30 August 2009

Sweet and Salty Cake

The salty caramel:

The Ganache:

The Cake:

The recipe for this cake is from the Baked bakery in Brooklyn. They call it the Sweet and Salty Cake, and I'll call it The Cake That Dirties Every Dish, and also A Cake I Actually Like. Admittedly, I don't like cake very much. It's usually dry, usually has dreadful buttercream frosting, and often commits sins like putting chocolate with raspberry or lemon with raspberry or anything with raspberry. Give me a well made red velvet cake and you know I'll be happy. And every so often a really good chocolate cake is really good. Heck- I love angel food! But those are all exceptions to the rule.

Anyway, the sweet and salty cake is not like other cakes. It's dark and chocolaty, moist and somehow light (light only referring to texture of course- this little number includes a pound of butter and a pound of chocolate just in the frosting. Then there are the 3 layers of salted caramel and the cake itself... It's really intense and I recommend eating it for a breakfast of regret).

You can read the recipe here because I am not going to retype it. The S&S already took one (be it really fun) day of my life, but I'm not giving it another hour of my life by typing up it's memoirs. Ok- honestly I'm making it again today. I just don't want to copy the recipe when it's all over the internets already.

Make it on a day that you have literally all day. I so often make things that don't have recipes- or I just ignore the recipes and do it my way- that I really enjoyed such a complicated and specific task. The one ingredient that I changed up was exchanging vegetable shortening for lard. I can't help myself- vegetable shortening gives me the creeps! Plus, why not put a little pork in your cake? It only compliments the nature of this sweet and salty creation.

A Beautiful Gift

Pickled Trash.

Thanks for thinking that I'm "the only person who would understand" Nic. Let's just hope I don't act like pickled trash myself and try to eat it some night.

25 August 2009

Rock and Roll

Guess who I'm going to see tonight???

24 August 2009

Eating Cooking Loving

Yesterday ended up being a lot more than just tomatoes.

It was roasted chicken with leeks and fingerling potatoes, zucchini fritters with feta, and lemon and tzatziki sauce, roasted tomatoes and garlic, and an apricot tart with cream.
It was babysitting for our friends 2 year old twins, and watching dolphin movies.
It was sitting in our trailer in the back yard after dark, playing cards and drinking manhattans.
It was another long and excellent day.

Today, I am canning MORE tomato sauce, and making stock with the chicken bones from last night.
Luckily for me, there was lots of chicken left over. I got to make the most perfect lunch of all time because of it! I recommend that you go home and roast a chicken in a dutch oven with a splash of water, some butter, 2 leeks and a couple handfuls of fingerling potatoes (delicious dinner!), and then tomorrow you can have the best lunch eva too!

Zippy Chicken Salad

2 cups pulled chicken meat
4 small fingerling potatoes, cooked then chilled
1/4 cup tzatziki sauce
4 sprigs of parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons french feta

Crumble potatoes and feta over the chicken. Sprinkle parsley on top, and stir in the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. This shit is good. Share it with the ones you love (I did not share any).

If you also want to make zucchini fritters, you might want to experiment with Martha Stewart's recipe. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

PS Sorry for the crappy photo of the apricot tart I made last night. It was so easy to make that I forgot to treat it with respect and photograph it carefully! Apricots. Sugar. Salt. Put it in a tart crust. Bake it. Eat it.

23 August 2009


My aunt and I realized our fears of canning by trying canning (she in Oakland, I in Portland, but still together in our hearts and fears). We each canned roasted tomatoes. Who will get struck down by botulism first?? Only time will tell. I'm voting for me.
For real though- canning is not that hard and you get to feel like a pioneer or something for the day. I am anticipating a rush of joy in the middle of a deep wintery depression when we open these summery jewels. SUMMER FOOD! I also canned the rest of the peaches that I did not use for my blue ribbon pie, and I think those will be hard not to open later on today.

This week at work was long and grueling. Whips were cracked, tears were shed, the restaurant was packed. I think the wires in my brain crossed after talking to one to many tables. They might have said something like, "Can we have some bread?" and that was it. BREAD? NO! I mean... yes! NO. I mean... of course. Wait. What did you want again? NO!

Of course, I meant yes. But that was it. The waitress part of my brain died last night. I can no longer take requests or offer to fill water glasses. Isn't it sad that I lost such an important part of my brain function over such a fair request? One plate of bread and it's all over?

I can only roast tomatoes. To think I was imagining a long hike in central Oregon today! Not going to happen.

Tomatoes. That's it.

17 August 2009

Portland Pie-Off 2009: The Aftermath

Brown Butter n' Bourbon Peach Pie

Squash Solution Pie

Cursive Type Writer Ingredients Card

Yesterday was entirely too exciting. There were around 70 pies to be judged and I was on pins and needles the entire time. When it came time to announce the winners I was nearly in need of an oxygen tank and a scotch.Kevin held my hand and fed me pickles during the really tense moments- I really owe him a card or some flowers. But, the first category announced was for Best Stone Fruit Pie, and I was the winner! My adoring fans (my dad) really gave me a big cheer, and I think the ribbon ceremony was better for it. Really though- I had a lot of friends show up and give me support and I want to thank them for making the day so much fun and making me feel so damn special!

My savory pie, The Squash Solution, did not win anything. I had never made a savory pie before, let alone a savory custard pie, and I didn't actually have a recipe, and it wasn't very good. I was talking to my aunt who is a talented and sensible chef yesterday morning and I was like "MY PIE IS ALL WET! THE SQUASH IS LEAKING ALL THIS DAMN WATER! WHAT DO I DO?" and she was like "MOP IT! MOP IT WITH TOWELS! PUT A STACK OF TOWLES ON TOP AND THEN PUT A BOOK ON IT!" I followed her advice (the mopping part, not the book pressing funny-guy idea), and it really did take care of the water issue. However, next time I will properly purge my squash with salt in advance. I only got to taste it after the voting and it didn't have enough salt and had too much fucking squash in it! So that was kind of embarrassing. So, it looked pretty but was not really a solution for my squash problem after all. The lessons learned: Do not rush when baking. Do not experiment with something you have never attempted before and then allow your delusional self to believe you might win something for it. Do experiment with ingredients you have at hand, but maybe do some research about them and practice once or twice before attaching your name to them.

