Monday, April 26, 2010

Stick a Fork in Me

I'm done, finally, with a week full of birthdays. And don't comment about the less-than-tidy look of the cakes or the photography.

I love baking, but the past week, with celebrations for my dear hubby and the three kids (yes, they all conspired to be born the same week), has kept me busy trying to stuff into my already crammed schedule two variations of Jean George's chocolate lava cakes, an improvised hazelnut torte (I love the French buttercream frosting flavored with espresso and hazelnut praline), flourless chocolate almond torte with chocolate mousse filling and a chocolate chocolate chip cookie cake. I also did a Key lime tart with macadamia crust just because the Key ingredient was on sale for a little more than a dollar a bag. Forget about fitting into my jeans.

For me, spoiled by the patisseries of Paris and Aix-en-Provence and a couple decent bakeries in New York City, the results were good, although I think I still need some practice to get exactly what I want. (Too bad I'll have to eat the continuing experiments and leftover Valrhona feves myself -- hee hee.)

For the birthday man, boy, little boy and little girl, the results were spectacular -- and that's all I need to make me happy.

For now, here are a few rushed pictures of the desserts that I had to throw together (it's not as though I have nothing to do with my day but cook and bake). So please excuse the amateur photos and look of the desserts. But they tasted very good, so I'll post recipes soon. I somehow missed pictures of the lava cakes -- gee, I'll have to make some more -- just for the pictures, of course.

You may also like: Chocolate Surprise Madeleines and Pear-Almond Tart with recipes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wrap Sheets

Slate's Green Lantern columnist wraps her head around the question of whether packaging leftovers in aluminum foil or plastic wrap is better for the environment. The takeaway is, it depends.

Farm-to-Table vs. Farms-to-Test Tube-to-Factory-to ...
At Huffington Post, Steve Ettlinger describes two meals -- one based on economies of huge scale and scientifically based processing at Archer Daniels Midland's R&D headquarters in Dacatur, IL, and another based on the farm-to-table ethos at Bacaro restaurant, in Champaign, IL -- in A Tale of Two (Extremely Different) Meals.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cooks in the War on Obesity

Looks like the health chuckwagon driven by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (and before him by Alice Waters) is becoming somewhat of a bandwagon with other television cooks along for the ride, including Rachael Ray and Paula Deen (who has never batted a preturnaturally long-lashed eye at bacon, butter or shortening).  If these divas of dining, together with Oliver, help people eat better, then who cares if it's the latest trend -- again.

The problem is that they're fighting another trend -- even more persistent -- the constant increase in rates of obesity, which has some of its roots before birth and during early infancy, when new mothers are pushed to obsess about weight gain, writes Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana.

You may also like: Weight Watchers is about to launch a campaign featuring actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

"Lazy" Gadget a Longtime Workhorse
 Bettijane Levine delves into the history of the lazy Susan, a gadget that dates at least to the 18th Century, in  the Los Angeles Times' L.A. Home blog.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ham and pineapple fried rice

Ham, ham, everywhere, and yet another bite (make that numerous bites) to eat.

What do you do with two adults and enough Easter ham for eight? Besides having ham and eggs; or ham, cheese and egg muffin sandwiches; ham omelettes; grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, or ham salad (or deviled ham) sandwiches, one of my favorite ways to use leftover ham is to make pineapple fried rice.

First I take the enormous hunk of leftover ham, cut some into pieces, some into slices, then divide the pieces into piles that are enough for a batch of fried rice (or omelettes or whatever), and bag the piles. I also bag the slices in quantities that are the right amount for a meal for my hubby, me and the three kids. Whatever I don't plan to use right away can go into the freezer for the next month. That way, we aren't eating ham for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three days.

(You might also like: Homemade Tofu and Sweet and Sour Chops.)
Please jump for recipe.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Planting time?

In spite of my black thumb (just killed a rosemary plant this week), I may try growing some of my own horseradish. According to writer Anne Raver, horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) seems hardy enough.
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