Opera Cake

Like nothing I have ever tasted before.

The “Opera Cake”.

opera cake1For a while, I have been wanting to make this cake.  After reading through all the different recipes, my enthusiasm started to wane.  This cake has many different components and uses many ingredients.  I was just too lazy to go through all those steps.

Nevertheless, I wanted to challenge myself and to taste what all goes into one.  At the “Patisserie New York” an Opera Cake sells for $51.90.  It should be really tasty at those prices.

And yes, it was tasty-it was delicious!

I gathered a bunch of different type of recipes from around the net for this cake and put together a recipe for me. It took me a while to put it together and to convert amounts to cups, ounces, spoonfuls, etc.

I needed a joconde, ganache, coffee syrup, Italian buttercream, a chocolate mirror glaze, and lots of time.  An Opera Cake is usually made with almond flour, but can be made with hazelnut flour.  I used the hazelnut flour.  I thought coffee flavoring goes well with hazelnut flavor.

I had never made Italian Buttercream before.  It uses just calls for too much darn butter for one recipe and it read like it was too much work to create.  Blah!

I found a little “umph“, the other day, and headed right into the kitchen to make that buttercream.  I can now say that all the effort, and butter, that goes into this Italian Meringue Buttercream is well worth it-the taste is heavenly.  It’s not too sweet, but melt-in-your-mouth creaminess.  I only made 3/4th of the Italian Buttercream recipe.

The buttercream was made on day one.  The next day, I made the rest of the components and the cake.  It took me 6 hours to bake, make and put together.  Whew!   It would have taken me longer, but Tom did all the dishes after each additional component was made.

This isn’t an entremets that should be eaten all the time and then, only a thin slice will do.  Moderation is the key word for this lovely, decadent dessert.

With all the work, ingredients and effort I put into this cake, and not knowing what I was doing, I think it turned out picture perfect!

Check out it’s, possible, history at “The Good Life France“.

You can find my recipe for this cake on this page-Opera Cake.

Weekend Bakers

What was happening this weekend-

Yesterday, I made an apple-caramel tarte tatin. It came out so pretty and it was delicious.

tarte tatin (2)

I inverted in on to a plate; snapped a picture of the applely-carmelly-almondly goodness. I was pleased at how well it turned out.

However, I unintentionally deleted the photo and can’t show you how pretty and appealing it was.

Ugh!

tarte tatin

This is before turning it out onto a plate.

Friday, I made (eight) ciabatta rolls for Italian sandwiches.  We filled them with Salami, picante provolone cheese, paper thin-cut veggies and homemade Italian sub dressing.

ciabatta

Today, Tom made us a delicious brunch. He made eggs, bacon  and cheese galettes. For sides, he cooked hash browns and sausage.

galette egg

Looks good and hit the spot on the cold, Sunday morn.

Weekends, for us, are rather nondescript. But, they weren’t always that way. As one gets older they seem to, unmemorably, fade away.

There was a time when we couldn’t wait for the weekend. They were always filled with family and fun. We made so many good and fun memories.

As they say,

“C’est la vie and Bon Appétit!”

Pork Ragù and Pappardelle

When home cooking becomes a necessity.

Tuesday, I made a pot of pork ragù, Italian bread and pasta dough for pappardelle (wide pasta).

ragu and pappardelle

Tom (hubby) rolled and cut the pasta dough which gave me some time to step away from the kitchen for a little while.

Yay, Tom!

Tom the pasta maker

We made a pound of pappardelle. This is just one of two sheets.

pappardelle

For me, home cooking is cheaper, taste far better and healthier than processed, prepackaged or restaurant foods.

The downfall to home cooking is that it can be time-consuming. However, for some of us retired baby boomers, it is a necessity.

Sad as it is, it is just the two of us now.  Family is grown, far, far away and have lives of their own.  All we can hope for is that they all stay safe, healthy and happy.

Tom and I cook all of our meals, here, at home. The only days we don’t cook, are the days we eat left-overs from the day before.

Just last spring Bloomberg reported that Americans now spend more on dining out than they do on groceries. 

Luckily, most of us were taught, by our parents and grandparents, how to cook and prepare a home cooked meal.

It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that my parents finally took us to eat at a restaurant.  Up until then, all our meal were eaten at home.

I might add, it was the first time and the last time my parents indulged us with dining out.

Although I do understand why so many eat out; I find it sad that most don’t have the time or basic kitchen skills to cook at home.

There may come a time when it is a becomes a necessity.  If not a necessity, ` than a tradition to pass down to each generation.

Dilly Pickled Veggies

Because most grocery stores prepackaged most of their veggies, I had to buy a prepackaged bag of fresh green beans. But, I only needed a small amount for a meal I was preparing.

I used the amount I needed, and with the remaining (not enough to freeze), I pickled them along with some carrots and baby sweet peppers.

dilly pickled veggies

With other foods we had on hand, we made a couple of small antipasti dishes with homemade vinaigrette and the pickled veggies.

The antipasti went well with the pizza we made.

Hubbie’s antipasto dish had a boiled egg, shrimp and anchovies. I opted out of these three, additional, ingredients and just went with the bland version.

I wasn’t in the mood for shrimp or egg.  

I am never in the mood for anchovies.

antipasto

Delicious!

You gotta love veggies!

Tea Latte and Sunday Slaw

Keeping busy, I made an ‘Apple Cranberry and Almond Coleslaw‘ found at Cooking Classy.

Apple Cranberry and Almond Coleslaw

I doubled the dressing and modified it just a bit by using some sour cream (that I had on hand) along with the Greek yogurt.  Not having greens onion,  I grated a red onion (not too much) into the salad.

