It was odd; I began this post lamenting my recent photography.  I had gotten so far as to type “I’m a little bit frustrated” before I received a message that not only demanded my attention, but nourished me, in this exactly current state, in a way I didn’t expect or even realize as necessary.  An outpouring of love and generosity, the kind of thing that makes you cry because you’re all of the sudden inexplicably happy.  Sometimes you forget to remember how lucky you are until such a thing comes up and pops you on the head, or heart, as it may happen.

“I’m a little bit frustrated” became obsolete, fast.

I’m sitting in my dimly lit kitchen in an outfit pretending to be Gwen Stefani (90’s Gwen, to be clear); Mack’s out of town; I hard boiled an egg and opened a bottle of Sancerre for dinner; I was crooning with Lana del Rey until my attitude turned around and now TLC is a bit more in order.  Mazzy is sticking to me like glue, not even the distance of a shadow.  We were out of town last week, and now Mack’s gone again, and she’s become no different than an 18 month old with separation anxiety; she’s not allowed in the master bed/bath but while the cat’s away…this cat is playing; I can’t ignore her meow-pleas at the door!  She truly is my baby, or at least the only pet I’ve ever had that’s been exclusively mine, and I never imagined a cat’s devotion to be so rewarding, or even…present to begin with.  So glad to be so wrong!

What hasn’t changed, despite my attitude, is my indecision among recipes to share because I’m not exactly *psyched* about any of the photos.  I’m psyched about the food itself, of course, but, memories of dessert or a decadent morning only go so far, and I really just wish I had a better grip on my photos.  But whatever, this is an informal blog and…I’ve just made up my mind.

When I left Salt Water Farm, I not only felt like I had gotten out of a bad relationship, but like…everything was more possible than it had ever been before.  Am I going to publish that statement?  We’ll see.  But yes.  Precisely.  I decided to finally tackle the stupidly huge pile of ripped-out food-magazine pages that I started in college, littered with dog eared corners and bad handwriting.  And, more significantly, I decided to tackle Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook (/coffee table book?!?!!).

But so wait, actually, I feel that book is no more important than the magazine pages from 2008.  But…if you’re feeling confident, what’s going to keep you from making a French Laundry dessert?

I started small.  On that scale, a tart is small.  I was really hankering after the complicated 24 hr+ chocolate-ness with red beet ice cream (what about beet caramel?!?!?!), but…maybe next week.  I started with something familiar but different.  A lemon tart.  A pine-nut butter crust, a smoother than smooth filling (lemon sabayon) that gets broiled not baked, and honey-mascarpone cream to finish.  Simple, unfussy flavors, but…not everyday.  The delicious equivalent of natural beauty.

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(God, now TLC has spiraled into Destiny’s Child and I can’t stop with these lyrics; can hardly think a word outside them.)

Going to go ahead and get this recipe on here:

That’s how most food bloggers write, right?  “gonna go ahead and get this recipe on here like:”  …

Am I a food blogger though?  My interest in food has grown so, so outside of nutrition and even taste.  Is it aesthetic?  Then we’ll play.

Kidding, I really like really delicious food.

…and this is, despite the hang-ups in my writing, really delicious food.

Lemon Sabayon-Pine Nut Tart with Honey Mascarpone Cream

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(…it took me like a few months after I had mascarpone on my own menu to really know how to spell it. derrrrrr.)

Ingredients:

Pint Nut Crust:

(makes 1/2 more than you need.  But make it all and make two tarts, total.  Or use the other half for wherever else your pine-nut tasting imagination takes you.  Also, the FL lemon tart recipe uses just 1/3 this recipe.  I…like to err on being generous with my base doughs, so, up to your discretion.  I used a 9″ square tin, and 1/2 this recipe was perfect.)

2 c (10 oz) pine nuts

1/3 sugar

3 c AP flour

16 T (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 t vanilla

Lemon Sabayon:

2 large eggs, cold

2 large egg yolks, cold

3/4 c sugar

1/2 c fresh lemon juice

6 T (3 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Honeyed Mascarpone Cream:

1/2 c heavy cream

3 T mascarpone cheese

1 T honey

Directions:

1) Make the pine nut crust: Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times.  Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground.  Place the mixture in a mixing bowl (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle).  Add the softened butter, the egg, and the vanilla extract and mix to incorporate all the ingredients.  Divide the dough into three parts,  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using.  The dough can be frozen for future use.

