1/29/2009

First Tonight, Then Tomorrow...


Well, well, this is what a night in alone looks like for this particular foodie...smack dab in front of my vintage beauty, pounding out ideas in time with the clacking of the letters leaving their mark; like smoke from a long wicked candle, burning just past the point of remembrance, to imprint a smudge of a thought; dirty fingers after handling the morning news...

Hopefully it will be a day of good news tomorrow, and somehow, I have a feeling,
a burning notion, that it will be...

The final countdown has officially begun; only five days until the launch of the Blackbird Bakery Online Ordering site!!!!!


Herb Ritts,
Dizzy Gillespie, Paris, 1989.
From the Book, Notorious



Vincent Mentzel,
Dizzy Gillespie, 1990.
N.R.C.Handelsblad

1/08/2009

A Thing of Beauty


Vincent Van Gough
Blossoming Almond Tree, 1890.
Oil on Canvas, 73.5 x 92cm
Van Gough Museum, Amsterdam
Post-Impressionist Master




A thing of beauty rarely lasts, but never dies. Captured in your mind’s eye, through the lense of a camera, that gorgeous moment is emblazoned on your cornea, forever on your tongue, waiting to be remembered.

“They pass in a doorway a young girl whose beauty becomes the flowers about.”
-Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, pg. 39


Cast some flowers about your house, arranged just so, in that particular vase you’ve been vying to fill with your favorite blooms. There really is no time like the present and as such, you shouldn’t let another day pass without having tasted this cherry pie…

It’s a thing of beauty and as such, will never fade from the annals of my kitchen…It’s my Marilyn Monroe, my classic…

CLASSIC INDIVIDUAL CHERRY PIES

For the crust:

One batch pate brissee:

Pate Brissee (Short Crust)

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
¾ cup cornstarch
¼ cup +2 tablespoons glutenous white rice flour
¼ cup sorghum flour
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 kinfe points of kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons guar gum
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 small eggs

Makes enough dough 8 individual pies…

Mix all the dry ingredients in a spacious bowl with a few turns of a whisk. Add the diced unsalted butter and begin to cut it in with a pastry cutter, using a butter-knife to clean out the spokes when necessary. Repeat until the mix resembles a heap of damp, engorged seeds.

Whisk the eggs and fold them in using two plastic pastry scrappers. Keep folding until you have a firm, somewhat sticky ball of dough. Turn the dough onto a very clean surface that has been lightly dusted with tapioca flour. Knead with the palm of your hand several times until you have a leather smooth ball. Divide the dough into two sections, quickly shape each section into a semi-flat disk, and wrap tightly with cellophane.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before rolling out, and up to five days, or frozen for three weeks.

Roll out your dough on a lightly tapioca flour dusted counter, being careful to maintain your circular shape. Flip several times for a more even result and to prevent any sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼” thick.

Place your individual pie pan on top of the rolled out dough. Using a very sharp knife, cut 1” past the edge of the pan while maintaining the shape of the pan with your cut.

Gently remove your cut out round and nestle it into the pan and use your fingers to nimbly guide the dough into the folds and bends of the pan. Repeat until the base crusts for all of your pies are done. Now, roll out the rest of your dough and cut out eight rounds that will be your pie tops. Cut out a decorative vent-hole of your choice. Place pie tops on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until you finish the cherry filling.


For the Filling:

2 lbs. fresh organic cherries, pitted
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the granulated sugar and cornstarch in a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk to eliminate any lumps the cornstarch may have produced. Add the water and the pitted cherries. Fold with a wooden spoon to coat the cherries, using a very slight pressure so as not to bruise the fruit. Cook over a very low flame for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture thickens too much, the cherries have a low water content, so just add more water in tablespoon increments to prevent caramelization of the thickened sugars.



Once the cherries have infused the sugar, releasing their secrets, add the almond extract and the nutmeg. Stir to combine, remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before filling your pies.

To Assemble Your Pies:

Remove your reserved pie tops from the refrigerator and place beside your prepared pie pans. Fill the pies with the cherry filling until the filling is gone.

Brush edges of the pie crust with whole milk as if it were an adhesive. Now, center the pie tops over the pie pans, and join the top of the pie to the crust by running your finger over the top of the pie where the edges meet. Repeat until each pie is covered. Now brush each pie top with whole milk and then sprinkle sanding sugar over the tops for a stellar finish.

Bake the pies on a cookie sheet in your preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes or until the tops of the pies have taken on a golden glow.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve immediately or when the time feels just right with either vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.



Makes 7-8 Individual Pies depending on the size of your pans.



Helmut Newton
Domestic Nude IV, In My Living Room,
Chateau Marmont, Hollywood, 1992.
German-Born Photographer

1/03/2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!


Artist Unknown
Waiters, 1929.

I love me a new beginning and for some ineffable reason, I just have this auspicious feeling that 2009 will indeed garner some favorable outcomes...The not knowing is actually more exciting than fearful because the hardest work has already been done! Now it's just a matter of staying just a couple steps ahead of my dream so I can keep on dreaming...

In 2009, I believe that hope will rise up in the masses like a heart filled with helium; bouyant and true, like the first time you said, "I love you," and meant it.

"Let Love Rule...!" --Lenny Kravitz

"All Is Full Of Love..." ---Bjork

"All You Need is Love..." ---The Beatles

"Hope for the Hopeless..."; "Follow your heart and you wont get lost..." -Brett Dennen

Oh, and the latest update on the Blackbird Bakery online ordering is now due to be ready February 1, 2009. I would like to thank everyone for their patience during this time...



Phillipe Halsman
Blackbird Cigar
Alfred Hitchcock, 1962.

