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Category ... Special Stories 2015

Another Star in the Pastry Firmament

Dec 27, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


I first met pastry chef Thomas Raquel of Le Bernardin at the Gramercy Tavern in-house pie contest and was so charmed by his manner that I lost no time in arranging to have dinner at Le Bernardin at the first opportunity, which was a dinner in New York City with dear and food loving friends chef Elizabeth Karmel and her sister Mary Pat Wachter.

The fact that I only have one photo to share is a testament to how much all of us enjoyed the many desserts offered. Yes, I took photos of everything, but most were out of focus due to my eagerness to taste everything at the proper consistency. Sorry!

Chef Raquel is a rare master of pure and exquisite complexity. Every element of every dessert is at its very best. It is complex without being contrived and a real adventure in deserting. Woody (who graciously accompanied me, as Elliott had other plans that evening) and I were so full after the excellent dinner and tasting each and every dessert that we had to walk a mile to the subway with the excuse that we needed to see the Swarovski Crystal Snowflake on Fifth Avenue. We got back to Hope after midnight, but it was worth every bite.

A Magical Christmas Party

Dec 26, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


As a former resident of New York City (once a New Yorker always a New Yorker), I was astonished to discover that this special club called Doubles was hidden within the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Fifth avenue and 59th street. When my dear friend Holly Arnold Kinney, who owns the Fort Restaurant in the foothills of Denver CO, invited me to a holiday lunch. I arranged to come into New York because it was a rare opportunity to see her. I had no idea what a special experience it was going to be.

Once a year, the club pulls out all the stops to offer a holiday luncheon of excellent food and a huge variety of desserts.


Each table was given a turn to go up to the massive dessert display and choose as many servings as could fit on a large plate.


I love the decoration on the gingerbread man cookie that Holly chose. And Holly, being Holly, had a present for everyone at her table.


When I left the hotel I was greeted by a sunshiny spring weather day but filled with holiday spirit just the same.

One Great Lady, Two Great Cakes

Dec 19, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


Jenn Knitty Baker sent me these beautiful cake photos and story describing them and generously allowed me to share this with you.

The first picture is of the Génoise au Chocolat from the Cake Bible (my favorite chocolate cake), paired with the Light Whipped Ganache from the Cake Bible.

I made this cake for a good friend at my local yarn store. We have knit night on Tuesday where we hang out, talk, and knit. One of the ladies was moving to Oregon so I asked her if I can bake her something and what her favorite dessert is. When she answered chocolate I knew that I had to make the Génoise au Chocolate. To compliment the lightness and chocolate flavor of this cake, I paired it with the Light Whipped Ganache from the same book. To achieve the height that I wanted for this cake, I split the recipe into two 7-inch pans. I stacked the two cakes, frosting the space between the cakes with a bit of light whipped ganache.


I do not posses the skills (nor the patience) to frost the sides of the cake smoothly so I settled for frosting the sides the way it looked in the picture with a small offset spatula. As I told the lady I made this for, I was aiming for rustic elegance. Everyone loved it.


The second cake is the Chocolate Cuddle Cake from the Baking Bible. I made it for a get together at a friend's house where we played a variety of board games. I used melted chocolate to make the "Game Night!" sign, the chocolate is not tempered but it held for a few hours at room temperature due to the dryness of the Denver climate.

Hope you enjoyed the photos and the stories. I never would have been able to do any of this if not for having found your blog, Rose's Heavenly Cakes bake a long, and now the Baking Bible bake a long. Life is definitely richer and more exciting with baking!

Gramercy Tavern Pie Contest

Dec 03, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015

Now into its third year, the in-house pie contest is a much anticipated tradition. There are prizes for the winner. This year KitchenAid donated a stand mixer, Le Bernadin donated a dinner for two, and I donated a copy of The Pastry Bible and my new synglas rolling pin for executive pastry chef Miro Uskokovic who started the tradition. The most appreciated prize of all is that the winners' pies get added to the restaurant menu.


Pictured above (photographed by Woody) are Gramercy pastry chef Miro Uskokovic, executive chef Michael Anthony, GM Kim DiPalo, the other judges, and the two winners: Sohrob Esmaili, winner of the Best Pie
Cassie Sciortino, winner for the Most Creative Pie

This year, in addition to Woody and me, there were 4 other judges: Mike Anthony, Thomas Raquel, executive pastry chef from Le Bernadin, Daniel Krieger, professional food photographer, and Kim DiPalo.

