Tag Archives: honey

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Ah-ye-ah! Local blueberry season — finally!

It’s been bright and sunny around here and I’ve been mostly trapped inside, running about for work, or interviews, or trial shifts, or chores, or other general nuttiness. Yeah — that last job didn’t really work out.

To put it nicely: it sucked. Big time — and that’s putting it nicely. Place has big problems, doesn’t give a damn about good pastry, and is hemorrhaging money like nobody’s business.

Oh, well. Not my problem anymore!

I had the sense to a least leave on good terms, though — no one needs enemies in a small industry (especially since word tends to get around) — and now I’ve been interviewing at some really professional places. Cross your fingers for me!

So, in the spirit of summer and having no time, I bring you a recipe that’s easy as loafing around at the beach and quick as a ravenous mosquito.

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Honey & Pink Peppercorn Brioche

Fact: writing recipes is hard. Perfecting them is even harder.

Not even the best of us kitchen people get it right the first time — I’ve read quotes from top chefs talking about how they’ve spent years developing and tweaking their signature dishes.

And recipes don’t happen in a vacuum, either — in the pastry industry, we walk a path that’s been largely paved for us, relying age-old techniques that allow us to experiment with new forms of presentation and flavours.

If you engross yourself in the work of others and you’re suddenly inspired, then that’s a gift meant to be shared and passed on, not horded and used to polish your own self image.

This issue is often on my mind, because I often see recipes online with no credit given to their original authors.

And it bothers me, because it’s ridiculously disrespectful.

I’m not going to finger-point, but I’m often disgusted by how some of the “big bloggers” out there fail to light the way for those ahead of them by dimming the lights on those behind.

You should never be ashamed to give credit or cite inspiration.

If a reader can flip through more than 5 recipes in a row on a pastry blog and not see a single “adapted from…”, then it’s likely you’ve been pilfering from somewhere (unless you’re David Lebovitz — but even he talks about his inspiration and the recipes picked up from colleagues).

In a nutshell: not giving credit — just don’t do it. Sheesh.

Anyways, with all that off my chest, I bring you an inspired recipe: honey and pink peppercorn brioche.

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Strawberry-Almond Shortbread Bars

Okay, here it comes — cover your eyes if you’re not in for a bitch fest or if you hate delicious summer fruit (psych! no one hates delicious summer fruit).

What is up with the weather?

I’m starting to feel like we’re getting a bum deal on our yearly allotment of summer heat around here.

The markets I saw in Europe were bursting with rainbows of fresh fruit (even in May!) and reading about the “warm desserts for cold winter nights” from my foodie friends Down Under is making my eye twitch — your nightly low is my daily high!

Uh, like… hello? This is jealousy talking — can I come visit you?

I went to the local farmers market last Sunday, armed with cloth bags and cold, hard cash for bundles of berries, and what did I see? Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries!

Aaaand that was pretty much it. Just strawberries — all of our other local crops are late.

So, what do you do when life gives you strawberries? Make strawberry bars!

These sweet and sticky bars are full of fresh strawberry flavour and buttery nuttiness, all while being soft in the middle and crunchy on top — oh, and did I mention that they have a delicate and crumby base?

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New York City eats and Momofuku Milk Bar, Corn Cookies with Raspberries

On my way to Europe two months ago, I finally had the chance to see New York City!

I had always, always wanted to go to New York — the skyscrapers, the glamour, the grittiness, the culture, the history, the food. Everyone in Vancouver wants to go to New York (okay — probably not everyone, but most of us have “see New York” on our bucket list).

That dreamy yearning to see the sights of an internationally-renowned city, though, is probably a one-way street  — as in, New Yorkers don’t dream of coming out west and visiting Vancouver… probably because we’re just not nearly as cosmopolitan and cool!

Ha!

It’s sad, but true.

Vancouver is “cool” like “your mom thinks you’re special” — or something like that. We have mountains. We have ocean. We have Canadian geese (they’ll bite you).

I mean, the dirty subways, the brilliance of Times Square, the striking ceiling of Grand Central, the harbor wind on my face on the ferry to Liberty Island… it was all as amazing as I thought it would be!

But, of course, it was the eateries and bakeries that had me most starry-eyed.

My partner and I ate at Cafeteria (lovely lemon ricotta pancakes)…!

We indulged at Spot Dessert Bar (a tip courtesy of daisy’s last visit)…!

We grabbed all the goodies we could hold from Momofuku Milk Bar (cookies, pretzel milk, and bagel bombs — oh my)…!

bagelbomb

Going to Milk Bar is what made rushing through New York totally worth it — I’d been enamored from afar with the quirky recipes in Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook, and now I was actually up close and personal with the chef’s work!

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Tales of Awesome European Food Adventures, Salted Caramel Madeleines

She lives!

I’m back from the abyss — swallowed by the real world for almost 10 whole weeks!

I return with tales of triumph, sugar, and adventure.

Let’s get my timeline straightened out — first, I vanished in order to concentrate on finishing up pastry school and exams. Thankfully, my dedication and efforts paid off, because I graduated at the top of my class. It was pretty great. I was pretty proud. My mom got all misty-eyed. It was a milestone.

