Girls on Food

Recipe

(Belated) Backyard Oktoberfest

I love home brewers. They’re a fascinating breed and they
throw great parties – like this one! There were five brews on tap and several
growlers being passed around.

I sampled three but I’m not really a beer girl, mostly go for the
fruity varieties like Kasteel Rouge, so I won’t be reporting back
about that part except to say that the Pumpkin Ale was fantastic! I will share
my contribution to the party though, some beer-friendly noshes…
Soft Pretzels
These are a bit challenging and time consuming but you’ll
feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you’re done. Plus, everyone will be
very impressed with you. I’ve made them twice so the recipe is solid but I will
offer one piece of advice: Make it easy on yourself and skip the twists, go for
bites instead. They take much less time, are adorable, and they’re the perfect
party finger food!

 

Cheddar Beer Soup
This soup is dangerously good. I recommend making it for a
party so you won’t tempt yourself with the leftovers. It does have veggies
(carrots, celery, leeks) in it but it’s mostly whole milk, beer and cheese. And
then you top it with bacon. Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds.
The photo doesn’t do it justice but this is the way I
recommend serving it up. The Crock-Pot keeps it warm all night and cups mean no
spoons are necessary. Drink up!

 

Why Bake When You Can Bombe?

Tonight I discovered an adorable new ice cream parlor in Sacramento, La Bombe Ice Cream & More, and it reminded me of this incredibly simple but impressive
dessert I used to make all the time! Sacramentans, I highly recommend you check
this place out. They use Gunther’s ice cream (which is fabulous), have
incredible flavor combinations, and the staff is delightful. Here are two of
their finest combos…

The Italian Bombe
mocha almond fudge, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla ice cream layered with chocolate cookie wafers and topped with Italian amaretti cookie crumbles 
 
The Neapolitan Bombe
 
chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream layered with chocolate cookie wafers, French strawberry jam and an Italian Amarena wild cherry 
 

I know that summer has come and gone but I eat ice cream year round, and a bombe is as good as it gets. It can go toe-to-toe with any layer cake but takes a lot
less time and effort. Here are the basics…
Mixing Bowl Prep:
You’ll layer the ice cream inside a mixing bowl to create the dome look and there are a couple ways to prep it. You can line
it with plastic wrap, which makes it really easy to get it out of the bowl, but it
will create little lines in it. If you’re covering it with ganache or whipped cream later that won’t matter. If the ice cream will be seen brush
the bowl with vegetable oil and freeze it for a while before filling.
Ice Cream:
Let the ice cream soften so you can use a spatula to spread
it around your bowl. Cover the inside completely with your first flavor, then fill the middle with as many layers of different flavors and toppings as you
like. Freeze it between layers for about 20 minutes.
Crust:
You don’t really need a “crust” but I like a little crunch at the bottom. Chopped nuts or cookies are simple,
tasty options. Just press the toppings into the last layer of ice cream while it’s
still soft or add chocolate fudge and sprinkle on top of that.
The best part is that much like cakes even if it doesn’t
look amazing when it pops out of the bowl you can still dress it up. Graham
cracker crumbs, finely chopped nuts or ganache will erase all imperfections,
and no one’s ever complained about whipped cream with a cherry on top!

Champagne Cocktail Time!

French 75

I’m hosting a bridal shower pretty soon so the menu planning
begins… with cocktails! We’re doing brunch, which of course calls for champagne, but I refuse to serve mimosas when there are so many more exciting options. Below are my favorite finds so far, please comment and add to the list!

French 75
gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne (garnish with a
lemon peel)

This is my favorite cocktail of the moment. It’s admittedly
strong for brunch, probably more appropriate to sip over oysters later in the
day, but we’re celebrating!


Missy Bell
St. Germaine, grapefruit bitters, champagne (garnish with a
grapefruit peel)

This one is named after a friend who invented it at The
Shady Lady in Sacramento. It’s highly addictive.


Kir Royale
Crème de Cassis, champagne (garnish with a citrus peel)


Lavender Sparkler
lavender simple syrup, champagne (garnish with a lavender
sprig)



Ginger Sparkler
ginger simple syrup, champagne (garnish with a lemon peel)


Cranberry Sparkler
cranberry, Cointreau, champagne (garnish with an orange
peel)



Pear Sparkler
pear brandy, champagne (garnish with a thin pear slice)


Rosemary Lemon Sparkler
rosemary simple syrup, lemon juice, champagne (garnish with
a rosemary sprig)



Classic Champagne Cocktail
sugar cube soaked in bitters, champagne (garnish with a lemon
peel)

When I throw parties I love to offer a fully stocked bar complete with handwritten cocktail menu cards to inspire guests to be creative with their beverage selection. Flavored simple syrups are the most inexpensive way to create an impressive bar, especially when you put them in antique thrift store bottles with handwritten labels. They’re incredibly easy to make too! It’s just equal parts sugar dissolved in boiling
water and left to cool, with any flavoring you like. If you have a lot left
over it’s great with iced tea and sparkling water, or if you’re a baker it
works miracles on layer cakes! In bakeries it’s standard procedure to brush the
cakes with simple syrup to keep them moist. It’s the best kept secret that you
won’t find in recipes and when you use the flavored syrups your cakes will
taste even better!