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Everything posted by takomabaker

  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.
  16. That, I cannot answer. I would think they would work, but I cannot speak from experience. I use a square cake pan lined with parchment when I make caramels that I want to cut into perfect squares. I use flexible curves for shapes.
  17. I worked for ad agencies for years, and it's amazing how many tools transition to pastry. I use these quite often. I have some really old, really heavy all metal ones that I "inherited" from an agency where I worked that closed. I would check on the newer models that the plastic coating is heat resistant, but you can buy flexible curve at any art supply store. I use these more for curves than straight lines, though. flexible curve
  18. Burgers are so subjective and people are so passionate about their viewpoint, that giving an opinion is risky business. But here goes.... I like Mr. Henry's. I love the Blue Burger (with fried onions), the Bacon Cheeseburger, the 'shroom burger, and even the turkey burger. They also have great fries, which I wish you didn't have to order as a separate side order. I try to NOT order them on Mondays, when they have their half price burger special. I don't think they are as good when they are serving burgers at the same rate of McDonalds. But I also like Five Guys. On a recent visit to my in-laws' house in Queens, we found that they had expanded to NYC -- a few blocks from my in-laws' house. We stopped by for some burgers and fries for lunch, and I was sharing a table with 5 very happy New Yorkers who's usual opinion is that nothing coming from outside the five boroughs is worth consuming.
  19. Question for sourdough bakers.... I have three different starters going right now, a standard sourdough, a potato, and a rye. I go through tons of "feeding flour". Do you need to use good flour (the same you would bake with) to feed your starter? I keep passing a mammoth, industrial sized bag of flour every time I shop at Costco and although I want to stick with KA for baking, I am very tempted to buy the large bag at Costco for feeding and maintaining my starters. Is the flour you use to feed your starter as important as they flour you use to bake with? Just curious how other bread bakers weigh in on this....
  20. I'm a 99.9% lurker, but I couldn't let this one go. I've been dating a Italian New Yorker for seven years, who moved in with me in the DC 'burbs 3 years ago, AND who's only regret about leaving Queens is the lack of good Italian restaurants in the area. We tried Baltimore, but we both hate Baltimore. A lot. It's hard to enjoy a meal in a city you despise and hate being in even if we could find really great Italian food (which we did not). Then a friend recommended Pasta Plus in Laurel, and we were very glad. It is wonderful. Now, I'm a Southerner. My idea of great Italian for the majority of my life was Chef BoyRDee, and my grandmother's baked spaghetti (which is AWESOME, but has nothing to do with Italy). But my sweetie grew up with a first-generation Italian grandmother, and apparently Pasta Plus passes the NY Italian grandma test. For what it is worth, I like it too. Also, we get sandwiches at Marchone's in Wheaton, and we always get extra meat. They also have some carry-out "heat and serve" dinners which are pretty decent. But the best is the frozen sfogliatelle. I made it almost 40 years of age without ever trying sfogliatelle, and I didn't know what I was missing. Marchone's sells them frozen, so you can pop them in the freezer and bake them up on a whim on, say, Sunday night watching the Sopranos or on a snowy Saturday morning. Sfogliatelle on demand! They make me very happy indeed.
  21. I'm sure it sounds more sophisticated to make some remark along the lines of, "If the chocolate is top-notch, it should be left alone" with your nose in the air... But I'm pretty honest. Bring on the fillings. Caramels, ganache... the more unusual the better! I'll take a great box of chocolates over a bar any day!
  22. Probably not what you were looking for, but I think it depends on the quality. I'd rather eat a good quality chocolate bar than mediocre boxed chocolates, and the inverse applies as well. I also figured I would take the opportunity to mention how much I enjoyed these: persephone chocolates which a guest brought to me as a gift last weekend. I ate the entire box while watching The Sopranos. They were great!
  23. I buy Callebaut in those big blocks, and I use a cleaver to chop it off the block. It works really well. A lot of times the cleaver creates a crack in the chocolate before cutting all the way through which allows you to break off a large chunk easily by hand, and then you can use the cleaver to chop that into smaller chunks until you get the size you want. Edited to add that Beanie, I see, has a bit more refined cleaver method that I do. I just aim, whack, and pile it on my scale until I have the amount I need.
  24. This is one of my favorite areas on Egullet to look, and I finally had the wherewithall to remember to take a photograph to contribute. Here is my take on Claudia Fleming's Coconut Tapioca Soup with passion fruit and coconut sorbets and a coconut tuile garnish, from "The Last Course". I hope this works. I usually don't participate much because I've never been sure how.
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