Alternative Baking

Over the past year I have become a bit of a specialty/ alternative baker. Not really intentionally, it kinda just happened. From previous blog posts you may or may not know, but I have dabbled in gluten free baking. This past weekend I had a bride that requested a small sugar free cake for her wedding.  Her father is a diabetic, but he loves his cake. She also had some vegans at the wedding, so I also made vegan cupcakes also. 

  I have made vegan cupcakes before and they were good, but the ones I made this weekend were GREAT. There are so many substitutes for eggs; chia seeds and water, flax seeds, banana purée, unsweetened applesauce, agar agar, the list goes on and on. 

Im giving away my secrets here, but whenever I make my cakes or cupcakes I use vegetable oil instead of butter, its a personal preference. I prefer the consistency of the cake batter this way. That being said, butter is already out of the equation.  There are so many substitutes for eggs; chia seeds and water, flax seeds, banana purée, unsweetened applesauce, agar agar, the list goes on and on. 

When the recipe calls for milk you can use any non dairy substitute you’d like; almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, I went with  soy milk because that’s what I drink, and have on hand. 
The first time I made these cupcakes I used the ground chia seeds and water substitute. I mixed the ground chia seeds with water and it instantly began to thicken. I added it to my batter and you could see the little specks of chia in it. When I baked them I noticed the batter didn’t rise as much as I would have liked, and again, you could see the black specks. Taste wise they got a 10/10 and the client was happy with the product!

This weekend when I made the cupcakes I decided to try making them with unsweetened apple sauce. The batter had a good constancy and it looked ” normal” When they were done baking they bounced back just like any other cake would. They tasted AMAZING. You would have no idea that they were vegan and hey, that’s the point right. 

Here is my adapted recipe for vegan cupcakes and vegan frosting. Enjoy 🙂
Vegan Cupcakes 
Cake Flour 12oz 

Baking powder .75 oz 

Salt .25 oz 

Oil 6oz 
Sugar 15 oz 

Milk alternative 6oz 

Vanilla 1tsp 
Milk alternative 6oz 

Egg 4 eggs ( 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce) 
Method: Take the first four ingredients and mix in the stand mixer. Then add the next three ingredients, mix, then add the remainder of the ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again. 

Bake as two 8 in cakes or cupcakes. 

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Vegan Frosting 

Vegetable shortening 12 oz 

Powdered sugar 1 pound four ounces 

Lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon 

Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon 

1oz water 

Mix all ingredients together in stand mixer until light in color and fluffy 

 

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I have Black Thumbs 


I’m not  sure how many of you are following me on Instagram. If you’re not, maybe you should start @gourmetbae.  There’s a great picture up there from the day I decided to become a farmer.

 The week if Easter on a whim and very ambitiously I decided to start a Gourmet Bae farm. ( I’m exaggerating here… fam is not the right word, more like micro garden) the complete opposite of sustainability. But hey, it’s the thought that counts right. I’ve always wanted to start my own vegetable and herb garden, but I was not blessed with green thumbs.  After the excitability wears off I would probably forget to water them, or even over water them.

In grade school when you made potted plants for Mother’s Day mine always died. I was just that bad.

Impulsively I begin circling the seed selection  at a local discount store ( probably my first mistake). I pick the ones that I’m most interested in, and  won’t take years to get started. I pick up some mini starter pots, porting soil and some miracle grow and head to the cashier stand.


I get home, and I’m ready for action. I even labeled each row using a toothpick and index cards laminated with tape. I planted, watered, and impatiently waited for signs of growth. My original plan was to start them inside so the animals couldn’t trample over them.

On Easter Sunday it was beautiful out! I still have tan lines from that day weeks later.

I decided to give my babies some supervised outside tanning time as I was doing the same for myself. 

It was beautiful out, but it was also very windy. About an hour after I’d put them outside I head a noise, but thought nothing of it. When I finally decided to get off my lawn chair I discovered that my newly started “farm” was over before it  even had a chance. I was devastated and decided, that was it, I’m clearly not meant to grow things.

 A few weeks later I decided to try again. This time I started everything off in egg shell cartons, and now they get their sun from the kitchen window. They are doing great! I invested a little less time in this micro garden, so I have plants growing but I have no idea what they are. But they are growing and that is something to be excited about! Can’t wait to cook with my home grown herbs and make awesome salads with my spinach, lettuce, kale, and tomatoes!

Gluten What ?

gluten

Did you know that May is not only the month of Cinco de Mayo!… Happy Cinco De Mayo my friends. May is also celiac awareness month.

