Rise Up x3! Sweet Braided Easter Bread

bread, baking, easter

Braided Easter Bread

As Easter approaches, many of us ponder our faith. And, since this year Passover and Easter coincide, more of us are taking time to think about what it all means.

I went to a super Catholic university somewhere in the middle. Like a school where students were encouraged to attend any one of the 26, yes 26, masses held between Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 6pm. A university where the Old Testament was studied as a history and taught (at the time) by the sole interpreter of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A school where a gentleman caller might ask you on a date to mass – this was a big deal.

Back then, the student body was pretty homogenous – I think it was something in the neighborhood of 90+% Christian and of that over 80% Catholic. Being surrounded by mostly Catholics and beer, oh and nickel purple passions, led to some more than riveting late night philosophical discussions and revelations about Jesus.

One such late night post purple passions or quarter beers we engaged in the most philosophical of all discussions about God and Jesus. So many questions. We all wondered was Jesus really the son of God? Did he really rise from the dead?

After much discussion, my very wise roommate summed it up perfectly for all of us. She said: I don’t know if Jesus was the son of God or rose from the dead. All I know is that Jesus was a really good guy who said a lot of really good things that lasted a really long time.

Makes sense.

One thing that I am certain will rise – and rise three times – is this sweet, braided Easter bread.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Clean as you go and reuse your prep bowls – you can temperate your eggs in the same measuring up that you used to measure your flour
  2. Active Yeast and Instant Yeast can be used interchangeably – I know because I Googled it
  3. Set aside enough time as while Jesus took three days to rise, this bread requires 90 minutes to rise and then 45 minutes to rise again

Sweet Braided Easter Bread (serves a whole bunch of people of any faith)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cups Whole Milk – since I don’t drink milk, I keep little Stop and Shop single serve milks on hand – they last forever in your pantry until opened, and then a few days in your fridge
  • 5 TBSPs of Sugar – I use Domino Sugar – always have, always will
  • 1 3/4 TSPs of active dry yeast…but I couldn’t find that – so used Instant Yeast. Also – 1 3/4 TSPs is LESS than 1 packet…so, yes, you have to measure it out
  • 2 Large Eggs at room temperature – you must temperate your eggs
  • 2 1/3 C of Flour– now, the recipe actually called for 2 3/4 Cups…but I screwed up and used less – it was all fine – there was math, but an Easter Miracle made everything OK
  • 1 TSP Kosher Salt – because we welcome all religions – The Morton Salt is good and less expensive than those designer Kosher brands…
  • 1/2 C = 1 Stick unsalted butter softened and sliced…I only had salted butter so I just used less Kosher Salt
  • Some melted butter
that's all you need for an Easter miracle

that’s all you need for an Easter miracle – I didn’t even realize that the Yeast package was using my photo of perfectly braided bread

1. In a small sauce pan, gently heat the milk over a low flame to 115 degrees – this happened super quick – so watch it. I used a candy thermometer, but any thermometer will do

Gently heated to 115 degrees -I used my candy thermometer to check

Gently heated to 115 degrees -I used my candy thermometer to check

2. Pour the heated milk into a 2 Cup measuring cup and stir in 1 TBSP of sugar and add the yeast – check out my awesome tiny Le Creuset rubber prep bowl! Whisk it all together.

baking bread recipe easter

Adding Instant Yeast (use like Active Yeast) from little rubber Le Creuset prep bowl

3. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk together

Make sure your eggs are at room temp!

Make sure your eggs are at room temp!

4. Once combined – set aside and wait for the first rise – the yeast will activate and make the mixture all foamy – this takes about 5 – 7 minutes

Rise #1 - foam forms

Rise #1 – foam forms

5. In the mean time – combine the flour, remaining 4 TBSPs of sugar and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer with the bread attachment. This was the debut for my bread attachment!

I've never used the bread attachment before. Love my KitchenAid!

I’ve never used the bread attachment before. Love my KitchenAid!

6. Pour in the foamy once risen mixture and begin to mix over medium speed

Wet into dry - always

Wet into dry – always

7. Slowly – one pat at a time – add in the butter

I love these Land O' Lakes 1/2 sticks. Butter must be softened and sliced.

