Homemade Oreos!

Oreos are my weakness. They’re so tasty. I can open up one of those packs and just go ham with a big glass of milk. So when I figured out how to make my own Oreos that are the same, IF NOT BETTER, I’m in big trouble. Big big big trouble. Hence why I want to get you guys in trouble too so we can all eat mass amounts of Oreos together and gain oodles of weight and be happy, content, Oreo-filled people. Okay? Okay. Here’s the recipe!

Oreo Dough:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at half power in 30 second increments just until it’s fully melted with no lumps. Make sure to mix with a rubber spatula periodically to keep the chocolate from burning.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the softened butter and sugar. Cream the two together with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

474
3. Add in vanilla extract and chocolate and mix until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until combined again.

475
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add into the wet ingredients and mix until just barely combined.

476
5. Dust the counter with cocoa powder and begin to roll the dough into a log.

477
6. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper and roll up the whole log to refrigerate for a couple hours until the log hardens.
7. Slice the log into 1/4″ slices and bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

478

Oreo Filling:

1.5 lbs confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4.75 oz Crisco
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 T granulated sugar

1. Place the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and Crisco into a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment.
2. Slowly add the hot water as it’s mixing and add more hot water a dribble at a time if needed based on what consistency you’re aiming for. 3. Once the desired consistency is reached, add the granulated sugar last and mix until combined.

479
4. Fill your oreos with a piping bag (you can just make one out of a Ziploc bag too) or just eat the filling with a spoon! Whatever your little heart desires.

480

YUMMYYYYYY. You could even just use the filling as a dip and throwback to the 90’s as if it’s Dunkaroos! Hope you enjoy your homemade oreos and have a great weekend! Check back on Tuesday for a next post on the blog! Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Twerkin’ at the Taj

So I landed a new job at the Taj Hotel in Boston! This is such a huge career move for me and I’m so happy that this landed in my lap. The Taj is a 4 star 4 diamond hotel so its SUUUUPER fancy. On my first day, a woman and her richy rich kids got off the elevator and I KID YOU NOT SAID, “Does anyone want to go to Tiffanys?” Wait wait, is that an option!? Those teeny bopper daughters just get to casually go to Tiffanys?! Oy, I grew up in a totally different world. They also have teeny tiny bottles of everything- Heinz ketchup, fancy jellies and honey’s, any type of condiments, you name it. I didn’t realize that they even made jars that small!

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was founded in the 1800’s, the original being the Taj Mahal which almost everyone is familiar with! The Taj Boston used to be the original Ritz Carlton hotel so it’s swimming in history! The Taj only currently has three hotels in the United States (Boston, New York and San Francisco) but they have them all over the world! You could visit London, India, the Maldives, you name it! Of course, it’s at the cheap-o price of $350 a night for the cheapest room. But I get 10 days of free stay a year at the hotel! HOLLAAAA

But regardless, I’ve been having a blast at this new job. It’s a breath of fresh air and really creative. I feel like I’m actually trusted to make decisions about flavors, textures, recipes, etc. I’ve been trained thus far on the morning shift where I bake all the small pastries for continental breakfast, room service and any morning banquets or meetings. But then it’s followed by production work where I prepare the components of the plated desserts in the cafe! 458 459Every weekend, a high tea is served with a separate menu and on Sunday’s, brunch is served on the rooftop of the hotel where you can see the most beautiful view of the city I have ever seen! The Taj borders Arlington Street which overlooks the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Commons as well as Newbury Street which is like the Rodeo Drive of Boston! Such a great spot for people watching and really enjoying a great view of the city- although it comes at a cost! Typical brunch with champagne goes at $80 bucks a pop!! Plus, gratuity automatically gets added to your bill at the end of the meal so be prepared to pay a pretty penny.

452

470However, the brunch menu is unlimited! Every week, we prepare a dessert buffet that’s differs from the last! Nothing ever stays the same! And of course, there’s a raw bar, garde manager items and a hot bar with all you can eat. YUMMMMMM. The dessert bar always has some type of cheesecake, cookies, shot glass item and martini glass items as well as anything else we dream up in the pastry kitchen! I figured I’d post some pictures of our desserts thus far below so be prepared to drool! Note: Not everything was made entirely by me but the pastry team! So excited to be a part of something great!

453

Opera Cake!

Opera Cake!