12/28/2008

Molasses Spice Cookies



Molasses Spice Cookies

The beauty of these cookies is that they are simultaneously crunchy and soft, which, to me, equals the perfect texture for just about any cookie. Plus, they are loaded with seasonal spices, making them the ideal way to say, “I love you” during the holidays and the cold winter months that are to persist until the dawning of spring. Which made naming this cookie a bit of a conundrum for me…I bounced several ideas off my assistant and first employee ever, Hannah, and she offered to let me use a name for her favorite cookie, “The Nostalgia Cookie,” but it was so good, I had to turn her down. “I simply can’t take it,” I told her. “Well, you are from Texas, Karen, why not just use that whole “I’m southern and therefore use molasses thing? That is the way you do things down here isn’t it, flinging your ingredients around like a lasso?” We both laughed a hearty gut ripple and I grinned from ear to ear in full agreement. Hannah hails from upstate New York, so we always laugh at the regional differences that exist between us. Differences aside, these cookies are so fantastic, one of my client’s husbands came by with her to pick up an order, just to “meet the lady that made ‘those crack cookies.’” Personally, I’ve never been more flattered in all my days of baking…



Ingredients:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup backstrap molasses
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs

2/3 cup + ½ cup tapioca flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup gluteneous rice flour
2 ½ teaspoons guar gum
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions:
Preheat your oven to a mild 325°F and line two half-sheet pans with either parchment paper or silpats. I got the best results using silpats. If using parchment, just make sure that the cookie sheets stay on the middle tier of the oven.

In a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan melt the diced butter over low heat. Remove from the heat just as the last vestiges of the butter-fat solids are visible.



Add the freshly grated ginger to infuse the butter. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then whisk in the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the molasses until smooth. Now whisk in the two eggs and work the mixture until smooth as fine wet concrete.



In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and whisk several times to evenly distribute the spices. Gradually sprinkle the dry ingredients over the melted butter mixture and fold them in with your favorite wooden spoon. The dough should be thick and move like plasticity: somewhere between a liquid and a solid. Leave the dough in the pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking. You can refrigerate overnight, but if you choose to do so, make sure you cover the dough after the two hour period to avoid a “crusting” of the dough which means the outer-most layer will dry out and harden.



After the dough has rested for two hours, pour the remaining ½ cup of granulated sugar in a 9” pie or cake pan. Now spoon out tablespoon sized balls of the dough, rolling between the palms of your hands until they resemble wooden marbles. Roll the balls in the sugar, being sure to evenly coat them.






Arrange the balls of dough onto your cookie sheet with at least 1 ½” between them as they will spread during the baking process. Bake for 8 minutes at 325°F; over-baking will cause the cookies to be overly crisp.


Makes 3 dozen cookies.


These cookies keep very well in an airtight container for up to two weeks.





Here are pictures of the two-year day planner Hannah made for me, making it the best Christmas gift I've received in I don't know how long. How lucky am I to have such a talented assistant? Not only a fine baker, a fine artist...she's the perfect combination for me!

She also happens to sell these custom-made planners on her etsy web site. Click on the link below to see all the amazing collages and crafts she has to offer...

www.HannCraftedHannMade.etsy.com

11/22/2008

Coming Soon: Blackbird Bakery Online Orders




For those who are not currently clients of Blackbird Bakery but are searching for a way to obtain Blackbird Bakery products, your prayers will soon be answered. My blog/website is currently under construction so that you will be able to view the products we have for sale and order online the moment the site is ready to be launched...



Hopefully before Christmas...

I'd also like to take a moment to thank all the amazing people who have loved, supported and nurtured me during this process...all my love to each and everyone of you!

Namaste (the universe within me honors the universe within you), Karen

11/21/2008

Gluten Free Living is Optimal Living



Gluten-Free is, quite simply, the way to be. The more I speak with friends, old and new, to strangers on the street or new clients, the more I realize that living gluten free is healthier for anyone and everyone.

I have a group of friends that participated in a little experiment of mine and they ate gluten free for a solid month to see if it effected them in a positive way and out of the five people who participated, each one of them said they had increased energy and vitality, they lost on the average, 5 pounds and many noted that they could "think more clearly."

So join the club, ya'll...Gluten-Free Living is Optimal Living...and now, it can be just as beautiful as the way we were living before.

WERD!

11/03/2008

My Premilinary Search Revealed...


Alexander Rodchenko
Portrait of My Mother, Olga Rodchenko
Moscow, 1924



I went ahead and scanned in the preliminary articles that I found at the library while searching for information linking a gluten free diet with a decreased chance at exposing your unborn child to Autism, and although I didn't find what I was looking for, the abstracts are interesting nonetheless.

The first, titled "The Case for Neuroimmunology," I found to be the most enlightening. It very clearly delineates how each body system is affected when one system is not functioning properly. When the intestines are out of sync, the nervous system and thus the immune systems are heavily taxed, "a distant autoimmune effect on the thyroid gland, joints, cerebellum, myelin sheaths (the protective coating over our nerve fibers), etc..."

What I enjoyed most about this one was the fact that medical professionals are finally realizing they have got to educate themselves so they can better help us, their patients...







The second article I uncovered was a series of 'short' articles and is aptly named, "Shorts." Each article was informative, "A 2003 study that screened 13,000 people found the incidence of celiac to be one in 133 Americans, similar to the incidence in many European countries = 1% of the population has celiac," and even a little bit shocking...go on, see for yourself...

In short, the government and pharmaceutical companies have known SINCE THE 1930'S(!!!!) of thimerosal's toxicity and still used it as a preservative in our nation's vaccines. Thimerosal has been proven to be the cause of delayed developmental disorders, including autism...






John M. Lund
Heads in the Sand
www.photopia@best.com