Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween/Blessed Samhain!

Happy Halloween and a most-blessed Samhain wishes come to you from Mademoiselle Wanna B Gourmande!

Those of you whom are close friends know that I'm no stranger to the occult, but to my readers I just want to let you know a few tiny tidbits about this holiday, and maybe about myself in the process! So here are some tips for enjoying the holiday, because it is meant to be enjoyed.


  • Halloween is, first off, one of the safest nights of the year for trick-or-treaters/children! The number of children being poisoned by candy in the United States is zero. There aren't any records of it. It's just an urban legend!
  • The biggest danger to trick-or-treaters is cars for obvious reasons.
  • Speaking of cars, please do not be that parent/guardian that uses the car to trick-or-treat. You know who I'm talking about; those people that drive in a slow creep down the street, letting their kid get out at each house, then going back into the car immediately to drive to the next one. It's embarrassing for the kid, really bad on your gas, and honestly it's just f#cking stupid. You're taking the fun out of the holiday.
  • There are towns out there with curfews on Trick-or-treaters being out after nightfall. So if you're in one of those towns, protest by going to people's doors at night. And if you're not, be grateful that you're not. 
  • You're not in danger of sex offenders. Seriously. No records have been shown. You're more likely to get harassed for that "sexy nun" costume at the college party than your kid is for dressing up like Wolverine. 
  • You carve jack-o-lanterns tonight and set them out to ward evil away. There are now battery-operated candles that keep going all night, that can fit in those little buggers! They're safer, sure, but tea candles make the pumpkins smell good! 
  • Speaking of jack-o-lanterns, don't throw the guts out! Pumpkin seeds are good eating, or you can just throw the unwashed guts out into your backyard and enjoy a pumpkin patch next year! Seriously, it's way cool, and your kids will love it. Plus, you'll feel good about growing plants and feeding bees, which are dying off. at a scary rate.
  • Halloween is a modernized version of Samhain, which is the time of year which Wiccans/Pagans believe that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest. That's why you wear masks, so the evil spirits don't come and mistake you for someone else, and take you back with them. 
  • This is another reason you do the treats: you appease the spirits so they don't come inside and steal you away. Or TP your house. 
  • Some kids have mental illness, cognitive disabilities, or just can't afford costumes; so don't harass a kid that doesn't have a costume. It's everyone's holiday, so don't be a dick. 
  • This is a holiday, in serious tones, to remember the dead and honor your ancestors. To many, this is the Wiccan/Pagan's most sacred holiday. So don't be a dick to people's religious beliefs if you don't agree with them. i.e. don't crash Circles or Rituals; it'd be like if someone came into a Catholic church during mass and just did naked cartwheels down the aisle. It's weird and rude. 
  • Pagans/Wiccans don't believe in Hell. Or the Devil. That's a Christian thing. So calling someone a Devil-worshipper is really more awkward than insulting. 
  • Don't sacrifice black cats. Seriously, it's cruel and just plain fucking stupid. I mean, what do you hope to accomplish? Honestly?
  • Don't take the fun out of the holiday for the kids; drop them off, have a cell phone in their pocket, and pick them up in another hour once they've gone around the neighborhood. And don't do the trunk-or-treat thing. Please. It's embarrassing for me to look at you dragging your poor 10-year-old around a church parking lot in some sad, sick and twisted version of tail-gating. And I'm sure the kid is happy about the candy, but it's not what the holiday is about. 
Follow these tips and enjoy a Happy Halloween/Blessed Samhain!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Caramel Powder

I learned a new technique the other day!

I'm calling it a technique only because "recipe" doesn't seem right. A recipe, to me, implies the ingredients and method for a whole food item, ready to be consumed. This is a recipe for an ingredient, like a recipe for fish paste or curry paste! Only this isn't curry paste. This is caramel powder.

What is caramel powder? Instant caramel dust! You know how you can buy powders at the store that, when added to milk, turn into chocolate pudding? It's like that, only with pure, wonderful caramel. Add this powder to a baked good, used like/with sugar, and you add in a note of caramel. Seriously, I used them to make apple cobblers today...it was insane; it was just like biting right into a warm caramel apple. So here's how you make it!

Caramel Powder

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
Put the corn syrup on the bottom of the pan, and then add in the salt, sugar, and vinegar. I know that the vinegar seems like an odd thing, but I always add in a touch of white vinegar to my caramels/hot sugar mixtures just to "invert" the sugar, and make it harder to crystallize. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and keep it covered; the steam will help cook the sugar evenly and wash down the sides of the pan. After about three minutes, remove the lid.

The color on the side of the sugar mixture should be turning colors now. Basically, the trick to a good caramel is just having the confidence to let it become that wonderful dark golden color. Meanwhile, prepare either a silpat mat or a buttered sheet of wax paper/parchment paper on the surface of your choice, preferably a sheet tray that's been lined. Once the color you desire has been achieved, pour out your hot sugar mixture carefully and let it cool.

Once it's cooled and hardened completely, the fun may now begin: Wrap it in a linen napkin or a super-clean tea towel to break it up in...OR just break it into manageable chunks to where you can get it in the food processor and grind it up. It's going to be loud, but worth it. The resulting powder(which might have big chunks, but that's ultimately okay) is known as caramel powder. You can add this to your hot drinks, your baked goods, your anything, really, to give it a taste of caramel. Mix it in with your tea! It will dissolve and give it a perfect new flavor. Or substitute it with half of your sugar for a cake. Or all of the sugar for your cake! Make as much or as little as you want. But I made the above amount to put into about 16 apple cobblers, that tasted just like a hot and wonderful caramel apple. 

