Tag Archives: search terms

The Great Search Term Round Up: Volume VI

1 Jul

In Which we find ourselves at the end of another month (okay, the beginning), ready to help answer your burning pastry questions.

Yes, it has been Quite the little While since I’ve done a search term round up.  But I have a reason.  Wanna hear?  Okay.  I keep seeing the same search terms over and over again, and frankly, it was getting a little boring.  So just for fun, today I decided to look up the stats on search terms for All Time.  That’s since October 2008.  And here are the Top Ten Search Terms:

  1. quinoa
  2. butter
  3. ice
  4. jack o lantern
  5. creaming method
  6. jackolantern
  7. biscuit method
  8. jack-o-lantern
  9. jack-o-lanterns
  10. cool whip substitute

Apparently, my Typical Readers are cake-making, pumpkin-carving, ancient-grain-eating, cold-fat-loving Cool Whip haters.  At last:  I’ve discovered my niche.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I can add anything to that Top Ten.  Therefore, I am taking the liberty this Independence Day weekend of making my own Top Ten List.  One that more truly reflects PMAT and all for which it stands.

Don’t forget:  I’m here to help.

1.  How do you make Cool Whip from Whipping Cream? Do you see what I have to deal with, people?  It’s a wonder I’m not sniping from a rooftop somewhere.  By the way, mercifully, the answer to that question is you can’t.

2.  Brother Spectacular Chicken There are no words.  Maybe they meant, “Brother, that is one Spectacular Chicken!”  Or maybe Brother Spectacular, from the Order of Poultry, is a chicken.  In that case, it should say Brother Spectacular? Chicken.

3.  Ice cream with apples and caramel If you’re asking, don’t mind if I do.

4.  What items do you need to make a cheese cake? Is this a trick question?  They could be talking about this.  Or this. Confuzzling.

5.  If You Me More So Maybe I not you.  Less so.  Maybe not.  You’re welcome.

6.  White things that float in the air What about them?  make me sneeze?  are from outer space?  are only real in my mind?  mean that I’m at the pillow factory?  I give up.

7.  Are there any salted caramel sorbet recipes? Generally speaking, there is no dairy in sorbet, so you can’t technically make a salted caramel sorbet.  So, no.  But, you could call it ice cream.  Make your caramel.  Add salt to taste.  Add some milk.  Do the egg test.  Add more milk if the egg is floating too high or some corn syrup if the egg is floating too low.  Chill and spin.  Put in face.

8.  Water kitchen Possible responses:  a) Call a plumber.  b) I’m glad you have a boat.  Good for you.  c) No, water plants.

9.  How to make Cool Whip stiff Hit it with some liquid nitrogen.  Then throw it away.

10.  How do you whip whole eggs? Contrary to popular belief, you can whip whole eggs.  And it’s much more stable than just whipped whites because of the lecithin in the yolks.  So, why would you want to whip whole eggs?  1) Sabayon.  Nice!  2) Genoise.  Ditto.

And there you have it.  Happy Heart-of-Summer, everyone.  See you in a few days.

The Great Search Term Round Up: Volume 3

30 Jun
In Which we find ourselves at the end of another month, ready to help answer your burning pastry questions.

In Which we find ourselves at the end of another month, ready to help answer your burning pastry questions.

Goodbye, June.  Hello, search terms that have amused me, befuddled me or made me really think.  For your enjoyment today, I present The Best search terms.  As per usual, if they are not phrased in question form, I will do that myself.  I do so enjoy a good Q&A Session.

What can I put in macaroni salad? Pretty much whatever you want.  Take your favorite veggie salad mix (or tuna or chicken salad, for that matter) use a bunch of extra dressing and fold it all in with still-warm elbows, shells or Interesting Shapes such as fusilli (Jerry) or farfalle.

Why did my flan curdle? Because your mixture boiled in the oven.  This is a Very Bad Thing for flan.  Flan should be smooth and slice cleanly.  It should Not feel like wet tweed in the mouth.  Use a water bath, and bake it low and slow at no more than 275F.  If you have a convection oven, cover the Flan Pan so it doesn’t brown.  Yes, it will take Forever to bake, but your reward will be perfect flan.

Could you give me a recipe for a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit? Dear, sweet Searcher on the Hinternet, take a biscuit, cut it open, put bacon (cooked), egg (also cooked) and cheese (skip the cooking part for the cheese) on the biscuit.  Put lid on biscuit.  Eat biscuit.  Love, PMAT Jenni.

Can you put dill pickles in macaroni salad? Despite my answer to question 1, dill pickles Do Not Like to be included in macaroni salad.  Don’t even try it.  They will be Sullen and Sad and will eye you Darkly.*

How can I sweeten sour cream? Put some sweetener in it.  Seriously–if you want something to be sweet, you need to use some sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or What Have You to make it so.  Here’s how you do it.  Put sweetener in sour cream.  Stir and stir.

