Daring Bakers July Challenge: Strawberry Mirror Cake!

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*UPDATED WITH HOW-TO PICTURES*

I must admit, I had a lot of fun with this one. I have always loved light creamy desserts ones which the dessert’s beauty matches its taste! But as I am a novice baker, this is something I would have never attempted on my own – I always thought it was too hard, too time consuming and just plain too annoying. So, in order to no longer have this excuse, I joined the Daring Bakers in June. I wanted to make sure that I learned how to bake, to really learn so I would know once and for all if my feelings about baking were actually based in truth, or if it was something I was just assuming. Now that I have joined and completed two challenges, I must say that baking is not really as god-awful as I thought! I have realized that I am not a big fan of baking breads as I do not enjoy the sensation of kneading. However, whipping eggs and cream and sifting flour – that is not so bad at all. I must say I get a real satisfaction out of seeing these creations come together and I am really looking forward to the next challenge! This month’s challenge was hosted by Peabody.

This is a very time consuming recipe.. However, I do believe it is worth making. This weekend Roberto and I celebrated our engagement with my family and so in honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to prepare this beautiful pastry. It is a labor of love to a day dedicated to love, all decked out in the color of love – PINK.

I garnished each of my slices with a dollop of Irish Cream whipped cream and a whole strawberry. They were big slices, but everyone at the table finished theirs! So I think that was a good sign! We were surprised at how light the cake was for its size!

I will be posting all the “how-to” pictures later on today. I just wanted to make sure to get his up this morning before I head off to the cooking school for another week of kids’ camp! This week they will be learning about ethnic cuisines!
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Royal Foodie Joust: August 1, 2007

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Hi Everyone!

It is getting close to that time again – the time to post your entries for this month’s Royal Foodie Joust! This month’s ingredients are: eggs, peaches and honey. These were chosen by last month’s winner – Jennifer of …and the eggs.

Entries are due August 1, 2007, 10 PM EST (USA)

Please join us this month! Click here for more information!

Recipe: Watermelon Two Ways!

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Watermelon is a big summertime treat! Cool and refreshing we enjoy it all summer long! Sometimes when you buy a huge watermelon it is hard to know what to do with the leftovers. Here are two great suggestions that are easy to make and oh so delicious –
Watermelon Soda and Watermelon Granita.
The first step gets you the soda; the next step gets you the granita. You can do this with any fruit – cantaloupe is delicious and the next fruit I want to try it with is papaya, the king of all fruits (in my mind!). So cool off with these great treats!
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Recipe: Kheema a la Dharm

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My web buddy Dharm over at Dad ~ Baker & Chef sent me this recipe out of the kindness of his heart when he learned how I love eating curries, but had never really tackled one, from scratch in my kitchen. So in order to help me out and get me on my way, he sent me one of his favorite dishes that he modified from his Mum’s recipe, a childhood favorite of his – Kheema. He shared with me some of his culinary secrets and has agreed to allow me to share them with all of you! Thanks a million Dharm!

I have to say I have always been intimidated to make curries at home. There are a lot of ingredients and spices that I normally don’t put together when making dishes and I guess I always worried that I wouldn’t create the right balance of spices and it wouldn’t turn out very good. However, with the help of a friend, you are able to branch out, get a culinary push and make a curry from scratch for your family. The family loved it and we agreed next time we will make a double batch because as with many Italian sauces, it will likely get better if it is able to sit for a few days before eating to really allow the complex flavors to mingle and marry and get happy! So thanks Dharm! Your recipe is certainly a keeper!
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Lorenzo’s Pizza and Pasta: Reliving My Childhood

I wrote this piece for my Travel CloseUp Website, where I do restaurant reviews, but I felt it was also relevant to this website, so I decided to post it in both places. Something I don’t normally do. Hope you enjoy it.

