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Showing posts with label healthy baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy baking. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Peanut Butter Brownies


"Your mom said I can have a peanut butter square as soon as they cool down!"

This recipe couldn't be easier! I love a good "Dump-it" recipe...and it seems most of those kinds of recipes for me involve peanut butter. Check out my Dump-It Cookies recipe here! Peanut butter gets a sordid rap because Peanuts take the number 3 spot in the "Top 6 Food Allergies" list. For those of us that are not so afflicted, we can enjoy this salty, creamy, nutty, protein-rich treat. Here's how to make the Easiest Ever Peanut Butter Brownies!

Disclaimer: Please be conscientious! If sharing these with friends, make sure they don't have any allergies to speak of! If you take these to a child's bake sale(someday in the future when such things are allowed), use a nut-free sunflower seed butter instead. It bakes just the same!

Peanut Butter Brownies

  • 4 oz all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz granulated sugar
  • 1.5 oz good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coconut milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Fat pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 c canola or peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp good vanilla
  • About 3/4 c of smooth peanut butter, room temperature
  • **Crushed or chopped peanuts, optional!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add all of your dry ingredients and whisk them together until entirely incorporated. If you decide to add in some crushed peanuts, or even some mini chocolate chips, you may do so now. You do this now because you want the mix-ins of choice to be coated with your flour mixture so that they don't sink too much to the bottom if you use a smaller pan. 

Mix together the eggs, oil, and vanilla with a fork or a pair of chopsticks. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and dump in your wet stuff. Stir with a small, flexible spatula until everything is combined. Pour into a prepared brownie pan (a 9"x 9" or 13" x 9" will do just fine) that's been either lined with parchment paper or greased with either butter or oil. Spread your batter evenly. 

Drop dollops of peanut butter at regular intervals on the top of the batter and swirl it around in the desired pattern with either a small, sharp knife or a chopstick. If desired, you can make this ahead of time and let it hang out in the fridge until you're ready to bake. Otherwise, bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes, turn the oven off, then let sit for another 5 minutes in the residual heat. Let cool completely before slicing and enjoying.

While we're waiting for them to cool, allow me to tell you all about peanuts!

Peanuts grow underground, kind of like carrots or sweet potatoes. They're pretty plants, and grow in warm climates. China is one of the biggest producers of peanuts, and it makes sense because so much of Chinese cuisine is and can be made with peanuts. Even Li Ziqi, our Quarantine Queen, made a video all about the life of peanuts!

Peanuts have travelled a long way. They're native to the Western Hemisphere, or so they say, and are likely from South America. The Spaniards discovered the legumes during their colonization, brought some back, and likely helped get it all over the world with trade. They now grow all over the world where the weather allows it, from China to India to Africa to the Southern United States.

Why tell you all this? Why, to tell you all about my friends at the Georgia Peanuts Commission, of course!  I don't always make it, but I like to participate in the Foodiechats live-tweet party every Monday evening. This is where I was introduced to my new friends, and then got the idea to make a nice batch of peanut butter brownies! Make sure you stay tuned, as well, because I've got lots of fun peanut-related stuff coming...

When the brownies are cool enough, you can cut these into small cubes, store them in bags, and pop them in the freezer to use for milkshakes or ice cream sundae toppers. You can also just cut them in bigger squares and eat them straight with a glass of almond milk. No matter what you do, know that you're enjoying a beautiful snack that you've made yourself.

I hope you've enjoyed spending a piece of your afternoon with me. I know I love hanging out with all of you! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie


Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie

yields 1 9" pie

  • 15 oz roasted squash puree
    • Mine was from my special Rosedale pumpkin!
  • 4 oz (a generous half cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (about 1/3 cup) grade A maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, ideally organic
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 10 coriander seeds or 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 spicebush berries, dried
    • If you can't find these, use 2 allspice berries plus 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorn 
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
    • Check out my Partners page for good resources!
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a sheet pan lined with either aluminum foil or a Silpat mat. Roll out your favorite pie crust into a glass pie dish (I prefer glass because I can see the bottom and make sure it's all cooked) and decorate as you like. I have these adorable cookie cutters that resemble leaves, and one of them looks like a pine cone. Since I tragically couldn't find my maple leaf cutter, this was the perfect alternative! All I did was let them hang out on the cool marble slab until I was ready to use them. I didn't feel the need to refrigerate the pie piece cut-outs since this pie is so quick to put together. 

