Eat, Drink, and End Hunger at the NYCWFF

OMG!!!!!  I’m finally going to get to tell you about the best day of my life: today, I went with my mom to the New York City Wine And Food Festival sponsored by Food Network and Cooking Channel.  All proceeds go to the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry.  It was their 10th anniversary, and for the first time, there was a section of events for families for the first time this year called Family Fun!, so people of all ages could go; you didn’t have to be at least 21.  The event that my mom and I went to was Culinary Demonstrations Only at the Grand Tasting presented by Shoprite.  There were tons of food to eat, people to see, books to sign, and so much more!!!!!

I started off the day at 12:30 seeing a cooking demo by Jason Smith, the most recent Holiday Baking Champion and Food Network Star.  He made pan-seared pork chops with apple chutney, that, of course, included bourbon.  His Southern charm makes everyone smile, and I was so glad when I got the opportunity to have him sign my NYCWFF shirt that I bought and take a picture with me.

Next was Debi Mazar and her husband, Gabriele Corcos.  They have a show on Cooking Channel that I don’t really watch because I’m more into Food Network, so I didn’t go to their demo, but I love seeing Debi play Maggie on one of my favorite TV shows, Younger.  I went to their book signing where they, also, signed the back of my shirt and took a picture with me.

Then, Alex Guarnaschelli, The Queen, if you will, as the other superstars refer to her on Guy’s Grocery Games during his Superstar Tournaments.  I mean, she’s the Iron Chef, ICAG they called her (short for Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli), she’s a Chopped judge, she’s just a legend in the cooking world.  I had to choose between her and Marc Murphy’s demos because of the conflicting times, but I planned to go to both of their book signings anyway, so I went to Alex’s demo.  She made some chicken breasts with a sauce and pineapple upside-down cake with pink peppercorn caramel.

I was going to Marc Muphy’s book signing, another Chopped judge, but a guy said that he already left, and Alex’s started a little bit early, right after her demo.  Since I was going to Alex’s signing anyway, I still went to hers, and as I expected, the line was really long, but my mom and I still waited in it because I really wanted to meet her (oh, and she was wearing an ICAG shirt, from, of course, Guy Fieri, and a family of three was also wearing #ICAG shirts: lolz).  She, too, signed my shirt, and we took a picture together.  She also signed a piece of paper for Gabby because we were talking yesterday, and she asked me to try and get a signature from Alex for her.

Valerie Bertinelli: what can I say about her?  I think she’s one of my new favorite chefs on FN, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, and, I mean, she went from actress to Food Network chef, and even though I didn’t see her act on any shows, I really enjoy watching Valerie’s Home Cooking.  Her fights with plastic wrap always get me riled up.  Lolz.  She’s also a co-host of Kids Baking Championship, which I love to watch.  Anyway, my grandma got me one of her old books, which I think at the time had been her most recent (her latest book was just released a few days ago), so I brought it for her to sign in addition to my shirt.  For her demo, she made scalloped potatoes.  When she asked if we wanted to have some, I went up, but by the time I got up there, they’d unfortunately ran out of it.  Once again, she signed my copy of her book that I told you I got, and just like everyone else, she signed my shirt, and we took a picture together.  And, just like Alex, my other friend, Hannah, wanted a signature from her, so she wrote one on a piece of paper for her.

Finally was Katie Lee, Southern gal and co-host of The Kitchen.  She made cauliflower chicken fried rice with a little help from her Z100 friend, Elvis Duran.  I went to her book signing, and she was so sweet, not that everyone else wasn’t.  She signed my shirt, took a picture with me, and then, that was the end of my day.

During each demo, people had asked questions that were answered by the chefs that were cooking, and in between each event, we, of course, walked around and sampled food, everything from spinach and kale pesto to cheesecake to arancini balls and pizza.  It was all sooooo good!!!!!

I thanked my mom over and over again because it was truly an amazing experience to get to meet all my favorite chefs, and I just had such a great time.  I was even put on the NYCWFF website!!!!!  Oh…and I forgot to tell you guys, at each person’s book signing, I gave them my business card.  Yeah, I have a business card that I created for this blog.  It’s in the collage that I used for this post’s picture.  Anyway, that was my unbelievable day!!!!!  Next year, I hope Gabby can come with me; I think she would’ve really enjoyed this.  Bye.