Brown Butter Blackberry Tarts!

Brown Butter Blackberry Tarts!

456

Burnt Honey Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Honey Gelee

Burnt Honey Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Honey Gelee

Keylime Torte

Keylime Torte

Midnight Chocolate Torte!

Midnight Chocolate Torte!

Cherry Chocolate Torte

Cherry Chocolate Torte

Oreo Cheesecake with Cookie Crust and Oreo filling on top!

Oreo Cheesecake with Cookie Crust and Oreo filling on top!

Cookies for VIP's:- from L to R: thyme sable with lemon curd, almond thumprints, orange sable, chocolate cookies with Dulcey chocolate drizzle

Cookies for VIP’s:- from L to R: thyme sable with lemon curd, almond thumprints, orange sable, chocolate cookies with Dulcey chocolate drizzle

Orange Mousseline with caramelized white chocolate crumble

Orange Mousseline with caramelized white chocolate crumble

Check back on Tuesday for another Post Grad blog about how I’m slowly but surely becoming a bad ass. ….Kinda. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Iggys Bread of the World: An Inside Look!

Flour is super cool because every couple of months, a field trip is scheduled for anyone who’s interested. This time around, we were visiting the official site of Iggy’s Bread of the World. Iggy’s Bread is sold ALLLLLLL over New England. I’ve seen their bread at a bunch of liquor stores, Whole Foods, open air markets, and more. Their bread is always fresh and looks soo good, so therefore I was pretty pumped about getting to visit their production site!

410Iggy’s was started 17 years ago in a small bakeshop, only 3,000 square feet where they produced and sold bread at the same location. They really focus on the quality of ingredients and where they’re sourced from, trying to maintain the wholesomeness of the bread baking process. Currently, their production site and storefront is at 130 Fawcett Street, Cambridge MA where they have a 30,000 square foot facility to accommodate their continual rising popularity!

Upon arrival, we got a good glace at the front of house operation- a tiny storefront but still busy with customers coming in and out. Soon after we were shuttled to their back offices to begin our tour. Hair nets donned, we headed to their packaging room.

Every day, that packaging room gets BUSY. Workers are quickly assembling, filling, labeling and organizing the boxes of bread getting them ready to send out for the morning delivery. They start the whole packaging process late at night as the first delivery leaves at 2am. Iggy’s makes a promise to deliver the freshest bread which is why they’re a 24/7 365 bread bakery!

Basically being in disbelief of how large their facility is, we entered their mixing room. As we passed through the doors, we passed their 3 silos full of flour. They then have an automated system where you can punch in how much flour you need which then dispenses the flour into another room. SO COOL! That machine also transports water and can change it’s temperature to accommodate different types of bread. Bread is only made four ingredients for the most part: Water, flour, yeast and salt. These four ingredients are then manipulated in different amounts and times of proofing all to produce different flavors and textures making bread a truly complex process.

402 403The mixing room was temperature controlled so all the bread proofed at the same rate consistently. Alongside the automated dispensing machine were two HUGE mixers that had fork tongs. Usually bread is mixed with a dough hook (the spiral shaped hook) but apparently the fork tongs gently mix the dough to create a more tender crumb.

Next we walked to the largest part of their factory. There were HUNDREDS of rolling racks filled with cooling loaves and rolls and workers shaping and loading loaves ready to be baked. It was so amazing to watch them work and be so in sync! Around the top of the room was a large conveyor belt. So listen up, this part is really cool. When the bread is ready to be taken out of the oven, a machine unloads these HUGE deck ovens and then lifts it up to the conveyor belt which then acts as a cooling system as it travels around the room. Once it makes a full circle, it can be loaded onto other racks for storage until packaging.

404 406 407 408They stick to fairly simple breads and never dabble in gluten free alternatives because it’s “irresponsible business practice” as our guide explained. It seems to me that they’re turning a huge profit so they’re able to really make their business focused on whatever they want!

It was a really cool experience and I’m so lucky to have been able to have had the opportunity. While making bread isn’t really my passion in baking, I’m always looking for the next opportunity to learn and grow within my profession! I hope you enjoyed this post and a special glance into the food service world! Until next time!

SOWA Market!

