Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Decorating Class, Part III

It seems that this set of classes has taken over my life. Without a day job at the moment, this really seems to have become my world. It’s been a lot of fun!

I’ve completed 2 of 4 courses and taking the band-aid and ripping it off in one swoop and taking the last 2 class this month. It’s a lot of icing and cake, but with the weather cooler, I think my kitchen can take it.

Here are a few more examples of the new tricks and techniques I’ve learned.

This is my Course 3 final – it was a tiered cake (as you can see, duh!) and the layers are covered in fondant. The top layer is store bought fondant and the bottom is homemade marshmallow fondant - ( The roses are fondant and lilies and petunia’s are royal icing.

I did things backwards and am just now taking Course 2. Here are the products of the first two lessons – (clockwise) mums, violets, apple blossoms and daisies.

Fondant and Gum Paste (the fourth class) is going pretty good too! Here are the daisies that came out of the first lesson along with the carnations we made this week. Pretty!

For anyone who's interested - it's fun and after supplies, costs about as much as a regular cooking class, but you get to keep the stuff. Here's the Wilton's Class website -

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Decorating Class, Part II

The class was a success! I have figured out that the rose is something that I will not soon offer up to do for free, but it was a great experience. So great, in fact, that I have decided to take another class with my friend again, Course 3.

We decided that basket weaves and more flowers didn’t interest us as much as fondant and royal icing flowers. Week one has passed and we had a whirl win class of garlands and borders reminiscent of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, as the band gathers around the gazebo in the park (they would look really good on a 4th of July cake). Other’s included a hand contorting fabric looking border and a ruffle garland that took us 20 minutes and two icing tips to master only to find out that our kit included a tip that does both steps in one shot. That was a little annoying.

All in all, this class is much more intense than the one previous. It is nice though, it is only the two of us and the teacher. My baking buddy and I are both quick to pick things up, so I think that we will walk out of this one with a plethora of information (oh, and of course $100 more decorating paraphernalia).

Next time is fondant. This is what I’ve been waiting to play with the whole time! I have dreams of a Tiffany & Co. blue box cake and actually figured out what I need to tint the fondant the color I need. YEAH! That will be soon to come, promise!

Ladies and Gentleman! – My final project for Course 1 (pre-discoloration – a topic for another time).

My Course 1 final homework, THE ROSE! These are the ones that I made at home for the final class.

Some shots of more of my prep for the final class - it was a bit of overkill with the amount I made, but these I LOVED making. So easy and so pretty! I used them on cupcakes too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Decorating Class Part I

So, I am taking a Wilton Decorating Class at Michael's with a good friend and baking buddy. It's interesting. The decorating style of Wilton's is very "Women's Day" and "Soccer Mom". I put these is quote becuase I don't know reallly how to describe it. It beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it's very "Mom". Because of this style, this class has given me an additional challenge.

My personal style is a clean line, contemporary look or at the opposite end of the spectrum, a very rustic, made in a wood burning oven in 1600's English country side look. This class takes me beyond my comfort zone and into an area I'm not so sure about. The techniques are good and easy to pick up, but this class, as any good class does, is giving me the additional challenge of creativity. I don't automatically think like the buttercream roses and scalloped boarders that I am learning to do. What do I do with this new knowledge and how do I integrate it into the creative thinking that I already have going?

This is my first class project. Everyone did the same thing. I don't think it's too bad for a first try, though I do know that I need to keep practicing if I want someone to pay for something I made someday.

My homework is done for tommorow (all frosting made) and hopefully I'll have a few great roses to show next time!

Taking this class has also sparked an interest in fondant (something close to a sugar fabric that you can use to cover cakes for a smooth finish - VERY popular on wedding cakes these days) and wanting to try that for it's clean lines and flexability. The challenge in that - finding a fondant that tastes good as well as works well. Traditionally, fondant takes like, well, nothing. It can have flavor, but it's usually very gummy and most eat around it. I'll keep you posted on my search.

For anyone who's interested - it's fun and after supplies, costs about as much as a regular cooking class, but you get to keep the stuff (including the creepy clown heads). Here's the Wilton's Class website - I'm taking Course 1! You can also take them and eventually teach them. That's what I think I'm going to work towards!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weekend Entertaining Staple

My boyfriend works different hours than the rest of us. He works a 4-midnight shift. He does greet me on Thursday and Friday nights when I get home from my 9-5, but sadly on the weekends, he leaves me to my own devices at 2 pm to get to work on time.

