Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

One Girl, Two Cakes June 13, 2012

Filed under: Biz Stuff,Random — rabbit @ 3:04 pm
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Uuuuuhhh…

Yeah, that’s gross, don’t think things like that.

^The beginning of Swiss buttercream^

My co-worker, Carmen, wanted a small cake for her boyfriend’s birthday.  And I was all like, “Hells, yeah, I’ll do it.”  It was pretty easy.  Vanilla bean cake with vanilla frosting, for maybe six people, max.  An afternoon project.

I was a bit disappointed when my cake supply store ran out of vanilla bean paste.  So much more economical than buying whole vanilla beans.  But sometimes you gotta bite the bullet and buy the bean…  It smells damn good anyway.

I guess at some point every baker should slit open a vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.

The hardest part was painting the logo of the birthday boy’s basketball team:

…And NO, not because I’m  a Heat fan or whatever.

Frankly, I dislike sports in general.  Except soccer…  Soccer’s hot.  And rugby.  Watching rugby is like watching Brokeback Mountain.  Times ten.

I mean painting a logo with food coloring was a bit challenging.  But it reminded me that I still got some painting skills left.

The logo was entirely edible, made of rolled out marzipan, and painted with food coloring gel.  Yaaay meee.

I used this recipe for the buttercream (and dyed it robin’s egg blue, birthday boy’s favorite color).

  I always feel a little odd using Martha Stewart recipes.  Makes me feel dislocated.

But that buttercream was damn good.

(That’s gold dust on there by the way… Looks odd in the photo, pretty in person.)

And birthday boy enjoyed his cake very much.  He said it actually had flavor, as opposed to many other special-order cakes.

The following week, I was called upon for a larger project…

A cake that would feed forty people.

Yup.  A wedding cake.

At first I thought, “I can’t do a freakin’ wedding cake!”

And then I thought, “Well, actually… I am pretty boss…”

To make it easier, I used the kitchen at work, seeing as how our oven, mixer, workspace, and fridge are much larger.  I can’t imagine trying to accomplish this in my tiny kitchen at home.

Fortunately, the client wanted a rather simple, traditional cake– French vanilla with buttercream, so I actually was able to use the same recipes I made for Carmen’s boyfriend.  Felt like second nature.  Aw, hell, most baking that I do feels like second nature.  Boss.  As I worked on the cake, I would show off the progress to my co-workers and regular customers.  I gave away scraps of cake and leftover frosting.  You’d think I’d be nervous, but I felt pretty good about this.

The most daunting task?  Transportation of the cake.  Especially in 90+ degree weather.  Bleeeech.  The layers did suffer a bit of damage, but nothing I couldn’t fix onsite.  That’s why we bring back up frosting and piping bags.  My client had roses and blue orchids for the finishing touches.

Actually, I kinda find it dorkably old-fashioned.

But it’s nice to say I’ve done a wedding cake :)

BOSS.

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Badass March 26, 2012

Filed under: Biz Stuff — rabbit @ 10:11 pm

March has gone by faster than a meth head’s heart rate.

(Henry has been watching Breaking Bad quite a bit, so I think about meth addicts more than usual lately.)

There was the Bar Mitzvah Barbara and I cooked for.  The following weekend, not only did I get to see Sir Elton-the-Mutha-Fucking-Queen-Bitch John for my dear friend Shawn’s birthday…

(I did not film this, by the way.   I simply marveled at my knight in glittery armor.)

…but then Barbara and I hosted another awesome dinner party, for which I hope to soon acquire photos so I can post on that.  When I thought I’d have some time to chill out, I ended up working all of St. Paddy’s Day weekend, then this past Saturday, the 24th,  Barbara and I were at it yet again for the Badass Business Women’s 2nd annual party.

The party took place at a venue called The Stage, in Miami.  Of course, you can’t see the actual stage, as we were designated to be set up outside.  This sucked simply because when we were putting everything together, it was still daylight, and therefore, HOT.  As a South Florida native, I know I should be used to this, but heat and humidity irritate me in some circumstances.  I think I’m cold blooded, as I have a hard time maintaining my internal temperature…  By the time the party started though, the sun had been on its way down and I was cute and cuddly again.

Stupidly, we failed to get some good photos of the food we served.  Which is the main focus of this post.  Doh.

Anywho, I made my Mushroom Carpaccio, marinated in a simple vinaigrette with a bit of Marsala wine.  I put that on top of crostini with some avocado whip.  I was pleasantly surprised at people’s reactions.  A good cook should not be surprised, I suppose, but I often worry, particularly when I make something “alternative”.  We eventually ran out of mushrooms and just served the avocado whip on crostini.  Barbara fried up some marinated tofu cubes and skewered them with green olives and a preserved lemon and cilantro sauce.  That one was an awesome combination of textures and flavor.

