Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saffron Drizzle Cake

Hand-embroidered tea-towel not included!
I've had a crazy week, and I do mean crazy. Honestly, and Instagram haven't been a priority for me at all. Thursday rolled around and I wasn't sure what I was going to post this week until I got a comment on my Instagram from a dear friend/follower, @VanessaBiglerArt, asking if the recipe for it was on the blog. I said "It can be!" and so it shall be.

I was still in the testing phases of this particular recipe when I got that comment, but I figured that it couldn't hurt to give to someone else with a hair of guidance. Besides, this is what writing a cookbook is all about, isn't it? Interacting with those that might one day read it gives me such a rush, and it helps me learn if I'm a good writer or not. I was so happy to text off the hand-written version of my recipe with a few simple instructions. We'll be getting to the recipe in a moment, but first, a little thing or two about saffron and why you should be cooking with it.

Saffron is, pound-for-pound, the most-expensive spice in the world, commonly known as "red gold." Saffron is so expensive, it's often sold by the gram, with the going rate of saffron by the gram retailing at $6.79 to $8.29. It's about 28 grams to an ounce, so by that math you're spending upwards of $190 per ounce. Why in the world is this?

Saffron Crocus
Learn more here!
Saffron is the little stamen that grows out of this crocus flower, which is a kind of bulb. It's a perennial, so a saffron crop will come back each year, but it's incredibly labor intensive to do. Each flower must be harvested by hand, and each stamen of each flower must be painstakingly harvested by hand and tweezers, and the longer the stem the better. It's obviously quite a long process. Harvesting your own saffron at home is a relaxing yet mindful morning for a dozen flowers or so, but doing it as work is going to not be so relaxing.

About 95% of the world's saffron comes from Iran, where it is grown and harvested. You'll notice saffron in a lot of Spanish cooking, of course, but that is the clear Moorish influence that's occurred over centuries of trade back in the day. You'll see a lot of Moorish/Muslim influence in their architecture as well as their eating if you ever go to Spain! So many things came from these cultures that we use today, and the benefits of these trades haven't gone unnoticed. 

Saffron is prized for the glorious reddish-gold color it gives rices, and the flavor is an almost indescribable gentle aromatic note that really perfumes a dish. Are there cheap saffrons you can buy? Absolutely! You can buy saffron with whole stigma and filament in them, but they're not going to yield the same color you would expect from the beautiful red threads. This is one of those things you shouldn't be stingy on and be sure to keep it in its original tin to preserve it as long as possible, if you buy it from the store. 

Saffron is one of those spices that holds great cultural significance in the world of culinary anthropology. It's quite obviously a symbol of wealth and opulence, and is an ingredient that absolutely demands respect. It's available year-round, but is it cheaper to grow and harvest yourself?You tell me! 

Saffron crocus is a wonderful bulb that is unique in the sense that it blooms in the fall, not the spring. I'm an avid fan of my beautiful spring tulips, but I always get a little sad when they die off. If you want bulbs blooming in the fall, I cannot recommend these more! These bulbs are quite hardy and can go as cold as -10 degrees F, but if you live in an area that dips below that, you should probably be kind and give them some straw or mulch to tuck them in to their beds to ensure they stay warm. The flowers themselves have an almost vanilla-like scent, in addition to their striking purple color. Nothing on your land or in your home should not serve you in some way, so I advise you to put this glorious flower to work for you.

Like most bulbs, they tend to love soil that's very well-drained and is high in organic matter.You should plant early in the spring, right at the start of Pisces, or just as soon as the soil is good and warm enough to work, and plant 6 inches below the surface. Each bulb will yield one flower, and each flower will yield three threads! It's highly recommended that you replant immediately once you dig up your bulbs to separate them, as they're touchy. Do this to yield a hardy crop, and you won't have your harvest affected next fall!

To harvest these threads, I recommend tweezers. Leave them to dry on a sheet pan lined with paper in a warm room until they crumble easily. Store them in an airtight jar, as you should with all spices once they're dried, and enjoy! I advise you to not consume any other part of the flower, as I hear it's poisonous. You can add a few threads to a steaming pot of rice to color it and add a very lovely flavor, to a soup to enrich it beautifully, or to this lovely pound cake. 

Full disclosure: I'm only calling it a pound cake in the sense that it acts like a pound cake when in reality it's a 'high ratio cake'. It's got a very fine crumb, is fatty and tender, and it is quite suitable for layer cakes should you choose to bake it in a round tin! Honestly, though, since you're using a simple-syrup drizzle, it's going to be a drizzle cake. The requirements for a drizzle cake must be that your cake is strong enough to take on that liquid, and that the drizzle penetrates all the way down, as far as it'll go, to make a moist finish. Yum!

Saffron Drizzle Cake
yields 1 loaf cake or 1 9" cake
  • 1.5 oz olive oil
  • 1.5 oz butter(I've used my vegan Earth Balance butter on this and it's just fine!)
  • 6 oz cane sugar + 1 oz aside
  • 4 oz warm water, at least 115 degrees F
  • 1 pinch of saffron (6 or 7 threads?)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 9 oz AP flour
  • 1 oz cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 c almond milk (you may use dairy milk or hemp milk if you like)
For the Saffron Syrup
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c cane sugar
  • 1 small pinch saffron, 3-4 threads
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a loaf pan with pan spray and flour. This cake likes to climb, so please do allow it to do so! Prepare the Saffron syrup first. 

Bring your sugar and water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Immediately add in the saffron threads and cover your pot and leave it alone. This will be your simple syrup.  You're honestly only going to use a little bit of this to drizzle into your cake, but you'll definitely want the stuff left over! It's going to get a beautiful gold color and you'll definitely love it in your iced tea.

For the cake, take your saffron threads, that set-aside ounce of cane sugar, and a mortar and pestle. Grind the saffron into the sugar and then add it to the warm water. Let this sit for at least five minutes before you add this liquid to the milk of your choice, as well as the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. You can use cake flour for this, but I like having a little more control over the amounts of protein, and I also don't like cake flour taking up space in my already-crowded cabinet.