Enjoy! Happy eating!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bitterness in Varying Degrees(Chocolate)

Chocolate tart, praline cremeaux, blanc mange, chocolate biscuit...just lots
of different things. It tasted amazing. 
Many people, too many people, think that chocolate is sweet. It's not. Chocolate is bitter. Cocoa is bitter. It is bitterness, in varying degrees, which makes chocolate unique. It's by far the most luxurious ingredient there is. Fuck truffle oil. Forget gold leaf. It's chocolate. Nothing evokes luxury and romance like chocolate. Nothing evokes depth like chocolate. Nothing. It stands alone.

If someone says they don't like chocolate, I immediately distrust them. My CDC(Chef de Cuisine) said once he's not a chocolate fan. I'm slightly uneasy leaving him in charge of my dessert things while I run to Restaurant Depot, because he told me that once over a year ago. I don't think I'll ever trust him truly, but he is a very good chef and has made some of the best soups I've ever had in my life. I mean, he's like the soup guy. But I still will never fully, truly, wholly trust him. I mean, not liking chocolate seems just fundamentally wrong. It would be one thing if he were allergic to it, but he's not.

Spiced walnut & chocolate verrine w/ cherry
Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend a Chocolate Workship/Pastry Demo at Johnson County Community College, hosted by Barry Cacao/Callebaut Chocolate with the recipes/works of Chef Rocco Lugrine. He said fall was his favorite season(mine too), so he came up with all of these wonderful chocolate desserts that featured praline and pecans and walnuts and coffee and fruit...all of these gorgeous things. "And, and, and..."I wasn't very smart in my planning in going; I didn't eat breakfast so by the time I got to work I had eaten so much chocolate I couldn't stand without shaking. I clocked in and immediately made myself the saltiest pizza I could so I could hoark it down and be stable enough to work my shift without going into some sort of diabetic coma. I swear, I wasn't anywhere near the possibility of becoming diabetic before my career switch to Pastry Chef...but I think I'll get there by age 30.

Impending Diabetes aside, I love chocolate. And I love being a Pastry Chef. It's made me explore deeper parts of my psyche, and kind of helped me deal with a lot of stuff that I didn't know I could deal with on my own. I'm not saying that this can work for everyone, but cooking is and always has been very theraputic to me. I find comfort in cooking because I know the rules. I find comfort in knowing what happens when you add X to Y at temperature Z. Things like these are constants in my life when nothing else is.

I will never love any person as much as I love this dog. Just accept
that and be offended on your own time. Howl and I will be
chilling, enjoying each other's company. 
I also find comfort in my dog, Howl. He's a charming creature, magnificent in his derpiness, and a big pile of shedding love. I find it comforting that he will never care what I do for a living or how much money I make or if I snore or whatever. Dogs don't care if you're dumb or wise or funny or skinny or fat. Dogs love on a level which we are, I truly believe, incapable of. I see pictures of animal abuse or hear stories of it and I feel sick. A few people get slaughtered, I feel sad. An animal dies in a movie, I'm inconsolable. But when a human dies I kind of feel like... "Eh, that sucks, but they were probably an asshole at some point." Oh my God, how sick is that?

Love will come and go. Relationships come and go. I've learned to not make plans, since it seems like every time I do, something comes up. I've learned that the language of my life is one of fluidity, so it's best to just strap in and go with the flow. But life has also taught me that with sweet, comes bitter. Sometimes I fear that there is so much bitterness built up within me that none of the sweet will ever do any good. Am I palatable? Will I ever truly be? Why do I care so much?

Everybody wants to be loved. Is that so wrong? I am loved by my family and my friends and, of course, my dog. I feel love in the way the world works. I sometimes feel that I'm fooling myself when it comes to love. But I am coming to realize that it's because of my past. I'm letting my past hurt my future with my fear, my scars, my bitterness. This is something I've seen ruin every other love around me, and I had always vowed to myself I would never allow to happen to me. But I find that I'm making a conscious effort to not let my past bitterness destroy my present sweet.

Chocolate mousse, pecan caramel, short crust, etc...
I realize that this blog is turning into some weird, sappy, emo kid bullshit rant, so I'll sprinkle in a few pictures of the stuff we learned how to make at the workshop here and there. The things we learned about were so gorgeous, so perfectly executed. I learned that I need to use my immersion blender more, as it is, apparently, the Pastry Chef's greatest ally, aside from the knife and scale. I actually started using it for my chocolate stuff tonight at work and found it to be an amazing tool that I have seriously under-utilized. Maybe I'll post a blog about that in the morning.

But it's late, now, and I feel happy and hopeful and yet afraid. I wonder if this is how it's supposed to feel when you're my age? I wonder if there is any real such thing as "supposed to" at this point. I think we are coming to the realization as a collective mind that "supposed to" is a subject that is incredibly open to interpretation. God, I'm sleepy...


Russian Egg Volcanoes

On my Facebook page for WannaBGourmande, I posted a video(I think Russian in origin) of an egg dish I had never seen before! I had a little bit of time before work, so I did my own version of it. And by that, I mean followed the video to the letter. (So to speak...)

Fluffy Russian Egg Breakfast Thing

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 slices of toast
  • butter, salt, and pepper as needed
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Heat a pan and cook the bacon over medium-high heat. While that's going, whip the egg whites to a stiff peak. Since you used 2 eggs, just divide the fully whipped mixture in half when putting it in the pan. Drain all but 2 tsp of the bacon fat from your pan, and set the bacon aside to hang out. Plop the 'meringue' mixture into two snowy mountain-looking things in the pan. Gently let the egg yolks slide into the meringue. Pop the whole thing in the screaming-hot oven for about 4 minutes, or until everything has browned/crisped up just enough. 

