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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Illicit Delights - Mini Boozy Cupcakes by Yours Truly

Once upon a time I had a few amazing boozy cupcake from a place in New York City called, Prohibition Bakery.  This trip was the same trip I went in search of a Robicelli's cupcake for the first time, back in July-ish of 2013.  The entire trip turned into a cupcake and sweets tour and I couldn't have been happier.  It's true that there are plenty of great cupcake and sweets shops all over San Francisco, but I had never tasted anything quite like the Prohibition Bakery cupcake "Pretzels and Beer."  The cupcake was everything it claimed to be and I was instantly in love.  I immediately sampled a "Dark and Stormy" as well as a "Car Bomb."  Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to do what these two fabulously women were doing in NYC - I wanted to bake mini boozy cupcakes.

I started by trying out some of Prohibition's cupcakes at home.  Lucky for me they had shared some recipes online.  Then, I got a hold of the Robicelli's cupcake book and went on my cupcake adventure (which is still in progress, derailed slightly, but still in progress as of September 23rd, 2014), and then I started coming up with my own creations.  Finally I created my own cupcake base and butter cream mixture.  During this whole process I started culinary school at San Francisco Cooking School.  That's right, culinary school, not pastry school.  I wanted to better understand food science from all aspects of food, not just dessert.  I took in cupcakes every week to school for my classmates to enjoy, and after creating my own base and butter cream I decided it was time to take a leap.

I knew I didn't want a brick and mortar shop, and I liked the idea of being able to create cupcakes for people based on their flavor profiles so I looked into baking out of my house - catering style.  Lucky for me California has some awesome Cottage Industry Laws that allow me to do just that - within reason.  As of August 7th, 2014 I officially have Illicit Delights LLC, and am currently finishing up paperwork and permits with the city of San Francisco. 

I'm two more approvals away from being legitimate and cannot wait to share my delicious creations with you!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Comparison Between Plated and Forage (ingredient/recipe delivery services)

Forage's tagline tells you everything you need to know, "Restaurants can cook any dish in 20 minutes. We prep ingredients so you can too."  I love it, and it's true.  Plated's tagline is "Eating Well Made Easy," and it's mostly true.  Both services have delicious recipes, and the convenience of getting exactly what you need to prepare a meal is luxurious.  (I always hate having to buy a giant bottle of something just because I need 2 teaspoons.)

Thai-style Pork Salad w/ Papaya & Mint - from Plated

One of the main reasons I originally wanted to subscribe to an ingredient/recipe delivery box was because I wanted to be able to quickly prepare dinner after a long day in culinary school.  I also wanted the option of just asking my husband, Bob, to put dinner together and know that he had everything he needed.  Both Forage and Plated provide instruction cards with a picture of the final meal so you know what you're working toward. 

The Plated boxes we've had were all pretty delicious, and there are definitely some recipes I've repeated, but my biggest issue is that their "easy" meals are not that easy.  When I see a recipe that's listed as easy call for more than two pots, then I know that it's not really easy.  I want straightforward and simple so that I know Bob can handle everything. 

Sockeye salmon w/ Farrotto and butternut squash - from Plated

This is where Forage comes into play.  Forage is essentially your prep kitchen.  In a restaurant you or the prep team work on getting things ready for service, this entails putting as much together as possible so you can put the finishing touches on or "fire" the food. (Look at me using restaurant language.)  The point is you're not going to make every dish from scratch as people are ordering it.

As an example here is how a lunch we made at home would look like if Plated had sent it to us:

Prawn Tikka Masala with Cocnut Rice and Green Salad

- chop all veggies
- make the tikka masala sauce
- make the coconut sauce
- cook rice
- cook prawns
- make salad dressing
- assemble

Here's how we made it with Forage:

- chop veggies
- cook rice with pre-made coconut sauce
- cook prawns with pre-made tikka masala sauce
- made salad dressing
- assemble

Yes, it's only two steps shorter, but guess what, it's also two pots cleaner!

While I can appreciate that many people will want to make the tikka masala sauce themselves, I don't.  I want an almost home cooked meal.  I want exactly what I said before: straightforward simplicity.  And so far, every meal we've made was cooked and ready to eat in 20 minutes.

Pork Ramen - from Forage

Again, both services provide great recipes.  I've just decided that if I'm going to take my time to make a more complex recipes I'll make it on my own.  Forage is kind of like our healthy fast food.

Bob did point out to me that Plated does excel at preparing you for what you'll need a better than Forage.  On the recipe cards Plated includes not only the ingredients list, and the steps for making the meal but they also include a list of all the tools you'll need to make the meal.  Yes, you should always read a recipe all the way through at the beginning so you know what you're going to need on hand but it's still nice to have a little list.  Forage does state that it assumes you have the following at home: skillet/frying pan, pot, baking sheet, and knives and a cutting board.  That said, you don't really know what you'll need until your read through the entire recipe. 

 Tikka Masala - from Forage

Overall, I just love Forage a bit more than Plated.  I like that 20 minute prep, it seems less daunting and even if I'm tired I know it's gonna get done fast.  Bob has done an awesome job with the recipes so I know he can handle anything Forage sends us.  What can I say, I'm just a huge fan of Forage!  (Of course, Plated is still a wonderful option.)