Using the whisk attachment of your standing mixer, whip the butter, oil, and 6 oz of sugar together. Start first on medium and then go to high until it's fully incorporated. Add in the whole egg, scrape, and then whip. You'll want it to be homogeneous and light-colored, not clumpy or separated at all. Scrape the bowl one more time and gather your remaining ingredients. 

Spoon the flour mixture in, about a third at a time, alternating with a glug or two of the liquid. You're going to want to do it in this order:
  1. Spoon in flour.
  2. Add liquid
  3. Mix for five or six turns.
  4. Spoon in flour.
  5. Add liquid.
  6. Mix for five or six turns.
  7. Spoon in the remaining flour.
  8. Mix by hand to incorporate.
  9. Add the last bit of liquid and scrape the bowl, especially getting the bottom.
  10. Mix for five or six turns.
This is the way I tend to mix cakes of this nature it and it seems to have served me the best over the years. Knock all the batter off the whisk attachment and use a spatula to scrape the bowl and give it one final stir, just to make sure there aren't any pockets of flour hanging out. If we're all good, scrape it into your loaf pan, give it a shimmy-shake to make sure it all of the batter is level, and pop it in the oven. Immediately lower your oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes, or until it pulls gently away from the sides of the pan and springs back when touched gently. 

Evacuate from the oven and place on a folded-up tea towel. Now comes the fun! Take a skewer or a toothpick and poke mercilessly all over the surface of the cake, making sure to get all the way to the bottom-third of your cake. While it's still warm, take a spoon and drizzle in the saffron syrup, at least a shot's worth, which is a couple of ounces. You can use a silicon brush if you like, as well, but I think this is a little better to start off with and then finish with the brush. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack and allowing to cool completely. 

See that crack in the middle? You want that! This dome is a sign you've done your loaf cake right!
You may dust with powdered sugar or give it a touch of royal icing. Or, of course, you can make a saffron glaze. How? Oh, it's easy:

Saffron Glaze
  • 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp saffron syrup
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, melted
Whisk all of this together until lovely and smooth, and drizzle over your cake, doughnuts, tray bakes, whatever you like! It's colored a gentle yellow and is highly addictive. You can even use it to spoon over your experimental coconut-sugar cookies. Do you, man!

For every insta-worthy picture I take, there are at least 300 hauntingly gross other photos on my phone, I assure you.
This cake is sweet without being too sweet, incredibly versatile, quick to do, and is incredibly accessible as a treat to give your not-so-adventurous friends. A loaf/pound/drizzle cake is something someone instantly recognizes, and when they taste it they'll all say: "Ooooh, what is in that cake?!" I especially love it because it keeps well, but you truthfully won't keep it around the kitchen for long. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe and have learned a few fun things about saffron. If you like this post, please feel free to comment on, share, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mayonnaise Chicken

Sometimes simple (and by that I mean 'easy') is best.
Okay, okay - hear me out. I know that mayonnaise chicken doesn't sound tasty at all. I'm really sorry, but I'm committed to honesty and transparency in my cooking. Please just hear me out before you break out the torches and pitchforks and open your mind to mayonnaise.

I know that Millenials have been charged with 'murdering mayonnaise' their fair share of times. I think we all know how I feel about that tired old 'millenials kill' tag, but in case we don't, I'll share: I think that if an industry is dying out because it no longer serves the population, then let it die. Rotary phones weren't 'killed' by cordless or smartphones. Lamp lighters went out of the job because of electricity. We're evolving as a society and that means we're going to live in one that's shaped by our likes and tastes.

If you don't want to read the article above, just know that mayonnaise is being 'killed' because Millenials and GenZ's tend to have more global tastes. Most of us prefer sriracha, kimchi, things like that to mayonnaise. The globalization of our palette is what's letting other things fall to the side, much like mayonnaise. Furthermore, mayonnaise isn't exactly the sexiest condiment, and it's frankly a hard sell based on visuals alone. That being said, a lot of chefs love mayonnaise, if nothing else but for it's versatility.

Do you need to make a large amount of a new kind of dipping sauce but don't want to buy a ton of ingredients and jack up your food cost? Spice up the mayo and call it an aioli. Need a secret to making a super-moist chocolate cake for an 8-top that'll be celebrating a birthday tonight, but you don't have a trained pastry chef and just have a sous chef with a spare hour? Mayonnaise. What's that? Someone wants a fancy grilled cheese? Believe it or not, mayonnaise.

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What does this mean for you, for cooking?

To put it simply, this is nothing but a gorgeous whipped amount of fat that you can use in cooking and baking. Spread it on your bread instead of butter to make the most-beautiful grilled cheese you've ever seen. Use a dollop of mayonnaise instead of eggs for your cakes, to make it even more tender, because of the vinegar and how the acid sort of cuts glutens to make it less stodgy. My favorite, though, is to marinate chicken in it and then roast it.

Mayonnaise is an incredibly diverse substance that's able to be used as an ingredient and as a condiment, and I'm frankly a fan of it. I like the tang, the creaminess, and I like that it's cooling so I can mix it with really spicy ingredients to get the flavor without too much heat. Unfortunately, it's not enough anymore to have just mayonnaise, unless it's on a roast beef sandwich...and even then, I'm probably going to mix it with horseradish because  - hey - horseradish is good for you.

Why should you keep mayonnaise in your fridge? Its versatility, of course! It's not just great for sandwiches, or for being a base for a sexier version of a potato salad or devilled eggs. If you entertain, you're going to want mayonnaise, if nothing else to just help bulk up certain things. If you're busy but want something show-stopping, use mayonnaise as an ingredient and be surprised at its possibilities. But what is mayonnaise?

