Thursday, 13 October 2011


A scary sometimes infuriating, sometimes marvelous treat. if you really want to see them in their natural habitat go to Paris. If a quick stop at Pierre Herme is abit out of your price range, you can stop by Duchess, here in town. I have heard there is a new macaron in town as well, Mirabelle Macarons, but i haven't met Miss Mirabelle, nor sampled her wares yet.

I have made macarons many times. I have made glorious delicious delicacies, and I have made complete fails. Even a seasoned pro can go wrong with these temperamental tasties. The last batch I made I tried to flavor with a ginger syrup I had made. NOT GOOD! lol. they were way to runny, and on top of that I left them in the oven too long. Does that mean I will never try again? Heck NO! I like a challenge. That being said, they are not difficult really, just persnickety. I encourage every one to give them a shot. Put a little adventure in your oven. And you can really play around with flavor combinations. I love mixing up flavors, or making old reliables. I have done
Raspberry vanilla bean
Pear and Ginger
Vanilla Chai spice
Chocolate Peanut butter
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Pineapple Basil
and possibly more i cant recall right now. the point is, have fun with it. Don't let the recipe intimidate you, take your mixer by the proverbially horns and make something to make you proud.

One of the best blurbs I have ever read on Macarons is by  Not So Humble Pie. I love the science of food, and she presents it all in a very approachable way.I am not even going to attempt to write any more about it, cause hers is perfect. I adore her blog in general, go read it.... I will wait here...

OK so now you are inspired yes? AWESOME!
FYI my niece is awesome. and she adds abit of whimsy to everything 8) the macarons I made with her were the best I have ever made ( i think she may secretly be a much better baker than me, but she doesn't want to make me feel bad) and not only were they delish, but she made them adorable too! 

Monday, 3 October 2011

3.14 Contest

The local newspaper recently had a pie contest. I heard about it at the last minute, and I didn't think I was going to enter anything. but then i got home, and faced the giant bag of apples from my friends tree. I had to make a pie anyway.... why not try something new?!? 
My first thought was a simple apple crumble pie with salted caramel topping. Then I thought apple pie with cheddar is good, so why not!
So I did. the first try was abit too appley, so i added some potato to the recipe to soak up some of the flavors and bOOm yum! I used a really simple sour cream pastry, but any pie shell would work

Apple Cheddar Pie

2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk ( if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
Alot of people are afraid of pastry, DON'T BE! the trick is to keep it cold, and you will be rewarded.

in a medium bowl combine the flour and the salt.
Cut the cold butter into 1" chunks, and mix into the flour with you hands, squishing the butter until it breaks into pea sized pieces. be sure to work quickly so the butter doesn't melt. (if you tend to have warm hands, running them under cold water first should help  but make sure you dry them well before you touch the flour lol), or use you can use a pastry cutter. believe it or not... i don't have one. actually I think I do have one, but I don't know where it is.

add the sour cream. I combine it with my hands until it just comes together.
The dough should be slightly dry, it will hydrate while it rests,
if it needs more liquid, and the milk, just until it barely forms a ball
wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge at least one hour or over night.

4 cup onion diced
4 tbsp butter
5 cloves garlic
3 cup apples diced ~ hopefully from a nearby tree
3 cup potato diced ~ hopefully from a nearby garden... but you can use leftovers or even frozen hashbrowns I would suppose
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp sage
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 cups cheddar cheese grated

preheat your oven to 375

In a large pan on medium low heat melt the butter
dice onions and add them to the butter to sweat
mince the garlic and add to the sweaty onions

dice the potatoes ( I leave the skin on for nutritional value, besure to wash well, or peel if you prefer)and add to the onion mixture (if using leftover or precooked potatoes, add at the end of the cooking process with the apples)
add salt, pepper, thyme,sage, and sugar. stir well.

at this point, i would give the potatoes afew extra minutes to cook, and roll out my pie crust. once rolled and in the pan, place in the freezer. 

peel and core apples, dice and add to the pan
sprinkle flour over top, and stir well
turn off the heat

for extra cheesiness add 1 cup of grated cheddar to the mixture (Or Gruyere, or Parmesan...? go crazy its your dinner!)
the apples should cool down the mixture enough to put it in the pie shell. the potatoes should be firm, but slightly yielding. press it down to make it compact, and top with 1 cup of grated cheddar.

bake for about one hour.


It was different and flavorful, and used up lots of apples.  it didn't win the contest, but i still like it. By the way, if you or anyone you know has an excess of fruit or veggies this time of year PLEASE tell them about Operation Fruit Rescue 
we ended up eating this pie for acouple days, I think it would be great as a fun alternative at a pot luck. Let me know if you try it, what you think 8)
it must have been good

Butter Cream Roses

I hate to admit it, but there are parts of baking and decorating that i do not love. 
I know, right?!? shocking!
One of my least favorite things to make is flowers.I actually haven't done a single icing flower since school. I'm stubborn that way. I have tried to practice with fondant flowers, but butter cream flowers just never made the cut. the good news in this case is that i like my friends (and their lovely Moms) more than I dislike butter cream flowers

Darc-He and his lovely wife decided to throw a surprise birthday party for his Mom, and I was asked to bake the cake. After an exhaustive search for the inspiring cake (which was finally found by the resourceful AND tenacious Mr Bunz) I resigned myself to making soooo many roses, lol. I started out with 2 rounds and Italian butter cream.vanilla with raspberry and chocolate with vanilla bean.

once the cakes were carved, i used the "carvings" to fill in under the smaller heart cake to hold it up. then the whole thing gets  a liberal spackling of vanilla butter cream.

after much angling and smoothing and butter creaming (yeah i used that as a verb) I got the cakes smooth and ready for rosing. (yup that's a verb here too!)

small note i made about 5X as many roses as i probably needed.
because every once in while one would drop and ruin five, i would scrap them off and do that spot over. I am not good at this.
twitch twitch.

I was so happy to be a part of their day. I heard that Mom was pleasantly surprised, and that she enjoyed her cake. As always, all the frustration melted away and I was just happy to help make the party a success. I helped to make at least one Mom feel special and appreciated. So even though butter cream roses make me feel more like bitter cream roses, I'm always glad when it brings smiles, one of the many reasons i love what i do

I baked...

Louis Vuitton. I'm thinking I need to make a stencil of the Louis pattern, this is a commonly requested cake. Pretty strait forward cake. the purse was all hand painted, which was  definitely the most time consuming part of this project. 

one of Bunz coworkers wanted a tiramisu. How can i say no to tiramisu? easily one of my favorites to make!
I started out by making a ton of ladyfinger sheets to layer with espresso, liquor, and marscapone mousse. so delicious!

 and then i had lots of left over delight so i put together a mini cake for my darling hairdresser, and an anniversary cake for Thea's Rents. I still had alittle bit of the ladyfinger sponge, and the mousse left over. I had to force my self to eat it. its a tough job. sigh.

just kidding, its totally awesome!