Sunday, July 31, 2011

Honey Thyme Roasted Plums and Thyme-flecked Sable Breton

Oh, sigh!  It felt so good to be back to a normal(-er) routine this weekend.  After taking care of work deadlines on Saturday, I gave myself Sunday off to just take it easy and relax.  And by "take it easy and relax," I meant "get back in the kitchen and behind the camera and make a mess in the kitchen and studio without bothering to clean up at all."  Also known as "baking and photographing with reckless abandon."  And yes, it felt very good.  So, so good.

Of course a day of baking and photographing must first be preceded by a trip to the farmers' market, where I wandered slowly from stall to stall, stopping whenever people handed me samples (it's better than Costco, I swear!), snacking on fresh seafood ceviche (yes, one of the local farmers' markets here has fresh ceviche--be jealous), and, lo-and-behold, running into fellow food photographers/bloggers (yes, the SF Bay Area is so crawling with foodies that you literally can't walk out of your house without tripping over food bloggers).  I was on the lookout for apricots, but it seems as if during my work-imposed hermitude from the food world, apricots had gone out of season.  Sad.  But! I did stumble across plenty of beautiful plums that would nicely substitute in my intended plans.

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One of my favorite stands for getting fruit is run by this lovely old grandmother figure, who is so awesome that she's the reason I buy fruit there in the first place.  (The same woman who sold me these persimmons.)  She takes such great and wonderful pride in her crops that she usually insists on picking your fruit for you so as to insure that you have the best selection possible for whatever use you specify.  Today, though, she was busy offering samples to a few other shoppers, so I ended up picking my own plums.  Upon presenting them to her for weighing, she said to me, "You have a good taste--you picked perfect plums!"  Ah! I'm taking that as a huge compliment.

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Anyways, this is the recipe that I had in mind originally for apricots, but I have to say, I think that it came out even better with the multi-colored varieties of plums that I brought home from the market.  And by "even better," I mean, that these honey thyme roasted plums are most likely one of the most delicious things that I've made in a long time.  Seriously.  When the plums came out of the oven bubbling intensely in their own juices, and then with the warm honey drizzled on them, all soft and sweet and slightly earthy from the thyme leaves... it was divine.  Sigh.

To go with the plums, I finally got to break out a recipe that I've been meaning to try for ages, modifying it with a little bit of herb infusion: thyme-flecked sable breton.  It's not often that I bake with salted butter, but this shortbread was so well worth it: buttery, crumbly, herb-y, with just a light sprinkling of coarse sugar on top.  Its crispiness makes it a perfect companion to the soft plums, and it also makes a very nice vessel with which to soak up the plum juices left on your plate at the end. :-)

Anyways, I'd call this a very successful day off.  I'm also very glad that I have a few more plums and some more sable breton dough squirreled away so that I can relive the weekend just a bit sometime during the week.

Welcome to Monday!

Read on for recipes....

Friday, July 29, 2011


Usually I'm complaining that weeks fly by too quickly, but this week... well, TGIF, really!  This week saw a reluctant break from blogging due to a hectic week of scrambling towards deadlines at work.  Sigh.  While it was filled with some good ups, Thursday ended with a stalled project that was just. going. nowhere, no matter how much I worked at it (maybe some might argue not hard enough?...argh).  I *hate* that feeling.  Sigh-again.

How was everyone else's week?  Good things on the weekend to look forward to?  Share below pretty please!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recipe Redux: Kiwi & Orange Creamsicles

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In the absence of, you know, an actual magazine to shoot for, I've been revisiting some of my favorite recipes on the blog and re-imagining them in layout form (though I, by no means, claim to be any sort of graphic designer).  Here's one of my recent favorite recipes, especially since I've been sort of obsessed with forms of frozen ice this summer--despite the relatively mild weather we've been having in the Bay Area.  Stay tuned and clear your freezers for more ice pops soon on the blog!

Can't believe it's Friday, but here's wishing you all a happy weekend!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Olallieberry Semifreddo

On July fourth weekend, some of my friends and I piled into our cars and sat through stop-and-go traffic on a windy and woodsy, two-lane road over the Santa Cruz Mountains and out to the coast.  It was traffic on this stretch of highway as I've never seen it before--bumper to bumper-- everyone in a rush to the ocean and the beach.  But we had slightly different plans.  We were in a rush, too, but we were in a rush to get to the coastal olallieberry fields, which sit on the cliffs that run right alongside the Pacific Ocean.  Tis the season of the olallieberry harvest!

Long time readers of this blog will already know that I am a self-proclaimed (and proud) olallieberry addict.  (Olallieberries are a cross between raspberries and blackberries several generations down.)  I hoard olallieberries.  Come season, I stuff pounds upon pounds of fresh olallieberries into the freezer (much to the dismay of my former roommate--but no, that is not the reason she's now a former roommate), just so that I can have olallieberries all year 'round, whenever I very well please.  Trust me, if you ever get your hands on these sweet, not-so-seedy berries, you should hoard some in your freezer, too.

