Apricot Brandy Bundt Cake

Apricot Brandy Bundt Cake

I did it! I’m so excited to share my first baking recipe EVER.  As you may remember I shared an attempt last winter and it failed miserably.

I’ve had this particular idea ever since Thanksgiving when I made Brandied Apricot Butter.  It was delicious with bread and I thought I should use this butter to make a cake.

Since then every once in a while I found myself thinking about it and I realized that I just needed to find the right cake recipe.

I finally settled on Bundt cake because I like to say “Bundt.”

My mother’s recent birthday seemed the perfect occasion to try it out and so I trekked up to the cabin armed with apricot brandy and a Bundt pan.

Here’s what you’ll need:
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup apricot brandy
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened (I just left mine out for the day)

2 cups sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2½ cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk

Here’s how you make and bake:
Soak chopped apricots in apricot brandy for 10 minutes.

Chopped apricots soaking in apricot brandy

Bring to a boil and IGNITE!

Apricot brandy on fire!

So fun!

Wait for the flames to die.

Apricot brandy aflame

Have I mentioned that using an old avocado green stove works best for this?

Avocado colored stove

Turn stove down to mid heat and add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Mixing in brown sugar to the apricot brandy

Transfer to a blender, add a stick of butter and blend.

Apricots in blender

Add a stick of butter to apricots in blender

Blending apricot butter

Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Apricot butter in large mixing bowl

In a separate bowl sift flour.

Sift flour

Add baking powder, salt, stir and set aside.

Mixing dry ingredients for bundt cake

Go back to your brandy butter and add sugar.

Add sugar to apricot brandy butter

Mix sugar and brandy butter

Add another softened stick of butter.

Adding more butter to sugary brandy butter

Creamy buttery sugary apricot brandy butter

Add eggs by mixing in one at a time.

Adding in eggs to cake batter one at a time

Add vanilla extract.

adding vanilla extract to bundt cake batter

Continue mixing while adding flour mix and milk.

Mixing in flour

Mixing in milk

Apricot Brandy Bundt Cake batter

At this point my arms reminded me that we really need to get a standing mixer up at the cabin!

Grease and flour Bundt pan.

Greased and floured bundt pan

Pour in cake mix and bake for 1 hour in a 350˚ oven.

Baking a bundt cake

Let the cake cool, set it on wax paper and pop it onto a rack (or use the top of a broiler pan if you can’t find a rack).

Baked Bundt cake

Cool Bundt Cake

Place it up high where your beast-of-a-dog can’t reach it.  Then observe a standoff between the beast and your mother.

Standoff

Mix up a sugar glaze with ¼ cup of milk and ¾ cup of sugar.

Sugar glaze for Bundt cake

Pour it all over the cake.

Glazing Bundt Cake

Think to yourself my god this cake has a lot of butter and sugar in it!

Top it with candles and sing “Happy Birthday” to your mother.  Okay, that part is optional.

Birthday Bundt Cake

Enjoy!

Eat more cake

 

Von and Crystal Potter

Potter Winery

Gumption.  Chutzpah.  Get-up-and-go.

These words all have the same thing in common:  winemakers Von and Crystal Potter.

If you are an Idahoan oenophile, or wine lover in general, you should acquaint yourself with Potter Wines because the Potters are breathing fire into the Idaho wine industry and making a name for themselves with their Jalapeno Wine.

Jalapeno Wine

Seriously. Smoke came out of my ears when I sampled their Scorching Jalapeno.

Tempered with traditional wines such as Riesling, Potter Wines has grown from a hobby into a full-fledged, growing winery.

Riesling

I recommend Potter Wines dry Riesling, it’s very good.

But before I can really introduce you to the winery, I have to introduce the players!

The Potter Family

Von and Crystal Potter with their children (I like to imagine those tiny feet stomping the grapes)!

Von Potter is a determined go-getter.  According to his wife Crystal, he’s the type of guy who acts on project or activity ideas by delivering results the next day, if not sooner.

And Von has clearly met his match with Crystal.  Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to leave behind a stable working life in order to start her own fitness business.

Clearly these two were destined for something big, and that something turned out to be a winery.

