Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

I made this celebratory cake a couple months ago. It was supposed to be my first-ever 'blogiversary' post and, unlike the 6 years prior, I actually did  remember it this year, but it was just so crazy and hectic with all the holiday stuff around November 26th that I wasn't able to do it in time. But, things have subsided a little and now I'm able to share it with all of you, huzzah! I'm not totally sure why I haven't done a blogiversary post before. Maybe it's because I hate the way the word 'blogiversary' sounds, or maybe it's because I think its kind of self-celebratory and that kind of thing makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, or it also might be because in years prior I never remembered it until it had already come and gone. So maybe I do  know why I haven't done a blogiversary post up until this point. But, I am doing it now, because a lot has happened since I started this blog, and I think that to put things in perspective, I'd like to talk a little bit about how I got here.

Real quick-like, though, I wanted to let you know that I have a realllly gooey, cheesy, and tangy recipe for my Apple, Sausage, & Dijon Mac and Cheese up on the All Things Mac & Cheese blog for national cheese lover's day. It's with granny smith apples, dijon mustard, pork sausage, and melted cheddar so you get a nice sweet sour kick from the apples, a bite of mustard, richness of  sausage, and creamy umami cheese goodness. I've made this three times since my recipe-testing session...I may have a mac & cheese problem. But I digress...

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Six years ago, I graduated from college and was unemployed. Well, recently fired, I guess. I started this blog in November of 2009, and I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in May 2009, riiiight  when the economy tanked. I studied film production, was living in Los Angeles, and was completely unable to find entry-level work in the entertainment industry that would pay my rent after school was out. So, I took the first job I could get. I was a receptionist at a plastic surgeon's office in Beverly Hills for about 6 months, and it was the worst experience of my life. The office manager was a psychopath (this is not a term I'm using lightly, she passed the psychopath test with flying colors), the pay was just enough to make rent, and I left work everyday burnt out after having been verbally abused and berated with just enough energy to make a half-hearted attempt at dinner. The final straw was when the doctor called me into his office and made me stand there as he nitpicked the grammar of some office email I wrote, and offhandedly said "you went to college??", as if in utter disbelief. Now, I had let myself been called a lot of terrible things at that job because I needed the money, and after a while, you kind of start to believe them. But the one thing that I did know was that I was smart. You can tear down my looks, my organizational abilities, my phone skills ("try to sound more chipper!"), but the one thing I knew for certain was my intelligence. I was smart. I was smarter than all of those a**holes. And him calling into question my intelligence was the wake-up call I needed that I had to get the hell out of there. So, when I got called in to see the office manager that afternoon, I was ready to call it quits. But, in a twist of fate, they fired me.

That was the first and only time I've ever been fired from a job. It wasn't because of my job performance, the patients loved me and I kept everything very organized and punctual. It was because I finally stood up for myself that afternoon when I walked out of the doctor's office and back to my desk while he was still talking to me, and they wanted someone who would be even more of a doormat than I'd been. It was a blessing and a curse, in that I didn't get the satisfaction of telling them to go stick it to themselves, but it also meant that I would get unemployment benefits that would pay nearly the same amount as that crappy job did. And so began my 6-month unemployment streak. I had no idea if I'd ever find a job (and given the economic situation at the time, not finding a job ever seemed like a real possibility), or what kind of job it would be, but even the anxiety of unemployment was a million times better than staying there. Working environments like that are toxic to the human condition and start to eat away at the core of who you are. I was lucky to get out when I did.

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

So, my tango with unemployment began. And with all this extra time on my hands, I poured myself into what I loved most. Cooking. My parents had a Greek deli for over 30 years in Portland, and I grew up there helping with whatever I could. My mother worked full time at the restaurant, but still got up early to make dinner from scratch every day. Some of my earliest memories are of her pulling up a chair to let me stand in front of the stove so I could reach the pot. I loved helping her stir, and when she started letting me help sprinkle in spices and herbs into the pot, I was over the moon. It seemed magical to me the way that a little pinch of something could completely transform the flavor of a dish. I was hooked.

