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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fast & Fizzy Kimchi

A photo posted by Kolika of Pistachio Bakehouse (@wannabgourmande) on

I'm a big fan of instagram. I use it to promote my business, keep up with my friends, and learn all about exciting new things that pastry chefs around the world are doing. I especially love instagram because of its purity; minimal ads, only 'like's, you only see what you want to see, and it's all in a nice, clean form that's just perfectly streamlined. It's because of instagram that my page gets so many views, and people know about me, in their own small scale. Anyway...

I've talked about fermented foods before in some of my wellness blogs. Naturally fermented foods are so great for your overall gut health and I highly recommend that you--yes, you--start incorporating them in your diet. Something as simple as "eat better" is truly attainable when you introduce more fermented foods  as your 2017 resolution. After all, after the dumpster fire of a year this has been, it's going to be pretty easy for it to be a good year, with the bar being set so low.

One of the staples in my pantry is called a ginger bug. I talked about it on my homemade ginger soda blog, here, some time ago. Did you know that you can use ginger bug to make lots of fermented foods that are super-good for you? Sauerkraut, soda, even making fizzy berries for a feel-good topping over ice cream! (Locally sourced, of course.) So long as you keep your ginger bug alive and well, you can do anything with it.

Ginger Bug

  • Organic ginger(yes, it has to be organic)
  • Cane sugar(no, not coconut sugar, not date sugar, not beet sugar, not honey; CANE SUGAR)
  • Filtered water
  • Clean and sterilized mason jar w/ lid
To make your ginger bug, simply roughly chop your ginger, skin included, and combine it with equal parts by volume, if you please, in a clean mason jar. Simply seal, shake, and allow it to sit in a sunny window, undisturbed, for two or three days. You'll soon see bubbles forming, and that's a good thing. Do not refrigerate, simply feet sugar and water every once in a while, and leave it in a cupboard until you're ready to use it. My own personal ginger bug is at least a year old at this point, and hasn't failed me yet. 

Is this the most-authentic recipe ever? Absolutely not. Is it even remotely authentic? Eh. I mean...it was made by a half-Asian person, and it tastes good. So....does it count as kimchi? By definition, Kimchi is spicy, pickled cabbage. So, yes! Yes it does count as kimchi. (If you want an authentic recipe, though, try this one right here.) This is just a quick-and-easy recipe that your average millenial can do at home to have some nice kimchi in a couple of days. 

My boyfriend saw the cabbage on the counter and sighed deeply before leaving the house; he hates kimchi day
Fast & Fizzy Kimchi

  • 1 medium-sized head organic Napa cabbage
  • 1 small yellow onion, julienned
  • 3 Tbsp ginger, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder(I use New Mexican chili powder because it's what I have in the pantry; you can use Korean chili powder, of course! If you like more spice, add it! Please, let's not forget who is eating it...)
  • Strained ginger bug, A/N
  • Kosher salt, A/N
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned(optional)
  • 1 cup scallions, julienned(optional)
Note: Is this the most-authentic recipe ever? Absolutely not. Is it even remotely authentic? Eh. I mean...it was made by a half-Asian person, and it tastes good. So....does it count as kimchi? By definition, Kimchi is spicy, pickled cabbage. So, yes! Yes it does count as kimchi. (If you want an authentic recipe, though, try this one right here.) This is just a quick-and-easy recipe that your average millenial can do at home to have some nice kimchi in a couple of days.

Take your cabbage and slice it in nice thin strips(julienne) and pop it in a large container. Take a generous amount of kosher salt and dump it into the container, then work it in with your hands to make sure the cabbage is evenly coated. Cover with a moist paper towel and let it sit for 1 hour to overnight, undisturbed. When you're ready, remove the paper towel and, using your hands to press down the cabbage and keep it there, tip it over the sink to drain all of that liquid out. There will be lots, so do be patient. 

It's really a stupid amount of liquid that comes out...
In a large glass bowl, combine your onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, chili powder and any other vegetables you've chosen to include with your kimchi. I like to keep it just plain, but some like nice julienned carrots and scallions in their kimchi. Toss everything together with your cabbage and put your mixture in sterilized containers. I prefer glass jars, as they're so easily reusable. I'll put kimchi in anything, even if the label of what it originally was is still attached to it!

Now that you've packed your kimchi, it's time to finish it off! Strain enough ginger bug over your kimchi mixture so that each jar is about 3/4 of the way full with it. Top it with one more pinch of sugar and some (ideally) filtered water. (I've used tap water for years, though, and it's been fine.) Once you've depleted your ginger bug, don't forget to feed it again. Just add back some sugar and water and leave it to grow. Those bacteria are hungry, after all, and they do deserve a little snack for all of their hard work.

