Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Lurkey

One Thanksgiving stands out to me more than any other. I don't remember the table settings, the food, or how old I was, but I do remember that my Bammieroo came to visit (Bammieroo is my Mother's Mother). Seeing Bammieroo was always a cause for celebration as she lived far away and we didn't get to enjoy her visits all too often. Of all the things I could potentially remember from that blessed day, this is what I remember: My sister Pammy and I sitting on either side of her pulling on her loose neck skin repeatedly clucking, "Gobble Gobble!" and calling her a "Turkey Lurkey!"

I remember Pammy and I giggling uncontrollably and Bammieroo playing right along with us. If you took a midnight trip to Meridian, Idaho no matter what time you arrived whether it was 8 PM or 3 AM, Bammieroo would present a handful of pies at the door with excitement written all over her face, and then she would sit up with you eating pie, until all the recent events had been covered and rejoiced over.

This Thanksgiving year I was commissioned to make a few pies, one of which was apple.

Pie: Caramel Apple
Topping: Whipped Cream

I try and not get things too complicated when it comes to apple pie.

Peel and core enough apples to fill your pie pan heaping full! My pie pans require 8-10 apples. I know that some people are particular about which apples to use, but I don't think it makes a difference. In fact, one woman from my ward came to me who had had a slice of my pie, and said, "That is the absolute best pie I have ever had! I've decided it must have been the apples you used - what apples did you use?" I grinned, "Just the cheapest ones I could find!"

The secret is the caramel.

Slice apples one inch thick - I use my shredder/dicer/slicer attachment on my Bosch. Use a potato peeler, or salad shooter for your own convenience. My mom does it by hand and so more power to her!

Place in a bowl and mix with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and juice from half a lemon. I also add a dash of cloves, and a generous amount of cinnamon.

Fill unbaked crust with half the apples. Pour Fahrenheit 350° Caramel Sweet Sauce over the apples to completely cover them. Fill your pie pan heaping with remaining apples and cover once again with Fahrenheit 350° Caramel Sweet Sauce. Cover pie with top crust, brush with whisked egg and sprinkled sugar, and bake at 350° until juice inside pie is bubbling hot!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Defending a Title

A previous company I worked for held a summer work party in July. Many of my fellow employees would schedule their vacation to coincide with the date of the party; but not me. I made it to the work party every year for 3 years, because every year they had a dessert contest. Every year I strived to win it, and every year I went home miserable and gloomy (I'm the worst kind of sore loser you can imagine).

When we moved into our new ward, (The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints) we discovered they held an annual Chili & Dessert Cookoff + CO2 Derby Car Race. It was heaven sent! I had an opportunity to prove myself without any previous held biases against me. I spent weeks deciding what to make, how to display it, how to maximize the number of pieces through cutting styles, and I settled on a favorite recipe of my mothers: Caramel Walnut Flan.

The anticipation was grueling... but finally, for the first time, I didn't go home with funeral bags until my eyes! I was the champion baker and I wore my badge of glory proud.

So satisfied was I that I had finally won my prize, I barely remembered the date of the party the following year. The day of I simply whipped up a German Chocolate Cake and tore into the cookoff 3/4 of the way into it. My efforts were not in vain: I was the prize winner again!

This year I went back to step one. I lamented over what to bake, a revered or new recipe? A comfort dessert, or risk my luck with something out of the ordinary? I finally decided on an amended comfort version of pumpkin cheesecake.

Cheesecake: Traditional Pumpkin
Crust: Chocolate Coated Butter Cookie
Topping: Butter Frosting with Vanilla Buttercream Chocolates

Warning: We are back to the camera phone pictures!!

I started with a butter cookie crust:

1 cup of butter cookies crumbed
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of sugar

Melt together and press into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 325°.

I then thought it would be fun to create a layer of chocolate sauce between the crust and the cheesecake, so I layered the crust with a thin layer of Fahrenheit 350° chocolate sauce, (2-3 tablespoons) warmed up a bit.

Then I added a layer of cheesecake and poured it over the chocolate layer:

16 oz. of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 egg yolks

Whip together until smooth. Beat 2 egg whites, fold into mixture.

