My predictions

September 19, 2010 at 9:14 am (dessert, restaurants, washington dc)

Two and a half years ago, I posted about how they should have a pastry version of Top Chef.  The Top Chef folks have finally decided implement my idea.

I was also looking at an old post about cupcakes in DC.  Since we’re living here now, I wanted to refresh my memory about what I have already learned about the dessert scene here.  At the end of the post, I predicted that macarons would be the next “big thing.”  And I think I have been proven correct.

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Happy New Year!

January 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm (cooking, dessert, food)

Hopefully everyone is inside and out of the cold and wind.  Or even better, hopefully you’re in California.

As promised, here are the results of our gingerbread house party!  We had quite a lovely gingerbread village.

The model home

Construction of prefab parts

You'll have to imagine the inside with couches and a big TV

Elephant-themed house

Santa and his reinpenguins are landing on this house

Gingerbread Stadium

The penguin is still working on the decorations on this house

Holidays at the South Pole

The whole neighborhood

Hopefully, we’ll do this again next year!

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It’s Gingertime!

December 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm (cooking, dessert)

Not an eco-gingerbread house.  That’s already been done.  And it’s not a gingerbread partridge in a gingerbread gingerpear tree.  I wish I could say I did that.  Not Martha did it.  It’s gorgeous!  The tree is two pieces, the partridge is another piece, and all the pears are little cookies.

This year we’re expanding the scale – it’s going to be a gingerbread house party!  The massive amounts of dough are ready to be rolled out.  And soon they will be made into lovely decorated houses.  And whatever else people are inspired to do.  I hope it goes well… there’s the potential for gingerdisaster.  Will post photos of the results!

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Too many cakes

November 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm (chocolate, cooking, dessert, food, friends, international, wedding)

How did our weekend of cake tasting go?  It was fun, and mostly quite tasty.  That was all expected.  But I didn’t expect to be so confused.

Here are the results.  If you want the names of any of the bakeries, let me know and I can tell you.

You can use it to mark time

One egg cake

One egg cake from Mark’s father – He makes this every year for Mark’s birthday.  It’s quite sweet.  Both Mark’s father and the cake, especially the frosting.  But that’s not for the wedding.  That was just bonus cake.

 

Wedding cake baker #1

 

Wedding cake baker #1 – We liked the design options and we like the cost.  The design consultant was really nice and we talked about a custom-ish design that combined various designs that they already do.  And since we sort of designed it ourselves, we’re a bit attached to it.  But the cakes were either too moist (chocolate) or too dry (swirl or white).  The fillings were good, but not great.  So this would be a good option, but not perfect.

Wedding cake baker #2

Wedding cake baker #2 – These cakes were considerably tastier.  The flavors are also more interesting and the slices look much prettier (if you ignore the saran wrap – we picked up the slices from the baker and ate them at my sis’s apartment).  This baker would be more expensive, and we’d have to use one of the basic designs unless we want to pay even more money for a custom design.

dry, not good flavor, frosting no good

Cupcake place #1

Cupcake place #1 – Not very good.  Not worth talking about

more like muffins with frosting

Cupcake place #2

Cupcake place #2 – Better.  But not what we’re looking for.  All the cupcake places would be cheaper, but probably more effort for us.

It would have been nice to try other non-wedding cake cake places, but there’s only so much cake you can eat in one weekend.

We’re probably leaning toward tastier but more expensive.  I hope that I don’t see any leftover cake next July!

Speaking of leftovers, Thanksgiving leftovers have been turned into a curry turkey pot pie.  It’s baking in the oven right now.  I used turkey, gravy, and leftover cranberries from a pear-cranberry-almond tart.  And I also used some of the extra onion soup.  The curry part is inspired by our visit to a cooking class that my sister teaches.  It’s a class for HS students at a charter school.  We stopped by and enjoyed some curry chicken and roti and some creamy pasta.  It’s a neat idea for a class.  Each student has to do a little research on a country.  Then they bring in a recipe from that country, often where their families are from, and they cook it together in class.

The curry chicken is stuffed inside the roti before it's all pan fried in butter!

It was all really tasty!

Before all our leftovers turned into a curry turkey pot pie, this is what it looked like:

flavored w/ rosemary, thyme, sage, apple cider

Turkey!

Dinner is served

Designing the pear tart

Look at how the pears are kinda rosy.  It's so pretty.  It's from soaking dried cranberries with the poached pears

The result of their hard work

The curry turkey pot pie is done!  Good timing!

Smells and tastes as good as it looks

Post-makeover

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Easiest and tastiest ice cream ever!

November 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm (dessert, ice cream, wedding)

I made caramel apple ice cream a few weeks ago.  And I’ve just made a batch of caramel pear ice cream for Thanksgiving.  It’s David Lebovitz’s recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  It’s ridiculously easy and spectacularly tasty.

It’s so flavorful and rich.  It has the feel of a custard ice cream, but with no eggs.  In fact, it only has 3 ingredients.  4 if you count the little pinch of salt.  5 if you count the squeeze of lemon juice.

The basic idea: caramelize sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp), throw in a couple pears or apples chopped (3) and cook those in the sugar.  Pour in 2 cups of cream.  Blend.  Recipe calls for straining, but I never do that.  Fiber’s good for you.  The last few things just brighten the flavor, but they’re so easy that I don’t really count them: Pinch of salt, squeeze of lemon juice.  Chill and churn in ice cream maker.

