Friday, October 30, 2009

halloween creations...

remember these cutie pies! ghostly black and white cupcakes (chocolate with marshmallow). they got slimed (with green tinted fondant) for the big day! i already have ideas for next halloween. if you look really close, you can see the witch in the background. here are more pics of my halloween creations...

the bakeshop wouldn't be complete without a witch, rolling pin and an ipod.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

spiraling orchard's "eat-in"

all across the country, on september 7th, communities joined together to hold an "eat-in." the message was congress that it is time for change. its time for children to start eating "real" food, no more over-proccessed reheated frozen foods. i was lucky enough to take part in one held at spiraling orchard in los angeles.

sometimes life gets pretty hectic and we forget to give back to our communties. i'm glad someone (cara speckhals) woke me up and offered me a chance to be a part of this. being that i go the farmer's market every week, i was responsible for hunting and gathering all the donations. cara graciously organized all of the prepping and cooking of the meal, all while holding down a full time job and some very intense personal obligations. nancy zuniga and lisa nunez are the two amazing women who brought the whole thing together. without their dedication to the community, kids and spiraling orchard this would not have been possible. in the days leading up to the event, my team over at tavern (cara, stephanie and ty) all helped prep boxes and boxes of fruits and veggies for the big day. once all of our crisps and crumbles were assembled, we had a whole room full of them.

cara and all the crisps

all the donations from the santa monica farmer's market

thank you to all the farmers who helped make this possible:
bettina birch
peter schaner

*for more photos of the event please visit:spiraling orchard's "eat-in"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

farmers market tart...two ways...

the market is ripe with warm summer fruits and vegetables. you come home and unpack your bag of goodies. if your like me, you've purchased way more than you could possibly consume. how could you turn down vibrantly colored heirloom tomatoes and basil that scents the market air? and those pluots...that reveal there intense pink blush. its hard to limit yourself when your surrounded by the seasons harvest. here is what i have come up with to use up your favorite market goodies...a savory and a sweet tart.

this dough really lends itself to both versions very well. don't be afraid to put your own spin on these. if you find nectarines that are better, use that....don't like zucchini, use eggplant. this recipe may seem long, but it is well worth it in the end.

tomato and zucchini tart:

1 recipe tart dough
1/2 cup fromage blanc
4-5 medium tomatoes
2 large zucchini
2 medium onions
as needed olive oil
salt, pepper, and a lota love.

tart dough:
10oz all purpose flour
3Tbsp granulated sugar
1.5t kosher salt
7oz unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and frozen
1/2c skim milk, with 1/4c ice cubes in it

put the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till the butter is the size of a pea.
stream in the ice cold milk, careful not to add the ice.
pulse just until the dough comes together (you might need more or less milk).
turn the dough out onto the counter and shape into a flat 7" circle.
wrap tightly in plastic and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

fromage blanc:

1c ricotta
1 egg
1 yolks
1Tblsp olive oil
1/2tsp salt
1/8tsp ground black pepper
1/4c creme fraiche
1/4tsp picked thyme leaves
1tsp sliced arbol chiles, no seeds
2tblsp basil, chiffonade (sliced)

in the bowl of a food processor, add the ricotta, egg and yolks, salt, pepper and olive oil.
pulse until super smooth.
transfer the mixture into another bowl and add the creme fraiche, thyme, arbol and basil.
stir everything together.
(this can be made the day before. add the basil the day that your going to use it)

tomatoes and zucchini:

4-5each heirloom tomatoes, tennis ball size
2 large zucchini
2 medium onions
as needed olive oil

peel and slice the onions 1/4" thick
heat a medium saute pan, add 2 tblsp olive oil and then add the onions.
season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are caramelized, stirring frequently.
*i usually add a knob of butter at the end.
transfer to a plate and let cool completely before assembling tart.

slice the tomatoes 1/4" thick.
generously sprinkle salt and pepper over them and lay them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
put in a 250F oven just until they start to shrink a little. do not let them get color! about 20 minutes
*this helps get the excess water out of the tomatoes so that your tart won't be soggy.
let them cool before assembling tart.
drizzle 2 tblsp olive oil over the tomatoes.

while the tomatoes are in the oven, slice the zucchini 1/4" thick (use a mandeline if available).
put them in a bowl, generously sprinkle salt and pepper over them and toss. use your hands for this, rub each zucchini so that each piece is seasoned.
let the zucchini sit for 20 minutes.
strain off the excess water and toss with 2 tblsp olive oil.

assembling the savory tart:

roll the tart dough, on a lightly floured board, into a 14" circle in diameter and 1/4" thick.
place 1/2c of the fromage blanc in the center and spread into a 9" circle in diameter.
place 1/2c caramelized onions on top, use your fingers to spread them out over the fromage blanc.
layer, alternately, the tomatoes and zucchini in concentric circles. work from the outside towards the center.
fold the dough towards the center of the tart in 6-7 folds.
freeze for 30 minutes-overnight.
make an egg wash (one egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon of water) and brush the crust.
bake at 425F (for best results, bake on a pizza stone) till the crust is a deep golden brown. about 45-60 minutes.

take out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes and then slice into it. it cuts nicer when you let it cool down a bit.

