Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Café au Lait Tart, for breakfast for dessert

Well, here's one for recursion: it's dessert for breakfast for dessert! :) This idea has been floating around in my head for quite a while now, but I hadn't had a chance to properly realize it until a friend requested this week to have "breakfast for dessert," since she found herself too busy to ever properly have breakfast for breakfast. I'm never one to let friends go hungry, and so, at last, the café au lait tart was born.

My inspiration behind this tart was to make it a beautiful homage to the first meal of the day, pulling together the flavors and textures that we'd normally associate with breakfast into dessert form (minus the scrambled eggs and bacon--that's so overdone). The crust has a hint of nutty sweetness from a tinge of oat flour, and then there are layers of milk jam, whole-fruit wild blueberry jam, and espresso dark chocolate ganache, all topped with golden oatmeal praline and flaked seasalt. (You can see my diagram of the dessert in the planning stages here.) The end result is at once rich and bitter and crunchy and creamy and sweet and salty--pretty much one of the most sophisticated ways to start your day, all compressed into a single bite.

[for larger image, click photo above]

...Now, if all days started this way!

[My apologies on the short post, but hopefully the recipe makes up for it. I find myself far too lacking in words these days, having used up my quota for work purposes.]

Read on for recipe....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Moving forwards: here's to 2013!

It's taken me far too much time to put together the usual year-end post commemorating 2012. Every time I started writing, the post would balloon and explode into epic proportions (like this paper I'm finishing up for work...). Though, it makes sense. 2012 started off as just another ho-hum, inconspicuous year, but then it morphed unexpectedly--as life is wont to do--into this insanely packed time of travels, adventures, friends, disappointments and sadness, life lessons, big decisions, and growth. Finally, I decided to erase everything I'd written. No one post would do the year justice, and instead of holding up the blog waiting for some massive retrospective, I decided that it's much better just to take a quick look back and really a much longer look forwards. Because 2013 is going to be awesome!

So here's a hit list collection of a few of my favorite moments from 2012. Some made it to the blog previously, others are seeing the light of the internet for the first time ever, but that doesn't make them any less important (if anything, they might have been even more personally memorable).

in 2012, I...

fell in love with Portlandia.
spent Chinese New Year in Taiwan for the first time in decades.
celebrated my best friend's birthday in Vegas (a very strange and foreign place to a quiet nature/culture/history traveler like myself, but I did begin to understand and appreciate the appeal of the anonymity you achieve being surrounded by a drove of strangers with thumping music drowning out every distracting thought that could cross your mind, if just for a little bit).
gave a talk on food photography at BlogHer Food in Seattle.
launched sated magazine.
had a BBQ birthday bash during which I realized that I have somehow ended up surrounding myself with the most amazing and inspiring group of friends a girl could ask for.
flitted all over San Francisco during the summer.
made another wedding cake (actually, it was several cakes).
picked many, many, many pounds of plums from my backyard tree--many of which were transformed into jam by Blue Chair Fruit.
got in a car with one of my best friends from grad school and drove her across the country from SF to her new job in Pittsburgh, via Vegas, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Boulder, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbus
hiked to the Delicate Arch by myself in the pitch black to see the sun rise over the Utah desert. (I've been planning to do this hike since the fifth grade.)
spent an inordinate amount of time playing D3.
road-tripped to LA... twice (yay for K-town and ice milk!).
attended the San Diego wedding of the college friend who taught me how to bake tarts.
received a national grant and ran a successful workshop because of it! (a favorite moment from the workshop dinner)
took a springboard diving class, a sport I've wanted to try since elementary school. (and I'm fantastically bad at it!)
finally visited Joshua Tree National Park.
realized what I wanted right now in life, and picked myself out of a two-year slump, deciding to go full throttle for something that inspires me to jump out of bed in the morning.
in general, decided to stop apologizing as much for being myself, as long as I am being myself to the fullest.
(It's a good policy.)

for 2013, to live by:

"The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it under its roof." --Barbara Kingsolver

Here's to the new year! 2013, you had me at hello.