I love these Land O’ Lakes 1/2 sticks. Butter must be softened and sliced.

8. Jack up the mixer to medium/high and let the kneading begin – knead on med/high for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth!

Silky Smooth! Sticky, but silky smooth

Silky Smooth! Sticky, but silky smooth

9. Transfer the dough into a bowl brushed with melted butter.

Love my little brush

Love my little brush

10. Brush the top of the dough with even more butter, cover and set aside for the second rise – about 90 minutes in a warmish place – Dough should double in size – makes me wonder – did Jesus get bigger?

patience, bread recipe, easter

Rise #2 – brushed with butter and covered. Now, wait for it….

11. After the miracle second rise has occurred – Put some flour in a tiny bowl and dip your hands in! The dough is sticky- so flouring your hands will help.

12. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Form each into a long loggish shape and set on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper and lightly floured. Now, since I didn’t use enough flour from the get go – I was more generous with the flour here.

Ready to braid

Ready to braid

13. Pinch one end of each log together and braid away!

Braided and Ready for rise #3

Braided and Ready for rise #3

14. Cover the beautifully braided dough with Saran Wrap and set aside for the third and final rise – Wait 45 minutes

Risen and Ready to bake

Risen, butter brushed and Ready to Bake

15. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

16. Remove the Saran Wrap from the bread and brush it with butter before placing in the oven

17. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaf is 190 degrees.

18. Slice and Eat!

bread, baking, easter

Braided Easter Bread

This tasty bread takes some time but is well worth it. And, while I’m no artist – I think the braiding is impressive. I mean it’s no miracle – but, this Easter weekend it did rise three times.

I’m still not sure what I believe (sorry Mom). But, when I question what it all means I always revert to the wise albeit boozy words I heard so long ago – No matter how you slice it, Jesus was a really good guy, who said a lot of really good things that lasted a really long time. Much longer than this sweet Easter bread will last, indeed.

Snow! Snow! We Can Eat Again! – French Toast

french toast breakfast recipe french bread

Perfectly Browned

I have to tell you, I kinda love a good snow storm. OK, I don’t really have to go anywhere today – so, maybe it’s easier for me. I still get that ‘maybe school will be canceled tomorrow’ excited feeling the night before. I even slept with my shades up last night so that I could see the white stuff falling when I woke. True.

During one snow event when we were little, as the heavy snow came down, my sister proclaimed: ‘SNOW! SNOW! We can eat again!!!’ (You, my follower(s) may now really think we were starved as children…no – maybe just food obsessed)

cinnamon sugar shakers snow

Filled with yummy goodness – ours was yellow and plastic – but served us well.

What my sister was talking about was the cinnamon-sugar-snow-bowls my mother would let us make with fresh snow.

We’d take a bowl out to the backyard, scoop up some snow, cover it with a tasty mix of cinnamon and sugar from a bear-shaped shaker and down it while watching the snow fall.

Yum. Pretty sure parents wouldn’t let kids do that anymore – what with the acid rain, pollution and potential dog pee, peanut allergies, Lyme disease etc.

I don’t know what it is about a good storm that makes me what to eat more. It sometimes even drives me to bake – see chocolate chip cookies. Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that all of the potential weight gain will be well concealed by the eskimo-like attire I’ll be forced to wear if I venture out…maybe.

Last night I made Pot Roast – a truly hearty meal in preparation of the storm.

This morning it was French Toast (serves 2).

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You can use slightly staled bread – you know you have some in your microwave or even freezer
  2. There’s no substitute for real maple syrup and there’s no excuse for serving cold syrup

Ingredients:

  • vanilla french toast snow

    The Good Stuff

    2 Eggs

  • 2 TBSP whole milk/cream – ok, I only had 2%, but the fattier the milk, the better
  • 8 slices of left over french baguette or 3-4 slices of bread – whatever you have. I had left over from the Baguette I bought yesterday at Fairway – best bread.
  • 1/2 TSP of  Good Vanilla – I just got the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar stuff at Williams-Sonoma during a post-holiday sale
  • Butter
  • Real Maple Syrup

Directions:

1. In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk together with the milk and vanilla

2. Slice about 7-8 slices of last night’s baguette and dump them in the eggy mix – I soaked the first 5…then the rest for batch 2.

french toast recipe breakfast

French Toast Soak

3. Let them soak for a bit – especially if you went the baguette route. Flip ’em over and soak ’em until they’re soft but not overly soggy

4. Heat a skillet on medium and throw some butter in there – it’s snowing, you can use all the butter you want, it won’t count. Plus the butter adds flavor and will help brown your breakfast.

