Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hubba, Hubba....hard at work...

So, I have been lacking in any baking posts lately because I have been a busy bee in the kitchen at home and at work. I plan on posting more about my Christmas baking adventures..after the New Year...

These last two weeks have given me many projects, from the Saucy Eggnog that almost sprouted hairs on my chest to some Cupcakes for the big O's #1st Birthday ...with some secret surprise Christmas goodies in between...

....My die hard Sausalito reader might be familiar with one of these :)

For now, go eat and drink and be merry.


  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter Storm ’06, again….


Geez, here I thought this was a food/travel blog, and I am finding that I want to post about the weather, again.

This post was supposed to be about the Apple Bread I made last weekend, reminiscent of the ol’ Crusty Loaf Bakery…may she rest her soul..but, instead, I am drawn to the fact that we pretty much had a Hurricane the other night.

Yesterday morning, I was less than smart, but a damn devoted employee. I decided to get an earlier start on my workday. It has been crazy busy and on Friday we were supposed to have a luncheon. Since business has been booming so much, the kitchen has like 20 new hires…well, more like 3…but the space is so narrow, that once the inflow of people commences, I find that I am squeezed out of my little corner of counter space, out of the ovens, moved from the range…it is a hard transition sometimes. I get so used to having the whole kitchen.. a place to spread out my doughs, mixers and tools…but, come noon, these beloved spaces fill up, and then, the spaces in between those spaces fill up too. My level of productivity seems to halt, when I find that I am skirting between, behind and below everyone, just to grab a mixing bowl, or just to get into the oven to grab a bubbling Pear Crisp.... SO, lately, every once in a while, I wake at an ungodly time (4:08am to be exact) just so I can have peace and space for that much longer, before the big guns come to squeeze the little pastry lady out..

Maybe I should prelude a bit now. So, on Thursday night, there was a Hurricane.
Well, maybe not a hurricane to be exact, but in some areas in the state, they did track ‘Hurricane Force’ Winds. There was a bit of wind, and some areas were hit worse than others. Luckily, we were spared in many ways. The two LARGE trees in our back yard didn’t come tumbling down, our basement wasn’t flooded and we didn’t lose our power. We were lucky. So, when I woke up on Friday, I didn’t really think anything was amiss. I preceded to get ready for my day, and then headed out the door to work..

I think I realized that something wasn’t quite right, when I drove about a block, and I realized that it seemed really dark out. Yes, I realize it was only 4:30, but it was SO dark. There were no streetlights on. Then, when I approached what normally is a stop light, it too was out. I turned onto a main throughfare, one that is usually tackily lit with signs for car dealerships, seedy bars, strip clubs and the like…and the eeriest thing, it was all dark. And, so I drove to work, in the dark, never having to stop once for a red light…or any light for that matter.

I turned onto the woodsy and curvy road that I normally take and when I saw a large tree completely blocking the left side of the road, I started to wonder if this ‘storm’ hadn’t been a little more serious than just a few non functional street lights.

I think that what I encountered next was something beyond anything that I have ever seen before. I can’t say that I have been in areas where many natural disasters have occurred before, (aside from the ’89 San Francisco earthquake)
but what made this so eerie and scary to me was that I felt like I was one of the first people to come on the scene of the storm aftermath. As I drove up the hill, I could barely see the road. It was completely blanketed with pine needles and tree branches. Every block or two, a downed tree would be blocking part of the roadway, and I would have to maneuver my way around it. I think what scared me the most was seeing the downed power lines just hanging limply on the side of the road, swaying in the wind. I then came to an intersection where the power lines were literally hanging about 10 feet above the ground. It was at this point that I knew that I was crazy. I mean, shit, I couldn’t believe what I was doing, just so I could get to work a little earlier, just so I could make a few cheesecakes and some bread. It really made me think. What I was going to do was really so trivial, compared to the fact that I was quite possibly putting my life in danger, just to get there. I pulled over into a parking lot at this point, because I really thought about just turning around. It so wasn’t worth it to be electrocuted, was it? I let a car pass and saw that he cut through the parking lot and was able to maneuver around the downed lines, and when I saw that he was ok, I followed suit. When I drove on, I continued to pass many downed power lines and fallen trees, and then many huge trees that had fallen and were literally suspended in the power lines. This, too, was pretty scary. The thought that the lines could break at any moment, and the tree would come crashing down.

So, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when I arrived at the restaurant, that we had no power. That was yesterday. And, this morning, after retracing my steps and finding that the power still hadn’t returned, it has left me feeling lucky that I have the warmth of my house, not too mention, a Saturday off.

I feel very fortunate. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 11, 2006

Early to Rise and Ready to attack (the mall)...

On Sunday, I wanted to beat the crowds to the mall, so I headed out early...
With no traffic on 520 and views like this, even if between clouds of gray and drizzle, I realize just why I love it here..


Upon arrival in Bellevue, I headed to my new favorite spot. Koots Green Tea. Watch out Starbucks. Koots is a Japanese Tea House that has begun its spread to the U.S., with its first store in Bellevue and another soon to follow, which will be located above the NEW Whole Foods!

I am a big fan of this place. The first time I went, I had a Jasmine Bubble Tea, which was so good and not too sweet, like some of those teas can be. On Sunday, I branched out and tried this nuclear thing...


It may look cancer inducing, but it is actually a 'cancer fighting' Matcha Tea Latte, with just a hint of White Chocolate. It may sound strange, and I think that it took me a few sips before I decided that I really did like it.

So, the next time you are in Bellevue and need a little green fix, try this. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Where in the World?

This is a silly thing, but it is relevant to the next entry that I wanted to post. I know that I have some readers out there, but sometimes I am not so a baking quandary? do you have an excess amount of egg yolks and you just dont know what to do? I want to hear from you! or, if you prefer, indulge in my map game....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter Storm ‘06

I love Seattle. I love that the newscasters here are so dramatic. Whenever a big storm front drops buckets of rain, the news begins with the heading like a horror flick…….. enter, scary music…..Winter Storm 06’…..then the footage rolls, flashing the carnage, or well, the floods, followed by the snow and ice and all the stranded drivers, stopping to put chains on, in less than 1 inch of snow. I will admit and give Seattle credit; I mean, we don’t usually get snow, so most people don’t know how to handle it, and I was one of them until this year, now that I have an Ithaca winter or two under my belt. I wouldn’t say that I am an experienced snow driver, but I have to laugh, in the land of SUV’s and Subaru AWD’s, when I see that people have chains on, when really, there isn’t much snow at all on the roadways…just a little ice.

The other morning, I was driving very cautiously to work and I passed car, upon car, upon car…abandoned haphazardly on the side of the road. Schools have closed, and at the restaurant, reservations were cancelled, staff members were MIA…and, today, the restaurant declared a snow day*. This never happened in Ithaca, even when I drove to work in the morning after a night of blizzard. I remember even trying to manuever into a parking space at Pangea, before the snow plow had come. I parked and literally had to dig myself out of the car and to the back door to the kitchen. It is interesting to think of how life goes on in certain places, how so much snow can be an everyday normality, and in other places, the city just grinds to a halt. I have to say that I like it though. That the city grinds to a halt. In the winter when snow shuts down the roads, I have fond memories of sledding down Queen Anne Hill on a slab of cardboard while the rest of the Queen Anne residents partook in some skiing, couch sledding or just watching with Hot Chocolate in hand. It is on these kinds of days that I feel such a sense of community. Every one comes out of hibernation and is having fun. It seems to create a bond between people, especially in the winter months, which can be so dismal here. I think too, that people here just welcome a change in weather from the typical Seattle winter. It is nice to have a break from the rain, especially this month, where we are ever so close to breaking the 1933 record for the most rainfall in one month..EVER. (15.33 inches)

*So, back to the fact that I have today off.. I have already made my rounds for the day..a little window shopping, a hot chocolate, an afternoon jog that I havent gotten around to just yet….and, I really am in the mood for some warm and freshly baked Molasses cookies.

