Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 16 Perform, 2 Eliminated

Welcome back, dance fans! We're getting closer and closer to the top ten tonight with two more dancers going home. Apparently Misty has had some kind of three episode run for guest judging, and tonight is her last night. I think I'm going to miss her, though, as she is one of the only ones to actually give criticism, it seems. Anyhow, here we go! First up we find out who the bottom six are...

Bottom Six:


Valerie and Ricky - Nakul Bollywood. Nakul said this was supposed to be a sexy routine, but I kind of feel their brother-sister vibe coming through. They did seem to perform the steps well enough, but I'm not sure if it really entertained me that much. But the judges are pretty praise-worthy, although Misty does comment that Valerie could be a bit more precise.

Bridget and Emilio - Travis Wall contemporary. Immediately I love the song choice. I was really quite mesmerized by the whole thing, I didn't want it to end. Wow. That was really good, and really impressive for Bridget. I definitely don't think she's the one going home tonight.

Tanisha and Rudy - Dave Scott hip hop. The set design here with the lighting is pretty great. She's actually hitting it pretty hard, which I wasn't necessarily expecting. My eyes are consistently drawn to her throughout the routine. Rudy isn't bad but it was hard to take my eyes off her. They definitely had more sexual chemistry than Valerie and Ricky.

Jessica and Marcquet - Dmitry Chaplin foxtrot. Oh gosh, a foxtrot. At least it's not a quickstep. She looks pretty smoking in that dress. This is a pretty sexy routine with the music choice too. Not a typical foxtrot in that way, seems like more of a story, which is really helpful for them. Slinky and slow. She still smiles too much though. Mary doesn't like it, though, with technical issues, particularly against Marcquet.

Carly and Serge - Mandy Moore contemporary. They performed this routine well enough, but I'm not sure it was super memorable for me. It was just kind of another contemporary partner dance. But they did do it well, and that last move she did where she slowly backbended down to the floor was kind of crazy. Based on comments I feel Marcquet is not long for this competition.

Emily and Teddy - Oksana Dmytrenko and Jonathan Platero salsa. Uh oh, Emily has a big slip in the beginning. She seems super uncomfortable in those shoes. This is a bit of a mess. They pull off the lifts but the footwork is a little crazy. I'm not sure if it's just her or not, though. They got through it, which isn't necessarily enough. They do seem to say Teddy did pretty well, but I was just distracted by Emily unfortunately. Apparently she dislocated her shoulder this morning.

Jacque and Zack - Sonya Tayeh jazz. Zack is killing it. I don't think there's any way he's going home based on this. That was a cool song choice as well. It was a cool routine overall, which is pretty much always the case with Sony's jazz pieces. Nigel comments that he didn't feel very much emotion from it, and I guess yes I do agree, though I still enjoyed it. Misty gives Jacque some constructive criticism as well.

Brooklyn and Casey - Willdabeast hip hop. What's with his shorts? Did his pants rip? This is more of a classic hard hitting hip hop piece. She's hitting it pretty hard, and might actually be doing better than Casey, but I still don't think she has much of a chance of making it past tonight. Judges are a bit tepid, though they do agree that Brooklyn was better than they expected.

Mini group routine from Sonya Tayeh. Wow. That was a pretty awesome routine, I must say. Impressive. Tanisha really stood out to me in this one, which Misty comments on as well. I noticed Casey in it as well.

Mini group routine from Travis Wall. It's good but not as amazing as Sonya's. Ricky stood out the most to me in this one, which Misty also comments on! Am I secretly BFF with Misty? Because we seem to have a lot of similar comments tonight! Mary goes into full on scream mode.

And after a performance that I admittedly just fastforwarded through, we find out who is sent home, and the two unfortunate souls are (oh yes you know I just made a Little Mermaid reference)...

Marcquet and Brooklyn

Not a surprise in the least to me! Especially since they were the only two I actually thought for sure would be in the bottom this week. Are they going to start calling Jessica the black widow? She can't seem to keep a partner. Although next week she'll be with Casey so perhaps she'll have better luck. But who do I think will be in danger next week, when they're going to lose FOUR people? I mean, Emily and Teddy should be just because that was pretty bad. Valerie? Serge again just because he's not a hot young guy? I'm not sure! What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Until next week...

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Bakery Review: Copenhagen Pastry

You don't have to be Danish to appreciate the authentic Danish pastry offerings from Copenhagen Pastry in Culver City. When I saw this new bakery going up on my way to and from work about two years ago, I knew I had to stop in and give it a try. The outside of the building is a perfect representation of the pastries inside - simple yet beautiful. If you're looking for a place to sit down and have a coffee and conversation with someone, this may not be quite what you're looking for, but if you want to taste light and airy (not to mention delicious) pastries, then I have to say you should stop in.

