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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bottle of Vodka and a Pack of Smokes

Nothing says delicious birthday cake like a bottle of vodka and a half-burned cigarette, yummy:) I was thrilled to get the request for this one. Starting at the beginning, For the board I cut a piece of 1/2" thick foam core board to the size I wanted, wrapped in cake foil, and trimmed the edge with ribbon (strangely enough neither Micheal's nor Hobby Lobby stock alcohol or cigarette themed ribbon, and I had to settle for black with white stitching)
My next step was to lay out all my elements to get an idea of composition.
I wanted the bottle to look like it was actually lying on its side, instead of just a bottle cut in half, but I didn't think an all-cake structure would hold up. I decided to form the bottom half of the bottle with rice cereal treats (I use the recipe on the box, with just a little less butter. I have tried with no butter, but found it too dry)
I covered this in ganache:
I let it firm up a bit, then flipped it over and cut a cardboard to fit. For extra support I used three short dowel sections in the cereal treat part going up to the cardboard:
I stacked my cake layers on top of the cardboard:
I had cut two waxed paper templates the diameter of the bottle. I placed one on either side and used it as a guide for rounding out the shape:

Then I made the top and stem of the bottle out of cereal treats and covered with ganache. I used a long bamboo skewer to impale it into the cake:
I attached the neck, smoothed any gaps with more ganache, and set it in the fridge overnight, covered with a clean plastic bag
Now for the fun part: the details, all of which were made of modeling chocolate
I started with the pack of smokes. I tried to accurately measure all the parts, and cut the sides out individually:

I attached the pieces together with a little water, used gumpaste tools to blend the edges, and used a thin piece of foam inside to support it while it set up
I painted all the details using 190 vodka and powder colors, with black airbrush color for the lettering. I think I spent close to 2 hours on the cigarette pack alone

Then onto the ashtray. I mixed some blue and white modeling chocolate together for a nice marbled look:

For the ashes I mixed some black and gray modeling chocolate together and used my micro plane grater. Very touchy stuff. It looked great, but I had to carefully scoop it up with a knife blade or it just all clumped together

The martini glass is also modeling chocolate, with a skewer in the stem. To do the stem I stuck a sausage of MC onto the skewer first, then rolled it into a rope

Now time for fondant:( Actually it wasn't as bad as I had expected. I did the neck first, as I figured doing it all at once would be a futile and infuriating endeavor. The position of the bottle made it easy to hide the seam
For the body I measured out the piece I'd need, and carried it over to the cake on a piece of cardboard to minimize stretching
It went pretty good, although there were some gaps at the bottom:
To solve this I cut thin strips of fondant
and used a butter knife to tuck them into place:
Not perfect, but good enough since the bottle will be painted and the bottom edges won't be noticeable in the final product.
Painting time:) Which was worse than I expected:( I again used gel color thinned with 190proof vodka. I kept getting clumps that wouldn't dissolve, and it happened with all my shades of blue, both Wilton and Americolor- very frustrating
I just kept layering washes of blues, and sponging off colors to try and make it look translucent

While the blue was drying I decided to be bold (for me) and use poured sugar to make the spilled martini. I have bad experiences with cooking sugar (mostly my own stupid fault) including a stove-top covered in boiled over sugar/water while making baklava; what a mess!

I looked up a generic hard candy recipe on the magnificent interwebs, and combined some sugar, water, and corn syrup and cooked to 300-ish degrees
I poured spill blobs on a silicon mat and let cool
Then I started putting everything together:
I used just a little bit of corn syrup to attach the spills, and a little ganache for everything else

After I removed the foam, I crumpled my pack of smokes:

In the next picture you can see the piece of foam I cut to support the martini glass as it set up; I wasn't confident in its strength, so I sent the foam with the cake so it could be taken off right before serving, and sent a dollar store martini glass along just in case

My original idea for the bottle was for it to be open, with vodka spilling out, but I messed up some measurement, and my half-assed attempt at a opening looked, well, half-assed so I changed to a closed cap.

