It’s never what it seems…

I’ve been cooking and baking most of my life and catering for the last sixteen years. I still have epic failures!

This weekend I was baking a very special cake for people I love very much. I dove in head first with a brand new recipe for a cake I knew would be simply amazing. One layer was strawberry, one layer lemon, and the third layer was French vanilla. Each layer baked up beautifully. I trimmed them and started the layering process. The strawberry was filled with a fresh strawberry compote. The lemon had a filling of tart lemon curd, and the vanilla had a creamed almond paste.

After placing the top layer, I turned my back to grab my bowl of crumb coat frosting and as I turned back around towards my masterpiece, from the bottom up, each layer had crumbled into pieces from the middle out!

At that moment, I could have crumbled myself. I was crunched for time, utterly disappointed and very frustrated. As I looked at the heaping pile of cake, I reached down and grabbed a handful like a child with a smash cake and I took a bite. It was sinfully delicious. I couldn’t waste one smashed crumb. So I punted.

I grabbed a large baking dish and layered it as best as I could into a trifle. I took my remaining icing and smeared a layer on the top.

It wasn’t the thing of beauty I had dreamed of baking, but I wasn’t going to let my labor of love turn into a complete failure and ruin the spirit of what I was attempting to do.

While I was fixing my mistake, I went back over the recipe in my head and what went wrong. It was just simply too tender of a cake for stacking, especially three full layers with fillings.

My lesson was that I tried, I failed, but I didn’t crumble under my failure. To everyone that ate and enjoyed the trifle, they were none the wiser to my earlier catastrophe. To them, I pulled off another successful dessert. They had no idea it just wasn’t what it seemed.


Seasons and Seasonings

Spring is here. Asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes become abundant and abundantly beautiful this time of year. Bright fragrant herbs break the soil and pop their tender leaves making for delicious salads, lite soups, and added seasonings to almost anything we cook or bake. Summer will bring a whole host of different fruits and vegetables.

Did you know that there is a season for fish and shellfish? Salmon season runs from May through September. Lobster season is late September through March. We are in the end of Atlantic sea scallop season now. They taste best before summer spawning.

Combining all of nature’s current best gives us the best opportunity to enjoy the moment. I had the pleasure of catering for an intimate dinner party in mid-town Sacramento last evening. Their loves were beef, any seafood, and all things hot and spicy, but didn’t necessarily want Mexican food. That’s when I get excited and my creative juices get flowing.

Starting with a green salad of spring butter greens, tender, but crisp, spring peas, shaved fresh jalapenos, adding roasted beets and roasted carrots and dressed with a cashew sour cream dressing, we moved into a dinner with a sous vide and then seared rib eye, huge and delicious Atlantic scallops finished with a pan sauce of fresh tart cherries, balsamic vinegar, and chipotle adobo peppers with a bit of fresh rosemary and thyme.

The best of Spring was on the plates. There is no reason to fight the seasons for delicious seasonings. It will always taste best, cost less, and be readily available.


Lunchbox

What a beautiful Spring day! It was also a great day for a unique catered corporate boxed lunch extravaganza. As it was super busy during the creating process, I managed to grab a few photos of the trial run recipes.

Thinking outside of the lunchbox is always fun. Sandwiches can be delicious, but they can also get a bit boring. Today’s lunch was a bowled seasoned and sautéed shrimp in chopped garlic, fresh parsley, paprika, dried parsley, cracked pepper, kosher salt, fresh lemon juice, and toasted chopped pistachios, served at room temperature with herbed and salt and peppered French bread crostini and a bright and springy green salad finished with a smores brownie to satisfy that afternoon sweet tooth.

Don’t ever think lunch can’t be something delicious and special. Nor do you have to go to a restaurant to get that something extraordinary. All you have to do is think outside of the lunchbox.