Yesterday we got to meet Oliver the pig. He’s the mascot for Hedley & Bennett, a local company known worldwide for their stylish handmade aprons. His owner Ellen was co-hosting a Southern-themed Sunday brunch at her house along with the folks from Bake From Scratch Magazine, and we were two of the lucky attendees. Tucked away in the steep hills of Echo park, this colorful and artistic home has breathtaking views of the city. Lush gardens filled with native plants and purple sages surround the property which is also home to a half dozen chickens as well as our new friend, Oliver. Apparently he was misbehaving before we arrived, so he spent most of the afternoon in a “time out” behind a wooden gate atoning for his sins. But after a welcoming Southern brunch featuring Rebecca’s homemade melt-in-your-mouth Meyer lemon scones, Brian’s brown butter hummingbird coffee cake, Gaby’s beer bread, and a live demonstration from Callie’s Biscuits on how to make authentically Southern buttermilk biscuits, we took a peek behind the gate and introduced ourselves to the peppy pig before saying our goodbyes. It was hard to leave of course, but we had some important business to attend to at home. And by “business” we mean peanut butter cheesecake.
Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. Some of you will go out to your favorite restaurant, and perhaps see an entertaining play, while others will choose to stay in. It’s the perfect occasion to sip refreshing cocktails, cuddle under warm blankets, and binge-watch Westworld for the third time this year. The two of us will be doing just that: hoping for a rainy night, cooking a simple meal together, and enjoying a quiet, candlelit dinner at home. Over the weekend, our talented mixologist friend, Prairie (who won “Best Cocktail Blog” at the 2014 Saveur Blog Awards), called to ask if we wanted to collaborate with her to create a dessert that would pair with the new cocktails she made for the upcoming holiday. Desserts? Cocktails? Clearly, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make, and on Saturday, Prairie came over to our house where we sampled and photographed her lovely creations. A splendid time was had by all, and after several rounds, the inspiration and creativity flowed like electricity. Ideas of chocolate and sweet treats were coursing through our veins. Suddenly, lighting bolts pierced the sky while a crack of thunder ripped through the atmosphere. The lights in our kitchen flickered then blacked out, as we stood there staring at each other in disbelief. We peered out the window, and could not believe our eyes: chocolate mocha lava cakes were falling from the sky, like snowflakes floating down gracefully from puffy clouds of whipped cream. This was a sign: a sacred chocolatey message sent from the heavens. These decadent mini cakes just so happened to be the perfect pairing with Prairie’s potations, and we knew it was our responsibility to take this holy treat and share it with the world. Say hello to this divine dessert: your Valentine’s Day just got a little more magical.
When life gives you rain, make cupcakes. Well, maybe the saying doesn’t go quite like that, but it is exactly what’s happening today. So put on warm pajamas and a comfy robe, turn on your favorite tunes, and start a hot pot of coffee, because you have earned this. It’s been four weeks since you committed to those New Year’s resolutions, and it’s time to take a well-deserved break from that Whole-Paleo-Whatever diet you’ve been trying and reward yourself with some delicious cake. This isn’t just any ordinary dessert: this cake is here to make all your sweet dreams come true. So turn off the tv, put down your phone, and start preheating your oven—these horchata cupcakes are here to ease your mind, soothe your soul, and satisfy your mouth.
It is morning. You open your eyes, and for the first few seconds, everything looks unfamiliar. You are not at home. The room tilts slightly to the left and you hear a creaking wooden sound and water beneath you. Ah yes! You are on a private boat in the middle of the caribbean. It is summertime and you are on vacation. You took off work and your only responsibilities are to relax and enjoy the scenery. Everyone is still asleep so you make your way outside for some fresh tropical morning air. You quietly open the sliding glass door and are instantly greeted with a cool, salty ocean breeze while the warmth of the rising sun caresses your face. The sounds of water gently splashing against the sides of the boat and the pleasant rocking puts you in a meditative state and everything feels just perfect in that dreamy summer moment. It is just you, a glowing sun, a deep blue ocean, and a comfortable breeze that cleanses your mind and body from all the nonsense that clutters it from day to day. We look forward to vacations like these for good reason: they allow us to escape our daily reality and experience new sights, sounds and flavors. Of course it would be wonderful if we could just pack up and head to the tropics whenever we want, but this is not always possible for everyone. But there are things we can do to make up for it. And this coconut mojito cake is one of them.
At this very moment, there are fifteen singers making beautiful music in our living room on this breezy Sunday afternoon. It is always a treat when Ryan’s choir rehearses here. Their resonant voices fill the house with rich harmonies and an uplifting spirit that purifies the soul. It is a gorgeous spring day and our windows and doors are wide open, so between songs, dozens of birds fill the gaps of silence with their inconspicuous melodies. The group is practicing a short, three-song set for a podcast they are recording next weekend including a powerful rendition of Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.” It has been quite entertaining around here as the house has been filled with guests all week. On Thursday night we threw a fancy outdoor dinner party for thirteen of our friends, including a seven course meal, three different kinds of cocktails, and strawberry shortcake with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. We knew this week would be busy, so when planning our blog schedule, we wanted to find something delicious, yet simple. Like three ingredients simple. Well, we hit the jackpot.