Archive for May, 2008

Another Cooking Class

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

This past week I got the chance to teach another cooking class at my church Rockharbor. I teach these classes once every other month as a ministry and we always have a great time. This class’s theme was “Perfect Party Foods and Desserts”. I got a lot of inspiration for this menu from fellow bloggers and decided to make Bakerella’s Cupcake Bites and The Pioneer Lady’s Fancy Flower Pots. I wanted to spice these desserts up a bit by using mostly homemade components instead of using store-bought ones…although these would be delicious either way. Everyone had a blast making these desserts and I was thrilled with their creations. I also had to try some out at home after the class so I could have some photos for my portfolio too! For the savory component of the class we made Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, but sadly I don’t have any really good photos of those, but trust me, they were delicious! Well, to start off this long post I will begin with the photos of the Fancy Flower Pot desserts. This is the dessert I made the Chocolate Peanut-Butter and Apricot-Pistachio Ice Creams for. I also bought some quality store-bought ice cream and gelato so people would have a variety to choose from. Here are my photos to give you an idea of the process, but I would recommend going to The Pioneer Lady’s website for full instructions.

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I tried out two new recipes from Warren Brown’s new book Cake Love, his Vanilla Pound Cake and his Chocolate Pound Cake. Both of these recipes are definitely blog worthy and I will be posting them shortly. To start off the process, you stick the circle cut-outs of pound cake in the bottom and then insert a straw. Then you place your choice of ice cream in and freeze.

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Now for your choice of dirt…I pulverized some of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Pistachio Toffee, some oreos, and then bought some chocolate covered sunflower seeds too.

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Then you find your hidden straw and insert your flower into it.

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Here are some photos of the ladies with their finished flower pots.

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Now onto the Cupcake Bites!  I don’t really have step-by-step photos for this one, so I would just recommend checking out Bakerella’s blog for the instructions.  I used Sweet Melissa’s Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting for these cupcake bits and boy were they delicious.  I will post this recipe, along with the pound cakes soon.  Well, here are the photos!

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Ice Cream Addiction

Friday, May 30th, 2008

So my ice cream addiction continues and my love affair with David Lebovitz’s book, “The Perfect Scoop“, keeps getting stronger and stronger.  I tried out these two new recipes for a cooking class that I taught yesterday…more photos and recipes will come later with that posting, but for now I thought I’d wet your appetite by posting these two delicious recipes.  I wanted to try one recipe that was rich and sinful and another recipe that was fruity and lighter, so my choices were “Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream” and “Apricot-Pistachio Ice Cream”.  Both of these in my opinion were winners. Hands down everyone was more obsessed with trying to get a taste of the Chocolate-Peanut Butter one, but can you blame them…just hearing the title makes me want to make another pint. However to be fair, I thought that the Apricot-Pistachio one was quite yummy too.  If you are an apricot lover then this one would be a huge winner for you!  So enough chattering…here are the recipes!

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Apricot-Pistachio Ice Cream 

5 ounces dried California apricots, quartered

¾ cup white wine, sweet

½ cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups half-and-half

A few drops of lemon juice

In a small saucepan, warm the apricot pieces in the wine.  Simmer for 5 minutes, cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 1 hour.  Coarsely chop the pistachio nuts.

Puree the apricots in a blender with the sugar, half-and-half, and lemon juice until smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream makers according to the manufacturer’s directions.  During the last few minutes of churning, add the chopped pistachio nuts. 

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream 

2 cups half-and-half

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

½ cup smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the first four ingredients in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil.  Remove from the heat and whisk the peanut butter in until thoroughly combined.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream makers according to the manufacturer’s directions.

I would love to hear which one you would choose! 

 

  

 

Spoonfuls of Heaven

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Ever since I’ve started using my ice cream maker it seems as though I can’t stop!  What also doesn’t help is to have cookbooks from David Lebovitz and Emily Luchetti sitting around with millions of tasty recipes just calling out to you.  So instead of brushing aside this desire I decided to indulge and tried two recipes in one day.  I tried David Lebovitz’s Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet and Emily Luttetti’s Rhubarb Ice Cream with Strawberry Compote.  Both were extremely delicious and I would highly recommend trying them out.  

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I had just gone to the farmer’s market the day before and had some delicious strawberries that were perfect with this dessert. This compote is served warm over the ice cream and makes for a yummy accompaniment.  Since I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand (I ran out of sugar!) I swapped some out.  I used sage honey that I had picked up from the farmer’s market in exchange for the sugar and used Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier.  

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Here are a couple more photos of the process…

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And this is how my bowl looked about two minutes after tasting it…

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Rhubarb Ice Cream

adapted from Classic Star Desserts

4 cups cut-up rhubarb (1 1/2″ pieces, from about 1 pound)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

large pinch of kosher salt

4 large egg yolks

1 cup whole milk 

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the first four ingredients and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft…about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Then place it in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Strain through a medium-mesh sieve.  Let cool to room temperature.

