vanilla bean & meyer lemon chess pie

Vanilla Bean & Meyer Lemon Chess Pie | daisysworld.net

Citrus season reaches its peak in winter.  Isn’t that great timing?  Just as Mother Nature is dumping massive amounts of snow on many parts of the country, here in California, she is providing an abundance of tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons so that we can bask in the bright, citrusy sunshine even on the coldest days of winter.  To me, nothing says summer-in-the-middle-of-winter more than meyer lemons.

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at the county fair: funnel cake

At the County Fair: Funnel Cakes

For many Americans, going to the state or county fair is as much a summer tradition as baseball and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Despite the searing heat and sweaty crowds, we flock to the fair to enjoy the carnival games, rides, attractions, and, of course, the food. For me, the food is only one reason to go. Shocking, right? I can skip the games (I’m way too old for stuffed animals), the rides (I never understood the appeal of spinning really fast while suspended in mid-air), and the animals (too smelly, too hot, and ewww, too smelly). I just can’t skip the corn dogs, grilled corn, and, of course, the funnel cake! Continue reading

strawberry rhubarb mini-tarts

Strawberry Rhubarb Mini-Tarts

I don’t often repeat things on the blog, but I love the concept of tarts made with puff pastry so much that I made another version, this time with a strawberry and rhubarb filling. These simple and easy to make tarts come together quickly once the sheet of frozen puff pastry is thawed, so these mini-tarts are great if you’re pinched for time. The best part is that they’re absolutely delicious. I love the flaky layers of dough as the base for tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, and an almond crumble flavored with a hint of cinnamon. There’s also a hidden layer of orange-scented cream cheese on the bottom that gives these mini-tarts a touch of creaminess.

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black velvet apricot and rhubarb tart

Black Velvet Apricot and Rhubarb Tart

One of the things I do to find food inspiration is to go to Whole Foods Market’s produce section. It’s big, brightly lit, and full of the most perfect and beautiful fruits and vegetables. The prices can be a bit steep, but I love perusing its aisles looking for interesting ingredients. There is always one aisle that has something different, at least to me. Over the last year, I’ve found red currants, gooseberries, passionfruit, and other items not commonly found in Southern California grocery stores. And, did I mention that I have a crush on one of the produce guys there? Continue reading

vanilla bean custard with roasted berries

Vanilla  Bean Custard with Roasted Berries

Every cook should have a homemade custard recipe in his or her repertoire.  It is the base for so many desserts and yet, is fairly simple to master.  The key is to temper the eggs with the milk so you don’t end up with bits of scrambled eggs.

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passion fruit and vanilla bean cupcakes

We all have our favorite way to relax and clear our heads after a busy week at work. Some people listen to music or read a book, or perhaps practice yoga, while others prefer to unwind by doing something physical like running or cycling. For me, baking is a great way to relax.  It gives me a sense of calm and provides an escape from the stresses of work, which is full of competing deadlines, ringing phones, and unanswered emails.  I can focus on something entirely of my own choosing. I don’t have to stretch or hydrate, and I’m not concerned about how fast or how far I’m going. Continue reading

rhubarb-vanilla bean shortbread bars

Rhubarb is a hardy, frost resistant crop that is similar in appearance to celery, except for its red or pink color.  Its fleshy and, sometimes, stringy stalks are the edible part, while the leaves are not eaten because they contain large amounts of oxalic acid, a stomach irritant, which can be toxic. When purchasing rhubarb, look for crisp, glossy stalks; the more intense the color, the sweeter they will be.  Rhubarb has a strong tart and bright flavor, and is best cooked with sugar as a compote, chutney or pie filling.
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candies and confections: passion fruit and vanilla bean pâté de fruit

 

Hi, my name is Daisy, and I am a sugarholic!

My lastest sweet obsession is pâté de fruit, or French fruit jellies, which are soft and chewy fruit-flavored candies rolled in sugar.  Pâté de fruit are made from pureéd fruit which is cooked down with sugar and pectin to a thick “jammy” consistency. Then, the cooked fruit paste is poured into a pan, cooled, and cut into shapes before being rolled in sugar. Alternatively, the cooked mixture can be poured into silicone molds to make individually-shaped candies. Continue reading

condensed milk pound cake

Condensed Milk Pound Cake  with Chocolate Drizzle

Until recently, Pichet Ong was the pastry chef behind The Spot Dessert Bar, my new favorite food destination in New York City.  Chef Ong’s path to the culinary world is a quite unorthodox, to say the least.  The self-taught chef has always had a passion for food, but his parents’ emphasis on higher education meant that culinary school was out of the question.  He double majored in Math and English Literature and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University and earned his Master’s degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley.  But, while getting his formal education, he continued to stoke his passion for food by working part-time at restaurants, including at Chez Panisse while he was in graduate school in Berkeley, CA.  His Continue reading