on the road again

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving on a 20 day bicycle trip with Paul and Bekah. Jay’s been planning this for a long time…and I’ve been dreading the hills for a long time. 🙂 We’re leaving from our place and are heading southward (which should be easier since it’s down-hill, right?) to Barcelona. I’m anticipating this trip to be one of the more challenging adventures we’ve set out on…(probably the hardest part will be not constantly whining about the hills!)…but also just plain rad. I can’t wait to see all that amazing countryside and have time far away from home/work. And have time to read books…and watch Lost (yes, we’re all addicted and are bringing an ipad crammed full of episodes).

Jay has a blog going for the trip:
http://circumambulating.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

morning in Dijon

Dijon is a beautiful and classy old town, and we’ve enjoyed exploring it on many occasions…it feels so old and bourgeois and so classically French. 
Dijon’s distinctive half-timbered buildings.
Dijon’s mascot, a wish-granting stone owl on the corner of a church, who has been rubbed for centuries for those seeking it’s favor. 
Inside the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Dijon mustard, of course! They actually have mustard on tap in this store! 
I have a thing for old French signage. Could a laundromat sign get any cuter than this?

anniversary meal

Back in June we were asked to prepare a special anniversary meal for 50 people here at the Château. It was great fun because I got to use some of the recipes I learned at cooking school, I had a somewhat larger budget than normal, had a fabulous group of kitchen help, and had my brand new KitchenAid! (Thanks, Aunt Tami!!!)

Jay made fancy-shmancy menu cards for the evening
Mediterranean brochettes (skewers of prosciutto, olives, marinated cherry tomatoes, and marinated feta cheese)
smoked salmon canapés (photo by the lovely Bekah)

chilled cream of pea soup

we cut the potatoes, carrots, and zucchini from the lamb dish into fancy shapes called “turned vegetables,” a kitchen-helper torture method that I learned at cooking school…luckily everyone was extremely forgiving of my requesting them to do this arduous task and they kept any mutinous thoughts to themselves.
Jay decided to try making the “ball in cube” carved potato…I’m assuming as a break from the monotony of carving all those carrots. 
And now…the desserts. I’m skipping pictures of the salad course and main course because they weren’t quite as photogenic as the others…and making up for that with tons of photos of the desserts!

first dessert…mocha mousse (another of Bekah’s awesome photos)

Bekah with the caramel-coated almonds used to garnish the main dessert of Nougat Glacé.
I’ve had some questions about making these, so here’s an explanation:
-skewer whole, blanched almonds with a toothpick
-make a caramel…the kind that will harden up (I made mine with glucose syrup, sugar, and water)
-dip the almonds in, and then stick the toothpicks into a piece of thick styrofoam (we covered the foam in aluminum foil) and carefully pull down a string of caramel while it is still soft (obviously be careful not to burn your fingers!)
-with a pair of scissors, cut the caramel string to the desired length
-let them harden before removing from the foam…makes a unique and unexpected garnish! (and was better tasting than I anticipated!)
Nougat Glacé is a frozen dessert made of meringue, honey, whipped cream, pistachios and hazelnuts. We served it with sweet-tart raspberry sauce and fresh berries.

Plating up the dessert
et voilĂ …Nougat GlacĂ©!

Bekah made these incredible truffles to go with coffee…what better way to end a meal than with three desserts?