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Extreme life of a Chef

I recently went on a trip to Antarctica. It was an amazing adventure! As you can imagine, it is not a traditional cruise to the Bahamas. We had to travel through the Drake Passage – 2 1/2 days without seeing land. This is one of the most volatile ocean passes in the world. In fact, two days before I set sail, another ship was so badly battered by the Drake, it had to turn back and never made it to Antarctica.

I was amazed with the food we were served during our travels. Fresh baked bread and delicious and creative meals! I was able to sit down with the Head Chef, Chef Brian and hear about what it’s like to be a chef on an ice-breaker vessel that travels to the most remote regions of the world.

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Dulce De Leche: All you need is a pot!

While in Argentina, I was talking to a local about dessert and asked them how to make Dulce De Leche. They said there are two methods:

1) put a can of condensed milk in a pot of boiling water for 45 minutes

2) put a can of condensed milk in a fire for half an hour

While both of these methods sounded enticing, I decided to do more research once I returned home. And now having spent some time making Dulce de Leche I am so happy I did not try either method! Firstly because I have no way of making a roaring fire to put the can in and secondly, because with either method the can would have burst under the heat and the pressure!

So here are my suggestions for making home-made Dulce de Leche:

All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk!) and a sauce pan.

1) Take the paper wrapper off of the can and use a can opener to poke 3 holes in the top of the can

2) place the can of condensed milk in the sauce pan and fill the pan with water up to 1/4 inch below the rim of the can

3) Bring the water to a boil and then lower it to a simmer – Keep the water simmering for the next 4 hours (If you want thick, spreadable Dulce de Leche). The can will rattle in the pot as air bubbles release in the water. This is normal.

4) Some of the milk might come out of the holes which is absolutely fine

5) Keep adding water to the saucepan to keep it at 1/4″ below the rim of the can (I did this ever hour)

6) After 4 hours remove the can from the water using tongs and allow to fully cool

7) Once cool, open the can with a can opener and Viola! you have Dulce de Leche

Note: If you want to make a thinner Dulce de Leche to drizzle over desserts, simmer for only 3 hours and when you open the can, mix it well (there will be a watery layer on top of the thick caramel).

¡buen provecho

South America

As promised, here begins the coverage from my recent travels in South America. It was an amazing adventure and I am so excited to share my food finds as well as some of the pictures from the trip!

There were quite a few wonderful bakeries in Buenos Aires. They had a signature cake design (see below) of piped thick “ropes” of whipped cream, cheese cake or frosting on the top of the cakes to create a  spoked wheel pattern.

In Salta, Argentina they had this cute little candy shop set up in a park

Alfajores are the mainstay of South American snack-food desserts. They are basically sandwich cookies filled with Dulce de Leche (Caramel). There are tons of variations on Alfajores, every company creates their own twist on the classic item. I saw everything from triple decker to peanut butter to Oreo Alfajores.

Hot Chocolate is served completely differently as well. I was served a glass of hot milk with a chocolate in the shape of a submarine. After sinking the boat and letting it settle for a few minutes I took a long spoon and mixed it creating hot chocolate.

Dulce De Leche can be found in almost every dessert item. Here they were placed in waffle cigars.

Bariloche, Argentina is known for its chocolate. It is basically a mini Switzerland. Every other shop in town was a chocolate shop. I loved the way they displayed the chocolate, stacked one on top of another. There were also some unique chocolates like Aero Chocolate that has little air bubbles in it. Or what I called “Ruffled Chocolate” which had thin ribbons of chocolate  scrunched together.

Ok, now that the sweet tooth has been sated, I have to do a quick note on the meat. As you know Argentina is known for their amazing meat! Besides for glorious satin steaks that just melt in your mouth, I was intrigued by the other meats that were common place. The two major meat offerings are Asado, which is “grill meat” and Milanesa. Asado usually is for two or more people and it is a compilation of different sausages and meats that are grilled. Milanesa is a thin beef steak that is then coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. It is sometimes made into a Pizza pocket by putting cheese & tomato sauce in the middle and then folding it like an omelet.