2) Preheat teh oven to 350 F (I literally cannot tell you how many times I’ve typed “preheat teh oven.”  It just needs to be its own phrase at this point; preheat teh oven).  Generously butter and flour a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate it while the oven preheats.  Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator.  Use your fingertips to press the chilled dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Trim off any excess dough.  Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes, then rotate the shell and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the shell is golden brown.  Remove the shell from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling.  There may be some cracks in the shell; they will not affect the tart.

3) Make the lemon sabayon: Bring about 1.5″ of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the mixing bowl you will be using for the sabayon.  Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.  Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk. whip the mixture while you turn the bowl, for even heating (I didn’t do that. who has the time or the proper finger-heat-shield equipment for that? just don’t bother).  After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one third of the lemon juice.  Continue to whisk vigorously and when the mixture thickens again, add another one third of the lemon juice.  Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice.  Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl (or not), until the mixture is thickened, light in color, and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl.  The total cooking time should be approximately 8-10 minutes.

4) Turn off the heat but leave the bowl over the water as you add the butter.  Whisk in the butter a piece at a time.  The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools.  Pour the warm sabayon into the tart shell and place the pan on a baking sheet.

5) Preheat the broiler.  While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart until the broiler.  Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; do not leave the oven–this will happen in a few seconds.  Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve at room temperature or cold.

6) For the honeyed mascarpone cream: In a bowl set over ice, whip the cream until it is frothy (I put my foot down on this too, was like wait but I have a mixer, but…realized it wouldn’t engage the mere 1/2 c cream as nicely as elbow grease will; seriously just do it and thank goodness for the mixer the other 99% of the time).  Add the mascarpone and honey and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, or until the cream is thick and creamy.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

And now I remember why I don’t do that very often anymore. AH!  Thank goodness for being part of the generation that learned how to type fast for the sole sake of AIM crushes.  Pathetic but…useful?  Apart from my fondness of “teh” I have my 14 year old self to thank for busting through those directions just now.

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Today, I also took a moment to go grab my painting stuff from the attic.  We have a very stereotypical, “don’t get accidentally locked in the attic” kind of attic and it freaked me out going up there, alone, so, I need to make it count and do some painting.  So I’m signing off.  Not really though, because…music.

Among other things, remembering this song is among the best things that have happened to me tonight.  But wait, I was 7 when it came out.  And it wasn’t played in my household.  I developed my music taste alongside older siblings, but…a few things I’ve still stumbled upon solo.  This is one of those.  I don’t know how or when it entered my being, but I just….I just adore TLC:

But this was my real day, pre-attitude check.  I’ve fought it for so long, but I must include her here.  Ignore the lyrics; it’s better to love her unconditionally (…why I relate? this isn’t really daytime music. but it is if you put on a bikini and try to even out your tan-line because your neighbors are conveniently out of town.  real life.  but is it?  how do I even have a tan-line?  I don’t get tan, but maybe the accumulation of freckles is fooling me…I’ve never had time enough to spend some outdoors, that, this much outdoors.  this can’t be real life.  it is though; I hope it is.  I think it is.):

Few and far between or else too close slapping me in the face to clearly recognize, I see patterns.  Currently I’m deeply attached to two mediocre pictures taken, out the car window; one throughout sunrise and one throughout sunset, taken 11 months apart.  Neither is great; I semi-detest the color scheme; they’re in fact more negatively than positively filled.  But I love them.  Perhaps I’m too flooded with Maine scapes that I don’t know what to do anymore; I finally have let myself really live here; the bad/weird ones stand out to me.

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Near Thomaston, ME; August 25th 2014; 6:50 PM

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En route to the Bangor Open; July 24th 2015; 5:50 AM

All Things Good III

August 2, 2015

Remember how, in The Sound of Music, Maria sings about her favorite things, and everyone’s fears of thunder, dog bites and bee stings suddenly vanish?  That’s what this is. I’ve developed a recurring pain issue in my neck/back/shoulder, and in the face of today’s flare up, I figured I’d go to sleep and escape it…turns out that tossing and turning is not helpful in this case.  So I’m going a different route along Maria’s lines…not singing and gallivanting with pillows, but thinking of favorite things nonetheless.

Pictures here worth more than words can say, though I’ll try and connect dots.  Excuse me if I’m vague; I’ll catch everything up eventually.