In essence, it's a salad dressing, not unlike a vinaigrette. It is an emulsion of egg yolks, vinegar, a little salt, and quite a bit of oil. You can make your own mayonnaise, if you like, out of any oil you like. Olive oil, sunflower oil, even chili oil. (No seriously, I've tried it.) One egg yolk can take up to a cup of oil without breaking the emulsion, and you can take that to the bank. I highly recommend using a standing mixer or a blender, though, and I advise you to warm the bowl slightly before whipping. Either way, it's easy enough to put together yourself, but it's even easier to just buy a jar, use it up, and keep the jar later for other uses.

Let's be real, though - we Millenials like stuff that's fast, yet impressive. Here's a fast and impressive dish we can make after a long day at work.

Mayonnaise Chicken
yields enough for 2
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp herbs de Provence (an herb blend of marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme, and mint)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sumac powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper, ideally a peppercorn blend that has green peppercorns in it
  • Half a yellow onion, julienned
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into long pieces to serve as a sort of rack for your chicken
  • 1 half chicken, usually found in most grocery stores. You can also use 4 breasts, or 4 thighs, two leg quarters, whatever is available to you
  • 2 cups frozen peas (do not get canned, so help me)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the onion and celery in a little oil, salt and pepper, and arrange the celery sticks on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with the onions. This will be your sort of rack that will allow the fat to drip off your chicken while simultaneously steaming and cooking and adding flavor that you'll want later, I promise. Make a dressing of the spices, vinegar, and mayonnaise. Add your poultry cut of choice and toss about, ensuring that you especially get some of this dressing underneath the skin of the chicken. Arrange on your celery-onion raft and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until the oven is totally hot.

I know it doesn't look great to start, but trust me - it'll transform itself beautifully.
Pop your casserole dish, uncovered, into the oven for 25 minutes and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. When the timer tings, remove the casserole dish and place it on a wooden cutting board or just on your stove. Pour the frozen peas around the chicken, toss them in the lovely juices that have dropped and formed off your chicken with a spoon, and return to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately with couscous, pasta, or some other kind of starchy niceness that you like. I've been on a couscous kick lately, so I encourage you to try it as well. 

I'm sure you've noticed the gorgeous transformation that's taken place. The reason the chicken browns so nicely is because of the fat in the mayo, and it's become quite tender because of the acid. You've got a nicely cooked bird now, too, because hot air and flavorful steam was able to circulate all around, helping it to cook evenly. Salt, acid, fat, and heat, are the four elements of delicious food, as we all now know, thanks to the brilliant chef Samin Nosrat and her Netflix special of the same moniker.

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! I'm writing a cookbook right now, and I hope you'll let me know if you can follow along easily with my recipes. Please keep touch with me on my instagram, comment below, and follow me on Twitter for requests for recipes! Thanks a million. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Vegan Chocolate Cake

The middle tier of my wedding cake was THIS chocolate cake recipe, modified to have a lovely orange flavor as well!
Hello, hello! It's Sunday, the 27th of January, which means that it's National Chocolate Cake Day. January 27th is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since I just learned that apparently one third of all Americans don't believe it actually happened, it feels irresponsible to not at least give it a mention. In honor of that, I'm showing you my favorite chocolate cake recipe that's vegan and pareve. What's that? Well...

When you keep kosher, you have to eat in a very certain way. I'm not talking about the actual act of eating, but how you consume and prepare food and how you feed your family. Some agree that kosher eating may have been a first sort of 'health code' for the early world. Pigs, for example, which are considered unclean used to be more likely to carry disease. One of the big things, of course, is to not share meat and milk at the same table. This means if you have a steak, which you can have, you can't have cream or milk or cheese or butter with it. If you have french toast for breakfast, you can't eat even turkey sausage with it or later. You can't have it with the same meal, but you can have it later in the day. Of course, there's a lot of debate on how long you must wait, but you get the idea.

Now! Pareve is the sort of neutral zone of food. These foods are neither meat nor dairy and can be consumed with either one. These include, eggs, grains, vegetables, etc., and part of that etc. can include - if you do it right - chocolate cake. It's very easy to make a cake without dairy. Dairy provides fat and some lactic acid - if you replace that in the right way you end up with a wonderful-tasting result. The fat makes cakes tender, and the acid cuts glutens to keep it from getting stodgy and gross. The mixing method is, of course, just as important as the recipe.

This recipe is my absolute favorite, and it's the chocolate cake that I made for my wedding (as you see above)! It's wonderfully versatile, so feel free to use it as you see fit and got nuts with it. Heck, ADD nuts to it! It's your cake, do you.

 You'll notice that this particular recipe is in cups, not grams. This is just because I've made this cake too many times by volume and haven't ever done it by weight, so I haven't really measured it out in the way that you'd likely need to do it. If it bugs you too much, comment below and I'll do my best to convert them to grams in a timely manner.

I've used this particular recipe, which I've modified from MAC (Man About Cake's recipe) to fit some things. I just love this one because it's excellent for decorating and absolutely the most-versatile cake recipe I've ever come across. I'll put in ** my favorite variations!

B's Favorite Chocolate Cake
yields 2 9" cakes, perfect for stacking, or one large sheet cake
  • 2 c cane sugar
  • 2.5 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c soy milk
  • 1/2 c strong coffee, left over from the pot that morning is fine(**if you're making a chocolate orange cake, you may substitute orange juice instead of coffee! If you're wanting something a little sexier and more decadent, substitute for a good red wine like a pinot noir or a cabernet sauvignon, but nothing too sweet like a shiraz. You can also substitute this liquid for a strong mint tea if you'd like to make a chocolate mint cake!)
  • 1/2 c tofu sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tsp good vanilla
  • **You can add chopped dried cherries that have been reconstituted in wine for a chocolate cherry cake
  • **You can add orange zest if you're making a chocolate orange cake, in addition to the orange juice substitute
  • **You can add miniature chocolate chips, but please make sure to toss them lightly in flour in the beginning so they can be suspended throughout the cake instead of all sinking to the bottom
There are two ways you can prepare this, one is faster than the other, but it's all going to depend on what kind of equipment you have available to you. Either way,  you'll choose your pans, lightly grease them and then dust the inside with cocoa powder, especially on the corners, to make sure you get it all out nicely, but to also make sure that the cake can climb the sides with ease. Don't grease and then not flour this. Trust me. 

