Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day after Christmas and here come the leftovers!

One thing about attending a lot of events during the holidays, you can be sure you'll be carrying stuff home.  One of the first events at Christmas yielded doggie bags with beef tenderloin, baked honey ham, Italian pastries and half a Stollen.  The beef and the ham are not appropriate for cake hour but the other two sure are.  So today was our first day for holiday leftovers or holiday treats courtesy of the brother and sister-in-law.
Nice mix of Italian pastries with bark thrown in.
Looks like an entire Stollen!
But it's not - only half!

The Italian pastries and cookies included the requisite cannolis, neapolitains, and glow in the dark colored cookies. There was some homemade white and dark chocolate bark thrown in for good measure.  The Stollen was half of a rum Stollen that was served at the celebration but did not get eaten.  All of these things were deemed perfectly acceptable by the folks at cake hour and consumed rather quickly. The pastries were fine, the Stollen we have had many times before and the bark was a nice sweet treat.
Goes great with coffee and keeps for a very long time!

We look forward to the next leftovers or Christmas presents that were intended for consumption.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Glühwein flows again

We've made this a holiday tradition for cake hour. In effect we are bringing a German/Northern European tradition to Providence.  We serve up some spiced mulled wine known as Glühwein with appropriate Gebäck or baked goods.  In the past years I've managed to bring back baked goods from Germany but for the last few have not made it back.  However that did not deter us as we were able to find some appropriate goodies in Boston and combined with some homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies we put together a good selection to go with the wine.
Good spread for the day!
Commercially acquired Plätzchen..they were fine.
The Mother-in-law's famous oatmeal chocolate chip!
And a few other appropriate products from the store!

All set for a Glühwein cake hour!
Time to start serving!
This wine was prepared at home according to a great recipe that include a dash or amaretto and some rum.  We serve it up in a cup that is rimmed with sugar and garnish it with and orange slice.
The presentation!
Happy Holidays with Glühwein!
Puts a smile on my face!
This proves to be a popular way to serve it.  Several of our newer colleagues from China who had not had this before were very happy to give it a try as you can tell from the pictures.
And his.
Old and new Pediatric BFFs.
The commercial cookies laid out on the tray were adequate and visually approximated the Plätzchen or Christmas cookies that are ubiquitous in Germany during the holiday season. There was no comparison to the taste.  The homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were a big hit and went very will with the Glühwein.  Because people seemed more interested in the drink we saved the Bahlsen Butter Leaves and the Anna's Swedish Ginger Thins for another day.   The most appropriate thing to have would be a Stollen, or traditional German Christmas Cake, but we could not find one this time around.  There will be plenty after Christmas, we suspect.
Sharing a last cake hour.
Very good!
Cheers from the guys!
These two have been around before.

This cake hour marked the final day of one of our graduate students now a full fledged PhD doctor.  For this we took our usual 10 second groupie!  (That's a selfie taken of a group.)
Farewell group for our newly minted PhD.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Party leftovers! Not the same cake!

Last night was the Division of Gastroenterology party at CAV Restaurant. This is a great event attended by lots of people whom we usually see once a this event.  Dessert is always a specially made cake with a holiday greeting.  It is served with some French peach champagne and the two go together very well.  This year we did the same. The cake was the usual good size chocolate creation with Happy Holidays Liver Research Center.
The Christmas Party Scene at CAV Restaurant
Nice looking cake with our annual message!
There are always leftovers - not just of the cake but the food. At some point we pick them up at the restaurant and bring them back to the center.  The remaining cake is then served up for cake hour.  This has been going on for years so feel free to check previous years' posts.
What's under the aluminum foil?
This is what's left of the cake!

Not a bad chunk remaining!
Not quite the same effect as the night before!
This year, however, to our surprise the cake was different. It has usually been a four layer creation known as an Opera Torte.  This year they went for something smaller - only tow layers with a mousse like chocolate filling and frosting.  This change was not bad at all. Although we liked the Opera Torte it could be a little filling. It also took us days to finish it off.

Not as many layers as the usual Opera Torte by any stretch.
Sometimes less is more!
That was not the case this time. The cake itself was moister and the frosting was lighter than the normal butter cream type frosting used in the Torte.  This was very chocolatey and easier to eat.  So despite this being a it of a downgrade it was well received. Can't wait to see if the price has been downgraded!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pioneering Swiss Biscuits from Costco

The Thanksgiving holiday provided the opportunity for one of our colleagues to visit Costco. Ever thinking ahead of his return he picked up something to bring for cake hour. Aren't our colleagues awesome?!  This was a nicely packaged box of a Swiss Biscuit Selection.  The company that makes them, Wernli, goes all the way back to 1905, and since then, if you believe their insert, they have been well-known as the premier biscuit pioneer of Switzerland. It begged the question "what is a biscuit pioneer?"  We took it to mean that whoever started the company was a confection pioneer for making Swiss biscuits in the first place.  Maybe you have another explanation.
Elegant packaging!

Festive bow for our Swiss Biscuit Collection!

Inside they are wrapped...for freshness of course!

The insert also described them as Swiss Chocolate Biscuits which was appropriate in that several of them, but not all, did feature Swiss Milk Chocolate as well as various creams as filling and different kinds of biscuit bases. The five types were Double Dream, Confect, Orange Chocolate Meringue, Baladin and Japonais. We especially like the last two names though we can't imagine why Japonais was used as there did not seem anything Japanese about the product. A little creative license perhaps!
Good looking selection from Wernli via Costco!
The double dream is "Oven fresh short dough cookies, filled with a velvety cream, dipped in Swiss milk chocolate and decorated with the design of the Swiss flag.  That is the one with the cross on top. Oven fresh via Costco?  Hardly but not bad!