Sometimes I feel like Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail, starting a blog entry as she does an email to the elusive NY152, as if we’re the “oldest and dearest friends” (“–as opposed to what we actually are, people who don’t know each other’s names and met in an “Over 30″ chat room where we both claimed we’d never been before.” …couldn’t help myself.)  I suppose there’s something about semi-anonymous writing that’s conducive to such openness, and hopeful kindness.  It’s bizarre, and I like it, and I’ve missed it.  Good night; happy August.

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(first cheers in a new house!!!)

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(opening a bakery in the fall!!, layer cakes comprising a hefty part of the menu!)

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(party lights!)

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(PIE! pine nut crust, lemon sabayon, honey-mascarpone cream)

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(Lake Damariscotta)

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(coffee s’mores pie!)

(Queen Maz, sitter of radiators and gazer of rain)

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(more pie, so many blueberries.)

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(preoccupation with clouds, augmented by water)

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(early morning drive)

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(my opposite in the best of ways.)

May 20.15

May 21, 2015

To begin, to begin.  Again and again, is there ever a point where we stop beginning and we simply continue? A more heady question/situation than I was going for (thus is always the case, when in doubt start a blog entry)… I gripe each time but it’s always so difficult to start these.  The past few I’ve had a recipe to bring it up and keep it going…but a few days ago, I saw on my wordpress stats that someone happened upon (or intently clicked on) Things.   And so I re-read it along with every other long-winded weird post I’d written last summer and was a bit shocked into a feeling I really can’t describe.  I’m happy to have moved on from the baker/yoga/wine/cat-lady routine, and yet, and yet.  That bizarre and creative stranger who published the background of my life is…strangely, sadly(?), a stranger. I don’t keep this blog with a fever of recipes or photos to share, anymore.  Each post is more a stamp of what’s what on a given day.  And sometimes the tweed cake you made for your birthday party three summers ago isn’t as good as what you made today, today!, despite years of professional baking and then running your own department.  Is this shareable?  No…not if I had lost perspective. And that is what this blog is.  It’s perspective.  It’s a half-look backward, a self-judgement now, and a hope later.  I’ll flesh those ideas out a bit more once I can share proper material, but for now, it is simply striking to remember, but also to plan.  Simultaneously. I might have over-served myself last night (good beer in the northeast-) and, that’s putting it lightly because I retreated into T.S. Eliot.  Which means I was past the present and future.  …  I retreated.  And I delved into the Four Quartets starting with Burnt Norton.  That ‘Quartet’ has never been my favorite but last night it was captivating.  It was as if I were Mr. Betteredge from Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone; he is the initial narrator and steward of the house who always turns to Robinson Crusoe in times of emotional or intellectual need.  And just like old Betteredge I flipped open my verse and the random structure of words meeting my eye is what I sought.  Eerily, my affection for The Moonstone is also supported by Eliot, who claimed it as “the first and greatest of English detective novels.” !!! I might’ve also read the underside of a Magic Hat beer cap and taken that quite seriously…last night my first one read, ‘buff you inner shine.’  …hence the reading spree. Anyway.  Burnt Norton. Is what I’d suggest should you ever feel as though you’re at crossroads; possibly what’s behind you will be behind you forever and is that okay?  Is that healthy?  What do you take and what do you leave, when you’re starting a real life. Ughghghghgh so dear-diary but whatever.  Writing somehow replaces, replenishes, the demands you make of yourself–things that used to be gives. Keeping a level head during a stressful day at work (kind of/whoops), cuddling a cat that your boyfriend is extremely allergic to, writing a blog post because you won’t stop but should join the bedtime agenda.  Being as loving and as loveable as you can be.  Were? But it’s all good.  In measures and in time.  And I think I’ve shared bits of Burnt Norton before, actually.  Though previously always glossed over the beginning–it’s a trip of tenses and conditions and possibilities.  But what isn’t?  I love a section of the last bit, which is abstract but ensnares details toward the end: ‘Time past and time future / Allow but a little consciousness. / To be conscious is not to be in time / But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden…’ But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden.  But only in time can the moment in the rose garden.  But only in time can the moment in the rose garden do what?  It is so endless and so fascinating.  And beautiful.  And it is as universal in the rose garden as it is in a pro-kitchen’s walk-in refrigerator, as a Paris metro, as a quiet home in Maine.  It is all endless and connected, bound by the same entity that forever drives and detracts.

