Tag: Birthday

Chiang Mai Restaurant Review: The Service 1921

The Service 1921, Chiang Mai | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The Service 1921, Chiang Mai | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The Service 1921, Chiang Mai | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The Service 1921, Chiang Mai | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerThe Service 1921, Chiang Mai | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Finding a restaurant in a foreign city can be hard. There are blogs, Trip Advisor, and Google, yes. But how do you know if any of those reviewers or writers have the same taste as you? Maybe they think something is overpriced, but it’s because when they go out it’s to Chipotle (not that there’s anything wrong with Chipotle, trust me). An “expensive meal” here could be anything over $3 a person, since that is what many of our meals cost! Or maybe they thought the service was terrible but really it’s because they’re just rude to servers? Plus, often the only thing that actually motivates people to write reviews is because they had an extraordinarily good or bad experience. Factor into all of this the fact that we are in Chiang Mai. This means I can’t text my friends or post a question to my fellow bloggers asking them about where to eat for a special occasion.

The point is, when it came time to pick a restaurant to go to for my birthday last week, I didn’t go into it thinking “This is going to be amazing!” Instead, I went in thinking, “Well, this could be good or it could be terrible and I have no idea and I hope it’s not awful and expensive.” Super fun birthday thoughts, right? My birthday started luxuriously – Jonah made me breakfast (scrambled eggs and fruit), then we hopped on the moped and drove to one of the fancier spas in Chiang Mai, where Jonah had booked us both a two hour Thai massage. In the evening, we hopped in a taxi to Anantara Resort, a fancy spot on the river, and home to a restaurant called The Service 1921. I had read numerous reviews and websites and decided that this restaurant sounded fun. Why? Read the description below:

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Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting | Serious CrustGraham Cracker Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting | Serious Crust

I know, it’s fall. Or basically winter. It’s cold and blustery here in Portland. The gray and rain have settled in, and I personally am loving it. There’s lots of tea and squash in my life and that’s just my favorite. And yes, probably most blogs are (sensibly) posting all those rich fall recipes that you’ll make for Thanksgiving. This is not one of those recipes. It could be, I suppose, but then your family might get mad that there’s not apple pie AND pumpkin pie AND pecan pie. But they wouldn’t be too mad, because they’d be eating these graham cracker cupcakes. With lime buttercream frosting. How could you be mad?

My friend Mac’s birthday was on Monday, and when I asked him what kind of birthday treat he wanted, he gave me three options: coffee, peanut butter, or lime. What with all the rich, sweet treats that around this time of year, I wanted to go with something bright, something that got me excited about all the winter citrus that my grocery store will soon be carrying. So after a little digging around, these are what I made. You should think about making them too.

Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

Makes 12-14 cupcakes | Adapted from Bon Appetit + My Recipes


Graham Cracker Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 12 graham crackers, pulsed in a food processor), plus 2-3 Tbsp for dusting
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lime
3/4 cup whole milk

Lime Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp lime zest (or the zest of one lime)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 16 oz package of powdered sugar
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1-2 Tbsp whole milk


Graham Cracker Cupcakes

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a small bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lime zest, mix to combine. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk (which you’ll add in two additions), mixing to combine after each addition.

Put roughly 1/4 cup batter in each cupcake liner. Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool in the pan for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish.

Lime Buttercream Frosting

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, lime zest, vanilla, and salt until creamy. Alternate adding the powdered sugar and lime juice in three additions (so you’ll add roughly 1/3 of the box of powdered sugar, mix to combine, then add a tablespoon of lime juice, mix to combine, x3). Then add 1 Tbsp of milk and mix to combine. If the frosting is still too thick, add milk a teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Frost your cupcakes, and sprinkle with the remaining graham cracker crumbs.

Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Ice Cream Cake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Ice Cream Cake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Ice Cream Cake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

When I asked Carmelle what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday this year, and she replied, “ice cream cake,” I was stumped. I mean, not so stumped. I’ve had ice cream cake before. I understand the concept. But I’ve certainly never made one. In a summer cooking camp I did when I was younger, I made a baked alaska, but I certainly wasn’t going to attempt that. My mom used to make a version of ice cream cake with Ho hos: she would take a big metal bowl, line it with slices of Ho hos, fill the bowl with ice cream, freeze it, and then turn it out, so it looked something like this.

So I suppose it was officially time to learn to make my own ice cream cake. I had a choice to make: do I make the kind with an actual layer of cake in it? Or do I make the kind that just has layers of ice cream and chocolate sauce and magical cookie crumbles?

I decided to go with the latter. If I’d had more time I would’ve made my own ice cream, it turned out it was a crazy weekend (full of Valentine’s Day, a bar mitzvah, work, and an Amos Lee concert), so there wasn’t time for that madness. Still though, ice cream making is on my to-do list.

I decided to use a recipe from Not Without Salt (NWS) as a guideline, except I wanted to just buy Oreo crumbs at the store instead of making my own chocolate wafers. At this point, I was thinking more along the lines of cake assembly than actual creation. Don’t judge me. After hitting the grocery store (note to self: NEVER go to Fred Meyer’s on a Sunday again), and not finding Oreo crumbs or any wafers I liked, I decided to make them myself. And because I’ve been eyeing Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate wafers, I decided to go with that recipe. Interestingly, something I noticed after I had already made the wafers was that both Smitten Kitchen and Not Without Salt identify Alice Medrich as the cook behind the recipe for their wafers, though they do differ a bit. What I’m saying is, if you decide to go with NWS’s chocolate wafer recipe, I’m sure it will be just as delicious.

