Pistol Whipped Pastry

The Great Granola Bar Shipment

GranolaBars

 

It’s been a crazy week. We made, hand cut, wrapped, and labeled 6,300 granola bar samples. I am ever the optimist when putting together a project, but unfortunately, I grossly miscalculated how much time it would take to put this project together. Luckily, I have some amazing friends and a fantastic husband who all pitched in to help get the job done.

As we placed the last label and packed the last box, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I reveled in crossing the finish line by our new fire pit with a glass of wine, caramelized onion chicken breast, sautéed kale, fingerling potatoes and Mr. PC, before allowing the flood of new tasks lining up for this current week to infiltrate my mind.

GranolaBarsPacked

This is by far the largest order we have had, and yet when we are bogged down, we stray more to meals that are simple and fast. Usually a quick pop into a favorite restaurant or a jar of my family’s sauce that I’ve stocked up in the freezer tossed with some pasta and maybe a little protein and parm.

However, once we had finished, we turned our minds towards food. I wanted to sleep, and yet jump into my home kitchen and start making meals again. Meals I could linger over while sipping wine, nibbling on bits of veg while I chopped and tossed onto the pan for roasting.

PreppingAlmonds

In the interim, until I could get dinner on the table, we need something to snack on with our wine (for me) and bourbon – High West – with an ice sphere (for Mr. PC). Behold, a bulk bag of raw almonds and a garden lush with fresh rosemary. Massaged with a little olive oil, sprinkled with Maldon sea salt, and roasted till toasty. The perfect fireside snack, it is silly simple, but it was such a perfect nibble.

I love insanely thoughtful, simple, and delicious bar food, and these nuts are exactly what I want to graze on while have a leisurely drink by the fire with my hubs.

RosemaryRoastedAlmonds

Now, all I want to do is read the box of cookbooks that arrived on my doorstep in the middle of the great granola bar shipment, while eating roasted almonds.

Print

Salted Rosemary Roasted Almonds

Rachel Ellrich Miller

Ingredients:

1 1/2 # Almonds, Raw & Whole
2 TBSP. Olive Oil
3 Sprigs Rosemary, Fresh
Maldon Sea Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds on a parchment lined sheet pan. Massage olive oil and rosemary (remove the leaves from the stem by holding the top in one hand and sliding your hand down the stem with the other hand) into almonds, coating all throughly. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Roast for 10 minutes, pushing nuts around, and rotating pan. Then roast for another 5-10 minutes, until slightly darker and slightly golden inside.

Remove and cool. Pile into a bowl and serve warm with your cocktail or adult beverage of choice.

 

Seashells and Sand-Reckoner by the Seashore

Beach1

There is something about the beach that makes you want to write bad poetry about waves being metaphors for life, have a clam bake, and drink copious amounts of wine or coffee while plucking up seashells. The sound of water and gulls, the smell of sweet salty air, the waves crashing and rolling up to engulf your feet and the sand squishing between your toes.

I’m not a sun-worshiper. Being fair and freckled doesn’t make for good sunning. But hitting the beach at the tail-end of the season, is perfect. Less crowds, cooler weather, lots of long walks on the beach with Mr. PC, seashell hunting, and tumblers of wine sipped sitting in the sand, watching the water.

photo 7

Mr. PC signed us up for his family vacation to Corolla, North Carolina on Duck Island. In past years, when his aunt and uncle rent a beach house for a week, we have been unable to attend. This year, knowing my business is picking up and that he has some big projects that will prevent us from traveling, we made the trek to the east coast.

Beachcollage1

I baked a bit on this trip, stowing away a baking pan, scale, measuring spoons and microplane in my luggage. Cinnamon rolls, a German chocolate cake, and pineapple mojitos. It’s actually a lot of fun to go into a kitchen and not know what is in there, and then figure out how to make what you need without the typical tools. Some of the best restaurants or coffee shops I’ve worked at have been those that don’t have large budgets and where we have to get creative when it comes to tools or baking vessels. It pushes you to be inventive.

Everyone contributed a little. Paella was whipped up one night, someone brought BBQ from a restaurant in Memphis, others picked up pizzas and champagne. As each bottle of alcohol was emptied, they were placed up on window ledge in the living room, over the sliding doors – a remembrance to the good times had by all while partaking.

beachcollage3

Mostly, this trip let me recharge a little. I read magazines and cookbooks. Daydreamed new pastry and cooking class ideas. Walked on the beach with my hubby. Drank (we brought Sand-Reckoner, Pillsbury, Dos Cabezas, and Arizona Distilling Co. with us, so everyone could try some Arizona goodies. Well, and some Pistol Whipped Pastry of course!) and ate a massive meal of clam chowder, shrimp, and crab cakes. Slept. Climbed to the top of an old lighthouse. Realized after said climb what poor shape we are in. It was just the break we needed before coming home and diving into work.

beachcollage2

On this trip I met Mr. PC’s extended family. His cousins and their families were unable to make it to our wedding. Completely understandable, since everyone has busy lives and with a country between us, it can be challenging for all of us to get together. I was happy to finally meet everyone and have the opportunity to get to know his aunt, uncle and cousins better.

