Tag Archives: foodies

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

17 Jan

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  Everyone in the food industry knows that from Thanksgiving to the New Year, it’s super busy with company parties, private parties, and non-holiday celebrations.  I’m no exception with being super busy.  From working with Sweet Sisters Cakes, doing social media work for Whole Foods Cooking, I’ve managed to hit a few restaurants, attend holiday parties, bake some cakes and hit the Chocolate Show in NYC. Whew!

Melanie's Holiday Cookies!

I’ve seen more Christmas and Hanukah cookies in 2011 then I care to admit.  Sweet Sisters gets tons of cookie orders so I’ve become quite the master in cutting and decorating these goodies.  There is something about doing the Christmas trees that put me in the holiday spirit. Outside of those, did I mention I made over 1000 (yes, you heard me) on my own for my dogs’ doggie daycare, friends and family this year. They turned out great but clearly I’m not missing doing them. I love my cookies aka “cookie crack” since once you eat one, you’ll keep on going.  What makes them great is that they are dipped and decorated with chocolate. Serve them with tea or coffee is heaven!

You’ve been to one holiday party you’ve been to them all. The one I will highlight is from my former boss, Joe.  He is replacing famed Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini at Jean George.  The food and fellowship was great. And the flow of cucumber martinis…well I’ll plead the 5th!  Maria, my foodie bestie came along for the fun. My goal in 2012 is the hit Jean George and of course eat tons of desserts!

Charlotte Patisserie NYC

Nothing like a potluck brunch with FCI classmates who are also pastry chefs to stay on your game. Our brunch was a farewell to Leah who returned to Israel.  She’ll me missed but at least we have a new vacation spot! Another highlight was going to Charlotte Patisserie in NYC (Greenpoint).  A fellow FCI grad opened his own shop.  The desserts were cute and atmosphere very welcoming. Congrats Mike!

Every year the Chocolate Show hits New York City. This was my first time attending and it was awesome! Maria along with her son Jack met up to go. Highlights of the day were: the chocolate fashions, Jacques Torres’ hot chocolate with a chili kick, and of course sampling chocolates from around the world.  The Show is enough for a separate blog so look for a new one soon!

Jack and Florian

The grand highlight of the day was Jack meeting Chef Florian Bellanger from The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. To top off the day we hit Jim Lahey’s Co. for pizza. Now I know why it is a top rated place for pizza.  Then to stuff ourselves more, we went to Billy’ Bakery for cupcakes.  I ended up trying their new flavor, orange dreamsicle. The cake was moist and dense with dreamy frosting.  A perfect ending to a great day.

Pastry Out!

2011 Chocolate Show in New York City!

9 Nov

Bon-Bons made with my fellow FCI classmates!

I L-O-V-E chocolate so it should be no surprise that I will be attending the 2011 Chocolate Show in New York City.  The event is international with shows being held in Paris, Shanghai, Lyon and many other cities in Europe.  What excites me is being able to sample chocolates from 65 fine chocolate vendors, meet fellow foodies, and check out demonstrations from some of the best chocolatiers in the business.  I feel a stomach ache coming on already!

Of course no adventure would be fun without a side-kick to eat our way through the show. So along for the adventure is my fellow foodie-bestie and the boys Jack & Paul who are foodies in training!  The beauty about kids is that if they don’t like something they will say it! Let the feedback begin!  : )

Get ready for a follow-up blog!

http://www.chocolateshow.com

Pastry Out!

Burgers & Dessert

30 Aug

I love eating dessert and always looking for fellow foodies to join me on the food quest.  So on my recent adventure, my buddy Lissa (yes, that’s Lissa with two s’s because she’s that cool) joined me for another great dinner at The Pluckemin Inn. Located in Bedminster, NJ it is looks like a charming unassuming home on the outside but inside, there are a few culinary geniuses at work. When you’re walking towards the entrance, you will see they have a lovely garden that looks like it’s own little island near the building.

There is nothing I love more than eating something that keeps me thinking about it long after it’s gone and days after I’ve left the restaurant.  If you feel like I do, then check out “The Plucky” as us locals call it. Well Lissa and I ordered the exact same thing for dinner.  Great minds think alike if I must say so myself.  We started our meal with the corn and cucumber gazpacho with summer crostini. All I can say is OMG.  The texture and presentation were perfect.  For our entree we decided on burgers.  Yep, we ate burgers in a fine dining restaurant and they were tasty.  Everyone can’t make a great burger. Just envision your “special” relative, more likely a granddad, dad, uncle, brother, cousin, etc. who ambushes the grill for all family functions only to deliver a burger that looks and taste like a hockey puck. The sirloin burgers are served with homemade pickles and no hockey pucks either.

Onto my favorite part of the meal…dessert.  The milk chocolate mousse was divine.  Tons of element and textures.  The dessert moved between smooth, crunchy and cold with each bite.  On the plate was not only the mousse but inside a macadamia nut dacquoise alongside coffee opaline & milk gelato.  I must admit this is the second time I ordered this dessert.  It was superb the first time and superb the second time as well.  I had to take a picture and share with everyone. I also took a picture of the entire dessert menu but here is the link so you can check it out yourself!  http://www.pluckemininn.com/menus/dessert.pdf

Valrhona 'Caramelia' Milk Chocolate Mousse

So cheers to the mousse!  And yes, we finished everything on the plate!

Pastry Out!

The Last Course Part 2 – Battle of the Biscuits

29 Jul Melanie's Tarragon Photo

So today was the big day.  I was making Claudia Fleming’s Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream. I read and reread the recipe so I was ready to take the plunge and get to it.  Tarragon is quite the intriguing herb.  I ate it raw just to better understand what I was working with and I must say it really does have a licorice flavor.  It lingered on my taste buds well after you I consumed it.

