What I’m Liking Wednesday

As I’ve mentioned before, I like listening to The Moth podcast. At the end of every podcast they say, “we hope you have a story-worthy week”. Lately, I’ve really been paying attention to what I spend my time doing and the interactions I’ve had and really try to have a “story-worthy” week. This past week was filled with a lot:

  • Saturday, we got together to buy beer for the tasting party, made sure we had all of the ingredients ready for making pretzels, and then Saturday night we went to the RAWdance Concept series, where we saw a handful of talented dancers share their latest ideas. We then went to Public Works, where we met up with some more artists, this time of the painting/photography/etc. type, enjoyed some drinks and even witnessed a friend’s artwork get sold!
  • Sunday, as I mentioned, we had the beer tasting, and made some pretzels. It was a huge success! Everyone enjoyed the day of beer (or fresh basil lemonade) drinking, pretzel (and felafel, humus, cheese, and pita) eating and basically a large gathering of friends.
  • Monday was a bit of a recovery day. We slept in and then I rode my bike home (through Golden Gate park) and then enjoyed the warm (almost 70!) day in the park near my house. Then, I was, surprisingly, called by a long-time friend that I haven’t connected with (but will hopefully be better connected with in the near future) in a long time! It was the highlight of my day!
  • Tuesday was also a relaxing and warm day. I spent some time catching up on podcasts and reading since the Internet in our house has been down (I am currently typing this in the library).

I have also been enjoying something new: I have been meditating on a semi-regular basis since the beginning of this month. Since it is new to me, I have not been meditating for more than 15 minutes so far, but I hope to maintain my “schedule” of increasing my sitting time (by increasing the time 1 minute per day, but repeating the time if I miss a day or two) to 20 minutes by the end of the month. Any tips & tricks are definitely welcome, please share in the comments!

Tomorrow is Pi Day (3.14 aka March 14) so we are planning on making a mushroom-onion tart. This will be the first savory tart I’ve made since the chicken pot pie I made almost a year ago. Do you have anything planned for Pi Day? What about St. Patrick’s Day? Any green in your future? Let me know what you have planned and/or what made your week “story-worthy”!

What I Am Reading Wednesday

Okay, so I’ve been away for a week. BUT, I do have a lot to share with what I’ve been reading and what I hope to share in the next few weeks!

So, what I’ve been reading:

I think this is great and that supermarkets should be allowed to do this in the U.S., too. I don’t know why farmers would want to hide what they are doing, if they are doing nothing wrong. :)

Speaking of doing nothing wrong, these Americans have been helping out their community.

And, if you are as much of a fan of This American Life & Ira Glass as I am, you would enjoy reading this.

I felt like this article was written just for me; it was just the advice I was looking for. And on a related note: this advice.

Since this is a food blog, I guess, really, I should be posting about food articles I’ve enjoyed recently. Like this one, about what the world eats.

Or, how about this one? For all of you pie-lovers out there. By the way, just a little survey: cake or pie? (Answer in the comments!)

For a more savory treat, (though you could make pie crust with lard) an article about lard making a comeback.

And, since it was recently what would have been Julia Child‘s 100th birthday, let’s all learn to eat the way that she did!

Lastly, great tips on getting your mojo back in the kitchen.

So, that’s what I’ve been reading. As I’ve said before, I have been working on some recipes I’d like to share soon, including some good ol’ American corn. I’ve also been making some things with coffee, and have another foodie pen pal box to pick up from the post office! Of course, I have some test photos I took with my new camera that I’ll share on Friday! Lots of posts coming soon(ish)!

 

Photo Friday!

After watching the play/musical Sweeny Todd, we decided to make meat pie for dinner! This one included ground lamb, carrots, mushrooms, and fresh corn and a homemade crust. It was good that night, and even better for lunch the next day.

We tasted some Sake at Corkage (in San Francisco). We also ate their fried chicken, duck pate (not shown), oysters, and other yummy stuff. We bought a bottle of our favorite that night, and now we just need a recipe (or two) to eat with it. Anyone have any ideas?

This biscotti recipe was found on David Lebovitz‘s blog recently. I like the texture the cornmeal adds to the biscotti. (More on that later! I know I’ve been saying that a lot, but I really mean sooner rather than later this time!)

And that wraps up another Photo Friday! series. I bought a new camera so I am really looking forward to showing the results in next week’s post!

Mini Tartlets

When I saw these in the store, I knew I had to get them! I love all things mini. There’s just something about the small size that grabs my attention more than the full-size version. Mini Snickers bars that somehow only make an appearance on Halloween. Mini muffins or cupcakes. Mini loaves of bread. Mini. Easy. One or two bites. An amuse bouche. A petit four. Mignardises. How ever you put it, I love it!

I used these to make tartlets for New Year’s Eve this past year (2011-2012). I made chocolate ganache and orange curd tartlets. I sprinkled the chocolate ganache ones with white sugar crystals (the sort of sugar that does not dissolve) and the orange curd ones with homemade candied orange zest.

