Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Frank Lloyd Wright Dinner

In Culinary Experiences on May 26, 2011 at 5:35 am

Life is completely and totally nuts. 6 months ago I was sitting on the kitchen floor listening to country music, daydreaming while I was waiting for cakes to cool. I started baking seriously a few years ago after seeing Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes.
I fell into a routine: Bake the cake. Frost/Decorate the cake. Cut it. If people wanted one piece, I gave them two. Then I’d get to make another cake. But while the cakes were cooling and I was day dreaming, never once did I ever day dream that I’d be interning for Gale Gand, covering nuts in gold leaf at a Frank Lloyd Wright dinner 5 months later. I like to be a ‘realistic day dreamer’….. Like I said, life is nuts.

We made a huge array of things. A lot of the food was preped before we got there, so when we were at the Frank Lloyd Wright house it really wasn’t hecktic at all. I was a designated plater.

We made…

Serrano Ham, Manchego, Asparagus and Scallion grilled Cheese bites:

Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Citrus, Basil, Yarra Valley Feta and Arugula:

Seared Halibut with Spring Asparagus Sauce:

Trio of Lamb, Ras Al-Hanout dusted Chop, Muchroom crusted Loin and Braised Shortribs with a Minted Lemon Verbena Sauce and Morel, Ramp and Fingerling Potato Hash:

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Spring Rhubarb, Tarragon and Rose Water Meringue
Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel and Gilded Pecans

I learned a lot. But there are four things that will always stick with me from this dinner:  never leave fingerprints on plates, plating isn’t that hard if you don’t fear it, it’s all about the people you’re working with, and it’s about the people you’re making happy. Being in the kitchen just felt so right, and the content still rolls through my veins as I write this post.

I got to work with Gale,

Tim Scott- corporate executive chef for Macy’s, creates the recipes and menus.

 And Amy Dearth-

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Saturday night. I kind of wish it never ended.. the thing I’ve realized is that chefs are a little community. it’s a community I never plan on leaving.

The Cookie Equation and a Cookie Cake

In Cookies, Cookies on May 18, 2011 at 4:29 am

Culinary school. I’ve been dreaming of it. But specifically, I’ve been dreaming of the Culinary Institute of America’s CA, Greystone campus. With finals coming up day dreaming is bad. I just can’t help it…. Did I mention it’s not more money to out-of-state? My motivation in school is quickly taking a dip…. actually, it’s more like a dive. I know what I want to do. Is there such thing as culinary high school? Because if so, I’m transfering.

These cookies remind me of why I have to keep going until finals are over. Everyone wants to hire a ‘smart cookie’ right? Well, smart cookies bake all the way through, they’re easy to get out of a pan, and they’re delicious. Which is why this makes the perfect cookie cake. Well I need to keep going strong through finals, and end well so that I can slide into summer and enjoy it. 

The cookies were delicious and are now my go-to cookie for cookie cake. They slide out of a pan super easy and will cook all the way from the sides to the middle without having burned sides and an underdone middle. I’d definitely say that, despite the amount of sugar, this cookie does not taste sugar-y. So get out your pipes and pipe on some frosting decorations!

 Cookie Cake
Recipe from Handle the Heat
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350F
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water then add to batter along with salt. Mix in flour until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Using a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop, drop even and large spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake about 15 minutes, depending on your pan. Check for browning edges.

These are seriously amazing…. they cooked all the way through in a short amount of time, and they baked all the way through. I think dissolving the baking soda is what did the trick. But check out how thick it is…

Delicious! Just make sure you don’t over-bake these! Happy eating!

Giving into Gloria’s Lasagna

In Pasta on May 16, 2011 at 4:10 am

I’m hopelessly not-romantic. I mean, what am I supposed to do with a bunch of roses? Eat them? Bake them into rose-cookies? Whip up some rose frosting? Find some way to make a rose extract? I mean that’s so much work. If he actually liked me, he’d hand me rose extract.

Which is why when I was playing with my food, rolling up a piece of pasta, I realized I could see myself walking down the aisle with a bouquet of replicas, and I wasn’t surprised at all. And if I got nervous, I could snack on my $4 lasgana-noodle bouquet instead of a $35 manicure. The point is, food lightens every situtation. Even marriage.

Gloria’s Lasagna
Slightly adapted from Osteria
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground sweet italian sausages
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup white wine
Two 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped basil (recipe calls for fresh, but I had to use it from a container)
2 teaspoon chopped oregano (recipe calls for fresh, but I had to use it from a container)

Heat olive oil and throw in minced garlic and onions, stir and cook until softened
Put in the meat and cook until no longer red
Get rid of the fat in the pan then add the wine and cook until it’s cooked into the meat.
Add the tomatoes until warm, then add the pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and if desired, salt and pepper
Set aside.

Cheese Filling

1 pound ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all together in a bowl, set aside.


1 pound lasagna sheets
Olive Oil
1 cup Parmigiano cheese
Bring water with salt and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil to a boil, add noodles,
Stir occasionally and only cook 8 minutes,
Strain and lay out on dish towels.

Layer: Meat, Pasta, Filling, Pasta…. Continue. If you end with pasta on top, make sure you use tin foil on top as you bake. Put it in the oven at 350F for 1 hr or until you see the meat bubbling.

…. I do.

Life’s short. Eat a Chocolate Cupcake.

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2011 at 4:35 am

Tonight I was petrified. Gale said that I was going to help her out…. in front of people….. living, breathing people who were looking right at us. As she was talking to the crowd she also was talking to me, and would turn for a response. In the beginning, I was praising myself for giving a one-word answer. It wasn’t until I got to the kitchen half-way through the presentation to wash a particularly difficult pan that I finally became myself.