Prepare an ice bath.  In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.  In a saucepan heat the milk and cream until small bubbles appear.  While whisking constantly, pour the cream mixture into the yolk mixture.  Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until it coats your spoon or reaches 175 degrees (about 3-5 minutes).

Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve and back into the bowl and place it over the ice bath.  Let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.  Whisk in the rhubarb puree.  Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker according to its directions.  Place in the freezer to harder a little more, about 2 hours.  

Strawberry Compote

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered length-wise

1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

In a large saute pan, combine the lemon juice, sugar and Grand Marnier and cook over medium-high heat.  Stir occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.  Add the strawberries and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute or until the strawberries are warmed through.  Place over ice cream and enjoy!

Well, here are the photos of David Lebovitz’s Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet from his book, The Perfect Scoop.  You can see the recipe and get inspiration for other ways to play with this dessert if you stop by Cannelle et Vanille.  This is definitely one of my favorite blogs out there!  Another blogger that recently tried this recipe to rave reviews was A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen. She also tried David’s recommendation of adding his decadent caramel sauce on top.  Check out the photos…they are fabulous!  Well, when I was trying to think of what I wanted to pair with this sherbet I kept eye-balling the box of ginger snap cookies I had just bought from Trader Joe’s and thought “What the heck…I’ll give it a try!”   The flavor combo definitely has a kick to it, but I think I liked it.  I tried to get another opinion, but my husband is bias since he doesn’t really love the taste of ginger snaps.  So my taste buds liked it, but I don’t know if I would say that it is the ultimate pairing…basically it’s yummy and the mini ice cream sandwiches looked really cute!  

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More Random Events

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Here is the last batch of random photos from my crazy week.  I did an order for a baby shower office party and they wanted cookies that were stars and cars.  As you can see from the photo I didn’t really do the realistic route, but made it more cartoon-like.  For that same order I also did chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.  I colored the buttercream to match the cookie colors and then added a lime green fondant accent.  And lastly they order 24 mini key lime pies…these are definitely one of my favorites.

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I also had a cupcake wedding last weekend…yes, one day before my friend’s wedding!  The bride had quite a colorful wedding and wanted 5 colors combined in the cupcake order…orange, deep pink, deep purple, turquoise, and sage green.  She sent me over a photo of with the sample colors and they looked quite pretty together…very vibrant and colorful.  I don’t have tons of photos of the order since I was so crunched for time and also since I had my assistant deliver the cupcakes for me.  However one of my friends who was at the wedding snapped a photo of the cupcakes for me, so I thought I would post it.  My brother-in-law made this cupcake tower for me and this was the first time I tried it out.  Each tier comes apart and there are actually four more tiers that could go on it if I wanted it for a bigger event.  Here is also a photo of one of the color schemes on some cupcakes.  They had purple heart fondant accents with their initials “I+M” on it.  

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Graduation Cake

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Well, graduation time is here and orders are coming in!  My mother-in-law ordered this cake for a good friend of hers who went back to school to finish her nursing degree.  I thought it would be nice to add a little girliness to the cake so I pulled in the color pink to spice it up.   

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I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten and then added coffee whipped cream filling and covered the cake in chocolate mousse buttercream.   

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I used cookie cutters to cut out the diploma and graduation cap fondant accents and then used royal icing to pipe the borders around the shapes.  

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Congratulations to all the grads out there!

 

Lots of Sugar Cookies!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

This past week I had a lot of sugar cookie orders too…probably my most in one week ever!  I love getting the chance to design custom cookies for clients and watch the smile on their face when they see the finished product for the first time.   This first cookie was made for the Delta Gamma Sorority house in Los Angeles.  Their sorority emblem was an anchor, so I matched their colors and added the girls names to the cookies.  The rope and anchor hole are my favorite part of the cookie!

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I have also been doing a lot of custom cookie orders for customers of Naples Gourmet Grocer, which is a specialty food store and cafe.  This first customer wanted animal cookies with pastel colors for their little boy’s birthday.  I found some animal cookie cutters at my local cake decorating store and was pretty happy with how they turned out!

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The next order I did for them was for another little boy’s 2nd birthday party and the mother wanted balloons, presents, the #2, and primary colors.  This order was for cookies and a cake.  The cake was chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and I covered the cake in fondant.  I then colored some of the buttercream and piped on the decorations.

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Besides birthday orders, I also did a graduation cookie order for a friend of mine who I went to high school with.  Her theme for the party was flamingos so I did graduation caps and flamingos for her.

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And lastly I just finished doing some tuxedo and wedding dress cookies for Ever After Events in San Diego.  They wanted a gift for their newly married couples and I think that this was a great choice!

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I would love to hear which one you liked the best!


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