I had a few records that Mack had never heard of when we first met.  Youth Lagoon was for sure a stretch…and he not only agrees that Year of Hibernation is…inexplicably good, but he discovered a bonus two-track mini-album that was hidden with the paperwork.  Here’s to that and to Youth Lagoon fitting the indescribable bill–

Bread Pudding!!!

April 21, 2015

You know what’s the worst? Leftover pastries at the end of a day.  You know what’s the best?  Bread pudding that incorporates those leftovers and sells…well, sometimes better than the original product/pastry.

I developed this recipe specifically for that scenario; because leftover muffins (etc.) have more sugar and overall moisture than bread, the quantity of sugar in the custard is reduced, thus the flavors stay in tact and balanced.  At Salt Water Farm, I always have a morning “buckle” (muffin) loaded with some sort of berry (fresh raspberries or blueberries when they’re available, frozen blackberries in the off season), and actually now that I’m thinking about it.. I can’t believe I haven’t posted them on here.  They’re bestselling as they are, but in the off-season “best selling” is a tricky statement, because everything and everyone is generally tricky and finicky and pars are impossible to plot.  SO, with the odd two or three leftovers, I wrap, label and date them and then toss them into the pastry freezer…until the time comes when I’ll pull them out and chop them into bread-pudding to-be.  Since they’re so moist to begin with, even leftover, I toast them into croutons in a low oven, let them cool, and then soak them overnight in the reduced-sugar/egg/cream custard…with salt, vanilla, and a touch of spice or almond, depending on the flavor palate of the leftovers.

I’ll set it out on the counter as soon as the late morning, and also serve it for lunch and dinner dessert.  It sells at all times of day, and is equally wonderful (and popular) as a cool grab-to-go item, or decadently served warm with ice cream.  My photos that follow are split between two batches; the first few were taken last year when I had leftover rhubarb muffins, the later few are from this week and incorporate sticky buns.  No matter the flavor profile, I add the same streusel, and either a dollop of whipped mascarpone (pictured) or ice cream to finish.

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DSC_0373Bread Pudding

10 c cubed leftovers (muffins, cakes–icing and all, scones, biscuits, cookies…)

3 eggs

7 egg yolks

1 c sugar

6 c cream

1 t salt

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

Streusel

Caramel recipe to-follow!!

1) Heat oven to 300 F.  Spread all leftover cubes onto cookie sheets, and toast until golden and dry, 10-15 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.

2) Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together into a large bowl.  Whisk in the cream until well combined, and finally add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.

3) Set the leftovers croutons into a 9×23 baking dish.  Pour the egg/cream mixture over and let soak overnight or at least 8 hours.

4) When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 F.  Sprinkle the bread pudding with turbanado sugar or streusel and bake for 1-1.5 hours.  Test the doneness of the bread pudding by inserting a knife in the middle of the pan and pulling the pudding aside a little bit to see if it has set up. If liquid fills the hole that you have made with your knife, the pudding needs more time.   Remove from oven and let rest for several hours at room temperature before cutting. Enjoy chilled, or warm pieces individually to serve (which is what I do at SWF–re-caramel/sea salt it and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

Happy Spring!! (finally feeling like it up here!!)

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Pistachio^3!

March 13, 2015

I feel a little weird posting a pistachio-paste based recipe after rolling my eyes about its (un-)availability in my previous post, but, a few days and dollars after visiting this website, I had some at my disposal and got to work.

At first I didn’t know which of many pistachio cake recipes I wanted to make–Le Cordon Bleu’s dacquoise, the Baked guys’ Aunt Sassy cake, another layered brick from Momofoku, etc.  I decided on none of the above, as my baking window before dinnertime drew shorter and shorter, despite the extra hour of sunlight pouring in, and I needed to get something into the oven fast and easily.  Plus, as with most things, less is more when it comes to genuinely wonderful baked goods; flavor and texture are undemanding elements, yielding best results with efficient, minimal handling.  So I decided to bang out a pound cake that’s purely, densely, 100% pistachio; a stand alone creation from the À la Mère de Famille cookbook with a buttery crumb, nutty flavor, and addicting crackly top crust.