At the end of our journey, we ate the best soft pretzel and mustard (Lusty Monk) we’ve ever had at a brewery called Weeping Radish on the road back to Norfolk, Virgina. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. PC stashed a portion cup of the mustard into our carry on, which I found when unpacking later that night.

photo 9

Now we are home and the weather is becoming beautiful again here in Phoenix. Our suitcases are still laying on the floor half unpacked. My seashell collection is stilled wrapped in Mr. PC’s tshirts and stuffed inside the alcohol travel tubes. Mr. PC is busy with work, and I am knee-deep in lots of Pistol Whipped Pastry plans. The beach was fun, but back to the grind of work and life. It helps that I also have a case of Lusty Monk mustard coming our way. And I am still finding sand everywhere, even in the pockets of my favorite hoodie.

 

Daydream Monday, anyone?

PWPplums

 

Summers in Arizona for restaurants and bakeries or any hospitality business here is slow. Super slow. I assumed this would give me time to relax, daydream, and plan for the upcoming season. Yeah, not so much. I have been consistently busy planning and plotting with the odd job here and there, that I feel like I haven’t been able to spend much time playing with all my new ideas.

Mondays are my creative days. Well, I do office work too, but I give myself space to write recipes, test recipes, and flip through my cookbooks and mags that are piling up on my desk, and finally organize the bobs and bits around my messy office.

Daydream Mondays allow for endless cups of coffee, slices of leftover dark chocolate cake for lunch, and wine time arriving whenever the day demands and permits. Bowls of sweet plum slices for snack while catching up on emails or sorting through boxes of baking tools that will be used and abused this upcoming season. I don’t have to be anywhere or have to meet any deadlines. The day takes shape however I need it to, plus it’s alone time in my home office and kitchen to be by myself.

It’s simple and not the break I had hoped for, but the business is growing and starting to find its shape, and I am so grateful for this progress.

PWPWSArtisanMarket

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to Williams-Sonoma Biltmore for the Artisan Market. We love being able to do these events and spread the word about what we are doing at Pistol Whipped Pastry.

Happy Monday, friends!

 

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

A Willcox Weekend

WillcoxSunset2

Mr. PC and I are in love with Willcox, Arizona. The land stretches forever in every direction, with farms and vineyards lining the roads. People are kind, waving to us, even though they have never seen us and may never see us again. The main drag of downtown is slowly being revitalized with wine tasting rooms, and hopefully restaurants will follow.

The purpose of our trip was a going away party for our friend Simona. She has an amazing career as a wine maker, venturing around the world to different wineries, helping through the entire wine making process. We met Simona a few months ago when we went to Willcox to help our friends at Sand-Reckoner plant some vines (see story here).

SmoresBar

We brought a dessert bar with dark chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, a s’mores station (Simona had her first s’more and while a little too sweet for her, she did enjoy it), bourbon coconut rice pudding, and mason jars of lemon posset.

DessertBar

As everyone arrived at the Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room, a variety of dishes filled the table and full bottles of wine collected on the bar. There wasn’t a bad bit of food in the place. Citrus salad, grain salad, peaches baked with goat cheese, baked squash, marinated steak tacos, and Simona’s veggie lasagna.

CitrusSalad

 

RoastedPeaches

 

GrainSalad

Everyone sat outside eating, drinking wine, talking and watching the rain storms roll overhead. A beautiful weekend with lovely people.

WillcoxSunset

If you have the chance, get down to Willcox wine country and taste the beautiful wines they are making.

Simona, we will miss you! Safe travels on your next journey! xo

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

 

Wedding, House, And Building The Business

Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.
Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.

I married my love, Mr. PC. We tied the knot just over two months ago in a sunset ceremony surrounded by our family and close friends. While it was a beautiful day, we are still exhausted and attempting to recover.

I wish I could have spent more time with family and friends that came in from out of town. Everything went so quickly and the wedding day was a blur of hugs and quick conversations. I don’t feel like I was able to talk to everyone enough. Happily, I was able to at least speak with everyone who attended, but for me, it wasn’t enough. Now they are all home, we are moderately recovered, and I wish we had more time with our families and friends. Check out the lovely armadillo cake one of my best girlfriends made me over at my Sugar Rush column on Chow Bella.

