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Showing posts with label dairy free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dairy free. Show all posts

Friday, August 14, 2020

Sourdough English Muffins



I've had various phases of my life in which I've made a sourdough starter, all of which have either died or been neglected to the point of molding. I'd love to be this kind of person that just has a sourdough starter to give away, to use, to pass on to the next generation. Even the community pressure of being a chef to have a sourdough or ginger bug starter is ever-present! (Can you imagine how embarrassing it is to be the only chef in your city to not have a sourdough starter?) The fact of the matter is that I just don't eat bread enough to justify keeping a sourdough starter around. Rice is the preferred starch in my home, and we so seldom have bread with our meals that I frankly would forget about it when I was working 10-hour shifts.

Nowadays, since we're in a quarantined state of emergency, there's not much else to do than to maintain a lovely sourdough bread starter. I am a very fortunate person because my partner works a good job that he's able to maintain remotely while I occupy my time with volunteering, studying, and writing. There's lots of time for me to experiment with sourdough, and an English Muffin is a great way to use up some of it without heating up your whole house with a hot oven!

Sourdough English Muffins

yields 12 large square muffins

  • 600 g flour
  • 12 g yeast
  • 100 g sourdough starter
  • 40 g olive or grapeseed oil
  • 50 g sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 310 g water or soy milk, body temperature
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • Semolina, as needed

Mix your flour, yeast, sugar, sourdough, liquid of choice, and eggs together to create a soft dough in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a hook attachment. You aren't kneading at this point, just mixing so everything is homogenous. The idea of this stage is to hydrate the flour and activate the yeast. Let this all sit for 20 minutes, and then turn your mixer back on. Add in your oil and salt while this mixes at a low speed for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn the mixer on to high and knead the dough until it's smooth and silky, which shouldn't take more than five minutes.

Scrape your dough into a plastic container that has been well-oiled and cover. Let this beautiful concoction sit in a warm place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. It's summer right now where I am, so I love to let this sit in the shade outside for that time. In the winter, I like to set my proving doughs atop my fridge to rise. While we wait, I'd like to discuss some technical stuff!

First of all, n English muffin isn't exactly English, but an American invention. An immigrant known as Samuel Bath Thomas created the original "nooks and crannies" muffin - then called "toaster crumpets" - in the 1880s. A crumpet is very much like the bread that we all call and English Muffin, but the holes are on the top instead of being sandwiched and hidden within. These little lovelies seem simple enough to make, but there are a few tricks to them in order for them to be just right.

  1. The dough is soft, so don't try to add more flour to make it stiffer.
  2. Your griddle must be of an even heat before you start
  3. Don't rush; patience is a virtue!
The idea of a well-done English muffin is to have those big, beautiful, deep, craggy bubbles. These big bubbles only occur in the first stage of the fermentation process, so you don't want to handle this dough too much. A gentle hand is a real key here! If you knock out too much air, those big bubbles will pop and be replaced by small bubbles in the second proof, which is not what you want.

It is a gentle hand that will make your English Muffin perfect!

Another thing you need to know about this item is that it is not baked but fried on a griddle. You can use a frying pan if that's all you have, but a good cast iron griddle is a multitasking item that you should have at your disposal. It's great for searing steaks, cooking pancakes, and - of course - making the perfect English Muffin. No matter what you use, you'll want a thick-bottomed cooking apparatus that will help thoroughly cook your muffin at a low enough heat to not burn the surfaces. 

Time to cook!

Your dough won't take very long to prove, as there's quite a bit of activity happening in the yeast department. My sourdough is quite active so it only took my dough 45 minutes to double in size. This is the tricky part!

Flour your rolling surface quite thoroughly with both all-purpose wheat flour. Prepare a sheet pan by dusting it with plenty of semolina or cornmeal. Use either a rolling cutter or a large, floured cleaver to gently cut your dough into shapes. As gently as you can, move your cut pieces onto your sheet pan and dust with semolina. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside to rise. I much prefer to cut my muffins into squares instead of circles because I don't waste any dough. This dough is not like biscuit dough where you can rework the scraps. The inner shape of the finished product won't be proper if you reuse uncut dough to rise later, so I think it's much better to simply pull your dough into a large rectangle and cut squares accordingly. I cut 12, but I could have gone as small as 18, as these will puff up to be rather large. 

My cleaver is the workhorse of my kitchen, and it's perfect for cutting dough!

I usually turn my cast iron griddle on to the lowest possible flame and let it all heat for about 15 minutes before I cook, so now is the perfect time to heat your chosen cooking apparatus. I don't let my muffins puff for more than 20 minutes at the absolute most, otherwise, the bubbles risk collapsing when you move the muffins to cook. 

Transfer your muffins with a spatula onto your hot surface and set the timer for 6 minutes. Do not, under any circumstances, touch these muffins until that six-minute timer is up! Your bubbles will rise and form and puff, and the dough will cook on this side. Once your timer is finished, flip the muffins as gently as you can to cook for another six minutes on the other side. If you don't flip it gently, you risk breaking the big bubbles that form the signature nooks and crannies of a proper English Muffin, which is not what you want.

A good cast iron griddle will last you generations. Mine is from Crate and Barrel!

When finished with your total 12 minutes, remove your muffins from the griddle and continue to cook all of your muffins in batches until done. This is a time-consuming process and does require a little bit of extra attention to heat management, but it will well be worth it in the end. 

I love this recipe because it's a quick way to use sourdough without the effort of making a whole loaf of bread. You can use English muffins for sandwich bread for an easy lunch. Best of all, English muffins freeze perfectly when wrapped properly, therefore making it a great project to wrap yourself in for an afternoon. Even The Kitchn agrees that the freezer is your best asset for the year!

I hope you've enjoyed learning all about English Muffins! Did you make them? Tell me in the comments below! I hope you're staying safe and healthy in this trying time. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Beer-Battered Adobo-Fried Chicken

This is easier than you think. Trust me.
I chose a Filipino/Pinoy twist on this flavor profile because - and I cannot stress this enough - I wanted to. You're going to eat this so you make sure that it's something you want to eat. I love the sour-salty-kinda-sweet of adobo, so I thought it'd go perfect for the fatty fried chicken. You always need a little sourness to cut the richness to make a complete dish.

