Friday, April 17, 2009

Birthday Nightcap

Okay, not really a nightcap as in a drink - but a little ending to my birthday day. I hope you all enjoyed my birthday edition food picks from TasteSpotting - and yes, I did end up with lobster today, but it was for dinner.

I had a really nice day starting with my boyfriend taking me to lunch in New Hope, Pennsylvania. We ate outside practically on the river. It was so nice and sunny and warm out today. We were joined by ducks and got to watch fishermen fishing for Shad. We walked across the New Hope/Lambertville bridge and stopped at Lilly's for a slice of Coconut Dream cake to take home with us and I took some photographs.

Later I went out to dinner with my mom and then we did some errand type shopping (buying shampoo). But hey, I love beauty products and since it takes a lot of hard work to keep my red locks red - I love finding specialty shampoos and conditioners. Our night ended with birthday cake eatting, sharing cake with my dog - Ginger (my cat - Princess - got some icing), then I opened cards and gifts.

I had one of the best birthdays today than I've had in a really long time. Since I'm super tired from good food, great people, fun times, shopping, and drinks - I'm going to bed early tonight. I will be posting more about my birthday tomorrow or Sunday. I'll be needing to share food details and photographs. I'll also be making another post about Shad Festival, because it's coming up next weekend.

Heres to feather pillows and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Birthday Cake - Coconut Cake

Who has a birthday without cake? This is a special edition to the daily "Spotting" series of posts in honor of my birthday today.

I love coconut cake. It's probably something I would have turned my nose up at as a child, but for the last few years it's been my "thing". Sometimes I'd even try to think up reasons to have dinner at Lilly's on the Canal in Lambertville, New Jersey just so I could order a slice of their Coconut Dream cake with raspberry syrup to either eat there or take home. Yes, if I eat there and I'm not having dessert I at least get a slice of that cake to take home with me. I found Tartelette's coconut cake with cream cheese buttercream on TasteSpotting and thought it looked amazing.

Photo from tartelette

Coconut Cake:
via tartelette
Seves 8-10
Printable Recipe

For the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut liqueur such as Malibu for soaking in the layers

Separate the egg whites from the yolks in 2 different (well cleaned) bowls.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl or over a piece of parchment paper that you can easily pick up when the time comes to add the flour to the batter in progress.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 1 cup of the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, or a measuring bowl with a spout (easier to pour), combine the buttermilk and the coconut milk. Set aside.
Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
If you have only one KA bowl, pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl while you whip the egg whites.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until you get nice stiff peaks. Stop before the meringue becomes dry.
Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/butter mixture.
Pour the cake batter into 2 separate 9X9 square inch pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 350F or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a greased cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Buttercream:
3 sticks butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar divided
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup coconut flakes

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip 5 egg whites until they have soft peaks. Slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar until you get a glossy meringue. In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curdle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the cream cheese, the same way, a little at a time until everything is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
Slice each cake square into 2 pieces horizontally. Brush the bottom layer with some coconut liqueur, spread 1/3 cup of the buttercream over and add another layer of cake and repeat the soaking and layering. Finish by frosting the entire surface of the cake and sprinkle coconut flakes all over.....and eat!

Maybe if I give this recipe to my mom - she'll take to baking coconut cakes for me...

Here's to really big nuts and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Dinner Birthday Edition - Filet Oscar

On special occasions, like birthdays or when I had some artwork in a school gallery show my family and I go out to a nice dinner. My sister and I usually order filet mignon in some form - usually wrapped with bacon. When I found foodiebride's Filet Oscar on TasteSpotting, I thought that would be perfect. I love crab meat, I love asparagus, and who doesn't like bearnaise sauce?

Photo from jasonandshawnda

Filet Oscar Style

via jasonandshawnda

2 Alaskan King Crab legs
Tips from 1 lb asparagus, blanched
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 beef tenderloin steaks
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon
3 eggs yolks
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Steam the crab legs:
Preheat oven to 375. Place the king crab legs in a loose-fitting foil pouch. Before sealing tightly, add a small amount of water. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Using a fork or a crab-leg-meat-getter-outer, remove the meat from the crab legs and place in a medium bowl along with the blanched asparagus tips. Gently break up any overly-large pieces with your hands.

Cook the steaks: In a large, oven-safe saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Pat the steaks dry and season both sides liberally with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Place the steaks in the pan and sear 3-4 minutes. Flip, sear for 3 minutes more and place the pan into the oven. Cook to an internal temperature of 135 (medium rare), remove from oven and tent with foil while you finish the sauce.

Make the Béarnaise sauce:
Boil wine, vinegar, shallots, and fresh tarragon in a small heavy saucepan until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve set into a medium bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.

Whisk the yolks into the vinegar mixture, and then set bowl over a double boiler and cook until hot, whisking constantly until yolks have thickened slightly. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, adding each piece before previous one has melted completely. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste). Keep warm, if necessary, by leaving it on the double-boiler but make sure to turn off the heat.

