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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Am I Popular?

Cranberry Bread Guest Post Em Português

This has been a busy month, but i guess you don't need me to tell you that. There have been babies born, business started, trips taken, games played, jobs gained, jobs lost, and everything else in between (when i list that, i am not talking about myself. obviously...). It seems that i have been stumbling around in the dark when it comes to Salty over the past 5 months, and i have been. Details are not really needed other than the fact that i, like you all, have been going through a bit of a pinch, a hurdle in the road, an elephant in the room, a blind man staring at writing in the sky...nobody knows what i am saying. Ergo we are back!

At the beginning of the month, the staff members here at the Salty Cod were asked to perform their first ever guest post. And we did. So it seems only fitting that we end the month with another guest post, my aren't we popular these days. Remember this time of year two years ago (no you don't) when we were posting about cooking a 30 pound turkey for 40 Frenchies at our place in Paris? Life rolls on doesn't it. Well, our dear friend Moira in Portugal invited us to celebrate the second anniversary of her blog, Tertulia de Sabores, by being the foreign guest blogger to round out the month long celebration of guests. Maybe you weren't around for the Portugal days, but we at the Salty Cod love all things Portuguese, and Moira's blog is one of our favorites. So we jumped at the bit to provide an American (uh oh) recipe for her readers. You can see the post over at Tertulia, though it is in Portuguese, so we will post the English version here. But we wish to say happy birthday again to Tertulia de Sabores, e muito obrigada por nos convidar para celebrar com você.

In this region of the world (the big one below Canada and above Mexico) the holiday season begins mid November and carries through the New Year. Mid November begins the Thanksgiving preparation, that is preparing a turkey filled menu for 8, maybe 15, maybe even 30 people. Thanksgiving is our big holiday here in the States, other than the 4th of July (which really is not so special as most countries celebrate an Independence or national day) Thanksgiving is our “look at us we're special and unique” day. Turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and – cranberries. More than any other flavor, cranberries are the taste of the season. It doesn't matter what they are in, on, or around, anything with cranberries in it means dark days of winter, large holiday meals, and in no time at all, Christmas Eve festivities.

When Moira asked if my recipe could be American (as I am the special Portuguese-reading “foreign” guest), I was a little unsure what to make. American? What is American food? I am American and I can't even answer that. I have come to the conclusion that American food is anything that tastes good. Italian, Mexican, and Chinese – these, to me at least, are American foods. But when thanksgiving rolled around, and the bowls of cranberries started piling up, I realized that cranberries were not only a symbol of the holiday season, but more specifically the symbol of the American and Canadian holiday seasons (I'm half Canadian, so represent yo).

Now don't throw out small statistics about Chile and Eastern Europe producing a few barrel fulls of cranberries every year, cranberries are without a doubt indigenous to North America, and have yet to really draw a huge international following. Why? Probably because lingonberries taste (nearly) the exact same, and there are plenty harvested in the Baltic. Over 90% of the world's cranberries are produced in America and Canada, from the Pacific state of Washington, to the Atlantic powerhouse producer of Massachusetts. So, what could be more American to post about than the tart and tiny cranberry. Maybe you have been able to find cranberries in Europe, but I remember full well how difficult it was to find them when I lived in France, and where did I find them? An American import store of course, and at 10 euros a can!

If you have never had a cranberry before, know that they are impossible to eat fresh from the bog. They grow in water bogs, floating on the surface like sparkling rubies. They are inedible when raw, and are found primarily in sauces, juices, baked goods, or sweetened and dried. Cranberry sauce is the traditional dressing for a holiday turkey, but cranberry juice is usually enjoyed year round. For bakers, cranberries mean one thing – cranberry bread. Every American has had cranberry bread at one time or another during this season, it is quite standard. Laced with citrus such as orange or lemon, covered in chocolate, or sprinkled with spices, like any type of quick bread you can doctor it any way you like, as long as it has cranberries in it.