And then I added a layer of pumpkin cheesecake:

16 oz. of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 egg yolks
8 oz. canned pumpkin

Whip together until smooth. Beat 2 egg whites, fold into mixture.

The two cheesecakes will combine when baking so no need to combine or incorporate the two.

Bake for 45 minutes at 325°.

Remove from over and immediately run spatula along sides of pan. When cooled remove outer edge of spring form pan.

After the cheesecake had cooled I topped with a layer of butter frosting.

6 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/4 powdered sugar

The decorative toppings on the cake are scratch made vanilla chocolates. The center is comprised of a vanilla buttercream and then the candy is dipped in chocolate and topped with a orange pumpkin candy sprinkle.

Typically there are 3 winners: Best Crust, Most Fruity, and Best Overall. I wasn't paying attention to all the categories I was just listening for the third name... and when my name wasn't called I'll admit I started falling into my dejected state. The organizer pulled a little trick though and added a third category, Best Texture or something, so my name was called fourth - for Best Overall! Title Defended!

When I accepted my golden trophy, I held it up with one hand, raised my other hand into a fist and shouted: "3 years in a row! Whooooooooooooooooooo!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sell Out!

Thursday night Gabriel and I were sitting at our favorite burger dive, Cruisers, talking about how excited we were for Tom and Lucy's Art Shoppe and I commented how much I wished we could go. Gabriel agreed, and we paused to look at each other for a minute. We had just purchased half a tank of gas for $6 and I knew we were thinking the same thing: "Why not?"

We are notorious for making midnight trips. One year my good friend Allison Hanna was playing her last college golf tournament in Stanford before she went pro. We hadn't made it to any of her tournaments and I felt guilty and wanted to go. We got off work the night before at 10pm, drove all night, watched the tournament, and drove straight home. About 2 hours away from home we had to pull over and sleep. We learned a valuable lesson that trip: Take turns sleeping and driving, don't both stay awake.

We cleaned up, packed, and hit the road at 10:30pm. We told just a few people, none of which included my sister the boutique owner, or my mother who had offered to go to the show to help sell and sample my product. I love surprises!

The show was incredible. If you missed it this year, make a note not to miss it next year, times to be announced but it will be sometime between Easter and Mothers Day, and again before Thanksgiving. They had adorable aprons, ballerina shoes and tutu's, crafts, hair clips, baby shoes, onsises!

Fahrenheit 350 did excellent! Thank you to Ginny Johnson for her amazing selling skills - we would not have done nearly as well without her! Here is a sample photo of the largest selling item: Sweet Logs, Pecan. to be up next week!

Some of my favorite vendors include:

Sawdust Daisy
Tootsies for Tots
Baby Rags
French Knots
Baby Tai
Baby Bumpkins
Tika Kids
well and me of course Fahrenheit 350!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sweet Crunch: Càsh ew

As a younger girl I loved playing basketball, particularly on Coach Hanna's All Star Team. Starting in grade school Coach Hanna went around to all the local grade schools in the district and elicited the best girls to compete on a club team, and coached us through junior high. In fact, our team claims the club basketball championship victory of 1995!

I sort of had an innocent crush on Coach Hanna; the type of crush you don't really know what it is, just that you know you admire someone and you want to please them because they've assisted in your discovery of finding something that you love. And for basketball I can attribute that to Coach Hanna. One Valentines Day I wanted to express how appreciative I was of him, so I took him some scratch made cookies... with a balloon. Being Valentine's Day, the only balloons they had were love note balloons, and for this I blame my mother. She thought it would be harmless to give Coach an "I love you" balloon. For the record: it wasn't harmless and I lived that decision down everyday until the day I graduated HS, and sometimes even still.

Coach Hanna taught us to be very passionate about the game. This was easy for me, I was very passionate about everything. I'm dubbed in my family the: too sensitive one. On the same note, Coach Hanna wasn't always the best example of how to curb that passion. I rarely remember a game that he wasn't ejected from for getting two too many technical fouls. In a few games I also found myself the recipient of a technical foul or two, accompanied by a broken tooth or two. Upon repair of those teeth I was warned by my dentist not to eat toffee or brittle with my front teeth.