Oh, and preheat your oven to 375.

Method One:

Take your sugar, baking soda, flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process it in the bowl of a food processor. You're pulsing it together just to get it to be fine and fully incorporated. In a large pitcher, combine your soy milk, the liquid of your choice, sour cream, oil, the extract/flavoring of choice, vinegar, and whisk it together to create one homogenous mixture. 

Add about a third of the liquid mixture to your food processor, and pulse for 2 or 3 seconds each, five or six times. Add another third, and repeat. With the final third, make sure you scrape the inside and bottom of the bowl before you do anything else. Pulse a few times to get it integrated, but then mix for about 10 seconds. Your batter is now ready! It should be shiny and smooth and beautiful.

Method Two

Take all of your dry ingredients into a very large bowl and stir with a whisk. Mix all liquids together as per the previous method, except for the oil. Pour the oil in to the dry mix in a thin stream, tossing it around to make it sort of a crumbly texture. Add in the rest of the ingredients by the third, stirring in a well in the middle slowly, no more than five or six turns on each addition, and stirring until well combined. Try not to slosh everything, but be sure to scrape the bottom and sides. The batter might be a hair lumpy, but that's okay, so long as everything is generally homogeneous. You're looking for uniformity, but honestly don't worry too much about over-mixing as you've got some acid to play with, considering the vinegar and your liquid of choice - be it coffee, wine, or orange juice - all have acid in them. Acid cuts glutens, so you're definitely helping yourself out. 

Pour into your prepared pans of choice.  You can use either round cake tins or a sheet pan. Whichever you've chosen, be sure to pop your cakes in to the center rack and then turn the oven down to 350. You wanted it at 375 because you wanted the oven nice and hot before you started. You may have noticed that you're using baking soda, which reacts quickly. You'll want to really let these bubbles form as quick as you can, but not burn everything.

Check your cakes at 25 minutes. It should be fully set in the middle and have pulled gently away from the sides. If it's not quite there yet, cook in 5 minute increments. Obviously, the pan you've chosen will determine the amount of cooking time, so just stay nearby. 

Evacuate your cake and allow to cool completely before handling. This is a very moist cake with a nice crumb, and should be treated as such. My favorite part about this cake is that it freezes  beautifully. Believe it or not, the freezer is the pastry chef's best friend, next to the oven. 

Once you've decided on a design, you can really let your imagination run wild.

You can make a buttercream using butter flavoring and vegetable shortening, you can make a ganache using 2:1 ratio of coconut cream to good's really all up to you! Earth Balance makes my favorite substitutes for butter, and Daiya makes my favorite cream cheese substitute, so you can make a cream cheese frosting. You can also make a vegan mirror glaze recipe using agar agar instead of gelatin!

You can decorate with candied flowers and mint leaves. You can even do something as simple as layering your cake with jam between each layer and dusting it with cocoa powder. Do with this recipe what you will. And remember that the Holocaust happened. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! I hope you get out there and share this with friends; it's unhealthy to eat alone. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Chickpea Fritters

Fun fact: My husband built our dining room table! 
In my journey of cooking, I've found that going back to my roots has been one of the most rewarding explorations I could have gone on. I find that when you look back it can detract from the now, but looking into history one can really learn a lot about cooking, about life, and about how you came to be. The best part, for me, is feeling the souls of my ancestors with me as I learn more about the things they may have eaten and even the things they would try today.

I am descended from Russian/Lithuanian/Belarusian Jews and from the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.  The one thing they have in common is DEEP FRY EVERYTHING. I'm a big fan of deep-frying stuff, so it's no real surprise that Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays. The winter months are both harsh and confusing here in Midwestern Kansas City so I'm not 100% ready to let go of my deep-frying I may as well deep fry something relatively healthy.

Enter the Chickpea.

Related image
Don't be fooled - she's versatile!
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have a low glycemic index. They have a nice amount of fiber and are surprisingly nutrient-dense. They're ideal if you're trying to maintain a vegetarian diet or if you're just trying to shed a few pounds. There's even some evidence that they may help prevent certain chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Honestly, I could go on and on about chickpeas. These are so filling and a much healthier alternative to potatoes, and I daresay they can be just as versatile.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are mostly found in India, Africa, and even South America. You can grind it into flour or cook it into hummus or falafel. You'll find these in South Asian cuisines and Middle Eastern cuisines.You'll also see these a lot if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan. There's even a Turkish drink called Boza, made of fermented bulgur, but often topped with cinnamon-tossed chickpeas. The point is that this annual plant is incredibly important to many cultures, and you shouldn't let it pass you by.

Chickpea Fritters
yields 12 fritters (if you don't eat the batter)

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 tsp baking soda, divided
  • 1/4 c finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
I love to start with dried chickpeas and soak it overnight before I cook them. These take quite a bit of time, and really are a labor of love. I suggest you start these overnight, or at least the morning before you go to work. Cover them with more water than you think you need, trust me. Add your baking soda and let soak for 6-8 hours, but ideally overnight. Why baking soda? Well...

Baking soda has, by itself, a score of 9 on the pH scale, which makes it ever-so-slightly basic. It's not your friend Jessica that bakes the gluten-free cookie recipe she found from Pinterest and insists on you two going to get PSLs and has you take her photos for the 'gram... It's more like my level of basic, in which I really love fall but I refuse to watch "Love Actually" and won't be caught dead in UGs. The point is that it's just basic enough to get that hard chickpea broken down enough to give you the creamiest, dreamiest, most-custardy cooked bean you'll ever consume. 

Once you've gotten your chickpeas all soaked and you come home from work, drain your beans, rinse, and add to a heavy-bottomed pot with another teaspoon of baking soda, and cover entirely with water, having at least two inches of water over the surface. Bring it up to a boil, stir once or twice, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover your pot but leave the lid ajar and allow to cook for about an hour, or until the chickpeas are incredibly tender. Once it's all done, I like to toss in a little sesame oil, just to coat, and then season with salt. 

