Wednesday, June 30, 2010

taste the book, 6/30

now that the book is pretty much finished, i have turned my attention to other things like my garden and making bread. however, i still have my job at the cafe to contend with and this is the perfect opportunity to put the recipes i worked on for the last 6 months on display. with that in mind, i invite you to taste the book. as long as i am capable (read that as not so busy with the volume at the cafe), i will feature a dessert from the book as a special and post about it here. first up is the lemon ice box pie, a sweet and creamy pie perfect for a hot summer day (as long as you eat it quickly!)

freshly zested lemons

lemons, juiced by hand the old fashioned way (can you cay carpal tunnel?)

egg yolks, a bunch when you make as many pies as i did

if double yolks are a good luck charm, then i am drowning in them. this last month or so, we have gotten large quantities and i have cracked as many as 12 in a day.

sorry, didn't take photos of the next step-it was kinda boring-zzzz
mix the juice, zest and eggs into sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a cookie crumb crust. most of the time, these just go straight into the fridge to "cook" and set but the s.c.m. has been rather thin lately so i opted for a quick trip in the oven, about 7 minutes, to help them set.

let the pie chill, top it with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings. to make nice shavings, hold your knife perpendicular to the surface of the chocolate-one hand on the handle and the other on the tip of the blade and while applying light pressure, drag the knife towards you to make shavings.

oh so rich and creamy, lemon ice box pie in a gingerbread biscotti crumb crust-come on in and taste the book, i dare you!

Friday, June 25, 2010

all done, now what?

last wednesday, the first day of the photo shoot, i honestly thought it would never end. we needed to get about 70 different shots. this was just of the desserts mind you. after working two 14 hour days followed by a 17 hour day, i was convinced that i would meet my end. move forward to this week and things changed. we hit a groove, so to speak, and things progressed quickly and before i knew it, i was hugging karen and wishing her well-we were done!

since things went so quickly, i didn't take many photos. these are the black bottom cupcakes that didn't get made yesterday (day 5) . these things are addictive; i have family members who do not ask me how i am when we speak and instead ask me when i am sending them black bottoms. they consist of a black-deep, dark chocolate cake topped with chocolate chip cheesecake.

for the cupcake shot, we also needed some strawberry cupcakes. if you have read my last book, you may recall that i have a strawberry cake in that book too. after moving to the south i encountered this popular cake and this is my spin on it. karen and i put our thoughts together and decided to build a tower out of cake stands and cover it with the two batches of cupcakes.

here we are once again, outside baking in the heat-literally. the cupcakes lasted long enough to be photographed and then they were done too.

after this we took a lunch break and then we set up the final shot, cleaned up the mess and headed out in different directions. karen to new york, dave to east nashville and myself, back in the cafe to get ready for the next day-my first day back after the book was completed.

so, what's next for me you ask. how about i clean the house, pay some bills and tackle the repairs of our flood damaged home. and in there somewhere, there will be bread-crusty, chewy sourdough bread. i can hear the starter calling my name...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

five down, one to go

today was one of the shorter days for me-only 11 hours. things went kinda sorta smoother. well, maybe they did. i had a hiccup in the baking and did not get the two different cupcakes baked but we went ahead and shot the chocolate bread pudding which wasn't on the shot list for today.

these are the lady lemon bars. it was decided to have round tartlettes rather than ordinary squares so we could have more variety in the photos. each one is topped with a fresh blackberry.

the lady lemon bars were shot with the strawberry jam bars outside (in the walk-in oven) in front of curious heart. there is a nice white bench in front of the shop and karen used it in several shots.

back inside the barn, we moved on to the tipsy cakes. remember that hiccup i mentioned? well, somebody left the chocolate tipsy cakes at home in her fridge and had to bake another batch...wonder who that could have been?

karen staged this and shot it over head. the results were fabulous!

so, how does one get such perfect slices? cut up previously baked and cold cake, that's how!
here are the trimmings from strawberry jam bars and tipsy cakes. they almost look good enough to photograph. don't you just love the crumpled paper towels and parchment-they truly make the shot...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

day four and counting

it was monday and day four of the shoot and there is not a word in the english language that can describe how hot it was. do you remember the scene from the end of the wizard of oz when the wicked witch gets wet? she slowly shrinks down while saying "i'm melting". we dripped, we drooped and we swatted flies and gnats. well that along with a few sound effects should just about cover it. even so, the day was rather eventful and we accomplished a lot.

one of the shots was of mini strawberry rhubarb pies. the gang trudged on over to the cabin, swatting gnats (and swallowing a few too) and braving the heat to take photos of the pies. they included the airstream trailer in the photo and i must admit, it's one of my favorites!

back over at the barn on the large porch, karen and dave took photos of the lemon tunnel of love cake. it didn't like the heat either and as the cake sat out in the intense heat, it got shorter and wider.

still trying to capture that perfect shot of the tunnel of love cake. (and they did!)

so, after a 14 hour day, i headed home to bake a few things in order to get ahead for tuesday. and since i am no different than anyone else, my "best laid plans" fell by the wayside... in other words, i am pretty good at messing up in the kitchen, just like anyone else!
blueberry peach cornmeal buckle, also known as the volcano cake.

this cat will do anything to get darry's attention. here she is laying on the table with her head resting on the keyboard as darry surfed the internet.

