Tuesday, August 21, 2012


One more wedding cake under my belt, and just a few days to recover before I start working on the next one. This cake came with a few ups and downs, and many lessons learned. I realized as I was putting the fondant on the bottom tier of this cake, that this was in fact the largest fondant project I had taken on yet. I haven't covered anything larger than a ten inch cake before. A pyramid, yes, but something this huge? Nope, not even close. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me until just that moment.

There is no more hesitation these days when someone hires me to make a cake or dessert table, I say yes of course I can do that. Whether its for better or worse, I rarely consider if I have the necessary time and means to do said project, but deep down, I know that one way or another I will get it done, and I won't stop or finish it until it looks and tastes exactly how I wanted it. If that means ripping two pounds of fondant off of a 15-inch cake tier because it has one too many wrinkles and starting from scratch at 2 am, that's what I will do.

As much as it interferes with my sleep schedule, and the cleanliness of my kitchen at times, it's the attitude I need to have in this industry. Yep, I can do that! Sometimes, the google helps, and sometimes I just jump right in and figure it out for myself. So here's to diving into the deep end, and hoping you make it out alive, and with a beautiful, and even more importantly, delicious, cake in hand.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sweet Corn Risotto

Before I say anything else, I have to say one thing. I am sorry, Mom. I know the second you read the title of this post, you cringed a little, but kept reading out of obligation as a mother to read each and every one of her daughter's blog entries in it's entirety.

You see, my mom loves sweet corn, as long as it's not in things. Corn in soups, salsas, salads, creeps her out. We all think she is crazy, and thankfully this is not a genetic trait she passed along to me. I love corn in anything and everything. Sometimes for dinner I will just eat a big bowl of corn with butter, salt and pepper with a fried egg on top. I love the crunch it adds to soup, the bright notes it adds to salads, and how amazing it is when smothered with cheese (trust me on that).

I have been seeing recipes pop up in the last month or so all over the blogosphere for corn risotto, and knew instantly that I needed to jump on the bandwagon. I read a few recipes, but none of them really grabbed me as much as the mere idea of sweet corn risotto, so I decided to wing it.

The extra effort of milking the corn cobs for the pulp and juices really adds a strong fresh corn flavor to the entire rice, rather than just stirring in some corn towards the end of cooking. The additions of garlic, pancetta, and chives didn't hurt either. I made a huge pot and can hardly wait to eat it all week long. There may even be some arancini (fried risotto balls) in my future.

Sweet Corn & Pancetta Risotto
serves 6-8

6-8 cups low sodium chicken stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 oz pancetta, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
4 shallots, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 ears fresh sweet corn
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chives, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the corn first. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs and place in a bowl. Be sure not to cut too close to the cob, you want just the soft crisp nuggets of corn. Then you want to "milk" the corn cobs. This basically means you want to squeeze all the pulp and juice out of the cob. I used my microplane to gently grate the cobs of corn over a bowl. After I went over the entire cob with the microplane, I quickly ran the back of my knife down each cob to squish out the rest of the juice. This can get a bit messy, so use a large bowl and wear an apron.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large saucepan or small stockpot, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.

In a large heavy pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add pancetta and cook until most of the fat has rendered and starts to crisp. Add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant. Remove from heat, and transfer pancetta to a bowl and set aside.

Over medium heat in the same pot, melt two tablespoons of butter with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 6-8 minutes. 

Stir in the rice, and let cook until the rice toasts a bit and becomes slightly translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has absorbed, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. When wine is just about all absorbed, add the corn kernels and pulp and stir to combine.

Reduce heat to medium low, and add 1 cup of hot broth, stirring rice very frequently until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1 cup at a time and stirring, until rice is just al dente. This should take about 30-40 minutes, and you may not need all the broth.

When the rice is at the al dente stage, stir in the pancetta, the rest of the butter, cheese, and chives. Add plenty of black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately, and if you have leftovers, its nice to have a bit of chicken broth in the fridge to loosen up the risotto as its reheating. Just a few tablespoons of hot broth can turn a sticky clump of leftover risotto nice and creamy again. 

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