Combine your hard spices into a spice grinder and blitz until wholly powdered. You can also use a coffee grinder, in a pinch! I much prefer to use whole spices in this way, as they store much better.  Then add about 2 Tbsp of the sugar and blitz together with the spices. This really helps perfume the sugar with the spices and lends more flavor to your pie!

Whisk together the squash puree with the sugars, maple syrup, and spices until well-combined. Next, mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and taste. If it needs a bit more cinnamon or you'd like to add a dash of cardamom or clove, that's perfectly fine. This is your pie, after all!

Once everything is combined and well-mixed, pour your mixture into your prepared crust. If you've chosen to decorate your pie with leaf or pinecone cutouts, like me, now is the time to attach them with egg wash to the sides and let the other half float along the custard top. Please remember that this is, in fact, a custard pie so I don't recommend a lattice top to finish. Go and have some fun with the outer crust, instead!

Bake at 325 for 3(three) twenty-minute intervals in which the pie is rotated gently in the oven. The pie sets up beautifully when baked low-and-slow, so be sure to not try to rush it! Now that I have your attention, and while the pie bakes and cools, let's talk a bit about the brand new Rosedale Pumpkin and the complicated world of cross-pollination. 

Everyone, meet the Rosedale Pumpkin Squash!

When you grow your own produce, either in a small Victory garden or a decent-sized homestead, there's always the possibility of cross-pollination. While there are many ways to avoid it, there is a not-insignificant amount of us gardeners that simply allow the thing to happen and see what comes of it. I noticed this strange thing growing on one of my squash plants. I got several small butternut squashes from my vines this year, but nothing was quite as big as this weird little monster. It was clear that the butternut and acorn squash had cross-pollinated, and while I could have simply cut it off and let the plant continue to make more...I was frankly too curious to not let it grow. I began taking pictures of it and telling my friends about it. We racked our brains trying to come up with a name for the squash, and it never came...I settled on 'Rosedale" squash since I live in Rosedale and that's where it grew. When I harvested it on the morning of Halloween eve and told my husband about the mysterious squash, he groggily looked at the green monstrosity and said: "So, what, it's like a ... buttercorn?"


Oh, come on! We've been trying so hard to come up with a cool name and you just pull that out of the air?! Jerk. 

I actually did a live opening of this thing on Instagram. 

I've decided to call it a pumpkin because of the stem, which is woody and quite stiff once it was dried! I was so curious as to what this tasted like. I documented everything about its cooking. It had a gorgeous bright-orange flesh when cut into that quickly beaded up with drops of diamond-like dew. I roasted it slowly at 300 degrees for about 4 hours with some canola oil so it wouldn't dry out. I didn't add salt or sugar, since I wanted to taste the real thing. Sadly? It didn't taste like buttered corn, so I chose to not name it 'buttercorn.' It tasted incredibly mild, and had a texture almost akin to spaghetti squash. It had plenty of moisture in it, still, so I don't know if this wall of text is masking my disappointment well enough at the lack of distinct flavor of my little green monster. 

Oh well. I still stand by my decision to save all of the seeds for next year's planting! Who knows if the seed will be viable or not? I simply know that I'll be starting them all in seed trays and letting them hang out in the garage by the window to keep them warm and safe until they're ready to be transplanted outdoors. Maybe the second generation will be better? 

This method can be used to roast any winter squash for the sake of preserving the puree over the long winter. I highly recommend doing this, if you don't have access to a cellar (or basement) that's pest-free and is relatively climate-controlled. My deep freezer will likely see a good portion of many bags of winter squash puree this season, even though I have a good cellar that will keep all of my produce fresh over winter. These are the things you really need to think about with a global pandemic going on, and the numbers getting worse. 

I know we're all sick of hearing about Covid-19, but with everything escalating and with hospitals getting overwhelmed again, it would be irresponsible to ignore it and not talk about it. I encourage all of you to contact local farms and see what kind of winter squash they're growing and if they're willing to sell you any or do a trade for them for whatever you may be able and willing to give. I'm fortunate to have partnerships with awesome farmers here in Kansas City that have paid me in produce for doing PR work for them. There are also many farmers markets out there that are participating in a Covid relief program to get good seasonal produce to families that really need them. 


