The Last Six Months, in Three Baking Projects

27 11 2012

It has been over a month since I have updated my blog. I am seized with an urge to apologize. But to whom, and to what end? If one truly creates for one’s self, why then am I so disturbed to find that my unique visitors have dwindled away practically to nothing, with a bounce rate approaching ninety-five per cent? These twin impulses—toward reckless self-regard and the approbation of others—neatly negate one another. This is the essential paradox of our time.

- From the genius New Yorker piece Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre, by Bill Barol

Well. I think Sartre said it better than I ever could, so I’ll leave it at that.  Existential crises notwithstanding, it’s been an interesting year.  When we last left off, I was working six days a week as the Executive Pastry Chef for Blend, one of Paris’ most highly regarded burger joints.  As of this month, I am no longer there, and next month I will be officially unemployed.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping myself busy.  I’m in the process just beginning to write a book – so far I’ve got an outline and a couple of recipes – and I’m also thinking about staging (i.e. working for free for a few weeks) in some of the best chocolateries, bakeries, and pastry shops this city has to offer.  Oh, yeah, and I’m blogging again, too.

A few things I’ve baked in the interim:

Last Spring I made these apple doughnut muffins, inspired by The Hungry Dog.  I meant to post the recipe, and then it wasn’t apple season anymore, and now I’ve decided I want to keep it for the book.  But I will share this photo.

Image

Over the summer, I once again had the good fortune to bake the wedding cake for two dear friends. Once again, I made cupcakes, but this time I added a small “topper” cake for the cake-cutting.  I spent three days in Celine and Jesse’s kitchen, and naturally there were a few stressful moments the day of the wedding, but in the end I was very pleased with the final cakes.  And the bride and groom seemed pretty happy, too.

Image

 

Read the rest of this entry »





Rentrée Blues

1 09 2009

Once again, it’s official.  La rentrée is upon us once more, and my days as la cheffe are up.  Having lost the responsibility is worse than never having had it, because now I have a better idea of how I would run things, and I find myself getting annoyed when le chef doesn’t do them that way.  But it’s not just in the kitchen.  All over Paris, people seem a bit down – it’s always hard going back to the routine after whiling away the long summer days on vacation.  Trust me, I know.  My rentrée was at the beginning of July.

Foodwise, the end of summer always heralded blueberries for me, growing up in the Pacific Northwest where berry season comes pretty late.  So when I saw piles of blueberries at the market a couple of weeks ago, I had to buy some.  And following a disaster (well, ok, not disaster, but less-than-satisfactory outcome) involving Ruhlman’s muffin ratio, I wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Hopie tagged mewith this surprisingly addictive game: find seven blue objects in your house (although I see no reason not to expand the field of view) and do a little show-and-tell.  Like Hope, I decided to focus on my kitchen, seeing as this is a food blog, but now that my eye is trained to scan for blue things, I can’t stop!  Everywhere I go, I’m looking for seven blue items!  Hopefully posting this will purge that impulse.

The very first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself, “what’s blue in my kitchen?” is my beloved Emile Henry ceramicware.

I am inordinately pleased that my dishes match.

From soufflé-type desserts, to custards, to portioning out peanuts for snacking, the ramekins certainly get a workout.  As does the oval gratin dish, especially in the colder months, with treats like tartiflette, ham-wrapped endives, stuffed cabbage, and even the occasional gratin benefiting from the large exposed surface to get browned and crisp.  Quiches, tarts, and sometimes casseroles keep the fluted round dish busy.

A peek into the fridge revealed this:

Yay for homemade dressing!  And reusing containers!

Homemade bleu cheese dressing, made with the end of a wedge of bleu d’Auvergne, a pot of yogurt, and some chopped green onions.

You can see from that last photo that I reused/repurposed the crème fraîche container.  Yes, I am a card-carrying tree-hugger, as evidenced by the next couple of blue things:

Why is the GREENpeace brochure blue? 

Time to take out the trash... er, recycling.

A brochure from Greenpeace about harmful fishing practices (honestly, though, I think a brochure about which fish I CAN eat is more useful than one outlining the ones I shouldn’t eat); and my (rather full, but since emptied) recycling bins.

Are we having fun yet?  There is still the matter of that muffin recipe…

Read the rest of this entry »





Muffins aux Carottes

26 01 2009

I woke up on Sunday thinking about carrots.  I don’t know why.  As luck would have it, we happened to have some in the root cellar, courtesy of the CSA.  We had eaten a fabulously indulgent dinner the night before at Astier (more to come on that, I promise), so we weren’t particularly hungry, but I thought something healthy might help overcome the guilt that always seems to follow an especially gluttonous evening.

Carrot meets grater

Carrot muffins sounded like the perfect antidote.  I wanted crunchy nuts, rich molasses, and whole grains.  A glance through my bookmarked recipes yielded nothing like what I was looking for, but a molasses and whole wheat muffin recipe from Paul Prudhomme by way of Cooking Books and a zucchini bread from 101 Cookbooks via Hopie’s Kitchen looked like good starting points.  Of course, Prudhomme’s recipe had no carrots (nor eggs, which I found troubling, and what looks on paper like WAY too much baking powder), and the zucchini bread had no molasses, though I did like the idea of incorporating crystallized ginger into the mix.

Noisettes grillées

Flipping back and forth between the recipes trying to figure out the correct amounts of baking powder and soda was giving me a headache, and I was getting steadily hungrier.  Ultimately, I guessed at the leavening amounts since I was changing the recipes so drastically anyway.  Enough math and chemistry, it was time to start baking!  Neither recipe had as much whole grain as I wanted, so I threw in some rolled oats for their heart-healthy properties, and I thought that the sweet crunch of hazelnuts would compliment the carrots and ginger nicely (also, that’s what I had lying around).  While mixing up the batter, I realized I didn’t have any milk, so in a very WWPPD moment, I added cream.  And then a little more.

MacGyvered muffin cups

I don’t have a regular muffin pan, but I do have some silicone molds in about the same shape.  Trouble is, I hate the way things baked in silicone molds come out with weirdly rubbery exteriors.  (Custards are an exception, as are pudding cakes and their saucy ilk, but anything with more flour than liquid comes out strangely.)  Lacking muffin cups, I fashioned some out of squares of parchment paper, which worked better than I expected or even hoped.

Read the rest of this entry »








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 317 other followers

%d bloggers like this: