bakery

Rosemary Vegan + GF Biscuits with Rachael


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It's not often that I get the surreal and wonderful experience of photographing another photographer, but that is exactly what happened earlier this month for my latest food story with photographer turned baker extraordinaire, Rachael Lee. 

Like so many of us artists, Rachael has found it hard to stick to just one avenue of expression.  She often shoots portraits and weddings but has been exploring her passion for writing and baking recently through the release of her very first cookbook called "Flour for Thought", which is a collection of vegan and gluten free recipes and poems. 

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As I hopped over to her kitchen, she was working on the first of many batches of snacks for her book release party and I had the opportunity to see her rosemary biscuits in action and capture some snack making for a really important and momentous occasion.  If she was nervous about her book release, she never showed it for a second.  Ever the hospitable host, Rachael poured me a cup of coffee, introduced me to her tiny pup and got to work on the dough. 

One of my favorite parts of these food stories is seeing how people get started, how they arrange their ingredients and the way they use their hands.  I hear from so many people that they are nervous to be seen working a dough or mixing with their hands, as if it somehow looks unprofessional or messy.  To me, it's the sweetest moment, where one sees a person really interact with their creation and put a little bit of themselves into it.  Basked in the sunlight of her wonderfully vintage kitchen Rachael and I got to talking as the biscuits took shape.

Here's a little bit from her in her own words about the importance of these special biscuits.

"Something new woke up inside of me this year...my heart began to ache and long for things that it had previously given up on. Things like community, seasons, and being nourished. Food has a lot to do with history, legacy, and what is passed down from generation to generation. Our ingredients and recipes can be a deeply intimate record of who we loved and how we lived. That being said, my work on my poetry cookbook (Flour for Thought) led me to a newfound discovery that there has been a beautiful history of strength in the women of my family -- strength that came from pain. And while I adopted these powerful habits of independence and fearlessness, I had to become self-taught at what it means to be soft.

Living in a large city like Los Angeles doesn't always make the gentleness easy. It's massive and sprawling and makes us prone to disconnecting. In a world that has become loud and a culture with more noise than we can decipher, we have to become our own teachers, physicians, and spirit guides. It is crucial, now more than ever, that we learn to nurture ourselves and each other. It is our duty here.

These vegan rosemary buttermilk biscuits are one of my favorite ways to cut out the noise and create "home." This recipe is straight from my book and I hope it inspires you."

The biscuits get kneaded and patted out.

The new little biscuit shapes are popped onto a tray and prepped for baking.

We relax for a moment, sip some coffee and talk about the ever changing landscape of photography.  Though the world can certainly be stressful and heavy, in these brief little windows, in a bright kitchen on a lazy morning, it's so comforting to be just two women, doing what we love, sharing and hanging out.

The oven lets us know our biscuits are ready and it's time for their close up!

Seriously, look at those beauties!

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After a quick quality control taste test, it's confirmed- Rachael's rosemary gluten free vegan biscuits are a success! 

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You can find out more about Rachael on her blog at: rachaelleestroud.com or her photography at: rachaelleephoto.com where I hope you will snatch up a copy of her cookbook and poetry book for youself!

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Happy snacking everyone,

xoxo

RP

 

Mooncakes: Mid-Autumn Festival in Echo Park


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Sorry this is a little late but I wanted to share a new food experience from last week.

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is traditionally a harvest festival centered around the full moon.  This year it took place around the full moon of October 4th.  Originally celebrated in China and Vietnam, it has spread to many parts of Asia and found some attention from communities in the United States as the diaspora of tradition unfolds.   The Mid-Autumn Festival seems to mean a little bit of a different thing to each community but the major ideas are family, gathering together and celebrating the harvest.  One of the shared treats of this festival are Mooncakes.  

These small cakes are stamped with intricate designs and filled with a variety of flavors like red bean, lotus paste, and mixed nuts, and often have one or two egg yolks in the center, which are sometimes salted duck yolks.  Most commonly these cakes are circular with a flour crust and have imprints special to the bakery or relevant to the festival, but in some places are made of a jelly type exterior.   There are such a range of types and specialties, from sweet to savory they are a beauty to experience.

In my Mooncake mission I sought out some advice and was recommended to a great bakery in my neighborhood.  I can't tell you how many times I must have driven by not knowing what was inside, but was thrilled to stop in and see.  Kien Giang Bakery (1471 Echo Park Ave) was in an incredible flurry of mooncakes!  They had beautiful gold tins of different flavors stacked up, and a bakery shelf full of different individual variations.  Since I was the only one snacking I tried to exercise the smallest restraint but it was basically impossible, there were so many things to taste!  I settled on two "mini" mooncakes without egg, one lotus paste and one mixed nuts and a full sized, special flavor Abalone and mixed nuts  which had one yolk inside.  If you still have time to go bakery hunting I'd highly recommend checking out this spot!


Lotus Paste and Mixed Nut "Minis"



Abalone and Mixed Nut with One Yolk


These little cakes were sweet, dense and hearty, one slice packs a punch!  It is reccomended to eat them with tea to balance the flavors.  The yolk was not overpowering and added a nice savory quality.  The abalone cake was sweet with a light taste of the ocean.  I think the lotus paste was my favorite out of all of them but one thing is for sure, these little cakes are a beauty to behold!

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Happy Mid-Autumn festival everyone! 

xoxo,

RP

 

For everyone interested:

Kien Giang Bakery, Inc.
1471 Echo Park Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Phone: 213-250-0159
Fax: 213-250-9047