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Hello loyal blog readers (all two of you)!  I am sad to report that I have departed from Cafe Juanita.  The split was completely amicable though.  I left so I could pursue my job search.  I am looking for a job in my previous corporate career.  My wife and I are expecting our first child soon, so I am returning to my old career so she can stay home with the kid for a while.

If you are plugged into the information technology scene in Seattle, then take a look at my profile on LinkedIn.  Maybe you know of something that might be a good fit for me?

As for this blog, I’m going to try to maintain it but focus on what I’m working on here at home.  Right now I’m just starting a starter, a rye starter to be exact.  Creating and maintaining a starter at home is something I have been meaning to do for a long time.  Here’s the procedure I’m following –

Continue Reading »

Here is the second installment in What’s Sean Been Up To?

Bittersweet Chocolate Tortino, Gorganzola Cream, Almond Croquant, and a Persimmon Brodo

Bittersweet Chocolate Tortino, Gorgonzola Cream, Almond Croquant, and Persimmon Brodo

Bittersweet Chocolate Tortino, Gorgonzola Cream, Almond Croquant, and Persimmon Brodo

This is a dessert that takes some convincing to try, but most people love it once they do. It is the inclusion of gorgonzola, a blue cheese, into the dessert that throws you. However, the gorgonzola and the bittersweet chocolate pair up wonderfully. The inspiration for this dessert come about when I was doing research into traditional Italian desserts and read about a walnut and gorgonzola tortino. The walnuts turned into almonds and the idea to include chocolate… I’m not sure where that came from, but it certainly works!

The cake is a dark chocolate butter sponge that has been dipped in a frangelico soak. Next is a disc of almond croquant followed by another layer of cake. Between this and the final cake layer is piped rounds of whipped cream with gorgonzola and mascarpone cheeses. The cheeses are brought up to room temperature, whipped lightly, and then folded into whipped cream. On top is a whole wheat tuile that adds a nice nuttiness from the wheat bran that gets toasted when the tuile is baked. Finally, surrounding the tortino is a brodo (broth) of clarified persimmon and dots of persimmon puree. To acheive the brodo I used an agar filtration technique on the pureed hachiya persimmons and then just sweetened it slighlty with simple syrup. The dots of orange puree is just the blended hachiyas with a little bit of orange juice and simple syrup. Not only is this dish beautiful, but I think it is delicious.

Long Time, No Post

I never said I was good at this blog thing.  It turns out that you actually have to post things up every once in a while.  Who knew?  Well, I guess I should catch-up with what I’ve been doing at Cafe Juanita.  I’ve had a couple things go on the menu since I last posted about the tomato sorbetto. Continue Reading »

My First Menu Item

I am very excited.  My first dessert is going on the menu tonight at Cafe Juanita.  It’s actually something that straddles the line between savory and sweet.  We’re offering it as an intermezzo, if you want it after your main course but before dessert, or you can get it in a slightly larger version (but still small) as a dessert itself.  The picture is a little fuzzy, unfortunately.

Tomato Sorbetto with Basil

Here is what the dish consists of –

Tomato Sorbetto
Fig Vinegar
Ligurian Olive Oil
Maldon Sea Salt
Basil Seeds
Basil Foam

I learned something new today.  Chocolate chip cookie dough, and most likely other similar cookies, benefit from being aged at least 24 hours before being baked.

Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I found this to be an entertaining and informative article.  However, there is one thing that I would change with the recipe.  Instead of bothering to sift your flour and leaveners together, just add the leaveners and salt to the bowl when you are creaming the butter and sugar.  This does a better job of evenly dispersing the leaveners than trying to whisk and/or sift them with the flour.  Plus, it saves you a step and gives you one less thing to wash!

1000 Eggs

How do you separate 1000 egg yolks in a timely manner? That’s the problem I find myself faced with. The old “crack the egg, split the shell into halves, toss the yolk back and forth between the shell and let the white fall away” method is just a little too slow, unfortunately. I have to admit, that method is still my tried-and-true way to get really clean whites with no yolk particles. It also involves three containers: one for the spent shells, one for the whites, and one to crack each individual white into before adding it to the others. Cracking the whites individually into a small dish ensures that, if you do get a little yolk with the white, you don’t risk ruining the entire batch. If you do get a little yolk in there, just pick it out with a piece of egg shell, or if it’s botched really bad, then set it aside for scrambled eggs. However, if I’m not going to be using the whites for anything** and thus don’t need to keep the whites free of a little yolk, then there is another method that I prefer. Continue Reading »

I found a home. It’s a restaurant. Actually, fittingly enough, it’s a restaurant in a converted home. I am the latest addition to the Cafe Juanita family.

Last September, I volunteered at the James Beard house for a guest chef and winemaker dinner with chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita and winemaker Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. I helped out in the kitchen (as well as taking turns keeping Holly’s adorable son entertained and out of the kitchen) and had a great time with Holly, Mark, and everyone in their crew. Before moving to NYC, I had the opportunity to dine at Cafe Juanita on two different occasions. Both times I had a fantastic meal and a wonderful experience. Cafe Juanita was ranked among my favorite restaurants in Seattle (along with Mistral and Harvest Vine). So I was excited to have the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen with chef Smith and her team. I shouldn’t fail to mention as well that Mark Ryan has some fantastic wines and I was happy to get to drink them with the winemaker himself.

A month or so ago, I decided to email chef Smith to let her know my return to Seattle was impending and to see if she had any leads for me, if she knew of anyone looking for a pastry cook. As it turns out, she did in fact know of someone looking… her! She is in the process of starting a new venture called Pococarretto Gelato and was looking for someone to help make the gelato and sorbetto. She already had me in mind, but I just beat her to the punch and emailed her first.

Fast forward to this past week. I went into Cafe Juanita on Thursday to trail and to talk to chef Smith about the job opportunity. She was having a press event that afternoon where she gave out samples and talked about Pococaretto. I showed up early and helped make some of the gelato and then helped the pastry chef, Jason, with his production tasks for the day. I enjoyed myself and thought that everyone in the restaurant was very friendly. Like I said, Cafe Juanita is one of my favorite restaurants, but that wouldn’t be enough on its own to make me want to work there. When you are working long hours in a tight space with the same people every day, it is important to make sure that personalities align. Having met Holly and a couple of her staff already last year, I figured I would get along well with the rest of her staff. Sure enough, they are all very friendly and easy-going. At the end of the day, she and I sat down to talk and the opportunity.

I will be coming in as the pastry sous chef and will be making the product for Pococaretto, as well as assisting Jason, the pastry chef, with the desserts for the restaurant. Most likely, I will be doing production three days a week in the mornings and then dinner service two days a week (Friday and Saturday nights). I am very excited to get started. So, if you are a reader of this blog and you’re in Seattle, stop by to say hello!

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