Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coconut Brown Rice Agave Ice cream

When people find out I am a Pastry Chef I am usually asked the following questions: 1) Do you make cakes? 2) Don't you just love cupcakes? and 3) Is cupcake wars your favorite show? I guess I am a disappointment to my trade because I answer no to all three. I can and do make cakes, but I focus on making my cakes taste great instead of making them look insanely crazy by using all kinds of tools and fondant. Call me old school, but my motto is "butter cream or go home." In response to question number 2, I have to say cupcakes are lovely, but the majority of cupcakes sold in stores and cupcake bakeries are made from box to those cupcakes I say no, but to real home made cupcakes I think I can find a place in my life for them. : ) Now as far as cooking shows go, yes, I used to watch lots of cooking shows before I starting working in the industry. Once I started working I realized that most of those shows are really unrealistic and more about the drama then the food. Sorry folks, not to bust your bubble...if you watch those shows by all means continue to do so...this is just my personal opinion. My chiropractor asked me if I watch Chopped. I said no, but he kept talking about how great it was so I figured I should at least check it out. Darn it, I am hooked. This show is great. 3 chefs. 3 courses. 3 baskets full of mystery ingredients. I like this show because it is really is about food, and it fun to try and come up with ideas of my own for all the crazy ingredients they give the contestants. Also, it challenges the creativity of the chefs and is off the hook crazy the things these people come up with. Now onto the recipe...

I know what you are all thinking..."maybe she got two posted mixed up somehow", I assure you the recipe I am about to share is indeed Coconut Brown Rice Agave Ice Cream. For all of you people out there on a Dairy free, refined sugar free diet this one is for you!

I was inspired to make this ice cream after eating some coconut rice ice cream at a Thai restaurant a few months ago. There was something so interesting and appealing about the smooth texture of the ice cream combined with the chewy texture of the rice. At first I was skeptical, but after one bite I was so intrigued I ate the whole bowl! This is a great dessert to serve after a spicy meal, the flavors are so refreshing and soothing to the palette. If you don't have agave you should be able to use honey or maple syrup instead. Read through the whole recipe first just so you are sure where you are going with it...does that make sense?

Coconut Brown Rice Agave Ice Cream

In small saucepan whisk together the following and bring to a simmer over medium high heat:

2 (13.5-14 ounce) cans of unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup agave
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In separate medium sized bowl whisk 4 egg yolks. Now we are going to temper which sounds scary and intimidating, but really it isn't. We do this so the egg yolks don't become scrambled eggs. While continuously whisking the eggs slowly pour about about a 1/2 a cup of the hot coconut milk mixture into the eggs. Whisk Whisk Whisk. Once combined pour about another 1/2 cup coconut milk into the eggs. Whisk Whisk Whisk. At this point you can pour the egg/coconut milk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining coconut milk mixture. Whisk Whisk Whisk. Continue to whisk about 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add:

1/2 tsp Vanilla bean paste, or 1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (I toasted mine, but you don't have to)
1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice...or any rice you like (optional, but highly suggested)

Whisk until combined. Put into fridge and chill. Once chilled process in ice cream maker until thick and creamy, about 20-25 minutes. Please need to eat this right away, if you put it in the freezer it will turn into a large block.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Pop-tarts a.k.a. Pure Bliss

Look at those flaky can you ever eat a store bought pop-tart again?
My sous chef enjoying the pop-tart she made
Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness

Cut out shapes
Filling optionsDo you know what happens when you make a million pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas? You are left with a bunch of pie dough scraps! I was rummaging through my fridge and came across these giant balls of pie dough scraps...guess it was about time I did something with them. It just so happens that my niece and I went strawberry picking this week and had a surplus of strawberries in our kitchen. Strawberries and pastry, a match made in heaven. I was going to make a quick jam with the berries, but decided to just use them fresh as is. We made an assembly line of freshly sliced strawberries, cream cheese, pecans in maple syrup, and a cinnamon sugar mixture. We filled each pastry with these fillings, and wow...were they awesome! I think my favorite combination was the cream cheese, cinnamon sugar, and pecans and maple syrup. The pie dough scraps held up great and the end result was incredible. I am already plotting out future fillings...the possibilities are endless. I am pretty sure any type of Jam would also do well inside these paired with cream cheese...of course.

