Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What happens in Vegas. . . is ambrosial. . .

Sin City! And it certainly is, at least if we're talking about overindulging.  Vegas probably has the highest concentration of amazing food per square foot of anywhere that I've ever been.  I could wax poetic for days about the buttery kanpachi at Nobu (the very definition of umami), the bubbly cava sangria at Firefly (perfectly balanced of course), the whimiscal cotton candy empanadas at é (cotton candy empanadas -- need I really say more?!), and on and on and on.

But this is a baking blog, so I'll narrow my focus:  Jean Philippe Patisserie.

This was an accidental find, a result of a lazy Saturday morning years ago, when my focus was more on getting to the pool than on getting to the baked goods.  Luckily for me, this delicious find was (and still is)  right outside the main elevators at the Aria.  Sure, the mile-long line was a deterrent (after all, there was a Starbucks, at most, fifteen feet from the pool) but ultimately, I figured that in a town with food as storied as it is in Las Vegas, the line was probably a good thing.  With innumerable options for delectable food, if you are willing to stand in a line that long? The food must defy even the loftiest expectations.  And it did.  And now I happily stand in line every morning (at least every morning that I wake up in Vegas) at the Jean Philippe Patisserie, thinking that the pool can wait a few minutes.  After all, there are pools everywhere, but this bakery, not so much.  (In the spirit of full disclosure: There actually is another location in the Bellagio, but it's not nearly as good.)  So take my advice; Vegas has a hundreds of restaurants and dozens of bakeries -- but do yourself a favor and eat at this one.  You won't regret it.  And if you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend (hey, this is Vegas -- maybe you hit it big at the roulette table!), check out one of those eight foot plus multi-tiered cakes and let me know how it tastes. . . I'm willing to 'bet' amazing.

                                                         So, obviously this wasn't breakfast.


                        Although, come to think of it, it probably could have been. . . Next time, next time. . .

Not to say that I was at all disappointed in my selection.  Buttery, blueberry brioche.  Alliteration at its tastiest.  I may actually try to make this myself.  It seems like it's a regular baked brioche bun , soaked in a simple syrup, topped with some sort of cream (pastry, almond, etc.) and sprinkled with some plump, juicy blueberries. And, of course, baked again until everything meshes into an amalgamation of heavenly goodness.

                                        Now for some of the things that I couldn't eat (or afford)

                                                                 My kind of gardening. . .

             Mini Celebration Cakes                                                                Maxi Celebration Cakes


                                   MEGA CELEBRATION CAKE!!!

                                       and, of course, no exhibit is complete without chocolate. . .

Mmmmmmm, I love Vegas.  And I think that I'm going through cake withdrawal . . . and brioche withdrawal. . . and. . .  chocolate withdrawal. . .

As always, basic info (such as location, hours, etc) for this wonderful destination can be found on the "Taste of the World" page on this blog. So if you are in Vegas, go to the Jean Philippe Patisserie, and tell me about it. . . so I can live vicariously through you!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sugar and spice and everything nice -- that's my Mom!

So it's not Mother's Day anymore -- but it's never a bad time to show my (absolutely wonderful, perfect, best-in-the-world) mother my appreciation for her.  Everything she does, she does with grace, style, and success; one of her many enviable talents that I wish I had inherited (I didn't, by the way), is the ability to throw together a bunch of ingredients, and somehow, someway, the finished product will taste like it took days, maybe even longer to carefully craft together.   I will likely never be able to replicate her uncanny ability to whip up a delicious meal as a matter of course (recipe, schmecipe!), but luckily I can surreptitiously scribble down each step she takes and replicate it myself in my admittedly less creative kitchen.

Honestly, I don't know if this particular cake is one of those 'hocus pocus, throw everything in a pan and taste the resulting deliciousness,' recipes or whether it was an actual recipe that she acquired from someone else, but I do know that from the time I left for college, every return visit seems to have contained one of these yummy confections, and consequently, pistachio coffee cake for me is synonymous with home, and therefore, with my mom.

Make this cake, and have a slice with your mom. . .

Pistachio Pudding Coffee Cake
One box Golden Butter Recipe cake mix
One large packet instant pistachio pudding
Four eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl.  Beat the remaining ingredients in a larger bowl until evenly mixed.  Pour1/2 of the cake mix mixture into a greased bundt pan and then sprinkle 3/4 of the nut mixture evenly over the cake mix mixture.  Pour the remaining cake mix mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes.  After removing from the oven, turn the cake out immediately and top with the remaining nut mixture.  

And voila. . .

Perfection. . . just like my mom!