I think that jog might have to wait.

  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tis the Season...


Since it is now officially Christmas Season, kicked off by the
annual stampedes of crazed Walmart Shoppers, I was recently inspired to make my favorite Ginger Stout Cake. I love this cake. It is adult in nature due to the Stout and the dark Blackstrap Molasses, and like many oil based cakes and quick breads, it tastes even better on day 2.

I had this grand idea of ‘spicing’ it up a bit, and I thought how great it would be to add some cranberries, candied ginger, and make it into a cranberry upside-down cake, baked in a bundt style pan.

So, I very generously greased the pan with butter, added a hefty dose of some cinnamon sugar, then I piled the cranberries on top, and I poured in my cake batter. What happened next was no longer in my control, but I had to roll with it. The cranberries which were supposed to remain on the bottom nestled in my sugary buttery mixture, quickly bobbed to the top of the batter….not exactly what I was expecting…

I baked the cake anyway, and when I unmolded it, I was amused to find that the candied ginger, that I had anticipated would be flecked throughout the cake, had made its way to the bottom, nestled in that buttery sugary goodness, while the cranberries stayed suspended at the top.

Umolded and upside-down, the ginger, cinnamon sugar and butter created a nice crunchy chewy texture on the top of the cake, while the cranberries, now pooled at the bottom, created a nice tart contrast to the cakes subtle sweetness.

I think a new cake has been born.

  Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Forgotten Jewels.



Growing up, I think that I disliked Persimmon, even though I never actually tried it. I know, that is just not fair. I think the slimy flesh never did it for me; and for some reason, we always had a loaf or two of persimmon bread from the holidays, hidden in the depths of our freezer,only to be rediscovered come July.

To think that all these years have passed and I never once gave it a chance.

Thanks to our new produce delivery, we received two Fuyu Persimmons in our basket last week. Curious, I cut one open the other night.

I actually really liked it.

It has a very mild flavor, a mild sweetness, and sort of resembled an avocado flavor to me, but in a fruitier way. I have to say, I feel sorry for the Persimmon. Because of people like me who never give it a chance, it may never get its time to shine. But, at our house for those two nights, it shone. In two very good salads, accompanied by walnuts, pears, feta and mixed greens, it did very well.

I would say that the Persimmon stood its ground.

My next Persimmon encounter will be at work this week when I will attempt to forgo my stereotype of turning it into pudding or bread.

Persimmon, I hope to have loftier plans for you.

*Update…Two days later and I have made a couple Persimmon discoveries.
First, it makes a pretty decent Sherbet, with a mild sweet flavor and lovely color. Second, when I attempted to make a cake with it, its subtle flavor was all but drowned out. Funny, the cake was nice and moist, but it reminded me of a very bland pumpkin bread. Needless to say, my debut Persimmon cake didn’t land on the dessert menu tonight, rather, it made a tasty treat for the staff family meal….

* a note about Persimmon. For use in puree's or in breads or cakes, be sure that the fruit is VERY ripe. The slimier the better. If you want to use sliced in a salad, use a slightly less soft (tomato shaped) FUYU Persimmon. Fuyu Persimmons aren't Tannic, so they can be eaten when slightly more firm. The Hachiya Persimmon (acorn shaped) on the other hand, and very Tannic, and they have to be very soft before eaten.

Forgotten Jewels, Part 2.

I admit, up until a few years back, I don’t think that I had ever really seen one, let alone use it in a dessert. It is a funny looking thing, the Quince. It resembles a cross between a Pear and an Apple, yet it seems like an antique somehow. It looks like a fruit that has been around for a while. While in the Pear and Apple family, the Quince is a bit like an Apple on Steroids, in some cases nubby and nobbly…and in other cases, covered in a loose fuzz.