two more days to go-keep watching!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

days two & three

the saying goes like this: if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen... well, i was in the kitchen cooling off, yes cooling off because it was hotter than hell outside and for some strange reason, actually cooler in the kitchen-go figure. karen likes to shoot with natural light and that had us working outside a bit. we were up in the barn using the porch to stage the shots. we also spent a fair amount of time chasing a pesky grackle (black bird) from the area. he (or she) was determined to have dessert. a few times, he succeeded so it was a good thing that everything hit the bin after we were done with it. even if he didn't get it it was destined for the trash because the heat just killed everything after a while.

very berry naked pies-that's southern speak for galettes. sorry about the color, gotta love fluorescent lights!

blackberry cobbler with cinnamon swirl biscuits. another one shot under the lovely lights in the kitchen.

so just what does it take to produce photos for a cookbook? besides the food, lots of stuff. plates, cups, bowls, glasses, linens and so much more. kitchen equipment, fixtures and other things to make it look authentic. let's not forget surfaces and backgrounds too.

just some of the props; plates, cups & glasses, bowls and more.

and more of the same

cake stands and pans and stuff galore

lots of silver ware and serving utensils too

but when it is all put together, you can take something as ordinary as an apple crisp and make it look like the best thing ever.
karen staged and shot this and when she was finished, i took a shot with my camera. trust me on this, her shot was a thousand times better than mine. i really did not make an effort to get the same shot as she did-i want her to get all the credit she deserves and i just wanted a shot for the blog.

so after working more than 45 hours in three days, i still have 3 days to go. first, i will spend my only day off baking stuff in the hope of getting ahead for monday-wish me luck!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

photo shoot, day one

what the inside of my extra fridge looked like the first morning of the photo shoot

picture perfect buttermilk biscuit for shortcakes

cherry cheese coffee cake-it broke coming out of the pan and still looked beautiful in the photo!

decorated cakes lined up on the rack in my space waiting to be photographed

photographer karen mordachai and assistant dave taking the photo of the very berry grunt. it was a long day-14 hours for me and very hot and humid!

i love to look at clouds and this was the view on the drive home

stay tuned for more from the photo shoot...

Monday, June 14, 2010

counting the hours

the photo shoot officially begins on wednesday. between now and then, i must bake as much as possible so that i am ready. also on my to do list, any components that can be made in advance-things like cookies, biscuits and sauces. considering that these are my recipes, it shouldn't be hard to make everything-i know how things should turn out. it is also a chance to double check recipes, something i am pretty sure is not necessary given the amount of testing i did in the first place. the only hitch, it's 9am and about 90 degrees already and i have to turn on the oven in the house. such is the life of a baker; heat and lots of it-it's what makes it all happen...

as much as i am looking forward to the photo shoot and learning as much as i can about food styling, i am also looking forward to my former routine. one that left me with some time to myself in the afternoon and on my days off. as you may remember, our house took a pretty good hit from the flooding and it is a wreck. we had to move our home office upstairs to the kitchen table and things are in a shambles down there. the paneling needs to come off of the walls to make repairs to the block wall behind it and that will bring down the drop ceiling. then there is the floor to contend with-the vinyl was ruined and needs to be replaced. we need to have a pump installed in the crawl space and other things done to help prevent future flooding. we will need to refinish the family room-floor, ceiling and walls. and then there is the driveway culvert-the stonework needs to be replaced since it has separated and is now leaning down hill.

did i also mention that i am trying to organize a neighborhood watch? you may recall my mention of an attempted break-in here. my husband and i distributed over 100 notices to our neighbors encouraging them to organize and become more involved in the neighborhood in an effort to curb the robberies around here. so far, at least 30 families have signed up. at the very least, we will meet our neighbors and have a chance to learn just who belongs around here and who doesn't.

also on the agenda is a yard sale to help reduce the clutter, finishing the new herb garden at the ag center and reading a couple of books. so much for having time to myself...

and one final note-to garrett, while i was crawling around picking up marbles, i may have found a few of yours and i am pretty sure i lost a few of mine...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

where it's at...

two turn tables and a microphone...sorry, lost my train of thought for a moment and beck took over. now that most of the work is done on the book, my thoughts are all over the place. even more amazing is that they are not of cake, cookies, cobblers, puddings, cupcakes, pies...there are a few random thoughts of bread though. crispy-chewy sourdough bread made from a natural grape starter. then it occurs to me, i can actually make a loaf of bread from the bucket of starter lurking in the back of the fridge. i actually have space on the counter for a bowl to sit overnight and allow the sponge to ferment and grow. then another thought occurs to me, i would have to get up off my arse and make much for that today.

the photo shoot is scheduled to start in 10 days and between now and then, i need to make lists of everything i need to have and bake everything i can-providing it can be held frozen, such as cake layers, doughs, cookies and sauces. oipaerasiohua-(the actual text produced as my head hit the keyboard). it's an intimidating list and even more startling is the realization that i will be doing the food styling for the photos, something i have never done before...

i am looking forward to spending more time in the garden both at home with our bees and at the ag center with my fellow master gardeners. summer is here and so are ripe fruits, blueberries and blackberries and the first sign of peaches too. the fog has lifted, the deadline to finish the book is no longer weighing me down and i finally think i know where i'm at and toto, i don't think we're in kansas anymore...oops, wrong fantasy. but honestly, i am pretty sure that the next time i go looking for my hearts desire, like dorothy, i won't look any further than my own back yard(garden).

stay tuned, i will have photos from the shoot posted as it progresses.