Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Fox Fix in Life. Styled. Australia

Hey Readers, great news:

The Fox Fix has found its way to Australia! The Golden Summer Cake has been featured the Life. Styled. online magazine, and called "Cake of the Year," can you believe it? Life. Styled. is a gorgeous site that features fashion, beauty, DIYs, vintage inspiration and more, edited by Paula Joye. Right now I'm loving a cool feature/documentary I saw on the site about Studio 54.

Go check out The Fox Fix on Life. Styled.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lemon-Basil Creme Brulee

A man eating at the restaurant said that this is the best creme brulee he's ever had. Its faintly herbaceous, and in this way it kind of reminds me of the fresh mint ice cream I made all summer. The flavor is subtle but complex, and definitely a worth detour from your every day vanilla.

I made this batch with some of the last of the basil that came out of the garden at the restaurant. We're lucky with late freezes here in Georgia (this was in December).

Lemon Basil or another variety would also be great as flavoring for creme brulee, and fresh please, preferably picked from your garden. (I realized for most of this is difficult because it is January)

For 6 servings...

6 ramekins
Casserole dish for water bath
3 cups heavy cream
3 oz (about a tad less than 1/2 cup) sugar
6 eggs yolks
Grated zest of two lemons
1 cup packed basil leaves

extra sugar for caramelizing the tops of the brulees

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan. Add the lemon zest.  Wash the basil and stir it into the cream, then let steep for an hour to meld the flavors.

Towards the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and gather your ramekins. You will need approximately 6. Prepare a water bath for them to bake in- a 9 x 13 baking dish works well. Place the ramekins in the pan and pour very hot water around them, half way up their sides.

Strain the cream to remove the basil leaves and lemon zest. Reheat the cream until quite warm. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar, until the yolks are pale and fluffy.

Gradually add in the hot cream, whisking constantly. If you move too fast through this stage you will have little bits of cooked egg in your creme brulee, and nobody wants that. Slowly add the cream until it is all well combined. Try not to make too many bubbles on the surface of the custard mixture as you do this.

Pour the custard mixture through a strainer (to remove rouge egg bits) into a spouted container and divide the custard mixture evenly between the ramekins.

Bake for 30 plus minutes until the edges of the brulees are set and the centers are still a little loose. Sometimes, in certain ovens, my creme brulees take closer to an hour. However, even if they look a bit loose when you pull them, they will firm up better than you'd guess once chilled.

Cool the custards completely before refrigerating (in the water bath if you're worried about them setting, out of the bath if you're confident they're good to go). They won't completely set until they've been chilled in the fridge.

When ready to serve, caramelize the tops of the brulees. Pour about a tablespoon of sugar on the surface of the brulee, shake it around to cover it completely, then dump off the excess. With a kitchen torch, blast that sugar from 2 or 3 inches away, until evenly browned. You can do this in two layers if you want a thicker crunchy top.

If you don't have a propane or kitchen torch, you can use broiler in your oven, but watch them carefully.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"The Best Bread Ever" or "The Tartine Rustic Country Loaf"

This was the most exciting week of my bread-baking life. I feel like I've been let into a secret world where fresh, rustic, crusty bread exists just for the taking.

This is all thanks to the book Tartine Bread, written by Chad Robertson. He who owns Tartine bakery in San Francisco with his pastry chef wife. Awesome.

I am so enchanted by his bread baking journey. He apprenticed with artisan bakers in both the US and France, stoking wood-fired ovens and tweaking and developing his bread until he came up with what some people say is the best bread in the United States. Apparently Tartine Bakery sells out of bread within an hour of baking every single day. I would really love to apprentice to a small-operation baker with a wood oven sometime in the next year or two.