Every Sunday from May to October, the South End hosts a HUUUGE open air market that attracts hundreds of people. On Harrison Avenue, the market is a couple blocks long intermingled with local businesses and art galleries. This unfortunately isn’t super accessible by the T, the closest stop is Tufts on the Orange Line but on a nice day the walk isn’t bad! You can pay $10 for parking at SOWA or you can be like me and circle the block hundreds of times or park a mile away for free. I spent an entire day at SOWA making it well worth the trip!

331

SOWA is comprised of three things: the art market, food trucks, and the food market. Let me start with the artsy side:

SOWA is so cool because all of the vendors are local individuals or businesses who are all very excited and friendly. Amongst the art market, there was a ton of visible talent! Jewelery makers, screen printers, painters and artists, clothing makers and designers- it’s like one GIANT Etsy shop.

342341 340All of the businesses nearby also have their doors open! We went into a shop called Bead + Fiber– a total dream for jewelry makers! I got totally overwhelmed in there but it’s still fun to look around and try to come up with your own designs. Also nearby were galleries, fancy hat shops and other restaurants.

Inside one of the buildings was the SOWA vintage market. It was in the basement of a giant warehouse and was equally as interesting as the rest of the arts market. Each vendor had a small spot in this giant room where they displayed their antiques  and other pieces. Literally anything from old beer bottles, to Canadian go-go dancer boots from the 50s to vintage clothing. It was so cool to just look around and even talk to people about the story behind their collection!

345 346 347

Next up was the food market. Similar to the way the arts market is set up, Each food vendor had its own tent. I went around talking to a bunch of the vendors asking questions about how they flavor their seasalt or where they source their products from. Some vendors sold meat and dairy, others sold bread and pastry products and others even sold dog treats! I bought a DELICIOUS boule of Spinach, Garlic and Caramelized Onion bread from When Pigs Fly. HOLY YUM!!

335 337 338 339Another stand at the food market was selling these ceramic hand painted plates that had grooves in them. They were used as an alternative to a grater or microplane! You could grate hard cheeses, mince garlic and even zest hard spices like nutmeg on it. It came with a brush and garlic roller too. The whole thing seemed so easy to clean too- I was pretty hooked. It was $25 for the set but I wasn’t willing to pay that much but it was still cool to watch a demo on how it worked!

336Lastly, the food trucks are amazing. 10 or so food trucks come and sit on an empty parking lot at SOWA and then plastic folding tables and chairs are set up in the middle. My friend and I got Strawberry Slushies with boaba inside which was SO good! I never had boaba or bubble tea before until that day. I’m a fan!

332After spending a couple hours at the market, my roommate, friend and I all headed to Carson beach to sit and soak up the sun for about an hour! It was a really spectacular day filled with Vitamin D and endorphins.

333 348 349 351Add SOWA to your to-do list when you visit Boston! Check back again on Thursday for my food-related Netflix recommendations because lord knows how much I love Netflix. Until next time! Thanks for reading!

Baker Pet Peeves

As a baker, I realize that I work so hard to serve the customers. What the customer wants is what the customer gets. And most of the time, I’m happy to make their day! However, there are moments where my head is about to explode due to specific requests that totally goes against customer etiquette. Here’s a compiled list of my baker pet peeves (because we’re people too, ya know!)
1. If you need to change the serving time of a cake, don’t call 15 minutes before you’re coming to pick it up! Often times the cake isn’t finished because we’re on a very tight time schedule or maybe the cake hasn’t thawed enough to be servable! The earlier you let us know, the better.

2. On another note about time, if you’re making a same day order, you can’t rush the process. Most likely, we’re not going to say no but we can’t always have 100 mini cookies ready for pick up in an hour.

3. I’m on a baking team of 7 and only 4 to 5 of us work at the same time. So basically that’s only 8 to 10 physical hands that produce everything you see on the counter! If I happened to burn the croissants that morning, you can bet I’m more pissed at myself about it. Having a customer be mad because we don’t have them in house isn’t going to help.

4. Insider secret: if you want the mini versions of something, they’re usually 3/4th of the price of a full but only half of the serving. You’re getting jipped. But also, it makes my job a lot more difficult because I don’t make that stuff on the norm.

5. Also along the lines of minis- you can’t eat 7 mini tartlets and feel okay about that because they’re “small” when usually 2-3 minis equals one regular sized tart. EVERYTHING IS A LIE!

