A Party Without Cake is Just a Meeting

There is a quote from Julia Child that says “a party without cake is a just a meeting” and I thought that was a wonderful theme for a party! So I decided to have a tea and cake party and try my hand at making three different types of cakes.  The results were wonderful! I will admit that these three cakes have three different levels of work, so you can choose accordingly. There is so much to celebrate, so don’t forget to take a break and enjoy some cake!

The cakes:

  • Matcha Mille Crepe Cake with honey whipped cream and raspberry jam
  • Cheese Cake
  • Orange Cake with Mango filling and an Italian Meringue Butter Cream

Cheese Cake

The easiest to make is the cheese cake.  You can make this with any of your favorite cheeses but the ones I chose were Edam (with the beautiful red wax shell), a wheel of brie, and colby jack cheese sticks.  Basically you are going to make a “cake” out of different cheeses, and decorate using some cream cheese “frosting”

How to: Begin by making the cream cheese “frosting”.  Mine was sun dried tomato and basil flavored, but you can do whatever flavor you desire. Take block of cream cheese. Add in 1.5 tablespoons of sun dried tomato chopped or dried, one teaspoon of basil, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste.  Add a bit of water and whip together to soften it and make it pipe-able. I added a bit of dye to make it a bit more red.

Cutting the cheese sticks into cubes and make a circle layer base. Then top with the brie, then the edam.  I topped it with a few sprigs of basil and filled the plate with crackers.  This was a lovely presentation, but just know you will have to take it apart to eat most of it.

Matcha Crepe Cake

This is an average hardness level recipe.  The components are all simple together, but are a little time consuming to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 raspberry jam

How to:

  1. In a large bowl add your flour and matcha powder and make a well.  Add the eggs to the well and begin to beat them into the flour.  Slowly add in the milk and whisk the mixture until smooth. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. In a nonstick pan, spray with a little pan spray and set to medium low heat. Then ladle in the crepe batter, about 1/4 cup per crepe.  Make sure the batter is even across the bottom of the pan.  If cooked on low they will cook through so you don’t need to flip them.
  3. I made these the night before and put them in the fridge until the next day.  You can make this all the same day but depending on your filling you will want the crepes completely cooled.
  4. To make the whipped cream, simply whip the cream, add honey and a tough of vanilla and boom. Done.
  5. Begin layering the crepes. I did a layer with whipped cream (just a ring around the outside and a bit in the center), then a layer of thin raspberry.  Traditionally it should be at least 20 layers tall, but I lost count.
  6. I love color so I made the whipped cream bright blue, but you don’t have to do that.

The last cake is a labor. I wanted to do it to test my culinary skills but it has a lot of components, and without a stand mixer, it was a bit of a bear.  So with a stand mixer, this could be a breeze, but if you don’t have one, would not recommend. I also am not going to post this recipe yet because I can definitely improve it, so when that happens, it will be here! For now enjoy some of the pictures!  I can’t wait to develop my decorating skills.

No Knead to be Nervous

Ever since I watched Cooked I have been on a journey of making my own bread.  I have had several successes and also several complete failures.  Turns out bread making wasn’t as simple as I expected.  Well, that’s until today.  I have been reading a lot about no knead bread and for a long time I just didn’t buy it.  How could you not need to knead it (see what I did there?).  But since returning from my trip I  was dying for some fresh bread, and I decided to try this new technique, what did I have to lose? Well damn, I am impressed.  This recipe was super simple, 4 ingredients, and although it takes some time, you can be doing 100 other things while you wait.  Seriously, if you want fresh bread but are nervous to try, start with this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • flavorings (rosemary, garlic, anything) optional

How to:

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, yeast, and salt together.
  2. Slowly add in the water and incorporate gently using a wooden spoon.  It should turn into a cohesive ball but shredded and shagged.
  3. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 8-24 hours.  I was going to make them after 8 hrs, but ran out of time so I put it in the fridge overnight.
  4. After the time is up, preheat your oven to 450.
  5. Place the dough on a well floured surface and with floured hands form into a ball. Then break into 6 pieces and gently form them into balls as well. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Using a dutch oven or a roasting pan, place it in the oven to preheat for the 30 minutes the bread is resting.
  7. You can place parchment paper in the bottom if you are worried about it sticking, but I didn’t have a problem.
  8. Once 30 minutes are up, with floured hands place the rolls in the pan.  If you are using a roasting pan, cover with tinfoil, if you are using a dutch oven, put on the top.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes covered. Then for 7-15 minutes uncovered until deliciously golden brown.
  10. Try to exhibit restraint in eating all of these at once.
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To Discover a New City, You Must First Taste It

I am back from my two week adventure through Europe.  It feels like I have come out of a weird dream, like it hardly happened at all. It was an experience I will not soon forget.  One of my main goals of this trip was to eat my way through the countries I was in, and although I didn’t get to eat everything I could have dreamed of, I ate some truly wonderful things.  Join me, as we travel around Europe through food!