The end did not really look as mangled as the next picture implies, but my camera's flash only has a Hiroshima setting

This one was a lot of fun, and semi-ironic that I was so painstakingly handcrafting cigarettes and cigarette paraphernalia on just about the anniversary of when I quit smoking myself 6 years ago. Hope you enjoyed seeing the process.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cookbook Problem, Part Two

I already mentioned that I have a cookbook problem, and I decided to confront that problem and actually take a count. Not as bad as I had thought: 240 242 (missed 2)(Though there are 5 on order;)
Then for some horribly stupid reason I decided to make a list. Of course, as soon as I started said list I realized it would be a horrible, time-consuming, and tedious process. But did I stop? No, no I did not:(

Here it is, in all its glory/shame: (There are some out of order numbers as I placed the same book in multiple categories on occasion (just to make it more difficult on myself)

Some of the lay-out /fonts look a little goofy- but I swear they look perfect in editing mode so you'll just have to live with it:)
Baking/Cake Decorating
Cake Decorating:
                Colette Peters:
                                1. Colette’s Birthday Cakes 
                                           this is the one that really got me interested in cake decorating
                                2. Colette’s Christmas
                                3. Colette’s Wedding Cakes
                Liv and Kaye Hansen
                                       love their advanced chocolate method
                                4. The Whimsical Bakehouse
                                5. Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse
                Karen Tack and Alan Richardson: Super cuteness:)
                                6. Hello, Cupcake
                                7. What’s New, Cupcake?
                8. Cake Pops by Bakerella, Angie Dudley More cuteness, but harder than it looks
                9. The Artful Cupcake, Marcianne Miller
                10. Hot Cakes, Debbie Brown
                11. Sugarcraft Flowers, Claire Webb
                12. Cakewalk: Adventures in Sugar, Margaret Braun (out of print)
                                            goreous sugarcraft
                                                                                     I LOVE to look at this one, but way out of my league skills wise
                13. Wedding Cake Art and Design, Toba Garrett
                14. Sweet Celebrations, Sylvia Weinstock
                15. The Homemaker’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of Modern Cake Decorating,
                                McKinley and Norman Wilton (12th Printing, 1959)
                91. Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes 
                                    short on actual decorating how-to's but tons of breathtaking cakes and good recipes
Cake/Dessert Baking:
                Anne Bryn: For when you're in a hurry, also great flavor combo ideas
                Rose Levy-Beranbaum: Must haves!
                                18. The Cake Bible
                                19. Rose’s Heavenly Cakes
                20. All Cakes Considered, Melissa Gray 
                21. The Pastry Queen, Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman
                22. Perfect Light Desserts, Nick Maglieri and David Joachim
                23. Small Batch Baking, Debby Maugans Nakos
                24. Sweet Miniatures, Flo Braker
                81. Booze Cakes Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone
                                            very fun book
                25. Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust
                                     Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer

                26. Great Cookies, Carole Walter
                Alice Medrich: Love the author, she introduced me to cacao nibs!
                                27. Chocolate Holidays
                                28. Bittersweet
                29. Greatest Ever Chocolate, Parragon Publishing
                30. Candy Hits by ZaSu Pitts 
                                        very interesting, candy recipes from a silent film start
                31. Homemade Candy, Farm Journal
General Baking:
                32. Baking In America, Greg Parent
                33. How to Bake, Nick Maglieri
                34. Home Baking, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid 
                                          (more books by authors in Asian)
                35. Baking, James Peterson

                Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois: got me to embrace bread-baking!
                                36. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
                                37. Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
                38. My Bread, Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste continued my new-found love of yeast breads
General Cooking

