cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Cookie. For the Absence.

they call it archive
I've not died. However there are thunder storms, flash floods, and sudden sun breaks lighting up the mud puddles. I'm measuring my life with coffee spoons at the moment. but only for the moment. Therefore i'm doing something that many other bloggers pull off quite nicely--the archive photo of laziness. So i pick the poulet cookie captioned the cookie laid an egg because for some reason it pulls the most feedback from my photography portfolio. go figure. well, it's one of my favorites anyways.

I shall return from Tibet in a few short days. Until then adieu, and we'll eat cake and pretentiously contemplate the meaning of life soon.

a bientot

PS. The winner of the Salty Sweet competition (as it will ALWAYS BE) is the SAME winner as drawn and posted over at 5 Types of Sugar. The point is that the winner reaps the same but different award from both Seattle and Melbourne. And the winner was Judy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Salty Sweet : The Brewed Debut

Mocha Bagels with Kahlua Cream~ and a giveaway

I have measured my life in coffee spoons.

This is the start of a new game, will you play with us? The critically acclaimed pastry artist, writer, designer, photographer--not to mention colleague and good friend--Christy from Five Types of Sugar and I will be doing a series of themed posts together every now and then on a chosen ingredient or cultural notion to compare their weight--a Melbourne v. Seattle thing. We begin the series with coffee, so stay here to read my ramblings on Coffee culture in Seattle, and visit Christy to find out about Melbourne. We will post a recipe we've each created around the theme--obviously Walter, what else do we do?--as well as "relevant" interview questions because we are both so incredibly hot, young, interesting, and talented in this industry and can't imagine why you would want to waste your time doing anything other than getting to know us through our thoughts on war, the inner psyche, chaos, how tightly to tie your shoes, drugs, love, sex, the fine pastry arts, camera lenses, the meaning of the universe and human existence, fish species, and of course, for today--coffee.

There's one more catch to the Salty-Sweet series; a prize for our favorite (though randomly chosen) reader who comments on BOTH of our sites. We have noticed that people are more prone to visit when there is something in it for them. Shame on you. But, as we wish to be the most popular girls in school, we're going to bribe you because we love you. This episode the winner will receive coffee both from Seattle and Melbourne, so if you would like a chance to win our coffee, you must visit us both. And do not despair over where in the world you are or what your customs regulations may be. Salty is a customs agent slayer. on y va.

Coffee. It's a drug. Everybody's doing it, come on, give in to peer pressure and take a hit. I've had coffee in every city i have been in. Undoubtedly there is never enough space in a montage...however, i do not make it a point to take a coffee wherever I go, but rather it just happens to occur. You see, being born in Seattle, i view coffee obsession as my birth right, and am lured to the taste by my genetic disposition. Naaaaaaahhhhhh, that's a load of bull. It took me a long time to like coffee, and even now i still do not like the classic American drip very much, and would you beleive that if offered the choice i would take milky black tea first? whaaat? Didn't all Americans dump that shit in the Boston Harbor? But that is not to say that i do not like coffee, on the contrary. I love a petite espresso after a meal, and i love a foamy cappuccino or steamy late on a cold day or an early morning, and i would never say no to Starbucks anywhere, ever.

The Seattle "stereotype" of nature-y musical coffee guzzlers does not exist because of Starbucks, Tully's, Seattle's Best, or any of the others, but because Seattleites, along with (evidently) the vast majority of the world enjoy the taste, and that is why the world has grown up into this coffee culture, it is not a fad, it is part of our culture, our world coffee culture.

And now for the best part, being interviewed (psychoanalyzed) by the Sweet~

Sweet: * What is your favourite coffee drink?

Salty: My favOrite (hehe) used to be an Americana because they were the cheapest and I could make them quite easily on my own. But now Starbucks has the Espresso Truffle Late, and well, I now have romantic dreams about it.

