A New Name & New Babies

Mochi (black) and Wasabi (tabby)

Mochi  and Wasabi

I’ve been slipping with the regularity of my posts. The main excuse for my laxity is the newly adopted babies above. It’s difficult to bustle and pivot around a kitchen with two tiny ones underfoot, sticking noses in cupboards and heads in the oven à la Sylvia Plath. One evening, I heard a thud in the fridge – a sure sign, I thought, that a precariously balanced jar had overturned. Upon my opening the door and peering inside, Wasabi jumped out from the bottom shelf. He had surreptitiously slipped by while mama’s attention was elsewhere. And, frankly, it’s easy to be distracted by two balls of fur cavorting across the hardwood floors.

Now that I’ve renamed my blog to something less offensive and, hopefully, scoured it of posts that may upset friends and family, I really must start dabbling in the kitchen – and on these pages – once again.


The Happy Maker

Cremasse - Let the festivities begin

Cremasse – Let the festivities begin

In the early 1990’s, my recipe for mulled wine, quickly dubbed ‘moldy wine’ by my brother, became a Christmas Eve tradition. This was soon followed by a recipe in 1992 for hot butter rum, nicknamed hot bubba, made with a vanilla ice cream base. For the next 20 years, tradition necessitated a mug of moldy wine before appetizers followed by hot bubba after dinner with the cookie tray.

Last year, the firm where I work produced a “Holiday Cheer Guide” of employee family recipes. After hastily skimming the guide, it was headed for the trash – no need for for Aunt Edna’s fudge recipe or Mom’s secret ambrosia salad – when I happened upon a coworker’s recipe for Cremasse, a traditional celebratory beverage from Haiti. This was something I wanted to taste!

Within one evening, Cremasse (a.k.a. The Happy Maker) has usurped both hot bubba and moldy wine as our festive holiday cocktail of choice. At first sip, I knew this was no sissy’s drink and must be consumed slowly and judiciously, but surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising), the carafe was entirely drained within a few hours.

Cremasse – The Happy Maker

1 L.         dark or spiced rum**
2 c.         sugar
¼ c.        water
3              cinnamon sticks
14 oz.    sweetened condensed milk
12 oz.    evaporated milk
15 oz.    cream of coconut
2 T.         vanilla extract
1 T.         almond extract
1 t.          ground nutmeg
1 t.          ground cinnamon
1 t.          salt
Zest of two limes

Combine sugar, cinnamon sticks and water in a saucepan and place on low heat. Allow sugar to fully dissolve and make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool.

Whisk rum into cooled syrup. Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut cream. Vigorously whisk milk mixture into rum in a steady stream to avoid curdling. Add extracts, spices, and zest. Set aside of two hours to allow flavors to meld. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour into glasses, garnish with nutmeg and serve. Cremasse can be served cold or room temperature – I prefer it cold.

**dark rum allowed the almond to come through while spiced complimented the cinnamon and nutmeg

Time for sleep

Time for sleep

For Kafka


He was no bigger than her hand and just four weeks old, too young to be properly weaned. She chose him for his rambunctiousness – and for his pink nose that was entirely too big for his face and made her smile. She swaddled him in an old towel, flipped him unwillingly on his back and coaxed the bottle between his tiny, razor-sharp kitten teeth. “How could anyone be so heartless as to drown a litter of helpless kittens,” she thought as her new companion settled into slurping the milky formula. She had wanted a kitten for months, but her boyfriend had convinced her to wait until he moved in. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now, but at least she had the kitten – more dependable than any long-distance romance. They would save each other.

March 4, 2001 – December 8, 2014

Fuck Off Pie

Baked and served during better times and office potlucks.

Baked and served during better times and office potlucks.

What kind of pastry best articulates “fuck off”? For some reason, I’m convinced it must be something French and complicated, with mille-feuille layers, inconceivable mountains of meringue, a generous filling of pastry cream, and decorated with a marzipan middle finger.

Well, we’ll have to leave my Fuck Off pastry for another day since I don’t have five hours of kitchen time in my immediate future. What, you may wonder, necessitates Fuck Off pie? Well, my present disillusionment is the result of a career betrayal two years in the making, and after almost 14 years of employment.   Perhaps I should bake a chocolate pie a la The Help instead. Eat my shit!

Two Bit Tarts


Red plum, Almond and peach tarts

No, I haven’t hung up my tart pans and chef’s knife, but my bill-paying career has lately taken up all of my time – traveling, traveling, traveling from Miami to Chicago with a stop in Denver, island hopping from Nassau to Aruba to Grand Cayman and most recently, Napa, Phoenix and San Diego. It’s no wonder when the last trip wrapped on Thursday, my immune system plummeted on Friday, allowing a cold (or is it flu?) to lay me low.

I haven’t been completely negligent in my baking, just my baking blogging. This weekend, with a fever and stuffed nose, it’s the perfect time to catch up. After whipping up an utterly unhealthy banana bread studded with peanut butter baking chips and smothered with cream cheese frosting*, I returned to my tart troubles.

After a few more imperfect iterations, I settled on my Culinary School pate sucree with a portion of the flour substituted with almond flour to give it some crumble. The resulting crust is sturdier than Hesser’s yet not as rock hard as the original sucree. It works for cream and custard fillings (lemon, key lime, coconut and almond), but becomes soggy overnight when filled with stone fruit. We’ll call that a ½ win.

The Crust
7.5 oz. softened butter
3 oz. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. vanilla
3 oz. egg, beaten
8 oz. All Purpose flour**
2 oz. almond flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugar. Add salt, zest, vanilla and egg and beat until fully incorporated. Combine flours and mix until incorporated. Weigh out 2.75 oz. for each tartlet and press into sides and bottom of tartlet pans***. Blind bake as needed.

*Future trial – substitute pastry flour
**Future trial especially for my personal trainer – banana bread with Reese’s minis and crispy bacon covered in cream cheese frosting. God bless a girl with 12% body fat that still understands food porn.
***I’ve found a tortilla press works wonders for mass production. I pressed a 2.75 oz. ball of dough flat between two pieces of plastic wrap in the press, then fit the dough into the pans, pushing the overhang back in the sides as reinforcement.