Pizza Dough and Fresh Tomato Sauce

Last night, I cooked up a wonderful dinner courtesy of a new cookbook I purchased for $15 dollars at Borders a few weeks ago, The Gourmet Cookbook. I have no idea why it was on sale for so little, but this book is huge and full of unique, vamped up stand-by and satisfying recipes.

The recipe is like any pizza dough recipe but they provide tips for shaping and detailed instruction for execution. I followed their method and came out with a wonderful pizza dough. The whole process was so enjoyable as I always find working with dough. I just wish that I had a pizza stone to cook it on then it would have been perfection. I had also planned to go along with our fresh pizza dough, the accompaning recipe found a few pages beyond: Fresh Tomato Sauce.

Growing up, I never knew the exsistence of a jarred tomato sauce. Every Sunday morning before church, my mom would begin preparing her sauce for our pasta, which we had every Sunday as far back as I can remember. The sauce would sit on the stove simmering for hours until around early evening when the pasta would get boiling, the ricotta would be dished, black and green olives placed, and the occasional thick rounds of soppresta sliced. As a young adult, I still cannot fathom the use of a jarred sauce; sorry Mr. Newman... I appreciate it and all but there's nothing like homemade. The unlaborious, gratifying task of making tomato sauce is worthy of the 15 minutes preparation for Sunday evening pasta and the following dishes it will adorn over the week. The flavor and love behind it are too special to pass off to a store shelf.

Since we are usually fairly healthy, although more slippage has occured lately, I topped the pizza with large dollops fat free ricotta, turkey pepperoni and a sprinkle of dried basil and pepper. The crust came out very nice, no runny topping falling off the pizza, however, I think I should cook it a tad less next time because although good and crunchy; I prefer my crust a little softer to the bite. The tomato sauce was truely perfection. I definitely found my go-to recipe for tomato sauce. Even though I halved the recipe, I've already used it to make other dishes this week that were equally as tasty.

The pizza dough recipe is a bit long to type out; the book itself is a good resource - I would recommend it highly. Here the recipe adapted slightly for the sauce; I subbed whole no-salt added tomato just because they were cheaper, hence, a smaller dent in my already small budget.

Fresh Tomato Sauce
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

3, 28oz cans whole no-salt added tomatos
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (and more to taste as cooking)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

Roughly chop tomatoes, reserve juices and set aside.

Heat oil in large pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring until just golden, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, reserved juice, sugar, and salt, bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovering, stirring occasionally until thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir in parsley and salt to taste.

Other dishes so far that I have used with this was a healthy, delicious baked chicken parmesean and there's still enough sauce to use again! I'm in love!


Rustic Chickpea Vegetable Soup

After a weekend of many sinfully wonderful indulgences all over Atlanta, GA (post to follow eventually), sampling desserts and famed greasy drive-in food; I felt the need for vegetables in heaping abundance.

I've been trying to incorporate some of my normal healthful habits into my cooking rather than just eating the stand-bys; The easily prepared grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. Although delicious, these are just not satisfying me; cooking is satisfying. I came up with this recipe because I did not have my computer on hand to look one up and no recipe fit exactly what I wanted. The measurements are approximate, hence the word "rustic" in the title, and it is absolutely delicious.

Rustic Chickpea Vegetable Soup
from yours truly.

1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1, 15oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 cups organic vegetable stock
4 -5 cups water
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup yellow squash, chooped
1 can diced no-salt added tomatos
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground thyme, heaping
3/4 tsp. ground basil
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp. ground paprika

Brown rice, optional.

Heat olive oil in soup pot on medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and sautee for about 2 minutes until fragrant; Add chick peas.

Pour the 4 cups of stock and 4-5 cups of water into pot, add rest of ingredients and bring soup to a boil. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

If you are going to prepare rice, begin this while the soup is simmering.

Sprinkle with a pinch of fresh chopped parsley, add spoonfuls of brown rice to soup if desired and serve!

Not a great photo but as you were eating it was visually delicious as well; the vegetables were chunky and tender but not mushy. I'm not in the mood to write too much more right now but I'll back for later as I have big plans for later to go along with that leftover soup!