It stayed that way for a long time, helping at the deli on weekends and during summer and winter break, watching my mom whip up delicious meals in our kitchen at home. After I left for college when I was 18, though, I had limited access to a kitchen because of dorm life. And then once I had my own apartment, finding the time and energy to cook between school and the three jobs I had while I was in school, and then trying to cook after the hell of the doctor's office everyday became a huge issue. But when I found myself unemployed, I started cooking all the time, making whatever I could with the meager grocery budget I had at the time. And that's when I started this blog. I didn't do it because I wanted to showcase my photography (you can look at those old photos as proof, ha! ), I didn't do it because I wanted to find a way to monetize and make money, I did it because I loved food and wanted to share that love with as many people as possible. And I still do. Because of this little blog, I've been able to bring my photography to its current state and make a full-time living from it. But, the road hasn't always been easy since that first pecan pie post over six years ago.

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Six months into my unemployment, I was hired as a page at NBC Universal. Yes, like Kenneth, but the west coast version. I gave tours of the Burbank lot, worked on the Tonight Show, and then got hired as a Production Coordinator in NBC's Television Production department. I wanted to be a producer at the time, so I eventually got a job as a Line Producer's Assistant on a sitcom. During the few years that this all occurred in, I was throwing myself into my 'dream job' full time on the weekdays and working all weekend long on the blog; cooking, shooting, and writing. This non-stop cycle went on for several years.

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

And then, my dream job wasn't my dream job anymore. I realized I didn't really care about shooting schedules and viewership and budgets and producer's egos. Those weekends of cooking and writing became a life raft keeping me afloat in a seemingly endless flow of monotonous, pointless days. At some point I eventually realized that all I looked forward to were those two glimmering days a week spent in the kitchen and on my computer nerding out with other foodies, but I didn't know what to do about it. I wasn't happy with my job, but couldn't afford to quit and didn't have the time to apply to other jobs. And then the universe dropped me the least subtle hint, ever, and the sitcom I was working on got cancelled. So, I got a transitional tech support job within the entertainment industry that had a *much* healthier work environment, and paid me well enough that I was able to save up enough money to take the leap into freelancing full time after several months there. I will always be indebted to that last job for helping me heal the emotional wounds that working on a TV show under another sociopathic boss inflicted. Everyone there was so kind and supportive, even with my food work on the side. It was hard to leave just because I liked the people there so much, but I knew it was time to move on. So I made the leap!

A lot has happened since then. I got married to my longtime partner, Jeremy. We bought a house and moved back to Portland, Oregon. We got two dogs, and then seven chickens. I met my best friend, Carey, online through our blogs and we started First We Eat, our travel-based food photography workshops. We started a podcast where we nerd out 1000% about food. I wrote a book that's coming out this fall. It's a whole, whole lot. And I'm really lucky to be able to lead this life. Even though I've worked really hard to make it happen, some amount of luck is always involved. But I think that when you do what you're passionate about, you have luck on your side. When you care about your work, when it gives you purpose and joy and warmth, I think that seeps into you, leaks out into the world, and starts to attract all the good things. Good people, good opportunities, good choices. I know that most people aren't able to pursue their passions full time, and that's okay. But try to make your passion some part of your life. Even if it's just for a few minutes a week, little by little, it will make each week brighter than the last. It might take you somewhere, and it might not, but at least you'll be happy. And I think that's just dandy.

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Persimmon Cake

2 persimmons, caps removed
1/2 cup whole or skim milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Butter Icing

6 ounces unsalted brown butter, chilled until soft but not hard
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel


1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 Cup Butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt


For the persimmon cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Puree the persimmons and milk together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the persimmon mixture and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between two well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch cake pans. Place the pans in the oven and bake until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cake is baking, make the caramel. In a small thick-bottomed saucepan mix together the water and the granulated sugar until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color, only stirring once every four minutes. This took me about eight minutes, but the speed will depend upon the heat of your stovetop. 

Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you're stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat. Once it is boiling again stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every two minutes and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from the stovetop and stir in the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the brown butter icing, beat the brown and regular butter at medium high speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, switch to whisk attachment, and then continue beating the mixture at medium high speed for an additional 3 minutes, or until the butter becomes very pale and fluffy and has roughly doubled from its original volume. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat at medium high speed until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside.

