Saturday, January 31, 2009

Food Blogging Equipment

Well, I finally did it. I went and built myself a light box. Here's hoping that it gets me posting more during the winter! I still have some lighting stuff to figure out, I think one 60 watt bulb isn't enough, but it's better than nothing :) These pics were taken at 10pm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My newest favorite thing... gourmet loose tea

I went to visit a friend last week and she introduced me to gourmet loose teas. I tried the vanilla and instantly fell in love. It's such a cozy and comforting drink, perfect for a chilly day, a stressful day, even a generally good day. I've taken to having 2 cups a day. I just absolutely love it.

I purchased my new teas from Adagio Teas. With the easy to use teapot with built in tea strainer, it's kinda fun to make myself a cup of tea now. With each purchase of their tea pots, you get to pick a sampler pack of teas. I picked the herbal sampler which included blood orange, chamomile, spearmint and rooibos. I still have no idea what rooibos is, but I've always enjoyed minty teas, have taken to liking chamomile in the last year, and blood orange just sounded fun. It was the obvious sampler for me to pick.

Shipping was cheap, delivery was fast, I couldn't have been more pleased with my purchase from Adagio.

, my new favorite tea. It's just amazing, the smell, the taste. Simply the best:

Blood Orange
smells incredible right out of the tin. It smells super fruity, and when brewed, produces a delicious tea reminiscent of juice. This tea needs minimal sugar added:

is a flower tea, known for its soothing and calming qualities. These buds are almost too cute to brew:

- it kinda looks like oregano, but it most definitely is not. It smells exactly like spearmint:

, which I know is a red tea, is caffeine free, which is ideal for soothing cups of tea in the evening:

They also sent me a free sample of Aries, one of their zodiac teas, based on my birthday. Described as a blend of irish breakfast and masala chai, it smells freaking amazing and I'm excited to try it:

So if you have a favorite tea flavor or want to experience a new world of teas, go check out their website, and explore their large selection!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

White Cupcakes

Yesterday I had a random craving for a really nice cupcake. I remembered coming across Bridget's blog, The Way The Cookie Crumbles, and she did a comparison between 3 recipes for white cake. I was so inspired, not only by her pictures, but because I was able to see the inside of the cupcakes side by side. I'm weird and there are certain types of cupcakes that I like over others, so I thought it was neat to be able to pick which recipe I wanted to try based on what the inside of the cupcake should look like. I chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe.

I adapted Dorie's recipe by excluding the lemon zest and using vanilla extract in place of lemon extract (because I really don't like citrus undertones in my cakes) and I followed the directions I found on Bridget's blog to a T. I filled the cupcake tin and popped it into the oven, ensuring that the temperature was correct on my oven thermometer. I set the time for 18 minutes and hoped for the best. You see, the last 3 times I tried to make cupcakes from scratch, they all sank!

I was pleasantly surprised, and ecstatic, when I checked the cupcakes when the timer went off, they were all perfectly puffed up. I stuck my cake tester in, prayed it wouldn't deflate the cupcakes, and it didn't! Then, I took the cupcakes out of the oven, again nervous that the change from oven temp to room temp would cause them to deflate. And after a few minutes I checked on them again - and they were still perfectly risen! A success in itself :)

So then, I set out to make my own chocolate frosting, something I'd never done before. I had a debate with my friend, Dana, who balked when I told her I was just going to buy some Betty Crocker icing. I explained that I didn't want to deal with the hassle of melting chocolate. She politely informed me that Domino sugar has a recipe for chocolate buttercream which she uses, and adds cocoa powder to instead of adding melted chocolate to. I couldn't disappoint her.

So here's what I came up with for the frosting, which, by the way, turned out super awesome:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups (450 grams) powdered sugar
3-5 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
5-7 Tbsp cocoa powder

Basically I just creamed the butter, sugar, vanilla and 3 Tbsp of milk together. Then I added the cocoa powder 1 Tbsp at a time until I achieved the desired chocolatey flavor. Then I just added another 2 Tbsp of milk to bring the frosting to the right consistency. And then I iced away!

I found the interior of the cupcakes to be really soft and tender, almost reminiscent of an angel food cake, but the edges were a little too chewy for my liking. However, the chocolate frosting was awesome and I don't think I'll be buying Betty Crocker ever again :)