Some fun facts about Pop-Tarts:

1) They were invented in 1963 by Post and were first called "Country Squares"...pretty sure that person got fired for coming up with that name.

2) Later that year Kelloggs swept in with their own version called "Pop-tarts"...needless to say "Country Squares" disappeared from the market.

3) Many fires have been caused by pop-tarts in toasters so now there is a warning on every box that says, ""Due to possible risk of fire, never leave your toasting appliance or microwave unattended."

4) There are 29 flavors of Pop-tarts on the market...including: Cherry Berry Rick Pip...what? Rainbow Cookie Sandwich...nasty. Jewelberry, Meowberry, Wild Bubble-Berry, Icy Cold Polar, and wait for it... Wild Magic that even a legal substance, and should your kids be eating it for breakfast. Wheaties, the breakfast of champions...Wild Magic Burst...the breakfast of Pot heads.

Growing up eating Pop-tarts was a rare treat in our house. Now, I would never buy or feed a Pop-tart to anyone. Sorry folks, why would I buy them when I can make them, and they taste this amazing?

Pop Tarts

If you don't have pie dough scraps lying around use this recipe for the dough:

Roll out the cold dough on a well floured surface making sure you rotate, flip, and re flour as you go to ensure the dough isn't sticking onto the surface. Roll out to 1/4" thickness. Cut out rectangles, squares, or circles. Place on a parchment lined pan. We did all kinds of shapes, just have fun with it. Place filling in center of every other piece of dough, make sure you do not overfill the pastries. Dip your fingers in a little bit of water and moisten the edges of each piece. Place an equal sized and shaped piece of dough on top of the filling and press together. Make sure you get a nice seal on the edges so the filling doesn't ooze out while baking. Use a fork to ensure the seal of each tart and work your way around the edges. Brush each pastry with some beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar. Lightly slice the tops of each pastry so the steam can escape. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. The time varies with each shape.

Possible Fillings

Fresh Fruit
Cream Cheese
Cinnamon Sugar mixture: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 4 tsp flour
Pecans or walnuts soaked in maple syrup
Almonds ground up with coconut and honey

You can also assemble these ahead of time, freeze them, and then bake them when you want them.

Yum, Yum, Yum, eating food can be so fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Wait...there is still time to make this quick and delicious cake! Saint Patrick's day is not over yet! Usually when I hear anything having to do with beer my automatic reaction is ...yuck. However, add a little chocolate to anything and now we are talking. My niece and I whipped up this cake in less then 5 minutes, stuck it in the oven and called it a day. I am currently enjoying a nice slice, and if I liked beer I imagine it would go nicely with a cold Guinness. This cake is ironically supposed to resemble an actual glass of Guinness, foam and all. : ) So make this, and end your Saint Patrick's day with an Irish dessert.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
from Nigella Lawson

In large saucepan over medium heat combine the following until the butter is melted:

1 cup Guinness Stout
10T salted butter

Once butter is melted remove from heat and add the following:

3/8 cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar

Whisk and then add the following and whisk again:

3/8 cup sour cream
2 eggs

1 TBS vanilla

Whisk until smooth and add the following:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Whisk until smooth. Pour into buttered and floured 9" spring form pan, or 9" deep cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. (If you don't have 9" pans, just use whatever pan you do have and adjust the time accordingly) Let cake cool completely and then frost with the following:

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz soft cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

(Not too sure if this would work or not, but if you want to make it even more Irish maybe you can add some Baileys at this point or just take a swig for good measure : ) )

Whip until smooth and cover top of cake. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk, Bailey's, coffee, or Guinness...or all 4. ; )

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Tzatziki...something Greek for Saint Patrick's day

If you want to seed your cucumber, cut it like this and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.


