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I Made Another Cake

It was TWELVE LAYERS. I’ll spare you knowledge of exactly how many pounds of butter, cups of sugar, and dozens (yes) of eggs I went through to make this sucker. (Hint: more than any other cake I can recall making, except maybe my wedding cake. Which was for many more people.)

Yellow Sponge Cake Chocolate Soufflé

Yellow Sponge Cake.
Mocha Buttercream.
Hazelnut Meringue.
Coffee Buttercream.
Chocolate Soufflé Cake.
Mocha Buttercream.
Repeat.
Shave Good Dark Chocolate on top.
Serve.

What can I say? It was my birthday. I went overboard.*

Close up.
Finished Cake

I made a whole bunch of other food too. I know you’re interested, because you love food as much as I do (don’t you? Isn’t that why you’re here?) so here’s a round up of the party menu. I decided to keep it classy with fancy, bite-sized apps and none of the usual chip-and-dip business. Also, I attempted to maintain a balance of hot and cold things and to make sure my vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/kosher friends all had options. Here’s what I made, in no particular order:

  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates (hot) – a time-tested standby, it is hard to go wrong with these. Plus, Julia and I had them on our first date, and so they are special. Plus, you know, really freakin’ tasty.
  • Caprese Skewers (cold, vegetarian) – my play on the classic Italian salad. I put a cherry tomato, a small basil leaf, and one of those tiny (3/4″ diameter or so) mozzarella balls from the deli onto each stick, arranged them on a plate, and then drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Brie with Apricot Preserves & Almonds (hot, vegetarian) –  I make this a lot at parties because it is quick and easy but also fancy and delicious. All you do is top a wedge of brie with a few spoonfuls of preserves, warm it for about a minute in the microwave, sprinkle it with nuts, and serve with crackers. The amount of effort involved is nearly zero, and compared to the usual grabbing of chips & dip on the way to the potluck… WIN. Seriously, do this instead.
  • Chilled Cucumber & Dill Soup (cold, vegetarian, gluten-free) – This was a new recipe I tried. I tasted it while I was cooking it, and truthfully, I liked it better warm. Still, it was pretty good. I served it in 1oz shot glasses. FYI, I subbed vegetable stock for the chicken called for in the recipe to keep it as a meat-free option.
  • Red Wine Poached Figs (hot, vegan, gluten-free) – Holy crap, these were good. Unfortunately, they came out of the oven right after we decided to bust out the cake, so they were largely overlooked by the guests. Too bad for them. If you like figs, you should make these sometime. Soon, because as I mentioned, they are almost out of season.
  • Cucumber Chickpea Bruschetta (cold, vegan, gluten-free) – We made these once before, at our vegan/gluten-free dinner party, and they were as good as we remembered. Yum.
  • Shrimp Cocktail (cold) – Let’s just say we started with two pounds of shrimp and leave it at that.
  • Lemon-Parsley Gougeres – I’ve been wanting to make these for a while. Glad I finally got around to it – they were heavenly little flaky pastry puffs with a zesty lemon bite. They did not last long.

Of course, there was also wine a plenty along with champagne and some non-alcoholic punch, which turned out to be so good that I ended up drinking quite a bit of it.

In summary: delicious food + wine + the most excellent people = one awesome 30th birthday!

*I spent the better part of my actual birthday on Saturday prepping for this party. There were spreadsheets involved. Because, you know, I needed a schedule and a list of prep times and to make sure I had enough vegetarian, gluten-free, & kid-friendly things as well as a balance of hot & cold; sweet & savory. And also I just like spreadsheets. Yeah, I’m a major geek. But you knew that.

Live. Work. Eat. (Or The State of our Union.)

Ok, I am sorry about that punny title. A little. There hasn’t been a real post here in almost two weeks. For shame! (Nah, not really. This kind of writing should be done when one has something to say, not just because it’s time, right?) Anyway… When last we met, my car was full of bullet holes and life was really busy. Let’s catch up.

Life:
I’m told my car is no longer filled with holes (though one bullet may be stuck in there forever) and it’s being painted and re-assembled and I should have it back next week. I’ll note that Allstate has been speedy and helpful throughout, and the auto body shop calls me every few days to give me an update on the car.

We are still really, really busy.

