Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summertime, and the livin' is easy

...especially when you're sipping on refreshing margaritas poolside or, better yet, indulging in a margarita cupcake.
These bad boys are chock-full of everything you love about margaritas (the zip of the lime, the combination of sweet and savory thanks to the salt-rimmed glass, the kick from the tequila) and everything you love about cupcakes (rich, buttery cake, the frosting, the adorable little package, and -- did I mention the frosting?)

What we have here are tequila-spiked cupcakes brushed con mas tequila, topped with tangy lime cream cheese frosting, and garnished with a fresh lime wedge, an inedible (but oh so cute!) straw, and a sprinkle of course sea salt for good measure.

Thanks Heather, for the opportunity to whip these up for your officemate's farewell party. Best of luck to her on her new adventure, and warm summertime wishes of fun, sunshine, and sweet treats to all!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A cup full of sprinkles and a barrel of laughs

Two cupcakes are baking in the oven. One tugs at its paper wrapper and says, "Is it me or is it really hot in here?"

The other cupcake looks over, wide-eyed, and yells, "Holy crap, a talking cupcake!!"

Okay, okay -- so I wouldn't cut it in comedy, but I'm happy to leave that to my assistant who, until recently, was a proud member of sketch comedy group Kamikaze Theory. After more than a year of improv exercises, song circles, writing sessions, and plenty of love and laughter, she decided to transition from active cast member to number one fan in order to focus on me--I mean, cake. Focus on cake. Well, and me. We're a package deal, you know!
To show her love for her tremendously talented and wildly attractive castmates at their most recent show, she arrived with a post-show surprise: a box of rich chocolate cupcakes topped with luscious cream cheese frosting and festive confetti sprinkles. These were a "Congrats," "I miss you," and "You guys were fantastic!" bundled up in a sweet little package.

And as for the show? It was hilarious! What, with a charmingly inappropriate children's book illustrator, bigoted manny (that's a male nanny), and -- my obvious favorite -- a bakery in which customers are always right (even when they're oh so wrong)...what would you expect?

Great job, KT!

My assistant is a volcano and she lavas you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A fly on the wall

I'm an observer today. I see three women whose faint, crow's feet lines can't suppress the youthful twinkle in their eyes as they reminisce about days long past -- from girlhoods in Saigon to new lives, struggles, and triumphs in California. Laughter fills the air, accompanied by the familiar smell of something cooking. Something authentic. Something good. In this case, it's the filling for bi cuon chay, or vegetarian spring rolls with julienned taro root, jicama, and potatoes coated in toasted rice powder masquerading as fatty shredded pork (note: chewy vermicelli and shredded pork skin are conveniently similar in texture). Or it might be the meaty broth simmering on the stovetop, ready to immerse rare slices of beef tenderloin upon serving hearty bowls of pho tai.

On the other side of of the spacious open kitchen, three men -- two husbands and a son -- are engrossed in a World Cup game: the fight for third place between Germany and Uruguay. The women's chatter is interrupted by the "Oh! Oh!! Ohhhhhhh!!"s triggered by close attempts and "almost" moments on both sides.
And working quietly in the middle of it all is my assistant. Completely focused on crafting the perfect dessert with which to end the meal, she is slicing strawberries, whipping cream, and assembling her chocolate strawberry shortcake -- a sure hit with so many chocolate lovers and strawberry fans converged in one room. She looks up to find her mother and aunts (her mother's two best friends, so close they're practically sisters) deftly wrapping the bi chay in rice paper and lettuce leaves freshly plucked from the garden outside. She hears the excitement coming from the dining table, as her dad, uncle, and friend are unanimously rooting for Uruguay to take third. And she studies her cake -- simply assembled and made with love.

She doesn't need me for inspiration today. She's surrounded by it.