Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kale Chips

Frosting lies behind us, pie ahead of us. For balance and a dose of reality, I'm going to talk about kale. While I eat a lot of both frosting and pie, I also eat a lot of kale. And peanut butter, but that is a grey area and beside the point.


My favorite way to enjoy kale is in a chopped salad, we eat this at least a few times a week. My second favorite is in chip form. Jeff loves kale salads, hates kale chips. Moral: more for me.

Kale chips are as easy as oil, season, crisp. Massage prepped kale with a bit of oil, season it with whatever you want and crisp it up in a low (300F) oven.

Solo dinner perfection.

Kale Chips
adapted from

2 1/2 c fresh kale, stems removed and torn into large pieces
1/2 Tablespoon oil (olive or coconut)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
pinch cayenne pepper
any other seasonings/toppings you want... nutritional yeast, Parmesan cheese, paprika...
- - -
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
2. Place kale pieces into a large bowl and, using your hands, massage the oil into the kale making sure each leaf gets coated; add spices and mix by hand to distribute
3. Spread kale into a single even layer on the prepared baking sheet
4. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for an addition 10-15 minutes until kale just begins to firm up (it will crisp more as it cools)**
5. Remove kale from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before enjoying!

**This is the temp/time that worked for me, individual ovens may vary!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Old Fashioned Macarons

Guys I bought some Pumpkin Porter yesterday...

I know it is only the end of August but I saw Redhook's seasonal in the store and HAD TO HAVE IT. It is one of those things, like orange-dyed Oreos, that I can't pass up.

I love fall. Because fall means pumpkin beer and orange Oreos. I also love bourbon, nice segue huh?

Although, I will admit, it has taken me a few years to get over a bad bourbon night. I won't go into too much detail, I will just advise you not to play card games with shots of Maker's Mark at stake.

Turn your bourbon into a cocktail inspired macaron instead. Let's ease ourselves back into the bourbon game.

The shells are flavored with orange (zest and extract) and bourbon. They are filled with bourbon and bitters spiked buttercream, as well as a dollop of maraschino cherry buttercream because it isn't an old fashioned without the cherry. I painted an "orange twist" on the tops of each macaron using bourbon and orange Kool Aid powder (I wanted a bright undiluted color but you could also use food dye.) Bourbon every step of the way!


Old Fashioned Macarons
makes 20 cookies

1 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c almond meal
5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons bourbon
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Ballard Extracts Orange

1 1/4 c Italian Meringue Buttercream, at room temperature & divided
1/3 c bourbon
3 dashed orange bitters
2 maraschino cherries+ 1 Tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

bourbon + orange food coloring (or orange flavored Kool Aid powder)
- - -
1. Follow this recipe with the following adaptations:
* Add the orange zest to the granulated sugar and massage it to flavor the sugar before adding it to the meringue
*Add the 2 teaspoons of bourbon and the orange extract to the egg whites before you begin to whip them

2. Mix and bake the cookies like normal

3. While the cookies are cooling, make your buttercreams

*Place the 1/4 c room temperature buttercream into a medium bowl; finely chop the cherries and add them and the juice to the buttercream; whisk until smooth

*Place 1 c room temperature buttercream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; mix on medium-high until fluffy; slowly add in the bitters and 1/3 c bourbon about 1 tablespoon at a time (adjusting the quantity to your taste preference)

4. Peel cooled macarons off of the parchment paper and pair them according to size

5. On the "bottoms" of your macaron pairs pipe a ring of the bourbon buttercream

6. In the center of the bourbon buttercream, pipe a small amount of the cherry buttercream

7. Sandwich your macarons

8. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of bourbon with orange coloring (or Kool Aid powder like I used) until it is a brilliant orange

9. Using a small brush, paint an arc onto the tops of each macaron (reminiscent of an orange twist)

10. Allow the "paint" to dry before enjoying; macarons will keep for about a week in the freezer simply thaw them in the refrigerator for about twenty minutes before eating

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Frosting

After thinking about it, I realize I post a lot of recipes for frosted (or filled) cakes, cupcakes and macarons, but have yet to share the frosting recipes I use. Instead I just say "use your favorite frosting." I am so helpful and specific.

So let's talk frosting. For the most part, if I am making a recipe that calls for frosting I am going to top it with one of three things: American buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream, or ganache.

