Thursday, December 29, 2011

ant audrey

greetings from a dining room table in icy cold brooklyn! it's finally feeling like winter here - the temperature has literally dropped 30 degrees in the past few days, and it's almost a relief to bundle up in a winter coat and gloves (although this haircut is leaving much to be desired warmth-wise.) i've had a pretty serious lack of outfit posts lately (and posts in general, but i digress) - it's not on accident; my hair hasn't been cut or colored since i first chopped it and blonded it back. . . whenever that was. i'm trying to grow it out, and will probably dye it back to brown at some point, but for now i'm settling for punk-rock-muppet, or whatever the look i'm cultivating is. it certainly doesn't help that i've take to dressing like your crazy, eternally single aunt. case in point, my christmas garb:

sweater: cloak & dagger
dress (as skirt): charlotte taylor via anthropologie
shoes: ebay'd ferragamos
necklace: thrifted

wrinkles and all.

anyway, for our christmas sam and i headed up to connecticut to spend it with his family. thanksgiving in california with my folks, christmas in connecticut with his; it's a tradition i've come to love, since time at home with my family is invaluable to me, of course, especially now that it means seeing my little nephew pete. my mom makes all the foods i love for thanksgiving - green bean casserole just the way i like it - and then for the christmas holiday sam's mom handmakes more pierogies than you can count, the wine flows generously, and there's a big screen tv in a den (i always wanted to have a house with a den when i grew up) to escape into. the bakery was pretty hectic leading up to christmas, but i threw together a dish i'd prepared a couple weeks earlier in brooklyn that sam went crazy over.

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bass en croute

upon a little internet searching to refresh my memory (i couldn't remember quite what veggies i used the first time) i came across this recipe, which is pretty similar. so i guess i can't claim complete ownership over this one, but i will say it's pretty easy to make and quite the crowd pleaser. particularly if you have a fridge full of fresh fish, as i do.

1 sizeable fish fillet (i used striped bass, which apparently has been on a KILLER run this fall. in case you were wondering.) i'd say about 4-5 inches wide by ten inches-ish long.
2 sheets puff pastry dough
1 egg, beaten
1 bulb fennel
1 lemon
1/2 cup greek olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
about 1/4 cup chicken stock
a couple tablespoons cream
salt & pepper

preheat the oven to 375; make sure your puff pastry sheets are defrosted and ready for use. prep the fish by slicing it, long ways, in half - so that you have two fillets that look the same size as the original from above, but are half the thickness. slice 1/2 the tomatoes, the greek olives, and the fennel; saute until soft, squeeze with 1/2 the lemon juice. prepare the puff pastry sheet by placing it on a baking pan on top of some parchment paper. brush the dough with the beaten egg (there should still be plenty left to brush the outside of the pastry when finished) then place one of the fillets in the center. top it with the sauteed veggies, then place the other half the fish on top; place two slices of lemon on top, squeeze the rest of the juice over it, salt and pepper, then carefully place the second sheet on top of the fish. trim the pastry so it's about 1 inch from the fish, then fold it over itself and seal it with a fork. brush the pastry with the remaining egg, then put it in the oven. it'll take 25-35 minutes to bake; keep an eye on it, and take it out to rest for a few minutes once it's puffed and golden brown.

for the sauce - while the pastry is cooking, take the remaining 1/2 cup of tomatoes, sliced in half, and the cloves of garlic; chop them, toss the two with olive oil, then wrap them in aluminum foil and roast until the skins of the tomatoes have popped and started to brown (10-15 minutes.) remove the foil and place the ingredients in a small pan; saute on low, adding chicken stock as needed, then right before you get ready to serve, add the cream, salt, and pepper. strain the sauce to remove the tomato skins and seeds, and drizzle around the pastry. ta-da!

you can see how out of practice i am - i totally forgot to take pictures the whole time and just cooked like a normal person. i'll get back on track, i swear.

i sincerely wish you all a wonderful new year, and hope you had a wonderful christmahannukwanzukah. or solstice. i have a pretty fantastic new years dress picked out, so i think i'll be back sooner than later.

xo audrey

Thursday, December 8, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like. . .

hello hello!