To assemble the cake, cut the two layers in half horizontally with a sharp bread knife so that you now have 4 thin cake layers. Lightly spread the brown butter buttercream between each layer and up the sides, then on top of the finished cake. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake, making sure to place a dish under the cake to catch any extra caramel sauce that spills over the sides. Serve immediately.

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel by Eva Kosmas Flores

49 comments:

  1. Eva, what an interesting back-story (I also used to work for NBC Universal for many years).

    It's wonderful that you've found a path that you truly love and have not only excelled in it... but can now say you earn a living doing too. Good for you.

    These are beautiful pictures (as usual) and your styling continues to be a lovely browse and great source of photographic inspiration.

    Congrats on your "blogaversary". I agree, weird word indeed.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! And that's so funny that you worked there too for so long, it is a beautiful lot to work on. I loved the studio city area, and used to live in Tujunga village just down the street from Aroma cafe and the little antique shop :)

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  2. I loved reading this so much. What a story. Those assholes you worked for didn't deserve your company! It's wonderful how you were able to find your way back to cooking and realize it was your happy place AND you could make a living doing what you love. I love that we started our blogs at pretty much the exact same time but were on vastly different paths that brought us to a place where we became friends. I'm proud to know you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jen!! It is so funny that we started with such different paths and then met and became friends, and I am so glad we did. I'm so happy we both realized our 'careers' weren't what we wanted from life and were able to change paths. Can't wait to see you this fall in Italy :D

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  3. This was a really beautiful post. I never knew much about your story but before now but reading this was so heartfelt. I love it.

    Best wishes for the next six years of Adventures in Cooking. x

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    1. Thank you so much, Josie, that means a lot! :)

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  4. Eva, I absolutely love your story and thank you for reminding me about my passion even though I only get a little bit of time each week to do what I love on top of my full time job. Can't wait to hear more about the book!

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    1. You are so welcome, Vy! I am happy you get to do what you love, even if it is just a bit each week. That little bit can make all the difference :)

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  5. Yay Eva! What an inspiring story. I'm glad that your experiences brought you to where you are today — you're a success by any definition. Also, I graduated in 2009 too. Worst time to graduate EVER. Us recession kids, blegh. xoxo

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    1. Haha, SERIOUSLY! The recession was the *worst* and I legitimately feared I would never get a job again. So happy things turned around and that we met and became friends!!

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  6. Yet another great post from Eva. Again, the recipe is delightful and the imagery out of this earth. Keep rockin' girl!

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  7. Dear Eva, thank you for sharing your story with us, I find it so interesting and inspirational! The last part where you write about how doing what you love and care about actually attracts all the good things is just what I needed to hear today. I always had jobs that made me so unhappy and miserable and than finally at the age of 30 decided that it's now or never and asked myself what I really want to do in my life. And now I'm on this food photography / blogging journey that fills my soul with joy every day! I don't know where it will bring me but it feels right and that's the most important. I wish you many many more successful and happy blog-birthdays and hope to meet you some day! :-)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Lili! I am so happy that you are pursuing what makes you happy and fills you with purpose, it is so important to live the life that makes you feel like jumping out of bed in the morning. So very happy for you and hope we can meet someday, too!! <3

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  8. Great post, Eva. I've been thinking a lot about my life lately, and the choices I've made, the dreams I have and.... Your story gave me hope that sooner or later, I'll find my path :)Thank you!

