Monday, March 31, 2014

Tulipieres

Tulip... what? Tulipiere. 

One of my favorite parts of Spring are the tulips.  Some people love them so much, they designed special vases to hold them!

tulipiere from the 1600s

In the 1600s, tulips were really expensive. They were the thing for the rich to show off as they were so expensive.  In fact, "tulipomania" reached its height in the 1620s, with one Dutch tulip grower being offered an entire year's worth of salary for one bulb!

I think this is Royal Delft

You can't just put an expensive flower in any old vase.  So in the 17th century, the tulipiere was born.
love the beautiful red tulips with the blue/white china

The tulipiere is made to accommodate one single bulb per spout to show off each individual bulb.

Dutch tulip vase, 1680s.

It became popular after it was displayed at Hampton Court in England, although its origins are Dutch.

Dutch tulipiere from the 1690s with the arms of Willem III. Royal collection, Hampton Court.

Other flower bulbs were expensive too, including crocus and hyacinth. So those were displayed in tulipieres as well.

the owner of this trio of tulipieres would have been extremely wealthy to own all three! 

The tulipiere is often in a pagoda shape.  The Delft factories' inspiration was Asian porcelain as they just started trading with China in the 1600s.

Delft, circa 1690. This sold at Christie's in 2005.  Price was $57,000!

The tulipieres are often part of a set, so you could break them down and arrange them as you wished.

so pretty! 
Not all tulipieres are in the pagoda shape, here are some shaped as fans.



The antique ones are extremely expensive.  There are other newer version by other companies, but I only like the antique looking ones so I will only show those!


 A blue tulipiere from Juliska. 

A newer French version:

Quimper 

New ones are usually spendy too.  But not this artichoke inspired one:

This one only costs $35, from gumps.com

Another version by Juliska in the original "country estate" pattern. I thought it was interesting to show an empty one, as below...



and compare it to a full one! You can get it here. (I received mine as a wedding gift!)



Do I have you hooked? Do you want a tulipiere to show off your tulips! I do!

I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaysSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sistersFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written by Orange Blossom at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tartine Bakery: A Review

A San Francisco French Bakery Review

I love French pastries.  I love them so much, I used to beg my dad to bring home a smooshed croissant from Paris when he had to go there for business trips!  There is nothing like a real French croissant.

So, I decided that I needed to go to to Tartine Bakery located in the Mission District in San Francisco.

Why?

Zagat gives it a 27/30 and says "it's the best croissant ever". The NY times declares it "the best croissant on the West Coast".  Well, San Francisco is much closer to me than Paris!

Those are some big expectations to live up to.

1. First up, the frangipane croissant (basically, an almond croissant).
Was it good? Yes, really good. It was oversized (I suppose that's fitting for a croissant in America!).  The filling was good.  BUT it was overdone! Yep, too brown. They shouldn't have served them as they were overdone, but they sold them anyway because they can.


2. A gougere
This gougere was oversized, as big as a softball. It was okay. Gougeres taste best hot out of the oven. They should've rewarmed it before they sold it.  It is rare to have a bakery sell them though.  I'm biased, I like mine better! I would pass on this if you were to go there (unless they were straight from the oven!)

3. Pain au chocolat
Nothing special about this, other than the fact that it was huge. It was also over baked. You can see the super dark brown on this. Overdone!


So far, we are 0/3. I'm not impressed like I feel like I should be. Why is everyone so ga-ga about this place?
I didn't try a plain croissant. Why? Because they were even more brown than my pain au chocolat! I knew they wouldn't be what I was looking for.

4. A Buttermilk Currant Scone
Ok. Now this is worth raving about!  It was really really good. It had the consistency of a true English scones. I loved it!  It would go really good with some afternoon tea.  You need to try this! I see why people talk about their scones!
currant scone!
5. Lemon poppyseed bread
I forgot to take a picture. We literally had one bite and threw it away. It was so sickeningly sweet and fatty I literally couldn't eat it.  It was bad, just....bad.

There were some other goodies that caught my eye but since it was 10am, I couldn't order everything!

Lemon meringue cake...
lemon meringue
Chcolate hazelnut tart and frangipane tart


Lemon tarts....
these look really good
Ok, one more picture!


Verdict: It was good, but not a 27/30 on the zagat and definitely not the best croissant ever. Their ovens seemed to be running hot that day, so all of the delicate puff pastry dough was overbaked and therefore not as good. They should've just thrown those batches out and served ones cooked at proper temp.  The scone was really good though.

I heard they apparently have excellent bread that sells out before it's even made, so I may be back for that.

But for now, I will stick to eating croissants only while in France.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!

No, really. It is. It is the ONLY chocolate chip cookie recipe you will ever need to know from now on. Trust me. I can't believe these cookies came out of my kitchen. They give the Girl Scouts a run for their money.



The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world!! 

