Cornish Saffron Bread for Easter: Tangzhong Method

Cornish Saffron Bread

Easter sneaks up on me every year. Maybe it’s because it sort of strolls around the calendar and I don’t have a date to remember from year to year like December 25 or July 4. It’s not that I don’t see the Peeps and Cadbury Eggs popping up on shelves at the drugstore, I just think to myself, “Oh, that’s ages away.” Except for then it isn’t. It’s right here.

When I do finally clue in that Easter is literally right around the corner, I feel compelled to make a baked good of some sort. Last year I made hot cross buns, and they were delightful. Honestly, I was going to make them again this year until I decided to sit down yesterday and search for “Easter Breads.” This took me to, a good place to look for a basic recipe upon which to build. And then I saw a recipe for something I’d never even heard of before: Cornish Saffron Bread.

Well, it looks amazing! Tell me more!

Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Passion Fruit Ice Cream

It was almost hot here just a few days ago. Sweat trickled down my arms and mixed with drops of blood from my wrestlings with our blackberry bushes. I wore sunglasses and a hat as I pruned back dead growth to make way for new. I was pretty sure that Spring had finally decided to stick around.

I was wrong. We are expecting a freeze both tonight and tomorrow night, and I am a bit worried about all that tender new growth that I uncovered.

A couple of weekends ago, I courted Spring by making focaccia bursting with Spring flavors. Spring did deign to drop in for a moment, but has again danced away. I swear I can hear it giggling. Infuriating, capricious Springtime.

Tell me about it. Now, where’s that ice cream?

Lemon Tarragon Focaccia with Citrus Fennel Sea Salt

Lemon Tarragon Focaccia

I am the baker and these are the hands that I use to make the bread that I make for Communion.

I am so grateful that my friend allows me to make her Communion bread. I love trying to come up with ways to make the bread reinforce the lesson. And I am grateful also that Nadine is open to my ideas. She feels the same way I do. If Communion is supposed to be a celebration of a miracle, the miracle should taste good. Communion should be looked forward to with eager anticipation, and it makes my heart smile knowing that her congregation approaches the sanctuary on Communion Sundays wondering what sort of bread will be blessed, broken and shared.

What kind did you make this time?

Fennel Pollen-Caraway Ice Cream

fennel pollen-caraway ice cream

About three years ago, I took part in a Spice Chat on twitter all about caraway seeds. As part of the chat, someone shared flavors that pair well with caraway, and the one that struck me was fennel. My brain immediately went to “fennel pollen-caraway ice cream.” Some of the others in the chat thought that it sounded delicious, and I tucked the idea away on a shelf until I had time–and an ice cream maker–to play with it.

Since I finally got a new ice cream maker in order to participate in the Scoop Adventures blog tour, the time had come to put my idea to the test. But what base to use? My go-to is usually the base that I made at the restaurant: rich custard base, but since I’ve been reading about starch-based ice cream bases, I decided to modify my standard base so I could use some corn starch in the mix. By simply cutting back on the egg yolks a bit and introducing a starch thickener, I ended up with a rich, creamy base about the consistency of crème Anglaise.

Sounds good to me. Let me at it.

Scoop Adventures and Sour Cherry Ice Cream|Scoop Adventures Giveaway

Scoop Adventures

Being a part of the blog tour for the new ice cream cookbook, Scoop Adventures, is pretty momentous for me. You see, I adore ice cream, but I haven’t had my own ice cream maker in years and years. When I knew I was going to be on the blog tour for Scoop Adventures though, I bought a new ice cream maker! Sour Cherry Ice Cream, anyone? Huzzah!

Scoop Adventures is a delightful book with recipes inspired by or adapted from recipes from great ice cream parlors across all 50 states. The book is divided into geographical regions, so if you’re hankering for southern treats or maybe something from the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to find a recipe to fit the bill.

Sounds good! Plus, I hear there’s a giveaway…?

Plated Stories: The Workshop in Tuscany

Plated Stories Workshop

I was honored to host a Google + Hangout on Air on Friday with Jamie Schler, Ilva Beretta and Linda Bass. Jamie and Ilva are the formidable writing and photography team behind the Plated Stories Blog. The two of them are joining forces to teach an intensive food writing and food photography workshop, Plated Stories: The Workshop, in conjunction with Linda’s Tuscan Muse. We had a really interesting discussion, and Jamie and Ilva’s passion for their art and craft truly shined through. Please take some time to watch the hangout (about an hour), especially if you are interested in food writing and/or food photography.

I’m interested in both. Tell me more!

Blood Orange Margaritas

blood orange margaritas

You know what are delicious? Blood orange margaritas, that’s what.

A couple of years ago, I whipped up some sour mix and made cousin Ken a margarita, and he hasn’t been able to get it out of his head.

We’ve had our beach trip with Ken and his wife Candace on the books for months and months. We didn’t have much of a plan, but there was one thing that was certain. Ken expected margaritas. I had fully intended to make some sour mix, but then I realized that deconstructed sour mix–or rather, simple syrup and some lemons and limes–would be more flexible. Especially because I had blood oranges on my mind.

I love a good margarita. Bring it on!

My 2014 Oscars Fan Experience, Sunday

Oscars Fan Experience

The day of the actual Oscars Fan Experience (oh, and the Oscars too), all the streets all around the Hollywood & Highland complex are blocked to vehicle traffic. Chain link fences and barricades line both sides of the streets, many with security people at intersections, directing people around barricades and checking their credentials to make sure they were where they were supposed to be. Lots of local folks strolling about didn’t seem to even realize that it was Oscar Day at all. Perhaps to the residents it really is just another day, and they don’t pay much attention to it except as an inconvenience to their travel, a sprawling, glittery obstacle to be negotiated.

In the morning, we went for a walk up Hollywood Boulevard again. Sparse foot traffic and no vehicle traffic at all made the whole area seem deserted, even though the air was buzzing with helicopters and an unknown number of unionized workers were frantically constructing a gargantuan set for a one-day show just a couple of blocks away. Again, we were struck by the funkiness. Frederick’s of Hollywood really is in Hollywood. As are numerous tee-shirt shops, check cashing stores, souvenir shops, tattoo parlors and the Hollywood Wax Museum.

I have been dying to hear about this! Yay!

My 2014 Oscars Fan Experience, Saturday

Oscars Fan Experience

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’. –Pretty Woman

I love a good Pretty Woman Quote. Now tell me about your trip!

Easy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce: Something Completely Different!

Easy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

When I post savory recipes, it’s usually on a Sunday, and because I adore alliteration, I call them Sunday Suppers. I made this easy Italian sausage pasta sauce for dinner a couple of nights ago, and it was so good that I want to share it today. We’re leaving in the morning to jet off to Los Angeles for our swanky #PeopleVIP Oscars trip from People Magazine and klout perks, and as soon as we get home, we’re jumping in the car to spend the rest of next week at The Outer Banks. I am 99% sure I won’t post next week, so consider this Italian sausage pasta sauce a gift to apologize in advance for my absence on the blog next week.

This sauce is versatile. You can use it as a “straight up” pasta sauce. You can mix it with the pasta in a casserole and bake it. You can use it for the meaty-saucy layer in lasagna. You can stuff it into shells or pour it over cheese-stuffed shells before baking. Heck, you could even add stock and creamy cannellini beans and maybe some torn kale to make your own Italian-inspired soup! As the name implies, it is very easy to make, and you probably have everything you need without having to make a special shopping trip.

Hooray for easy sauce! Let’s hear it!