Before he and Crystal were married, Von had a backyard that housed an abundance of standard green grapes.  They dried them and made raisins but still had a bunch left over and Von decided to make wine.

It was a simple white table wine and Von told me he did everything wrong, yet when he brought it to a family function everyone loved it so much his dad convinced him to enter it into competition.  Lo and behold it took first place at the Western Idaho Fair.

They made more wine throughout the following year, again entered the competition, and– you guessed it – took first place.

That was when Von had the idea to make jalapeno wine.  As you can imagine Crystal was a bit skeptical.  But from the first sip they both knew they had something pretty special and entered it into competition.

For the third time in three years they took first place.

That’s when they knew they had a business on their hands.   As fate would have it, Crystal’s family owns property containing an abandoned house.  The Potters saw possibilities in the old place and asked the Central Health Department to come out for an inspection.  Then, over evenings and weekends for the next four months, Von and a friend gutted and renovated the 900 square foot home and got the approval they needed from the health department.

Potter Winery

Potter Winery 2

They don’t have a tasting room just yet, but for now you can catch them at The New Boise Farmer’s Market.

So.  What does one DO with a jalapeno wine? Well, I cook with it. I’ve used it with stir fry and it was fantastic.  Check out their website (jalepenowine.com) for recipes – including one for margaritas!

Also, believe it or not, I have heard tales of people liking it so much they will drink a glass straight up!

Up to you my friends.

If you are local to Boise, you can find the Jalapeno Wine and Riesling at the Farmer’s Market, the Co-op Wine Shop and Fred Meyer’s in Garden City.

If you are out of the area, don’t fret! Visit their website and they will ship to you.

Be on the lookout for their Pineapple-Jalapeno (soooo good) and Scorching Jalapeno (soooo SPICY) in early 2015.  Don’t worry I’ll remind you when it comes out.

As I mentioned, Potter Wines is more than just the Jalapeno Wine! I got to taste some soon-to-be-released wines while visiting the winery and am excited to report that they have a delicious PUMPKIN wine coming out this fall!  As soon as I tasted it I knew my husband would love it and I was right, I took a bottle home and it was gone within 24 hours.

They also have Syrah, Mourvédre and a Syrah-Mourvédre blend coming down the pike this fall or winter.

To learn more about the life of these busy winemakers, visit Crystal’s blog Wine, Workouts and Whippersnappers.

Talking with the Potters made it clear that they are eager and excited to be involved in the Idaho wine industry.  They’ve received an admittedly mixed reception among their peers, but they are enthusiastic about having a conversation regarding what wine should be.

Von and Crystal – thank you so much for taking the time to chat and double thanks for all the wine you let me take home!!

Tasting Potter wines

Progress 2

The Living Room Floor Saga – The Adhesive Backing Removal Concludes

I’m finally done removing that nasty adhesive from the floor!

When last we met on this topic, the floor was about halfway uncovered, and I was coming off a temper tantrum that had resulted from discovering plywood 1/3 of the way into the project:

When we last saw the floor...

I’ll spare you the excuses on why it’s taken over a month to finish.  Let’s just say I lost steam.

Ha.  Steam.

Speaking of, our little wallpaper steamer worked like gangbusters and I highly recommend it if you have a similar project or, you know, actual wallpaper you need to remove.

Here is how the floor currently looks:

Finished

Pardon me for not having a photo of the room cleaned up.

As expected, the plywood runs the length of the floor, right up to the fireplace.  Which was actually the first spot I steamed when I got back to business – I didn’t have the patience to slog across the floor, hoping maybe my luck would change before I reached the other end of the room:

Fireplace corner with adhesive

Fireplace corner without adhesive

Fireplace side without adhesive

Nope.

Plywood.

Progress 1

Progress 3

Progress 4

Finished

So, that’s where we are.  Now we decide what to do next, a decision we’ve been putting off.  Just getting to this point has been a bit overwhelming.

I have a maybe-crazy idea that I hope to share with you next week.  First I have to see if it’s even doable!

I know.  I’m a tease!

If you want to catch up on this journey read: part one, part two and part three.

Summer Cottage Pie!