Butter your toast, arrange your bacon on the plate, and when the fluffy egg volcanoes are done, they'll come right out of the pan quite easily using a rubber spatula.

To tell you the truth, it wasn't my absolute favorite, but it was still pretty good! It was fun. It was fluffy and light, and kind of reminded me of a souffle/frittatta kind of thing. I could have probably let it cook less, but I wanted to make sure that the egg whites were cooked. It honestly could have gone fine for 2 minutes, since my oven gets really hot really quickly. But the yolks were warm and still runny, so what more could I ask for?

I hope this encourages you to try new things. And check out the original video here

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blogging/Acting/Living like a Big Girl

That is to say, not blogging like a fat girl. Not that I'm fat. Not that it matters, really. I'm more bone than fat, I think. Or maybe I'm more organ tissue? I have fat on me. But I don't know how a 'fat' girl is supposed to blog or act. I just act the way I act. I know that I could come up with a few rhymes or reasons for a few of my actions and habits, but I've really heard a lot of "like a fat girl" or "inner fat kid" or whatever on the interblag lately when coming across food articles. Well, not lately. Always.

What's up with the whole "like a girl" thing, by the way? It's a little insulting.
"Bitch, please..."

But that's neither here nor there. I really don't want to get into all of that. Most of my friends know that I feel the way I feel, and if you read my stuff you probably are of the opinion that women are people. At least, I hope you are. Because we are. Women, I mean.

But "Blogging like a Big Girl." I'm big in the sense that I'm tall. I border on 5'8", and can kiss B. without craning my neck if I wear the right shoes(he's 6'2"), specifically the pretty pink wedges I bought circa 2012 from H&M. But does big have to mean big? Why can't it just mean grown up? I'm a big girl, now. I'm a grown-up now. And in my 26 years on this rock, I've figured out some stuff.

Being an adult is what you want it to mean. Being an adult in America means being over 18(or 21, if you prefer). Aside from that, it's up to you. Society tacks on a few other things, like paying your bills or buying your own car or whatever. Which I do. I pay my bills and I have a car. It's hard to balance budgets on your own, I will admit, but the point is that it's doable.

I recently started working with a group called Young Women on the Move. The girls I met with were shy. They were shy and afraid. When I was telling stories about my life and career, they kept on smiling and nervously asking "But weren't you scared?"

"Yes," I said. And then I shrugged it off and kept on talking.

"But weren't you scared?" must have come up at least fourteen times during my two-hour period of time there. Of course I was scared. It's okay to be scared. But whatever. No big deal. So what if you get scared? Was I scared to ask for a raise when I needed it? Yes. Was I scared when I went an applied for a job I wasn't really qualified for? Yes. Was I scared to start socializing in the ACF, fearful of the thought that people would reject me? Yes. But the worst thing they could have said was "no." Well, not the worst thing...

Sometimes, to ease the tension, I like to imagine the worst possible thing happening. I mean, off-the-charts, weird, fukken worst. I went in for a job interview once and was very nervous about it. What if they don't like me? What if the restaurant is horrible? What if the Chef is horrible? What if the FOH manager is a creep that wears gold rings and leaves his shirt hanging open all the time? What if the kitchen is infested with mold? What if I trip on the way in and break my neck? What if, on my way in, a pipe bursts in the bathroom walls and floods the entire restaurant? There could be an ex-boyfriend in there. There could be no gravity in there--and I would walk in and slam up on the ceiling, and then gravity would turn back on again, and slam me back into the floor, breaking my face. There could be racist ninjas in there. There could be Vladimir Putin in there. Zombie Fred Phelps could be in there. ALL OF THE HORRIBLE THINGS could be in there.

But probably not. You know what the actual worst thing that could happen would be? I didn't get the job. Could I live with that? Probably.

Fear is darkness. Find the light within.

So I'm blogging every day. I don't know what I'll blog about, always, but I figure that I can have a few filler blogs here and there. It's a regimen. It's good to have short term goals. Also, that Lemon Cherry Yogurt Cake from yesterday is still moist as the day is long, and I didn't even cover it with plastic. It was just sitting on the counter, still being delicious.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Ring of Pure and Endless Cake (Lemon Cherry Yogurt Cake)

POWDERED SUGAAAAAAH'

I'm trying to blog every day. It's working, now that I have Google Fiber and a great little computer. Sure, it runs on Windows XP(#hipsteroffice) but it was free! You can't complain about free, can you? And my office is beautiful, with a lot of potential. I'm thinking of starting some fun DIY projects to really beautify my work space. I have a little room in the back of my house that overlooks the backyard, which overlooks the river. It's kind of a catch-all room right now, but once I clean it up and get rid of the big orange chair, it'll be a functioning office that I can do other things in like scan in images and recipes from my favorite books. Or drawings and doodles that I do on napkins when I'm drunk. You know, whatever.

If anybody wants that orange chair, comment below.
SamJack is not for sale
When I have time off, I like to keep busy. I currently volunteer with a group called Young Women on the Move, which pretty much consists of just hanging out with these awesome young ladies and instilling self-actualization while having fun. I basically take a few hours out of my day to show these girls that you can do anything you want, and need nobody's permission to do so. Know what I'm doing now? I'm blogging. Because I'm an adult. I have my own house. My own office. My career. I have those things. An American woman has to work hard to get those things, but it can be achieved. We're planning a big Garage/Bake Sale around the 7th of November, so mark that calendar! I'll definitely keep you posted on the details, because I know you'll want to help support these girls.

Anyway, when I'm not doing that, I'm usually hanging out with friends, but if I have work in the afternoon/evening, I'll have a lot of time in the morning to do things, such as run errands, or bake cakes. I've taken to a lot of experimentation with substitutions(i.e. subbing oil for butter or subbing sour cream for milk in a baked good recipe) lately, and it's really been a lot of fun. Plus, my neighbors totally love me for bringing over all of these cakes and muffins and cookies! I think people should bake more. I think it makes you happy, and it makes the people who receive them happy.