It’s going to be my go-to ice cream now.  And I imagine that in the future, I’ll be tweaking it a bit and trying some variations.

I’m on the bus to Boston now.  For a weekend of cake tasting!  It all starts with the infamous, annual one egg cake… Stay tuned.

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What I threw together for dessert

August 11, 2009 at 2:22 pm (cooking, dessert, food, fruit, recipes)

I threw these tarts together from bits and pieces that I had lying around.  It came together so well, probably much better than if I had planned it out.  These are goat cheese cake tartlets topped with slices of white peaches.

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Since I was using bits and pieces, I only made three tartlets.  Seems like three wouldn’t be worth the effort, but they were so delicious.  And they weren’t much trouble to make.  The crust was super easy – I used a French tart dough that I found through David Lebovitz.  Easiest crust AND most delicious crust ever.  I’ll be using it again.  And the goat cheesecake part is modified from another recipe online.  After the crust and filling were baked, I topped it with some thin slices of white peach, sprinkled some sugar on top, and threw it under the broiler.  I was trying to get a little bit of a creme brulee-like crust.  That didn’t work out.  Maybe I’ll try it again with a blowtorch, once I find myself a blowtorch.

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Even without a blowtorch, it was still delicious!

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Work is ramping up

June 25, 2009 at 2:05 pm (cooking, dessert)

You may have guessed from the paucity of posts.  And when I do post, I might sound different.  I’m learning to think and talk in the language of education research.

And my camera appears to be broken.  Every single photo comes out as a nice dark rectangle.  So there won’t be too many photos until I either get the camera fixed or I finally jump in and buy a digital SLR.  The digital SLR that I’ve been talking about getting for years now.

I was just in California and I got caught up on strawberries and peaches and cherries.  Now I just have to wait for them to get going in NY.

While we’re talking about cherries, they don’t usually last very long when I get my hands on them.  But maybe I’ll make a cherry clafoutis one of these days.  It’s one of my favorite desserts.  For those of you who know what nien gao is, it’s like that, but less sticky and chewy.  And I found this neat trick to pit the cherries – http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/no-cherry-pitter-use-a-pastry-tip-088418 – with a pastry tip!

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All the good stuff is coming!

May 28, 2009 at 3:44 pm (dessert, food, new york city)

Cupcake truck! It debuts on June 3!  I don’t actually like cupcakes all that much.  I like making them.  And I like the idea of them.  And I love the idea that there’s a cupcake truck!

The Union Square Greenmarket is finally showing some spring goodies!  Winter is over!  And the first (albeit expensive) strawberries are showing up!  I know you guys out in California will mock me for rejoicing over leeks and peashoots, which you have had for months now!  But you have to imagine half a year of just onions and apples!

And Mark’s coming home from Paris soon!  Just in time for summery BLTs and tomato-bread salads!

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More Parisian Yummies

April 28, 2009 at 8:47 am (dessert, food, moroccan, restaurants, review)

The best meal that we had in Paris was at Chez Omar, I think it’s in the 3rd Arrondissement.  I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to pronounce the ‘z’ in “Chez” cause “Omar” starts with a vowel.  Pronouncing French confuses me.  I’ve had very good tutors and I’m okay with the rules and the exceptions to the rules.  But I get frustrated when I learn that there are actually exceptions to the exceptions to the rules.  Back to Chez Omar – Moroccan.  We had an amazing chicken bastilla.  Any version of this dish (chicken, spices, flaky pastry, cinnamon and sugar) is always yummy, but the spices in this one were especially deep and rich and the pastry was especially light and crispy and fried.  I’m sorry that the photo is fuzzy.  I’m not apologizing to you, the person reading this, I’m apologizing to the delicious bastilla that doesn’t deserve to be photographed so terribly.

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We also ordered an entree that came with couscous, a vegetable stew, and roasted chicken.  Then you can mix and match on your plate.  Simple, but very well done.

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Back to the macarons, we got more macarons from Laduree to confirm that I like Laduree’s better.  But actually think I have to get some more from Pierre Herme as well.

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So the reason why the Laduree vs. Pierre Herme debate is still unsettled for me is that part way through the comparison, I realized that I prefer macarons with creamy fillings over macarons with fruity fillings.  If I were just comparing the fillings by themselves, I would prefer fruity, but the fruity ones seem to make the cookie part too moist and soggy.  I actually got all fruity macarons from Pierre Herme, but I got a mix of fruity and creamy from Laduree, so everything is all mixed up.  Maybe I can do a better, more controlled comparison next time I’m in Paris – that depends on the scheduling of Mark’s current project.  We’ll see!  I hope he can come back to NYC soon, but I also hope that he stays in Paris!

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Parisian Carb Count…

April 17, 2009 at 2:03 am (bread, dessert, food, international, travel)

… so far

Baguettes: 2

Croissants: 3

Pain au chocolat: 2

Macarons: 7

Assorted other pastries: too many to count

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This baguette is from Boulangerie Julien.  It’s the pain de tradition.  So amazing!  The crust is perfectly crispy and the inside is flavorful and chewy.  The worse “crispy” and “chewy” don’t really capture how amazing the textures are.  When you break into it, it sounds and feels like heaven.  And that’s even before you bite into it.

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More on the macarons later. I’m off to take advantage of the beautiful spring day and explore and eat more.

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