Sunday, March 6, 2016

Homemade Caramel sauce - you'll never buy the bottled stuff again!

We held a small dinner party this past weekend. The menu included a roasted leg of lamb and grilled veggies. The finishing touch was a salted caramel cheesecake, which as you can see by the photo was a huge hit. While that might already sound too decadent, what really set this cheesecake apart was the homemade caramel sauce. It was amazing! There are only 4 ingredients, but the technique definitely requires some preparation.  Many of our guests asked for the recipe, so here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of sea salt to taste
 


Directions

  • Place sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until sugar begins to melt. Continue stirring until the sugar melts completely, begins to darken and all the chunks are dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stop stirring and continue to cook until the sugar begins to smoke and turns a dark shade of amber, 3 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and wait 30 seconds.
  • Whisk in butter until melted and combined. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream, taking care because it can bubble over. Sprinkle in salt and stir to combine. Transfer sauce to a jar and cool completely before refrigerating.
You'll definitely want to make this in a medium saucepan because the melted, molten lava sugar really bubbles up when you add the butter. It's also helpful to use a rubber spatula to stir the sugar while it's melting to evenly scrape the pan.

There's a really great video on the Allrecipes website that shows all of the steps. Believe me, you'll want to make this as soon as possible Pour it on top of ice cream, French toast, apple slices, cakes, brownies, cookies.... the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!
http://allrecipes.com/video/1412/salted-caramel-sauce/

Friday, March 4, 2016

Vintage photos of St. Louis from 1904

Saint Louis has a rich, vibrant history that fascinates both its visitors and its residents. The city recently celebrated its 250th anniversary. It was founded in 1764 by Pierre Lacl├Ęde and Auguste Chouteau.

St. Louis City Hall in the early 1900's
Many of our guests ask why our bed and breakfast is named "Napoleon's Retreat" (see our first blog post if you're curious!) and inquire as to whether Napoleon ever stayed here. Napoleon never set foot on American soil, but he did sell Missouri to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1800 to fund his wars in Europe.

It surprises some folks to hear that St. Louis was the first U.S. city to host the Olympics in 1904 -- beating out the bid of our rival city, Chicago. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World's Fair was also held in 1904. The impressive bird cage at the St. Louis zoo was built for the World's Fair. Construction of the "Palace of Fine Art", modeled after the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was timed to be completed before the 1904 World's Fair. It's now known as the St. Louis Art Museum.

Union Station in 1904
When we first moved to St. Louis in 2007, we were impressed by its stunning architecture. We'd never seen so much brick! We now advise our guests to watch their steps while walking through downtown, as we often find ourselves looking up at the amazing architectural details instead of noticing when we're stepping off of a curb. Many of the buildings downtown date back to the early 1900's. It's surprising to see these old, intricately designed buildings now juxtaposed with modern architecture throughout our fair city.

If you are fascinated by the photos shared here, visit this website to view more of St. Louis as it looked in the early 1900's, with its dirt roads and horse-drawn carriages. http://www.vintag.es/2016/02/missouri-more-than-100-years-ago-66.html
Better yet, plan a visit to St. Louis and see these gorgeous buildings for yourself!
Washington Avenue west from Eighth Street, 1903