Squash - winter squash particularly - are incredibly nutrient-dense. Usually, quite high in fiber, they're a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin and squash are oddly acidic, so that means they're great at encouraging white blood cells to get amped up and protect you against disease this fall and winter. Who doesn't need that? 

Most eastern medicine - seen specifically in Chinese and Ayurvedic principles - have what are known as warming and cooling foods. There's a lot that could be said about this, but all you need to know right this moment is that a "warming food" is based on the internal nature of the food product. You should have nothing but warming foods if you are recovering from an illness or surgery. Foods like chicken, chestnuts, fresh ginger, and - you guessed it - pumpkin or squash are quite warming. It's no wonder we like it in our baked goods, the most-warming kind of food you can usually have! So, really, eating a whole pumpkin pie could be good for you...

When your pie is set to room temperature, you can cut and serve immediately, but I think it's better to chill it for a couple of hours first, just to help set the custard. After that, I do suggest letting the pie come up to room temperature to serve it. This is because the squash and spices are quite fragrant, and cold temperature dulls the beautiful aromas. This is also because eating cold foods can suppress your immune system so it's better to just let stuff be at least room temperature before you eat it. 

If you're curious about more warming and cooling foods, I invite you to have some fun researching it on your own and making informed decisions on it, all with a grain of salt! My mom, a Filipinx woman, always made sure to put extra ginger in her chicken soup whenever I got sick, and I will say it seemed to kick whatever crud I was experiencing out of my lungs. 

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Angel Food Cake(a fat-free delight)

Angel food cake, rose petal jam, creme chantilly, pistachio bark
Hello, Class! Ready to learn? Sure you are!

Summer is coming(or, rather, HERE) and we love our sweets, but feeling bloated sucks, no matter how flattering that cute white shirt is. How do you combat feeling bloated? A fat-free dessert, of course, is the answer!

Angel food cake is an excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing taste. There's something elegant about a spongecake like this, that can be served either naked or frosted entirely with whipped cream. Seriously, you can take whipped cream(not Reddi-whip, please) and frost the entire thing to make a gorgeous show-stopping dessert for a dinner party. Oh, sure you'll need a tube pan to make this work, but this doesn't mean you have to drop a mint for it. I picked my tube pan up at a thrift shop for $2, and it works just fine. You'd be shocked at how many funny little esoteric baking pans and machines end up at thrift shops, just waiting for their forever homes.

Get your pan ready, preheat your oven, and strap in for the best ever fat-free dessert you'll make this summer.

Angel Food Cake

  • 12 egg whites
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 oz flour(a scant cup, sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 12 oz(about 1 3/4 cups)granulated sugar
Set aside about two heaping spoonfuls of the granulated sugar. Combine the egg whites, remaining granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Combine the salt, powdered sugar, flour, and set-aside granulated sugar using a whisk to break up clumps. If you have a sifter, put this mixture in now and set aside. If not, that's okay! The reason you want to combine a tiny bit of the granulated sugar with the flour is that it helps keep it fine and clump-free. If you live in an especially humid climate, this helps greatly.

Start off your mixer on medium-low speed until you get foamy egg whites. Then crank up the speed to medium until soft peaks begin to form(at least a minute), and then all the way up to high to get stiff peaks. Take your flour-sugar mixture and sprinkle about a third of it over your egg whites, folding in super-gently with a rubber spatula. If you have your mixture in a seive/sifter, use that. Repeat the process until all of your flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan and gently-gently-genlty spread it out evenly using the spatula. You want an ungreased pan because you want the bubbles to cling and stick and climb to the top, in order to get a proper rise and bake out of this cake. The same goes for muffins and why you want an ungreased tin OR muffin cups. When you rely on minimal/zero leavening, ungreased is the way to go.

Bake in a 360 oven for 40 to 50 minutes, with the oven-door taped shut, if you have to. Don't check on this cake, don't open and close the door...just leave it alone. If your cake falls, it'll be because you didn't leave it alone. Seriously, get out of the kitchen and watch an episode of "The Almighty Johnsons" on Netflix.



Back to the cake.

