Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 1

I keep starting blogs based on the phases I go through and once the phase dies away so does the blog.
Because my interests fluctuate so often I'm creating a blog for "all of the above." So, this will be my 7th attempt at a long-term web log. Welcome to Rare Orchid Brand.

I baked over the weekend. It's been a while. Maybe even like... 6 months.
A few weeks ago, Lora, my best female friend, and I planned a trip to The Peninsula downtown for afternoon tea in The Lobby. It was awesome.
For $36 you get a pretty large spread. Each person has their own pot of tea (I'd recommend their Lychee, it was a scented black tea) and an assortment of scones, sandwiches, and desserts.
There was an awesome quiche with micro basil... I finally lost my micro-herb virginity!
Also a dessert souffle, another first for me.

I was completely inspired to throw my own tea party. After searching and asking the Internet I found a few recipes to test. So, Saturday morning went out and bought groceries. I was gonna write down my list but used a cool app on my iPod Touch instead. It felt a lot easier and more organized. The app (forgot what it was called) organized my items by location so once I was in the dairy section I could see all the dairy-related items I would need which helped out with my aimless wandering and backtracking.
I get a little neurotic though when it comes to my iPod. I can only have it exist in two states, 100% on (not dimmed, or screen savered) or locked. When it's actually locked I become super hesitant to constantly unlock it which kinda defeats the purpose of having an 'easy to access' shopping list. As a result, I was walking around the store constantly rubbing my iPod to keep the screen on. But also being careful not to tap the screen, which could possibly mark one of my list items as 'carted'. Good, neurotic times.

I got home, left my groceries in the bags, went to check my e-mail and decided to take a 30 minute power nap. I woke up from the nap, convinced myself that it took me 15 minutes to fall asleep which meant I only had a 15 minute nap and then set my alarm again for another 30 and knocked out.
I wanted to bake while the sun was still out so I crawled out of bed, unpacked my groceries (didn't have to wait for the butter or puff pastry to hit room temp) and began my 5+ hour day of test baking.

These are the recipes I purchased ingredients for:

I started out with the Gougères. I'm not very cheese-savvy at all so I was looking forward to playing around with gruyere. It was yummy.
The recipe suggested making sure everything was set so that nothing was sitting around too long (mainly grating the cheese). I went mise en place all up in there--even measuring out the salt into its own little glass bowl. I found it a big waste of dishes. But at the same time it made me feel all cooking show-y.

Overall the recipe was super easy to follow and the cheese puffs came out perfectly and delicious. It was magic how they puffed up without any prompting from me.
I'd definitely make these again and experiment with different cheeses.

My next recipe attempt was the Proscuitto Dijon Gruyere Puffs.
This required puff pastry sheets and the action of rolling, both with a pin and with creating the basic shape.
I have marble counters but they're not sealed-sealed so when you run your hand along the surface you can feel tiny inconsistencies. I don't think I'm supposed to be rolling out dough on this surface so I pulled out my biggest chopping board which wasn't even big enough for the unrolled sheet of dough so I went with not rolling.
(Also, I don't have a rolling pin... but I have this mini fondant rolling stick... which proved to be useless).
I'm not dijon mustard savvy either. And the only time I consume mustard is on hot dogs and that's usually the neon yellow stuff. I ended up buying Emeril's Dijon Mustard. ...
Yeah. I was like, "I've heard of Grey Poupon... but I think I'll go with someone familiar... like Emeril. His mustard should be trustworthy."
Looking back I can't stop laughing at myself because I am not a fan of Emeril. I can't stand watching him. Especially hearing him. So, I don't know why I decided to trust in his Dijon mustard brand. I guess it's good enough, right?

The pastries assembled easily, were difficult to cut, and were very popular.

By this time I was pretty exhausted and my kitchen was a mess, but I plowed forward and attempted the Cantaloupe and Honeydew Cupcakes.
These were unbelievably time consuming. Lots of chopping (which isn't a skill I have), cooking, and assembling.
That batter was pretty simple though. Oil is a lot less work than butter.
I also made the filling too soon. I let it sit while I went out to dinner with some friends. When I returned it became all gelatinous and difficult to work with.

My friends enjoyed the cupcakes (as usual, I didn't try one, I'm off like that). The honeydew ones smelled like honeydew but didn't taste like it (I'll blame the melon I chose, it was not fully ripe). The cantaloupe were more flavorful. Both were super moist though which was appreciated by all.

After these cupcakes it was already 11:00pm so I quit my baking day. I'll probably attempt the peanut butter/chocolate/banana sometime during the week.
The crab stuff I'm not sure about. I figured I'd mix some crab meta with mayo and dill and spread it on bread... but, I'm really bad at guessing proportions and how things taste together. Maybe I'll try to find a recipe.

That's my baking day! And my first entry on Rare Orchid Brand.

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