Archive for the ‘reading’Category

White Chocolate Buttercream with Vanilla Cupcakes

Birthday Cupcake on Birthday Bunnykins

One of my oldest friends (and by old, I mean the length of time we’ve been friends…not age) enjoys a particular kind of cake for her birthday: white cake with blue frosting.  This birthday cake is traditionally prepared by another of our dear friends, Elpoo.  It’s always sweet and yummy and decorated in some clever way.  Here’s a cake she made for my own birthday:


 For this particular festive gathering, however, cupcakes were requested. Well, we all know that I have been elected (appointed?) the designated maker of the cupcakes, so the honour of baking for this occasion fell to me.  My signature cupcake is chocolate with chocolate buttercream frosting.  In a feeble attempt at meeting the white and blue requirements, though, I did my best to whip up a batch of homemade cake batter and a version of my favourite buttercream recipe. 


The cake was…meh.  The recipe was taken directly from a Cooks Illustrated recipe, with a few minor tweaks.  It was simple enough but honestly, a store-bought mix with some delicious additions (sour cream, melted butter, vanilla…mmmmm) would have been better.  I found the crumb slightly tough and a little dry, but I don’t think that was all due to possibly overbaking them.  Regardless, I’ll spare you the recipe.


Our focus instead shall be the frosting.  After all, isn’t a cupcake really nothing more than a vehicle to convey said frosting to mouth?  All silky and buttery and sweet and rich.  Perfection.  For those that enjoy reading about such sweet things, please join me on this educational jaunt into the world of frosting as we explore four tasty variations of buttercreams:

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11 2009

Gourmet bites it

Gourmet folds

Gourmet folds


After 68 years, Gourmet magazine finally bites it.  I was never really a fan…I think I bought it once.  I can’t say I’ll miss it but it was an important contributor to the food-writing landscape.   Read the New York Times obituary here.


10 2009

Julie & Julia


No self-respecting food blogger could not write about the film Julie & Julia, even if only in passing.  I won’t actually go into “review” mode here.  However, in case you might have missed it, the movie is based on two books:  Julie & Julia:  My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme.  Figuring prominently in both was the mother of all French cooking tomes, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child.


Two years ago, I brought Ms Powell’s book along with me on a trip home to my parents.  It was a quick and breezy read and I admired her challenge of working her way through 524 recipes over the course of a year.  In fact, it prompted me to pick up my very own copy of MtAoFC (as Julie efficiently labels it).  It is a classic, after all, and I certainly couldn’t deprive myself of yet another cookbook.  In order to qualify for free shipping (“D*mn you, Amazon!!!”), I had to top up my order and selected Prud-homme’s memoir of his great grand aunt Julia.

 I think MtAoFC received more attention than all my other cookbooks combined.  Seriously.  I sat down and read it cover to cover.  I don’t think I’d cook much from it, and the recipes are somewhat dated.  But 16 pages on how to make a soufflé was just too much enjoyment for me.  Definitely food porn…in a literary way.  Anyway, the memoir was a lovely companion piece to her cookbook since it essentially documented said book’s conception and birth.  I didn’t know much about her before (although I could do a wicked impression), and I walked away from both books marveling at her passion, fortitude and zest.

 Meryl Streep

The film is a nice tribute to both Julie and Julia, and that’s exactly what it was…a gentle reflection on both these women, whipping up a gastronomical storm.  Meryl Streep really does deserve accolades for her success in channelling la Grande Gourmande.  Read My Life in France, though; it really deserved to have a movie all to itself.


08 2009