Posts Tagged 'italy'

Pipe Dream #121: To Forego the Faux Pas

Is it a major faux pas to post pictures of a different country on the 4th of July? I don’t really mind, but I feel like every other blogger in America will be highlighting the virtues of our democratic system. Welp, this will have to do in place of that. I still love fireworks.

Oooh ahhh,

L

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Pipe Dream #115: To Play Better Live – Venice

I think that what really makes a good band is a good show. Seriously, if a band doesn’t sound just as good live as they do on their record, I write them off. It may be judgmental, but I’m all for being picky about music. There is too much awful out there not to be.

It goes for people too. It is my heart’s earnest desire to portray my real self on the internet. Heaven forbid that someday, someone should see me and say, “Wow, her profile picture is way out of date” or “Lauren is just not as witty, charming and cool” as her blog seems to suggest!” Jokes. :]

Ah, Venice. It was the one place I visited where everything was exactly as picturesque and romantic as in the movies. Even Paris didn’t compare. All of these shots portray Venice as it actually is. Rare.

Dream on,

L

Rando Tuesdays: Italian Bakes

The pastry you see above is the inspiration for yesterday’s recipe. In addition to my regular diet of pizza, gelato and pasta, Italy afforded me a constant stream of ‘bigne con chantilly,’ otherwise known as ‘choux avec chantilly’ if you are in France. While I kept up the tradition in France, I first discovered these little balls of joy in Venice. And I was a literal ball of joy after eating like that for three weeks.

Bakeries in Europe are just so different compared to bakeries in the states. In Italy, there was a bakery around every corner, it seemed, and picking up a pastry and espresso for breakfast was the norm. How I wish that were the norm in Minnesota!

Speaking of coffee, I had one called a ‘caffĂ© nuttĂ©,’ which was essentially a double shot glass spread with Nutella inside, then filled with espresso, whipped cream, hazelnut sauce and hazelnuts. My relationship with hazelnuts can never now be the same.

I also had sfogliatelle a number of times. I was so excited to try them after seeing the ‘lobster tails’ on Cake Boss. They were filled with anything from lemon pastry cream to chocolate and taste just as you’d imagine that many layers of delicious pastry to taste.

I think I’ll go running now,

L

Pipe Dream #114: To Stay Flated – Choux Chantilly (Cream Puffs)

I will tell you tomorrow how obsessed I was with these pastries. But until I reveal my ultimate shame, I suggest you find out for yourself how easy this pastry is to work with and how addicting these little babies can become.

Especially if you have some spare strawberries lying around.

I have to say, pastry dough in any form is usually pretty intimidating to me. You know, don’t chill it for long enough or handle it too much and it’s all to waste. But all you really need to watch with choux dough is its consistency. It should be really soft, but not so soft that you can’t pipe it into shapes. They key is to add the eggs slowly and test the consistency often. If you pull a spoon out of the dough, the tip of the peak should fall over. If it stands up, you need more eggs.

Also make sure to bake the choux to an even golden brown–no light sides. They’ll deflate like a week-old birthday balloon if they have light sides. Sad, really. But once that is out of the way, you’re really golden any way you look at it.

Oh dear,

L

Choux Chantilly

Adapted from Food Network

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (for sweet)
1 teaspoon salt (for savory)
5 3/4 ounces flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Boil water, butter, and salt or sugar. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes.

With mixer on stir or lowest speed add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip.

Pipe immediately into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

When cool, whip 1 cup (or more as needed) heavy cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. When ready to serve, cut the cream puffs in half and pipe cream onto the bottom halves of the pastries. Replace top half and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, as the pastry will become soggy once it is filled.

Someone Got It Right: The Cinque Terre

Thank you, God, for this beautiful place. Thank you for giving Rick Steves the gift for writing travel guides. Thank you for grueling 90-minute hikes that are the ultimate reward in workout and photos. It was just what I needed.

Love,

Lauren

Favorite Shots: Interesting Characters

One of my favorite things about traveling is all the odd people you see, doing all the odd things they do. It was the joy of my life to see precious old ladies after months of seeing no one but people my age. They are so dear.

One of my favorite games to play was the “I’m Not A Tourist” game. In London, I would take pictures of “the tourists” and refer to them as “all these tourists” as they passed by like I wasn’t one. I got so good at this game that I actually started to believe it was true. My family is very good at making up games to play. Other families had GameBoys, my family had “Let’s Find Some Hollow Sticks And Make Blow Guns.” I’m grateful.

I had to quit this game in Paris though, because 1) I don’t speak French very well and 2) the French girl I was staying with told me how annoying it was when all the tourists took pictures of her and her friends at the Pantheon on their lunch break. I got a little bit stuck on how neat it is to go to the Pantheon on your lunch break err day, but then I quickly put away my DSLR.

As I perused my pictures upon returning home, I realized that I may have an obsession with photographing the shockingly over-exposed old men on the beaches I visited. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised–another true true stereotype, European beaches are–but I still took photos at every opportunity. I can’t even apologize.

This one is easily my favorite. So typically French–the Speedo, the pose, the shoes…the moustache.

Oh you are so welcome,

L


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