I offer the same warning to you: Don't eat this brittle with frail front teeth, use those molars and incisors.

Brittle: Cashew
Tasty: Indeed

Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat:
2 cups sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Allow to reach a temperature of 310°, or hard crack stage and then add cashews, 2 cups give or take. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, and remove from heat.

2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Using a heavy wooden spoon stir until thoroughly mixed and candy stops foaming.

When I made this last, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to pour out my candy onto a buttered marble slab, as I would do with candy fondant or sometimes caramel (though not necessary with caramel), when typically I would butter a cookie sheet and instead pour onto that. The marble is flat and unmalleable and acts as a suction cup when the candy is poured onto it. Much better to use a candy sheet, trust me.

Pour the brittle onto a buttered candy sheet and spread it out. When cool, use the edge of a counter to release the brittle and break into chunks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smells like Christmas

I have been looking forward to tonight's dinner with friends all week long, even though I couldn't decide what to make until early Friday morning. These friends we have rarely seen over the past year, a disappointing realization, but no matter! we had a delightful time and their new (1 year old) baby was darling, cooing and cawing to the delicious smells from the kitchen. Yes, a kitchen that smelled like Christmas.

Dinner always revolves around dessert in this house, because dessert is all that matters. When I saw Tartelette's Poire D'Eve blog, I was inspired. It is a rare occasion when I read Tartelette's blog and do not become inspired, however I was not inspired for Poire D'Eve, but for poached pears.

As is often the case, my decreased budget sometimes requires modifications of Helen's delectable and elaborate desserts though Helen deserves all the credit for this evenings adventure.

Pears: Poached
Topping: Chocolate Sweet Sauce

Peel, half and core 4 pears.

Mix together first in a separate bowl, then pour over pears:
3 cups of water
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon of cloves and nutmeg each
3 tablespoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons almond vanilla
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 shakes of ginger

Simmer over stove top for 1/2 hour.

My beautiful pears were ripening in the kitchen last night, and because I had been savoring them all week while I decided what to make, I couldn't resist them any longer! They were beautiful, juicy and decadent! While they were poaching my wonderful, and very handsome husband declared: "It smells like Christmas!"

After poaching was complete I allowed them to cool in the pan, fastened the pan with a tightfitted lid and slipped them into the refrigerator. The next day all that was required was simply to heat them over low until they were moist and warm and serve them with chocolate sauce, preferably mine, which you can buy at Tom and Lucy's Art Shoppe this weekend.

Because the poaching liquid smelt like Christmas, I had a difficult time pouring it down the drain - so I decided to try an experiment. After dessert was over and friends had left I took my flashlight and ventured outside to scour for some pinecones. When I returned I laid those cones in the liquid, turned it up to high and began poaching the pinecones!

The result was amazing! I can not guarantee how long this makeshift potpourri will delight my senses with it's sweet fragrance, but for tonight I am tickled. And thank you so much to my dear friend Melinda for allowing me to borrow her camera for a few days. I think we all want to thank her!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Under The Sea

I have a video of my now 18 year old niece when she was barely 3 years old singing, "Part of your World," along with Ariel from (of course you know) The Little Mermaid. It is as priceless as it sounds.

When a co-worker commissioned me to make her some whimsical cupcakes, with the help of that long lost 3 year old, I knew just what to make; because we all know what Ariel really wanted was some cake.

All in all, the creation process went fairly smoothly which I was more than delighted about. My biggest difficulty was that although simple, without my artist husband I'm not sure I would have gotten the shapely figure of Ariel quite right, in fact towards the last cupcake she started looking a bit stiff. They taste as good as they look; if you don't trust me order some.

(I'll be saying this a lot until I get a camera) blasted that I don't have a camera!

Jumbo cupCake: White chocolate with coconut
Filling: Lime pineapple frosting
Topping: Layer of candy fondant

I went with Wilton star Sprinkles for the bikini top, and once the design was complete used a pastry brush dipped in water with dissolved white sugar to create the wet ocean, while the eyes were added by simply dipping a toothpick in food coloring.

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