This is also my submission for the
W is for Writing Challenge
Jeff has put forth on C is for Cooking

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Isn’t it amazing how a taste of something can bring you back to the past? One minute you are sitting enjoying a sweet treat at the end of a pizza and pasta dinner wondering what your angle should be for yet another Italian restaurant review and in the next moment you are an eight year old child sitting in the Italian hall enjoying the same sweet treat with your Pap-Pap. Sometimes, it has been so long since you had that particular taste that you forgot that it even existed. In that same moment that you are tasting this long-forgotten delight, moments in your life you had also forgotten come flooding back, now full of emotion because they had been forgotten for so long you did not realize how much you missed those simple, wonderful moments that you had no idea you would miss so much later at the original time you experienced them.
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Food Musing: Recipes are Guidelines!

Recipe: Grilled Tilapia with Grapefruit and Fennel Salsa, A Take on Giada’s Bikini Ready Menu

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So the other week I was watching Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis’ show on the Food Network. Her theme was a bikini ready menu. Now I am always looking for fennel recipes, because Roberto loves it so much. So when I saw her begin to prepare a grapefruit and fennel salsa for fish I was intrigued. For some reason I have been on a huge grapefruit kick and I have been experimenting with it a little bit this summer – putting vanilla yogurt on it for breakfast, sautéing it and drizzling honey on it for dessert, etc. So this looked like the perfect match up! But then she lost me. She used halibut steaks, which to me is one of the most bland, most uninspired fishes. I am into the fattier (good fat – omega-3 fat ) fishes like salmon, mackerel, swordfish (that I wish I could eat if it weren’t chock full o’ mercury and endangered), etc. So halibut just makes me want to cry, in a bad way. Plus Giada’s recipes involving fish always kind of put me off – she generally uses bland fish and then pairs them with weird stuff like
roasted cod with lima beans
, so they look to be the most bland and boring thing I could ever imagine eating, which is weird for me, because generally I like her food. So instead of just turning away from this recipe, I used it as a guideline – which is what I do with most recipes – and decided to make a few adjustments.
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Recipe: Fresh Fig and Sage Grilled Pizza

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I saw a recipe for fresh fig pizza with blue cheese in Vegetarian Times years ago. I have a huge collection of recipes I have torn out of magazines and newspapers, printed from online, etc etc over the years. These are recipes that have given me inspiration on creating new flavors and dishes. Every time I move, which seems to have been quite a few times over these past few years, I go through the box and get rid of the ones I will never make or have lost their lustor.

This recipe has stuck with me over the years and I finally decided to try my version of it. As you know from my recent post about figs, fresh figs are finally in season and so I have been eating quite a lot of them! Since Roberto is always looking for a good ITALIAN pizza crust – (no New York style crust, here)– to no avail yet in a restaurant, we have been trying to devise our own. The secret to a great Italian pizza crust is of course the high temperatures in which they are quickly cooked. So I decided to finish the pizzas by grilling them off at the end, in a 600 F grill to get it to the right consistency. It definitely got the Roman’s seal of approval. I also drizzled the pizzas with olive oil and balsamic vinegar when they came out of the grill to give it a little something extra!
Buon Appetito!
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I’m A Rockin’ Girl Blogger!

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Thanks to Nikki over at CanaryGirl. I really adore her blog – so full of delicious recipes and beautiful pictures! So to be nominated by her is a real honor! Thanks, Nikki! :)

The fun thing about this is that I get to nominate three others! Which is very exciting.
So here are my three:

Sognatrice over at Bleeding Espresso.
Sognatrice is well known in the blogging world for her tales about a Calabrian-American girl who moves to her ancestral village in Calabria, Italy. Her bravery amazes me! She has done something I would have loved to do and really made a wonderful life for herself by “coming home”!

Cynthia from Tastes Like Home.
Cynthia is an awesome cook and food writer who speicalizes in traditional Caribbean cooking especially Guyanese cooking from her home in lovely Barbados. Cynthia is one of the lovliest bloggers you will meet online!

Amanda over at Figs, Olives, Wine.
Amanda has also been nominated this week as a Blogger For Positive Global Change. Amanda is a food and travel writer who focuses on eating locally! A practice that is very good for preserving our environment! So you will always find unique and beautiful dishes that are always in season over on her blog!