Have you ever…

July 3rd, 2011

Wanted to make something, you weren’t sure what so you looked around the kitchen/pantry/fridge until you found some things that miiight work well together? Well that was me tonight. What did i find? Butter, peaches and basil. Each ingredient had a reason behind it… butter, well that’s a given, it makes everything better! Peaches, I had high hopes for them but they just weren’t ripe enough for me to want to eat, cooking was the only option. Basil… starting to dry out just a bit.

Now what can I turn these into?! Cupcakes obviously…

Butter cake, not just any butter cake though, butter cake with some white chocolate subbed for butter. It’s amazing creamy dreamy goodness melts much faster than butter thus giving the cake a texture unlike any other. Thank you Rose Beranbaum for teaching me this! For the frosting? Peach basil buttercream… Confession I broke one of my own rules tonight and used half butter, half shortening. I just didn’t want to overwhelm the texture and flavor of the cake with a pure butter buttercream.  I decided to cook the peaches in some honey to give the frosting that tangy slightly acidic pop that many buttercreams are missing. WORTH IT!!  Finally I minced some basil and added that to frosting at the very end, so as not to crush it and turn the frosting some odd shade of green.

The result?!

So cute and tasty!

Happy Birthday

February 18th, 2011

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I LOVE birthdays. Given that food is such a big part of my life I try to share that with other people by making them things for their special day. This time around it was M’s mom. She loves coffee flavored desserts, this makes my life pretty easy as coffee is super simple to incorporate into dessert. I hadn’t decorated a cake just for fun in awhile so that’s what I decided to make for her, vanilla cake with coffee buttercream. :-)

When I need an awesome, no fail, cake recipe I always turn to The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, her cakes are so delicious and recipes easy to read and understand. I chose the All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter cake. Yes, that’s right butter cake, who could possibly turn that down? This isn’t a super light airy cake, it’s a slightly dense, full of buttery goodness, vanilla cake. Now for the frosting… I should add here that I am not a fan of frosting, it’s always too sweet, too grainy, too something… I have learned how to make a really simple butter cream that I like and everyone else always likes but it just seemed a little too simple for what I was trying to accomplish here. I wanted a rich frosting with a melt in your mouth texture that can only be accomplished by egg yolks and boiling sugar :-) Rose Beranbaum’s technique for Neo-classic buttercream makes the process really easy and allows for up for a 1/2 cup of liquid to be added!

I’ll spare you the rest of details as they aren’t all that interesting and just show you the finished product!

Cake

Cake

I’m really happy with how it turned out, M’s mom and the rest of his family ooo-ed and aahh-ed over it, which is always nice. I love making people smile with treats!

Been busy

February 18th, 2011

Last week really flew by, I made some new things at school. All of which I forgot to take pictures of. Oh well…

I did however take some pics of the surprise I picked out for my valentine.

His favorite!

Oysters

Switching focus

February 8th, 2011

After some prompting from the boyfriend I’ve decided that I’m going to take up food blogging. I think it will be fun and fitting for me as I love food and cooking and baking but also, memories. For me that’s part of what food is all about. Boyfriend and I have a manila folder of recipes, every time we go through it it’s like strolling down memory lane, from the first meal he cooked for me, to birthday dinner and just random week night trial recipes and techniques, it’s all there. Each recipe represents a span of time we’ve spent cooking, eating and enjoying life together. Food is a pretty big part of my life and my relationship, I’m looking forward to having a space to document it all!

Coming up this week, Commercial Baking class, International Pastry class and a special Valentine surprise on Friday!

Doughboys!

November 22nd, 2009

Spent the day in Saratoga!

Doughboys

(thanks to All Over Albany for the pic as I forgot to take one)

Oh the Doughboy, how I love you! Doesn’t look too amazing but let me tell ya… these puppies are awesome. Three cheeses, chicken and scallions blended together and cooked in pizza dough…mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!! Typically they are something you consume after a full night of drinking but even when you are stone sober they are fabulous. Esperanto in Saratoga NY is the place to get em! Located on Caroline St, the ever famous party street, Esperanto is perfectly situated.

Espresso Cupcake

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake (chocolate cake drenched in ganache)

Cookie Dough Cupcake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake (vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream and a ball of cookie in the middle!)

After the Doughboy a trip to the newly opened Bettie’s Cakes was in order. We walked in to a super retro looking cupcake bakery complete with sexy ladies in dresses, high heels and pearls. Loved it! Their cupcakes and beverages come in “cup” sizes. A is the smallest, B is medium, and C is large. CLEVER! The cupcakes and coffee were definitely worth the trip and I will be back soon!!

Also noteworthy was the trip to Putnam Market, that place always amazes me. So many hard to find wonderfully tantalizing treats! Today I purchased, date rolls which were topped with an almond and rolled in coconut, delicious! I also found some chocolate with bacon, which I bought as a Christmas present for one of my bacon loving friends. And some sour cherry jam for my dad, he loves the stuff!

All in all a very successful and fun day!

5 more weeks to go!

November 21st, 2009

So november is almost over and that means that my first semester of culinary school is coming to an end. It has been a seemingly fast 11 weeks! I have loved pretty much every minute of it and can’t wait until next semester!

Recap of the last 11 weeks!

