Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy birthday to In Erika's Kitchen, and pate brisee

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Celebrating the 4th "blogiversary" of In Erika's Kitchen with quiche, muffins and my good friend Sarah

I've been writing this blog for four years now.

A lot has happened in four years. My kids have gone from little to bigger. I went back to work after eight years of full-time parenting. There have been conference calls, meetings, business trips, school plays, youth orchestra concerts, playdates, family vacations, projects, dinner parties, birthday parties.

There have been good days and bad days. Good months, bad months.

Through it all, I have written my blog. It's been the one constant through four years of personal and familial shifting sands.

Two or three or four times a week, I've sat at this computer and put together pictures, words and recipes into stories to share with you. Two or three or four times a week, I've created something that had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and then I've pushed a button and sent it off into the universe. Done.

I think my blog has kept me sane.

An early-morning blog birthday breakfast with Sarah

My friend Sarah came over today for an early breakfast. The sun was up, but barely. Early morning is one of the few times two working moms can take an hour to catch up and celebrate.

Sarah brought pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. She found the recipe on my blog and has been making them for her family for years. She adjusts the recipe to suit her family's tastes: less sugar, not quite as much nutmeg, only a pinch of cloves. They taste like the ones I make, but not quite. I love that she's made my recipe her own. Her version might be even better than mine.

Sarah often makes my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for her family

I made quiche. I am still trying to get over my fear of pie crust; if anyone can help with that, it's Clemence Gossett, owner of The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories in Santa Monica, whom I met early on in my blogging career. Clemence tutored me in cake decorating when I was chosen to decorate cakes with Kelly Ripa, Buddy "The Cake Boss" Valastro, and a dozen other bloggers in 2010. She is the best baking teacher I know because she demands imprecision - unusual for a baker. She wants you to understand the concepts, work by feel, get over your fears.

A few weeks ago Clemence was the featured chef at a dinner put on by Your Local Hive, a slow food group here in Los Angeles. She fed us tarts and quiche and puff pastry, and she showed us how to make a traditional pate brisee, or flaky crust. Three cups of flour, three sticks of butter. She uses California-grown and -milled flour, and only Straus Family Creamery butter. A dribble of ice water and it's done. The pastry should have visible lumps of butter - that's what makes it flaky. "Disorganized chaos," she calls it (as opposed to puff pastry, "organized chaos").

Four years of blogging - who knew I had so much to say? :)

Clemence rubbed the butter into the flour by hand at the demo, but my hands are hot - this, it turns out, is why I always have trouble with pastry. My choice is either to soak my hands in ice water before making pie crust, or to use the food processor. I chose the machine. A few quick pulses to break up the butter in the flour, a few dollops of ice water, and done. I gathered the dough into a disk, wrapped it in plastic, put it in the refrigerator to rest.

Then the quiche. Rolled the dough out, put it in a pie plate, filled it with roasted cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and a drizzle of kale pesto. Mixed eggs, egg yolks, cream and milk for the custard, poured it over, baked at 375. A truly French quiche emerged. I got the crust just right: flaky, tender, with color. Clemence hates undercooked pastry and would be proud.

Four years. I've learned a lot in four years. I've met wonderful people in four years - including all of you, who enrich my days and motivate me to keep writing. I'm grateful for that, so grateful.

What will the next four years bring? I can't wait to find out.


a woman called Sam said...

Sounds yummy. Did you bake the crust blind, first? HOw did you keep it from becoming soggy- bottom rack of the oven?

Erika Kerekes said...

@Sam I did not blind bake the crust because I was afraid it would get too brown - the custard takes nearly an hour to set properly. It wasn't soggy, though.

Libbety said...

Happy blog birthday Erika! Being a new comer to your blog I can say that I'm so glad that I found you and continue to be inspired by your recipes and zesty style of writing. Keep rocking it out!

Erika Kerekes said...

Oh Libbety, your words are so kind - it's I who gets inspiration from you! Thanks for being here and for being such a supportive reader!

Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought said...

Congratulations Erika! You are doing such a great job. I love your recipes.


Happy Birthday, Erika!!!! May God continue to richly bless you and your family. Have a wonderful holiday!!!!

Gloria - The Ginger Snap Girl said...

Happy Blog Birthday! I always look forward to seeing your posts show up in my Google Reader.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Cathy, Richsistah, Gloria - thank you for making me feel loved! And happy holidays to all of you.

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