Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'll have my cake and drink it too

     I had a great birthday, and received the best gifts -  My family is healthy.  I'm in love with my husband.  My kids are kind, maturing into awesome adults, and usually fun to be around.  I enjoy my work.  I live with the sweetest dogs.  And, I get to share my birthday celebrations with an incredible woman, Amy June!

     As Jim's mother, she was an automatic bonus as soon as we said our "I do's".  Amy's quick smile draws you in, she has the most beautiful animated eyes, and an incredibly infectious laugh.  Reminds me of a young Shirley MacLaine.  She is the first to offer help, the one that you know you can confide in, and, more importantly,  she welcomed me with genuine warmth and her Canadian hospitality.   I just adore her!

     Amy's favorite dessert is "anything chocolate", my kind of gal.  As a fellow Gemini, I could relate, and knew the perfect cake...

     Chocolate and stout - an amazing combination!  Please forgive my mint forest that adorned the top of the cake.  I had one too many glasses of wine (it was our birthday party, after all).  In my drunken stupor, I thought it looked like something the Cake Boss would design.  Yeah, I know...

     Thank you to our hostess with the mostest,  Leslie, for a delicious dinner.  Happy birthday, Amy June!

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Serves 12Hands-On Time: 20m Total Time: 2hr 40m


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more, at room temperature, for the pan
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with the cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and stout. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, add 8 ounces of the chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars on medium-high until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate mixture and sour cream. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from heat, add the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate, and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Set the cooling rack with the cake over a baking sheet. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let set before serving.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Close to perfect...but far from normal

     And so I begin my 49th year, and what better place to celebrate than the tranquil key of Islamorada.  The Babe and I have been going there, every long weekend chance we get, for years now.  Usually the boys join us, and we spend the weekend fishing, drinking, and eating the best locally caught saltwater fish you've ever tasted.  The keys are wonderfully different from South congestion, usually happy people, and never a hurried pace.  Laid back...relaxing...and best of all, it is the sport fishing capital of the world.  

The Babe and our pet egret, "Fred"

     We all love to fish - love, love, love to fish.  We have gone in the shallow back waters for shark, permit, and the all elusive tarpon.  We have gone out in the the deep waters of the Atlantic on our quest for black fin tuna, grouper, and mahi-mahi.  The boys and Babe always do well.  I, on the other hand, seem to be jinxed.  I have not caught a fish in ages.  It's become the running joke. The Babe has been kind enough to catch a fish and quickly hand me his rod to reel it in.  It is exciting, but I miss the thrill of feeling that first tug, setting the hook, and then hearing the sound of my reel spinning as the line is pulled.

I knew, for certain, that this year, on my birthday, I would definitely catch one.

The stars were aligned.

The Babe bought me a beautiful new rod and reel.

The tides were in my favor.

I could feel it.

The anticipation was overwhelming.

Yep, that's me...with absolutely nothing on my line

Bupkis...nada...nunca...not a damn nibble.

     Just wait till next year...I'll be turning 50 and no fish is going to want to piss me off then.

     We didn't catch it, but we sure did eat it - Morada Bay's Blackened Grouper was outstanding!  I can't wait till next June 4th when I will be cooking up 40 pounds of this after my day of fishing - Enjoy and eat happy!

Birthday dinner on the beach at Morada Bay - it doesn't get any better.  Thank you, Babe.

Blackened Florida Keys Grouper

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 lemon zests, dried

Mix together and keep in an air tight container.

Brush 4 grouper fillets with melted butter.  Generously rub the blackening seasoning on to both sides of fillets, set aside as you heat your cast iron skillet for 10 minutes.  Heat 2 T of grape seed or peanut oil in the pan, then add the fillets and cook for 3 minutes each side.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges.  

Pretend your feet are in the sand, and they will taste even better.