The interior matches the exterior, with simplicity and cleanliness being the order of the day. They have two cases displaying their pastries, which you can see a picture of below. On the left are their more staple pastries that are a bit cheaper, while the ones on the right are slightly more expensive and also more dessertish (for example, you can get some full size cakes). The individual pastries run you about $1.90 each, while the dessert ones are $2.35. If you want a full cake, you're looking somewhere in the $11-16 range, depending on which you go for. Not too shabby.

I'd been here once before and had two of the pastries I'm going to show you below, but in the interest of "research" for this post, I of course had to buy up a few others as well. Research is always a good excuse for more pastry, am I right? Duh. I asked which ones were the favorites of the girl getting them for me and got a couple others to round it out. I wish I had gotten one of their little crown looking things because they look so fun, but alas, I guess I will just have to go back again some other time!

I'm going to give you a rundown of each pastry I tried below, but a couple other details about the shop - they have a little parking lot! In LA this can be a big deal. There is also usually ample street parking around there, but hey, who wants to pay to park on the street if they're just going to pop in really quick? They are also closed on Mondays, so make sure you don't try to stop by then or you will be sadly disappointed. I hear they are also working on opening up another store on the other side of town, but now I'm not so sure where I heard that, so don't take it as the 100% truth!

Also, if you like seeing just how bakeries work, they have a little video about their process: A Day in the Bakery. Fun!

And without further ado, here are the pastries that I tried. Spoiler alert: they were all delicious!

 Copenhagen Pastry
A bit of a denser pastry than some of these others. Has a nice custard filling that is yummy and not too sweet, plus you get that little hit of chocolate down the side. One of their most popular for a reason!

This one has almond paste, custard and sugar for its filling, with a sprinkling of crisp sugar and almonds on top. The almond paste is not super overpowering here, which is nice. Sometimes those croissants you get with the almond paste in them have waaay too much. This is just right. Probably my second favorite one, actually.

Braided Cinnamon
If you're a cinnamon roll kind of person, this is the pastry for you. Not to mention it's really pretty. It's a bit lighter than a cinnamon roll, not being drowned in the sugar syrupy stuff.

This one is unexpectedly my favorite! I honestly didn't think it would be. Light, airy pastry with a touch of sugar with the glaze, and then when you get to the raspberry center, it's really just perfection. It reminded me again of a croissant but without any crispiness on the edges, which made me like it even more. I meant to only take a bite or two to get a taste, and ended up eating the whole thing!

This is basically the same as the raspberry above, but with an apple filling instead. I prefer the raspberry in this case, but if you are an apple person, go for this one.

This one is very puffy, which you might not be able to tell from the photo. It has some custard filling in the center but not a ton. This one is for the chocolate fans. It wasn't my favorite of the bunch, but still good.

11113 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 18 Perform, 2 Eliminated

Would you like at that, Misty Copeland is back again this week to join the judging panel! When was the last time we had the same guest judge two weeks in a row? I like it, though, because she actually gives constructive criticism rather than just says it was good to her or whatever.

The Bottom Six Dancers:

It is an interesting thing this year that we don't vote for couples anymore, just individuals. Didn't it used to be votes by couples? Pretty sure, yes. BEfore the results, though, it's time for some dance!

Jacque & Zack - Keone and Mari hip hop. I wasn't sure of their hip hop skills at first, but they definitely got better as it went on as they seemed to gain more confidence. This was more of a slow hip hop than a hard hitting one. I like these two quite a lot, actually.

Jourdan & Marcquet - Dee Caspary contemporary. The suspended umbrellas on the stage are a pretty cool backdrop, though I'm not sure I get their meaning. It was quite a lovely little routine, though I think maybe I agree with Nigel that it's hard to connect to the pair of them emotionally. They are picking on her a little bit, which doesn't bode well for her later.

Jessica & Stanley - Tyce Diorio jazz. They're supposed to look like they're flying through the air on a carpet in this routine, and I'm not quite it's doing that, but is it their fault? Because the music to me is super distracting. Jessica smiles a little too much in all of her routines. Stanley still seems a bit like a non-entity to me.

Bridget & Emilio - Anya and Pasha jive. Their little puppetry moves at the end were really cute. That was a fun routine, I don't think these two are in trouble this week based on that (or based on the judges' comments). They seemed to do pretty well in the style, and it made me like Bridget more.

Emily & Teddy  - Tyce Diorio contemporary. Oh gosh, two Tyce routines in one night? At least it's not Broadway. With the music, it felt a bit like we were watching a scene from a movie or something. The judges loved it, which does not bode well for Jourdan and Stanley.

Brooklyn & Casey - Bonnie Story jazz. My eyes are drawn way more to Casey in this than Brooklyn, which is something I fear is going to happen a lot with her. That was a jam packed routine, and they performed it pretty well, particularly him, which all of the judges seem to agree with.