I was trying to get out a mixture of caramel, slivered almonds, chocolate cake, and honey. One of the caterers grabbed the pan and I found an empty coffee pot. He scraped what he could out of the pan while I filled a coffee pot with hot water and threw it on a warmer. Improvising.

All I can say is that never in a million years did I think being in a kitchen with caterers speaking half-spanish and scrubbing an impossible pan would make me feel so at home. But when I went back out in front of everyone, I found my voice again. It made me feel like I do every time I put on my chef’s coat: at home.

 The point is, life happens fast. One day you’re making key lime pies in your kitchen, not knowing where you’re gonna go from there, and struggling through spanish class. Then the next you’re interning for Gale Gand and understanding an entire Spanish conversation in the kitchen. One day I was rocking my baby brother to sleep and hiding the choke-able legos, and the next I was up at 5am making Buzz Lightyear cupcakes for his 4th birthday.

(Leftover gumpaste is easy to turn into flowers!)

Then some Buzz colors…


Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa (dutch process or dark cocoa preferably)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup boiling water(see note below)

Use your favorite chocolate frosting! I made mine up, but this cupcake pairs really nicely with a saltier chocolate frosting.
* I used gum paste for the flowers and aliens.

Cinnamon Rolls and Mothers Day

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 at 2:05 am

The day after my mom gave birth to my youngest brother was the day my twin brother had a soccer tournament. My mom was released that morning and booked it to the fields with my 1 day old brother. Soccer is a huge part of our lives. I can’t remember a day it wasn’t. If we don’t make our mom slow down, even for a few minutes, she won’t. So this mothers day we made her a breakfast she couldn’t possibly eat on the go…Grandma’s cinnamon rolls!

My mom always said that these were an “all day project” but when you make them at a brisk pace with 2 helpers, things tend to go a lot faster. In all these took us only about 2 1/2 hours, including baking and rising time. But the way my mom smiled and “ohed” and “ahhed” over them, I wouldn’t have minded spending two days on them!

Roses and Chocolate Cupcakes

In Cupcakes on May 6, 2011 at 4:55 am

It’s twitching in a musician’s fingers, building in an authors complex mind, dancing in a ballarina’s feet, humming in a singer’s song; it’s a passion we have. Who doesn’t want to leave a permanent thumb print on this world? But when you dance for the audience instead of yourself, you loose anything you had that was special to begin with.

A girl in my math class’s brithday was coming up and all she wanted was a cupcake. When I realized that I had to make cupcakes that Friday anyway, I decided that I’d bring her one of those. Even though it was about 11 I decided that I had to add a little touch to make the chocolate cupcake look a little classier.

That’s when I chose to do the rose:

I ended up loving the rose and so did the birthday girl! It was her favorite part. She was so excited that I’d just brought in a cupcake for her; it made me remember that sometimes it’s not all about what you can or can’t do. It’s all about the effect you can leave on the world.

I couldn’t believe how happy one cupcake could make someone. I realized making someone’s day could be only one cupcake away. I know where I want to leave my thumb print on the world. The passion’s cooking in my heart.

Crossing Cake Abuse off Life-Lists

In Cake, Mexican on May 1, 2011 at 4:39 am

Visit every state, square dance in Texas, cliff dive, start singing/jamming to my favorite song in a packed and silent elevator–making already-awkward situations more awkward is my specialty–, learn French,  be proposed to via dessert, drive a pickup truck with a treadmill in the back.
Among my list of must-do’s, I got to cross of one thing today! Make Tres De Leches cake. It’s true. I’ve been afraid to do it forever, I’m not sure why. It was so easy! But after 3 years of Spanish, I now understand 3/3 of the words in the dessert’s name and feel fully qualified to take on the cake. Or should I say pastel? Alright, now I’m showing off.

Tres Leches Cake
Recipe from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
1 3/4 cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter
5 eggs
1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350F
Mix the dry ingredients together
Cream the butter then slowly add the sugar. Add eggs one at a time on slow, then slowly stir in vanilla, pour into a butter and floured pan– 13X9.
Bake 20-25 minutes, take out of the oven and allow to cool 30 minutes then transfer to another slightly larger pan with sides that will hold the liquid, poke loads of holes in the cake using a toothpick and allow to finish cooling.

Wait… are you kidding me? I get to poke a bunch of holes in a cake that actually came out in one piece? Surely you’re kidding me…

The Topping
12oz can evaporated milk
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

Pour all the cans into a bowl and whisk together until just incorporated, pour over your cooled hole-poked cake.
(This should sit over-night in the fridge! If you’re impatient like me, start early in the day and take it out later at night. This gives the cake time to soak in all the creams!)

I used a little container to pour the creams over the cake…

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar (I used a few tablespoons more… I like it sweet!)
1 tsp. vanilla (I also added a little more of this)
Cinnamon for top garnish
Maraschino cherries, rinsed off so that it does not stain the white of the cream topping.

Whisk the heavy cream until it’s just about come together, add the powdered sugar, then add vanilla. Don’t over-whip!
Spread the mixture over the refrigerated cake.


My dear, picky, friend Lizzie ate this. Quite frankly, she devoured the most part of it. This is literally one of the most delicious cakes I think I’ve ever had/made. Plus it’s so easy! It’s not one of those cakes that’s going to crumble in your hands, you can throw it around a little. And let’s face it… who doesn’t want to be able to abuse a cake a little? Poke a bunch of holes in it, drown it in creams, smoother it in whipped cream? I can now also cross off something I never even thought of putting on my must-do-life-list… abuse a cake.