Sidebar: Filipino cuisine is highly individualistic, so when I tell you that there is no real recipe for Chicken Adobo, even though it is considered to be one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines, please know that nobody can agree exactly how to make it. The only thing everyone agrees must be there is vinegar, and that the dish must be stewed in the vinegar. Almost every incarnation I've seen of it has garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves, but that's about it for similarities. Filipinos, like Americans, have a great deal of difficulty agreeing on a lot of things.

When I say Adobo-style, I mean the chicken is marinated in mostly the same flavors that I personally use for my adobo, and then will be deep-fried for chicken. I absolutely adore the adobo flavor profile, and I hope that you will, too! It reminds me of my mom and how she would cook but gives me the wonderful crunch of fried chicken that I also love. I have, however, changed up a few things to make it work for this recipe!

Adobo-style Fried Chicken
  • 1 lb chicken thighs
  • 1/4 c white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 5 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp each white and Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
  • Two fat pinches of kosher salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • Thyme, dill, and oregano from the garden, all chopped up fine
    • I wouldn't normally put this in adobo; I just have a huge surplus and I really need to start using it up. Plus, I'm growing it - I may as well use it!
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chili powder
  • A bottle of beer
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c semolina or cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Enough oil for deep-frying
This is a recipe that must be started the day before you do your chicken. Smash the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle, along with the peppercorns. Scoop all of this delicious goodness into a bowl and mix with the vinegar, honey, and water. Add your thighs and let sit in the fridge, covered, overnight. In the morning, you'll drain the chicken and pat them dry. Next, you're going to steam your chicken!

A good rice cooker will get you far in life! It's NOT a uni-tasker!
When steaming the chicken, you can use a pot of water and a steamer basket or a rice cooker with a steaming feature. No matter what you use, make sure you add in the lemon, sliced, as well as the bay leaves to the water. Always add flavor when you have the opportunity to do so! You'll want to steam these for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces and if they are bone-in or not. I love bone-in chicken, but it can be sometimes hard for the novice cook to ensure things get fully cooked-through when you're dealing with bones. Steaming the chicken first will also give you some of the crispiest skin you'll ever hope to achieve!

Make sure you set your timer accordingly! These are boneless skinless thighs, so I'll only need 20-25 minutes. 

When your chicken is done steaming, transfer to a sheet pan or plate and let them cool in the fridge until you're ready to deep fry. If you like spice, sprinkle some chili powder or chili flakes right on top to let them sit until you're ready to fry! Let me also note that you can, if you like, sous vide the chicken if you have that piece of machinery at your disposal. I prefer steaming because I think it gives the chicken skin a better texture than the sous vide method does. Not only, but most folks can steam something more easily than they can get their hands on a sous vide machine! Please know that there are a lot of safety rules when it comes to using hot fat. Grease fires are a threat, but you should know that if you take the proper precautions.

Precautions to Consider
  1. You must not overfill your pot with fat. Remember that your oil will rise in size, so I usually fill my pot about halfway full from the top since I don't have a deep-fryer at home.
  2. Monitor your temperature with a thermometer. Invest in a candy thermometer! I love the glass kind that hooks on to the side of your pot that you can easily wash. 
  3. Oil + Water = BAD. Liquid from the batter or oil is okay in small doses, but please don't dump any liquid directly into your hot fryer.
  4. Don't overfill your hot oil with your food! When you introduce a new item into your hot fat, you'll lower the temperature. When you lower the temperature, you'll risk oil seeping in and making your stuff really greasy and gross. Be patient and fry in batches!
  5. Keep your chicken warm in the oven by holding it at 200 degrees F, since you'll likely only be frying a couple of pieces at a time.
  6. In case of fire turn off the heat immediately and cover your pot with a lid. Do not attempt to throw water on your fire. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you're really nervous. 
Keep all these things in mind and you are ready to deep-fry, safely, and with confidence! Are you excited? You should be. Once you get a proper handle on deep-frying, you open yourself up to the possibility of things like churros or doughnuts! 

We are making a battered chicken today, but I usually do a three-station dredge when making fried chicken at home. Don't ask me why I felt like doing a beer batter tonight; I just did. To make a proper deep-fry, you have to make a proper frying prep station. They'll usually consist of your classic:
  1. Flour
    1. Dredge your chicken in flour!
  2. Egg wash
    1. Mix some eggs with a little water, and dip your floured chicken in there to 
  3. Flour/breadcrumb/spice mix/whatever-you-have
    1. Give your stuff a final delicious roll in all of this goodness and set aside on another plate!

There are a lot of ways to do this last station of your chicken coating, and all of them can be highly preferential. Some like bread crumbs, some like batter, and some like just plain flour. All of these methods are absolutely correct, in my humble opinion, because there's no real way to do fried chicken that isn't totally delicious! Usually, if I'm feeling a little lazy, I'll simply take my flour into a paper sack along with my spices and shake my chicken pieces around inside and then set them on a sheet tray, spread out, so it can come up to room temperature. The trick: let your flour "sit" on your chicken for about 30 minutes to get a crispy skin!

Sidenote: I think it's only fair to note that I personally don't often like to do a lot of batters at home. I do love a tempura batter because it's light and airy, but the main reason I don't like doing a batter is that it can get messy, fast! That being said, it takes up far less space and dirties fewer dishes. If you have a smaller kitchen as I do, I think you'll appreciate that. When deciding which one you want to do for your own fried chicken, know that the main difference is that if you do a breading station, you'll let your chicken sit on a plate or a sheet pan until it's ready to deep fry. If you do a battering station, you'll need to take your items straight from the batter into the fryer.

No matter which way you like to do it, know that your chicken is already cooked, so you'll only need to worry about frying that delicious stuff until it's totally golden-brown and delicious! If you're curious as to which kind of oil might be best for you to deep-fry your items in, Taste of Home did a comprehensive list here. I keep canola oil in my house for everyday use, so that's what I use. 

When Ready to Cook, combine your flour, semolina, baking powder, and beer in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until just combined. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare your oil. You're going to want to deep-fry this around 350-375 degrees F, so set up your pot with enough oil to have the pieces fully submerged. Turn your oven on to 200 degrees and set up a sheet pan on the middle rack with a cooling/draining rack so your cooked food won't be sitting in a puddle of its own fat. Make sure you have a spider or a pair of tongs handy.