I wish I had an Irish recipe to share with you today, but I don' Greek will have to do. Plus, there are cucumbers in this and they are green so that has to count for something right? Also, if you are looking for an Irish soda bread recipe check out my recipe from last year.

"Greek" is such a great word. I love that it is so rhyme-able. Greek, week, peek, leek, seek...on and on it goes. My favorite Greek joke is..."What do you get when someone from Greece and France have a baby? A Freak!" Ha, I love it! Many of my friends have traveled to Greece and they all rave about how awesome and beautiful it is. One day I will travel there, wear white and blue, ride a Donkey into the villages while I eat feta cheese on a stick, and then randomly yell "Opa!" at people on the street. Good times will be had by all.

Someone who shall not be named...(cough, cough, Brigid: ) asked me a while ago if I had a recipe for Tzatziki. At that time I did not, but was challenged to find one that I liked. I totally lucked out with a winner on the first try. This is a great sauce/dressing that can be used in many ways. You can dip meat, vegetables, or warm pitas in it; you can serve it as a sauce over spicy meat or vegetables; you can stuff it in a pita or a sandwich, or you can use it as a salad dressing. Every time I make this I feel like I am at a spa, all those cucumbers are so refreshing and the yogurt just tastes healthy. We ate half of this right away and then finished it off the next day...both days it was scrumdiliocious!

adapted from Ina Garten

16oz Greek plain yogurt
1 large cucumber

1 TBS Kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream
1 TBS white wine vinegar (or rice wine vinegar...or really any vinegar you have will do)
2 TBS Lemon juice
1 TBS Olive oil
1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp chopped Fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp of dried dill) (This is optional)

(Ina says to not peel the cucumber, then cut it in half lengthwise and seed it. I opted to peel it, and not seed it.) Grate the cucumber and toss it with the salt in a colander. Cover lightly and place in fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the remaining ingredients. Take the cucumber and salt out of the fridge and squeeze the excess juices out of it by pressing down on it with a paper towel. Toss the cucumber with the rest of the ingredients. You can eat this right away, but personally I think it is much better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours and letting the flavors combine more thoroughly. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Usually I make this along with some grilled chicken and eat it on top a nice salad with tomatoes.
For the chicken I marinate 1 pound of chicken with 3 TBS lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, some black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, and sometimes some dill or rosemary. I let this marinate for a few hours in the fridge or overnight, then grill or pan fry. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Balsamic Jam Chicken

Alright dear folks, hang on while I go into motivational speaker mode for one second...Do you set goals for yourself? I try to. Usually they go something like this..."I will fit into those jeans before the weekend", or "I will go to the gym 5 times this week", or "I promise to only make cookies once this week", or "I will finally finish reading Atlas Shrugged." Those are just a few of my reoccurring goals, that stick with me always. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of goals that don't have to do with food and weight loss...really my life does consist of other things...sort of. : ) The fun thing about goals is when you are done you get to make this giant, confident, check swoosh motion with your hand, pat yourself on the back and proudly claim that gold star you so deserve. I am currently in that "check swoosh" mode as I happily completed a goal. I told myself that I would sell x amount of cookies for Valentine's Day, and by George, I did! Between my Etsy sales and local sales I reached that darn goal, did a cartwheel over them, slapped the mailman high five, and did my happy dance. Thank you to all my supporters who bought cookies from me and made my goal reaching possible. I dance for you. : )

Here is a new goal for each of you. Cook or Bake something new this week that you have never made before. Here is a new recipe to help with your new goal...

Now jam, that is the real surprise tonight. One, because I don't usually cook with jam; two, because I made something good with jam; and three, because the fam actually liked it too! Therefore, henceforth, from this moment on...jam has earned its place at the dinner table. Amen. Speaking of Amen, my little sister in college just texted me and said she is getting really good at Latin, she said she can now say "Amen" in Latin. Right on, right on.

