Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

My friend Natasha from 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures is hosting a great recipe contest.  She is giving away 4 Magic Bullets.  They are wonderful kitchen gadgets useful for doing quick and easy prep work.  Submit your favorite snack recipe.  Hop over to her blog to get all the pertinent information.  The contest closes FRIDAY JUNE 18, 2010.  I have already submitted my entry.

This week I have 3 Blogcritics Articles to promote.

1. If you watch the show Treme, then check out Kate's great review Treme - Wish Someone Would Care

2. Deana from lostpastremembered wrote the interesting piece All the World's a Blog & A Great Chocolate Cake is Found

3. Yours truly penned Ceviche: Fish As Cocktail

Guest Post Spotlight

I am honored to welcome Vanessa from Coffee and pie.  This wonderful blog is written the talented Vanessa, a British girl, who has been living in Berlin, Germany for the last three years.  Before that she lived in France in Annecy, Lyon, and Mulhouse.  This is a very wordly blog dealing with travel, photography, books, films, and her passion Baking.  By that I mean food preperation not "baking."  Anyway, she is one of best writers and photographers you will find on the blogosphere.  Go over and sign up to follow this wonderful blog Coffee and pie.

Although I like to think of myself as straightforward, in many ways I am a person of contradictions.

I’m not much of an early riser but not exactly a night owl either as sleeping in always makes me feel guilty about missing the morning light.

I’m a language teacher but dislike the idea of taking courses myself and prefer to learn alone.

I pride myself on having good taste in books and films but listen to the cheapest kind of music.

I grew up in a small village but only really feel comfortable in the anonymity of a big city.

I’m one of the most organised people as far as time management is concerned but also one of the messiest you’ll ever meet.

For years, my great passion was mountains. They became like old friends I could pick out on the horizon on walks and I couldn’t imagine my life without them, yet I now live in one of the flattest areas far from the Alps.

Perhaps though, it’s not so surprising that I ended up in Berlin since it too is a place of contradictions, the divided city. To the untrained eye, it seems modern and bursting with change yet blink again and you’ll find traces of the past springing up everywhere. It’s a place where old meets new, a vast building site that may never be finished as the writer Döblin once described it. It’s a capital city with no real centre since each area considers itself separate and unique from the others. I love the fact that you find everything here; travel just a few stops on the suburban train and it’s like stepping into another world.

Last week, I took a trip back to Sans Souci palace in Potsdam, a place where I first went on my first visit to Berlin back in the summer of 2006. I remember the heat and humidity of that day not so different from how it was last week. Already early in the morning, there was a kind if stickiness in the air as groups of tourists made their way around the park under a cloudless sky. I opted for the shade of a bench under the gaze of the white statues which resisted the sun’s rays. I thought back to past summers when I used to spend all day here reading but this time was content to explore different corners like the church tower reflected in the mirrored surface of the lake or the vast array of flowers bursting into bloom. I thought about how much time has passed since my first visit, how it was to see Berlin through the eyes of an outsider, something I cannot imagine now. I long to return here when the leaves have turned to a deep gold or the avenues are buried under a blanket of snow.

(In the park of Sans Souci palace in Potsdam)

(the grave of Frederick the Great. Apparently, he encouraged people to grow potatoes to ward off famine).

(Apricots on the market in the Dutch quarter of Potsdam)

To finish with, I’ll leave you an American recipe that’s also a bit of a contradiction since no-one can decide whether it’s a pie or a cake. I’d been wanting to make it for years but always felt intimidated by the crème patisserie and the idea that it would all be too heavy but it’s actually easy and amazingly light on your tongue. The only thing I regret is that I waited so long to find that out.

Boston Cream Pie (from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

(My Boston cream pie)

For the sponge cake
225g unsalted butter, very soft
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 tablespoons milk

2 x 21cm sandwich tins (around 5cm deep), greased and lined

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour in between each one so the mixture doesn’t curdle. Then fold in the flour, cornflour and baking powder until you have a nice smooth mixture, adding a little milk if needed.

3. Divide the mixture equally between the tins and bake for around 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in their tins for around 10 mins before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the crème patisserie
125ml milk
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour

1. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan until almost boiling then remove from the heat, cover it and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

2. In large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy then beat in the flour. Add this egg mixture to the warm milk along with the vanilla essence. Pour back into a saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat then leave to cool by tearing off some greaseproof paper, wetting it and placing it on the surface of the cream in the bowl so you don’t get a skin. Please don’t place it in the fridge as apparently, it does strange things to the texture.

