Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Pate a Choux can do for you!

Pate a Choux (pat uh shoe) might be my favorite dough to make.  It's unlike any other dough, and almost feels like your making a roux, rather than a dough. It's the doughy part of a cream puff or an eclair and I always assumed it was a dough intended for sweet things, until I got roped into making Gougeres at my friend, Joe's birthday party.  Gougeres are Pate a Choux with grated Gruyere and black pepper added to the dough before it gets piped out onto baking sheets and baked in the oven.  Gougeres are so simple to make and pretty addictively delicious!  What more could you want than buttery bread with cheese and a hint of pepper?! I'm hoping this is just the beginning of Pate a Choux experiments to make all sorts of delicious fluffy savory pastries!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Catching up...

Well, Autumn Quarter happened.  I took 16 credits worth of classes, did some of my own research, applied to graduate school, applied for an NSF grant, scored the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, and ate some tasty food.  Here's one big long post of all the pictures I've been snapping and doing absolutely nothing with until now:

1) Pesto.  I was gifted some basil starts in the spring after I killed the one basil plant I bought.  I babied these basils unlike any plant I've ever grown before. I kept them in black pots so that when it was warm enough to be outside, the sun would warm the soil around there roots.  I talked to them everyday and gently touched them so they would feel loved.  It was quite a labor of love and in the end, I was able to make a pretty significant amount of pesto! I froze the pesto into ice cubes, so we can save some for winter when we're pining for a taste of summer.

2) Tater-tots: BAD idea! Perhaps I did this all wrong, but making home-made tater-tots turned into an inferno of spontaneous hot-oil explosions.  That tater-tot on top of the stack is one of the culprits - they basically popped like popcorn in the oil.

3) Decibel Festival is a 5-day electronic music festival in Seattle that just so happened to fall precisely in line with the first week of school this year.  Alex and I discovered that Breakfast For Dinner was the fuel required to sustain five-days of non-stop dancing and school.  We had black tea, pancakes, Skagit River Valley Ranch breakfast sausage, and veggie omelets with fresh avocados that I smuggled back from California.  Nothing like an avacado fresh off the tree! mmmm!

Also, North Hill Bakery was right down the street from the Decibel in the Park show, so we could eat amazing ham-and-cheese croissants while groovin' to some delicious music.

4) Duck.  Every once in a while Stokesberry Farm sells duck, and we can't resist.  It's best to do as little as possible to it, it's perfect just the way it is! Here it is roasted on a bed of itty-bitty onions, which, if you've never had tiny onions roasted in duck juices, I highly recommend it!

5) Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Curry.  It's brilliantly delicious and cranberries go surprisingly well in curry! I took Alex to Market Spice several weeks ago, and he was so inspired by all the spices there that he turned into a curry-making machine!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin

Just a quick note with a short preface: It's definitely autumn.  Alex and I went to the Elysian's Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (which was AMAZING!) last Saturday.  Then on Sunday, Alex was still high on pumpkin and got inspired to buy a gigantic Cinderella pumpkin, stating that he wanted to put pumpkin in everything from now on.  So I roasted the pumpkin on Monday, and since then we've been adding roasted-pumpkin mush to everything we cook.  This has naturally lead to some really interesting flavor combinations, but my favorite is what I just made for dinner.  I was fully expecting it to be absolutely disgusting, because what I was craving and pumpkin is something I've never even remotely seen, and I honestly couldn't quite imagine how it would taste.  I just made a stir-fry, but here is the brilliant flavor combination that happened:

Cilantro + Lime + Cumin + Soy Sauce + Pumpkin

It's mostly cilantro, lime, and pumpkin, with a sprinkle of cumin and just enough soy sauce to add another dimension of complexity.  I love the way food totally surprises you sometimes!

Photo taken from the Ballard Farmers Market Blog
...that might actually be the pumpkin we bought on the left, from Nature's Last Stand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Food and Culture

I developed a passion for food and cooking at a young age when I realized that food is the center of life.  Food is everything.   Food can induce any emotion, bring people together or divide them apart.  There’s food in your yard, the gas you put in your tank is ancient, geologically fermented food, not to mention we are all participating in one grand food chain that binds us all together under one universal consciousness, or something.  That was my teenage idealism, which I still believe in, but it’s developed with age.   This food passion is what drove me to become a Biology major and I have a sort of constant meditation churning away inside my brain contemplating all things food.  I had an experience earlier this year that shook my beliefs on food and I realized on my bike-ride to work today that I need to address this, so here it is.