Because it is never predictable exactly what the traffic situation will be on route 80 coming into New York City, we always leave 2-1/2 hours ahead. This time, we arrived an hour early so we decided to share a small lunch at Gramercy. Wagyu beef cheeseburger just happened to be one of the specials and we couldn't resist, nor could we resist the crisp potato chips fried in duck fat! A thoughtful wait-person also insisted on giving us this lovely salad, knowing that we were soon to be tasting and evaluating loads of pies. This year there were all of 20!



It was fascinating to discover the imaginative flavor combinations and designs though by the end we all felt quite stuffed! We all mostly agreed on the top two though the one I kept returning to was not one of the two finalists: the savory goat cheese pie topped with candied walnuts. The winner for taste was the beautifully crafted banana cream pie.


And for creativity, the winner was the custard tart inspired by a Spanish cocktail using amontillado sherry (pictured below front).


There was much lively discussion including where to eat in Chicago, what defines a "pie," (whether a tart qualifies) and what one values most in a pie crust.

Each contestant made two pies--one to sample and the other to put on display. The display pies were served at the staff dinner. It was so moving to be part of the in-house event and to witness the extraordinary comaraderie, enhanced by the special event in which everyone was a 'winner.' Woody and I were winners too: on our departure we were gifted with copies of Mike Anthony's gorgeous new book V is for Vegetables and an assortment of sweet nibbles including Miro's extraordinary chocolate truffles. Our plan was to see a movie to avoid the height of pre Thanksgiving Day plus rush hour traffic and to sample some of the treats during the movie, but our desire to eat one more bite of anything didn't return until the next day!

Here are some pie photos for you to enjoy:








It's High Time for Pie Time

Nov 20, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes


My dearest friend, Diane Boate, who lives in San Francisco and writes for the on-line publication Eat, Drink, Films, has just written an utterly charming piece on my pecan pie. She also includes the recipe both for the pie and for the secret ingredient (Lyle's Golden Refiner's Syrup).




Oct 17, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


I heard on the news recently that there is a big trend toward healthful eating which now includes whole fat milk. It made me think of my parents. They were like that poem from my childhood:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

But it was my dad who loved the fat and my mom who feared it. And it was dad who lived to almost 100.

When they were both in their 80's, I bought them a special pan for making meatloaf. The pan had two parts to it. The inner pan had holes so that any fat from the meatloaf would drain into the second pan. The assumption was that one would discard the drained fat.

When I asked my father how it worked he reported that it worked perfectly. The fat drained out, they ate slices of the defatted meatloaf, and then used a slice of bread to sponge up the fat...and enjoyed it.

I have long thought that the expression "marching to a different drummer" was created with my dad in mind.

Believing in the Bible Part 2

Oct 12, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


Mark Levy sent me the rest of his fascinating, inspiring, and moving story of the evolution of his career.

Here is the whole story as he wrote it:

27 years ago, one of your books played a pivotal role in my life.

I was 25 years old, and had just been hired by a book distributor to sell books to stores over the phone. For me, at least, my role was fairly passive. A bookshop would phone in and read from their shortlist. If we were in-stock on a title they mentioned, I'd say "How many copies would you like?" If we were out of stock, I'd say, "Sorry, we're out."

Then one day my passiveness changed.

I'd been taking book orders from a bunch of different stores, and noticed that several prominent ones had ordered a book that had just shipped: "The Cake Bible." When I asked the other salespeople in my office if they had been getting "The Cake Bible," requests, they told me no. I knew I wasn't imaging things, though.

Maybe I'd noticed a trend no one else had noticed yet? I decided to take a chance.

I'd always been a relatively shy guy, but I telephoned the largest bookstore in my region, B. Dalton #169 in Garden City. Although that store rarely bought from us, I figured if they took copies of "The Cake Bible" and sold them, they'd begin to trust my opinion and become a regular customer.

I spoke to one of the store's assistant managers, Marie. I said, "This book 'The Cake Bible' is starting to fly. I only have a few hundred copies left. You should stock up before I sell out." Marie laughed: "OK, give me 35 copies. But if we don't sell them, it'll be your ass."