Cover of "Baking"

I got the recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking, by James Peterson. I like this book because it not only gives you great recipes, but because it shows you steps by picture and gives you more than one technique to doing something. For example, the tart/pie dough recipe can be made with either water, heavy cream, or eggs/egg whites as the liquid (or any other liquid–maybe orange juice). It also says how to mix the dough by hand (on a table or in a bowl) or by mixer. It is a great book for all of the basic baking you might want to do.

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.

NaBloPoMo: Post 2

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, and I have told people that I graduated from the CIA with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, I have been asked what my specialty is/what my favorite thing to bake is. I have almost a different answer every time because I like to bake just about anything and don’t really have a “specialty”. I do, however, have a few favorite recipes that I like to turn to, and since this post is a part of the NaBloPoMo, and the theme this month is fan, I bring you a list of my favorite things to bake, and their recipes:

  1. Better Than Brownie Cookies. They are a great chocolaty cookie recipe that I found on another blog a couple of years ago and I like baking them every so often. I have come up with different variations of the recipe such as using butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead of the second cup of chocolate chips. I think, like brownies, these cookies allow you to have a very creative license. Last night I dreamed about making them with a sprinkle of sea salt on them. (Yes, I dream about dessert!)
  2. Pie Pops. Also found on a blog a couple of years ago. Every time I make them or bring them up in conversation, people get pretty excited about them. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a mini pie on a stick.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. I have always liked using the recipe from the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag for as long as I have been making chocolate chip cookies (which is a long time). I also like adding different things to them. This recipe has oatmeal and bananas in it.
  4. Ice Cream. I have yet to buy an ice cream machine/attachment for my KitchenAid (though my birthday is coming up in November; hint, hint, nudge, nudge) but I love making ice cream. I love that this is also one of those things you can get really creative with. By the way, while it’s not on my favorite list, it is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day!
  5. Brownies/Blondies. So easy and so chewy and good. Love to make brownies in a smaller pan than what is called for. Usually, brownies are baked in a 9×13 pan and I bake them in a 9×9 or an 8×8. This makes them more fudgy and gooey and that’s what you want in a brownie, right? I know it’s kinda weird, but I also only like the middle-no edges for me!

So there it is. The top five things I like to bake. My turn to ask: what’s your favorite thing to bake/what’s your specialty? (you can answer in the comments)

Indie Mart: I’m selling my sweets (again)!

I am going to be selling my homemade sweets at this:
INDIE MART JULY 300
I am making chocolate-covered pretzels, pie pops, and cookie sandwiches. Come down to the Mission and get some goodies! :)

Here are all of the details:

July 18th Indie Mart..back with more DIY. more fun. and more antics.
The Indie Mart is hitting the street again Sunday July 18th, from 12-6pm. We got over 90 vendors bringing you the best makers, designers, vintage, handmade unique goodies, art, baked treats and much more. Tons of interactive vendors offering customization or showing you how it’s made. About a third of our vendors are new, keeping to our promise of new vendors from all over Cali & SF.
We also have more DIY! Thanks to all of you who loved up on our woodland creature terrariums. This Indie Mart you can make your own terrarium, make pie in a jar to take home & bake OR you can sew up & create your own Sock Monster with help from WorkshopSF. We also got Broke Ass Crafts with Broke Ass Stuart with all kinds of fun dirt cheap crafts to make. We’re also welcoming Forage SF who host the underground farmers market, who are bringing a few rad vendors with them. San Franpsycho live printing out their badass milktruck. Besides our usual standby’s on stiff drinks, cheap beers & fresh BBQ food from thee Parkside… We got a life size terrarium where you can hang out, drink some beers & kick it with the gnomes, deer and relax. PBR’s forest right next to it, where you can hang out and get some sweet PBR giveaways..did someone say a tallboy sleeping bag?! Puppies & kittens for adoption from WonderDog. Heavy Metal Aerobics pumping at 3pm for all to join in (SF Weekly & 7×7 Best of SF winner). Photobooth. All lady DJ’s outside all day playing hella rock & roll. Bike parking & all kinds of fun!
Bands inside:
Chappo Music from NYC (4:15pm, http://www.chappomusic.com)
The Downer Party (3:30pm, http://www.myspace.com/downerpartytime)
Super Adventure (2:45pm, http://www.myspace.com/superadventureclubmusic)
Microfiche (2pm, http://www.myspace.com/microfichemusic)
DJ’s outside all day: DJ Cherry T, Sassy Mags, Danelle (from Heavy Metal Aerobics) & Resident DJ Rick Moranis (previously Sarahdactyl)
This month’s featured artist: Kelly from Retro Whale. Peep her rad art here!
The Indie-Mart Street Fair
Sunday July 18th, 12-6pm
Thee Parkside- 17th st & all down Wisconsin
Ride your bike, take the 22 Muni Line
Valet bike parking from the SF Bike Coalition
ALL AGES- 21 to booze it up.
$3 to git in!
http://www.indie-mart.com
http://www.twitter.com/indiemart
http://www.facebook.com/people/Indie-Mart/1330994393
JUST GOOD SHOPPING. GOOD FOOD. GOOD MUSIC. GOOD DRINKING. GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD ALL DAY FUN. THE INDIE MART.
http://www.indie-mart.com

Easy as pie.

