Breakfast in Bed – Irish Whiskey Cake

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Post by Alison Hein.

Ever since I perused my mother’s old cookbooks and cooked up a thick, savory Wicklow Pancake last week, I’ve had Irish food on my mind: thoughts of Irish food + Irish whiskey = Irish Whiskey Cake! Anything but savory, this boozy cake is a real palate pleaser.

Use a high quality, unsalted Irish butter, and a generous hand when pouring out the whiskey. This is no cake for the faint-hearted – the deep, smooth feel of Jameson (or other Irish whiskey) lingers on the tongue, and the finished texture has the quality of flowing amber.

Irish Whiskey Cake 1

You will need to use a bit of sugar, and a significant citrus flavor for balance. Here I’ve used a whole lemon, but an orange would be just as nice, leading the palate in a slightly different direction. If you like candied rind or fruit, feel free to toss some in the batter before baking. Or, decorate your cake with some thin-sliced lemon or orange.

Let the finished cake rest a bit before removing from the pan. When ready, invert it onto a pretty serving plate and dust it with powdered sugar. Then, brew some strong Irish tea, and please your palate with this sweet and boozy breakfast in bed.

Irish Whiskey Cake 2

Ingredients

1 stick butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ cup Irish whiskey
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
Juice and rind of 1 lemon (approximately 1 teaspoon grated rind, 3 tablespoons juice)
1 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
Powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top of cake

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°.  Generously grease a tube pan and set aside.

Add butter and sugar to a large bowl, and cream together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until batter is light and smooth. Pour milk into small bowl and stir in Irish whiskey. Mix flour and baking soda together. Alternately add whiskey mixture and flour mixture into batter, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in lemon juice, grated rind, and lemon oil if using.

Spoon batter into tube pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and invert onto serving plate. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

Makes 1 cake, 16 to 20 slices.

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Bedtime Stories: One for the grown-ups

Lexicon-Max-BarryPost by Mark T. Locker.

Lexicon by Max Barry

If you’re into non-stop action and sci-fi-y stories, but also appreciate a well-written novel, you ought to check out Lexicon by Max Barry. Two stories, set at two different points in time, dance around each other before slowly converging.

One plot line is about an Australian carpenter named Wil Park who has found himself caught up in some very unbelievable circumstances. A bunch of people are after him and he doesn’t know who they are or what they want. The ones who are trying to protect him seem as unpleasant as those trying to intercept him. A woman, barely alive, utters a series of strange words and instructs one of the men to kill himself. And he does. That’s when Wil realizes something serious is happening. And it all points back to a secret locked inside Wil’s brain.

Emily is a clever street kid in San Francisco. Her knack for persuasion has caught the interest of an unusual organization. After proving herself worthy, if just barely, she is taken to an academy to learn a secret science of persuasion. She learns there are certain words that drop peoples’ defenses and open them up to obeying the commands of others. Those who have mastered this skill are called Poets (because of their mastery of language) and take on a poet’s name.

While this method of storytelling can fall flat (I always get irritated when I have to shift gears like that) Barry pulls it off with ease. It’s a difficult story to summarize but a fun and interesting book to read. It’s interesting, constantly moving, and totally unique.

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Movies in Bed: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

Cloudy_with_a_Chance_of_Meatballs_2Post by Mark T. Locker.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a sequel to a movie that was adapted from a picture book that I used to love as a child. There were a whole lot of reasons I anticipated a terrible movie; for one, it was so many degrees removed from that beloved childhood book that the spirit of the original would surely be lost. I was right about that, but was wrong about what that would do to the movie. I actually enjoyed it, and perhaps that was partly because it was so far removed from the original that it was its own story altogether.

In the land of Swallow Falls, an inventor by the name of Flint Lockwood developed a device which made food rain down from the sky. Something must have gone wrong, because everyone fled. I think the food became enormous. That’s why they left in the book, at least. This is where the sequel picks up. Flint is contacted by a celebrated inventor named Chester V, who tells him that the giant food has become sentient! Flint and his crew head back to Swallow Falls to investigate.