Assemble: Add about 1/3 cup of the sauce to the bowl of crab and asparagus. Lightly toss to coat. Plate the steaks and top with a generous portion of the crab-asparagus mixture. Top with additional Béarnaise sauce and serve.

Serves 4
Béarnaise Sauce: Slightly adapted from Gourmet

Originally uploaded by Confections of a Foodie Bride.

The great thing about this recipe, even though it's elegant, there aren't many needed ingredients. So, it makes the dish completely "do-able". I'd love this served with a small serving of whipped mashed potatoes and perhaps some simply cooked carrots.

Here's to Alaska and full bellies.

- Cait

Spotting Lunch Birthday Edition - Lobster Roll and Lobster Bisque

I love lobster... I never actually get to eat it though. I think today being my birthday is the perfect excuse to enjoy a lobster filled lunch. While on TasteSpotting I found timelessgourmet's traditional New England lobster roll and thought it would be a great alternative to a salad or everyday type sandwich. I also found peabody's lobster bisque garnished with chives. What's more special than a lobster packed birthday lunch?

Photo from timeinthekitchen

New England Lobster Rolls
via timeinthekitchen

New England Lobster Roll recipe one:

  • Meat from half of one small (1 1/4 pond) Maine lobster, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 stalk peeled celery, minced
  • A few grates of freshly ground black pepper
  • New England style hot dog bun, toasted

Mix the first three ingredients together and add to the bun.

New England Style Lobster Roll recipe two:

  • Meat from half of one small (1 1/4 pond) Maine lobster, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Mix these two ingredients together, and serve with:

  • 1 wedge fresh lemon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Squirt some lemon on top, and use the melted butter as a dipping sauce!

Photo from northwestnoshings

Lobster Bisque

via northwestnoshings

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
8 ounces unsalted butter
1-1/2 lbs Maine lobster
32 ounces water
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam lobster in water until done, about 8 minutes. Save stock. Remove lobster meat from shell; set aside. Break up lobster shells, then place them back into the water; simmer over low heat until reduced by half.
Heat half the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and celery and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add bay leaf, tomato paste and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
Add cream and lobster stock and simmer over low heat (Do not boil.) for 30 to 40 minutes or until soup begins to thicken.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove lobster shells and bay leaves. Chop up lobster meat and add to bisque. Stir in remaining butter.
Serve hot with a little crème fraiche and fresh chives.

I think I'd wash all that lobster down with a simple green salad and my favorite white wine. I think I'd fall into a food coma after this lunch, but hey - it's my birthday!

Here's to Maine and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast Birthday Edition - Eggs Benedict

So, it's April 17th... which happens to be my birthday! Today isn't just any other day of the week for me. I decided that I'm going to be picking out meals that are more on the extravagant side in honor of today. It took awhile of poking around on TasteSpotting to come across something I found suitable for today's post. I settled on eggs benedict because it's something I rarely ever have. There are a bunch of different versions of this dish on TasteSpotting but I chose doesnttaztelikechicken's.

Eggs Benedict
via doesnttaztelikechicken

To make the hollandaise sauce, you will need:
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of melted butter

Fill a quart pan with water up to 1/3 of its height. The glass bowl will sit on the quart pan later so make sure the water just comes below, and not touching, the bottom of the glass bowl. Bring water to a simmer.

Put the egg yolks and lemon juice into the glass bowl. Whisk the yolks until it increases in volume, about 3 minutes.

Place the glass bowl on the quart pan. Continue to whisk quickly and slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Whisk until the sauce is thicken, about 5 minutes. Add in salt to taste. Remove the bowl from the quart pan and keep it in a warm area.

To make the eggs benedict for 2 people, you will need:
- 2 eggs
- 1 English muffin , sliced in half.
- 4 pieces of English bacon

Bring water in a quart pan and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, bring the heat down to a simmer. Put a sieve in the water and carefully crack an egg into the sieve. Let the eggs cook for 4 minutes and this will give you a runny yolk. Repeat with the second egg.

Pan fried the bacon in a non stick pan until they are slight brown on both sides.

Toast the muffin in a toaster until they are slightly brown.

To assemble:

Place half of a muffin on a plate. Place 2 pieces of ham on top and then carefully slide the poached egg from the sieve onto the ham. If you find the hollandaise sauce too thick, mix a few drops of warm water into the sauce. Spoon a good amount of the sauce onto the egg. Sprinkle with parsley and a few dash of cayenne pepper.

Eggs benedict is one of my favorite things to order if I'm going out to Sunday brunch. My family and I usually go to The Waterwheel in Doylestown if we're going to brunch, but that only happens once or twice a year. Besides the eggs, I usually end up getting a freshly made waffle with berries. All the food is great there and it would be nice to have a bit of that brunch experience on my birthday.

Here's to favorite brunch spots and full bellies.

- Cait