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Posts Tagged ‘The Script’

So it’s been kind of an Irish month.  Okay, not really.  But I went to Globe, AZ in September and came across a bunch of cookbooks in an antique store.  I could have browsed for hours, but unfortunately didn’t have the time.  I did manage to find a sourdough book with a whole bunch of recipes using sourdough starter, which strangely enough is difficult to find online.  So I took my “friend” Paddy out of the refrigerator, freshened him up a bit, and made some sourdough bagels.

I’ve never made bagels before.  Using my starter had me worried as well since Paddy doesn’t seem to produce consistent results.  But at least this recipe didn’t require a 12+ hour rise, so if the end product wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

So you boil and then bake bagels, eh?  Nifty process and it all went quite well.  I let my Kitchenaid mixer do the kneading, then left the dough to rise for about 3 hours.  Shaping the bagels was a cinch, then they rose for another 30 minutes before taking a boiling water bath.  I think the heat activated the yeast because they seemed to swell up well during the boil.  Then popped in the oven to finish before eating.  Texture wasn’t quite like I thought it would be for bagels, but they certainly made amazing ham, cheese, and avocado sandwiches.

A few weeks ago was my grandpa’s birthday.  His favorite cake is either chocolate with white frosting, or white with chocolate frosting.  I get kind of bored always doing the same kind of cakes, so I decided to experiment and make it a cookies and cream cake.  Chocolate cake and vanilla frosting would still be involved, but mixed in the frosting would be Oreos for a bit of a crunch.

Note to anyone wanting to try this: mix the Oreos in the frosting to help it all stick together.  I spread the frosting between the layers and then sprinkled cookie crumbs over it.  When cut, the layers didn’t hold together very well.  Overall, not my favorite cake.  I think the cookies just made me overly thirsty, so have a glass of milk nearby.  But a cookie crumb around the sides is a good solution when running out of frosting.

Just this past weekend, I went to see my good friends the Script (okay, they probably consider me more of a crazy fan) in San Diego and LA with my concert partner in crime, Jessica.  As always, I couldn’t show up empty handed.  But what kind of cookies should I make this time?  The list was long, but I settled on french macarons (now that I seem to have the hang of them), white chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies (to get creative with).

The macarons turned out well, except the vanilla ones had to bake quite a bit longer because the bottoms kept sticking to the parchment.  I’m not done learning about these delicate and frustrating cookies yet, but they were definitely more than presentable.  I realized for the chocolate macarons, I didn’t have any heavy cream to make chocolate ganache.  I took a chance (because I didn’t want to go to the store) and tried a heavy cream substitute comprised of milk and butter and by George, it worked!  I think I actually liked the ganache better with the heavy cream substitute because… duh!  Butter makes everything better.

The chocolate chip cookies were delish!  I still go with the good ol’ Toll House recipe on the chocolate chip bag.  I’ve found that as long as you take them out of the oven when they’re just slightly browned and let them finish baking on the cookie sheet, they’re perfect.  If you let them bake too long, they seem to be a bit dry.

Now for the sugar cookie fun.  I’ve done the band’s instruments before, meticulously hand painted with food coloring, so I didn’t want to do that again.  Seeing as how their new record #3 just came out (you can buy it here or on iTunes), I went with a #3 song theme.  Millionaires translated into round cookies with a gold Euro and writing underneath.  Six Degrees of Separation was done by making cookies in the shape of thermometers that measured six degrees.  Hall of Fame was done with Hollywood Star cookies with the band members names on them.  A hand cookie cutter folding the outside fingers down created the 3 fingers up cookies.  And Broken Arrow were also round cookies with a sky background and painted broken arrows flying across.  I wanted to do Kaleidoscope cookies but figured each one would take about 30 minutes to hand paint.

The cookie drop didn’t go as well as hoped.  Jessica and I went to the venue early to try to catch one of the guys.  We saw the tour manager so should have just given them to him, but he seemed busy.  After soundcheck, a guy who works at the venue said they were sitting down for dinner so probably wouldn’t be out for awhile.  I almost gave them to him to see if he’d take them back, but doubted they’d be delivered.  When I told Jessica this, she said “You don’t give your cookies to just any one.”  And my response was “no, just musicians.”  Ladies and gentlemen, my new slogan was born.  Ha!

