Thursday, July 31, 2014

Baby shoe lemon cupcakes


Michelle is going on maternity leave, so to bid her adieu for now, I made her some lemon cupcakes with fondant baby shoes on top.

The lemon cupcake recipe and lemon buttercream is from The Primrose Bakery, and can  be found online here.  There appears to be a mistake in the buttercream recipe, as it refers to milk in the method but not in the ingredients.  Working from their vanilla buttercream recipe, I estimated that it needed 30ml of milk, which together with 30ml of lemon juice, makes 60ml of fluid, as per the vanilla buttercream.  This seemed to work just fine.

I think the cupcakes turned out really cute:

The piping is not as neat as it could have been, because I suspect I used my pastry tip instead of my icing tip, but that's OK.

I had a sneaky taste of both cake and buttercream, and they are both pleasantly lemony and delicious.

The shoes are made from fondant that I hand-coloured in with red (pink) and blue colouring, and using this mould (I got mine from Cake Deco in Port Phillip Arcade).  I didn't bother messing around with the bows or flowers as I have no idea if Michelle is having a boy or a girl.

This is a super easy idea for a baby shower, and the cakes are tasty too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WWDH - Mushroom Risotto

This week, Kayte chose Mushroom Risotto from Modern Classics 1 as our Donna Hay recipe. You can also find it online here. I wasn't too sure about this one at first, as I can be a bit picky about risotto and in the distant past, I did have a bad experience with a gloggy pumpkin risotto.

However, this risotto was really tasty, and came together with ease.  The mushrooms really made it by adding "meat" and flavour.  I used Swiss brown and oyster mushrooms, but you can use whatever you have  on hand.  The recipe said to use dried porcini mushrooms as well, but I hate the taste, smell and texture of those, so I left them out.

To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this week's dish, visit their websites.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 1 in Las Vegas, Lemongrass at Aria, Liberace Costume Exhibition and Cocolini Gelato at The Venetian

Our evening destination after motoring on from the Grand Canyon was Las Vegas.  It is not strictly on Route 66, for sure, but it would be silly to come all that way and not drop in to the party capital of Nevada.  Besides, you can "travel" all over the world in just one place.  There was New York, New York, at the top of this post, and the ever stunning Bellagio:

and who could leave out Paris:

For dinner on that first evening, I was keen to return to Lemongrass at Aria, where I had dined two years previously:

As the name suggests, it is a Thai restaurant.  You can dine a la carte, but I wanted to have their excellent pre-show set menu again ($39):

For starter, you receive a fish cake and a vegetarian spring roll with a sweet chilli dipping sauce:

For main, you receive pad pak (vegetable stir fry) with jasmine rice:

and green chicken curry:

All of it is delicious, and because it is designed for those dining before going to a show, it comes out really quickly - no waiting around.

For dessert, we received this divine bua loi - sticky rice "dumplings" in warm coconut milk:

This was as good as I remembered from last time.  Trust me to remember the dessert!

The staff were prompt and courteous, and didn't indicate that they even noticed that Tim and I were dressed for the road rather than the theatre.

Afterwards, we went next door to The Cosmopolitan, where they were hosting a Liberace costume exhibition:

I have posted all of my photos from the exhibition on my travel blog here, if you are interested in some more glittering costumes.

We then took a leisurely stroll back to our home casino.  Here is a fab arial shot of The Strip at dusk from one of the elevated walkways:

And here is Paris again, all dolled up in its evening finery:

and of course, its next door neighbour, The Flamingo, who hosted the Osmonds for years, and now has our very own Livvy performing:

Don't miss The Bellagio light show, which happens every half hour or so nightly on The Strip:

We wandered over to The Venetian which, you guessed it, is decked out to transport you to Venice.  Gondola ride anyone?

We were in The Venetian because our tour guide, Bob, told us that he liked to end the evening by having a gelato in St Mark's Square at The Venetian.  We were sold on the idea, and while it took us quite a while to find (if you have never been to Vegas, the scale of the casinos is enormous!), we finally wandered into St Mark's Square:

when we stumbled upon Cocolini Gelato:

I threw caution to the wind and ordered this very decadent bacci gelato ($7.50):

Tim and I sat and ate gelato while listening to a classical music trio entertaining the crowds.

Of course, on the way back to our casino, I had to take a photo of this sign advertising the Love Cirque du Soleil show, which features music of The Beatles:

Sadly it was not on the nights we were there, and last time I was in Vegas I didn't go because I messed up and bought a ticket for another show on the same night in Los Angeles which I could not attend and I decided to just wear my mistake.
I wasn't sure about being in Vegas again when I saw it on the itinerary, but I have to say that I enjoyed it way more this time.  Just stay away from the pan handlers, the pretty ladies at card tables and the shiny machines with flashing lights, and you will be fine.
at Aria
3730 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89149
United States
Ph: + 1 877 230 2742
The Cosmopolitan
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd.  
Las Vegas, NV 89109
United States
Ph: +1 702 698 7000
3355 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
United States
Ph: +1 702 414 1000

Friday, July 25, 2014

FFWD - Provencal Vegetable Soup

For French Friday with Dorie this week, we made Provencal Vegetable Soup.  This is a stock-based soup chock full of pasta and vegetables.