5. Put the eggy soaked breads in the skillet. Be patient.  Wait to flip until there’s a lovely brownness on one side – you can sneak a peek to check for brownness.

french toast breakfast browned

This is the right amount of brownness

6. While waiting – heat your syrup – just nuke it for :20 seconds or so. I mean, what’s the sense of serving a warm breakfast if you’re going to ruin it with cold syrup. Seriously!

7. Flip the deliciousness and cook the second side until equally brown

8. Serve with warm syrup and butter

Every time it snows I can hear my sister’s voice – maybe she’s giving me permission to eat all I want until the storm passes. Maybe she’s just reminding me of how delicious life was with a bowl of cinnamon-sugar-snow. Either way, I’m heeding her message – Snow! Snow! We Can Eat Again!

Secret Mushrooms: Thanksgiving Stuffing with Morels

stuffing thanksgiving morel mushroom

Perfect Thanksgiving Plate

Everyone has a food or two that they just won’t eat. I, for example, do not eat raisins (yes, I eat grapes) or chopped coconut. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an occasional Pina Colada and am happy to drink coconut milk. I just can’t stand the texture of raisins or raw coconut – no macaroons for me.

Some time ago, I was dating someone who refused to eat mushrooms of any kind. Seriously? We were on the verge of spending Thanksgiving together and his aversion to mushrooms put me in quite a conundrum. I mean, I had been making the Turkey and Stuffing for Friends-Giving since I was in college and had really perfected it.

And part of that perfection is morel mushrooms, the bacon of the mushroom family, and a key ingredient in my Thanksgiving stuffing. I had a difficult decision to make….Eliminate the mushrooms? Make two separate batches of stuffing? Or, just don’t tell him and hope for the best.

Hmmmmm….This particular boyfriend had a career where knowing things and figuring things out were sort of important. Like part of his job and such.

Bacon Mushroom

Bacon Mushroom

What he might not have known is that Morels are prized by gourmet chefs around the world. In the US, they are known by many names including Hickory Chickens, Molly Moochers, Merkels and even Miracles. In our house growing up, we called them Bacon Mushrooms because of their smoky, rich flavor.

So, I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without morel mushrooms…I took the risk and I put them in and didn’t say anything. What? Like you’ve never done that?

Old School Stuffing with a Bacon-y Twist (serves 8)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You can make this the night before to save counter space and pots and pans on day of
  2. Dried morel mushrooms are tricky to find…But, Eve’s Garden on West 23rd St usually has them
  3. You can never have enough chicken stock on Thanksgiving

Ingredients:

  • pepperidge farm stuffing thanksgiving morel mushrooms

    Stuff It

    2 Medium Onions – diced

  • 4 – 6 Celery Stalks, peeled and diced
  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1/4 Cup of Rosemary – chopped small
  • 4 Slices Wheat Bread – cubed
  • 4 Slices Portugese or White Bread – cubed
  • 1 Bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
  • 1 oz Dried Morel Mushrooms
  • 1 Box of Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper

1. The night or two nights before, cube the white and wheat bread. Put into a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap. Poke some holes in the wrap and set aside. This will stale up the bread a bit. You can also just toast the cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes to crust it up a bit.

stuffing bread thanksgiving

Staling Up the Bread

2. Put the dried morel mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with chicken stock to rehydrate – this takes about an hour or less. I usually buy Whole Foods 365 brand Chicken Stock – it’s not any more expensive and very good.