Fat-Free Banana Bread

Don't let the title throw you off; I promise I haven't gone off the deep end.

On any average day about 4/5 persons in the household are on some sort of diet; I prefer to call it lifestyle actually. Despite my musings on this blog, I eat very healthy and exercise about 6 days a week. However, I believe in the everything in moderation philosophy and balancing yourself when it comes to diet. A "perfect" diet is bound for failure; when you deny youself certain things pyschologically and physically your body with crave them and the end result is usually not pretty. With that said, I decided to create a baked good that everyone would feel guilt free eating (including myself) and the results were completely tasty and satisfying, not just for a fat-free baked good.

I don't think "light" baked good should contain anything too unnatural - start with a naturally healthy, fat free, sweet thing and your off to a good start - fragrantly ripe bananas!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe on allrecipes.com

Fat-Free Banana Bread

1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg whites
2 large bananas, mashed
1/3 apple butter, heaping

For glaze (very approx. measures):
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2-4 tbsp fat-free half and half

Preheat oven to 350, grease 9X5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl mash bananas, add vanilla, egg whites, and apple butter. Add to dry mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into pan.

Bake for about 45-47 minutes or until object inserted in center comes out clean. Turn out onto wire rack and let cool before slicing (I didn't exactly follow this part).

For glaze, while loaf if still warm, put confectioners sugar in bowl and stir in fat free half and half with wire wisk until desired consistency. Use wire whisk to drizzle over loaf.

Yield - one 9X5 loaf.

Overall - the tasty was delicious and the loaf was moist. The banana flavor was prominent but next time I would even add another banana. I would also use white whole wheat flour or other whole-grain flour in place of the all purpose to make this a more healthful treat. I didn't have these on hand. I didn't feel like I was eating a fat-free baked good and the loaf was gone the next day, so I guess I wasn't the only one!


Coconut Cream Pie and Pâté Brisée

My boyfriend's favorite dessert is without a doubt coconut cream pie or anything creamy and coconuty. He spotted a coconut cream pie at the local grocery store one afternoon and exclaimed that he would purchase it on Monday to eat. I told him that would be ridiculous - of course I would make one! Any opportunity to work on baking is more than welcomed into my daily activities, especially something I don't have much (or any) experience in, pies and pie crust.

I knew my woman, Martha, would have a perfect recipe for me in her Baking Handbook where her decadant, classic recipes enchant my baking soul with elegant photos and wonderfully written pre-recipe descriptions and stories. The first task was crust. I was bit intimidating having never solely made a scratch crust; pie crusts have a notorious stigma attached them of being difficult to work with. I chose (as suggested by Martha) Pâté Brisée, a classic french pastry crust for pies, simply contain unsalted butter, salt and ice water.

Simple, right? I followed the directions trying to use not too much water because I didn't want the crust to be tough but in the end more would have been better.

When I went to roll out the crust the next day; it crumbled on the counter top. Although alarmed, I kept my composure and just added more water and continued to roll it out, hoping for the best. Of course after adding the water it was a bit too sticky so, I added a bit more flour as I rolled. Nothing close to perfect, I folded the pie dough into my pan; some of the ends on the round were thicker than others causing a shotty looking design as a I pinched the edges.

I remained persistant and turned out the coconut custard with ease and it was quite fun. I whipped my cream which I thought was kind of bland and a bit soft. I wanted it to be thick, tasty and bountiful but it just was kind of, cream, that was whipped.

Well, all and all, I know Martha's the queen of baking so it was my lack of expierience that rendered this pie to our eyes and taste buds as good and not earth shattering-orgasmically-amazing. I followed the recipe exactly (minus brushing the bottom with metled chocolate) and it is quite long ,so I won't post it. You can easily find this recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook or on her website. Next time, I think I'll try a more traditional diner style cream pie recipe (although I'm not sure of the differences) because I think that is style I'm looking for in this pie. I'll also be practicing my Pâté Brisée technique in the meantime.


Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Look at them in all their glory!

