Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lunch Date

Yesterday I got together with my long lost friend BT. He moved to San Fran about 4 years ago and I hadn't seen him since! Shame on me! We decided on the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe in Uptown and sat outdoors, enjoying the sunshine. It was great to catch up. We fell right back into it and gabbed for a few hours!

I had the omelette of the day which came with a side of hash browns,
salsa and house-made sourdough toast.

BT feasted on some Eggs Benedict with a light side salad.

'Twas a good brunch and we vow to not wait another 4 or 5 years!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Music and Picnics in the Park

Thursday was suppsed to be a coffee shop-friend reunion between MC, AB and I. AB couldn't make it so MC and I alone went to Music in the Park in DT St Paul to see Our long-time favorite local artist, Jeremy Messersmith.

I packed a picnic, just like last year:

This year again went overboard with the picnic. I made some cornmeal rolls that I made a few months ago, but made them bigger so we could top with sliced apple, avocado, cucumber, cheese, and/or butter. I brought along my homemade Vanilla Granola and some fresh blueberries and coconut cream. Threw in a few chocolate covered peanuts, crackers and homemade peach-gnger iced tea for good measure. However, the piece de resistance was my homemade Almond-Cream Tarts with Blueberries and Pluots. Oh My Goodness!! I made up a batch of pate brisee and just kept rolling until I finished off the dough. I was able to get 4 small tart pans, 2 medium and one large. I only filled two small tarts and one medium with said almond-cream goodness. Wow, were they good.

Here's the thing when you make your own almond cream. You need almond paste. Well, I didn't have any on hand (and always prefer handmade over store-bought,) so I had to make some.
To make almond paste you need blanched, skinned almonds. When you don't have those you have to blanch and skin the almonds yourself!

First step--done! Then you grind them up with powdered sugar, and a corn syrup simple syrup to make almond paste... which is then added back to the food processor to create almond cream. With which you are able to fill your tarts, place your fruits and voila! Yums out the oven.
Obviously I went overboard with the picnic, but it was expected, I set the bar high for myself last year. No pictures from the event this year, but other friends were in attendance too, KW, AK, and a few others. The evening started sprinkling on us during the opening act so we packed up our picnic and went to get some coffee at the Black Sheep. We headed back downtown and easily parked and finished up the show with some rockin' JM. Can't wait for his new CD this fall!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Salty Tarts and Fondant

Yesterday morning I baked a cake. This wasn't a cake to celebrate severing ties with Kowalski's (though very warranted). This was a cake for practice, so I used a boxed mix. This was a cake destined for Fondant! I've been hankering to learn how to do more with it because it seems really daunting. I think I learned the trick. Don't roll it out too thin or it won't hold it's shape. I don't think I'll post pictures of it as I only had a round cookie cutter for shapes. It looks very elementary...or perhaps rudimentary.

Without further ado... My experience at the Salty Tart!

I met up with head chef, Michelle at 7am today to do a working interview. First she gave a tour of their little 400 square foot space. I quickly oriented myself and began a task. First, to make almond cream tarts with raspberries. Then I moved onto making the Amish Cookie Dough. I then did a bunch of dishes and moved on to my last project. Some turnovers with our very own puff pastry (yay!). I diced some peaches and added some sugar and orange zest for the sweet ones. Then, I did some roasted garlic, spinach and feta turnovers for the savory ones. Michelle really likes the idea of savory items, hence the name, Salty Tart.

The three hours flew by. At the end of the shift, she commented on liking my work and wanted to know if I liked it there. (This was MY kind of place! --Very Classy) We talked about hours and monies and all that jazz. I have the inkling I'll hear from her this weekend and (hopefully) be offered the job.

Tonight Matt and I are going to hit up Mears park (weather willing) and see Jeremy Messersmith play live. At the market on my way home I got some fruits to snack on during out music picnic later. I'm going to go start up some cornmeal rolls. I made them a few months ago--those were gooood! Happy Birthday to LM, who will not receive a food-present, but a textile one instead.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Updates n' stuff

So. clearly I haven't posted in a while. I'm sorry, and I'm not. I'm not, because not too many people actually read this and depend on me for their daily 'scoop.' I am sorry because I've been thinking about blogging as a concept.

As you know, I used to run a cafe. about 97% of the recipes came out of my head. People would come in often and request that I write a cookbook or something with "all of my wonderful creations" in it. Now, if I were Magnolia Bakery, or Ina Garten, or Sara Foster, or Bobby Flay....sure! But being the guy who's running a restaurant scraping to get by? Sorry. You don't get the recipes so you can make them at home and not show up to buy them. Maybe when I sell my 500,000th scone I'll let you in on my secrets, but for now that's just what they secrets.

How does this relate to blogging? I read lots of other food blogs daily (Dozen Flours, Baking Bites, Amateur Gourmet, to name a few) and they all have amazing pictures and recipes to go along with their posts! But obviously mine don't. If I perfect a recipe, I've usually tweaked it silly. I feel then, that it's my property (well not really, copyrights and recipes are up in the air). I ran a cafe. I loved my job. I will get more experience, more business know-how and hopefully do it again someday. AND I assure you, that when the customer walks out the door with that 500,000th scone, I will sit down at the typewriter until I have a book of beauty for all to see. Is this selfish? Tell me what you think. Those 3 or 4 of you who read PB&GC. If it is selfish...that's okay...because only 3 or 4 of you read PB&GC, and most of you are my friends and (I hope) would forgive me.

Update on the working front:

Last I posted I just had an interview with Kowalski's. Well, they didn't want me to be the manager for the Eagan store, the current bakery manager at the Grand store was going to take that position....but.... train me in as her replacement! It turned out I didn't have to do the 3am shift but pretty 'easy' 7-3 shifts. I worked there for 3ish weeks learning the ins and outs.... mostly of stocking shelves and turning over product. Wait what?! I know. NOT MY idea of a dream job. Hell, not my idea of a tolerable one! So I've been looking on craigslist as of late for new jobs and applied to a few.

Had an interview at 20.21 which went quite well and they asked me to return and do a stages.

I also heard from Michelle Gayer-Nicholson over at Salty Tart in the Midtown Global Market! If you don't know who she is, google her. The lady knows her stuff! Today we kept playing phone tag, and in the spirit of someone who would kick someone's ass to work with her, I went down there to check the place out and introduce myself. Friend, LL and I purchased a few things and I set up a stages. To work tomorrow morning! I'll let you all know how it goes.

Oh, needless to say... (This morning actually,) I quit Kowalski's and threw that ugly ass hat in their face!!