Hmm, sound appealing?

I think the first time I realized the potential in a Quince was when I smelled a very yellow one.

It smelled beautiful.

I think that Quince scare people because you cant just bite into one, or eat it raw in any case. (you can, but you don’t want to.) For the beautifully floral and honeysweet flavor to come out, you need to poach it. Yes, it may be a little more consuming, but believe me, it is worth it.

Vanilla Poached Quince

1 Quince, peeled cut and cored

Bring to a boil with,
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, until tender.
*it helps to lay a paper towel across the poaching liquid, to keep the Quince submerged, so it poaches evenly.

Here is hoping this post will aid in convicing my dad to throw a few poached Quince into his world famous Holiday Apple Crumble.... Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Disclaimer....
My last post may have left some, including myself, to wonder whether I was having indigestion for a reason. I admit, it is less than exciting, the fact that, alas, I am NOT pregnant! Funny how the rumors begin though :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



I always wondered when this would happen.

After years of Apple Jacks, of Halloween candy that I would count nightly and hide in jars so that my family wouldn’t steal it, and if they did, I would know EXACTLY which kind was missing..the years of Oreos, those warm Diet Coke's for breakfast.. And then, all the Novocain, cavities and fillings….and now, all the sweets, nibbles of cookies, spoonfuls of ice cream and bites of cheesecake, merely 30 minutes after I awake each morning. There was a time when I looked forward to coming to work for my morning biscotti and coffee. More recently, it is more of a chore, to test out all my goodies for freshness every morning. Usually, it ends up with a pile of partially noshed sweets. I can only handle one bite of each, and by the time 8 am rolls around, I have..ugh..had my sweet fix for the day.

Well, now, it seems that my stomach is in revolt.

It is telling me:

NO, It really upsets me when you drink coffee..’ (damn.)

‘And um, NO, I actually really don’t like Ice Cream, Panna Cotta OR Cheesecake..’(damn, damn, and damn)

‘And NO, I am not loving Chocolate…and, don’t even try to sneak in that swig of wine while you drown your sorrows.’

‘But, hey, don’t despair! I really LOVE that Yogi Peppermint Tea. so soothing. And, YUM, I really love those noodles, but, hey now darling, hold the sauce!’

This new turn of events has made my job all the more interesting..

Stay tuned for the diagnosis…. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Apples…Buckles, Crumbles and Cast Iron Pans..


For the last few weeks, we have been getting a produce delivery, which in it self will be a separate blog entry. In these deliveries, we get a bountiful supply of seasonal fruits and veggies that we live off of all week, until the next batch arrives. Lately, we have been getting apples, a fruit that I like just fine, but love even more, when it is baked into a crisp, crumble or pie. For some reason, I have never been a raw apple eating person. I think it is because my teeth are so damn sensitive, that it hurts sometimes, biting into and chewing an apple, especially if it is cold and tart.
(the thought even makes my teeth hurt)
When we received some Granny Smith’s, the Mother of all tart apples, in our bin this week, I decided that something needed to be done to remedy this dire situation.

SO, I looked in one of my favorite basic baking books for some inspiration. As I was looking, I came across an interesting section on comfort desserts. I imagine that you have heard of a cobbler, a crumble and a crisp? Well, do you know the difference between them? Did you know that there are desserts out there with the names of Slumps, Grunts and Buckles? How about the Pandowdy?

Who names a dessert, the Pandowdy?

Here is the run down…

A Crumble topping contains oatmeal, Crisp toppings do not.

A Buckle is basically a streusel topped fruity coffeecake. The name comes from the action of the cake batter as it bakes, buckling and rising around and above the sinking fruit, to create a craggy surface.