well, believe it or not, i am STILL nursing this cold, and starting to forget what it feels like to have a nose that isn't runny, and a head that isn't almost too heavy for its neck. one of my readers, lauren, pointed out that i shouldn't nap in the afternoon, and i think she's right - unfortunately i've become stuck in this awful cycle of wake up super early & tired, work for 8 or 9 hours, become exhausted, go home, nap, wake up for dinner and find myself unable to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, and repeat. i've also been watching a lot of law and order: special victims unit, which is doing some pretty weird things to my dreams.

regardless of all of this, i've been working like a maniac and honestly loving just about every minute of it. (except the first thirty or so. try as i might, i am just not a morning person.) with the holidays coming i'm trying to get some ideas together for the bakery (which, i should mention, is called the annex, in fort greene. if you are in new york please stop by!! it's a small place, you'll see me.) what holiday cookies and treats do you like? as a pastry chef with an admittedly saltier tooth than sweet, this time of year can be hard for me - so i've been focusing my time on macarons, always my favorite.

from the top: raspberry lemonade, blueberry white chocolate, caramel apple cider, chocolate espresso, pear ginger, and peppermint dark chocolate.

thank you all for the sweet and encouraging comments. it's a job that hardly feels like work, but i have to say i'm anxious to get my energy back and my sleep back on schedule so i can get back to normal again - i feel like i've been on some kind of strange baking vacation where all i do is work, eat and sleep.

if you have any holiday recipe ideas you'd like to share, please let me know! i'll let you know if i'm serving your cookies in the bakery.

xo audrey

Monday, November 28, 2011


and i do mean ACTION. i do think this new (awesome) job will allow me more time for blogging, but it's been a big adjustment - waking up at 5 am, and working until 2 or 3 pm - as yet, i haven't figured out how to get enough sleep the night before to bypass a nap when i get home; usually a 3 to four hour nap, which sucks me of any energy and still sends me off to bed early.

a typical day for me now looks like this: wake up, stumble into some clothing; tie my seriously-dark-rooted mop top into a bandana, slip on some comfy shoes, grab my magical red notebook of recipes and hop into the passenger's seat of sam's car, because he is a saint who wakes up when i do every morning just to drive me the 3/4 mile or so to work. once i get in to the bakery, i flip on the oven and start prepping muffins for the morning; i'll usually make two, say a blueberry cinnamon and then what's become a standard - a cheesy cornbread muffin with a hardboiled egg baked inside. next, biscuits; i'll see what cheeses or herbs need to be used and incorporate those - today's were buttermilk prosciutto.

somewhat by accident, i've been making lots of gluten free stuff that has gotten a pretty positive response - much of it inspired by this lovely blog. around this time of the morning, i'll pick a fruit we have in abundance, match it with a spice, extract, or herb and slowly bake it at a low temperature to create a fruit leather of the day.

next i'll try to bang out a few savory items, for lunch time - usually a pissaladiere, some kind of galette, and maybe a puff pastry tart. mini tomato tartins, cornbread upside down cakes, or mushroom and lamb galettes. . .

then the real fun starts. this is the time of day i get to experiment a bit; i make a batch of macarons (so far flavors i've tried: root beer float, chocolate raspberry, pumpkin pie, salted caramel apple, vanilla pomegranate, peppermint dark chocolate,) and any other cookies or sweets i want to test out. one of my favorites so far has been homemade s'mores - i made graham crackers and marshmallows from scratch, then pressed them together with some dark and white chocolate and melted them for about 30 seconds.

so, all is well, and i really feel like i've found my place - what's better than getting to do the thing you love all day long, and get paid for it?

i know i've been awful about responding to comments, and getting back to you guys - i swear i'm getting my feet underneath me (and getting over a pretty nasty cold) and i'll be back to my old self in no time.

much love,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


sunday afternoon, four old friends from culinary school came over for brunch. in other words, five pastry chefs gathered at my apartment sunday and they all brought food. for my part, despite two late nights in a row - friday night was my going away party at work, and saturday night was a close friend's birthday - i roused myself at a reasonable hour (10 am is reasonable, right?) and started cookin'.

the apple cake i made can be found here; it was great, nice and light, not like a lot of apple cakes which end up really dense (also delicious, but when you're got a zucchini, asparagus & goat cheese strata, 2 kinds of eclairs, chocolates, a spice bundt with caramel icing to get through, you've got to keep it light any way you can.)

my other contribution (aside from some fresh-squeezed juice to house the champagne) was a smoked duck, beet and goat cheese hash, a variation on one of my favorite breakfasts of all time. it takes a bit of time (mostly for the beets to roast) but it so well worth it.