As you can see, this soup contains lots of brightly coloured vegetables.  Mine is even brighter because I substituted sweet potato for white potato in the recipe.  I could only buy 4 ears of corn, so I opted to leave it out rather than spend money on unwanted corn.

As ever, I reduced the liquid more than I probably should have, but that didn't matter to me - I liked the chunkiness of my soup.  Overall, I rated this soup as delicious. 

To see what the other Doristas thought of this soup, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WWDH - Yorkshire Puddings

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, I chose something that has long been on my list to make - Yorkshire puddings.  This recipe comes from p120 of Modern Classics I.

 I had read that the requirements for successful Yorkshire puddings are a hot oven and hot oil (or in this case, lard).  Accordingly, I made sure of both before adding the batter to the muffin trays.

I think my Yorkshire puddings turned out pretty well - they were golden and puffy.  I served mine with a steak and gravy:

To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this recipe, visit their websites.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry and Yoghurt Muffins with Lemon Sugar

Everybody loves a muffin, and so it seemed when I baked Donna Hay's Blueberry and Yoghurt Muffins with Lemon Sugar, a recipe I found in Sunday Style magazine.  These muffins disappeared like hotcakes, and I can understand why, having eaten one and a half of them myself. They are tangy and lemony, with bursts of juicy blueberries in every mouthful.  The lemon sugar on top adds a pleasant crunch.

Here's a peek inside:

I would definitely make these muffins again - they are simply scrumptious.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Date and Apple Cakes

I am a huge fan of dates, and I eat them like lollies.  Accordingly, when I saw a recipe for date and apple cakes on p69 of the July 2014 edition of Taste magazine, I had to make them.

These date and apple cakes tend towards the healthier side of things, as they contain spelt flour instead of plain flour, and coconut oil.  They contain comparatively little sugar, with the sweetness coming primarily from the dates.  Best of all, they are moist and delicious. The magazine served them with a caramel sauce, so that they resembled little sticky date puddings, but I didn't bother with the sauce.

To make these little cakes, you will need:

135g pitted dried dates
250ml water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
60ml (1/4 cup) solid coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar (they used coconut sugar, I used white sugar)
240g white spelt flour
2 eggs
1 peeled and grated Granny Smith apple
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and spray a 12 hole muffin tin with cooking oil.

Put the dates and water into a small saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.  Take the saucepan off the stove then stir in the bicarbonate of soda.  Allow the mixture to cool.

Beat the coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of sugar together  until light and creamy, then add 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 egg.  Beat to combine, then repeat with another tablespoon of flour and the remaining egg.  Fold through the grated apple and half of the remaining flour, then fold in the baking powder, cinnamon, date mixture and the last of the flour.

Using an icecream scoop, divide the mixture evenly between the 12 holes of the greased muffin tin, then bake for ~25 minutes.  Cool the cakes in the tin for 5 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunrise over the Grand Canyon; Williams and Seligman AZ; Hoover Dam


Having the luxury of staying overnight at the Grand Canyon meant that we could be there for sunset and sunrise, which we were informed could be spectacular because of the different light and shade that the Canyon takes on with the movement of the sun's rays.  Unfortunately, sunset was a bust, because it was an overcast evening.  This meant that we had to rise early the next day (around 5.30am at the time of year that we were there) in the chilly weather to see the sunrise.

The top shot is of the Canyon as the sun was just starting to rise.  There is nothing much to see at that stage.  Following are a series of shots of the Canyon as the sun rises slowly in the sky, demonstrating the different hues that the Canyon takes on with the differing exposure to light:

After the sun rose, we went for a well deserved breakfast.  Just outside the breakfast area, we spied an elk enjoying her breakfast (there were actually two, but this one was closest):

We then packed up our cabins and drove on for a final look at the Grand Canyon, this time from Mather Point:

Can you see the face of the person in the rock face below?

On leaving the Canyon, we headed for Williams, Arizona, which was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by the new freeway:

At the Williams visitor centre, Tim found a new friend in the form of Smokey the Bear:

Downtown Williams features lots of old style buildings and cool street art.  This old-style diner is one of them:

and features this Route 66 mural on the outside wall:

The Grand Canyon Railway has a depot in Williams:

Isn't this steam engine one of the most handsome pieces of machinery you have seen?

From Williams, we moved on to Seligman.  The revival of interest in Route 66 is credited to Angel Delgadillo, a Seligman barber known as the guardian angel of Route 66, who campaigned with a group of like-minded folk to have signage placed along the old Route 66.  Here is Angel's barber shop, where Angel still pops in every day:

Unfortunately, we missed Angel on the day that we visited, but here is Tim trying out his barber's chair:

Angel's late brother, Juan, used to run Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In:  

and drove this crazy car to attract customers: 

Juan was very much a local celebrity in his own right, although from the video that we saw, I think I would have gone nuts trying to buy anything from him.

On the way to our final destination for the day, Las Vegas, we passed the Hoover Dam:

I am very proud of this shot, despite the bus window frame, as there is only a very narrow opportunity to see the dam from the road, as it has been fenced off to avoid gawkers causing traffic accidents.  (I was a bus passenger, so no-one was harmed in taking this photograph.)

233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd
Williams, AZ 86046
United States
Phone: +1 928 635 4253
Seligman, AZ 86337
United States
Ph: +1 928 422 3352
Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In
301 Arizona 66
Seligman, AZ 86337
United States
Ph: +1 928 422 3291