Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Father's Day: A Day Fit For a King

Oh it was glorious. As Mister Man pointed out, there were 5 starches on his plate. 5!!! This is a meal made for my people.

Because there were going to be so many of us at dinner, I wanted to make a couple of desserts that would go far, so I opted for a big pan of Fudge Brownies and a pan of Gingered Lemon Bars. I noted that one of the cousins broke into the plate of brownies before we'd even begun the main event. I took this as a good sign!

Uncle Dal made a 14 pound roast on the BBQ. The scent of the beast cooking was enough to send us ALL into the pool to cool down. It was delicious.

Here's Bob. Clearly he was in his happy place.

As were Merilee and Cathy.

And Dodie and her grandson:

And who could possibly be in a bad mood when there are brownies on the dessert table?

Ultimate Fudge Brownies

12 oz (1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into about 9 pieces. More softened for the pan.)
3 3/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) natural cocoa powder (sifted if it's become lumpy)
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla
7.5 ounces (1 2/3 cup all purpose flour)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch straight-sided metal baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on the short sides. Lightly butter the foil.

Put the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and stir occasionally until melted, about 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and salt, and whisk until well blended. Use your fingertip to check the temperature of the batter—it should be warm, not hot. If it’s hot, set the pan aside for a minute or two before continuing.

Whisk in the eggs, two and then three at a time, until just blended. Whisk in the vanilla until the batter is well blended. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with small bits of brownie sticking to it, 35 to 45 minutes. For fudgy brownies, do not over bake. Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a rack, about 3 hours.

When the brownies are cool, use the foil overhang to lift them from the pan. Invert onto a cutting board and carefully peel away the foil. Flip again and cut into 24 squares. Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 1 month.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mister Man's Buttermilk Biscuits

I have the best partner in the world. Last Sunday, for Father's Day, he leapt out of bed at the crack of dawn to whip up 3 batches of his delicious buttermilk biscuits. The scent came sashaying into the bedroom and tantalized me into consciousness. Now THAT'S the way to wake a gal up!! I was out of bed in seconds, and testing a biscuit hot out of the oven - spread with a dollop of honey, and a smidgen of love. Flaky goodness - that's what it was.

So I snapped some photos of his nib(bles) at work.

Pretty darn cute!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus additional for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or your hands or a stand mixer fixed with a dough hook until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add 1 cup buttermilk. Using your hands, quickly fold the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. You may need to add more buttermilk.Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Press the dough out to 1 1/2-inches thick and cut with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. I can promise you that when you walk in the room carrying this:

you'll pretty much be the most popular person on the block!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tonight is Cake Decorating

And THAT means there's gonna be a whole lot more of THIS:

Somehow, Lori and I managed to fall behind all night, and ended up rushing. I THINK we might have continued to fall behind because we kept getting giddy. Was it the fumes of the vanilla and almond extract? The heady joy found in successfully stick handling a piping bag? Or is it simply because we were like 2 ten year olds, making a big mess in their mothers' kitchens?

Yup. We had us some GOOOOOOOD chuckles.
In the meantime, some of the women in the class were incredibly adept at mixing colour. Purdy... (though mine is the second last cake... note the LACK of colour on the base of the cake due to the messing about! I like to think of it less like a "barren cake" and more like a "minimalist cake".)

But the real question is this: how on EARTH did Lori and I manage to make such a mess? Yikes! Tonight, we're gonna turn a new leaf. Just you wait and see!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Celebrating Sarah

Here are some images from Sarah's b-day celebration. It was a fondue - not of the deep fried variety, but it was delicious all the same! There were 2 kinds of cheese fondue, plus a chocolate fondue. My fave was the Irish cheddar and Guiness fondue. Holy tornado was that good. There were all manner of items to dip in the fondue including bread (natch), broccoli, cauliflower, fancy pretzels (oh yummers) and sliced apple. My favourite was the sliced apple. It was outta this world. Here's the birthday gal now. Stirring some of that delicious fondue!

AJ was looking dashing in the new summer duds!

Sarah and Donimo dip something fabulous.

An optical illusion gives Susan a set of floppy green ears. Mwa ha ha ha ha!

Classic Susan. I wonder what Mister Man just said?

Everyone is up for a dip!

M and M:
R and R:

Birthday cakes!

Anne is just as cute as the wee doggie.

Sarah chomps down.

Nom nom nom.

M has given that doggie an earful - or has she taken a mouthful?

R is about to make quick work of this pup.

Pups abound (though the real Jackson was nowhere to be seen at this point!)

Melissa and Terra.

Terra made a label for Sarah. It says Safety Lev.

And then, she gave her this gorgeous photo.

It was a wonderful celebration of a wonderful friend.