How much sugar do people buy? It depends on how much they use.  Folks who build sugar sculptures need A Very Lot of sugar.  Folks who never eat sugar prolly don’t buy any.  If you’re looking for statistics, I did find one that stated that in 1999, Americans ate 158 pounds a year.  That’s an average, so while some folks bought/ate way less than that, others bought/ate way more.  I’m a Fan of sugar, but this seems a bit much.

Can you make pasta sauce with Cool Whip? Dear Lord in Heaven, deliver me from these Cool Whip questions, especially the ones who want to branch out and use Cool Whip creatively.  Shudder.  To answer the question, yes, I suppose you could, but no one should ever, ever, ever actually do it.  Just say no.

How do you know when caramel is done? Good question.  Once sugar begins to color, it’s technically a caramel, but the darker it gets, the less sweet and more complex the flavor.  So, you have to decide what your sweet spot on the Caramel Spectrum is.  I like to hang out down towards the far end, where the smokers and kids wearing flannel shirts gather.  Some folks might be happier on the Glee Club end of the spectrum.  If I’m making caramel for kids, I stop at a medium amber color.  For adults, I take it just past the smoke point.  To use with meats, I take it to a true mahogany.  At that point, you have to be careful, because once you get to mahogany, you’re pretty close to black, and black isn’t caramel.  It’s pure carbon.  No matter how dark/light you like it, the sugar will continue to cook once you take it off the heat.  To lock in your color, so to speak, either throw in a wee handful of ice and stir it in–carefully; it will splutter–or dunk the pan in an ice water bath to arrest the cooking.

How do I make a 13th birthday cake with marzipan? Make a cake.  Spread a thin layer of jam (or other yummy glue) on the outside.  Smooth a sheet of marzipan over the cake.  Write Happy 13th Birthday Insert-Name-Here with your choice of colored icing.  You can purchase marzipan, or you can make your own.  As long as you start with commercially produced almond paste, you should be fine.

Here’s another that I simply cannot phrase in the form of a question:  Little voices told me to.  I’m not sure what this person was looking for or how they wound up here, but I will say that, from now on, it will be my excuse for everything Eccentric that I do.  The Beloved will ask, “Dearest?  Why, oh why did you find it necessary to dye the cat green?”  And I will answer, “Little voices told me to.”  Yup, that’s my plan.

And that concludes today’s round up.  Stay tuned tomorrow for your regularly scheduled pastry programming.

*Oh, for the love of Mike, if you want dill pickles in your macaroni salad, put them in there.  Consider chopping them up first.

The Great Search Term Round Up: Volume 2

31 May

The search terms that made the cut for this month's installment.

The search terms that made the cut for this month's installment.

Here we are, friends, at the end of another month.  Can 2009 be almost half over already?!  Be that as it may, the time has come for me to look at the search terms, and try to address them.  Some I will address with a Straight Face.  With some, my tongue will be firmly planted in my cheek.  And with others, I won’t be able to see to type since my eyes will be rolled Heavenward.

I will take the liberty of phrasing everything in the form of a question.  I can’t help it; I’m a Jeopardy! fan.  As a matter of fact, Miss Jill, Frau and I used to spend weekend nights in college making up whole Jeopardy games.  And then playing them.  Whoever made up the game got to be Alex, of course.  Oh, those crazy college days.  Seems like I’m leaving someone out, since we’d have to have an Alex and three players.  I’m sorry unknown-but-pivotal fourth player.

Anyway, here we go.

May I sprinkle sugar crystals on my croissants before baking? Yes, please do.  Put a wee piece (or not so wee piece) of bittersweet chocolate inside before rolling it up, and you’ll have a pain au chocolat.  Yay!  Incidentally, if you ever end up accidentally making a batch of chocolate seize up and you can’t think of anything else to do with it, keep it and saw off hunks to use in the centers of croissants.  Since the chocolate has seized, it will get kind of soft in the oven, but it won’t ooze out and Make a Mess when you bite into it.  And it will taste just fine.

Do you have any cheesecake friends? Well, I have never met a cheesecake I didn’t like.  As long as there was enough salt in it.  Salt really helps cheesecake.  My friend Ron often sings a song about munching on cheesecake.  Here is a video.  But this isn’t Ron.  This is a muppet.
And then, there was this comedian in the 80s named I-am-drawing-a-blank, but he did this bit where he talked about New York cheesecake– “what?  It’s imported?!”  And then, in a high, little boy voice, he’d say, “Hey, Billy!  Let’s go down to the docks!  The cheesecake boat’s a’comin’!”  And then, he’d pretend to be driving the boat (you know what I mean), and would sing, “Cheesecake boat’s a’comin!  Gonna party tonight!”  And that’s all the cheesecake friends I have.

