Hello, JoJo here. So finally, my first blog post!  I have been putting this off for far too long. Ever since I discovered the world of food bloging months ago, I have had aspirations to establish my own blog. Now that I am back home from a 5-week trip to Japan and having a leisurely week with my family up in Sonoma County California at the Russian River, I have no excuse to procrastinate!

I am a baking addict.  When I bake, I go hard.  One trip to the kitchen for an innocent batch of chocolate chip cookies will turn into “the ultimate cookie comparison” where I bake up four different cookie recipes, whip up a pound cake, and try out a new buttercream recipe.  I have a problem.  I thought I was alone until I discovered people like me online, just as completely crazed as I was. People who devote their time, energy, and money towards ‘Tuesdays with Dorie”, “daring baker’s challenge”, and the upkeep of their very own unique blogs.  Foodgawker has consumed embarrassing amounts of my time that I am unwilling to disclose!

So where did this freakish passion come from?  Well to begin, I was raised a total ‘foodie’.  My mother is Chinese, so food is intrinsically linked with her rich heritage.  She loves to cook, and owned two restaurants when I was growing up.   Then there is living in the Bay Area, where I am surrounded with a cornucopia of the most ethnically diverse, healthy, organic, fresh, and tasty cuisine.  Yet baking is where I have most recently and fully found my niche.  I don’t exactly remember how it all began with baking, but what I do remember is receiving Elizabeth Faulkner’s Demolition Desserts for my birthday in 2007, and fawning over her mind boggling and remarkable concoctions like sour cream sorbet and olive oil filo crisps, all components of her intricate and complex dessert plates (not an ideal book for the beginning baker, but definitely a treasured asset to my kitchen). I started with her basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and went from there, gaining confidence in the kitchen, experimenting, and making a mess of things.  Being able to shadow and intern in Elizabeth’s San Francisco Citizen Cake Bakery last year has probably been the biggest treat of all, but more on that later.

Well now, let me more formally introduce myself, I am a 17 year old high school senior living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I am the youngest member of a family of five, love fashion, hip hop and Japanese cuisine.  The school year begins in about a week, in which I will be managing college applications, schoolwork, friends, and this blog!

Oh and I know this is painfully long, but let me leave you with a recipe because that seems fitting…. I made this wonderful tart two days in a row last week for two separate dinner parties.  After seeing the movie Julie and Julia, I literally was running to the store to buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  It has been fueling my recent obsession with French food and my urge to improve my elementary high school level French speaking.  Anyways, this tart is divine.  I made it with poached  apricots, nectarines, and plums the first time, and skipped the poaching process because I was pressed for time and used fresh peaches for my second tart.  The poached fruit tart got better reviews from my family, having eaten both, but they both turned out fantastic.  Julia indicates you can use any fruit, and recommends poaching peaches, apricots, plums and pears, or using fresh berries, bananas, or grapes.  It is easy to break the recipe up into sections so you can plan ahead for easy assembling.  Bon Appetit!

***To poach the fruit, simmer six cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, and 2 Tbs of vanilla extract, until the sugar dissolves.  Add the unpeeled fruits to the simmering syrup, bring to a simmer again, and maintain just below the simmer for 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for twenty minutes.  Drain peaches on a rack; peel while still warm, and chill.  Them slice when ready to assemble the tart.

Tarte Aux Fraises

(Fresh Strawberry Tart – cold)

Recipe by Julia Child

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Volume I

Ingredients:

A 10-inch fully baked pastry shell (see “Sugar Crust” recipe below)

1 quart large, ripe, handsome strawberries (I poached apricot, nectarines, plums, and used fresh peaches, or any fruit!)

1 cup red currant jelly (apricot jelly can be substituted if you have trouble finding red currant, I used apricot)

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. kirsch or cognac (I used cognac)

1 1/2 to 2 cups chilled creme patisserie (custard filling…recipe below)

Directions:

Hull the strawberries. If necessary to wash them, do so very quickly, and drain them on a rack.

Boil the currant jelly, sugar, and liqueur in a small saucepan until last drops from spoon are sticky. Paint the interior of the shell with a thin coating of the glaze and allow to set for 5 minutes. This will give the shell a light waterproofing. Reserve the rest of the glaze for the strawberries. Warm it briefly if it has hardened.

Spread a 1/2-inch layer of creme patisserie in the bottom of the pastry shell.

Arrange a design of strawberries over the cream. Put the largest strawberry in the center, and graduate down in size, placing the berries closely together, their stem ends in the cream. Spoon or paint over them a thin coating of the glaze, and the tart is ready to serve. Because of the glazed waterproofing in the bottom of the shell, the filled tart may wait an hour or so.

Sugar Crust

“Pate Sablee”

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups flour

3 to 7 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. double-action baking powder

7 tbsp. fat: 5 tbsp chilled butter and 2 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Place the flour, sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, and baking powder in the mixing bowl. Rub the fat and dry ingredients together rapidly with the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into bits the size of small oatmeal flakes. Blend in the egg and vanilla, and knead the dough rapidly into a ball. Place on a pastry board and with the heel of your head, not the palm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. The dough will be quite sticky if you have used the full amount of sugar. Form again into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for several hours until firm.

Creme Patisserie

(Custard Filling)

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

2 cups boiling milk

1 tbsp. butter

1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms “the ribbon”.

Beat in the flour.

Beating the yolk mixture, gradually pour on the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.

Pour into saucepan and set over moderately high heat. Stir with a wire whip, reaching all over bottom of the pan. As sauce comes to a boil it will get lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it. When boil is reached, beat over moderately low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. Be careful custard does not scorch in bottom of pan.

Remove from heat and beat in the butter, then vanilla extract. If the custard is not used immediately, clean it off the sides of the pan, and dot top of custard with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming over the surface. Creme Patisserie will keep for a week under refrigeration, or may be frozen.


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Originally uploaded by wearsjojo

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