It’s My Birthday – And I’m Doing A Giveaway!

May 4th, 2011 · 200 Comments · Giveaways, Personal, Tools

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

shortribslecreuset

I was talking to my sister last week ago and she was reminding me to get a Mother’s Day card for our mom. I replied, “Well, we don’t need to worry about so soon, Mother’s Day is after my birthday and my birthday isn’t for a while…ohhh.”

So how did it become May already? I love having a May birthday – all that spring sunshine – and I love looking forward to it. However, the last few years I seem to get really busy in April so my birthday jumps out at me like an exam I haven’t studied for. (Another thing about a May birthday? Remember AP exams in high school? I had one on my birthday one year. That was great too).

What’s to prepare for a birthday, you say? Well, I usually try to make my own birthday cake. And post about it. Thanks to my sister’s oh-so-timely reminder, I scrambled to pull my myriad ideas together. However, when I went into the kitchen last night I was told by the Husband that it was going to be occupied for a while, so maybe I could entertain myself in the meantime? Ohhh…birthday surprise! (Yes, I am also getting slower in my old age.)

Did I mention how lucky I am to have such a great hubby? So, I guess I’m going to have to hold off on a birthday cake post until maybe next week. While I’m making myself conveniently scarce, I’m going to invite you all to help me celebrate by holding another giveaway! I told you I had a lot of stuff to get out of my place:)

Walk into any cooking store or get a cooking catalog and chances are you’ll see Le Creuset proudly displayed like works of art in a museum. I was quite excited to be offered a Le Creuset braiser in their new fennel color for review. By the way, this is my first Le Creuset piece! Woohoo! I guess that counts as a pretty awesome birthday gift!

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This cast iron braiser is great for searing off foods quickly at high temperatures and then braising them slowly and evenly. The enamelled interior makes cleanup a breeze; we’ve used it several times already and it cleans up like new. It also works great for poaching, marinating, or browning – the wide bottom lets you fit in lots of pieces without crowding. The website also says it’s works for baking, although I haven’t figured out what to bake in it yet! Something for fall, it feels like…at least I have several months to mull it over!

The Husband broke in the braiser by making some short ribs with polenta and we were extremely happy with the results – like eating the leftovers for several days straight happy.

I’m giving away a 3.5 quart Le Creuset braiser to one Dessert First reader. Just visit the Le Creuset website and comment below on what your favorite piece is. I’ll run the contest through May 8 and announce the winner on May 9.

Sorry there’s no birthday cake recipe! But I’ll have the Pebble Beach Food and Wine full recap up in another day, with recipes from Yigit Pura and Daniel Boulud!

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And the Winner of the W-S Gift Card is…

April 28th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Events, Giveaways

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The winner of the $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma, chosen entirely at random, is

newdessertfirstwinner

reader 106, Mary S! Congratulations!

I was especially touched at her comment, which read, “I’ve been a reader for a long time and I’ve read about your baking (and baking related) adventures. It’s an inspiration and I’m very happy to see your blog blossom! Keep sharing delicious things with us.” I’ve been blogging for a while now, and though I like to say that having this creative outlet is its own reward, it’s always so gratifying to know someone else is enjoying your work. Thank you to all of you for your wonderful comments and your support of my new site. I really hope to keep things delicious here for a long while.

Don’t forget I still have my Pebble Beach apron + tote bag giveaway going on, if you’d like to enter. I’ll be at Pebble Beach this Friday and Saturday and am looking forward to reporting back. There are also more giveaways coming up (very soon!!), recipes, and reviews, so please keep checking back!

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Cupboard Inspiration: Hazelnut Macarons with Homemade Nutella (plus bonus giveaway!)

April 26th, 2011 · 79 Comments · Chocolate, Cookies, Giveaways, Recipes

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella

While I was giving my blog a makeover, I was also doing a spring cleaning of our kitchen. We’ve been in our new home for almost a year and a half now – not really a new home anymore, is it? Certainly not judging by how overflowing all the cabinets and closets appear; one glance and you’d think we’d been hoarding here for years.

No matter how assiduously one tries to keep order in the pantry, there are always a few rogue items that manage to find their way astray – forgotten spices, half-used bags of specialty flours, bottles of food coloring in all the least-wanted hues. I try to go through the back of my cupboards every couple of months just to root out orphaned items, and perhaps find some inspiration – or at least impetus to not let ingredients go to waste.

So it was this time I opened a cabinet door and found three jars of Nutella staring me in the face. I have no idea how we ended up with three jars of this hazelnut spread: Costco delirium, perhaps. But I knew we really didn’t need that much Nutella around. What to make? A thought came to mind, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while – macarons made with hazelnuts instead of almonds. (Aside: if you’re just looking for the giveaway, it’s at the bottom of the post!)

 

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Welcome to the New Dessert First!

April 21st, 2011 · 177 Comments · Giveaways, Personal

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

newdessertfirst

To all my dear readers,

I’m so very excited to unveil what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months – my revamped and redesigned home for Dessert First! This update has been a long time coming: I knew I’d outgrown my old setup a while back, but I didn’t have the time, technical know-how, or temerity to make my dreams materialize. After much encouragement from friends and fellow food bloggers, though, I made it a New Year’s resolution, and here we are!

Many of the changes are designed to better organize the content I’ve created in the last few years of blogging and make it easier for you to find your way around. I’ve finally gotten with the times and have a navigation bar at the top! The recipe index has been updated and my recipes properly categorized. I’ve also created separate sections for San Francisco Bay Area-related items (so those of you coming to SF can find recommendations for sweet spots) and for reviews of cookbooks and baking-related items. This is both a response to my obsessive desire to organize (I always thought I’d have made a great librarian) and reader requests.

