While doing my usual rounds of the food blogs, I came across a banner that intrigued me: it was from BlogHer, asking us (you?) if marketing to women is all about stereotypes. I couldn't quite remember the content of the articles I read from that link, but one writer was lamenting about a sparkly pink candy "just for the ladies" (I can't remember if this is the article I read about the controversial candy bar called "The Finger") while another one, about a "misguided laptops-for-women site." I found myself agreeing with the content of the articles, and of course I am for gender-neutral advertising, for the most part. But don't think men have been dealt a better hand.
Just watching a local cable network here, "Maxx" (probably your equivalent would be SpikeTV, Americans), where I get my daily dose of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, all the ads are geared towards men. The tagline is "get away with it." Away with what? Oh, watching extreme sports, bikini-clad computer-generated anime females that I hope are meant to be older than 21, references to wanking, beer, infidelity, pugilism, poker, and yes, we prefer women to be dumb (and biting their nails for some reason). Why is The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (among other comedy shows) here? Because laughter apparently requires testicles.
On the other hand, you have the Hallmark Network (a subsidiary of Lifetime Television), where there is a ribbon threaded through every ad, and comedy is channeled through "The Nanny" (which I actually like-- before they got married). While I was at the gym, a Lifetime movie was playing, and I think I have the necessary elements down pat:
1. lead character is a woman
5. regret in life
6. road trip
8. neglectful man
9. "don't you just wish you could... break out/let loose?" is uttered
14. someone gets wet in the rain
In my movie's case, 1 is Dany Delany and 2 is Doris Roberts.
So, do we ask for these stereotypes? Do we enjoy them? Are pink ponies on your laptop or monster trucks merely us trying to fill some need in our childhood? Why can't advertising agencies get over the fact that we aren't boys and girls any longer? Well, to answer the question of the banner-- yes. Advertising is all about stereotypes and demographics! They wouldn't have been hired if they didn't know their markets (well, apparently they took it too far). But then again, I wonder how bland a world that is truly gender-neutral would be...
ANYWAY. I know it's only ridiculously hot in some areas, but let's be thankful for small favors, people getting rained on :) Amazon has an ongoing promo-- up to 40% off on select ice cream makers. My favorite models (from Cuisinart, arguably the best home ice cream maker makers) are included.
Check out the blackberry swirl ice cream and maple-walnut ice cream I made, both from The Perfect Scoop.
This recipe is again from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tartine. I recently reviewed it over at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf, finally!
Now, this is one of my favorite recipes from Tartine-- I have served it three times and it always elicits a satisfying gasp from the crowd. It is undeniably feminine in its prettiness, but watch as your elegant guests plow through it like hobos. The chiffon cake recipe from the book is a keeper-- never flopped once, and it is delightfully soft, light, and mild. For my peeps in the South, check out Lisa's post on Steamed Gingerbread Pudding coming early next month.
Summer Fruit Bavarian adapted from Tartine
- 160g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 150g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 55g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 88g (6 tablespoons) water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- small pinch cream of tartar (1/8 teaspoon if you must)
Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan or ring (at least 2-1/2 inches high) with parchment paper cut to fit exactly; don't grease the pan. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, baking powder, and 125g (1 cup and 2 tablespoons) sugar until combined. Sift the flour over this, at the same time whisking until very smooth.
In another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Add the remaining 25g (2 tablespoons) sugar slowly while beating on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. Add a third of the egg whites and fold into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the rest of the whites until just combined.
Pour the batter into the pan and spin it around to flatten the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once completely cool, run a thin knife around the sides and invert onto your hand (a little crust loss is okay since it'll be covered with cream, but you may also invert onto a sheet of parchment sprayed with baking spray if you wish), then place right-side up on a platter. Measure the height of the cake and split it horizontally into two layers of equal height. Carefully separate the layers (I used the bottom of a tart pan).
Bavarian: prepare the pastry cream in advance, or earlier in the day to give it time to cool.
- 250g (1 cup) milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- small pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 58g (4-1/2 tablespoons) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 27g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon gelatin
- 1/2 tablespoon water
- 250g (1 cup) heavy cream, very cold
Make the pastry cream: In a small saucepan, add the milk and scrape the vanilla caviar into it, then throw the pod and salt in. Heat the milk gently, whisking constantly, until small bubbles start to appear on the sides. Remove from the heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg until a paste is formed. Pour the milk into the paste in a thin stream, whisking madly all the while. Return this to the saucepan and place over low heat, constantly whisking until the bubbles just disappear, about a minute. Immediately remove from the heat and place into a cool bowl. When it comes down to about 60°C (140°F), whisk in the butter until incorporated. Leave to cool completely, then place cling film flush against the surface and place in the fridge.
In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes. Take 60g (1/4 cup) of the pastry cream and heat it in a microwaveable bowl at LOW in 10-second intervals, or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water until it is hot to the touch. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin water until smooth. Whisk in half the remaining cold pastry cream until well-combined, then the remaining pastry cream.
Whip the cream using a cold bowl and beaters until it holds medium-stiff peaks, then fold in the pastry cream mixture.
- 85g (slightly more than 1/2 cup) berries-- I used raspberries
- 25g (2 tablespoons) sugar
- pinch of salt
Combine the three ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- 150g (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) heavy cream, very cold
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 285g (10 oz or a pint) berries or cherries, or 340g (12 oz) peaches, apricots, or nectarines, or any mixture of both
Whip the cream and sugar using a cold bowl and beaters until it hold soft peaks.
Use an 8" cake ring or springform pan to assemble. Line the sides with plastic wrap, or as I did, a strip of food grade acetate. Place a cake board cut to 8" diameter on the bottom, then the bottom layer of cake. Brush this with half the fruit puree. Spoon on half the filling, then arrange the fresh fruit over this (if using strawberries, start with the sides, using halved strawberries). Dump the remaining filling over this, using an offset spatula to go over the surface to make sure there are no large air pockets. Place the top layer of cake over this push lightly over the top to compress the filling. Moisten the top layer with the remaining fruit puree. Frost the top with the sweetened whip cream, taking care not to bleed the color of the puree into it (spoon the cream over the whole surface, then fix it with an offset spatula). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Unmold and remove the plastic wrap or acetate before serving.