The living food creatures vary from cute to vicious but not at all scary. (My son’s favorite is Tacodile…SUPREME!) Flint and his team discover that these creatures are not monsters at all. But as soon as they decide not to “clean up” the town, the inventor Chester V reveals his true nature; he is no kind inventor. He steals other peoples’ ideas and makes them his own. He will do whatever it takes to get his way. Including murder. Will he get away with this? How could he possibly?

This animated movie is silly, exciting, and geared perfectly towards young children. Adults will get a chuckle or two from the silly puns. Watch it in bed and it’s totally okay if you doze off a bit. 🙂

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Bedroom Design: 4 Bedrooms that Feel Undeniably French

Post by Tracy Kaler.

I adore all things French –– from the food and wine to the language, to furnishings and interiors, there’s a certain je ne sais quois that only comes from those things that originate in France.

That being said, I’ve always dreamed of having a Paris apartment or a country house in Provence. If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate these four fab bedrooms that feel undeniably French.

An Aubusson rug, Bergere, and the damask textiles give this room a formal French Country look. The puddled bed skirts, decorative screen, and silk bed fabrics make the space ooze romance.

This designer could have shopped the Paris flea markets all day to come up with a very spontaneous, ‘undesigned’ yet chic space. The bed is a reupholstered French antique, and the apple-picking ladders more than likely hail from the countryside in France.

This bedroom for prima ballerina Ana Botafogo boasts a very regal feel. Located in Brazil, the space contains a host of French-inspired elements. The mix of pattern and texture, damask wall covering, formal bed, and French furnishings bring the large room to life.

This stunning French bedroom offers an up-to-date, refreshing take with its grey and white color scheme. Classic French details mingle with some modern touches. Take, for instance, the straight-lined bed with wide bolsters in front of the upholstered wall. A marble floor and crystal chandelier complete this fabulous, formal bedroom

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Breakfast in Bed –Wicklow Pancake

Wicklow Pancakes 9

Post by Alison Hein.

Sometimes, when I’m looking for inspiration, I turn to my mother’s collection of old cookbooks. There is something meditative about leafing through a pile of worn and tattered recipe collections that provides a lot more satisfaction than a Google search. Maybe because I’m not sure of what I’m looking for. 🙂

One of my favorite of these little books is The Art of Irish Cooking by Monica Sheridan. Peppered with quotes, tips and sayings, the writing is as engaging as the recipes. Irish food is often underappreciated, but I admire its creative adaptations of local, fresh ingredients.

Wicklow Pancakes 1

Almost stark in its simplicity, the Wicklow Pancake is a crisp and savory carrier for a medley of fresh green herbs. More omelet or frittata than pancake, and sometimes called an Irish Omelet, this dish is alleged to be a specialty of County Wicklow (just south of Dublin) which first appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Use day old bread to make your own fresh breadcrumbs for authenticity and a more pancake-like texture. Be sure to use a generous hand when seasoning, and place a large pat of butter on top of the pancake before serving. It can be a little tricky to flip this thick concoction. Go easy on yourself if you’re having trouble, and turn the half-cooked pancake into a second heated and buttered pan. Then slice it up into quarters (farls in Irish) and strew with some additional fresh thyme leaves for a savory breakfast in bed that I hope you find inspiring.

Wicklow Pancakes 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup plain, fresh breadcrumbs (use day old bread to make your own)
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional herbs for garnish (optional)

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Preparation

Melt half the butter in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium low heat.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk, breadcrumbs, parsley, chives and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

When the butter is hot, pour the egg / breadcrumb mixture into the pan, evening out to cover the bottom. Continue to cook over medium low to low heat until eggs begin to set and bottom is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Carefully flip the pancake and cook on the other side until firm and browned, another 5 or 6 minutes. Cut in quarters and top each with a dab of remaining butter. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if you like.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe adapted from The Art of Irish Cooking by Monica Sheridan

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