6. The mark up on fruit platters is RIDONKULOUS. We hate cutting your fruit for you. Don’t be lazy. (Although it is a good money maker soooo)

7. Don’t buy a single pastry to split with someone and then expect us to cut it in half for you in the back. Will my cutting it make the pieces more even or something? We DO offer utensils out front- you don’t have to eat like a barbarian so use them please!

8. I’ve also encountered orders where people ask for products to be pre-cut in half. Yeah, maybe that makes sharing easier, but it also makes the products look worse. Not to mention that some products aren’t meant to be cut in half which then totally ruins the integrity of the food. I worked hard to make that food so nice; don’t make me mess it up too!

9. Don’t eat 3/4ths of a pastry and then return it because you “didn’t like it”. YOU ATE MOST OF THE GODDAMN PASTRY HOW CAN YOU SAY YOU DIDN’T LIKE IT. Since we’re big on customer service at Flour, we WILL give you another pastry of your choice but we also really hate you big time.

10. Lastly, if you need to cancel your order, call. Don’t not show up and let the product go to waste! Nothing is worse than going into the walk-in and seeing a 14” lemon raspberry cake sitting there from the day before. UGH.

Overall, please please please just remember that food service workers are people too! We work hard to make food that’s both beautiful and delicious and want to make our customers happy. Check back on Tuesday for my review on another awesome Boston find- the SOWA market! 

#BikersandBabesBirthday + Birthday Haul

These past couple weeks have been nothing but crazy, in the best of ways. I turned 23 on May 2nd and decided to have a Bikers and Babes Birthday! Everyone who attended was required to dress up in their grungiest, most bad-ass clothing and we’d get all revved up together (get it? Revved up? HA).

313 The party was a success! We hung an American flag in our window and had a bunch of temporary tattoos to put on. I ended up having a quarter sleeve and a neck tattoo by the end of the night! My roommates were great as well- one of them made our mirror in the bathroom the designated “selfie” mirror with #bikersandbabes and we also used two disposable cameras throughout the night so WHO KNOWS what’s on those…

I ended up wearing black pants with a wife beater and a black vest that I found at The Garment District and of course, tied a red bandana around my arm. The outfit was complete with my bad-ass black lace up boots too. We provided some version of Biker Juice aka Gasoline aka Jungle Juice for our friends but most everyone brought their own! I was Pong house champions with my roommate Allie all night and we just kept sinking cups like no other. We finally went out to TITS but then ended up at White Horse for the rest of the night.

314On our way home while waiting for the bus, I was sitting next to this kid who was eating these disgusting lemon chile Dorito things (why I remember that, I don’t know) and we started a conversation with him. While he was kind of pretentious (and also drunk), he had said some sort of off-handed comment about my quarter sleeve of fake tattoos and related it to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to which I immediately replied (being an asshole),

I KNOW HIM. WE WRITE LETTERS TO EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME

WHAT. WHY DID I EVEN SAY THAT!? I mean, of course I’m pen pals with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Isn’t everyone? I can’t even say that I’ve met him in person but RATHER I write LETTERS to him? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME. It really was quite funny- especially the next day when I was reminded that I spent a ton of time convincing him that I knew The Rock. Reeeeeeeaaaaal casual, Abby.

Breakfast consisted of leftover pizza from the night previous, two boxes of Allie’s Donuts from one of my best friends, M&M pancakes, bacon and hasbrowns. Really healthy, I know, but the perfect hangover food! I had such a great birthday; I’m so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life. On top of that, I got so many awesome presents in the mail from my friends and family that I wanted to share!

356I’m super stoked that I got the ice cream attachment for my kitchen aid! You have to freeze the bowl overnight for best results (and I’d make the base the day before too!) but then it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to churn a 2 qt batch! As soon as I’m able to use it, I’ll post a review and a recipe!

355In school, we also used something called a siphon. It’s essentially that tool they use at Starbucks to make whipped cream. You have to buy compressed CO2 chargers that go inside the head and then you shake the cannister with the liquid inside. Once you press the handle, you can make foams, mousses or even something called siphon cake out of it! I’m looking forward to practicing some techniques this summer with this!

354
I also got the Flavor Bible and the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for my birthday. The Flavor Bible is excellent for both sweet and savory cooking. You want to know what spices go with asparagus? Or maybe what other flavors pair well with guavas? Look it up! There’s a TON of suggestions for anything you can think of. And the Bouchon book is a BEAUTIFUL cookbook. I can’t wait to try it out!

