June 22nd, 2009
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See if you can keep up with me here as I bake a cake for 50 people in the middle of summer. My inspiration for this cake came from my stage last summer in Chef Iuzzini’s kitchen. His Sous Chef, AJ Bellarosa, made a wedding cake with lime scented white chocolate mousse filling and creme brulee pellets throughout the mousse layer. At that moment, it just stuck with me, what kind of cakes I would be making. Cakes do not just have to be cake and buttercream — which is absolutely fantastic and OK, just not what I would want — but can become anything your mind can conjure up.
PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton
The font and the soccer ball, were done by tracing a print out under a piece of acetate with melted and colored white chocolate.
I should also mention as the cake layers were cooling, I had spread the thinnest layer of seedless raspberry jam on each layer. I just thought the hint of the raspberry flavor was necessary to accent the fresh lime zest.
At the end of the party, all that was left was the soccer ball. People actually went back for thirds!
June 12th, 2009
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It’s that time again: Rooftop BBQ’s in Brooklyn. PHOTOS: Danielle BiltonEach summer, Nick and I try to hold a few rooftop BBQ’s and this was our kickoff event. Nick made everyone’s classic favorite: four racks of ribs and salad. I made cornbread, and strawberry rhubarb crisp with basil ice cream.Our guests enjoyed the dessert. One friend said she thought the basil ice cream tasted like sweet pesto. Not sure if it was a compliment, but she did eat the entire thing.BASIL ICE CREAM:2 cups whole milk3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil1/2 cup sugar4 large egg yolks1/2 cup well-chilled heavy creamSpecial equipment: an instant-read thermometer; an ice cream makerBring milk, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan) and blend until basil is finely ground, about 1 minute.Beat together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add milk mixture in a stream, beating until combined well. Pour mixture into reserved saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately remove from heat and pour into a metal bowl. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir until cold, 10 to 15 minutes.Stir in cream and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.STRAWBERRY RHUBARB CRISP:2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved1 quart chopped rhubarb, about 3-4 stalks depending on size1 cup sugar1 teaspoon lemon zestjuice from one lemon3 tablespoons cornstarchCRISP:1 3/4 cup rolled oats1/2 cup sliced almonds3/4 cup flour1 lb. brown sugarpinch of salt1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, and chilledPreheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.FOR THE FILLING:In a large bowl combine all ingredients until fruit is well coated. With a rubber spatula, scrape filling into baking dish and set aside.FOR THE CRISP:In the same large bowl, with clean hands, mix together oats, almonds, brown sugar, and salt. Toss in chilled butter and begin to quickly rub the butter between your fingers with the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal.Sprinkle topping to completely cover the filling. Now it’s ready for the oven.Bake for 20 minutes or until top is golden and juices are slightly bubbling from the sides. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
June 4th, 2009
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A few weeks ago, I was approached to make a red velvet 3-tier wedding cake, using Martha Stewart’s recipe. The bride had made it many times and loved this one recipe.
PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton
The cake batter was very RED, so I would advise you to wear gloves. With the leftover cake batter, I made mini cupcakes and topped them with pearl dragees .
They were a great, casual dinner party dessert. Everyone felt OK to eat at least four or more mini cupcakes.