I wanted to get this done just in time for Holly's You Want Pies With That? blog event so I hauled ass and made this tart yesterday. I know I'd JUST promised during my last post to put the socio-political discourse on hold but I have a little bit here, if you're interested.
I don't know why I tuned to it from day one but Project Runway is a show that I make a point not to miss. I don't think the time will ever come when I'm able to actually make clothes (or even sew-- never done it before), but I like seeing creative people fly by the seat of their pants and actually come up with interesting, fantastic designs. Somehow my artistic spirit, which every now and then I believe I've killed for good with all my studying, gets a little inspired. A few months ago I even came up with a dessert (Temptation Tower) that was inspired by an avant-garde challenge on Project Runway (click here to see the dress). Granted it's a poor comparison but why don't you buy me the Benriner Turning Slicer, huh?
Ahem. Anyway, the fact that I even pay attention to clothes (well... Men's clothes) at all surprises quite a few of my friends because on a day-to-day basis I like to put on teh frump and just wear a white T-shirt (souvenirs from various places and events) and jeans (track pants if it's the gym) and my old, old sneakers. I credit being awakened to actual good taste by the now-defunct show Queer Eye, around 2004. Admittedly near the end of the series I didn't want to watch any more because I felt like I've already taken everything I could learn from them and I didn't need to be turned on to trends. I want my clothes to last a while! So, allow me to share my more characteristic pieces of clothing (deliberately shown in ugly light here) and a few tips, in case you're buying for a guy or something. Bleeagh.
I have what you call a "signature pattern." It's Susan's (of SGCC) most hated pattern, but I think it suits me well. My friends know that I love the gray and black "rugby stripes." Here I have a hoody, long-sleeved tee, and a variation on a theme.
T-shirts: the hem has to sit on the hip or maybe slightly lower or higher. Much lower than that and you have stumpy, higher and you have a good forecast for a full moon. We already know the horrible "clever" shirts like Federal Bikini Inspector, so save your money for designs you really, really like. (Here: Megaman shirt- a gift from my brother, Monopoly, Switchfoot, Gas, Yerba Buena ice skating rink souvenir.)
Same rule goes for polo shirts. Notice that the first one is yet another rugby stripe. It's from Spanish company Springfield, one of my favorite places.
Regular shirts. The two heavily striped ones are from Springfield and the checkered Oxford shirt is from United Colors of Benetton. Don't buy shirts that are bigger in case you gain weight, or smaller in the hope of losing weight. Chances are they will be sitting in the closet for a long time, until the design becomes stale. Weirdly, Marks & Spencer designs shirts that are too blousy (large on the body and sleeves) even at the smallest size for me, but really tight on the neck. It's flattering because I consider my neck too skinny, but maybe it's just all my oxygen being cut off.
Two more shirts, the fore from Polo Garage and the back from Springfield. Military-style seems a tad too embellished for me, but it looks and feels good, so I gave it a pass.
Coat with detachable polyester vest inside from Spanish company Zara, at half-price. So it came down to $73-- two pieces for the price of one. I'd only buy things that are on sale if I would still buy them full-priced.
Two suits, one charcoal gray and one navy pinstripe. Latter is essential for a shorter guy like me. They fit snugly on the waist, because otherwise, what's the point?
Long-sleeved tees. From fore to back: Buffalo (Canadian Company), Penshoppe (local), Nike, souvenir shop in Brussels.
Leather jacket from Florence. Somehow it stretched a little so it's a little large on me, but with appropriate layering maybe I can make it look on-size.
Shirts that are only $4, from a local company (American Blvd.).
Sweater I bought in El Segundo on sale, for $16. Now that you've seen two of my shirts that have video game references AND this, it should be very clear that you're talking to a more-or-less enlightened nerd. I don't care.
I have a few ties but this is the only one with character, from British company Topman.
... And now I can't believe I just showed you all that. But I wanted to keep in theme. Anyway, the important points are:
1. It's not quantity, it's quality
2. It's not price, it's quality
3. It's not the embellishments, it's quality
4. If it doesn't fit well NOW, it's as good as garbage.
Happy Holiday shopping!
Panna Cotta Tart
When I saw a similar tart as I peeked in Martha Stewart's Cooking School at the bookstore, of course I marveled at the styling (it is Martha Stewart after all). But more than anything I felt inspired to make patterns on the smooth white surface. Unfortunately, I fucked it up so I coated the whole thing with glacage I had in the freezer, then I fucked it up AGAIN. Argh. Almost did not post from the ugliness. But here it is after a harrowing recovery. And I'm glad I did because it was such a rich, delicious dessert. Inspiration is from Project Runway season 3: Black and White challenge, and this dress by Laura Bennett in particular. Since I also pieced this together from my head, I'm submitting it to Culinarty's Original Recipe Roundup.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter with the salt until pale and creamy. Sift in the confectioner's sugar and continue beating until well-combined. Add the egg yolk and beat until combined. Sift in the flour and stir until there are no longer traces of unmoistened flour, and no more than that. Press into an 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Cover with a greased piece of foil, grease side against the tart shell, and freeze for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and bake the shell for 25 minutes, still with the foil on. Remove the foil and bake for a further 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, brush the bottom surface with the melted chocolate and place in the fridge to set.
Yogurt Honey Panna Cotta
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan (if desired, you can steep vanilla or cardamom pods in the cream as it cools, just strain it afterwards). Take off the heat and whisk in the yogurt and the honey. Dissolve the gelatin by heating in the microwave at LOW for 15 seconds or over a double boiler. Stir into the cream. Let it cool at room temperature and pour it into the tart shell, leaving a few mm space for the cocoa glaze. Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
Cocoa Mirror Glaze
Follow the recipe as directed here (I simply used my excess-- it can be thawed from the freezer with little loss of quality). Pour over the set panna cotta and leave in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
White Chocolate Ganache
Bring the cream to a boil in a small bowl in the microwave. Pour over the chocolate and stir gently to melt the chocolate. Let it thicken slightly as it cools at room temperature, then load it into a piping bag, parchment cone, or small plastic bag with the corner snipped off and pipe a design over the glaze.
Page from the Springfield catalog, Fall/Winter 04/05 Collection, which was so freaking excellent I kept it for ideas. The model's hair is quite fantastic, but each time I get one of those from the barber's, it only takes 2 days before my hair becomes annoying again.