Monday, September 27, 2010

q & a with tory burch's favorite pastry chef

hello everyone! hope you had a great weekend. sam and i skipped down to the jersey shore - not that jersey shore, or at least, not that part of it. we attempted to boogie board (sam with some success, and me with none at all) and read and listened to the news and watched tv and ate a lot of tacos. it was lovely.

i wanted to share a q&a with monique antoinette, who makes these amazing cobbler cookies and happens to be tory burch's favorite pastry chef - i thought it was a nice intersection of pastry and fashion, two of my greatest loves. i was lucky enough to be put in touch with her and, as a girl who hopes to open her own business someday, i found her story to be very inspiring.

Q. How did you get started in the food industry?
A. My career as an interior designer had ended. I was in quiet contemplation as to what was my next career. I happen to be reading a book that talked about everyone having a gift or talent that provided a product or service to mankind. This was a gift or talent that we performed without any effort. The author suggested looking around within our lives for it. Three weeks later, I noticed my friends were paying me to bake cookies for the holiday season. I baked cookies every season but this season was different. This concept had my full attention. Two friends suggested I start a baked goods business. I thought it was ridiculous. After them not letting up, I decided to ask god directly if he wanted me to bake cookies. This was a big deal because I’m not religious! Well, he answered back 20 minutes after I asked this question, through a total stranger at the grocery store on aisle 9 at Ralphs. This lady looked into my basket of baked goods and stated, “God created you to feed people your baked goods. He gave this job to you because you serve people from the purest place in your heart. He has a fortune in store for you. The only thing standing in your way is your faith. As soon as you let go of what you are doing for money, he will provide you with everything you will need to feed the people. Needless to say, the next day I made a commitment to getting this business started. Four days later, from a dream, I received instructions on how to infuse two of America’s already favorites; the pie and the cookie. And, the Cobbler Cookie Collection was born.

Q. What did you do before you were a baker (if anything?)
A. I had a career in Interior Design with a specialty in Faux Finish Painting.

Q. What is your favorite thing to bake?
A. My husband is a big Italian, so my favorites are Italian Food and Desserts.

Q. You own your own business - how did you get that
A. Once I committed to this new career, I realized I was passionate about food, but I was clueless on how to run a food business. I pressed pause for six months and went to work as a General Manager for an organic food corporation. I managed a staff and three locations. After this training, I hired experts to consult with and to construct a business plan. From there I began promoting the product. The orders followed. I deal with the business in phases, in order to not lose my mind. I am on target with my plan so far. The next step is to acquire 375k for a national retail launch.
Any advice? I literally started with $27. I purchased my product development/packaging ingredients from the 99cent store. What propelled me towards my destiny was this quote: Start were you are, use what you have, do what you can ~Arthur Ashe. This quote is literally how I got this business off the ground. When I lose focus with frustration, I sit still, and then allow myself to revisit this quote, and then I take another step towards what I know I’m here to do.

Q. How did you start working with Tory Burch?
A. My daughter works for Tory. She shared with me how Tory got started in her living room. From that I felt inspired to succeed. I created dialogue, “ that if Tory can do it, I can do it”. It was like Girl Power energy for me. My daughter called me one afternoon and said Tory will be in the store later today, I think you two should meet. So, I thought this would give me the opportunity to share the dessert with her and also let her know how much she inspired me. In the backroom of the store she tried a Banana Coconut Cobbler Cookie and was hooked. She loves every flavor so much she orders them for herself and employees at her corporate office twice a month. What a great way to treat herself and show her appreciation to her employees. I love her spirit.

Q. What are your other interests, besides baking?
A. I love, love, love writing, it’s my second career. I love being selfish with me. I sneak away from my life to go the movies in the middle of the day. And also take myself to lunch or dinner. Experiencing a great meal and being able to talk to the people around me or the chef about the meal is like winning the lottery.

Q. What’s your new book called and about?
A. I have been putting a cook book together for a year and a half now but in the meantime my first published book is actually being released next month. It’s titled Grateful for Grief: Seasons of Transformation. I lost my only son to suicide in 2004. The experience was the most remarkable human experience of my entire lifetime thus far. I fell in love with my grief and found gratitude for it. I arrived at this choice after realizing the denial of grief was literally killing me and my mind. In 2011, I will launch a web series called, “Let’s Talk about Grief from a Higher Point of Consciousness”. The silence of grief is a killer of mankind; it’s a heart attack, its cancer. Six billion people exist on this planet. The one thing we all share in common is at some point we will all deal with grief. The goal is to not deal with grief alone or in silence!

Q. And would you like to share a recipe?
A. Yes I would. One of my favorites is a dish my Guido husband loves so much. I have named it Mancini Fettuccini.

4 Servings

1 lb. Fettuccini pasta
1 lb. Boneless Chicken or Shrimp or maybe a combination of both
8 oz. Canned Coconut milk
½ cup Shredded Coconut
6 oz. Drained Water Chestnuts
¼ cup Golden Raisins
4 Chopped Garlic Cloves
8oz. Canned, drained artichoke hearts
6 oz. Canned, drained marinated mix mushrooms
½ cup Sour Cream
a couple pinches each of thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper,
and if you like spicy, you can add a bit of cayenne pepper.


Boil pasta according to package directions.
Bake boneless chicken, cool and cut into sizes you like.
If using shrimp or combining with chicken, clean, de-vein and save for later.

In large sauce pan add: coconut milk, water chestnuts, chopped garlic cloves, artichoke hearts, and marinated mixed mushrooms. Mix ingredients together on heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add boneless chicken or shrimp, cook for 5 minutes more. Finally add shredded coconut and sour cream for rich creamy finish.

