I’m Back

January 5th, 2014

It’s been a long fucking year and a half.

It started when I was downgraded from “executive pastry chef” to “pastry chef for just that place over there” and then “too expensive to keep.”

That was around when I did my last entry.

What followed was a period of profound stupidity and maturation.

I tried to overcome the sting of losing what had previously been my dream job by attending a dessert tasting at a super posh restaurant. It didn’t help much but at least I got to meet cool people and taste nice things.

I set up a trail at a restaurant I thought I always wanted to work at. One of my main motivators for choosing the school I attended. It sucked and I left halfway through, determined to take a break to get my shit together.

So I tended bar. Which was fine for a while, then I gradually grew to hate it. I like staying up late, but not until after 4 am, being held captive by drunks. I did learn a lot about classic cocktails and alcohol in general, so there’s that.

I got two job offers, one of which was very similar to my previous position but with too few hours and too little pay, and another that paid better and seemed to promise lots of guidance and experience. I took the latter. Big mistake. While the former would have ultimately been boring and would have left me with duties at the bar, the job I did choose turned into a nightmare.

It was great at first. I was making cookies, learning how to make gelato, getting to help in a Michelin-starred kitchen. Then I was thrown into an impossible situation with a chef de cuisine who screamed and dismissed any and all pastry work. Her food was weird, her cooks were traumatized, and I was unhappy. I looked for a new job for a couple of months, with a few semi-promising prospects, but lots of dismissals regarding my “overqualification.”

Eventually I found something and got the fuck out. But too few hours coupled with having to raise funds to suddenly move, plus an overworked chef who had no time to work with me on the things I’d actually been hired for made me start seeking an exit almost immediately.

(None of this is good for my resume.)

I sent out resumes here and there, eventually getting an invitation to an open call, which I ended up ditching because those are stupid and I was tired or something. I don’t remember.

I got an email a few days later wondering why I hadn’t shown; they’d really wanted to meet me. I agreed to come to a one-on-one interview and was immediately offered the pastry chef position. Because the venue, area and cuisine were unique, I said yes. I felt like a total jerk for leaving my other job so soon, but I went through with it.

Cue two months of delays, being paid less than my weekly salary if we had nothing to do for the week, etc. This, too, devolved quickly. I eventually decided to wring as much experience out of the position as I could.

I could write a book just on the laughably absurd problems this place had. I tell people not to bother looking it up, it’ll be closed/a trashy club soon enough.

Ultimately I was told to put s’mores in a mason jar and that I should look to such culinary luminaries as Max fucking Brenner for inspiration. I was pressured to hire someone who would potentially say yes to all the moronic ideas I vetoed. There was a screaming match, there were apologies, there was an awkward day, there was harassment and abuse via incessant phone calls and text messages on my day off as I sat quietly enjoying a nice dinner out, visiting with a colleague.

I immediately shrugged, said aloud to no one in particular, “I quit,” and trekked out to the restaurant to pick up my things and hug everyone goodbye.

I relaxed for almost a week, catching up on Doctor Who via Netflix, and updated my resume. I casually sent it to a couple of places, knowing nothing about my next move besides I was not rushing into anything, not panicking, and all I wanted was a place where I could put down some fucking roots already and not fight with anyone.

I got a near-instant response from an owner and then the chef of a restaurant I’d never heard of in a neighborhood I never visited. By the end of the day I had an appointment to come in and “trail” accompanied by insinuations that they’d be hiring me on the spot.

To be continued.


September 3rd, 2012

This is less of a recipe, more of just an update. If you follow me on Twitter or know me personally this isn’t news.

That right there is the first thing I’ve baked in a little over a week.

“But Anna!” you might be saying. “Don’t you bake things all the time at work? At least every other day, right???”

Not anymore. See, when restaurant owners, especially fairly inexperienced ones, make mistakes like opening behemoth restaurants over the summer or just plain don’t realize that there’s nothing to worry about because EVERYONE experiences a drop in business towards the end of the summer…they panic and look for ways to cut costs. And they tend to attack the department they deem “unnecessary” or “excessive.” Which is, without exception, the pastry department. Meaning, me.