You can either cover them and pop them in the fridge for later use, orjust use them straight away...just be sure to drain them first, and taste them to make sure they're done! And have a handful for yourself, you've earned it. And,  yes, of course, you can use the canned kind if you want to. Just please drain well and rinse them off. 

"you tryna smash?" "don't make this weird"
In a large bowl, use a fork or potato masher to smash up all of your chickpeas to where it's a creamy mixture. It doesn't have to be smooth, but it can be if you like it. You can also use the paddle attachment of your standing mixer, or even a mortar and pestle and do it in batches! Either way, it's up to you. 

Add in all remaining ingredients and mix rather well. Taste for seasoning and correct as necessary. It shouldn't be overpowering, but you should know that your seasoning is apparent. Scoop them into mounds on a tray line with parchment or a silicon mat and then chill in the fridge. You may coat them with flour, if you like, at this point, but it's entirely up to you. I did not coat them with flour, even though - by definition - a fritter must be at least 35% breading. You can, of course, batter this if you like...but I do not like. I like them the way they are.

Keep in mind, you can make these smaller or larger!
Head up about an inch's worth of a nice neutral oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. You're looking for 350 degrees F. You can check this without a thermometer by taking a sprig of herb or a leaf of a scallion and gently dropping it in. You are looking for a sprig that sputters and dances around the pot, like a someone wearing a very poofy dress that's twirling around a ballroom. This is how I was taught by an old sushi chef to see if your oil was hot enough for tempura, back when I was a young apprentice. 

I like to do these two or three at a time, but you may do it one at a time if you're a little more comfortable with that. If you're nervous about the stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan, get out a bowl of flour and give each of the balls a tiny roll in and a good pat of flour before frying. I use a fork to allow each fritter to ease gently into the hot oil, and then use it to press it down to a flatter shape, much like you'd do with a latke. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, in the boiling fat before flipping over to cook for another minute. You don't need to cook these much longer than that, but you do need to have a sheet pan lined with a rack on the inside of a warm oven to keep these hot while you fry by the batch. 
A 200 degree oven will keep these warm!
These fritters are fabulous snacks. You can serve them with sour cream. You can add finely chopped vegetables and more herbs to make a full meal. You can have them with a salad of herbs and garden greens. You can serve with a roasted chicken. The fritters can be served either hot or cold, but I think that room temperature is the best. You can use it as a party snack or serve with dinner. Use them to make a vegetarian sandwich with a fried egg and some tofu sausage and some cheeze. Heck, make them thin, spread them with goat cheese and figs and put them on your Seder table for your Tu B'Shevat celebration tomorrow! This is an excellent accompaniment to any dinner, especially a vegetarian one, as chickpeas are high in protein. 

Or, you know, be like me and serve it with a roasted chicken. Whatever you like!

I hope you've enjoyed this! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Personal Apple Streusels

They're not technically pies, since they don't have a crust, but I won't tell if you won't. 
I'm a big fan of eating seasonally. Apple season starts in the fall, and extends into early winter. Apples don't do well when frozen on the tree, and most apple trees here in North America are prolific and will give more than enough to you should you have one of your own. Be warned, though, they are prolific to the point of problematic.

One of my husband's favorite arguments against me planting an apple tree in our garden is the childhood memory of the two apple trees he had from age 9 to 19 in a little house in Columbia. You need to have two apple trees if you have one at all, as they tend to cross pollinate with the wind. He, his brother, and sister all would be put to work during apple harvest season to peel and make apple butter, apple sauce, etc., by their mother. If they did not, the fruit would fall off, rot, and ferment. If the fruit would ferment, they would have stray animals in their yard that would essentially get krunk on these fermented fruits. Squirrels, he tells me, were the funniest, but they were never funny enough to justify the presence of the drunken hornets.

Years later, I asked him why they couldn't just pick all the apples at once and keep the ones you didn't want to process in the cellar, he said that it was too much trouble. When I asked what he meant, he told me that if apples touch each other or are stacked on top of one another, they'll go rotten. Upon further research, I find that this is true. Apples are not social fruits, so it's best to wrap them each individually in paper and store them in a cool and dry place. I read once that folks would store apples tightly in barrels and even sink them in lakes under the ice, only to retrieve them later. (I have no idea if this is true, some guy told me while I stopped for gas while driving through Ozark country. Nice guy.) There's a ton of folk knowledge for how to store apples for long periods of time, but most of us in the cities don't need to worry about that. That being said, if you buy in bulk, it's good to know that you're able to store fruit in your basement or garage, properly stored, for long periods of time.

I consider apples a winter fruit because they keep so well in the winter months. Most dried fruits are obviously considered a 'winter' fruit, but many of my 'seasonal cookbooks' use squash or apples in their baked goods because of factors like this. Squash, apples, carrots, and other root vegetables keep well in root cellars, so therefore they're ideal for the winter. I live in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that it's currently winter.

This is my 150 year old silver maple! This photo has not been edited at all. 

We got a big snow over the weekend of a 9"-12" accumulation, and we're expecting another big snow next week as well. When things snow, all I want to do is bake. I don't know if it's some kind of deep psychological reasoning that makes me associate snowfall with "MUST BAKE NOW"or if I just want my house to be warm from the oven, but when the snow falls, my oven goes on.

My husband loves apple pie, but since I didn't have enough apples for a whole pie, I did this version. I hope you like it!

Personal Apple Streusels 
yields two

  • Two apples of your favorite variety, the firmer the better. I had Sugar Bee apples, but you can check out info on varieties here
  • 3 Tbsp local honey
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c oats
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (2 oz) lard or vegan butter (or dairy butter, whatever you like/have)
  • **chopped walnuts or dried fruit, as needed
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. The flour, oats, sugar, and fat are your streusel elements. All you do is mix these items together with a spoon, pressing the fat into the dry ingredients until it's sort of crumbly. Keep this in the fridge while you work with your other stuff. 