Fortunately a few minutes later, one of the band’s crew members walked out to the buses and took the cookies.  I’m still not sure if the band ever saw them though since they went on the crew bus.  Oh well.

Was a great couple of shows and so good to see those guys back at it.  Now my count is 10 Script shows and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one, which will most likely be Atlanta in a couple weeks or Vegas in a month and a half.  No, I don’t have a live music problem . . .

 

 

Sourdough Bagels:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 gallon water plus 2 tablespoons sugar

In a large mixing bowl combine sourdough starter with eggs and oil.  Mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Add to starter mixture.  Add enough additional flour for the dough to leave the sides of the bowl.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.  Cover with a cloth.  Set in warm place free from drafts until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 8-10 pieces; shape into balls.  Punch a hole in center with a floured finger.  Form a doughnut shape by gently enlarging hole, working each bagel into uniform shape.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Add sugar to water and bring to a boil.  Drop each bagel into the boiling water one at a time.  Boil only 4-5 bagels at a time.  Cook for 7 minutes, turning once.  Drain; place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375F for 25-35 minutes.  Bagels should be golden brown and crusty.

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The last couple of months have been busy.  First, my sister and nephew came for a visit.  Then, I went back to France with them for a little holiday.  After that was back to life; back to reality.  But I still found occasions to bake.

It was all quite hush hush, but I flew to Dallas in July for the Voice auditions.  I was keeping it relatively quiet because if I didn’t get a call back, I wouldn’t have to tell any one about my failure.  I’ve auditioned for American Idol several times and never made it past the first round.  Unfortunately, the Voice was no different, but I don’t feel bad about it.  Actually, I nailed my audition.  I sang a slowed down version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and where I saw a lot of participants succumb to nerves, I didn’t at all.  There were so many people auditioning so I brought decorated sugar cookies with me in order to stand out (and bribe, if necessary).  The cookies never fail for concerts, but I guess they don’t work at auditions.

A few weeks ago, I had a craving for sticky buns.  I rarely eat them, but they’re so unbelievably good, I decided to indulge.  Not exactly an easy recipe to halve, I gave away some to my parents and froze the rest for when I have another craving.  The recipe I used was pretty good, except I think it had too much orange zest in it.  And letting it rise in the fridge overnight didn’t really work, so it had to rise out of the fridge in the morning.  Nonetheless, they hit the spot.

And then last week, I went to a birthday party and decided to take some sugar cookies.  The birthday boy, Jim, loves (drinking) games, so I made him drunken jenga cookies.  I have to say, one of my favorite baking tools is an edible food color pen.  If I had to write in icing, they would not have turned out nearly as nice.

While baking those cookies, I remembered that some Script fans were putting together a little something for the band when their new album #3 released.  All I had to do was take a picture with three fingers up.  I’m Cookie Kelly, what better way was there to do that than draw three fingers up on a cookie?  It was good fun, though I probably could have made it a bit more detailed.  I’m not an artist, but I’m a perfectionist.

The rest of September should be pretty slow in the kitchen, but I’ve got to decide what kind of cookies to make the Script for when I see them in California next month.  It’s been 10 months . . . I’m having withdrawals.

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Ho! Ho! Ho!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  I think I missed it in the craziness of the past two weeks.  Been a busy baker indeed.

The baking challenge this month over at the Daring Kitchen was to make sourdough using a sourdough starter.  I had never even heard of a starter before.  And I must admit, I was initially disappointed because I was hoping it’d be a more holiday themed challenge.  But nonetheless, turned out to be quite the learning experience.

I got started on my starter pretty early in the month.  I knew I’d be busy and seeing as how the starter takes 4+ days to create, I didn’t have time to waste.  Basically, a sourdough starter is a natural leaven “grown” by mixing a high content wheat flour with an equal weight of water.  It gets its kicks in a bit warmer temperatures and needs to “eat” every day until it matures (about 4 days), after which it needs to eat only once a week if kept at room temperature, less in the fridge.

