Tag Archives: holiday

with that sweet southern drawl: king cake

king cake - a traditional new orleans treat!

Two of my favorite Manhattanites arrived in New York by way of Mississippi, and without a doubt I always received the most attention while keeping their company. The harsh staccato of a New Yawk accent was no match for the sweet and syrupy drawl of their “heyy ya’ll”s and “oh mah gawwwh”s, and no matter where I went with them it always turned into a case of all-eyes-on-us.

king cake egg yolk

(And, I should clarify – not that we minded.)

king cake vanilla

On top of their accents, Katie and Kristen were the best work-allies a girl could ask for. Our trading floor wasn’t exactly teaming with the female persuasion, and to have a few partners in pencil skirts available to dish and gossip with by the water cooler was a very lucky thing, indeed. Though I had visited New Orleans a couple of times before meeting these city-fied Southern belles, I had never experienced a King Cake until a whole one arrived smack in the middle of our office one chilly February morning.

king cake dough hook

Looking like an oversized Krispy Kreme – covered in a thick gloopy glaze, and dusted in a technicolor pinwheel of purple, green, and yellow sparkling sugars – it didn’t look like anything that would normally appeal to my sweet tooth….but one bite of this cake that was more like a bread, molten in the middle with a cinnamony-sweet filling, and I was enamored.

king cake dough risen

This particular cake had been specially ordered and flown into our office from New Orleans for these two special ladies in honor of Mardi Gras, and when it was gone – it was gone. King Cake is not exactly something that is sold on every Northern street corner; more cinnamon bun than cake, it manages to touch on all of my favorite dessert flavors: salty, but sweet; rich, but simple. And the most enigmatic thing about this ring-shaped confection? One lucky diner bites into a baby.

{but wait! there’s more…}

a peace offering: the best ever classic beef wellington

classic beef wellington recipe - eatandrelish

That awkward moment when you frantically fling open the door of the yoga studio thinking you’re late – only to realize you’ve barged in on the tail end of of an earlier class and have totally marshed everyone’s Shavasana-mallow….

beef wellington raw

That awkward moment when you’re at your Christmas party and realize it’s up to you to introduce two friends – but suddenly have temporary spiked-cider induced amnesia and can’t remember one of their names….

classic beef wellington seared beef

That awkward moment when you finally have a hot second to get a new post up on your blog – and realize you’ve been radio silent for SIX long*** WEEKS….

(??!!)

classic beef wellington sage and rosemary

Eeerrmm…..guilty on all counts? I don’t really know how else to just bust back up in here without acknowledging that I have been anything but totally absent, and feel compelled to admit that even in the weeks leading up to my blog-cliff dive I have been sporadic, at best. I’m sorry. Again. You see there have been a lot of changes around here, all good, and all timely, but unfortunately they all squeegee’d up my time faster than that god-awful Shamwow whatsamahoozie, and left me without any free space to sit down and write anything that would be worth reading.

classic beef wellington mushrooms

(And before you ask – no, I’m not pregnant!)

classic beef wellington mushrooms cooking down

There was a camera lens that started acting up, and a MacBook that caught a cold, and defiantly staged protests by refusing to upload pictures or act properly in any sense. There was a (big, super fun) Christmas party at our house – complete with a DJ, mini tarragon shrimp salad rolls, and keg of Deschute’s.  There was a best friend’s 30th birthday, celebrated right here with us in Boulder, and a long-weekend full of brunching, lunching, feting, and candle-blowing. There have been early mornings at the bakery, hundreds of pies, thousands of Christmas cookies, and long days spent on my feet, covered in flour and wearing an apron. But, perhaps most time consuming and important of all, there was an impromptu trip to Australia (an oxymoron, I realize), who’s opportunity reared it’s head with barely any notice, and who’s length spanned two full weeks, spent blissfully on the other side of planet Earth.

(More on that to come later, I promise!)

classic beef wellington mushrooms on prosciutto

But I am back now, feet firmly planted in Boulder, umpteen loads of laundry done, fire roaring, tree still twinkling, and with a few wonderfully empty days behind my back, and some time to attend to the important things; mainly, my little lovely space here.

{but wait! there’s more…}

trust me: cream braised fennel

Despite the fact it’s taken me almost two full years to finally tell you about this fennel, it’s been one of those ‘secret weapon’ recipes of sort; the type I pull out time and time again when I am in need of something simple, yet stunning, and crave something that is familiar and consistent at the same time.

Thank goodness it tastes so much better than it looks.