It is very easy for one to say that they love every season; I love the heat of summer, oh but I love the beauty of spring, but the colors of fall are so vibrant, and then there is winter – you can't love every season now can you. Maybe I don't love any single one, but rather like them all equally. This year I am a bit more sentimental in maintaining the images of my holidays, habits, and traditions. I am moving out of the country in a few months to start a different life, and I am not sure when I will have my American Northwest holiday again. But smells, sounds, and tastes make the best memories. Even a million miles away, I know I will still be able to taste the cranberries.

Cranberry Bread with White Chocolate and Ginger

2 1/2 cup flour
1 orange, zested
½ cup orange juice
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
200 gr chopped cranberries
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped white chocolate

Method: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, butter, juice, zest, and ginger. Add to the flour mixture and combine. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips. Divide the batter into greased loaf pans, and bake at 375 for 50 – 60 minutes. Use a wooden skewer to check if the inside is still liquid. Let cool, and drizzle with any remaining white chocolate.

Enjoy the end of November Codet(te)s (pretty clever no? That is how i will now refer to you the reader). So December is finally here. We will begin our regular weekly posts again here at the Salty Cod finally after a few months of strings. Why only now as the hectic season picks up? Well, let's just say we're about to get our inspiration back.

as always,
a bientot

Friday, November 27, 2009


not a poo, not a soccer player, just a cannoli.

Mallory, that looks like poo. Are we supposed to eat it? This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was unfortunately not gummi bears like i had predicted, but something much better, something i have always dreamed about baking. Oh wait, no baking involved. Have i told you that i hate deep frying? Well, i will tell you now. Save doughnuts and chiros, anything coming out of a fryer looks like a piece of crap. More honesty box? Cannolis have got to be the ugliest confection in the book. They are unattractive, look like a cross between a cigar and a poo that is starting to get furry on the ends. And they are a pill to make. Appetizing non? You want to make them now? Go for it, millions of people love them, and for those who don't eat with their eyes first, well they are perfect for you. Have i ever wanted to make a cannoli? No. I am 100% about appearances, if it doesn't look good, the photo won't look good. So how do you make a turd look good? Damn near impossible if you ask me. But you didn't ask me, so we'll try. We don't accept defeat with grace here at the Salty Cod, no we will curse and throw the dough mass in the trash and start over before accepting defeat, even with the chuckles burning down out neck. Oh cannoli you have spleaned me, at least now though we have met. Will you ever be on our bakery menu? Absolutely not. But you know, as with all thing in life, it is never pointless to have performed a task you disliked, you can't know that you don't like something until you try it. So here is the story of a white chocolate cannoli named kaka.

Purple and black are really hot right now. Said the grasshopper. I decided that if i had to make cannolis, i might as well make them when i had to cook, so i waited for Thanksgiving like every other American Daring Baker did. Who wants a Cannoli on Thanksgiving? Well, maybe the Italian American families do; mine is not far from an that though. A gaggle of French Canadian immigrants and a few Norwegians who think they are Vikings and you have a loud yelling stereotypical Italian family dinner table. Brilliant! Back to the story. Cannolis, hmm. The idea in the mind was dough dyed black filled white; piano key cannolis. As i made up the dough and began to fry, my uncle bellows from behind me, that looks like a dog turd!! A fried kaka! Joy. And i still have half the dough left. The rest of the family looks at them nervously, then finishes in a bout of laughter. My aunt adds, oh like krumkaka (Norwegian cookie cone) certainly is kaka! In my defense, i cry, hey! i didn't want to make these! and besides, they'll look better when they are filled. As the rest of my family were to arrive the next day i thought, damn, i better start a batch over. Black cannolis sound better in theory. So next morning, new batch. This time, purple.