* How did you two meet? (you and that cup, not you and a certain gentleman friend)
Hmmm...oh you are referring to salted codfish, well, i don't really know. Cod just swim around in big groups you see. swim swim swim. and i wasn't fishing or anything, but somehow this one decided he wanted to start following me. so I salted him in order to take him with me on long voyages like the Portuguese. Now everywhere i go i smell like salted fish. Anyways, what was the question? coffee-- I grew up in a small town across the Puget Sound from Seattle, that is, you have to take the ferry boat for 30 minutes to get anywhere, and it undoubtedly, like Seattle, is a coffee town. My parents are addicts. I remember a very large framed poster print on the wall of our kitchen of the Starbucks Siren (Mermaid logo) drinking an espresso, so I have always associated coffee as being feminine and kind of mysterious, and well, she is a beautiful mermaid so, drinking coffee is sexy! Haha, no, but since my parents drank drip like psychopathic fiends—or rather zombie robots in the morning who b-line to the coffee pot, I first thought it a “grown up drink.” So, as a child with Starbucks parents, I got to know hot chocolate very well first.

* When are you coming to Melbourne to have a cup of coffee with me?

I am coming to Melbourne on the ____ day of ____ month. But ____ happens to be rather soon! In seven weeks I will be graduating from University and then pretending to start a life. So anything, anything after those next seven weeks is possible. The world will be my toaster (coffee pot? You know Mallory makes both) to go anywhere, providing funds and a desire are there. And Melbourne is very high on the list. So is Tibet and the Azores. And Jamaica. For dancing purposes, naturally. And back to Portugal of course, the Algarve this time. And there's that one place that i know you are waiting for me to say, that one place that i feel like i've already lived in, and that i visit every time i turn my head toward a window, but in real reality, it's just in my head. maybe someday.

* If there was a ‘Mallory’ coffee drink available, what would it be? And why would people go crazy for it?

A Mallory would have to have fruit in it. But fruity coffee... im not sure how that works out. My favorite fruit flavor is mango, so maybe a late...hey wait I know, i've had coffee with cachaca, so why not a real Mallory coffee drink—cold coffee with port wine! Let's do it.

*Do you make your own, or buy your coffee?
A Starbucks (and everywhere else) grande late with tax comes out to about $4.10, so I try not to buy them very often as I am a very poor college student with debt up to my eyeballs. Usually I will reserve them as treats if I am meeting someone for a cup or if someone is taking me out for one. Other than that, I buy a $7.50 bag of ground Vienna roast.

* Brewed or Espresso?

Espresso. I don't even own a brewer. I own one of the cute little espresso pots that you put on the stove. And after living in Europe I started to really just enjoy the small little espresso after meals. And actually, i love crunching on chocolate covered coffee beans. A lot. I'm a biter.

* Dark or fair? (milk or no milk, that is. No, not your preference of the male species)
You know this is the second sexually suggestive question so far in this interview, coffee is the new oyster. or maybe we're just dorks. But you see reader, Christy has an incredibly good looking boyfriend imported from Portland (yeah whatever I can say that, psshhh think I forgot those pizza tossing photos?) where as I do not have a boyfriend here despite what everyone says, and therefore am a sad wandering loner, isn't that how it goes? But let's assume the question is meant to imply that she is collecting Melbourne men so that she can entice me to alter the answer to question number three by luring me in with their sexy Australian accents. But now coffee, white or black...hmmm. neither. So it's clear; what I want is a shade in the middle.

* Which of the following do you do when you are alone in a coffeeshop? Read/surf the net, or
conspicuously gawk at good looking people?
I would try to stare at good looking people, but probably just end up staring out the window or at a wall with a crazy look on my face. I also love to eavesdrop into other peoples' conversations.

* Which do you prefer, coffee from Seattle, or from halfway around the world?
If given the choice I will always run, I mean fly, away.

* How many cups do you drink on an average day?

