Thursday, March 29, 2012

Electric (oven) dreams

Lately, I've been pushing myself to learn more than just baking cookies and pastry bars. Back in the Philippines, I was seriously into all-gourmet ~ pasta, sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. Most of the recipes I know are the ones that I learned from my mom and a few experiments I've done in the past, or those which I've learned from watching my favorite culinary experts like Chefs Gaita Fores (I used to watch her on TV when I was still in my teens), Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Rosebud Benitez, The Dazas, Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Nigella Lawson, David Rocco, Guy Fieri, Ina of the Brefoot Contessa and Bobby Ching. I'm a wannabe Chef!  It's just too bad that I didn't even think about getting a Culinary degree rather than staking it through College with a course in Business Management. But all that's water under the bridge and there is no other way but to move forward. Right?... Right!  :)

Perhaps having more time and a good reliable oven sparked much inspiration to further my craft :)  Sorry folks if I seem to blabber a lot about my love for the culinary and lose myself in the process. Back in college I remember telling everyone how I'd love to put up my own restaurant someday. Well, that someday hasn't come knocking on my door yet. But am happy to know that selling food in my previous work, and a small catering service on the side, has earned me quite a number of regular customers. I 've never felt this elated in my previous jobs! This is my calling, and every time I get good reviews from my clients, such encourages me to do better. 

Last year I've been requested to make Sans Rival (this is a 4-layer cashew meringue with french butter cream in between layers), I know how tedious baking this recipe can be. Baking meringue is something I haven't tried doing yet. But am prolonging such agony. It's this pain of wanting to try doing it already but it feels a bit daunting for me yet. So I digress.  :) I want to be able to do something I also have not tried yet but this recipe has got to be such that would make me closer to my goal of baking Sans Rival and facing it head on. Oh! I'm probably just making a big fuss about it but I keep telling myself that I have to deal with it this way. Inch by inch. Taking one baby step at a time. This week, has sent me baking different goodies. I'd like to think that my husband and children's "Wow!" at the pastries I make, is getting me closer to my Meringue. :)

From last week I've been coming up with crazy cookie and caramel bar ideas like the Mid-Eastern inspired cookies which I aptly coined as Jazzminced (aka Princess Jasmine), caramel cookies with minced dates and nuts, Alad-dark (aka Aladdin), dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips, ground nuts and dates, and my personal favorie Jafire (aka Jaffar), butterscotch cookies with dates, mixed ground nuts and chili flakes. Yep! you read that right! Chili flakes gives it a bit of kick that worked well with the nuts!

I also came up with a Tropical-inspired butterscotch bar that I call Copacobanas, a fusion of coconut and bananas and then some of my secret ingredients. 

I also surprised my family with Red Velvets this week. :)

And today I finally made my husband's favorite Brazo de Mercedez! This really made my husband say "WOW!" ~ I might have seen his eyes sparkle a bit but the best part is, when he commended me with a "ang galing mo naman Mom! Magbenta ka rin ng ganito (a sentence akin to "you've outdone yourself! Include this on your online store") Being able to make my husband's favorite Brazo de Mercedez is such a feat for me. I was not sure how it would look and taste like. But I've surprised myself as well! And happily so! I was supposed to use condensed milk for the filling but I did not want to go to the Baqala just to buy a can of condensed milk, when I can do something in its stead. So, I followed my instinct and thankfully so because my husband (a forever critic of mine) said that it had the right sweetness to it. And it tasted so good! It felt wonderful to have accomplished something that I only imagined doing in the past.  You can visit my FB page to view the other pastries and dishes that has kept me busy in my kitchen.

I can hear my kitchen calling me again...I'll have to sleep on this one. My oven's been in a spin for two weeks now :)

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