June is almost over! I can't believe how fast time is passing by. It's both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. To me, summer means busy days at the office. But it also means fun adventures with friends, a road trip here and there, and lots of food- bright, light, and refreshing are what I tend to gravitate towards.
The cake at the top was one I created for my friend Lauren, who celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago. It's a spin on a summer favorite- strawberry short cake. Six layers of vanilla cake are layered with homemade berry jam and whipped cream. I lightly covered the cake in a sweet vanilla butter cream, and lightly dusted the cake with a mixture of red and pink color dust for a light watercolor effect. Of course I had to top the cake with ripe berries.
The next day I was back in the kitchen baking up another tasty treat- this time my green tea cream puffs. I think I'm finally satisified with this version of the recipe, so keep a look out for it on the blog. As my friend only ordered 12, I was left with extra. I stuck them in the freezer for a bit and et voila! Green tea ice cream puffs. Yum! These cream puffs have just a touch of sweetness and lots of green tea flavor.
A friend of mine from back when I was working at Central Market recently started his own chocolate company- Cosmic Creature. They specialize in making fair trade, vegan chocolate. Jordan and Kelly (the owners) invited me to be a part of one of their monthly video newsletters- in which I showed viewers how to make their own chocolate bars at home. I hope it turns out well! I had a great time filming and the chocolates smelled and tasted incredible.
And last but not least, I had the wonderful opporunity to attend a Houston Food Bloggers Event at Brennan's of Houston. To me, Brennan's is a Houston culinary institution-a tradition. Despite this, I never had the chance to go. Thanks to their generosity, I was able to try a sampling of what Brennan's was all about- and I'm excited to go back and have dinner there!
There was a wine/champagne station, a seafood bar, a boudin serving station, and the "main course" station, where the star of the show was a honey roasted duck that takes three days to prepare. Everything was absolutely delicious and fresh. My favorites were the oysters and the honey roasted duck. It had everything- texture, flavor, presentation, and color. The duck was juicy and crispy, and there were sweet, salty and tangy flavors from the duck, blueberry sauce, and the chayote squash. The crawfish rice was wonderful savory base. Seafood towers are trending as of late, and Brennan's seafood bar displayed the wide variety of options that customers can choose from in order to customize their own seafood tower. I enjoyed the ceviche and the oysters. They paired very well with the champagne.
Aside from the champagne and wine, Brennan's also offered two featured cocktails. The Sazerac and The Courtyard Bar Tea (my favorite). The tea had vodka, hibiscus tea, and pinapple juice- it was fruity and refreshing, perfect for summer! Brennan's was gracious enough to give us the recipes for these two drinks, which I will post below.
Towards the end of the evening, the executive chef and the owner of Brennan's greeted us and were there to answer any questions that we had. We even got a tour of the kitchen, and some food bloggers got to prepare and flambe a banana's foster and a shrimp and grits dish.
We were also given goodie bags with mini vodka pottles and their famous pralines to enjoy at home. :)
Thank you so much to Brennan's and Houston Food Blogger's Collective for an amazing evening!
Brennan's Menu Preview:
- Tuna Crudo- Peach vinaigrette, carmelized peaches, cucumber and crema
- Honey Roasted Crispy Duck- Crawfish Fried Rice, Sunny Side Up Quail Egg and Chayote squash with Texas Blueberry duck sauce
- Acadiana Boudin Link - Black hill ranch pork boudin, french bread toasts and Zatarain's creole mustard
- Creole Smoked Catfish Dip - Poblano pico de gallo and crispy tortilla chips
- Island Shrimp Ceviche - Victor's tostones and a splash of tito's vodka
Courtyard Bar Tea
- 2 oz. seagram's vodka
- .5 oz hibiscus tea
- 1.25oz pineapple juice
- Garnish -mint sprig & cherry
Hibiscus Tea- Bring one quart of water to boiling point. Add one cup dried hibiscus flowers. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and dissolve one cup of sugar.
- 2 oz Russell's reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 6 yr.
- .5oz simple syrup
- .25 oz herbsaint
- 4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
- 1 dash angostura bitters
Combine whiskey, simple syrup, and both bitters in an ice filled cocktail shaker- stir until the shaker frosts. Wash the inside of a chilled rocks glass with herbsaint. Discard excess. Strain shaker into prepared glass. Garnish with lemon twist.