Book Shelf: The Little Paris Bookshop

  
I very rarely come across a book that I want to read more than once. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, is one of those books. If your idea of vacation is strolling the streets of Paris, looking over the Seine from one of the many Parisian bridges, and going on an adventure to the South of France, then this is the book for you.

It is a beautifully written book with a touching story. Of course, it helps that the story centers around many of my favorite things: travel, France, books, and food. Another bonus, the book includes recipes for bohemienne de legumes, pistou, lamb cutlets with garlic flan, and lavender ice cream.

I was mesmerized by the characters and their journeys, and delighted by the narrative. If you are looking for a romantic, light, feel good, warm and fuzzy book, then I highly recommend the Little Paris Book Shop.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Loving requires so much courage and so little expectation.”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the The Little Paris Bookshop for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

  
I recently read a fun book titled the Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert. It was a light and fun read. Luella, a talented chef, faces a number of obstacles, including the slow demise of her restaurant due to a food critic’s review. Luella ends her relationship with her manipulative fiancée, but soon starts spending time with Al, a handsome Brit, showing him all the good eats around Milwaukee. Although the book is predictable at times, it really made me want to go visit Milwaukee and eat all the delectable foods described in the book.

The cover of the book features a delicious looking coconut cake. From the very moment I opened the book, I was craving a slice of coconut cake. And since the book includes a recipe for it, I decided to make the cake before I had even finished the book.

  
The white cake is light and fluffy, and the frosting is rich and decadent. The cake has three components: the cake layers, the frosting, and I added a third component. I made a coconut custard filling to sandwich between the cake layers instead of using frosting for the filling, as the recipe calls for. I felt the cake needed something moist and creamy to offset the fluffy cake and the heavy frosting.

Make the cake as stated in the recipe. Then spread the coconut custard on the first layer, making sure to leave about a 1-inch border around the rim of the first cake layer. The filling will spread a little, and you will cover up that remaining empty space with frosting. Place the second layer on top of the first layer with the filling, then frost the cake as directed in the recipe.

You can find the recipe for the cake here.

Recipe for Coconut Custard
Adapted from this recipe by Bobby Flay

¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk)
4 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons dark rum
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, sliced length-wise
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coconut extract
6 tablespoons heavy cream

1.Combine the milk and coconut milk. Add ½ cup of the milk mixture to a small bowl. Add the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, rum, and pinch of salt.
2.Add the rest of the milk to a medium saucepan. Scrape the vanilla bean and add the bean and seeds to the saucepan as well. Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat off. Slowly add the mixture from the bowl into the saucepan, whisking constantly to make sure that you don’t scramble the egg mixture. Once all of the egg mixture is added and well combined, turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Whisk constantly, until the custard has thickened. Whisk in the vanilla and coconut extracts.
3.Transfer the custard to a bowl, until cooled. Alternatively, to make the custard cool faster, spread it on a quarter cookie sheet or a large shallow plate, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
4.Once the custard is cold and firm, transfer it to a bowl, and whisk with a hand whisk or hand mixer. Add the heavy cream, one-tablespoon, at a time until all the heavy cream is incorporated. Return the custard mixture to the refrigerator until very cold and firm.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of the Coincidence of Coconut Cake for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Blueberry Mango Mojitos

  

Blueberry mango mojitos have been my cocktail of choice this summer. I first tried them at Cafe Deluxe in Cleveland Park, where they are served in tall 20 ounce glasses. I just had to try making these at home.These mojitos are fruity and refreshing, everything a summer cocktail should be.

You can make a big pitcher, or you can make individual drinks in 14 ounce glasses. Make sure you have enough ingredients to make more than one round, everyone will ask for more. Salud!

For each drink:

1 ounce of fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
12 blueberries
12 mint leaves
2 ounces mango flavored rum, I like Cruzan
ice
3 to 4 tablespoons club soda
extra blueberries and mint leaves for garnish
In a 14 ounce glass, add the lime juice, sugar, blueberries, and mint leaves. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, gently crush the blueberries and mint leaves. Make sure that the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the rum, 3/4 cup ice cubes, and top with 3 tablespoons club soda. Stir and garnish with blueberries and mint leaves.

Summer Rosé–Club W Edition

  
I first learned about Club W when I was looking for a bottle of Summer Water that I had seen in YesWayRosé’s IG feed. Wine clubs and wine subscriptions are an easy way to take the guesswork out of wine buying. But the the problem with wine clubs is that then you end up with bottles and bottles of wine. Unless you host a lot of dinner parties or drink a lot of wine, bottles of wine  start taking over your space. 

I like Club W because you can put your subscription on hold, and there is no minimum number of months that you have to sign up for. Other fun perks include recommended food pairing recipe cards & tasting notes.

Summer Water was sold out, but Club W had three other rosé offerings:

2014 Sauvetage Rosé from Côtes de Provence, France. Grapes: Grenache & Cinsault.

2014 Casa de Lila Tenpranillo Rosé from Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Grapes: Tempranillo.

2014 Cocomero Rosato from Tuscany, Italy. Grapes: Sangiovese & Syrah.

I can’t wait to try these three wines. If you are interested in Club W, their current offer is 3 bottles of wine for $28.41–50% off regular price. Shipping and taxes are included. No promo code is needed. Keep in mind that promotions change, so take advantage of it soon.

Do you subscribe to a wine club?

Book Shelf: Capture the Moment

CapturetheMoment

I love photography books. At the most basic level, photographs capture a moment in time. Photos can be staged, or entirely candid.

I admit sometimes I go weeks without using my SLR camera. I’ve come to rely on my phone’s camera much more than I used to. It’s just easier to reach for my phone than for my SLR. I’m always looking for inspiration that will help me get back into using my SLR.

Capturing the moment is a book by women, most of them moms, that is not only inspiring and beautiful to look it. It focuses on composition, techniques, and tips to improve your photography skills. In addition, it has creativity exercises at the end of each chapter.

Although it is not a book about food photography, I loved all the creative ways in which topics are presented.

I took out my camera, and spent an afternoon with a friend’s toddler. I picked a topic from the book:

Anticipate Emotion

Rather than asking subjects to smile for the camera, learn to anticipate genuine emotion, watching for laughter to bubble over during conversation, delight during gameplay, or surprise in an unexpected turn of events.

I followed little M around for about an hour. It’s amazing how children have this unbound sense of joy. The smallest thing makes them bubble up with laughter.

This is my favorite photo from that day:

Little M

Although it is not the best one, or the one with the best light, it conveys so much joy that it makes me smile every time I look it at. M was just stomping around, and enjoying every single second that he had at the park

If you are looking for some photography inspiration, I highly recommend this book. It made me find beauty in ordinary every day situations.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Capture the Moment for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.