A leftover pumpkin project turned wonderful. I would hate to waste such a precious ingredient as pumpkin so, it needed a purpose in people's tummies which turned out to be the Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I looked through many recipes before settling on this one. I was thinking something sort of pumpkin-cheesecakey-bar- but there was not enough cream cheese for that venture (however, I did find an awesome looking recipe on Epicurious for a later time). I wanted something that would appeal to the masses, something simple yet with a special twist. I turned to the Libby's Pumpkin website recipe section and these cookies stuck out; the ingredients were items I had on hand and simple enough to turn out before I had to leave for work. The general consensus is overwhelming success; I was requested to bring more cookies into work tomorrow because they finished all the ones I brought tonight. The cookies are soft but not overly so, as they tend to be in cookies that contain pumpkin. They are not overly sweet and have the perfect spicy cinnamon bite. The pecans and raisins are hinted throughout adding to the textural appeal of the cookie. Next time, I would use thicker cut oats (my quick oats were smaller than normal) for an even heartier texture and add more pecans (or walnuts as the original recipe stated) since I only had about a half cup.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
adapted from verybestbaking.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick or old fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans (or any nut of choice)
3/4 cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop in large rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet.

Bake 14 minutes or until cookies are lightly brown and centers are set. Cool 2 minutes of baking sheet and then move to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Yield - about 24-30 large cookies (48 cookie according to original).

This week, I also recieved my Baker's Catalogue from King Arthur Flour.

There are way too many thing I want; What an amazing catalogue. They just make every image so visually appealing and the addition of recipes inside is nice as well. I must go write a detailed Christmas list!


Hush Puppies and Diner Desserts

Monday is the day that my boyfriend and I actually get to spend the whole day together and we spend it doing the activity we enjoy most, eating.

We recently moved to a town in South Carolina about 15 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina's outer limits, so we do most of our dining in the Charlotte area. Our town isn't exactly notorious for anything foodwise or other, unless you count Siler Chapman. He was a part of the US Pizza Team in 2004 and was recently on the Food Network (the only channel I watch) for the Food Network Pizza Challange.

Anyway, our breakfast meal began late at a place not even worth mentioning but, I will, to warn you, called Good Ol' Days in Charlotte. Luckily, I had forgotton my camera. The only notable was the kitchy 50's decor which was sparse but at least the attempt was nice. Everything was sub-standard, We could have made a better omelettes and pancakes at home. The bacon omelette had little bacon bits on top of the folded over egg (?!?), the pancakes; not any better than bisquik, and the biscuits looked like they came from a Pilsbury can with microwaved rubbery texture. Let's just say, we won't be back.

I also could note our poor return visit to an area bakery but I'll spare you.

However, our late night dinner at the Penguin Drive-In near downtown Charlotte was great. A dark, bar-like scene with great drive-in style food. The menu selection was complete with appetizers like wings, soup and stews, a multitude of different burgers, dogs, sandwiches, and sides.

We ordered my new southern favorite, hush puppies! Hush puppies are basically a doughy mixture of flour, white cornmeal, buttermilk, eggs, etc... then deep fried. They come out dark golden brown in golf ball sized rounds fresh from the deep fryer and stay warm until your finished devouring them because of their wonderful density. I like to call them my Southern zeppoles.

After finishing my stew and his burger, we were on the dessert prowl. We had passed the Landmark Diner on our frustrating man-hunt to find the Penguin Drive-In and I had heard tales of their wonderful desserts. We back tracked in high hopes of mountainess cream pies and thick, rich cakes and Landmark did not dissappoint. The bakery case was easy to spot right to your left at you enter the door and it was just at I pictured it, filled with all sorts of typical diner delights: carrot cake, banana cream pie, strawberry cheesecake, key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, coconut pineapple cake, chocolate cake, boston cream pie, I could go on.

Indecision was inevitable. We gazed at the case for a while and chatted with a very large, pleasant Southern woman sitting close by who educated us on the bakery case ropes; "the chocolate cake is so good and rich, you almost won't like chocolate when your done" she drawled.

When we returned home with our chocolate cake, banana cream pie and stawberry cheesecake, the excitement took over and the desserts went from the large boxes into are large bellies and pictures were forgotton! I know we'll head back their soon, maybe we'll dine in with our new Southern neighbors.

dive-in drive-in:
Penguin Drive-In
1921 Commonwealth Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28205


diner's finest:
Landmark DIner
4429 Central Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28205

Today's mission: buy lots of flour and find a way to use leftover pumkin.


