Monday, June 14, 2010

June Runaround 2/3:Giving Momma What She REALLY Wants

Tony and I are currently wrapping up our second wave of Friends-having-Babies this year. Happily, two of the expectant couples actually live in Baltimore, so I was happy/not thinking with crystal clarity when I volunteered to throw a joint baby shower for our two expectant mommies, Monica and Maureen.

The weekend was a bit of a junk show: Thursday we received and entertained a good friend who recently returned from Wellington. Friday I cleaned. A lot. And also ran around the city purchasing menu items and baby presents. Friday night we drove to Pittsburgh, where we spent Saturday preparing for and then celebrating Tony's dad's retirement. (Excellent party, by the way.)

Saturday night we headed back to B'more and made it home around midnight. Just in time to start cooking. A lot.

After a 3hour nap Tony and I resumed baby shower prep (with the help of one of Monica's, friends) and by 11am the party was under way.

The theme: Stuff Mommy Couldn't Have. The idea was to have a shower menu that gave the moms-to-be a chance to indulge in foods/flavors that couldn't have during their pregnancies. So for this party, our menu consisted of:

*Dark n' Stormy Cupcakes
*Mini Margarita Cheesecakes
*Decaf-Coffee Ice Cream
*Dessert Sushi
*Asparagus Cigars
*Bahama Baby Bump Breeze

Monica, bless her, also brought a nice quiche for everyone to enjoy. It was a great time! The event was mostly game free (per the moms' request), with the exception of one event we held for the dads: Pin the Baby on the Changing Table. Both dads did surprisingly well! Tony somehow managed to drop his baby on the floor. Good thing we're not pregnant.

And, of course, there were presents. Lots and lots of presents. Baby tubs, homemade outfits - even couture baby clothing Indira picked up in Madagascar. (Ooh la la!) All in all it was a fabulous time.

Tony and I crashed the moment our last guests had closed the front door behind them :)

Part 3/3 of the June Runaround: Entertaining Gingers in Philly: Watching Conan O'Brian Do His Thang

Dark & Stormy Cupcakes
(Courtesy of Gosling's Rum)
(NOTE: Go ahead and double the recipe. This version makes approx 8 cupcakes.)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup ginger beer
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark
rum (Goslings) or 2 teaspoons rum flavoring
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons ground roasted ginger*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour or line 6 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, rum, and ginger beer beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy. Fold in the ginger. Fill each well 2/3 of the way. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the middle cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Frost with dark & stormy frosting and top with a slice of candied ginger.

*McCormick makes it. Look for it in the spice aisle.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum (Goslings)
2 egg whites
3 inch knob ginger, sliced
pinch salt

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, ginger slices and rum to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil until it reaches soft ball stage (when a drop of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cool water) while continuing to stir occasionally. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. Keep the mixer running (for best results you need a stand mixer or a friend to complete this next step) while you strain a continuous stream of the molten syrup into the egg whites. Add the food dye. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy, glossy and cool. Frost cooled cake.

Decaf Coffee Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream2 cups whole milk3/4 cup granulated sugar2 tablespoons instant coffee granules>6 egg yolksChocolate curls, for garnish


Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and coffee in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. Garnish with chocolate curls.


Asparagus Cigars
(aka Asparagus in Phyllo Dough)
(Courtesy of
Paula Deen)


8 or 9 asparagus spears, depending on size

1/2 (16oz) package frozen phyllo dough sheets, thawed

1/4 cup butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • red pepper flakes (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, and peel the stalks if thick-skinned. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Unwrap the phyllo and cut the stack in half lengthwise. Reserve 1 stack for later use. Cover the phyllo with a damp towel to keep it from drying out*. (*This is very important. Working with dry phyllo is a waste of time.)

Take 1 sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with some melted butter. Sprinkle with some Parmesan. Place 2 to 3 asparagus spears on the short end of the sheet. Roll up, jelly-roll style. Place each piece, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Repeat until all the asparagus spears are used up.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

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