Valerie & Ricky - Lacey Schwimmer Viennese Waltz. The waltz is a tough customer on this here SYTYCD. This wasn't a complete disaster, but I'm not sure it was the best ever. Valerie kind of seemed to struggle in a couple spots to my eye, but do the judges agree? Maybe not, because Nigel is on his feet. Mary has some constructive criticism for the technique, which must be what I was seeing.

Carly & Serge - Luther Brown hip hop. That slide thing they did was cool. It was a pretty cool routine in general, sort of creepy. Nigel isn't sure if it's going to get a lot of votes, and I kind of agree because it's not something that is super emotional or makes you connect to them as dancers, even though they both danced it well.

Tanisha & Rudy - Warren Carlisle Broadway. That was quite a fun one. Was really worried they might throw their canes at some point, but they did it really well. That took a lot of energy, wow. It got the judges all on their feet and are generally pretty effusive. Nigel says Rudy has a magic quality about him, and do we think that may take him to the top two guys?

But now it's time for the results... the two going home tonight are, based on America's vote...

Jourdan and Stanley.

Not really surprised here, particularly based on the comments throughout the show. Also I guess I was right about who would be in the bottom based on what I said last week! So hmm, can we keep it going? Who do I think may be in danger next week? Marcquet, Brooklyn, perhaps Carly and Serge. Again I think Jessica probably should be but won't. Guess we'll see next week if my streak can continue!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie

Recently, I tried to make a peanut butter pie that was more of a pastry cream filling, you know, without cool whip. Alas, it didn't set up in the fridge. But lo, when I put it in the freezer? What do you know - I actually made peanut butter ice cream pie! Yes, mistakes can sometimes turn into wins! I was actually quite sad at first that it did not set up. And if you would prefer a pie that is less ice cream and more pastry cream, you just need to cook your mixture on the stove a bit longer until it really starts to thicken up. But if you're as big of an ice cream fan as I am, that won't be an issue.

You can totally just eat this pie without any topping, but I had also made some marshmallow fluff/creme and figured it might just be a great idea to put some on top, for a bit of fluffernutter action. Because peanut butter and marshmallow go together extremely well. But, of course, you already knew that. I mean, just look at that. Can you resist that combination of peanut butter, ice cream, graham cracker and marshmallow? I think not.

This pie is sweet without being cloying, and the fact that it's frozen into ice cream actually makes that happen. In case you didn't know, sweetness is harder to taste when things are super cold, so that's why ice creams are always so full of sugar - so that you can taste it! Perhaps this pie would've even been too sweet if it set up like it was supposed to? Regardless, it's quite delicious as an ice cream pie! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

2 cups milk or cream, divided (I used ½ cup cream, 1 ½ cups milk)
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 whole large eggs
4 large egg yolks
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Topping (optional):
Marshmallow Creme

If you want the marshmallow fluff topping, make that first. You can make it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge until you want to use it. Directions are here.

Now, make your crust. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine your graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. If you end up using something like the Trader Joe's graham crackers, which already have cinnamon and sugar in them, don't add the extra sugar, you don't need it. Anyway, pour your crumb mix into your pie pan and press firmly with your hands, making sure to press all the way up the sides. Using a measuring cup, press the bottom firmly. Then, bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. This will take at least an hour, so plan accordingly.

Next up, the peanut butter ice cream filling. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup cream or milk, and cornstarch. Set aside. Pour your remaining milk/cream and add in the sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it just starts to bubble.

Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks into the milk and cornstarch mixture until well combined. Carefully add in about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture to the eggs while you are whisking, to temper the eggs. Once it's warmed up, pour that egg mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, whisk constantly until it just starts to thicken, coating the back of your spoon, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla until all combined.

Pour the peanut butter filling into your pie crust, cover with saran wrap, and stick that in the freezer for eight hours or overnight, until it has firmed up. If you are so inclined, before you cut it up, spread some of your marshmallow creme over the top to make it a fluffernutter ice cream pie.
If you are only going to eat a few pieces, I would recommend just spreading the creme onto the individual pieces as I'm not sure how it would freeze on the top. Because yes, you definitely need to keep whatever leftover pie there is in the freezer. Since it's ice cream pie and all!

In Photos:

Mix together your graham crumbs, sugar and butter. (If your grahams already have sugar or cinnamon in them, just add in the butter.)

Press those crumbs into your pie pan. This is a 10-inch pie pan and it was the perfect size. Bake at 350F for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool COMPLETELY before you do the rest. It will probably take about an hour.

Whisk together 1/2 cup milk/cream and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Set aside for now.

 In a medium saucepan, cook on medium high the remaining milk and your sugar until it just starts to bubble.

Whisk in your eggs and egg yolks into your milk/cornstarch mixture until well combined.