Julia has been stitching away on costumes for Guys and Dolls at Theatre at the Center the past few weeks since Aladdin closed. She’s about to start training to cover the wardrobe track for For the Boys up at the Marriott, after which she’ll train to cover the stage manager for Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane. So – no days off for her until sometime after our upcoming trip to Portland. (Which we are so excited about! Julia has never been. My best friend lives there, and we’ll get to see her, yay! It’s going to be something like an actual vacation, woo!)

I had a ridiculously easy work week, with an extra long Labor Day weekend (I got Friday, Monday, and Tuesday off) which was followed by two days of work and this Friday off as well. I’m sorry, I’m really not trying to rub it in. Mainly, I say that because I got to spend most of those days off practicing being self-employed.

This morning we were talking about this blog. Julia feels like it is mine, all mine, because although way back when we started it, we actually wrote posts together and I typed “we” and “us” all the time, it somehow evolved into “I” and “me” and now you all know my writing voice and not hers. Totally true. I’m absolutely guilty of that. But. This was supposed to be OUR blog, not mine. So I’m hoping – WE’RE hoping – that in the future we’ll each write about half of the posts, and maybe sometimes we’ll even write together again. But probably not, because it turns out neither one of us especially likes to do that. And she made the excellent point that when we actually have time together, she would like to actually spend it with me, not writing a blog. (Please feel free to let Julia know in the comments that you want to hear from her too! And/or to send her a new computer and some extra hours in the day so that she is well-equipped to do so.)

Crafty Broads:
Here’s what I was doing when I had all that “free time”: setting up our accounting system, updating invoice and quote templates and actually using them to write up one of each, buying
our very first advertising ever on A Practical Wedding, doing some much-needed updates to the website, and working on a
couple of our sewing projects.

About the time of the last post, we took on a client who needed
alterations to her wedding dress and a little shrug to wear over it in
time for her wedding which is TOMORROW. Which is not a lot of time to
get things sewn when we’re both already working day jobs and are knee
deep in another big sewing project. I did the alterations and Julia made a beautiful silk shrug. Our client was very happy with the results. We’ll have a post on this project later this week, with pictures and everything.

We are less than a week away from the due date for our mockup of the wedding dress, bolero, and winter coat we are making. It is going to be so pretty. We are both extremely excited about this project. Hope to have some process pictures up on here or the Crafty Broads facebook page soon.

And, saving the best for last, Food:
Oh, boy, what have we been eating? Because of the business, we have not been cooking as much as usual. We have ordered in a few times and eaten out a few times. There goes our budget. Anyway, here are a couple things we’ve made at home lately that were pretty good:

Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks and Fava Beans – So we were at the grocery store together (a rare miracle these days), and we passed the fresh fava beans, and just had to have some because they looked so good. No plan in mind for how to use them, total impulse purchase, completely against the menu planning rules. Which is ok because we didn’t plan a menu at all that week anyway. Found this recipe and it was fantastic. It does take a bit of time, but it isn’t particularly difficult, and it is definitely worth the effort.



(from left: shaping the dough; making the marmalade; finished wrap)

White Cheddar and Bacon Piadina with Balsamic Fig and Onion Marmalade – This was the result of another impulse buy. The Figs. They looked SO GOOD. I am obsessed with figs when they are in season. Because they are awesome. We have more in our fridge right now, which are going to be drizzled with honey and served with hazelnut ice cream. Anyway – this recipe was another easy but somewhat time-consuming one. However, like the gnocchi, it was so worth it. We didn’t have brie on hand, so we substituted some white cheddar, which paired nicely. We also lacked arugula, but didn’t really miss it. This Italian flatbread sandwich was AMAZING. We could not save any for leftovers because it was too damn good.

Date Night: Plums

So here’s how we got to tonight’s meal:

  • Right after we got married, we decided that we’ll have a date night on a weekly basis, during which we will try new recipes (except for once in a while, when we’ll go out to eat instead.) 
  • One of the things we’ve discovered in the course of our food adventures in the past few years is that we love the combination of meat and fruit together.
  • Cindy has been scouring the internet for recipes as of late (especially ice cream! but we’ll get to that next week when the ice cream maker arrives…) and has found many things that sound amazing.
  • We bought grass-fed pork loin chops at the farmers’ market yesterday.

When we put those things together, we get Pork Chops with Warm Plum Sauce. We could describe it, but we’re currently in a food coma from it, so we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:


Plums.


Pork.


Plums + Pork. (Click for recipe)


Plums + Pork + Improvised salad from yesterday’s leftovers = Dinner.

Thank you, goodnight.