Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When I was in high school, 17 years ago, I was a drummer. Or something like that anyways... I used to hit things with sticks to make rhythm. That was me...

Back then one of my favorite places to go was the Toledo Music Instrument Exchange, which has long since closed I think. It was a big warehouse-like place with all sorts of new and used gear stacked up ALL over the place. One of my favorite memories of TMIE was to dig through buckets of drum sticks, looking for mix-n-match deals. Sometimes you could get away with top-name stuff for dirt cheap. Sometimes not so much...

For drummers, Vic Firth is a big name. Kinda. Like anyone in the biz I'm sure there are as many haters as there are lovers. I was a lover, as the guy knows rhythm. But time passed and drumming became no priority whatsoever. And then one day I realized I was some sort of cook. WTF?!?

Friday night, however, things sort of came full circle. While preparing for this weekends Wedding Cake Test, Kerrie spotted a wooden rolling pin at Jungle Jims. That rolling pin? A Vic Firth. No, I am not kidding. Not only does the guy put his name on some quality sticks, but he's ventured into the culinary world.

So skipping forward to today, everything was in place. I had made my two layers of Chocolate Stout cake, and gathered all the appropriate ingredients and tools. I spread my crumb coating onto the cake, and with my Vic Firth I began rolling out the Fondant. The end result was impressive and easy. While I need a little more practice, this is definitely doable. There were a few small "first time" issues that came up, but the overall process came together very easily...

I know the cake is good, as I've made it before. All I really need to work on is my smoothing technique for the fondant, and keeping a steady hand when I put on any royal icing. And here we... go!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smithers... Give him THE PLAGUE!

A lot happened this week, making life a little bit frantic. Nonetheless, Kerrie and I moved further ahead in our planning the wedding and got some serious work done.

I helped with two very large caterings this week, which kept me at work later than normal. I also found out that the "people" I wanted to bake the wedding cake are unavailable for our October date. This lead to various schemes, which resulted in a big ole "fuck it!" and the declaration that I will take care of the cake myself.

Let's face it folks. I've said that I would rather not be catering my own reception, but I know that the only way it will get done right is if I'm the one doing it.

The rest of the week disappeared in a blur of work and running and shopping for detail items and finally just coming home to relax. For all the chaos, the weekend produced some excellent results. In all actuality, some things just turned out better than our original ideas. Sometimes things work out better when "the plan" just goes all to hell.


Friday, after work, Kerrie and I went to BJ's Brewhouse for dinner. I enjoyed a PM Porter and Kerrie had the Nutty Brunette, a brown ale. One thing I noticed was the amazing aroma of Butter and Milk Chocolate coming from my porter. I was thoroughly impressed with life from that point on, seeing as my pallet is finally coming around to the wonders of Stouts and Porters...

Kerrie's parents were in a few weeks ago, and of course I wanted to do something special for dinner and dessert. One dish I love to make is Balsamic Glazed Chicken. You generally can not go wrong with a dish that rich. The dessert, however, was well received but not quite right in my estimation.

I made Chocolate Bouchons. After finding the right kind of pan to make these little angels, I searched online for Thomas Keller's fabled recipe. The recipe is well published, but if you look a little closer you'll see that there is some force working against these things in some form or another. Some people complain of them being too salty, while I found them to be too buttery. Actually, I found them to be greasy. There are various forums providing answers to the salt/sugar issue (a misprinted recipe?) but I felt that the texture issue was a wholly unique one to my own baking. Of course, I've never been to Napa either. Maybe Keller's pastry chef makes them exactly like this, so who knows? I think a second try may be in order will a few minor adjustments. We'll see...


I am Plague. Got Me?
Which Horrible Affliction are you?
A Rum and Monkey disease.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Originally uploaded by johnnytao2000
Makin' Frosting!

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Originally uploaded by johnnytao2000
Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya and a pint...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Light in your head and dead on your feet...

Last week was not awful, it really wasn't.

I just get aggravated easily. It's my thing, I'm good at it.

After the whole ER visit drama Friday night, and the breadmaker dieing in the middle of me making dough for cinnamon rolls, I found myself in a less than stellar mood.

But then again, a good cookie can totally change my overall mood. A good cookie can do a lot for me, so much so that I can count the "good" cookies I love on one hand. Yeah, I take it that seriously.

Plus a good cookie helps me think. Case in point: Tonight, while munching on a perfect Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie, I had a "moment". You see, when it comes to the music of Gerry Rafferty I realized that Baker Street is superior in technical form to Stuck in the middle with you, but Stuck in the middle with you was used in the film Reservoir Dogs and Baker Street was in Police Academy 2. So you can see the quandary...

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 Cup Flour
3 oz. Cocoa Powder
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t salt

1/2 cup Corn Syrup
1 Egg White
1 t Vanilla

1/3 cup Sugar (Plus extra for coating)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
6 oz melted Butter

4 oz. Mini Chocolate Chips


Start by sifting Flour, Cocoa, Baking Soda and Salt together. Set aside.

In a second bowl, whisk Corn Syrup, Egg White, and Vanilla.

In a third larger bowl, using a hand mixer, mix together Sugar, Brown Sugar, and melted Butter until fluffy. Add Corn Syrup mixture and mix until fully incorporated.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in Flour mixture and Chocolate Chips and stir until dough comes together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Portion dough into desired size, roll into balls, and coat lightly with extra Sugar.

Bake at 375F for 11 minutes.


2X Chocolate Malt

2X Chocolate Malt
Originally uploaded by johnnytao2000
Double Chocolate Malt at Graeters...