Oatmeal Blackberry Jam Bars and Irresistable Holiday Mags

Company is always an excuse to bake, even when it's not your own company. I love to feed others with my baking creations, try out and perfect recipes while they enjoy. Yesterday's recipe was a one I had done a couple weeks ago - raspberry jam bars but I mixed it up with some blackberry perserves instead.

Originally, I planned to double the crust to make them even more irresistable but I had only enough brown sugar for one recipes worth. The idea didn't occur to put it in a smaller pan to make the crust thicker until after it was well into baking.

When I got home from work, the pan was already half gone; success! I had my little share of bars as well when I got home. The buttery crust and crumble top were sandwiched between the not-too-sweet deep violet blackberry perserve creating the most wonderful slighty savory/sweet treat. Anything with crumbles has a special place in my heart; I hear an apple pie calling my name in the near future with homemade buttery crust, piled sky-high orchird apples, and mountain top crumbs.

Oatmeal Blackberry Jam Bars
adapted from Real Simple Magazine

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups blackberry preserves (or your choice jam/preserves)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda and butter into a large bowl and combine with hands until a crumbly dough forms. Toss in oats lightly.

Press 2/3 of dough firmly into 9X13 greased baking pan. Spread jam evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining dough over jam, gently pressing down. Bake until golden brown, let cool 2 hours. Cut into 24 bars (yea right!). Store in airtight container.

Original Yield - 2 dozen bars (or however many you'd like).

In other news, everytime I go to a supermarket, convenience store, ok- pretty much any store, I see holiday baking magazines calling my name from the rack. Praline and cream cake calls from the cover just begging to be bought; their wishes are answered and I, in turn, become more broke. I can't go to any of these places without leaving with one of these oh-so-special-limited-edition food porn magazines. For the $8.00 dollars I paid, Paula Dean should come to my house and show me how to make the recipes.

Alas, Family beware - get in your extra treadmill miles and stair stepping classes now; your probably doomed.


Pumpkin Bread

Although it doesn't seem much like autumn here in South Carolina; I felt autumn upon me. This means pumpkin, apples, sweet potatos and other warm, fuzzy comfort fruits and vegetables.

This sparkled my urge for pumpkin bread. I decided to start out simple and just find an ultimate pumpkin bread recipe to start off my fall-inspired baking. None of my cookbooks had quite what I was looking for, a recipe with butter instead of oil for the fat; however, I settled for a well-reviewed oil based recipe for my pumpkin bread. My searches to me to a recipe at allrecipes.com

I know my pictures are nothing to right home about but hopefully they'll get better as I take more. The end product turned out a bit more brown on the outside than I would have liked but the color on the inside was a warm orange - no complaints there. I made slight changes due to the pan size and spices that were in my cabinet. I'd love to make some sort of pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting for these loaves but I was just baking for pleasure so it stayed plain for now.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
adapted from allrecipes.com

15oz pumpkin puree (1 can)
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. all-spice
1/4 tsp chopped crystalized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9X5 loaf pans (this is just what I had - use other pans if you desire)

In large bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In seperate bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir dry ingredients into wet just until blended. Pour mixture into prepared pans.

Baked 50-57 minutes in preheated oven. Loaves are down when toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Yield: 2 - 9x5 loaves

Next time I would even up the spices, substitute some white sugar for brown, and bake for a little less (I baked for 60 minutes) so the tops aren't as brown. Although brown on the outside the flavor on the inside was delicious; moist pumpkin, soft, midly spicy, it's hard to stop eating! It's slowly disappearing to the kitchen to my delight.


the end of Charleston.. day two.

We woke up fairly early for vacation to check out of the hotel and begin our daily stuffing. Our first stop for a late breakfast would the Bookstore Cafe which is sort-of renamed Charleston's Cafe after switching locations and owners. I was worried that it's acclaim would be damaged after such changes but they more than proved themselves to be breakfast gods in my eyes.