Do you like my argyle socks? 
Slice off the top of your apple. Using a spoon or apple corer, dig out the insides and discard the tough core and seeds. Keep the rest of the insides and put it in a separate bowl along with the sugar, honey, spices, and salt. You can core out as much as you like, but I think that it's safest to leave at least 1/2" of apple in around the skin. The point is that you're tossing the insides of this apple in your sugar/filling mixture. If you like, you can add raisins, dried cranberries, or dried currants. You can also add any kind of chopped nut that you like to either the filling or the topping. My favorite nuts with apples is the noble black walnut. Either way, please taste as you go to make sure that this is the amount of sweetness that you want. If so, add more sugar! If you'd like it a little spicier, feel free to mix it up. When you're happy with the flavor profile you've created, fill your apples back up with the nice filling you've made and top it with your cold streusel topping. Please be generous! 

I had a little spillover, but that's fine. I snacked on it when it came out of the oven. 

Mine baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, but you check yours at 30 to make sure that the apples are soft and the filling is bubbling. You always want to make sure that your apple pies (be they personal or a large one) are bubbling, as that's when you know the pectin will be activated and that the internal temperature is at least 212 degrees. 

Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more honey. You can serve this with a sour cream sauce, some vanilla nice cream (vegan ice cream) or some whipped cream. I like to eat this warm, but there's no reason you can't make a lot of these ahead of time and serve them to a large party. They're quite impressive yet nonthreatening on a plate. Something like this would be perfect for a small dinner party, and the cleanup would be a snap. After all, the dessert is self-containing. 

Thanks so much for reading! If you try this, please comment below and tell me how my recipe went for you. This is an awesomely quick dessert that's so easy and delicious. It encompasses the flavors of apple pie without having to do a big amount of dough. Let me know what you think. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

In addition to pancakes, I'm addicted to two other things: steak, and macaroni and cheese. My @Instagram is full of all three of those things!

A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

Sorry, vegans - I'm not ACTUALLY one of you, but I do have a severely lactose intolerant husband and I'm both east Asian and Jewish so I really shouldn't be eating much dairy anyhow. It's really easy to cut dairy out of your home cooking entirely, and because of my husband's dietary restrictions I don't even have any in the house. No milk, no cheese, no butter, no sour cream. Because of this, any vegetarian meal at home that we consume is automatically vegan.

Just so everyone is clear: Vegan = no animal products.

Many folks go on to make this synonymous with no animal suffering. I disagree with that, as the ideology - although I'm sure is well-intended - does have some issues. Honey, for example, is considered to be not vegan. Here's the thing, though - harvesting honey from bees doesn't harm them at all, and any beekeeper will tell you that. Furthermore, if you buy local honey it'll help you immensely with your seasonal allergies. Not to mention all the jobs you'll help create by buying honey from your local beekeepers, but more beekeepers often means more bees.


  • If you ever find a wild hive that's come on your property, call your local apiary instead of an exterminator. Eight out of ten, they'll come and harvest that hive for you, free of charge, and will not kill the bees! The other two times, they'll give you the resources and phone numbers you need to call to get those bees off your property without harming the bees.

 What is harmful is all of the agave we're consuming. Agave is a plant that grows in Mexico, and the amount that we're harvesting is harming bats, who depend on the nectar to survive. Bats consume a ridiculous amount of insects, including mosquitos which both carry disease and are a plague on this planet. Bats are good! Please, eat honey and skip the agave - save the bats.

As you can see, veganism is a dietary choice and not necessarily a moral compass. There are many reasons to go vegan! And here, we're going to have some vegan macaroni and cheese. It's 100% dairy-free for my lactose-intolerant people, and totally pareve for my observant Kosher Jewish followers. You know what that means? You can have this with meat!

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
serves 8
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked in salted water for 6 minutes until a hair harder than al dente (you'll be cooking it in the oven again, so it's okay if it's under-cooked)
    • Furthermore, you don't have to only use macaroni. You can use shell pasta, strascinati, penne, fiori, you name it! I do recommend using something that's not totally long and thin, though, as you'll want something sturdy for the oven. 
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance (you can also use coconut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 can plain coconut cream (do not use the sweetened version, or this will taste like someone kicked you in the teeth and said "f*ck you")
  • 1/4 c tofu sour cream (Tofutti is the best)
  • 3/4 c vegan cream cheese (tofutti and daiya make my favorite kinds)
  • 2 c cheddar-style vegan cheese shreds (Follow Your Heart and Daiya make the best cheeses)
This is your base recipe for the sauce. You can add more "cheeses" if you like, or substitute the cheddar-style for mozzerella style or pepperjack style. The beautiful thing about macaroni and cheese is that it's so incredibly versatile and you can add almost anything you like to it. Here is a full list of my favorite things you can stir in to your mac when you're ready to bake:
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  • Roasted brussells sprouts
  • Caramelized onions or leeks
  • Peas, fresh or frozen
  • Roasted squash, such as acorn squash or any kind of pumpkin
  • Braised winter greens (kale, mustard greens, etc)
  • Shaved asparagus
  • Spinach, fresh or cooked
  • Fresh herbs 
    • Dill
    • Savory
    • Tarragon
    • Parsley
Have I stirred other things into mac and cheese? Things like chopped chicken, beef sausage, roasted beets or cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes from my garden, chopped green beans and more? Absolutely! Those things up in that list, though, are my favorite things, and I encourage you to make this into a full meal by adding whatever you like. 

To make this simple dish, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish, either one large one or two medium-sized ones. I love using this recipe because it can feed a large amount of people, but if it's just my husband and I then I will separate them into several dishes so we can cover, refrigerate, and bake off at a later date when I'm feeling a little lazy. 