Like many sourdough breads, the bread is 100% naturally leavened (no commercial yeast), but unlike sourdough, Tartine Bread is made with a "young" started, one that hasn't developed a very sour flavor. This bread has the rustic appearance, crispy crust, and a lovely spongy inside full of big holes that I've been searching for ever since I started making bread over a year ago. This isn't gimmicky make-it-in-five-minutes bread, it's the real deal. From start to finish, it takes around 20 hours to make, not to mention feeding your starter every day. I've kept my starter since last April, but I was keeping it in the refrigerator and only feeding it once a week. Keeping it on the counter and feeding it every day has made all the difference in the flavor and leavening power.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vanilla Creme Filled Doughnuts

I could definitely use some routine and regularity in my life. I am not one of those people who need to loosen up...
I am the person who is puzzled when her friends apologize for their messy house- they always look perfectly clean to me.
I am the person who will survive the blizzard stuck in her car on the side of the road, layering on the random bits of clothing in the back seat, eating granola bars and other bits of food that fell in the crack by the console and drinking from the countless water bottles littering the floor.
I am the person who doesn't know how to iron clothes properly, but it doesn't really matter, because I don't own any clothes that might require ironing.
Poor Eric didn't get much of a housewife out of this marriage deal.

In view of all this and certain New Years Resolutions involving productivity and organization, I, Mikaela of The Fox Fix, do impose a blogging schedule on herself for the year 2011. Hereafter, I promise you that you will find a post here every Tuesday and Friday, with the possibility of extra posts on special non-scheduled post days. If I fail, you can yell at me in the comments section. I hope this will encourage you to put your faith in The Fox Fix. Every Tuesday and Friday.

Phew, here it goes: the first Tuesday of the new regime.

Eric's brother Micah gave me a fantastic new baking book for Christmas. Flour, by Joanne Chang (who owns a bakery in Boston also called Flour), is a recipe-liscious, information-packed, picture-licking gem of a find. Not only are the American-classics-but-better recipes superb, but the book is full of tips and tricks and technical help. Its explains why over-beating egg whites is a problem. (desserts won't rise in the oven because the eggs' cell walls are already stretched to their limit) It finally made me care if my ingredients were all the correct temperature (for example, if the butter used for creaming is too warm, the sugar won't create the little holes in it that are necessary for a light cake. If the liquid is much colder than the creamed ingredients, it will create tunnels and holes and tough spots in the finished product.)

But mostly...Flour contains a recipe for Vanilla Creme Filled Doughnuts that made me melt into a puddle of delirious happiness on the floor. Whipped cream lightened pastry cream? Yes please. Preferably quickly and in large quantities.

It's a many-stepped recipe, so make sure to read the whole thing before you start, but if you've got a lazy weekend ahead and have a hoard of sweet tooths (teeth?) to satisfy, then step right up to the mixing bowl!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Calendar and reminiscing about 2010

Happy New Year! I meant to say that to you on January is it January 11th already? There hasn't been enough time to fit everything I want to do in, but let me show you what's been taking up the bulk of my time:

The Hungry Fox 2011 Calendar!

Each month is hand drawn, lettered and then screen printed. Screen printing involved pulling the ink for each color individually across each poster, so each month is a fine art print.

To see close ups and details of every month of the calendar, check out The Hungry Fox blog. You can also purchase the calendar on Etsy for a mere $35. That's 12 framable art prints for less than $3 each.

So the calendar is looking forward to 2011, but let's take a second to look back at 2010.

I baked a lot of bread...

I went on a lot of trips, like to Florida, Lake Skaneateles, Virginia, and Ithaca!

check out that frozen waterfall!

and baked a lot for Sara's wedding in October! All the gorgeous photographs are by Ruby Sky Photography.

check out the recipes: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

My New Years Resolutions are pretty typical for me... organization, time management, eating healthy, blog more...I haven't made that much progress yet, but that's pretty typical too. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

We spent New Year's in Outer Banks, North Carolina at our friend Fred's beach house. We're talking sumptuous home-cooked meals, puzzles, walks on the beach, karaoke bar, bad movies and beach football...all the best components of a lazy, relaxing vacation.

The part of Outer Banks where we were staying was called Rodanthe, and it was such a lonely, lovely place. Several of the houses on the beach were almost falling into the ocean. The waves were swirling around the supports underneath the houses, the wooden stairs touching nothing, dangling just above the water. Apparently the top part of the island is slowly eroding away, and the sediment is being deposited at the bottom of the island. It's like the place is trying to creep south. The sky was always gray and hazy, making it impossible to see much beyond the next curve of the beach. Winter on the beach is so peaceful.

What are you looking forward to in 2011?