It stood alone long enough, but it also whetted my appetite for more pistachio…  I started thinking in work mode, wondering how it could be elevated from breakfast pastry to dinner dessert.  The wheels in my head spun me toward the Momofoku book, my usual go-to for adding a bit of spunk here and there, and landed on their pistachio crunch.  It’s not a brittle/toffee so much as a spread, which I decided was a perfect starting point for a frosting or mousse.  I ended up adding some mascarpone for creaminess in taste/texture, and finished it with a generous fold of whipped cream.  The result was a wonderfully light mousse, with an interesting texture thanks to the nuts/feuilletine.  I split the loaf of cake into three even layers, spread them with the mousse, and had an absolutely delicious, absolutely pistachio, layer cake.

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I also had leftover mousse.  So.  I got out the vanilla ice cream I made last week, let it soften, and then folded the mousse into it.  Voila, pistachio ice cream.  It actually worked out better than I could have imagined–the ice cream I make is quite soft to begin with (more like semifreddo, so it’s always easy to scoop during service), so there was plenty of leeway for the additional ingredients to mesh and not change its freezing quality for the worse (make it too firm, too dense, etc.).

Long story short, I got some pistachio paste and went absolutely crazy with it.  And I’m laughing at how hopelessly I often fail at ‘less is more’ when it comes to dessert; hopefully I’ll still be laughing when the restaurant is at full volume and I’m endlessly tinkering away with components for three separate menus…

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Pistachio Pound Cake

– Ingredients –

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c heavy cream, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 T pistachio paste
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 6 T butter, melted and cooled slightly

– Directions –

1) Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Line two 6×4″ or one 9×5″ loaf pan(s) with parchment paper.  Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale and thick (about 5 minutes on high speed if using an electric mixer).  Add the cream and pistachio paste and whisk until combined.  Sift the flour and baking powder together, add to the mixture.  Finally, stir in the butter. The batter should be smooth and shiny!

2) Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Bake for 5 minutes, then make a lengthwise incision in the top of the cake with a sharp knife.  Lower the oven temperature to 300 F, then return the cake to the oven for about 35 minutes, if baking the 6×4 size, or about 1 hour if baking the 9×5, or until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan.  Will keep at room temp in an airtight container for up to 3 days!

Pistachio Crunch Mousse

– Ingredients –

  • 1/2 c pistachios, shelled
  • 1/2 c pistachio paste
  • 3/4 c feuilletine
  • 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 c mascarpone
  • 1/2 c heavy cream

– Directions –

1) Heat the oven to 325 F.  Put the pistachios on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 15 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

2) Put the toasted pistachios in a clean kitchen towel and, with a saute pan or a rolling pin, bash them into smaller pieces, ideally halving the pistachios, or breaking them down to no smaller than 1/8th their original size.

3) Combine the broken pistachios with the pistachio paste, feuilletine, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, until homogenous.  Add the mascarpone and mix just until combined.  Unless you have two mixer bowls, transfer the pistachio mixture to another similarly sized bowl, and give the mixer bowl a thorough rinse.  Whip the cream on medium-high speed to medium-stiff peaks, and gently fold into the pistachio mixture with a spatula.  The mousse-crunch can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

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It happened, I didn’t think it would but it happened.  I’ve gotten somewhat hooked on snowboard youtube videos.  But unlike Mack I’m not planning my next park run(!), I’m getting sucked into the music…and excitement for next year already!

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(this guy!!!^)

When’s the last time I posted a recipe?  I don’t know either.  So I’m starting back up with this 2-in-1…situation, ordeal, monstrosity?, you decide, involving a frightening number of steps and ingredients.  I’ve had the Momofoku Milkbar cookbook for some time now, but I’ve typically just picked it up for a quick garnish/accent.  But! This was not the case two weeks ago!  I got back to Maine after a nice visit to KC, and despite blizzard after blizzard it dawned on me with a tinge of sadness that winter was going to be on its way out soon.  Which incurred an internal blizzard of sorts, and all the motivation I’d been missing in previous weeks finally kicked back up to the normal level.

So. I decided it was time to tackle a cake, any cake, from that book.  I kind of randomly settled on this one, it seemed…most accessible.  Homemade funfetti might not be my thing; passion fruit curd with chocolate? no thank you.; pistachio cake requires pistachio paste, definitely not a staple at any grocery in mid-coast Maine.  Apple pie though, absolutely!  So one morning I was up early, got the pie crumbs in the oven and the next few items seemed to almost make themselves!  I got into that zone–the rhythmic process of rinsing and rotating bowls and spatulas and whisks, juggling oven space and temperatures.  And suddenly the more you do the easier it is to do EVEN MORE!  I’d missed it, a lot.  Baking that is.

