Last fall, I took part in a fantastic weekend adventure and it all centered on meat. Butchery to be specific, both pork and beef, with side forays into charcuterie, sausage making, bacon smoking, a lot of cooking, more eating and wonderful camaraderie. It was part summer camp, part serious food skills and part female empowerment. My French friend Kate (a bit of a misnomer as she’s actually an American living in France) concepted the idea of a Grrls Meat Camp where woman in the butchery field, culinary world and farming realms could gather, discuss their challenges and begin to build a support network in a field where woman are few and far between. Which is how 17 of us found our way to a little lodge at a YMCA camp in northern Illinois.
Archive for the ‘cakes’ Category
Posted in adventures/field trips, cakes, chocolate, tagged butchery retreats, chocolate cake, chocolate lard bourbon cake, Grrls Meat Camp, lard cake, recipes with lard, sour cream ganache on May 17, 2013 | 1 Comment »
There’s something so bright and refreshing about lemons. I might even say bracing. They make me happy. The bright color and perky flavor is exactly what I need during this gloomy, grey and wet time. If you live somewhere sunny then you probably don’t know what I’m talking about but think about this. Last week I was wearing shorts and a light sweater. Four days later it was cold and drenching wet. Three days after that it snowed. I’ll take any bit of brightness I can get and if that’s in the form of some grocery store citrus than so be it.
I have a deep love for breakfast pastries. Crazy love. As a kid, special morning moments were always marked with a treat – Pillsbury pecan rolls to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cookies for Christmas breakfast, pink donuts for Valentine’s Day. Don’t even get me started on Paczki Day. I could take or leave a muffin but a well-made croissant makes my toes tap. In culinary school I learned to make Danishes the proper way, with layers and layers of careful butter lamination, and promptly gained 5 happy pounds. A beautiful flaky scone or a perfect old-fashioned donut is cause for celebration. I’ve been known to do some serious damage on a kringle of any kind, but given the choice, a good bakery-style buttery, crumbly coffeecake wins every time.
It’s that time of the year again. The time when Chicago dyes its river bright green and the drunks come out to play by the droves. When everyone is suddenly Irish and people think a green tutu is acceptable day wear. It’s the time I develop insatiable cravings for corned beef, pints of Guinness and pretty much anything soaked in whiskey. Which is why I’ve been baking Whiskey Cakes like a maniac.
Posted in cakes, chocolate, custards & puddings, tagged cake that makes own sauce, chocolate bourbon cake, chocolate pudding cake, hot fudge cake, hot fudge pudding cake on February 26, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Desserts that do remarkable and unexpected things never fail to delight. When I was a kid, Jell-O was fascinating. I’d continually poke the jiggley liquid in the metal pan. It was magic: one minute, a thick liquid; the next a weird firm bouncy substance. If someone was sufficiently crafty enough to do different colored layers? My mind was blown. Much, much later, I made ChocoFlan; part chocolate cake, part flan. It goes into the oven one way and somehow miraculously reverses positions during baking to end up as something else. As an adult, mind still blown.
Why is cake considered a special occasion kind of thing? Who made that call? Celebration cakes should indeed be special; dolled up fancy things to commemorate a big event. But why can’t we eat cake of some kind every day? Cake makes you happy. It’s CAKE! It’s a great little snack, just perfect with coffee or a cup of tea. What happened to the morning or afternoon tradition of a little cake and coffee? I say it’s high time to bring that back. Let’s reinstate the snack cake!
So today is “World Nutella Day” according to … someone. That’s the thing with these “food holidays”. Some random person, industry board or group declares a particular day the time to celebrate whatever it is they’re obsessed with or promoting. Some, like this one, are fun while others like, National Apricot Day in January make no sense whatsoever (unless you live the Southern hemisphere I suppose). For World Nutella Day, it appears that two food bloggers got together in 2007 and made a proclamation that February 5th would celebrate all things Nutella. Good enough for me and a great start to my annual February of Chocolate. And by the way, did you know today is also “Chocolate Fondue Day”? Oh yes, it is. According to someone.
I’ve always had a soft spot for classic American desserts. Rich creamy puddings. Tall layer cakes. Fruit filled cobblers with nubby sugary toppings. And especially, upside down cakes, moist and buttery topped with darkly caramelized fruit. I’m fond of various fruits in this manner – plums, apples, apricots – but that 1930’s and quintessential American classic – pineapple – has always been a favorite.
‘Tis the season for all things delicious and a fine time for wonderful classics like gingerbread, though I’m on heavy-duty gingerbread overload right now. I’ve made more than a dozen gingerbread houses for both professional and personal projects, a few types of cookies for gifts and taught a fancy decorated ornament class. The house smells permanently of molasses and spice. It’s rather festive and beats a Yankee Candle any day.
The other day I met a woman who said she hated cheesecake. Hated. Strong words, certainly, but how is that even possible? I can only chalk it up to a complete lack of exposure to good cheesecake. This I can understand. If your whole perception is Sara Lee, then I feel your pain. My heart weeps for you. A good cheesecake, though illusive, is one of the life’s greatest joys. Nothing comforts more than a big slice or two. It’s a known fact.