She also did brandied meatballs on top of mini broccoli sformato (basically an Italian souffle).  Barbara insisted I at least try the brandy sauce for the meatballs, but I just couldn’t, since it was made with beef and veal bones.  I can appreciate it from a culinary perspective, but it’s just not t kosher for Rabbit.  I did have the broccoli sformato though, which was absolute comfort food.

I took care of dessert– mini raspberry macarons, and doughnuts with three dipping sauces: spiced rum dulce de leche, chocolate with hazelnut liqueur, and wined up guava.  I actually screwed up the doughnut dough… but people seemed none the wiser.  Err…

And Tatiana helped us!  Fo realz, Tati, you were awesome.  Could not have pulled this off without you!  It’s one thing to have an extra pair of hands, but when those hands also have artistic, think-on-your-toes food capabilities, that’s a win.

Ah, yes, Absolut Vodka was one of the sponsors.  Free booze.  More win.

The aim of this gig was to market ourselves.  Which means we did not get paid.  Though I wonder what would have happened if we had a tip jar…  But it was a lot of fun, definitely a boost to our egos, and hopefully, we’ll get a few clients out of this.

Oh, and no more Redbull and vodka for Barbie.

Update!

Thanks to the Badass Business Women Facebook page, and the professional photographer they had, I was just able to hijack a few photos of our spread!

Meatballs and Broccoli Sformato

Tofu Brochettes

Mushroom Carpaccio with Avocado Whip

And Raspberry Macarons

So there!

 

Can’t Please Everyone… March 6, 2012

Filed under: Biz Stuff,Random — rabbit @ 7:11 pm

Let’s review last Saturday.

Lemon-Pepper Hummus, Vegetarian Mushroom Pate, and Smoked Salmon Dip…

Homemade Pickled Veggies: Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers, Lemony Cauliflower, and Dill Carrots.  A cheese plate and crudite…

Brazilian Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Red Pepper Sauce…

Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Green Tea Dressing, Chicken-Cranberry Salad…

Sweet Pepper and Tomato Gratin, Gourmet Mac and Cheese…

Chicken, Blue Cheese & Fig Sandwiches, Roast Beef and Boursin Cheese Sandwiches…

all for 45 people.

PLUS

Double Chocolate Merengues, Red Velvet Cake, Doughnuts with Homemade Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Sauces, and Cake Pops…

for 80 people.

Oh yeah, and fresh brewed iced coffee and berry tea.

All of this made by three people (me, Barbara, and her friend Laura).

Rave reviews on all the dishes, from all the guests.  So rave, they needed glow sticks.

And no tip from the host because we didn’t have aaallll the food ready at the same time.

YUPPIES.

P.S. Part of the menu in this post is a small preview to this coming Saturday.  See if you can guess, especially if you’ll be in attendance…

 

Oh Hell Yes. February 14, 2012

Filed under: Biz Stuff,Random — rabbit @ 9:31 am

(I know it’s Valentine’s Day, and that I could’ve done some crazy awesome chocolate thing.  But I don’t care, so nyaaah.)

So Barbara and I had a party.  A party that I think Party Cat would be proud of.

As a little marketing ploy for The Drunken Doughnut (and kinda just for fun), we held a dinner party where the guests paid $20 a head and brought the booze of their choice, while we cooked up deliciousness and provided some spirits as well.  And got everyone drunk.  Basically.

Tatiana and Drew came (though Drew isn’t in this pic), as well as Allie.  And in the background is Andrew the giant on the left, and two of my favorite customers EVER, Lisa and Manny.  When I worked at Creme Brulee, Lisa and Manny were there almost constantly, and when they brought their kids, I’d load them up with sweets.  Evil Rabbit…

Then there was Cedric, who just became a vegetarian, which is highly appropriate since the featured menu was vegetarian and vegan (yaaay!).  And of course, Henry…  Ugh.

The night began with my Goat Cheese & Pistachio Stuffed Mushrooms.  Because peeps can’t get enough of them.  Meanwhile, we sipped/chugged Barbara’s homemade cranberry-infused vodka with a hint of lemonade and seltzer.  Veddy, veddy nice… Though frankly, Barbi, I’m surprised you didn’t make them stronger…

I worked on polenta croquettes stuffed with Manchego, Brie, and Gouda cheese…

And Barbara taught everyone how to make Vietnamese summer rolls, paired with her sweet and spicy chili sauce.  Dude, that sauce… Correction, dat sauce.