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Crazy For Cream Puffs And Or Macaron Madness

When it comes to French pastry, we all know how I feel about it if you’ve read my past posts.  Now, I’ve decided that I’m still going to go through with making that croquembouche over the holidays that I told you about, but I’m not going to make macarons just yet on my own.  Here’s why:

1. Pâte à choux can be used to make more than just cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles.  It can also be used to make churros, Persian gnocchi, and so much more, so once I master it, I can make multiple things.

2. The piping is easier.  With cream puffs, you can pipe simply using a star tip or something to create that shape, or you can do the swirly frosting-a-cupcake design kind of thing.  I like the cupcake one because I’ve tried it before, and it just looks more decorative to me.  With macarons, you have to keep your piping bag straight up, and come off of it in a certain way and stuff or else you won’t get “feet”, and piping that is harder for me to control, I guess I could say.

3. With pâte à choux, you can make everything right away.  While you have to watch the consistency when you add the eggs, as long as you have the right amounts of each ingredient and the right baking temperature and time, you’re good to go.  With macarons, you have to wait for the meringue to be done whipping, you have to fold the batter a certain way, so it doesn’t deflate, you have to pipe a certain way, you have to let the macarons air dry before you bake them, it’s just a lot of baking labor in my opinion, as opposed to pâte à choux where you kind of get more freedom as to everything, except for the technique.

If I do it right, both would be impressive, and I love the taste of both, but I think just the fact that I’m going to attempt cream puffs, and try to turn it into a croquembouche is really cool.  And, it seems a little easier to me than macarons just because of the issues that I have with them that I mentioned above.  So, when the time comes to do it, I’ll be posting it, and hopefully, it’ll turn out exactly how I imagine.  If Katie Lee, the southern comfort food chef and co-host on The Kitchen on Food Network can do it, then I think I can, too.  Wish me luck!!!!!

Teens Baking: Sweet Adventures: Day 5: Two-Day Celebration Cakes & Ice Cream

Today, we finished decorating our cakes.  We made espresso buttercream (and Cara made chocolate ganache) for our chocolate (celebration) cakes (we cut them into 6 squares, and we each stacked up 2 squares for our two-layer cakes), and we made raspberry mousse and honey buttercream for our (golden) chiffon cakes (each group made one two-layer cake to cut, and share).  Then, we frosted and piped and cut, and it was all delicious!!!!!  This was a really fun class and a great way to finish my summer off right, and I’m excited to see what cooking (and baking) class opportunities come up for me next summer!!!!!

Teens Baking: Sweet Adventures: Day 4: Two-Day Celebration Cakes & Ice Cream

Today, we made our cakes for decorating tomorrow.  We measured the ingredients out ourselves this time, and we made a chocolate sheet cake and a golden chiffon cake (we poured it into two mini round pans: one small and one medium).  Cara told us that we’re not going to have time to make and churn our ice cream base ourselves tomorrow, so she made the peach ice cream base (it’s eggless), and we watched her demo it for us.  We had some extra time, so we made some pumpkin bread for the store.  One of the assistants made some brushettas for us to eat, and they were amazing!!!!!  I’m definitely going to recreate my own version at home (Mextalian), and I can’t wait for the last day tomorrow!!!!!

Teens Baking: Sweet Adventures: Day 3: French Pâtisserie

Today, we made French macarons.  Cara demoed how to make the French toast ones, and then, we made the (vanilla) birthday cake ones.  We whipped, sifted, folded, and piped, and while the piping part was a little bit harder for me because of my issues, Cara was able to help me, and I did as best as I could, and that’s all that matters.  After they came out of the oven and cooled, we decorated them with different frostings and other confections.  The French toast ones got the maple American buttercream and sifted Confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon, and the birthday cake ones got the vanilla American buttercream and all kinds of sprinkles that we got to choose from.  They tasted amazing, and I can’t wait for tomorrow!!!!!

Teens Baking: Sweet Adventures: Day 2: Bakeshop!