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So here I am now, with a fresh new batch of frozen olallieberries, and it's time to use up and clean out what's left of last year's stash in the form of an olallieberry semifreddo.  This semifreddo is so creamy and rich, so packed with crushed olallieberries that it turns wonderfully bright pink, and oh so cold--perfect for the warm summer afternoons when the beach is just a little too far away.  It's also quick to whip up (hehe--literally!), since no ice cream machine churning is necessary--just make and freeze and wait.  The waiting is the hardest part.  I think I ate a good portion of the cream before it even made it into the freezer.

I have so many more plans for my little olallieberries, sleeping in the freezer.  Like the almond cakes that are baking in the oven right now, with olallieberries nestled inside.  But if you can't find olallieberries, blackberries could do just as nicely.  Or loganberries (a predecessor to olallies), or marionberries (I hear those are fantastic).  Heck, any berries, really.  Bonus points if you pick them yourself!

Read on for recipe....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Postcards from Summer: Hakone Gardens, California

Last weekend, I met up with Jackie, the wonderful photographer behind the blog A Happy Day (a blog that always makes me wish I lived such a fabulous dine-out life around the Bay Area!), and she took me on a photographic romp around Hakone Gardens, which are apparently the oldest Japanese gardens in the West.  Here's wishing you all were there with us....

It's not me, it's just you.

(Check out Jackie's point of view on her blog here.)

more Postcards from Summer....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mocha Dobos Torte-lettes, and Rosanna, Inc. Giveaway Winners!

This post is so long overdue--I must apologize!  Deadlines popped up at work and friends came into town for the summer, and so I ended up with one very belated birthday cake.  But no matter! cake is welcome at any point in time. :-D

First off, I must thank you all so, so much for sharing all of your birthday cake ideas with me.  Even though I physically baked my own cake, just seeing all of your thoughtful ideas really made me feel like the Baker's Curse was gone.  And boy, did you all have wildly wonderful cake ideas!  Some of my favorites included a lemon thyme cake with honey mascarpone whipped cream; an Earl Grey cake with kumquat marmalade and almond buttercream; a lime cake with blackberry-elderflower buttercream; tres leches cakes; an icebox cake with chocolate chip cookies (this actually inspired my last post); a champagne and strawberries cake; and on and on!  Let me tell you: it was so hard for me to make a decision that I waffled back and forth between cakes for days.  But finally, I decided on megcjones's idea for an espresso-spiked dobos torte, so here it is: raspberry mocha dobos tortelettes!

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Oh boy, oh boy.  These tortelettes were so delicate and yummy--a perfect balance between cake and chocolate, with just a whiff of espresso flavoring in the cake.  Unlike many other sponge cakes, these were so moist and yet still very light, and I loved the drama of all those layers stacked up inside a tiny little cakelette.  I took the liberty of substituting fresh raspberries for the more traditional caramel topping, too, because we all know how much I adore raspberries. :-)  And, counter to how they may look, these took almost no time to bake up at all--two half sheet pans in the oven for about seven minutes each, and you're done!  Woohoo to easy yet impressive-looking cakes!  (Yes, I'm terribly lazy at heart, especially around my birthday.)

Congrats to megcjones for winning the Rosanna, Inc. Le Gateau cake stand!  There are also two more winners of Petite Treat cupcake pedestals from Rosanna, Inc.  Drawn at random, these are Anna and Jessica Lynn.  You all should receive emails soon--if not, please contact me at s [at] dessertsforbreakfast [dot] com.

I really want to thank everyone again so much--and the folks over at Rosanna, Inc.--for helping to make this an absolutely wonderful birthday cake year!  :-D

Read on for recipe....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Berries'n'cream Chocolate Chip Trifle

Oh, berries, berries....

I know that trifles are traditionally a Christmastime dessert, but since berry trifles are so deliciously good (I mean, the combination of berries and cream... right? right?), I associate the dessert much more with the summertime.  Also, the red and blue vibrant colors against the white--of course I couldn't resist a little berries'n'cream chocolate chip trifle to celebrate July 4th.

There's something about growing up in the U.S. that really imprints a love of Americana on you.  I'm sure everyone's associations of Americana must be subtly different, but at the core, I like to hope that there are certain details and little affinities that we all share in our definitions of Americana.  Like chocolate chip cookies (and road trips).  For some reason, these cookies just seem terribly American to me, so here they are, in this trifle (instead of sponge cake, which is arguably not in my definition of Americana).  So happy, Happy Birthday, oh amber-waved and purple-mountained country, you.

Read on for recipe....