White-Chocolate, Lime FunFetti Cake – WOW!

I had funfetti in my kitchen.   It had been sitting around since a Christmas cooking baking extravaganza with friends.  Being motivated to bake, I decided to use it.  Knowing that to assure the funfetti got the stage it needed, I knew I needed a white cake.  I did not want it obscured by a chocolate batter.

I also usually go bundt since they are easier to decorate and to manage than round, tiered cakes.  But, I did not want the boring old flavorless white cake.  So, I decided to take a bundt cake and jazz it up with lime and white chocolate chips.

I started with the King Arthur Flour vanilla bundt cake recipe and doctored it up. (Note:  If you are a baker, you gotta check out the King Arthur Flour site.  They have fabulous recipes, with great directions.  Plus, it is a good, well-behaved company, the type I love to support.)  First, instead of vanilla, I used lime juice.  I put in about a quarter cup of lime juice.  Next time, I will use the juice and I will add some zest of the lime because I did not think the lime flavor came through strong enough.   I used sour heavy cream because I always have that in my fridge since that is my preferred add to my coffee, before it sours that is.  In addition to the lime juice I added about two-third of a bag of mini-white chocolate chips.  Then, I dumped in a ton of funfetti.

I made a white chocolate glaze for the frosting and then tossed more funfetti over the glaze.  Here is the white chocolate glaze recipe but, please note, I added more chocolate than this and then adapted with a bit more heavy cream until I got the consistency I wanted.

4 ounces of white chocolate chips
2 tbl  butter
1 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbl lime juice
1 -2 tbl heavy cream

I personally found the cake to be super moist, light and yummy.  The funfetti made it an immediate party cake.  My guests loved it.  Its a make again.

Go Greek in Charleston, South Carolina

On a recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina with friends, our first night in town we went to Stella’s for dinner.   The food knocked our socks off.  The serve was – satisfactory but a little strange.

We arrived around 4 or 5 in the afternoon hoping to get seated for our reservations.  We were told we could not have our table because they were not serving dinner yet.  When we told them we were just as happy to sit at our table and drink until dinner was available, motion to sit at the table – denied.  So, we sat at the bar.  The bartender presented as somewhat annoyed and put out that she had to now get four people drinks. It was obvious enough that all four of us remarked on the ‘tude she was throwing off.

But, the bartender’s disposition was of no moment once we tried our drinks.  I had the Santorini –  vodka, fresh blueberries, fresh ginger, lemon and pomegranate.  A refreshing combination of flavors.   But it was tough to chose the Santorini as my drink given the great line up of creative but not over the top drinks.  My friends went with beer and were pleased with the selections.

When the appointed hour arrived and we were able to get seated, our waitress was friendly, willing to share suggests, and stopped us from ordering too much.  She was responsive but did not linger.

The menu is amazing – an extensive line up of Greek classics but also some twists on the classics.  We shared the hummus and tabouli, classic Greek salad and tiropita (spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo).  All authentic, all fresh, all delicious.  For our meals we ordered moussaka, chicken souvlaki and shrimp santorini.  Even though the four of us are a tough crowd to please, we were all thrilled with the food.  The chicken nor shrimp were over cooked.  Everything was flavorful but not overrun with spices or oil.

We had a tough time deciding what we wanted for dinner given so many great choices.   The servings are enormous, which is why the waitress advised that we not order so much.  We had three entres that we shared with four people; and, along with the appetizers and salad, we had too much.  We left some behind.  Had we been home, I would have asked for a doggie bag but we were traveling.

We passed on dessert because we were stuffed.

The atmosphere is casual and welcoming.  The booth were we sat was comfortable and with four seating together, we were not cramped.   You feel like you are in your Grandma’s home – that cozy.

Its a don’t miss when you are in Charleston.



Rumchata – Gotta Try It

Every now and then I try a drink that bowls me over.  When that happens, I go on a kick drinking the beverage on a regular basis.  The most intense and long lasting kick has been my Rumchata kick.