Today, we made frosted cinnamon rolls (from dough that was already made because it needed time to proof), English muffins, and perfect flaky biscuits (we ate it with some honey butter that one of the assistant’s made for us to spread on it).  Then, Cara, the instructor, showed us how to make the cinnamon roll dough since we didn’t get to make it ourselves.  All the sweet treats were really good, and I can’t wait for tomorrow!!!!! 

Things I Have A Thing Against (And Food Science Stuff)

So, as some of you may already know, when it comes to food, I’m kind of weird because I think about my recipes and how I make them in a different way than most people.  My illogical thinking somehow causes me to have a thing against using yeast, gelatin, corn syrup, and making French pastries (and savory French food, too, but that’s because it’s not in my wheelhouse (I got that word from Guy Fieri on Triple G by the way (that’s Guy’s Grocery Games for those of you who don’t know))) (and probably more foods/desserts/products that I just don’t remember).  So, the French pastry thing also happens to not be in my wheelhouse, but when you think about it, I’ve made mousse (sure, with whipped cream and not meringue, but other people make it this same way I did/do), I’ve made napoleons (because custard isn’t foreign to me (like I said in past posts, I’ve seen people make custard on TV a lot, and I love to eat it, too, which is why crème anglaise and pastry cream and stuff like that come easy to me)), I’ve done cool, out-of-the-box, not butter cakes cakes (because I like cake, and I like trying out different types, and they come out good).  I think what happens is (I’ve probably said this in past posts as well) I feel intimidated by some of these things people make.  I mean, macarons, duck a l’orange, whatever, it’s all French food or not, but it’s all things that just don’t seem capable by people my age that like to cook and bake, yet it is.  The kids of Kids Baking Championship make those fancy desserts that I’ve mentioned a lot, you know, and I think even though they’re not exactly my thing, I can make them if I try hard enough, see people do it enough on TV, and stop myself from getting intimidated by what I think is the level of difficulty. I tried cream puffs and eclairs the other day, and I like them now, probably because I love pastry cream, but I was fine by the shells this time (they were soft, not crunchy, I don’t know, whatever), so I said I was going to make them if I wanted to, and now, I like them, and I want to, so I’m going to try them.  I’m going to take Duff Goldman’s recipe for pâte à choux, put the directions in my own words, add a little of my own flavorings, my own recipe for pastry cream that you know of (and have seen me post on here), and make some cream puffs for the holidays that I’m going to try, and transform into a mini croquembouche.  Being that I’m still not that sophisticated and experienced in pastry, I’m going to skip the spun sugar (also because one of the things I have a thing against is using candy thermometers and make actual caramel as opposed to butterscotch sauce that everyone (including me) calls caramel sauce), and simplify the dessert (like what Katie Lee did on The Kitchen) by using melted white chocolate as the adhesive, drizzle extra on top, and I’m going to top it with dulce de leche-flavored snow (tapioca maltodextrin).  That’s where more food science stuff comes in.  Yes, I have things against gelatin and corn syrup and candy thermometers and all that, but there are some modernist techniques that I want to use, like those siphon cakes that I made.  Just using that siphon is awesome, so having watched Spring Baking Championship and figured out that I could use it in more ways than one was great.  I like using cornstarch as a thickener (because it’s a usual/typical thickener), and I possibly want to learn how to use other things (like maybe agar agar, tapioca starch, maybe gelatin and corn syrup one day, just not right now (I think it’s just because I want to figure out substitutes for them in things like caramel candy and stuff, and I could use gelatin and yeast (the thing about yeast is the time it takes to make a dough, let it rise, and bake it, and all that, and the thing about gelatin is that, actually, I don’t know, I can certainly get into it, and the candy thermometer is just annoying, but I’ll get over it (I mean, I use a thermospatula thingy now for custards, so… (yeah, for custards, I’m fine with using a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the eggs (again, I know, I’m weird/odd with the kind of stuff, and I know I’m using a lot of parentheses, so I’ll try and stop now 😂)))))) to make things like foams and stuff because they’re cool.  To me, food, especially baking (I know I’m probably said this a million times already in past posts), is all about science.  Yes, you need to be precise and accurate, but you also need to have fun, and experiment.  If something doesn’t turn out right the first time, try again, you know?  If you like science like me, maybe try, and figure out what happened and how to fix whatever went wrong.  Anyway, I might do angel food cake at some point (who knows, right?), ya know, whatever, but macarons will have to wait.  I’m making them at my class tomorrow, but I think I’m going to see what happens.  I think I want to get some more experience with them first (by watching more television, I mean 😂) (I actually think they’re easier than I thought now, but whatever; I’ll make them at some point, hopefully/maybe/I don’t know soon).  Okay, I’m done with my food ranting now, as usual, sorry if you got bored, and or fell asleep.  Bye.