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smoked duck, beet and goat cheese hash

1 smoked duck breast, cubed
2 large beets, roasted until soft when pricked with a fork and cubed
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled, boiled and cubed
1 4 oz goat cheese log
4 thyme sprigs
salt & pepper

start a large saucepan on medium high heat; add duck. sear it on all sides, then add thyme, beets and potatoes; cook until crispy on the sides, remove from heat, and stir in goat cheese. salt and pepper to taste; serve with fried eggs atop if desired.

easy as pie! and so, so savory or delicious. you can really sub in any meat you like, but the duck did work great with the beets and goat cheese.

i started the new job yesterday, and i have to say, it's pretty incredible. now that i've emptied my camera of brunch photos, i'll be sure to document my goings-on in there. and i'm off work around 2 every day, so i should have some daylight time for an outfit post or two. . . as long as i don't fall asleep watching netflix at 3 like i may or may not have done upon arriving home today.

hope all is well, and more from me soon -

xo audrey

Thursday, November 10, 2011

hand pies

hello hello! second to last day at work here; i've been trying to insure they'll miss me by making some decent snacks. i tested out this muffin tin pie idea wednesday night with dinner (and packaged most of them up to send to my little sister) - so yesterday, i stepped it up a bit and made 2 different kinds of pie, apple and pumpkin, all in a muffin tin.


i just used standard pie dough and regular fillings - for one-crust pies, like the pecan and pumpkin, one pie crust is about perfect for 12 pies, and one batch of filling is a littttle extra, so you can scale down a touch.

more from me soon!

xo audrey

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

one fish, two fish

blackfish, bluefish. sam took monday to head down to new jersey to do some fishing, and came home that night with a big, gorgeous blackfish, which he deftly filleted and packaged up, telling me to do with it what i would. i've been pretty overwhelmed lately - coming up with menu ideas, testing recipes, trying to wrap up my work here while searching for a replacement - but i spent a significant amount of tuesday dreaming up ideas for what to do with that beautiful piece of meat when i got home. and i mean the fish, not sam. (ha-cha!) i found a recipe that sounded complicated enough to take a few hours and use most of our pots and pans, and knew it was the one.

so i took this recipe and tweaked it to what ingredients i had handy - cherry tomatoes, some baby chanterelles and lots of thyme. my variation is below.


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sauteéd blackfish with corn & roasted red pepper pudding

2 blackfish fillets (preferably with skin still on, but sam had removed the skin and they still held together pretty well.)
1/2 lemon wedge
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper

1/2 roasted red pepper (cut in half, splash with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and blast at 450 until the skin starts to blacken. let cool entirely then remove seeds, stem and peel off the skin [this should be easy if it's fully roasted.])
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (recipe calls for fresh; i cheated and used some good frozen corn. still delicious.)
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs + one egg yolk
salt & cayenne to your liking

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth will do to if you're pescetarian.)
4 thyme stalks
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 T butter
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

a few sauteed mushrooms, for garnish

preheat your oven to 275. spray six ramekins with cooking spray (for real. i tried brushing mine with butter instead and the buggers did not want to budge out of their molds.) start cream, red pepper, and corn in a small pot; bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. pour into a blender and puree until totally smooth, then add the eggs, one at a time, while the blender is still going. add cayenne & salt. pour this mixture into the ramekins, and then set them all into an oven safe dish big enough to fit them. pour hot water in, halfway to the top of the ramekins, and bake for at least 20 minutes. mine took closer to 40 to fully set. once they don't jiggle anymore, set them to the side.

while they're cooking, start another small pot with the chicken stock, thyme, and corn. let it simmer at a low temp.

now start the olive oil in your pan. if the skin is still on the fish, score it and squeeze lemon juice in; otherwise just squeeze lemon juice over the fish, salt and pepper it, and toss it on the pan once it's good and hot. cook the fish on medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until it has a nice sear and is cooked all the way through. set on a paper towel to rest.

at this point, strain the chicken stock so that only the liquid remains; add the butter, and whisk until it's nice and foamy. invert the corn pudding into a bowl, pour the foamy sauce around and add the tomatoes; top with the blackfish, mushrooms, and some thyme. voila! it's a lot of work, yes, but really nothing too complicated, and the result is a beautiful, delicious, restaurant quality meal. and the savory pudding was such a great base for the fish - i'll definitely be trying some variations on it for other dishes.


xo audrey