I start off with the “easy” stuff first -macerating the strawberries with tarragon.  Just hull and slice the berries in half , add some sugar and tarragon and wait.  Gotta crawl before you can walk and run I say!

Now it was on to the tarragon cream.  Now I’ve made cream before.  I make whipped cream, Chantilly cream and stabilized whip cream all the time so why not make some with tarragon.  Well, it called for blanching the tarragon in boiling water, quickly submerging it into an ice bath, then blending it with corn syrup in a blender.  Whew, this is some cream!  I haven’t even whipped it up yet.  The recipe worked as stated but I did a little modification (shhh- I’m the queen of tweaking).  I stabilized mine with bloomed gelatin by holding back a few teaspoons of  heavy cream, heating it up, and dissolving the gelatin while it was at a soft peak.  Why? I hate when whipped cream started to “weep” and get running or watery.  The end result looked like light green clouds sitting in my mixing bowl.  I could eat it alone with some berries any day.  The recipe rocks!

Now on to the biscuits.  The dough had few ingredients and was very simple to put together.  Make dough, dough rest for an hour, cut dough into shapes and bake off.  Sounds simple?!  Well that’s only if your biscuits looked like the picture at the end.  I see a food stylist at work here because it just can’t be me!  : ) And my biscuits? Well let just say mine didn’t seem to rise to the occasion. More like a ranch house vs. a high rise condo.  The taste and texture was perfect.

Perfect macerated strawberries – check; perfect tarragon cream – check; perfect biscuits – I’ll be trying again tomorrow but check out my pics in the meantime.

Pastry out!

The Last Course

28 Jul

Today I received a copy of Pastry Chef extraordinaire Claudia Fleming’s cookbook, The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.  Let me clarify – it’s was loaned to me for review.  Well I had two surprises reviewing this book today.  First, the Executive Chef for Tabor Road Tavern and Grato was listed in the acknowledgements.  He was the Sous Chef at Gramercy Tavern when Chef Claudia was the Pastry Chef.  John is nice, awesome and very talented.  I first met him while interning at Tabor while in culinary school.  Who knew!  I’ll give you my recommendations for Tabor and Grato  in a future post.  Now back to Claudia’s book.

The book has tons of desserts that focus on seasonal ingredients as well as a nice mix of sweet and savory.  Tomorrow I will be making or should I say attempting to make her Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream.  As the book suggested, I will be eating it with strawberry sorbet.  Look out for another post about my adventures in making this sweet-savory dessert.

The second surprise about this book is that it is out of print.  Yes, you heard me, it is out of print!  So how much does a book that retailed for $40 USD cost now if you want one?  On Amazon for a mere $160 you can get a copy in “very good condition” or spend $300 for a “like new” signed copy.  Oh, but it gets better.  One seller has their signed copy for a mere $875.  Really?  Really!  Whoever buys that one, I have an island for sale in Arizona.

Pastry out!

To Thai or Not to Thai

27 Jul

Every Tuesday, I go to movies and  have meal with one of my BFs Brenda.  Today, it was all about a great meal.  I made a day trip to Maryland (yes friends and family I snuck in and out today for 3 hours).  To hit a movie and dinner was a bit much since I’m not sure that after the lights went out I would be able to keep my eyes open.  As usual we text back and forth throughout the day to determine where will we break bread and catch up.  Should we go to a place we haven’t been to in a while, hit a chain, or try somewhere new?  The decisions was narrowed down to pizza or thai.  Well it wasn’t a hard decision since my favorite Thai restaurant was on the table.  I love eating at Orgins in Basking Ridge, NJ.  I even have a favorite server, Chon.  Even when I don’t seat in her section, she comes over to say hello and make sure all is well.  Love her!

Here are my recommendations on what to order if you go to Origins.  For appetizers, try the shrimp and crab spring rolls.  They are nicely fried with a honey colored crispy outside.  If you don’t like or eat crustaceans try the golden curry puff.  It’s a soft pie like dough shaped like a mini Jamaican bean pie.  Inside a finely minced chicken seasoned with curry greets your taste buds with an awesome explosion of flavor.  For an entree, there are several great noodle dishes.  Besides the obvious pad thai, I love, love, love pad see ew topped with chicken.  There’s something about the flat noodles with broccoli that makes me happy!  If you get the chance to hit the Somerville location they offer a curry chicken pot pie topped with Malaysian puff pastry as a special from time to time.  For people who prefer to be a little safer, the grilled to perfection options are for you.  Grilled shrimp, steak or squid, fish or chicken with sticky rice and grilled vegetables.  I prefer the grilled shrimp – they are a great size and this meal is very satisfying.

The finale to the evening is the desserts. I have tried every dessert on the menu except one – (Poached pear -I’ll get to it one day but at least I added a pic for you!).  My favorite is the chocolate cake souffle with coffee ice cream.  The cake is baked in a tart shell so it looks like a little flower topped with whipped cream on plate decorated with a plaid stripe design all done in chocolate and  a few berries strategically placed. Others I recommend are: sticky rice with mango and the pear frangipane tart.  The portions are petite but enough to satisfy your inner sugar addiction.

Two other cool things about Origin, you can dress casual and it is byob!

 

Note: Pictures are from Origins photo gallery.  www.originsthai.com

Pastry out!

Watch Out World!

25 Jul

I’ve been thinking about blogging for about a year and decided to go for it!  My calling and passion is baking.  While life has taken to many jobs and places, my new home is in the world of food.  Here I will discuss places I eat, food websites I love, fellow foodies who inspire and a few recipes along the way. Welcome to my Whirl…Pastry Out!