Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Wedding: the Invitations

We received the official photos from our wedding a few weeks ago so I can start to write and share different aspects of our wedding with all of you! Funny enough, none of the pictures of our invitations are from our photographer, they are just from my phone and from quite a few months back. I just wanted to gather all the wedding posts and post them one after the other.

As I mentioned before, we didn't really have a theme for our wedding. We liked the wild flower look and we liked industrial feeling spaces. So for our wedding invitations, I had an idea in mind...

I absolutely loved and still love Brittany from The House That Lars Built's Scandinavian floral calendar. Having met and assisted Brittany a bit while she still lived in Copenhagen, I got in contact with her and asked if we could work something out for our wedding invitations. The hard part after that was picking fonts for the text!

Our invitations consisted of the actual invitation, a information card, and a RSVP postcard. Everything was held together with a piece of gold glitter ribbon and then sent in a black envelope. Putting the invitations together did not take as long as I thought it would. The invites and cards came cut to size so all I had to do was attach a ribbon, stamp the envelopes with our return address, and try to address the envelopes with my best handwriting.

I really can't stress enough how much easier things go when you have a clear vision in mind of how you want your wedding to look and feel. I knew Brittany's Scandinavian floral design was what I wanted, but I also explored other options on websites like Minted. I absolutely love the watercolor look, floral illustrations, and pretty calligraphy/handwriting and there are many different places that offer really great templates for invitations and are affordable.

It still makes me so happy to look at our wedding invitations. I mean, look at all those amazing flowers and those patterns! If you do to, you really need to get one of Brittany's calendars from her shop!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quick Trip to Brussels

I am an intern at a research consultancy at the moment and one of the projects I have been working on has been an evaluation for the European Commission. So last Tuesday after work, two colleagues and I flew to Brussels for a workshop on Wednesday. Tuesday and Wednesday were really long days but also really exciting. I mean, I'm not even from Europe, but knowing how much the European Commission does in the EU, it was very interesting for me to be in Brussels and at one of their offices. So in 24 hours, I slept in a really luxurious hotel room for 7 hours, had moules frites twice, took notes at an 8 hour workshop, and bought two boxes of chocolate. Oh and we did see Grand Place and well, some of Brussels highways. I have heard that Brussels is a really wonderful place full of great places to eat and see so I hope I get the opportunity to go there again soon! Oh and it is true what they say, chocolates from Belgium are truly amazing and some of the best I've ever tasted!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

I love earl grey tea. Most days I drink it with a splash of milk but if I'm feeling super fancy, I'll turn my tea into a london fog. Instead of drinking my tea the other day, I felt like putting it in some shortbread. When we were in Leeds this spring, we bought some earl grey shortbread cookies and really enjoyed them. After a quick search, I decided to make these earl grey shortbread cookies. These are literally the easiest cookies to make. Still a few more ingredients than these peanut butter cookies, but seriously, so easy. But more importantly, they taste amazing! They are thin, and crisp, and so buttery with a subtle flavor of earl grey tea. In the recipe comments, some people had increased their amount of earl grey tea but I think the tea flavor would be too strong for me. As always, adjust to your liking friends!

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies (barely adapted from Claire Robinson)
Makes a ton of cookies, I didn't count. But I probably got like 40+ cookies.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves (approximately 4 tea bags)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing/powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup or 225g unsalted butter cubed and at room temperature

Claire made her cookie dough in the food processor, but as I don't have one (yet?!), I made mine in my KitchenAid. Just so you know, it is possible either way!

In your mixing bowl, sift together the flour, tea and salt, until there are specks of tea mixed throughout the flour. 

Add the icing sugar, the vanilla extract, and the butter. With your paddle attachment, mix the ingredients together on the lowest speed until a dough forms. 

Place the dough on a long piece of parchment paper and shape into a log. Tightly twist each end of the paper and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F or 170C. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the log into your desired thickness. I realize now that the recipe said 1/3 inch thick and I think I was aiming more for like 1/8 inch thick. Oops! Either way, slice to your desired thickness. Thicker = fewer cookies, thinner = more cookies. Place the sliced dough on the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges of the cookies are brown. As my cookies were very thing, that took 8 minutes or so. But if you slice them a bit thicker, you may need up to 12 minutes. 

Once the cookies have browned along the edges, remove them from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. 

Store the cookies in an airtight container and they should last up to a week. 

I think these earl grey shortbread cookies are perfect for this rainy fall weather here in Copenhagen. Enjoy and share some with your friends and loved ones! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with the husband's family. I thought it would be fun to invite them over for a Thanksgiving dinner as this holiday isn't celebrated in Denmark. As we were only 5 people and I really did not feel like hunting down and cooking a turkey, we had a chicken Thanksgiving dinner!

It was so nice getting to share this Canadian tradition with them. And cooking all of our own food was fun as well! Especially since everyone enjoyed everything! For dinner we roasted two chickens from this recipe, I made this apple and herb stuffing, we had a side of green beans as well as one of our favorite cauliflower recipes (browned butter and panko bread crumbs!!!). And to finish it all off, I made this lovely sweet potato buttermilk pie. Three Smitten Kitchen recipes in one day, I clearly love Deb and her food!

Now it is Monday and I am off to work but Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating today! I hope you're enjoying this long weekend with family and friends!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Lovely Braided Loaf of Challah Bread

I am slowly making my way into the world of bread baking and having seen a few different challah recipes on Smitten Kitchen's blog, I knew that this beautiful braided bread was something I needed to try. I was particularly interested in making this Jewish bread, which is mostly eaten on Sabbath and holidays, because Deb from Smitten Kitchen compares it to brioche in that "it is a slightly sweet bread enriched with both eggs and fat". I was pretty much sold after that.

Braiding the challah dough was super fun and not as difficult as I thought it would be. I looked at different ways to braid the bread online but the easiest way to do it was just to watch this video while I was in the process of braiding. The gorgeous shine from the bread also comes from Deb's suggestion of doing a double egg wash, once after you have braided it, and again right before putting it in the oven. Seriously, this bread is almost too pretty to eat!

I really enjoyed this bread and I loved the slight sweetness to it. We brought some to a light lunch with our friend B and it paired really nicely with the serrano ham she served that day. We also had it with a butternut squash soup. And lastly, I was waiting for the bread to go slightly stale after a few days to make challah french toast. Delicious! Seriously, I love a good breakfast dinner and challah french toast was perfect.

Best Challah (Egg Bread) (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 2 loaves

22 g fresh yeast (or 3 3/4 tsp active dry yeast) / fresh yeast is what is most common here
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
5 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp table salt
8 cups flour (might be a little less or a little more)
Poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the fresh yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and lukewarm water. Whisk oil into the yeast and then beat in the 4 eggs, one egg at a time. Add the rest of the sugar and the table salt and beat again. Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture. When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.

In your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, knead the dough until smooth, about 8 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand on a floured surface. When smooth, form the dough into a round ball and return to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size. Once it has completed its first rise, punch down the dough and let it rise for another half hour.

Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 2. Divide each half into another 6 strands. Watch this video and braid away! Place the braided loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with a few inches in between them. Beat the remaining egg and brush it on the loaves. Let the loaves rise for another hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F or 190C and brush the loaves with another coat of egg wash. Sprinkle the bread with sesame or poppy seeds, if using them. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. The loaves should also sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom if they are ready. Cool the loaves on a rack. Store the bread in an airtight bag or wrapped up really well to keep it from drying out and going stale too fast.

What's your favorite bread recipe? What do I need to try baking? I would love suggestions!