Monthly Archives: August 2010

Tiramisu and spatulas

Yesterday, my friend Tess and I made tiramisu.  I’m actually giving myself too much credit here because it was probably 90% made by Tess.  She got the recipe from Allrecipes ,which you can find here.  The one difference is that we didn’t use rum but instead used Bailey’s Irish Cream.  I thought the tiramisu turned out really delicious.  It was creamy, but not too rich.  And the Bailey’s Irish Cream gave it a nice flavor.

Tiramisu

Now on a totally different topic, my friend Cheri gave me two awesome and extremely thoughtful birthday gifts.  I’m sharing this info because the gifts are directly related to this blog.  She got me personalized spatulas!  They have my name and the name of the blog on the handle.  She also got me stickers with my name and the blog name on them so I can put them on the packages of goodies I give to people.   I love them!

My personalized spatulas

My personalized stickers

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Gary Danko

This post is not exactly baking related, but I’m writing it anyways.  Last night, my mom and I ate at Gary Danko in San Francisco.   It was AMAZING.   My mom got their foie gras as her appetizer and it was incredible.  It was so rich tasting that I don’t think I could eat more than five bites of it.  The sauce with the foie gras was very tasty.  I had lobster risotto for my appetizer and I loved how creamy it was and it had large chunks of lobster.  For the main course, I had seared scallops with a zucchini-fennel puree.  They were by far the biggest scallops I have ever seen, and the most delicious.  My mom had their roast Maine lobster with potato puree, which was very smooth.  I had the cheese course because according to this article from 7×7.com, the cheese course is one of the top 100 things to eat in San Francisco before I die.  I chose a gouda, cheddar, and blue cheese.  The fourth cheese I can’t remember, but it was a soft cheese.  Their cheese course came with grapes and a pecan-raisin bread.  On a tangential note, I may possibly embark on a new goal to eat/drink my way through the 7×7.com 2010 Things to Eat list.

Anyways, back to Gary Danko.  Here’s the part related to baking, the dessert course.  My mom chose their chocolate soufflé, which comes with two types of sauces.  I had the warm Louisiana butter cake with peaches, huckleberry compote and vanilla ice cream.  Absolutely heavenly.  I loved the brown sugary taste!  Definitely one of the more original desserts I’ve had at a restaurant.  They also gave us this platter of miniature desserts, which included a lemon bar, lemon tart, brownie, and chocolate tart.  But by that time, I was stuffed and only took a bite out of each of those mini desserts.  Also, they gave us a banana cake to take home to eat, which I ate today.  Not surprising that it was also delicious.

Here are some photos.  Sorry for the poor quality of the photos but it was a bit on the dark side in the restaurant.

Lobster Risotto with shrimp, mushrooms, and tomatoes

Foie gras

Seared scallops

Cheese course

Chocolate souffle

Warm Louisiana butter cake...Yum!

Elegant packaging of their banana cake

Banana cake/bread

All in all, it was an extraordinary dining experience.  I can’t wait for next time.

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Cake class craziness continued

I am extremely behind in posting, but for good reason.  My cake classes have been keeping me very busy.  But now I know so much more about decorating cakes.  I am finished with my Basic Cake Decorating class and the Flowers and Cake Design class.  I can now make buttercream roses and many types of flowers out of royal icing.  Tomorrow is my last Gum Paste and Fondant class.  Hopefully my cake turns out well.  I’ll admit it has been kind of stressful taking so many cake classes at one time and in such a condensed period of time but it has been really fun.  Here are some pictures of the final cake I made for one of the classes.

My final cake for the Basic Decorating class

Buttercream roses

You wouldn’t know it from the picture, but there’s a Hershey’s kiss in each of the buttercream roses 🙂

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Cake class craziness

Earlier this month, I signed up for a Wilton basic cake decorating class at Michael’s.  On Monday morning, I had my first class and this is where I learned that the instructor (who I really liked) was also teaching two other classes:  Flowers & Cake Design and Gum Paste & Fondant.  On a whim, I decided to sign up for these classes as well.  I didn’t really think about how I would be in class six times a week for two hours each class.  And I have homework for these classes.  Thus, my baking project has been sidelined a little because my cake classes have kept me quite busy.  But the classes are really fun and I’m learning lots of new things.  I finally learned how to make a flower from royal icing, though I need lots of practice with it.