I usually don't drink too many, couple times a week, and always in the evening and not the morning, i'm an obsessive runner, and coffee more than anything seems to really dehydrate me. So it's a love-hate relation, but a treat after a long run.

* How would you characterize a good cup of coffee? (Tall, dark, warm and Italian, for example….hmmm….)

Before becoming a pastry chef/fashion designer/photographer/writer, Christy took her college degree in Psychology and now practices clinical study on the side. Anyways. I would characterize it as--sweet milky English breakfast tea.. Ahk!

Christy's answers to my fantastic interview questions are over at her house. So get your butt over there. After you finish with the rest of MY stuff here of course.

Alright. Now for a coffee recipe. What to make for this...our one rule was tiramisu is off limits. I always think of Kahlua when contemplating coffee desserts, so something with Kahlua cream. hmmm. What do people eat with cake, boring. Biscotti? nahh that's the easy way out. Cookies? no that's for the tea party. Well, bagels--yes! Bagels! True coffee and a bagels seems more the New York thing to do, but Seattleites love Bagels, and i have never made them before, so chocolate coffee bagels with Kahlua cream? Hell yeah! The quint essential Salty Sweet bagel. So let's get our coffee on.

This baking day landed on the first day of Spring according to the calendar. Now spring in Spokane follows the kindergarten jibe of in like a lion out like a lamb, and the weather lately has been snow flurries, spotted with clear red skies, followed by door busting wind storms and flash hail falls that then end with bird chirpings. Charming. But when the Vernal Equinox arrives, Spokane listens, and for the first time since November, the mercury rose above 50F (10C). What does that mean? It means everyone is outside playing! But i have bagels to bake. But i could not pass up the first day of spring, i may be a dummy but i would never go as far as missing that--you see it's our tribal triumph over having lasted the winter. In your face nature! We won! So in between baking and photographing, my very good buddy E (who from now on will be known as Nixon, though i'm not exactly sure why) and I decided the best thing to do was climb trees and skip river stones. Next we will be playing Pooh Sticks. So, happy spring to you all, a beautiful season of possibility. Tree climbing makes you very thirsty though, so naturally the place to go, is, Starbucks. Coffee in any season. Now eat a bagel.

Mocha Bagels with Kahlua Cream
Ingredients: (for 12 bagels) 6-8 cups flour ~ 1 tsp yeast ~ 3 tsps finely chopped coffee beans ~ 2 cups lukewarm water ~ 1 tbsp salt ~ 3 tbsp sugar ~ 4 oz shaved or finely chopped chocolate ~ 1 tbsp oil

method: 1) dissolve yeast in water, and then add the sugar, salt, oil, and 6 cups of the flour and mix. after a couple minutes add the chocolate, coffee, and eventually the rest of the flour if needed. 2) once the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl, use a dough hook attachment for 12 minutes. i kneed by hand because i'm cool like that. The dough will be incredibly tough and will make you very sore, but kneed it until
smooth. 3) grease a bowl, roll it around, and cover and proof for 1.5 hours (try a warm oven) 4) turn oven to 500F and start a pot of water to boil. cut up dough and roll out into strips (should make 12) and wrap around your hands to form the right size, dip your fingers in water to seal the ends of the dough overlapping by at least an inch. massage it until it is all the same thickness and seems are nearly invisible. 5) by the time you're done with them all the first ones you shaped will be ready to boil. 6) boil bagels until they float, remove, drain, and lay on a parchment covered baking sheet and sprinkle with chopped coffee beans and chocolate 7) bake for 15 minutes with a baking pot of water on the lower rack of the oven.

For the Kahlua cream, all it is is whipped cream, whipped cream cheese, sugar, and Kahlua mixed together.

Coffee, like most things that make me smile--such as colonial architectural patterns-- is a mark of human connectivity. i mean look, beneath all the different names, foams, sugars, creams, cups, syrups, and labels, it turns out that we all grind the same bean. And for that, even if only slightly, you can feel at home for.