3. Preparation – so important. Dice the onions and celery and finely chop the rosemary leaves.

4. Remove the morels from the chicken stock and rinse gently to remove any residual dirt

morel mushrooms thanksgiving stuffing

Rehydrated and Gently Rinsed Morels

5. Chop the morels into small pieces

dinner stuffing mise en place

Mise En Place – critical to a successful Thanksgiving

6. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt two sticks of butter – I use salted and then I don’t need to add more salt later

thanksgiving stuffing butter

Butter makes it Better

7. Add the onions, stir for about 2 mins and then add celery and cook until softened – about :10 minutes. You want the celery to maintain some of its crunch.

stuffing celery onions butter

Add onions about a minute or two before celery

8. Add the chopped rosemary and morel mushrooms and stir to combine

stuffing recipe thanksgiving

Add the rosemary and stir until fragrant

stuffing dinner recipe thanksgiving

Gently stir in the Magic Morels – Tastes Like Bacon

9. Add salt and pepper to taste – if you use salted butter and/or chicken stock with sodium, be sparing in any addition of salt

10. Pour in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and stir to combine and warm through

11. In a large bowl, combine 1 bag of Pepperidge Farms Herbed Stuffing and the cubed, staled bread

12. In stages…like 1/2 cup at a time…pour the buttery, oniony, celery, morel-y, rosemary, chicken stock-y mixture over the stuffing/cubed bread mixture.

Thanksgiving stuffing morel mushrooms

Add moisture in stages – you don’t want it soggy

13. Gently fold together the ingredients until moistened and combined. You don’t want the mixture to be soggy…especially if you are going to stuff your bird. The stuffing will absorb the juices from the turkey during the roasting process

14. Allow to cool entirely before stuffing in the bird. You can choose not to stuff the bird…but will miss out on the flavorization that the turkey juices provides to the stuffing

thanksgiving stuffing recipe

I stuff the top and bottom of the bird

15. Depending upon size of your bird, you will have extra stuffing. Put this extra in a baking dish and reheat prior to serving. You may need to add a little extra chicken stock to keep it moist and delicious. Remember anything not stuffed in the bird won’t benefit from the turkey juices.

Thanksgiving that year was a big success. The boyfriend ate the stuffing and never caught on to the secret mushrooms. I’m not saying lying is a good thing – it’s not. But, I just couldn’t give up my bacon-y morel mushrooms. Some secrets are worth keeping.

For other Thanksgiving Day tips see Talkin’ Turkey….

Cro-Nutting: The Privilege of a Great Houseguest

cronuts trader joe's frozen croissants dessert

Cro-Nutted Croissants

Cro-Nutting, v. The Art of Frying That Which Should Not Be Fried.

Truth – I don’t like to fry, deep fry, stuff in my apartment. A few good reasons…

  1. cronuts kitchen frying

    Coffee Tin

    It’s a bit messy and the hot oil can escape the cauldron and dirty surrounding cabinets and counters.

  2. When the frying is over and after you’ve overindulged in a good fried treat, you’re left with a large vat of used oil and no where to dispose of it…OK, you’re supposed to put in into an empty coffee tin and freeze it before throwing away…But, I think you have to go back to 1985 to find an empty coffee tin.
  3. The frying leaves a certain odor – note, not really aroma, but odor – in your tiny living space and on your furniture, walls, carpets, floors and towels.
  4. OH, yeah….and technically frying anything is super fattening.

So, I only fry during away games. Listen, I’m a great house guest. Someone even recently named me guest of the decade. I mean, I keep a clean room, cook, entertain people’s kids, run errands and always wash my sheets and towels before my departure. So, letting me do a little frying in your kitchen seems like a small price to pay.

On a recent visit to the middle – that space between New York City and LA where my brother and his people live – I decided to entertain my two favorite teenagers with a frying bonanza.

Prior to my arrival, I emailed the kids with some culinary options that we could deep fry in their large suburban kitchen.

But the only thing they wanted was….Cronuts, the croissant/donut hybrid that is all the rage in NYC right now, a treat that is not yet available in Cincy.

