I first met Jen Yu in person at IFBC, a couple of months ago. That woman is pure awesomeness… and I may have been just a wee bit star-struck when not only did she know who I am, but she invited me to go out for sushi after the first night with her and a couple of other bloggers.
Okay, so I had quite a few moments at IFBC where I was star-struck, meeting the food bloggers I’ve read for years.
At BlogHer Food, I got to hang out with Jen again quite a bit. (I ♥ her.) On our way to go eat dim sum with Anita and Shauna (we were ditching the BlogHer Food lunch for some awesome dim sum), she mentioned that she was going to be in LA a few weeks later.
“Really? When?” I looked hopeful. “I would love to hang out, if you have time.”
“Oh sweetie,” her expression was apologetic. “We have a lot of old friends who will be upset if they don’t get to see us, so we’re going to be really busy.” (She and her husband used to live in Southern California before they moved to Colorado.) Then she grinned. “But if I have time we definitely will.”
I completely understood, and wouldn’t have blamed her one bit had I not gotten to see her when she visited LA. I was expecting that she wouldn’t have time – like I said, Jen is incredibly awesome, and it’s no surprise that a lot of people wanted to see her. Everyone adores her.
So you can probably imagine my delight when I got an email from Todd and Diane: “Jen Yu is in town! we were thinking of having a little gathering at our studio, a little intimate evening to hang with some good peeps.”
(When I saw the email I gasped, then darted out to the living room where Son was sitting. I must have looked like a little girl at Christmas. “Can we please, please, please go? Jen’s going to be in town and I’d really like to see her. Please?” He said yes. I was so excited.)
I asked if I could bring anything, and Todd and Diane requested that I bring something for dessert.
I immediately got performance anxiety.
(Does that ever happen to any of you? You’re invited to dinner or a potluck or something with a bunch of foodies, and immediately there’s the worry – Am I going to be good enough? Are they going to like my food? What if it’s not ‘gourmet’ enough for them? Oh gosh, what if they hate it? Yeah, I get that all the time.)
Now, I raved about them two years ago, when we were invited to a food blogger dinner party at their house, but Todd and Diane really are the most fantastic hosts, and incredible people. I’m honored to be able to call them my friends.
As usual, the food was so good. They started us off with this ridiculously addictive sweet onion dip, alongside some fresh cherry tomatoes from their garden, fresh passion fruit juice, and rambutans. I can never, ever make that dip at home, as much as I’d love to… because I would eat the entire batch all by myself. It’s so freakin’ good.
Once everyone had arrived, we started on dinner. A fresh salad with sliced apples and pomegranate seeds started us off, and I think Todd made apple sidecars (?) for those who wanted them (neither Son nor I drink, so we didn’t have any).
Then Diane dished out some delicious one-pot chicken and ohmygosh-to-die-for potatoes au gratin. I have a huge weakness for cheesy potato-y things. Oh man. So good.
Just based on the food, it was already a great meal. But what made it a really fantastic get-together were the people there. There were a good number of instances throughout dinner where we were all giggling uncontrollably at something or another. It was a really great evening.
And then… it was time for dessert.
(This is the part where I got very self-conscious.)
I made cupcakes! I used this recipe for yellow cake cupcakes, and really liked it. It’s going to be my go-to yellow cake recipe now – light as air and wonderfully moist, I loved them (and they seemed to have been received well.)
For the frosting, I made a buttercream first… but I’ve never been a huge fan of buttercream frostings. I tossed that, and instead made my default frosting recipe – a ganache that my mom has been making for years. (I have no idea where she got the recipe from.)
Success! Everyone seemed to enjoy the cupcakes, and I caught Diane sneaking some of the extra ganache that had dripped into the container I had used to transport the cupcakes.
It was great getting to see everyone again!
I used this recipe for the yellow cake base of the cupcakes. This ganache recipe is certainly from somewhere… but I haven’t the faintest idea where. My mother has been using it for as long as I can remember, and she emailed me the recipe a few years ago.
- 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- Melt the chocolate and butter together. Immediately mix in the water and powdered sugar.
- Mix until smooth. Pour over the cake. If you want it to be less runny when you pour it over the cake, then wait a few minutes first. It will set (eventually) at room temperature, or you can stick it in the fridge to get it to set quicker.