353I also got a cute pair of TOMS from my sister, Target and Amazon gift cards, and a cute picture frame and journal from my roommate! I’m so spoiled!

Check back next week for another crazy update about online dating! Have a great weekend!

America’s Test Kitchen!

My first job out of college was with a company called America’s Test Kitchen! ATK is an amazingly huge conglomerate of all sorts of food media- a couple magazine publications, two TV shows on PBS, TONS of published cookbooks and even an online cooking school. ATK is a test kitchen dedicated to finding recipes that work to share with the home cook and also explain WHY they work. It’s a company focused on the fun and education behind food.

I was a total PBS kid growing up since I didn’t have cable. SHOCKER I KNOW. Given that we had 8 channels to choose from, I would watch so many shows on PBS. Throwbacks to Arthur or Zoom anyone? I can even remember memorizing the address for the show Zoom- BOSTON MASS 0-21-34! Send it to Zoom! Totally ironic now that I live here now.

I would spend day and night watching PBS and would watch all the cooking shows with my mom on the weekends which is probably where my interest for food began. DAMN YOU EDUCATIONAL SHOWS! Julia Child and Jacques Pepin were my favorite people to watch and of course America’s Test Kitchen. ATK showed you not only recipes, but they talked food science, kitchen gadgets and product reviews. I LOVE knowing how things work so I was hooked.

I jumped at the chance to work for them so when I saw the internship posting, I knew I HAD to apply even though it was supposed to be a culinary internship. After phone interviews and giving my references, I was one of four interns who landed the job for the spring term.

Photo team!

Photo team!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

I was place on the photo team and it was my job to help prep and execute all finalized recipes for the magazines, cookbooks and online cooking school. It was a super cool job! Occasionally, I’d spend a whole day outside manning the grills in sub-zero temps since we tested recipes about 6 months in advance. Other days, I would be able to stand in on the photo shoots and watch the food photographers and stylists works their magic! (Don’t be fooled, their hands touch EVERYTHING!) I occasionally got to switch teams when they needed help and mise/test recipes for Cooks Country, Cooks Country or the Books team.

My little mise station!

My little mise station!

Grill dayyyyyy

Grill dayyyyyy

The coolest part of my internship however, came in May when they filmed the 15th season of America’s Test Kitchen for PBS. They filmed right on our facilities (you’d never know the kitchen was even there from the outside) and set up camp. Our storage room turned into the tech room where the director sat watching and giving feedback during filming. Half of the kitchen was filled with camera and audio equipment as well as craft services which is a fancy way to say FREE FOOD/SNACKS. Our dry goods room turned into the runners area with a live feed tv set up in it so we’d always know what was happening.

Setting up for TV!

Setting up for TV!

The back kitchen was used for prep of the recipes! You know the magic of television, when they pull out a perfectly golden turkey out of the oven after about 3 seconds of cooking? Well, we’d be in the back pushing out these recipes so everything would be ready when they finished filming the talking segment beforehand. We’d have to prep recipes upwards of 15 times- on set, on set back-ups, back kitchen, flash forwards, flash backs, food props, half prepared foods, etc. You could only walk on and off-set when the camera’s weren’t rolling and you could NEVER look directly at the cameras. All the cooks in the background usually were testing their own recipes and actually getting real work done, but sometimes I’d get to stand in and chop some carrots to look busy while the other cooks were doing a tasting or prepping their own recipes.

Prepping for tv... I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Prepping for tv… I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Trying to look busy on set...

Trying to look busy on set…

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

At the end of TV filming, the whole crew gets together to do a rice krispy treat competition! We would split into teams and work together to create the best rice krispies. It was all VERY competitive. Then the filming crew would be the judges in the end. Of course, team intern bonded together (WILL WORK FOR FOOD PROPS) and made a lemon meringue RKT. Sadly, we didn’t win but it was a lot of fun!

286I really loved working there and made some pretty great friends there as well. Most of the work was culinary based so I knew I had to move towards something more in my field but it was definitely an experience I won’t forget! Check out an episode below where I might actually be seen walking around in the background and my name is in the credits! I’M FAMOUS!

ATK Family!

ATK Family!

Bon Appetit and see you all on Tuesday for another post!

Click here to see me in the background in the first couple minutes!