Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two cakes. One with a florist, one without.. You decide...

This five-tiered wedding cake was the labor-of-love of  a bride's friends.  In fact, they were so emotionally attached to the cake, that they dared not let me touch it.  I provided a bucket full of lilies, tulips, genistra, leptospermum, and gently draping deflexus sprengeri, and they chose what they wanted.  Later on, I stealthily added tiny sprigs of Ming fern to soften their tulip insertions, and then filled in around the base of my 18" silver cake stand.  Pretty, don't you think?

The cake below was set up by the baker who then departed, leaving me to do whatever I wanted with the fresh flowers.   To the bottom left of the cake is the bridal bouquet, collared with white ostrich plumes.  My personal opinion is that a professional floral designer can do wonders with cake flowers.  If that's an option for you, please allow your designer to do their magic!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Julia's Nuts!! The Best Recipe I ever created! Candied Pecans or Walnuts

John & I received a gift of commercially produced candied walnuts during the holiday season of 2009, and we thanked the recipient for their thoughtfulness, tasted the nuts and decided to dispatch with the batch.  They were horrible!  That set me on the quest to develop a recipe that everyone could enjoy.  These are so wonderful that a bride made them as favors for her entire wedding, and then they were also cooked to serve on a women's retreat -- and I continue to get thanks from people who've made them, for all the compliments they've received.

Now that the holidays are over, people may still enjoy a sweet treat.  This is the perfect time to try this recipe.  They'll be incredible on salads and served with fruit and cheese.  Make them, but please give me credit.     

JULIA’S NUTS  (it’s true, and these are amazing!)  by Julia Miller

Preheat Oven to 250 F.

4 T. Unsalted Butter
4 C. Walnut or Pecan Halves
2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
3 T. Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Ground Black Pepper

1 C. Brown Sugar
1 t. Ground Cinnamon (to taste)
Pinch of Salt

Melt unsalted Butter over medium heat.
Add the nuts and stir well, cooking for 3 minutes.
Add Balsamic Vinegar and Sugar, stirring well until sugar is dissolved.
Sprinkle with pinch of pepper.  Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

Combine Brown Sugar and Cinnamon and Salt in a medium bowl.  You may add more Cinnamon to taste-- even consider a few dashes of pepper or paprika.
Move the nuts from the skillet to the bowl, and toss them thoroughly in the sugar mixture using a wooden spoon or your fingers, coating very well.

Spread the candied nuts over a large nonstick cookie sheet (I use a cookie sheet with a silicone mat), and place in the preheated oven.
Bake at 250F for 30 minutes, turning nuts every 10 minutes.  Store in an airtight container with a folded paper towel in the bottom.

(If you don't have unsalted butter, use regular butter and eliminate salt from the coating).