Brown Butter and Bourbon Peach Pie

One Double Pie Crust* (modified for lattice top)
*Recipe adapted from Bakers Illustrated

3 cups AP flour
10 T frozen butter
7 T chilled lard
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
10 T ice water mixed with 1 T vodka

5 Large, ripe but firm peaches
1 stick of Danish butter
1/2 cup bourbon (I used Corner Creek)
2/3 cup white sugar
5 T potato starch
1 t salt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 t grated nutmeg

Put flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the lard, and then shave frozen butter into the mix (or add finely chopped frozen butter bits, but back sure you don't warm them with your hands as you cut them up). Slowly add in ice cold water+vodka until the dough comes together and is shaggy but not too wet. Split into two lumps, wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.

Roll out half the pie dough for the bottom of the pie. Gently place in pie pan, leaving extra dough overhanging the edge of the pan. Refrigerate. Meanwhile, create lattice top for pie and place in freezer. (Tutorial coming soon!)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Boil a large pot of water, and once boiling put peaches in for 2 minutes to loosen their skins. After 2 minutes plunge peaches into an ice bath to prevent further cooking. Skin the peaches, cut into sixths, and place in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over them (look out for seeds!), pour the 1/2 cup of bourbon on top, stir, and then set aside.
In a large skillet with the flame set low, start melting the stick of butter. When it is completely melted, increase heat to medium or medium high. Whisk the butter as it starts to brown. You are trying to get all those milk solids nice and toasty! I took my brown butter to a dark chocolaty brown, and then I rested the pan in an ice bath to prevent burning. Pour butter over the peaches and stir. Take about half of the peaches out of the bowl and put into the skillet you used for the butter. Put this pan back on the stove and turn the heat to high. Give those peaches a little color, and then return to the mixing bowl. Add the potato starch one tablespoon at a time. Stir well and pour into the chilled pie crust. Attach the lattice top, spritz with water and sprinkle some lovely sugar on top. Put in the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for a half hour at this temp, and then give the pie a half turn and reduce temp. to 350 degrees. Bake for another half hour until brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and a shot of bourbon.

Blue Ribbon

16 August 2009

Off To The Races

I've been baking since 7 am and I feel pretty good about the results. At about 10 I decided to bake a second pie, which is in the oven right now. I am entering two categories now: Stone Fruit and Savory Pie. I can't wait to put up the photos of these little guys! Also to come: a tutorial on how to make your own lattice top pie crust.

15 August 2009

PORTLAND PIE OFF 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IS TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I spent the morning at the farmers market hemming and hawing over the best looking produce and people, and ended up bringing home 15 lbs of peaches. I was tricked into buying this amount, but now I think it was a good thing.

I just made my test pie and MASTERED the art of the lattice top pie crust. I mean, we'll see how it goes tomorrow. Maybe "mastered" isn't the right word. But either way- this one looks great. I shall not reveal my recipe today, obviously, but after tomorrow I will share the details.

Wish me luck. Last year I won a blue ribbon for "Best Pairing With Pie" which means the judges liked the booze I gave them. I was HUGELY honored to get a ribbon! But this year, hopefully the pie will speak for itself. I am bringing the test pie in for staff meal tonight. The chef let me know last night that he was already working on a staff meal to match my pie's down-home fatty appeal. The anticipation is nearly unbearable.

If you are in town, please come to the contest! It is from 1 to 3 or so at Peninsula Park in North Portland.

Photos and details tomorrow.

11 August 2009

Staff Free Meals

So, vacation = no staff meal, but I made it out alive anyhow. As you can see, when I wasn't underwater I was eating.
We started our trip out right with my mom and brother, sitting on a dock by a saltwater river, eating even lobster and drinking wine. We were at this great place right near my Mom's house where you bring all of your own stuff- salads, bread, drinks, desserts, and they make the seafood and that's IT. We had steamers and lobster rolls and it was excellent. Afterwards we had ice cream cones and I battled my brother. The next day we got to try my friend Molly's sweet biscuits and scones at her revamped Rocky Acre Farm Stand in York, Maine. If you are in the area you should go see her some weekend! She is an excellent baker and even has good coffee to go along with it all.

The reason we go home specifically every August is for my grandmother's yearly lobster bake. This year was fantastic- the lobsters were sweet, and the corn was too. The brownies were nearly raw and each weighed several pounds... Being a horribly disgusting and unstoppable family, we went to the Ipswitch Mass. Clam Shack the very same week, where we ate pounds of fried clams and onion rings. It was insanely good and also gave me a stomach ache (which tells me I'm still alive, so that's good).

This year we extended our trip down to the North Carolina shore for more family visiting. Here we spent most of our time having a SPF 30 tanning contest and then fighting about who was winning. We also cooked a few meals, ate some sno-cones and bought some really special southern teeshirts. Also, I fed a seagull a nacho cheese Dorito out of my hands on a boat!

It's always hard to get home after an awesome vacation, but I'm glad to be back in Portland. My tomatoes are ripe and beautiful, I got up the courage to rip out all of my zucchini plants, and the Portland Pie Off is only 5 days away. I need to start practicing recipes!

10 August 2009

Home Coming

We just got home from a looong trip to the east coast. Many photos and anecdotes to come.