It's been about 40 minutes, so you can peek in. Gently poke the cake with a skewer to see if it's dry on the inside. If not, IMMEDIATELY GTFO and bake for another 5 minutes. You want this cake to be dry in the middle; you want the bubbles to be stable. A fallen angel food cake is a sad angel food cake.

Once out of the oven, flip the cake pan upside down to cool. Cooling like this will allow the air bubbles to set in a nice, round way, and not a flat way. You must wait until this cake is COMPLETELY COOL to cut into it and remove it from the pan, so go ahead and watch another episode of "The Almighty Johnsons." Or, if you're in the mood for a comedy, try "Frankie and Grace", an even better show, featuring the hilarious Lily Tomlin and stunning Jane Fonda! Sure, it's got its dramatic moments, but it's a beautiful show.

I like to cut my angel food cake with a serrated knife, once it's fully cooled. It helps if the cake is chilled, but it's not necessary. You can easily separate the cake from the pan by running a knife or an offset spatula. To cut? Use a long serrated knife and long, gentle strokes. Try not to saw.

Plate and enjoy! This cake is 100% fat free, and great just on its own. I like mine with fresh berries, if I have them, but you can enjoy it with jam, chocolate sauce, or whipped cream.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Comment below with questions or concerns!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Witchcraft And Wellness: Fun at Gathering of Pagan Souls

Taken from Gathering of Pagan Souls.com!
I'm Wiccan.

I'm not shy about who I am or what I believe in. I suppose that this feeling is new, considering I've only had to deal with it recently. But I have come to the conclusion that I'm not shy about my religion or my belief or my involvement with the community. I suppose I should be more careful, considering I'm in Kansas and all, but I really don't think that being shy and hiding is the way to go. I don't feel that being annoyingly loud is the way to go either. I feel that if you don't make a big deal about your faith, nobody else will. Your relationship with God is your own thing; and it's not my place to say...nor is it your place to say. If you aren't harming anyone, what's the problem?

Being religious doesn't make you morally superior. Being atheist doesn't make you intellectually superior.

There, now we can get on.

I had SUCH a fun time at Gathering of Pagan Souls(here's their Facebook page)! It took place on 80 Acres, a beautiful venue in Leavenworth , KS that was just perfect! I wish it had been sunnier, but the rain skirted around us. We all joked about how it was because we were all praying so hard and pushing the storm around. There might not be any science to it, but there's something to be said for 100+ Witches directing their energy to make the storm NOT come.

"If you rain, I will unleash the
flying monkeys"(Thanks 1x.com)
Anywho, my workshop was with the illustrious Mary Caldwell, a High Priestess from Texas who works with the acclaimed Ed Fitch, author. Everyone was pretty stoked at Ed Fitch was going to be there, but he was unfortunately struck with some medical issues, so he had to send Mary up to help me. She set up her hot pink tent and sold her wares. We all hung out together in the tent and talked about our presentation:

Witchcraft & Wellness.

What is that? I will tell you, faithful reader.

It's just finding the balance between spirituality and taking care of your body. Sure, you can have a glowing soul, but still have Diabetes. You can be spiritually pure, but still obese. You can be at peace, but you still eat like shit. My theory? You can't.

Your body is the vessel in which you are in. Your brain is piloting this giant meat-skeleton, and you are responsible for it. Sure, you might be reincarnated and live many lives, but you only get one body. That's it. You. Get. One. Body. Let me write that again:

You may live several lifetimes through reincarnation, but you only get one body. 

So please take care of it.

Many health-related issues here in America are diet-related. Obesity-related diseases are rampant. Sure, body issues and acceptance and body politics have all gone nuts, but it's not about image: this is about health.

There are a shit-ton of fat people in this country. I'm not saying you being fat makes you a bad person. I am saying that it's hard on your body to be fat. A few extra? Sure, whatever. But 300+ lbs overweight? You're not meant to be that big. You are not meant to be 300 lbs and above of fat. Granted, we weren't necessarily meant  to be living sedentary lives in big urban cities, eating fast food, so that's probably a factor in our weight and health. As hunter-gatherers, we sought out high-fat, high-sugar foods to binge on because we didn't know where our next meal was coming from. Nowadays, you don't even have to get out of the car to eat.

Drive-thrus are a miracle, and they are slowly killing us.