Remember we both have coffee (don't worry, not a bagel or a tart) for one of you dear readers--so if you would like to receive a fun package both from me and from Christy, then leave a comment to both of us, and we'll close our eyes and pick a winner. It's a card game of luck, are you lucky? And if we have not frightened you away, we look forward to seeing you again next month. for the next one. on the next theme.

a bientot

(ps. as if i couldn't get anything more into this post, climbing tree made me think about wood, the exceptionally difficult theme for this month's Click food photography contest. above is my entry)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Portuguese Bolas de Berlim

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

President Kennedy said it best, we're all a bunch of jelly doughnuts. That we are indeed. However, as with most things in life, i like the way the Portuguese do things better. So when thinking about what little morning pastry delight i could bring in to my tuesday morning senior history seminar on the day of first draft submission, the choice was clear. After all, my classmates and professor do call me Portuguese girl. on y va.

Bolas de Berlim are traditional Portguese Berliners found in nearly every single pastelaria from Valencia to Sagres. Plump little ovals of fried dough--white flour tanned by the ovens heat, sit piled up one on top of the other in windows staring out at you almost as if from a cats eye; for these bolas are not the traditional center-filled berliners, but are slashed down the side and filled with a custard that oozes out like a scorn maple tree bleeding of its sap. These have been on my mind since the day last May when my virgin eyes fell upon them; it was in a small pastry shop with a rather unpleasantly kept exterior down a small dirty ally in Oporto where i found myself wandering lost with a poorly drawn map from a flight attendant. Blech, i thought as i scrunched my nose at the rows of shabby shop exteriors, the Portugese know nothing about presentation, this pastry shop could never exist in Paris. Though as i crept closer to the window, the magical little bouncy bolas seemed to glow brighter as i stared, dissolving away the glamour-less exterior to where my eyes could see nothing but the natural brown and white hues of the bolas and the mountains of pastéis de nata that flanked either side. Whoa....what the hell are those?

Apparently i appeared as lost as i was, for as i was leaning tete a tete against the shop window with my little red suitcase, blue leather bag, and very large camera, a man approached and asked if i was lost. He then went on to warn me that i should be careful hanging around that area else i might be mistaken for a prostitute. The Portuguese are very kind people, they are always looking out for others. The stranger helped me find my way after laughing at the miss marked map with the circled location that ironically did not exist, and offered to get for me one of the cream filled pastries he referred to as bolas. Thank you but i'm allergic to wheat, erm, eu sou allergico de trigo, do trigooo? the hell do you say this...esto doente! Oh screw it. Yes please i'll take one! After cuddling it for a few minutes, it found its new home inside the stomach of a mangy cão (that's dog for you unintelligents out there) but i had been bought. These are Salty Cod doughnuts indeed. Apparently i promised myself that some day i'd make these. And this day, i did.

I must say, this was the first time i have fried a dough. First time i have made a classic pastry cream. First time in revisiting my first time in Portugal in pastry form . A lot of first times in my life non? First times are tricky, they can either be the greatest and most memorable of all experiences, or they can be painstakingly frightening, or they can be laughable and learnable. First times in the pastry world are always the later; laughable and learnable, You're right, learnable is not a word, but it should be.

The entire first batch was a dud. Ce n'est pas grave, pas grave! it's ok, i'll just try it again. I fail continually at things, and usually feel the role of the dejected criminal failure at the end, but not with baking. With baking i muck up a first try at something 70% of the time, but for some reason this type of failure is the only type i do not burst a spleen over and crash to the ground in pathetic tears of romantic tragedy. No, i just, fix it, and do it over. So the second time decided to actually kneed the dough, and maybe use a recipe that didn't involve fresh yeast (yeah there's a difference, oops) and maybe boiling oil is a little too hot. But i learn. And guess what; sucesso.

