Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5

Took some samples to the new restaurant--cheddar biscuits with green chilies, cheddar coins, and molasses cookies for the ice cream sandwiches.  Happily, they loved 'em.  Ate 'em like hungry children.  Took tastes to Zu--Kristin loved them and so did Doug, who now wants to do a breakfast biscuit around them.

My new problem--how to pull off this volume of production.

Need to do the apple pie dessert and work up prices.

In the meanwhile, lots to do for Zu.  I am about to become a baking machine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4

Staving off a cold by sleeping/napping though I should be baking and doing paperwork.

I did make scones--apple raisin scones and blueberry scones.  I made the dough for cheddar coins and did prep for more.  I'll have to do some intense baking in the early hours before I need to leave for work.

In the meanwhile, did anyone notice the extra hour we had today?  I must say I did not feel particularly better rested.  And since the clocks in the house all adjust themselves (magical!!), there wasn't even the psychological boost that comes from physically turning back the clock.  It passed unnoticed like those ripples at sea that miles later hit the shore in the form of a tsunami.  Not a good analogy I guess---because the real effect is not all that earth shaking---just a little less darkness in the early morning.

I loved the e-mail from Kiosk (in NYC) -- a lovely Joycean riff about Storm Sandy and about the necessity of voting for President Obama.  Nate Silver says the electoral college numbers look good--from his column to God's ears.

I am entranced by the idea of cajeta -- dulce de leche sin canned milk.  Canned milk is just sort of creepy, so the notion of making the real thing, just using milk and sugar and baking soda is rather cool.
Could it fill sandwich cookies?  Could almond butter made at home with the addition of some cream and butter and sugar also be a filling?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3
We were having drinks and someone mentioned baguettes and where to find the best available here.  The best isn't bad but neither is it very good.  The conversation went on to a proposed trip a friend is taking to Oregon and mention was made of a bakery in Portland, name unknown.
Afterwards, at home, I remembered the Saveur bread edition.  I found it and the name of the bakery (Ken's Artisan) and happened upon a recipe for a four hour baguette.  It was a less fussy, simplified version of a traditional autolyse method baguette I learned in school.  All of this, of course, combined to make me crave a good baguette....

The recipe, with good instructions and several somewhat helpful photos is to be found on page 52 of the May, 2012 issue (#147) of Saveur.

It's been a while since I made bread entirely by hand.  I had forgotten what a pleasure it can be to eschew the stand mixer and mix and knead by hand.  The house smelled wonderful; few smells in life are as good as the aroma of baking bread.  On reflection, it probably could have baked a bit longer, but it was really delicious.  A nice crunch of crust, a nice chew, pretty laciness inside, and a surprisingly good flavor for such a simple bread.  And it really was ready in 4 hours...

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2
A search for southern comfort desserts.
The current plan:
     Cheddar Coins
     Biscuits--plain, w/cheese, with chilis??
     Molasses/Ginger cookies (for ice cream sandwiches)
     Bourbon Pecan Apple Pie
     Almond Cakes from Fernan Adria

Also Blueberry, Bran and Banana Muffins; two or three kinds of scones; blueberry Banana Bread for zu in the morning

A nice discovery:  Jacobsen salt.  Flaky pure sea salt, hand harvested in Oregon--first salt harvested there since Lewis and Clark.  My friend will be in Oregon next week and will be shopping for some for us.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1

A new month.  All sorts of new opportunities.  Desserts for a new restaurant.  Possibility of a new kitchen.  And a blog challenge--to post everyday in November---it would be a good exercise for me I think.

A new muffin that is becoming a staple:  Pumpkin Apple Muffins, adapted from a recipe on The Pioneer Woman's blog.   Hers called for evaporated milk and raisins.  I don't like evaporated milk, so I use cream (half and half) and lots of chopped apples (a combination of Macintosh and Granny Smith) and spiced up the spices with the addition of some ground cloves.   Lovely, soft and super moist muffins.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th, Julia!

Julia Child would be 100 years old today.  It's amazing to think what a difference she made (and continues to make) in the world--at least in this part of it (tho I suspect she has fans and followers all over the place).  I know I owe her a lot, not the least of which is introducing me to Nancy Silverton's Brioche recipe, on TV and in "Baking with Julia."  I've been making it now for years--though mostly just for special occasions.  It's the richest brioche I know.  And the Pecan Sticky Buns are an extraordinary extravagance--Julia at her buttery best.

I made the brioche dough to celebrate her centennial.  I started the dough yesterday afternoon and took the finished products out of the oven early this morning.