I generally pride myself in being simultaneously conscious of the things I eat, while respecting and partaking in the food of others.  “You are what you eat” is a common saying that I take seriously, in two ways. First, the molecules that make up what you consume will be used to create and re-build your own flesh.  Secondly, we all have an emotional relationship with our food and I believe that we all take pride in or at least enjoy food to some extent.  Therefore, what we eat is also an outward expression of who we are and by sharing food, we are sharing ourselves.  This is why I don’t push my own food beliefs on other people.

Whenever I hear someone reject food that is offered to them, I am instinctively offended.  I feel like the person rejecting is somehow culturally disrespecting the person who is offering food, even if that’s not the intension.  I’m generally talking about vegetarians, vegans, raw-foodists, etc. - people who have chosen a diet for reasons other than an allergy or diagnosed medical condition.  However, this raises the question of what is the difference between food and medicine, and then how do we culturally deal with the difference, if there is a difference?  I eat the way that I do because it makes me feel good and healthy.  When I went to visit family earlier this year I spent the week generally eating the way that they eat and I ended up getting incredibly sick.   Asian cultures (Chinese, Indian, Japanese…) tend to blur the lines much more between food and medicine than we do here in the US.  National Geographic recently reported on a new archeological find from some ancient European civilization (Rome?): medicinal pills made out of onions, celery, and other common vegetables that we would probably consider as food and not medicine now.

So how do we develop and share a vibrant culture of food, if everyone has their own individual eating habits?  I think what I’m beginning to realize is that it is about communication.  Communicating with yourself to gain an intimate understanding of your body’s needs so that you can communicate with others to let them know what you do or do not need.  I think the key is going about it respectfully, though, and discussing any foody disagreements with the understanding that everyone’s body chemistry and culture is fairly different, and that’s okay.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lobster Mushroom #4 - Tempura

To recap, I've used lobster mushrooms in Fish & Chips, Risotto, and Etouffee. Last night, I made tempura lobster mushrooms. I can't remember the last time I made tempura, so I had to look up a recipe. I fairly quickly settled on the recipe on the Food Network website, partially because I had all the ingredients lying around, anyway, long story short, I'm not totally happy with the tempura batter, and it's something I want to play with in the future. That being said, tempura is super easy and it did turn out to be quite tasty!

To make a dinner out of tempura I cooked up some udon noodles and stir fried some onions, carrots, garlic, sweet peppers, broccoli, and finished it with cilantro, green onions, liquid aminos, fish sauce, salt, and sriracha.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blue Cheese Cheesecake Bacon Maple Donuts

For Alex's birthday I constructed something ridiculously delicious - blue cheese cheesecake bacon maple donuts. Essentially it was a yeast donut, filled with blue cheese cheesecake and topped with maple icing and bacon bits. Here's the process:

After letting the dough rise a few times, sit over night and rise some more I rolled it out to about a 1/8-1/4 inch thick and used a circle cookie cutter to cut out circles of dough.

Every circle got brushed with egg whites and half the circles got a dollup of the blue cheese cheesecake filling which was just equal parts Humbolt Fog, Cream Cheese, and Sour Cream, plus a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of sugar.

Then I made a sandwich with two doughy circles and the filling in between. I thoroughly pinched the edges together and then placed them on a tray to rise one last time for about 30 min.

Once they were all puffy and risen, I heated up a pan of canola oil for vegetarian doughnuts, and a separate pan of bacon grease for meaty doughnuts.

I let them fry until they were golden brown all over and then let the oil drip off on some paper towels.

