Many of you may not know that the Farmers Market is a constant source of inspiration in my recipes and cooking. Many culinary trends begin within the famers market stalls. I often can be found wandering the market in search of photo ops and new trends. Each week I gather some interesting produce and of course an arm load of fresh flowers for the holiday table. These items often include pink lemons, baby squash, truffle oil, some beautiful aged balsamic vinegar and of course Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes.
My husband is not a dessert fan, which always bewilders friends and acquaintances when they learn I am a pastry chef. He would happily eat pizza in place of dessert any day. Me, on the other hand, I could live on sweets and vegetables. One of the few desserts that he loves is chocolate cream pie; I can see the allure that it has for him. Rich creamy chocolate mousse, sweet flaky pie dough topped with sweet whipped cream. What a perfect dessert!
There are two different variations of macaroons; French and American. American macaroons are usually coconut based, sometimes dipped in chocolate and are delicious. French macarons are light and crunchy but with a soft interior. They can be filled with just about any flavor of buttercream you can create.
Are you looking for a holiday gift for a teacher, personal trainer, landscaper or even your neighbors? Nothing is more appreciated than a homemade gift of cookies. Everyone loves cookies, and the fact that you took time out of your busy schedule to create a gift especially for them makes it even more special.
Christmas is slowly creeping upon us. Have you started your naughty or nice list yet? Store bought gifts are nice, but a handmade gift is so much more thoughtful and personal. Beanilla is the perfect place to start! Whether you are making Christmas cookies for your neighbors, vanilla-lime infused vodka for your dad, or homemade vanilla extract for your friends and family that love to bake - we have the perfect products and gifts that will have your friends and loved ones thinking you are the next Martha Stewart.
The Thanksgiving holiday is over and I bet you ate way too much just like me! For those of you that braved the mad shoppers this past weekend; I have a simple but hearty dish to warm you up and keep you going this week. Risotto is a staple in our family. Its versatility and delicious texture and flavor is a hit with both my children and husband. It is also a very elegant dish to serve to your guests. Simple additions of items such as peas and lobster make for a stunning and satisfying meal for any culinarian.
The three most important foods on the Thanksgiving table to most people are a golden brown turkey, delicious stuffing and, of course, cranberry dressing. In years past, I have simply used the quintessential canned dressing or jelly. Not anymore! Scratch-made cranberry sauce is one of the easiest dishes I can bring to my table. A simple mixture of fresh cranberries, sugar, Tahitian Vanilla and lemon grass creates a familiar, but unique, cranberry sauce. Lemon grass is a beautifully fragrant herb that grows in long stalks, and is primarily used in Thai cuisine. It is very versatile and can be used with a variety of proteins, soups, jams and relishes. I like the bright citrus flavor that it brings to my cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving is this week! Are you ready? I know that I most certainly am not…… The holidays are a very busy time for me as a professional pastry chef; the holiday parties, charity events and the endless amounts of pies leave very little time to prepare for my own celebrations. This lack of time makes it necessary for me to create easy and elegant dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Sweet Potato Brûlée is simple, unique and easy to prepare ahead of time. The best part is your guests will think you slaved for hours, and only you will know the truth!
Saffron is a beautiful spice that is plucked from the center of a crocus flower. Each strand is hand harvested from the flower, and it is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Saffron has a sweet earthy flavor, and imparts a yellow-orange color into any dish it is composed with. It is most commonly used in risottos, Indian dishes and Persian cuisines.
Today I received an email from one of my favorite retailers. It stated that they will not be decking the halls until November 27th. They stated that the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for their employees and customers to give thanks for all they are blessed with, and that decking the halls takes away from the holiday. I have to agree. As a child I have wonderful memories of gathering around the thanksgiving table with family. Each family member was blessed with the task of bringing one dish to pass. Our family was so big that we had to set up dinner in my grandparents' basement on the biggest table they owned -- the ping pong table. There was nothing extraordinary about the table until Thanksgiving Day. It was beautifully transformed with white linens, fine china, flowers and candles. A buffet table of saw horses and boards was constructed close to the table and expertly transformed into an elegant buffet with table linens and silver platters. As we gathered around the table, I remember thinking that it seemed as though no time had passed since the last Thanksgiving. I silently gave thanks for having such a great extended family and family traditions.