I made small tetes, several small loaves and then a full batch of the amazing Pecan Sticky Buns.

I was lucky to get in a picture before they disappeared.

We'll be doing more Julia-celebrating later today.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7, 2012

So hot!  102 degrees F.  Bad air quality.  I can't imagine surviving this without air conditioning, yet there are several thousand people still without power from last week's storm.  Plants are suffering too.  My poor deck garden--I keep watering yet everything just looks parched and sad.

Thanks to my AC, I'm making gumbo today.  Shrimps and crab and andouille, a good chocolate brown roux, the trinity (onion, celery and green bell pepper) and lovely organically grown okra from a local farm.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm sitting on my deck--after three days of truly extreme heat, it is now around 78 degrees.  The sky is blue with a scattering of cotton candy type clouds.  The bird song is quite loud.  And I have learned that the very charming little yellow birds that have been delighting me every morning are American Goldfinches (also known as wild canaries).  My neighbors to the right have just installed a wind chime.  I find it a discordant note--but I am hoping it will soon blend in with the hum of air conditioners and become virtually unnoticed.
I have gorgeous organic cherries, perfectly ripe peaches and some last-of-the season strawberries, all of which I need to use.  Tiny cherry pies?  Peach muffins? Strawberry scones?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chipotle Salmon Recipe

SlowRoasted Chipotle Salmon
      with Asparagus and Cauliflower Chipotle Puree

2 generous servings

This is a less-is-more recipe -- really simple ingredients and just a few of them.

3/4 pounds salmon filet
4 generous cups cauliflower florets (raw)
1/2 cup buttermilk
garlic powder
asparagus (one bunch, trimmed)
coarse salt
2 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo*
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit.
Blanch asparagus till barely softened and set aside.
Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the salmon and the asparagus.  Place the asparagus around the perimeter of the dish.  Place the salmon, skin side down, in the center of the baking dish.  Rub the surface of the fish with a paste made of the chipotle and adobo, the brown sugar, the espresso powder and salt to taste.  Place the baking dish in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes.
Blanch cauliflower florets till fork tender.  Remove from water to blender and blend, with buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of the chipotle adobo mixture, garlic powder and salt to taste.  Blend till the mixture is a silky smooth puree.  Set aside and keep warm.
When the fish is done (the salmon should just be at the edge of flaking), pool the cauliflower puree in the center of each of two serving plates.  Place a portion of fish atop the cauliflower.  Place the asparagus around the fish on each plate and serve.

Bon appetit!

*I use the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I mash the peppers and the sauce together to form a soft paste.  I am very sparing as I don't like too much heat, but please feel free to use more if you like it that way.

April Daring Cooks

April's Daring Cooks challenge is to create a recipe using one ingredient from each of three categories.  I chose cauliflower, chipotle peppers and espresso powder.  I started with a generous four cups of cauliflower florets which I blanched till barely tender, then blended with some buttermilk, salt, garlic and chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, ending up with a gorgeous silky puree.
Then I blanched  some asparagus till it was barely tender and set it aside.
I made a paste of some mashed chipotle in adobo, brown sugar and espresso powder and seasoned it  with a little coarse salt.

I rubbed the paste on a piece of salmon filet; coated a baking dish with olive oil and arranged the blanched asparagus around the perimeter.  I put the salmon in the middle and put the dish in a pre-heated 250 degree fahrenheit oven for about 25 minutes at which time the salmon was just beginning to be flaky and the asparagus was just done.

I served the salmon and asparagus on a bed of the cauliflower puree.  Delicious!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alice Medrich is a genius

I knew this was true when I made and ate her chocolate wafers. It was reinforced when I made and ate her Tiger Cake. And now, on an old re-run of "Baking with Julia," I bow to further proof of her genius.

Put about three tablespoons of baking soda into a couple of cups of boiling water in a saucepan. Add your unpeeled hazelnuts to the boiling liquid and let them go for about three minutes. The water will turn black and look dreadful Take out one hazelnut to test in cold water. The skin should slide right off. If it does, dump the whole mess into a colander in the sink and run cold water on the nuts. Rub them and the skins will come right off. I saw it with my own two eyes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A lovely new cake--an Alice Waters recipe from the Art of Simple Food. It's a cranberry upside down cake which I wanted to try but was quite unsure of. It turned out to be a perfect recipe. I brought it to last night's dinner and it was a big hit. I'll make it again tonight and take a photo.

