Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish you all a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday, and to let you know we’ll be taking a few days off to eat, drink, and rest; but mostly eat and drink.

And when I say “days off,” I really mean days off. As much as I’d love to spend the holiday on my laptop, giving you all last-second cooking tips, I’m contractually obligated to take some time off, and who am I to question HR? Have a great Thanksgiving, and we’ll be back with brand new videos next week. And no, they will not feature turkey or pumpkin. So, stay tuned, and as always, enjoy!

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Yoda Matcha Truffles

Happy Star Wars Day Everyone! May the 4th be with you. I made Chewie Wookiee Cookies (from exactly 2 years ago) yesterday… and had them for breakfast this morning. Seriously, cookies for breakfast = win!

Anyway, aside from the Chewie Wookiee Cookies, I wanted to make another Star Wars-themed recipe for this year's Star Wars Day. I've been craving something with matcha for a while, so I thought Yoda Matcha Truffles would be perfect. Aside from both being green, I associate both matcha and Yoda with zen and wisdom, so a perfect match!

The recipe is fairly straightforward. What was challenging was melting chocolate in humid weather, definitely not one of my favorite things to do. I also thought about just mixing white chocolate with matcha powder for the outside coating, but it turned out pretty grainy and icky looking, so I went back to relying on candy coloring to get the green tint for the coating. Other than that, they turned out pretty well, perfect for Star Wars Day.

P.S. In case you were wondering why these truffles only have eyes… I tried adding a mouth to some of the truffles (an example above ^), and for some reason they looked really strange to me. As I was decorating the other truffles, it hit me. The one with mouths really reminded me of the Adventure Time goblins rather than Yoda. I decided to hold back on noses as well since that would have made them look even more goblin like ><! When you make them, it's up to you whether to put a mouth on or not :P.

Matcha Truffles
8 oz white chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp matcha
pinch of salt

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then add to melted white chocolate and mix. Sift the matcha (I used a mesh tea infuser), add to the white chocolate, and stir in until all blended. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature. Chill mixture until set. Once the mixture is chilled, decorate as desired.

Makes 12 truffles.

Yoda Truffles
matcha truffle mixture
white chocolate, chopped
semisweet chocolate, chopped
yellow candy coloring
blue candy coloring
black nonpareils

Melt white chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Add yellow and blue candy coloring until you get an olive green. Spoon some green chocolate into a ziplock bag. Cut a bit off the corner of the plastic bag. Squeeze out some pointy small triangles of green chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper. These will be the ears. Chill in refrigerator until set.

Roll the matcha truffle mixture into 12 balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or plate. Slightly flatten them. Chill the balls in refrigerator until hard. Dip the truffles into the melted green chocolate, shaking off the excess chocolate, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place two black nonpareils for eyes and stick two of the ears (flat side facing up) into the sides of the truffle while the coating is still wet.

Dip the rest of the truffles. Place baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate coating is set. Melt the semisweet chocolate. Spoon into plastic bag. Snip off a small bit of a corner of the bag. Squeeze lines onto the ears and two arced wrinkles above the eyes. Let the chocolate set and they'll be ready to serve. Keep refrigerated if not ready to serve.

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Homemade Marshmallows

I'm back (finally)! So, my third year of medical school has ended up a lot busier than I planned, and I haven't gotten much baking done. But I think I've got my time management down and I'm going to try to work baking and blogging back into my regular schedule. Plus, over winter break, I did some holiday baking, so I have some of that to share as well.

Today I have my go-to recipe for homemade marshmallows. I'm quite surprised that I've never shared it here before. For the most part, I try to share recipes that use minimal equipment, but this recipe requires a stand mixer due to safety (sorry), so maybe that's the reason. Anyway, if you've never made homemade marshmallows, I definitely recommend it. They turn out soft and fluffy and they just taste better than store-bought marshmallows. I have another recipe for flavored marshmallows that I'll share in a few weeks, but this recipe makes wonderful vanilla marshmallows, the perfect addition for s'mores and hot cocoa.

