It's been quite a year over here at EPA. Hopefully, this post will catch you up while kickstarting my commitment to keep you updated.
Let's start off with my culinary highlight: November Gulf Coast trip with CulinaryCorps. It was my second trip with the organization and equally gratifying and intense as the first, but different (first trip was in 2007, part of Katrina relief). This topic will need its own post... Until then, this video should give you a warm and fuzzy idea of "cooking it forward."
On the homefront, I've been cooking private fancy dinners for private fancy clients and teaching cooks everything from pantry basics (a class I call "Mise en Place, yo!") and knife skills to making mother sauces and creating five course meals.
I've also continued my interest in beer making (see old post with Daniel, who is now the head of his Meatball Shop empire) as well tinkering with preserved foods (pickles, kimchi, jams, confitures, preserves, chutney, confit, kombucha, cheeses, etc.). Essentially, taking something or a few things and changing its molecular structure to extend or give it a new life, all while being delicious!
Naturally, I am still refining my love for flour, butter, sugar, eggs and yeast! As much as I don't like being pigeon-holed as a pastry-girl, it does come naturally. As I've told many of you, the secret to my baking is to bake like a cook. Although I like working bakers' hours and having my own pastry kitchen at a restaurant, I do not have a baker's temperament. I'm rarely exacting and like to poke at my doughs and taste them raw. Pastry chefs are known to be very neat, precise and somewhat weirded-out by tasting things before they are baked. Pastry folks also like to use timers and calibrated ovens. Having worked in small quarters, being the only woman in a kitchen, and usually the shortest/least threatening of the bunch, I've had to negotiate my place in the oven hierarchy. I can bake at 250 degrees as easily as 500 (not recommended). The secret is to do it like a cook - put it in and know it's done when it smells right, looks good and tastes delicious.
Sorry, I digressed. But yes, I've been baking up a storm and will be doing a lot more of it as well as culminating some of my other culinary interests in a new venture: Beachwood Cafe.
I was blessed to meet the owner of the Cafe, Patti Peck, via some good friends and our relationship blossomed organically. We talked about our love for food for hours and eventually discussed our take on modernizing Americana diner food. We were in agreement that while "gourmetizing" comfort food has been all the rage, we are hoping to honor this iconic space and its food the old fashioned way, by making everything with love! Handmade, handmade, handmade! I don't know if Patti will agree if that is our mantra but it sure is mine. I plan on making a lot of the baked goods and condiments that go with them with my own two hands as well as spinning fresh ice-cream daily. Not to say, if you were look at Patti's hands, you would not see she has left an imprint in every corner of this soon-to-open joint. So, yes, from our heart and hands, we're going to give you our best! (Sappiness is par for the course from this one.)
We're still working out the exact details of the Beachwood Cafe/EPA relationship, but know you will find me milling around Beachwood Canyon come February/March.
At the immediate moment, I am working on the cafe's Spring menu for its opening - lots of testing, revising, triumphs and failures (just like school). I'll also continue to cook and teach while working on other long term ventures, renewing my commitment to CulinaryCorps and Edible education in Echo Park.
That's the long and short of it. I'll get into more details and include recipes, photos in forthcoming posts - don't laugh as you will see posts that should have gone up as far back as a year ago. As always, I appreciate your support and encouragement. Keep me on my toes, ask questions, include me in your culinary plans!