Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

Good morning, it is a day off over here and I am enjoying it by listening to Amos Lee and drinking cinnamon coffee. Later this morning I get to go into the doctor and hear little baby Kaune's heartbeat, something I look forward to in between each appointment. She has been moving like crazy lately! The other night we were eating berry shortcake and she kick-punched me so hard my whole stomach shook. Apparently she is a fan (and probably the reason I have been leaning towards fruity desserts lately.)

In addition to all the fruit, I have been drinking this smoothie on the regular. I saw the recipe for "overnight oatmeal cookie smoothie" on a fellow blog and was inspired to make a version that was a little less high maintenance. The recipe called for soaking oatmeal in almond milk overnight and, to be honest, I just don't have the forethought to do that. A smoothie is not something I plan out ahead of time it is something I make as fast as possible when I get back from the gym to get food into my body asap.

So I made a quick oatmeal cookie smoothie to share with you. It is really delicious, filling and takes less than five minutes to make. I like to make this smoothie when I need something a bit more substantial than the average green or fruit based concoction.

I totally knocked my oats over in the process of taking this picture. My clumsy-ness is getting outta control. This smoothie is made by blending up a banana, oats, almond milk, a scoop of peanut (or almond) butter, cinnamon and a bit of cocoa powder. Add ice, a few cocoa nibs (I used dark chocolate chips because that is what I had on hand) and you are good to go.

Dust with some cinnamon and drink up! Seriously, it is like a tall glass of cookies.

Quick Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie
makes 1 large smoothie

1 banana, chopped
1/2 c old fashioned oats (toasted and cooled if desired)
1 c almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon peanut (or almond) butter
3-4 ice cubes
1 Tablespoon chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
- - -
1. In a blender combine first seven ingredients on high until smooth
2. Add in ice and blend until no large chunks remain
3. Add chocolate chips or cocoa nibs and blend for a few seconds (until you see flecks of chocolate moving around the blender)
4. Pour smoothie into a tall glass, dust with cinnamon and enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

That one time I ate all the mousse in Paris...

It has been a (busy) month since two coworkers and I went on a trip to Paris. Time to recap! To say that we had a wonderful time would be an understatement. Here are some of the stats from the week:

Beignets consumed: 4
Miles walked: 97.25
Blisters earned: 4 
Bakeries visited: 25+
Public restrooms used: all of them?
Macarons tasted: countless
Glasses of orange juice downed: 7+ (apparently when you are expecting in France, the go-to beverage offering is OJ)
Vegetables consumed: <5

I only have pictures from my phone to share because of an unfortunate incident that occurred on the second day of our trip. Let's just say a flimsy paper bag + walking in a torrential downpour = a lost camera.

This is a picture from one of my morning runs around the city. I made an effort to get out and run most days... the weather cooperated for the most part and I got to see some really beautiful views. Running like this is my favorite way to see new places while traveling.

Our first stop on the trip was Profiterole Cherie where they made the little filled choux fresh to order. While we waited for our order we enjoyed espresso and house made chocolates. Our favorite was "Ma Cheri Mont-Blanc" a casis (black currant) compote inside of flaky choux, topped with chestnut ice cream, vanilla chantilly and served with a vanilla bean chestnut sauce. It was at this point on the trip (after being awake for over 24 hours) when I decided that I would be drinking coffee this week. Sorry baby Kaune, it was necessary.

Individual pastries like the ones above were very popular. Intricate domes of mousse layered with cake, filled with fruit compote and lightly glazed were EVERYWHERE. Our plan of attack: collect samples from 4-5 bakeries a day, head back to the hotel and photograph and sample them all.

Of all the treats we tried, this pastry from Pierre Herme was the one that stuck out to me the most. It was a thin layer of cake topped with a delicate rose mousse that was wrapped and decorated with shaved apples that had been soaked in rose water. Floral flavors like rose (and lilac or lavender) can go from subtle to soapy quickly, so a light hand is needed when making them into desserts. It was sublime and just the right amount of rose.

We weren't just in Paris to eat sweets. On our third day of the trip, we were lucky enough to go behind the scenes at this bakery. The owner of the bakery went to culinary school with our boss. We got to tour, watch production and have lunch with the owners, their family and some other former pastry school classmates of our boss. The lunch lasted over two hours and consisted of wonderful lasagna and more bread than I have ever consumed. Also, orange juice because when you are pregnant in Paris, everyone wants to feed you OJ. The lunch was the first savory food I consumed in a few days so it was especially good!

Speaking of savory food, there were a few meals that stood out. This avocado toast was simple and much needed after walking around all day in torrential rain.

Also of note: steak and fries at Le Relais de l'EntrecĂ´te.

At this restaurant, you are served a portion of steak (in an amazing herb-infused butter sauce) and fries. Then about a half an hour later the server brings you a second portion. On this day, my coworkers and I had taken a day off from bakery research. We spent all day walking around the city, shopping, stopping at cafes (for espresso and my many bathroom breaks...) and by the time we sat down for dinner it was late and we were starving. Needless to say I ate both my portions of steak and fries. Why don't more restaurants do this???

In between bakeries we took the time to do some tourist-y things. We went to Montmartre, Notre Dame, the museum of modern art, took a boat ride on the Seine at night, and saw the Eiffel Tower. We walked EVERYWHERE. It was a nice balance because we were eating all of the things.

