Posts tagged food
Posts tagged food
Back when nobody wanted to give a girl with a good teaching resume a chance in a food services, I checked out an internship at a really good bakery/cafe in Boston. Said internship didn’t have space for me at the time, but it was cool to see the back of house, even if only for a couple hours. One thing I took away from my stage (see: Wikipedia) experience there, was that they let very little go to waste, I really liked that.
One such example was that before slicing and juicing their fruit, they zested them first, and froze the zest. They actually had a lot of frozen zest, but I’m sure they go through it. Sometimes I’ll need a lemon just for the juice, so now, when I can remember, I’ll zest it, label it, and pop it in the freezer. This way I always have lemon zest on hand.
Let me say zest one more time.
Makin’ Dough, Week whatever, or something I’m calling, breadstagram
Last year in early fall, I interviewed at the bakery I currently work at. After I staged they gave me a loaf of bread (left picture). I didn’t get hired at the time, they actually didn’t hire anybody, but told me to keep in touch, which of course I did. I thought that loaf of bread was beautiful (obviously, I ‘gramed it). I knew very little about bread back then. I still know such a small fraction of what there is to know… but 3 and a half months after I started working there, I am eating the same bread (covered in peanut butter and bananas) that I mixed and baked myself. I just started training on the oven and it’s overwhelming and exciting and tiring. There are so many variables in place and so many ways to do things right and so many ways to mess things up. It’s hard not to get discouraged, but it’s very new, and I have to remind myself that.
Warning… things are about to get cute.
For Valentine’s Day, because of our schedule’s, Tyler and I opted to do take-out. There is a short period of time between when Tyler gets home from work and I get too sleepy to function (aka, my bedtime) so it seemed like the best option to celebrate love-day. We decided upon sushi, and I offered to cover dessert. The last issue of Martha Stewart Living had a bunch of chocolate cake recipes, and I was excited to try one.
Tyler requested a chocolate cake, rich in flavor. The “fudgy brownie cake" recipe seemed about right. It involved no layers, or frosting, so I was a little skeptical, but I was trusting in Martha. When I bake something for the first time, I am always nervous. I surprisingly have yet to make brownies from scratch, or a flour-less cake (this one actually called for 3 tablespoons of flour), so I was in unfamiliar territories. I was making up my own chocolate substitutions since I didn’t have the kinds that were called for in the recipe and I wasn’t sure what “done” looked like. Regardless, I think I made the right call.
In the magazine, they suggest dusting the cake with cocoa powder, but I decided I wanted to try making a stencil and dusting some sort of image with confectionary sugar. A nice contrast on the dark cake. I was going to go with a simple heart, or our initials or something… but I decided to challenge myself.
Drawing in stencil form makes your brain have to think in a different way, lines have to connect, the eye has to create contours that aren’t there, sometimes you just have to suggest the idea of an image. I’m making it sound more complicated… I ended of drawing a mushroom and a cupcake. (For obvious reasons, on Instagram, our house is geotagged as “mushrooms and cupcakes.”) I thought I was brilliant.
I was really proud of myself because it actually worked. I bumped the stencil while lifting it, so that’s why you see some extra dots of confectionary sugar, but no big deal. I was so excited to share it with Tyler that I didn’t care if the cake was good anymore. Which it was, it was delicious and dense and sliced so clean you could eat it without utensils. All things worth noting, I guess. And also great compliment to sushi.
About that… I HAD to take a picture.
I may have mentioned it before, but I’m not much of a cook, and by that I mean, I don’t really do it, ever. I can boil water, and heat things up (although we don’t have a microwave) and I’d say I make a make a mean salad and really do love peanut butter sandwiches. However, if left to my own devices, I would probably continue to eat like a kindergartener, all the time (see this or most recently, this gem of a meal). I like making pizza, and have shared that a lot on this blog, but usually it’s with a lot of pre-made things. Tyler is a great cook, and he feeds me well, but I really want to gain some more savory skills… So Tyler wrote me out a recipe for pizza sauce, illustrations included!
Now I have a confession to make… I have made it through 26 years without ever cutting an onion (I know…. I know). I just haven’t had the desire to prepare a food that that I don’t really like in the first place that causes me pain to be around. Let me tell you, I hated it. Every second of it. I whined the whole time, but I understand it’s purpose mixed with other things to get a desired flavor, so I did it. I cut an onion.
And then I made pizza sauce…
Tyler says I stir like a baker, which is probably true. I automatically mix as if I’m combining dough. I remember when I was helping out at my friend’s pop-up restaurant, the chefs commented on the awkward way I hold things, in general. C’est la vie. Or whatever.
That was honestly the extent of my *cooking. But it’s a start. We then made 2 very different pizzas, Tyler’s was a full on hurricane of flavors (2 pizzas in one).
And I decided to keep it simple. I did after all cut an onion. Baby steps.
I actually made a full dinner this week, but I didn’t take any pictures. I made vegan baked polenta and used the sauce I made for the pizza, but added some tomato paste and put it through the food processor so it was less chunky. I made a salad to go with it, too. And I served it to 4 people! (including myself). It was a pretty big deal.
A project from a rather rainy day… Back in October, when the northeast got hit with that hurricane, Boston got lucky and just got very very wet and windy. On that day (at least that’s how I remember it) I decided to finally make my own vanilla extract.
