Archive for February, 2008

Cupcake Potluck

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My close friends and I are getting to the age where we all turn 25, so there’s a sense that we should all do something special for our birthdays. When my friend Corinne, a big (and very good!) baker, turned 25, she decided to have a cupcake party. Everyone was encouraged to make their own cupcakes, and we would all share. I thought it was such a good idea, and it gave me an opportunity to try making cupcakes out of a wonderful pumpkin cake recipe.

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I used the same recipe that I used for the Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting that I made for Thanksgiving, only altering the cooking time. At first I baked the cupcakes for 25 minutes, but I think the batter was a littler thicker than your average cupcake batter, so it ended up taking more like 30 or 35 minutes to cook all the way through. Even with the extra time, I don’t think the cupcakes were completely cooked through, but they were very, very moist. As expected, the cupcakes were pretty dense, but the flavor was just out of this world. All of the spices in the recipe really shined, and I think I actually made the icing better this time around. If you don’t want to make the pumpkin cake, you should definitely try making the cake in cupcake form. And don’t just take my word for it either: everyone was raving about them.

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Corinne the birthday girl made chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache icing, and they were a chocolate lover’s dream. My friend Brett, who lives in New York, made the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, chocolate with chocolate chips and different flavors of icing. These were definitely sweet. Also making an appearance were cupcakes with coconut icing. I’m sure there are some other cupcakes that I left out.

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Corinne and Me

The party was so much fun and was such a good idea. I recommend doing something like this for a birthday, because it makes the event entertaining without going full-throttle and spending all your time cooking. It’s also fun to see what everyone comes up with. You never know, you might get some good ideas for yourself.

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Oh, and yes, we love Guitar Hero. 🙂

Gameday Gourmet Roundup!

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Wow! It has taken me quite a while to get this roundup posted. Even after the Pro Bowl had come and gone, there was still no roundup, and I’m quite sure that the Super Bowl has now faded from most people’s minds (except those Giants fans perhaps!). Although excuses are only for those who make them (so they say), I blame the delay on a bad stomach flu and much, much overwork.

Thank you all to those who contributed! Although I consider myself a pretty skilled tailgate-er, all of the submissions are things I had never even tried before, and they all look absolutely wonderful! I think one of the biggest factors in making a good tailgate/gametime treat is that you are able to eat it with your hands, and all of the submissions are definitely finger friendly. Although football season won’t start up again for a while, these are definitely good things to prepare for any kind of house party. All the submissions are imaginative and fun, and I can’t wait to try them all!

As for me, I made Pecan Pie Bars and took them to a party one of the husband’s work friends was hosting. When they were discovered by the crowd, they didn’t last very long.

And now, what you’ve been waiting for, the submissions!

Michelle from Raleigh, NC: kettle chips with blue cheese aoli
Blog: Culinography

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Chris from Atlanta, Georgia: Chicken with Avacado Dipping Sauce
Blog:  Mele Cotta

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Tracy from Rochester, New York: Jalapeno popper cups and Mexican chocolate crunch brownies
Blog: Rah Cha Chow

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Thank you again to all those who participated!

Velo Rouge Lunch: Best in Town?

Until I got my first paycheck of the semester early last week, Jay heard lots of promises like, “When I get paid we can eat here,” or, “When I get paid I will buy you this.” I’m pretty liberal with my money when I don’t have it, but get a little tighter when I actually do, so I’m sure Jay read through a lot of these statements as just empty promises. One promise that I was bound to keep, however, was that I would take us out to lunch at Velo Rouge.

Keeping my promise wasn’t for purely self-less reasons. In fact it was mostly selfish. Velo Rouge is quickly becoming my favorite eating spot in town. The food is wonderful but not pretentious. Furthermore, the atmosphere itself is almost like a dressed-up laid back: while I would feel uncomfortable strolling in wearing a hat and sweatpants, I feel perfectly fine in jeans. The bar is also great for a good glass of wine and a quick bite, whether you go for one of their bar food options or a delicious dessert.

One of my favorite things about lunch at Velo Rouge is all the light that streams in from the large windows lining the restaurant. While Jay and are were sitting at our table, I realized that I had never actually been into that space during the daytime (the restaurant’s predecessors were primarily dinner-only spots), and the warm light pouring in from all sides really made me realize what a shame that was.

Jay and I had an appetizer of the clams, which were happily on sale. These have been documented before in my first review of VR, and they were tasty as always. For our main course, Jay and I each ordered the burger, with bleu cheese for me and cheddar for Jay.

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These burgers, I think, may very well qualify as the best burgers in town. Not only was the cheese topping amazing, but the meat itself was very well-seasoned and moist. I like Furneau’s lunch burgers and I think that the topping on the burgers is pretty tasty, but the flavor of the meat itself cannot compare to the flavor of the meat in VR’s burgers. I learned from the waiter that the burgers are made from the trimmings of their filets mignon, which explains the quality of the meat itself. Biting into the burger is quite a challenge once it’s all assembled, but it is definitely worth it.

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We couldn’t skip out without dessert, so Jay and I decided to split the apple tart tatin. Plainly speaking, this is the best apple dessert I’ve ever had. I’ve never had apples with the same texture as this dessert; they literally melted in my mouth. The portion size was perfect for lunch as well, but after ordering it at dinner I learned that it’s the same size served at other times. Nevertheless, the flavor was outstanding, and I think it’s one of my new favorites.

The only downside to the meal was that the check took FOREVER. Although the clams were on sale, our initial check did not reflect this, and it look about 20 minutes for our waiter to fix it. Lucky for him I had a good meal, so his tip didn’t suffer, but it really put a damper on an otherwise exceptional meal.

Before the check fiasco, Jay and I were discussing whether or not Velo Rouge is the best lunch in town. Granted, we have not eaten lunch at the Capitol Hotel, so our decision is not based on completely extensive research. Nevertheless, after comparing the pros and cons of some of our fave lunch spots, we concluded that VR might very well be the best lunch. We considered all factors, such as atmosphere, location, menu choice, ingredients, and whether or not there is a rotating menu. Although Imagine scored many points on the menu and the fact that it offers variety by changing it’s menu somewhat frequently, the atmosphere and location of Imagine brought down its total score. And although Furneau’s lunch offerings taste wonderful and have a great presentation (as do VR’s), I felt like I was eating in a cave and the menu itself was too short and offered little on the healthy side, other than a scant salad. As for So, I used to really like it’s lunch, but I feel it’s menu is stale and unimaginative, even though the dishes themselves are good. Again with so, like Furneau and Imagine, the atmosphere is dark and not very condusive to lunch. The only fault I have with VR’s lunch is that its menu does not frequently change. Nevertheless, I think it wins out all around, if not by a lot.

If you haven’t been to Velo Rouge for lunch yet, I highly recommend it. It’s location is also very condusive to business lunches for those who work downtown, but the wait during the lunch crunch might dissuade some business folks who want to get in and out quickly. If I was a full fledged lawyer though, I would readily take clients and new law clerks (hint hint!) to this spot for lunch, given its classiness and flavor of dishes.


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All posts and images copyright 2008 & 2009 Jenny Robertson, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Any use of images without prior written consent is prohibited.
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