Give these puppies a quick dusting of cornstarch before dipping in your batter to make sure it sticks!
To prepare your chicken for the batter, simply toss your chicken pieces in cornstarch before dipping! Why? It'll help it stick, of course! I usually use beer for my battering, if I do it at home, but you can use a mixture of soda water and vodka, too! I love to use alcohol in my batters because they evaporate more quickly and at a lower temperature, and that you won't get as much gluten in your batter as a result!

It should all float!


Dip your chicken in the batter and make sure it's coated thoroughly. Give the piece a little shake to make sure that you don't have excess batter and gently lay your chicken in the hot fat, carefully. Let it simmer in that hot fat, monitoring the temperature. If the oil's temperature doesn't go down significantly in that first dredge, you can add another piece...but only if you have room to let both pieces float freely. I do two pieces at a time and monitor my temperature carefully to make sure that everything is cooked properly. It should only take 1-2 minutes on each side to get a perfect golden-brown. When you've reached a browning that you like, remove your chicken from the oil and pop into your oven to keep it warm.

Deep-fry in batches until all of your chicken is finished. Turn off your oil and set somewhere to cool, but - for the love of all that is holy - do not throw your hot oil, or any oil, down the sink. To dispose of it, it must first be at room temperature or cool. You can find a local restaurant that has a deep fat disposal dumpster behind the facility, or you can strain it into an old plastic bottle and dispose of it in the trash if you're desperate. You shouldn't have a large amount of batter left, but you can feel okay throwing it away when it's done, as it's not the best thing to reuse at this point. Clean up around your counter and wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure you get everything in the sink before serving your meal; you have time.

These are Lion's mane mushrooms, beer-battered and deep-fried! They look like nuggets, don't they?

Serve this with mashed potatoes and gravy, with macaroni and cheese, or with a nice side salad. You can also use this same batter to deep-fry some local mushrooms before you do your chicken. Enjoy the zing of the chicken with the fatty deliciousness of the deep-frying method! You've done wonderfully and I'm so proud of you.

Thanks so much for coming along with me on this recipe for fried chicken. I hope you all enjoyed it! I hope you're staying at home, staying safe, and practicing social distancing while wearing a mask while you're outside. Remember, it costs nothing to be kind to your neighbor, and being kind - right now - is wearing a mask while you go outside. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Yum.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake

Have your cake and eat it too!
A lot of you are learning to bake. I've seen and joined groups called "Quarantine Cooking" and am absolutely loving your progress. I think it's a lot of fun to bake and that it's easy to do, and being a person that's classically trained, I suppose that I take quite a bit for granted. So many are intimidated by baking, so I thought it'd be fun to give you my easiest recipe that's also one of my most-delicious.

My favorite thing about cakes at home is that you have absolutely no pressure to make it look perfect. Is it nice to do it for the 'gram? Of course! But don't be brainwashed into thinking that there's only one kind of beautiful cake. You can dive headfirst into that rustic-looking style and use flowers and herbs straight out of your garden to decorate the top of your cake. You'll take the pressure off yourself, and you'll dirty fewer dishes.

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake
yields 1 full sheet pan, or a 4-layer cake

Cake

  • 240 g all-purpose flour
  • 100 g tapioca flour
  • 275 g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorns ground quite fine (or grate some off with a Microplane)
  • 198 g vegetable oil
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican vanilla
  • 1 1/2 medium carrots, grated finely, roughly 300 g
  • ** You may add a few handfuls of chopped nuts to this cake. I like pecans, but walnuts are great in this cake too!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 227 g vegan cream cheese
    • I like Daiya's brand the best for this application
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • Roughly 2 cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a half-sheet pan by lining it with either parchment or a Silpat mat. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. Melt the butter together with the vegetable oil and mix it together with the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. This method is called reverse creaming, but please don't ask me why. 

This is one of those recipes that you can add different spices to suit your tastes, so please have fun!

Mix together the eggs and vanilla, and add to the flour-fat mixture a third at a time. Make sure this is wholly incorporated before adding in the grated carrots. The finer the grate on the carrots the better, so don't be afraid to use the smaller bits. The carrots in this recipe are what provide moisture, and the fine grate lets you get lots of it released into the cake. When all of this is combined, you can pour the batter into the pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While it's baking, let's talk a little about what kosher and pareve are, since I tend to write about it a lot. I'd like to clear up quite a few misconceptions and with the rising amount of antisemitism online I think it's appropriate to be loud and proud about my culture. Why do I feel that way? I feel this way because ignorance leads to fear, and fear leads to hatred. It seems like everyone in America is at least playfully antisemitic nowadays, and I don't entirely think it's their fault. I think there's a lot of media bias and a lot of cultural bias against Jews, not to mention that a lot of folks seem to think that the Jew is some exotic creature instead of just the gal next door. This idea of the 'other' leads down many paths, but most of them are to genocide.

In the holocaust alone, approximately 11 million people were killed for this culture. This is not including the others killed by the Nazis. I read somewhere that if we were to take a moment of silence for every soul lost in the holocaust, we'd be silent for something like 10 years. Living loud and proud about the culture you inherited is going to not just empower you, but give others that share your culture the courage to live loud and proud themselves. Being your wonderful radical self is a defiant act in a society that tells you what to be. Being kosher or having pareve items may sound foreign; so let's just clear up what they are and why I cook that way.

To keep kosher is, in short, to keep to the strict dietary standards set by Jewish Law. Most have heard of "don't mix milk and meat," and that's one. Another is to not eat cloven-hooved animals, such as pigs. I don't always keep kosher, as I do consume pork products on occasion. I do, however, keep dairy and meat separate because both my husband and myself are lactose intolerant. Actually, he's severely lactose intolerant, whereas I just get really gassy if I have ice cream. 