sweet tart:
1 recipe tart dough
2lbs elephant heart pluots
1tblsp cornstarch
1tblsp granulated sugar
1 cup brown butter filling

brown butter filling:
8oz unsalted butter
3ea eggs
1/2c granulated sugar
1/2c dark brown sugar
1/2t salt
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2c all purpose flour

put the butter in a 1 quart sauce pot and turn the heat on medium.
continue to cook until the milk solids in the butter turn a deep brown color and it smells nutty.
*careful not to burn.
cool it slightly. it should be warm to the touch but not burning hot.
once cooled, whisk the sugars, eggs, salt and vanilla extract in the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer on medium-high till pale yellow in color. about 3 minutes.
add the flour and whisk on low till incorporated.
very slowly, drizzle the warm browned butter into the mixer bowl while its on medium speed until all the butter (and the browned bits) are well incorporated.

assembling the sweet tart:
follow the savory tart instructions for rolling the dough out.
spread 1 cup of the brown butter filling in the center of the dough, in a 9" circle, leaving a 2" border of dough.
toss the pluots with sugar and cornstarch and pile on top of the filling.
fold the dough over the pluots in 6-7 folds.
freeze for 30 minutes-overnight.
make an egg wash (one egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon of water) and brush the crust and sprinkle sugar over the top of the crust.
bake at 425F (for best results, bake on a pizza stone) till the crust is a deep golden brown. about 45-60 minutes.

take out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes and then slice into it. it cuts nicer when you let it cool down a bit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

rummy banana bread...

i know what your thinking, "banana bread...really?" But i promise, it is the tastiest banana bread ever! this one has a really great crust and yummy rum...sort of banana fosters...flavor to it. when ever i'm thinking..."somethings missing..." usually adding a little alcohol and/or nuts makes it better. they both will create a richer depth of flavor and texture. here is my recipe:

rummy banana bread:
330g granulated sugar
110g dark brown sugar
22g honey (i like orange blossom)
230g butter, room temperature
227g eggs (about 4)
6g kosher salt
11g baking soda
1/8t ground nutmeg
430g all purpose flour
400g ripe banana (peel them and keep whole. its about 4 bananas)
22g dark rum
130g toasted, chopped pecans (plus a litte more for garnish)


preheat oven to 350F

put both sugars, honey and butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy. about 3 minutes.
while that is creaming, sift the salt, baking soda, nutmeg and flour and set aside.
add the eggs, one at a time, with the mixer on medium speed till they are all well incorporated.
scrape the mixture down off the sides of the bowl and add the sifted dry ingredients.
mix on low speed until half way mixed together.
add the whole bananas, rum and pecans to the mixer.
mix on low speed till everything is well incorporated. be careful not to over mix. you don't want a tough banana bread.
butter a standard size loaf pan and pour the batter in. it should be filled half way.
top with a healthy amount of chopped pecans.
put on a cookie sheet and put in the oven.
bake until deep golden brown and when inserted with a toothpick, in the center, comes out clean.
you can try to let it cool before slicing....i never can resist and dig right in when its still pipping hot from the oven.

serve with a tall glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

i heart macarons...

i have been absolutely obsessed with macarons for years. i'm always searching for the best ones. i recently went to jin patisserie and had the most wonderful cranberry violet macaron. after that, i knew that i had to put them on my menu. the next day i went into the kitchen and made SIX different flavors. i couldn't help could i choose just two or three. i made the following flavors: rose, pistachio, mocha, tahitian vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel, and finally...praline.

the best macarons are to be savored in paris at pierre herme patisserie. i was lucky enough to gain the opportunity to stage there last april. every day after my shift i would meander around the shop and buy some sweet treats. i always made sure to get at least one macaron. my favorite flavor is the "ispahan" deep pink macarons filled with raspberry gelee and rose buttercream. on my last day at the shop, the chef gave me a wonderfully large bag filled with boxes of macarons (every flavor they made times two!) and chocolates. i was so happy...i almost cried. they didn't realize that they had already given me the best gift....allowing me to stage. it had been a dream of mine for years and it had actually come true.

Friday, July 31, 2009

peanut butter and jelly coupe

i recently changed the menu and had some left over peanut butter sherbet. i also still had sara's amazing jam on my mind and i knew i had to come up with something to show off these gems. so here it peanut butter and jelly coupe. two scoops of peanut butter sherbet, one scoop of vanilla ice cream, layered with blackberry jam, fresh blackberries, creme fraiche whipped cream, mini brioche croutons and toasted peanuts. hope you like...

peanut butter sherbet:

2 cups skippy creamy peanut butter
1/3 cups light corn syrup
1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cups dry nonfat powdered milk
4 cups whole milk

bring everything except the peanut butter to a boil.
turn off heat and whisk in peanut butter.
chill overnight in your fridge.
freeze according to manufacturers instructions on your ice cream maker.

serve with your favorite jam!

sara's jam...

i am surrounded by the most amazing people daily. one of them is a beautiful woman who makes the most fabulous jam...sara. she gently caresses the fruit into delicate jam that preserves the integrity of the natural flavor. it is never too sweet or thick and over-cooked. my favorite is the blenheim apricot jam. its a vibrant orange hue with a tangy floral flavor.

every wednesday, she and i go to the farmers' market and roam around the sweet smells of the season. summer is here...and it's a jam makers play ground. tangy bleinheim apricots from james birch on the left, deep purple dancing demon plums from fitzgerald on the right, jeweled toned berries from pudwill and harry's laid out under tents.