I have a pedometer on my phone, and I average about 10,000 steps per day. My boyfriend, who has an office job, averages around 3,000 per day. Our lifestyles are fairly different, because my job is extremely physical and I am constantly on my feet. A more sedentary person than my boyfriend might average 1,000 per day. My taking 10,000 steps per day, however, hasn't necessarily made me lose weight, but it has made me gain muscle.

I am a muscular girl. I build muscle fairly easily, but I also have some soft-and-squishies on my tummy. I have a resting heart rate, however, of 61 bpm(beats per minute), and that is a sign of someone who is very healthy. Health is something that's not solely dependent on one thing, and that's the kind of thing I really wanted to lead with at Witchcraft & Wellness.

Spiritual health is an easy sell with Pagans, as it is with many who subscribe to a more religious/spiritual doctrine. The basic theme of my workshop was connections through the Four Elements. These are Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, and are the four corners of all which makes up Nature, a beautiful thing from which we owe our lives. Here's how you can live a spiritually and physically balanced life using the Four Elements:

I just love this picture...

  • Gardening
    • This is a great way to connect with the earth, and a great way to make your life a little better! Whether you plant flowers or food, you're planting, and that means that bees will find the flowers....which is very important. Not to mention the great benefits you have of growing your own food. Tomato plants grow like weeds, and spinach plants couldn't be easier to maintain! You just snip off the outer leaves when you want a snack, and let the inner ones continue to grow!
  • Walking with your pets
    • Your dog loves you, and s/he needs exercise to be healthy and happy, just like you do! Walk an extra block with your dog; although this may not seem "earthy", it certainly is! Caring for pets or children unlock that 'mothering/nurturing' part of your brain that give you all sorts of calming endorphins and seratonins!
    • You will never drink too much water. Dehydration is a major energy zapper, and--often--when you think you're hungry, you're probably just thirsty. Drink water before you go for that bag of chips, as it will probably fill you up.
  • Dance
    • I know this  sounds silly and cliche, but seriously. Dancing connects you to yourself, and if you do it alone in the kitchen, just moving where your  body takes you, you'll feel better. 
  • Stretch
    • Your body and bones and blood need exercise, but also a time to relax. Do a few yoga moves, do some low impact stretching...your bloodflow will be happy.
  • Vigorous exercise!
    • Get that heart rate up! Jog! Swim! Anything that gets your heart rate going! Invest in a heart rate monitor, if you like.
  • Eat spicy foods!
    • Seriously, capsaicin jumpstarts your metabolism like crazy. It's something as small as adding a little red chili flake to your chicken salad that will seriously help you in the long run.
    • Stressed? Take a breath. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Nobody will get sick from breathing. (Allergies are a different story.)
  • Get some fresh air
    • Don't just breathe in your office. Go outside. Breathe. Seriously, it won't kill you.

These were some of the basic things I covered through the Workshop I conducted. We had a really great turnout, too, considering the grounds were completely empty for fear of storms! I asked my faithful assistants to go out with scraps of paper and have people write down what they would like to know about eating healthy and living a more balanced life from the opinions of a professional cook. 

The questions I got were really great, and I tried to answer them to the best of my ability. I really wish I hadn't lost the actual slips of paper, but the gist of my questions were:

  1. How do you deal with picky eaters?
  2. What are some tips for feeding a large family on a budget?
  3. What raw produce to eat for the best nutritional value?
  4. How do scars effect your spiritual health?
    1. This one wasn't necessarily food-related, but I still loved it...

Let's tackle one thing at a time:

Picky Eaters
  • Children
    • Just mash it in and don't tell them. You can make soups that are chock-FULL of vegetables that they would normally not eat if you blend it up. Add a splash or two of heavy cream and some butter, then pop the soup in a blender. If it's pureed in, they won't be able to tell. 
      • A trick:
        • I once got my little sister to eat turnips and celery root by mashing it in with mashed potatoes. If you boil it all in at once, and it's all the same color, they won't know. 
    • If they still refuse, just say "Hey, you're going to bed hungry then."
      • This will happen ONCE, and never again. Trust me on this. It seems mean, but it's for the best.
    • Make them cook for themselves
      • As early as 5, kids can make themselves a sandwich, make themselves a salad...nothing that involves the stove. At 10, they can bake cookies, operate the stove, etc. If they don't like what you're cooking, they can and will make their own food. This will not only instill a feeling of responsibility in them, but be a huge  self-esteem booster. Nothing will make your kid feel as powerful as feeding themselves.
  • Adults
    • See above
      • Seriously, if someone wants to act like a child, you treat them like a child.

