early present?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Chron's Top 100 wine list leaked out this morning. It was posted online before the print version hit newsstands. As a result, Wine Business Daily News picked up the link and sent it to hundreds (maybe thousands?) of subscribers.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see the list before someone at the Chronicle caught the error and pulled it off the site. But from what I hear from the folks who did sneak a peek, our flagship wine made the cut!

So excited!

the downside of food

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Spent Thanksgiving in a cabin near Bass Lake. Dinner included 37 people, two turkeys, 10 pies, nine salads, three kinds of stuffing, one bowl of fluorescent green pickles, an entire table full of wine, seven dips for crackers, chips or bread, one gigantic piece of cheese with a green rind, many tiny strips of bear jerky and plenty of coffee to fight off the tryptophan.

And one bathroom connected to a septic system that doesn't work very well.

So the the Big Oak was invited to join the festivities.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My mother took a cake decorating class when we lived in Georgia. I was 4 or 5 years old. She had a set of frosting tips -- so many of them, all different, in a plastic box that snapped shut. I took them out one by one and studied the shapes. Star. Circle. Daisy.

She leveled measuring cups with a butter knife. She let me sift the flour. I still enjoy the sound of tiny granules scraping against steel. Once, for my birthday, she made a cake shaped like Mickey Mouse.

Strange, the things that come back when you are in the kitchen. I baked again today, made my Thanksgiving batch of red velvet cupcakes. We are leaving tonight.

... and try again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spent the past week rethinking my cupcake strategy and pinpointing where I went wrong with my previous red velvet attempt.

I tried the recipe again today. This time, I used food coloring paste instead of liquid food coloring. And instead of doubling the amount of cocoa like I did last time, I kept it at 1/4 cup. And I added vanilla bean to the cream cheese frosting, which gave it a more complex flavor and also resulted in prettier cupcakes. (In my previous attempt, I was so frustrated by the fact that my cupcakes weren't red that I forgot about the vanilla bean.) And I bought a real pastry bag and a large decorating tip.

The end result: Gorgeous, gorgeous cupcakes. And they taste good, too. Not too sweet, but not as spicy as last time, probably because I used less cocoa. And I love the addition of the vanilla bean.

I'm now planning to make a batch for Thanksgiving dessert.

in the raw

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I can’t believe I ate this.

I know steak tartare is considered a delicacy. I also know that the friend who prepared it at last night’s dinner party went out of his way to get extremely fresh, super high-end grass-fed beef. And I know he ground it himself in his kitchen just minutes before putting it on the plate.

And it was damn good.

But I still can’t believe I ate a big patty of raw beef drenched in a whole lot of raw egg.

And that I am still alive right now.

(not) seeing red

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Given that this blog is called "petit g√Ęteau," you would think I was a hardcore baker.

Ha! And double ha!

Right now, I am in my kitchen, attempting to make chocolate red velvet cupcakes for the very first time. After doing some research, much of which was disappointing (I almost cried when I saw that the red velvet cake recipe in the mid-October issue of Southern Living magazine calls for boxed cake mix -- so much for authenticity), I decided to go with this blogger's recipe.

I followed it word for word, even going to two grocery stores in search of cake flour. (How is it that Whole Foods carries every single kind of flour there is -- even masa harina, pastry flour and the gluten-free stuff -- but no cake flour?) I also took note of Mz. Chockylit's comment that if she made these cupcakes again, she would add more cocoa. And I added more cocoa.

The only thing I didn't do was the red food coloring paste. Instead, I went with the liquid stuff.

Big mistake.

Even though I used the entire 2 oz. bottle of food coloring, my cupcakes are not even the remotest shade of red. There's not even a hint of scarlet to them whatsoever.

If pressed, I would describe the color as poo brown.
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