The purple didn't solicit much praise either. Oh well, now it's all about the photo. Who cares if they taste like kaka, they'll at least match their appearance. I made up the cream. Shit, didn't drain the ricotta. Try number two, i'm not doing too well with this recipe apparently. 0 for 2. I frost their beards as i wait for it to chill, melted white rolled in crumbled white. Chocolate, that is. Will this damn recipe ever end. Piped. Time for some photos. Will we manage? Will we make the kaka look like a jewel? Is it possible? A Thanksgiving miracle perhaps? At this time i think of Martha Stewart, they say Martha could wrap a poo in tin foil and make a pretty ornament. Martha eh...i can turn this kaka into something that glitters like gold. Really? No. But a girl can dream can't she.

To be fair to the cannoli, appearances aren't everything. They were consumed lickety-split. Beauty is on the inside? Indeed. Said the cannoli to the biscotti: will you still love me when i lose my looks? The reply: honey, i didn't marry you for your looks. Love is blind. Cannolis are a delightful treat (those who ate them reported to me) despite their appearance. Daring Bakers i wanted to yell that this challenge was a fail, but i suppose failing would only be giving up. May we please do something with a cake, a cookie, a bread next time? Anna i'm talking to you.

The cannolis came, the cannolis went. If anything they gave us all a laugh, i always want a kitchen filled with laughter. Thanksgiving at my aunt's house has always been my favorite. And i have no doubt that i will miss it for many years to come, but will be able to look back on it with a wry smile in remembrance of the sweet, crispy fried kaka.

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. The cannoli recipe is from the book Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and from The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. Unfortunately the recipe was not completely the same as from the neither was mine true to the adapted recipe posted. I found the dough much too difficult to work with the first time around (sorry Lisa) and therefore went with an alternative recipe. So who's did i go with? A non-adapted cannoli shell recipe from At Home with Michael Chiarello, and i filled it with a ricotta mousse rather than cream to give it a little more structure.

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 3 tbsp white vinegar, 3 eggs (BIG difference from the recipe used for the challenge), 2 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp water (i used wine for the purple color) and oil for frying. The method will follow the same as the recipe used for the challenge.

The kakas were not so bad, i suppose. Will i make these again? I think you'd have to hold a gun to my head. Though if the cannoli are here already, you must have left the gun. Couldn't resist, i'm sure every Daring Baker this month quoted the Godfather at least once. In the end, i believe this was exactly what i needed. A humbling reminder that there are many thousands of things i am no good at making, and that even when you are fumbling in the kitchen, when you are fumbling with your family around, it is all worth it. This is a Thanksgiving i will remember with a smile, and who knows, maybe next year when i feel a nostalgia for Thanksgiving, maybe i'll make a batch of cannolis to remember and laugh. Only joking, not even for sappiness would i make these again. Cannolis, i quit you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Death of (one) of My Idols

Goodbye Gourmet

It's been over a month since Condé Nast announced that it will be pulling the plug on its nearly 70 year old publication, Gourmet Magazine, and even though there has already been many heart felt cries of anger and misery shouted from blog to blog in concerns to this matter, we at the Salty Cod feel Gourmet, above all the other print publications we dream(ed) of shooting for deserves at least our good bye, and praise for a great run. And to pay a proper Salty tribute to the dying friend, we began this post with an 80 word sentence. Huzzah!

In early October CN announced that it would be discontinuing the print of Gourmet, Cookie (what the hell is that?) and two bride magazines due to both a loss in advertising interest and sales, I suppose. For me, and more likely than not for you and for any other food enthusiast, writer, or photographer, the idea of having a shot or story appear inside Gourmet's margins (or bleeding across two full pages in an aerial table shot) has crossed your mind. Along with Bon Apetit and Food & Wine, Gourmet was undoubtedly one of the forerunners in print food art and writing. Granted i've only been part of the food writing and photography world for about three years now (but i'm also only 23) but i've collected these issues over the years, as thousands of other food photogs have, for inspiration, insight, and well in the words of Tony – Gourmet is one beautiful centerfold of food porn. Even though the chances of ever appearing in the photo credits of a Gourmet issue are slim to none, they've never let slip from my mind, even after decisions to slip the country. Though now, sadly, a photo in Gourmet is one of those little cabbage patch dreams that must be laid to rest.