When possible, and at home, I do try to keep kosher and tell myself that if G-d wanted me to keep kosher my entire life He'd have made a whole Jew instead of half-and-half. Yes, yes, I know there are going to be a lot of more orthodox Jews on here telling me that there's "no such thing as half a Jew." Genetically, there is where religiously there is not. The other half of me is a full-blooded native Filipino, and they are pork-heavy people. To balance the love of all of my cultures, I tend to not buy pork to cook in my home, and instead only eat it when I'm out. If I did have dairy in my home, I'd have to have separate plates, cookware, tools, and silverware for when I wanted to have dairy-based meals or meat-based meals. 

Pareve (or parve) is a food that is neither meat or dairy. These things are pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, etc. When you have a pareve cookie or pareve cake, that means that this cookie or cake has no dairy nor meat in it. Do I still have eggs in it?  Yes, so it is therefore not vegan. One might look at pareve or kosher baking as the stepping stone towards vegan baking. All of the baking I do at home is pareve. I can remain pareve thanks to the many wonderful vegan products out there that replicate milk, butter, and cheese in a baking scenario. It is because of these products, I can quite literally have my cake and eat it too. 

Now, should you be eating pareve desserts? If you're even mildly lactose intolerant, I'd seriously suggest it. I don't know how much healthier it is for you than the dairy-laden alternative, but I can tell you that at least some calories are cut with non-dairy items, and there are certainly less saturated fats. I personally know I've felt much better now that I cut dairy almost entirely out of my diet. If you're baking at home more, that means you're likely eating more goodies at home. So why not eat some nice goodies by cutting back here and there, and inserting gorgeous vegetables...like carrots?

When your cake is cool, you may work on the frosting. Simply whip your butter using the paddle attachment on your standing mixer until it's quite soft, and then add the cream cheese, whipping slowly until wholly incorporated. Whip on medium-high to get some loft before adding the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix slowly to start, and then mix on higher and higher speeds. The trick is to get it to be your desired consistency without it being too terribly sweet. I like it a little thinner, as it's better to spread on this cake. 

I wish more folks would bake cakes in a sheet cake form. It's so much easier to layer!
My trick for getting layers on a sheet cake is thus: 

First, turn your cake out of the pan and then trim all the crunchy edges off. Measure with a ruler the length and width of your cake. My width ended up being 28 cm, so I knew to cut that in half to 14 cm. The length of the cake was 40 cm, so of course, I would cut it in half at 20. Next, frost your cake evenly with your smooth and delicious icing. Cut your cake into your 4 equal pieces, and layer each piece atop one another. Et voila! Now you have a four-layer carrot cake, with not too much frosting on it. 

See? There it is, just stacked atop one another! EASY!
You can garnish with carrot chips or candied nuts, if you like, or just have it plain like this. This cake is sweet enough to stand on its own merit, in my opinion, so I don't like to let it get too frilly and fussy. I think a good portion of what we like to see, especially on Instagram, is a cake that's too pretty to eat. Cake, however, is meant to be eaten, and with so many of you all learning to bake at home, I think it's more than fine to love the things that are delicious and without frills. 

Good luck everyone! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pandan Custard Pie


Do not adjust your screens! This pie really IS that green!

If you didn't find me on Instagram I applaud you. If you did, you probably saw my little precursor on what pandan is and why you should be getting it for yourself to try. If you don't have it already at home, you're going to have to get it delivered, but there are a LOT of options for that! Even better, I can assure you that - as someone who's been shopping at Asian grocery stores for a fair portion of her life - that they've been using gloves, sanitizing, and wearing masks long before this whole pandemic nonsense started. In fact, I would say that I shop at the Asian markets more than I tended to shop at the western markets before this all happened. Where else am I going to get my 50 lb bag of rice and canned coconut milk and all those dried and preserved veggies that have kept me inside and healthy?

To sum up before I get into the recipe: pandan extract as we know it comes from the leaves of the pandan plant, which grows in southeast Asia. It has a gorgeous fragrant coconut-like flavor and colors everything bright green. I love a pandan angel food cake, or pandan macarons. You can use the leaves as wrappers for steamed cakes or cook and blend them for your own extract. I personally find it way easier to just have a supply of the extract in my baking pantry. Anyway, here's the recipe, since I promised I'd do my best to put the recipe at the top of the page and not go on a 30 paragraph rant on what pandan is and what it means to me.

Pandan Custard Pie

  • 1 Pie Crust, blind baked
    • 4 oz (1 sticks) vegan butter
      • of course use dairy butter or shortening, if you like
    • 7 oz all-purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp cane sugar
    • Enough vodka to pull it all together, usually an ounce or two
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 160 g (about 3/4 cup) cane sugar 
  • 2 tsp pandan extract
This pie truly couldn't be easier. The hardest/longest part of the process is the crust! You'll see that I included a pie crust recipe up there, but if you have your own pre-made pie crust or a favorite crust that does well, I highly encourage you to use it. I've made a lot of pie on this site, and that's not even touching all the stuff I don't document. The point is I understand the value of a good pie crust that you've come to like and trust. So use that as a single-crust and decorate the rim however you like.

If you don't know how to put a pie crust together, it's easy:

Simply combine butter, sugar, and flour in a bowl with your fingers, rubbing the tips into the butter as quickly as possible, sort of like you're trying to snap your fingers with the butter in between. The idea is you want to push the flour into the butter as quickly and as cooly as possible. Once the butter is looking piece-y and pea-sized, add vodka. Yes, vodka. You're not going to get a gluten-y crust with vodka! And since it's vodka, it's likely that you're already chilling it, so bless. All you must do is add enough of it for the dough to come together to a single mass and then cool, roll out, and lay in your pie dish of your choice. I have collected a plethora of tiny cutters over the years (at least half of which I bought in culinary school when I was obsessed with garde manger) so I always have fun decorating my pie crust. With this one I used a fork on the whole rim and then added tiny leaves around halfway, mostly because I think asymmetry is visually interesting.

Please note that you can freeze a pie crust and keep it for up to 3 months before using!

When you blind bake something, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and gently prick the bottom and sides of your pie crust before lining with either parchment or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a gorgeous golden brown. I like to use ceramic pie weights to fill the inside, as they hold heat well, but you can use rice or beans. I wouldn't recommending eating the baked grains or legumes, however, so just let them cool once done and save them in a jar for later blind-baking purposes. 