First Stop:

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is known for pastries but I was surprised by the amount of different culture’s food located around the city.  Nearly every country was represented on every street corner.  They also have this specialty that is basically like an open faced sandwich but with one piece of bread, it was delicious and decadent. They also have a cake called Christianhavn cake, that was out of this world.

 


London

London is a big city with a lot going on.  I knew from the start that I definitely needed to have fish and chips, Indian food, and High Tea.  I was delightfully surprised by again how many cultures I was able to experience in this city.  I was also amazed by High Tea and Cream Tea (like high tea but with just the desserts and biscuits).  London had some of my favorite surprises in food.


Barcelona

I wish I had more time to spend here, but we really only had one day to experience the city.  Started off the morning strong with fresh squeezed orange juice, managed to get our hands on sangria by the beach, churros by the bagful, and tapas. OH and the cheapest but most delicious (and strong) mojitos.


Italy

I knew I would love Italy, and I was not disappointed.  From the fresh pastas, delicious sauces, and markets selling fresh produce on every corner, I was sold from the start.  Meals were simple, but so flavorful, every ingredient is made with such care and is of high quality.  Every day I enjoyed a cappuccino and pastry from a local bar.  I got fed by a local Italian, AND we learned the magic of apertivo.  Apertivo is when you order a drink and you get access to a buffet or just get some free food. It is magic, and I wish we did it more.  That brings me to the drinks of Italy.  Processo was so cheap and delicious, especially when made into a fresh peach bellini.  Lambrusco is a sparkling sweet red.  And I was not disappointed in the house wine ever.  Italy was one of my favorite food destinations, I had to resist throwing away all of my clothes and filling my backpack with food. I definitely will be going back, hungry for more.


Berlin

Berlin was a destination with a short time again.  I read that it was a hot spot for delicious doner kebab and Vietnamese food, so those definitely were on my to try list. Also listed was schnitzel, pretzels, beer, and curry wurst.  They have a whole museum on curry wurst so I knew I had to have it, but I must say…not my favorite.  What were some of my favorites were the doner kebab salad box I had, the potato salad that had apples and pickles in it, and surprisingly I found a beer I LIKED! Shocking if you know me!

 


I wish it was more socially acceptable to eat 6 meals a day, and I also wish the heat made it more easily attainable.  But what I was able to eat and enjoy was truly memorable and delicious.  There are more detailed stories of everything I ate on my instagram so check those out!

 

Fire and Desire Burger

Ever since I participated in Battle of the Burger competition last year I have been continuously thinking of what I can do to upstage my recipe last year.  Don’t get me wrong, last years Beg for it Burger was delicious.  But I am a year older and I have had a year full of new culinary experiments so I want this burger to reflect all that I have learned. So every component of this burger is made fresh by me, bread, aioli, jalapeños, everything but the cheese (next year I swear). I find that this burger is a good representation of everything I’ve done over the last year. It’s got heat, sweet, and requires a lot of work to make it happen, so pretty well sums up the end of my college experience!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs The All Natural Schweid & Sons Beef (6, 4oz burger)
  • 2 links churrizo
  • 1 cup thick queso
  • 3 ears corns
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1/2 cup Pickled jalapeños slices
  •  1 cup cilantro lime aioli
  • Focaccia bread with caramelized onions on top
  • sweet sassy sauce (a sweet pepper jelly)
  • Fire and desire sauce ( a boozy hot sauce)
  • Burger spices: cumin, chili powder, salt pepper, garlic and onion powder

How to:

  1. Begin by seasoning your meat with cumin (a little goes a long way), chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.  Save the salt til the end. Let sit for at least an hour or two so all the flavors can marry.
  2. Make your queso and pour into a skinny mason jar, and place into freezer.
  3. Make a sheet of focaccia bread topped with caramelized onions.
  4. The pickled jalapeño recipe can be found here, I like at least 4-7 per burger.
  5. The aioli recipe can be found here, and you want at least tablespoon per burger.
  6. Now time to cook! Grab one patty worth of meat, and split it in half. And gently form a disc. Grab your queso from the freezer and slice one 1 cm thick disc. Work the churrizo around the disk. Place in the center of your patty. Then form the remaining meat around sealing the edges best you can without overworking the meat, sprinkle with a bit of salt. Then cook. Since I am in a city apartment I cook on the stove then move to the oven.
  7. Now for the corn you want to blanch it then place on the grill to give it some char. Slice off all the kernels and mix it with mayo and chipotle.
  8. Now once everything is ready, time to assemble. Slice the focaccia in half (or use two pieces of yours is flat) then layer on some of the corn mixture. Top with your perfect burger.
  9. Add the pickled jalapeños and spread the aioli on top of the top bun.
  10. If you like the heat the way it is, enjoy! Or use one or the sauces to add a little bit more!
  11. Time to eat!