Feeding a large family on a budget

  • Mushrooms
    • Take a pound of ground beef(pretty cheap) and a quart or two of mushrooms(the kind you can pick up at the store for $2.99). Chop the mushrooms up and use that  as a filler for burgers, meatloaf, etc. This can be a great filler and an excellent alternative to breadcrumbs if you're needing to accommodate a gluten-free member of the family.
  • Quinoa
    • Oddly cheap, this superfood is extremely high in protein for a grain(which it technically isn't...it's a seed) and very nutritional. Make quinoa instead of rice. You can use it in literally any application:
      • Served cold, hot, as a pilaf, in a dessert, whatever
  • Portion-control
    • It's easy to buy in bulk. It's not easy to keep that bulk up. Take a day and portion out your food, plan out your meals. There are easily a thousand websites that can show you how to do this better than I can, with way better pictures, so please do some research! 
      • If you know how much food is allotted to you per day, that's one more easy way to keep yourself trim, and your family.

Veggies that are super-good for you

Oh you know, just being
fabulously girly while I talk
about health and wellness.
  • The person that asked me the question wanted to know about raw stuff, which is good...but cooking doesn't really kill off nutrients. Sure, over-cooking does, but the Gods gave us fire, so let's use it, please. If you want to eat raw? Great. If you don't? Also great. As long as you're eating veggies, I'm down.
  • Beets
    • Beets come in all sorts of colors, be it red, orange, gold...whatever! You can enjoy beets roasted, raw(sliced thin), pickled, in soups...if you can think it, the beet can do it.
  • Blueberries
    • A bit pricey, but a great antioxidant. You can have them dried, too, if you like!
  • Greens
    • Tunip greens, beet greens, carrot greens...when you buy this stuff at the farmer's market, the veggies often come with delicious greens. DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY!!! These greens are delicious, nutritious, and so easy to cook! Just braise them. Or roast them. Look up some recipes online! 
      • My favorite is beet greens, sauteed in oil with salt and pepper, maybe a little lemon juice.
  • Anything naturally colorful
    • The beautiful thing about nature is that it color-codes what's good for us! Eat orange things. eat red things. Eat purple and blue things. Eat green things! Add color to your diet. Look to the rainbow to help you!
How do scars effect spiritual health?
  • The long and short? They don't.
    • This question threw me for a loop because I have so many scars. I have burn scars, and chicken pox scars, all over my body. I was so self-conscious of them, and when you feel icky about your own skin, it tends to leak out into your spirit. But those scars on your skin tell a story of who you are, and where you've been. Wear your scars like jewels, and the blotches on your aura will fade away. You don't have to have flawless skin, but you have to have skin. Does your skin do the job? It's beautiful. Your looks only have as much effect on your soul as you allow it.

In addition to all of these things, the people mostly wanted to just see basic tutorials, how to cook, how to feed families, how to not  set a grease fire in their kitchens... I find that most people are willing to cook, but they don't know how. They want recipes that work and that don't take forever, or cost a billion dollars. I will do my best to provide this information, all through Culinary School

Happy cooking, happy eating, happy BEING.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healthy Desserts: A Tribute to Avocados