Bolas de Berlim:
ingredients: 1 cup milk ~ about 4 cups flour ~ .3 cups butter ~ 1 packet yeast ~ 1 tsp salt ~ 2 eggs ~ .5 cup sugar ~ .25 cup lukewarm water

method: 1) dissolve yeast with water in a small bowl, set aside 2) heat the milk in a sauce pan until bubbling 3) in a separate bowl dump sugar, butter, and salt. when milk is ready dump over it and mix 4) add 1 cup of flour and mix again, then add the yeast water 5) add another cup of flour, and mix until smooth. add the beaten eggs and the rest of the flour 6) kneed, yes kneed the dough. i can not tell you how long, kneeding is a feeling. you will know when it's ready when you know 7) put the kneeded dough in a ball in a greesed bowl, oil the top of it, then cover and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled. then punch it down, let it rest on the counter 5 minutes 8) shape into balls/ovals, and let sit covered on a floured towel for 30 minutes 9) fry em up baby.

Pastry Cream (real bolas de Berlim are made with a very dark yellow cream, but i could not find a recipe for this, and it's called creme pasteleiro, so why not just make a regular pastry cream)
ingredients: i cup half cream half milk ~ 1 packet vanilla sugar ~ 3 egg yolks ~ .3 cup sugar ~ 2 tbsp cornstarch
method: heat milk in a saucepan till boiling, while in the meantime whisk sugar, egg, and cornstarch till creamy. when boiling, pour half oer mixture and mix with enthusiams! then pour back in the pan and cook for a minute with even more enthusiam! then when thick pour in a bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until cold.

I don't know what it is about Portugal that draws me in so tightly and makes me feel so at home. Everything she touches, i seem to fall in love with. Evidently it's enough to push me into a senior history thesis on Portuguese colonization. But whatever it is, i don't think it's a coincidence, you see the salt cod is the national dish of Portugal and her former colonies. Yeah i know im not Portuguese girl, i'm just a silly american. But Atlantic cod is not an indigenous peixe to Portuguese, Azorian, Brazilian, or East Timorian waters, yet he finds himself
at home in these places. He's a foreigner, but he fits. And he loves to eat cream filled doughnuts, and letters in the mail. so watch out for that little bugger.

a bientot

PS. in Brazil they are named Sonhos and are for all purposes, the same thing. thank you to everyone who explicitly made that clear to me in the comments. hehe. the ironique thing is though, if you think i sound obsessed with Portugal, then just wait until you get me started on the subject of Brazil.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Apropos the Gems and Jewels

glittering coconut, chocolate, & pear tartelettes

11 is a magical number, you won't be 11 again until you are 22, and then not again until you are 33, and so on. Yes you read right, you won't be 11 again until...a 22 year old is quite the 11. I remember my 11th birthday, that is, i think i do. I beleive there was a bicycle involved, or perhaps that was my 12th birthday...either way, my 11th birthday was a time shrouded in misery and despair, for at the time of my 11th birthday, about twelve years ago, there did not yet exist in this world the best party guest possible, what tragedy is this that i speak! Yes the first twelve years of my life should be forgotten, for they precede the coming of the most precious gem in my immediate family--the last little baby of my five siblings, and today is her birthday. And, as per usual, i am unable to be with someone i love on their birthday, so, as per usual, no ordinary birthday cake will suffice. Ergo, for a precious gem one must make coconut mousse tartelettes layered with chocolate ganache and a cinnamon pear compote topped off with stain glass candy and chocolate jewels. on ya va.

Big G is the baby of the family. Why big G? Because I swear she is nearing the same height as me and i'm 5'9" (175 cm)! Well all that height comes in handy when you are an uncommonly gifted soccer star. Who said bragging was reserved for moms. Little girl your other sisters and i were (are) your mini-moms; we did your diapers, we helped shovel squashed carrots into your drooly beak, clapped our hands and cheered at your first step, we bounced you ad nausium through hours upon hours of episodes of the colorful teletubbies and their giggling sun. I remember vividly the seven of us crowded around you at the hospital deciding whether you would be G or J, and when you decided to come home with us, you finished our little big family. But what's a fifth really mean when you've four already? I will tell you--a fifth means the world. Think how truly wonderful it is to have a sibling, and then multiply it by five. That is how much luckier i am than the rest of the world.

