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Bring it on 2016!

31 Dec

If you asked me a year ago if I thought I’d be where I am today, I probably would have laughed at you. If you told me I’d be making plans and designs for a fabulous couple’s wedding cake, I never would have believed you. If you told me I’d make a beer bucket cake using modeling chocolate and isomalt, once again, I’d think you were out of your mind!

…But I did ALL of that!!

2015 was the year I rediscovered how much I truly enjoy the art of baking. Cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, you name it! 2015 was also the year I got to marry the love of my life, go on an AMAZING honeymoon and share all my experiences with my biggest fan, my husband.

Here’s a little collection of my favorite highlights from 2015:

Don’t let me fool you, there were many ovens slammed, spatulas thrown and fondant crumbled, but I learned A LOT:

  • Maracons will decide when they want to be perfected. If it’s raining, they may decide that they don’t want to rise. If it’s sunny, they may decide to be hollow inside. I’ll get there, I will be in charge of the maracons in 2016!
  • FunFetti is my FAVORITE
  • Cheesecake is my nemesis
  • Isomalt is SO MUCH FUN! Tricky, but fun to experiment with!
  • Snowmen are not as easy as they look
  • Be CrEaTiVe
  • Vodka is a bakers best friend… when painting a cake of course!

Get ready 2016, I’m coming for you!

me apron

I hope you’re all hungry!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

24 Nov

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday (birthdays come as a very close second)! It is the one holiday where all of my family comes together and we eat all day, drink all day and have an overall amazing time.

       

This year we have 16 people coming to my parent’s house!

  • My mom, Barb,  is making 2 turkeys (one of which is obviously for the amazing midnight (or later) Thanksgiving sandwiches that are made by my Uncle Bernie). She also pretty much runs the show with beautiful flowers, tons of food and wonderful decorations
  • My sister Kim, our resident wine specialist, is bringing numerous bottles of wine.
  • My brother John will be setting up every video game we have to occupy my cousin Aiden and Zach (as well as occupy my uncle and my dad!)
  • My dad sets up the most amazing meat, cheese and cracker plate! It takes up majority of our counter.
  • My Aunt Christine and Uncle Bernie will be bringing Black & White Cookies from NY as well as a 7 layer cake and a couple dozen NY bagels (growing in Rockaway Beach, Queens, my parents have been spoiled by good bagels and sorry, but MA bagels are no match for the NY ones!)
  • Uncle Bernie will also be making his amazing Ceviche from a Stripped Bass that he caught on Monday.
  • I will be baking: Apple Pie, Rugelach, Crumb Cake and Baklava and somehow manage to make my way through Penn Station at 3pm on one of the busiest days of the year!

… And that’s just a few of the participants!

I wanted to make this entry a little different from the others by incorporating all aspects of our Thanksgiving.

A little about our cheeses:

This meal (yes, we do consider it a meal!) has become a weekly occurence in our house, but my dad definitely out does himself for Thanksgiving.

                

Meats:

  • Dried salami with herbed de Provence
  • Dried salami with garlic & herb
  • Prosciutto
  • Assortment of other Italian dried meats

Cheeses:

  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Horseradish Cheddar
  • Manchego
  • Gruyère
  • Le Roulé
  • Jarlsberg
  • Gouda
  • Baby Brie
  • Smoked Mozzarella

A little about our drinks:

Thanksgiving wine is something that people have questioned in families for years….  In my opinion, you should drink what you like.  Pairing wine on Thanksgiving is a near impossible task due to the copious amounts of side dishes, before dinner appetizers and of course the main event …. the Turkey.  Beaujolais pairs best with the actual bird.  The jammy strawberry notes produced by the Gamay grape are lovely with the subtle flavors of Turkey (if you have gone with the traditional fashion of baking a turkey).  Two other wines that pair particularly well with the thanksgiving feast, if you are really concentrating on pairing the meal, are a Riesling and a Pinot noir, I would choose the 2005 Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, France, Alsace and the 2007 Au Bon Climate Pinot Noir California, Santa Barbara.