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    1. That makes me very happy to hear, Elise! I hope you're able to find what makes you most happy and chase it like the wind :)

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  9. THis post deeply resonated in me. I went through things quite similar - only not for just six years, I worked in unhealthy work environments all my working life, until it got to a point where it wasn't worth it i any way, the money I made was not enough to cover for my son's kindergarten school, my transportation fees to and fro work place, my food outside the home. So I just quit. Had temp jobs for a while and realized those weren't any good either, so took the plunge of becoming full time stay at home mother and homemaker, which in my country is heavily frowned upon. Personally, it was the best decision ever, I was surely not born to work outside the home, socially maybe it was not clever, but I'm a bit of a hermit myself, so there. I have been blogging since 2006 - not my current blog, I used to blog politics and current affairs, poetry, even fashion and personal style, a cooking blog came out of being the thing I really most liked doing, that of stylig and photographing food... it got me nowhere, I don't think it will ever get me anywhere in terms of having a profession of sorts, but in terms of my self esteem, my confidence, my own mental health, it's gotten me the world, really. I love what I do, I love the fact that it allows me to be creative and use my imagiation, and work things out, and learn, learn, learn all the time. I may not be an "independet woman" in the fact that financially I do depend on my husband's payrole, I may not be "able to stand on my own two feet" nor have "something to fall back to" but I would never go back on my choices. No matter what others may think or feel!
    http://bloglairdutemps.blogspot.pt/

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    1. Being a homemaker is a wonderful pursuit, you're able to provide for your family in the most important ways, through love, caring, providing a wonderful home, and keeping everything running. You're like the captain of the house :) And I'm so sorry you had to go through such horrible work experiences, the office environment can be so toxic sometimes. It just takes one or two bad people to take the whole work environment down to a terrifyingly cruel level. It is wonderful that you are able to have your creative outlet through your blog, be surrounded by your loving family, and do what makes you most happy. That is all we can ask of life, truly!

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  10. Thank you Eva - it's so nice to read about your background and how you go to where you are now, with such a gorgeous blog.

    I am in a similar position as you were, working a job that is perfectly pleasant but not my passion and frantically baking and blogging on the weeknights and weekends. I'm not sure I'll be in a position to quit my job completely, but if I could make blogging work enough to take a reduction in hours that would be the ultimate!

    I love this cake, the caramel that is teetering on the brink of falling off the cake stand looks so wonderful.

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  11. eva, thank you for the beautiful and eloquent disclosure. to be able to reflect this passionately and wisely after six years of blogging is of the best heart and nature. sometimes the roads we are 'supposed' to take aren't the ones we are supposed to take - and your journey resonates in those cosmic ways for me. passion is one of the greatest things we are capable of feeling in this life - and I, too, believe that when you care about your work you're simultaneously letting the universe feel that - and it all comes back around. long have I adored this space - happy anniversary to you and thank you for always inspiring. xo

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  12. Eva,

    Thank you for sharing your story. In some ways, it resonates very closely with my situation, and therefore it inspires me to confirm that following my dreams and passions is the only thing that's going to make me completely fulfilled and happy in life. I too started my blog in the midst of turmoil in my life and it was the force that kept me alive every day and looking forward. Now, after some more personal trauma in my life, I've been experiencing a loss of creativity... as if I am empty, so I've neglected my blog and have put aside my aspirations to learn food photography whilst I figure out the rest of my life. But I know deep down inside what I want to achieve and still day dream about food photography, recipe development, and story telling ... so I'm not giving up. I'm happy to hear you've achieved your dreams. And I hope to be your collaborator one day down the road! Speaking of which, I love that you're going to be doing a photography course in Spain with Patry from Sabores y Momentos!
    xo, Debra






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  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story Eva. Such an inspiration.

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  14. What a wonderful and inspirational story! I definitely think you found your niche :)

    Sues

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  15. Happy blogiversary, Eva! That is a strange word, for sure. It's been so exciting watching your blog grow into a business over the last few years! You have mad talent, and I love the advice you give on incorporating your passion into your career. I'm hoping to do that with bees :) I made a persimmon frangipane pie once, back in the days when I had spare brain to create recipes (my brain is all research these days, which I dig!), and I've wanted to bake more with them ever since.

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  16. Happy 6(!!!) year blog birthday!!! The internet is a more beautiful place because of you!

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  17. Eva! I can say for myself, that i am so glad that you were fired from your first miserable job! It's always a growing experience! But, as you already know, your photography and recipes are such an INSPIRATION for so so many of us. Your humble and sweet story is yet again, another source of inspiration. Congratulations on your 6 years! You are just terrific and i can't wait to see you and Carey again in New Mexico!!!

