Feb

05

what a day for grapefruit brûlée

I woke up to 10° this morning. I’m unimpressed February. I want warm. I want tropical. I want citrus hues… But all I have is ice and the meagerest amount of snow. And then I thought of this.

What a day for Grapefruit Brûlée! Its summer and citrus and warm and crunchy sweet. Its good and bad all at once, and smells amazing as the sugar caramelizes onto the grapefruit’s flesh. And it couldn’t be easier to make:

Ingredients

  • 2 grapefruits, halved crosswise
  • 4 tablespoons raw sugar

Preparation

  • Trim 1/4–1/2″ of peel from bottom of each grapefruit half to stabilize the fruit and prevent it from rocking back and forth. Place grapefruit, cut side down, on paper towels to dry for 5 minutes. Invert grapefruit and sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar evenly over exposed flesh of each grapefruit half. Using a kitchen torch, heat sugar until melted and beginning to turn dark amber.
  • Alternatively, preheat broiler. Transfer grapefruit, cut side up, to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil grapefruit, watching closely to prevent burning, until the sugar is melted and beginning to turn dark amber, about 8 minutes. Let grapefruit cool before serving.
    (Image and recipe courtesy of bon appétit)

 

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Dec

05

whimsy & spice & all things nice

For me it started with this cookie. The Hazelnut Whiskey Sandwich cookie. I’m not sure how I happened upon it, but I did, and as we know I like all things whiskey – so I investigated further. These brilliant creations are made by Whimsy & Spice, a confection shop in Brooklyn. Husband and wife team, Mark Sopchak and Jenna Park pair to create their distinctive line of handmade sweets. And distinctive they are – I am intrigued and inspired by their masterful use of flavors and their genius pairings…

Like the Massaman Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie… spectacular.  Also notable in their sandwich cookie line are Pink Peppercorn, Earl Grey, and Pumpkin Ginger. But it doesn’t stop there. There are things like…

The Coconut Five Spice White Chocolate Drop cookie, Rose and Black Peppercorn Thumbprints, and Chocolate Gingersnaps. If you like shortbread, they have it. Biscotti, that too. And, oh yes…

They have Brownies and Bars.

But what really intrigued me were the marshmallows – and I’m not even a marshmallow person. Rose Vanilla, amazing (and pink to boot.) But there’s also Cardamon, Maple, Caramel, and Chocolate. Who’da thunk? Well, Whimsy & Spice did. How do they do all this you ask?

That’s how.

So you should give yourself a treat and try them, and if you want to really make someone’s holiday send them a gift box.

Like the Herbs & Spices Gift Box, (ahem.) Bravo Whimsy & Spice, and thank you!

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Oct

31

knead

I came across the first cookbook from San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery while idling my time away with a coffee in a little bookstore in Woodstock, Vermont… little did I know what I had gotten myself into.

Named simply Tartine, it was, quite frankly, a showstopper. The bakery, owned by husband and wife team, pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and baker, Chad Robertson, was relocated to San Francisco from their first bakery located in Point Reyes Station just slightly north up the coast in Marin, coincidentally, my homeland. If you know me, I know what you are thinking – weren’t you born in Wales? – well, yes. We then moved to San Francisco and later, Marin, and well, you know how the song goes…

The first incarnation of their bakery used a wood-fired brick oven to bake bread and rustic, elegant pastries. It was here that the soul of Tartine’s singular breadmaking was realized as Robertson set about to understand the process, the elements, and his environment. What he learned serves as the focus of the second cookbook, Tartine Bread.

If you are anywhere near as passionate or as enthusiastic as I am about good bread and the elusive zen of mastering its making, then you should definitely look this cookbook up. It is sure to please. Not only is it filled with wisdom, insight, and inspiration from years of baking and hundreds of raw, starkly beautiful images of bread and the food it makes, but…
It also offers a behind the scenes peek at the lifestyle and lives of the Northern California surfer/breadbakers, sigh, who have helped make Tartine what it is today…

And what is that you ask?

A place that you really should visit. If that is an impossibility then, experience their cookbooks. And if that still is not possible then try making one of their café’s inspired panini’s at home. I suggest: Idiazabal & Membrillo – made with lightly smoked sheep’s cheese and quince jam – or – Pecorino & Almondmade with sheep’s cheese & almonds crushed with olive oil, lemon and sage.

For some slightly-more-instant gratification watch the video below.

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