MGFD Brunch at 5 Years | Homage to Hedy’s Sweets

Five years ago, a typical Sunday morning at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink (“MGFD”) was a time for our chefs to prepare for the evening service and plan for the upcoming week, quietly without distraction. But then October 25, 2009 rolled around and Sundays were never the same again. Today, once 11:00am hits the clock, MGFD is a vibrant and colorful scene of savory and sweet. Tables are adorned with a variety of small plates mingling with cocktails, wines, and beers at once. It is a playful and nostalgic affair, a frenzy of energy and creativity, and Hedy and Michael would not have it any other way.

Hedy explains that when Michael developed Brunch at MGFD, he wanted a different concept, where guests could enjoy a number of different plates, without any set rules. “It is whatever you feel like…”  It was a hit out of the gate, attracting the attention of then New York Times food critic Frank Bruni and has evolved into more than we ever could have imagined — a fun and interactive meal stretching the imagination of both our customers and our team in the restaurant that puts it together each week. We’ll cover the savory side of the menu next, but today we begin in keeping with Hedy’s mantra: “Eat dessert first!”

At the top of the Sweets section appear Hedy’s Childhood Treats. These items are meant to bring back childhood memories and can often be found in Hedy’s cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Items like overstuffed o’s, s’mores and chocolate caramel peanut bars show the playfulness and accessibility of the menu. As much as they attract children, they are meant for big kids, us. Because Hedy’s goal was to bring out the “oohs and aahs” out of us, and boy does she!

The remainder of the menu will leave you equally flabbergasted. The classics such as the pop t’s — which are Hedy’s take on the still relevant as ever original, on-the-go handheld breakfast pie — and the sticky bun, have new flavors weekly. They are in short, a grow-up version of your old time favorites. By grown- up, we mean improved of course. Exponential improvement. Some dishes are too bold to fathom, like the tequila watermelon-popsicle, or the macaron ice cream sandwich, or the peanut butter pie in a jar overflowing with caramel. Literally overflowing. Ugh! Hedy dares to play with both savory and sweet in general, particularly in her sticky buns, such as the bacon, cream cheese and peanut butter sticky bun. It leaves you to lick you fingers shamelessly at the table and turn an average Sunday morning meal, into your most anticipated moment of the week. Seriously. Some guests join us religiously for brunch and Hedy’s sweets are one of the reasons why they are committed to our brunchbell. Yes that’s what we call it!

Why the obsession? Our pastry team bakes with heart. Hedy and her associates change the Sweets menu in its entirety, weekly, with updates reflected on the michaelsgenuine.com website by crack of dawn Sunday. Although some preparation may be made in advance, or mise en place, all sweets are baked on Sunday morning. Hedy shares, “ I like to keep challenging myself, have fun and inspire my team. I don’t take myself too seriously and want to keep it playful”. That passion is evident from the choice of items on the menu, but most importantly the flavors. Hedy values multi dimensional dishes, especially with the desserts. She would hate for a guest to merely have two bites, which is why she plays with savory for balance. In her iconic and ever evolving cookie, junk in-da-trunk ®, for example, Hedy mixes cookie dough with pretzels, potato chips, peanut butter, and candy bars, but tops it with sea salt, “… to give your taste buds a break”, she reveals. This is a sweet marathon, not a race!

Hedy likes to inspire, but is also inspired by her energetic team, including Devin Braddock, who takes great pride in spearheading putting out the #brunchbell under the direction of pastry Sous-Chef, Patty Lopez. Devin also enjoys playing with the line between sweet and savory, such as hot pepper jam, and she loves our brunch’s core idea, nostalgia. Preparation for brunch sweets begins as early as Monday, when the team assembles a rough draft of the menu, which evolves during the week. It is the perfect opportunity for originality to emerge. And as the week develops, each dish “…molds into something more beautiful and more creative”, making brunch equally exciting for Devin and for you. The A team also includes Dallas Wynne, a Harry’s Pizzeria alum.

