Being a Pastry Chef – Day 29

“Hey, T-Bear. Want some crack?” I ask tonight as service slows down a bit.

“Uh. Yes!” comes the expected response.

Out comes the six pan of lemon bar edges and such and the moans are heard around the kitchen.

When I say ‘crack,’ I don’t mean literal crack. Just like when I talk about cocaine clouds in my poetry. (which is just powdered sugar clouds from roulade cakes) I literally can blame all of this on Coffeeman.  Wednesday I was trimming down the edges of the lemon bars so they  were all pretty to plate and so of course I am not going to toss those edges. Into a pan they go and get passed around for anyone with a sweet tooth. (practically the entire kitchen)

Suddenly, an hour or two later, Chef is shoving the pan back at me and saying “get this crack away from me!”  Yes, it is that addictive and YES! I know I have done my job when Chef says this.  Let me blow on my nail and buff them on my jacket… Preen like a bird. Damn straight.

There are some serious perks to being able to call myself the pastry chef. Mind you, I am not classically trained. At all. Most of my baking has been rather haphazard over the years. The job was shoved at me because the first ‘chef’ decided he needed his wife to not be carting their 4 month old child around the kitchen. Don’t ask. Long story.

So job shoved at me, making boxed everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cakes and such and I am suddenly the  pastry chef.  But I digress way too far down that rabbithole.

So, perks to being pastry chef.

  1. Sugar.  I mean, come on, everything is sweet. How can you go wrong?
  2. Sliding sweet things over to your coworkers as you bake. It is seriously fun to be chopping a block of chocolate and shards get passed over to this person or that person.
  3. Seeing the look of ‘moaning’ delight on anyone’s face when they taste something good.
  4. Do you know how delightful it is to tell a guy you are the pastry chef and see this insta-perked up look of fascination? Um, yeah, there is serious power in that. I say that to a guy, not to mention pizza chef and whatnot, but serious interest is suddenly there. Why just a week and a half ago as the kitchen was filled with all of us on a off day to prep, here comes a very seriously cute/handsome/adorable new FedEx delivery guy and the look on his face as I went to sign his tablet but had to stop because I was chopping a big ole block of chocolate and had it on my hands. Power. There is serious power in being a pastry chef.
  5. Sending out good things to friends who come in……
  6. Handing out spoons for people to sample chocolate mousse, lemon bars, creme brulee, apple pear cranberry crisp (today I treated our hostess to a delightful bit) Ah yes, again it’s power… Good power. The power to create happiness.
  7. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Come on, no one can be in a bad mood after desserts.
  8. Your hair, skin, clothes smell like vanilla and cinnamon and sugar cookie dough, and almond, and yumminess. I have taken showers after baking and the scent that wafts off of me as the hot water hits my hair is literally what I was baking and the essence of whatever was baking in the oven.
  9. Power.
  10. Did I mention power? It’s a really sexy power.

So, yeah, I stress a lot about screwing up desserts. I mean, my lemon bars were too wet this time around, needing to have baked them a hair longer, and that roulade cake through the summer, but there are some amazing perks to this job.

Kate

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Torta Caprese, Experimenting – Day 25

My special!

So, obviously I didn’t get to writing till it’s already the 26th, but this is an exciting post for me. I got home after an absofreakinglutely great night and was kind of a motor mouth for a good hour, poor parents, and finally am in bed tapping away.

So you know how I had my experimenting the other day about Panna Cotta? If not, read it. But this week, Coffeeman cleared for me to make a flourless chocolate cake.  I’m not sure why this popped into my head to try, but maybe it came from finding a recipe in Cooks Illustrated, or the Martha Stewart Living that showed up in the mail. Either way, Tuesday, I was alone in the kitchen mastering a torta caprese, or Italian Chocolate Almond flourless cake. (It’s technically not flourless when there is almond flour in it….)

