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  1. I have had a lot of luck with the cookie recipes in Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer’s "Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions." I've baked and decorated some pretty intricate cookies from the recipes in this book, and I've found it excellent for making the thicker cut cookies that do not spread that are ideal for decorating without crumbling. Here are pictures of some ghost cookies I made from the recipe in this book:
  2. Went there for my anniversary about a month ago. Really awesome. Had a great time. Honestly, I went to Cafe Atlantico a few weeks later. I had not been in about a year. I found it very disappointing. It was during restaurant week, but we did not order off the restaurant week menu. Maybe that had something to do with it. Maybe going out on restaurant week and ordering off the regular menu instead of the RW menu isn't such a great idea (but we were not impressed with the RW menu)? Nonetheless, we left pretty unhappy. But Citronelle is awesome. Or Central as well. I love both of his restaurants, although last month was the only time I've been to Citronelle and I've been to Central a few times. I've never had anything less than an excellent time at Central. Haven't tried Proof yet. I'm dying to, though. My other very favorite restaurant in DC is Ris. I REALLY love Ris. AND I like Hank's Oyster Bar, although not as much as Ris, or Central (or Citronelle, for that matter). I scanned the menu to post on my blog, so I can pass it on. We did the tasting menu, or the Promenade Gourmande. I know it changes frequently, but on August 11, this was it. Also, the staff treated us amazingly well. Obviously people who enjoy their jobs and enjoy happy customers. So, that's my 2 cents, for what it is worth being not from a "superfoodie" or restaurant critic. Hope it helped.
  3. Thanks. I was very proud of them. They were very labor intensive. The Pastry Ideale white cocoa butter already has that titanium dioxide in it. It costs about $20 a bottle. But when you mix it with color, because it already has a white base, the color comes out stronger and opaque. I HAVE mixed color with straight cocoa butter, and with white chocolate. Mixing with straight cocoa butter gives a translucent effect. Pretty, if that is what you are going for, but it is more of a glaze effect and you will see the chocolate through the color. It will never be opaque. I have mixed color with white chocolate. When I tried using powder, I was never able to fully incorporate the color into the white chocolate. It always stayed a little spotty. When I used an oil based (chocolate) liquid color, I had a hard time keeping the white chocolate in temper. I don't know if it was the color, or if the color made it harder to tell the chocolate was in temper, or if the color threw the chocolate out of temper and I should have started from scratch and retempered (which, for that trouble, I'll just buy white cocoa butter). But, for whatever reason, I have never been able to add color to white chocolate and mold the chocolate successfully afterward. I tried it once as a decoration over dark chocolate, and it was just a disaster. I'm still scarred from it (just kidding, but it was an ugly mess). Perhaps others have been more successful and I'm just unlucky with white chocolate, but I have had success with white cocoa butter so that's what I am sticking with. This is what I use (although I buy it in smaller quantities from Albert Uster): Make sure you are buying confectionery or candy color -- not just gel color. Only the candy color is good for chocolate. Take it from someone who accidentally grabbed regular gel color by accident. It ain't pretty.
  4. I watched that episode, and thought that AB was treated rudely by Martha. I saw this topic and thought it was quite ironic, considering I had just seen the episode. She even made a remark to him that was something like, "And have you ever actually worked as a chef in a restaurant, or do you just write books?" to AB. He looked like he had been slapped. Considering that I CANNOT STAND AB, and LOVE Eric Ripert, I got a kick out of it. I find the man to be just crude and lacking in any intellect, grace, or humor beyond that of an adolescent boy. There are many who find that kind of lowbrow and crass material funny (or Hollywood would be out of business). I do not. My guess is that Martha probably shares my sentiment.