Magazine Books:
Cooking Light Magazine Books:
                    The best cooking magazine around, don't let the "light" part scare you away
                                39. Annual Recipes 1990
                                40. Annual Recipes 1991
                                41. Annual Recipes 1992
                                43. Annual Recipes 1993
                                44. Annual Recipes 1994
                                45. Annual Recipes 1995
                                46. Annual Recipes 1996
                                47. Annual Recipes 1997
                                48. Annual Recipes 1998
        49. Annual Recipes 1999
                                50. Annual Recipes 2000               
                                51. Annual Recipes 2001
                                52. Annual Recipes 2002
                                53.Annual Recipes 2003
                                54. Annual Recipes 2004
                                55. Annual Recipes 2005
                                56. Annual Recipes 2006
                                57. Annual Recipes 2007
                                58. Annual Recipes 2008
                                59. Annual Recipes 2009
                                60. Annual Recipes 2010
                                61. Superfast Suppers
                                62. Five Star Recipes
                                63. Slow Cooker
                                64. Best Ever Kitchen Secrets
                65.Kitchen Secrets 
                     great general resource- I've turned to this countless times
                                66. Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes
                                67. Cook Once, Eat Twice
                                68.Gifts From Your Kitchen
                                69. Test Kitchen Favorite, Vol. 1
                                70.Annual Recipes 2002
                                71.Annual Recipes 2003
                                72. Annual Recipes 2004
                                73. Annual Recipes 2005
Southern Living/Sunset:
                                74. Southern Living Homestyle Cooking
                                75. Sunset Pasta Cookbook
                                76.Gourmet’s Parties
                                77. Gourmet’s Holidays and Celebrations
Betty Crocker: I enjoy the old, cheesy, sexist volumes :)
                78.Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Book (1966)
    79.Betty Crocker’s Outdoor Cookbook (1961)
    80.Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook (1967)
    82.Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook (late 90’s) 

    83.Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook (1961)
    84.Betty Crocker’s Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook
    85. Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook (1994) Broadened my culinary horizons

The Culinary Institute of America: 
                       beautiful and great to read (though I can't say I've used them yet)
                86. Baking at Home With the Culinary Institute of America
                87. Breakfast and Brunches with the Culinary Institute of America
                88. Gourmet Meals in Minutes with the Culinary Institute of America
                89. Hors d’Ouvres at Home with the Culinary Institute of America
                90. One Dish Meals with the Culinary Institute of America
Authors/Celeb Chefs:
                Martha Stewart:
                        I actually did not care for Martha pre-jailbird days, but now I respect the lady
                        91. Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes    
93. Christmas with Martha Stewart Living, vol. 4
94. Christmas with Martha Stewart Living, vol. 6
                Alton Brown: One of my favorite chefs of all time
                                97. I’m Just Here for the Food
                                98. I’m Just Here for More Food
                                99. Good Eats: The Early Years
                                100. Good Eats: The Middle Years
                Julia Child:
                                101. The Way to Cook
                                102. Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom
                                103. Julia Child and More Company
Wolfgang Puck:
Jacques Pepin:
Emeril Lagasse:
                                107. A Beautiful Bowl Of Soup
                                108. 15 Minute Gourmet: Vegetarian
                                109. The 15 Minute Chicken Gourmet
                Rozanne Gold:
                                110. Recipes 1-2-3
                                111. Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook
                                112. Healthy 1-2-3
            Steve Raichlen (more by author in Mexican): YUM!
                        113. BBQ USA
                        114. The Barbecue Bible
                        115. Indoor Grilling
            116. Boy Gets Grill, Bobby Flay
117. The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce Cookbook , Jim Auchmutey and Susan Puckett
            118. Marlboro Cook Like A Man Cookbook

Slow Cooker:
                120. The Italian Slow-Cooker, Michele Scicolone
                122. The Ultimate Slow Cooker Cookbook, Carol Heding Munson
                123. The Bacon Cookbook, James Villas

Wild Game:
                124.The NAHC Wild Game Cookbook 1997
                127. Hot and Spicy, Linda Fraser
                128. Red Hot Chili Pepper, Jenni Fleetwood, ed.