Success and amazement.  Love the expression, Drew.  ^_^

And once the polenta croquettes were fried up, we served them on top of some Swiss chard and drizzled with a mixed berry vinaigrette.  Crispy, cheesy, tangy, tender, melty, aaaaaah…  I began to explain the nutritional importance of greens like chard to Cedric.  But the vodka cocktails were done, we had moved onto wine, and well, by that point, one of the few skills I retained was not so much speech, but cooking.

We then served up my Vegan Aztec Chili, which, in the early stages of cooking, caused a spoon to jump onto the floor.  Yeeeaah.  Anyway, we topped it with an avocado whip, which I made by whipping up the chilled fat from a can of coconut milk, and mixing it with with avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  This made me stupidly happy.

 Speaking of stupid… I think by the time we had gotten through the first four dishes, cocktails, and a couple bottles of wine, no one really took pictures of dessert.  That’s okay, I couldn’t speak English by then.  We made doughnuts, paired with a drunken dulce de leche, loaded with sherry and spiced rum.  I also made vegan chocolate stout cupcakes.  I’ll be sure to have the recipe up once I perfect it, because, while they were good enough to serve on this occasion, were not as fluffy as cupcakes should be.  I battled with that recipe for hours the day before we threw this dinner!  Still, I was happy with the results, and so was everyone else.

Then we had everyone write down an international theme for the next dinner.  Barbara and I each picked one from a bowl, which, judging by this picture, made me euphoric…

Stay tuned for the next Drunken Doughnut event!

And now, me and Barbara being promotionally drunk, with Henry in the background…

Finally, a BIG THANK YOU to Tatiana, Drew, and Allie for taking photos, and ESPECIALLY THANK YOU to everyone who joined in on the fun!  Better watch out for next time…

 

Creme Brulee & Wine November 17, 2011

Filed under: Biz Stuff,Recipes — rabbit @ 6:45 pm
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So I figured I should start telling you all about this side project I’ve had going on for the past few months.  To begin with, you may or may not know (depending on how much attention you pay this blog), I used to work at a cafe where I did a whooooole lot o’ baking and cooking.

And sassing certain customers, but that’s a different story…

The place was called Creme Brulee Cafe, and it was run by Chef Barbara, a petite, blonde, and ambitious gal from Lithuania.  When I interviewed with her over a year ago, I made a list of just a few of the whacked out items I had baked in the past.  I told her since I pretty much had vegan baking down pat, it made traditional methods even easier for me.  And of course, my enthusiasm for the kitchen made me an easy sale.

On my first day there, I brought Barbara some of my Stout Brownies to try, just so she could see that I’m fo’ realz.  And then she told me to make a batch for the pastry case.  That was the first of many proud moments I would have with Creme Brulee Cafe.

Before the place had to shut down back in March, I gained a slew of experience.  I worked food and wine festivals, helped with catering and private dinners, baked a ridiculous amount of holiday desserts and special order cakes, twinked and developed recipes, learned how to make a serious French Onion soup, macarons, and of course, creme brulee.

It also turned out that Barbara and I have a penchant for drinking while cooking.  Nothing feels more natural than trying a new Zinfandel while chopping onions and seasoning sauce.  Special events always meant we would somehow acquire plenty of wine or beer to fuel our personal little foodie parties.  We talked about local restaurants, made fun of the weirdos and yuppies, and exchanged our most screwed up stories.  The saddest aspect of Creme Brulee shutting down was the loss of these occasions.

But we’re fixing that.

See, many moons ago, Henry asked me a cooking question, as he often does.  He wanted know about incorporating wine into a doughnut filling…  I like when he asks me these kinds of questions.  I mentioned it to Barbara at work, and we let the thought slide away, as we had other things that needed to be done.  A couple months after Creme Brulee was no more, Barbara and her hubby were having a party at their house.  Of course, I was helping a bit with the food.  I kneaded and rolled some flat bread dough for Barbara to put on the grill.  Glasses of wine in our hands, she rehashed the doughnut idea.  I was hesitant about starting a business venture.  I put it on the back burner again, and continued looking for jobs and being disappointed.  Then she called me about a catering gig for the 4th of July.  A former customer of Creme Brulee missed the food and wanted our services.  When it was all over, I was struck by how much money we could make in a single day, just providing food for a private party.  Even if we only did this once in a while, it would be nice to get paid for doing something I enjoy again.

So now we’re working on our new persona, The Drunken Doughnut.  It’s a private chef service for parties of four or more.  We cook for you in your home, offer lessons, wine pairings, and crass humor if you’re so inclined.  Our specialty of course, is drunken doughnuts– doughnuts with boozed up fillings and dips.  Our menu and website are still in progress, but we do have a video up!  I guess you could call it a tribute to the old business, Creme Brulee Cafe, because it’s a lesson on how to make creme brulee.

It’s so amateur it hurts.