Leave your kimchi, undisturbed, in the back of the cabinet(or on top of your refrigerator) for at least two days. By then, it should be fizzy enough to be eaten, but the longer you let it sit, the better. I've kept kimchi, undisturbed, in a cool dark place for up to 3 months and it was still fine. For the sake of safety, though, I'd keep it in the cellar or in the fridge once you've opened it...and toss it when it turns blue or grows hair. 

Eating fermented foods in the dead of winter helps your immune system, too!

This makes me two large jars, so it might make you several small jars.  I have a big, wide-mouthed mason jar and, on the right, is a jar that used to hold coconut oil, but has been washed and repurposed. I'm trying to lead a more trash-free lifestyle, so I'm all about reusing things when I'm able. If you have an odd array of different jars, all the better! Don't conform to sameness; dare to be different. A varied diet will keep your guts happy and healthy, so please don't be afraid to try this basic recipe with other vegetables as well. I don't recommend, however, using porous veggies like squash; stick with the harder stuff, like carrots, onions, bok choy, etc.

As always, if you try my recipes, please let me know in the comments! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Unofficial Pumpkin Pasties

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. As a proud Slytherin/Pukwudgie, I raise my freak flag and wave the bejeezus out of it happily. I made some pumpkin pasties, quite recently, under the moniker "Pumpkin Pockets" so I could sell them at my bakery...but I can't legally stop you from calling them Pumpkin Pasties! Here's how I did it:

Pumpkin Pockets

  • 1 (15 oz) can of organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can of organic sweetened condensed milk(Yes, that's a thing)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Pie Dough/Puff Pastry(A/N)
  • Egg wash(A/N)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl using a whisk until smooth. Taste for salt, and then bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool until nice and solid; you can also chill this overnight.

Why are you cooking the filling first? 
  1. It's easier to work with
  2. This filling is too liquidy to be safely contained in a pocket while you fold it!
Can you use this filling as a normal pumpkin pie filling? Absolutely! (But then they wouldn't be hand-held and pocket-worthy, would they?

Once your filling is chilled enough to work with. take your favorite pie dough(or, if you like, some simple store-bought puff-pastry) and roll flat using sugar instead of flour. Yes, sugar! It'll caramelize in the oven and give you a LOVELY crunch on your finished product... You can even roll it in cinnamon sugar for some extra flavor, but I'll leave that up to you.

I rolled mine in squares(less waste) and brushed two of the four edges with egg wash. Using a disher, scoop about 2 oz of filling into my squares and folded over the puff dough. Use a fork to crimp the edges if you like that look, or use your fingers if you like that look! Make sure to poke a couple of vent holes in the top before you bake, or you could get a big mess everywhere. 

Bake at 375 until done, about 20 minutes, and allow to cool. (Seriously, don't eat these fresh out of the oven. The filling gets stupid hot and you'll burn the inside of your mouth, and walk around all open-mouthed and gagging like someone cast Mimblewimble on ya dumb ass.) If they're cool enough to pick up with your bare hands, they're likely cool enough to eat!

The best part about these is that they're hand-held, so you can make lots of them and they can just keep nicely...you can eat them now, make them for a holiday party, or freeze them for a microwaveable treat later!

Happy cooking and happy eating! (Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be weeping bitter tears over gifsets of Jacob Kowalski and Queenie Goldstein. )

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lavender Sugar Cookies

Tis the season, tis the season! Snow falling, pine trees filling our homes, warm apple cider filling our bellies...ah, yes, the holidays, right around the corner. Do you know what else is right around the corner? Mercury Retrograde.

Yep. Mercury Retrograde is right around the corner, a short 10 days away and it spans over the holiday season from December 19th, 2016 to January 8th, 2017. Yay. I can't imagine a better way to send off the absolute garbage year that 2016 has been. What can we do about it? Globally, nothing. In our own personal lives, we can spray the bejeezus of our homes and lives with positive energy and hope for the best.

I chose to become a chef because chefs make everybody happy; they provide good food, they give you an experience, and they do their best, every day, to make sure that the best part of your day is eating their food. Cooking at home using family recipes is also the closest thing you can do to time travel; cook your famed grandmother's dish, and the smell will send you back to her home when you were a child. What's more powerful than that?

Enter the lavender bud, a powerful and well-recognized flower in magical and mundane lives. Everybody knows how relaxing lavender's aroma is, and who doesn't love a good lavender pear vinaigrette? It has a delicate flavor, a gentle aroma, and many magickal qualities(love, communication, sharpening the mind). It is this Kitchen Witch's opinion that there isn't a better counter to Mercury Retrograde than lavender, a plant that's associated with Mercury!

Here's the problem: You can't just take lavender sachets and pop them all over your office at work, or burn lavender buds in the car, or plant them in the dead of winter. As silly as it might sound, you could get in trouble with HR for that. You know what you can do? Bake with them.