There’s still some work left to be done – the conversions page, another reader request, isn’t finished yet. I’m also in the process of implementing a recipe print function so that you easily print any of my recipes. And there’s still other things on my wish list. But since the site has basically gone live (and quite a few of you have made your way here already), I’d like to officially open my doors and welcome you in. Pardon any of the still-settling dust! A huge thank you to the talented folks at Foliovision for helping make this new site a reality. They’ve been fantastic in making the move from Typepad to WordPress a seamless one.

I’m really, really thrilled to have this new sandbox to play in and I hope you’ll all continue to join me here as I bake and eat my way through everything sweet. I apologize that my posting has dropped off while I was making this transition – I know there’s been a dearth of recipes. I started out this site as a way to document my experiments in the kitchen. Along the way, I stumbled into food as a career of sorts: I wrote two cookbooks, did freelance food photography and writing, went to professional food events, and met all manner of amazing and talented people in the food industry. My hope is that this new Dessert First will reflect this expanded universe that baking opened up for me.

That said, I’m always happy to hear from you about what you’d like to see. Please update your links to my site while you’re at it, if you have the chance (although I’ll leave my old site up and it will automatically redirect).

To celebrate the new Dessert First, I’d also like announce a giveaway for all of you: I have a $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma lighting up my desk and I’d love to send it to one of you. This gift card was given to me courtesy of Williams-Sonoma, who is one of my site affiliates. I’ve always been a fan of Williams-Sonoma and I’m proud to have them on my site. I received a second gift card from them that I used to get a little something for myself; I’ll reveal the purchase in a future post!

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Meanwhile, for your chance to win a $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma,

1. Follow my page on Facebook  (Click the cute little “f” icon in the sidebar to the right of this post, and click “Like” to follow my page).

2. Leave a comment on this post.

That’s it! I’ll let this contest run through next Wednesday, April 27 and announce the winner on April 28th. Thanks and good luck, and let me know what you think of the new site!

love,

Anita

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Blackboard Eats Membership Giveaway

February 28th, 2011 · 23 Comments · Giveaways

It seems there are new daily deal sites appearing on the internet every day – to the point that it seems almost embarassing to be paying for anything full price. One of my favorite guilty pleasures every morning is to peruse all the sample sale sites as I’m eating my cereal…because, of course, buying a $1500 LV purse for $800 is such an amazing deal.

Actually, if I could afford $800 purses with impunity, I probably wouldn’t need to wait for them to go on sale. And I’d rather direct my discretionary income towards food. (Although if that purse goes down to $200…call me!)

I was excited to learn about Blackboard Eats, a site that delivers weekly deals on restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. There’s also an “Everywhere” edition that promotes of-the-moment foodstuffs, like Blue Bottle Coffee.

The deal is generally 30% off your meal or a prix fixe menu. As a bonus, the featured restaurants have been researched by Blackboard Eats’ editors and the site includes their reviews and menu picks.

Contigosign

I used one of their most recent SF passcodes to visit Contigo, a charmingly unpretentious Spanish tapas kitchen in Noe Valley. Contigo has earned a soft spot in the hearts of many foodies, as many of them (including me) followed chef Brett Emerson’s documentation of the journey to open Contigo on his wonderful blog In Praise of Sardines.

 

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{Cookie Review} Tate's Bake Shop Giveaway

December 28th, 2010 · 41 Comments · Giveaways, Reviews

Tatesbakeshop

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. I'm trying to squeeze as much work as I can before the end of 2010, as I'll be going to Hong Kong for a couple weeks right after the New Year.

One thing I'm attending to on my list: a review of Tate's Bake Shop cookies and cookbook. I was sent a package of cookies from the famous Tate's Bake Shop, Kathleen King's bakery in the Hamptons, along with her new cookbook that captures many of the signature items from her shop. Read on to find out how you can win a package of her cookies and the cookbook as well!

Kathleen King has been baking since she was a child, and she has run Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton, New York, for over 25 years. The menu is a comforting mix of homey selections, from blueberry muffins to rhubarb cobblers to sour cream coffee cakes. Shortly after King opened her bakery, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, began carrying her products and is one of her biggest fans. 

The package I received included Tate's signature chocolate chip cookies, along with their oatmeal raisin and white chocolate chip macadamia cookies. These cookies have my favorite texture: thin, crisp on the edges but chewy in the center. They are made with no preservatives, and so are meant to be enjoyed quickly, or you can freeze them and bring them out for emergency munchies.

These cookies are pretty straightforward-tasty in a classic, no frills way. The cookbook is similar – clean, simple renditions of many bakery mainstays that you'd like to have on hand in your own kitchen- poundcakes, crumbles, fruit tarts, chocolate cake. I do recommend trying the chocolate chip cookie recipe first – there's always room for more good chocolate chip cookies in the world.

Thanks to Tate's Bake Shop, I am giving away a three-pack of Tate's Bake Shop cookies (as shown above) plus a copy of Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook. To enter, just do the following:

 

1. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment below letting me know you've done so. (If you already follow me, thanks! just leave a comment).

2. You can also follow Tate's Bake Shop on Facebook for an additional entry. Let me know if you've done so in your comment.

3. I'll take entries up until December 31st and announce the winner on Monday, January 3rd.

4. Also, use the code "cookie" at Tate's Bake Shop for 15% off your order through December 31st.

5. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

 

Thanks and good luck! Hope you are enjoying the holidays!

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