by Alicia Lieu
Be sure to check out the recipes at the end of this post!
In the words of author Randy Pausch in his book The Last Lecture, “I won the parent lottery. I was born with the winning ticket.” I was born to loving and supportive parents who, to this day, continue to sacrifice unconditionally for their children. My father is one of the kindest, gentlest, most generous souls you could ever meet.
Having grown up in Silicon Valley, it seemed like everyone’s father was an engineer of some sort. Mine is a computer hardware engineer who also passed on his passion for music to his children and now, his grandchildren. We would fall asleep every night listening to the sound of my father practicing Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart and Beethoven at the piano, or to the sound of a record playing on his hi-fi system with an amplifier he assembled himself using glass vacuum tubes. The quality of that sound is unparalleled by anything digital. The warmth of the sound emanating from the hi-fi, as inviting as it was, was no match for the warmth of his personality.
His birthday coincides with Father’s Day and whenever my brother or I would ask the question, “Dad, what do you want for your birthday?” his reply without fail would be, “Nothing, except a hug.” I can’t recall exactly what year chocolate covered coffee beans became popular, but those became my default birthday and Father’s Day gift for many years. It took me many more years before I would come to appreciate his discerning palette for coffee beans.
When my parents flew out to New York for a visit, I knew I would be taking them to Bouchon Bakery which serves my favorite cup of coffee in New York City. Their pastries are witty, charming and out of this world. There is a separate café overlooking Columbus Circle and dining at this café has become my “affordable luxury.” Thomas Keller first opened up Bouchon in Yountville, California, and now there are locations in New York City, Las Vegas, and Beverly Hills. The location most convenient to me is the one at the Time Warner Center on the third floor; I have yet to visit the one at Rockefeller Center. Williams-Sonoma, which is located on the first floor of the Time Warner Center, stocks Bouchon mixes for muffins, cookies, Cup4Cup which is a gluten- free flour mix that Keller developed, and the iconic Bouchon which is shaped like a cork and tastes like pure chocolate decadence.
Picking out a pastry to go with my coffee is one of those simple pleasures that still exist for me in New York City. In addition to traditional French pastries, there is a T.K.O. cookie, a Nutter Butter cookie and one of my favorites, the Oh-Oh which is a grown up version of the Ho-Ho. In true Upper West Side and Parisian fashion, there are Foie Gras Dog Biscuits for sale as well. My father always said that he would have liked to have a dog as a pet but after my persistent begging, he let me have a cat when I turned nine years old. My father would always give my brother and me gifts with quality in mind and now I think about quality for him. Whenever I would plan a trip to visit my family in California, I would always stop by Bouchon Bakery to pick up a bag of the Bouchon House Blend coffee beans to bring back to my father.
As time went on, however, it became more and more difficult because they would always be sold out of the regular blend. They would only have decaf, which would not work for anyone in my family. I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon Thomas Keller’s supplier, Equator Coffees & Teas. They created the blends for Bouchon, Per Se, The French Laundry, Ad Hoc and the Thomas Keller Espresso. The best part of this discovery is that they ship their beans from San Rafael, California, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away from San Jose. So this Father’s Day, my dad can expect a delivery of fresh roasted Bouchon Bakery House Blend. I hope it makes him happy!
The following recipes are inspired by Bouchon Bakery. They serve a Bacon and Cheddar Scone that is quite hearty, so I’ve adapted a drop biscuit recipe for a simple and satisfying fix at home. The Oh-Oh is chocolaty but not too sweet and you can make a chocolate roulade cake at home using minimal sugar. That way it will be a taste for grown ups but still please the kid inside. For an actual Bouchon recipe, click here.
Bacon and Cheddar Drop Biscuits
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter.
Add in the bacon bits and the cheddar cheese.
Stir in the milk using a fork to combine.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake 12-16 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.
Chocolate Roulade Cake
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup superfine sugar
cocoa powder for dusting
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line and jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate and let cool.
Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until pale in color and thick in texture. Stir in the melted chocolate.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form and fold lightly into the egg yolk and chocolate mixture.
Spread the mixture into the jelly roll pan (all the way into the corners) and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch.
Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder. Remove the cake from the pan and pre-roll the cake in a clean dish towel and let cool.
Beat together the heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form.
Unroll the cake and spread the filling, leaving a 1-inch border.
Gently roll the cake and filling back up and serve.
For a Fine Cooking demonstration, see http://www.finecooking.com/videos/how-to-roll-a-roullade-cake.aspx.