I love smoking stuff!!!

Relax stoners, it’s not what you think.  A few weeks ago I had this idea…”hey, I should make s’mores ice cream!”  I made this graham whipped cream one time by steeping graham crust leftovers in the cream, straining them out, cooling the cream back down and whipping it up.  It was so rad!  I thought I could take that same principle to my ice cream base.  Then I’m thinking about chocolate and home-made marshmallow….and I thought….”man….if only it could taste like a campfire……….HOLY SHIT I SHOULD COLD SMOKE THE MARSHMALLOWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Another one of those culinary epiphanies that I love so much.  I was stoked on it but for some reason it took me a while to get around to actually doing it.  In my world, if you want to order something from a company that provides goods to a restaurant, you usually have to buy like massive amounts of whatever it is you want.  I totes didnt want 375 pounds of wood chips lying around my kitchen.

*The Daily Jiao*  I called over to Ankit, the manager of Birba and asked if by chance they had any wood for me to use to smoke with.  He said “sure! I’ll bring you some!!”  He bops into the kitchen with a freakin hunk of wood half the size of him in his hand.  I’m like “duuuude……I need chips?!” And ever the optimist, he starts hacking away at the wood happily with a cleaver.  With everyone looking on, waiting to see him chop his finger off and wood chips flying all over the place (he totally looked like pig-pen from the Peanuts, but instead of stink he was in a haze of wood dust) I say, “dude….I can go get them for like five bucks at the store….”  He says, “well why didn’t you say so?!” drops the cleaver and bops happily back out of the kitchen.

I set off to World Market and retrieved a three-pound bag of mesquite chips that will probably last me until I retire.  Today was D-day.  I had a lot of other stuff going on, such as this baby shower cake that was due today:

The cake was lemon cake, soaked with lemon simple syrup and filled with thai tea mousse.  I did the bottom tier then built a small round cake for the body of the bee and an even smaller one for the head, then carved the shapes out of each with a serrated knife.  I iced them together with buttercream and covered it! Easy peasy, but before that I threw together a batch of marshmallows so they would be set up by the time I was ready for them.

I finished the cake and IT WAS TIME!  I was so excited….would it work?!  Would it be disgusting?!  I love trying new things!!  I used a 4″ deep hotel pan (400 pan as we call it) and put the marshmallows in a 2″ deep perforated hotel pan and wrapped the top of that with plastic.  I threw the smoking chips into the 400 pan and sat the 200 pan on top and wrapped the whole thing in plastic.

AWWWWW YEEEEEEEEEEAH!  Look at that!!!! It smelled just like a campfire in the kitchen and it sent me right back to the campouts of my youth.  I waited an agonizing five minutes before sneaking out a marshmallow and shoving that pillowy soft goodness in my mouth……..oh man.  Let’s just say………it. worked. It was SO GOOD! The smoke flavor was there to be sure but had not penetrated the entire marshmallow so you still got the sweet vanilla goodness in the center! I felt like a genius, I wont lie.  I’m sure someone somewhere has done this but if they have I havent heard about it.  I just love it when ideas actually work!!!!!!!

So today’s “Sunday Funday Sundae” was graham ice cream, brownie bits, chocolate sauce and mesquite smoked marshmallow.

Just for fun, I’ll share the two other Sunday Funday Sundae’s that I have done thus far:

mango sorbet, plum sorbet, marshmallow fluff, ube meringue, plum chip, sparkly strawberry chocolate (kinda like a pop rock but white chocolate, not hard candy.  I added strawberry powder, baking soda and citric acid), mango sauce and some of that rad nata de coco stuff that my friend Sherman brought me from one of her asian market adventures.

This one was bacon-ish ice cream (kinda bacony but not a lot…bacon-ish..ya feel me?) malted hot fudge, peanut bacon toffee and bacon whipped cream.  The bacon whipped cream was another epiphany.  I had the rendered bacon fat from the bacon I used in the toffee sitting there taunting me.  I thought “what if…………………” So I busted out the food processor and the tapioca maltodextrine and went to town making bacon powder.  (tapioca maltodextrine turns fats into powders)  I then whipped the bacon powder into the whipped cream and boom. bacon whipped cream.  Yes, it was as good as it sounds.  Smoky, sweet and luscious.