1. American buttercream

This recipe is easy and buttery. Win-win. American buttercream is made by mixing together butter and sifted confectioners (powdered) sugar. Add in a bit of vanilla, a pinch of salt and milk. The end result is a creamy and spreadable frosting, perfect for cupcakes. This frosting is on the sweeter side and pairs well with a rich (less sweet) cake.

American Buttercream 
from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

1 # unsalted butter, softened (4 sticks)
8-10 c confectioners (powdered) sugar; sifted
1/4 c whole milk
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract (or other flavoring, to taste)
pinch salt
- - -
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix butter on medium speed for two minutes until completely smooth
2. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down; add 3 c of the sugar and mix on low to combine (the sugar will go EVERYWHERE if you mix it at too high a speed)
3. Stop mixer and scrape bowl again; add 3 c sugar and mix on low to combine
4. Stop mixer and scrape bowl; add milk, vanilla (or other extract) and salt; mix on high for 1 minute
5. Stop mixer and scrape bowl; add 2 c sugar
6. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy; for a thicker frosting add 1-2 c more sugar, mixing well after each addition
7. Use buttercream immediatly or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week

Tip: When using buttercream that has been stored in the refrigerartor, allow the frosting to come to room temperature in the airtight container. One it is room temperature, re-whip it in your mixer before using!

2. Italian meringue buttercream

This frosting is made by combining a cooked sugar syrup, egg whites and softened butter. The finished buttercream is super smooth and not as sweet as your typical confectioners sugar buttercream. It is perfect for flavoring and filling macarons with. I use the recipe from this website and I highly recommend it because of the attention to detail in the instructions. This recipe can be a bit tricky simply because of the sugar cooking process. Additionally, I have found the book Sugar Baby to be helpful.

Just a word of warning- this recipe will test your faith the first time you make it. After you add the butter, it will look broken. You will think it is ruined and contemplate tossing it out and buying a can of Funfetti Frosting. DON'T (unless you have Teddy Grahams in which case DO and dip them into it.) But back to this recipe, just keep mixing it! Eventually it will come together into a luxurious buttercream worthy of filling macarons with.

This buttercream is wonderful, but can be a little tricky because of potential variables (in temperature of ingredients mostly.) This website is a good one for troubleshooting common IMB mishaps. Odds are, with a little tweaking, a batch of botched Italian buttercream can be saved!

Italian Meringue Buttercream

2 c granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
6 ounces egg whites
1 1/2# unsalted butter, softened (6 sticks)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- - -

1. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place on a stove top, stir slightly to combine
2. Heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil; using a candy thermometer heat until the sugar syrup reaches 235 degrees F
3. Place the egg whites into the clean/dry bowl of a stand mixer; with a whisk attachment, beat the egg white on high until stiff peaks form
4. Once the sugar syrup reached 240 degrees, remove from heat; while the mixer is still on high, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites
5. Continue mixing on high until the meringue comes to room temperature
6. Reduce the mixer speed to medium
7. Gradually add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time; add vanilla extract
**at this point, the mixture might look soupy or separated... keep mixing!
8. Continue to mix buttercream on medium-high until the mixture comes together and is completely smooth (this may take a few minutes)
9.  Use buttercream immediately, flavor, or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator

3. Ganache

Ganache has my heart. It is equal parts heavy cream and chopped bittersweet chocolate. Heat the cream, pour over chocolate, stir until smooth. You can pour warm ganache over a cooled cake, dip cupcakes in it or wait until it sets up to pipe. It is versatile and should be a part of your life.

4 oz heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
extract/flavoring (if desired)**
- - -
1. In  a small saucepan bring cream to a simmer over high heat
2. Place chocolate  in a medium mixing bowl; pour simmering cream over chocolate and allow it to sit for a few minutes
3. Whisk until smooth
4. Pour ganache over a cooled cake, dip cupcakes in it or allow it to cool at room temperature until set and pipe-able (a good technique for frosting cupcakes or filling macarons)
5. Wrap leftover ganache in plastic wrap and refrigerate; melt when desired over a double boiler
**If you want to flavor your ganache, add your extract after step 4, whisking well to distribute the flavor

So there you go, my three go-to frosting recipes! Tomorrow: macarons (with a lot of bourbon.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Semolina Shortbread Sandwich Cookies... with Caramel!