Once baked, please remove weights and allow to cool, then fashion a pie crust shield out of aluminum foil. Simply take a long-ish-sheet of foil and slice longways into thirds. Press gently and easily around the rim of the pie to protect the crust from burning during that second bake, so that way the filling can do its thing without ruining the look of the whole pie. 

As for the filling, simply combine the coconut milk, sugar, eggs, pandan, and a little pinch of salt in a blender, running on the lowest setting for 30 seconds before pouring straight in to your baked crust and then baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes. (Don't forget that  You'll want to watch for the stage at which it's still a hair loose in the middle - it should be jiggly without being slosh-y. (Yes, those are technical terms.) When it reaches that stage, simply turn off the oven and let sit with the door cracked for an additional 10 minutes. Evacuate and let sit, undisturbed, for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before cooling in the fridge. I like this pie bruleed, so it really does need to be quite cool before I torch it. If you don't have a torch, just enjoy as is, with a cup of hot coffee or tea. 

While you eat it, remember that you're one of the lucky few that gets to sit at home while our healthcare workers fight for us and die for us facing this pandemic. Show love and respect to them by staying home, washing your hands with hot soap and water, practicing social distancing, and keeping yourself sane and occupied enough to help them survive this. I know that there's a group of people out there protesting the stay-home orders, but please know that they're just a very small, very loud group of people that are sick of not getting what they want to get when they want to get it. As far as I've seen, these are people that don't want to go back to work but want others (namely us) to go back to work so they can get their hair cut, eat a burger at a restaurant, etc. 

I know it sucks. I want to go back to work. I know a lot of my friends want to go back to work. But trust us, it's not safe. There are so many other people looking at the bigger picture and there are so many people out there that are out there and being responsible about it. The sooner we all hold on, the sooner we can all get on with our lives. So hang on, bake on, and carry on. 




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Do not adjust your screen! I repeat, do not adjust your screen! 😋 This gorgeous Pandan Custard Pie is hundo P Pinterest worthy, and couldn't be easier to make. What's pandan, you ask? . . Pandan is an extract that comes from these fragrant leaves found in southeast Asia. It's beloved not just for it's yummy flavor, but it instantly turns anything a GORGEOUS verdant green color. 💚💚💚 You can make your own at home by cooking and blending your own pandan leaves, but it's just as easy to get the good extract at the Asian grocery store. (Here in Kansas City, I prefer Pan-Asia Market for baking supplies!🤫) It tastes like a mild, young coconut - so it's a gorgeous twist on a coconut custard pie. You can use the extract to make pies, cookies, cakes, waffles, and more! I personally love a pandan angel food cake. . Look for the recipe on Wannabgourmande.com later today at 11 am CST. Because you may as well create something new today while you're staying home and saving lives! . . . #wannabgourmande #piesofinstagram #instafood #baking #kosherbaking #coconutmilk #dairyfree #dairyfreerecipes #green #piecrust #pie #pastrychef #culinaryarts #discoveringchefs #chefsofinstagram #quarantinelife #stayhomesavelives #pandan #foodphotography #kansascity #kcinfluencer
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It's always been such a comfort to me to know that no matter what your day has in store for you or what the world has in store for you, you can come home and know with absolute certainty that if you add eggs and sugar to coconut milk, it'll get thick and custardy when you cook it. If you can use your cooking as a little bit of therapy, I invite you to do so.  Chin up, guys. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Russian Honey Cake



Pareve Russian Honey Cake

  • 100 g good local honey 
    • I used an elderflower honey bought from a local farmer's market
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 140 g vegan butter substitute
    • Or dairy butter, whatever you have
  • 3 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond extract**
    • Optional, but recommended!
  • 6 g baking soda 
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • 540 g all purpose flour
  • 340 g tofu sour cream
    • Dairy sour cream works, of course!
  • 100 g sugar
  • 65 g honey
  • 120 g (4) egg whites

This is one of those wonderful recipes you can (mostly) do by hand. You can even whip the egg whites for the filling by hand, especially if you're skipping the gym like the responsible citizen that you are. I do realize the irony of making a "Russian" honey cake, even though this is probably made by the Cossacks that drove the Russian Jews out to America, being a person descended from Russian/Lithuanian/Belarusian/Polish Jews. But I'm making it and making it kosher. Die mad about it.

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, honey, and sugar until dissolved and slightly thick. Then, one at a time, add in your eggs, gently whisking until each one is incorporated. You aren't looking for volume in this, but merely a deliciously syrup-y and smooth batter. Add in the baking soda and a pinch of kosher salt. Whisk in about a third of the flour mixture using the whisk, until very smooth, and then switch to a spatula for adding the rest of the flour. You're going to be stirring slowly, to make a wonderful dough that resembles a very soft hamentaschen (or cookie) dough.

Next, pick a size! Divide the dough into balls and roll out discs of the appropriate size. I used a 9 inch/22 cm round cake tin to measure out the size I wanted. A little flour on your favorite marble slab will do the trick to roll it out. Yes, I said flour. I know I don't usually have you flour your surfaces for your cookies...but this isn't a cookie, it's a cake. Sort of.

Once you have your discs, transfer them to a silpat-lined sheet pan and prick them with lots of holes! This will prevent the cake from rising and becoming terribly dense, which is not what you want. Bake each disc for 6 minutes, and allow to cool fully before stacking them on top of each other. This recipe yielded eight layers for me, and I still had enough dough left over to make myself some small tea biscuits.


This next part is optional, but if you were to pick a design for the top layer of the cookie/cake in the vein of a cut-out, I'd say do it while the discs are still somewhat warm. I chose a little bat cutout. More on that later...

To make the filling, stir in the 65 g honey with one package (340 g) of tofu sour cream. (Of course, you can use dairy sour cream if you like.) If you have a standing mixer, I suggest using that to whip up your egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. If not, enjoy the arm workout. Finally, fold in that glorious meringue to the sour cream to make the filling. Ready to assemble? Me, too.