Working in the food industry the topic of gluten free food is a common one.  I remember one time I was working for a company. We were working on a wedding and the groom was a celiac.  One of the cooks suggested that if we were working on his meal we should not only change our gloves, cooking tools and sanitize or station, but we should also change our chef jackets. It is standard procedure when dealing with food allergies to take it seriously; switch out all tools  and sanitize eliminating the possibility of  cross contamination. It was a sweet gesture for said cook to suggest changing our chef jackets, but the thing about gluten is its everywhere. Once an environment has been exposed to gluten it will always be there. Imagine this: you are making your favorite chocolate chip cookies, you’ve already creamed your butter and sugar, and your eggs are mixing away. You just finished weighing out your dry ingredients and you add them to your butter sugar mixture, but you forgot your mixer was still on speed 6. Flour is not only up your nose but it is also in the air, and there is no way to get it to go away.  If someone has a gluten intolerance or sensitivity that is extremely severe they should only be eating in 100% gluten free facilities. Some people believe that going gluten free is just a fad, but in reality this is a necessary strict  diet that some people must follow for the rest of their lives.

So, what is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that if goes untreated it can be very harmful to the small intestine, and can lead to malabsorption. The Gluten protein found in foods containing wheat cannot properly be digested by people with this disease. There is no cure for this disease besides eliminating gluten altogether.  There are so many symptoms associated with celiac disease, that often mirror those of other diseases.

My senior year of college I took a class called “Baking for restricted Diets”. In that class we learned about all sorts of diseases that require food restrictions. A lot of recipes we tried in class were quite terrible, although some of them weren’t so bad. I personally think that when you have no choice but to avoid certain foods the substitutes really aren’t as bad as them seem. I also think different tastes grow on you over time like the grittiness of garbanzo bean flour doesn’t bother you anymore after you’ve experienced it a few times.  Prime example; in that class I tired natural stevia from the stevia plant, I thought it was potent and I didn’t like it at all. Now, I won’t drink my coffee without it.

baking for

I have had a few requests for gluten free cakes recently; I have found the most amazing gluten free all-purpose flour made by Red Mill! I have tried other brands and have not been as successful.  I use my regular cake recipe but I substitute AP flour for the Red Mill Gluten Free flour!  If I blindfolded you, and asked you to do a taste test I think you would struggle to differentiate between the two.

gluten free

I have participated in fad diets that require you to be gluten free. Boy, is it hard. I really feel for the people who have no choice but to live this lifestyle.  As Oprah  says in the Weight Watchers commercial “ I love bread!”  Now that the diet is over there are some gluten free foods that I prefer. Something sweet without wheat is a local MA bakery that is a completely gluten free facility. Their gluten free rolls are amazing! I also LOVE Tate’s Bakeshop gluten free cookies! I buy them and the whole family devours them. Proving my point about not even being able to taste the difference.  Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels are available In many flavors and they taste great!

Something I don’t think people think about all the time is that some liquor contains gluten especially beer. Anything containing wheat contains gluten, but there are alternatives! Have you ever had Angry Orchard Hard cider? Well, it can be a little sweet, but it is a gluten free alternative.

For those of you who are looking for gluten free options please try some of the snacks I suggested above. Now that Celiac Disease and gluten Intolerance is so widely recognized many supermarkets have gluten free sections housing cereals, alternative pastas, even frozen meals!

Good luck with your gluten free journey if you are on one! Share with us your favorite gluten free products!

 

 

 

 

Event Planning  From  Both  Sides 

blog-pic I have been to events, but it is also my job to plan execute and deliver flawless events.

As the client it is important to know all or as many of the facts about said event before you even start contacting vendors.

Once you are at a good point. Start calling people up, ask your friends who they’ve used in the past. Word of mouth is the best way to get accurate and honest feedback on vendors.

Date:

Location:

Delivery time:

Set up time:

Will you be needing attendants to set up/ break down

Table cloths, napkins, china, glassware, silverware disposable or rental

How many guests:

What are your likes and dislikes and favorite foods/ flavor

What exactly are you looking for?

Do you have a color scheme

If you want cakes or pies etc, what size are you looking for how many people do you expect it to feed?

Pictures: pictures are great! It leaves little room for error, and your expectations are known. Pinterest is an awesome tool for inspiration but don’t smolder the artist’s creativity in the process… and remember Pinterest fails are real ahah

Your chef/ baker/ event planner will help you sort out these questions, but it is easier to have a general idea, and it will save you in consultation fees!
I have had all different types of clients. I had a meeting with a bride and groom one time and the bride came with a clipboard, notepad and outlines ready to go with all of her questions and expectations. Which is awesome, but not everyone will come that prepared.
When consulting with your baker caterer/ event planner set up a time to talk via phone, or get their email address. Using social media to converse with them can get hairy fast, and remember they are consulting with other clients at the same time. Clicking out of one app and going to another and going back and forth can become a hassle. And things can easily get miscommunicated.
On the other end chefs, caterers, and event planners,
Some people haven’t planned events before, and they don’t do it nearly as often as you do. That being said, be patient. Come prepared to meetings and have lists in order to prompt the client when necessary. Guide them as much or as little as they need. Be understanding! Like I said you do this for a living, but this may be a new experience for them. Share your knowledge, give your input, but remember in the end it’s totally their decision.

