Feb 28, 2014

Irish Boyfriends & Absinthe.

Jon Edwards Photography

I love St. Patrick's Day for several reasons. 

My first husband was a dentist, my second is a lawyer. My lover in between was Irish.

He was the best and the worst of boyfriends. Fun, wild, and chock full of  troublesome charm. My sisters named him "O' Danny, O' Boy!" When my mother met him, she said very clearly, "He's so cute, but certainly not marriage material." My mother always had a point. She was right of course, and no one knew better than me that he was in for a speedy sprint kind of life, rather than the long race.   

For two or three St. Patrick's Days , I pretended to be Irish. It was a stretch. I was dull compared to a room full of Leprechauns, and no one was fooled by my green hat.  The Irish really know how to have fun.  I filled in the gaps of my heritage by learning about Absinthe and I discovered that I like kissing green fairies.  

In case you are looking for something special this St. Patrick's, here are some things to know about Absinthe. Please rehearse your own limerick.

The name Absinthe comes from the botanical name Artemesia absinthium, which is commonly known as wormwood. Wormwood was first used for medicinal purposes in ancient Greece, but the alcoholic drink was not created until 1792. A French doctor living in Switzerland distilled the wormwood plant in alcohol and added anise, lemon balm, and hyssop. The doctor is only one of many folks credited with the birth of Absinthe, including the Henriod sisters. The actual inventor or inventors remains a mystery. I would like to think it was the sisters, cooking up this powerful elixir to serve their community.
The traditional way to drink Absinthe is to pour one ounce in a glass and place a sugar cube on a fancy, slotted spoon that rests on top of the glass. Drip between three and four ounces of very cold water over the sugar cube so it dissolves into the Absinthe below. Your drink will turn opalescent and the aromas from the herbs should bloom.    

I like brown sugar cubes. I don't know why.

Feb 7, 2014

Petit Fours

Petit Fours
Makes 24

Frozen pound cake is easier to cut, easier to assemble, and easier to coat than room temperature pound cake.

1 (16 ounce) package frozen butter pound cake
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chocolate pound cake
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1.     Place two wire racks over two baking sheets and set aside.
2.     Using a serrated knife, trim the crust from the top of pound cakes to make a flat surface. Turn cakes over and slice off bottom, sides and ends.
3.     Slice each pound cake into 6 equal slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut each slice in half to make 12 squares. Trim off any uneven sides.
4.     Slice each cake in half, spread thinly with jam, and put back together. Place chocolate pound cake pieces on one baking sheet and butter pound cake pieces on the other prepared baking sheet. Set aside.
5.     Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Place white chocolate chips in another medium bowl.
6.     Place cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, pour half over chocolate chips and half over white chocolate chips. Let stand 3 minutes. Stir until mixtures are smooth.
7.     Spoon chocolate mixture onto the center of chocolate cake pieces, allowing excess to flow down sides to coat completely. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
8.     Spoon white chocolate mixture onto the center of butter pound cake pieces, allowing excess to flow down sides to coat completely. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
9.     Spoon a second coat of chocolate over cake pieces and refrigerate for 15 minutes more.
10.  To decorate, drizzle tops of petit fours with contrasting chocolate mixture.
11.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 

Feb 5, 2014

Pink Champagne with Cointreau-Infused Raspberries

Pink Champagne with Cointreau-Infused Raspberries
Makes 4-5 servings

This pink drink is perfect for Valentine’s Day or for any lazy weekend brunch.

1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/3 cup Cointreau
1 (750 ml) bottle rose Champagne, chilled

1.     Place raspberries and Cointreau in a small bowl and set aside for 30-45 minutes.
2.     To serve, spoon raspberries into glasses.
3.     Pour remaining Cointreau through a fine mesh strainer into glasses. Fill glasses with Champagne and serve immediately.