Melt your butter in a thick-bottomed saucepot on a medium flame. Add in the garlic and cook for about a minute, until just barely soft and brown. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk it together until it's smooth. You'll want to lower your flame just barely until it's all sort of simmering, and cook this roux for at least five minutes. Open your can of coconut cream and add, bringing the flame up to medium-high. Bring this to a boil, whisking constantly, and then reduce to a simmer. Add in your cream cheese and stir until incorporated. Sprinkle in your cheddar-style shreds, whisking constantly, a little at a time so as not to allow clumps. You may also add your fresh herbs at this stage, but it's up to you. 

Drain your pasta and toss with a little oil, and return it to your cooking pot. Pour the hot cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to coat. It is now that you will add whichever mix-ins you like. The one in the first post at the top of the page has pumpkin, caramelized onions, and bok choi. Last month, I made one with peas and carrots. Just a few days ago, I made one with plenty of parsley and frazzled leeks. The point is: be creative!

I actually had some dairy-free cheese slices in the fridge so I thought it'd be fun to
add torn pieces of those throughout to get extra 'pockets' of cheesey goodness.

If you like a little extra crunch, you may crumble up some potato chips or crackers from your pantry and sprinkle on top, as well as some vegan parmesan shreds, extra cheese, panko bread crumbs...whatever you like! I don't always have panko bread crumbs in my pantry, but my husband is addicted to potato chips so I like to crush them up and put them on the top. 

You may bake the amount you need and put the rest of the dishes in the fridge to have at a later date. No matter what, you'll bake at 350 for 30 minutes from cold and only 20 minutes if you're baking this dish from hot. Serve hot, straight out of the casserole dish, and share this meal with a friend. While it is a wonderful thing to love one's own company, I am of the mind that it is unhealthy to eat alone. A good meal should be shared, so invite your neighbor over for food and get to know them. Or, you know, just post a picture of the mac and cheese on Facebook and see if any friends want to pop in. 

I hope you get out there and enjoy making mac and cheese. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Sunday Morning Pancakes

*heavy breathing*
Happy New Year, my little tchotchkes! So good to see you all, out there and reading and ready to go! 2018 was a crazy year for a lot of people, but it was easily the best year of my life without debate. I got married to my best friend and with that came seeing all of my family and friends that I hadn't seen in such a long time. Plus, I got to prank my husband with a giant t-rex costume on our reveal. This year was amazing, and I thank the year for all I've learned.

2019, Mrs. S will see you now. And Mrs. S is ready for this year, and all that it will bring. Do you know what we're starting our year out with in our house? The celebratory breakfast, of course! Pancakes.

Pancakes are very important in our house. And why shouldn't they be? They're easy, they're easily tailored, and incredibly cheap to make. My grandmother made awesome pancakes, and it was something that both my dad and I would like to make on holiday mornings, or lazy mornings when we had the option of taking a nap immediately after breakfast. Anybody can make a pancake! It's one of those basic things that I suppose I take for granted. Please forgive me, now, for I'm going to go on one of those annoying 'food blogger' tangents on why pancakes have such an emotional tie for me. Scroll down if you want to skip it, as the recipe title is  - as always - bolded. TL;DR - I take pancakes for granted.

Some time ago, I treated this kid to breakfast, who was from a very unstable home and was in a very unstable living situation. I couldn't do much for her, but sometimes what people need in this situation is a moment to sort of check out and get a taste of normalcy. She seemed uncomfortable in the restaurant I'd chosen, which was one of my favorites. We sat at the bar, where my friend S works, makes the drinks for the restaurant, and acts as a server for that section. The girl, who was 16, asked if they had any pizza. I thought it was unusual, but kind of cute.

"Sweetie, this is a breakfast place. They have breakfast foods here."

"I have pizza for breakfast."

"Don't you want to try something else? They have great omelettes here, or pancakes if you're feeling like something sweet."

"Do they have regular cheese?"

I didn't know what she meant by 'regular' cheese, but I learned in my non-profit work that this was code for 'something I'm used to.' I took the menu and pointed out all of the cheese options for the omelettes; gouda, gruyere, aged cheddar and more... She didn't know what any of them meant. When I said 'Parmesan' she sort of piped up and asked if it was the stuff in the can.

"Why don't you try the pancakes?" I suggested. "The chef here's great, and he makes a good pancake. They're big, though, so you should only get them if you're hungry. Are you hungry?" She nodded. S, my friend, winked at me and got her an order of pancakes while she got me my regular toast and jam with coffee. I had a big day at work and I didn't want to be slowed down by too hefty a breakfast.

S and I chatted for a little as I watched out of the corner of my eye as this half-starved girl wolfed down these pancakes.

"Do you like them?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, they're gucci." (I assumed this meant 'good' with the new kids' speak.) "They're way better than the microwaved kind."

This single, seemingly innocuous statement somehow hit me in the face very much like someone had taken a fully-grown catfish by the tail and whacked me across the cheek with it. I had heard of folks never having homemade roast turkey or homemade pasta before, but homemade pancakes??

I asked her "You don't ever do pancake breakfasts at your house? Your parents never made them?"

"They don't cook; they're too busy smoking." I didn't know what she meant, but I understood well enough. I asked if I could see her notebook; she let me, so I found a blank page and wrote down my basic pancake recipe. Not long after, the chef - who is a friend - came out to say hello.

"Chef, this kiddo just gave your pancakes the best compliment I've ever heard," I said, nodding pointedly to my new friend beside me, who had also never had fresh-squeezed orange juice before. I watched her face as she watched the juice be squeezed out of the fruit, right into the pitcher for S's mimosas. I asked if we could have a small glass of that for the kid, and of course S obliged, like the kind and beautiful soul she is.

"Oh yeah?" He asked. "Let's hear it."

The girl said "They're way better than the microwaved kind!" she piped up happily. Chef laughed, feeling rather chuffed.

"What's better than that, right?" he asked me.