So I decided to go on an adventure and journey to the far regions of the back of our fridge. Scary place my friends, very very scary. I found there 2 jars of peach jam I made over the summer, and one jar of fig preserves. If I had known we had them I would have eaten them, alas, I am too short and can't see things kept on the top shelf of our ginormous fridge. (Note to self-buy a shorter fridge or bring my high heels with me when I cook) After I cooked the chicken I splt it into two pans and made half with the peach and half with the figs, peach won. You can make this with basically any jam you get crazy and try something weird.

Balsamic Jam Chicken

1 TBS olive oil
1 Large chopped red onion (or yellow, white)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped thyme (optional)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken pieces cubed
1/3 cup of jam or jelly or choice
2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat oil in saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Rub salt, pepper, and thyme on chicken and cook in oiled pan. Return onions to pan and add remaining ingredients. Cook 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice. Boom. Dinner is served.

Sorry there is no picture, we ate it before I could take a picture. : )

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NYC Food, take 2

I just returned from another extended trip around New England. 3 days in NYC, 2 DAYS in Massachusetts, and 3 days in New Hampshire. Such a good trip filled with lots of great memories and visits with old friends. I am going to give you my food tour again, but before I do I wanted to share 10 things I learned from my trip:

1) Sleeping in 6 different houses in six different beds in 8 days makes one's back very adaptable.
2) Massachusetts is colder then NYC and NH.
3) Strangers in NYC are friendlier then strangers in Boston, plus they all wear Ugg boots and black coats.

4) Seeing old friends makes me smile, saying goodbye to old friends makes me want to live in a commune.

5) Girl who flies with lots of cookies lands with crumbs.
6) A bazooka is not a not make lame jokes about either at a table full of strangers.
7) Yes, cookies can serve as a meal replacement-as long as they are from Levain.
8) Busting out a fancy dance move on the dance floor to impress a tall, dark, and handsome stranger will end badly...just ask the 6 year old girl my hip knocked over. true story.

9) When you travel to New England in February bring snow boots, leave the heels.

10) DO NOT OVER PACK! After traveling on 4 airplanes, 4 buses, many subways, a taxi, a commuter train, and in 4 cars - up and down stairs, hills, ice, snow, rain, and mud - I can honestly tell you it is far better to wear dirty clothes then to travel with extra bags.

New York City:

A big thanks to my little sister who puts up with my crazy quest for good food, and my insane travel plans...she is such a good sport and I wouldn't of done it without her : ) Here's to hoping we can tour, dine, and explore many more cities together! Love ya shorty!


I arrived fairly late on a Monday night and met up with my sister and her husband for dinner. We first went to Max Brenner's, but the wait at 10:00pm was 45 minutes...not a chance. So we ducked in from the cold into a Thai restaurant we had spotted throughout the city. The portions were perfect, and the price was nice. We left happy and satisfied, and not too broke. A nice place to go for quick, fresh tasting food.

The Pig and Egg - Brooklyn: PASS, PRICE-$15/PERSON for breakfast, TASTE-AWESOME
I found this place online, it had tons of great reviews and looked promising so we headed out to Brooklyn in search of it. We were not disappointed. It was a small cozy place, with hearty breakfast dishes. We split brioche French toast with REAL maple syrup, scrambled farm fresh eggs, fresh toast and jam, house made sausage, and a hash brown thing ever! I will definitely go back next time I visit the city.

Next we headed to Blue Bottle for some coffee. PASS-PRICE-HIGH-TASTE-STRONG This place was recommended to us from a local as a good coffee shop in the area. The place was huge, clean, and scientific looking. They roast their own coffee beans on site and have a long slow drip coffee bar...something I have never seen before. It took about 5 minutes for them to make a cup of coffee which somehow justified spending $4 on a it. You could taste the high quality and pureness of the coffee, but it was a lot stronger then I am used to. After many additions of cream and milk I had the perfect cup of coffee. If you are in a hurry for your morning coffee don't go here, you will just grow impatient, give up, and then seek out the nearest Starbucks. If you want a nice place to relax or visit with someone this is the place for you.