Last night, with the help of my assistant pastry chef (Benjie), I finally had a chance to make pie pops. Although fun to make, it is a long process, especially if you are like us, and like to make things from scratch. You could do things the more convenient way, and buy pre-made dough, and pre-made pie filling, and then just put all of the ingredients together, but where’s the adventure in that?
So, first came the dough. The other blogs that we found the pie pops on used traditional pie crust, but I wanted to try something different, so I made a dough that is similar to cookie dough. In fact, the recipe I used is from the Culinary Institute of America‘s book, Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, called 1-2-3 cookie dough. You may be thinking it is called that because it is easy as 1-2-3, which is true, but it is really called that because the recipe’s formula is a 1 to 2 to 3 ratio of butter, sugar, and flour. (ex: 1lb butter, 2lbs of sugar, and 3lbs of flour, with the addition of eggs (4) and flavorings.) I also used pie dough, just to see and taste the difference. The cookie dough recipe is similar to the CIA’s recipe for traditional pie dough, which they conveniently call, 3-2-1 pie dough. (3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part water.) I will share all recipes used at the end of this post. All of the recipes I used were really easy, mostly containing steps basically including “put all ingredients in bowl and mix together”. As far as textures go, the cookie crust was crunchier, and the pie dough was flakier, but both were good. I also liked the look of the cookie dough pops better, they came out shiner and just all-around nicer-looking.
Next, we made the fillings! We tried three different pie fillings, blueberry, pecan, and pumpkin. While it was fun to have all of the different flavors in the end, next time we are going to stick with one flavor. This is for simplicity, and because you do not use a lot of filling for each pop, we ended up making a full pecan pie, a blueberry cookie crumble, and have the left over pumpkin pie filling waiting it’s turn to be made into a full-sized pie in the freezer. So much pie! I think the pops made with the cookie crust were the best, because you can add more filling, and the ratio of crust to filling was perfect, compared to the pie dough, which left little room for filling, and therefore, the high ratio of crust to filling was not good.The fillings were all good, my favorite was the blueberry, not to sweet, not too tart. The pumpkin filling was okay, but would be better with real pumpkin, and not canned. (Yes,we used some convenience items. Perhaps later, when pumpkins, and other squash items are in season, I will make pumpkin pie from real pumpkin.) The pecan filling was gooey, and tasted good, but since it was the runniest, it created the flattest pops. I am happy to have used the rest of that filling for its own full-sized pie (made with leftover pie dough). Yum! I have not tried the blueberry cookie crumble, which was leftover cookie dough, left over blueberry filling, sprinkled with brown sugar, a little bit of flour, and cinnamon. I am sure it is good, though.
Okay, time for recipes! The filling recipes all came from the wonderful internet and the dough recipes came from the CIA’s Baking and Pastry book, as previously mentioned.

1-2-3 cookie dough: I scaled down the recipe to yield about 3 pounds of dough. This may sound like a lot of dough, but it gets used quickly. If you do have leftover dough, you could make a crumble, like I did, or refrigerate or freeze for later use. This makes really great tart dough, for those of you who like fresh fruit tarts.
Ingredients:
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
1 pound of sugar
2 eggs
1.5 pounds of flour
Method:
Cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Slowly incorporate all of the flour. Be sure not to over mix, just be sure that all of the ingredients are combined.
Cover, and chill until cool to the touch.
Use plenty of flour underneath dough when rolling it out. However, too much flour will prevent it from sticking together.  If using for pie pops, you should be able to roll out pressed together scraps 2-3 times.
Since I don’t want to make this post uber long, I am just including links to the filling recipes I used:
Blueberry, Pumpkin, and Pecan.
Although I like the recipe for 3-2-1 pie dough, from the CIA, I did use this one, which follows the same recipe formula, but is easier to measure for those Suzy-homemakers out there with out the convenience of a kitchen scale. This makes enough for a bunch of pops, or one 9″ pie crust. This can also be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
Pie Dough:
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup of water, cold

 Method:
Place flour in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces, about pea-size, and place in bowl. Toss around butter pieces, to be sure they are all completely covered in flour. Start to press dough together. This will help determine how much water should be used. My dough was coming together nicely, so I started out by adding only 1/4 cup of water. Then I pressed the dough together, and added just enough water to form a soft, smooth dough.
I was able to keep pressing together all of the scraps of dough and adding some dough that had not been rolled out yet, which allowed me to re-roll numerous times.
We followed the instructions on Bakerella‘s site on how to make the pie pops. Despite all of the work to be done for the dough and the fillings, the actual assembly is pretty easy.  Basically, cut out the circles of dough, place them on the cookie sheet, press on lollipop sticks (found at a craft store), place on a spoonful of filling, place another circle of dough on top, use another stick to help press down the top layer of dough, brush tops with egg white, bake in 375-degree oven for about 10-14 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!
Okay, I am currently having trouble uploading the pictures, so you will have to use your imagination for now, and I will try to upload them soon!