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So there we have it.  A cake that truly does taste like pie.  Those pie crumbs are ridiculous, tasting more like pie crust than pie crust, and that frosting has me wondering why I haven’t already made frosting from Girl Scout cookies.  The things you can do that I haven’t done with my blender!!  Yet!

A few notes!  At Momofoku the cakes are assembled in round triple-layer 6″ form, but I decided it’d be easier to make as a rectangular cake, using a 9×5″ loaf pan for structure.  I’ve adjusted the directions accordingly, and no worries, the recipe quantities transition smoothly into those dimensions.  Another plus for the loaf pan is that you can just line it with plastic wrap to cleanly build the layers, instead of going out of your way to find acetate strips.  Though if you already have acetate strips, by all means use them.  I used a combination–lined the pan with foil so I could lift the cake out, but used the strips on the sides so the layers were clean and defined.  Lining with plastic wrap would have a similar effect, but also use a layer of foil underneath since this cake is heavy(!) and it provides more substantial lifting power.

Also, in the book, the ingredients for each component’s recipe are listed together with their directions, however, I prefer to list ingredients all together so as to better understand how much of each one you’re using, total.  Makes for more organized grocery shopping/pantry stocking.  And as for which part to do first, it’s totally up to you.  It just depends on what you have time for and how much you want to do in advance; all of the components save for up to a few days.

Mostly, just do it!  Each part of this cake is as easy as…pie.

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Oh and! I subbed half of the apple quantity with pear.  I love pears and next time would use just them; save those apples for peanut butter!

APPLE PEAR PIE CAKE a la Momofoku Milkbar

– Ingredients –

“Barely brown butter” cake:

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (40g) brown butter
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (110g) buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup (65g) grapeseed oil [used canola]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (180g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt

Apple Cider Soak:

  • ¼ cup (55g) apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • pinch (0.25g) ground cinnamon

Liquid Cheesecake:

  • 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) milk
  • 1 egg

Apple (-Pear) Filling:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 medium (300g) Granny Smith apples, or 1 GS apple + 1 ripe Bosc pear
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ½ teaspoon (1g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt

Pie Crumb Frosting:

  • ½ recipe Pie Crumb
  • ½ cup (110g) milk
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (40g) confectioners’ sugar

Pie Crumb:

  • 1½ cups (240g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, melted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (20g) water

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– Directions –

1) Make the cake!: Heat oven to 350 F.  Combine butters and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl of the bowl once more.

Stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and paddle 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for it, so if it doesn’t look right after 6 minutes, keep mixing. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together an any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any lumps of cake flour are incorporated.

Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan (I used a 9×13″) and line it with parchment,  or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests. Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack. The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

2) Make the apple cider soak: Whisk together the cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved.

3) Make the liquid cheesecake: Heat the oven to 300 F.  Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Line the bottom and sides of a 6×6 inch baking pan (8×8 is fine) with aluminum foil. Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it…if the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.

Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

4) Make the apple pie filling: Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Juice the lemon into it. Fish out and discard any seeds. You will use this lemon water to keep your apple/pear pieces looking fresh and pert. Peel the apple(s)/pear, then halve and quarter them. Put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core. Cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, leaving you with 12 small pieces from every apple quarter. Transfer these pieces to the lemon water as you go.

When you’re ready to cook, drain the apples (discard the lemon water) and combine them in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly bring a boil over medium heat, using a spoon to gently stir the mixture as it heats up and the apples begin to release liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer the apples gently for 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the apples so much that they turn into applesauce. If you have a lot of liquid left, fish out the apples and reduce the remaining liquid by half for about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. Once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week; do not freeze.

5) Make the pie crumbs: Heat the oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until well mixed. Add the butter and water and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should be golden brown and still slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

6) Make the pie crumb frosting: Combine the pie crumbs, milk, and salt in a blender, turn the speed to medium-high, and puree until smooth and homogenous. It will take 1 to 5 minutes (depending on the awesomeness of your blender). If the mixture does not catch on your blender blade, turn off the blender, take a small teaspoon, and scrape down the sides of the canister, remembering to scrape under the blade, then try again. Truly just blend it and keep blending it until it’s completely smooth, like peanut butter.

Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, paddle in the contents of the blender, After 1 minute, crank the speed up to medium-high and mix for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture is not a uniform, very pale, barely tan color, give the bowl another scrape-down and another minute of high-speed paddling. Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

7) ASSEMBLY!: Put a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use a 9×5″ loaf pan to trace the cake into three equal rectangular pieces, then cut them accordingly. Line the loaf pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, so that the overhang is on the long sides (to make it easier to lift out). Next, you’ll want to use acetate liners cut to the dimensions of the pan to line the sides. I found it easier to place the initial cake layer into the pan before adding the acetate liners, as it helps them to stay propped up and in place. (or line with plastic wrap)

Once the initial layer is nestled into the pan, dunk a pastry brush in the apple cider soak and give the layer of cake a good healthy bath of half of the soak; then use the back of a spoon to spread half of the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the cake.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the pie crumbs evenly over the liquid cheesecake, using the back of your hand to anchor them in place. Use the back of a spoon to spread 1/2 of the pie filling as evenly as possible over the crumbs, draining as much of the liquid as possible.

Set another cake rectangle on top of the filling and repeat the process for layer 1. Nestle the remaining cake layer into the pie filling, and cover the top of the cake with all of the pie crumb frosting, and garnish the frosting with the remaining pie crumbs.

Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (or, the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks!)  At least three hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the loaf pan out of the freezer and, using the overhanging aluminum foil, lift the cake out of the pan. Gently peel off the acetate (or plastic wrap) and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days). …..slice the cake into wedges and serve!

Now that that nonsense is over…what else?

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Snowboarding!, at the Camden Snowbowl (that’s the Atlantic!),

…and further north at Sunday River, with multi-purpose gloves!,

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annnnd yoga with Mazzy.

And lots of instrumentals on repeat.  Old rap!  The one love I haven’t shared here.  Figured this is a way to start…

2015(!)

January 15, 2015

…Happy New Year!

As usual, as with each hiatus, I don’t know how to get back in.

I looked back at my posts celebrating the beginning of 2014, and despite being put off with their wordiness, for lack of a better word, I was excited all over again by the energy and how 2014 just was–through and through and start to finish.

I’m not going to play catch-up with the undocumented second half.  The favorite songs, the pretty weather, the photogenic recipes and the personal episodes that I’d let spill into a public space, all these things might recycle themselves.  But I’m not going to make it a conscious effort.

Right now!, I’m still in Maine.  Salt Water Farm wrapped up a wonderful year and is now closed for winter break until A pril 1st.  I’ve been hit with considerable work-withdrawal, quite unexpectedly.  I was so excited at the prospect of free time until like day 2 when it dawned on me that having nothing to do meant, to some degree, having everything to do.

(There should be a technical term for the type of paralysis rooted in overwhelming freedom.)

So, here I am–two weeks in and I’ve gotten the proverbial ball rolling in a few different directions.  A course at Maine Media Workshops; a pile of savory, actual meal(!) recipes/ideas to tackle; a stack of books to read and re-read (as if nothing could be better than Moby Dick in the middle of a Maine winter); and an ebay bid on a pair of snowboarding boots.

Traveling is of course never far from my mind, and I’m anxious to see more of this beautiful state, dart down to Boston, and to dip south and west home to Kansas City.   However, today I’m in the Camden coffee shop that I first visited on a sunny morning last April.  It’s no exaggeration to say that my love affair with this whole area began then, over toast and coffee in the still-wintry ghost town that it was.  And 9 months later there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

I’m still painting, though I’ve strayed from oil and acrylic to using food.  Yep.  I decided to quite literally do something with my interest in the abstract/aesthetic qualities of raw ingredients.  Feedback has been mixed–my boyfriend(!) was startled I think when he opened the refrigerator and found yogurt splashed on canvas where the beer usually is; I texted some images to far-away friends who offered support and emoticons suggesting amusement; and finally, my photos of said “paintings” were…decidedly different from the dramatic black and white images put forth by my workshop peers.

I’m not going to drone on about it, though, because there are other things (photos) I want to cover today.  I’ve already let approximately 2.5 days be consumed with food art insanity, and I’m not going to let it usurp my post!

Going to let pictures wrap it up, with all their 1,000+ words worth, hopefully before my computer dies.

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(yolk)

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(peanut butter and jelly)

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(my girl!)

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(winter I)

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(winter II)

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(winter III)

When indecision strikes and computer is at 3% battery, recent download playlist saves the day:

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