The attention span of any teenager is similar to that of an ant – even my incredibly intellectually advanced niece and nephew. So, I knew that creating cronuts from scratch wouldn’t be an option. I did some research and decided the best way to go would be to cronut frozen croissants from Trader Joe’s.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t deep fry in your apartment for reasons already outlined above
  2. Do be the best guest to earn the privilege to deep fry when guesting outside of the city

Cro-Nutted TJ’s Croissnts (servings…really, no one should eat any of these, so at a serving size of one bite, this’ll make about 24)

Ingredients:

  • trader joe's frozen croissants cronuts

    NOT mini

    1 Box Trader Joe’s frozen croissants – they come  8 to a box – AND the box says ‘Mini’…but, they are not mini

  • 1 Large Cauldron of vegetable oil – about 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep
  • 1 Candy Thermometer – I’ve been trying to find the one that has the temp taker attached to a long cord vs the glass one that clips to the side of the cauldron…but, haven’t found it yet. LMK if you have any ideas
  • 1 Fry Spider kitchen tool – readily available everywhere and a kitchen must
  • 1 Tub of Dolci Frutti Chocolate hard chocolate shell OR A Jar of Nutella Hazelnut Spread

1. The night before you want to make these ridiculously caloric and fat heavy treats…You have to take the frozen Trader Joe’s Croissants out of the package, separate, set on a plate and let sit out overnight. The frozen croissants magically rise while you’re sleeping and double in size – again, not mini

2. Pour 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil into a large, deep cauldron….Or big pot

3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. OK, maintaining 350 degrees is tricky – so, heat the oil higher, then turn it way down. Oil must be between 325 – 350, so keep checking that now dangerously hot glass candy thermometer that’s clipped to the side of the cauldron and adjust the stove as needed

4. Using a tiny (1 inch) biscuit cutter (remember, buy the full set of biscuit cutters that nest) cut the croissants into little bite-sized pieces

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Biscuit Cutters

5. Gently…very gently….using a spider or other good frying tool…lower the croissant cut-outs into the scalding oil

croissant cronuts trader joe's frying with kids

Gently frying away

6. Fry each side for about a minute – you’ll know when to flip cuz they brown up nicely

7. Remove the friedness from the oil and transfer to a paper towel to blot the excess oil – this is a step that just makes you feel better…but really, these are fried, so get over it.

cronut recipe trader joe's croissants

Fried Goodness – light, flaky and….FRIED

8. While frying, in the microwave melt up some of those Dolci Frutti chocolate shell chocolate chips

dolci frutti chocolate dip cronuts trader joe's

Find in Produce Section

9. Once the Cro-Nutted Croissants are quasi cooled – hand them along with the melty chocolate to your niece and nephew who can then spoon chocolate-y goodness over the deep fried delight

10. Eat….But eat only one, seriously

I always gain about 500lbs when I go to the middle…Or does just the fat go to the middle, whatever. But, you can’t put a price on entertaining kids with the art of deep frying. And, if you want to feel a little better, Cro-Nutted Croissants are technically vegetarian. Just remember to be a good guest and clean up. You don’t want to lose your fry-privileges.

Fact: Cooking With Kids Is A Ball

monkey bread cooking with kids

Most Fattening Thing Ever

As the little people (not short, but younger) in your life age, they become much more creative, interesting and culinarily challenging.

I’ve just returned from a weekend of kids-cooking in Cincinnati with my niece and nephew (oldest brother’s kids). I used to get away with simple recipes like pancakes and cupcakes and fried chicken… But, now the kids are older and demand more from our kitchen creations.

When my middle brother visits my niece and nephew, he entertains the kids with movie making, science experimentation, Harry Potter regaling and intellectual conversations. He’s a Potter Scholar, Science Junkie and PHD in Philosophy – please address him as ‘Dr. James’.

My visits, though, involve intricate meal planning, grocery list organization, food procurement, inspired baking and cooking.

It starts weeks in advance of my arrival. The kids are old now – 14 and 13. So, I email them proposed menus and we go back and forth via text and email in the days leading up to my visit to solidify a weekend’s worth of kitchen entertainment.

Several criteria for each creation must be met.

Firstly, the culinary endeavors must include an element of artistry.