Disclaimer, when I made the burger the first time I didn’t have an opportunity to make the focaccia, but when I made it again I didn’t have my camera; but this tortilla shell worked not to bad the first time!

BANH Voyage, Mon a-MI

Summer is the perfect time for trips, sips, and flips.  Flipping burgers on the grill that is.  Recently I have been reeving up my creative juices to come up with a burger that redefines how you think about burgers.  Friends, I think I did it.  This Banh Mi inspired burger changes textures, flavors, and ideas about conventional burgers.  And it is all the better for breaking the mold.  Something that is extra special about this burger is that it is gluten free.  Now all of your celiac and gluten intolerant friends can join in on the summer fun.  And because it is summer, you should enjoy this burger on your back deck with a full glass of Sutter Home Riesling.  Riesling is the perfect pairing to match the ginger, spicy, Asian, and citrus flavors incorporated into this recipe. This is what the burger breaks down to: a vermicelli noodle bun, with a Thai peanut sauce, fresh cilantro and Thai basil, crunchy cucumber and carrots, and a burger patty mixed with mushrooms and a sweet glaze on top.

Ingredients:

  • 2lb Ground beef
  • 6-10 large white button or baby portobello mushrooms
  • 3-4 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large bunches of fresh cilantro
  • 1 large bunch of fresh Thai basil
  • 7 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 7 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 zest from an orange
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 large carrots ribbon-ed or shredded
  • 1 large cucumber shredded or sliced
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon mayo
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoon sriracha (more if you like heat)
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 soy sauce (make sure it is gluten free)
  • optional heat: kimchi

How to:

  1. Okay, looking at the list of ingredients, that looks like a lot.  But it really isn’t, and I am going to break it down into parts.
  2. First the buns: take cooked vermicelli noodles and mix with the three beaten eggs.  Add in about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, garlic, and onion powder.  Mix well to incorporate and place into the fridge (for at least 1/2 an hour). When it is time to cook it, using a small egg pan or circular cookie shell, pour in 1/2 a cup of the egg noodle mixture onto a pre-greased pan. Cook low and slow until one side is golden and firm, then flip onto the other side.  It will be firm on each side and set aside for later.
  3. For the peanut sauce: in a food processor combine the the peanut butter, mayo, sriracha, beef broth, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. Pulse to combine into a smooth sauce.
  4. For the patty: dice up the mushrooms in a food processor until small pieces but not completely minced.  Mix this into the ground meat.  Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Also add in 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest. Let sit for 1/2 hour at least to let flavors combine.  When forming the patty get a fist size of meat and gently form into a patty.  Use your thumb to create a slight dent in the center of the patty. Cook on a grill or pan until medium (or desired temp).  When the burger is almost done, slather on a tablespoon of the sweet glaze just before it is done.
  5. The glaze: oyster sauce, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fine orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.  Stir to combine and spread on top of the burger before it is done.
  6. Veggies: slice them up fine.
  7. Assembly: Add the peanut sauce to the top of the burger patty, add the fresh herbs here. I like a solid teaspoon or so of cilantro and a leaf or two of thai basil chopped up.  Add on the patty and top with the shredded veggies, add kimchi if you want some extra heat (which I always do).
  8. Pop some Shutter Home Riesling and enjoy!

 

 

 

Peter Pickled Peppers

With Father’s Day around the corner, I thought it was only appropriate to dedicate this recipe to my Dad.  He was one of the main influences that encouraged me to explore food.  Although he let me be a picky eater, he also made trying new things so tasty and delicious.  He also has a need for heat like no other so these sweet and spicy pickled jalapenos are something he would definitely enjoy.  Make these as the perfect Father’s day gift for your main man to show him you love him!

Ingredients:

  • Jalapenos (8-10)
  • 3/4 c. white vinegar
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (minimum 1 tablespoon but 3 if you want more sweet than heat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • Mason jar with lid

How to:

  1. Begin by prepping the peppers. Slice off the top and try to get as many seeds out as you can.  Then slice into thin rounds, about 1 cm.
  2. Then rinse off the peppers and set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan add in the salt, sugar, vinegar, and water and bring to a low boil.
  4. Stuff your mason jar with the sliced peppers.  Then stick in the peeled clove of garlic into the center of the peppers and the cumin seed.
  5. Once the mixture has come to a boil, turn off and let cool down for a few minutes.
  6. Pour over the pepper mixture and then place on the lid and twist it tight. Let cool to room temperature before moving it into the fridge.
  7. Let sit for 3 days, then crack open and enjoy!
  8. I put mine on top of everything, but specifically these tacos, they were amazing!