My starter was three days developed when I decided to spontaneously go to Tampa to see the Script.  My mom was coming over to feed my bird twice a day, so she also looked after my starter.  When I returned three days later, it smelled really sour (my starter, not my bird), like it had gone rancid, and had a layer of liquid on top.  I thought for sure my mom had killed it, or at least that the bacteria had won the war against the yeast.  I looked at other Daring Bakers comments to see if they had the same results.  In the end, I decided to see if I could revive it, since everything I found said that starters are easy to nurse back to health.  Just in case, I started a new starter as well.

Back to wortk for a week, I had to keep discarding part of the starter so I could feed it more flour and water.  I work ten hour days, so I don’t have time during the week to make a yeast bread.  When the next weekend came around, it was time to put my yeastie beasties to work.  I also, after reading other bakers comments, lovingly named my starters.  They are living things, afterall.  Yeastie number one was named Paddy, since he was the one I revived after leaving town to see an IRISH band.  Yeastie number two was named Krusty because he would have a hard crust on top 24 hours after feeding.

The dough for sourdough is extremely sticky.  I had so much trouble with it.  I let my bread machine knead it because it stuck to my hands too much when I tried to.  I used Paddy in one loaf and threw in some chopped cheddar cheese, and Krusty was used in the other loaf and left plain.

Unfortunately, my end results fell flat, literally.  Sourdough Paddy had some holes in it when sliced, but was tough and didn’t rise.  Sourdough Krusty was just flat and seemed kind of wet, not at all like the dryness you expect with sourdough.

I still have the leftover starters in my fridge, waiting for another feeding and another chance to rise like a star.  I just didn’t have time this month to give it a second try.  But it ended up being an interesting challenge and my initial disappointment was dispelled by the creation of life, the creation of Paddy and Krusty.  They will probably soon be joined, as I don’t need two sourdough starters, to become super Paddy.  And I will try to feed him every two or three weeks since he’s in the fridge so I can attempt sourdough again.

In other yeastie news, I decided to make French pastries for Christmas breakfast.  We had a croissant challenge at the Daring Kitchen a few months ago but I was unable to participate.  So I pulled up that recipe and got to work.  I used good old fashion dry active yeast and cut all of the rising times in about half.  I started it at 5pm on Christmas Eve and when you have a dough that needs to rise 3 hours, fold and rise two more hours, then incorporate butter and rise another two hours between “turns,” it gets to be quite the lengthy project.  And cutting corners didn’t seem to affect the end result.  The croissants were plenty flaky and the pain au chocolat, pain au raisin with pastry cream, and galette suisse with pastry cream were equally delicious.  With my sister living in France, I think my parents appreciated the taste of France on Christmas morning.

So what else did I make this month, you ask?  When I say I was a busy baker, I mean it.  I made seven different types of cookies one weekend to give to friends and coworkers.  I also made my coworkers a gingerbread house in the shape of our office.  Funny enough, the gingerbread house was a previous Daring Bakers Challenge that I half-assed a couple years ago.  So I was glad to be able to finally see that one through.  Though it didn’t get all the details I wanted it to have, it wasn’t bad for the nine hours I put into it.

I am putting away my oven mitts and stepping away from the kitchen for the rest of the year.  That’s not saying much since there’s only four days left in 2011.  And actually, I might have lied.  I bought fruit to candy peel and want to make a stollen next weekend.  But that’s it, seriously.  I need to catch up on sleep.  Did I mention that December was crazy?  See you in 2012!

                                    

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So, I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  Shocker, I know!  In my defense, I spent most of November on vacation, visiting family and friends in the US, Portugal, and France.  But fear ye not, I have been baking.

With winter finally hitting Phoenix (as much as winter does here), the lovely aromatic spices start to fill the air.  To kickstart the season, last month I made Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread pudding.  There are quite a few components that go into it, but after reading reviews of its sweetness, I omitted the caramel sauce and opted for vanilla ice cream rather than creme anglaise.  I was excited to finally use that can of pumpkin that’s been sitting in my pantry for a year.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was a can of pumpkin pie mix.  Not the same.  I reduced the sugar in the pumpkin bread and the custard since the mix contains added sugar, and I also reduced the liquids since it contains water.

The end result wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t phenomenal like I was expecting.  If it gets made again, I will use my own pumpkin bread recipe that doesn’t contain vegetable oil.  I always can taste that in breads.  And I’ll mix in normal bread cubes as well seeing as how the pumpkin bread soaks up the custard so much, it’s really just a pumpkin mush.

