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

Fabulous Food Festival

Yesterday, I went to the Fabulous Food Festival. It was a bunch of booths of free samples and demos and other giveaways, but mostly businesses trying to sell their products to the masses. I think this picture explains it pretty well (if not, check out the picture at the bottom of this post.):

I tried some olive oils, and some fudge, along with some interesting things, such as tea infused chocolate. I even networked (sorta) by talking to the people who were selling chocolate bars and other chocolaty items. I did get this one guy’s business card who said that I should call him when I do start up my own business and that he would give me samples of his chocolate to use. I also found this company that rents out commercial kitchen space to caterers and bakers, and other chefs that are trying to start a business, but don’t have the money for kitchen space yet. I think the most random item being sold at the food festival was sheets. I didn’t get what that company was doing there. There were some other non-food but food related items there, such as “pies” that weren’t really pies, but little ornaments that looked like pies, but had things inside them that made them smell like pie, but then they also had other scents that I wouldn’t want to associate with pie, such as lavender. Is it me, or do flowers just not belong in food? I mean sure, one could argue that fruits are flowers, too, but don’t get me started there. I also tasted fennel pollen for the first time. Sure, it was mixed with other spices that you would generally use with apples, such as nutmeg, and cloves, and I wasn’t really sure what exactly fennel pollen was, and it was pretty much masked by the other flavors, but I guess it was good. I also bought some honey sticks, which are meant to be eaten kinda like pixie sticks, you just bite off the end, and then suck down the flavored honey. I guess you could also squeeze it into some tea, I guess it is probably just the right amount.

I also bought chocolate covered caramel, which had sea salt on top, which, since I like sweet and salty together, was good, though this was a little too salty for my taste. Overall, an interesting experience at the festival.

Today, I was going to do some volunteering down at the Food Bank, but then had other plans, but then those plans got changed, so now I am left with just hanging out in my apartment with nothing to do. Perhaps I’ll end up baking something, and therefore blogging about it later, but we’ll see.

Part Two(s)

So, we made the Better Than Brownie Cookies (again) but this time we added butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips. They were well-received at the Break-fast that we went to after Yom Kippor ended last night.

Also, we made pumpkin pie from the leftover filling that was in Benjie’s freezer from the pie pops.
That was really good, too. For the crust, I made the dough that was supposed to be turned into puff dough for turnovers, so it was a little bit different than basic pie dough. This recipe included milk and sugar, which I used in place of ice water in ordinary pie crust. We will be making turnovers some time in the near future, so look for the crust recipe then.

No pictures of anything, sorry. Though, I will have my camera ready tomorrow night, when we make some meringues! :o)

baking FAIL turns into awesome ICE CREAM! (aka this is what I did today)

Since I had some left over cookie dough from the pie pops, and some time to kill today, I was wondering what I had that I could mix with it. I found butter, sugar (brown and regular, granulated), and cinnamon—all ingredients I needed for cinnamon rolls! So, I softened and rolled out the dough, and softened the butter and mixed it with the sugars and cinnamon. Spread the butter mixture on the dough, rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces, placed them in a cake pan (I didn’t use my jelly roll pan because there weren’t that many pieces, and put them in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven. (sounds good, right? and if you look at the picture, it looks like they turned out well, and people ate them so quickly that all I had time to take a picture of was the empty pan—but after reading the title of this entry, you already know this is not true!) After about 5 minutes, I started to smell the butter browning. (kind of a nutty smell) So, I checked on the rolls, and found that all of the butter had melted out of the dough. I could have been frustrated, and dumped the whole thing, but instead, I put the pan back in the oven, and finished baking the dough, about another 15 minutes. Overwhelmed by the delicious smell of butter and sugar, I quickly thought “I bet this would be good in some ice cream. Like brown butter ice cream, with little cinnamon cookies sprinkled in.” So, I ran out, and got some Bryer’s  vanilla ice cream (now with 30% more REAL vanilla beans!) and put the softened ice cream in a bowl, and dumped in my buttery, sugary, cinnamony dough pieces, and used a rubber spatula to mix them together. Dipped a spoon in, tasted, and LIKED it!

Now, I don’t have any fancy equipment, such as a food processor, or ice cream maker (but they are on my gift wish list—and my birthday IS coming SOON…) but these items would be useful for making the dough pieces smaller, and I would have liked to make my own ice cream, because I did go to pastry school, and I know how to make it, but especially because I am not the biggest Breyer’s fan. (also realized I don’t have a rolling pin-I just used my hands to press out the dough-no big deal, since it was a small amount.) Anyway, the end result is still good, and because I am such a huge fan of chocolate, I added some chocolate syrup, but the extra flavor was not needed. (she writes, as she dips her spoon back in the bowl for some more ice cream…) Lesson learned: what might seem like a complete baking FAIL may turn out to be something GREAT.

While I don’t have a picture of the failed cinnamon rolls, I do have some pictures of the ice cream, and I am willing to share with you the recipe for the ice cream, and real cinnamon roll recipes, in case you want to make those instead of the failures-turned-good rolls.
First, the fail-rolls:
If your dough has been in the refrigerator or freezer (as in you didn’t just make it), then you need to soften it. I did this by putting it in the microwave. Easy and quick. Then, like I said, I rolled it out, spread on the butter mixture, etc.
I used part of the recipe for the Mama’s mini-cinis (below) to figure out the right butter-sugar-cinnamon ratio. I used 3 tablespoons of butter, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a dash of ground cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp if you are really into measuring what I like to call “the small stuff”—spices, vanilla, etc. that don’t make much of a difference in a recipe, unless you put in TOO much.) After spreading the butter mixture on the dough, I rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces and placed them in the pan. 375 degrees. 15-20 minutes. I don’t know exactly why, perhaps I was looking to soak up all of the butter that melted out, but I flipped over the baked dough. I used maybe a quart of ice cream. All I know for sure is that the label says 1.5 quarts, and there is some left, about enough for a good-sized bowl full. You’ll know it’s enough because You won’t see any cookie pieces sticking out, it will just look like lumpy soft serve.
So, it was really easy to fix this baking fail. Just add ice cream!
Now, some of you might want the satisfaction of cinnamon rolls that never fail, but are really easy and quick to make, so I introduce to you Mama’s mini-cinis. This is not a recipe from my mother, but someone else’s, who decided to put this recipe up on the interweb.
Mama’s mini-cinis:
Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls (I guess Pillsbury makes these)

6 TBS butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans (optional)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls, and separate each portion along center perforation to form 4 rectangles; press diagonal perforations to seal.
Stir together butter, sugars, pecans, and cinnamon. Spread over one side of each rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion, starting at long end. Gently cut each log into 6 (1″ thick) slices, using a serrated knife. Place rolls 1/4″ apart into 2 8″ cake pans. (can also use a jelly roll pan, but you want something with edges-do not use a cookie sheet.) bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. cool 5-10 minutes. makes 2 dozen.

Stir together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients, drizzle over warm rolls. (of course, you could eat these with ice cream, too!)

note: to make slicing easier, place logs in freezer for about 10 minutes.