Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cooking lately

Recently I started working at the Cooking School I went to. I assist in the recreational classes, which mostly means I don't cook, I just get the mise en place. For the masses. I answer questions the students have, and it has given me a little more confidence as I realize I do have a lot of the answers, who knew?! Apparently experience pays off.
I have had a chance to cook in class though on occasion. I love it when I get to make dessert (of course). Here are a few shots of recent dishes..
apple crisp

potato gratin

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Apron Factory!

So great to see this warehouse!! Hedley and Bennett. Made-in-Los Angeles!! I am saving my cash to buy a chef shirt and an apron.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chicken Marsala

Finally, a definite WIN!! Chicken Marsala. Those Italians, they really know their way around a kitchen.

Sicilian Orange Tart

Wellllll, this was not a huge success either. Partly because I burned the crust (why do I have to make phonecalls during critical times in baking?). But aside from that, the actual tart part just wasn't custardy or tart-like. It was orangey and sweet. Not bad, but not particularly good either. Next time - new recipe!
The one thing I can say is that when I looked at the ingredients that would go into the tart (not the crust part), I was reluctant because it just didn't seem like there were enough ingredients to set up. I doubted, but continued figuring that the recipe-writer knew what they were doing. Well, the final product was exactly what I was afraid it would be - not the right consistency and frankly very one-note in flavor. I am going to consider my red flag feeling about it a win because I was actually able to recognize something of a problem before it happened. I think a lot of failures have to happen when it comes to getting good at something. So -- yay for the fail/mini-victory!

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

I had good intentions, let's start there. I felt like I heard angels sing when I put it together in my head that I love Mexican Hot Chocolate and I love pudding (and making it!). Voilà - I'm going to make Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding! It's so obvious.
Well, my first attempt wasn't so great. First, I was using a new recipe, that I had to make several ingredient substitutions on because I didn't have enough of a few of them. Also, my Mexican chocolate's use-by date had run out. And I wasn't exactly sure what substitutions to make when swapping out regular chocolate to make it Mexican.
Well, it was a start. And I have the feeling I'm going to obsess until I've figured it out. So look for future posts!

Mustard can succulent

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lake Lopez and wine tasting

I like vineyards, tasting rooms, camping, nature, and hanging out with good people. Fortunately I know some good people to do all of these things with! We missed our usual 4th of July camping/river trip this year, but magically (actually, I truly believe I manifested it to be) a space opened up for us on another big-group-of-friends camping trip a couple weeks later. We had such a great time! Only a few pictures, because there was so much time NOT DOCUMENTING, but instead just enjoying. Here are a few...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Nutmeg Feather Cake with Penuche Frosting

This is one of my favorite cakes, and somehow, every time I make it, I underestimate how quickly the frosting changes from too hot and liquidy to too chunky and un-spreadable. I finally jotted down a couple notes on the recipe for next time. Namely- the option to add cream in at the end if it's too thick needs to be rewritten as mandatory. Even if you start to spread it and it works just fine, by the time you get half way around, it is not the same consistency. Then you think if I add cream now, the frosting will have two distinct consistencies, I can't do that! So the game day decision is to just go with it as, after all, it is homemade (and it looks it)! Another note should be to double or at least 1.5x the frosting so it is easier to frost at will.
Hoping that I see those notes before jumping in again. The great news is that it always tastes wonderful. The smell and flavor are so nostalgic for me, I just love it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Italy 5 - Venice

... might have been my favorite place. We were there for less than 24 hours, and only hung out in the uppermost part, the Jewish ghetto. Did not even take a gondola ride or get to St. Mark's. But I still loved it! I discovered the Campari spritz, with a green olive in it! Might be the best drink in the world.

We went on a great "pub crawl" with an exuberant host named Alessandro. We walked to three bars, enjoyed wine, appetizers, Prosecco and chatting with other tourists on the crawl. It was a great experience, for such a short time there.

This is the market right outside our hotel room

Italy 4 - Florence

Random ceiling shots from the Uffizi

I liked it, well enough. Lots of handbags, leather goods, art, and people! I could see getting your city fix in this town, while it's still small enough to walk around. That is appealing. I can't see needing to go to Rome and Florence though, on the same vacation unless you have lots of time to do it, and aren't traveling in the hot hot heat and crowded streets of summer. That said, it is a wonderful place, with many restaurants, cafes, galleries, etc. And gorgeous bridges! We stayed on the 4th floor of a residential building, in a less touristy neighborhood. It was close enough to walk to and from the main train station in town, and equally close to the galleries and museums we wanted to go to. The streets are seriously narrow though, so lugging a rolling suitcase was a challenge when cars wanted to pass.
We saw the David, which was the main reason I wanted to go to Florence. And also visited the Uffizi Gallery which was great.
Probably our favorite thing was a cafe/plant shop/gift store/restaurant/banquet space -- yes, all one thing -- we went to several times. The first day we were there we talked to the owner who was young-ish and seemed pretty cool. Hence, we returned again and again.
Obika Bar

There was a spectacular fireworks show one night because of some sports game finale thing in town.
Not quite soccer, but something ...
Not a good photo, but one of the better fireworks shows I've ever seen

Our favorite cafe

Italy 3 - Assisi and Perugia

These little towns were a short drive from our home base in Agello. They were quite close actually, though sometimes we went through several roundabouts before realizing we had veered off course. All part of the adventure.
I actually remembered Saint Francis of Assisi from Catholic School, so figured I should check out his town. It was great. Small windy roads, giant beautiful Basilica, lots of excellent shoe stores, ice cream shops, bakeries, and many owl figurines. I still haven't figured out why I kept seeing owl merch everywhere, even in other cities. And it is probably the one thing I regret not buying! Why do I need owl merch? I have no idea. Note to self: must start owl piggy bank now for next trip.
old, narrow, and charming with lots of geranium pots lining walls

Flora, our new pal

Owls, owls and more owls

notice the same flower pots on the arch down this little street
so many giant macarons- these were larger than a softball.
I am still kicking myself for not coming home with a smattering
of these miniature canolis. so many different flavors!
And Perugia. This was a much larger town whose streets befuddled our GPS. We wound around and around on the outskirts of town, and finally squeezed into what I think was a legitimate parking spot. We then hoofed it uphill to the main square with a cathedral and giant fountain in front. Another town in which I need return and spend more time. It is the chocolate capital after all. Enough said.
Lots of long winding stairways. And see the building in the center- the pinkish one?
This color was all over Italy. It's so beautiful... in Italy.

So many details when you look up