The staff was so friendly and inviting. My boyfriend and I gazed at the bright orange menus for quite awhile before deciding. The menu included country breakfast stapes such as eggs, omelettes, grits, biscuits, corned beef hash, a multitude of pancake choices and a Bookstore Cafe specialty the Island Potato Casseroles. These unique casseroles as a base have fried thin sliced potato called "chippers", onions, peppers, mushrooms topped with eggs (your choice of style); Then there is your particular choice island toppings to adorn this base. I chose the "Kiawah" which is sausage gravy and cheddar cheese; other choices but not limited to, include "Dewees" which is turkey, bacon, cheddar and tomato cream sauce and a bit lighter, the "Wadmalaw" with zucchini, broccoli, tomato, yellow squash and cheddar. This is making me quite hungry... and I have pumpkin bread in the oven, but anyway!

My final selection for a well-rounded breakfast included the "Kiawah" Island Potato Casserole accompanied by a buttermilk biscuit and a short stack of Raspberry Pancakes which as stated in the menu the raspberries are cooked IN the pancakes (phew...). A personal peeve of mine with pancakes that we'll save for another blog entry.
The pancakes were absolute heaven; fluffy, cake-like and chock full of huge, vibrant raspberries. I hadn't encountered a pancake like that in a while and boy, I was delighted.

I usually don't vary when it comes to choosing eat-out breakfast because I know what satisfies me but I wanted to be more bold in my breakfast choices and I'm glad I let the Kiawah Island Potato Casserole in my life. The combination of flavors were bursting each bite was unique; little bites of sausage, "chippers", scrambled egg, just falling in love at each bite. Alas, there was the biscuit! Faintly buttery with a soft moist inside and slight crisp on the outside; no butter required. It was perfect.

My boyfriend shared the pancakes with me and finished off my casserole in addition to his four-cheese omelette with grits and sweet potato biscuit which was delicious. Hints of cinnamon and big sweet potato flavor but same great biscuit texture.

We basked in fullness and then eventually waddled out and headed to the beach until the next meal which would really turn out to be dessert at Cupcake on King St. We (thankfully) accidently ran into Cupcake driving aimlessly looking for an ATM. I had heard one review on the internet and was instantly interested; I didn't expect to find it on our short visit. A good cupcake is always welcome in my tummy.

An aroma of fresh baked goods filled my nostrils entering the tiny bake-shop; Complete with pink and brown decor and minimal design but it seemed appropriate. The cupcakes were displayed behind a window, unrefridgerated (yes!) including a dozen or so flavors of the day including coffee, pumpkin, chocolate butterscotch, traditional vanilla and chocolate, strawberry, and more. I chose the Rocky Road cupcake; a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting folded with marshmellow fluff and chopped walnuts. My other half chose the Strawberry; a strawberry cupcake with Strawberry Creamcheese frosting.

The flavors hit me immediately; the cupcake was perfectly moist and chocolatey. The walnuts and fluff stood out in the frosting and added the perfect texture. I wanted to do it again but I was pretty full already. Luckily, my boyfriend hadn't finished his strawberry and wanted me to have the last bite and I did. The cupcake, again, was perfect; real stawberry taste no fake crap! The paired strawberry cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment. All and all, the next time I'm in Charleston I will be seeking out a Cupcake cupcake.

In the way later hours after trudging around full bellied and sampling the heath cake from Kaminsky's (yum!); we would complete our Charleston eats at the Hominy Grill. Hominy Grill is a home style low country cooking menu but slightly modernized still retaining integrity. I had heard only great things about this place and really wanted to bite my teeth into some great fried chicken which I still had not had since moving to the Carolina's from New England. When we arrived the only seats the had were outside which turned out to be a nice romantic table in the back corner lit with a real burning latern and wooden benches.

I'm getting tired so I'll get to the point. We ordered the jalepeno hush puppies; we were eager to try hush puppies because of there Southern-ness and we hadn't expierenced them yet. I have a feeling we got spoiled though; they were amazing. They came just cooled enough to eat right from the deep fryer served with a sweet green tomato ketchup. The texture was chewy and moist but a crisp outside and these had hints of heat from jalepenos and a great constrat from the green tomato ketchup. Unfortunately the cookbook I purchased from there does not include this recipe but I maybe tackle finding a good recipe to duplicate these in the future.

