Syracuse China
Diameter: 9 ½"



Syracuse China
Diameter: 9 ¾"
Note: A personal favorite.
A few pages later:

'"...From my childhood I have been accustomed to luxury and idleness, and have been bred as though my fortune were large, and my expectations almost without a limit. The idea of wealth has been familiarised to me from my cradle. I have been taught to look upon those means, by which men raise themselves to riches and distinction, as beyond my heeding, and beneath my care. I have been, as the phrase is, liberally educated, and am fit for nothing. I find myself at last wholly dependent upon you, with no resource but in your favour. In this momentous question of my life we do not, and it would seem we never can, agree. I have shrunk instinctively alike from those to whom you have urged me to pay court, and from the motives of interest and gain which have rendered them in your eyes eligible objects for my suit. If there never has been thus much plain-speaking between us before, sir, the fault has not been mine, indeed. If I seem to speak too plainly now, it is, believe me father, in the hope that there may be a franker spirit, a worthier reliance, and a kinder confidence between us in time to come."

"My good fellow," said the smiling father, "you quite affect me. Go on, dear Edward, I beg. But remember your promise. There is great earnestness, vast candour, a manifest sincerity in all you say, but I fear I observe the faintest indications of a tendency to prose."'

-Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
Mr. Chester is my new favorite Dickens character.


In the Madison Area? Come see one of the five free dance concerts at the UW-Madison Dance Program's Intercontinental Summer Dance Festival (June 28 - July 2). I'll be there to welcome you.



Syracuse China
Shape: 9c
Diameter: 5½"


'"My dear boy," returned his father, "confide in me, I beg. But you know my constitution--don't be prosy, Ned."

"I will be plain and brief, " said Edward.

"Don't say you will, my good fellow," returned his father, crossing his legs, "or you certainly will not..."'

-Dickens, Barnaby Rudge



Thomas Keller's Gnocchi à la Parisienne...

are made with herbed choux pastery...

that's poached and then...

browned in butter. Here served with peas fresh from the market and fried sage fresh from our back yard.


From the UW Archives:

Women's Physical Education Class, circa 1900

Of course, if they are witches, they are the best kind of world-enriching witches. I don't mean to suggest that these dynamic women of the UW are destructive in any way. Quite the opposite. The picture, though, is a little freaky, no? This class took place in the building where I work.


Strawberries, Genoise, and Agar-Stabilized Cream

I intended for the chocolate glaze to drip down the sides, leaving the layers partially exposed, but it didn't behave the way I expected. Not sure what the little light brown flecks are-- possibly tiny bits of cream that were browned during heating. RLB directed me to strain the glaze, but-- worried that it would become too cool in sieving-- I didn't. Not sure this is the prettiest arrangement of these components (boy that cream looks nice in the earlier pics), but I expect it's tasty and will be pretty enough when cut. We'll see. It's chilling.


Tepco Beach

Tepco China
Diameter: 9 ¼"


Chocolate Bergamot Roll

Last weekend's cake (which we just finished tonight, when it was still moist and delicious) was JOC sponge cake sheet with Earl Grey pastry cream (my own creation based on Dorie Greenspan's recipe for pastry cream) and JOC chocolate classic buttercream. The Earl Grey is key-- amazingly aromatic. My favorite cake to date.


Magnolia Oval

Syracuse China
Dimensions: 7" x 5 ½"

Return of the Return of the Regular

I can't explain the hiatus we've taken from the regular, but the hiatus has ended.



This weekend's cake. More details to come.



Peonies from Sally's Garden...

dropped their petals when I freshened their water.

Now they are enroute to the compost.



Kenneth: What if Jack White had produced Hold On by Wilson Phillips?


Last week's cake was inspired by Ms. Tooknap's recent enthusiasm for and exploration of génoise. It was my first go at génoise, and I'm a tremendous fan.

RLB: "It is fascinating to compare génoise to basic butter cake. For the same size cake, the génoise uses double the egg, half the sugar, flour/cornstarch, and butter, and no chemical leavening or added liquid."

