Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cookies, Cookies, a Vote, Cookies!

It feels like it's been a month of cookies... Cookies, cookies, cookies! 
This month Gale submitted one of her favorite cookie recipes to Challenge Butter, to compete in a contest among two other chefs. The winner recieves $5,000 for the charity of their choice, the runners-up will recieve $2,500 each for their charity. You can check out the different charities each chef has chosen to support, try out their recipes, and vote here!

 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Thumbprints
pg 52 (on the Chocolate Side)

These little Reese's inspired cookies are a hit with kids. My five year old brother has great fun pressing little holes into the centers of these tiny cookies. The center adds a creamy peanut texture that my family and friends were all too happy to devour.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Twinkies So Good, You'll be Flipping

Being upside down is a good thing... Truly it's not so bad. I would know since last year I found myself wriggled into Restaurant Depot's freezer; attempting to free a dozen pie crusts from the freezer's deep un-kept clutches. 
This post is about not judging.
Not judging flailing legs sticking out of freezers, and not judging upside down twinkies.

Bless my soul as I bit my fingernails watching these little cakes bake. The tops weren't rising. I filled each mold with an extra spoonful of batter! Why weren't they rising?! I took my finished picture and sent it to Gale....
They weren't supposed to be rising. You flip them and use the molded part as the top.

And for those of you wondering,
'Future Problem Solver' did not come back in my ACT job options.

Chocolate Fudge Soccer Cakes
pg 42
Chocolate and Vanilla

The other night I was reading through Gale Gand and Rick Tramonto's cookbook, Tru. I always like to start with the Forward as I find the Forwards in cookbooks to be most heartwarming. I wasn't disappointed. I found myself smiling as I read truth in ink.
 "Gale has the ability to take old-fashioned desserts and make them new and fun. She approaches her work with a great sense of humor and playfulness." -Richard Melman.

Which was my inspiration for making these little chocolate cakes, twinkies, as my next recipe. They're absolutely astounding and nostalgic. Eating them is a trip back to childhood. I found that my family members found this to be true. Coming downstairs the next morning, I found my serving tray filled with nothing but crumbs.
The compliments ran through breakfast the next morning and into lunch.
These are truly remarkable.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black and White Cream Cheese Brownies

Black and White Cream Cheese Brownies
pg 24

There's something therapeutic about plopping two different batters into a floured pan and swirling them together with a knife. After a hard day at school I was craving chocolate, so I came home and satisfied my homemade chocolate needs with these brownies in under an hour.
--Making and baking--
These brownies are swirled simplicity. 
Chocolate and Vanilla you've done it again.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mocha Panna Cotta

I've done 2 Frank Lloyd Wright Dinners with Gale Gand, and let me tell you. These are super cool. Each year a handful of ordinary families (who live in Frank Lloyd Wright houses) open their homes to raise money for the Preservation Trust Benefit.

The entertainment includes music, a tour given by the homeowner, and dinner by one of Chicago's top chefs. The dinner menus are designed to embody the personality of the architect's house. For dessert this year Gale made a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with a Hibiscus Raspberry and Strawberry topping.

Gale's Buttermilk Panna Cotta is a fun, unexpected dessert... Kind of like the architect himself. Most Panna Cottas are made with Heavy Cream. Instead Gale uses Buttermilk which adds a fun tang to the gelatin dessert. 

Mocha Panna Cotta
pg 28

I associate Panna Cotta with Frank Lloyd Wright dinners, as it has been a staple for its eloquence and appreciated simplicity.

This is a mocha panna cotta with a fleur de sel caramel topping. It's like getting your favorite drink from Starbucks... only it comes in a cute little ramekin and has different levels of texture, making you wish you'd ordered a venti instead of a tall.

When photographing the Panna Cotta I used different sized ramekins, stacking them in various ways with the intention of playing off the plate's design (off-set circles on the side of the plate) we used the first year.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Recipe 1: Indivisual Chocolate Pavlovas

Hey! My name is Jess and I'm the girl behind Livin' in the Kitchen.
I've been baking since the bulb of my Easy Bake broke when I was 7 years old. Nine years later, I work at Spiaggia in Chicago and intern for Pastry Chef Gale Gand.
I want to share with you the crazy, wacky stories of a teenage girl's life built in a kitchen.

So....let's get baking! 59 recipes to be exact.

We are bakin' through Gale's book, Chocolate and Vanilla. The first time I met Gale she was doing a cooking demo at our local bank. The first thing I ever saw her make was a Pavlova. Which is why I decided a Pavlova would be the perfect place to start!

Recipe 1:

Indivisual Chocolate Pavlovas
pg 64

These light meringues were made to resemble the tutu of a famous ballerina named Anna Pavlova. I still remember Gale talking about the Pavlova, about two years ago now, and how important it is to always put a kiwi on top to resemble the green costume she wore. Pavlovas are so delicious, and super simple. I've had the vanilla version and the chocolate version.... the chocolate wins every time!