Then came Thanksgiving.  I have decided that when I turn 30, I am going to take over cooking the meal for my family.  That gives my mom one more year of doing it.  Yikes!  I’ve only got a year and 4 months left of my 20’s!  Anyways, I did help her this year by taking on some of the dishes.

My hatred of pie dough is starting to dimish.  I’m finding it’s getting easier and a bit more manageable to make.  I made two pies this year, the normal derby pie, and Alton Brown’s pecan pie with a pecan crust.

The pecan pie gave me no problems at all, thanks to the incredible Alton Brown.  It used golden syrup (which I had in my pantry) rather than corn syrup.  Gives the pie a bit more complex, nuttier taste.  Thanks Alton!

I didn’t have many liberties with the derby pie because my family can’t stand change.  But I used three different kinds of chocolate for the bottom layer since the recipe we have “floats” the egg custard on top.  I discovered that using good quality ghiradelli chocolate chopped may taste good, but doesn’t look quite as good.  The pieces weren’t heavy enough so they floated to the top of the custard.  The only other change I made was to substitute half of the corn syrup with golden syrup.

My other Thanksgiving duties included making corn bread muffins, rolls (which ended up being a loaf of bread thanks to my bread machine), cranberry sauce, and a garlic cauliflower side dish.  What I’m realizing is that I’m really bad at timing multiple dishes.  I thought it would all just come together at the same time, but then the pies didn’t get done quick enough so I had to wait to put the corn bread in, which delayed the cauliflower.  Good thing I didn’t make the whole meal this year because dinner would have ended up being 4 hours late and dishes would have had to be reheated.  I’ve got just under 2 years to sort out my timing issues before I take over the reins.

Speaking of reins, Christmas is just around the corner.  Last weekend I went to Tampa to see the Script (with cookies, of course) so I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet.  And I always bake for my coworkers and that hasn’t even started.  Ooh, so much to do!  This year for my coworkers, I’m not going to make tons of different cookies.  I’m cooking up a great idea, but you’ll have to wait and see so it doesn’t leak out to the masses.  With that project, shopping, and baking other little treats, I’ve got my hands full until Christmas.  We shall see if I can pull it all off.  Until then, I hope you, my readers, have a very lovely and happy holiday.

              

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I’m starting to think about my future in baking.  Will it always be just a hobby?  Or should I try to make something more out of it?  I’d like to try for the latter, but then I get discouraged when I see what other people make.  My decorated cookies/cakes start to look very amateur.  So would I really be able to make a profit by selling my goodies?

Right now, I’m just baking for the fun of it.  But I end up spending quite a bit of money on ingredients and either need to slow down or start charging.  I made a cake earlier this month for a friend.  Took it to karaoke and fed the bar.  A few weeks later, I made a cake for a coworkers mother.  He worked a couple days for me that I had needed off so I offered to make him a cake.  More time and money.

The next few birthdays/events, I’ll just whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies instead.  They’re a bit cheaper but mostly they’re quicker.  Well, except the cookies I make for bands.

The Script is in town tonight.  Of course I have to bring them cookies.  So I made chocolate chip (with two different kinds of chocolate), snickerdoodles, and sugar cookie instruments.  Combined time to make/decorate = 14 hours.  I decided to make the sugar cookies into the band’s instruments that they use on stage.  Danny’s and Glen’s, piece of cake.  Mark’s and Ben’s . . . well, each cookie probably took about 15 minutes.  Multiply that by 10.  The reason they take so long, besides the fact that I hand painted them with food color, is because I frost them twice, first with a buttercream and then with an icing that hardens slightly and dries shiny.  I’ve found that if I don’t do the coat of icing, the buttercream melts and the cookies stick together and lose their decoration.  And I don’t skip the buttercream because it’s much tastier than the icing.  I’m happy with the way the cookies turned out.  I just hope they hold up in transport and also in the Arizona heat.

                  

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Sadly, I didn’t have time to do May’s Daring Bakers Challenge.  But my kitchen has still been busy.  I had an Easter cake to whip up (when I say “whip,” I mean 12 hours of work) and another cake a couple weeks later for my dad’s birthday/mother’s day.  Also attended a couple concerts.  Busy busy busy.

