those 6 weeks, I indulged in a different pastry or bread. I tried to limit this to once a day, but it was difficult wandering around the city, the smell of sweet butter wafting out of the shops, one on nearly every corner.

My favorite activity on a Saturday morning was to leave the house early and head to the boulangerie for a freshly baked pain au chocolat and a cafe au lait. The pain au chocolat is a long, thin sweet bread (like Brioche) studded with tiny morsels of melted chocolate. I would dip the pain into my cafe before each bite, allowing the delicious flavors of coffee, chocolate and butter to slide easily down my throat.

I discovered this book at a library book sale a few weeks ago. Obviously, I could not pass it up. The opportunity to create my own Parisien pastries in the comfort of my own home...! This was nearly a dream come true.

Although, I have since discovered that the ingredients available in the United States are subpar to French butter, cream and such. And the ambience created by the sidewalk cafe in Paris can't quite be replicated. But it will, at least, allow me to prolong my dreams of Paris a bit until we meet again....

My first attempt at Parisien pastries were these raspberry bars. Simple enough, non? What sets them apart from American jam bars is the addition of almond meal to the shortbread dough and a light egg wash on top, producing a nice, crunchy texture on the initial bite. I was running a little low on preserves so the full amount was cut short. But I think it turned out to be just the right amount of fruity sweetness for these tasty morsels.

Carres aux Framboises
(or Raspberry Squares)
Adapted from Paris, Boulangerie, Patisserie
Pate Sablee
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. almond meal
1 large egg, beaten
2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 c. - 1 c. raspberry jam, more if needed
sugar, any combination of brown, white, and powdered
Pate Sablee: Mix together flour, sugar and almond meal. Add the egg and butter and mix until it comes together. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least half an hour.
Assembly: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large glass Pyrex dish. Divide dough in half. Flour a surface and roll out to about 1/8 in. thickness. Fit into the bottom of the dish, trimming the edges to fit the pan. (I could never get this to work; the dough kept coming apart when I tried to pick it up. Either I didn't refrigerate it long enough or there was enough moisture. At any rate, I simply took pieces and smashed them into the bottom of the dish. The same with the top layer.) Spread a 1/4 in. layer of preserves on the pastry. Roll out remaining pastry to 1/8 in. thickness and press onto top of preserves. Trim edges of pastry. (Or press dough in pieces onto preserves.) Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until pastry is golden, about 30 - 40 minutes. Cut pastry into 3 inch squares once cooled. (It is vitally important to let bars cool before cutting them, otherwise they break apart.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I am currently suffering from a 'broken' epidemic. I am discovering the ruins of one thing after hard drive, my car brakes, my bike heart.
At times I feel isolated and discouraged, but God provides me with little comforts to get me through my days.

Frozen yogurt is one of them. This is my third day in a row of taking comfort in its cool, sweet flavors. I never pass on the strawberry.
No harm in that -- it's healthy right??

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fun with Pancakes

What is a Saturday morning without pancakes??
Seth is my guest blogger this morning, sharing with you the results of the delicious breakfast he prepared this morning. My brother has all the makings of a master chef beginning to surface. :-) Without further adieu....
Hello, my name is Seth. This morning me and my sister made apple cinnamon pancakes which we do not usually do, but today we did. Mixing the batter is tough. The cinnamon and apples made it more difficult to stir with the whisk. The pancakes were much thicker than normal. My favorite part was the fact that we put extra apples in the batter. When you ate the pancake it was like eating an atomic bomb of apple goodness. There would be blasts of delicious, and then it would be just like radiation: an after shock of total awesomeness. Anyway, it was really good. Next time you make buttermilk pancakes be sure to try adding your favorite fruits and spices for an extra layer of sweetness to your morning.
My specialty is Mickey Mouse pancakes.
We enjoyed our fantastic apple-cinnamon pancakes with sausage and bacon, and a glass of our 'chewy fruit' orange juice. (Translation: lots of pulp ;-) )
Mmmm, mmmm good!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Location, Location

I apologize for my long absence. I've been longing to share my thoughts, photos, etc. with you over these past few weeks but the lack of a computer has made it rather difficult. I was greatly frightened by the prospect of having lost all of my photos taken over the past few months, until my genius brother managed to pull them off my damaged hard drive for a lot less than the $100 Best Buy was going to charge me for the feat. However, they now reside on my mom's hard drive which is a few inches from the computer graveyard itself. And it turns out she doesn't have a CD goes life these days.

When all else fails, one can at least turn to a good meal for nourishment, not only for the body but the soul as well. One of the greatest factors in determining the outcome of a meal depends on the environment in which it is served. But, you know, it doesn't take a fancy spread of white linen and bone china to truly delight...the simplest setting can bring the utmost contentment.

Lounging on the beach, listening to the waves gently crash along the shoreline, is one of the most ideal spots for dining. It calms my nerves and allows me to enjoy and digest my meal without a sense of hurry. I can sink my toes into the warm sand as the cool breeze off the water sends shivers up my spine. I munch on a hunk of warm sourdough bread spread with herbed goat's cheese and a slice of tomato. Perhaps later, I sink my teeth into a juicy pear, sighing as the nectar slides down my throat. A large hunk of dark chocolate hits the spot for my sweettooth before I trail off along the waterline for an after-dinner stroll, skimming my toes along the icy water. Don't want to miss the grand finale of the evening -- sunset.

I admit it -- al fresco dining is my weakness. Coming in a close second, a grassy knoll will do for a nice picnic. A basket of fried chicken with warm buttermilk biscuits, served alongside a generous dollop of homemade potato salad. I hope there are enough for seconds. Should I take a short nap in the warm afternoon sunshine now? Or after indulging in my strawberry shortcake made with the leftover biscuits? A game of frisbee is sure to ensue at some point in the day.

But perhaps most important of all is your dining companions. Dining in the company of friends can make the blandest meal sparkle like a diamond. Not to imply anything mediocre about this meal I shared with friends in a Parisien Lebanese bistro, but the simple fruit platter we were served to crown our fantastic three-course meal, was like the finest creme brulee shared in such delightful company. Our forks busily attempting to catch up the tasty morsels, we giggled as we nearly skewered each others fingers instead. I am certain my initial plans to dine alone that day would have sadly fallen short of the mark.