Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thanks for...everything!

We have many days throughout the year that are set aside to honor someone or something.  We have President's Day in honor of past Presidents.  Memorial Day to honor those who have died in service to our country.  Earth Day to honor the Earth.  Shouldn't Earth Day really be everyday?  Without her we all specks of dust swirling into a black abyss. 

Earth Day is about not only raising our collective consciousness about the damage that has been done but also the glory of nature.  There is a great Rachel Carson quote:
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find resources of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." 

I believe that spending time in nature grounds us.  The humble feeling you get sea kayaking or skiing on fresh snow.  The first time you take a child hiking and watch their wonderment - from the leaves crinkling underneath their feet, to looking high up into the trees, to touching a boulder and being surprised by its cold temperature.  Watching the sun rise or set, letting a wave catch your toes while they sink into a billion grains of sand, all of those moments and memories we take with us in honor of the earth.
Take a moment (and a doughnut) and sit outside for a few moments today, take a deep breath of fresh air, and say thank you as you exhale. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One thing leads to another...

Don't you love when you start one thing and then all of a sudden it morphs into a totally new direction?  Well such a thing happened to me last night.  I found this beautiful recipe for simple berry tarts on a blog called Love, Cake (lovecommacake.com). 

First, let me say that this is a great tart recipe.  The dough came together so easily, rolled out like a champ, and finished in the oven beautifully.  The tarts were not sweet which allowed the berries to really be the star.  I used blackberries and raspberries. The recipe called for lemon thyme to pair with the berries which was lovely.  I could have just cut out my six little tart shells, baked them in the oven, and been a very happy girl.  BUT, as I was rolling out the dough it seemed like I still had so much dough left over (in fairness the dough rolled out so easily I probably got excited and rolled it too thinly) I thought to myself "Self, what are you going to do with all this extra dough?" Bing (the noise my head makes when I am smart :) )  So I grabbed some brown sugar, butter, and cardamom.  I then melted the butter, mixed the sugar and spice together, and Lo and Behold - the cutest darn cardamom rolls you have ever seen!  (they are the size of a quarter - a quarter of the guilt!)

The tarts were great, yeh, yeh but while I was waiting for the tarts to bake, I treated myself to hot, molten buttery, caramely, doughy happiness!
The tart dough didn't need to rise so it took no time at all.  It was a little crispy, a little flakey but still had structure.  They were DELICIOUS!  Kudos to Love, Cake for the tarts and kudos to little cardamom surprises on a Wednesday night!
Have you had a good baking surprise lately?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mighty Minis!

We all know that good things come in small packages.  So often though we get sucked into buying a cute little kitchen tool because of its size, only to get it home and realize while it is in fact adorable, it doesn't fuction like its larger counterpart. 

One of my favorite things to share with customers is that we don't "dumb down" our mini tools.  Tovolo Mini Tongs use the same engineered mechanism as our larger tongs.  The Mini Scoop & Spread is the same material and strength as the larger Scoop & Spread just shrunk down to the perfect mustard jar size.  Our Mini Whisk is as balanced for its intended tasks as our larger whisks and will be one of your favorite go-to tools in your kitchen. 

The "Mighty Minis" are the right size when you need precision for picking up Prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears at your next party or creating perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast. If you are looking to get the very last little bit of jelly out of the jar so that you can confidently call your kid's sandwich PB & J and not just PB, the Mini Scoop & Spread is your best friend. Do you make smoothies in in the morning?  Want to get the last little bits out of the bottom of your blender?  Let me introduce you to our Mini Spatula - can I get a whoop whoop? Icing cupcakes?  Look no further than Tovolo's 4" Icing Spatula to get the best swoop of frosting.
Have one of our Mighty Mini Tools?  What's you favorite?
Mighty Minis:
Mini Spatulas set of 2
Mini 4" Icing Spatula
Mini Turner Tongs
Mini Tongs
Mini Waffle Tongs
Mini Whisk
Mini Egg Whisk
Mini Cookie Turner
Mini Scoop & Spread