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  18. I have followed your blog for such a long time Eva and all your social media loveliness but for the first time I felt like I came to know you .. the real you. All your dreams, your struggles, your trials and tribulations and the eventual arriving at the beginning of a journey that will only get more fun for you going forward. Congratulations on a great blog and kudos on seeing and sticking with what truly makes you happy! xx

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  19. Reading this post was so inspirational and kind of exactly what I need to hear right now. I graduated from university two years ago and got sucked into jobs that I took just to pay the bills, and I feel so unfulfilled. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that the road can be hard and long, but worth it if it's truly what you want to do. Happy blog anniversary! Beautiful photos, as always <3

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  20. Absolutely inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  21. Wow this was so incredibly inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to write out your story and the beginnings of your blog. I feel like I'm currently in a position you must have felt years ago. I worked for years to land my "dream job," but now that I have been in it for about a year, I don't care anymore. I am constantly looking at food blogs and trying to think of new ideas for mine. I also spend my entire weekend devoted to cooking/baking, photography, and writing for the blog. I'd love for it to lead to a full time job someday--or at least do something more freelance! But I'm sticking with what I have now until I figure out what the heck I'm doing with life. Haha. Thanks for the inspiration!!

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Finding ones path can become such an interesting, painful, and joyous journey, all at once. I've been back and forth finding my place as well, which also resulted in me finally starting my own food/diy/travel blog. It's nice to hear others' stories as well. I have to say I'm in love with your photography, and I'm dying to try that cake! Congratulations on your beautiful blog!

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  23. You totally deserve all these and much more. You are so talented! Your photos are stunning!!! You said your parents had a Greek deli. Do you have any family connections with Greece? I am Greek, living in Athens.

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  24. Happy blog birthday! Six years, that is some impressive dedication! This cake looks perfect for the occasion :)

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  25. I loved reading your story, Eva. Thanks for sharing it. I'm so, so glad you were able to get out of that awful situation and into work you really love and are talented at.

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  26. Dear Eva, Thank you for your excellent article on Six Years of Adventures in Cooking + Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel. By the way, I wish you could add video in your post but the images were awesome. Keep the great writing skill up. Thanks again for giving me a good resource. I love these recipes. It’s fast, easy and delicious. I really appreciate if you’ve added the nutrition facts. Waiting for your reply! You are invite in Best Ceramic Cookware

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  28. What an incredible adventure you have lead! I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph! And of course your cake and photos are stunning!!!

    Read more: http://www.adventures-in-cooking.com/2016/01/six-years-of-adventures-in-cooking.html#ixzz3yHpmwoSG
    Follow us: @evakosmasflores on Twitter | adventuresincookingblog on Facebook

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    1. Don't know how that link got on there, lol!

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  29. Eva, I'm so glad you shared more deeply about your story! It's the best when you get to know the blogger behind the blog. :) And I really relate to your job situation! As in, I've been in several jobs where the boss was deep down inside, kind, loving, all that good stuff, for sure, but they all had such a hard time not blowing up at me in front of customers and patients and making me feel so small in front of everyone. It's been an on-and-off situation for me for many years and although it totally bites, I'm glad I have learned to not be a doormat and set my boundaries, yet still be willing to learn. It's great to see you excel in what you do, like REALLY excel, and inspire so many of us with your amazing cooking and photography!

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  30. I visited your blog for several times, pinned and made some lovely dished, but until now, I didn't wrote to you. Well, this time I really wanted to, because I love life stories with a great plot and a happy end - like yours, Eva :) It remind me in some tiny details on my life path, it make me think and smile.
    So, keep up with the great blogging - I know you will :)

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  31. You've been through a lot! The important thing is that you strive to find your happiness! You are a very strong woman. I wish you the best of luck! And your cake looks amazing:)

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  32. This cake looks like it's painted, not photographed. Amazing!

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  33. Yaaaaaayyyyy so excited you are coming out with a book SUCH great news!! Love your story, thanks for sharing..will def check out your podcast too :)

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  34. Thanks for sharing your journey, Eva. Isn't it funny how all life hands us always leads us in the right direction? Beautiful pictures, as always. :)

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