The Cool House: entertaining
Showing posts with label entertaining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entertaining. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cupcakes and family secrets

You know you're part of the family when...

Someone offers you the chance to feel the difference between saline and silicone breasts - saline today, silicone sometime later this summer

They trust you enough to tell you things secure in the knowledge it will not reach the internets the following day

Someone confesses that when they were small they liked to eat the paper that cupcakes are baked in. Bonus points if you admitted you preferred the casings to the cupcakes. Double bonus points if, while telling this story, you are actually chewing on the paper.

They eat all of your Strawberry-Thyme cupcakes but want to know why they are so tiny. That's because these are English fairy cakes (insert inappropriate joke here) adapted from the super-sized American version here. If you are a US reader, make the American version. If you're European and have access to the smaller paper cases the recipe is as follows:

Strawberry-Thyme Fairy Cakes

Take 3 sprigs of thyme and infuse in 5 tablespoons of milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. Discard the thyme. Cream together 100g butter and sugar. Add two eggs, one at a time, with a little self-raising flour, beating between each addition. Carefully fold in 100g sifted SR flour and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, mash a couple of strawberries, grate in the zest of half a lemon. Carefully stir this into cake batter with one or two tablespoons of the thyme-infused milk. Divide between 12 paper cases and bake in 180c oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool.
For the Glacé Icing
Mash another couple of strawberries with the rest of the milk and another teaspoon of lemon zest. Sift in enough icing sugar to make icing that coats the back of a spoon and pour it over those fairy cakes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The morning after

The Cool House is a great place to entertain and we love having company over for drinks or a casual supper, especially those who have never been here before or who haven't heard of Andrew Geller and his work. We show off the house and describe how we found it, hopefully without boring other people who have heard it all before. But the pressure is really on when another of the guests is a frequent visitor and loyal blog reader and his wife is an extremely talented interior designer.

I know I'm expected to blog something pithy and acerbic about last night's dinner but I'm going to throw this curve ball out of left field and present some shots of the spring flowers I received instead.

Fabulously beautiful, no?
I don't know why I'm feeling so mellow this morning. Perhaps I'm still relaxed from the marvellous company and conversation last night? Perhaps it has something to do with the seven hours uninterrupted sleep I had for the first time since we got the kittens?

Or perhaps it was the amount of wine I consumed?
Thanks to all concerned for making it such a great evening: the chicken carver, the bottle openers, the plate passers, the table clearers and the dishwasher stacker. The Guy and I really appreciate the way you worked for your dinner.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snow Day Baking

What can you do when the snow is thickly falling outside? You could spend a few hours reading your favorite blogs, catching up on the laundry or cleaning the house. Or you could invite the neighbors over for spaghetti supper and spend the afternoon making Buffalo Bolognese, Tuscan bread and Lemon and Almond biscotti.

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon to finish
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs + 1 egg white to glaze
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Cream the butter and cup of sugar. Add the salt, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and whole eggs, beating well after each addition. Gradually stir in flour and almonds. Finish the mixing by hand and shape into 2 12"x6" rectangles.
Place these on a baking sheet 4" apart. Whisk the egg white until foamy and brush over the tops. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the dough and bake in a pre-heated 375F oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool on the tray for 1 hour. Then slice on the diagonal into 1/2" slices. Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake for a further 10 minutes or so until drip and crisp.

Serve with espresso, or fruit salad with whipped cream. Or if your guests can't wait for the Fettucine to cook, they make an acceptable hors d'oeuvre!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine's Day: The "weekender" edition

I would like to thank our neighbors for a fun-filled Saturday evening of great food and wine but especially for the Valentine's related topics of conversation ranging from serial engagements to love handles (both on the body and the handles in the shape of hearts on the Valentine's mugs, which I named "love handles") and from fig leaves to E.D. and what to do if you are afflicted by a four-hour erection resulting from an overdose of Cialis. Would a dip in a neighbor's icy-cold pool take the ahem edge off, so to speak? I haven't laughed so much since 2007.
I was suffering from verbal diarrhoea, the result, I think, of not being able to speak for the last couple of weeks and a couple of glasses of red wine, which always loosens my tongue. It was so bad that even when we went to bed I kept waking up every couple of hours and I WAS STILL TALKING. I seemed to have got it out of my system now, though.
So once again, thanks both for the wonderful hospitality and for the opportunity to mention erectile dysfunction on my blog.