Before I Say Goodbye to 2010

Now that I have a moment to look back, the past few months feel like a blur - time just seemed to go by so fast.  In that blur however, the moments that do stand out are the awesome times I've spent with family and friends - both new and old.  I even experienced something completely new and foreign - someone making dessert for me to enjoy!

After my family's Christmas dinner, I crashed the celebration my BFF's family was having.  Her brother Jimmy was making chocolate souffle and I didn't have to lift a finger!  It was entertaining to say the least...for you kitchen folk out there, he whipped the meringue by hand!  What a workout - I was tired just watching...

Here's the finished product - it tasted as good as it looked!  The warm chocolate souffle was served with vanilla bean ice cream - delicious!

I really love the feeling of making desserts for others to enjoy, but wow, it is even more amazing to have someone make dessert for me to enjoy.  Good times - thanks for the hospitality! 

So, goodbye 2010 - Thanks to all my friends and family who actually read my ramblings.

Have a fabulous 2011!


Not Just Any Christmas Cookie...

Christmas Macarons for all! 

I had a friend show me a different formula she had been using...we made A LOT.
Blackberry Macarons [12.24.2010]

Christmas Macarons [12.24.1010]

The purple blackberry macarons were a trial batch.  
We then made the Christmas colored ones:
Red - Blackberry
Green - Pistachio
White - Chocolate

The texture came out great - a crispy shell and a chewy inside.  I got a lot of positive feedback from the lucky recipients.  That always makes the hard work worth it! 

While waiting to pop our macs in the oven, we even had time to make Devil's Food Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting...

Lucy's Tree Lot Cupcake [12.24.2010]

Photo ops always come first, so all precautions must be taken to deter empty tummies...

Lucy's Note [12.24.2010]

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!


It's a Small World...

Earlier in the month, I was commissioned to make desserts for a vow renewal by a family friend for her younger sister and brother-in-law Millie & Richard.  I ended up making 3 types of cupcakes and a recreation of the top tier of the original Tiffany Box wedding cake.  Here's the finished product...

Millie & Richard Cupcakes [12.11.2010]

Tiffany Box Cake & Cupcakes [12.11.2010] 

The cupcake flavors:
Kahlua w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon Meringue w/ Lemon Curd Filling
Vanilla w/ Chocolate Buttercream and Monogram Sugar Cookies

I was happy to hear from Millie that everyone enjoyed these treats!  One of her good friends even asked me to make cupcakes for her daughter's birthday party the following weekend!  After a few emails to settle on details, we came to realize that my newest clients are also good friends with my best friend's older sister!  

It really is a small world after all.  

I ended up making the Kahlua and Lemon Meringue cupcakes for the birthday party with the customized sugar cookies pictured below.  

Cori's 3rd Birthday Sugar Cookies

I hope Cori had an amazing 3rd Birthday and that everyone enjoyed the sweets!


I'm a Slave...

to Pastry!  It's been non-stop the past few weeks with a heavy workload at the restaurant and lots of side projects.  I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and not a moment too soon!  Don't get me wrong - I love doing what I do, but I have never felt so tired and rushed.  I can't remember the last time I had any ME time.

Here are the pictures of the sweets I made for my Mom's Book Club...

Gingerbread Marshmallows [12.12.2010]

Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Marshmallows [12.12.2010]

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a gingerbread cookie cutter that was small enough to make non-obscene sized gingerbread marshmallows...maybe next year. 

Mom had originally requested the peppermint marshmallow and one day on the drive home, it dawned on me - why not layer the marshmallow to look like peppermint candies?  To my surprise, it worked!  Yes, to my surprise, because there have been numerous times where my "bright ideas" turn into horrendous catastrophes.

Hope eveyone at book club enjoyed!


Pumpkin Pie 2010

I know it's been ages since I've utilized my own kitchen for something other that a 5 min meal.  Between feeling under the weather, vacations, social life and a just plain busy schedule, I have found little time and lack of motivation. As a result, I do apologize that I haven't had much to report.

But guess what - that's all about to change!  With the holidays staring me straight in the face, I'm getting back into the swing of things - how could I not?  Thanksgiving was definitely the spark that I needed to get me back into my kitchen.  As you might have noticed from one of my previous posts, A Holiday Made for Me, Thanksgiving holds a soft spot in my heart.  Besides making the standard Thanksgiving staples, I got back into the sweets.