Brunch at MGFD comes together due to the participation of the entire team. Pastry helps the savory side by making a crumpet batter, while the servers, managers and support staff review the logistics for an effective brunch. It is a tough service to tackle, but quite a fun one. It can also be a friendly competition between sweet and savory, as Sous-Chef, Jason Arroyo, crosses the boundaries with a savory French toast for example; whereas Head Line Cook, Manuel Arredondo, brings out his own creativity to mirror Devin’s bold dishes, with maple bacon pancakes. If you haven’t experienced this underrated game yet, hustle because the bell rings at 11:00am every Sunday, and as of October 12, lasts until 3:00pm.

[RECIPE] Sweet Summer Sundaes Using Perfect Peaches

Ella Schwartz joins us this summer for three weeks as brand intern. She’ll be a senior at Ransom Everglades in the fall, rows crew and studies photography. Follow her on Instagram @ellaschwartzz and stay glued to our company handles where she’ll also be contributing during her stay with us. IMG_8932 Summer is here. The sun is shining and the heat is unbearably hot. But worry no more! You’re not the only one who will roast this season. The Roasted Peach Sundae combines fresh, juicy peaches with creamy yogurt sherbet and crunchy oatmeal pecan streusel, while keeping it light and sweet for these hot summer days. I went behind the scenes at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, where this delicious summer sweet is new to our dessert menu, to find out how it’s made. 10:30 | The kitchen was bustling with excitement. I walk to the pastry station where spices are stacked high and the Kitchen Aid is spinning rigorously. “Step into my office,” pastry chef Patty Lopez jokes as she turns off the mixer and brings what looks and smells like a delicious granola to her counter. As she chops pecans to add into the granola looking mixture, which I soon find out is oatmeal pecan streusel, she explains the elements of the sundae: the star of the show — the peaches, the light yet creamy sherbet, and the crunchy, nutty streusel. The key to roasting perfect peaches, I learn, is to make sure they are firm and not yet ripe. This way, they don’t fall apart when you roast them and they retain their freshness. But under-ripe peaches are not the only measure taken to ensure the firmness of the peach. Patty carefully pits the fruit with a melon baller and is cautious to provide minimum bruising. She also warns to only place the peaches into the sugar and spice mixture right before putting them in the oven. If not, the sugars will make the peaches mushy, a word banned from this recipe’s vocabulary. Only a short minute after putting them into the blazing hot wood-burning oven, I start to see the skin char and blacken under the flames. Out of the oven. Flip. Wine to deglaze. Back into the oven. The tops of the peaches bubble uncontrollably as I look into the fire, wide eyed. Out of the oven. The peaches are removed from the pan immediately to stop cooking and then cut into beautifully-charred quarters. I know what you’re thinking. What happens to that beautiful, flavorful peachy wine reduction leftover?! Into the oven once more for a couple minutes, and it becomes a ooey gooey caramel to end this dessert right. The streusel is also baked in the hearth and broken up into just the right sized crumbles to begin the assembly of this highly anticipated sundae. Streusel, then ice cream, peach quarter, ice cream, peach quarter, streusel, caramel, basil to garnish. 11:30 | “It’s all yours,” Patty says. As I take a bite my dreams come true. It’s perfectly perfect. The yogurt sherbet keeps it light, while still adding a creamy aspect, reminding me of peaches and cream. The streusel’s crunch is perfect and the nuts go perfectly with the peaches. The honey adds just enough sweetness while the char on the peach isn’t overwhelming but just right. The peach is still firm yet soft and tender. All I can say is, peach perfection in a bowl.

 Roasted Peach Sundae
serves 8

4 peaches halved and pitted
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
¾ cup dry white wine
1 quart Yogurt Sherbet (see recipe below)
3 cups Oatmeal Pecan Streusel (see recipe below)

Pre-heat oven to 450° F.