A Grunt and A Slump is basically the same thing. Fruit cooked in a cast iron pan with spoonfuls of biscuit dough atop. The name Grunt comes from the sound the concoction makes as the fruit cooks and the bubbles make their way up through the biscuit topping..then, once served, the dessert Slumps on the plate in a heap of sweet juicy goodness.

A Cobbler is fruit baked under a blanket of crust or cake batter. The name supposedly comes from the phrase, to Cobble, which means to put together roughly. This could mean the way the batter/dough is layered over the fruit, or the fact that the dessert can be thrown together in a hurry?

And, my favoritely named, the Pandowdy, is a combination of pie and pudding. A fruit based filling is baked in a casserole dish covered with a pie crust on the bottom and top. After baking the top crust is “dowdied” or broken up so that the parts of it are immersed in the filling, soaking up the liquid of the fruit. This leaves you with a pudding like dessert.

Hmm, now, for MY dessert.

I am further inspired by the fact that we received a cast iron pan for our wedding. (thanks AbbyKens!) and that we also received a Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, written by my first employer, Julie Hearne. (thanks Carolyn!) I owe Julie many thanks for being the first to introduce me to the great world of food and cooking, as a profession. She was the first to take me, freshly out of college and very green, under her wing. SO, I felt it my duty to support her by buying her book…or, well, registering for it, and hoping that we would get it..

SO, you might see where I am going with this.

I have some very tart Granny Smiths, a new, partially seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, and inspiration from two great cookbooks…

Today, I will be making an Apple Grunt/Slump, or maybe I should call it..


Apple Grump.



After making and consuming the Grump, I have come to the conclsion that it is almost identical to a shortcake. It was good and tasty, but I do think that it seemed a little naked without that scoop of Pumpkin Gelato... Posted by Picasa
The I love Squash Chronicles, part 2..


Sunday Dinner:
Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Toasted
Macrina's Vollkorn Bread..

  Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 23, 2006



Most anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of winter squash…and, if you didn’t, well, there you go.

I love squash.

I love everything about it, from the cucumber like smell when you cut it open, to the beautifully colored flesh and the decorative bumps, knots and stripes.. And, don’t even get me started on those seeds.

Damn, I love those seeds.

You might have guessed then, that I love to carve Pumpkins as well?
You guessed right. I am not a huge Halloween fan…but, I will always carve a pumpkin…and usually buy a bag of candy…

In my younger years, when I used to carve out the pieces of pumpkin that made the hollowed out eyes, nose, and mouth.. I would salt them and then eat them.
Yes, I would eat them raw.

Then, of course, I would roast the seeds.

In College, one of my staple meals, when I wasn’t eating what I dubbed, ‘sh*t in a burrito’ (which was basically black beans, tomatoes, cheese, and rice in a tortilla)…most likely, you could find me eating squash. Not raw, this time, but roasted with a pat of butter, a little salt and a lot of brown sugar. Usually, it was Butternut or Acorn. But, I did live on the edge at times and branch out for a Delicata.

Not all of my cooking ventures with Squash have been so delightful. Carrie, just last week as we carved pumpkins, reminded me of the time when I had this glorious idea of making squash soup, baked in a pumpkin. The scary part wasn’t necessarily the hollowing out and baking of a pumpkin, with soup inside, it was the fact that, when I found that I didn’t have the horseradish the recipe called for, I decided to use equal parts of Wasabi instead..

hmm, It is in the horseradish family, right?

If nothing else, the soup cleared our sinuses, and poor Carrie was such a sport, telling me as she practically gagged and beads of sweat formed on her upper lip, that the soup really wasn’t TOO bad. (what a good friend!)

..As we venture into the thick of Winter Squash season, be on the lookout for more Squash related posts…I plan to turn it into everything from bread, to pie to…you guessed it….gelato… Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I have a hard time pinpointing my all time favorite baking activities, but lately, I think that making Gelato is a front runner.I am not sure if it is just my love of ice cream in general, or the challenge of making each gelato, even better than the last.