Anyway, I was craving lemon cake but I didn't have enough butter nor did I have enough milk. So I took my favorite recipe and had some fun with it. Fortunately, I had some cherry yogurt in my fridge, so that made it interesting...

Lemon Cherry Yogurt Cake

  • 7 fl oz canola/grapeseed oil(any neutral-flavored oil will do)
  • 2 scant cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups AP flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cherry flavored yogurt(I had Belfonte, but you can use whatever brand you prefer)
Preheat your oven to 350. Remember that these substitutions of oil vs butter and yogurt + milk versus all milk will affect your final cake's outcome. Oil results in a moist cake with a nice crumb, but when creaming butter and sugar together, you create air bubbles which will act as a leavener for the cake. Since you can't quite create the same air bubbles with oil and sugar, I added a little more baking soda, a chemical leavener. I also made it 7 oz oil versus 8 oz butter because I knew that there was plenty of fat in my yogurt, and too much fat in a cake can result in a not-so-great thing. 

Combine the sugar and oil together. I used a paddle attachment and beat it together for 2 minutes on medium speed, so to combine/dissolve the sugar. Adding one egg at a time, scrape the bowl down after each addition to ensure even spread. The mixture will start to get a lovely color.


Add the lemon zest, almond extract, lemon juice, and salt. Beat together for 1 minute on medium-high, and then sift in 1 cup of the flour plus your baking soda, followed by your milk. Mix to combine. Add the second cup of flour, mix, then the yogurt. Finish with the final amount of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl down and give a final turn with your paddle before popping your batter into the pans of your choice.

This will yeild two 9" round cakes, or(in my case, since I wanted a ring cake) 1 savarin mould plus 1 6" round cake. Bake at 350 until done, about 30 minutes. My savarin cake was done in about 20, though, so just set your timer for 20 and check.
It's a good idea to trim the brown stuff off of your cakes
before you frost them/cut them for layers. Use a serrated
knife and long gentle strokes!
 I didn't need the extra 6" cake, so I messily trimmed and layered the cake with some of the mulberry jam I'd made from the berries I had picked from my neighbor's yard. I ended up giving the cake to the neighbors. It was a nice day out, and my neighbor is also my mechanic. He fixed my brakes for me when I was in a tight spot, so I like to do nice things in return. As for the ring cake/savarin, I don't like frosting all of the time, so I did something else.

Cherry Yogurt Glaze

  • 1/3 cup cherry yogurt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp water + more as needed
Combine all using a spoon or spatula. Taste for salt and glaze half of your icing over the cake while still warm. When cooled, glaze over the remaining icing. Dust with powdered sugar to serve.
It's a tiny slice so you don't feel bad about eating five of them.
Baking is chemistry; it's science. Science is something that can be tested and explained. So if you're short on milk but have some yogurt and sour cream, just substitute it! See what happens! I mean, really, what's the worst thing that can happen? (#FamousLastWords)

Happy Eating! And if you're in the Kansas City Area, check out LookyLocalKC! I write lists and tips and recipes on there, too, so look and see what Kansas City has to offer! Or just sit and drool and the pictures. Up to you. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Smoked Pineapple Tart a la Mode


We here in Kansas City just love when things are smoked! So why shouldn't fruit get in an all of the fun? As an honorary citizen(transplant from Arizona, mind you) of the Midwest, I salute you, Kansas City, for your love of the hickory, the cherry, the apple woods. I salute you, Kansas City, for your rising smoke stacks and perfect barbecue rub recipes. And since I am wearing my Pastry Chef toque, time to have some fun!

Smoked Pineapple Tart

  • 1 medium-sized pineapple
  • Pie crust(either store bought or use your favorite recipe(or you can use mine))
    • 8 oz butter
    • 10.5 oz flour
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbsp vinegar
    • Enough water to bring it together
      • Pulse it all together in a food processor. Or just combine all of this stuff by cutting the butter into the flour and then adding the liquids and eggs until it comes together, then freezing it/chilling it for at least one hour
  • Spicy Pastry Cream
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 Tbsp butter, cold
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper**
Break down your pineapple by cutting off the tip and bottom. Then lay it flat on its bottom and "peel" the pineapple's thick husk using a chef's knife, carefully, following the curves of the fruit. Cut the fruit into half, down the middle and then down the middle again. You now have four quarters. Cut the core out of those corners by making one long slit down the middle of the fruit and discarding the ick. Slice each quarter piece into thirds, lengthwise, and then arrange on a sheet pan in your smoker. Or on a rack. It's really whatever. 

Don't have a smoker? No problem!

Take three disposable aluminum pans, the kind you get at the grocery store in the 'kitchen tools' aisle, and perforate one of them with a knife or a nail. Light a combination of your favorite wood chip blend and get some smoke going in the bottom of the first pan. Place the perforated pan atop the smoky 'coals' and then line with wax or parchment paper. Place your pineapple on the paper and cover with the third and final pan. Secure with aluminum foil and set it into a warm oven(200 degrees is just fine) for about 30 minutes.Just...keep your window open. It'll get smoky in your house.

Create your custard by whisking the sugar, salt, cayenne, cornstarch, and egg yolks together until it forms a wonderful thick ribbon. Boil the cream and vanilla together, and splash the hot liquid into the yolks, stirring constantly. Place the combined liquid back into the pan and bring it slowly-slowly-slowly to a boil, or until it gets thick, whisking constantly. Remove immediately from the heat and add in the butter. Give it a strain, too, if you can.