Mix sugars and spices in a half hotel pan or baking dish. Spread along the bottom of the pan evenly and place peaches cut side down in the sugar. Place in oven for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin of the peach starts to lightly char. Pull out and deglaze the sugars with the dry white wine. Flip the peaches and spoon the liquid over the tops, then place back in the oven and allow to roast for another 3-4 minutes, or until the tops are bubbling. The peaches should be soft on the outside, but firm on the inside. Remove from the pan to cool on a platter. Cut each half in half. Assemble sundae alternating two peach quarters, two scoops of yogurt sherbet, and a handful of streusel.

Yogurt Sherbet

yields 1 quart

2 cups greek yogurt
½ cup simple syrup
¼ cup lemon juice
1 ½ cups honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla paste

Whisk all of your ingredients together in a large bowl and churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions or until the churned product resembles a frozen yogurt. Store in airtight container in the freezer.

Oatmeal Pecan Streusel

yields 3 cups

1 cup oats
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
3 ounces cold butter

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flours, sugars, cinnamon, and pecans. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry mix, pinching with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Lay out on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Crumble finished streusel and store in a cool dry place. Keeps for about a week.

Move Over Margarita, It’s Time to Give Cinco de Mayo a Pop

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Ok, we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to our friend the good old classic margarita, but a little company never hurt anyone, especially on Cinco de Mayo.  It’s not too late to give your plans a little kick, and we got inspiration from a sweet source the moment @MGFD_MIA’s Instagram fed yesterday’s brunch specials. Pops!  Not Hedy Goldsmith’s frosted Pop-T’s we know and love, but frosty pops of the frozen kind that fit summer’s mold just right.  So what sort of popsicle flavor combinations are we talking?  “My all time favorite is the watermelon , tequila and lime,” Hedy says.  “I make it year round.”  We had seven orders left at the start of lunch today, and thanks to Hedy and her team of Patty Lopez and Devon Braddock in the station, we now have the recipe. Make them when you get home today, and you have a cool surprise waiting in the icebox as the party creeps into the wee hours of Cinco de Mayo.  Into the summer, they can be made virgin, too, with no shortage of simply-prepared flavor combinations. Hedy has plenty in mind from peach-basil, cantaloupe-cilantro-lime, and blackberry-bubbles to Thai coconut-ginger-kefir lime, lychee-vodka and mango with everything.  What about you?

Watermelon, Tequila & Lime Popsicles

Makes 21, 4.5-ounce pops

1 cup sugar
6 cups watermelon juice
2 cups tequila
3 limes zested and juiced
Sugar to finish

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer the sugar in 1 cup of water until dissolved, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool, about 45 minutes.  Add watermelon juice, tequila, and lime zest and juice, stirring to combine.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4 hours. Serve in a rocks glass with sugar-dusted rim and a slice of lime.  If you can find citric acid, mix it in with the sugar for a tongue-puckering kick! 

 

[RECIPE] Wake-Up Call: Capturing the Hidden Creativity of Our Morning Persons

At 8:00 a.m. last Thursday morning, busser, porter and now receiver Chris Caballero was commanding his new post as deliveries trickled in.  He paused for a coffee break — a hospitable one, to cue up two cappuccinos for photographer Catalina Ayubi and I.  It was an early morning for us, but not for Chris nor the pastry department. Hours aren’t the most forgiving in this business, and it’s no more apparent than the hours bakers keep.  The 6:00 a.m. call time is just the morning routine, and on some days, part of the allure of this line of work. It’s when Kelly Russell, executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s assistant at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, puts together her prep list for the day.

Kelly and our beloved workhorse, the Hobart mixer.

Kelly and our beloved workhorse, the Hobart mixer.

“Monday is ice cream and sorbet day, a big day for prep,” Kelly says. “The weekend is busy, especially with Sunday brunch. We place our orders then. Chocolate and nuts that we buy in bulk. We can buy produce any day of the week except Sunday.  Orders come every Monday and Thursday. Two people come in every morning, with one pastry plater for dinner service and two at night on the weekends.”   Is your head spinning yet?