Orange chocolate meringue - melt in your mouth meringue cookies filled with naturally flavored orange cocoa cream and (again) enrobed in semi-sweet Swiss chocolate.  We not sure where the heart shape came from.

The double dream with the Swiss cross and the Orange Chocolate Meringue!
Baladin - probably the best - were light crispy wafers filled with a smooth cocoa cream topped with roasted almond slivers and covered - not enrobed - with Swiss milk chocolate.

We like these - the Baladin - the best!
Confect consists of delightful meringue biscuits with a silky cocoa cream filling, enrobed in luscious Swiss milk chocolate!  I like it when they use enrobed to describe the coating!

And lastly the Japonais were crispy and delicate almond meringue cookies filled with a rich hazelnut and almond cream. Without sweetened bean paste are they really Japonais? All in all not a bad choice if you happen to be stopping by Costco in the near future!
Confect and Japonais!
It was a foggy day in Providence town!  Several of our Chinese colleagues remarked that it looked like the typical air quality in Beijing or Shanghai and was a not so positive reminder of home. I suppose in terms of visiting China it is not something to look forward to!

Shades of Shanghai in Providence!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

George Washington would have loved this

Our first President was a fan of cherries and cherry pies.  He did not chop down a cherry tree despite popular folklore. He would have enjoyed this one.  This is pie season so we have seen a few of them.
Not a bad price!

Meant to entice!
The lattice is nice!

How about a slice?
Don't have to ask twice!
The one we had today was a very good size.  As a matter of fact we got two good days of cake hour from it.  It had the typical pie crust with a lattice work top that was sprinkled with granulated sugar.  Inside there were plenty of large sour cherries in the filling.  This means it was not sickeningly sweet and therefore more enjoyable. It was probably one of the better cherry pies that we have had and to think it came from Stop and Shop.  We'll have to check out some of their other baked goods!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some may take the cake but we took the cookies!

We are sometime very clever when it comes to securing things for cake hour. Today was the day for interviews. The interviewers get a box lunch in between the morning and afternoon sessions. Included it said box lunch from Au Bon Pain is usually a cookie or something sweet.  Sensing and opportunity to fill a vacant cake hour slot we removed the cookies from the various boxes and this did we have some treats. 
We raided the box lunches and found these!
White chocolate macadamia nut and M&M cookies...
...with oatmeal raisin and there you have it!
The cookies from ABP are not bad.  Because of their size and consistency - ABP opts for the soft kind - they are a bit like a piece of cookie cake.  We had their standard collection - chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, M&M cookie and white chocolate macadamia nut and were satisfied with that. (One of these days I'll go off on white chocolate but that's another time!)  All in all not bad for petty larceny. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When in need hit the local very busy Starbuck's!

We needed to get something for cake hour but it came down to the wire. Fortunately there is a Starbuck's nearby where you can get a sweet treat if you need one.  I decided to see if they would have something that would be appropriate and indeed they did. There was quite a good selection of coffee cake type things as well as sweeter stuff - brownies and the like. We went with the good old plain cinnamon coffee cake.
Practically a whole cake!
Nice cinnamon crumb topping!
It is sold in squares that are pretty large.  Fortunately the pieces are large enough that by buying four you have the equivalent of a small cake.  By cutting the pieces in half we could spread the wealth. This cake was good - not too sweet and not to heavy. Of course not to heavy means not to moist and therefore a little on the dry side. It didn't matter. It went great with coffee and we would be happy to have it again.
If it look a little dry - it was!
As in the case of this coffee cake, have you noticed how the sweet treats in Starbuck's tend to be on the large side.  From the caloric standpoint one of their scones could feed you for the whole day.  In Boston recently, the food at a Starbuck's on Beacon Hill was smaller in size and more moderately priced.  If this is a trend I would welcome it!  Perhaps it is their response to obesity. The Starbuck's we went to is interesting. It appears to be run by or partnered with Johnson and Wales University. All the barristas and service people had name tags that also identified them ad JWU students. In between classes the place is mobbed and they take orders via walkie talkie and send you up to pay.  It seemed very efficient and probably necessary given the number of people we saw there!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

La retour de la française

The person who signed up for today was one of our prodigal alumna who was hanging out in PVD visiting her cheri. We were expecting some cultural treats for something like a foie gras cake hour but to our surprise she arrived with a home baked pie. Ostensibly she baked it herself!!   HA, HA, HA!!  That was hilarious. Always good for a laugh is our French friend!  Actually the pie was baked by our favorite pastry chef who has brought us many treats over the PhD years of her husband.  Darn that he has moved on to medical school and is not around as much.
She's back and but did not bake!
I admit..I did it! And we're glad you did!
It looks professional because she bakes like a pro!
The pie was delicious, as if we expected anything else.  Nice flaky crust with a bit of saltiness and well cooked apples, not too hard not too soft, with just the right amount of sugar. No one likes a sickeningly sweet pie after all! What a nice treat to welcome our friend back from France for her connubial visit and a reunion of the steadfast cake hour crowd!
Great crust..just the right shade of golden brown!
Well cooked and seasoned apples for a first rate taste!