Is it wrong for a person to eat another person? Yes.  It’s called cannibalism, and there are Rules about Such Things.  Just say no.

How do I make a pressed sandwich? I guess that depends on whether you want a hot pressed sandwich or a cold one.  To make a hot one, like a panini, you can use almost any sort of meat/cheese/veggie fillings, slap them between hearty bread slices (or a split loaf) with the cheese closest to the bread on both sides (to act as glue) and throw it in your swanky panini press or your George Foreman grill.  Or do what I do and heat up both of your cast iron skillets.  Put the sammich in one, and put the other one on top of the sammich to act as the heated press.  If you want a cold pressed sammich, read this.  Or, like Benny, you could just use your iron.  I know I keep mentioning Benny and Joon; I can’t help it.  It’s one of my favorite movies, and it always seems to offer PMAT-Post-Appropriate Illustrations.

What’s the technique for getting cream puffs to rise? First, you have to make sure that your cream puff batter (pâte à choux) is at the right consistency.  It should sort of slowly flow off of the end of your raised beater into a point.  Then, you have to make sure your oven is hot enough to make the moisture in the batter turn to steam quickly, forcing a rise.  I start pâte à choux out at 450F in a conventional oven and at about 425F in a convection oven.  Once puffed and light gold, turn the heat down to about 375F or 350F for convection to help them continue to set up, crisp up and dry out.  They should be a pretty deep golden brown when finished.  If your cream puffs deflate once you take them out of the oven, it’s because the sides aren’t firm enough to hold up the tops.  For small puffs, start at the higher temperature for about 15 minutes, and then reduce the temperature and continue to bake for at least another 15-20 minutes before you even open the oven to check on them.

What are the pastry chef secrets to getting a crusty muffin top? It’s no secret, or maybe it’s an open secret:  to get crusty muffin tops, put some stuff on top that will get crusty when baked.  Apply a decent layer of coarse sugar before baking, or pile on some streusel (with or without nuts), pressing down gently to make sure it holds together and sticks to the muffin.  And remember, bake muffins at a high temperature to get that nicely domed top–start them at 400-425F.  Seriously.

Sorry, Alex.  I can’t ask this in the form of a question, because I have no idea what it means:  April coats fruit.  Anyone?  Does the month really provide little coats to fruit?  I can just see a line of thin-skinned fruits waiting to receive their coats.  Or maybe April is a girl, and she’s coating fruit with….something.  Help me, please.

Is there an emergency substitute for Cool Whip? Hello, this is pastry 911.  What is the nature of your emergency?  I’m out of Cool Whip, and I need to top a pie!  Help me!!! Ma’am, calm down.  I can talk you through this.  Hurry!  Please, hurry!! Do you have your Emergency Cool Whip Substitute box?  Yes!  I’ve never had to use it before!  Oh, please help me!!! Okay, ma’am.  Break the glass with the wee mallet and grab the Sacred Pint of Whipping Cream.  Okay.  I’ve got it.  Oh, it’s cold! Yes, ma’am.  It whips better that way.  Whip it with some sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Oh, it’s getting thicker!  It’s magic! No ma’am.  It’s a foam.  Steady…..steady….is it standing up in peaks?  Uh huh.  Is it….edible? Yes, ma’am.  We recommend it over Cool Whip, actually.  Wow.  I had no idea.  Crisis averted.  Hey, this stuff isn’t half bad! We’re here to help.  Don’t forget to restock your ECWS box.

What can I do with duck lard? Thank you, Lord, for people who ask such questions.  First, lard comes from pigs, so not so much on the duck lard.  But, use duck fat in savory pastry, or be really over the top and fry your french fries in it.  Now I’m thinking–duck and fruit is a lovely combination.  Try making a pie crust with duck fat and use it for a sour cherry pie.  Sweet!

How do I make holes in pie crust? Oh, dear.  I assume they mean for venting steam.  Um, cut some holes. O:je soudo udi couehe.  Oh, sorry.  My eyes rolled Heavenward for a moment.  I’m okay now; thanks for asking.

Can I use spray whipped cream instead of regular whipped cream for stuff? I wouldn’t.  I don’t mind an occasional spray of Reddi Wip on a bowl of fruit or a piece of pie (although it does contain corn syrup, artificial flavor [um, it’s cream–what up?] and carrageenan [for body, I assume]), but it’s made with light cream, so if you try and fold it into something else, say melted chocolate for making mousse or something, it will break down into a liquid-y mess.

How do I make ground graham cracker crumbs? Weioj diujo ohghb vii o;auwo.  Iowej?!  Translation:  take graham crackers.  Grind them up.

And that’s it for this month’s round up.  I have a Sunday Supper post lurking in the wings.  I might get to it today, but the Beloved and I have a date with the New Spock and Kirk, et al, so it might not happen until tomorrow.

