Archive for the ‘special occasion’ Category

Pig chops in mustard and rosemary   Leave a comment

I have always loved rosemary. And Mustard. My favorite herb, and my favorite condiment. I can put mustard on almost anything. There are 6 different kinds in my fridge at the moment, thats actually low, I need to go to the market. When I was in high school, my family got a bottle of mustard in one of those “I don’t know you well enough to pick out a gift, but I want to display my generosity aka how much I spent” gift baskets with wine and cheese and other nibbles. I confiscated the jar of mustard as my own. It was a whole grain mustard, something I’d never had before. Oh my lord. It was like mustard caviar. The tiny whole mustard seeds, in the vinegary, briny base, the seeds burst when you bit down on them, releasing their tart, peppery, mustardness. I was in love. Now, it is one of my favorite things to use in savory recipes. Especially with rosemary.

I made this for dinner back in June, and when I described what I made on Twitter, I got requests for the recipe. So here goes! (A little late, but worth the wait!)

4 lean pork chops

olive oil

4 tbsp whole grain or coarse ground Dijon mustard

a good sized spoonful of chopped garlic

2-4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

salt & pepper

Rinse & pat dry your pieces o’ pig. Mix together mustard, rosemary, & garlic. Salt & pepper the chops then drizzle with olive oil. Massage mustard mixture (yes massage, they deserve a good rubdown) into the chops making sure to coat all surfaces, if you have extra just kind of pack it onto the chops. Grill on high until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 145-160 degrees. Enjoy!

I found that this is also a great way to roast potatoes and other root vegetables.

Polka Dot Cake   2 comments

A while ago, one of the girls I worked with at the restaurant asked me to make a cake for her moms upcoming birthday. We decided on flavor and filling and what she wanted it to look like. She picked out a present cake. This wasn’t the first present cake I’d ever done, so I knew what I was working with. She told me her mom likes bright tropical colors, and other than that I had artistic license to decorate it.

Polka dot cake

Well, I had just gotten a brand spanking new pack of Wilton coloring pastes, aka fancy food color. Now, Wilton offers a great selection of colors, and they come in sets too. So if you need flesh tones, they have it, bright primary colors, done, pastels, easy peasy. I have one of their 12 color boxes.

The coloring pastes (which aren’t even pastes, more like thick gels) come in nice little jars and it’s all very professional feeling. But it’s not. First off, each jar is hermetically sealed with a foil thingy on top. It is impossible to remove the foil seal without smearing food color ALL OVER YOUR HANDS! I tried peeling from the edge. No dice. That sucker is sealed so tight, you could throw it out into the vacuum of space and nothing would come out. The only way to get the seal off is to pierce the top with something and then pull it off from there. The only problem with this is that when you poke it, the foil is forced down into the coloring goo. Which then gets all over your fingers when you go to fish it out.

Now, in making this cake, I used quite a few of the colors. I had to blend to make the pink match, or get as close as possible to, the satin ribbon I used to make the bow on top. And I tried very hard to get bright, popping colors. They still came out a little dull. I blame the Wiltons. When I worked at Susie Cakes in Newport Beach, we used these great, big old squeeze bottles of Chefmaster Liqua-Gel food color.

Color Explosion!....Well, kinda.

When I think of that food color, I swoon. It was the best. Ever. Super bright colors, easy blending, doesn’t bleed or breakdown the icings. I would have killed to have had them for this cake. But I didn’t. I’m still working on building up my supplies of “professional” baking equipment. The Wiltons color did alright, but the icing colors could have been a lot better in my eyes. The Wiltons, aside from the horrendous task of getting them open, did not blend easily, it was weepy & bled. And the dye somehow, picked up the fats in the butter cream (butter= lots of fat) and separated, kinda. It was weird. Almost like there were little, teensy eensy, specks of white (the butterfat) stuck to spots of color. When I whipped it up it would disappear, but as soon as it sat, it would separate again. Almost like it was breaking down the emulsion of the butter. But it was what I had to work with so I went ahead and used it to decorate the cake.

The ribbon was easy, just a big flat stripe of pink icing. I first piped the edges of the ribbon, following the straight line I traced on with a ruler. Then I piped in a mess of icing to fill the ribbon. Now, icing vertical sides of a cake isn’t the easiest thing, the angle is all wrong and it’s easy to flub things up. For the polka dots on the cake, I used the bottom of one of my decorating tips pressed into the white base icing, voila! Perfect little circles. I filled them in with alternating colors of icing and smoothed the icing to make them flat. Now, in between all of these steps, I had to keep popping the cake back in the fridge to keep the icing firm. It smooths easier when it’s chilled, but not cold. If it’s too cold it sticks to the offset spatula and then you have icing & cake crumb mush. The last icing to go on the cake was the little white dots on the ribbon, to match the satin bow that was going on top.

All in all, it was an ok cake. Not my best but definitely not my worst. But the important part was that my friend was very happy with the cake. Her mom liked it so much, she asked me to o two more cakes for her that month.

Almost Pretty

Leftover icing...yum!