I first had the drink in a pumpkin martini last fall but still have such fond memories of the pumpkin martini and the Rumchata that was in it that I am compelled to write about Rumchata now.  (Especially since every time I open my refrigerator I see the bottle of Rumchata which is quite pleasing to look at.  It is a soft cream color with a gold font, gold lid and a gentle soft shape, a welcoming. relaxing, artistic bottle.)

The pumpkin martini consisted of three of my favorite things – pumpkin, vodka and cinnamon.  I knew this much from the menu so I was sold.  However, when the waitress brought the drink, it was far tastier and creamy than I had anticipated.  I fell in love.  I ordered another and shared both with my mom.  At the close of the evening, I found the bartender and asked her for the recipe for the pumpkin martini.  When she said Rumchata I had no idea what she was saying, she had to show me the bottle.  I took a photo of it and the next day I was at the liquor store buying it.

I then started making pumpkin martini’s through the fall.  Then, when winter hit, I had coffee and Rumchata with Butternut Schnapps.  Then, in the spring, muddled strawberries, Rumchata and vodka.  You get the picture.

I informed a friend about my find.  On her next evening out, she ordered a drink with Rumchata – bartender’s choice.  I do not know what the bartender made her.  But the next day, she sent me an email letting me know she had her first Rumchata experience and loved it.  Attached to the email was a photo of the inside of her fridge – empty (she is no cook, eats out all the time) but for a bottle of Rumchata.  Need I say more about Rumchata?  Enjoy.

Sette Osteria – Consistent, Cool Italian in the Capital City

I have been going to Sette Osteria in Dupont Circle in DC for years and to its location on 14th Street in DC since it opened.  I have never been disappointed and have always been thrilled.  It has no shtick, its not trying to be something its not, and its menu is not expansive – straight up well-done Italian.   It delivers a great meal, great service, great atmosphere ever time, year in year out.

Here is what I love.

The staff is always engaged and informative. They are committed to making your meal enjoyable but they do not hover and intrude.  They know the menu and the wine list.

Both locales have outdoor seating that is even comfortable in the heat of the summer because of the overhead coverings.  Whether inside or outside, the atmosphere is casual, comfortable, with a real buzz but not so loud that you cannot hear you dinner companions.  You never feel rushed.

As for food, the mozzarella has always been fresh and so creamy it could almost pass for burrata. It is usually just served with olive oil, a bit of balsamic, capers and basil which is my preference.  I feel that when a restaurant dresses up the mozzarella or burrata with honey or something along those lines, they are obscuring the great taste of the cheese.

Their salads are never drenched in dressing instead the dressing are light and simply enhance the greens.  My favorite is the arugula, fennel, parmigiana reggiano with a lemon dressing.  The caponata neapolitan salad is delightful with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, basil, oregano with  bits of a crunchy bread and a light olive oil dressing.

Since Sette’s pastas are homemade as are the sauces – you cannot go wrong.  When forced to choose, I always go for the scialatelli – fettuccine, basil, tomatoes, smoked mozzarella and eggplant.

But more often than not, since I am always trying to limit my caloric intake, I go for the grigiata – the grilled seafood with arugula, cherry tomatoes and olives.  The seafood is salmon, calamari and shrimp.  A marvelous Italian meal that is not pasta.  So, I still feel I am treating myself even though I passed on the pasta.

If you go for dessert, the pistachio gelato when they have it – is a cannot miss as is the tiramisu which they always have.

As for beverages, staying true to its mission, Sette offers mostly Italian wines and the prices are reasonable.  My last visit, I kicked off my evening with the blueberry mojito.  It was exceptional with a fresh blueberry flavor and not too sweet.  I was even able to nurse it through my dinner.  The waiter, wanting to make sure we were well taken care of, had advised that the mojito was not too sweet.  A great tip since many who seek a mojito expect it to be pretty sweet.

Finally, Sette has a kids menu – not often found in DC and, a good to know for those visiting in town.  And, the environment is certainly one where kids would feel comfortable, as would the parents since they won’t feel like they are crashing an adults only meal.

Love ya Sette!