Even though I was not allowed to make my own wedding cake, I still represented Pistol Whipped Pastry with some tasty cupcake treats for my family and friends to take with them as well as a dessert table at the rehearsal dinner. I wanted to give my out of town guests something from my bakery, plus, I love doing orders for dessert tables or dessert favors for weddings, and my wedding was no exception.

Cupcakes from our wedding.
Cupcakes from our wedding.

Of course, there is always drama when you put many different opinions into one space. I have chosen NOT to change my name at the present time. I like my name. I have a business and a career built on my name. Never did I think that it would matter to me, to change my name, until a couple months ago, when someone asked me if I was practicing signing my new name. I hemmed and hawed, caught off-guard at how much I didn’t want to change it. This has been my name for 31 years. I’m not ready to part with it just yet.

When we went to sign the marriage certificate after the wedding, the venerable female reverend told me that I HAD to change my name, because legally, my name is now that of my husband, and I could get into serious trouble with the law if caught with my maiden name on my license and social security card. My photographer frantically waved her hands and shook her head no behind the silver-haired reverend. It’s a great story to tell, and I eagerly wait being arrested by the police for not using my married name.

We hit the ground running after the wedding. Pistol Whipped Pastry is taking off and I am thrilled. Crazy busy. Somedays, I wish I could clone myself, but I am really excited about all the progress. We are booking events left and right, and I am getting to work with so many amazing people. Check out the new line of gluten free pastries I am doing at Kaleidoscope Juice. I’m writing for some fabulous publications, and being extended some amazing writing opportunities that I can not wait to share with you all.We bought a house in December, you know, because we haven’t done enough this year, yet. Life is good.

The recovery process after a wedding seems to involve the regaining of one’s appetite. I feel like I didn’t eat for about a month prior and during the wedding. My trainer was amazed at how quickly I was losing weight. “No appetite,” was not her favorite response. However, we are making up for it now, by eating good food.

It’s like I hit Suzie Homemaker mode this weekend, roasting a chicken, then making stock from the remains. Homemade chicken soup. Apples for applesauce gurgling away in cider on the stove. The windows opened. Prepping dinners for the week. It was the first time in a couple weeks I had cooked a homemade meal, and it was fully relaxing. As much as I love the precision and measurements of pastry, I equally love the dash-here-and-pinch-there of savory cooking as well.

Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.
Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.

I make chicken stock quite a bit, since I typically roast a chicken about every other week. I throw the whole chicken carcass into the stock pot, fill with water till just covered. Add a couple chopped carrots, some celery, an onion, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 4 hours. Make sure to skim off and discard the foam as it collects on the surface.

I strain my stock through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Store in deli containers in the freezer for use whenever needed.

With the proliferation of kale and other hearty leafy greens popping up from our local farmers, I have been chopping and tossing those greens in near the end of the soup making process.

Our new house is perfect. It’s exactly the amount of space we needed and in a great area, that is up-and-coming. I finally have a dedicated office to house my books, Pistol Whipped Pastry gear, and all the great photography gear & props I have been collecting.

I am loving the blank slate that is before me, daydreaming up how I want to decorate. I have already procured some paint samples, and have a pinterest board full of creative DIY ideas of how I want to organize and create my perfect workspace.

Over the next month I will be working on putting together my office space, and sharing it with you here. The challenge I am facing is the need for a lot of storage, but I don’t want it to look like I work in a storage room or a closet. With a growing collection of cookbooks and vintage cake stands, I want to be able to display them, but not feel overwhelmed in the small space.

OfficeBefore

I guess it’s time to open a bottle of wine and start painting the walls. Do people have such things as painting parties? Hmmm…

Seasons of Change or Change of Seasons

The past few months have been busy. The past few weeks have been insane! My latest and greatest news is that Pistol Whipped Pastry, my pastry business, is up and running!

website

 

We are generating interest and picking up some great clients, plus placing PWP products on the shelves at some fabulous local stores. PWP is looking at getting into some of the farmers markets soon. I will keep you updated on where you can grab some tasty PWP treats, and we hope to see you there.

PWPcollage

 

Mr. P.C. and I are in full wedding swing. That means eating better, which isn’t hard to do with all the gorgeous veg and fruit coming up at the farmers markets. I sat by the open window this weekend, and ate a pound of strawberries. The ruby strawberries were intended for a tart (err, eating better means fruit on your tart, right?), but once I bit into one, I knew they wouldn’t make it to my pastry.

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I have more strawberries coming this week, but this time, I will attempt to resist, so that PWP strawberry jam doesn’t suffer.

Are you enjoying the strawberries coming in? How are you eating them?

 

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