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FFwD: Potato Gratin

November 19, 2010

Today, I am at a complete loss of words.  The potato gratin was fantastic, as evidenced by the expressions on people’s faces as they took the first bite.  Good, this was very good.  The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with some actual words to say…

TWD: Cranberry Galette

November 16, 2010

This week’s TWD selection, from the ladies over at Celestial Confections, is the Cranberry Lime Galette from Dorie Greenspan’s BFMHTY.

Wait!!!!! What happened to the limes in your galette, Charli?!? (I know that’s what you all are thinking.)  The answer, unfortunately, is simple: they are sitting on my counter where I found them about five minutes after this beauty went into the oven.  I read and re-read and re-read the recipe because I just had that ominous feeling of forgetting something.  And somehow through all of that I never realized I forgot the limes!

On the upside, I am now able to report that this recipe is fantastic even without the limes.  So go right ahead and make it without running to the store just for limes.  (Which, by the way, is what I did. 😛 )  Indeed, it is hard to go wrong with a delicious cranberry filling and a buttery, flaky crust!!  If you are looking for a scrumptious addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table, I highly recommend this one.  The recipe is up here–limes and all!

FFwD: Caramel topped semolina cake

November 12, 2010

Yesterday in class, we were talking about nano-wires (really, really small wires, only a few nanometers in diameter).  These nanowires can be made approximately the same length as different types of cells.  And the cells engulf the wires.  Because, well, they can.

Apparently the cells like to eat the gold wires faster than any other type of wire.  The cells have high taste.

Which got me thinking about cake.  At this point in the class, what else is there to daydream about, but nano-cake?  Do you think the cells would also engulf a high quality nanocake made from the freshest ingredients faster than they would engulf, oh, say a nanotwinkie?

In class, I decided they would.  After all, the cells do have high taste.

I pictured a nano-caramel-topped-semolina-cake with its uniquely fantastic taste and texture.  I decided the cells would consume that one quite quickly indeed.  And then I realized my thoughts had gotten a little out of hand, and that I should probably pay attention again.  Too much longer in my nanocake fantasy land and I would start giggling.

Unfortunately, though I actually did make the caramel topped semolina cake for a dinner party several weeks ago, I did not capture its beauty on camera.  However, there was a Frenchman present at the dinner party and he approved.  Win.

TWD: Cranberry Shortbread Cake

November 9, 2010

This past weekend, I went back up to South Bend, IN for a fantastic wedding.  Of course, when in South Bend, one must stop by and visit the Notre Dame campus.  Well, one must if one has spare time before one’s flight leaves, anyway.

The Basilica is, of course, gorgeous.

One of the most memorable parts of the day happened when I heard a screaming squirrel (a noise filled with such terror), turned, and saw this:

You have to look close, but if you do you will see a falcon hungrily eyeing a  terrified baby squirrel (at the bottom of the tree).  The poor thing was hopping all over the tree trying to avoid certain death.  This story has a happy ending though–at least for the squirrel.  Tom charged at the falcon, scared it away, and the squirrel ran to safety!  It was a beautiful moment.

After a nice trip away, though, there is just something about coming home that is always fantastic.  Coming home and being able to bake something as wonderful as this cranberry shortbread cake is even better.  This one is really a winner, from BFMHTY, the cranberry shortbread cake is amazing!  I recommend that you head over to Jessica’s blog straightaway for the recipe.

TWD: Caramel Pumpkin Pie

October 19, 2010

It was just another day in the lab.  Well, not quite a normal day.  On this particular day a few weeks ago, I made the trek over to the hospital to pick up some samples.

I arrived at the hospital and promptly went to a back room to read a few papers while I waited.  It was just a few minutes later when the doctor (who I was working with) popped his head into the room.  “The samples are running a little behind today , so you might have to wait a little longer.  Oh,” he continued, “you may want to stick tight back here while you wait.  If you leave, you might not be able to get back in.  The hospital is under lock-down because there is a shooter on the loose.”

Okay.  Twist my arm.  I will not go wandering the halls.

But allow me to step back.  I was never one of those kids who felt invincible.  Life always seemed tangible, precious, a gift to be cherished.  Yet in the past few years, I admit I have taken life for granted.  I forgot about death.  I loved (almost) every day, but made no effort to make the most of them.

Sitting there, in the hospital that day, I was not in any real danger.  The shooter was eight stories away, in a completely separate wing.  While I did not know any of that at the time, I did know that–mostly–everyone around me was calm, collected.  As much as possible, work continued as usual.

However, in spite of the fact that I was safe, in spite of the fact that everyone around me was calm, in spite of the fact that I was not truly worried–in spite of all of this, being stuck in a hospital with a shooter on the loose can drive a person to reflect on the preciousness of Life:

Life is beautiful.  Life is a gift.  Life is an adventure, an opportunity, a treasure.  Life can be inspiring.  Life can be inspired.  But life can also be lazy.

To make the most out of life takes effort.  I want to make something of myself at work yet revel in my time off.  I will climb mountains, photograph sunsets, laugh with friends.  Maybe one day I will ‘cure cancer.’  Maybe I will just help to advance the world of science, but I will love my job.

I will not make a bucket list because I never want to leave something unchecked, and I never want everything to be checked off.  Instead, I will seize every moment.  I will fight my fights but will not dwell on them.  I will love.  I will not walk around trying to escape from life; instead, I will escape to life.  I will plan for my future, savor the present, honor the past.  I will forgive others.  I will forgive myself.  I will not fret over imperfections.

I will smile.  I will live.  I will bake my heart out.

FFwD: Gougeres

October 1, 2010

One of the things I love so much about food is that there is always the opportunity to try something new.  Yet simultaneously, there is always an element of security, of comfort with the trial.  I may be trying a new, exotic sauce that will whisk me off to a far away land, but I know I like chicken, I know I like potatoes, so how bad can it be?  Granted, some culinary adventures are more risky than others.  Adding a little yogurt dallop to top your favorite standby soup requires a lot less gumption than than, say, eating a durian.

But I digress.  What I am attempting to convey is that trying new things is fantastic, but sometimes, the most wonderful thing of all is trying something new–going on a new journy–with an old friend.  Trying an exciting new dish with an old favorite ingredient, for example.  Or preparing to embark on one of life’s biggest adventures with my best friend, fellow discoverer, and (now) fiance.

Or, in this particular instance, beginning a new odyssey through a new cookbook, trying many new recipes, but taking a familiar, much loved instructor along for the ride.  As I cook along with my fellow bloggers through AMFT by Dorie Greenspan, I know my kitchen repertoire will greatly increase.  I will learn new techniques and fall in love with new recipes. If simply trusting Dorie was not convincing enough, gougeres, both the first recipe in the book and the first recipe I made from it, sealed the deal.  These cheesy bread balls are packed with wonderful flavor and have a light, whimsical texture, making them the best use of pate a choux dough I have ever tried.  Really.

So with that–let the journey begin!

Tarte Fine and an announcement!!!

September 28, 2010

This week’s TWD was the tarte fine.  It was nice.  Definitely something to be eaten within the first hour as recommended by Dorie; it looses both flavor and crispness with passing time.  But to be honest I do not really care all that much about the tarte today.  Now that the business is out of the way,  I have much more exciting things to write about:

My engagement!!!

It has been a whirlwind weekend here at the Berry Bushel, leaving me a touch spastic and scattered.  In a good way.  Let’s just say there was a fantastic dinner, an opera, beautifully lit nighttime DC, a proposal, and a “YES!”

That last part was my contribution.

Now there are people to call, plans to make, shiny pretty things to stare at.  Life is good.