Chocolate Sables

February 13th, 2014  |  26 Comments


Let’s just pretend I’ve been here the whole time, and pick up where we left off, shall we?

I’ve been getting some friendly nudging to get this ol’ blog kicking again, so why not, and here we are. We can ease into it with a cookie that doesn’t require any electrical appliances to mix up — just a bowl, a spoon, and our big, meaty hands.

It’s one of those delicate, lightly crisp and sandy chocolate butter cookies that practically dissolves on contact. If you get them rolled and keep them in the freezer, you can just slice a few rounds to bake off right then and there, as the urge strikes. They are just nice to have around. They can be our winter comforter.

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Patê a choux (bless you!) for eclairs

March 8th, 2012  |  32 Comments

How about this: I’ve never made eclairs before. That’s right, the bomb has been dropped.

The gall of me, then, to show YOU, dear reader, how to make them. Well, let me put your mind at ease by saying that I’ve made pate a choux, which is the base pastry dough for those that might be lost in the French, hundreds of times. Been knee-deep in pastry cream more days than I care to remember. And made this glaze so often, it courses through my veins.

All that’s required is a merging of the three, and presto-change-o, we have a bucket of eclairs.

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What To Do With Poached Pears? Almond Cream and Pear Stacks

February 14th, 2012  |  10 Comments


I’m supposed to be watching my weight right now. The holiday season wasn’t too kind to my waistline, and summer will rear it’s head in no time. So as logic should have it, I made calorie-happy poached pear stacks, since I had a bunch of spiced poached pears floating (literally!) around.

I promised myself I would just take a small taste. To make sure the dessert didn’t suck.

And lo and behold, it didn’t just not suck, it turned out to be one of the best desserts on this whole dang blog. At first, I told myself I’d just lick the spoon clean. Then when the spoon was left gleaming, an instant air of melacholia hit me, so much so that I dipped the spoon back in the almond cream to dirty it up again, and have a fresh excuse to get another taste.

The whole thing was really a runaway train. Before I knew what was happening, I was nibbling on puff pastry, then puff pastry with a few pear slices, then how could I just eat these things in parts? I needed all the components together. Soon enough, I was shoveling in full spoonfuls of the whole caboodle.

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Poached Pears

January 26th, 2012  |  14 Comments

If you watch Top Chef Just Desserts, you may be familiar with the awesomeness that is Johnny Iuzzini, the head judge and executive pastry chef at the bajillion-starred New York restaurant Jean Georges. Now, though, I should say their former pastry chef, since he recently gave his notice.

And guess who’s taking his place? My mentor, teacher and all around amazing chef Joseph Murphy. This news warms every cockle of my heart, because it just reinforces what I already know — that I got some amazing training. Training that is now heading up the famed Jean Georges.

As a brand spanking newbie, one of the first things Joe taught me was how to do poached pears. I still remember him pouring four fat bottles of port into a vat full of fresh Bartletts, throwing in all the fragrant sugar n spice and letting ‘er rip. You could easily get drunk on all those fumes blowing through the air. (And really, was it my imagination or did the day go by just a little bit faster when the pears were on?)

It’s a great beginner’s recipe. The only part that you might even call tricky, if you were having an anxious day, is when to deem them tender enough to take them off the heat. I suggest you stab them once or twice with a small knife while they’re still raw to get a sense of what their texture is like (and also because stabbing fruit just feels good), and get a frame of reference for what “firm-tender” is like later. It’s better to take them off the heat too soon than too late, since there will be a minute or two of residual cooking in the hot liquid.

I like to poach them whole so they have less of a chance of falling apart into a mush, and cut them into pieces later. Also, after they’re done cooking, I cool and store them in their liquid. After a few days, they absorb the hue like a kid hearing curse words and gain a deep color and flavor for ultimate beauty inside and out.

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Good Time to Extract

January 2nd, 2012  |  82 Comments

Hello again, Gorgeous. And, Handsome. Yes you. Happy New Year to you. I hope 2012 is your year, filled with all the things you wish for, whether it be job success, or attainment of personal joy and satisfaction. Or good pastry eatin’. I know I feel hopeful.

My guess is you’re all baked out from the holiday season. Maybe you just want to veg and recover from last night’s self-inflicted fun. I’m with ya.

So I say, all we have to do is prepare for next time. Let’s make some flavors, in the form of extracts.

After having bought one ten-dollar bottle after another of vanilla, I finally decided to grab some vodka and make my own. Not to drink. For the the extracts. Ok, so I had a little nip. Or two. Keeps the ol’ bones warm, yeah?

As long as we have booze, why stop at just vanilla. Let’s go to town and make a bunch. Many recipes use them, so why not have them on hand? Thanks to the powerful preserving qualities of 40 proof, they keep very well.


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