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Namaste…Peace & Ice Cream

“God, I hope you’re not turning into one of those reclusive cat freaks”, my older brother, Kyle, recently commented to me after I posted a picture of my cat Benny into an online photo album. This thought came back to me yesterday while vacuuming cat litter off of the floor. Then I remembered my lovestruck

11Jul2009 | | 2 comments | Continued
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Strawberry Season

Ever since I can remember, my mom would take us strawberry picking as kids. We would get up early to beat the heat, and head to Hilger’s Farm Market. Once there, we piled into a trailer that gets pulled by a tractor out to the strawberry fields. I know, it sounds slightly

9Jul2009 | | 0 comments | Continued
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It’s Done

Pastry school is finished! I graduated. I am now a pastry chef. I did a very poor job of updating my blog with what was going on at school for the last 2 or 3 months. A brief synopsis: chocolate candies unit (molding, casting, tempering, enrobing, ganaches, pralines, truffles, rochers, gianduja…basically a chocolate lover’s dream),

9Jul2009 | | 2 comments | Continued
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Salted Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies

When I was younger and naive to the extent of flavors and ingredients in the culinary world, I thought there was only one type of salt- iodized table salt that people needed in their diets to prevent goiters. Then I grew older and wiser, a natural progression. In fact, there are numerous

17May2009 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Saffron and Cardamom Panna Cotta

When I go grocery shopping, there are three things I practically stockpile every time: butter, heavy cream, and eggs. If I could carry Sam’s Club or Costco-sized loads of these products home on each occasion I would. Living in a city where you have to carry your groceries for blocks completely changes

17May2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Lavender-Scented Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies

This cookie was inspired by a number of things- the approaching holiday celebrating all things motherly, springtime in Chicago, and a recent trip to a spice merchant. I wanted to make something that is perfect for giving to moms this time of year; perhaps a bit floral, a bit feminine, fresh, and

5May2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Chocolate Stout Milkshakes

I’m sitting on a lot of ice cream, folks. Nothing makes ice cream disappear faster than making a couple of milkshakes. I love the incredible pairing of Guinness beer and chocolate and it’s a combination that’s been on my mind lately. So, naturally, when I was going through cookbooks (something I do

4May2009 | | 2 comments | Continued
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Pastry School Update: Sugar Candies, Ice Creams and Sorbets, Plated Desserts, & Jam-Making

Again, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted about school. I’ve never experienced such a period in my life where the days, and weeks…and months literally fly by. But I am back, and hoping to stay around a bit. I’ve got a zillion recipe ideas crashing around in my head and I want

4May2009 | | 7 comments | Continued
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Pastry School Update: Gumpaste Flowers & Wedding Cakes

This unit was definitely a break from our regular kitchen routine- we did almost no baking- rather, we sat at our kitchen stations and created the beautiful and realistic creations known as gumpaste flowers. Prior to pastry school, I had no knowledge of gumpaste flowers. It wasn’t until our chef for this unit,

21Mar2009 | | 5 comments | Continued
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Pastry School Update: Tarts and Cakes

Having completed the petit fours unit, it was time to move on to tarts, with Chef John Kraus. We had a little bit of experience making tart doughs and rolling out tart dough from the tartlets we made in the petit fours unit, but I still have a difficult time rolling out

16Mar2009 | | 5 comments | Continued
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Pastry School Update: Petit Fours and 1st Exam

So far the petit fours unit has been my favorite unit in pastry school. Everything is small and bite-sized, and therefore cute. We started the unit by making pate a choux, which is the thick, rich paste used for making eclairs, cream puffs, and other pastries. It has the amazing ability to

16Mar2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Pastry School Update: More Breads, Breakfast Pastries, and Petit Fours

This week was the conclusion of our breads and breakfast pastries unit.  This was a good thing because I was beginning to run out of room in my freezer! We made brioche dough again, but this time we shaped it differently. The brioche has been one of my favorite breads we’ve made, especially

16Feb2009 | | 0 comments | Continued
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Pastry School Update: Breads and Breakfast Pastries

Another week in the kitchen for our breads and breakfast pastries unit has passed, and ohh, the abundance of baked goods. I think I have been following a strict butter diet. On to the food… Photograph (right): Pear danish TUESDAY: We didn’t have class on Monday due to MLK Day. Tuesday arrived

25Jan2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Marble Bundt Cake

Earlier this month, we celebrated my younger brother’s birthday. Cam is a simple guy, and he likes his desserts that way too. Nothing too fancy, just classic flavors for classic goodness. When I came across this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for ringing in his birthday. The cake is made

25Jan2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Pastry School Update: The First Two Weeks

This week at pastry school was our first week in the kitchens. Last week was mostly orientation, food safety/sanitation, and lecture classes, which were inspiring. Some of the chefs spoke to us about the different areas of the food industry our talent could take us. The great thing about being a pastry

19Jan2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Pear and Berry Crisp

During my first solo weekend in Chicago, I took care of the ususal tasks required from a young twentysomething: grocery shopping, hemming my chef pants, ironing my chef jacket, and studying the properties of butter, cream, eggs, and flour. Exciting right?! I’ve lived in my apartment for over a week now, but I’ve found that

13Jan2009 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Pastry School!

