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