Pumpkin Pie [11.25.2010]

This years pumpkin pie has the same butternut squash filling as last years, however, it is baked in a classic French tart mold.  It's topped again with brown sugar creme fraiche (why mess with a good thing?) and the twist, homemade squash chips - fried and tossed in cinnamon sugar.  Even dad loved it - and he's the harshest critic of them ALL! 

Hope everyone had a tasty Thanksgiving!



It's finally time - leaving for Hawaii tomorrow morning and I absolutely CANNOT wait!  A relaxing vacation is definitely long overdue.  To get in the spirit of things, I made a Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Sherbet.  I LOVE the flavor of lilikoi - sweet, sour and refreshing.  I can't wait to have lilikoi flavored everything in Hawaii.  The only down side is that I can't bring any home! 

Passion Fruit [06.26.2010]

Lilikoi Sherbet [08.18.2010]

I personally love the exotic look and vibrant colors of passion fruit.  I also like the crunch of its seeds.  The sherbet is so easy to make and had an amazing texture.  A few simple ingredients - passion fruit concentrate, sugar, milk, cream and passion fruit seeds (if desired). Easy and delicious!


End of a Season

Even though it's been shorts and sandals type of weather the past few days, summer officially ended about a week ago.  To say farewell, my last project with summer's harvest...

Nectarine Cheesecake w/ Blackberries [09.03.2010]

Usually cheesecake is rich and heavy, but using nectarines as a flavor base allowed me to lighten this one up both in flavor and texture from its tang and juice.  The crust is made with brown butter and infused with sage.  It's finished off with fresh blackberries and blackberry glaze.  My boyfriend really ate this one up!

Now let's see what autumn has to offer!


Fun with Fondant

 Lauren Decorating Cupcakes [08.26.2010]

Our family friends were visiting from Vancouver last month.  Lauren (12 years old) wanted to play with fondant.  I thought of two mini projects we could decorate together.  Ahead of time, I baked two dome cakes and a dozen cupcakes.  I showed her step-by-step how to make a ladybug out of one dome and she decorated her own.  She is awesome - you could barely tell the two apart!  Most of the people in culinary school aren't as good at following an example as she is...we should hire her at the restaurant for sure!  :)  We also decorated some cupcakes with flowers - she picked and created the colors herself.  

Unfortunately I don't have any hi-res photos of Lauren's work since it was night time, but here are my finished products...

Ladybug Cake [08.27.2010]

Fondant Flower Cupcakes [08.27.2010]

I had an amazing time working with Lauren in the kitchen.  I can't wait for her next visit - hopefully she'll still be into baking!


Always on the hunt...

for the perfect Peanut Butter Cookie!  After my friends made a couple batches for me, I tried one of my own.  I liked flavor and the texture of the first batch, but they came out flat.  The second batch was too cake like and wasn't peanut buttery enough.  The flavor was there for the one I made, but I would like them a bit chewier.  So, still looking.  I suppose anything classified as "perfect" shouldn't come easy.  And yes, Crease and I ate that spoonful of peanut butter!

Peanut Butter Cookies [08.08.2010]

BTW, thanks for the cute plate Sarah!


Fiesta Cupcakes

I was enlisted to create 100 cupcakes for a fiesta themed party.  The result - the absolute best cupcakes I have ever made!  These babies are my pride and joy...

Coconut Dulce de Leche Cupcakes [07.30.2010]

This cupcake consists of a coconut cake, homemade dulce de leche filling, dulce de leche french buttercream and toasted coconut flakes.  It was sweet, silky, light and fluffy with a slightly chewy texture from the coconut.  Oh, and  love the way they look - simple, classy and clean.  I also tried to carry those characteristics through in the photograph.


Yesterday was a Scorcher...

and poor little Crease couldn't handle it!  Good thing I thought ahead and he was able to enjoy an ice cold Pina Pop!  Pineapple is definitely his favorite fruit - if he spoke English, he would tell you. 

Crease Enjoying a Pina Pop [08.24.2010]

I made the popsicles by cooking down some fresh pineapple with lime juice, sugar and chili powder.  After the pineapple began to break down, I pureed the mixture.  I had reserved some pineapple which I chopped finely and added to the mixture for extra texture in the popsicle.  Yummy for me and for puppy!