Well, I am halfway through my first week of pastry school! Each day has been exciting and exhausting, but the exhausting part comes with adjusting to any new job or semester of school. Highlight: Getting my pastry tool kit filled with all the goods. Lowlight: Sanitation and food safety class. I think

8Jan2009 | | 2 comments | Continued
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It’s All In The Family

So it’s been awhile. Apologies. I have reason for that, it was great week of visiting family, baking jobs, and holiday hustle and bustle. Of course there were more cupcakes to be made, which I will discuss later in my posts on Kat Rohrbacher, the artist I worked with for her thesis

24Dec2008 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Kat’s Cupcakes

So I know I told everyone I would report back on the cupcakes I’m making for Kat Rohrbacher’s thesis project in her graduate program for art school. Here’s an update to that. We met today for our “cupcake transaction”. She is a very sweet girl and I wish her all the best

24Dec2008 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Gingerbread Scones

These delicious scones can be whipped up with a few pulses in the food processor in minutes. As they bake, your kitchen will fill with the scents of Christmas- cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. You may wish to reduce the amount of spices and molasses, as they are a bit spicy and younger

24Dec2008 | | 1 comment | Continued
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Christmas Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting

I didn’t think I would do this, but being in a generous mood with the approaching holiday, I have decided to share my coveted Red Velvet Cupcakes recipe. Red velvet is my favorite type of cake- it is in its own category of cake and taste. It has a hint of cocoa in

24Dec2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Let’s Make a Date Muffins

These are one of the muffins I made this past weekend when we had company in town. They bake up nice and high and have a beautiful streusel topping. The dates are made into a puree so there are no date pieces in these, although you could always process the dates less

24Dec2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Tiramisu with Homemade Ladyfingers

Dessert overload this weekend. I had been planning on making Dulce de Leche Eclairs this weekend (I still did by the way) when my I received a text from my Mom Saturday afternoon… “Can you make tiramisu tonight?!”. I replied saying she needed to pick up mascarpone cheese and cream cheese. What

15Dec2008 | | 8 comments | Continued
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The Beautiful Web of Food

Earlier this week, something very cool happened. I was contacted by Kat Rohrbacher, an artist from Baltimore who is originally from Fort Wayne. She is working on her thesis project for graduate school and wants to use my cupcakes in her paintings! We chatted for a long time last night about her

12Dec2008 | | 1 comment | Continued
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More Sweet Stuff…Sugar Cookies, Cookie Decorating, & Hot Chocolate

I had a baking disaster yesterday. I was looking forward to trying out a new recipe for Caramel Sea Salt Truffles because I thought that salty-chocolate combination would be quite tasty . And they would be the perfect gift for sticking in holiday packages. The problem is, I am caramel challenged. Try as

11Dec2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Breakfast Today? Christmas Cookies.

A bit overdue, perhaps, but our mini marathon of Christmas cookie baking took place yesterday. Originally my Mom and I had planned on baking early in the day, but it was snowing and we decided to get some errands done first. We ended up making four different types, two old and two new

7Dec2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My little brother has been asking me to make these, and while I have several more unusual and distinctive Christmas cookies to blog about, I’ll go ahead and post this recipe. It is a simple Christmas cookie staple. Another crinkle cookie, these are low-maintenance and beautiful from the contrasting white and brown that happens

3Dec2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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How to Make a Chocolate Yule Log

Cake rolls can be intimidating, I’ll admit, but this recipe for Chocolate Yule Log Cake, also known as Buche de Noel, couldn’t be simpler and it tastes fantastic. Ribbons of light chocolate cake surround a cool chocolate whipped cream filling. Bittersweet chocolate ganache covers the sides of the log, delivering extra bites of chocolate.

28Nov2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Icebox Butterhorns and Campton Place Hot Chocolate

Our leisurely Saturday morning was intensified with delicious Icebox Butterhorns and Campton Place Hot Chocolate for breakfast. Usually I make these tried-and-true rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, but of course I couldn’t wait for five more meager days and made them on a whim. Please excuse my doofus of a brother

24Nov2008 | | 3 comments | Continued
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Pumpkin Tart: Two Ways, with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Ann, this post is for you. Over the past week I’ve tried my hand at two different pumpkin tarts. They are both equally good. Both tarts feature that soft, almost sugar cookie-like crust that is not too sweet, and a smooth, creamy pumpkin filling, flavored with just the right amount of spice.

21Nov2008 | | 4 comments | Continued
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