Summer Cottage Pie

It’s hot in Boise, Idaho.  Like triple digit hot. There are two things I’ve always found difficult to do in extreme heat:

1.   Sleep. How can I fall asleep with I’m SO HOT it’s sticky and suffocating and… I… just… can’t!

2.   Eat hearty meals.  Seriously, heat is the best appetite suppressant.

Today I’m sharing a recipe that looks hearty but tastes and feels light! I call it Summer Cottage Pie because it’s a lot like Shepherd’s Pie but without the potatoes and lamb.  It’s delicious and good for you too!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup of peas
2 carrots
1 onion
1 bell pepper (I chose a yellow for a well-rounded color scheme!)
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup beef broth
¼ cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp flour

Here’s how you do it:

Chop cauliflower into florets and steam for approximately 20 minutes, or until soft:

Cauliflower florets

Steamed cauliflower

Place steamed cauliflower into a food processor and blend:

Cauliflower in food processor

blend

Add butter:

1 tbsp butter

Add Laughing Cow cheese wedge:

1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese

Add salt and pepper:

1/4 tsp salt

Blend until the consistency is creamy and smooth like mashed potatoes:

Smooth and creamy faux-tatoes

Set the faux-tatoes aside and chop your carrots:

2 carrots chopped

Place the chopped carrots in the steamer for approximately 20 minutes or until soft:

Carrots in steamer

While the carrots are steaming…

Brown the ground beef and set aside:

1 lb browned ground beef

Add the peas:

1 cup peas

Add the carrots:

2 carrots with peas and meat

Set that colorful bowl aside.

Okay, now dice your onion and bell pepper, and mince the garlic:

Bell pepper, garlic and onion

Use a large pan to sauté them in olive oil until soft:

Saute veggies

Okay! Now it’s time to put this pie filling together.  Transfer the meat, peas and carrots into the pan with the onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Stir:

mix meat mixture with veggies in pan

Add the beef broth and the tomato sauce. Stir:

1/4 cup tomato sauce

Add the flour and stir for about two minutes to thicken and get those flavors worked in:

add flour and let simmer

Pre-heat your oven to 350˚ and place the pie filling in a casserole pan:

transfer pie filling to casserole dish

Top with the faux-tatoes and spread evenly:

Faux-tatoes on top

Add the shredded cheese:

top with 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and just beginning to brown:

Bake Summer Cottage Pie in the oven

Bake until bubbly and just starting to brown

Finally serve and enjoy!

Summer Cottage Pie!

I love this meal.  I will lick the plate. YUM!

Tannins

I hope you are up for a little science today!

It’s wine science.

When reading about or discussing wine, has the topic of tannins ever come up?  Balanced tannins, strong tannins or something along the tannin lines?  If so, did you just nod your head and say, “Yeah, tannins,” wondering whether it had something do to with this summer’s sexy beach tan?

Not really, but I think tannins are pretty sexy in their own right, as they help create the complexity and balance of wine.

Here’s a simple breakdown.  Tannins are a natural compound contained in many plants, including grapevines.  They are extracted from grape skins, seeds and stems, and the strength of the tannin increases as the grape ages.  They are also categorized as an astringent, meaning they constrict body tissue (like taste buds) on contact.  If you have ever taken a sip that left your mouth feeling dry and puckered, you were probably drinking a wine made with mature grapes.

Red wine tends to display the most tannins due to the presence of grape skins in the fermentation process.  Even the stems may be used if the winemaker is trying to craft a vintage with very high tannins, or to draw out more in a lower producing varietal.

White wines are less intrinsically tannic because their grape skins and stems are removed prior to fermentation.  Any tannins you taste in a bottle of white were likely absorbed from the oak barrels in which the wine was aged.

If you want a real world tannin example that doesn’t involve buying a bottle of wine you might not enjoy, prepare some unsweetened tea and taste it in intervals as it seeps.  While the water to tea ratio is balanced, it’s delicious, but as the tea continues to seep the taste becomes increasingly bitter.  So it goes with grape parts during fermentation, which is the basic concept for tannins in wine.

Yay, knowledge!

Cabernet Sauvignon naturally has a lot of tannins

Cabernet Sauvignon has naturally high tannins.