I started the semester off by correcting my Food Prep teacher. He decided to read us some random facts from the Internet, the first of which was “Lemons have more sugar than strawberry”. Now anyone who knows the nutrition facts of both fruits knows this cannot possibly be true.  I not being the type to sit quietly when false information is presented promptly spoke up and refuted this “fact”. I have since learned that some of my classmates still make fun of me for this incident! Haha!

My baking teacher is an interesting woman… she likes to tell us all kinds of stories, I’m pretty sure she can go on for hours on end without issue. She’s a nice enough woman but unfortunately likes to do things for her students rather than telling them how to do it and then stepping back.

I’m not the most patient person and actually have a hard time dealing with people who work slowly or who can’t follow simple instructions. That being said the hardest thing I had to deal with was working with a particular classmate who is less than speedy. Despite my instructions he managed to add a double amount of water to a batch of raisin walnut rolls we were making that night. Now this wouldn’t have been such a big deal had he been at all useful that night. But his ONLY job was to get and add the water. I spent most of that night doing dishes to keep from spazzing at him.

I have so far aced every test and every homework assigment. For me it’s so very rewarding to see that the long hours and hard work is paying off.

I’ve learned to make all kind of stocks, consommes, rouxs,  soups, sauces, some vegetables, sandwiches, salads, breads and pies. While all (or at least most) of these things sound fairly simple there is a right way to produce each item. And each topic has built on the last, it’s amazing how much I have learned just by reading and even more amazing how much I have learned by actually cooking. My Food Prep teacher is a former chef and worked in the restaurant industry for many years. His experience makes him a great teacher, he has a lot of tricks, tips and techniques to pass on to students who are willing to take the time to ask and learn.

There is definitely much more I could talk about but I will instead leave you with pictures of some of my creations. They were taken with my phone so the quality is far from superior.

Cream of Tomato Soup
Cream of Tomato Soup

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder

Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Salade Nicoise
Salade Nicoise

BLT Wrap and French Potato Salad
BLT Wrap and French Potato Salad

Monte Cristo
Monte Cristo

And that’s my first 11 weeks of culinary school!
5 to go and I am on my way to semester 2!!!!!!!!

More to come! :-)

Sweet 16

November 16th, 2009

Though it was only 9 years ago I barely remember turning 16. Looking back though, you couldn’t pay me to go back. Not that 16 was a terrible age, I just have no desire to repeat all of the life lessons I have learned since then. I will stick with 25, thank you!

I was asked to make a cake for a 16th birthday party, the only stipulations I was given were: no chocolate (this is impossible for me to grasp… who doesn’t like chocolate?!) and blue must appear somewhere on the cake. Other than that I had free reign. Being that the only really good that happens when you turn 16 is that you can legally drive, I chose to focus on that for the cake.

This was the outcome:
16th bday cake
It was a big hit with everyone, except the father of the 16 year old… he loved the cake but wasn’t a huge fan of the cars. I told him they could be easily removed and all was well again. My fault for not showing him the design first but I like to surprise my clients whenever possible. I prefer honest reactions as they help me build a tough skin and improve my decorating abilities.

On a completely different note… I only have 6 weeks of my first semester of culinary school left!!! How did that happen?! I feel like I just started! On the schedule for next semester is Cakes and Decorating, Dining Room Management and Food Prep 2. Going to be a very busy and tiring semester but I am oh so excited to start!!!! :-) Pie test on Wednesday, let’s hope for another perfect score!

Grampa’s Birthday and My New Blog

November 9th, 2009

Hello World! (I always hated writing those Hello World programs in my programming classes back in the day) So this is my first blog post and I figured it only appropriate to write about the most recent happening.

Well my Grampa turned 75 this past Monday. My family decided to celebrate with a nice family dinner at my Aunt’s house. Naturally, I volunteered to make the cake. I mulled over what to make for weeks. I consulted my Mom about it and she thought German Chocolate might be nice. I still thought about it for awhile and finally decided it was the way to go. Not being an expert on German Chocolate Cake I consulted my current go-to spot for baking recipes. The Joy of Baking website. They always seem to have a basic recipe for exactly what I need. I used this recipe with very few tweaks.

I decided to go with a caramel filling. I made that by microwaving sweetened condensed milk until it was thick and caramelized. This would also be a good time to mention that it took three tries to make this filling… apparently the first microwave I tried was entirely way too powerful and burned the caramel twice! Finally I used a slightly less powerful microwave (which I affectionately refer to as “piece of sh*t”). I’m surprised my friend who was helping me out that night didn’t kill me during this process. That didn’t happen and I finally got the filling done. I mixed in some toasted coconut and pecans and bam filling done!

The frosting, I changed that too. I made some bittersweet chocolate ganache, let it cool and then whipped it up into a nice smooth frosting.

I decided to make some roses for the top using modeling chocolate. This is the first time I have ever worked with it and I have to say it was quite easy. Mine came out a bit sticky but sticking it in the fridge over freezer for a few mins solved that temporarily. This is a great tutorial for the first timer! Overall I would the say the results were pretty fabulous! :-)

German Chocolate Cake

chocolate roses

chocolate rosebud

Grampa and everyone else at dinner loved the cake, I paired it with some Coconut Saffron ice cream. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe. I made two modifications, I added some homemade vanilla extract and some rum flavoring. That’s it! I don’t have pics of it but I will definitely make it again!