In truth, I’ve photographed this recipe on numerous occasions now, and each time with great intentions of both posting and waxing poetic about it. Unfailingly, I’ve uploaded the pictures, and squinted and squirmed. No matter in which light, no matter at what angle, and with absolutely zero positive correlation to the amount of wine I’d consumed, I just could not make the photos look appetizing.

Each time I’d find myself gazing upon a tangled and snarled mire of brownish-yellow mush, and fear that I would somehow come off as inauthentic or desperate whilst singing the praises of something that was just so…..comely.

After making this dish to much fanfare for two Thanksgiving dinners, one Easter brunch, and countless nights with friends at home, I’ve decided that no matter how warty this unsightly little fennel dish’s nose is, I don’t care — it’s just too perfect not to share.

{but wait! there’s more…}

a taste of my old city: cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies

I’ve not minced my words when it comes to the fact that I will always have a big ole’ soft spot for my former stomping grounds.  Besides the people – my fabulous friends, hysterical co-workers, the curious and strange souls, and even the sweet coffee-cart-man on 48th and Park who had my morning cup ready and waiting every day just the way I like it (large, with a generous tip of cream) – the thing I find most enticing about that great big city is the food.

Being as interested in cooking and eating as I am (yes, I do loathe the term ‘foodie‘ and will continue to avoid it at all costs….**shudder**), I am massively lucky to have ended up in Boulder.  For a city that takes up only a small sliver of the size of New York City’s giant and jumbled pie, there has been an answer – and an amazing one at that – to every one of my old favorites.  Lights out bakeries, small meticulously curated restaurants, white tablecloth service, excellent vegetariankiller Neapolitan piescraft breweriesimpossibly fresh seafood, and food trucks galore….my little city of one-hundred-thousand does a bang-up-job when it comes head to head in comparison with my old playground – a playground that contains, arguably, some of the best food in the world.

However there are some things that are so unique to a certain place, there is just no amount of re-creation, re-imagination, or reanything that can be done to properly replicate them, and, to be frank —  you wouldn’t want to.  There are a thousand rotating reasons I will forever have to be excited for trips back to New York, and if I had access to all of each and every one of those things, well….

what would be the fun in that?

But there are a few things….a few small, round, crunchy and delightfully chewy things that I am oh-so-happy I can whip up on my own. 

When one of aforementioned fabulous friends (Mary) drops a package in the mail that contains a little piece of aforementioned food in mailable format (The Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook), I am not going to be in any position to refrain from trying to make everything that the outrageously quirky bakery stocks it’s shelves with.

{but wait! there’s more…}

love, actually at home: a very cupid-inspired recipe roundup

As much as I want to love Valentine’s Day, it admittedly has a knack for falling a bit flat.  Sure I love getting a gorgeous bunch of flowers and being treated to a nice dinner just as much as the next gal, but when the flowers have been picked over and the restaurant is jammed to the gills with couples (dining from a prix-fix-and-therefore-very-limited-in-it’s-selection menu), it’s nice to choose the road less taken and celebrate with your main squeeze at home.

This is not to say that I wish to eschew the holiday in all it’s pink and red glory altogether – most definitely not.  It’s just that I’d prefer something a bit more original; a bit more heartfelt, without the markings of something so commercial.  Valentine’s Day is, after all, a very manufactured holiday, is it not?  One ‘created’ by Hallmark and those cheesy heart-shaped-boxed-chocolate manufacturers to cash in on those in-love (and therefore vulnerable) saps who blindly follow their lead.  The loads of people who scramble to book overpriced dinners, hastily dial in for delivery of a dozen red stems, and purchase mass produced heart shaped pendants from commission-hungry mall jewelers.

Every kiss begins with K, as they say this time of year, no?

Not wanting to come off as a complete killjoy, I must admit that I will happily accept jewels and multi-course dinners (with wine pairings!) any day of the week.  (*Cough!* I repeat: any day of the week. ) But something about joining the lovestruck herd and elbowing my way through an overcrowded restaurant doesn’t always sound so appealing to me.  So then, what exactly then do I find appealing?

