Applying art to real life (or Crafting a birthday party)

25 02 2014

So, some of you might be aware that I have two little boys and that my youngest just turned one. I was chatting a few days ago with my friend Pierre Carles and he asked me to document everything in photos for the creative folks like him. So I did, and this post is written specially for him.
As usual I started thinking of a theme, because that helps me focus and choose a palette. For my first child I chose pandas and a palette based on three colors, and we had a lovely party outdoors. Since my little baby’s birthday is in winter, and what a winter we had this year! we had to do everything indoors, and our apartment is smallish, so I would not have a lot of room to play. Because of this, I decided early that I was going to use the food itself as decoration and to bring in some color to the place (we rent, our walls are too white).

So the theme was frogs, my kids love frogs and they are fun, right? And then I thought “hey, frogs and lily pads go together!” so frogs and lily pads it was. I spent some time looking at cupcakes online and deciding on what colors to use. I chose green and light blue (because of the water).

cupcake tower with #1 candle.

cupcake tower with #1 candle.

So, frog cupcakes: my design, easy stuff, I used glace (confectioner sugar and water) and green food coloring, I used green Wilton candy melts for the eyes and candy eyes that I glued with royal icing, I cut a red candy melt in half for the mouths.

Happy frogs (next time I'll get better quality liners)

Happy frogs (next time I’ll get better quality liners)

For the lily pad cupcakes I followed the instructions here, I made my own yellow sugar using these instructions (beware, you do not get edible glitter, just colored sugar!) I used blue icing instead of white, to give a water look, green would have worked for the leaf idea.

These impressed all the moms!

These impressed all the moms!

Then I made flower lily pads with a flower cookie cutter and a large circle cookie cutter, I took a segment off of it. I later decorated them with royal icing, and placed the flower on top of the leaf.

place one cookie on top of the other to give a dimensional effect!

place one cookie on top of the other to give a dimensional effect!

As I was doing all this, my dad was helping blowing balloons, I asked him to make groups of three balloons and use curling ribbon to give a dynamic effect. The added the tableware in matching colors, and voila! The place was ready to party!

IMG_6777

The palette was cool, I thought it gave a nice effect in the winter time.

 

I am by  no means a professional, so things did not look super polished, but the kids loved them!





Celebrating March: Mardi Gras Meringues, or perhaps St. Patrick’s, and Easter too!

8 03 2011

Each year, my husband’s coworkers throw a Mardi Gras potluck. Since I am a like satellite of his working break room, passing by a couple of times a week for lunch, I usually contribute to the foodism. This year I decided to make meringues, and since it is a Mardi Gras thing I threw in some colors to fit the occasion.

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For the meringue You will need:

2 egg whites at room temperature

Mardi Gras Meringue (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

 

 

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

pinch of tartar cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

food coloring.

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For the filling:

Whipped cream and dulce de leche (similar to a caramel spread, but better!)

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Separate the egg whites and let them sit for some minutes until they reach room temperature. Start whisking with a fork and once they get foamy you can pass to the electric mixer. Add the salt and tartar cream and keep beating. Once the whites start to mount add the sugar slowly, if you do not wait until the whites are mounting they will become creamy but never stiff enough. Add the vanilla extract and beat until the whites form firm peaks.

Separate the whites in three equal parts, placing them in three different bowls. Add food coloring to each of them. You will need yellow, green (blue+yellow) and purple (blue+red). Mix until well integrated.

Place aluminium foil on a cookie sheet with the shiny side up. With a desert spoon scoop a spoonful of colored whites and place them on the aluminium foil. Bake at 200F (90C very low oven) for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven one hour. You can prop the door open with a wooden spoon.

Once they are dry and cool you can take two pieces and paste them together with whipped cream or dulce de leche. Place in an air tight container and enjoy!

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Looking at the photo, they look more like an Easter/Spring celebration thing, but egg whites tend to turn everything to pastels and I was afraid of adding too much coloring and starting to feel the flavor of it.

You can modify the colors to have a St. Patrick’s desert (green meringue and gold cream), spring or Easter (add also blues and pinks), or anything you fancy!





Easy ways of pimping your meals! :)

26 06 2009

I am usually a rather busy person. I teach biology labs in the university, sometimes have to grade a lot (even until bedtime and then some more!), also I am a part time freelance artist, keep touch with the family (something fundamental for me), take care of the husband (another must in my life), try to keep in shape through exercising, take part in art communities, blog and cook. Cooking takes time and sometimes time is what I am missing, so along the way I’ve learned some ways of pimping your every day simple meal for it to taste as if you really put a lot into it.

Favored oils and vinegars. Parragon books.

Favored oils and vinegars. Parragon books.

Let me introduce you today to oils and vinegars. They are easy to prepare, they take some time but I usually prepare them in those days that time is not an issue. I prepare a few of them, usually two or three at a time and keep them in the fridge, when I use them through the weeks until it’s time to make some more.

I got a book “Flavored Oils & Vinegars” by Parragon books, and it has been an inspiration. It not only brings recipes to delicious oils and vinegars, but it also brings recipes that suggest how to use them. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and the photos are just beautiful!

Basil oil:

2 cups of fresh basil leaves.

2 cloves of garlic (I use more!)

1 cup of olive oil.

Wash the basil leaves, pass them through boiling water and blanch for 5 seconds. Scoop out the leaves ad place in iced water. Dry the leaves as much as possible. Chop them in big pieces and place them in a jar. Add the garlic cut in halves.

Heat the oil until warmed (don’t boil!) for 5 minutes. Pour the oil in the jar on top of the garlic and basil leaves. Let cool, cover and place in fridge.

This oil has a great flavor that is not too dominant, but it is very aromatic. I use this delicious oil to garnish pasta, pizza and some salads.

Rosemary and lemon oil:

Rosemary Lemon Oil

Rosemary Lemon Oil

5 spprigs of rosemary (5 inches long)

zest of 2 lemons

1 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Remove the leaves fromt he rosemary, cut the lemon zest into strips.

Pour the oil into an oven proof glass recipient and add the leaves and zest. Place the recipient in a pie plate in the center of the oven and heat for one and a half to two hours.

Let cool for 30 minutes and store in the fridge.

I use this oil to marinate meats and to seal chicken. Also I use it to stir fry veggies and chicken. It really makes your house smell wonderful and it gives such an extra flavor to your meals that people would ask about it!

Rosemary and garlic balsamic vinegar:

Ten 2-inch sprigs of rosemary

4 cloves of garlic (cut in halves)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Wash the rosemary sprigs and separate the leaves. Combine the leaves and garlic in a jar.

In a saucepan heat the balsamic vinegar until it starts to bubble around the edges of the pan. Take out of the heat, wait until it cools down a little and pour into the jar. When it is cool, cover the jar and place in the fridge.

I use this vinegar to marinate meats and paint them before baking. It adds a great and unique flavor to them!

I hope you have enjoyed these ideas! If you have a new recipe on how to use them, please let me know!