So, yup, unemployment….I’m not a big fan. I’ve been sleeping a lot, hugging kitties, watching tv…went on one trail at a restaurant I always thought I’d kill to work at. Walked out a few hours early after realizing I just don’t care about fine dining. So now I’m considering other things…catering, most likely. Of course if anyone were to offer me a bakery space I wouldn’t say no. ;)

After about a week I inevitably got the baking itch. So I made a plum crisp. No measuring, no recipe. I rarely use them when baking at home now anyway. About 8 red and purple plums, tossed with a little vanilla sugar and 5 spice. Sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt (both kosher and a bit of applewood smoked, which I love in desserts*) and a stick of butter. Worked by hand into a dough and dolloped on top of the plums, then baked at 375 for almost an hour, until browned and bubbly and jammy. Rewarmed to serve and topped with vanilla ice cream.

*A few months ago I developed an amazing apple pie filling. I’ve yet to recreate it with measurements but it involves buttery caramel seized with bourbon, sliced granny smiths, cinnamon, black pepper and applewood smoked salt. I’ll be making it again really soon. Just wait.

Intellectual Property

August 22nd, 2012

This recipe has been under contention for a while. Long story short, it was one of the top selling dishes PERIOD at the Big Ridiculous Latin Restaurant, and the owners expected me to just hand it over when I was asked to leave, despite me having developed it originally FOR FUN months before they were open. I gave up on the issue because I was leaving a friend in charge. Recently they got a new chef. He deemed the dessert “crap” and promptly removed it from the menu. (I don’t take it personally since the current chef at Tiny’s ate like two whole cheesecakes during the development stage, and upon learning more about his changes and comments have realized he just doesn’t like cheesecake.)


Before that last part went down, I’d already decided to share the recipe with you guys. It’s a little fuzzy because we were baking individual mini cheesecakes and that’s just not feasible for home cooks. And you ARE gonna need a scale. Get over it.

First, make Alton Brown’s Graham Crackers. Yes really. They’re easy, all-molasses with a nice bitterness. I figured molasses was a nice vaguely tropical ingredient. Also you can sub whole wheat flour for the graham, that’s what we ended up doing.

To make the crust and bake the cheesecake, follow the directions from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking…From My Home to Yours” (which I keep at work for trusty basic formulas like this one).

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp undated butter, melted
(I omitted the salt)

Mix crumbs with sugar by hand, then pour in melted butter and work in with fingers until evenly mixed. Press into the bottom & sides of a foil-wrapped springform pan and chill, then blind bake for 10 minutes at 350F, turning halfway through. Cool before filling.

For the filling, cream together:
12 oz cream cheese
12 oz soft goat cheese
200 g (1 cup) sugar

Scrape that shit down, no lumps allowed! Then beat in:
3 eggs

One at a time, silly. Scrape some more. Don’t turn the mixer up too high, air bubbly cheesecake is no bueno. With the mixer on a nice low setting, slowly pour in:
1 cup of cream

Followed by:
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lime juice

Scrape again before pouring into the crust. In fact, transfer the whole batter into another container to make sure it’s smooth as can be. If it’s not, strain it. But if you’ve been scraping sufficiently all along you won’t have a problem.

Here’s where you make a choice: You can use the cheesecake batter right away OR you can keep it refrigerated overnight for better results. If you use it right away it’ll be fluffier and harder to swirl in the guava purée (that’s right). If you refrigerate you’ll get guava all through the cake, not just on top, but the batter will separate slightly in the fridge so you’ll have to transfer it AGAIN and make sure to stir gently until homogenous. It’s your call, either way let the batter come up to about room temperature before using or your cheesecake will take an ungodly amount of time to bake.


You’ll need that guava purée I mentioned. If you have any Latin groceries near you, check in their freezer case. Goya makes totally fine tropical fruit purées. It’ll go by the Spanish name “guayaba.” You can also drop a ton of money on way too much purée from a company like Boiron, or go find yourself some guavas to purée. Either way you need it thawed and homogenous. Once the batter is in the pan, dribble a bunch of purée on top of the batter and swirl it in. Add more if you like. If you add a ton the extra water in it will add a lot of cooking time but you’ll end up with swirls of what is essentially guava paste at the end.