"Not a lot," I said. He and I both have been in the culinary industry a long time, and I think we both knew all too well what kind of situation this girl was in. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think it's a general fact that the culinary industry attracts a certain type of person, which is to say it's the type of person that enjoys and/or is used to a certain type of abuse. In my time, I've had line cooks from broken homes, some had drug habits and some were fresh out of prison. You see a lot of that in professional kitchens; cooking is sort of one of those jobs that is truly open to anyone and a place where anyone from any background can be safe and free to work and start anew. Some of the finest chefs I've ever worked with came from the most horrible and toxic of backgrounds. Chef and I exchanged a look, having a good idea what she was going through, and I think we both understood.

We later sent her on her way, off to school, and I haven't seen her since, but I do think about her and that comment almost every time I have pancakes, which is quite a lot. B and I have pancakes just about every Sunday morning. If you look at my instagram, you'll see videos of pancakes and me pouring pancake syrup all over the aforementioned pancakes.

And, honestly, a lot of pancake moneyshots. 
Pancakes are a simple and basic staple that everybody - be they chef or home cook - should have in their pocket. You can go crazy as you like with them, but it's best to keep it simple if you're just starting out. In my research for this book that I'm writing, as well as my work with others of a different background, I'm learning more and more that really none of us get a universal experience of the world and of growing up, and it's absolutely nobody's fault.

I recently got married and I decided to check out, which is the next step after The "cooking 101" section is truly mind-blowing for me, chock full of things that I take for granted and things I - very wrongfully assume - that everybody knows how to do. "How to cook corn." "How to cook polenta." Every step I take is truly showing me how lucky I was and how unusual it is to have a family that cooks the way my family cooks. I've had to make some adjustments to pancakes considering my husband is super lactose-intolerant, but this is the basic pancake recipe that we use every Sunday, Christmas, and New Year's morning.

Sunday Morning Pancakes
  • 1 c AP Flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 c soy/almond/hemp milk
  • 1 tsp of brandy extract (You can use vanilla if you like, but I think this goes best with the real maple syrup that we use. You can use rum, too, for holidays!)
Whisk the egg, sugar, oil, and extract until all combined. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir a few times with the whisk, and then add the 'milk' about a third at a time, stirring gently between additions. Scrape the sides of the bowl with the whisk when all of the 'milk' is added and stir until everything is combined. Lumps are fine, I assure you. You'd like it to be just a hair thinner than you normally would think a pancake batter would be. Now, here's the trick:

*Rest your batter for at least 15 minutes. You'll ideally want 30, but I doubt you'll want to wait that long. Then again, it might take you that whole 30 minutes to get your kids/husband/self dressed. I don't judge. The point is, though, that you'll want to let the batter rest and you want to do this for two reasons: one, to hydrate the flour, and two to let any gluten that may have formed to relax. This is, in essence, a quickbread, so you'll want to not have any big tunnelling or for them to be too tough. You can also help alleviate this by giving yourself a hair more insurance with half a teaspoon of white vinegar. This is another reason why buttermilk pancakes are so prevalent - the acid in the buttermilk plus the fat equals a super tender and nice pancake. Science!

Heat up your griddle or pan. I have a cast iron griddle that was a wonderful gift from my auntie from my wedding registry. It's taken me quite a bit to get used to it, as it's stretched over two burners and does have some hot spots. The trick is that you turn on both burners to a medium flame and let the entire cast iron skillet heat up for at least 10 minutes, and test with a few droplets of water to see if it's hot. Use a paper towel and some canola oil to rub and/or season your skillet as it's heating. It's one big piece of metal, so the heat will distribute evenly, once you give it enough time.

Once I'm ready to cook and know that my husband has pants on (our dining room has a big open window, so the neighbors will see if he doesn't), I turn on my oven to 200 degrees F to keep warm, and put a ceramic plate on the inside to hold my pancakes, as I tend to cook 3 or 4 at a time.

See this? This is the color you're looking for!
Once you think your griddle is hot enough, take a spoonful of your batter and test it. You'll want to cook it until bubbles form and stay in tact around the edges, but the middle is still a little liquid. If you turn it over and it's too pale, then your heat is too low. If you turn it over and it's too dark, then the heat is too high. If you turn it over and the color is a nice golden-brown, you've got the heat just right!

Using a disher (I like the 2 oz size, but you can use what you like), scoop out your batter onto the hot griddle. Scoop as many on as you feel comfortable for your space, making sure that you're not crowding them to the point that they either run into each other or you can't easily flip them over. Each pancake will take approximately 30 - 45 seconds to cook per side, so it really is fast food. Hold each one in the oven, nice and stacked high, until all of your batter is done.

Okay, YEAH, I sometimes put rum in my pancake batter. The booze cooks off. And how dare you judge me.
This recipe makes 8 - 10 pancakes, size-dependent. I like the classic shortstack, but if you like the silver dollar sized, be my guest! These are your pancakes and you get to decide what that means. I always have a little extra batter so I make a tiny one for my dog. He's 136 lbs so one pancake isn't going to hurt him, and it's okay if he has some slathered with some coconut oil, for his fur and joint health.

Now that you have the basic recipe in hand, you can create all sorts of recipes! Use this simple recipe and method to create all sorts of things. Here are some variations that I personally have tried.

  • Cornmeal pancakes
    • Substitute 1/2 c of the flour for yellow or blue cornmeal, and let the batter rest for 5 minutes longer than you might initially let them sit for.
  • Red velvet pancakes
    • Add red food coloring, increase the liquid by 2 Tbsp of "milk", and add 1 tsp of good dark cocoa powder
  • Chocolate chip pancakes
    • When you put your pancake batter on the griddle, sprinkle a few chocolate chips around the top so that the batter cooks and rises around them before you flip!
  • Blueberry pancakes
    • When you put your pancake batter on the griddle, immediately place blueberries into the batter and allow them to cook up and around them before you flip
  • Vegan pancakes
    • Substitute the egg for one mashed overripe banana
I hope you've enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for bearing with me while I reminisce. It's the first day of a new year and I'm feeling sentimental. I'm going to resolve to write at least one post per week, and have already scheduled that in my daily planner.

Do you do New Year's resolutions/goals? Let's hear them in the comments! Happy cooking and happy eating!