I didn’t have any bourbon in the house, so I made it with vodka. I read a whole bunch of different bloggers stories on making vanilla extract, but mostly followed Stir and Scribble description of the process, which I bookmarked at the time of the post. I also used Beanilla as a reference, which sells their own Vanilla Extract Infusion Kits.
I can’t find my pictures from when I first poured the alcohol over the split beans, but after about 2 months, I’m happy to say I started using my very own vanilla extract in my baking! I decided to bottle the extract after giving it two months in the pantry. It’s easier to measure out when they’re in little bottles, and I was planning on sharing a sample with a friend.
HEY GUYS. The most exciting thing happened. I MET JOY THE BAKER. That’s right. I hugged her, really, I squeezed her. Twice. My face in the picture is really gross, and I should have put on lipstick or fixed my hair or something, but I had just come out of work and was super tired because I was up at 2:45 am that day because I just started a new job and that’s really exciting, but a whole different story. But I met Joy, and IT WAS AWESOME.
She was signing her book at Eat Boutique. Spending money on a ticket to go to a small batch food market is not necessarily in my budget right now, but I’m really glad I went. The market was really cool and there were lots of neat things there, including these awesome goat cheese caramels from Big Picture Farm, VT (middle middle picture) and lots of kitchen toys and books and foods. Joy is the sweetest. I want her to be my new best friend. I told her about how I quit my job and how great I think she is. I really felt like she was listening to me. We talked about the King Arthur Flour Factory and getting aches and pains from baking. I gave her my card, I couldn’t stop smiling. Gosh, I probably talked too much. I felt silly after and I wanted to tell everybody in the line after me that it’s totally worth the hour+ wait. I instagrammed a picture after I left and Joy liked it. I almost took a screen shot of that but then decided to stop being a crazy person.
Sometimes you just gotta go and do things by yourself because they make you really happy. And then you gotta go share that with the internets. I can’t wait to dive into some more of her recipes!!
In the kitchen with Lindsay (Christmas color edition)
You may remember Lindsay from the hotdog posts (part 1, 2 and 3) mid-July, and she was around for a more recent waffle post. Lindsay moved from Virginia to Providence, RI last Spring and I’m so so lucky I get to see her as often as I do. She’s my soul mate. Someday we’re going to start a blog or pod-cast or something. But that’s a whole different post for another day. I want to take a brief moment to talk about these waffles. Since I started scratch baking, I’ve poo-poo’d box mixes, because I’m above that now, obviously, except for this one… Come fall, every year at Trader Joe’s, they carry Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix. And it’s sooo good. Pumpkin is definitely more of a November than a December flavor, but I didn’t get a chance to make any last month, so as December crawled in, I decided it was time. Also, I love using the waffle maker. Our kitchen looks very full right now because we have a tiny indoor garden next to the window, and really, the kitchen is generally a busy place. I didn’t take a picture of the finished waffles, because we were taking turns eating them right as they came out of the waffle maker. I’m not sure if the mix is still around TJ’s right now, I only go about once every month or so, but be sure to look out for it next year.
New morning routine I started a couple of days ago when I decided to start drinking coffee again and that I actually liked biscotti.
In the kitchen, lately.
I’ve had some baking “meh’s.” Not total flops, just not a 10. I made my own pumpkin puree, which is way liquidier than a can and a lot more labor and not much better in price (I do not recommend), but a good experience, nonetheless. I know you can reduce the liquid, but I decided not to. I then tried Joy the Baker's Pumpkin Pie Bars. I’m not sure if I like pumpkin pie.. this did not, however, stop me from snacking on these for breakfast and dessert, in the same day.
Then I tried Cranberry Cornmeal Biscotti, again. I did this 2 years ago and they were okay then, they’re still okay now. I think I feel the same way about scones and biscotti. I always want them to be softer and taste sweeter. But that’s not the nature of them. I haven’t gotten the right consistency, either. The batter tasted fantastic, though!
I’m off to go to the grocery store now, which is probably going to be complete chaos, but I gotta get some last minute necessities.
Sibling Time!! Making Cauliflower Popcorn with Zeke
The youngest of my brothers moved to the area this fall, and it’s really great to be sharing the same city with family again. (I call Zeke the youngest, even though he’s older than me because he is the youngest of my 3 older brothers. I’m the baby of the family, and yes, the only girl, too.) I’m glad to have him close by, as he’s always willing to take cookies off my hands and is very complimentary to my baked goods. I’d say the two of us aren’t very alike, but since we’re close in age, we grew up together and have a lot of shared experiences. One of my favorite things about getting older is the closing of the age gap between me and my brothers, er… my brothers and I… whichever it is.
Zeke’s been wanting to make cauliflower popcorn for a while… it was something I never heard of, but I’m always game for trying new things, and venturing out if sweet treats, especially if I have somebody to do it with. Neither of us were given my mother’s culinary skills, leaving us to google “how to clean a cauliflower” (worth a read), but now we know. We looked at a bunch of different recipes (located at the bottom of this post) and went from there. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot too it, but it was a fun activity to share with my brother. You pretty much just prep the cauliflower, add oil and spices to taste and then bake! Zeke added yeast and cayenne pepper on his half, and I kept it simple with oil and salt. Both turned out delicious, although Zeke’s were a little on the too-spicy side for me. It’s a great healthy snack, and a good popcorn alternative.
How-tos for Cauliflower Popcorn can be found on a lot of meat-free and mom blogs. Here are a couple of the recipes we checked out.