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Thursday, September 14, 2017

H&Z's Wine Country Wedding: Cocktails

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Z and I both knew we wanted to offer cocktails as part of our wedding bar. While we both enjoy wine and beer, our tastes differ a lot making it hard to agree on a particular beer or wine to share. I love sparkling, drier whites, and ales, while Z is more likely to drink IPAs and bolder reds. That being said, we both love a good cocktail.

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We got married at a winery, which made the cocktail element tricky to pull off. Our venue had strict rules around hard alcohol--mainly, it's not allowed. Alcohol had to be below 25% ABV and could not be distilled. With vodka, gin, tequila, and pretty much every distilled liquor crossed off the list, we had to be creative with our cocktail choices! We focused our searches on one sparkling cocktail and one cognac-based cocktail.

Our sparkling cocktail was a classic Aperol Spritz. The sparkling wine at our venue was a little on the sweeter side, so we opted for the bitter orange Aperol aperitif to balance it out. It has a bright orange color and was a perfect refresher post-ceremony.

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Our second cocktail was the cognac-based Hey Hey. Z and I had never heard of the drink until we started our search for cognac cocktails, but I think this drink will become part of our normal rotation! It's fresh and citrusy, thanks to Triple Sec and lemon juice. Plus, it has a splash of my favorite aperitif, Lillet Blanc.

During the dancing, we made use of the winery's port selection to create an after dinner sparkling cocktail. We combined sparkling wine with a splash of Trentadue's Muscat port for a delicious sweet treat.

Check out our recipe below for the Hey Hey cocktail we served. It's the perfect drink to serve at a winery (or to be honest, really anytime since it's super delicious) since it meets the alcohol restrictions but still gives that strong cocktail feel guests might want!

All photos from Jennifer Bagwell Photography

Hey Hey Cocktail

1 fl oz Cognac
1 fl oz Triple Sec
1 fl oz Lillet Blanc
1 fl oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Shake all the ingredients with ice and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. 



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

H&Z's Wine Country Wedding: Food

I have been gone from the blog for over a year now, and while no excuse is good enough, I hope getting married (and having lots of beautiful photos to show you!) can provide me with a 'get out of jail free' card this time around. Z and I were married on May 28, 2017, at Trentadue Winery, a winery in Sonoma County's town of Geyserville.
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Over the next few weeks, I will share a few of my favorite aspects from our wedding weekend, focusing on the food and decor. Given that this is a food blog, I will start with the food at our reception first. 

Z and I booked our caterer nine months in advance, and we felt very proud of ourselves for knocking a big item off of our wedding to-do list. Seven months before our wedding, our caterer sent us an email letting us know that they would not be providing catering services for our wedding. After several frustrated phone calls, we found out that the caterer was going out of business. Cue panic. 

After two months of back and forth with our venue and a round of new caterers, we selected a new caterer (Elaine Bell) that met our high standards of local, quality ingredients, fair pricing, and excellent service. 

When guests arrived for the ceremony, cucumber water and raspberry lemonade were on hand to help quench their thirst in the 85 degree sun.

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For appetizers, we served chicken curry salad in puff pastry cups, fried macaroni and cheese balls, and ahi tuna on a homemade potato chip with mango salsa.

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As guests sat down to dinner, the wait staff brought out a salad of butter lettuce with avocado, pear, candied walnuts, and blue cheese. Z loves blue cheese and avocado, and I love any combination of fruit/cheese/nuts.

Our friends and family had the option between steak and salmon for their entree. Z loved the salmon, while I was partial to the steak. Fried onions topped the steak, and Elaine Bell served the steak with mini new potatoes stuffed with blue cheese--I mean, YUM.

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For dessert, I couldn't pass up the traditional wedding cake, even though Z does not like cake (I know, I'm surprised I married him too). Susiecakes provided our wedding cake, and we choose a combination of marble cake and funfetti, filled with strawberry frosting, as our decorative cake. We also served Susiecakes's chocolate cake with coffee frosting.

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However, since Z is not a cake fan, and we are both ice cream fiends, we sprung at the chance to treat our guests to ice cream. We worked with Noble Folk Ice Cream, an ice cream shop in nearby Healdsburg, to provide ice cream and toppings. Noble Folk Creamery has a ton of interesting flavors, but Z and I were surprised by how much we enjoyed the vanilla and chocolate.

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We had so much fun treating our guests to the best food we could find--up next, cocktails (with recipes)!

All photos by Jennifer Bagwell Photography. Paper goods from Lotus & Ash.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes

Coffee Cardamom Cake Every once in a while, I come across a cookbook that I absolutely love. A cookbook where I want to make every recipe in the book, where I want to step into the book and join their kitchen, where I want to curl up on the couch and read the book all morning.