The dessert for G's big one one did not come as easily to mind as i usually brag the ability for, instead it took a weeks worth of scribbling until it finally just came into its own. Tartelettes are baby tartes, G is a baby sister. As her name is Gem, there is a que for decor; candy jewels of some sort. There will be chocolate, for i would never do anyone the disservice by omitting the edible allegory of delight. Now something that's a bit me to go in the mix--coconut mousse. And a fruit compote, but why pear? Why not pear. Pear deserves.

I have not made tartelettes since August 2007, oh la la, i made that? Quelle horreur. Either way, we are due. This recipe for the tartelette shells and base for the mousse is borrowed from Helen of Tartelette--yes the other Helen of Troy. Though i have no scales, tartelette molds, nor pastry weights, we were yet somehow able to create quite the dainty little tarts from muffin pans and a bag of pinto beans. Le systeme D, i have mastered quite well. Being in want also of a candy thermometer, candy, as usual, was a trifle difficult. Third time is the charm. Bake blind, or as we (yes we) photographers say; shoot a hail Mary--hold the camera up above your head, pray to the virgin, and hope for a miracle focus.

Chocolate Sable Shells: 1 stick butter ~ 0.25 cups sugar ~ 0.25 cups cocoa powder ~ 2 egg yolks ~ 1.5 cups flour ~2 tbsps cream ~ pinch of salt

method: using paddle attachment 1) cream butter, sugar, cocoa powder 2) add egg yolks one at a time 3) gradually add flour followed by cream one tblsp at a time--should be a very thick dough. 4) plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour 5) roll out flat, and cut out circles to fill the bottom and side of you mold (or muffin tin) no need to greese anything, pat tightly into mold with fingers 6) place cross strips of parchment paper and fill with pastry weights or beans, bake at 350 until they are done. cool completely.

Coconut Mousse: 1 cup heavy cream ~ 1 cup whole milk ~ .25 cup sugar ~ 1 egg, + 1 egg yolk ~ 2 tbsps corn starch ~ .333 cups dessicated coconut ~ 1 packet vanilla sugar ~ 1.5 tsps gelatin ~ 1 tbsp cold water

method: 1) mix gelatin and water in a small dish, let sit 2) in a bowl, whisk eggs, corn starch, and sugar 3) in a saucepan bring milk to a boil, slowly add it to the eggs, then return to pan and cook over medium until very thick, and add coconut 4) immediate add gelatin and stir vigorously until dissolved 5) cover with plastic wrap and let sit until room temp 6) whip cream and vanilla sugar, and fold into creamy stuff.

assemble: 1) make a chocolate ganache from dark chocolate and hot cream to coat the tart shells 2) layer with a fruit compote (here is used pears, cinnamon, and corn syrup) 3) using a pastry bag, pipe in the mousse. Garnish as you please (i made chocolate coins and stain glass candy)

A birthday tartelette, what could be better. How about actually eating it. I promise to make this for you G the next time we are together. I left you when you were seven, and what has always been on my mind is: who remember anything from when they were seven? My sister won't have grown up with me like all the others (+ brother) so will she ever know who i am? Well, i should never have worried, for i remember those seven years, and the Christmases, and summer holidays sprinkled in here and there--the moral is that you don't have to be near someone to be close to them.

Happy Birthday G! And to the rest of you--you'll be seeing her come 2016 playing for team USA.

ps. congrats brother on making the soccer team as a freshman! (while i'm at it let's do the whole family ring shoutout) Kaitles you better be having fun with R at Holyoke for your holiday, don't break into any campus churches...not that i have...cough...and my one big sis M, come to Spokane for your spring holiday!

a bientot