A schedule like this has turned our place into the Brunch place. Now, I love to cook and entertain, but not until we moved in together and away from the majority of our friends did I have any need to do anything more than french toast for the masses on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Now people come to our home and the first thing I hand them is coffee, not wine like I have been used to.

My friend Wikipedia says "brunch (or bruncheon - I think I like that more) is a late morning or early afternoon meal, typically between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, that combines foods usually eaten for breakfast and lunch. The meal usually involves standard breakfast foods such as eggs, sausages, bacon, ham, fruits, pastries, pancakes, and the like. However, it can include almost any other type of food served throughout the day. Buffets may have quiche, large roasts of meat or poultry, cold seafood like shrimp and smoked fish, salads, soups, vegetable dishes, many types of breadstuffs and desserts of all sorts."

Basically, anything goes. To me, though, I thing the best way to mix lunch and breakfast is to use egg and something lunch-y. This was when the frittata made it's way into my "Staple" cookbook.

Basic Frittata Recipe

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced cooked Meat **
1/2 cup diced fully cooked Vegetable **

1/2 cup potatoes (cubed and cooked)
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 teaspoon milk
2 teaspoons water

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Herbs to taste **
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup melty Cheese **

Preheat oven to 350°F

Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to flavor the oil a bit. Place meats, vegetables and potatoes in oil to reheat. Do not overcook. You want them warmed again with maybe a slight crust.

In a bowl, wisk eggs, egg whites, milk, water, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Pour entire contents over the meats, vegetables and potatoes. Let cook slightly in the pan, moving thing around a bit to distribute everything evenly in the eggs as they cook. Once the eggs thicken slightly, but are not fully cooked, sprinkle over the melty cheese.

Put full pan in oven. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until center is no longer runny and edges have browned slightly. Frittata can be served hot or cooled close to room temperature.

Serves 4 with a nice salad - 2 for a weekend treat.

** When choosing what to add to your frittata, the world is at your feet! This recipe is just an outline. The potatoes and red pepper flakes are part of the base, giving the frittata some girth and a little bit of taste. As for the rest, add what cheeses you like, vegetables you enjoy and meats that turn you on. If you don’t want one or the other, don’t add them. The omissions will not change the cooking time. Any herb you like, fresh or dried, is also a simple and flavorful addition. If you only like salt and pepper, only use salt and pepper.

Some meat, vegetable and cheese suggestions:
Smoked Ham (cubed), onions and Swiss cheese
Italian Sausage (cubed), Mozzarella and Italian Herb Mix
Sun dried tomato, basil and feta

With the versatility of this recipe, you can see how it became a staple in my book. My favorite way to present this (and only way I do anymore) is to use my cast iron skillet. I have three different sizes (perfect for 4-10 people). The frittata comes out a beautiful cheese yellow/orange with brown edges. The only way to describe it is rustic! A simple salad of baby greens, or something spicier like watercress and a light vinaigrette is the best touch. I've also had fresh green beans tossed in olive oil and lemon as an accompaniment.

I think that for the first meal of the day, a homey comfort food is perfect to welcome friends. The eggs, though they sound heavy, come out nice and light and the perfect first meal of the day!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Non-Food Foodie?

Wikipedia defines foodie as "an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink." It continues by saying "Foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news."

I think of Foodie as someone who sits around a table with skinny friends talking about escargot and the 1998 (insert high end - aka expensive - wine) with wine glass in hand and pinkie in the air. Don't get me wrong, I envy those people their knowledge and pinkie-ness (and skinny-ness), but it's not how I see me.

So, what is a Non-Foodie Foodie? It's some one who fits the published definition of a food obsessed amateur who's a size 16, New York wine drinking, lavender cookie and rosemary bread making, Weight Watchers failure, thirty-something event planner who can be seen at the 21 Club one night and Pizza Hut the next (OK, 21 is expensive and Pizza Hut is cheap - you do the math).

I consider myself a step or two higher in the kitchen than the average home cook, but still compete at the amateur level. I think those that have eaten my food would agree plus I have a few blue ribbons under my belt and a few food articles in the portfolio.

So, why am I here? As any good student, I want to continue to grow and learn. Plus, why not? As I continue my culinary journey through life, I can talk about my favorite chefs, great recipes, and share my thoughts on food and restaurants. It also allows me to hear what others have to say and learn from what they know. Going back to the definition from Wikipedia, I want to learn everything about food!

Snowman Pancakes - Simple and Fun!

photo: Non-Foodie Foodie Over the summer we traveled the Ohio River Valley visiting family. One of our stops was to visit my Aunt Cathy...