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Goodness


Chocolate Chip Cookies
Those three little words everyone wants to hear...chocolate chip cookies.  Just writing the words make my mouth water.  The smell of tiny morsels of love baking in the oven brings back happy childhood memories of being in the kitchen with my mom.  They are one of the first things I learned to bake.  I consider myself to be a pretty competent baker.  I have made some fancy and impressive desserts in my life but when I am in need of something comforting, delicious, and an unquestionable crowd pleaser I make Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Simplicity is best.  Use good butter, good vanilla, good chocolate, and fresh eggs, and whatever you are making will be delicious.  I have modified my recipe over the years; sometimes I add cinnamon to the chips, sometimes I use chunks of chocolate, sometimes nuts, and most recently I have been adding coarse sea salt before they go in the oven.  Joy the Baker does a great recipe with dark chocolate, pistachios, and smoked sea salt that makes my heart sing.  It is 10:30 in the morning right now and if I went into the Tovolo kitchen and whipped up a batch of cookies they would be gone before noon.  GONE! 

Chocolate Chip Cookies are invaluable for bargaining.  (I wonder if that's how the phrase Bargaining Chip was stared? Hum?). Never underestimate the power of warm chocolate chip cookies to influence people into doing what you want or to throw in a little something extra for you every once in a while.  Benevolent Cookie Power.

People remember people who bring cookies.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp good vanilla like Neilsen Massey

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (if you are adding salt to the top, if not use 1 tsp of salt in the dough)

12 oz. (more or less) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Let's talk chocolate - You can change the whole look and taste of your cookies based on the chocolate you choose to use. Chips are great and easy - semi- sweet is traditional, milk chocolate chips make the cookies sweeter, 60+ % cacao will make them taste richer.  If you choose to use chopped chocolate, rough chop it otherwise you could end up with chocolate cookies. One of my favorite variations on this classic is using Theo Chocolate Dark Chocolate Salted Almond bars - less chocolate makes it into the actual dough but I am a happier baker.  😄. Nuts in cookies can be polarizing so know your audience.  I almost always prefer to toast the nuts a little before using them. It adds a warm, roasty flavor to the dough and the heat helps pull out the natural nut oils. 

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, add eggs until fluffier. Add vanilla.  Measure flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl and add it to the butter mixture until incorporated.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough (I used a scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 mins or until desired doneness.  If it were up to me they would never be baked but if you have to bake them make sure they are a little underdone in the center for gooeyness. 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Farmer's Market Junkie

Tovolo is based on Seattle - a wonderland of food and drink.  Seattle has an abundance of great food from all over Washington as well as our neighboring states.  We have farmers, ranchers, foragers, vintners, brewers, and fishermen.  Seattlites are incredibly spoiled not only in the quality of food but the diversity of products available to us.  I am a Farmer’s Market junkie.  I love when I see a vegetable I have never seen before, take it home, and realize I have been missing its deliciousness my whole life. 
Creating a meal based around amazing seasonal produce like Dragon Beans, purple potatoes, and Romanesco Broccoli, together with fresh Alaskan Salmon on a summer's night and my life is good. 
There is a great respect for food in the Pacific Northwest.  I think part of that respect comes from a ingrained work ethic. Washington is not that old (I am from the East Coast where my home town was founded in 1623) and the people that settled here were tough!  They used the land and sea for survival and I think you can taste it in the food.  We also have a stellar international community that influences the way we cook.  In walking distance of my house there are six Thai restaurants, 3 Vietnamese, 2 India, and a Hawaiian restaurant.  I also have several Farm to Table dining spots, 5 pizza joints, 4 sushi bars, and a great little Taquirea.  :)

On any day, if you are feeling farmer's market deprived, you can go down to Pike Place Market.  It is a touristy spot for sure but as a local it is still revered as the best place in the city to get the freshest produce, fish, and flowers.  True locals don't go on Saturdays and we don't wait in line at the "original" Starbucks but we still love the Market. (There are literally 15 other Starbucks in a 6 block radius as well as countless other coffee shops.) Huh?