My decorated cake with LOADS of frosting

Primrose flower made with royal icing

Flowers made from fondant and gum paste

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Chocolate dipped bacon

It sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen.  But I had to try it.  Chocolate and bacon…what’s not to like?  After doing some research, I learned that roasting bacon is a highly recommended way to make bacon.  Thus, I roasted four slices of applewood-smoked bacon at 400 degrees for about 13 minutes.  They looked nice and crispy.  Just the way I like my bacon.  While they were cooling, I melted some semi-sweet chocolate over a double-broiler.  Then I dipped the bacon into the chocolate and set them on parchment paper to set.


I wasn’t expecting this creation to taste absolutely amazing or anything, but I was quite disappointed.  It’s not that it tasted bad but it tasted just how you would have expected.  It tasted like chocolate, then bacon.  The combination of these two fantastic foods did not produce an even greater taste sensation.

I think I’d rather eat my chocolate and bacon separately.

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Pizza ordeal

My latest project was pizza.  I absolutely LOVE pizza.  And I now have newfound respect for all the people who have made those delicious pizzas I have eaten in my life.  The process of making pizza dough was similar to making bread dough.  And just like bread dough, pizza dough is very sticky.  And the recipe says to use a “lightly floured” work surface.  I really do not see how that is possible.

While the dough was rising, I had to chop the tomatoes.  In case you don’t know, I’m not a fan of tomatoes.  I’ll eat it in spaghetti or if it has been cooked and is on top of pizza.  But in general, I don’t eat tomatoes.  Thus, I don’t know how to cut and dice a tomato.  There’s all this goop inside with the seeds.   One more reason for me to dislike tomatoes.  Then I put a generous amount of cornmeal onto my pizza peel so that it would be ready to go.  I had learned from my bread experience how important it is to use lots of cornmeal.

Anyways, after about two hours, the pizza dough had risen.  I split the dough into three parts and took one part to make it into my pizza crust.  The recipe tells me to form it into a ball, smash it flat, and then stretch out the dough into a 12-inch circle.  They make it sound so simple.  The reality is that the dough was sticking like crazy to my fingers and the counter because I was trying to use a “lightly floured” work surface.  On top of that, I could not get it into a proper circular shape.  Finally, when the dough seemed somewhat circular, I put on the toppings of olive oil, diced tomatoes, and sliced mozzarella cheese.  When I was about to try sliding the pizza onto the pizza peel, I came to the realization that perhaps I should have moved the pizza dough onto the peel before I had weighed it down with all the toppings.  So of course, the pizza refused to slide onto the peel and instead, the dough just started tearing in various parts.  It was becoming very messy and there were holes everywhere in the dough.  I was left with no choice.  I had to use one of the other dough parts I had split off earlier and re-make the crust.  This time, my crust looked even less circular.  But when I was somewhat satisfied with its shape, I slid it onto the pizza peel.  Still not easy, but it made it on without much damage.  Then I put on the olive oil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

But of course, the hardest part was yet to come.  I had to get the pizza from the peel onto the baking stone in the oven.  But I figured it shouldn’t be as hard as the time I made bread because I had put on a lot of cornmeal.  I was wrong.  When I tried to use a swift jerk to get the pizza off the peel onto the baking stone, all the mozzarella cheese slices went flying towards one end of the pizza, almost completely off the pizza.  I jerked the pizza peel again, this time also using a rubber spatula to push the pizza onto the baking stone.  In one sense I was successful because the pizza did end up on the baking stone.  However, half the mozzarella slices were on the baking stone and not the pizza.  And the dough had landed on the baking stone wrinkled and definitely not circular in shape.  Halfway though baking, I added the torn basil leaves.  Then when the pizza was done, I was grateful to find that it was very easy to get the pizza from the baking stone back onto the peel.

I am happy to say that I liked the taste of the pizza, tomatoes and all.

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Buttermilk biscuits

Yesterday’s project was buttermilk biscuits.  My favorite biscuits come from a restaurant in San Diego called Hash House.  They are so wonderfully creamy.  Sadly, my biscuits didn’t taste quite as delicious, but still good.  The biscuits were very easy to make, even easier than the scones.  I have a different recipe that is for cream biscuits, which I will have to try eventually to see if they taste more like Hash House biscuits.

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