Bolstered by my success, I called dozens of other stores, and sold them "The Cake Bible," too. That day, I must have gone through 500 copies.

The book of course became a monster success. We ended up selling thousands. But, importantly for me, selling it gave me confidence in my ability to see patterns, spot trends, and sell.

A year later I was promoted to sales manager. Later, I helped another book distributor sell over a billion dollars worth of books.

Since then, I've authored or coauthored five books, have written for the New York Times Book Review, co-created the longest one-person show in New York City (it's run for sixteen years), and became a consultant who has worked with a former department head in the White House, a speaker to the UN, the former head of the Strategy Unit of the Harvard Business School, the CEO of Popeye's, and the History Channel.

What my job is, really, is helping people to find the big differentiating idea that sets their business, or show, or book, or speech apart from the others out there. So my entire career now is predicating on my ability to make important judgments on what can or cannot attract attention and sell.

For many years then, when people asked me how I got into my profession, I'll often say, "It started with 'The Cake Bible.'"

Anyway, meeting you was an enormous pleasure. And thank you so much for helping me get my start in the world.

Tribute to Chef Paul Prudhomme

Oct 11, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes


I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of my favorite people in the food world.

I first met Paul Prudhomme over 20 years ago during an International Association of Culinary Professionals regional meeting in New Orleans. I had stood in line for over an hour with some of my colleagues to eat at his famed restaurant K-Paul. During the long wait one of the people in line told us about chef Paul's "Cajun martini." I made sure to order one and it was the first and only time that alcohol cured my sinus headache instead of making it worse! Here's how it is made:

Take a bottle of gin and insert a Jalapeno pepper. Fill the neck with vermouth. Close the bottle and let it sit for several days depending on how much "heat" you desire. The amazing results are ice cold gin with a surrounding blast of hot pepper.

Chef Paul gave a lecture the following day and I was so moved by his sincere eloquence that I stood in line once again but this time to talk to him. After telling him my thoughts about his lecture he put out his arms to hug me. It was the warmest hug I've ever received, not just because of this 500 pounds filling every nook and cranny, but because of the sentiment behind it.

Chef Paul was scheduled to visit New York a few months later to give a demo on making Cajun popcorn shrimp. I made the most delicious dessert in my repertoire to bring to him: a Galette des Rois (King's Cake, made with puff pastry filled with frangipane).
A few weeks later, I was lying in bed reading next to my husband when the phone rang. A beautiful deep voice said: "This is Paul Prudhomme." My New York sarcastic response was "Yeah right! Who is this?" "It's Paul! I'm calling to thank you for that incredible pastry. But please never do that again--I ate the whole thing by myself!"

We were friends ever since. Several years later Paul's weight made it difficult for him to stand or walk so he used an electric scooter. At various food events, he would drive down the aisle to my booth, beaming with the joie de vivre that was so much a part of his being, for another of his incomparable hugs.

Here is the feature that I wrote about him in 1994 for my former column at the LA Times Syndicate, along with the recipe that propelled him into the public eye, which had a stunning effect on our appreciation of Cajun cooking, and the population of redfish.

Continue reading "Tribute to Chef Paul Prudhomme" »

Table Number Six at the Algonquin

Oct 10, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


Photo of the Movado Museum Clock, taken by my cousin Ali Butterfass Zagat, reflected in it

My great Uncle Nat Horwitt, creator of this design for the Movado watch, was the most colorful, witty, and adored member of the family. When he visited New York from his home in the Berkshires, it was always a great treat just to spend a few minutes with him when he would drop in to see my grandmother (his older sister). But when I grew up, Uncle Nat would take me to lunch at the Algonguin Hotel, where he always chose to stay.

Nathan George Horwitt, a self-portrait

I wouldn't have dared ever to try to match wits with him but on one visit, when he called to invite me, he began the conversation by asking "Is this my niece flower?" Without thinking, I responded with: "Is this my uncle Nut." Silence followed. Clearly he was not amused.

The most memorable lunch at the Algonquin was when he told me the story of the Round Table, known as Table Number 6. Wikipedia describes the Algonquin Round Table as a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.

The story Uncle Nat recounted was when one of the members in the group decided to stump another of the members--Dorothy Parker--by giving her a word he thought to be impossible to shape into a clever saying. The word was horticulture and apparently didn't faze Dorothy Parker for an instant. Out she came with "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think," (inspired by the saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.")

