Friday, December 15, 2006

A Bit of News & Some Gift Ideas for the Sweet-Toothed Cook

To the kind folks who take the time to visit this blog, leave a comment or email me, I am both very grateful and extremely apologetic - this past year, if I appear to be stonily silent or am tardy with my replies, please don't think I'm anything less than highly appreciative of your feedback. (Insert appropriate workload-related justification here). Add to that time management issues and a highly nervous constitution, and there you have it - my lousy excuse of an excuse.

My "day job" as a contributing editor of a luxury glossy consists primarily of coordinating fashion shoots and providing style/art direction on set/location - check out this site and a recent fashion shoot that just so happened to be cake-centric. It used to be that in between, I found time to cook and/or blog about the cooking. Recently, I also started taking dessert orders (see this gig and read The Business Times' interview here).

And even more recently, I started work on a very exciting project - I'll be teaching classes at this jewel box of a cooking school (see here, here, and here for details) from February next year. Fabulous chef-owner Shermay Lee, whom many may also know as the author of The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook: Vol.1 & Vol.2 - definitive modern classics on the art of Nonya cuisine - has taken a chance by working with someone who's entirely self-taught and has had no prior teaching experience. For this vote of confidence and leap of faith, I'm deeply thankful. I won't say more now except that the subject of this first series of classes is cupcakes (with other subjects and ideas in the pipeline) and that I'll post the full details sometime in January.

On a completely unrelated note, just in case you've yet to do your Christmas shopping, it's not only that time of the year, but it's also the time of the year when a bumper crop of spectacular new cookbooks hits the shelves. This year's dessert-related offerings are particularly sweet. Below, bite-sized reviews of a handful of my favourite recent titles for a variety of skill levels and budgets:

The Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger & Robert Steinberg
This cookbook from America's premier chocolate make is a must-have addition to any self-respecting chocoholic's bookcase. Packed with useful tips and a wealth of simple-yet-stunning recipes (many of which are contributed by top pastry chefs such as Sherry Yard and Alice Medrich), it's a book I've barely had for a month but which already bears ganache stains and cocoa smudges - a good omen for potential frequency of usage. Amongst other amazing treats, check out the amusingly-named TKOs (pictured above) - a scrumptious recipe from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, it's a sandwich cookie that's dark chocolate without and white chocolate within, a sophisticated take on a nostalgic favourite.

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
I actually spent a good couple of hours deliberating whether this tome should take pride of place next to my copy of Baking with Julia in the "Homespun American Baking Classics" section of the bookcase, or in the "Fancy French Desserts" area together with titles like Desserts by Pierre Hermé, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé and Paris Sweets, such is the comprehensive scope of this baker's bible. For anyone who simply can't get enough of Ms Greenspan's rare blend of wit and warmth, or her immaculately written recipes that hold your hand like an old friend every step of the way.

The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman
For a tiny taste of the sort of divine inspiration this book offers, see here. But it's not just about recipes for gorgeous, unique and dinner party-worthy desserts. Unusually enough for a "restaurant desserts" cookbook, Ms Zuckerman delves into the why, the what and the how of essential techniques in the sweet kitchen with a just-right level of detail, thus making apparently complex recipes downright accessible.

Chocolate & Vanilla by Gale Gand
Very cute. The fun, flip/cookbook format of this pint-sized number belies the flavour-packed punch of the recipes. Whether you love chocolate or adore vanilla (it's really two little books packed into one slender volume; half devoted to chocolate recipes, half devoted to vanilla recipes) - or better still, both - here's page after page of tempting treats, many of which I found can be put together in a snap even when time-pressed or tired.

Chocolate Fusion by Frédéric Bau
Coming as it does from the maestro himself - Chef Bau is the head pastry chef and director of L'Ecole de Valrhona - it's no surprise that this is no ordinary book on chocolate. In the exquisite collection of recipes, chocolate plays the starring role not merely in desserts, but also in savory cuisine, thus offering a fascinating glimpse of chocolate's endless culinary applications. Very beyond, utterly exceptional, unlike any other, one of a kind - this is the big ticket item to buy for the serious cook who already has everything (including that other Bau masterpiece, Au Coeur des Saveurs).

On yet another unrelated note...

'Tis the season of giving...Please visit
Chez Pim to find out more about Menu for Hope III, the annual web-based initiative that, this year, will be raising funds for the United Nations World Food Programme. Food bloggers around the world have either donated or sourced incredible prizes that anyone from anywhere can purchase virtual raffle tickets to win. The collected money will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme to help feed the hungry. To see the global round-up of donated prizes, please click here. Every US$10 that you donate entitles you to one chance of winning one of the prizes of your choice - please click here to visit the Menu for Hope III donation page.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So exciting! Wld really love to join the cupcake workshop!


12:16 am, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've been a busy lady ,Joycelyn!i just received my copy of sweet desserts and am already debating to get it as gifts for a couple of folks. Wish you can come to the U.S. and be a guest chef at Sur La Table.
Great pictures as usual!

12:16 am, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look at all those beautiful treats! yum! droool...

4:17 am, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Joycelyn - I'm so excited about the wonderful news (even though you're going to be *even* busier...), congratulations and looking forward to hearing more about it. Take care and have a lovely holiday season!

4:50 am, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! This is exciting news! Wow, I would have loved to take a class taught by you :) Unfortunately I'm in a different country...

Good luck (not that you need it!) and all the best! Can't wait to hear all about it!