Not a food place, but also recommended by the locals was Beacon's Closet. A great vintage clothing store in Brooklyn. My sister found 3 dresses that were under $20 and really awesome. Fun place to go, next time we will spend more time and money there. : )

One of the main reasons we headed out to Brooklyn was to seek out the highly popular "Baked" bakery. PASS-PRICE-HIGH-TASTE-GOOD. I have mixed feelings about this place. First of all, it was in the middle of nowhere, and it took forever to get to. Once we finally got there we were so cold and tired it would have taken a lot to convince us it was worth the trek. We got a chocolate chip cookie-nothing to write home about, a slice of pumpkin chocolate chip bread -good, and a slice of quiche-Very, very, very good quiche. I liked the design and set up of the bakery, but wished they had more appealing cookie options. I can't say it lives up to all the hype that people in the pastry world keep talking about. Unless they relocate I don't think I would go back again. They do have 2 cookbooks out which have gotten fairly high praise, I think I will buy one someday and decide for myself.
After meandering around the city all day we just wanted hot food and a movie. My sister's favorite place to eat is Lugos. WAY PASS-PRICE-MID-TASTE-EXCELLENT! I am usually not a pizza person, but my sister kept talking about this place so I gave in and we ordered our pizza to go. The ricotta meatball pizza was excellent, and the perfect portion for 2 people. The garlicky green beans were fresh and light, and made eating vegetables that even possible? : ). Going back next time for sure.

The next day we started our empty belly tour at Maialinos near Gramercy Park. SUPER PASS-PRICE-MED/HIGH-TASTE-OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD. This is the newest of Danny Meyer's restaurants in the city, and he sure did do a good job. These people really do know high quality ingredients, and high quality service. We feasted on a caramel still my beating heart, an olive oil citrus muffin...if it had been citrusless I would have liked it, ricotta pancakes with a raisin apple jam and REAL maple syrup, a Porchetta breakfast sandwich...I don't know why but my sister and I always eat a lot of pork when we hang out, and insanely awesome super thick cut bacon. Wow, we ordered way too much and had a nice take out box at the end of our banquet. So going there again.

Next up, my favorite and a must visit for all future NYC trips from now on... LEVAIN!!!! PASS PASS PASS-PRICE-WORTH IT-TASTE-NO WORDS CAN SAY!!!! I didn't think it was possible to get any better then my last visit, but this time I ordered 3 of their $4 giant cookies. Oatmeal Raisin, good but not the best, Chocolate Chip walnut- insane, and the best thing yet their chocolate peanut butter chip cookie- out of this world good!!!

Our last stop on the eating tour was a random place on a back road. Cafe Ole in Hell's Kitchen. PASS-PRICE-MID-TASTE-EXCELLENT. We shared a cup of lentil chili, and then a spicy chicken sandwich. Both were excellent, and hit the spot for my last NYC meal. I hopped on a bus and headed out to Boston. Next up my long awaited Newburyport, MA eating out guide...put on your fat pants and stay tuned : )

Coconut Stick Cookies

Have I told you about my love of all things coconut? It runs deep my friends, real deep. I have never met a coconut I didn't like...except for those fake coconut extract flavored things out there...nasty impostors. Eating coconut makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy too. I found this recipe on the Lottie and Doof blog, and they got it from the cookbook, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. This is currently on my Amazon wish list, one day soon I will own it and review it. Speaking of Amazon, I recently sold a bunch of textbooks lying around the house to them and in return got a nice fat credit to buy whatever I like. It feels like Christmas because I keep getting orders in the mail, movies, books, cds, cookie, you really can buy anything on Amazon.

I was quite pleased with these cookies, and thought they would have been even better dipped in a fresh sorbet or ice cream. Next time it will be so. Or maybe even with a sweet spiced cream cheese dip. So many options and not enough time to spend at the gym. My lifelong dilemma.

Click here to find the recipe, the only thing I changed was I added more water because it was too dry. If you don't want to make these into sticks you can always shape them into a log, chill, and then slice and bake instead.