Thursday, April 19, 2007

My Bridal Shower Spread!

Just wanted to share some pics from my Bridal Shower on April 15. My sister and Maid of Honor Natalie did the majority of the planning and executed almost single-handedly the beautiful display you can see in the pictures. She and my mom made the chocolate-covered strawberries and candies, and my future mother-in-law and her mother made the wedding cookies. The cake was made by a local baker (customized with our wedding theme!) and was to die for! It was a white cake with a raspberry filling and raspberry flavored icing. Delicious!

It was absolutely a dream shower and more than I could have ever hoped for. I have the best sister in the world. :-)

Giada's Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I began tonight's dinner the night before by mixing the vinaigrette, quartering the chicken, and allowing it to marinate overnight. Phil and I eagerly awaited tonight's dinner and the heavenly smells from the oven were enough to make our mouths water! The recipe was straightforward and simple. My one recommendation here is to mind the roasting time... I took the chicken out at 40 minutes and it could have withstook maybe even 3 minutes less than that. Regardless, it was delicious! The marinade did its work beautifully overnight and the sauce was divine! (My side dishes were slightly boring but the colors looked great with the parsley and lemon zest on the chicken!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (giblets, neck and backbone reserved for another use) 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ina's Coconut Cake

I made this cake for the first time for Phil's birthday. It was a big hit! We kept half of it and gave the other half to my mom and sister. My mom raved about the cake's almond taste from the almond extract and Phil loved the subtle sweetness of the frosting. My only recommendations for this cake are to take the cake out approximately 5 minutes before the recommended bake time and to cut the icing recipe down to 3/4... you'll have more than enough to spare!

For the cake:
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.


Jumping on the bandwagon and creating my own food blog. I plan to post my first entries soon!