Yep. Looks fluffy enough. 
Get a plate or cake board. Simply dollop a thin layer of the filling between each of the cake discs and spread evenly. Err on the side of less rather than more, as it looks quite spectacular if the layers of filling are the same height as the layers of cake. When you get to the top layer, spread the rest of the filling all over the entirety of the cake, sides included. Add your top layer with the decorative cut-outs, and call it good! Don't forget to snap a few pictures for Instagram before you let this chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Now, on to the bats - and this is where I put on my preachy food blogger/chef activist/annoying foodie hat and step on my soap box.

Hate mosquitos? Get yourself a bat house! It's like a bird-house...only for bats. And, yes, bats eat mosquitos!

Bats want you to eat honey. No, really! They do. And they also want you to stop using agave to the scale we are all using it instead of honey. Bats rely on agave, and agave plants rely on bats to pollinate them. In fact, they are the primary pollinators of agave plants, and you can't have agave - or tequila - without bats.

So what does this have to do with honey? Honey is a byproduct of bees, and a lot of vegans out there will tell you that harvesting honey hurts bees. This couldn't be further from the truth. If we hide behind this ideology that honey is a product of animal cruelty, and go for agave instead, we're starving bats and putting beekeepers out of the job.

A beekeeper's job is to watch over hives and make sure that bees are healthy and happy. They harvest honey in a way that do not harm bees. Bees, when given a lot of room, will make a lot of honey, so it's not like a beekeeper will ever benefit from taking the honey that the bees need to survive the winter. Beekeepers and apiaries only take excess honey, and in return the bees don't have to leave their hives in swarms to find more room. Beekeepers and hives are so important to the agricultural health of the planet that most farmers will lend a beekeeper a free spot on a corner of their land just to have a hive there. No, really, that's how important bees are to farmers.  

So, should you eat honey? Yes. Should you eat local honey? Yes, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies like yours truly. If you have a local apiary in your area, I also suggest that you buy some bee pollen. Sprinkled over your cereal or mixed into your tea or coffee will do wonders for your seasonal allergies without knocking you out like any over-the-counter antihistamines. Oh, and should you stop consuming agave? Probably, yes, unless you want the world to run out of tequila.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog, and this format of me putting the recipe first before my big annoying rant. I also hope you won't judge me for making a wheat-based product this close to Passover. I know I'm meant to be clearing out the house of all flour, because - you know - we're supposed to be running from the Egyptians or whatever - but we're already in the middle of the plague and money is tight, so I figure that I may as well use up my flour as much as I can before the holiday comes. Once that's all done, we'll go into matzoh territory! Please keep me in your thoughts as I go the week without bread in the middle of the dang plague.



Thanks again! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Dump-it Peanut Butter Cookies

How in the world are these so perfect-looking? Read on...
This is going to be the easiest thing you ever make. You don't need a scale, you don't need standing mixer. You need a whisk, a wooden spoon, a big bowl, and some hands to make these. Because, hey, sometimes the world is a dumpster fire and you need cookies.

Dump-it Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c peanut butter**
    • If you have a peanut allergy, I highly recommend sunflower butter. It's just as good and will work just fine!
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 1/2 c cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c whole oats
  • Chocolate Chips, as needed
Combine the oil and peanut butter (or sunflower butter if you have an allergy) in a mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine them. Add both of the sugars and whisk together until quite smooth. You'll get a great workout! Add in the egg and vanilla paste, and whisk until it's absolutely combined. Now's the time to switch to a spatula or a wooden spoon.

Dump all of your dry ingredients, sans the chocolate chips, into your bowl and stir until wholly and fully combined. I advise you to let your batter rest in the fridge while your oven heats to 325 degrees F. I'm now going to give you an incredible tip on how to make the perfect-looking chocolate chip cookie.

As you can see, I used ghiradelli chips! And my kitchen is a mess!

Scoop out your dough and place them on your sheet pan in little mounds. Instead of mixing your chocolate chips in, you're going to carefully press the chocolate chips into the dome, almost like you're making a cute little porcupine. It may seem tedious, but I assure you that it's worth it. You can do this with chocolate chips, hershey kisses, M&Ms, whole pecans...pretty much anything you feel like you need your cookie to have. 

I learned this tip from watching a fabulous series on Netflix called "The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, a California-based artist that's a self-taught baker and DIY queen. Give her a watch!




Bake at 325 for 11 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 before moving to a cooling rack, or a fabulously stylish plate to accompany your tea party. Or you can have your tea party by the harbor while you throw the tea into the ocean. Just be sure to use the hashtag #resist when you post about it on Instagram. 

See that? That was so easy. You can literally throw it together in minutes. If you have small humans around you, you can also employ them to do this. Children are much more responsible and capable than you may think. Arguably, the best thing you can do for them is to teach them how to look after themselves, and what better way to start than to give them the ability to have good, fresh cookies whenever they want? But I digress.

Please enjoy the fastest chocolate chip cookies in the midwest. Even if you already have the oven preheated and only let this batter rest for two minutes, it'll still be great!

Thank you all so much for your patience while I figure out some things on the personal end. Writing gave me a sense of purpose, and in the senseless times in our country, the tumultuous and treacherous happenings, all I can think to do is keep going. 

I'm no Alexander Hamilton. I'm not going to write my way to revolution and I know that. I write letters to my state and government representatives about how I feel about the concentration camps, about the abuse those men, women and children are going through. I write letters about human rights, and about how women should be able to make private health decisions without the government stepping in. I write about how I think that guns should have common sense laws and tests and licencing, and how it shouldn't be so easy to kill and maim another human being. I write to them how I think that children shouldn't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. I guess that's my way of saying all of my writing motivation has been going to that, and not this passion project that I've grown to love.

This website has become my way to speak through food. I really love writing and I hope that you all enjoy reading what I write. Part of me doesn't want to ruin anyone's day by bringing up politics; the rest of me wants everyone to know and wants everyone to care so we can all rise up and make it stop. At least, that's the hope.

Thanks so much for always reading. Go make yourself these cookies and know that they're coming from not just a child of immigrants, but a place of love. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Honeybee Bundt Cake

Hey, honey. 
Spring has sprung! In the spirit of starting things anew, I'm going to be trying something different this week.

A lot of food bloggers give you a really long anecdote or big history before the recipe when a lot of people just want to read the recipe. While I understand the reasoning behind all of this (nobody is going to want to read your writing unless you force them) I'm going to flip the narrative and give you the backstory of the ingredients and the reasoning for things after the recipe. Hopefully, this means you'll appreciate it so much that you'll continue to read all the way to the bottom. So, let's get on with it!