Tofurkey anyone? 

First let me start by saying I’ve tried tofurkey, not a fan. Most people don’t understand why you would want to be a vegetarian in the first place. And then, they get even more confused when you say you occasionally eat things like chicken-less nuggets. Sometimes you just kinda miss the taste, and want something easy and effortless.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over a year now. More specifically I am a pescetarian . My only source of meat protein comes from fish. All my other protein comes from soy,nuts,eggs, and beans. I decided to try this lifestyle on a whim. I wanted to eat more healthier and get more vegetables into my diet, well I’m doing that for sure! Most people didn’t think I would last a week let alone over a year. And to answer your question, no I don’t miss bacon, actually the smell of cooking bacon actually bothers me now. I think vegetarianism will be a life long thing for me. It’s given me the opportunity to try so many  new foods like beans and hummus, I’m obsessed haha. I’ve also noticed how much meat we as Americans consume. We don’t eat for nutritional purposes, but because it taste good, and we are glutenous creatures. Next time your at a barbecue or even this Thanksgiving take note how how much meat you and those around you consume… way more than you actually need. But to each his own!
Last thanksgiving I was kinda bummed because I was missing out on all my favorites. I used to love turkey, it was basically the only meat I ate.  I couldn’t eat the stuffing because it had meet in it and no gravy, sooo I basically just loaded up on mac n cheese, but not this year.
This thanksgiving there is no reason to feel like you are missing out! Share your vegetarianism with the friends and family, just don’t tell them it doesn’ t have meat in it. The food will be so delicious, they won’t even notice. Last weekend I was watching the Kitchen on the food-network and they made a sausage and pumpkin lasagna which inspired me to make my own, it looked so amazing I had to try it out. I just used soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s instead of sausage. Here is he original recipe if anyone is interested www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/butternut-squash-and-sausage-lasagna.amp.html?client=safari.
I’m thinking I may also bring some homemade stuffing, maybe a piece of fish, and a bean salad, maybe some roasted Brussels, the possibilities are endless. Just don’t feel left out dying the holidays! There is something for everyone.

Hands In the Pot, Life Update

I have my hands in a lot of different pots right now. Literally and figuratively, so moving forward I think all of my posts will be life event updates and a few posts about food…I went on vacation to Florida at the end of July, and when I came back, I quit my job. I was never happy there and things were just going downhill. Yes, we work to make money, but happiness is a big part of it. So is being treated well, and being appreciated. At said job I would have to be in at 8:00 and I rarely made it in on time mainly because I just stopped caring… bad attitude… means time for change.

When I started my new job I had to be at work for 6am every morning, and I was there with a smile on my face, because I was happy to be there! Since the. I have actually been switched to afternoons, but I will like it there. Ownership/ management is great, and so is the staff. I’m working for a catering company which was started about a year ago so I’m kinda learning the ins and outs which will hopefully help me with my business later on.

Speaking of my business! It’s up and running, slow start, but I think once it takes off it’s really gonna take off, and there will be no looking back. I’m advertising like crazy; I even have car magnets aha. I’m scheduling tastings, meeting clients and booking weddings for 2017!

Right now I’m working on selling pies for the upcoming holiday ( Thanksgiving). I’m selling apple, blueberry, pumpkin, and pecan. Production and deliveries will be happening the week of thanksgiving, and its not too late to place your order if you are interested! If so email me at gourmetbae@gmail.com 

Well, that’s it for now! Keep a look out for my next blog post, I will be talking about being a vegetarian during the holidays.

Trying to grow my page

As a new blogger sometimes I feel like I am just posting to a select few, or even just to myself. I am cutrently  researching tips  to to gain more traffic, seeking exposure and grow my brand. If anyone has any suggestions or any content you are interested in reading about please let me know!

I just joined a blogging community called bloglovin, so welcome new readers! I hope you enjoy.