Also a new muffin---I used banana puree, chopped mango, ginger, allspice with a nice sprinkling of brown sugar on top. AP flour, brown sugar (not a lot), b soda, salt, eggs, canola oil---really quite nice. This too I will make again and photograph.

I actually ate some of one of my cinnamon scones this am and was delighted--it really is good.

I'm starting to get the deck planted. I found 2 new (to me) herbs--lime thyme and nutmeg thyme. Both smell like heaven. The nutmeg thyme really does smell like spice and I'm thinking that once the plant gets going, I should use some in a nutmeg thyme/raspberry? pear? blueberry? scone.

I found a perennial fuschia which should bloom all summer and delight the hummingbirds.
And since most of the deck is shady, I got a whole collection of charming coleus plants, pink and rose green. So pretty. I also got two hellebores. They are quite beautiful and I hope to have luck with them. There is another at the nursery that is taller and thinner--perhaps the center of a pot surrounded by some begonias.

For the sunny end, I have almost all my herbs. I have three little marigolds--policewomen to protect my basil from hungry bugs. In addition to the basil and thyme, I got flat leaf parsley, dill, spearmint. I have rosemary, lavender, sage, fennel and chives that overwintered, and oregano from Robin's huge plant. I need more mint and maybe more basil, depending on how well the plants I have do. I wish I could grow cilantro but I never have luck with it.

My japonica is flourishing and I have creeping jenny to drape the sides of its barrel (and hide it too). My St. John's wort didn't survive the winter, so its pot will become home for one of the hellebores. I have some pretty "Lady Frances" English Ivy (small variegated leaves) which I'm hoping will trail itself up and around the pretty form I have (One of those ball-on-a-stick things) and some common English ivy to trail down around the base of the pot.

I have some more baskets to fill--one in sun, several in shade--and will have fun figuring out what to put in them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Searching my brain, my notes, my books, the blogs for the perfect dessert to bring to Easter dinner--one which I can make before work and then bring with me after work. I keep thinking lemon meringue pie...perhaps that will work.

In the meanwhile, much baking for the morning. Scones (two kinds), coffeecake, carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icing? angel food cupcakes?

There are two Canal House cakes -- in the Easter menu they did for, I think, BonAppetit. Both sound interesting and good and fun to make.

I got to see Sophie today--lovely--and she played a piece for us--magnificent. But it was somewhat sad and made me reflective, not good when very tired.

The Easter cookies were adorable--should have taken a picture.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool

It's taken me years to get around to a second just took me about twenty minutes to find the blog I started so long ago and then to get signed in.

It's just after noon, a bit chilly and just a sliver of sun making it through the clouds. But the bird song is amazing for so early in spring and the garden I'm sitting in is full of color and soft scents, not to mention two beautiful Belgian sheepdogs. They (the beloved 'children' of friends--I'm denominated their aunt) go from frenzied wild kingdom-style play to utter stillness. Right now, they are lying in the small patch of sun, quite aware of how beautiful they are.

Today's baking---the cinnamon scones again--or Snickerdoodle Scones as Alex likes to call them--they are very good. Also chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. Much to bake for tomorrow--at least two kinds of muffins, two kinds of scones, butterscotch pecan oat cookies (there must be a better name for those) and more citrus shortbread. I have to plan for Easter cookies, hot cross buns for the end of the week, perhaps some Easter cupcakes? a fruit bread and some sort of coffeecake for tomorrow as well.

Savory scones are on my mind again. I've had requests for the cheddar scallion scones and had a conversation about doing a caprese scone--mozzarella and tomato and basil--I have to think about how best to do that one. Also pesto, ham and cheese, other vegetable variations. We went to a tasting of cheeses from Rogue Creamery--the fabulous David and some of the best cheeses ever--certainly as good as French (and that's saying something) and those cheese were so wonderful and gave me such ideas....I need to find the print-out of exactly what we tasted--happily I have some in the fridge--tho I've eaten a good bit of it...

The rhubarb cake I made adapting a recipe from Food 52 (I must go and thank the author of the original recipe which is a corker) was a huge success and I should make that again while there is still rhubarb about. The Zu kids named it Unicorn Cake--upside down apple rhubarb ginger oat cake is a little unwieldy. I made it in a good heavy round cake pan instead of the cast iron pan called for--no problem at all. I happily started keeping my fresh ginger in the freezer (a tip from somewhere--Ming? who knows...--and when I needed grated fresh ginger, I just grated it frozen--it was perfect--produced lovely even gratings with no difficulty, no strings, no mess. Freezer to grater for me from now on.

I have said my thank yous and here's the link to the recipe posted by thirschfeld on Food52.