How to make an ice bowl

February 27, 2008

Ice Bowl
Creative Commons photo by EuphoriaLand

At an ice hotel, everything is made of ice, including the furniture and even the dishes. While you might not be able to make your own frozen bedroom suite at home, how about trying your hand at making a beautiful ice bowl? – Almostgotit

You will need:

  • Two stainless steel (best) or plastic bowls. (Don’t use glass. One bowl should fit inside the other with a gap of at least ¾ inch between the two.)
  • Flowers or other decorations (optional)
  • Heavy duty packaging tape
  • Water
  • Aluminum foil

To make your bowl:

Center the smaller bowl inside the larger one. Put two strips of heavy duty tape across the top rims of the bowl to make a cross, to hold the smaller bowl in place. You can also put a few ice cubes in the bottom of the larger bowl first to support the smaller bowl.

Place flowers or other decorations in the space between the two bowls. A chopstick may help with positioning, as may the judicious use of crushed ice or ice cubes to hold the items in place.

Carefully fill the larger bowl with water to within a ½ inch of the rim of the larger bowl (water will expand some as it freezes, so leave room). Put a little water, a rock, or other weight in the smaller bowl if necessary to keep it from floating up. Place your mold into the freezer overnight.

The next morning, lay the whole thing out for ten minutes or so at room temperature. If the ice bowl doesn’t come out easily, you may gently help it along by filling the smaller bowl with warm water and wrapping a hot towel around the larger bowl for another minute or so. Wrap your newly created ice bowl in aluminum foil and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. Be sure to put your bowl on a beautiful platter when you use it, to catch the water as it slowly melts!

Lovely things to decorate an ice bowl: fresh or dried flowers or flower petals, fresh mint leaves or other herbs, sliced star fruit, (mini plastic fish?!)

Lovely things to serve in an ice bowl: sushi, sashimi, shrimp, strawberries, sorbet, granita, fresh fruit or vegetables, fruit punch

Ice Hotels (links):

The world’s first Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Hôtel de Glace Ice hotel in Quebec, Canada 
Lainio Snow Hotel in Ylläsjärvi, Finland
Kemi Snow Castle in Kemi, Finland 
Bjorli Ice Lodge in Norway
Alta Igloo Hotel in Norway
Hotel gheata at Bâlea Lake
Article: Designing an Ice Hotel


Creative Commons photo by Etolane


Lighthouse cocktails

February 25, 2008

Staviken lighthouse

To the Lighthouse!

I think Sam and Harry would enjoy honeymooning in one of several authentic lighthouse inns, including The Stavik Lighthouse (Stavikens Fyr, photo at left), a romantically-bleak lighthouse in Sweden that would be my personal favorite, and might have been Virginia Woolf’s favorite too, but it’s no doubt colder than a polar bear’s behind at this time of year. 

In February, they may prefer someplace warm like Cape Otway Lightstation (photo, below), the oldest lighthouse in Australia.   And since the Cape Otway cafe already has a nice salmon quiche on their menu, all that’s left is to mix Sam and Harry a couple of “Lighthouses” to go with it.  Of course!!Almostgotit   

Lighthouse recipeCape Otway Lightstation

 For each serving:
1/3 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1/3 oz Bailey’s® Irish cream
1/3 oz 151-proof rum

Pour kahlua into a shot glass. With a spoon, slowly pour irish cream into the shot glass on top of the kahlua. Pour the 151 rum, again with the spoon, slowly on top of the irish cream and light on fire. Blow flame out before drinking.


Baked Bananas with Rum Sauce

February 24, 2008
Aruba
Aruba (Image: Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa)

I feel guilty.  Who am I to deny Harry and Sam a simple, straightforward honeymoon in a tropical paradise?  So today I’m sending them to Aruba, and I’ve invented a new recipe for them so they can enjoy a typical Aruba treat (baked bananas) made extra celebratory with a wonderfully-Caribbean rum sauce to go on top.  Enjoy! – Almostgotit 

Baked Bananas with brown sugar rum sauce

6 firm, but ripe bananas
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
 
Sauce
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put butter and lemon juice in 9” x 13” baking dish, and place in oven just until butter is melted.  Stir lemon juice into the melted butter until mixed. Split bananas in half lengthwise and arrange bananas in baking dish, rolling in the butter mixture first to coat. In small bowl stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of bananas. Bake 20 minutes or just until bananas are heated through and butter begins to bubble. Don’t overcook.

Meanwhile, stir all sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture will foam, so watch that it doesn’t boil over.  Cool sauce to room temperature.

To serve, spoon sauce over bananas; garnish with a sprinkle of lemon or orange zest and/or some shredded coconut.

Wouldn’t these be good cut up and served over vanilla ice cream, or stuffed into crêpes?


A treehouse, a free house, a special you and me house

February 23, 2008

What a place to spend a honeymoon!  Every couple in love needs their own castle-in-the-sky.  Happy Weekend to the Newlyweds from Almostgotit!


Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

February 23, 2008


Image: Kadir’s Treehouses in Olympos, Turkey

I hope you were lucky enough to have a treehouse when you were little. If Sam and Harry were looking for an unusual place to spend their honeymoon, they may have discovered a number of treehouse hotels scattered around the world in interesting places. There’s also a wonderful (and enormous!) treehouse restaurant in England’s Alnwick Garden, but we need a place where Sam and Harry can also spend the night. We’ve already imagined them on a safari so I ruled out this treehouse in a Costa Rican Jungle; and while I enjoyed the very punny website for these treehouses in Oregon , I thought these treehouses in Turkey sounded like the most fun!  There are such good things to eat in Turkey, too, including this variation of the traditional “Turkish Wedding Soup.”  Appropriate, or what?? -Almostgotit

Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

Serves 8

2 onions
7 carrots
4 pounds lamb neck bones
10 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks, divided)
1 cup flour
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Peel the onions and carrots, cut into quarters, and put into a soup pot with the lamb bones, broth, and salt. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until the meat is soft. Strain the broth into a bowl. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into thin strips or dice.  Return meat and broth to soup pot.

Melt 12 tablespoons butter and work in the flour. Slowly add 1 cup of the warm broth while mixing well. Gradually stir this butter-flour mixture into the rest of the soup, then bring soup to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Keep the soup warm.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix in the lemon juice. Add 4 tablespoons of hot soup. Stir this mixture briskly into the rest of the soup: egg yolks will “cook” immediately. Reheat over a very low flame, or you may even turn off flame and cover pot to keep it hot. Do not boil or soup will “break” and become watery.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, remove from heat and add cayenne pepper and paprika. Pour the soup into serving bowl or individual soup bowls. Swirl spoonfuls of spiced butter over the top of each.  

Adapted from New York Times Bread & Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young


Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons With Raspberry Mascarpone Cream

February 22, 2008


The Viking Dinner Yurt in Park City, Utah

Yurts are portable, tent-like structures used for centuries by Mongolian nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Yurts are also a God-send for cross-country skiers in the mountainous American West, providing trail-side lodging (and some include full catering!) for hikers or — in winter– cross country skiers. In most cases, this means one only has to carry one’s clothing from yurt to yurt, and sometimes even this service can be provided. 

There is beautiful skiing this time of year in the Minnesota Boundary Waters, if Sam and Harry don’t mind doing some of the cooking.  Après ski, Sam would be fully justified in using as much butter as she’d like!  For a considerable step up in luxury, the Blue Moon Yurt in McCall, Idaho offers a 5-course gourmet dinner, while at the Viking Dinner Yurt in Utah (elevation: 8000 feet!), Sam and Harry could feast on an elegant, Scandanavian-style dinner.  The Viking’s award-winning menu often features a scrumptious soft-berry dessert, and the whole deal (including the chef) arrives via snowmobile! – Almostgotit

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Layers:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Mascarpone Cream:
1 – 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese* or 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temp)
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Red Raspberry Puree:
2 cups whole frozen raspberries (about 8 ounces) thawed
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur), may add more to taste
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

For Chocolate Layers: 
Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil, tucking ends under, making sure foil is tight.  Mark 15 x 9-inch rectangle on foil.  In top of double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt chocolate (do not allow bottom of pan to touch water) stirring until smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Pour onto foil and spread quickly and evenly to the same thickness to cover rectangle; a pastry chef’s knife works best.  Chill in refrigerator until set but not hard, about 7 minutes.  With a sharp knife, cut chocolate rectangle lengthwise into three equal strips, each about three inches wide.  Cut each strip into six equal pieces, each about two and one-half inches wide.  Chill one hour.  (Can be made one week ahead.  Cover; keep refrigerated).

For Raspberry Mascarpone Cream: 
Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar and Framboise together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer.  Add half the cream and beat until soft peaks form.  Add the rest of the cream and beat until thick and stiff.  Cover and chill for one hour.

For Raspberry Puree: 
Place thawed raspberries in food processor or blender.  Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds and place in small saucepan.  Stir sugar and cornstarch together and add to puree, along with the Framboise.  Heat, stirring until thickened and glossy.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (Note: if puree is too cold it may be too thick to create decorative hearts—microwave for 30-40 seconds before use).

To Assemble Napoleons: 
Place one chocolate square on each of the six plates.  Spread with three tablespoons of the raspberry mascarpone cream mixture. Use a toothpick to dot edges of mascarpone cream with the raspberry puree.  Draw the toothpick through the center of each dot to slightly below center, to create a heart shape.  Top with another chocolate piece, spread mascarpone over, repeat with raspberry puree dots/hearts.  Top with last chocolate piece and finish with a dollop of mascarpone cream and garnish with fresh raspberries and/or puree and shaved chocolate.

May be plated with a pool of additional raspberry puree.  Approximate preparation time: 40 minutes plus chilling time .  SERVES 6

Italian mascarpone cheese is available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.

Recipe provided by the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission


Chocolate Truffles

September 20, 2007

rrchocolatepowdercan.jpg

While you’re in a candy-making mood … SAM

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup cocoa powder

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until melted. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Gradually beat in 1/4 of the chocolate mixture. Add the egg mixture to the remaining chocolate mixture by hand, stirring constantly. Stir in the cream and amaretto. Pour the batter into the top of the double boiler and cook over simmering water for 1 minute or until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in cocoa powder. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes about 4 dozen truffles.