Usually, when I make these for everyday eating, I'll just cut them up into squares, but for my holiday baking this year, I wanted something more festive. So I decided to make them look like snowmen. I halved the recipe so they'd be thinner and easier to cut into circles. Then I gave them faces with royal icing leftover from decorating gingerbread cookies. I also added a touch of cinnamon to the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture used to powder the outside of the marshmallows to make them extra festive. No matter squares or snowmen, they're still equally delicious.

Vanilla Marshmallows
adapted from about.com

1 1/2 envelopes (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
powdered sugar
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the 1/4 cup of cold water. Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the water and let the gelatin soak. Cover a 8x8" square baking pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick spray; set aside for now.

Mix the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Place over the stove and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Pour the boiled sugar syrup into the stand mixer bowl over the gelatin. Add salt. Mix on high for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and mix a few more seconds. Use an oiled spatula and scrape the marshmallow mixture into your prepared square baking pan. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and place over the marshmallow mixture, greased side down. Press on the plastic wrap to smooth out the marshmallow.

Let set for a few hours. Once ready to cut, in a wide bowl, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1/2 cup cornstarch and add the pinch of cinnamon if desired. Peel the plastic wrap off the baking pan. Move the marshmallow over to a cutting board and cut into squares with a knife sprayed with nonstick spray. (If you want to make snowman marshmallows, use a round cookie cutter sprayed with nonstick spray to cut out circles.) Roll the marshmallows in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture as you cut them out. Once all are cut, keep in an airtight container until ready to serve.

NOTE: Above measurements are halved from original recipe. Feel free to double recipe for thicker marshmallows.

Snowman Marshmallows
circular marshmallows
royal icing recipe (don't need to make whole recipe, can make 1/8 recipe)
black food coloring
orange food coloring

Color half the royal icing black and half of it orange. Keep the orange icing covered when using the black icing first. Use a toothpick to dot black icing for eyes and mouths. It might not stick very well since the marshmallows are covered with powder, so press the icing into the marshmallows, sort of like inking a tattoo. Blob on orange icing for the noses, pulling the toothpick upwards so the icing is slightly pointy.

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A Short Hiatus

Hi Dear Readers,

Just wanted to let you all know that I'll be taking a temporary hiatus from blogging. I'm spending the next month or so studying for Step 1, during which I'm challenging myself to minimize my time spent on the internet. (Replace Twitter in the image below with Pinterest/Tumblr/Blogs and that's where all my time seems to go!)

Credit: Fuchia Macaree

During this time I won't be checking the comments here, my blog e-mail, or the DforD FB page, just FYI. Sorry! That being said, I hope to be back to blogging soon. I have many posts on the backlog as well as a ton of new ideas that I'm looking forward to sharing.

See you all soon!


To end on an inspirational note, here are 15 of my favorite food/baking/dessert-related images :D:

Credit: Questionable Content

Credit: Mike Stimpson

Credit: Crystal Barlow

Credit: NY Daily News

Credit: Alexandra Snowdon

Credit: David Olenick

Credit: Desserts for Breakfast

Credit: Unknown

Credit: Richard Austin

Credit: Old English Co.

Credit: Jenna Sue Design Co.

Credit: Adventure Time

Credit: Atlas Hands Cover

Credit: Gemma Correll

Credit: Unknown

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Sweet Potato Buns – Great for Burgers, and Learning How to Bake Without Fear

Not only does adding sweet potatoes to a burger bun make it more nutritious, delicious, and significantly more beautiful, but it also presents the perfect opportunity to get pass your flour amount phobia, and finally be able to make dough by feel.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone whose dough was way too wet, or dry, and I always think the same thing; why would you stop? Some actually tell me they had to throw out the whole batch, which is insane. Your dough’s too wet? Add some flour. Too dry? Add some water.