This year I chose the wine according to what the family likes:

  • Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne NV Brut
  • Veuve Cliquot Rose NV Champagne (Pink Bubbles make everything better)
  • 2010 Santa Maragarita Pinot Grigio (Because Mom like it)
  • 2010 Livio Pinot Grigio Italy, Friulano
  • 2010 MauroSebaste Barbara d’ Alba Italy, Piemonte
  • 2009 Patricia Green Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir, Oregon, Willamette Valley

          

And I cannot forget a little something from my own small collection of wine….  a 1999 Chateau Musar, Lebanon, Bekaa Valley — a Killer wine from Lebanon made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, one of my personal favorites…. full of dark fruits balanced with favors of earth balanced acidity and medium tannins.

And Just for fun….. Don Julio 1942.

      

Baking!

This year for Thanksgiving, as I mentioned above, I made:

              

Apple Pie                   Rugelach                  Crumb Cake                    Baklava

Baking this year ended up being a bit of an ordeal. I had 2 days to make ALL of this! Sunday was spent recovering from Steve’s Birthday, so there was no way any baking was going to take place then. That left Monday to make the Baklava and Puff Pastry and Tuesday to make the Rugelach, Crumb Cake and Apple Pie. Jeez, it makes me tired just typing it all out! Then I brought everything to work Wednesday morning (including clothes for 4 days, and for anyone that knows me that’s equivalent to clothes for roughly 2 weeks!) and then left around 2pm for Penn Station.

Somehow I made it through the madness, spent the night in Boston, ventured home Thanksgiving morning and had a fabulous time with family and friends.

I have so much to be thankful for this year and I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving as much as I’ve enjoyed mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Baking Class – Weeks 3 & 4

16 Oct

Things have been a little hectic around here between work, Project Sunshine volunteering and baking class. I’ve had such a blast the past couple weeks and here’s a little catch up summary:

Week 3 of baking class was so far one of my favorites! We made éclairs, profiteroles and swans.

           

For all of these fabulous pastries we used Cream Puff Dough or Pâte à Choux. Pâte à Choux is one of the basic French pastry doughs. It can be baked, deep-fried or poached and is most commonly see in éclairs, fritters, cheese puffs and many more. I was able to share these wonderful pastries with great friends watching the sunset on a NYC rooftop during a 75 degree October night.

The week following was a whirlwind! My dad was in the City for business and we were able to have a wonderful dinner at Locanda Verde in TriBeCa which I would definitely recommend. The meatball sliders were amazing! I volunteered as a Book Buddy for Project Sunshine where I spent time with children in a hospital around Union Square and read with them for a couple of hours. I went to CT to walk along the beach, have some lunch and catch up with friends. Also, once of my oldest friends moved back into the city and we were able to celebrate with a house-warming party! That finally brings me to the 4th week of baking class…

During this past weeks class we made puff pastry, finished our quiche lorraine and started a Reine de Saba cake. So far throughout the weeks of baking class, there is nothing we’ve made in the class that I had tried before on my own. All of it was new, interesting and I was very intrigued. This was the first class where I’ve made something several times before coming to class and that’s the Puff Pastry. If you recall, I’ve used puff pastry to make my Rugelach so I was very interested to learn about any tips and tricks. There were several tips I learned for incorporating the butter, the correct texture of the dough before the butter is incorporated and how to know when it is just right. Puff Pastry is tricky because the butter and the dough must have the same level of strength. If the butter is too hard it will break through the dough and if it is too soft it won’t form the layers throughout the dough. So this was a great way for me to test out what I already know with the tips of a professional and I was very happy with the result!

Now I’m off to an enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine with great friends and some Shake Shack ice cream!

Check back soon! I might be surprising a coworker with one of her favorite desserts soon, and next week in class we’ll be finishing out the Reine de Saba cake which you won’t want to miss!

Enjoy!

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