Roll out your pie dough into a large circle, big enough to fit into your pie/tart tin and have some hanging over. If you're using a tin, go ahead and get the dough into it now and let the dough sit, draped over the tin and its edges, for about five minutes. This allows the dough to relax. Once your dough is relaxed, fill about 2/3 of the way up with your reserved pastry cream. Then arrange the pineapple slices atop the custard in a pattern, or just plain across it. Just make sure it's covered completely! You can now either fold the dough over the pineapple, or trim it off the edges. It's up to you. I trimmed, but there's no reason you can't fold it over into a lovely flower-like galette! Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious. Let it cool completely before cutting. If you want to eat it warm, pop it in a hot oven for about five minutes before slicing and serving with ice cream!

Happy eating! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Be Royal Roulade Cake(GO KANSAS CITY ROYALS!!!)

Ohmigosh what an exciting time to live in Kansas City!!!

MOOOOOOOOSE
I heard the screams and cheers from all the way in the back of the restaurant, and I knew that the Kansas City Royals were going to the World Series! While I am not a fan of sports in any sense of the word, I can certainly appreciate the fact that this is a big deal; first time since 1985 since the Royals have been to the World Series, or even relatively close, from what I'm to understand. I was walking my dog this morning at Liberty Memorial and noticed a throng of shirts on the joggers that read "Party Like it's 1985"!

Anyway, I don't normally go with the grain, but everyone is so excited, I just had to participate. So I made a #BeRoyal Roulade Cake with a fluffy marscarpone MOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE. (The baseball player, not the animal. His name is Mike Moustakas. Everyone calls him Moose, according to my facebook feed.)

Kansas City, also known as the City of Fountains, has ceremoniously dyed its fountains bright blue in honor of the Royals. Now that we're headed off to the World Series, the time has come to show my team spirit with this cake. You can show your team spirit by recreating this cake, or buying one of these awesome things I found on Pinterest!

It sold already, apparently, but you can still check
them out here:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/jillbenimble?ref=l2-shopheader-name
ROYAL ICING. GET IT???
There are a ton of cakes and cookies and confections with the signature blue and white on them! Pinterest has gone insane with it, and so has most of Kansas City. Royals fever is upon us, children, so let's brace ourselves and join in on the fun!

To celebrate your own gameday party for the world series, you can decorate cookies using ROYAL icing, in a lovely ROYAL blue, while listening to "ROYALS" by Lorde, because she (apparently) actually wrote that song based off of a picture she saw once of one of the Royals signing autographs.  I don't actually know if that's true, though.  It sounds like the kind of thing that people would make up. I guess I could just Google it, but I'm only on coffee number three right now, so I'm not exactly present. I, like the rest of Kansas City, celebrated. And even being a transplant into this lovely town, I can certainly have fun celebrating with the rest of the citizens by painting the town blue, and following the hashtags of #BeRoyal or #TaketheCrown.

#BeRoyal Roulade Cake
Spongecake
#BeRoyal Roulade Cake with CARAMEL SAUCE!!!

  • 8 eggs
  • 3 oz cake flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp blue food coloring(liquid)/1 big dollop of Royal Blue Wilton Dye(the stuff's strong)
Mousse
  • 1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb marscarpone, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp honey, preferably local
  • juice of one lemon, about a tablespoon
  • Fat pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups/1 pint heavy whipping cream
To finish:
  • Gold sprinkles
  • Blue Spray dye(you can find it at Michaels in cans)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and plenty of pan spray. Or butter it. It doesn't matter, so long as its thoroughly lubricated. But the parchment will make it exponentially easier for you in the long run. Just make sure you spray the parchment, too. 

Separate four of the eggs. Place the yolks, remaining four whole eggs, granulated sugar, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer. Fit with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed until thick. Add your dye and increase the speed to high, making it form thick, ribbons of yummy egginess. Remove your mixture to another bowl and combine with the flour, gently. Folding it in with a whisk or spatula will be just fine. Give your bowl a quick swipe before you combine your egg whites and powdered sugar in the same mixer, and then whip it to medium-stiff peaks. Fold in everything together quite gently, and add in a little more dye if you need. You want royal blue. 

Spread evenly in your prepared pan and bake for 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your MOOOOOOOSE(hehe. Mousse.).

Wipe out your mixer bowl and combine 1 lb each of cream cheese and marscarpone cheese at room temperature, with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, using your paddle attachment. Add in a fat pinch of salt with a squeeze of lemon juice(about a tablespoon) and about a tablespoon of honey(a nod to the Moose's Greek heritage). Scrape down the bowl and continue to whip at medium speed. Now add one egg yolk(DON'T FREAK OUT, there's enough sugar in there for it to be safe) and whip to combine. Remove the cheese mixture to a bowl and whip 2 cups heavy whipping cream in your mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Fold your stuff together and you've got yourself a heavenly marscarpone mousse.

When your cake is done, you'll want to work with it while it's still warm. Spread a layer of mousse(about 1/2" thick, maybe more, depending on your preference) on your cake, leaving about half an inch on one of the long sides for you to fold. Using the parchment paper to help, lift up the cake and fold it onto itself. Roll tightly. Tight-tight-tight is the way to go. The parchment paper will help keep the cylindrical shape. Once it's all rolled up, you can use your remaining mousse to slather on the cake. Now comes the fun part.

Take your cake to a well-ventilated area(trust me) and spray the bejeezus out of it using spray dye. Or make it easier on yourself and dye the icing...but this is more fun. Finish with bright gold sprinkles! You can add in your own twist by writing "Be Royal" along the top of the cake, or add in your own flavors to the mousse. Cut on the bias like I did for a fun effect, or just big ole' honkin' slices. 