Last week, a gelato of mine was dubbed ‘sensual’ by a food reviewer, which brought a smile to my face. I mean, who knew, that gelato had a sensual side?

I am not sure that I did.
It certainly can be sweet, and at times smooth as silk…but, sensual?

Hmm, give me that spoon, let me try it again….

I love making it, because most anything can be made into gelato. I find it a fun challenge at times, to use up things no longer suitable for dessert…

hmm, lets see what we have in here...
Those ‘not so fresh’ mint leaves sitting idle in the fridge, since before I left for my wedding..

Nutty brittle that has fallen victim to humidity..

A piece or two smooshed cheesecake from last nights special..

Almost burnt hazelnuts forgotten in the oven by the busy line cooks..(believe it or not, they give great flavor steeped in cream)

Left over chocolate frosting from that special birthday cake for 2..

and, wouldn’t you know..todays featured gelato is being made with a milk caramel that I used as a filling for a previous post?

who would have thought that cleaning out the fridge could yield such sensual results?

I didn’t, until now.

  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Breakfast is Served.


One of my favorite things ever is granola and yogurt. I eat it all the time, as my breakfast. Only occasionally, do I tire of it..and when I do, toast and peanut butter briefly take center stage..

When we were traveling, I had the extreme pleasure of tasting some really great yogurts, especially in Switzerland and in Greece. In Switzerland, they had some very unique flavors, all of which I had to try at least once. One of my favorites was Birchermuesli, yogurt mixed with muesli. So you can imagine, that granola was hard to find here. Instead, I had my Muesli.

In Greece, I needed not to search for granola, because the yogurt was so amazing and thick, that all I needed to complete the meal was some orange marmalade, or a drizzle of thick amber honey. It was heavenly, and I find myself in search always, for that thick, thick ‘may-be-mistaken-for-sourcream’..yogurt. (Trader Joes now carries it!)

We live close to Whole Foods, which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. I love it, love it, love it….but only until I breeze through the check out line. I am always amazed at how much I spend here, (isnt it dubbed ‘Whole Funds’ or something?) It sometimes makes me a little angry, but as an addict, I keep going back, because it is here that the most beautiful produce lives, it is here that a salt bar exists, and it is here that provides me dinner on most nights from its prepared food section, when I am just not feeling like cooking. I could go on about the Whole Foods experience, because each time I go, the experience lasts at least an hour.

So, I am not surprised in the least to see an amazing aisle of granolas, all handmade and local, of course. Only 10$ for an ounce or something ungodly like that. Funny thing is that I am always tempted by things like this, and usually here, I give in to all these tasty temptations, but not when it comes to something like granola? I mean the packaging is all cute, and the product boosts to be all natural and organic with flax seeds and clusters of goodness and this and that, but then you turn the package around and see just how much fat is added. And, fat tastes good. But, there is usually a lot of it…

So, I got fed up, here in the aisle ‘o’ cereal, and decided to conquer this one myself, damnit!

So I did.

Vanilla, Cranberry and Almond Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats ( I used a rye-barley-oat-wheat hot cereal from Trader Joes and it worked well)
1 c rough chopped almonds
½ c brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Toss the above mixture together and set aside..

2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (I cut back on the oil from the original recipe, which said to use 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat the above ingredients and pour over the dry ingredients. Spread in a baking dish..13x9x2 worked well…and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. At 25 minutes, mix in the cranberries…

1 cup dried cranberries

*because of the lower oil content, this recipe doesn't have as many clusters of goodness, but it is still pretty darn good! Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Cake of Three Milks…

I am glad that I am Lactose Tolerant, because this cake is darn good.

This is the cake that my boss favors over any other, and, I guess it is one that I have become known for in the CJ restaurant circle. I was politely begged to make this one for the 2nd birthday party of Oliver, although it was made pretty clear, that there would be enough cupcakes to go around for the kids at the party…

I think that in my absence from CJ, the ‘Tres Leche’ took a hiatus as well, because I don’t think that it was ever resurrected for the menu while I was away, and it never graced the menu at Pangea, while I was in NY. (I now wonder why that is…I guess I had forgotten just how tasty it was..)

