A Gluten Free White Cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting – how mistakes can lead to wonderful things….

August 16, 2010

Lauren of Celiac Teen over on Twitter had asked her friends about their biggest kitchen disaster. I’ve been lucky that I had very few huge mistakes (but loads of minor to medium ones), but I’m sure there are many more huge mistakes to come. The one that immediately came to mind was a cake I made right before I moved to San Francisco. Though the recipe for the Gluten Free White cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting at the end of this post isn’t exactly what I made back then, it existence wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t learned a little bit about baking and frosting from my mistakes.

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Vanilla & Almond Scented Apricot Plum Summerberry Pie for a visiting pie fanatic friend.

August 10, 2010

After the insanity of the Pie or Die contest weekend, you’d think I’d be totally pie-d out. As in, I never want to see a pie ever again….or at least for a week or two. But that didn’t happen. Why? Because my friend Stacy was visiting right after the event and she LOVES LOVES LOVES pies. And who am I to deny her pie? I decided to head back into the kitchen, see what I had around the house and bake up another one. Luckily I had a some pie crust leftover from the SF Food Wars in the back of the fridge (this made me think that EVERYONE should have pie crust at their disposable. Pies are really so easy to make if you already have ready made pie crust! I think I might have to make some pie crust and freeze it). Though a bit of a hodgepodge of flavors, this Vanilla & Almond Scented Apricot Plum Summerberry Pie summarizes my personality in one tasty flaky crust package. A bit of this, a bit of that, slightly sweet, slightly flaky, slightly spicy with a kick and completely pragmatic (use up fruit in the fridge before it goes bad!) and dare I say it, pretty darn easy (Hmmm. Now what does that say about me?).

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Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie w/ Honey Jumbleberry Sauce. How I won the SF Food Wars – Pie or Die Competition!

July 28, 2010

Oh man. I’m on a HIGH! And no, it’s not a sugar high – though that would totally be a good guess. It’s more because for the past two or three weeks I’ve been stressed and freaked out about entering the SF Food Wars Pie or Die competition. They put out a call for entries about a month ago, and as I had mentioned in the past, I’m pretty bad at trying to “figure out” what I’m going to bake in advance. But I rallied, pulled out my new favorite not a cookbook cookbook The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg, cross referenced a few ingredients and came up with this description of my entry: Check(mate) Please! Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie – Backyard home-grown lemons and local blackberries update this Southern classic chess pie with a California twist. Almond scented crust adds a contemporary touch, while a drizzle of berry sauce made with a touch of San Francisco honey adds homey complexity. And they accepted it to compete! Of course, I didn’t have all the logistics figured out on how I was going to pull it off, but I figured it out as I went along, AND on top of that I won – oh did I win! But more on that later…

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Hawaii Inspired POM (Pineapple, Orange and Mango) not POG Muffins with Macadamia Nut Crumb Topping. Also how I fell in love with a tropical island.

July 20, 2010

I’ve put off writing this blog entry. Mostly because I’ve been in denial since arriving back from my vacation in Hawaii that I’m still not on vacation. I arrived back home a couple of Sundays ago and let me tell you I was a GRUMP at work the next day (more than my usual pre-caffeine grump – my coworker even emailed me to ask me “hey. you ok?” in which I had to reply back “Fine. Just uncomfortable wearing shoes not flip flops.”) I think writing this blog entry would sort of finalize the deal-o that I’m back home to my (some what) normal life. Luckily, while on vacation I made some made crazy moist tropical island inspired Pineapple-Mango Muffins with Macadamia Nut Crumb Topping in the condo we were renting on Kauai and now I know that I can make them at home I will instantly transport myself back to Hawaii and this trip, except without the sand and the mosquitos. Well sort of. OK, it’s a sad conciliation prize, but I’ll take what I can get right?

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Summer Jumbleberry Pie or How San Francisco Summer Tastes to Me

July 14, 2010

I adore summer in San Francisco. Every year I tell myself that I am going to take full advantage of the summer by running around to all the free events, festivals, street fairs. AJ is off from teaching so he’s less stressed out from work (and lately taking photo classes) and he’s traveling to visit friends in LA or back to the Midwest to visit family. We always have grandiose plans to do SO MUCH during the summer. Host small dinner parties, host big dessert parties, get together with friends for picnics and BBQs, see movies in the park, go to the free concerts at Stern Grove Park and watch Shakespeare in the Park. And of course, I want to bake tons and tons of fruit desserts, like my Summer Jumbleberry Pie!

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How me finishing the sentence "Cooking became easier, and more enjoyable when I learned…" became a post about Shrimp Risotto.

July 7, 2010

Don’t we all love Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl? If you don’t know her, check out her site and see how she’s not only the sweetest and the coolest but she also has a way of asking thought provoking questions that make us all want to think about things (think in a good way, […]

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Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse and Fresh Berries – June’s Daring Baker’s Challenge & Gay Pride Catchup

June 29, 2010

Oh man. Has a month gone by already? After making last month’s croquembouche, I was all prepared to whip this one up way ahead of schedule and then write the post for the end of the month. And this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge looks awesome as well. But life got in the way (as it always does), and the mad dash to the finish line was pretty much in order (which clearly didn’t even work, as I am a day late). The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphanyby Francois Payard.