No matter how exact a recipe is written, you simply can’t go by measurements, volume or weight, and expect perfection. There are too many variables that effect how much flour is needed – like a cup of mashed sweet potatoes, for example.

The best strategy is to not add all the flour at once, and only add enough to achieve the soft, slightly tacky dough seen herein. One of the great advantages of video is being able to see what the dough should look and feel like.

Once you get comfortable with not worrying about exact amounts, but rather exact results, the world of bread opens up to you and your new-found powers. Now, you just need to practice, so with that in mind, I really hope you give these amazing sweet potato buns a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 large, 16 medium, or 32 slider-sized rolls:

For sponge:
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's “RapidRise” Yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup AP flour

Then add:
1 cup mashed orange sweet potato (also sold as yams)
2 tsp honey
1 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour AP flour, as needed to form the right texture dough (see blog post)

- Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes, or until browned. Large buns may take an extra few minutes, and the sliders-sized may take a minute or two less.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

4th of July Special: Red, White & Blueberry Grilled Chicken!

These colors don’t run, but they do stain, so I recommend eating this delicious, red, white and blueberry chicken outdoors, preferably at some type of 4th of July barbecue. While the Independence Day wordplay was very much intentional, this grilled chicken is no gimmick.

Smoky, spicy meats have been paired with sweet-and-sour, fruit-based sauces since we’ve had cooks, so that this combo works beautifully is no big surprise. And yes, other juicy fruit like peaches, or other berries will work nicely.

Like I said in the video, I made my spice rub extra hot, so I could really take advantage of the cooling effects of the sweetness in the sauce. Sweet cancels out heat on your palette, so you can kind of push things a bit if you want. The measurements below are what I used, but you should, and must adjust. 

As far as chicken doneness goes, I recommend checking with a thermometer. If you cook a lot of chicken, it’s fairly easy to tell by feel, but why take a chance? I usually go to 150 F, which left to rest for a minute, should be safe, and very juicy. So, if you’re looking for a very tasty, slightly unusual, appropriately named chicken recipe, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground dry chipotle
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cloves minced garlic

For the blueberry gastrique:
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
*splash of water as needed to adjust thickness (after the blueberries start cooking)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*If you make the sauce ahead, your sauce will thicken, and you will probably need to thin it out with some water. When tasting for seasoning, remember this is going to go on highly seasoned meat.
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Baba Ghanoush – The Day After Dip

No matter what you’re grilling this summer, chances are good you’re going to have more hot coals than food to cook on it, which makes baba ghanoush the perfect post-barbecue recipe. Instead of those glowing embers going gently into the sweet night, why not grill up some eggplant, and make one of the world’s best vegetable dips?

You can cook the eggplant any way you want, but charcoal is my favorite. Next best would be cooked over a gas burner, but that can really mess up your stove, so I guess the real next best is baked at 400 F. until they collapse, and get very soft.

As you can see in the clip, this is not a very complicated recipe. As long as this is seasoned thoughtfully, you should be enjoying a wonderfully savory, yet refreshing dip. Just be sure to pay attention to the salt. Eggplant, like almost every vegetable, needs a good amount of salt to bring out the flavor.

The difference between a terrible dip, and a stellar spread can be as little as a half teaspoon of salt. Wait for the mixture to cool completely in the fridge, taste it ice-cold, and adjust with more salt, as needed. Same goes for the lemon, cayenne, and the tahini.

If you grill these after a cookout, but have had too much fun, and don’t feel like doing any more work, you can peel them the next day, and this will work out the same. I hope you give this delicious baba ghanoush a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 6 cups Baba Ghanoush:
3 or 4 large Italian eggplant
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
juice from 1 or 2 lemons, or to taste
3 tbsp tahini, or to taste
pinch of cayenne
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 minced fresh mint leaf, optional
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
pita chips and vegetables for dipping
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