Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh No! A Mr. Bill Birthday

One of my pals, who is an amazing hostess, was throwing a b-day party for the man friend. I submitted an evite challenge to come up with a theme as all birthday parties have themes don't they? Or maybe this is a phenomenon that is supposed to end once you enter the double digits of age.

In response to the challenge, she very appropriately rose to the occasion and decided that she would craft a Mr. Bill cake out of fondant! Having never worked with fondant, she was quite intimidated, so contacted a pastry chef friend for advice. This friend quickly responded to her by saying, "I HATE fondant!!". Oh Nooooooo!! I don't think this was the response that she was looking for. She persevered, since she is a trooper and must really like this man friend and the result was fantastique!!

Mr. Bill emerged from his foil protective covering and proceeded to light it up at the party.

Birthday boy had a hard time making the initial incisions but was soon enjoying serving Mr. Bill up to the hungry party guests.

Here are some of the other delicious party offerings!

Prosciutto wrapped melon:

Tomatoes with yummy stuff on top (tapenade, pesto, hummus -- I think):

Vegetable frittata-like thing:

Toothpicks with more yummy stuff (mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts):

Everything was so delicious... and especially Mr. Bill! Thanks F! And Happy Birthday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Urban Vegetable Garden Series - Part I

Spring has sprung! Well at least it has indoors in New England. It's still a little brisk outside at night to start planting outside, but my gardening calendar on said it was time to start sprouting some seeds so here we go!

E and I moved into a house with a very sunny patio in August so I've been excited to see what I can grow back there. Since we don't really have a patch of grass that isn't condo owned and operated, I will have to settle with what I can grow in a container.

So far, this is what my babies look like. We have two types of tomatoes, cilantro, basil and jalapenos. The peppers are being fussy I think, but everything else seems to be flourishing under the fake lights so far.

Up close and personal with the Roma tomatoes:

The cherry tomatoes:


Basil and sad looking jalapenos:

If everything works out well, then I will be making me some mean salsas in a few months. Can't get more fresh and local than my back patio! Hope they will make it through the transfer outside...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ca Kho To - Vietnamese Catfish In Caramel Sauce

This post comes with a stink factor warning. For those of you unfamiliar with the pungent odor of fish sauce you must prepare yourself for this recipe by opening some windows and turning on all fans in the house full blast. Now, it doesn't stink like durian or anything, but the fishy-ness has been known to be a sticking point in some relationships. Phu Quoc is a island of Vietnam where the fish sauce made is supposed to be especially tasty aka stinky. I heard from someone that it had something to do with the fish diet of squid, but don't know if that's true. Do you know if it is true?

I must admit that I used this recipe but added some vegetables because I am from the "more matters" school of thought. More vegetables that is and not just more of everything!! Now this dish is traditionally made in a claypot, but since I am not lucky enough to own one of those, I made it in my medium sized metal pot and then transferred into a ceramic dish to serve.

The recipe that I followed said something about "smoking slightly", but I would like to vote for more of a moderate smoking factor when I added the fish sauce to the caramelized sugar. But the finished product sure was worth it!