Honeybee Bundt Cake
yields 1 large bundt pan or 2 loaves
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Cake
  • 11.25 oz AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
  • 7 oz vegan butter substitute, room temperature
  • 5.25 oz cane sugar
  • 4 oz pure honey ( Try Gerard'z Honeybees Star Thistle Honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 c almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp local bee pollen (available at most health food stores)
Glaze
  • 6 oz pure honey
  • 2 oz coconut sugar
  • 2 oz vegan butter
  • A fat pinch kosher salt
  • A big fat handful of walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds...whatever you have lying around, crushed
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prep a large bundt pan with pan spray. I like the kind that already has flour in it, but if you don't have that then feel free to dust your pan with a little bit of flour, just so the cake has somewhere to climb and stick to without collapsing. That being said, this is a cake you can make the batter for in advance, let rest in the fridge, and then bake from cold when you're ready. Please plan accordingly, as this cake is best served just a little warm, with some homemade (n)ice cream (Try this one.).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Combine the almond milk and vinegar and allow to sit while you make the rest of the cake. Meanwhile, whip up the cane sugar, honey, and vegan butter with the whisk attachment of your standing mixer until really tall, light, fluffy, and homogeneous, which shouldn't take more than 2 minutes. It's quite important that everything is creamed and that the sugar is not visibly present. Whip in the vanilla paste for another 30 seconds, scrape, and add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape between this addition. This recipe is pretty high in fat, so it's important to make sure the eggs get in slowly. It also is imperative that everything is at room temperature for this one, otherwise the risk of the batter curdling is higher. I know it's annoying, but I assure you that it's worth it.

Are the eggs all in? Great! Scrape down and get ready. Spoon in about a third of the flour, and stir on low speed for 3 or 4 turns around the bowl. Add in half the milk and stir a little more, another 4 turns or so. Add in the second third of the flour, stir, and add the rest of the milk. Stir, add the final bit of the flour, and stir the rest of it by hand with a rubber spatula, scraping well, especially the bottom. Swirl in the bee pollen.



Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and spread it evenly all around. If your oven is not already hot, you may store it in the fridge until it has sufficiently reached its desired temperature. This particular cake actually does get a gorgeous crackly ridge if you do this, even moreso than if you bake it from room temperature, which is what you want. Either way, only stick this cake in the center rack of the oven to bake when it's sufficiently hot, and not a moment before.

Turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is solid and springs back when gently touched. Meanwhile, make your glaze/syrup by combining the honey, vegan butter, coconut sugar, and a little salt, in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer and stir. It's going to take about 2 minutes for the sugar to fully dissolve once simmering, but please don't pull it off the heat until it's all done! Trust me on this. Take the time now to crush your nuts in a mortar and pestle, but only enough so that they're broken up into irregular pieces. Walnuts work great for this because they're so soft and fatty, but you can use any kind of nut you like. Pistachios look visually stunning, with their bright green!

Remove your cake from the oven, but keep the oven turned on. Poke your cake with either a wooden skewer or a chopstick, all the way down to the bottom. Please be generous, but don't put your holes too close together. Be sure to get a lot of them, as they'll be essential for this cake's flavor later! I use the metal chopsticks because there's a 100% guarantee of no bamboo skewer shavings getting into the cake.

Take your time with this step, and please make sure your glaze is warm and quite runny!
If your syrup/glaze has gone a little cool, heat it up again to where it's quite runny, and then pour about half of the glaze, slowly, into surface of the cake. Try to get it in the crags and holes as much as possible, so it's quite important that your cake and glaze are still warm. Take your crushed nuts and sprinkle them all over. Pop your cake in the oven for another 5 minutes, and then remove from the oven and cool on a rack, while still in the pan. This is the reason I didn't have you turn the oven off just now, and also the reason I didn't have you toast the nuts, so they won't burn.



Now, glaze the cake with the remainder or your syrup and let cool in the pan for an hour or so. This means that this cake is the absolute perfect cake to finish just before dinner so you can eat and then have dessert. It's only folksy in name but is quite impressive for a dinner party, especially with the right accompaniment.

To turn out, flip your cake upside down on a plate (not your presentation plate) and then flip your cake back over on your serving plate. You can garnish with fresh mint, if you like, or dust with powdered sugar...but I really like this cake exactly as it is.You can even reserve a couple of spoonfuls of glaze for your plating and drizzle it all over, letting it drip over the sides, creating a deliciously inviting presentation.

Did you like that recipe? Are you ready for the fun facts? Are you still with me? Great.

Put honey in your tea all spring instead of sugar. Trust me. 
Honey is a superfood and a dang miracle of nature. First, it never goes bad, not ever. There's honey in pots that are from ancient Egypt in sarcophagi that are still perfictly good and edible and haven't rotted or gone rancid. It captures, like a photograph or a painting, the taste of the earth, or terroir, of that region or season. It's an antiseptic (in survival-mode, you can use either pine sap or honey on small cuts in a pinch while you're running from zombies) and a great medicine for a sore throat or allergies. I could go on and on about honey and how important it is to get some in your diet. Yes, it's expensive, but you're going to use less of it than you're going to use sugar in many applications. Per one cup of sugar, you can use 2/3 c of honey when it comes to baking cakes and breads. Honey has complexities that sugar does not, and the fact that it's sustainable to boot doesn't hurt its argument by any means.

You'll notice that I put real honey in the recipe. A fair bit of honey on the cheaper side is made by thinning it out with karo or corn syrup. Unless you get it from a local farm/apiary, there's a good chance you might have a thinned out honey product, so make sure you look at your labels.