On another occasion, Uncle Nat asked the wait person to bring a brown paper bag and pencil and drew this caricature of himself which years later I found and framed.


Nathan George Horwitt, a self-caricature

I recently told the story of Uncle Nat and the Round Table to my cousin Bill Howe who told me that the famed Table Number Six now resides at the Kemble Inn, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Uncle Nat would have been so pleased--this was where he lived. But he now resides in a charming country cemetery, surrounded by other Berkshire greats such as his friend Robert Frost. His tomb stone, given by cousin Bill, is a beautiful rendition of his timeless museum watch.

Believing in the Bible

Oct 04, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


Yesterday we participated in the Morristown Festival of Books and we will be posting photos of the event in a few weeks. It was one of the best organized book events of my memory. We gave a talk in the Morristown Church of the Redemption to a group of enthusiastic book lovers who asked thought provoking questions which prompted fun stores and informative responses. The wind and rain did little if anything to dissuade people from coming (900 people bought tickets to the events).

Afterwards we signed books in one of the nearby tents. One of the people in the line had a story he had been waiting for years to tell me and it was so moving if he puts it in writing I will post it. In 1988, at the start of his career, Mark Levy (not a relative but who knows!) was working at a bottom entry level position in the distribution center of book seller B. Dalton. When he saw the newly published Cake Bible and noticed that it was being overlooked by the powers that purchase, he suggested that this book would be a major seller. They ordered 35 saying that if they didn't sell his neck was on the block (ok they used the a word). The rest is history. And this coming November, The Cake Bible will be 27 years old and in its 52nd printing.

Mark Levy said the book changed his life and gave him the courage and confidence to apply for major positions in places including the United Nations. I do hope he will send me the rest of his story as his career is an inspiration.

Erica Jong's "Fear of Dying"

Sep 21, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review


Fear of Dying: A Novel

There are many kinds of writers: Writers of fiction, the memoir, science, technology, recipes. There are also some writers who merge two or more of the categories. I am a recipe writer merging science, technology, and the memoir. But I am relatively safe from criticism because I make sure that my recipes work and that my scientific theories are substantiated. I've been lucky so far to have avoided most negative criticism but that which has been leveled my way still hurts. This makes me aware that there is no writer more vulnerable than the writer of a memoir or even one who rides the cusp of fact and fiction because her or his essence becomes available to the often non-gentle judgmental world at large.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once said: "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." If you are what you eat, then a writer is what she or he writes. I once heard the following quote, comparing the biography to the autobiography: If you want to know about the person, read the biography. If you want to know the person, read the autobiography. Although I know for a fact that Erica Jong's newest book Fear of Dying is part fiction, I was deeply moved by how she not only faces her fear, but is fearless in her willingness to open her heart and soul to her readers.

Erica and I were both students at the same time in the High School of Music and Art in New York City, but we never met as we were not in the same year. Yet from the moment I read her first book Fear of Flying, I felt such an inexplicably strong connection that I wrote an inscription to her in my first book The Cake Bible "If I had a sister I wish it could have been you."

Fear of Flying was published in 1973. It was 1988 when The Cake Bible was published, and also the year that my mother and I independently discovered Fear of Flying. My mother swam every week at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and one day she told me with great excitement that she had met a fellow swimmer who happened to be Molly Jong's nanny. And that was how I was able to send my book to Erica. It was almost 30 years later that, through a recommendation from a dear friend, I chose a lawyer to negotiate another book contract who happened to be Erica's husband Ken Burrows. And that is how I received an advance copy of Fear of Dying.

I read the book at every opportunity in under a week. I didn't want it ever to end.
It is a book of warmth and compassion, humor and poetry, eroticism and longing, and is the embodiment of two of my favorite qualities: curiosity and joie de vivre. It will reach deeply into the heart of those who have experienced great loss and will serve as a reminder, for those who inevitably will, to embrace the present. My favorite passage in the book, page 182: "When you feel fear, you have to lullaby it to sleep." This book is, above all, a celebration of life.

Until now, I missed knowing about the second book in the Jong 'Fear' Trilogy: Fear of 50. But it's not too late to address it backwards--I just ordered it.

