Archive for June, 2009

More marzipan

From the Fancy Food Show. There are no limits to what forms marzipan can take. 

Marzipan hot dogs, sammies, buns and challah(?)

Hot dogs, sammies, cinnamon buns and challah(?)

 These are available at Bergen Marzipan.


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Watched HBO’s new show “Hung” last night and I snickered to myself quietly when Tanya, the poet/freelance proofreader played by Jane Adams, presents to her “I’m going to be a millionaire” class the idea of “lyric bread,” which consists of inserting inspirational verse into baked goods. She draws her inspiration from fortune cookies, and an example is “a croissant folded around Maya Angelou’s ‘Pheonomenal Women.'”

Did you know something like this already exists? In Chocolove‘s chocolate bars, in fact. There are love poems printed on the inside of the outer wrapping. I think I got a Rumi verse the last time I bought the 55%, so the whole experience was smooth and sweet on more than one level, albeit a little precious. If I were to curate the poetry for chocolate bars, I would pick verses that matched the cocoa content in bitterness. So let’s say milk chocolate, anything from Walden. 65% cocoa, Oscar Wilde. 72%, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker. 99% cocoa? Hmm.

It also reminds me of those random facts on Snapple and Nantucket Nectars bottle caps: a little some’n extra you didn’t ask for, but enriching nonetheless… for a second. It’s been years since I’ve bought either of those, and I have a very selective memory and can’t remember any. Can you?

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Those of you who know me pretty well are probably sick of hearing me threaten no one in particular that I’m going to pack up and move to the West Coast again. ‘Christonastick, I thought she let that one go,’ reads the thought bubble from your head right now. “What about Portland?” I ask often these days  to, again, no one in particular. If my bf is within earshot, he’d say, “Againwiththis??!” Interestingly, I’ve never actually been to Portland, Oregon, except to drive away from its airport to Hood River. It’s a weird form of coping mechanism/escapism when you’re forced to deal with the worst aspects of city living, e.g., another stoopid NYC MTA subway fare hike. Arrrrgh it makes my blood boil!

[Deep breath] Anyway, one facet of West Coast life I would find appealing is having fruit trees in your backyard. Last year when I visited my friend H. who lives in San Jose, we plucked lemons from her neighbor’s tree, the limbs of which were heavy with the fruit and hung over the fence into H’s driveway, and we made lemon bars. (The neighbors are cool with it.) I also distinctly remember my friend E.’s oranges from her dad’s backyard in Los Angeles, which she brought back to NYC and shared with me when she lived here: Soft and easy to peel, sweet and bright tasting, home grown. And this story which mentions actor Bill Pullman’s crazy edible Eden this weekend in the Times got me questioning: Why the heck can’t I have a cherimoya or a hybrid grapefruit or a persimmon tree? What in the world is a pitomba?? Why am I so limited by this urban yet barren jungle where the cruel joke is that strawberries at the farmers market cost $7 a quart?

I realize, though, I don’t need to move that far to have a garden. Not too far away in the Jerz, my mother grows some good squash and cukes, barring Bergen County’s hungry deer and bunnies. And NJ is home to many an apple and peach tree, and blueberry bushes, no doubt. We acquired a fig plant last year, which is doing pretty well in this humid weather on the fire escape, though it’ll just take a couple more years to bear fruit. So obviously, there are ways to deal. It’s just that I can’t deny the appeal of an actual lemon tree, always being there, kinda like a kitchen guardian angel. And the right clime for lemon trees means it’s right for other fruits like grapefruit and cherimoyas, which means a lot more baking/eating fun.

Okay, my rant ends…now. But there are huckleberries in Oregon—just sayin’.

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silky, yellow, different

silky, yellow, different

I asked for Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef cookbook eons ago for Xmas, but save for a fish recipe or two, I hadn’t used any of the other recipes since I received it (though I’ve tried his Christmas bombe recipe I once watched him make on TV, and it knocked my socks off). I finally put the dessert pages to good use this weekend—the book made that crackling sound when I opened it to the back—and I’m happy to report that his lemon and lime cream tart (p.217), adapted into bars, turned out citrusy and refreshing. 

lemons and limes, soon to be put to work

lemons and limes at rest; soon to be put to work

For the crust, I made a boatload of pate sucree, or short crust pastry, rolled it out, and fitted it into a 13 x 9 x 2 pan for blind-baking. I took a fork and docked it, too, for good measure, because I’ve made this mistake before when making plain lemon bars. If you don’t blind-bake or dock, the crust bubbles up unattractively into the filling, and you have the unsavory thou-protest-too-much task of telling your friends, “…but it still tastes good.” 

looks like a maze puzzle; start from upper left corner

you can enter this maze from the upper left corner

As far as the filling is concerned, I highly recommend what Chef Oliver recommends: Add the zest of four limes into the mixture. While it tasted great and was certainly lemony enough, I didn’t do this step and hence didn’t get enough of the limey kick-in-the-pants. Which is strange, because there’s almost double the amount of lime juice than lemon juice in the recipe. Ah, so it is. 

The heavy cream is the surprise ingredient here. It makes the filling smoother and fluffier than a regular lemon bar, and not just custard-y. The filling seems so creamy that it may require a fork or spoon to help you gobble it up. 

Recipe here. ‘Tis the season for a dessert with a zing, so go to town.

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Pastry-related jokes

From Demetri Martin’s show, “Person”:

“I met many chocoholics, but I ain’t never seen no chocohol… We got an epidemic of people, people who love chocolate, who don’t understand the rules of word endings…They’re probably overworkahol-ed.”

“Cakes are the only food we write on. It’s always so encouraging, like, ‘Happy Birthday, Leo!’ ‘Congratulations, Eric!’ I feel like we’re missing an opportunity, [I’m] talking about negative cakes. ‘Surprise! You’re adopted.’ …Cuz’ that’s when you want a cake.”

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A would-be MJ tribute

How sad. If I ran a bakery, here are the specials I would run in honor of Michael Jackson:

* It don’t matter if you’re “Black or White” cookies (Or, “Ebony and Ivory” whoopie pies?)

* Cake with “Just a Little Bit of You”-zu icing

* “Smooth Criminal” chocolate cupcakes

* “Jam!” thumbprint cookies

Don’t worry, I am not submitting these to McSweeneys.

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It’s red, white, and blue all over on Epicurious.com.

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