Um, Hello?

White chocolate olive oil cream, red wine poached and fresh apples, cinnamon arlettes, celery, and toasted oat ice cream

Hello, hello?

*taps microphone

Is this thing on?

*mic feedback

Wow. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm pretty sure you're glad to know I haven't died or anything, right? Things were getting a little crazy for me and I was second guessing my career choice. People always tell you to do what you love, follow your passion, but they don't tell you about the rest of it.

Please bear with me as I try to get all of the cobwebs out of this thing and see what I have to work with.

2013 - Now.

A lot has happened in 5 years. I've changed jobs, and my dessert plating style has changed a lot. Currently, I'm sitting on my couch, it's raining outside and from the 10th floor, it seems the world has disappeared. The fog insulates me as I hear the raindrops, the slosh of traffic driving through soaked streets, the keys on my MacBook click and pause bet…

My Famous S'mores Tarts!

Are on the Time Out Chicago's Eat Out Awards photos!!! I'm including a link below.

Eat Out Awards for 2013. Now you'll have to scroll over to the 4th photo, I think. And then they pop up again later in the slideshow. Kinda proud of these simple beauties!

Other than creating famous pastries, I'm training for my first 5 mile run on May 5. Yes, you read that right, I'm running the Cinco de Miler, baby! with my friend Jennifer. Then, on May 18, we're running the Zombie Shuffle. We plan to run another Hot Chocolate 5K in November, and I'm hoping to sign up for a run on my birthday. Interesting way to celebrate.

So, in order to see photos of my tarts, check out the link!

You Bake Cakes All Day?

Yes, I bake cakes all day. I get to bake what I want, when I want. It's a lot like those Food Network shows, I'm all fresh and dewy, never sweaty or stressed. I never work so hard I can barely move the next day.

You think what I do is glamourous? Hahaha! Let me tell you some of the things that they don't tell you about what I do. When I see ads for culinary schools, and see culinary students, I want to stop them on the street and tell them that it's all bullshit. Whatever the admissions counselor told them ain't crap.

Nobody ever told me that my passion would be pushed aside by babysitting duties. Or that I'll have to teach the same people the same skills every day, and then, one day, before they've mastered the basics, or consistency (what's that?), they'll be asking for a raise because they've worked for you for x amount of months.

Or that my passion would be smothered by a pile of papers, emails, sticky-notes of reminders and recipe notes, an…

Pastry Family Tree

One of the challenges that I face with my staff is that they tend to slow down and become nervous when given a new recipe, whether it is for something as simple a new cookie, or something a little more complex. For instance, I gave a recipe to one of my newer cooks, J. It listed the ingredients, listed cooking methods, and combining the components. When it came time to finishing the recipe, it said "Put the pastry cream into the robot coupe and add the chevre." She turned to me and asked if she had missed something. "Where is the pastry cream? It's not listed in the ingredients." she asked. I then had to show her that the first part of the recipe is making a pastry cream with the first few ingredients.

I suppose part of me knew that they are not aware of what they are making on a daily basis or why. That they just look at ingredients listed and methods and don't think about it. That they were just blindly trying to get through prep lists and go home. Just …

Pickled Cherries!

I just got back from Ace Hardware with a dozen 4 oz jars with lids!

Exciting, I know.

It's cherry season again! And seeing that I still have brandied cherries in my fridge (apparently I don't drink enough cocktails!), I decided to make pickled cherries this year. I made some at work for our cherry inspired dessert on the McKinlock Court menu, so I figured why not make some at home and . . . try canning them! And of course, give them away as gifts.

The following recipe is sort of a template in that you can substitute as needed. For instance, I didn't have any cider vinegar, so I used champagne vinegar instead. I also didn't have any cloves, but I had some wine muddling spices left over from winter and since it's mostly cloves, I used that instead. Feel free to substitute whatever you want that complements your fruit. I made a little over twice this recipe (2.31 times to be exact) and had enough to fill twelve 4 oz jars and one.

Pickling Syrup

116 grams cider vinegar

Raspberry Cream Puff

Seems cream puffs are all the rage these days. At least among the chefs I admire.

I remembered something from my days back at Trump when my pastry chef Hichem was working on  pate a choux with a "streusel" top. He had conversations with a French chef, and experimented at work. I'm not sure if he was testing the other chef's recipes, or if they were sharing ideas and working on a technique. But in any event, I used this technique for my Raspberry Cream Puff, one of the new desserts at AIC. I got the recipe, which I call cassonade dough, from a French recipe.

I rather like these, though they're becoming more commonplace at many bakeries and restaurants across the US. But at least I can say that I was a witness during the development stage!

Raspberry Cream Puff Raspberry Cream, Lemon Curd, St Germain Chia Seeds,  Micro Lemon Balm, Freeze-Dried Raspberries

Chocolate & Brandied Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

Baking cookies for a bake sale. Instead of baking something new, I'm going back to cookies I baked last Christmas for friends.

I can't recall where exactly I got this recipe, but I'm sure if I wasn't lazy, I could do a "Google" and find the original and tell you where I got it. But, seeing that it is 12:22 and I've only my second dozen cookies in the oven and that I haven't been feeling too well lately, I'm hoping that you'll let me off the hook. In any event, the recipe isn't mine, and the idea isn't original, but I'm filling the "thumbprints" with ganache, and a brandied cherry half-the cherries I brandied myself a couple of years ago.

226 grams butter 272 grams sugar 1 tspvanilla paste 40 grams yolks 115 grams Dutch cocoa 2 tspsalt 272 grams flour 30 grams cream
Cream together room temperature butter and sugar, with vanilla paste. Add yolks, scraping after adding and mix until incorporated. Add sifted dries, then cream, mixing …