A roaring fire.  Preferably at home, where I can wear a fancy frock but keep my feet bare.  A bottle of bubbles – that goes without saying.  A bottle of red, and one that is a bit too fancy to enjoy on just a normal night; one that when I see the label, I’ll know there is something to celebrate.  A thoughtful meal.  One that conveys this Tuesday isn’t just any old Tuesday, but that doesn’t create so much work its impossible to enjoy yourself.  For first coming off like such a curmudgeon — my vision doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

There is still time to scratch that reservation  and high-tail it to the market – here are a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day dinner ideas:

{APPETIZERS}

{grilled caesar salad}

{fennel, apple, and arugula salad}

{kale and apple salad with ricotta salata}

{ENTREES}

{coq au vin with potato parsnip puree}

{roasted shrimp over creamy shiitake-tomato pearled couscous}

{miso-curry delicata squash with tofu and kale}

{chicken dijon}

{duck breast with blackberry balsamic reduction}

{herb-crusted rack of lamb}

{the best ever lobster rolls}

{grilled mahi-mahi with mango relish}

{perfect, simple, roast chicken}

{cod en papillote with vegetables and basil chive oil}

{linguine limone with clams, red pepper flake, and basil}

{DESSERTS}

{brown sugar cake}

{the best chocolate tart in the world}

{honey vanilla lemon pound cake with strawberry-rhubarb compote}

{salted caramel ice cream}

{vanilla roasted pears}

{mascarpone cherry tart}

Whatever it is you choose – I hope you enjoy it.  Bottoms up!

here’s to 2012, a blogiversary, and a very belated bits of my holiday weekend(s)

{my mantra for twenty-twelve}

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was here introducing myself to anyone that happened to be listening.  In 2011, on top of promising to floss and go to the gym (errrp), I was vowing to finally pull the little blog garden I daydreamed about out of the intangible reaches of my imagination and into the very real landscape of the interwebs.  Three-hundred sixty five days later, I am yet again resolving to floss daily and eek out a few more days with dumbbells in hand (ah well, c’est la vie, as they say), but for once in my life I can say with full certainty that I carried out one of my resolutions to it’s fullest — and joyfully so, might I add.  Happy one year blogiversary to eat and {relish}!

2011 has been a wild, if not fulfilling, year.  It was full of so very many ups, downs, and all of those hard to decipher in-betweens:  A life changing decision.  A move from the big city to the mountains.  The loss of a beloved family member.  The addition of new family, and healing.  A marriage.  As the calendar resets to a refreshing 1/1, so does my mindset; though we all faced many challenges in the past year and undoubtably shall continue to do so in the coming, this year I resolve to remember to find all of the little pleasures and joys in my life and celebrate them to their fullest.  It’s the palpable presence of those frequent small and happy things that can often help offset those larger derailments, after all, and in taking them for granted we unwittingly force ourselves to miss out on so much.  I’ve come out of 2011’s complicated and uncharted tunnel strong and full of enthusiasm, with a extraordinary husband who is also my best friend, two supportive and incredibly kind families who stand solidly behind us, friends who love and know me for who I am, an insanely gorgeous new hometown with fresh air and room to grow, and a pug puppy who leaves our days full of love and laughter.

Thank you.  Thank you all for checking in and reading my posts, and giving me such wonderful and positive feedback.  Thank you for contributing to something which has grown to mean so much to me.  Thank you for keeping me accountable, and driving me to write and take photographs even during times when it would be easier to nap on the couch.  Thank you for reading what I have to say, for trying recipes, for liking them (or not!), and taking the time to write all of your comments and emails.  They mean so much to me.  Thank you.

I’m so excited to continue along in the coming year – here’s to a fantastic 2012!

Here are a few bits of the past few busy holiday weekends I managed to snap:

{holiday wine tasting & local beer run}

{colorful chocolates lined up at my favorite sweets shop}

{and every variety of truffle you could dream of}

{a well-loved but inviting spot to enjoy coffee on pearl street}

{a sparkly DIY holiday mani – OPI’s roadhouse blues with this glitter polish over}

{beer tasting outside at avery brewery, on a 60 degree december afternoon}

{hard to pick a favorite}

{chocolate cake carousel}

{a brave husband and brother-in-law bundled up for the xmas eve game}

{a tour of the famed tea factory, which unfortunately left us feeling like the sleepy bear}

{brunch at the dushanbe tea house}

{handcarved and painted}

{gorgeous and vibrant colors}

{the perfect way to kick off new years eve – extra spicy}

{brunches}

{tiger’s eye tea that blooms…}

{into a flower}

{snacks for new years eve, before the yonder mountain string band show}

{of course she does}

{hamming for the camera with my friend kelly}

{happy 2012!)

twinkling treats: sparkly lemon cookies

On the heels of an awesome first weekend skiing at Beaver Creek, I’ve just finished unpacking then re-cramming my suitcase for a  Christmas trip back East, and know already that I will manage to forget something – it’s a real talent of mine.  (This past weekend that something was underwear; not ideal to realize the lackthereof just as you are getting suited up to hit the slopes.)  This month blazed forth in a blur of twinkling lights, peppermint bark, ugly sweaters, and eggnog, and I can hardly believe that I am literally just moments from dashing out the door, and that we are down to just ten days left this year.

