April 29, 2010

Italy In My Mailbox

When I was in grade school, way back in the days before twitter and email, we had pen pals instead of facebook friends. It was so exciting to get letters in the mail from kids just like us, living in other towns, countries even. We could ask them questions like, what cartoons did they watch, and did they eat oreos the same way we did, and is it true the water in their toilet swirled the other way? Even with all the cyber connecting I've got going on now, I was thrilled when I heard about Foodie Exchange.
Foodie Exchange is a website that connects foodies from around the world to exchange food care packages. Getting a package in and of itself is great but the idea of it being filled with regional treats is downright awesome.
My firs exchange was with Rosella from Milan, Italy who sent me a fantastic box of goodies
Savory items like local olive oil, saffron, and pesto,

and sweet treats of cookies, and my personal kryptonite, Nutella.

She even included a pot holder and handmade cloth grocery bag. Thanks Rosella for such a beautiful bounty!

If you're interested in joining in the fun, check out the Foodie Exchange site for yourself and sign up!

April 28, 2010

High Fallutin'

It seems I've gotten the reputation of being a food snob. Lately every time I plan to meet a friend for a meal they want me to pick the place. Or if they have somewhere in mind they second guess their choice saying, "We could go here, unless you don't think it will be good." Hey, I may be a self professed foodie but hoity toity I ain't.
See, I said ain't. Cuz I'm keepin it real...and stuff.

Look here's the deal, yes I love food- cooking it, eating it, reading about it. I research restaurants, plan outings around meals, fantasize about trips to places with meals I covet, and I'm very picky when choosing the ingredients I cook with. But, a snob? I think not.
I enjoy a ballpark hot dog as much if not more than the next guy, and a road trip just isn't complete without a stop at Wendy's (don't judge). It's just that when something is billed as gourmet cuisine I expect it to be so, especially if I am paying top dollar for it. I try to avoid jarred sauces because making my own is more fun and I can control exactly how much salt & sugar go in it. And when I have a craving for those packaged treats of my youth, I love using my "culinary powers" to knock off the original with a homemade version.
When I saw the Strawberry Pop Tart recipe in last month's Bon Appetit I just could not resist. Leaps and bounds above those little foil packets, these Pop Tarts are made simply with all butter pie dough and homemade strawberry preserves. Nor rock hard icing on these babies either, just a generous dusting of powder sugar.

Once you try them (and see how easy there are to make), you might get a little high on your horse too. For the recipe, click here.

April 25, 2010

Lavender Is Food

My sister-in-law loves caramel. She also loves lavender. Her affection for these items are documented here and here. For her birthday present, lavender fleur de sel caramels were the obvious choice.

Happy Birthday Beth!

Lavender Fleur de Sel Caramels
adapted from Epicurious
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon lavender fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup1/4 cup water

April 13, 2010

Australian Visiting Cake

I love the idea of a cake specifically made for when guests are coming by. Of course given the unpredictable nature of our daily lives, this might work better in theory than in practice but this week's TWD changes all of that. Swedish (Australian) Visiting Cake is the kind of one bowl, already on hand ingredient recipe that works beautifully whether you make it ahead of time or throw it together at the last minute. It's so versatile you can make it in just about any random skillet, cake pan or pie tin.

I made this cake this morning when I remembered my cousin's folks were flying in from Australia- hence the new name. I know this orange cardamom scented cake will be the perfect remedy for their jet lag!
Thanks Nancy for a great pick this week!

April 6, 2010

Feed A Cold

When I was in 5th grade, I wrote a poem about being sick while I was in the infirmary waiting for my mom to come pick me up. To this day every time I get a cold that poem pops into my head. While I will (in the interest of my saving myself from complete and utter embarrassment) refrain from sharing this iambic masterpiece with the blogsphere, I will say that next to matzoh ball soup, a slice of Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake made this patient feel a whole lot better.

Even with my compromised sense of smell this cake tasted great and made me forget for a few minutes how crummy I felt. I used cocoa powder and hot water instead of coffee- I'm already sneezy and dopey, no need to add jumpy to the list.
Thanks Erin for this pick, it was a bright spot in my congested haze.
Want more bundts? Check out the blogroll.

April 5, 2010

Thanks East Bunny, Bok Bok

Forget the egg, this Easter was all about the chick.

Chicks on sticks inspired by Bakerella and Cake Brain

Pretty vanilla cupcakes.

And check out the genius that is the Peep Show. Photo courtesy of Within The Cranium.

What's in your Easter basket?