Hector's Latest Take on My Cake--The Pavarotti!

Sep 12, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


This brilliant labor of love by Hector Wong just had to be shared with all of you.

From Hector:

In my opinion, Rose's Baking Bible Chocolate Pavarotti Cake is the best butter cake, chocolate flavored, there can possibly exist. I will explain the science after a little personal writing below.

By the time you read this posting, I will be traveling to my 30th high school reunion, in Peru, with the cake. This is an important anniversary for me, because I say: "it will be the last high school reunion that I will sport hair on my head, as well as, the same waist line of 30 years ago." Next year, I will let myself go! On the serious note, this year my canoe club lost more than a few paddlers from all sorts of heart attacks and strokes! This made me commit to paddle more, and roar for the people that left us too soon an open seat on the boat. I think of them all the time. As a joke, I tell my buddies that I am training harder because I want to fit on my suit for my high school reunion!

The Chocolate Pavarotti is a butter cake where part of the butter is replaced with white chocolate (the serious ones containing pure cacao butter). Using white chocolate in the cake batter makes the crumb absolutely perfect because white chocolate is an emulsifier. Also, the cacao butter in white chocolate remains solid at much higher temperature than butter. The cake crumb is fine, slices like a dream, looking like it will crumble, but it remains put. I can lift a slice with two fingers without breaking.

I modified Rose's recipe to fit a 10-cup bundt pan. To counteract the narrow widths of a bundt cake pan, I increased the ratio of baking powder. It turned very very very well.


Then, I mixed a double batch of my bundt cake recipe, and baked 120 micro cakes, each on its own 2-inch by 7/8-inch cake pan. I am so pleased HOW LEVEL my micro cakes turned! Each little cake pan was filled half full, with 15 grams of cake batter. Because they are shallow, I baked at lower heat, 300°F. It took 20 minutes, and they rose beautifully to the top.


Happy baking everyone, and let's see what happens next!

Note from Rose: Hector also told me that the little glass top of the container is just high enough so that he could add ganache and not have it smear.

Apple Time at Liberty View Farm

Sep 05, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


A year plus a week ago, I made my first visit to this little piece of paradise outside of New Paltz, NY. The occasion was the wedding of Sarah, the daughter of one of my dearest friends, Paul Perlis. Woody and I made the cake and that was how Billiam, Rene, and we all became friends.

The occasion this year was a weekend festival of celebrating the fall apple harvest. It included picking apples (Ginger Golds) in the light of the full moon, Contra dancing, an apple pie contest, and related demos. I demo'd making a pie crust with my new pie kit. and Rene demo'd apple strudel.



There were 5 judges which included Woody and me and a young boy who possessed both an exceptional palate and presence.


The apple crisp was excellent but not a pie so first place went to Karl Boggs, for a pie that used a gluten free pie crust from America's Test Kitchen. I noticed right away that it wasn't as flaky as my favorite pie crust but it was a little flaky and tender.

Breakfast the next day included Rene's apple strudel and his famous scrambled eggs from their own hens.



By the time you read this, the Cortland apples will be ready for picking at Liberty View Farm. They are a great pie apple!

It's also melon time at the farm. These extraordinary and delicious melons are Rene's special project. He says there is no name for them in Czech other than just melons.


A Vicarious Visit to Ottolenghi's

Aug 22, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


When I heard that my brother Michael, wife Mia, and daughter Mariella, were planning a trip to London this summer my first thought was that they had to go to Ottolenghi's.

I am such a fan of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks that during my recent move to New Jersey I bought a second one of the same book because I couldn't wait to unpack the numerous boxes of books in my collection.

My artistic niece took several terrific photos of the dinner. The one above of the stuffed eggplant was the dish I most envied. I"m so glad my family had the experience of eating at Ottolenghi's and next time in London.....

Woody Weighs in at Escali Scales

Jul 11, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


On a recent visit to the Twin Cities for his broomball team's annual get-together, and visit to our Alpha Bakers' administrators Marie and Jim Wolf, Woody took the opportunity to visit the Escali Scales headquarters in Burnsville, Minnesota.

The marketing and brand manager, Noah Harber , gave Woody a tour of Escali's facilities and introduced him to his staff.


I haven't as yet had the chance to meet Noah in person since we teamed up to design my signature Rose Escali Scale but I hope to remedy this at the International Chicago Housewares Show this coming March.