Génoise, once baked, is generally moistened with syrup, often something boozy-- RLB's recipe, reproduced endlessly in the The Cake Bible, is sugar + water + "liqueur of your choice." I, of course, opted for a sober syrup flavored with a vanilla bean & a generous plane of lemon zest. One could utilize liqueur to sober ends by simply boiling it in the water, rather than adding it at the end. Based on my limited reading to date, though, I'm dismayed at the lack of variety in the syrups recommended for moistening génoise. Exciting inroads into this uncharted territory are suggested by the syrups found in Ms. Tooknap's kitchen.

Last weekend's cake (constructed from RLB's génoise classique) is affectionately named The Uneven Bars.

The rectangular shape highlights the unevenness of my slicing and my icing, which btw is bittersweet chocolate Italian meringue silk buttercream and a bittersweet chocolate ganache that was meant to be whipped but which I overcooled and thus used without fluffing, an accident for the best as extra height would have rendered the cake too tall for m'dome. Either I need to embrace unevenness-- building it into the conception of the cake-- or work on more equal divisions.

From Control

(which I haven't yet seen.)


More Spring Turnips

Nancy Hsueh...

...as the Oxford-educated Jenny. Mesmerizing, strangely poignant, discreetly profound. What a tremendous pity that Hsueh wasn't in more films, in more roles like this.


On the Inside

This is Terry Fisher, my favorite character in The Howling. I think Terry would make a wonderful friend-- casually savvy and sharp. Willing to enter creepy cabins inappropriately-- without an invitation-- and snap photos of their interiors. She wears terrific glasses while driving along the California coastline in a scene which I wish I'd captured. I'm not alone in finding Terry to be "very funny and charming." Sadly, in the film she is sacrificed to animal appetites. Or is she a victim of her own curiosity? Or of a reporter's professional ambition? Or does she surrender herself in the name of supportive friendship?

A Salad with Potatoes

"let's face it: savagery is savagery. Frat boys, they're just like us!" -fourfour


Italian Meringue Silk Buttercream

I worry that my initial reaction might have been prohibitive. So, I ask, "Italian Meringue Silk Buttercream: What is it? Is it complicated?"

Italian Meringue Silk Buttercream is

Crème Anglaise (a light, pourable custard made by thickening egg yolks, sugar, and milk over heat-- it's the base of many ice creams)

Italian Meringue (egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, and a sugar syrup heated to firm ball--170° F-- all whipped into gorgeous fluffiness)

and, of course, Butter (one of my favorite miracles).

Plus anything used to flavor the buttercream. This week, I added bittersweet chocolate. Last week's caramel icing is made by making caramel crème Anglaise.

Really, it's not so complicated. It does, however, require numerous steps. Last week's response was brought on, in part, by the fact that something weird happened to the caramel crème Anglaise on my first try, and I had to start over. I blame RLB's direction to add the caramel to the milk (rather than the milk to the caramel, as I did the second time around), but I may be wrong there. It's possible that with more patience the first batch would have smoothed out.

Is Italian Meringue Silk Buttercream worth it?

Baking in college (using a recipe from Edward Espe Brown), I remember being blown away that one could make icing simply by combining cream and chocolate. So simple and straightforward: "People buy pre-packaged icing when all they need to do is melt chocolate?!?" I still adore and celebrate a basic ganache. But I'm also into the subtle quality of IMSB: its texture, its appearance, and its flavor are all a m a z i n g. And, it's incredibly easy to work with once it's made-- very stable and forgiving. After a second time around, I'm sold. Plus, the caramel version truly involves burnt sugar, unlike many "caramel icing" recipes I've seen which use brown sugar to simulate the complexity of hot-sugar-breakdown.

In a kitchen accident, I iced the smallest toe on my left foot:


Sardine Escabeche

The sardines emerge from the fridge.

We all celebrate Kenneth's return from Philadelphia. Exciting note: to dress the salad, I emulsified the escabeche's liquid into a pretty, slightly pink dressing.