  • 2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. cake flour (8 1/2 oz)
  • 1 2/3 cups bread flour (8 1/2 oz)
  • 1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips, preferably about 60% cacao content, such as Ghirardelli (although I made mine with semi-sweet and they were still delicious)
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing


1. Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. 

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined, 5-10 seconds. Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate.  He recommends for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

5. Scoop about 1/3 cup of six mounds of dough (golf-ball size) onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until light golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. 

6. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Yield: 1.5 dozen 5 inch cookies.
Recipe from: NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies





Tips:
  • Use the cake flour and all purpose flour. I honestly think this is the big difference between this cookie and normal chocolate chip cookie recipes.
  • Chill the dough.  As a scientist, I don't buy the difference between 24-36 hours, and actually for that fact more than several hours.  Places I've read it says it allows the flavors to "hydrate the dry products and allow flavors to mix". Frankly, if you've mixed it well with the mixer, chemically speaking, it is mixed.  I think chilling the dough just allows the batter to set-up, so when it's time to bake it starts from a cooler temperature.  I chilled mine for 4 hours and 30 hours. I can't taste the difference between the two.
  • These make bakery worthy sized cookies. Making them smaller I think would dry them out.
  • They taste better if you sprinkle the salt on it.
  • As with most cookies, take them out before they are completely done.  They will continue to cook on the pan. If you take them out when they're done, they will be overdone by the time they are done cooling!   

unbaked dough on the pan
 Some cookies may not have survived the photography session. RIP in my stomach.



Update: This post was featured at Wow Us Wednesdays on 4/1/14!
Savvy Southern Style

I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaysSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sistersFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Tasty Tuesday's! Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written by Orange Blossom at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrate Spring with Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens, also known as "the Garden of Europe" is starting it's annual tulip festival today.

And here's what we're missing...




Isn't it absolutely beautiful?  It's on my bucket list. I just had to share it with you, just in case you've never heard of this place!



Every year 7 million bulbs are planted. And we get to enjoy the result with none of the work!



The gardens are on 32 hectares!


The tulip festival runs every year from mid-March until mid-May. I would guess the first two weeks in April are probably the best time to go. 




It's so beautiful it almost looks fake.



I just want to go running through the field.


 This is an aerial shot of on the fields that Keukenhof gardens uses to grow their tulips!



Does it feel like Spring now?



... sure feels like Spring to me.



Is Keukenhof Gardens now on your bucket list too?




Keukenhof Gardens is located in Holland.  It's just a "short" flight over to Amsterdam.  It's outside of Amsterdam, not too far away.

For more information, visit the official website
Note: none of these pictures are mine, I just found them on the google search. If they are yours, contact me to receive credit or to have them removed.

I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaysSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sistersFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written by Orange Blossom at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Europain... aka a whole expo in Paris on baking!

Due to my insomnia one night... I got sucked into the internet planning my future trip to Paris and ran into EUROPAIN.

What is Europain?  It is a world bakery, pastry, ice cream, chocolate and confectionery trade show.  Aka, something I need to go to. NOW.  This event took place from March 8-12 this year.

Why do I want to go? Because... this.



and this...


The whole industry shows up. And shows off.



This is *the* place they hold all of those competitions.  I had no idea it was a whole expo too!

ooh laa laaa

And they make things like these, I don't know what they are put appear to be full of lemony chocolately berry goodness!


How CUTE are these chocolates?! Or are they cakes?! Who cares they are cute!

this may be the cutest confection I've ever seen.

In addition to the competitions, bakeries show off new things with SAMPLES!



Here is hall 5. That means there are at least FOUR OTHER HALLS in this place!


See, it's an expo! I NEED a pass!!!  Je voudrais un billet a Europain! Bustin' out the French! (I never actually took French, this is just what I've picked up over the years, Je voudrais un billet a metro is a phrase I had to learn!)

It is an expo, so we can learn about the 7 trends for 2014 for this industry. One of them includes breaking down the barriers between baking/pastry making and the consumer. The consumer wants to watch it be made and then eat it all at the same time!
apparently this is what future bakeries should look like!

They also have industrial equipment. This one is making lots of caramel. I always get mesmerized watching these machines work.



This one imprints chocolate.


This one makes all different shapes of edible goodies! WHOA!



They also have new products. Like praline powder... so desserts with praline chocolate will be more accessible. GOOD! I loooove praline!


And, I had to include this picture. It's a cow made of bread.


So, in summary, Europain looks AWESOME!  It is in Paris every year in March.

But how do we get tickets?!  Ummmm, well, sorry to disappoint.  You have to be a member of the industry. Or a student at a baking school. Yet ANOTHER reason why I am trying to convince my Husband and Dad to take French baking classes with me in San Francisco!



For more information, visit their official website

To drool over more photos, VISIT THEIR FLICKR! 

The photos in this post were taken from Europain's facebook page. 



I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaysSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sistersFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written by Orange Blossom at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com