Wine & Food Festival at The Mohonk Mountain House

Jul 04, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015

Mohonk_Jim Smith Photography.jpg
Jim Smith Photography

Last November, when we were at the Blue Cashew Kitchen Pharmacy for a book signing, we met the chief organizer, Sam Ramic, of the Wine & Food Festival of New Paltz, held at the Mohonk Mountain House. It was over 30 years since I had participated in the chocolate festival at Mohonk and remembered what a magical place it is. So we were delighted when Sam invited us, for the second annual event, to do demonstrations and book signings as part of the program's festivities. Along with several wine experts giving lectures, Sara Moulton was also a culinary presenter and Martha Stewart was scheduled to give an interview. For our demonstrations, we decided to make one of our top favorites from The Baking Bible: the Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich Cookie." Woody made the Pepparkakors to bring as a special extra treat for the audience.

Mohonk Mountain House can best be described as a Victorian castle nestled in the mountains besides Lake Mohonk. The property is landscaped with woods, trails, meadows, and extensive gardens--in other words--a walk back in time to a European hotel resort.

Eagle Walk Trail

We arrived Friday to meet with the pastry chef Sarah and her team and to attend a get-together of presenters and organizers. It was so special to see Sara Moulton and her husband Bill as I had first met them at the Mohonk Chocolate festival all those years ago. Woody especially enjoyed talking to Bill about music and stereo equipment as he has been majorly instrumental as a producer for hip hop and rap.

I have rubbed shoulders over the years with Kevin Zraly, founder of Windows on the World's Wine School, but this was the first time we really had a chance to talk and get to know each other. I adored meeting his significant other, Susannah Applelbaum, who turned out to be a rare kindred spirit. I was so pleased when she offered me her first in a series of fantasy books for children, "The Poisons of Caux vol.1". I know this will be a lasting friendship.


Before our Saturday demo, we attended Martha Stewart's interview, with Kevin Zraly as her eloquent interviewer. I've been on Martha's radio and tv shows and have known her for years but this was the first time I actually heard her speak in person to a group and found her utterly charming as did the rest of the audience. After the interview, we presented her with my new Synglas rolling pin, Fast Tracks rolling guides, and doughmat from American Products Group.


Our demo was presented on one of Mohonk's covered porches. Despite winds and threatening rain showers, people enjoyed the demo and the cookies. The pepparkackers tasted great but due to the high humidity they resembled Salvador Dali clocks! Amazingly, the meringue cookies held up well but that was because they were frozen into submission as ice cream sandwiches. Afterwards, we signed books in the gift shop. We then rushed over to hear Kevin Zraly's lecture on Italian wines and got some great tips on how to judge wine.


Sunday's demo was a repeat of Saturday's, with the added comfort of being inside, away from the weather. Afterwards, we sat in on Michael Weiss's lecture on wine pairings. Michael is another favorite person I've bumped into for years as he is a professor of wine at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. We were also charmed by his wife Jennifer Axinn-Weiss. I discovered that her family hailed from the same town in Russia two centuries ago as mine.

Our top favorite wine discovery of the event was one from Michael's event: The Grgich 1022 zinfandel and we lost no time in ordering a case for each of us on our return home. If we are invited back next year we will have no trouble deciding on our answer!

Hector's Take on Rose's Torta de las Tres Leches

Jun 27, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


I just love how Hector transformed this marvelous cake which first appeared in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The original recipe was a gift from the "two hot tamales" and is the best of its kind I've ever tasted. Here, in Hector's own words, is Hectors special version:

Tres Leches cake is immensely popular in areas of the United States with Hispanic immigrants. My nephew grew up in Pasco, Washington, and he repeatedly asks for this cake. When I visited him, I saw first hands that Tres Leches Cake is available everywhere, literally even at Walmart! I found Tres Leches Cake of every shape and flavor, everything was Tres Leches: chocolate, fresh fruit shortcake, weddings, shaped cakes, etc.

One day, my nephew gave me a same day order to make his cake. He does know my cakes take at least 1 week to execute, or several weeks to plan, or a few months to design. I put my thoughts together, and concluded that Tres Leches Cake is a very simple cake: a dry sponge cake moistened in milk and frosted with whipped cream. Instead of baking my own sponge cake, I experimented with store bought dry lady fingers, those same ones used for Tiramisu. It worked on first trial.