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A Slice of Humble Pie with No Fuss Crust

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Summer? Is that you? It seems like every few weeks I think we are finally taking a turn towards warmer weather, and then it goes back to rainy and gloomy.  But I think we are finally getting that warm weather.  And I am not sure why, but summer means pie.  A week ago up in Maine, my friend had some lemon meringue pie and since then I have had a craving for it.  I finally decided to give into my craving and make it.  I have made it once before and lets just say, it didn’t go to well.  But this time, this time I have conquered! I will admit this is a recipe that is relatively hard but it is definitely worth the time and attention. Give yourself a few hours of patience, put on your favorite playlist, and get ready to make a delicious treat!

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 6 Tbs corn starch
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the meringue

  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust

  • 3 graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)

How to:

  1. Begin by making the pie crust.  In a food processor blend the graham crackers, oats, flour, and cinnamon together until the mixture is a course powder (~ a minute) Add in the oil and pulse for another few seconds to incorporate.
  2. Spray a pie plate with nonstick spray and pour in the crumb.  Press down firmly and move the crumb so it reaches all of the edges of the pie plate.
  3. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden and set aside. Drop your oven temp to 325.
  4. For the filling, in a sauce pan combine the cornstarch, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat.  Whisking continuously, let simmer for another minute and the mixture should thicken, once it has, remove from heat.
  5. Beat your egg yolks, and spoon 1 tablespoon of the corn starch mixture to the eggs to temper them.  Once you have used 1/2 of the cornstarch, add the yolks back to cornstarch in the pan and put it back on the stove.  Letting it cook for another minute or two on low heat.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the zest, lemon juice, and butter. Stirring with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Set aside
  7. In a small sauce pan add 1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1/3 cup water.  Bring to a small boil and it will start to thicken, once thick remove from heat.
  8. In a bowl add your egg whites, vanilla, and vinegar (if using cream of tartar mix in with the sugar). Begin to beat on low speed until the mixture is frothy.
  9. Increase speed to medium and once frothy begin to add in the sugar slowly.  Once soft white peaks form, start adding in the water cornstarch mixture spoonful at a time until stiff peaks form.  You can increase to high speed but do not over mix.  (side note, mine never formed “stiff” peaks, but it turned out totally fine)
  10. Now add in your filling to the pie crust and spread evenly.  Then starting with the outer circle add your meringue on top, making sure to get to the edges of the pie.  Once the outer ring is complete, fill in the middle.
  11. Place in the oven and cook for 20 -25 minutes until the meringue is lightly golden brown.
  12. LET COOL COMPLETELY!! like not slightly cooled, all the way to room temperature and maybe a few minutes in the fridge before you slice into it, or your filling will be runny.  I made this mistake because I was impatient, don’t let it happen to you!
  13. Eat and enjoy!

Crispy Tofu

For years my sister’s take out order for Chinese food has always been General Tao’s tofu.  At first I guffawed, because no way tofu was gonna taste better than chicken, but then I stole some and grew to realize that I actually liked the texture more than chicken.  Especially with the lightly crispy crust.  This previous memory was at the back of my mind when I walked past the tofu in the grocery store recently, and for the first time I finally decided to buy some. Although you need significant prep time to make these, they really are very simple, use very few ingredients, and taste just like take out! I enjoyed mine with orange ginger sauce, roasted veggies, and brown rice.  You can make these your own with whatever sauce you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • extra firm (or firm) tofu
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 dash paprika
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable)
  • paper towels

How to:

  1. Begin by draining the water from the tofu blocks.
  2. Cut the tofu blocks into about 1 inch cubes.
  3. Gently squeeze out each square trying to get as much liquid out as possible but not breaking the tofu.
  4. Lay paper towels on a cutting board and then place the tofu on top.  Cover the tofu with another layer of paper towels and place a heavy cutting board or cookie sheet.
  5. Once the paper towels are completely wet, replace them.  You will have to do this 2-3 times.
  6. Once the tofu is almost completely dry (I didn’t get it bone dry, but that’s okay).
  7. In a big ziplock bag add in the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Add in the tofu and shake it up.  Try to make sure everything gets coated.
  8. Pour the tofu into a colander to get out any remaining corn starch.
  9. In a deep walled pan add in the coconut oil and heat to medium heat.  Once hot and almost sizzling, add in the tofu gently.  You can test if your oil is ready with a tester piece, you want it to start sizzling when you add it to the pan otherwise it will just absorb the oil.
  10. You may have to cook in 2 batches. Let each piece cook for about 2 minutes on each side until golden and crunchy.
  11. Once cooked on every side move to a plate covered in a paper towel.
  12. You can either place the cooked tofu in sauce or drizzle the sauce over the top, either way it will be great.  When you want to eat it in the following days, bake or cook it on the skillet again, instead of microwaving.