Can we talk for a second about baby clothes in Paris? Shops filled with the cutest baby clothes are on every corner. I did my best to keep shopping for baby to a minimum but still came home with a few bags full of little outfits for baby Kaune.

I made it my personal goal to try as many beignets as I could on the trip. Most of my days started much like this:

Once we got home from our trip our task was to come up with ideas inspired by our trip and make them into potential products for our bakery. We made a lot of good products, my favorite being our rose mousse dome inspired by the pastry from Pierre Herme (bottom right.)

These pictures barely scratch the surface of an amazing trip! I will leave you with this picture of a macaron hamburger... just because.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Real life in the kitchen

I spend a good amount of my daily life in one kitchen or another. What is not often displayed on these pages is how often (and well) my husband cooks. In fact he probably cooks more of our meals than I do. While my baking/dessert game is strong, I tend to under-season "real" food. I also tend to rush through making dinner, whereas Jeff spends more time cooking and tasting. Making meals is a collaborative effort in which I am more of a prep cook and I am 100% OK with that. Just tell me what to chop.

One of my favorite parts of cooking together is listening to Jeff talk while he cooks. He explains things to me like:

(In reference to using KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce)
Me: "What kind of sauce should I get?"
Jeff: "Hannah... if you want to make a masterpiece, use KC Masterpiece."

Me: "When is dinner, I am effing starving."
Jeff: "Pump your breaks. This is a sauce-ess."

A few years ago Jeff made me my dream watermelon birthday cake.

Lately, I have been all about strawberry and vanilla things. A few days ago, Jeff brought out the cake pans and made me one of the best cakes I have ever had. He made a vanilla cake filled with strawberry jam, vanilla mascarpone frosting and decorated with fresh strawberries.

I would show you a picture of one of the slices, but this cake is long gone. Long. Gone. Seriously though, that frosting...

I thought it would be fun to do a quick glimpse of real life behind the staged photos of cookies I often post. From my blog entries it may look like I never leave the kitchen. However, if you were to come over for dinner, odds are Jeff would be the one cooking (and if you are lucky he would be making mustard glazed pork tenderloin.) But the impeccably chopped vegetables? That would be all me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brownie Cookies

It is no secret that I love a good brownie. I like peanut butter brownies, frosted diner brownies, brownies made with beer... the list could go on for a while. I used to be all about the center brownie. You know the one... it is the most under-baked square, the hardest to remove from the pan. It is the butterball. In recent years I have decided I like brownies that are more... crackled. Give me a corner piece that is equal parts gooey, chewy and super crackly on top. Please/thank you.

These cookies are all about that crackle. They are super decadent and perfect for when you need all of the chocolate. Despite being made with nearly a pound of bittersweet chocolate, these cookies aren't too sweet. Then again, I have a pretty high tolerance for sweet desserts. So maybe I am full of it.

More chocolate chips, because the dough isn't chocolate-y enough...

These are just lovely.

Brownie Cookies 
from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook (listed as Chocolate Truffle Cookies)
adapted to make 10-12 large cookies

1/2 c + 2 Tablespoons AP flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips
5 Tablespoons butter, unsalted and room temperature
1 c + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 eggs
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for finishing (optional)
- - -
pre-heat oven to 350F
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment combine sugar and butter until well mixed; scrape down bowl
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa
3. With the mixer on medium speed add eggs one at a time; scrape down bowl
4. Increase mixer speed to high and mix for 2-3 minutes (mixture will become fluffy and lighter in color)
5. Add melted chocolate and vanilla to the mixer; mix on medium until well combined scraping the bowl as necessary
6. Remove bowl from mixer and use a spatula to fold in dry ingredients; fold in the chocolate chips
7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and, using a 2 oz (scant 1/4c) cookie scoop, portion dough leaving 1-2" in between each cookie
8. Lightly press down on the top of each cookie
9. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes until tops appear evenly crackled
10. Cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Simple Green Smoothie

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Are you drinking green beer and eating a reuben? Because you should be! If you live in Seattle you should probably take a trip to Phinney Market and get their reuben and shoestring fries. It is hands down the best sandwich I have eaten at a restaurant. It is the kind of sandwich that, when on a date, you will offer to share while secretly praying that your significant other will decline so that you can eat it all yourself.

I can't have green beer so I made a green smoothie. It is most definitely not the same. But it is delicious in its own way. This smoothie is a good intro to green drinks- it doesn't taste anything like swamp (though it looks the part.) It tastes like cinnamon, apples and bananas. Spinach adds a velvety texture and green hue.

If you are intimidated (read: grossed out) by green smoothies, try this recipe out. It is light, fruity and doesn't taste like grass! You know what also doesn't taste like grass? That reuben from Phinney Market. Seriously, it is heaven on marbled rye... OK I'm done.

Simple Green Smoothie
makes 1

1/2-3/4 c fresh spinach
1/2-3/4 c almond milk
1/2 green apple, cubed
1 small banana
pinch cinnamon
3 ice cubes
- - -
1. In a blender, puree 1/2 c almond milk, spinach, banana, apple and cinnamon until completely smooth (adding additional almond milk as needed to blend)
2. Add ice and blend to combine
3. Pour smoothie into a tall glass and enjoy