First was the Easter cake.  I’ve had a duck cake pan for quite some time and never used it.  So I decided to make the duck cake (chocolate) and decorate it in flowers to look Easter-y.  But it couldn’t just stand alone, so I put it on a yellow cake lake with a couple rice crispy ducklings.  Turned out quite well, though there were a couple details I would have liked to add but didn’t have time.

The next cake was dual purpose that fairly seamlessly worked together.  Half was for my dad’s birthday that featured a modeling chocolate dinosaur, which in no way was a reference to that fact that he just turned 60.  The other half was flowery for Mother’s Day.  A blue sky with scattered clouds was above both scenes.  The idea was good, but I only spent about 4 hours decorating it.  It could definitely have been more professional, but I also didn’t want to use fondant.  It’s not my favorite medium.

Other than that, I’ve still been churning out cookies.  Ari Hest and Matt Wertz each were in town, so I took them some goodies and guitar picks.  I flew to Minneapolis to see Bob Schneider and his fantastic band/crew with a few Bob Bars and derby pie bars since it was Kentucky Derby Day.  And a couple days ago I went to see the Script in Los Angeles so I made them my renown fortune cookies with personalized fortunes for the band members.  One of Danny’s cookies simply had my phone number in it.  He hasn’t called yet, by the way.  I didn’t have enough time to personalize fortunes for the crew too.  Those things take long enough to make as it is.  They also got Bob Bars (no fail) and white chocolate chip craisin cookies.

Right now, there are no concerts on the calendar for the next two months.  That will probably change, but in the meantime, I’m going to try to come up with some signature recipes.  Will probably focus on the standard chocolate chip cookie first.  Usually I just make the recipe from the nestle bag.  But I’d like to see what I can do with making my own recipes.  Will take some time and I’m sure there will be several taste-testers involved, but we’ll see if I can create the most delicious cookie.

              

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So I think most people who venture over to my blog know that the majority of baking I do is for bands.  I really should start writing that book already.  But until then, I’ll fill you in blog-style.

My friend Jessica and I flew over to LA yesterday to see the Script perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live followed by a mini-concert.  I figured my chances of getting cookies to them in this sort of setting was pretty good, so I made the high-end cookies.  That’s not to put my other cookies down.  But if I’m not sure I’ll even get cookies to a band, I’ll make ones that don’t require as much effort.  For example, baking cookies for John Mayer.  I still need to get some to him one of these days.

The high-end cookies would be decorated sugar cookies and fortune cookies since both of those are a bitch to make.  Neither is really all that difficult, but they’re time consuming.  I didn’t have time to do both kinds, so I made sugar cookie guitars (my signature cookie), sugar cookie naughty/nice conversation hearts (since Valentine’s Day is approaching), and white chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies.

The total amount of time I spent on these cookies was about 10 hours.  Fortunately, Jessica helped for a couple hours and my friend Lindsey also put in a couple hours.  Had they not assisted, it would have taken me at least two hours longer.

The sugar cookie guitars are my favorite because they’re pretty detailed.  “Stringing” them is the most difficult and lengthy part since I hand draw them on with food color.  I must find an easier way to do that some time.

We got to the Jimmy Kimmel studio around 3pm yesterday and hung out in the back.  Having seen the Script a few times, I was able to drop off the box of goodies with a crew member.  Then I saw an important looking person and asked if he works for Kimmel.  I entrusted him with the small box of cookies for Jimmy.  Whether he got them or not, I don’t know.  I actually don’t even know if the Script saw their cookies.  We stuck around after the mini concert but didn’t get to say hi to them.

However, I did get to sing a duet with Danny.  Okay, it really was nothing, just him singing “together we cry” and me echoing “cry.”  But he did pick me out at least, so they knew we were there.  Hard to miss us, I was the tall girl, front row center.

Jessica and I were definitely bummed we didn’t get to say hi, but had a little adventure trying to.  Now we’re back in AZ and already planning the next trip to see them.  I daresay it will probably be LA and Las Vegas in May.  We wanted to go on the VH1 Best Cruise Ever since they, along with a bunch of other great bands, will be there, but it’s not in my budget this year.

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