Teens Baking: Sweet Adventures: Day 1: Pies & Tarts

Today, I started taking another week long class at Sur La Table, and this time, it’s all about baking!!!!!  We made perfect pie crust, as well as tart crust for our ham and cheddar hand pies and summer berry tartlets (which were actually just regular tarts, and we each got a piece; ironically, the hand pies were the size of tartlets, and the tarts were the size of pies).  For the hand pies, we made an extra into a cherry one and made a slightly spicy honey mustard sauce for dipping (not for the sweet one, though), and for the tarts, we made my favorite (pastry cream) to fill them.  Additionally, while we were waiting for everything to be done baking, we were taught how to make parchment circles.  Anyway, back to the food, it was all sooooo good, and now, I know I can handle a little bit of heat!!!!!

As Seen In Smorgasburg

Today, my family and I went to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and it was sooooo much fun!!!!!  There are a bunch of different locations, and the one we went to runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM every Saturday.  Every weekend, vendors come to sell their food at their booths in this outdoor market, everything from fried chicken sandwiches (mmhmm) to fried dough desserts (yum) and so much more, but there was more than just fried food; there were also stations full of different cuisines: Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Mexican, all the way to classic American, and they all looked super tasty.  But, my family and I stuck to what we liked best, which, being that I’m the foodie of the family now, for me, meant a lot of stuff.  We walked around and tried all kinds of things: lobster rolls, corn (not just any, though: cheesy and spicy), scallion pancakes, this sick ramen burger filled with juicy beef, what tasted to me like teriyaki sauce, and soft ramen buns, various fries with multiple dipping sauces, oh my gosh, there were so many amazing foods that I just can’t name them all!!!!!  I do have to say, though, there was this Oreo pudding that I tried, and it absolutely was off-the-hook, just awesome!!!!!  I wish I hadn’t just taken only one bite 😂.  I have my work cut out for me now: recreations of the ramen burger, corn, and, for me, that pudding and those churros that I mentioned earlier (once I get I fryer, which I know will be never 😂).  And, fun fact: pate a choux, the dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs, is the same dough used to make churros, but it’s fried instead of baked.  Yes, yes, yes!!!!!  If you haven’t been down there, whether it be the one in Williamsburg where I went, the one in Park Slope, or wherever the one closest to you may be, you really should go.  It was a great day, and if you’re like me, you’ll definitely be wanting more.  I know I do!!!!!

DIY Decorated Recycled Egg Carton Sugar Cone Holder

My babysitter and I were trying to figure out what to use to keep the sugar cones standing upright for when I bring them tomorrow, and she got the idea for us to use an empty egg carton.  It worked out really well, and it’s a great way to recycle, so I’m going to tell you how to make it so that if you make the cake cones, you can make and use this holder, too.  In addition to an empty egg carton, you’ll need scissors, colored paper, and a marker.

1. Make sure the egg carton is closed, flip it over, and use scissors to cut holes in the centers of where the eggs go, making sure they’re big enough for the cones to slide in and out without breaking.

2. Rip the paper out from inside the egg carton (you’re not going to need it), and use the scissor to cut the colored paper so that you have a piece that fits inside the upside-down cover.  The paper should be folded along its lengths to fit across the lengths of the cover, and there should be no paper covering the widths.

3. Decorate however you want.  Because this is for my cousin’s fifth birthday party, I wrote HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY CORY on the paper folds, and I think she’s going to really like it!!!!!

4. Now, just put the paper inside the upside-down cover, making sure it’s positioned correctly, and stick the cones in, making sure they’re standing upright.

And, there you go: a DIY decorated recycled egg carton sugar cone holder.  See?  It’s that easy!!!!!