Healthy Cookbooks:
Richard Simmons: (Yes, he of the short shorts and white-guy afro Richard Simmons)
                  (these are worth purchasing for the pictures alone)
        130.Farewell to Fat Cookbook
Evelyn Tribole:
 kind of old, so heavier on the fat free and margarine subs than I like, but good stuff nonetheless
                      131. Healthy Homestyle Desserts
         132. Healthy Homestyle Cooking
Todd Wilbur: Fun reads
            133. Top Secret Recipes Lite!
134. Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes

Around the World
Rick Bayless: another of my favorite chefs:)
                         136.  Mexican Everyday this book is WONDERFUL!
137.  Fiesta at Rick’s just got this one, can't wait to try out the recipes

138. Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico
                139. What’s Cooking: Mexican, Marlena Spieler
                140. High-Flavor, Low-Fat Mexican Cooking, Steve Raichlen (more books for author in BBQ)
                142. Rosa Mexicano, Josefina Howard
                143. In a Cuban Kitchen, Alex Garcia
Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger: Lots of good recipes in these two
144. Mesa Mexicana
145. Too Hot Tamales
                146. The Ecuador Cookbook, Christy Buchanan and Cesar Franco
           241. Tacos, Mark Miller : two thumbs up:)
            Madhur Jaffrey: another great, great chef
                147. Indian Cooking with Madhur Jaffrey
                        240.From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the IndianSpice Trail
            149. Great Indian Dishes, Rafi Fernandez
                Mario Batali:
                                150. Simple Italian Food
                                151. Italian Grill
                152. Fat-Free Italian, Ann Sheasby
                153. Italia in Cucina, McRae Books
                154. Italian Slow and Savory, Joyce Goldstein 
                                     (other books by author in Mediterranean, Jewish)
                155. Sopranos Family Cookbook, Allen Rucker
                156. Trattoria Grappolo, Leonardo Curti and James Fraoli
                             beautiful pictures and delectable recipes
                157. Buca de Beppo: Into the Sauce
                158. Bottega Favorita, Frank Stitt
                Nicole Routhier: Yet another fave author
                                159. The Foods of Vietnam one of my favorite cookbooks
                                160. Cooking Under Wraps (wrapped food in general, not just Asian)
                 161. Cookshelf Thai, Christine France 
                                        looks like a generic bargain book, but the food is terrific!
                Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid:
                                         great books, gorgeous photos, I read these all the time
                                162. Hot Sour Salty Sweet: 
                                                                 A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia
                                163. Mangoes & Curry Leaves: 
                                                                      Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
                                164. Beyond the Great Wall: 
                                                                      Recipes and Travels in the Other China
                165. Betty Crocker’s New Chinese Cookbook
                166. The Japanese Kitchen, Kimiko Barber
                         this one I haven't used yet since it requires a lot of weird ingredients (and this
                                  is coming from someone who has a cache of unusual ingredients and spices)
                167. The Complete Stir-Fry Cookbook, Murdoch Books
                168. Mediterranean Fresh, Joyce Goldstein 
                                                                       (more by author in Italian, Jewish)              

                Paula Wolfert: (more by author in African and European)So good!
                                169. Mediterranean Cooking
                                170. The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (delicious!)
                                171. The Slow-Mediterranean Kitchen
                172. The Glorious Foods of Greece, Diane Kochilas
                173. Mediterranean Light, Martha Rose Shulman
                174. Classical Turkish Cooking, Ayla E. Algar
                175. A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table, African:
                                                Kitty and Owen Morse, with Tershia d’Elgin
                Kitty Morse: Great books!
                                176. Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen                               
                                177. The Vegetarian Table: North Africa
                                178. The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine From Morocco                  
           179. A Taste of Africa, Dorinda Hafner
                180. Fresh Moroccan: Nada Saleh
Middle Eastern:
            181. Middle Eastern Cooking, Rose Dosti
            182. The Art of Persian Cooking, Forough Hekmat
            183. The Best of Baghdad Cooking, Daisy Iny
Other European/Eastern European:
                185. A Taste of Portugal, Shirley Sarvis
                186. The Czechoslovak Cookbook, Joza, Brizova
                187.  The Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France's Magnificent 
                      Rustic Cuisine, Paula Wolfert (more by author in Mediterranean, African)
            188. The Armenian Table: Highly recommended!!!
                    More than 165 Treasured Recipes that Bring Together Ancient Flavors
                     and 21st-Century Style, Victoria Wise
            189. The Veselka Cookbook:
                     Recipes and Stories from the Landmark Restaurant in New York's
                                East Village, Tom Birchard and Natalie Danford
            191. Spanish Cooking, Pepita Aris
Other International:
            85. Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook (1994)