Serve on top of Fettuccini.

For Consideration:
If you are married to an Italian feed him until he falls asleep. You’ll have a nice quiet evening!

Friday, September 24, 2010

wowee zowee

last night sam and i went to see pavement in central park. it was a gorgeous night; somehow the humidity of the day disappeared and we arrived to the golden soundz of stephen malkmus. i'd originally planned on bringing a picnic, but we got caught up watching top chef:just desserts (my boss [and friend] eric is a contestant on the show, so if you watch, look out for him! a very talented baker and all-around sweet dude) and the potato salad i'd made to bring was all but gone by the time we were ready to head into manhattan. it was DELICIOUS though, so here is the recipe, which i adapted from one on epicurious. if you're a fan of salt and vinegar chips, do it, have a picnic, and enjoy the last few days of summer weather before we retreat into fall (my favorite time of year.)

salt and vinegar potato salad

about a pound of fingerling potatoes, scrubbed well
half a red onion
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
white pepper
ground bay leaves
celery salt
fresh ground paper
kosher salt or fleur de sel
ground ginger
1/2 c olive oil

cut the onion into long, thin slices and pour the apple cider vinegar over it; let that steep while you prep the potatoes. steam them for about 10 minutes or so - just until a fork will go into them easily. rinse them in cold water and let them cool off a bit. cut them into bite sized pieces and add them to the onions and vinegar, and add a couple of dashes of each of the spices. alternatively you can use old bay seasoning - the original recipe called for it, but i realized too late i didn't have it and had to improvise (and was pretty happy with the results, if i do say so myself.) salt liberally, add the olive oil, and voila! i should warn that the amounts here are approximated - i kind of eyeballed while making it.

today sam and i are heading to the beach for a couple of days of sun, surfing, and fishing; this weekend it's supposed to get up to almost 90, and i'm going to make the most of it!

shirt: thrifted
brooch: from lori goldstein
shorts: american apparel
shoes: vintage line of cole haan
purse: thrifted

alright everyone. enjoy your weekend, more food soon!

xo audrey

Thursday, September 23, 2010

fashion's night out, audrey's night in

the last couple of weeks have been a whirl of whisking, folding, piping, and baking. this probably doesn't seem too out of the order, given i'm a baker by trade, but i spent the week before (and some during) fashion week fanatically sifting almond flour and whipping up ganaches for french macarons. through a series of extremely fortunate events, i landed a couple gigs making my favorite dessert for fashion week parties - including making a whopping 600 for the juicy and chictopia conference after party a couple sundays ago. it was the most i've made at a time, and i was really, really nervous for them to all turn out perfectly - the macaron is such a temperamental cookie and i was determined to get it just right. it was a lot of work, and i spent fashion's night out in sweats stained with lavender white chocolate ganache. (literally.) after all the effort, though, i was really, really pleased with the desserts, and from what i hear, the macarons were a hit.

lemon raspberry

strawberry basil

vanilla bean milk chocolate

coconut lavender white chocolate

orange honey mascarpone

i've been asked by a few readers to share tips and recipes for these beauties; here's what i do:

the recipe i use is:

100 g aged egg whites
30 g granulated sugar
3-4 drops food coloring
1 t flavor
120 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar

use a food processor to pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar together, then sift and set aside. whip the egg whites until they are totally white and then add the sugar bit by bit; add the flavor and color and whip until stiff peaks form. fold the almond flour/powdered sugar in 5 additions, folding to completely incorporate every time. pipe them out, then let them sit until a skin forms and they are smooth to touch; put them in a preheated 350 degree oven but turn it down to 300 as soon as you put them in. rotate them every 5 minutes or so; take them out after 12-15 minutes, when they are just about to brown.

at this point i'll pop them in the freezer for a few minutes so they easily peel off the sheet. i now use parchment to line my sheet pans instead of a silpat; i find that the bottoms come out a lot better that way. if you are going to fill them right away, pair them up with similar sizes, then fill them with whatever you fancy - flavored buttercream, a ganache, a curd, jam, etc. put them in a tupperware and pop 'em in the fridge and let them relax there for about a day, so they have time to mature. voila! delicious macarons.

happy thursday, everyone! my friday! tgit.

xo audrey

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

what i wore [a frighteningly honest before and after.]

hello! happy wednesday! i've decided that blogging is much like talking to my mom on the phone. (which i just did! hi mom!) as my days pass (and as the world turns) i think of all these things i want to talk about and then by the time i have a chance to call (or write) i've forgotten most of them or i'm so overwhelmed by trying to catch up that i put it off some more. no more! this week is so full of goodness that i'll have tons to say, and i'd better get right down to it.

okay, first, an outfit post. it's been quite awhile. i've been wanting to do this for awhile but usually sam is here to distract me when i get home; today is my early day, so i was home early, sweaty and tired, and decided to do a before and after. because the truth is, the left side is what i'm wearing most of the time; i have to have my hair pulled back, comfortable, closed-toed shoes on, and some throw-away shirt and top so it can be covered in chocolate and cake batter. so truly, this is what i wore:


shirt: uo
pants: gap
shoes: toms
bandana: thrift shop

and on the right - tonight is the beginning of a week's worth of good times. i'm meeting a friend to hit the town for a bit before going to a book party for ps i made this.

onesie: anthropologie, swapped with my friend linsey a summer ago
bowtie: shoe clip from my mom
shoes: vintage, etsy'd
bag: birthday gift many years ago

next time on homerunballerina: pavement! the beach! belle and sebastian! macarons! stay tuned!

xo audrey