I have a recipe today for you, not just pictures of summer randomness!

A few weeks ago I went to this restaurant called Il Corvo. It is a tiny pasta restaurant that is open from 11am-3pm (or until they sell out of whatever fresh pastas made that day.) The menu changes daily, reflecting the mood of the chef. It is head to toe legitimate.

On this particular day, it was hot as hell outside. As we were leaving I told Jeff I wasn't even hungry and that I probably wouldn't eat much. I then proceeded to eat olives, fresh focaccia dipped in olive oil, thinly sliced prosciutto, pasta and a life-changing shortbread cookie. Famous last words.

If you are in the Seattle area go to Il Corvo. It was recommended to me by a few people and for good reason. The menu is small (three pastas choices and a handful of small appetizers to pick from) so do what we did and go in a group so you can get and try everything.

As I mentioned I had a life-changing shortbread cookie. It was two pieces of the crumbliest shortbread sandwiched together with a little bit of salted caramel. The texture is what got me... crumbly/melt-in-your-mouth buttery. I had to make it.

Meet canestrelli.

After trial, error and a little research I figured out the secrets to the shortbread of my dreams: semolina flour, corn starch and hard boiled egg yolks. Please keep reading! I was grossed out at the thought of hard boiled eggs in cookies too, but I am a believer now.

Canestrelli is shortbread made with hard boiled egg yolks in place of raw eggs. The yolks are pressed through a strainer/sieve which turns them into a fine powder. This powder gets mixed with semolina, all purpose flour, cornstarch, butter, a pinch of salt and powdered sugar- fairly ordinary ingredients that come together to make outrageous cookies.

Make these! Or go to Il Corvo! Or better yet, do both.

Il Corvo
217 James St, Seattle, WA 98104

Semolina Shortbread Sandwich Cookies (Canestrelli) 
recipe inspired by Il Corvo and
yields just over 1 dozen sandwich cookies

6 1/2 oz butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c AP flour
1/2 c semolina flour
3/4 c corn starch
3 egg yolks, hard boiled and cooled completely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
a  half batch of this caramel, for sandwiching (I suggest making the caramel the day before baking the cookies... once it is cooked to 230F, strain it into a clean bowl and allow it cool completely before covering with plastic wrap. You can refrigerate the caramel overnight, just bring it to room temperature before attempting to spread it on the cookies!)
- - -
1. In a medium bowl whisk together flours, corn starch and salt; set aside
2. Press egg yolks through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside (this will prevent any lumps in your cookies)
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy; add egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until just combined
4. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until just incorporated
5.  Sandwich dough between two pieces of plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.
6. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and pre-heat oven to 325F
7.  Roll the dough, still sandwiched between the two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper, to about a 1/2" thickness; cut out with a small (1 1/2") circular cookie cutter**
8. Press leftover scraps of dough into a disk between two pieces of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before cutting more cookies
9.  Place cut cookies 2" apart on your prepared baking sheets and bake at 325F for 18-20 minutes (the edges/bottoms will brown slightly)
10. Cool completely before sandwiching with this caramel

**Traditional Canestrelli cookies are cut into a flower shape and dusted with powdered sugar once cooled, I used a different shape so that I could make mine into sandwich cookies

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seattle Street Food Festival Recap

The Seattle Street Food Festival happened this weekend, it was pretty much in our backyard so naturally we had to go. Cal Andersen park and a nearby street were turned into a home for restaurant/bakery pop-ups and food trucks. Some kind of wonderful.

If you were ever wondering how much fried food I can eat in an evening the answer is: a helluva lot. 

Cardamom and ginger donuts from Street Donuts

Flash fried Brussels sprouts at Evolution Revolution

Smokey grills

Hibiscus tea soda from Shenzen Tea

No words.

Fruit and veggies for balance at Fruit Chatter Box... I ate all the jicama.

Potatoes for days at Nosh. Hands down the best fried fish I have ever had + pea/mint magic on the side

Annnd, a fried PB&J (reminiscent of creme brulee and a Monte Cristo with a whole mess of peanut butter thrown into the mix.) Because we can. 

Add in a strong cup of coffee,a glass of wine and a (slightly disappointing) cheesesteak and you have my Friday night. 

Seattle Street Food Festival