noun: dessert; plural noun: desserts
  1. the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal.
    "a dessert of chocolate mousse"
I always liked to think of a meal as a sort of literary device. Perhaps a paragraph, or a short story, or even a sentence. Just a single sentence. The more the courses, the longer your written piece.
Say you were hosting a dinner party with friends. Your party would have canapes or passed hors d'oeuvres, maybe cocktails to start. Then a salad or a soup. Then the entree. Then the dessert. The 1st course would be your thesis statement, be that your first bite of a pickled quail's egg on a canape, or a salad of tomatoes and frisee. It would be the start, the indicator of where your diners(readers) would be taken on their journey. Your entree would be your body, the main paragraph or paragraphs of your short story. Your curry or pan-seared duck or roast beef would be your whole story. The dessert, no matter what it is, is your closing statement. Your question mark. Your exclamation point. I don't always think it's proper to end a sentence with an exclamation point--I honestly think it's a bit like laughing at your own joke--but it can be appropriate to do so.  
This cake from Succotash was NOT an afterthought.
So often, dessert is an afterthought. There are far too many restaurants, in my humble opinion, that take dessert seriously. Don't get me wrong, it is of the utmost importance that your entrees and salads are tip-top, but dessert is so often shoved to the side. You'll see restaurants shove desserts over to the pantry cook or the sous chef, or (worse) over to Sysco or US Foods to send them cheesecakes or overly sugary and fatty chocolate layer cakes. I don't see too much wrong with it. Just like I don't see too much wrong with teaching a donkey to wear a top hat; there's just not much of a point to it.
I actively participate in a Twitter livechat called #Foodiechats, where food lovers can unite and talk about food, what they do with it, and what they like or dislike about it. It happens every Monday night at 8pm EST. I sometimes am not so active with my tweeting, but that's usually because I have work. If Monday nights are slow, however, I get to go home and tweet to my heart's content. The topic of Healthy Desserts came up, somehow, and thus it became the subject of my blog, today.
Healthy desserts? Oxymoron, don't you think?
I see nothing wrong with making adjustments to your dessert lifestyle by substituting coconut oil for butter(when appropriate), but I don't think that a cake is where you should get your daily fiber intake. So let me just tell you right now that this is not a blog for someone wanting to lose weight. Don't cut desserts. Cut cheetoes or crappy TV dinners or fast food out of your diet before you cut out a well-made chocolate cake. Eat anything you want, just make it yourself.
Let me repeat that: Eat anything you want. Just make it yourself. People cook differently from the way that companies do.
This flourless chocolate cake, for example: ENTIRELY GLUTEN-FREE
Also, you're probably not gluten-intolerant. There's most-likely no such thing. You either have Celiac's disease, or you don't. The whole Gluten-free thing is more of a fad than anything. You have Celiac's, Gluten ataxia...but you're not gluten-intolerant. It's been debunked by the scientists that discovered it, pretty darn recently. And you shouldn't go gluten-free without talking to your doctor. Actually, you shouldn't try any real diet without talking to your doctor. But you don't have to be on a diet to enjoy gluten-free desserts that were gluten-free before it was cool, or be vegan to enjoy vegan desserts. You'd be shocked as to how many desserts were gluten-free already. And let's not forget that gluten-free doesn't even have to mean healthy. Chocolate is gluten-free. Butter is gluten-free. Pesticides are gluten-free. So is cyanide, arsenic, and anti-freeze. All gluten-free! I realize that cyanide isn't necessarily meant for human ingestion, but you get my point, don't you? Fad diets are dangerous. Unless you're the one profiting off of all of the latest labels. In which case, good on ya, you slimeball.
Anyway, healthy desserts, in the mind of this humble Pastry Chef, are simply things that are still that fabulous indulgence, still that wonderful "ahh" at the end of the meal, but not loaded with bacon or chocolate or topped with obscene amounts of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Honestly, the Pastry Chefs get shafted a lot because of how good the meals are when the Head Chefs do their jobs: because if you're so satisfied with your excellently prepared meal, why would you want something else afterwards? You're stuffed! You're "Oh my God so full" right now. Why would you want to eat more?
Trust me. You do. Especially if the restaurant you're dining at has an in-House Pastry Chef, you do. So give the poor guy/gal a break and order that cake. Or not. Since cakes aren't often gluten-free.
This Fabulously French blog has a vegan chocolate mousse made with avocado instead of eggs. And here's another great recipe, which I snagged from Tumblr:
Head to Tumblr.com for more great recipes and food porn!
Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Blackberries and Pistachios
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve more people. The mousse thickens as it refrigerates.
serves 2 to 4
  • 2 very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted (60% cacao)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh blackberries, for garnish
  • chopped pistachios, for garnish
In a food processor, add the avocados, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if necessary. Spoon the mousse into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The mousse will become thicker as it refrigerates. Garnish with blackberries and pistachios and serve.
Want something more than chocolate mousse? Oh, fine, you greedy pig. Try this recipe for Avocado Ice Cream, instead, courtsey of Alton Brown.
Avocado Ice Cream
  • 12 oz avocado meat(2 or 3, once pitted)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice(1 large lemon should do)
  • **Zest of said lemon(this is my own personal touch to it)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk(not skim, not 2%, whole milk, if you please)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar(but I have tried this with raw sugar, and it turns out pretty great)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Pop the first five ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. If you desire, you can add a few cilantro leaves and get funky with it at this point(it adds fiber, a green color, and it just reminds me of my Southwestern roots), as well as a few grinds of black pepper. Transfer this to another vessel(a glass bowl, large-ish tupperware container, whatever) and whisk in the heavy cream until fully incorporated.

