Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ricotta 101 - Make this!!

Here is the feel-good recipe of the month, maybe even the whole year. Homemade ricotta cheese. It is empowering because what was once a mystery is now at your command, and it is a revelation to anyone who ever thought of ricotta as a mere ingredient as opposed to something delicious on its own.
Words cannot describe the unbelievable silky, creamy, salty, sweet smoothness of homemade ricotta - still warm-ish, slathered on crackers (also homemade - recipe to come).

Ridiculously easy, and the transformation from milk to cheese is nothing short of a miracle.

Heat 2 quarts of whole milk and 1 t. salt in a large sauce pan. When it comes to a simmer, add 2 T. lemon juice and stir gently for a minute or two - curds will form immediately and separate from the whey. Take it off the heat and let it rest a minute or two, then gently scoop the curds out with a slotted spoon and drain in a fine mesh sieve, or a coarse sieve lined with cheesecloth. Let drain a few minutes, then scoop into a bowl and let cool a bit. Eat slightly warm or at room temperature, plain, or sprinkled with pepper or herbs. Refrigerate any leftovers - (Ha ha ha - that's kind of an inside joke. Unless you double this, there will be NO leftovers!)
There is a pronounced lemony flavor when the cheese is less than an hour old, but that fades a bit into the sweetness of the cheese itself after that time.

I am trying this in lasagne soon, and will report out as soon as I do. I am also wondering if vinegar would work as well as lemon juice - chemistry say it should. More research is clearly called for.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Red Velvet Cake, and my high horse

OK, I really should know better. Because whenever I say "never", the universe immediately starts conspiring to make sure that it happens sooner rather than later. And I have been saying "never" about Red Velvet cake for a long time - as in, we will never do this in the bakery because it is not our tradition and there are lots of other people who make it and really really I think it takes too much food dye and maybe that makes me a food snob but I just don't have the red velvet in my blood even though with all that floofy frosting it does look pretty divine.

But then, it started cropping up all over, including here, and I totally respect Ann's food sensibility and so I thought I really should make it just to have some factual basis for all the talk. So, even though I thought I was going to make this months ago, I finally made it last night and wow is it ever gorgeous! And the floofy frosting is more than one could hope for - not too sweet, light, perfectly spreadable but not too melty even when warm. . . . .
This was much praised at the office, the frosting especially, though the cake was moist and delicious too. Yes, I could definitely over-indulge in this!

So, apparently I should get off my high horse about Red Velvet Cake. Good lord, what could this mean for vegan and gluten free??!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year!

Ah, not that much new, but still having lots of fun with the bakery. Well, really just recovering from the snow and the wedding show, etc. And I just wanted to put something new up, but I haven't taken any pictures in the past few days. This weekend we visited Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle. Wow. That is what every bakery wants to be when they grow up. Cherry-almond croissants. Pizza. Sicilian (thick-crust) pizza. Artisan bread. Eclairs. Chocolates. Raisin pinwheels. Chocolate hazelnut slices. Passion fruit dome. Brioche. Pineapple Brioche. Baguettes. Um, not that I did an inventory or anything, but Yum!
This little darlin' is mine, cute and delicious, if I do say so myself. But the ones at Bakery Nouveau are divine!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The 2009 Seattle Wedding Show

January 3 and 4, 2009 - here is a picture of our booth. This was an amazing adventure. So many new things to learn. Working on developing a logo, working on design and copy for a brochure, physically getting everything printed, deciding on what display cakes to bring, how to set up the booth for best visual impact, what we needed in the booth, staffing the booth, moving in and moving out (in the snow!), how much cake to take, the best way to serve samples (there are actually more options than you might think! - sample cups, on napkins, in cupcake holders, etc). This was so much adrenalin, and fun, and exhaustion.

The cake in the very front of the booth was an inspiration - I saw the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine a week before the show, and was able to order feather butterflies from the same vendor she used, and we were able to put the cake together in time for the show. It was really fun/funny to have people walk up to the booth and shriek "ohmygod that's the martha stewart cake!!" And I caught one of my helpers nonchalantly saying, oh yeah, they took a picture of our cake for that magazine! I stopped laughing just long enough to tell her she can't say that!