Infusions

Trying to be healthy? Dislike the flavors of soda alternatives like La Croix? (P.S La Croix is amazing) Try infused waters! If you’re like me, you love sodas and sweets but also need to make healthier choices. I have been experimenting with different fruit and herb combinations and found a few winners. Pack a few bottles in the fridge for a quick and delicious fix for your sugar cravings!

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I don’t want to go out any buy yet another fancy, specialized water bottle to let sit in my cabinet, I use Voss water to start because it comes in large glass bottles that can be reused. I suggest glass bottles rather than plastic because plastic bottles are often weak and can contain harmful chemicals that release into the water.

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Infused water doesn’t need a recipe, just different fruits, herbs, and spices that you enjoy. My favorite infused water combination is lemon, mango, cayenne pepper, and a touch of honey. Strawberry and basil is also a delicious, herbaceous water. (It also works for flavoring vodka!)

Fondant Wedding Cake

Chocolate Kahlua chiffon cake with lingonberry buttercream covered in fondant. Decorated with royal icing and fondant peals and fondant flowers and finished with silver luster dust.

FIRST OF ALL: Fondant is gross

SECOND OF ALL: Fondant is a decorating godsend

THIRD OF ALL: DO NOT OVER HEAT OR FORGET TO WHIP UP YOUR ROYAL ICING!!! Otherwise it will melt into itself and ruin your design. (see below little pearls. Oops).

Despite the unpleasant taste and mouthfeel of fondant, it is by far one of the easiest and most versatile items in the bakeshop to work with. When making flowers for a cake, gum paste may look more realistic, set up solidly, and can be used to create more complex flowers, it dries out rapidly. Fondant flowers are much easier to create due to its high moisture content.

Fondant Flowers: Easy peasey lemon squeezy!

1. The flowers begin with a cone-shaped piece of fondant with the flat side formed into a shallow bowl-like crater.

2. Once you have your base, take scissors and cut 5+ slits into, but not all the way through to the center. These will become the petals. (For best results, make flowers with odd numbered petals as those are most commonly found in nature). At this point, the base and petals can become sticky- use a small amount of cornstarch to combat this.

3. The next step is to take a cut petal and GENTLY pinch and pull it out from the edges until it resembles a petal.

4. Once each of the petals has been pulled, use the smallest, plain piping tip to create the center of the flower.

5. Take your paring knife and GENTLY make indentations on each of the petals originating from the center of the flower.

6. Let the flowers rest in an egg carton to allow them to dry. During this time, it will be easier to give the petals some movement. and create a little center for them.

Now this is how we learned to create simple and basic flowers in class. Fondant flowers may also be formed using cutters for a quick and easy flower. However, forming them by hand will give them more life and movement.

 

Below are some video tutorial references for different methods of creating fondant flowers

 

Ruby (Chocolate) Slippers

Now that I am back at school, I had the opportunity to sample some of the famous Ruby Chocolate a few days ago! And boy was this a flavor surprise!

The chocolate gets its signature ruby color not from dyes or freeze dried fruits, but rather a redder cocoa bean than others chocolates come from. As much as I’d love to tell you more, it’s a closely held trade secret from Barry Callebaut. When first seeing this product, I expected something similar to a raspberry flavored, sugary white chocolate, but thankfully, that was not the case. At first, the palate picks up some fruity notes, but the most surprising thing was the sourness of the chocolate. It was not an unpleasant or strong flavor, it is something that needs to be gotten used to.

Calling all Truffle Buffs!

Here we have some gougères (cheese puffs) filled with a white truffle goat cheese, topped with toasted pine nuts, thyme honey, shaved black truffles, and finished with micro arugula.

If you’re looking for something less intense, try adding .5x the amount of cheese into the pâte a choux for a stronger flavor and moister interior combined with less time in the oven. If you want something less pungent than truffles, fill the gougères with a whipped lemon herb goat cheese and top with micro arugula and a balsamic reduction drizzle.

Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen- Healdsburg, CA

First and foremost the food was phenomenal. I enjoyed a hearty portion of the charred lamb T-bones. Yes, there were two. The meat was cooked to a beautiful medium rare and were tender and juicy. The bed of Napa cabbage underneath was nothing special other than a spiced pile with random chucks of the lemon goat cheese thrown about the plate. The sweet chili peppers were charred to perfection without losing their bite. I ordered the warm peach and beet salad as my appetizer and for the most part it was very good. The carrot top pesto was inspiring and pair very well with the beets. However, the peaches lacked flavor and some were bruised.

The reason for 3 stars is due to the lacking service at such a prestigious restaurant. We made our reservation through Hotel Healdsburg and requested a table outside. Upon arrival we were not informed that an outdoor table was not available, but rather we were sat at a table in the far corner of the restaurant near the entrance to the kitchen and the servers station. The manager had sent over a sparkling wine, orange, and pomegranate aperitif prior to our meal that was on the sweeter side, but not over the top sweet. After finishing our entrees, however, we realized we had not seen our waitress for quite awhile and were sitting with dirty plates in front of us for over 15 minutes. In a fine dining establishment, that is beyond rude. Not only that, she spent most of her time at a couple’s table who had arrived 20 minutes behind our table and had paid their bill by the time our dishes cleared. The peaches were bruised.

Farmer’s Markets? Farmer’s Markets.

One of my all time favorite weekend activities is going to the local farmer’s market to see what surprises they hold that week. Ever since I can remember I have spent my Sundays at the Dupont Circle farmer’s market with my father looking for something that would inspire amazing dinners that following week.

This week I stumbled upon some fresh strawberries, lettuce, and ended up buying a jalapeño plant!  (Heres to hoping I don’t kill it!)

 

These photos are from the Arlington, VA farmer’s market near the Courthouse metro station. (Saturdays 9am-12pm).

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Almond Revamp

Tired of plain old almonds at snack time?

Try spicing up some raw almonds with some extra virgin olive oil and Old Bay and roasting them at 325º for about 20 minutes!

If you’re concerned about the sodium content Old Bay has a reduced-sodium seasoning as well!