There’s Something Here for Everyone (even if I didn’t plan it that way)

10 Mar
Oh dear, I see I have more work to do

Oh dear, I see I have more work to do

I am addicted to statistics.  I have to work from home; if I didn’t, I would be fired for checking my blog statistics once every 9.7 seconds.  It’s bad, but there you have it.  I have recently become fascinated by How People Find Me.  Not surprisingly, the more I blather about disparate topics, the more folks end up here by searching.  Stands to reason–the more posts I publish, the more key words.  The more key words, the more ways to find me through searching.

It seems like my most off-the-wall posts are attracting the most attention.  I post about Little Miss Minced Fish, and I am inundated by folks searching for “tv commercial about minced fish,” “you feed me minced fish commercial” and “you feeding me minced fish.”  I am not making this up.  I post about butterscotch pudding, and I can’t tell you how many folks wandered by searching for “soft food for the teethless/toothless.”  Yes, really.

Some of the ways I “get found” are disturbing, and some make me laugh.  Some make me laugh uncomfortably.  Here, I have compiled a list for you:

  • Alternative to Cool Whip Do people really have to search for that?  I guess so.  If we are to believe that picture up there, Cool Whip is sold as a food group unto itself.
  • How much does a pound of sugar cost? I love questions like this.  It means folks are thinking.  The answer, based on $3/5 pounds, is about 60 cents
  • “sea” related pastries I have no idea what this means.  Wedding cakes with a shell motif?  Fish cookies?  Salt water taffy?
  • caramelized pastry savory pie recipe I’m not sure what they’re talking about, but I’m going to make one.  Maybe a chicken pot pie with a deep golden brown crust?  Perhaps a lamb pie?  Oh, that would be nice!
  • sorbet brix Remember the egg test?  I’m still underground for giving that one away!
  • the coolest cookbook ever Yup.  Covered that one.  Some of you guys told me what your favorites are, too.
  • creme anglaise over hot water bath I figure they wanted to know if you have to make/how to make creme Anglaise in a double boiler.  It depends on how patient you are and how maniacally you are able to whisk.  I am an impatient whisking maniac, so I do it over direct heat.
  • how to make whipping cream from scratch First, get some magic beans.  No, that’s wrong.  First, buy a cow.  Next, milk it.  Make sure it is a Girl Cow, or things will go Poorly for you.
  • muffin tunnels This one makes me smile–short and to the point.  They could have searched  “how do I keep from getting these infernal tunnels in my muffins,” but they were succinct and I appreciate that.  I hope they found what they were looking for.
  • how to spread cream cheese icing on cupcakes Um….you just kind of do it.  I’m not sure how to respond to this.  Dip cupcakes in icing and twist firmly?  Use a trowel?  Pack it on with a wet hand?  Oh, dear…
  • puff pastry cobbler This is a wonderful idea.  Yes–top your fruit with puff pastry to make an easy cobbler.
  • how many cans of whipped cream until you Until you WHAT?  Explode?  Get sick? Don’t leave me hanging like…
  • stop pie shrinkage Now, this person has a sense of humor.  I hope they enjoyed themselves here.
  • cake decorating cool whip Just say no.  Walk away from the cool whip.  Try searching “alternative to Cool Whip”
  • nature vs nurture bisexuality I have no idea.  I know I wrote about nature versus nurture, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get into sexual preference.  Perhaps in a fugue state?
  • is tahini okay for pregnant women Um, I don’t know.  I wouldn’t give up hummus if I were pregnant.  Anyone?
  • how to make cool whip from whipped cream Impossible.

And there you have it.

So as not to just amuse myself with this post but to also offer something that might actually be useful to you guys, I will now take some questions from The Gallery.

What is the most versatile item in the pastry kitchen? That is debateable.  Cake layers are pretty versatile, as is pastry cream.  I’m going out on a limb with:  meringue.  Master meringue, and you can make buttercream, angel food cake, macarons, lady fingers, mousse, souffles and Pavlova.  I’m sure there are more uses for it, as well, but those are the ones that came to me off the top of my brain.

Name some great flavor combinations. strawberry, mint and basil; honey, lemon and tea; vanilla, cherry and a judicious amount of lavender; caramel, onion and apple (okay, maybe not for dessert); coconut, rum and banana; coffee, orange and chocolate; the floor is now open for more ideas

What makes food amazing? Well, that narrows it down.  Amazing, fresh ingredients make amazing food.  Sound cooking technique makes amazing food.  And contrast–in flavors, colors, textures, temperatures–makes for amazing food.  Also, almost any food on a stick is amazing.  Again, the floor is open.

Actually, the floor here is always open for a good cooking/baking discussion, so say what you have to say and we can all learn something new!

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