You take a bit of the milk mixture and add it into the egg stuff and whisk, whisk, whisk. This is tempering the eggs so they don't just cook. Then, add that egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium low until it just starts to thicken, coating the back of your spoon/spatula. This will take probably about five minutes.

Take that off the heat and add in the peanut butter.

Pour into the prepared pie pan, cover with saran wrap, and stick that in the freezer for 8 hours or overnight.

Once it's frozen, you can cut 'er up and chow down. Or, if you're feeling so inclined, spread on your marshmallow cream.

With the marshmallow cream on top!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 20 Perform, 2 Eliminated

Why did I think that four people were going home tonight? Must've misunderstood something, because it's actually only two going home. Phew. Because that would've been a bit crazy. Guest judge Misty Copeland is back this week, and she is a very articulate judge. And wow, they just go straight into the bottom dancers right off the bat.

Real quick though, what do we think of these weird outline transition things they've got going on this season? They're a bit hokey to me, but then I'm being rather nitpicky I suppose.

Bottom Six Dancers:

I'm a bit surprised by Nick and Malene, but the rest not really. But let's not dwell too long, because now it's time to team up with new partners and new dancers... The real question is, are the people in the bottom paired up together to make it easy to go home?

Tanisha & Rudy - Sonya Tayeh jazz - Very strong movement in that routine. I'm not sure it was really super memorable in the grand scheme of things, but I did enjoy it. They both performed it pretty well; Rudy still gets some constructive criticism.

Valerie & Ricky - Travis Wall contemporary - are we thinking Valerie got pretty lucky getting paired with Ricky? It's interesting because she seems almost taller than him. Whoa that backbend thing was scary! Eek! It's an interesting dynamic with them. Will be interesting to see them do other styles that aren't quite in Ricky's wheelhouse.

Bridget & Emilio - Luther Brown hip hop - These really don't seem very random dance picks right now! She looks a little like she's just doing the steps and not quite really getting the whole swag bit of the routine, which is too bad because she was really sort of the focus of the dance.

Jessica & Nick - Benji Schwimmer west coast swing - Jessica dislocates her shoulder in practice! Wonder if they had to tone it down a bit because of that, because it seems a bit slow. I'm really not sure about this music choice. It's pretty incredibly boring to start. Yikes. That was really not very good. Misty says it was entertaining for those who aren't dancers, hahaha! Backhanded compliment? All the judges are a bit down even though Mary tries to coach it a bit.

Carly & Serge -  Sonya Tayeh contemporary - I have to say I wouldn't know that Serge was a ballroom dancer based on that, pretty impressive. Misty actually enjoyed this one, so it must be pretty good. Haha! I wasn't quite sure if it was going to be as emotional as Sonya wanted but about halfway through I got it.

Emily & Teddy - Dave Scott hip hop - See! Both the hip hop guys get hip hop routines! This is more of a lyrical hip hop, and I dig it. I'm not sure if she's actually hitting it harder than Bridget was in hers, but she at least seems a bit more down into it or something. Teddy may be a dark horse in the competition, because I feel like we don't know him very well but he's been pretty good so far.

Malene & Stanley - Spencer Liff Broadway - I'm not usually a big fan of the more Broadway routines because they're always a bit cheesy, but this was a bit more fun with the phones. I do kind of have to agree with Mary that the phones got a bit old as it went on. Malene does look pretty amazing in that outfit, though, she looks like she could be on Broadway. I do agree with Misty though that they didn't feel like much of a pair. Nigel is pretty negative about it, which makes me think Malene may be going home.

Jourdan & Marcquet - Sean Cheesman jazz - That routine was a lot of fun. They both made me forget what their original styles were, which is good. Nigel is a bit hard on Jourdan but raves about Marcquet, but I thought they were both pretty good. I didn't think much of Jourdan based on last week, but now I'd like to see more from her.

Brooklyn & Casey - Miriam & Leonardo Argentine tango - Oh boy, a tango? Eesh. These are the only two in the bottom that are paired together which does not bode well for them. Then again, the actual routine is super sexy and they are doing pretty well, particularly her who I really had no feeling for last week. I quite liked it.

Jacque & Zack - Sean Cheesman African jazz - Those outfits are a bit trippy. The camera moving all over the place is a bit distracting sometimes. Zack looked like he had a little trip up at one point near the edge of the stage, but otherwise it's pretty good. Mary even puts them on the hot tamale train. Zack seems pretty versatile, being a tapper.

But now it's time for the results. Going home tonight are:
Malene and Nick

Nick looks really annoyed, actually, but I guess I can't really say I'm surprised. I would've been more surprised if they'd picked either of the others.

Well, that's it for this week. Are we voting now for couples or for individuals? I'm so confused! I think Stanley may be in trouble this week, Jessica should be but may not based on her other performance, and other than that I'm not sure. Jourdan may get it again just because, and maybe Bridget? Guess we'll find out next week!

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