Oven at 325F, water bath at the ready. I think you’re gonna have to cover this sucker with foil lest his top burn before his middle is cooked, we baked the individual ones uncovered but they only took about 20 minutes as opposed to the hour or something that a big cake takes.

I’m assuming you know how cheesecakes work. So, bake, cool, chill, unmold, slice, eat. This goes particularly well with more acidic fruit sorbets, I served it with passion fruit but lime would also be wonderful.

Edit: Here’s a photo of a large scale version of the cheesecake as made by a former assistant of mine. Thanks Tiago!!!


Happily Demoted

July 22nd, 2012

You heard right. I’m no longer involved with Super Linda (aka All Consuming Eater of Souls) – was asked to leave following an altercation after I DARED to change a dessert I didn’t put on the menu myself. Nasty business. Chef quit a few months ago. The state of the nation is, I’m back to being the sole source of all things pastry for Tiny’s and only Tiny’s, I’m working out of the prep kitchen at a nearby affiliated sports bar, and the former sous is now running the show at Tiny’s.

The dessert that was deemed as “disgusting sounding” by an owner. Later sucker.

And things are going great! Better than expected, even. We were both ready to storm out when Chef left but…this is a chance to make a great place even better, and do what makes us happy. With a loyal kitchen staff behind him and an enthusiastic back and front of house behind me, we’re kicking ass.

My somewhat conceptual rhubarb dessert.

In fact I have literally been told on several occasions recently, “do whatever you want.”

Roasted strawberry tart. No daily fuss with fresh berries!

We’re tweaking and transforming the menus. Gone is the weird burger with sprouts, the crab dip, the brunch pastry basket.

Completely insane pineapple Jammy Tart.

We have a loyal enough following of regulars that I can fearlessly challenge them and myself at the same time.

Japanese cotton soft cheesecake…made like a sponge cake, baked in a water bath.

I’m also currently still setting up my gorgeous new apartment with my fiancé (we have a private backyard and counter/cabinet space for miles!) and hugging Slappy, the cutest kitty in the world, daily. And I’m hoping to start sharing short but sweet recipes again soon!

Slappy says “hi, I’ll slap you!”

They’re Letting Me Do Cupcakes

June 17th, 2012


Champagne Cupcakes


Cross- Section

Now Hiring

January 16th, 2012

Well hey there. It’s been a while. I’m still cranking out tasty things at the tiny pink restaurant, still lack my own computer and camera as well as enough free time and interest to be sharing recipes and whatnots with you. The times they are a-changing, though, and I’ve promised a certain special fellow Lady of the Pastry that I’d document my latest adventure here. Because allegedly people like when I write things. Huh.

Anyway…those changes. Well, I moved, still in Brooklyn, but a different part. It’s got lots of parts. It’s big. My reason for moving is related to my love life and how there is someone new in it. I like him. Lots. The third change is related to my job. Very soon I won’t be all alone, so lonely, tweaking out about making all the desserts myself. We’re opening a second, much much much bigger restaurant a block down the street and guess who’s in charge of all things sweet o’er there. Yeah. So, it was decided that production for both places would be in the nice big shiny new kitchen, and that I could hire helpers.

Helpers! My very own army of minions! Three of them! Yup. Three makes an army, right? Okay. I’m basically trying to assemble a team of totally awesome Pastry Superfriends. With unique abilities and special powers. The applications are in, I hate my inbox and the interviews have begun. My little calendar app has never seen so much action. And I’ll be continuing this saga shortly so totally come back and stuff.

Ridin’ Dirty

July 27th, 2011

Hey there. I mentioned recently on Twitter that I’d like to start blogging casually again. Since my computer and camera were recently liberated from my ownership, I have no pressure to make things Tastespotting/Foodgawker-worthy. It’s all about the flavor anyway. I’m not into the tablescapes, carefully arranged heirloom tomatoes and blown-out whites.

So, here’s a thing I make at work a couple of times a week as a petit four. Consider them Rice Krispie Treats, perfected. They started out as these. Then they evolved.


That's as good as the photos get these days, folks.