As it always is, time is not exactly in abundance when we reach this juncture; our hours are frantically parceled off into holiday parties, gift shopping, and projects until we crawl out from under the pile of ribbons and wrapping paper to get some fresh air, and suddenly, TA-DA!It’s Christmas.  And if you’re anything like me you’re behind in doing, oh, a bit of everything, again.

It’s really unbelieveable how each year this happens, no matter how much we will it not to.  Thanksgiving arrives in late November as it always reliably does, and from the moment that last bite of turkey is washed down with that last sip of spiked cider, the world eagerly springs into holiday overdrive.  Bows of holly festoon every last inch of public space, catalogues and store coupons glut mailboxes, and songs of turtle doves and pear trees are tirelessly looped on end.

By no means am I looking to sound Scrooge-esque here; I absolutely adore this time of year, and must admit that even when I hear aforementioned songs and see aforementioned holly just a bit too early, I still feel that giddy rumble of excitement deep in my core.  It’s just that the five short weeks that embody our holiday season fly by so fast, it can be hard to tackle every project, craft every card, and bake every treat.  This season I managed to eek out a few rounds of one of my favorite holiday sweets, the Christmas cookie.

Ah, the Christmas cookie.  An iconic sweet denizen of the Wintertime holiday dessert table, it’s one of the very first treats that springs to mind when I think of the holidays.  For such a diminutive confection, it articulates itself in countless varieties of shapes, sizes, and flavors, giving you ample room for choice and margin for creativity.  This year, for a friend’s cookie party I tried out a favorite recipe from a favorite bakery (recipe to come), and for our holiday party decided on these twinkling little lemon guys that caught my eye while I was flipping through the December issue of Martha Stewart.  I was a bit wary as I read through the instructions, as they were very succinct and simple – and, if there is one thing I know about Martha, it’s that she has a tendency to make perfection look easy breezy, and then hooks you with a near impossible to recreate recipe.

This time thankfully Martha pulled through, and I had a recipe that was neither fussy nor too time consuming.  These darling little lemon cookies are just slightly sweet and literally bursting with fresh lemon flavor from piles of fluffy zest that are added to the batter.  They bake up into tiny little circles with gently domed tops, and the bottoms take on the loveliest light golden color.

Unadorned these cookies are good, if a bit plain, but after you swathe them in a sticky sweet lemony glaze they are taken over the top.  The glaze dries and hardens into a sweet but still soft shell, and the contrast between the more mildly flavored cookie is utter perfection.  I don’t generally think of lemon cookies when I think of Christmas, and that is what is so perfect about these; they are refreshing and light, and a perfect foil to all of the heavier, more decadent treats on the table.  A smattering of edible glitter (found here) makes these really special, and their sparkly decadence fit in perfectly with all of the other holiday treats.

Sparkly Lemon Cookies
Makes 40 small cookies
From Martha Stewart Living, December 2011

A few things to note: the dough that this creates is thick and a bit sticky.  It was not difficult to use the pastry bag, but I did find that I needed to use my finger to help break the piped cookie away from the piping bag and then to tamp down any jagged peaks that this created.  Also, my cookies baked very quickly.  These are delicate and you do not want to burn them, so be sure to keep an eye on them and pull them when the tops are just set and the bottoms are a pale golden brown.  Finally, this made a ton of glaze.  Although delicious, next time I will eyeball it and make much less, or plan to make a bundt or pound cake the same day that would benefit from it so it doesn’t go to waste.

2 cups all-purpose flour
salt
1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 cup juice)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
star-shaped edible glitter or coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional, found here)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (10 minutes is longer than you think; be sure to time this step as it is crucial in creating the right texture for the cookie.  Be patient.).  Beat in eggs. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in flour mixture. Slowly add milk, and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. It will be on the thicker side.  Pipe it into  1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, tamping down any harsh peaks that remain with a flour dipped fingertip. Bake until bottoms are pale gold, 16 to 18 minutes (I found that mine took closer to 14-15 minutes, but I am baking at a high altitude).   Let cool completely on sheets set on wire racks.

Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth to make the glaze.  Brush the glaze onto the cookies, and sprinkle with edible glitter.

Martha says these can be stored for 3 days, but we were happily munching on them 7 days later and they were awesome.  Just keep them in a sealed tupperware container at room temperature, and they shouldn’t dry out.