  5. Yup, I do it all the time when making chocolate. The previous poster's comments that using cocoa butter results in insipid colors is correct. Unless you want a translucent effect, which sometimes I do. I use Pastry Ideale white cocoa butter (I buy at Albert Uster) and add chocolate coloring (purchased at Kerekes in Brooklyn). I've used both oil and powder colors successfully, but it does seem like a need a lot more powder color to get a deep color so I use a lot more. I'm sure there are other outlets for both of these products, but that is just where I happen to buy them due to convenience. I live near Albert Uster, and my significant other lives in Queens, so I have easy access to both retailers. I typically melt the white cocoa butter in warm water. You don't need to melt the whole bottle if you are not adding color to the entire bottle. I pour what I need into a shot glass or a small spice mis en place bowl. Something always microwavable, so I can heat it up if it starts to solidify. I usually mix a very small amount at a time, adding a few drops of chocolate color and using a toothpick to mix until I reach the density of color that I want. When I am finished, I let it harden and I can store the hardened colored cocoa butter in plastic, and can heat up again when I need it. I made the red this way for the poinsettas in these:
  6. Two things made this book worth the money: 1. His suggestion to use commercially available marshmallow cream as an easy substitution for frappe. THANK YOU!!!! It is a HUGE PIA to go through the trouble when you only need an ounce or so for a recipe. 2. His directions to make fondant in a KA. It was a "duh" moment for me. I have made my own using his agitation process from his professional book -- time consuming and messy... and then started buying it in bulk from Albert Uster which really was too much fondant for my limited use. I feel kind of stupid that I never thought of using a KA for agitation. I like this book. It's a nice companion for his professional book, and has good solutions (like the ones above) that can cross over into other professional books in which a small producer might not want to make 10 lbs of frappe (or something similar) to use a few ounces for a filling. Some of Wybauw's, for instance.
  7. I had a buddy I used to split Albert Uster truffle shells with -- we'd buy a box of dark and a box of milk and each pay for one box and split the contents so we each had half a box of each. Sadly, he moved away. Is there anyone local to the general DC area (no shipping, please) who would be interested in splitting a truffle shell order? If so, please PM, and be patient. I'm unbelievably busy and can't get back to people right away.
  8. I go to Kerekes (bakedeco) in Brooklyn as well. My significant other is a New Yorker, so I have the benefit of a "private chauffeur" who grew up in Queens to get me there. I'm not sure how easy it would be to get there if it were not for that lucky fact, though. I'm like a kid in a candy store in that place. It would be awfully hard to limit myself if I had to carry everything back on a plane, though! They have a great selection of chocolate molds, dirt cheap half and quarter sheet pans, and I buy parchment paper from them by the case. I used to visit Broadway Panhandler, just for fun (they are pricey) until they moved from their Broome Street location. I don't know where they are now...
  9. I think that, like a lot of creative endeavors, you need to know the rules before you can break the rules.
  10. This is the recipe I use. It's from class notes, so it's kind of "shorthand" but I think pretty clear. The measurements for the vanilla, dark rum, and lemon zest were about 1 tsp. each and about 1/2 tsp. salt. You can find more detailed recipes pretty easily, though. Frangipane In order: 8 oz. butter 8 oz. sugar (add in 2 parts) mix well before adding 8 oz. almond flour (or any nut flour) 5 eggs (2 at a time) vanilla, dark rum, lemon zest 1-1/2 oz. AP flour salt Can use as tart filling, cake, or petit four base. Traditional application Apricot Glaze glazed cherries slivered almonds Raw sucré shell 1. Put 1/8” raspberry jam in bottom of raw sucré shell. 2. Cover with frangipane 3. Bake 40-45 minutes at 375. 4. Glaze with apricot glaze. 5. Decorate with cherry and almond “flower”
  11. I made the roasted banana ice cream this weekend with great success. I was afraid that my bananas were too ripe, but the ice cream was fantastic. I had a pineapple that was getting overripe, and I made the candied pineapple as a topping. Very, very yummy. This weekend, for my Memorial Day cookout, I've decided to do an ice cream bar with ice cream and toppings from the book. I can hardly wait to try more. Next is either green tea or lavender-honey.
  12. Isn't it just frangipane? That's what I was taught to use for petit fours.
  13. Except, I never did find anything definitive about homecanning curds, except "don't do it". Most sources suggested freezing it. I have a picture of my nephew doing somersaults in front of my mother's meyer lemon tree, and I was going to make curd to give to everyone with a label using that picture, but I got afraid when I researched it. Apparently, the butter/dairy in it makes it dangerous to can. But if you find instructions on how to do it safely, PLEASE share. I'm still looking. Now that's a good idea. I'll have to look into that next citrus season (limes should be coming in before too long) and having the insides of a Key Lime Pie would be great comfort when sweating and cleaning up debris. Thanks for the link Dave. ←
  14. Thanks so much. It was giving me fits.
  15. I looked into this not too long ago. I grew up in Southwest Florida and get careboxes full of citrus from my parents when their trees are especially prolific. I wanted to do something besides freeze the juice, and I looked into canning citrus curd. Here is the information that I found. http://www.homecanning.com/usa/ALStepbyStep.asp?ST=6 I cannot seem to get that link to work right, but it's www.homecanning.com. They have a link to low acid canning instructions.
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