So, what did I do next? I did what any overburdened graduate would do — take off, of course!

My partner and I purchased one-way tickets to Russia (he’s got family over there) and figured we’d stay across the ocean for as long as possible (or at least until our life savings ran out).

It was a once-in-a-lifetime gallivant around the old continent — 24 cities in 12 different countries — we lived out of our backpacks, stayed in budget hostels, and indulged only in sight-seeing and dessert.

We landed in St. Petersburg via Moscow and New York — believe it or not, it’s cheaper to fly to Europe from anywhere but Canada — spend a few days there, then headed west and south, through Stockholm, and Copenhagen, and then into Germany.

After seeing Berlin, I insisted that we travel the scenic route though Prague and to get to the one, the only, Sacher Hotel in Vienna. That was a definite high point for me, as a pastry person, to actually eat one the annals of foodie history.

Passing through Vienna was convenient anyways, because, from there, we caught a sleeper train into Venice. From Venice we skipped through Pisa (best pasta of my life, people), then down to Rome.

Oh, Rome, you captured my heart — if you don’t mind the big city noise, then everywhere you walk is beautiful. Ruins here, vespas there, gelato everrrywhere!

Words don’t even describe how good gelato is in Italy. Nothing I’ve ever had in Vancouver even compares.

Alas, we couldn’t stay in Rome forever, so we took a train up to Milan, saw the sights, then traveled all day on local trains to get to Nice — and, again, Nice was amazing!

It was like every time we arrived in a new place, it was even more fascinating and more beautiful than we expected it to be — the blue Mediterrean, the historic center of town, the 25 minute train ride to Monaco… oh, and nevermind gelato — Nice had it’s own award-winning resident ice cream maker to boast about!

From Nice and Monaco we booked it through Marseilles and into Barcelona, where we spent three nights and still didn’t even see half of what there was to see and do there. Barcelona, unlike other European cities, doesn’t have a condensed core that you can walk around and absorb in a day.

Next time I go to Spain, I spend at least two weeks in Barcelona. Minimum.

After Barcelona came Paris — the hub of which so much of my discipline revolves around. All the beautiful food was so overwhelming, though, so I just decided to concentrate on sampling one particular treat: macaron!

I swooned when I saw Ladurée. I squealed like a kid when I saw Pierre HerméI sampled the goods from Lenôtre and Fauchon, too. The French had flavours that were especially creative, too — peach with apricot and saffron, cherry blossom, olive oil and mandarin… heaven!

We left Paris behind (but packed a few macaron to go!) and headed into Brussels.

It was pouring rain when we arrived, so my partner and I plopped ourselves down in the world famous Delirium Cafe and proceeded to have the best beer of our lives. We drank, we chatted with fellow travelers, some new friends treated us to even more beer, we washed it all down with fries and waffles, and I woke up with a massive hangover.

Totally worth it.

From Brussels, we went to Bruges, then Amsterdam, and Mannhiem. We flew out of Frankfurt and landed in Anchorage, Alaska. The last few days of travel seemed to speed by ever faster than before, and, before I knew it, I was back in Vancouver.

I’ve been taking it easy over the last week, just to get my groove back and figure out what to do from here — getting a new job right away would seem like the obvious thing to do at this point, but I’ve got something better in the works.

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Almond Cakelettes

So, I totally forgot to mention this in my last post, but I’ve decided that November is going to be Cake Month ’round here!

Cake is a huge part of pastry school training — aside from bread, cake is one of the most historically rich and diverse pastry traditions. In class we’ve been making chemically leavened cakes, egg foam-based cakes, cakes that rise using only steam, mousse cakes, cheesecakes, cakes, cakes, cakes.

Cakes on the braaaain.

And, while I love all cake, my favourite kind of cake tends to be “American-style” cake, which is denser and moister than French chiffon and sponges — so I bet you can guess what kind of cakes I’m going to posting all about!

Speaking of cake and pastry school, in case any of you are wondering, classes are going pretty well.

There were some serious tension that all came to a head the other day, though — mostly over the fact that not everyone has been pulling their weight when it comes to cleaning up at the end of the class (and there’s a ton of cleaning up to do).

The biggest do-nothing is this older guy in the class, who shall remain nameless, with a bad attitude.

He tends to be overly competitive, unwilling to help others, not interested in doing dishes, makes inappropriate comments towards some of the women in class, etc. He prefers to check his cell phone and pick at crusty bits on the stove top by his work station instead of pitching in.

Anyways, so we have this round table discussion about cleaning up and responsibility at the end of day and whatnot, and we (read: me and a couple other people in the class) call him out on his apparent cleaning allergy.

His reaction?

To fold his arms, deny all responsibility, and call us “lazy females” in a voice oozing with indignity and disgust!

Now, normally I’m not one to lose my cool, but when I lose it, I really lose it, and sexism is one of my only hot buttons.

Scratch that — sexism is my 5000°C rage button!

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