You can bake the cake for the big day, or get the cake RIGHT NOW at Trezo Mare Ristorante in the Northland for a mere $5 a slice. But hurry! There's only so much right now!


Or, you know, buy cookies. Up to you. (But make the cake if you're a true fan.) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Calling All Millenials

And, now, my own contribution to the latest little hashtag trend.

I'm proud of what I am. I think we should put these on the Census.

Pumpkin Soup(Snuggle up and eat it)

Kansas City, the City of Fountains, is also known as the Paris of the Plains.
As a transplant, I thought this was a bit pretentious. But I’ve lived here for four years now, and I must say that it does have certain Parisian qualities. For example, the snobbery of the different kinds of barbecue. The Plaza may as well be the Midwestern Champs-Elysees. There’s a coffee shop/cafe on just about every corner, and the culture of art and food is thriving like no other. It really is a fantastic city. And this fantastic city is proud of its strong agricultural roots. Speaking of agriculture, let’s talk about pumpkins.
The Kansas City Pumpkin Patch Guide is a great place to check out where to take your kids, or your friends, or your date. I mean, come on. Taking your lady to the pumpkin patch where you go pick out pumpkins, take pictures, and get messy carving them together?
Come on, nobody else thinks that would be totally romantic? Hello? Bueller?
But if you don’t want to go all the way out to the pumpkin patch, many grocery stores are carrying pumpkins, and not just the Jack-o-Lantern varieties anymore…
Also slightly hilarious.
These are called Lunch Lady Gourds. Slightly offensive to lunch ladies everywhere.
I live in Westwood Hills, a great little area south of the river, and the closest store to me is the Price Chopper in Roeland Park(and most others), which has an amazing selection of pumpkins sitting right outside the store. These Lunch Lady Gourds(seen above) are warty and fun for decoration, but I have never used them for cooking before. The ones I have used for cooking, however, are just as fun to look at as they are to eat. And the whole point of pumpkins is, pretty much, to eat them. They’re vegetables! They’re squash! Let’s eat!
Citing your pictures is an excellent practice, children. We should all do so!
Courtesy of DelightfulDelicacies.Blogspot.com!
This variety is called the Australian Blue. It’s more of a grayish-green, but these are fantastic as decorations. Imagine a ghostly, goulish gray theme for your Halloween party…a table set with lacy antique linens and these suckers, all aglow. But the point is you can also keep them out on your front porch for decoration. And what you don’t want to use, you can eat. Because the weather in Kansas City right now is perfect for storing these veggies for later consumption. Or just until you’re ready to carve them. Because who wants to be that house with just the boring old Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins on the front door? Just imagine how great the more colorful varieties will look, all carved and lit up at night!
All kept nicely cool on my porch!
From top going clockwise: One Too Many Squash(the speckled squash), Long Island Cheese Pumpkin(the pretty white squash), Rumbo Squash(the squashed-squash)
The One Too Many Squash and the Rumbo Squash are both available to buy right now, and some of the Price Choppers in Kansas City are using locally grown pumpkins from right around this area.The Long Island Cheese pumpkin is not, however, because that’s one that I grew myself. I’ve wanted a pumpkin patch since I was a little girl, and that was the pumpkin of my choosing! How do they taste? Well, it just so happens that I’ve made my favorite vegetarian recipe using the Rumbo Squash: Pumpkin Soup.
Don’t scoff at the vegetarian stuff: October is, in fact, National Vegetarian Awareness Month. But that’s neither here nor there.
Seriously, you should only ever need to buy certain vegetables once. Start planting your seeds, guys.
Make sure you scrape out the guts and bury it somewhere in your backyard for a never-ending supply of Rumbo Squash come next year.
Pumpkin Soup
  • 1 Rumbo Squash, cut in half( you can also use 1 large butternut squash, or any other pumpkin of a similar size)
  • 12 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 generous bouquet of fresh thyme, plus one sprig
  • 1/2 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1/2 pt baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bottle hard apple cider
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Butter, A/N
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Time: 2 hours
Yield: A big pot of love
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, or 350 with high fan if you have a convection oven. Cut your squash in half  and remove the seeds. Since the squash are rather large, wrap one half of the squash in plastic wrap to save for later; or you can just double the recipe and freeze what you don’t eat in Tupperware containers! They make a great go-to quick dinner.
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and apply a tablespoon of canola oil to keep the pumpkin from sticking. Place your pumpkin, cut side facing up, on the tray and score using a knife. Make nice big hash marks, cutting in but not completely through the outer rind. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange your pepper corns, half the garlic, and thyme sprigs onto the cut and scored surface. You can also take the garlic and rub it onto the pumpkin’s flesh for a bit of extra flavor, but that’s up to you.
Roast the pumpkin for about an hour, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Meanwhile, prepare your other ingredients. This practice is called mise-en-place, which is French for “things in place.” It makes cooking a billion times more stress free and cleaning your kitchen as you go like this makes for an exponentially faster cleanup.
Once your pumpkin is ready, remove from the oven and gently scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Your garlic, thyme, and peppercorns should be well on their way to broken down by this point, so just lump them into the bowl with the pumpkin puree. Discard the rind, unless you have a compost heap in the back. In which case, dump the rind in the compost.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot(a big soup kettle is ideal, the bigger the better), take about a Tbsp of canola oil(or another neutral oil, such as grape seed) and warm to medium heat. Add in the diced onion and remaining garlic, with a sprig of fresh thyme, and sweat together over medium-low heat, until it becomes translucent. The garlic shouldn’t burn because it’s still in the big cloves. Make sure you press your garlic down using the back of a spoon while cooking to really release the yummy flavors. Add in your sliced mushrooms at this point and continue to sweat.
Once sweated, about fifteen minutes, add in the pumpkin puree with your garlic, thyme, and all. Raise your heat to medium-high and add the cider. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, then break out the blender.
I like to use an immersion blender for soups and sauces, usually, but you can use a regular counter-top blender if you like. But blitz the soup until it’s a smooth puree, adding in little knobs(just pieces that are about 1/2 a Tbsp each, cold, right from the fridge) of butter as you go. That’s a naughty little chef’s trick to help you get a super-smooth and yummy soup. Return the soup to the pot(if you took it out to blend it) and add the cream. Stir and taste for seasoning. You can serve on its own or garnish with some roasted mushroom slices. Up to you. But this yummy soup will warm you right to the bones on a chilly autumn night.
**continued heavy breathing**
**heavy breathing**
So, you see? Pumpkins aren’t just for Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Pumpkin Pies(although you can roast that other half of the Rumbo squash to MAKE yourself a pumpkin pie using the real puree yourself) or Pumpkin Muffins. They’re fantastic veggies to be used in many different ways. Boil the cubed pumpkin with your potatoes for a potato pumpkin puree as a side for your roasted chicken on Sunday! Saute pumpkin with shallots and arborio rice to create a wonderful risotto! Don’t be afraid. These pumpkins are just dying to be eaten.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Figs

