To celebrate the holiest day of the Catholic calendar, Ben and I hosted a Good Friday Brunch for our newly engaged friends- Australian Sarah and Scottish James. They claim it was their first brunch, but being a well travelled duo, I highly doubt this, but they played ignorant brunchers quite well.
It also happened to be the first time we entertained after my epic trip (the adjectives will get more descriptive as I am distance from this journey!), so I might have gone a bit overboard.
On the menu:
- Blood-Orange Mimosas
- Cinnamon Pecans*
- Almond Danish*
- Grapefruit Cupcakes filled with Grapefruit Curd topped with Vanilla Bean Butter Cream and a nest of Candied Grapefruit Peel**
Sarah and James were generous with their praise of brunch, it could have been the influence of the blood-orange mimosas with the sneaky addition of Grand Marnier.
The Easter Bunny hopped by early to drop off mini-cocottes of goodies. He was season appropriate choosing Le Creuset’s rose-colored casseroles for table gifts (a big thing in the U.K.). Ben traded the red neck ties on the chocolate rabbits for pastel ones.
We had some fabulous waffles on Easter morning topped with grapefruit sections and the remaining tart curd. A spring explosion. Dont’ forget the whipped cream.
(The menu- only in Spanish)
(First impressions are everything)
(So welcoming and love the colours)
One of our fabulous MBA students from Chile gave me some recommendations of things to do/see/eat while I was in Santiago. As you have probably realized, my priorities tend toward the eating variety, so first up is FOOD!
There is a lovely, albeit, touristy place called Patiobellevista, which houses numerous shops selling Chilean handicrafts. Think copper and a blue stone which can only be found in Afghanistan and Chile- lapis lazuli (according to the open-top bus tour commentary). Patiobellevista also hosts some inviting restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating- which for a girl who rarely sees the sun living in Edinburgh, al fresco dining was a must.
I was instantly attracted by the outdoor porch setting of Cebichería Constitución,and understanding what this was, I was in. For you non-hispanophones- it is ceviche and it was the freshest tasting seafood I think I have eaten. This mixed-fish ceviche was served with fresh lime juice, a bit of yam, onions and white beans. I also tried some of their fresh octopus with an amazing black olive ‘dressing’ of sorts. I would love to try to recreate these dishes now I am home, hopefully Ben is game. We just need a Mercado Central* in Edinburgh.
*Mercado Central is a huge fresh seafood market in Santiago. I popped in for a look and smell (so fresh, there wasn’t one)! I was kindly asked several times where I was from- I the wide-eyed lost look always gets me in trouble. They make a famous eel broth here- I gave this a pass.
I love me a toasted hazelnut. I would have thought I would have od’d on them when I was in Istanbul last October (here, here and here). I think the hazelnut is the national nut of Turkey, I sustained myself on a diet of hazelnuts and green oranges. So this cookie recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle cookies was perfect. I like to make sure Ben has a little something sweet to take with him in his lunches while I am/was away. I am so old-fashioned sometimes!
We are having our friends Sarah and James over for a Good Friday Brunch and I am so excited to entertain. It has been ages and even more special than Good Friday, they have recently gotten engaged!
One of the things we have struggled to find are tasty replacement pastries. We used to love popping to the local boulangeries for weekend treats. Our favourite was at Trois Dauphin on rue Montroge.
We came close this recently with a trip to the Stockbridge Market. Tasty croissants aux amandes, filled with frangipan. In France they use day-old croissants filled with the almonds and then baked- a calorie bomb is there ever was one. These were lighter and probably a bit healthier, but I doubt it.
Other fun things that have been on the menu with some recent visitors:
- Lamb burgers with sun dried tomatoes and feta- very summery (we had three days of sunshine last week) and on homemade bread buns (by me) with James.
- Cinnamon Baked French Toast with Leanne and Robyn.
- We enjoyed these Banana Crumb Muffins with Chloe.
- Have you tried lasagne with lamb, you should try this Lamb and Feta Lasagne.
- Mini-ricotta cheese cakes with added ginger- nice!
Our Edinburgh summer weather has been pretty miserable (this video sums it up). When we moved here last year, we heard, “this is is the worst summer in years”. As soon as this June hit with record levels of rain and now moving through July with flooding, the Edinburghers are saying, ”no seriously, this is the worst summer we have had- ever”. It does not look encouraging for future summers.
On the plus side, Ben and I are never hot, we can sleep under a duvet every night, wear jackets and even wool sweaters. While my American friends and family are looking for ways to cool down we are trying to stay toasty and dry.
This quest means we have been craving some non-summery foods. I found myself wanting tuna noodle casserole this week. When I told Ben the Minnesotan in me was trying to get out, he had a really sweet response, “I love it when the Minnesotan in you comes out, it reminds me you are foreign and exotic and I love you. Peas tuna noodle hotdish sounds great.” I tried this recipe. Ben loved it.
We invited some friends over for Bastille Day brunch and I made the above cake. The original recipe called a triple-berry summer buttermilk bundt cake with lemon glaze (from Smitten Kitchen), mine was a double berry summer buttermilk (make my own bundt tin) cake. We do not have a bundt pan. I also opted against glaze. It was really tasty and the lemon zest was a great addition.
My Mom turned me onto Food and Wine, she has a subscription to the magazine and highly recommended the Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese, which lucky for those of us without a subscription can this and loads of others. For additional smokey flavour she suggests cooking it on the grill, another way to stay cool during those hot mid-west summers.
Both Ben and my cousin Jack have June birthdays, so when Jack was here, I made Food and Wine’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Walnut Crust. It was my first cheesecake and it was really nice.
YUMMERS PLUS… When I was at my brother’s, he prepared some really nice meals. He is an excellent cook and has an Architectural Digest-worthy kitchen. Two of the dishes which stood out were a Chicken-Peanut Stew from Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit fame. I want to get his new book, Yes, Chef- there was an excerpt in June’s Vogue (Chef Samuelsson and model wife-they are quite the good looking pair-were featured). For afters Johnners whipped up Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp with Pistachio Crust and threw in some strawberries for extra zing.