it’s a marshmallow world

Anyone remember the marshmallows in Voguemallow Grilled Sandwich? This weekend I took a quick trip with my friend Courtney to the source, where we learned from the mellifluent marshmallow makers at 240sweet. Chef Alexa and Co. were generous and funny (as we all hope good confectioners to be). While the mega batch of mallows were mixing, we were treated to samples of artisan marshmallows that were skewered and toasted on the spot. Flavors like Banana Split, Elephant Ear, and Salty Caramel Swirl = pillowy roasted gooey bliss. We all got to taste spoons of the fresh mango mallows right off the beater, then we put on plastic aprons and shaped up our own vanilla bean mallows with powder and pizza cutters (Courtney snapped my picture in action!). Hers were wedges that looked like a wheel of brie and mine were something like abstract picket fences and piano keys. I wanted to buy all available flavors, but I had to limit myself to two pouches. I chose the Hoosier Strawberry and March’s Flavor of the Month: Dirty Leprechaun (creation forthcoming). Thanks, 240sweet for a good time, and Happy March, All.

pear shortbread with shaved pecorino

An inspiration storm hit when I opened a package that came in the mail for me last week. A friend, who knows a thing or two about treasures, sent me this tin of cutters that she uncovered at a thrift store! I gave them each a bath and decided to start out with a classic shortbread recipe. Since I was using the pear shape, I made a pear glaze to coat the shortbread. To cut the sweetness, I added shaved slices of the salty Italian sheep’s milk cheese and topped it off with a toasted walnut. Flavor boomerangs! I will make these again with other fruit, cheese and nut combos. Fun little pick up snacks made with a super pick-me-up gift.

Cookies: I use Ina Garten’s Recipe.

Pear Glaze: In a saucepan, stir together one cup of pear nectar (I like Looza or Knudsen brands, but if you have time, I suppose you could make your own) and 2 T brown sugar. Add 1 T unsalted butter and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until liquid reduces by half (about 10 min).

Walnuts (optional): Toast 8-10 min. in 350-degree oven.

all you need is love (and yum)

I have been practicing my felt-cutting skills intermittently over the past few months. It all started with my niece’s party, a couple of co-worker gifts, and a birthday present for my sister. I just kept cutting out pennants and letters and putting them together (giddy over the idea of a felt swatch collection), and now I have a stack that need homes. So, as a simple sign of gratitude for clicking over to my blog, mail me your postal address at (or however it is we normally communicate) and let me know which ones you would like to have for yourself or to give to others. I know that each one will find the perfect place to proclaim YUM or remind LOVE.

day old donut hole bread pudding

Inspired by a menu item from an old restaurant on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis over 50 years ago called Doyle’s Eat Shop, I made bread pudding from day old donuts. I happened to have a few leftover glazed applesauce donut holes from Heyerly’s Bakery, so I used those as the bread and made up my recipe based on what I had at my apartment. I learned about the magic of cardamom in bread pudding from my friend Lindsay, who could make her recipe blindfolded. Since the donut holes were glazed I didn’t use too much sugar and decided that butter was unnecessary. I also sprinkled a few walnuts over half. These would be good with a white chocolate sauce. I heated up some peach and raspberry preserves to top the warm, spicy, sweet substance.

For the puddin:
half about 2 dozen donut holes and stack in loaf pan / whisk together 2 eggs, 1 c cream, 1/8 c dark brown sugar, 1/2 t cardamom & pinch of nutmeg / pour over top of halved donut pile and press down till soaked / bake about 30 min in 375-degree oven or till loaf is springy to the touch

seattle window

I was sitting in my car watching the rain carry colored leaves off of the parking lot trees yesterday, and my thoughts drifted to the jewel-toned state of Washington. Then I realized that at this time last year I was in Seattle, so I dug up a few photos from that weekend.

brunch at marie’s

I always say that my first college roommate was a saint, and she still is.  When I visited her last week, she treated me to a super brunch in Grand Rapids at Marie Catrib’s.  I loved everything about this place from the people to the flowers to the font all over the restaurant.  Not to mention the food!  We split two dishes: Marie’s own gluten-free pancakes made with sweet potato and cranberries, served with real maple syrup and honey butter & Esperanza’s Omelette with Marie’s seasoned potatoes. I was having such a good time I had to cut myself off from my fourth coffee refill.  Sharing joys and sorrows of the past year goes best with brunch.

desserts & installations

Just a few of my favorite things! I met up with my old college roommates and summer camp counselor friends in Grand Rapids Friday. It was the last weekend of ArtPrize 2011 filled with treats visually & gastronomically in good company. These desserts are from San Chez in downtown Grand Rapids, including Empanada de Chocolate (chocolate fudge filled pastry, dolce de leche ice cream, brandy caramel, raspberry sauce), Pastel de Queso de Cabra (vanilla goat cheese cheesecake with shortbread crust, lemon curd, blackberry caviar & pecan tuile), and Tarta de Chocolate al Whisky (whisky soaked cake, caramel pecan ice cream, brownie & white chocolate mousse), respectively. The dishroom didn’t have much work to do once we were finished.