Thanks for the cookbook reco's too! :)

12:34 pm, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joy! Please keep me posted abt the workshop k? i want i want i want to go!

3:56 pm, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey J, is the workshop suitable for a total beginner in baking? Would so love to go and learn from you.. When will you be organising a macaron workshop :p

5:05 pm, December 15, 2006  
Blogger Brilynn said...

You certainly are busy! Your posts are always great though, I love your pictures, they always make me drool.

12:43 am, December 16, 2006  
Blogger Anita said...

Congratulations, J! You're such a wonderful inspiration for following your passion! P.S. Do you ship your cakes overseas?:)

6:28 am, December 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very exciting news Joycelyn! I must say.. your students are a lucky bunch!

6:38 am, December 16, 2006  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi faith, please do :)

hi veron, thanks for your words of encouragement. ps: that risotto you made looked absolutely divine!

hi aria, thanks!

hi keiko, thank you! as you know, i'm feeling as anxious as i am excited ;)

hi joey, thanks for your kind words! if i hadn't already done damage to my credit card ordering these books, i would have loved to have received them for christmas!

hi charlotte, please see my email :) would LOVE for you to come and give lots of feedback!

hi jane, the workshop was designed with a mixture of techniques so it will appeal to home bakers of various skill levels. for an individual who's new to baking, cupcakes are a terrific way to start - not only is it fun, but once you learn a couple of master recipes, you'll realise how easy (and fun) it is to create endless flavour variations. and yes, there may be a macaron workshop in the works :)

hi brilynn, thanks, you're very kind!

hi anita, thanks! i have been incredibly lucky. sadly, until i figure out a preservative-free preservational method, the overseas shipping will have to wait ;)

hi cenk, thank you, if it's possible, i'm as excited as i am nervous!

11:42 am, December 16, 2006  
Blogger Chubbypanda said...


Congratulations. Have confidence in your skills and yourself, and you'll be just fine. You can do it!

- Chubbypanda


3:16 pm, December 16, 2006  
Blogger Julia said...

It is always my pleasure to visit your blog - everything looks always so amazing and pretty! :)
Love your picture of those cookies - mouth-watering!

12:45 am, December 17, 2006  
Blogger His Food Blog said...

I totally agree with julia... those pictures of yours always make my tummy rumbles... they simply look delicious... care to share your secrets??

4:23 am, December 17, 2006  
Blogger B5 said...

I feel hungry..
nice photos..

11:52 pm, December 17, 2006  
Blogger Parisbreakfasts said...

I would like to come too...
What subway do I take?
To be honest, I see you teaching in Paris.
I know all the subways really well there.
Pas de problem!
Bonne chance Joycelyn :)

2:24 am, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Cathy said...

Jocelyn - that's really fantastic news - congratulations! I wish Singapore and your class weren't so far away - I'd love to be able to attend. I noticed in your bio that you have 500+ cookbooks - wow! Good luck with all your endeavors and have a wonderful holiday season!

9:38 am, December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats to all the neat stuff that has been going on for you.

3:06 pm, December 18, 2006  
Blogger rachel said...

hi joycelyn, stumbled upon your blog recently and i really love the way you write, not to mention the pictures. your passion for food is really inspiring :)

5:37 pm, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Joycelyn, I can't believe I met you in person during the Kitchen Aid Baking Competition last Saturday. I'm always in so much awe of the cakes and desserts you made. I mean, they look really pretty, just like a piece of art.

Hope to learn more from you someday. Maybe from your baking class. =)

Btw, I'm the girl who made the penguin and snowman. It was definately an honour meeting you.

11:46 pm, December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jocelyn,

I've been reading your blog for some time now. Your creations always look divine. I'm an agak-agak type so I cook rather than bake. I'm living my baking life vicariously through you. Thank you!


12:49 am, December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such amazing news, J! I'm so happy for you that you've found a way to turn your incredible talents into a successful new career. And kudos to you for following your dreams! I can't wait to hear all about it.

1:34 am, December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your teaching news. Awesome!

Happy Holidays!


9:57 am, December 19, 2006  
Blogger Lori said...

Congratulations, J! I haven't been by in a while and so much has happened to you. Kudos and all the best for what's shaping up to be a busy 2007.

7:29 pm, December 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have such a amazing accomplishment! i salute you and feel proud to know you. happy holidays!

6:48 am, December 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I congratulate you on your well deserved success but am frankly shocked that you would choose to align with such a poseur as the chez pim girl who consistently has bad mouthed other bloggers and taken credit for various things in which she had little or no participation.

7:51 am, December 28, 2006  
Blogger Callipygia said...

jocelyn- Hi I wanted to extend my enthusiastic congratulations to you for all the wonderful projects you are doing. Your talent is huge, your creations are graceful and whimsical.

9:36 am, January 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's how to make delicious chocolate covered strawberries. First of all ensure that the strawberries you are intending to use are dry, then allow them to be room temperature warm prior to making them. After the strawberries have been covered in chocolate, put them in your refrigerator to cool, but do not store them in the fridge. Consume within 1-2 days.

4:06 am, February 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi you're from singapore? where in singapore? because i might visit and would love to attend your class..pls mail me your contact details ( prices of your classes..i love your goodies..thanks..

10:56 am, June 27, 2008  

Great ideas! Everything sounds fantastic! I would not know what to choose...

Wow! What a great list! This took some time to put together.
Thank you so much.

6:14 pm, June 27, 2009  

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