For about a year now, The Violet Bakery Cookbook has been on my radar. I heard about the delicious less-sweet desserts filled with fruits (loganberries! blueberries!) and unique flours (oats! rye!), but I wasn't ready yet to commit to the cookbook. Food52's Piglet, aka March Madness style cookbook competition, left me cheering for The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

Coffee Cardamom CakeCoffee Cardamom Cake

The author, Claire Ptak, founded The Violet Bakery in London after training at Chez Panisse. A San Francisco lady who opens up a bakery in London, serving the cutest violet cupcakes and coffee cakes...where I can sign up? 

One of my favorite aspects of this cookbook is how easy-going the recipes are. No fancy yeast pastries that take all night to rise, no finicky flaky pastries with thousands of steps to assemble. Given The Violet Bakery's small space, they veer towards homier, cozier pastries that are more straightforward for the home chef. 

Coffee Cardamom Cake

A few weeks ago, we went to a fun Indian-themed brunch--dosas, samosas, and mimosas! I loved the theme and wanted to contribute something sweet to share. These coffee cakes not only looked cute as a button, but also matched the spicy food with a kick of its own thanks to cardamom.

Coffee Cardamom Cake

Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes

Makes 12 individual cakes

melted butter, for greasing the pans
2 1/2 ounces walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee or espresso

Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Brush a 12 cup muff pan with the melted butter. 

First, warm the walnuts through on a baking sheet in the oven. Do not toast them; you just want to bring out the fragrant oils/ This should take less than 5 minutes. Let the nuts cool slightly, then chop fine. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, then whisk this mixture through the chopped nuts. Set aside. 

In a stand mixer, whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated, then add the vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and nut mixture and then the creme fraiche. 

Divide the batter among the 12 wells and bake for 20 minutes until the cakes spring back to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently pop them out (you may need to run a small paring knife around the insides of the wells to ease the cakes out). Place the cooled cakes upside down on a wire rack. 

Whisk together the ingredients for the icing and spoon it over the cakes. Use the back of a spoon to gently guide it to the edges so that it willingly drips down the sides. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili Recipe I promised Z healthier and easier meal this year, particularly meals that are easy to clean! Z is responsible for washing dishes each night (since I do the cooking), and to be completely truthful, I'm often not very conscientious of how many dishes I use while I cook. Most days, I leave Z with a big pile of dishes.

With a new year, and some big life events to shop for, I am also looking to eat healthier and work out more. A growing Classpass addiction means nights spent at barre classes and spin studios, and a late dinner. Dinner after 8pm has become our norm recently.

Given the late dinner schedule we're on, Z and I have been reaching for meals we make over the weekend, and reheat during the week. We bought a slow cooker over a year ago, but we've only used it for a handful of recipes. With our new schedule and desire to use fewer dishes, slow cooker recipes seemed to be the way to go.

This white chicken chili is perfect for the transition from winter to spring. It's hearty and warm thanks to the hominy, but lighter then its red companion. The avocado, lime, and pickled jalapeños add brightness.
White Chicken Chili Recipe

The recipe makes enough for 8 servings, which means you should make this on Sunday, and then eat the leftovers all week long when you race home covered in sweat and barely able to stand up straight energized after work.

White Chicken Chili Recipe

White Chicken Chili

From America's Test Kitchen

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can white hominy
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
4 jalaepeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced jarred pickled jalapeño chiles
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 avocados, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Puree 2 cups broth and hominy in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Add liquid to slow cooker. 

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapeños, garlic, cumin and coriander, and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir beans into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 on low. 

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.

Stir in shredded chicken and pickled jalapeños and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with avocado. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Engagement Weekend!

Engagement Weekend
I apologize for the lack of posting recently, but I hope the title of this post helps fill you in on the exciting news. During our 6 year anniversary getaway, Z proposed!

For our anniversary, we decided to take a weekend trip to Napa, like last year. The plan: hike Mount St. Helena and spend the night at the Hampton Inn on Saturday, and then do wine tastings and stay at the Carneros Inn on Sunday.

Addendum Fried Chicken

After a late start on Saturday, we made our way to Addendum, a shack outside of AdHoc serving their famous fried chicken for only $16.50. It was the most delicious fried chicken I have ever had in my entire life. The key: great coating on the outside that was flavored with rosemary.

Z was starting to get a cold, so we skipped the 4 hour hike in favor of a shorter one at Lake Berryessa. Z blatantly asked me if I wanted to change into something "cuter" for the hike, which of course I said no to. Who wears a dress on a hike?

About 15 minutes in to the hike, he proposed! We spent the rest of the hike hearing about all of his secret plans to surprise me. Our hike included some unwelcome visitors including a rattlesnake, but we eventually made it back to our car to call family and friends.

Z's plan to have us stay at the Hampton Inn was all a ruse; he arranged for us to stay at the Carneros Inn both nights. He knows how to spoil me!

Engagement Dinner

We drove to the Meadowood for dinner, and Z seemed extremely calm even though we were running 20 minutes late for our reservation. When we checked in, the host led us to a private room, where our family (including my sister from DC) was waiting. I didn't cry when Z proposed, but seeing our families together made me tear up.

We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating, eating, and visiting wineries. Look out for some posts on favorite Napa restaurants soon!

 

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