            Time-Life Books: (the 1970's)
                        193. The Cooking of Germany
                        194. The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire
                        195. Latin American Cooking
                        196. The Cooking of the Caribbean Islands
                        197. Recipes: Russian Cooking
                              198. Recipes: African Cooking
                              199. Meat-filled Pastries, Noodles and Dumplings, Party Beverages

                200. To All My Grandchildren: Lessons in Indonesian Cooking,
                                                                                                        Leonie Samuel-Hool
               201. The Philippine Cookbook, Reynaldo Alejandro
            202.Food of Burma: Authentic Recipes from the Land of the Golden Pagoda
            203. Carribbean Cooking: Elizabeth Lambert-Ortiz
                204. A Drizzle of Honey, David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson
                      very interesting reading, about the Spanish "hidden" jews in the time of the Spanish Inquisition)
                                                       (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)
                205. Cucina Ebraica, Joyce Goldstein (more by author in Italian, Mediterranean)
                206. Harriet Roth’s Deliciously Healthy Jewish Cooking
                 178. The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine From Morocco ,
                                                      Kitty Morse                 
                207. Holiday Cocktails, Jessica Strand
                208. Skinny Tinis, Teresa Marie Howes
Just For Fun:
                209. White Trash Cooking, Ernest M. Mickler

            210. Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis' Favorite Recipes, Brenda Butler

            211. In the Kitchen With the Chippendales: More Than 70 Romantic Recipes 
                      To Tempt, Tease, and Tantalize.           
            212. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,Amy Sedaris
Dog/Cat Food:
                213. Doggy Desserts, Cheryl Gianfrancesco
                214. The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook, Liz Palika
                215. Pupsnacks, Stephanie Mehanna
                216. Barker’s Grub, Rudy Edalati
                218. The Natural Pet Food Cookbool, Wendy Nan Rees

Miscellaneous (Theme Ingredient):
                219. Coffee Cookery, Ceil Dyer
                220. Anheuser Busch: Great Food, Great Beer
                221. Edamame, Anne Eagan
            223. Take a Tin of Tuna, Joie Warner
            224. Pomegranates: 70 Celebratory Recipes, Ann Kleinberg            

               225, Quick Pickles: Easy Recipes for Big Favor, Chris Schlesinger & Susie Cushner
Miscellaneous (Other):
226. Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion,
                                 Kitty Morse (more by author in Jewish and African)
            227. Japanese Garnishes , Yukiko  and Bob Haydock
            228. Artisnal Cooking:
                     A Chef Shares His Passion for Handcrafting Great Meals at Home,
                         Terrance Brennan, Andrew Friedman, and Christopher Hirsheimer
            230. Bistro Cooking at Home , Gordon Hamersley
231. Foods of the Americas:  Native Recipes and Traditions,
                 Smithsonian American Indian, Fernando and Marlena Divina

             232. Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties, Peggy Knickerbocker
             233. Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer:
                                           Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead,
                                           Susie Martinez, Bonnie Garcia , and Vanda Howell
                234. Finger Food, Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
                235. What to Cook, Arthur Schwartz
                236. Recipes to the Rescue,
                                     Thrilling Kitchen Adventures...Just in the Nick of Time?,
                                      Chuck Smothermon and Lou Brooks, eds.
                237. Ethnic Cooking, Wisconsin Style, American Cancer Society
                238. The Joslin Diabetes Quick and Easy Cookbook, Bonnie Polin Frances Giedt
    239.The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, Murdoch Books