You know what's delicious? FIGS. Most American children only ever eat figs when they're in that nasty cookie, the Fig Newton, and never discover the true joy of them. I think that this is a crime. Figs are delicious.

Eat them. Eat them raw, roasted, or seared in butter and honey.

How do you sear in honey? Slice in half, then squeeze honey over the open flesh. Get the little suckers caramelized in the pan, then eat with cheese, bread, abs cured meats such as prosciutto or salami!

Figs are fantastic little autumnal/winter fruits that you should enjoy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Joys of Living Alone

I'm at a point in my life where I'm living on my own. Well, not entirely on my own. My dog is great. I just wish that he paid his half of the rent.

But you know what the greatest joy of living alone is?

You can go to sleep with a clean kitchen and wake up with a clean kitchen. No surprise dishes left in the sink, no dishes left undone, and certainly no dishes that are just scattered randomly around your house waiting to be picked up and put into the sink. Nothing like that. If I go to sleep with a clean kitchen, I am going to wake up with a clean kitchen. It is a miracle. I wish that somebody had told me how miraculous that feeling is. I would have lived on my own since I was 20.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cannolis

Cannoli are Italian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo (or in the Sicilian language cannolu, plural cannola), meaning "little tube", with the etymology stemming from the Latin "canna", or reed. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine.[1] They are also popular in Italian American cuisine. In Italy, they are commonly known as "cannoli siciliani", Sicilian cannoli. [wikipedia]

I would be lying if I said that I loved cannolis. Mostly because I'd never really had them until recently. A coworker of mine was getting married, and we - of course - hosted their wedding party rehearsal dinner. I didn't make their wedding cake because their mother wanted to, but I did get to fill up their tasty request for dessert on the night of their shower: cannoli. And by fill, I just mean piped filling into little premade shells.

WHOA WHOA, KOLIKA!! PRE-MADE SHELLS?!?!?! BLASPHEMY!

Hey, slow down, homie. There's something to be said for convenience, and it costs exponentially less to buy these little shells versus taking the time to make them, including special equipment. If you want to make them yourselves, by all means: here's a link to do so, courtesy of Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. But I didn't, because I had never eaten one before and had never made them before. I didn't want to screw it up. Again, not a classically trained pastry chef over here. Just a savory-learned girl with a knack for sugar.
OMG "Crispeamy" isn't a word, Mom...

Anyway, the filling is traditionally a ricotta/marscarpone mousse-like kind of tastiness with a hint of anise/allspice going on, as well as folded-in chocolate chips. I ate one of them when I filled them up, and it was nice. It kind of reminded me of an Italian version of a French eclair. Nice! So they were easy to do. But I only filled about 30 of them at a time, since I didn't know how long the party was going to go on and I knew a cardinal rule of the cannoli: fill to order, if you can at all help it. Pastries like these are wonderful, but only if you have that fabulous contrast of texture: crisp and creamy. Crispeamy.

Fast-forward to present day, I looked in the freezer and realized: "Oh, dear! I've bought far too many cannoli shells! They're just sitting there! Not being eaten!"

Well, we can't let food go to waste, can we? There are children starving in Africa. Totally insulting to waste food. And I can't send cannoli shells to Africa. (Or maybe I can? I haven't looked into it.) So I made my own version of the cannoli filling and sold it as a dessert special that night. It usually calls for ricotta, but I prefer marscarpone's mild flavor and creamy texture. It turned out great. Here's how you can make it at home!

Cannolis

  • Cannoli shells A/N
  • 8 oz marscarpone 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 c powdered sugar/confectioner's sugar
  • 1 pt heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Heavy pinch of kosher salt
  • Semisweet chocolate chips A/N(I used about 3/4 of a cup, but you can do whatever)
  • **Chopped toasted nuts, such as pistachio or hazelnut
Start with your marscarpone, which is chilled. You can either put it in the bowl of a standing mixer(which I did not) or just mix it by hand with a wooden/exoglass spoon(which I did). Mix with the vanilla, egg yolk(don't freak out, this is safe, it's pasteurized, and you're using sugar), half the sugar, and salt. Just stir to combine. Whip the remaining sugar with the cream using a standing mixer or just by hand with a whisk. All up to you. 

Fold this mixture together in thirds. As in, take a third of the whipped cream and stir it into the marscarpone mixture to lighten it up, then the other third gently, and the last third gently. Folding is an easy pastry technique, but words are hard so here's a picture:



And here's the link to the tutorial in case that's too vague: Joy of Cooking.