Here are some higher level tips:

1- Buy imported from Italy lady fingers. Anything else does not taste the same.

2- Instead of cooking the tres leches milk sauce from scratch, mix 1 can of sweetened condensed milk with 2 cans of evaporated milk. No additional sugar is needed. Add 1 vanilla bean, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of vodka, dark rum, pisco, grappa or any other neutral flavor liqueur. Make this one day prior and keep in the refrigerator, allowing the vanilla bean to infuse. (My new method for making the tres leches milk sauce is below.)

3- For the whipped cream, I like to use dulce de leche instead of sugar. Use the same recipe of Coffee Chiffonlets in RHC. Dulce de leche is an excellent whipped cream stabilizer because it adds more butter fat and because the sugar is caramelized. This is perhaps the secret to make my signature whipped cream piped rose. No, you can't make my rose with whipped cream from a can.

4- I like to make my whipped cream in 2 stages. This is something I learned when working at a Japanese bakery. A day ahead, without using a chilled bowl, whip the cream until small streaks form but before it starts to thicken. Do this at speed one, as the slower the cream emulsifies the more stable it will be. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to pipe, continue to whip until stiff.

5- To make a rose mold, use a 8" round mold, about 10 cups capacity. Arrange the soaked lady fingers in a criss-cross manner. Invert to unmold.

To Make Tres Leches

Continue reading "Hector's Take on Rose's Torta de las Tres Leches" »

An Inspiring Dad Story

Jun 13, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015

Cousin_Herbert (1).jpg

My father died two days and three years ago, just one month shy of his 98th birthday. He was a paratrooper in WWII and had his woodworking shops in somewhat dangerous neighborhoods in the greater NY area. He always carried a switch blade and was afraid of nothing, although I must say, he was dismayed to learn that people were actually paying good money to parachute out of airplanes.

I recently received this inspiring photo of my dad's first cousin Herbert ziplining in Costa Rica. He is 90 years old and clearly has the same genes! I'm not sure, however, if I do. When I was very young, my father gave me the little silk parachute he had used in the war and I tried jumping off the bureau. Though I didn't break or sprain anything, it seems to have cured me from any desire to jump off anything higher than a low diving board!

Valhrona Chocolates Opens L'École Valhrona Brooklyn

May 23, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2015


This past April, Woody and I traveled to Brooklyn, New York for Valhrona's celebration of the Silver Anniversary of L'Ecole du Grand Chocolat with the opening of Valhrona's first school in the United States. Created in 1989 by Frédéric Bau, a passionate and visionary pastry chef, L'École du Grand Chocolat Valrhona has become a showcase for Valrhona's expertise, quality and creativity over the past 25 years.

I visited Valrhona in Tain Hermitage over 25 years ago when I was bringing a team of engineers from Proctor and Gamble on a chocolate odyssey in France. I have been using their wonderful chocolate ever since as one of my top favorites for ganache fillings, buttercream, and glazes. So it was very sentimental to be there for the opening in my original hometown city all these years later. It was pouring rain all day but did not keep people from coming to the events.

The school's opening was celebrated over two days with seminars, tastings, panel discussions, ribbon cutting ceremony, and a grand finale ball. Along with connecting with long-time friends and colleagues, we were able to accompany my dear friend and chocolatier Zach Townsend on his first extended trip to New York.

Valhrona operates three other schools: two in France and the third in Tokyo.
As an American school with French roots, L'École Valrhona Brooklyn combines the knowledge and approach of an American team with the Valrhona spirit, notes Anthony Valla, Valrhona Inc. CEO. We bring the time tested process and know-how from our flagship L'École du Grand Chocolat in Tain l'Hermitage to Brooklyn, which we selected for its unique character, as well as its key role in the culinary world, adds Valla.

The school offers private classes for chefs, and classes for non-professional gourmet enthusiasts, with two to three day workshops. A complete listing of courses and other information on the school is presented on L'École du Grand Chocolat in Brooklyn - Pastry.

The Secret of the Chocolate Domingo Cake...

Apr 16, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements


and how it got its name. This is the first time it is unveiled in print and here is the story on Epicurious!

Rose's Chocolate Baking Essentials on Craftsy


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