[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.

Your Summer Favorites, Tumbled on Sundays at harryspizzeria.com

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It’s officially summer now, and we’re celebrating by celebrating you! Every Sunday at harryspizzeria.com we will post our five favorite Instagram or Twitter pics that we see posted throughout the week.  Check the Harry’s Instagram and Twitter for the theme of the week. This week we’re taking any and all of your Harry’s favorites!  Life is just more fun with a Tumblr website.

In other fun news, the winners of Hedy’s #sweetsnaps cookbooks giveaway are Kyle Kennedy (Grand Cayman) and Eric Saltzman (Miami.)

Happy Sunday, happy summer, and continue to snap happily!

A Show of Pots for Hedy Goldsmith, Please!

BOLBestEvery year, the Food & Wine Test Kitchen evaluates over 150 cookbooks to select 25 they like best! Then we all get to enjoy an anthology called Best of the Best: The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year. We are proud to share that Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors was selected for 2013, and Hedy’s copy arrived in the mail yesterday! Raise your hand if you want one too? We thought so!

In addition to Editor in Chief Dana Cowen’s pick of recipes from each tome’s table of contents, one bonus, never-before-published recipe from each author is included, plus advice on wine pairings. Hedy’s featured desserts are Nutters, Raspberry Bars, Pots de Creme and Milk Chocolate Jellies with smoked sugar!

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Me want to play : )

Since it’s just the way we feel about The Genuine Kitchen blog readers, we are giving away two pairs of signed Baking Out Loud and Best of the Best cookbooks. To enter to win, please snap the most drool-worthy photo of a Hedy Goldsmith sweet (dessert and brunch menus are both fair game) enjoyed at any The Genuine Hospitality Group restaurant, post on Instagram and/or Twitter, and tag @hedygoldsmith #sweetsnaps. Multiple entries are allowed, and you have until 12 midnight on Sunday, June 23. Hedy will choose two winners (one in Grand Cayman – where she is currently stationed! – and one in Miami) and announce them with #reposts on Monday the 24th!

Last year’s Best of the Best collection celebrated winning dishes from superstar authors such as Giada DeLaurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Alice Waters, Eric Ripert, and a certain chef Michael Schwartz! Let the show of pots begin!

Uncorked with TGHG Wine Director Eric Larkee: #dialasomm

Do you know your wine's better half?

Do you know your wine’s better half?

When our intrepid Brand Director Jackie Sayet finds herself off-site and stumpified and flummoxed by either too many incredible wines or stymied by a dearth she will reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter or old-fashioned text message for assistance.  This number will remain private, however, as the can of social worms I have opened will inevitably squirm, to Jackie’s delight!  Recently while digging through a cooler at a South Miami retail shop she sent a picture of a fairly random selection of labels I didn’t know. My reply was simply for her to rotate all the bottles around and shoot the backs. After receiving the auxiliary information I picked her a bottle to suit her taste and the evening’s motivation.

I’m a bit hazy on the exact details of Jackie’s line of questioning in regard to my request for the back labels but I wanted to know who imported each wine. In classic Jackie vinoenthusiasm she loved the revelation that knowing or trusting an importer could make a wine buying decision easier.[1] In classic Sommelier think it struck me as odd that this was not a common sense thought but I quickly checked myself and thought back to when and where I learned this technique. I was a server/bartender at Savoy in Manhattan’s SoHo about a decade ago and was starting to find wine more interesting. I asked our GM and wine buyer, Gil Avital, how I should go about learning more. His advice was essentially, “Drink more, but drink with focus.” We were able to purchase wine directly from the restaurant, and I had been making a solid habit of this. He told me to go look at the backs of the bottles I had liked and to buy more wine from those importers.

The first bottle of wine I grabbed had the name Neal Rosenthal on the back. The second also was Neal Rosenthal. The third, well, you get the picture. I drank a lot of Rosenthal wines before moving on to Louis/Dressner, Skurnik and Theise. These importers have long influenced by taste in wine and have strong representation on our wine lists. The style of these importers (traditional production, food-friendly, normal alcohol levels, and an absence of heavy new wood usage) isn’t the top choice for everyone, that’s cool; there is an importer for you.

I highly encourage anyone who is looking to explore a wine region to do it though the palates of a few importers. Want to explore Italy? Like to drink Sangiovese? Go buy five different Rosso di Montalcino from different importers (you might have to go to more than one wine shop!), get a sense of whose you like, at a price point you like and buy more wines from other regions the importer represents. As an added immersion buy an importer’s book if they’ve written one, Rosenthal has and another favorite Kermit Lynch penned a wine-geek must read.

In a counter to my own point, I don’t want you to fall into a false negative fallacy. Just because a wine isn’t with an importer you know you like doesn’t mean that the wine isn’t any good. The original argument is about risk aversion and/or knowledge acquisition. I guess as a recommending point I knew that I wasn’t going to give Jackie the green light if I knew I didn’t like the importers style or rather if I knew that the importer had such a range of style that I knew that I couldn’t trust what there would be in the bottle. With importers that have a focused raison d’être such a view point, I can buy with a much better expectation of bottle representation without further consultation.

I actually took this advice of my own the other night.  As I scanned the small list at a restaurant my wife said, “You don’t like the list, your face hasn’t lit up.” It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like the list but rather that there was only one wine I wanted to drink with the food we chose and while good, I knew it well and wanted to have a new experience. Well, the wine was 86’d but we were offered another selection, I asked to see the bottle and promptly spun the bottle around and saw a familiar name, Banville & Jones. In my experience their style has a large range but the wines are solid. The wine was delicious and will be appearing on a wine list somewhere soon.

[1] There have been numerous blog posts on this topic, a quick Google search returned these 4 examples. The solution does get a bit oversimplified in the Bon Appetit article. The Slate article has a nice little printable pocket reference card but it is from 2009…






The Cypress Room: Now Here, There & Everywhere!

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As previously noted, we are proud to share thecypressroom.com, live as of yesterday evening on the great wide world of the Internets, [with much] care of digital designer Ilysa Corns and her whizbang developers.  We think it looks pretty snazzy on all our favorite devices, don’t you?  This holding page will serve as our fourth restaurant’s home on the web until the complete, clickable site launches around opening next year.  We hope you love the look as much as we do.  Please give a follow to @thecypressroom, and we thank you for your ongoing support of our genuine team. : )