My caffeine hadn’t kicked in, and but the team was trucking, staffed up, in the throws of two recipes already, and simultaneously explaining all of this to me.  We were at the flagship to capture its creativity in these now not so wee hours.  Chef de cuisine Niven Patel and his crew were there, foraging for spices, mise’ing the country pate and marinating pork for patties on the day’s lunch special salad.  But our sites were set on the Hobart and the Doyon, oft doubling for savory applications such as roasting porchetta, but at this particular moment sweet.

Kelly giggles at Niven in his happy place, the spice corner.

Kelly giggles at Niven in his happy place, the spice corner.

Kelly was making sheet pans of sour cream coffee cake, a classic layered breakfast pasty that hits all the right notes — nutty, sweet and just-a-touch-salty in the streusel crumble. The occasion is CreativeMornings, which I like to say are the TEDx talks of the creative world, a morning speaker series on a new topic each month simultaneously presented in each of the organization’s myriad chapters across the globe by a special guest.  It attracts intellectuals, cultural subversives, curious cats, social entrepreneurs, artists, designers both in the audience and on stage and is the best exercise for the mind that I’ve ever encountered pre-10:00 a.m.  Doors open at 8:30 a.m., you eat (where Hedy’s coffee cake comes in,) you listen (where Camila Ramos of Panther Coffee comes in,) and you are in the office in a timely fashion ready to claim the day.

The second we heard of this brilliant event from Michael’s new assistant and my partner in crime Jessica Gross, it was time to take Miami host Malik Benjamin out to a proper Michael’s Genuine lunch. We were hungry for more and wanted to get involved, in ways more than making sure folks left belly full.  The light bulb eventually went off.  Panther Coffee was the missing link.  I pitched, and they bit.  It was a no-brainer brainer, and thanks to the support of owners Joel and Leticia Pollock, we secured the lovely and talented head barista and store manager Camila Ramos to present her Hidden Sources, not only of beans but of her passion for them.  [Look for her her complete and utterly mesmerizing  talk which took place this past Friday to be posted here, shortly!]

The recipe below, straight from the pages of Hedy’s Baking Out Loud cookbook, takes the classic sour cream coffee cake we make last week to the next level with coffee and chocolate in the topping.   Have a creative morning at home and bake one fresh for yourself, to share with friends, or as the happiest wake-up call I can think of… baking smells! Wait, where is that iPhone App, because I want it?!  A set of Cat’s images from our own creative morning at HQ are accessible at this link. Follow Creative Mornings @creativemorningsmia on Instagram and Twitter for the latest talks and links to sign up to attend.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Recipe from Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith

Serves 12

For the streusel
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraïbe 66%), chopped into ½-inch pieces
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (preferably Saigon, see note below)
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans
For the cake
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1. To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, walnuts, chocolate, cinnamon, and ground espresso in a small bowl, and stir until well blended.

2. T o make the cake, position an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F (325°F if using a convection oven). Line the bottom and sides of a 10-cup loaf pan with foil and grease it lightly (preferably with Pam).

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about
3 minutes, until soft and smooth. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

5. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Evenly distribute half of the streusel mixture over the batter. Then spoon the remaining batter evenly over the streusel, and spread it evenly. Scatter the remaining streusel evenly over the top.

6. Bake for 68 to 70 minutes (50 to 60 minutes if using a convection oven), until the topping is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lift the cake and the foil liner from the pan, peel away the foil, and return the cake to the rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, cut the coffee cake into 1-inch-thick slices.
Note: Saigon cinnamon contains the highest percentage of essential oil of all the varieties of ground cinnamon. It packs the most flavor, making this one the finest and most exotic of all cinnamon types.

Miami’s Spring Snowfall: Putting the Lime in the Coconut at The Cypress Room

No surprise when I say
That my favoritest day
Is when Hedy says “Hey,
We have new sweets today!”

Now folks… the Coconut dish takes the Cake.
But the Blood Orange Tart is so smart and delicious
And tangy and zippy and almost nutritious
(With thanks to the citrus) that all of my wishes
Are not for a steak, but for Hedy to bake
Up a car-full of treats – all to-go, I would take!