Dirty Rice Krispie Treats

  1. 2.75 oz. unsalted butter
  2. Large pinch Kosher salt
  3. 15 oz. marshmallows
  4. 9 oz. Rice Krispies (or generic puffed rice cereal)
  5. 4.5 oz. cocoa nibs

Place the butter and salt in a large-ish pot, something with a wide bottom. Heat over medium until butter melts and begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Cook the butter to a dark brown (not black).

While the butter browns, spread the marshmallows in a single layer in a large mixing bowl or on a clean baking sheet. Torch the heck out of ’em. You could also put them under a broiler if you have no torch, but a torch is really the way to go here. You want a burnt, black, crispy shell on at least 2 sides of those marshmallows. With gooey insides. Once the butter and marshmallows are done, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the marshmallows. Stir occasionally with a buttered heat-proof spatula until completely melted.

it should look like a lava field, you may have to extinguish flames by blowing on them


Combine the cereal and cocoa nibs in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Butter a medium rectangular baking dish (or a half sheet pan, if you’re in a professional kitchen…I cut them 1×1.5″ for petit fours so they don’t need to be that thick, but they’d be too thick to fit a quarter sheet) and line it with parchment. Liberally butter the parchment. Butter, butter, butter. Once the awesomely burnt goo in the pot is totally melted, add the cereal and nibs and stir to combine as evenly as possible. Scrape into your buttered vessel and smooth evenly. At work I use a liberally buttered large offset spatula. If you’re into cake decorating you’ll have one. If not…use whatever a home cook would use to spread and smoosh Rice Krispie Treats. I don’t know. After this, I butter another sheet of parchment and lay it on top, then wrap and let it set up for a few hours. Then I turn that sucker out and cut it up with a buttered knife.

Not sure what the next post will be. Banana jam? Toasted almond milk? How to make lame-ass cultivated blueberries taste like wild ones? Perhaps the infamous ANIMAL CRACKERS, the recipe for which I’ve only shared with one very special person?


April 24th, 2011

I’ve been busy. Doing things like this:

Animal crackers!

Animal crackers! (via TribecaCitizen)

I don’t have any good pictures of my desserts so far, so here’s a bad one…bad picture, that is, this dessert is rad.

Carrot Sandwich

Carrot Sandwich

Since I spend my days in a somewhat dark basement with poor lighting, and I only have my phone for use as a camera, I won’t be getting any good shots on my own…not that I have time to mess with more than a quick snapshot anyway.

…But if YOU are ever in TriBeCa, and have some nice photography skillz please come by and take pictures and share them (and your thoughts!) with me.

A cake that didn't make the cut.

A cake that didn't make the cut.

I have some idea what you might be thinking.

“That’s nice, Anna, but what about the recipes?”

I’m not sure about that yet. Honestly I’m using a lot of base recipes that have appeared on this blog, but some things are completely new…like those animal crackers. I’ll share a few things, when/if I have the time. Right now I’m a little more preoccupied with nailing my fifth dessert…and wondering if I have too much orange on my menu (it’ll be pinker soon).

Spongecake Mochipants

March 27th, 2011

I love sponge cake. I didn’t know it until I went to pastry school, because I never had it growing up. I don’t know exactly why I love the airy, eggy stuff – I can’t stand eggs on their own but add sugar and I’m all over ’em.

The other day I was flipping through my copy of Joy of Cooking and I found a recipe for a sponge cake with rice or potato flour instead of the traditional wheat flour. I had just picked up a fresh box of mochi flour and thought to myself that a mochi sponge cake would be just about the most wonderful thing I could put in my mouth.


It so soft.


In the Test Kitchen

March 21st, 2011

So I’ve been getting a little bored at home, waiting for the restaurant to get to the point where I can go in and at least do SOMETHING (once the water gets turned on I can go help clean things, wheeee!) and cataloguing recipes and making up menus just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had to do something. I had to bake.

Lucky for me, I had ingredients for muffins after filling a St. Patrick’s Day request for Chocolate Chip Whiskey Muffins. Add to that a need to develop a super tasty blueberry muffin recipe for brunch. Then add to THAT some sour cream (leftover from tasty tasty tacos) and you’ve got the ingredients for a one woman muffin smackdown.

golden muffininess

Hello, breakfast.