Menu Development as a Pastry Chef

As a new pastry chef who are finally in charge of their  own department; changing the menu for the first time can be hard. There are so many factors that go into planning and executing a menu. Sometimes things get over looked. You cant just wake up one day and say “hmmm I think I’m going to change the menu” If you are a pastry chef in a restaurant you will probably have to consult with the head chef for the “ok” before you proceed. You have to think of the season that you are in, or about to be in. It wouldn’t be smart to put figs or watermelon on a menu in the middle of the winter. Those are summer items, and they cannot be locally sourced at a decent price in the middle of the winter. You have to think of the demographic that you are in; are you in a large city where you can be modern and trendy. Or are you in a smaller suburban area where people like to play it safe? Therefore you may have to stick to more traditional desserts with a bit of your own flare.

Your next steps should be compiling a decent sized list of desserts with all of the components that you are thinking about using.  Your list should have varying flavors, textures, and ingredients. Make sure you have gluten free, dairy free and nut free options; sorbet doesn’t count. How disappointed would you be if you had dietary restrictions and all that was offered  was lemon sorbet or a fresh bowl of berries.

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On some  slower production days test out some recipes. See how long they sit for before they start to lose their freshness.  Are they better cold or at room temp. Are they as easy to assemble as you thought ect.

If your pastry assistant is at that level include them in the process. They might have some great ideas, and flavor profiles that you may have never thought of. Yes, you are still the boss, and you have final say so, but it’s nice to make them feel needed, and  it is a great way to see what they are capable of.

Next step plating! This happens to be my favorite trial period. I bring in my camera and  a white table cloth and go to work seeing how well or how poorly  the desserts photograph. as well as the best way to present them. I always think things look better through the eye of a camera lens.

I have a more modern approach to plating. I prefer white plates ; round, oval, square and rectangle. I HATE colored plates or plates with designs on them I think it takes away from the presentation, but to each his own. The white plate is my canvas, the dessert is my artwork, and the sauce is my freshly painted brushstrokes.  Anyone who tells you that pastry and art don’t go together doesn’t know what they are taking about.

 

While working in Vermont a few years back I met Mary. She was a food and beverage manager who was very critical. She had few likes, and many dislikes, but I do remember some of the wise things she taught me. Taste each dessert in its entirety…even if you don’t want to, and even if you think it will make you fat. The  first bite may taste amazing, but is the last bite as l equally amazing as the first? Is the portion too big, too rich, too chocolaty, is it missing something?

Next I would suggest naming your desserts and giving them mouthwatering descriptions SELL YOUR DESSERT!! After that, write out the ingredients in each dessert highlighting allergens. This will come in handy for the servers as well as the platers at night.

Post pictures of the desserts at the plating station so your patters are aware of your expectations. The day of menu changes can be a bit chaotic. You and the General Manager will work together to make sure the menu flows and looks good on paper. You have to explain recipes to production to staff. You have to attend pre-meal and introduce the desserts to the servers and answer and questions they may have. Accept criticism if any. They may have noticed something you did not, and they are the ones that receive direct feedback from guest.

Last step: Spend some time your platers and help them get the first few tickets out.

Okay, now you can start planning the menu for the next season. There is always time for menu development.

I do not advise changing the menu every two weeks or so. Give your desserts a chance to sell, let people decide that they have a favorite before they are off the menu, although if something is not selling after a few weeks maybe it is time for an adjustment.  Happy developing and good luck!

Life Event

Life Event

Hello readers! I have some exciting news for you. After months of hard work and failed attempts I have finally landed my commercial kitchen. I am actually meeting with the town hall health inspector later today to go over my next steps. Every day I am one step closer to making my dreams a reality.

I typed up my proposal stapled my business card to it and started going door to door. OLD SCHOOL.  To my surprise I got a call back; they asked me to come in and pitch the idea, and I would get to take a peek at the kitchen and make sure it was up to my standards.

Please keep in mind that in the midst of it all I still have a fulltime and par time job. I came home late from an event. At 11:0pm the day before my big meeting, I started typing up my business plan. Talk about waiting until the last minute. But in my defense I’m a busy lady!

The day of the meeting I went to print two copies; one for the gentleman I would be meeting with and the other for myself in case he wanted to go over it (always be prepared).

About 95% of the document had printed, and the rest of the pages were blank. I ran out of ink… business admin 101 ink is expensive but always have a backup! I didn’t have enough time to run to the store, go home and print documents and then leave the house again, so I began gathering old ink cartridges hoping that I could salvage a few drops for my last few pages.  Of course, I got the job done!

The meeting was quite quick, but the kitchen was in better shape than I had imagined so that was a plus.

The gentleman didn’t ask to view my portfolio and we didn’t even go over my business plan, but I left it with him anyway. He said he would pitch the idea to the board members, and that he would be in touch.

One week later after a particularly trying day I got the best news! I IGOT MY KITCHEN!!!!  AND … he loved my business plan!

Hard work pays off kids; don’t give up.