Happy Independence Day to my American friends! There is perhaps no better wholesome, all-American holiday with which to share the news that you can now read my story about the wholesome, all-American baking and pastry community in Portland, Maine over at enRoute. We had the most tremendous time during our brief stay there earlier this year, and I’m already scheming ways to return. On Standard Baking Co:
Portland’s most renowned pastry shop, Standard Baking Co., is located under its sister restaurant, the James Beard-award-winner Fore Street, whose wood-fired kitchen can take much of the credit for Portland’s foodie reputation. Standard’s sweet wonders are inspired by old-world traditions: caramel-coloured pain au levain, impossibly tender croissants, spongy financiers and sumptuous morning buns swirled with caramel and nuts.
On Scratch Baking Co:
Some of Portland’s most heavenly baked offerings are found over the Casco Bay Bridge in South Portland. At Scratch Baking Co., unpretentious American desserts like graham crackers and shortbread studded with sea salt tumble forth from woven baskets. Scratch’s masterful blueberry scone is feather-light and tastes faintly of sweet cream. Its most popular item is an outrageously addictive, chewy-yet-crisp bagel, lovingly made with a nine-year-old sourdough named Lulu.
Click through the whole slideshow to read it all! I took so many more photos during our trip, and I’ll post more soon.
Consider this a recipe dump for all things regarding baked goods. At a recent St. Jean bbq at work, I may have gone slightly overboard, featuring:
This cardamom-scented upside-down strawberry cake from Joy the Baker…
This (quite lopsided) raspberry-rhubarb galette from Lottie + Doof…
This stupendously rich chocolate cake with raspberry compote from David Lebovitz, via Cucina Nicolina…
And this lemon cake from Vitae Curriculum, with my own lemon curd recipe (use lots of yolks, no sugar, and more zest than you think you need).
And with leftover lemon cake batter and leftover chocolate ganache, I made a pan of cupcakes, too. And finally, a bit of homemade whipped cream, made by whipping a cup of heavy cream with a few tablespoons of sugar.
Sorry for the brief radio silence. There was an…. incident late Saturday night.
I was preparing a simple, fresh dinner for my friend Himo’s birthday party. The meal I had envisioned was going to be perfect. There was a translucent shavings of fennel with wild, peppery arugula, thin discs of zucchini, chopped dill, toasted walnuts, purslane (my favorite!), and mustard greens. There were slender, crisp radishes that we halved and served with blanched radish greens and sauteed bacon. There was an tremendously easy pasta dish with my chopped garlic scape and garden basil pesto, no blender needed. And, of course, there was a birthday cake, a light lemon cake with fresh, oozing lemon curd and a delicate vanilla buttercream, using a combination of this recipe and that recipe. (I also made it for this work party). There was rum that we brought back from Jamaica, and cigars for the boys.
But somewhere along the way, I slipped. To be precise: I slipped a knife, while chiffonading basil, right through my thumb, slicing off half a fingernail and a good bit of flesh. And because I love birthday parties and I was deep into the wine, I actually waited a full day before Adam finally convinced me that I had to go to the ER. I’m fine, of course — and I suppose that anyone who works in a kitchen everyday should expect a few accidents — but it’s stilll a drag (my whole right hand hurts, so I had to type this post with one hand only).
My one consolation — dinner still rocked. And that’s all that matters, right? The show must go on, etc etc and all that.
Some photos from our recent workshop with Patisserie Rhubarbe’s Stephanie Labelle. I soaked up every second we had with this insanely talented pastry chef, and this workshop was probably the most advanced one we’ve done yet. Not a single person in the room had ever made a panna cotta or marshmallows by scratch, and the workshop was full of people madly scribbling notes as Stephanie explained the complex recipes. There was also an almond tart, tangy rhubarb compote, and rhubarb-spiked lemonade — I was buzzing on sugar until about 2am that night. More photos at Le Pick Up’s site.
My intense strawberry cravings began last week, thanks to Luxirare, and continued unabated. Then I kept seeing this cake all over the internet — first at Saveur, then at Lottie + Doof, and finally Bon Appetempt — and no longer could I deny its garish, neon pink hue. I had to have it. So I made it for the Dep, added a box of fresh strawberries, and its happy rosy exterior did not disappoint.
Hello Montreal readers!
I’m thrilled to announce the next food workshop here at Le Pick Up.
Please join us for an evening with Stéphanie Labelle, the talented chef and owner of Pâtisserie Rhubarbe!
Labelle, a graduate of the ITHQ pastry program, has worked at Area, Première Moisson, and Les Chocolates de Chloé, where she was the first employee. She has spent time working with the famous Parisian pastry chef/guru Pierre Hermé, and worked in the kitchens of Decca77, Le 357C, and La Salle à Manger. She opened Rhubarbe last fall, and it’s been a huge hit. We’re so excited to have her join us at the Dep!
On Tuesday, May 31, we will explore ways to incorporate rhubarb: the tart, tangy vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit. This summer plant isn’t just about pies — we’ll be making a variety of sweet desserts loaded with fresh rhubarb, from panna cotta to tender financiers, and much more.
The workshop will begin promptly at 8pm. Each participant will be making his or her own desserts to take home, with guidance and instruction from Stéphanie. The registration is $40 and will cove all costs for the desserts provided.
We are located at 7032 rue Waverly, and are a cozy and intimate space — so please register soon as there are a very limited number of spots! Cash only, please. To register, please email me at Natasha.pickowicz [at] gmail [dot] com.
I hope you’ll join us as we ring in the summer season in a deliciously sweet-and-tart fashion!
Upon our arrival to the Vermont woods, we were surprised with an amazing pizza dinner made by our rad friend Ithamar. After that long drive, it felt so good to walk into a warm house filled with the unmistakable sights and smells of pizza, my favorite food. The house where we stayed was insane — the fireplace had a little pizza oven slot built right into the back of the chimney. He made a seeded baguette in there, too. I almost passed out, it was so great.