Still worth it.

 

 

The Halloween Party November 1, 2011

On Saturday, Henry and I went to a Halloween Party.  And got paid.

No, we’re not celebrities.  Yet.

Henry was the DJ and I catered some of the food.  Preeetty coool.

This weekend I found the weather appropriately wild and gloomy for the holiday.  I love when the rain comes down all heavy and crazy.  I hate, however, trying to pack things into the car while that’s happening.  And getting my dress wet, and stepping into the mud…  The inside of my car door was still wet the day after.  But I digress.

Here’s what was on the menu:

Tangy Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Goat Cheese & Pistachio Stuffed Mushrooms

Three types of sliders: Sweet & Spicy Peanut Butter w/ Fried Banana and Sweet Potato Chips; Granny Smith Apple w/ Goat’s Milk Gouda Cheese and Caramelized Onion & Fig Spread; and Portobello Carpaccio w/ Roasted Tomato and Avocado

Gluten-Free Brownies w/ a Cinnamon-Sugar Almond Topping

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Filled Cupcakes w/ Ginger Icing

Gluten-Free Booze Balls, loaded with Marsala Wine and Spiced Rum

The hostess doesn’t eat gluten or dairy, which is why all the sweets were gluten-free.  One of my happiest moments at the party was a guest tasting a cupcake and raving over it.  “I didn’t expect it to be that good!”  I’m pretty confident in my food, but responses like that are always nice.  Especially when it’s followed by requests for a separate occasion.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time this weekend to fulfill it, but hey.  The peanut butter and banana sliders were another favorite, which I was relieved over because as I was making the peanut butter at home I started to hate it after tasting it so much.  When you cook and bake, sometimes it’s like having children.  Deep down you always love them, but a lot of the time, you just want to smack them out of the way.  With a shoe.

The tower of sliders.  From left to right: peanut butter & banana; apple, cheese & onion spread; portobello, tomato & avocado

Crazy Rabbit, preparing tiny sammiches.

I love my brownies.  They’re my favorite children.  I like the topping because it reminds me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

The cupcakes.  I actually almost killed myself over the cake recipe.  The first three batters took a crap on me, so I finally just came up with a different recipe and voila.  My new go-to gluten-free cake batter.

Booze Balls.  Adapted from here.  I make them even more awesome, and they are a holiday MUST.  And no, that is not a crack rock on the right side of the bowl, it’s a clump if powdered sugar.  Maybe.

I didn’t get a picture of the pumpkin seeds, but you can imagine what they look like– pumpkin seeds… And the stuffed mushrooms you’ve seen before.

And then here’s me being cute!

Since Henry was playing mostly retro music I just glammed it up kinda old school style.  (I don’t have time for costume shopping!)  With the apron on I called myself a figment of men’s imaginations in the fifties.  And before the humidity ruined my hair it was all nice and bouncy.  But oh well.

And here’s my boyfriend.

He rides on the short bus.

 

I Need a Massage… October 13, 2011

Filed under: Biz Stuff,Random — rabbit @ 9:05 am
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So I never made it to last weekend’s farmer’s markets.  I got screwed over by my other work schedule.  But that’s okay, because as my fellow locals would know, it rained almost as much as I cry when I watch The Land Before Time.  Which is a lot.

Nonetheless, I was, and am, busy.  Not blow-my-brains-out-busy, but enough to miss out on sleep.  And I will smugly admit, it’s not all due to work-related activities.  Yes, I work hard, but I make sure to reward myself at some point…

I am happy for this change of pace, though.  During the summer there were days I felt despairingly bored and full of fail, due to my lack of employment.  I love Netflix, but I gotta get out.  And getting out means having the money to spare.  Now I hardly have the time and energy to spare (let alone the money).  I often work nights at the cafe, I typically wake up around or before dawn to start getting tasks done whether I work or not, and I have to drive a LOT.  It’s fun.  And boyfriend says my butt has more muscle (win!).  Probably because I’m always standing/running around– at work, at home, at the farmer’s market.  Plus I still do a little exercise in the morning, not just because it feels good, but because I find Allie’s muscular wisdom inspiring.  Makes me feel like movin’.  And if you ever want a job that involves some exercise in and of itself, work in a kitchen.  Be a baker.  Zest and juice lots of limes.  Show the dough who’s boss.  Lift lots of bulk bags and containers.  Trust me.  Of course, if you’re like me, you’re bound to mess up your back and shoulders occasionally.  Cheese-and-rice, it hurts.

Also, when you’re in the grocery store for pumpkin puree, always double check the label to make sure you get pumpkin puree, and not freakin’ pumpkin pie mix!  Gaah!  If it does happen though, make brownies instead.  Everybody likes brownies.