That was my day!  I love my job!!!!!!!!!!!


Ok, sure.  I suck at updates.  In my defense, I’ve been really busy!! I quit my job at the Parker when I was offered the pastry chef position at a company that owned two restaurants and a hotel.  They were planning on opening a third and brought me in and boy has it been crazy!  I’m so incredibly happy at this place!! We have been open for about two months now and I have so much foodporn to share! But first, a shameless plug:

My new second home is called Jiao, the fourth installment in the Cheeky’s/ Birba/ Alcazar empire.  It’s an asian restaurant (read: food from any/all asian cultures).  I was so flattered when the (totes awes) owners approached me to take the reins on the pastry department for them.  These people know what they are doing.  Don’t believe me?  Come to Palm Springs.  You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at three different restaurants, drink and party to a live DJ (that occasionally uses solar-powered equipment!) or possibly peruse the creations of local artists, go for a dip in a gorgeous pool then crash out in a big comfy bed….all without leaving a one block radius.  They have the PS entertainment arena on lock.

Jiao is housed in a beautiful corner space that was previously a bakery that never quite made it.  When I got ahold of my playground, it was pretty sparse and looked like this:

And when I finally had my dream pastry space all finished……..

Isn’t she a beaut?!  The best part is, I have been turned loose!  “Go crazy!” they told me!  AND CRAZY I WENT!  Well, admittedly, it was a tad overwhelming at first.  Working in a hotel is a totally different beast.  It did take a bit for me to really open up and start pushing the boundaries of my own creativity and skill.  I have learned so much in the last few months just finally being able to experiment and play.   I handled the dessert menu and was proud of it, but then I started in on specials.  The most fun part for me was using my classic french training and incorporating asian flavors.  I did stuff like this:

Orange cream cake with cream cheese frosting, thai tea custard and coconut caramel.  Which was great.  Tasted good, people loved it…. Then I got bored.  I was so used to being in the box of “safe” French bistro style desserts.  One day, it was like a light switch.  Without a second thought, without apprehension, I created the dessert that changed everything.  Key lime pie.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but that day I walked into the kitchen and this dessert literally just poured out of me.  At that moment I knew a whole new world had been opened up.  I’ve made it a goal to try something that I have never done before each week for my specials, and I am having a blast!

Key lime frozen souffle, caramalized white chocolate pudding, graham strusel, sweetened condensed milk cube and key lime caramel.  The caramel was pure win.  I had one of those perfect epiphany moments that I love having in the kitchen.  I was making regular caramel sauce to go with this and decided to stop the caramel with key lime juice….then instead of cream I added sweetened condensed milk.  I kid you not, this caramel tasted just like key lime pie.  The caramalized sugar and vanilla bean took on a crust-ish note.  I patted myself on the back and that weekend I sold more of these than any other dessert.

Pluots are in season and I took full advantage and got some beautiful ones in.  Kaffir lime parfait, fresh pluot sorbet, pluot sauce, fresh pluots, sesame brittle and white gourd toasted meringue.

I became enamoured with the flavor of black sesame and my lovely friend Sherman surprised me with some gorgeous black sesame paste!  Black sesame panna cotta, mango lime sorbet, mango sauce, vanilla bean and greek yogurt microwave sponge, greek yogurt sphere (the kind that explodes and oozes when you break into it)  white chocolate crunch and a mango nata de coco.  (which I admit is a packaged product that Sherm also brought for me to try.  I normally wouldn’t put anything prepackaged in my desserts but it fit and looked cool so I went with it!  I will never claim to have made something that I didnt make, for future reference.)

And now we are up to date.  This is the dessert special for this weekend.  Chocolate ganache, flourless chocolate cake, tarragon ice cream, tarragon foam, dehydrated champagne grapes, salty strusel, rose syrup and maldon salt.   I adore the earthy chocolate/ salt/ tarragon combo and adding the little bursts of sweetness from the grapes and floral-y sweet rose syrup…..yum.

So as you can see, I have been a busy woman!  But stay tuned because a couple of weeks ago I started adding the “Sunday Funday Sundae” to my specials!  I have a very exciting one planned for tomorrow that I cant wait to share!!