~ M.

Manager Marty McCartt is moved to verse often at The Cypress Room.  And it’s no surprise why, especially where dessert is concerned.

In our small piece of the tropics, a backyard harvest can define a Miamian. At my childhood home, it’s the ginger flowers and Haden mangos that paint memories in shades of fuschia and canary yellow. For Michael, Carrie mangos in the summer and Hua Moa plantains in the winter have cropped up, the sweetest currency among friends and family. Last week Hedy Goldsmith gathered the eight large, ripe coconuts fallen from trees outside the Coral Gables home she has shared with wife Heidi Ladell for 14 years.

“I love coconut anything. As a kid every year for my birthday, I had a coconut cake,” she explains.  “It has a profound effect on me. In Baking Out Loud  I mention that coconut cream pie should be the new birthday cake.”

The Cypress Room’s dessert menu changed yesterday, speaking of Hedy’s deeply rooted love of coconut and to our unique and nuanced seasonal rhythms here in Miami, sometimes only detectable by its native sons and daughters.

TCR_DessertMenu_8-4.5x5.5_Final[1]COCONUT CAKE combines white chocolate crémeaux, pineapple, liquorice and lime ice. This cake is beyond moist, with big, buttery flavors. Coconut oil is used to add flavor and reinforce the tropical note, adding a luxurious je ne c’est qua. The crémeaux isn’t your typical egg | cream | sugar pastry crème.  Instead, it’s a rich whip of fresh white chocolate, crème fraiche, coconut milk and Greek yogurt.  Perhaps my favorite part of the plate is the shaved pineapple that has been macerated in vanilla lemongrass syrup and black pepper, topped with delicate shards of homemade black liquorice that play as a counterpoint to the richness of the dessert. Not an anise bomb, just bringing all the flavors on the plate together. Lime ice brightens from sultry to sunny.

IMG_5657It’s no secret Hedy’s heart beats for citrus, and March in Miami is all about Indian River’s finest. For BLOOD ORANGE TART, she builds a salad of Florida citrus segments including minneola, grapefruit and blood orange and topped with shimmering basil gelee and micro herbs. Set to the side, a champagne vinegar meringue to offer dimension, cutting the sweetness but giving a creamy toasty note to complete the dessert.  You may recall Hedy’s buttery tart dough, with a bit of vinegar for flakiness appearing in the Chess Pie on the restaurant’s opening dessert menu of March 2013.  Its filling is now made with lots of sweet-tart blood orange juice, eggs, sugar, butter and buttermilk.

And, our favorite question has many answers per usual. What to drink?  One of Hedy’s favorites to sip, Montanaro’s Liquore di Camomilla, was part of the line up.  With COCONUT CAKE, its cousin Grappa di Arneis did the trick.  Counterintuitive, perhaps, but the intense, leafy and fruity perfume and delicate, dry flavor of this classic, white Grappa from Piemonte is a match for tropical notes.  For BLOOD ORANGE TART, The Genuine Hospitality Group Wine Director Eric Larkee went straight to the bitter orange liquors, all of them in fact.

“So here are all of our bitter orange liqueurs,” he began.  “We have the Grand Mariner, the Clement Creole Shrubb, the Dry Curaçao, the Mandarin Napoleon and Salerno.”

“That’s blood orange,” Hedy notes. “I’m thinking Campari, but then again I’m always thinking Campari with citrus.”

Chenin Blanc Larkee_dessert“There is part of me that is thinking Salerno and a cube,” Eric continues. “The crust is so buttery and it’s really well balanced. I don’t know why I was scared of the citric acid (laughs.)  What bitters do you have?”

Eric prepares a rocks glass with Dry Curaçao, an ice sphere and Fee Bros. orange bitters.

“I think we may have a winner here.  I think this is lovely,” Hedy says. “Wow, the ice cube really opened it up. Yum. There’s just something about this. The label, the bottle shape, that I just keep getting drawn to.”

“Yes, it’s very Cypress.”