These were the designs I used for Samhain/Halloween!
Lavender sugar cookies are almost always at my shop, and they're often featured at the farmer's market when it's in season. They're my absolute favorite way to show off some fun holiday flair, and the recipe for the dough itself can carry you through the year! You can decorate them just about any which way from Sunday, and boy do they look great when they're done...

I was feeling elegant, so I thought I'd try black and white!
Though they have fragrant lavender buds in them, they're still just sugar cookies, so they can be decorated in any way one chooses. Cookies are a big part of the holidays, and I am a fan of working smart, not hard. In other words, I don't see the point in making two separate things when you can combine a big of magick into your mundane life.

These were done for the 4th of July!

Lavender Sugar Cookies
  • 8 oz flour
  • 6 oz butter, room temperature
  • 2 oz powdered sugar
  • 4 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender buds
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
If you'd like a truly magickal cookie, combine your sugars with your lavender the night before and put them in an east-facing window to let the first sunlight hit it when it first rises in the winter sky. The lavender's aroma will also perfume the sugar, which is a good thing for a lovely enhanced flavor.

Another way to make this magickal is by the infusion method. Simply take your lavender buds with the butter and pop into a heavy-bottomed pan. Melt the butter gently and allow to sit and infuse for about 10 minutes before pouring into your mixing bowl, which you should cleanse. Pop your butter in the fridge for about 10 more minutes, just to let the butter set into a solid shape again, and then continue with the recipe.

Beat the butter in your standing mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, then add the sugars. Beat this together for about 2 minutes, then scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add your egg and beat for 1 minute to fully combine. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour with the salt and baking powder and spoon in the dry ingredients, in three separate additions, until everything is combined. Remove your dough from your bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap, forming a nice disc, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, at most overnight.

When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare your work surface. I've got a lovely marble slab that I like to roll out cookie doughs and pie doughs on, but any cool countertop surface works fine. Take a sheet of parchment paper, cut to about the size of your cookie sheet, and liberally lubricate with panspray. I like using coconut oil as my nonstick lubricant of choice, but what you have in the cabinet is just fine, so long as it's a generally neutral flavor. 

Remove your dough from the plastic wrap and pop on your lubricated parchment. Spray the top your dough and lay that same plastic (waste not, want not) on top, nice and flat. Use your rolling pin to beat your dough slightly, just to soften it, then gently roll out from the middle. Rotate the parchment sheet on your work surface to roll it evenly, then remove the plastic wrap, spray your dough again, and cover it again. This time, flip it over so that the plastic is down on your work surface, and peel back the parchment. Spray it again, cover, and roll.  Repeat this process until your dough is about a quarter inch thick.

Why are you doing this? Well...

  1. No messy flour to clean up
  2. Less risk of overworking the dough
  3. You've measured your flour so perfectly...why add more unnecessarily?
  4. No mess to clean up
  5. You can move the dough around more easily when it's on parchment already
  6. No mess to clean up
I hope that clears up everything! Now then... You can cut your shapes now, it's true, and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, or you can do what I do:

I bake my cookie dough in one big sheet and cut after they've baked, while they're still warm from the oven. Why? So my cookie shapes don't spread out, of course! I'll get perfect lines every time, and I get to eat the scraps. I can also pulse the scraps in my food processor and store them in an airtight jar in the cabinet, and then use them to sprinkle on cupcakes or use to make struesel toppings for pies and muffins. 

To make the royal icing, simply whip the egg whites with the powdered sugar until it hits the right consistency. There are about a million different video tutorials online on how to do it properly, but look for the consistency found in this video below for the best results:

I love SweetAmbs cookies, and get a lot of my decorating ideas from her channel, found here!

You can use all sorts of decorating techniques with corresponding colors to get funky. This can be a great project for kids, or grown-ups, to make their own magickal cookies. You can also just make these cookies for yourself and stuff your face while you watch the world freeze over with the winter snow. They make a great addition to gingerbread cookies, as well as peppermint spritz cookies, for your holiday assortment. (Just make sure to take a photo before everyone gets a chance at them...)

Seriously, I set them down for half a second and these were all that was left when I came back

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you enjoyed my Lavender Sugar Cookie tutorial for Yule/Mercury Retrograde! Remember to be the change you wish to see in the world, and kill your enemies with kindness. If there's some jerk spouting hate, bake them cookies. It won't be long before everyone around you both sees that you're being nice, that they're being the asshole, and the asshole is soon ostracized by the group for their horrible behavior. See? It's slower to take the high road, but it's much more effective in the end.

Enjoy these cookies and may the Gods be ever in your favor. Happy cooking and happy eating!