Pina Pop [08.24.2010]


"Baked" Brownies

Not like that!  My friend Sarah gave me the Baked cookbook for my birthday and I finally got around to making the highly rated brownies from it.  (It's rated "Best Brownie" by America's Test Kitchen and endorsed by Oprah.)

Caramel Pecan Brownies [07.22.2010]


Of course I had to put my own twist on it.  I followed the basic brownie recipe, but decided to drizzle it with a homemade salted caramel and pecans before baking. 

The brownies have a fudge-like texture, perfect for the choc-o-holic.  I like them a bit chewier, but I'm a little picky.  

Overall, it was a crowd-pleaser. 


Family Road Trip

Last month we took a weekend getaway to glamorous Reno, NV!  :)  It's basically the only place that dad is willing to go.  My usual routine - a stop at Ikeda's in Auburn, either dinner or Sunday brunch at Sterling's, blackjack and shopping at Off 5th.

Ikeda's [07.24.2010]

Ikeda's is an awesome pit stop on a road trip because it's not the usual fast food chain.  It's a family-owned burger bar, fruit stand and bakery.  It's a sort of country store with not only fresh produce, but preserves, gourmet snacks, marinades, etc...  Next time you make that trip on 80E, think about supporting this local business!

As for the rest of my routine, had Sunday brunch at Sterling's - LOVE their filet medallions and key lime pie, broke even on blackjack and scored an awesome pair of Juicy boots at Off 5th.  To top it off, dad won me the Domo that Robert couldn't - maybe because he was a little tipsy.  Successful trip I would say!


Frozen Goodness

For my birthday earlier this summer, I received a new Ice Cream (Gelato) spinner from my parents.  It's a DeLonghi GM6000 and it replaced a primitive KitchenAid attachment that I was using.  The machine is awesome!  There no need to make room in the freezer for a giant bowl - it has a self-refrigerating compressor.  I love it so much that I was even contemplating giving up precious real estate on my counter for this thing.  

Alas, I didn't.  However, I have gotten some good use out of this thing.  

Flavors made:
Sorbets - Mojito, Bellini,Peach, Raspberry, Roasted Strawberry and Green Grape
Sherbets - Strawberry Buttermilk, Cantaloupe

Ice Creams - Burnt Caramel, Vanilla Bean, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip, Banana, Chocolate Banana

Pictured below are Vanilla Bean, Peach & Raspberry Sorbet Swirl and  Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

Trio of Frozen Treats [07.06.2010]

Thanks Mom & Dad for the awesome kitchen appliance - more flavors to come!


Complex Corn

There are so many varieties of corn.  They are not only distinguished by color but also by their amount of sugar in relation to starch.  

A few weeks ago at the produce market, I came across red corn.  I have only seen colored corn in its dry form.  Obviously, I had to buy a few ears.  Then, just a the other day, I saw red corn at work.  It was a sign - this post is overdue.  

After a little contemplation, I decided to make risotto with crab - a totally indulgent dish.  It was creamy and rich.  Risotto is way easier to make than one may think.  Because of this, it's definitely become one of my go-to dishes.  It's also great because it's a  good platform for seasonal ingredients to shine.  Keep that in mind the next time you want to make something a little different for dinner!

Red Corn [07.10.2010]

Red Corn & Crab Risotto [07.18.2010]


4th of July Flashback

I just realized that I never posted this dessert I made for 4th of July...just like how I forgot to serve it at our 4th of July BBQ.  

Yogurt Mousse w/ Berries [07.06.2010]

Not the best picture - doesn't do the dessert justice, but I guess I was going all out for the Red, White & Blue theme.

The yogurt mousse was made with my fav -Fage Greek Yogurt.  Now that stuff is addicting!  I used a recipe from "LeB" in NYC that I was lucky enough to get.  It was definitely my favorite dessert there...and trust me, I had them ALL there.  The berries are tossed in a Lemon Verbena syrup...YUM.

Time to start planning the next BBQ for sure!



(A term coined by my co-worker.)

On a side note, I know it's been a  while since I've posted, but it's been a little hectic - dinners, weekend getaway and in the kitchen of course!  I truly apologize.  