Ice Cream Cake

Note: For your ice cream, I would suggest something smooth like coffee, or with small pieces in it, like mint chocolate chip. Carmelle requested cookie dough ice cream, and while it was certainly delicious to get the chunks of cookie dough, it made it a little trickier to slice and serve.


Chocolate Wafers

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup + 2 Tbl sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
14 Tbl (1 3/4 sticks) butter, softened
3 Tbl milk (higher fat is better, because we’re baking here, people)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup  corn syrup (I used dark because I liked the slight molasses smell to it, but light or golden syrup will work)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup (6 oz) bittersweet chocolate (you can use chopped baking chocolate or chips, whatever is convenient for you)
2 Tbl butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 gallon of ice cream of your choice, or 2 quarts of ice creams of your choice


Chocolate Wafers

First, let’s make the wafers. In the bowl of your food processor, combine the dry ingredients and pulse to mix. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl as well, pulsing again until evenly distributed. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract, and then add it to the bowl with the food processor running. Transfer the dough to a bowl and knead a few times to bring it together. On a piece of parchment or wax paper, form the dough into a ~14-inch log, wrap it in the parchment or wax paper, and refrigerate for an hour, or freeze for 20-30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice the log of dough into ~1/4 inch slices, thinner if you’d like, but keep an eye on baking time. Place them on pans about an inch apart, and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool on the pan for a minute or two, as they’ll break easily. Which, for our purposes isn’t the end of the world, but you will have extras, and maybe you want those to be unbroken.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Before making the fudge, I recommend taking your ice cream out of the freezer to soften.

To make the fudge, combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, and cocoa powder in a pan. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate, butter, salt, and vanilla. Keep stirring so the chocolate and butter melt, and run through a sieve, preferably into a microwave safe bowl, make sure there are no clumps of cocoa powder. My fudge had a little trouble, and decided to separate (super fun!). Jonah had the brilliant idea to just get out the immersion blender, and I would suggest the same should the separation happen to you. But I sincerely hope it doesn’t. Set fudge aside and let it cool down a bit. Because you have to make this cake in layers and freeze between each layer, the microwave safe bowl comes in handy when you need to warm up (and potentially blend) your fudge sauce.

Now let’s assemble the cake. Put about 20-25 of the chocolate wafers in a big ziploc bag, and beat it with a rolling pin, until the cookies are completely crumbled and there are no pieces larger than a pea. In an 8 or 9 inch springform pan, spread 1/2 of your gallon of ice cream, or one of the quarts. Make sure it’s evenly spread, so it’s roughly the same thickness all the way around the pan. Sprinkle half the cookie crumbs on the ice cream, and then drizzle/spread half the hot fudge over the cookie. Put the pan in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to set. After it has firmed up a bit, spread the second half of ice cream over the fudge, then sprinkle over the remaining cookie crumbs and spread over that the remaining fudge. Put the cake in the freezer until you’re ready to serve, at least an hour.

When you’re ready to eat this bad boy, remove from the freezer and run a knife around the edge before un-molding the cake. Serve and enjoy!

Weekend Finds 11:24:13

It has been an interesting week. Jonah has been in Buenos Aires since the 16th, and on Tuesday, I will pick him up at the airport in Seattle, where we’re spending Thanksgiving/akkuh. I spent a few days in Seattle with my dad and Darla doing some belated birthday celebrations, which was incredibly fun. Lots of eating and adventuring. Which leads me to the weekend finds. Getting ready for the holidays, plus a little adventuring.

1. Pumpkin Chai Bread

Pumpkin Chai Bread from Adventures in Cooking // Weekend Finds, Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Pumpkin Chai Bread from Adventures in Cooking

I’ve been waiting to venture into the land of pumpkin flavored things, though I’m not sure why. This pumpkin chai bread made an appearance tonight for commune dinner. It was a big hit. I definitely recommend it for a sweet but not too sweet dessert.

2. Jaipur Avenue Chai

Jaipur Avenue Chai // Weekend Finds, Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Jaipur Avenue Chai

When I go to my dad’s house (which I did this past week while Jonah was gone), they almost always have at least one box of Jaipur Avenue Chai in the cupboard. This chai is so rich and delicious, and I love the flavor profiles. Saffron is my favorite! I’ve been able to find it at a store in my neighborhood called Foster & Dobbs, but my sister, who lives in Berkeley, has been ordering it online. It would make a great host/ess gift for the holidays!

3. Jalapeno Cornbread and Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing

Jalapeno Cornbread and Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing from Local Milk // Weekend Finds, Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Jalapeno Cornbread and Buttermilk Biscuit Stuffing from Local Milk

While there are a lot of ingredients in this jalapeno cornbread and buttermilk biscuit stuffing, and you’ll have to make two other recipes before you can even start on the stuffing itself, this looks absolutely incredible. A delicious southern twist on traditional stuffing.

4. Not-your-normal Hanukkah treats

Frittelle Di Riso // Weekend Finds, Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Frittelle Di Riso

I’ve been so focused on Thanksgivukkah that I’ve almost forgotten that Hanukkah lasts for eight whole nights, meaning lots of opportunities to try some different oil-laden delicacies. This article from the Kitchn has some neat suggestions, but I am particularly interested in trying frittelle de riso.

5. Bar Sajor

 Bar Sajor // Weekend Finds, Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Bar Sajor

This was (one of) my birthday surprise dinner(s) in Seattle. It’s one of Matt Dillon’s restaurants, a spot I’ve been wanting to go for a while now. The space was just beautiful, the staff was amazingly friendly and helpful and fun, and the food was spectacular. I can’t decide if my favorite dish was the chicken liver pate with delicata squash and chestnuts or the caramelized butter ice cream with chocolate chip cookies.