For the chocolate ganache
150ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate

1. Warm the cream, vanilla extract, butter and chopped chocolate in a pan until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

To assemble everything when cool, place four strips of greaseproof paper on the plate on which you’re going to serve the cake to make a square. Sandwich the cakes together with the cream, the pour the chocolate icing over the top of the cake so you have a nice thick layer that runs down the sides. When everything’s set, remove the paper so you have a perfect cake on a drip free plat


  1. Vanessa,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us. Fantastic rich photography. Very interesting narrative. All around great job.


  2. Exquisite gorgeous pictures and a wonderful pie I would love to devour!

  3. Nice to meet you Vanessa! Love your photography and I enjoy your journey! I'm a night owl person who isn't guilty of sleeping in haha. There must be times we all self-contradict, ain't we?

    And the pie, looks delicious. You sure are a domestic goddess!

  4. I have never made Boston Cream Pie either. Maybe it is something I should try this summer.

  5. The pictures are absolutely stunning -- I will definitely check out Vanessa's blog! This pie looks amazingly decadent!

  6. Hi Vanessa,

    Those are the most beautiful, artistic, and sharpest pictures I've seen. You sure have a talent for photography! Boston cream pie is one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.


    Thank you for another lovely guest post.

  7. This was a thoroughly entertaining and captivating post. Bonus points for the Nigella recipe. :P

  8. Vanessa, great guest post! I enjoyed seeing your gorgeous photos of Potsdam and the Boston Cream pie sure looks delightful!

    Lazaro, thank you so much for mentioning the Magic Bullet contest!

  9. Hey Vanessa and Lazarito!
    Your photos are beautiful, Vanessa. I wish I had such beauty around me that inspired me to go outside with my camera. Oh, and the pie sounds awesome. I can imagine your regret in waiting, but now you know!
    Hey Lazarito, what you talkin' bout, Willis? I didn't understand your comment on my blog. Maybe I should???
    p.s.-me too tired, but will check out B.C. in the morning.

  10. Thanks Lazaro for inviting me as a guest here. You have such agreat blog and I feel very honoured. And thanks to you all for leaving such lovely comments - it's so great to wake up and see them all.

  11. Hi Lazaro
    Great post and wishing you all the best on the competition.
    Te Boston cream pie looks awesome.
    Wishing you a great weekend ♥

  12. I'll certainly have to take a stop over at Vanessa's blog so that I can discover the person who's behind these inspirational photos.
    Thanks for sharing her with us.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  13. vanessa

    as always I enjoy a fun moment reading your posts; lots of great photos and even better writing. You are becoming the symbol of Berlin to me.

  14. Nice to meet you Vanessa. What a lovely assortment of photos. Lazaro is right. You are an incredible and talented photographer. Now I'm going to pop over to your blog and see more.

  15. A gorgeous post Vanessa, and wonderful pictures! I have the same Nigella Lawson book but never felt inspired to make Boston Cream Pie, until I saw your cake!

    Thank you Lazaro for sharing another one of your talented discoveries with us!

  16. Our own contradictions make us unique individuals! Great pictures and a fun recipe!

  17. Thank you Lazaro for a Guest Post.

    Hi Vanessa, I enjoyed reading your post, and your photos are wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing a lovely Boston Cream Pie recipe. I like Nigella Lawson's style of cooking as well.

  18. great post, I love vanessa's blg...always such beautiful pics and great the pic of fredrick the great tomb


  19. Hi Lazaro. I adore your guest posts. Vanessa, your photo's are so beautiful. When I look at them I feel like I am actually there. Your Boston Cream Pie is so lovely, I can't help but want to try it. Fantastic post.

  20. This was such a fun guest post to read. So well written and so entertaining. Plus the lovely cake at the end makes for some excellent eye candy!

  21. Wonderful photos, and a great guest post!!

  22. I've long been a fan of Vanessa's blog. How wonderful you have a guest post by her!
    And I adore Deana!

  23. Thanks for reminding me how pretty Berlin is! with time going by, you tend to forget! and Boston Cream pie, such a famous dessert, beautiful post, photos and recipe! Great pick Lazaro for a guest post!

  24. What a beautiful, thoughtful and artistic post! I, too, am a teacher- of English Literature - and FOODS (teaching kids how to cook)! We were in Berlin for only 4 days 3 summers ago and we promised to be back. We were both completely enamored by the city. And, we were in Boston last year, and ate the authentic Boston Cream pie from the hotel that "invented it" - or so the story goes, and it is as you said. Light, and lovely... but I have not made it for the same reasons you did not for so long.

  25. Hi,
    This is Owen Hyde,
    I’m very interested in guest posting at your sites/ blogs. I discovered you by your site. I have gone through your site. I was really impressed and wanted to get involved. I am having a unique and fresh original content for “Flower “to share as a guest post. Let me know what you think. I hope all is well.
    With Regards,
    Owen Hyde


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