Like all ice cream mixtures, this must chill for a decent amount of time. Hot mixtures into an ice cream maker? Not a good idea. Let it chill for at least a couple of hours, or all day if you can, before processing in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. The avocado as an egg substitute sets up fairly quickly, though, so be prepared to let it process for a mere 5 to 10 minutes before ingesting. For a softer texture, go ahead and eat immediately, or scoop into a freezer-friendly container and let it harden for another couple of hours.

The texture is silky-smooth and tastes just like avocados, which is(freakishly) a good thing. But if you don't want a straight-up avocado dessert, use it as a component instead. Things like this were discovered in Culinary School for me when I studied Chef David Chang.

Wait, you say. Avocado as a component in dessert? Yes! Chef David Chang did it, with his Cereal Milk Custard dish,
which is a fabulous panna cotta made from the strained milk used for cereal. This is an idea which is fucking genius, by the way. I mean, seriously--the best part about cereal is the yummy milk you get afterwards! And this motherfucker made it into a dessert? Someone give him a Nobel Prize. Or just tweet at him to tell him how great of an idea it was. And tell him I sent ya.

This was a life-changing dessert, even if it was just done by me in culinary school.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Panna Cotta is gluten-free too. So start googling, guys. Maybe if my boss lets me, I'll give you my panna cotta recipe to try at home! But not for awhile. That Pistachio Panna Cotta of mine is what got me my job and this baby is staying secret for a good long while.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy the recipes. Happy cooking, and happy avocado-eating!

Oh, and follow me on Twitter @WannaBGourmande for more updates, and to ask me questions about desserts. Happy eating!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Matcha/Green Tea

So I've noticed a few neat trends lately.

  • Pies
  • Buttercream cakes
  • Fondue
  • Strawberries
  • Green tea cakes
  • Roulades
Basically, all things that are good. But the neat thing about these trends is how fun it is to be on Tumblr and see all the beautiful pictures people are taking of the creations. I've decided to look into Green tea today.

They say that it was discovered about 4000 years ago in China. It has really nifty health benefits, and it's tasty. I personally love Matcha, which is the superfine powdered/pounded-into-a-powder green tea stuff. You can use matcha for lots of neat things; the Japanese use it in their very intricate and beautiful Tea Ceremonies. Here's a few neat things that I've found on my Tumblr dashboard. By the way, if you're wondering where my Tumblr is, then...well there.


Matcha raspberry cake

Chocolate cake with matcha frosting

Anyway, matcha is becoming more and more trendy nowadays. I see it especially at school! As a matter of fact, a friend of mine, Andrionna, was in my class finishing up some things for her capstone project. She was doing a beautiful Japanese-inspired course with croquembouches and a matcha cake. I remember seeing the beautiful and vibrant green color and thinking to myself:

"Nature did that. We don't need colorful, fake dyes. We can make rainbows using what's naturally here!"

Not for snorting
Okay it probably wasn't as verbose, but it was definitely along those lines. The flavor is both light and sweet. The color is dazzling. Like somebody took emeralds and ground them up and infused them with sunshine to make it taste better. Does that make any sense?

Despite what you may think of tea and green teas, Matcha has this beautiful mellow, semi-sweet taste that's near-perfect for desserts. Ready for some more pretty pictures? I am!

More matcha frosting

Matcha roulade cake

Green tea ice cream

Matcha latte(like Mocha latte...only not)

"Sushi" cake

If you're feeling inspired, check out Hungry Rabbit for this Matcha Dacquoise cake! (Not only is it delicious, but it is full of antioxidants, which is good in this day and age. It's a little labor-intensive, but it's lovely to look at!