This was in the refridgeration isle of a local gorcery store in Puerto Natales, Chile

The window display of a restaurant I passed in Buenos Aires

Many of the restaurants in Buenos Aires had an open kitchen design so we could watch them make the dishes. Such beautiful pieces of meat!

 

Leaving food completely, here are some of the “Best Of” pictures from the trip

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Salt Flats

Salta, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Fitz Roy, Argentina

Torres del Paine, Chile

First look at the towers, albeit shrouded by clouds

Torres del Paine, Chile

 

Next up, I will give you a recipe to make your own Dulce de Leche.

Stay Tuned!

Happy Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner I was thinking back to last year, when I was in New York for Halloween. I visited Chelsea Market which was fully decorated for the holiday.

For those of you that don’t know about Chelsea Market – it is an amazing indoor food market that has an incredible ambiance and it is a great place to buy artisanal breads, jams, cookies…etc. It is worth flying to New York just to go to the market!

I love that in a city as big and diverse as New York this market creates a “homey”, small-town ambiance for its visitors. The day I went, the place was in full Halloween swing! Kids were dressed up and trick-or-treating from store to store. There was music, face painting and even stilt walkers, not to mention amazing food!

Dessert on the San Juan Islands

I recently was able to take a short trip to the San Juan Islands –  a destination I highly recommend.

There were two sugary highlights of the trip. The first was in Friday Harbor on the island of San Juan. Right after exiting the ferry boat there is an idyllic ice cream shop perched on the waters edge. They offer 72 flavors of ice cream daily! I found it quite overwhelming to be faced with such a tough decision as to what flavor to get. They had everything from Vanilla to Black Licorice. Right next to the shop there are a set of benches under a gazebo where we would spend sunset sitting and watching the ferries come in while enjoying our ice cream.

We spent a day hiking and biking on Lopez Island as well. This island is incredibly quaint. When renting our bikes we asked about renting bike locks – we were immediately  laughed at and told “You’re not in LA anymore!”. Whenever we stopped we would just place our bikes in the bike racks provided at the entrance to the hikes. No locks required!

On Lopez there is the Just Heavenly Fudge Factory which sells their own amazing fudge as well as ice cream that is made on the islands as well. The store is owned and run by two friends who have a love of fudge! They offer 20 different fudge flavors. All of which are truly incredible! I brought a box home as a gift and the Peanut Butter Fudge won hands down as the best flavor.

Extraordinary Desserts

Yesterday I decided to escape the LA gloom by taking a quick trip down to San Diego. The sun was out, the views were gorgeous and best of all, a friend happened to bring up that we were close to an amazing dessert place in San Diego. My reaction: WE MUST GO!!

Extraordinary Desserts, a dessert and wine bar, was amazing! They didn’t even look at me twice as I snapped tons of pictures of their baked goods (I have a feeling they get this a lot). Here are some of the “best of’s”.

Enjoy!

Obviously looking wasn’t enough, so we each ordered a dessert to see if they were as good as they looked.

Our personal favs were the Napoleon and the Strudel – very different desserts, but perfect for what they are in every sense.

The Napolean doesn’t use the traditional Mille Fuille as its separators between the fruit and cream. Instead they tasted like something similar to a short-bread cookie. The cream filling was abundant but not overly sweet. This dessert is perfect for the dessert lover as well as those that tend to not want something overly sweet.

The Chocolate Strudel was perfection! Every element of this dessert was considered and executed beautifully. The strudel was heated, allowing the chocolate layers to melt into the rest of the strudel and the presentation was stunning.

NY Cake Convention – Part I

A few weeks back I attended the New York Cake Convention – a week of everything cake, all the time. To me, it was a little slice of heaven! (no pun intended)

I have so many pictures from the event that I’m going to split this up into two posts.

There was a cake competition in which cake artists from all over the U.S. brought in their cakes to compete. Below are some shots of the designs I liked the most.

Such talent!

Just check out the details on the side of the elephant – amazing

This was hands down my favorite cake. It is a Marie Antoinette design.

The cake base is covered in sugar with snowflake imprints in the sugar. So cute!

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