It is delicious!  However, I think it will be better tomorrow after it has marinated in the refrigerator where all the flavors will blend together.

A few months ago, we purchased a jar of ground cardamom for a recipe. I am gathering that we didn’t like the recipe because, for the life of me, I can’t remember what I cooked.

Surfing the web, I found one use for this expensive cardamom. It’s called an Earl Grey Latte.

earl grey carmadon latte

I found the recipe at Lark & Linen.

She uses a vanilla bean and cardamom pods. For me, vanilla beans are too expensive to use for one cups of tea.  I made half a recipe using a little more than an 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom.

Add these two ingredients towards the end of the simmer. 

I whisked it to make it a little foamy and to look more like a latte.

After taking the picture, I added a little ground cinnamon to the top.

Because the pods or the bean wasn’t used in my recipe, it didn’t need straining before drinking.

earl grey carmadon latte

It was very good.  The next time making these, I am going to use Almond milk instead of whole milk.

Taking Control

Sometimes one has take control of one’s life.  Whether it is by choice of by unforeseen circumstances.  Some of those unforeseen circumstances could be medical issues that are visited upon one as one ages.  Also, as one gets older, they may experience diminished financial resources after retirement.

Vase

I, along with my husband, have started to take control of our possessions.  We are, and have, been downsizing our material possessions.  While the family has moved on with their lives (a 1,300 mile distance from us), we have decided to move on with ours.  Now that it is just the two of us; we will not be holding on to things that we thought might be passed down.

the courage

Here is a good article I suggest everyone should read,  Stuff it: Millennials nix their parents’ treasures.

Some excerpts taken from that article:

Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.

Their offspring don’t want them.

As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, start cleaning out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.

Being of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, we talked to our family of ‘millennials’ and the ‘Generation Z’ and told them what were doing and they are completely on board. After reading that article, I can appreciate why they didn’t hesitate to agree.

We do not want to burden our family with having to clean out and clean up after us.  However, we also want to live a more simplified life. We want our home environment to be easier to clean and control.

As for medical issues, although they will be with me for the duration of my life, I am grateful that they can be controlled.  These are issues that sometimes happen with the aging population.

Yes, aging!  It can be a depressing time or one can choose to accept it gracefully.

age

But, I am burdened with guilt because some have emailed me with some problems they were having with some of my crochet patterns and I have not responded.  I just haven’t felt well.  I will fully admit, I am not a very good pattern writer.  I can design a pattern in my head and make it become a reality with my crochet hook,  but when I do write it down, and post it,  it’s unintelligible.  I have taken down my posted patterns until I can commit myself to respond to a question.

In the meantime, we are more than happy to make do with what we have and avoid the traps of consumerism.  It feels so good to unburden ourselves from material possessions.

Am I Really Finished?

Last year, I was working on a crocheted infant/baby dress when I had lost my passion to crochet or for any handiwork.  I put it aside and put it out of my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked it up again and was determined to finish it once and for all. After working on a couple of rows, I again lost the “umph!” to finish.   However, I pressed on and instead of following the direction, I went off on my own a little.

I ended up with just a top and decided to either make the bottom half out of fabric, or find a crocheted skirt pattern that I liked better.

child dress top

The back is buttoned.  I have pins holding it in place. I have yet to sew on the buttons.

Sheer laziness or something else?

child dress top back

The pattern is from an old issue from Magic Crochet that I found online.

It say that it is sized for a 6 month old, but (after completing the top) it looks bigger.

infant dress

This pattern uses #10 crochet thread and I used a size 6 crochet hook.

Besides handicrafts, I seem to have lost my passion/desire/fondness, or whichever word fits my aloofness at life, for things that were dear to me.

It’s hard to find that spark when depression weighs you down.  

sig summer

It’s A Wrap!

I was never so happy to see a crocheted project end, as I was, when I finished this shawlette.

South Bay Shawlette

The pattern is called, South Bay Shawlette by Lion Brand.

South Bay Shawlette

For the yarn, I used 100% Suri Brushed Alpaca, fingering yarn (which is now discontinued) and a size F crochet hook.

I love the feel of this yarn. It is light and airy and blocks beautifully.

South Bay Shawlette

My frustration came about when I would make a mistake and have to unravel the error. If you didn’t go slowly to unravel, that is when the fun began.  Because this yarn has tiny hairs, the stitches would fuse together with any friction.

Natural fibers have a tendency to do that.

At one point, after finishing a long row, I made a mistake at the beginning and had to sloooooooooooowly and methodically unraveled the whole row.

Grrr!

However, it’s finished and I am happy about that!

Twenty-five years ago, when we had this house built, we didn’t realize that one of the kitchen cabinets would be too small to keep anything in there save herbs and spices.  Then again, it was still too small to hold any significant amount of spices and herbs.  It is only 8 inches wide with three shelves and not very tall or deep (the top shelf had to be reached with a tall stool or chair-not very safe and so inconvenient).  For 25 years, we wrestled with jars in trying to find the one spice that we needed.  We had to take out jars of spices and herbs to find the one that was needed, then put them all back.  Some would fall out onto the counter…it was frustrating!

Finally, we came up with a solution.

This is what we built a couple of weeks ago.

Spice Cabinet

It fits between the refrigerator and wall. It has 4 casters attached to the bottom, and a handle at the end, so it will roll out and back in easily.  After putting all the spices, herbs, etc into it, my spice collection doesn’t look as big as it did in the tiny cabinet.

It makes it so much easier to cook and bake when you can see everything in the front of you.