It is formally referred to as a Tres Leches Cake, a sponge cake drenched with cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk and topped with fluffy meringue. When I say the cake is drenched, I mean sopping wet, like a dripping wet sponge. It is amazing just how much liquid a cake can soak up. In my own way of gilding the lily, I add layers of Milk Caramel.. made by cooking condensed milk for ions... Technically then, my TRES leches becomes CINGUE leches, if you count, too, the addition of milk in the cake batter itself.

Milk Caramel..
Fluffy Meringue...
 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back in the saddle again...

Post kauai wedding bliss and I am feeling refreshed and somewhat settled down again...almost time for a another blog post..stay tuned...

And, can you believe it? whisk&wander turns one year old!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another Ode...this one, to my Mixer.
(you have to search the archives to find the first ode..)

About 6 years ago, My parents bought me a Kitchen Aid KSM-5.. (for the kitchen professional, in case you are wondering..)

The thing was so beautiful, so powerful and heavy duty, yet the power and speed switch kept breaking off. After I returned 3 different mixers…yes, THREE, all for the same faulty switch, I was ready for mixer #4 to work magically. I was a little hesitant to bring home yet another ‘lame’ Kitchen Aid, so I let the folks at Williams-Sonoma talk me into another mixer that they carried at the time. It was being discontinued and was on sale at half the price. When I saw it, my first reaction was similar to when my dad used to take me to buy new running shoes. He would always pick out the monochrome grey Brooks’ with the 5 inch foam padded heel, when all I really wanted was to look cool in the florescent Nike shoes… the ones over there, Dad. He would always tell me, ‘Sara, it doesn’t matter what they look like. You have to go with how they feel.’ I admit, and to this day I agree…the uglier the running shoes, the more comfortable. Now, why IS that?
---anyway, back to the mixer.

So, when I saw the Kenmore Mixer for the first time, I admit, my reaction was less than thrilled. I mean, here the Kitchen Aids come in every color of the rainbow, (and now even in Pastels)..with matching rubber spatulas, bowls and the like..and the mixer that was being pushed on me..for half the cost, was the most boring and industrial looking machine…and a monochrome grey one at that!
I was a hesitant, given that it was UGLY for one, and also because I had only previously associated the ‘Kenmore’ brand with the Stereo. I had no idea that they made mixers…so, it all seemed a little fishy to me.

Does it play music?

I was somehow convinced to try out this mixer and I have to say, for the last six years, it has successfully pumped out a number of huge batches of cake batter, many cookies, etc, etc…and all of them with such grace and such power!

Tra La La…..

Oh Kenmore, you make me want to sing… Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 18, 2006

Prenuptial Ghetto Dinners…

I admit, sometimes T is asked by folks what kind of elaborate dinners I prepare for him, given that I am a chef of sorts, and soon, I will be his Wife, and all. Lately, and actually, a lot of the time, I am finished cooking/baking for the day when I leave work, so the last thing that I want to do when I get home, is get cooking in the kitchen. This is a bit of a drawback of my work, because I really do love to cook, I just find that time is limited after work, to squeeze in my myriad of other interests, which these days is mostly consumed by all things WEDDING.

Last night, for the first time, I think my eyes and brain were going to pop forth. I sat looking at my computer for hours, trying to get the dinner seating chart just so, and all of a sudden, the computer screen started flickering and moving from side to side, ever so slightly. Scary thing, the computer is and was fine; it was my eyes that were having the problem. Hmm, a good stopping point perhaps??