Do they look the same? Looks can be deceiving!
Gerard'z Honeybees is a really cool company with whom I partnered with for this post. I want to raise awareness on honey and the proper husbandry of bees. This is an ancient trade and we've been doing it since pretty much the dawn of civilization, unlike the manufacture of and the illegal trade and cartels of cane sugar. A lot of folks of the vegan persuasion - while well-intended - believe that taking honey from bees is harmful. There's a lot of evidence as to why this is untrue, but here are the bulletpoints you need to know:
  • Apiaries house hives and keep them healthy
  • Apiaries only take extra honey
    • If apiaries don't take the excess honey, there's a chance the colony will overcrowd or begin to swarm, and that's not what you want
  • When you have healthy bees, you have lots of food around as bees are pollinators
  • Farmers often have apiary plots rent-free for migrating beekeepers since they know they need the bees to pollinate their crops, which is good for everybody involved
  • Beeswax, a byproduct of most apiaries, can be used as a better alternative in candles, cosmetics, natural lip balms, and lotions than say animal fat would be 
Taking honey from bees isn't harming these animals. The amount of agave we're all-consuming, however, is harmful to a very specific kind of long-nosed bat that lives in the Southwest. We're taking their food supply, which sucks because they're the pollinators out there, so please think twice before you buy agave. If you still have reservations with honey, please buy maple syrup, sorghum, or molasses instead. 

Let's touch on allergy relief one final time. A good reason to try local honey is that it not only supports your community but also will help with your allergies. Since I live in Kansas City, I need to get honey that's from Kansas City, or at least within 100 miles of it. That means the bees are collecting pollen and nectar from flowers that are growing all around me, be they from trees or bushes or grasses or flowers. The point is that it's from the air that exists in the area that's making me sneeze, which is also why it's important to grab some local bee pollen while you're getting that.

You'll note that I called for an ingredient known as bee pollen, which some of you might not be aware of as a product you can buy. In short, bee pollen is the little yellow balls that you see on bees legs sometimes when you find one flying around. You can put it in cakes, sprinkle it on your oatmeal, stir it in your coffee, and more - but the reason that I personally want it around in spring is that it's the only allergy relief I can get without being put into a freaking coma. (Looking at you, Benedryl.) Bee pollen is crunchy, tastes really floral, and dissolves into a powder if you crush it. They come in small bags and from most local herbal or health food shops. I am fortunate enough to get mine at the local organic grocery store! The reason I added bee pollen into this recipe was that the honey I got was not from around Kansas City, but from California.




Star Thistle Honey from Gerard'Z Honeybees 🐝 So I'm obsessed with honey. One of my favorite things about it is that no two batches will ever taste exactly the same, nor should they! This particular honey has a wonderfully bitter quality, almost medicinal, but it's fragrant, pungent and so unbelievably deep with a sour finish... it takes you on a wild ride! And before my #vegan friends get mad, let me assure you that taking honey from bees is hundo P okay 👌 . Beekeepers do everything they can to make sure that their babies are healthy and happy and always have enough food. The honey that they take is excess, and they never take so much honey that it would harm the hive. 🍯 besides, if we didn't have beekeepers, our bees would have a lot more trouble than they're already having. . . Honey it is a perfect food, that never goes bad, and is a really good antiseptic. 🙏🏻 Seriously! My mom puts honey over our minor cuts after washing them 😅 and nothing is better than hot tea with honey when you have a sore throat. 🍵 The best part? It helps with your allergies. Gerardz's is a feature for tomorrow's blog post! Stay tuned 😉 . . . . . #lfthx #gerardzhoneybees #honeytasting #gerardz #foodiechats #dairyfree #pareve #kosher #naturalfoods #KansasCity #california #honey #video #wannabgourmande #organicaid #savethebees #bees #nature @gerardzhoneybees
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For this particular honeybee cake, I used the Star Thistle Honey. I'm partnering with Gerard'z this week and they gave me the exclusive on this soon-to-be-available product. Of course, I had to get a jar of their wildflower, too. The Wildflower honey was mild and floral, but had a bright and pleasantly sour finish. The Star Thistle, however, might be my favorite honey, because of how incredibly complex it is. It starts off with a bitter taste, almost medicinal, before you get into the sweetness. It's got quite a lot of depth, like a good dark roast coffee, and then finishes bright and sweet. I thought it was perfect for this cake, so of course I had to use it. Message the site to get some for yourself!

You saw me use the term terroir earlier in this post. This term is usually found when describing wine. Terroir is "the taste of the land." This means that the grapes are affected by the land they're grown in, say if the earth the vines grow in are heavy with either clay or lime or something else. In truth, it's quite the same for bees, depending on what they can feed upon that year. This is why you can get such flavors as 'Wildflower honey', which have been harvested from bees that get their stuff from wildflowers. You can get 'Orange blossom honey' from bees that have their hive situated in a citrus grove. Gerard'z Honeybees, based in California, have a variety of flavors, such as raspberry, alfalfa, and more. I invite you to try them all!

I also invite you to plant local wildflowers and fall bulbs, to feed your local bees. Just think, you're helping shape 'wildflower honey' in your area! But please check with your local extension office to make sure you're not introducing an invasive species of flower to your region. Otherwise, you might do more harm than good!
Some seasons the honey will be a deep amber color. Sometimes the honey will turn purple, if the bees get into a blackberry farm. Honey can be a very light gold color, or in some cases can be almost clear and be tangy and sour. The beautiful thing about honey is how incredibly seasonal it is. You can quite literally taste the years go by or monitor how the years went if you were to look at it over time. My good friend David, whose mother is a beekeeper, remembers a single summer in which it was the best honey harvest of their lives in which the honey was especially perfect.

Please plant as many flowers as you can this year! And every year! All of these bees need food and so does your soul!

One more reason that I'm in love with honey is because it's a very old world way of eating. Ancient Egyptians were keeping bees and consuming honey, and the Aztecs have been keeping bees for a very long time as well. The wandering Jews of the tribes of Moses are promised "a land of milk and honey." You can find evidence of ancient apiaries in China, and even the indigenous peoples of Northern Americas got in on the party. You won't find cane sugar in traditional Russian or Lithuanian sweets, as honey reigns supreme. If you think about it, cane sugar as a concept is no older than a heartbeat in terms of how civilization came to be. So, really, let's look at going back to our roots in the culinary world and regain a taste for honey. It's fully sustainable, will be excellent for your health and for the environment in the long run, and is incredibly tasty!

Thanks so much for enduring this new format of posting. I'm trying to be conscious of my readers' experience and I hope you enjoyed learning, especially if you got this far. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Share this cake with a loved one.