Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dark Chocolate Truffles Sprinkled with Lemongrass and Lime Flavored Sea Salt

We just came back from a blissful week of diving and relaxing on Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos islands. So refreshing to be back underwater again visiting all my little sea creature friends. Almost every dive there were nurse sharks, hawksbill turtles and one rare siting of a green turtle. Large groupers and curious barracuda followed us around as we cruised along the wall.

We rented a cottage right on the beach from a lovely and gracious pair of Canadian sisters. Their cottages are beautifully appointed and they also own the beach restaurant/bar across the street. Can recommend this place highly enough.

A friendly and professional dive operation was located  just a few doors down, the dive boat leaving from right in front every morning. We were the only two divers on the boat so each dive felt like we were exploring  our own private paradise.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Red Currant Lemon Balm Ice Cream

A few weeks ago in Germany, I found myself on my bicycle every day just to work off the jet lag. Since our place is near the Dutch border, there was the inevitable wandering over it.

Biking the back roads around the Rur river, I came upon this darling little house in Holland with a table in front selling fresh red currants and jam. There was a jar to put money in. I love the honor system.

So I snagged a box of these red jewels and pedaled home to make ice cream to serve at the final family barbecue of our trip home.

We have a ton of  Melisse (Lemon Balm in English) in the garden. It's a mint herb with a very strong lemon flavor.

I plucked a handful, chopped it up and infused it into the custard cream. While in the final mixing phase of the ice cream, I added the fresh currants.

The result was studded with the tartness of the currants and the refreshing sting of the lemon balm. Potentially, a lot going on for the taste buds but wrapped in creamy custard, the flavor mellowed out like a lazy summer afternoon.

The result was fantastic. A perfect summer ice cream. The memory of bright summer bike rides of  German home lingering on my tongue with every spoonful.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Preview of My Visit to Cake Boss Land

A few weeks ago I got to peek behind the scenes of the Cake Boss empire. As an insatiably curious former Investigative Producer for Geraldo, it's always hard for me to resist an invitation to the belly of any beast, especially when it involves cake. A big fan of the TLC Cake Boss show, I jumped at the chance to see the Carlo's Bakery operation live and in person. 

The reason for the invite? A preview of a new line of bake ware by Buddy Valastro, the Don of fondant (available in stores in September). The additional promise of a decorating lesson and the chance to tour the facility was worth the 8AM call to hop in a luxury SUV on lower Fifth Avenue and plunge through the Holland to Hoboken.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely, warm and efficient Gabrielle, Buddy's assistant. We followed her adorable blonde ponytail around the joint for a tour. No pictures allowed because the TV crew was loose taping an episode of the show. We were then lead to one of two beautifully outfitted classrooms and served platters of delicious Carlos Bakery pastries (hello best crumb cake ever!) and coffee while we waited for Buddy to come brief us on his line. 

Like a trip to Willy Wonka land, this was a magical morning for a hobby baker. The factory was mind blowing with a staff buzzing and baking, refrigerators the size of most luxury NYC apartments and an entire wood shop contained within it's pristine walls. Since the popularity of the show, the cake creation requests have become so over the top gargantuan, they need an in house carpentry outfit just to handle the structure to support the weight of the confections. A recent example: The King of Bahrain wanted a life-size talking horse birthday cake that his two children could sit on. All the elements were created here, shipped to Bahrain and his majesty's wish was obliged.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage Equality Cookies & June's Funny Food Blogger Posts

Last Wednesday was a landmark day. First of all, it was my 10th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary to me and Dr. B. 

I spent that morning with a group of lovely people meeting Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss himself and having some fun at his place (more on that in a future post) and then the DOMA decision came down and my day turned epic. 

A roller coaster of emotions followed with overwhelming feelings, both happy and sad. Crying and laughing with friends in person and on the phone. So profoundly happy for a wonderful civil rights victory in this country and so deeply sad for all the people I've known taken too early who never lived to see it.

I had a Pridetini party the night before marching in NYC's Gay Pride parade bringing together my friends from NYC and Milford, PA.  We downed rainbows of food and cocktails and had a great time.