Now that we are settled, I look forward to using all of our wonderful All Clad, our new and sharp knives, our silverware, wine decanters, glasses and plates. (and that ice cream maker!) For now though, while the wedding date grows nearer, and the ‘to do’ list is still ever so present, here is a little sample of what my so called “elaborate” dinners consist of…

A Nice Cold One, Smoked Turkey Slices on Whole Wheat Cider Bread, with Grainy Mustard and Trader Joe's Canned Marinated Bean Salad

Dig In!!! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Noyau* Cream..

*Noyau translates to 'Fruit Stone'

Did you know that Cyanide is found in the pits of most stone fruits?? Almond extract is also made from Apricot Pits, which are actually a relative of the Almond. As for the Cyanide, not to be alarmed.. Heat kills its toxic properties, and leaves a nice almondy flavor behind…

So, with the abundance of Cherries around this summer, I decided to use the whole fruit. After pitting the cherries, I rinsed the pits free of most of the slimy cherry pulp. I then put them into a Ziploc bag and sealed it.

Now, for the fun part.

Getting my aggressions out.

With a hefty meat cleaver, I pounded the c**p out of the pits, until they broke open and the inner stones were revealed. Of course, I blew open a few Ziploc bags and pits went flying far and wide, but in the end, I was left with many busted cherries and the lovely scent of bitter almond.

To extract as much of this flavor as I could, I added 1 cup of the crushed ‘Noyau’ (fruit stone) to a Quart of Cream, and I brought the cream to a boil. I then let it steep overnight, chilled, of course. (steep less for a less bitter flavor)

The next day, I add this cream either to a prepared Ice Cream Base, which consists of Milk, Yolks and Sugar, or substitute it for the cream in a Crème Brulee, or in a Panna Cotta. I have yet to try the Brulees, but so far, in my experiments, it has made a great gelato as well as a good Panna Cotta, served with a chilled Peach and Muscat Soup. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 04, 2006

My Own Private Gym.

On more than a few occasions, I have been asked the question, “you are a pastry chef? (their eyes shift, scanning me up and down)…how do you stay so trim?” My standby answer has always been, “well, I usually get “sweeted out” around 9am, I don’t have time to take a break, let alone to eat lunch…and I usually go running after work.”
Lately, I have been exhausted after work, and then it dawned on me. When I go into work in the morning, I am essentially stepping into my own private gym of sorts. Here is a typical day, in my ‘gym.’

Arrive at crack of dawn, almost. Survey the dessert damage from the night before and make my prep list.

Test a few biscotti, a truffle, a gingersnap and couple crackers…for freshness, of course.

Lift 4 heavy rubber mats and flip onto floor of kitchen.

Make a coffee. Drink three sips.

Lift and carry a pile of 8 large sheet pans, downstairs to the pasta and cracker production area.

Work the triceps and biceps further by rolling trays and trays of crackers..

Work the Quads by running up and down the stairs to check on crackers in the oven.

Roll more crackers.

Drink a few sips, of lukewarm coffee.

Run up and down the stairs, carrying heavy trays, around 30 more times in the course of the next few hours. Oh baby, Feel the burn.

Work the Quads and Glutes by Squatting down by the oven to prepare the lemon tart and crème brulees (the oven is lower to the ground)

Work the arms further by pushing a fruit puree or two through a fine mesh sieve. (this really burns!)

Run down the stairs to grab something, run back up. (do this a few more times)

Walk back and forth from the ovens -to the walk in fridge -to the dish pit, about 100 times…

Drink a few more sips, of cool coffee.

Lift 50 pound bag of flour and empty contents into bucket.

Roll bread dough. Again, work those triceps.

Lift bread rolls to proofing location, then again into and out of the oven.

Squat and Pull heavy pan of Chocolate Cakes out of oven..lifting from the legs, of course.

Drink a few sips, of the now cold and stale coffee. Mmm, delish.

Carry heavy pan of hot cakes, to far end of kitchen….

Lift heavy boxes of produce and place in walk in fridge.

Repeat 5 days a week.

Now, If only my private gym had spa services… Posted by Picasa