Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Quick Tart

I whipped up this super quick tart in a matter of minutes this week and I thought I'd share it. 

I didnt have time for baking, and I didnt want to heat up my kitchen, so I just made a quick crust out of chocolate graham crackers, then filled with whipped cream and marscapone and topped with fresh figs, pears and honey.

I was feeling slightly guilty about the pears, they looked so yummy but came all the way from South Africa!  I figured that since they were languishing in the cut price section of  Fresh & Easy, they would be better eaten than disposed of!

Late Summer Tart
1/2 Box Graham Crackers (I used chocolate flavor)
2 oz melted butter
2tsp honey
1 oz water

4 oz marscapone
4 oz whipping cream
Powdered sugar to taste
1 tbsp marsala wine

3 pears, cored and sliced
6 figs, sliced

Whizz the graham crackers in a food processor with the melted butter, water and honey.  Press into a tart pan (one with a removable base) and pop in the freezer.

Meanwhile, stir the marsala into the marscapone and whip the cream to soft peaks.  Fold the marscapone into the cream.

Remove the base from the freezer, put the cream into it and arrange the fruit on top.  Drizzle with honey and serve.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cake Decorating Challenge

I recently noticed a fun challenge on the wonderful 'miso bakes' blog and I had to throw my hat into the ring!  I think what will be happening is that she will be announcing a cake decorating challenge each month and people will post their take on it.  This is just the sort of thing I need, it is really easy to get trapped in the same boring cake designs and this helps to develop technique, and also to get used to using tools that arent in my standard repertoire.

This was the challenge for this month:
A 6 or 8-inch cake iced with white (or off white) buttercream decorated with pink piping using the Ateco / Wilton #104 rose tip.
Unfortunately I didnt read the instructions very carefully, so my cake is all white!  I quickly iced a mango chiffon cake that I was planning to serve for a tasting, and then went about making a pretty design on it.  This is swiss meringue buttercream, which is so wonderful for cake decorating as it is silky smooth.   You'll notice that the cake is showing through a little, I would have needed to add another coat of buttercream to hide that. 

The benefit for me is that this comes out looking very cute, and is a very fast technique, so I can offer people a more affordable option than my usual cakes, since time is money!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dining around San Diego and a new cake stand!

I always like to have a picture for my blog posts, so let me introduce my latest cake stand, a square one this time!  My husband knocked it together over a weekend and I think it will be a lovely addition to my collection and a very stylish way to display cupcakes! 

I also tried a few new (to me) restaurants and was a little underwhelmed.  I went to searsucker with some local food bloggers, and the food was ok, but the service wasnt great, they kind of forgot about us, and I found the atmosphere wasnt quite as warm and friendly as some of the more cosy neighbourhood joints I've become accustomed to.

We also tried whisknladle in La Jolla and we had high hopes with some great cocktails, and there was a really nice buzz about the place.  We started with a cheese and meat plate, which was fantastic, and way too big for two.  My husband chose the burger, which was impossible to eat as a burger was intended, even with his table manners he had to resort to a knife and fork.  I tried the scallops, but was a little disappointed at the balance of the dish.  There was a sweet porcini sauce on the top and an extremely salty cabbage underneath, and even trying to get a bit of each component didnt save the dish for me.  I found this to be another place to 'be seen' and everyone was craning their necks to see all the other diners, and it just wasnt a relaxing experience, especially with a huge batchelorette party going on next door in Karl Strauss.  I'd be prepared to give it another try, especially since I've enjoyed lunch at their Del Mar location.

We also recently tried georges again and decided to go all out and experience their dining room and I have to say, it is one of the most memorable dining experiences I've ever had.  The plates were like works of art, and each plate was surprising and just delicious at the same time.  A truly magical experience, with a price tag to match!  We enjoyed a few fun cocktails, then shared the deconstructed fish tacos, a wonderful carrot salad, and some kind of foie gras dish.  I think my main was gnocci and my dining partners enjoyed duck and pork, then the dessert was a peach cobbler and a chocolate cake.  Full marks!

We continue to enjoy Starlite Lounge the best, a nice combination of good food, with an ever changing menu, fun cocktails and interesting banter with the staff, who put up with our terrible jokes and quips!  I never feel like its a competition to see who is best dressed or who is there with who, its just a friendly bar with great food and drinks. 

I'm so sorry, I have a few photos, but I'm just not a food blogger who likes to snap away in restaurants, so you'll have to be satisfied with a picture of a cake stand!! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dessert Buffet

 My friend had a fundraiser for charity, raising money for Crohn's disease, and I offered to make some desserts for it.

The event was held at the recently refurbished Courtyard Marriot in Mission Valley, San Diego. 

I included a mixture of desserts for all tastes. 

Cherry trifles, a cherry and liqueur soaked vanilla sponge with morello cherries and whipped cream, topped with slivered almonds,

 Mocha mudcakes with a whipped kahlua ganache.

'Smores'- handmade graham crackers, chocolate ganache and a torched meringue.

Lemon meringue tarts.

Peach pies with whipped cream
 These dessert bars are becoming popular and its always fun for me to 'think outside the cakebox' and make some different treats for people.  I hope people order them in the future, I had a lot of fun making them!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Kitchen

I thought it would be fun to share some photos of the new kitchen I'm renting to make my cakes in.  It was a pleasant surprise that I finished my work much quicker than I expected, which is unusual for me, I may be finally getting a little more realistic with my timing!

It could also be that the kitchen is so well appointed with all the tools and equipment that one could ever need for their various culinary endeavors.  Giant muffin pans, lots of bowls, whisks and measuring jugs, food processors, a large kitchenaid professional and a huge hobart mixer!

I haven't needed to use the big mixer, but that will sure make my life a lot easier when I have huge orders!  Its really useful for whipping up a giant batch of buttercream, as I get through a ton of that!

The large convection oven turned out to be a little trickier than I thought, it took me several attempts to work out how to switch it on!!

Once I had it working, I found my cakes were beautifully baked.  the rejects were destined to be trifles for a fundraiser that I was baking for, so no waste!

Renting a shared kitchen is a great way to get started in a food enterprise, you do need to organise a separate inspection (if you are in the state of California) but it is really nice not having the startup cost of buying all that equipment, and the tricky business of maintaining a kitchen.  I'm sure it requires a lot of good will on the part of all the tenants to maintain a good environment.  

One of the downsides to this kitchen is that it is pretty warm in the summer, but I've yet to come across a kitchen that isnt, so I think it is a hazard of the trade.  I dont like heat in general, but I'm definitely coming to the idea that I prefer the other seasons here in San Diego!

If you order a cake or desserts from Jennywennycakes, you now know where it will be baked!!