I can't help but feel a bit guilty for aiding (not being, I am not THAT full of myself. yet.) in the demise of the print industry, an industry that I yet dream to get into. Lovely irony. Blogs, websites and the myriad online recipe indexes are strangling any chance of renewed success in the print industry. All print publications for that matter. I mean look at the kindle, we don't even have to buy books anymore. All in all, are magazines done for? Is Gourmet just the first of many to yet fall? (well technically Condé Nast already folded a couple of other publications, including Men's Vogue. Surprisingly there wasn't much outcry). I've worked for a food magazine, albeit a small North Idaho publication, but the business of publishing is brutal, and the demands for it are waning. Hopefully this isn't the end. There is something about print photographs that have a certain spark and light that computer screen photos lack. Tell you what, if someday they all fold - we'll come out with our own, Salty Cod Magazine, to live on the food mag legend.

In the end we are paying a mourn and tribute to Gourmet, for many years (first issue was January 1941) of stunning photography and inspiring stories about cuisine from every corner of the world. As a food writer, food photographer and travel writer, we will miss you Gourmet, but rest assured we will continue your work for you. Sadly though we now have one less thing to read in the tub.

Thank you to my 11 year old sister G for for braving my big ol' camera to take the photo up top.

a bientot

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm a Guest

Chocolate Hazelnut Souffles

I've never done a "guest" post before for a fellow blog writer, but now i can say that i have. Mel of Bouchon for Two is traveling through Paris, and asked if i could do a French recipe to share with her readers, as i used to live in France and can provide a sappy yet hopefully entertaining commentary on Parisian nut, i made souffles. Hazelnut souffles. Tu sais that it's my first time making souffles too? Yes. So i've learned that they have tricks, and i've learned a lesson in speed photography. Why speed? You have solely two minutes to capture the souffle before he moves on; you have to be quick, no think, just shooting.

I will not post the whole story here - if you click Bouchon for Two (right here) you will be directed toward my story and recipe. Mmm yes, whether you care for souffle or not, it is a story about Paris, nuts, and love. What the hell more could you want? My souffles are tall, dark and handsome- exactly how i like them.

Petite Version:

Souffles, Paris, Love. I remember a while back Aran (pastry chef, author and photographer of Canelle et Vanille) wrote an ode to the souffle as a symbol of romance, and I have yet to drop the connection. A souffle for two is a romantic whisper, a fleeting “spur of the moment” as you have mere minutes to catch its climax before deflation. Similarly, love is a product of chance moments. That is, one fleeting moment stuck among three hundred million other chanced possibilities, the window of opportunity being infinitely minute. A souffle is a mirror image. You are given a chance with every souffle to marvel it before falls, if you miss it you miss it, love is the same way – your chance is as short as a peaked souffle, if you don't take it when it rises, you will miss it, and if you miss it , it is gone perhaps forever. The word souffle comes from the French verb souffler: the breath (gently), to whisper or to blow (ehem, as in a candle). A gentle whisper, perhaps a soft sigh, oh how romantic, how so very souffle.

A souffle for two...what is more romantic than sharing a whisper. Paris is clichéd as the city of love – but is it clichéd? Could it not be true? Perhaps for some, Paris can catch you that one in a million. And then? And then win him over with chocolate and nuts and he is yours forever. Does food always have a metaphor for life? Yes, yes it does. Photographing a souffle relies very little on a photographer's skill, instead it sits on their impulse. Shut up and click, you have two minutes, no time to think, just feel it, press it, capture it. It is now or never. Therefore life and love are your souffle. Take for your own the exact moment you want.

Ah, tu aimes et vouloir plus? Allez vers le blog de Bouchon For Two pour la recette.

a bientot