Definitely unassuming in its natural state… IE, chilling in the walkin

This cake is rich in chocolate, eggs, butter, and almond flour.  I topped it with a chocolate ganache icing. It’s this single unassuming layer, but it packs a punch.

Oh the cranberries, port, orange, lemon, and cinnamon are a simmering. Gorgeous sight…

And because it’s autumn, and the cranberries came in, I wanted a cranberry sauce, something that screamed fall.  I found a delightful recipe for a port spiked cranberry sauce and was given the go ahead to use some of the port we keep in our restaurant.  So cranberries and port and orange and lemon zest, a bit of cinnamon and some orange juice…. This sauce is so good, just on it’s own. (“With turkey,” mused Coffeeman and  Astro D today…) Boys, keep musing. You have no idea how delighted I was to see the looks on all of your faces.  (I want to just eat the sauce. It’s that good)

Finished sauce. I liked it better as it simmered, but well, done is done. The taste explodes in your mouth.

Then an amaretto and rum spiked whipped cream on the side…. (because I mean, amaretto. And rum) a bit of candied orange.  I plated the dessert today and all I heard was, “You made this?”

“You made this.”

“YOU MADE THIS!”

And a “nice” coupled with a fist bump and I think a “nailed it” or “knocked it out of the park” along with a “that with an espresso is perfect” from Chef.

Damn…….  yeah, damn fine day. I could have danced myself silly around the kitchen, but for the running into people aspect.

Look at that description!

Good day. Like really really good day. This experimenting stuff is going well….

Can you tell I’m happy?

I only wish I could send you all a piece to try it out.

Kate

Flash Fiction : A Marry Me Cake

Slice of pound cake

Slice of pound cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Tim!  Hello. Come in,” Jessica exclaimed as she opened the screen door wide enough to let the tall man in.  This was a pleasant surprise as Tim never came to visit and Jessica hadn’t seen him in months.  He was always charming and ready with smile for her, but they didn’t run in the same circles.  She kept to her book clubs and very prim and proper world while Tim tended to run in a more boisterous crowd.  The contractors and loggers.  No, they didn’t cross paths much, but she enjoyed every time she did get to see him.

“I just finished making a pot of coffee.  Would you care for a cup?” she asked over her shoulder as she walked towards the kitchen.

“Sure,” Tim answered, following her into the cheery room.

“Have a seat,” Jessica motioned to the kitchen table and chairs.  She took cups and small plates down from the cupboard, then reached into a drawer for spoons and dessert forks.  Tim arched a brow in question as she set a covered cake plate on the table.

Jessica lifted the cover to reveal three quarters of a moist yellow cake lovingly encased in a fluffy chocolate frosting.  “Can I tempt you with a piece?” she queried with a knowing smile.

Tim’s glazed over expression was enough of an answer so she sliced him a generous piece, then cut a much smaller one for herself.  After pouring the coffee and sitting down herself she motioned for time to dig in.

His first bite turned into a long drawn out moan of delight and Jessica smiled in pleasure.

“Good god woman, what did you put in this thing?  Ground up ecstasy?”  Time said this with a groan as he took another bite.

“No.  Just butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and other cake making ingredients.”

Tim looked up at her, a thoughtful expression on his face.

“Jessica Martin?”

“Hmm?”

“Marry me.”

Jessica laughed.  “Oh Tim, stop it.”  She sipped her coffee, but she was finding it hard not to smile like an idiot.

“I’m not joking.  I would give you anything you could ever want if you make me cake like this.  How are you at pie?”

 

I made a Betty Crocker Starlight cake with fluffy chocolate frosting the other day (I highly recommend this recipe if anyone cares, and yes, I only make homemade cakes)  The cake is long gone; my father adores cake, but this thought came to me and I just had to play around with a guy eating cake and asking a girl to marry him just because she  makes a fine cake.  I love cooking for men, and I kind of like showing off when I can with food. Hey, they always say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. You can’t tell me it isn’t true.