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Gluten Free Snickerdoodles – The Very First Thing I Ever Baked Redux

June 25, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl sent out a tweet asking her followers what their first thing they ever cooked was. It morphed into a mass blog posting event (if you haven’t read her post, go there now, and then scroll down to her list of other bloggers who wrote about their first food making experience) with some fantastic reading of everyone’s walk down memory lane. I posted about my snickerdoodles and how I feel in love with the magic of backing in response, but I felt slightly guilty about it because I wanted to make the snickerdoodles the way they were, AND make a version of them gluten free – not only because Shauna inspired the post, but I figured there would be a few readers asking for it, bouncing over here from her site.

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Meals On Wheels – Star Chef’s and Vintner’s Gala Event 2010 (a recap one month later)

June 22, 2010

Let’s talk for a moment. Now, every post I’ve put up so far has been a story about my life, followed by a recipe of a food item (usually a dessert or baked good) that was an integral part of the story. And I hemmed and hawed about breaking this pattern, but friends of mine have been asking me (nay hounding me) to post about an event I went to about a month ago – the Meals on Wheel’s Star Chef’s and Vintner’s Gala. And I’ve been on the fence as to whether I should post or not (clearly I decided to).

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Snickerdoodles: The Very First Thing I Ever Baked

June 14, 2010

The fabulous Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl sent out a tweet last week asking everyone what the first thing they ever cooked was. I immediately thought of the simple basic snickerdoodle. Some people love it, some people find it boring and some people have never heard of it. For me though, it’s ripe with history and nostalgia…because it’s the first thing I ever learn to bake.

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Black Bottom Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting and a caramel decoration: an AIDS Lifecycle pre-ride dinner dessert!

June 7, 2010

Today, AJ left on his 10th fundraising ride for the AIDS Lifecycle in support of The San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s still not to late to donate to his ride (every dollar counts), if you haven’t had a chance or didn’t know about it! I’ve written about his ride twice before (in 2006, and in 2007) in my former, now defunct, blog. I’m always a little sad when he takes off (a whole week without him!) and so proud of him as well (a whole week cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles – that’s 535 miles on a bike!). And every year there is a pre-ride dinner with his cycling team, the Gutterbunnies. This year, the annual dinner, was held at one of the bunny’s house, and it was a potluck. Of course I was tasked to bring the dessert and I decide to try a new recipe for black bottom cupcakes, paired with AJ’s favorite frosting – salted caramel cream cheese. Because I had such a great time with spun sugar, I decided to top the cupcakes with a little caramel decoration as well.

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Croquembouche! My Piece Monteé, a Daring Baker’s Challenge

May 27, 2010

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you’ll remember that last month that I had posted a little blog entry about my first Daring Baker’s Challenge. I had joined them out of fear that I would run out of things to blog about (definitely not an issue) but instead have found wonderful community of supportive bakers! Well, the May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake who challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

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Italian Cream Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Lemon Buttercream. Also a tiny cookie.

May 21, 2010

It’s is OBVIOUS that I have food blogger disease. Because I have started to look for excuses to bake. Not that I necessarily need an excuse to bake, but the reality is, I’m clearly in the honeymoon phase of blogging, coming up with ideas and rushing to my pantry to see what supplies I have. In fact I was down to only FOUR sticks of butter last week because of my constant kitchen experiments! THE HORROR!

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Magical Kiwi-Lime Marmalade filled Muffins (gluten free with no xanthan/guar gum)

May 17, 2010

So apparently May is Celiac Awareness Month and so I present to you the very first wheat free, gluten free baked good I ever made: Kiwi-Lime Marmalade Filled Muffins! It’s a little confusing to me that May is listed as Celiac Awareness Month, as I always thought October was Celiac Awareness Month. But I guess if you have Celiac disease and your body attacks itself when you eat anything with gluten in it, you deserve more than one month. I say people should be aware of the disease year round, but I don’t make the rules about these things.

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My free-range free beef needs some pretzel buns!

May 9, 2010

THIS RECIPE HAS BEEN UPDATED. Please checkout the new and improved Pretzel Buns recipe! When life gives you free-range organic ground beef, you make pretzel hamburger buns. Well I do at least…. In my previous blog, years ago I wrote about my obsession with free schwag. I sort of ended the post (this was four […]

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An Engagement Sugar Cookie with Royal Icing

May 4, 2010

About a month ago, my friend Jai emailed me a note with the title It’s About That Time…. In it he told me (and another friend) that in a month, Susie, his girlfriend, would have her family in town and there was going to be a dinner that he wanted us to help plan it. The […]

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Rhubarb Berry Steamed Pudding – the Daring Baker’s Challenge, April 2010

April 28, 2010

In a fit of anxiety that I wouldn’t have anything to blog about (apparently that’s not an issue as I seem to have a backlog of posts that I’m trying to catch up on) I joined the Daring Kitchen group Daring Baker’s Challenge. For those not in the know, they challenge everyone in the group to bake the same thing and then post simultaneously the results of the baking on the 27th of the month. The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

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