The Hunger Games Katniss drawing

Katniss by Meggie

anniesdishlist icon

Colored in Post

My niece is an amazing artist – like really good. She gets it from my brother – actually, both brothers draw. I, on the other hand, can barely scratch out a stick figure.

In addition to my niece’s inspired cartoon characters – the AnniesDishList icon – she does incredible portraits.

Secondly…we must satisfy their yen for all things scientific.

nasa john glenn jim lovell astronauts

Real Astronauts

My nephew has been fascinated with science and space since birth. At 14 he has met John Glenn, been to Cape Canaveral, experienced Zero G and has already targeted three universities. Cal-Tech has a partnership with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (he’s visited) and preps students to join this elite group of scientists. Stanford has the leading research lab for his rare skin condition. And… MIT…because, well, it’s MIT.

dramatic dog cooking with kids

Broken Paw Act

Lastly, we like to layer in a hint of the dramatic. My people are a dramatic people. It’s genetic and inescapable. In my brother’s family, even the dog is dramatic. Unlike most dogs, their dog, Fred, hates going outside. The tiny hypo-allergenic pooch starts to shake with terror the moment he catches a glimpse of his harness and leash. Here’s a pic of the dog trying to avoid a trip out into the snow and cold by faking, yes faking, a paw injury. Apparently, the dog does this every time he’s confronted with the terror of venturing outdoors. Oy!

So the weekend kitchen challenges had to incorporate art, science and drama.

For snacks, we selected a spherical theme. (Everything below is like OTT fattening…don’t judge. They’re very thin, active kids).

Monkey Bread: artistic abilities tapped as we strategically placed dough balls in a pie plate.

monkey bread cooking with kids

Monkey Bread: Most Fattening Thing Ever

I’m not sure why it’s called monkey bread…It should maybe be called super fattening, sugary, buttery bread balls of gooey goodness. We carefully melted an entire stick of butter and then stirred in brown and white sugars and cinnamon. Once the sugars disolve, the resulting gooeyness is creatively poured over every inch of the dough balls before the entire thing is baked in the oven.

Next….Not too dramatic or scientific…but, creative and relatively goodish for the kids and satisfying our spherical theme…We made spinach party poppers. One might argue that the spinach element balanced out our not so healthy Super Bowl weekend indulgences of guac and chips, monkey bread, pancake breakfast etc. One might argue that for sure.

spinach balls appetizers

Parmesan Spinach Balls

Spinach Party Poppers. may be the best way to get kids to eat spinach. And, represented the vegetable portion of our weekend food fest.

Satisfying the scientific challenge was probably the toughest part. In advance of my arrival, my nephew had proposed a series of molecular gastronomy recipes (damn Internet). All of the recipes included ingredients you just can’t get at the local Kroger like Sodium Alginate, Agar-Agar and Calcium Lactate. Some of the recipes included tools not found in most kitchens like an ISI Whip or a Flux Capacitor…at least it may as well have called for one.

We tried to find what we needed. We even called every Brookstone in a 25 mile radius looking for the Molecular Gastronomy kit…And, some super gourmet organic-y food specialty store in Kentucky in hopes of finding any one of the necessary ingredients or tools. But, no go.

So…as we had no ISI Whip we improvised and used a medical syringe to create mozzarella balloons. In the end, the cheesy balloons were as simple as heating up the mozzarella in simmering water. Then wrapping the malleable cheese around the tip of a syringe and inflating the cheese with air. My nephew initially wanted to use my brother’s bike pump – but, if you’ve seen ‘This is 40’, you know no self-respecting 40-something biking enthusiast father would allow that.

molecular gastronomy

Mozzarella Balloon – syringe technique

These were pretty cool. In the Molecular Gastronomy recipe, one can fill the balloons with herbs, spices or other tantalizing aromas by infusing them through the ISI Whip….We were just happy to inflate the cheese and then proudly display the inflated cheese creation.

Meggie ItalyShane ItalyI like that the little people are like real people now. I’m a little biased, and they really are challenging, interesting, interested, funny, smart, creative great kids. In total over the course of three days, we made over 10 culinary creations. And, even though every dish might not have met the artistic, scientific, dramatic challenge, cooking with these two was really a ball.