Well, my father is happy now because I just baked another cake yesterday. I don’t do much, if anything, for father’s day, but I know he appreciates that cake. For those interested, a Betty Crocker Daffodil Cake. Pillowy soft angel food like, but with a gorgeous yellow sponge swirled through from the egg yolks you add. (Another cake I highly recommend making, if you aren’t afraid of angel food cakes)

Signing off

~Kate

Christmas Tree Magic

She sat in the glitterning darkness of a sparkling Christmas tree.  The white lights were like little fairies come to rest, the blue balls shown like the night sky. Icicles dripped from the branches adding a graceful elegance to the already delicate boughs.  Snowflakes winked in and out among  cranberry balls.  Here and there were sparkling red snowflakes. Drenched in red glitter they were etherial.  The whole tree was a confection to the eyes. One filled with delight and magic.  One could just picture Santa coming to  tuck presents beneath the boughs.

There was a enchanting sensation  to the room. Decorated to the nines, one could not help feeling that they had entered either a winter wonderland, or Saint Nick’s own abode.  The mantle held garlands of fragrant pine.  Red bayberry candles, with their yellow flames, flickered in and out of the greenery.  Plush red stockings hung by cheerful snowmen, santas, and reindeer.   Tables were layden with  overflowing bowls of candy.  Red and green M & M’s filled a chubby Santa’s sack; candy canes hooked over square glass cubes, filled to the brim with holiday kisses.  Caramels, fudge, and toffee.  It was a child’s paradise. 

It was perfect for her.  She sat with her mug of hot chocolate.  Curled up on a sofa, snuggled in a warm wool sweater and socks, it was the epitome of Christmas. One couldn’t ask for anything better.

 

 

Signing off

~Kate

P.S. This was just me in an inspirational mood. I have a glorious tree this year and it’s quite magical.

Coffee, Chocolate, Cowboys

Some things are better rich. I read a statement ages ago that said, ‘Coffee, Chocolate, Cowboys, Some things are better rich’. I would have to agree with that statement.

I am a fan of coffee. I love it. I would have four or five cups a day of it. The smooth richness of a cup of fresh French Roast coffee. Oh, to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a magazine. A wonderful past time. Something I gladly do when I can. And the varieties of coffee. A cup of hazelnut with a biscotti. Wonderful. The aroma rich, sweet, mouth-watering.

And speaking of mouth-watering. Chocolate. Now I love chocolate. And I would go so far as to say that I think it is a cure-all for any emotional ailment. Some physical too. Next to books, chocolate has to be my other fetish. I don’t think I could live without chocolate. It is my happy drug. And to have a piece of rich, dark chocolate is heaven. The smooth, creamy texture, melting and cooling your tongue. The hints of smokey nuttiness. The spicy hints of cinnamon or clove that some chocolates have. A taste that is delectable. That instant feeling of happiness that accompanies the slow melt. A feeling of elation coupled with utter relaxation. I never eat chocolate in a hurry. I never chew it. I want to savor every last morsel of each and every piece.

My family knows of my chocolate habit and they comply with my desires by unloading different kinds of dark chocolate at birthdays and Christmas. Dark, milk, semi -sweet, flavored…. you name it, I am probably going to love it. But by far, I will always go for a nice piece of a rich dark chocolate.

And finally, to go with that cup of rich coffee and a piece of rich chocolate is a rich cowboy. Now bear in mind, I don’t know any particularly rich cowboys. But a cowboy is the epitome of a man’s man. A real guy. Tough on the outside but oh so kind and gentlemanly to a woman. They work hard. They are not afraid to get down and dirty. They can ride a horse. Sounds pretty darn good if you ask me. Now, throw in a bit of money and you got yourself a gosh darn irresistible package. And they always clean up good. With that hat riding low on their heads, looking very good, a crisp white shirt, dark blue jeans and the boots. An irresistible package. Throw in a southern drawl and talk about potent. And you can bet they will like a bit of that rich coffee and a healthy slice of a good chocolate cake…..

So like I say, some things are better rich.

 

Signing off

~K