Once your mousse is all folded together, you can fold in your chocolate chips, and toasted nuts(if you want). I left the nuts out because of nut allergy possibilities, but you can add whatever you like. Pipe the filling in using a pastry bag with a plain tip...or just a plastic/disposable pastry bag with the end snipped off...or just a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Do whatever. Fancy pastries don't have to have fancy equipment all the time. I also garnished with a fresh fruit salad of berries and orange supremes, and powdered sugar. You can top with whatever you want, if you want to top it with anything. I think these guys are pretty fun just plain on their own, but, again, it's your cannoli. Just don't fill it until you know they're going to be eaten. It takes about 10-15 minutes for these little dudes to go completely soggy and gross(factoring in a high humidity in my area), so fill to order if you can at all help it. 


Happy filling and happy eating, guys!

Also, I now have an Official Fan Page for my blog at Facebook.com/WannaBGourmande, so please visit and "Like" and share it! Thanks so much for your support. It really does mean a lot!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Snowballs



Not to be confused with the Hostess snack, these Snowballs are completely homemade! (Or, rather, Housemade. Because, you know, I made them at work.)

The restaurant industry is a fascinating one, that cannot be contested. There are a million factors as to why a restaurant could fail, and one of these factors as far as losing money goes is over buying. What does that mean? It just means that you didn't quite keep the best track of your inventory, and you bought stuff when you do need to buy stuff. Now it's sitting on the shelf, not being sold, and therefore not making any money. I have a lot of the stuff on my rack at work. Things like almond paste and flaked coconut and ground oats. They're not saying that I can't use, but there's things that aren't on my menu. So, now, in an attempt to help out the restaurant, I have decided to turn to a childhood favorites: snowballs.

(Disclaimer: I have never eaten a hostess snowball in my life. When I was a kid, I pointed at one of the gas station once asked for my dad if I can have it, and he said "no, sweetheart, no food should be that pink." And that was the end of it. I never tried it. But I'm very familiar with them, as I would see them in the lunch pails of my friends at school growing up. And in various gas stations around the country.)

I had initially gotten the idea from Chef Elizabeth Falkner, a very famous pastry chef, whom I admire quite a bit. She's got this shop called Citizen Cake where she makes art out of cake. I don't know why, but it somehow inspired me to make a sexy version of that gas station childhood classic. So I googled what a snowball actually was: chocolate cake, marshmallow like fluffy stuff, pink coconut. Easy! So off I went.



The best ever chocolate cake recipe I have come across has got to be, hands down, the devil's food cake recipe from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. It's a masterpiece. That cake brings me closer to God. (Spend $12 and get a little scale that reads grams. It's worth it.)

Devil's Food Cake
202 g AP flour
62 g cocoa powder (alkalized, please)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
112 g eggs (cracked and strained, about 2)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
172 g mayo
205 g water, at body temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 F, and prepare a sheet pan with parchment and pan spray.
Sift all of your dry ingredients together whisk in the salt. Set this on another sheet of parchment paper for later.

Put your eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk to combine, and then for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the bowl, then whip at medium high speed for about 5 minutes. Add the mayo and whisk to combine. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and fold in the dry ingredients, alternating with the water, with two additions each using a spatula. For the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, read it into an even layer making sure that it reaches into the corners. 10 minutes if using a sheet pan. You can also use muffin cups, but I can't give you time for that since every oven works a little differently. 10 minutes. It should be fine. But let cool completely before using/sculpting.

With this cake, cut circles using a cookie cutter and stack, using either marshmallow fluff or just melty, gooey marshmallows that you blitz in the microwave for a few seconds. But I would recommend just getting a big jar of marshmallow fluff and going to town on this, because you're also using it to "frost" the outside of your cakes and get the coconut to stick!

As for dyeing the coconuts flakes, I prefer the Wilton paste eyes. But invest in a pair of gloves. Because that stuff will stay in your hands like no other. I like Wiltons rose color for this particular application. I also use it in other cakes and frosting s. Wilton really does put out a great line of products as far as colors go. They last for a long time, and the colors are always really intense! Look at what they did to these cupcakes.



See? Totally perfect pink color, just in time for October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Thanks for reading and happy cooking! Post your results and request for new blog content in the comments below.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Success Baby(Tiramisu)

Last night, one of the servers came back to tell me that she had just finished up with a 95 year old who was celebrating her birthday. Apparently, she had traveled all over and regarded herself an expert on tiramisu from all over the world.

And after eating mine, she said it topped them all. Manager overheard and gave me a high five.



I love my job. Recipe to come if anyone is interested! Or just tell me in the comments what you want to see next.


posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Garden Omelette



There's nothing like a good omelet in the morning. Fluffy egg, yummy veggies, meats and cheeses (if you like)... Delicious stuff!

My favorite thing about omelette is that you can make a lot of them in a very very very small amount of time. Julia Child even dedicated a whole episode of the French chef to them! It's a technique that everybody has to master, or at least try to, at some point in their culinary career.

The trick: get your pan good and hot, so that the eggs get move and fluffy. And don't skimp on the butter(my own personal tip).

The one above isn't so pretty because I took a few bites before remembering to snap a picture. But it has tomatoes from my garden's final haul as well as onion, salt & pepper. You can add whatever. So they're excellent for dinner parties in which you want to class it up. You know, cuz you're a fancy bitch. Look at you. So fancy.

posted from Bloggeroid

Breakfast/Brunch/Anytime

http://foodloverbabe.tumblr.com/post/98883335959/heyrainbows-by-jelisa

If someone could just make this for me today, that would be just super. I need a kick start!

posted from Bloggeroid