For entrees, we both ordered the Southern Fried Chicken compete with ham gravy, collards and mashed potatos. Wondeful, moist and flavorful. There are many items we had to leave behind on the menu to head home but there's always next time and there will be a next time at the Hominy Grill for us.

good eats! ....

Bookstore Cafe
1039 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC

433 King St.
Charleston, SC

Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave.
Charleston, SC
(843)-937-0930, www.hominygrill.com

Those were our two days in Charleston - well fed!


butter my biscuit... Charleston, SC

This past weekend my lovely boyfriend and I headed to the low country down in Charleston, South Carolina. I carefully researched as always to find some orgasmic culinary adventures for us. There were many options - soul food, desserts, and home stylin' cooking was a must.

The city itself is chock full of history; there are no mini-malls just new business' housed in the old buildings. Oh - and don't forget the plethora of palm trees.

Upon our arrival on Sunday afternoon, after a rainy drive, the sun greeted us in downtown Charleston at Kaminsky's Most Excellent Cafe. That is actually what it's called.

Kaminsky's is a bar/coffee house/dessert palace. The menu includes various hot, cold coffee/espresso concotions, teas and other specialty alcoholic drinks. But we weren't really interested in that portion of the menu. This was the only menu we needed...

I wish you could get the close up of those... Not as many options as I thought there would be but obviously plenty enough choice to be stumped as of what to devour.

After careful consideration I chose the top left creation the Italian Cream Cake described as a spice cake with coconut and pecans. My boyfriend chose the Madarin Orange Cake which he would have the virgin slice.

The mecca was probably 7 inches tall, 3 thick layers of spice cake filled with coconuty buttercream with coconut flakes of the outside frosting. The taste of the cake itself was just OK - I was looking foward to spicy moist cake but what I bit into was a bit bland and crumbly lacking moisture (and coconut). However, there was only a small portion of the cake left when I get the slice; I have a feeling it was older and the refrigerator sucked out the moisutre. Had it been a fresh cake - it would have had more potential to blow my mind.

My boyfriend's on the other hand was moist, dense but light orangey vanilla cake. The little madarin oranges in with the vanilla buttercream layer in the middle gave it a fresh bite.

I wish they were at room temperature however; the buttercream would have been nice and soft instead of the refrigerator taste and thick butter block consistency.

Overall, we left fairly satisfied and we left behind many enticing choices such as pumpkin spice, chocolate chip buttercream, key lime pie, pecan pie, heath cake, red velvet cake... and waaaay too many more.

After that there was a quick stop to Market Street Sweets where the open door and inviting samples lured us in; It's the little red awning in the picture to the right.The smell of praline was intoxitcated and there were more free samples galore. I didn't realize the Southern roots of praline until this trip; a mixture of pecans, heavy cream, butter and sugar (um .. what's not to love?). Unfortunately the sampling was enough and reluctantly walked out with nothing but a sugar high and a new love for praline.

here's some info:
Kaminsky's Most Excellent Cafe
78 N. Market St.
Charleston, SC 29401

Market Street Sweets
100 N. Market St.
Charleston, SC 29401
(843)-722-1397, www.riverstreetsweets.com

Time to go read the cookbooks I took out from the library and spend time with my love. I'm gonna try to finish up the 2nd day in Charleston tomorrow which includes round 2 of Kaminsky's, Bookstore Cafe, and the Hominy Grill.. mmmm.

thanks for coming...

I love to eat food in great quantity. I love to bake and see the wonderful reactions of all who eat my creations. I love to seek out bakeries, cafes, restaurant in every city I travel to and live in. I try to find the best of all there is to eat in the world. I live and breath food. I think about food, create food, read about food, dream of creations 23 hours of the day (the other hour is just for my boyfriend). In the coming months I will attend culinary school for baking and pastry (somewhere- hopefully CIA) after deciding a traditional college education was not for me. I LOVE FOOOOOD!

and with that said, this is my blog because this is me. hope you will read and enjoy.