Figs [07.11.2010]

Back to the topic at hand - figs!  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw figs at the market a couple of weeks ago.  They have a sweet, nutty flavor.  And, they are quite the interesting fruit - it's numerous varieties, it's shape, it's textures, it's look and it's variety of vibrant colors.  I've even learned that the fig tree typically bears two crops a year, the "berba" and the "borne."  The berba produces an inferior fruit that is usually too acidic, while the borne is the main crop that is harvested.  This little tidbit comes in handy since a fig tree has just recently joined the apple tree in my yard.

And yet, here's another nugget of knowledge for you.  Figs are an aphrodisiac - I learned this while participating in a culinary aphrodisiac charity event a few years ago.  Fig leaves are mentioned in the story of Adam and Eve, the Greeks associated figs with love and fertility and the inside of a fig is said to resemble a female's sex organs - you decide.

Ummm...on that note, check out my tarts...

Fig & Walnut Financier Tarts [07.11.2010]


Salted Caramel Corn Pops Popcorn...

What?!  There's got to be a better name for this addictive snack.  

In a weird delerium, my friend and I made this salty/sweet treat on a whim.  

Caramel Popcorn [07.10.2010]

I love it when no plans are made and you end up just having a good time and maybe even coming up with something yummy!



I know that it's been a while - that means that I'm catching up!  

For the Fourth of July, I made pulled pork.  It was kind of unbelievable how easy it was, but a little scary at the same time.  Right before I went to sleep, I blotted my pork butt to remove extra moisture, applied a dry rub and popped it into a 300 degree oven.  Scared as I was that I would wake up to a lump of charcoal in the oven, I awoke to quite the contrary!  8 hours later, the most amazing smell was permeating throughout the house.  The meat just needed to be "forked" and tossed with a BBQ sauce I made a couple nights before. If you know me, you know that I rarely eat leftovers, but I ate this four days in a row!

So easy, so delicious and inexpensive too.  Perfect party food for sure! 

Pulled Pork Sandwich [07.07.2010]


The Fruits of Our Labor

fter the fruit-picking adventure, it was time to get to work! The "fruits of our labor" are pictured below with the exception of Apricot Bourbon Caramel (so amazing) and Peach Basil Jam.

Roasted Stone Fruit Tart [06.23.2010]

Apricot Vanilla Jam in the Making [06.19.2010]


Peach Cardamom Jam [06.20.2010]

Cherry Amaretto Compote [07.17.2010]

Bruleed Cheesecake Mousse w/ Cherry Amaretto Compote [07.06.2010]


Summer Harvest

About a month ago, my boyfriend drove my friend and I on a journey out of the city to enjoy the splendors of summer.  The weather was hot, but there was a forgiving breeze every now and then.  We were lucky enough to catch a number of different fruits in season - it was the last weekend for cherries, right in the middle of peaches and the beginning of apricots...

Yellow Peaches [06.12.2010]

My Friend & A White Peach [06.12.2010]

Apricots [06.14.2010]

Cherries [06.14.2010]

Definately fun times - good company, fruit picking, a visit to our favorite store, our favorite iced lattes, hot dogs and ice cream.  What more could a girl want?


Let Them Eat Cake!

Hello Kitty Cake [06.05.2010]


I was given the opportunity to make a birthday cake - a big one (about 12" x 16" x 4.5").  The thing is that with all these cake shows on TV, people want sculpted cakes and think that they are easy to make.  Believe me when I say that it's not.  It takes a lot of planning, hard work and time.  I had to call in help.  My friend and I spent a good amount of time making and assembling this cake.  Considering it was the first big project we took on, I think we did pretty good - everyone was happy with the final product.  Personally, I had fun making the cake - I can't wait until the next order!


Easy as Pie...

Actually, easier.  The way I look at it, crostatas are a rustic style pie. 

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crostata [04.25.2010]

3 ingredients - pie dough, fresh fruit and sugar 

For this crostata, I simply rolled out a round of pie dough.  Instead of tossing the rhubarb in sugar, I mixed it with a healthy amount of homemade strawberry jam.  I piled the fruit mix in the center of the pie round, leaving about a 1.5"-2" border of dough.  That border is then folded over the fruit, making a crust and keeping the fruit in the center visible.  It is then baked in a 400 degree oven for 40 min - 1 hour.  

I love the handmade look of crostatas and its simplicity.  They are so delicious with ripe seasonal fruit!