While the doughnuts cooled, I made a basic milk icing with added maple syrup and then iced the doughnuts when they were cool. Vegetarian doughnuts were topped with sprinkles and the meaty doughnuts were topped with the famous Skagit River Valley Ranch Bacon. I was worried they were going to be too intense, but they turned out to be a big crowd-pleaser and there were only two left at the end of the party - perfect for breakfast the next morning!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fish & Chips

The best fish and chips you will ever have is not made with fish at all, but rather a fungus-infected mushroom. The plain white mushroom, Russula brevipes, gets consumed by Hypomyces lactifluorum, which contorts the mushroom and covers it with a hard bright red-orange coating. This appearance has won it the name of Lobster Mushroom. Russulas (and close relatives) have a unique cell structure that makes them "brittle like chalk". That's not to say they are delicate, Lobster Mushrooms in particular are quite sturdy, but if you try to bend the flesh, it snaps cleanly. This also gives it a wonderful "al dente" mouth feel. Here is what a Lobster Mushroom looks like in the wild:

To make this into fish and chips just follow the standard breading procedure, which is as follows:
1) Cut item to be breaded into pieces roughly 1/4 inch thick
2) Dunk a piece into flour, pat off the excess flour.
3) Dunk the floured piece into lightly beaten eggs, allow excess egg to drip off.
4) Plop the eggy piece into some seasoned bread crumbs. Cover the piece thoroughly with bread crumbs. (Season with salt at least, feel free to have fun with herbs or spices though)
5) Immediately fry the breaded piece in bacon fat or any other oil. Cook until golden brown!

Here's the logic behind the standard breading procedure if you're curious - The flour absorbs any natural moisture (this is incredibly helpful for breading meats that are naturally quite moist). Egg is essentially edible glue that can be used to stick dry things together, in this case, the egg is holding together the flour and bread crumbs while the flour is stuck to your food item. Then as you cook the breaded item, the egg works to cement everything together.

Now for the Chips part of Fish & Chips. Olsen Farm sells some amazing potatoes, in particular, the Bintje variety makes amazing fries! We just slice them up and fry them in bacon fat. Minimal turning/stirring helps to give them a nice crisp texture.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Salad

Few things are better than the simple pleasure of grilled cheese and tomatoes. For lunch today I made myself grilled cheese with Tall Grass Bakery's sourdough bread and Golden Glen Creamery's medium cheddar cheese. Then I grabbed a few cherry tomatoes and basil leaves from the garden, supplemented with extra basil and tomatoes from the farmer's market and whipped up a simple and delicious little salad. Oh and salt is an important ingredient for tomatoes, it really makes that delicious tomatoey flavor sing.


My buddy, Mark, has a friend who has a father in Aberdeen that makes honey. His bees pollinate the flowers of Cascara trees, which is an incredibly important tree for the native peoples of this land. Way back in the day, before semis and international shipping, people here in Cascadia lived largely off of berries, nuts, roots, and wild game. Just before winter they built a long house, stocked it with food, and everyone "hibernated" in the long house for the winter eating only what they could preserve from the summer. Then in late spring, the salmon start running. Salmon are packed with calories and nutrients and it's tradition for all omnivorous/carnivorous creatures of this region to gorge themselves on salmon when the opportunity presents itself. Now, as you can imagine, eating nothing but ridiculous amounts of salmon after fasting on berries and nuts all winter can get a little digestively complicated. This is where Cascara comes in - the bark of Cascara is a laxative. According to Mark's friend, it's in quite high demand year-round, and growing up in Aberdeen kids used to make money by harvesting and selling Cascara bark. They would also play pranks on each other by saying the bark was natures candy... you know the jokes on you when you end up running for bathroom.

Anyway, the important part is that the medicinal compounds are only found in the bark. Which means honey made from bees that gather Cascara flower nectar is totally safe, and Mark and I made mead out it. We split a gallon of honey - diluted it was water, brought it to a boil, then cooled it with cold water, moved it to carboys and added Champagne yeast. Mark also added cardamom and white pepper to his carboy. Here are our babies, and in 9 months we will drink them!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Whiskey Earl Grey Ice Cream

I just realized I can link to stuff in my blog posts!! Blogging just got a lot more exciting! What's also exciting is the ice cream I just made. It's something I made for my 22nd birthday party and for some unfortunate reason this is the first time I've recreated it since then. It's basically a combination of three of my favorite things: ice cream, vanilla earl grey tea, and Irish whiskey. The original recipe was made with Paris Tea, which is basically just earl grey flavored with vanilla. The tea is suspended within delicate sachets inside an ornate tin to satisfy all your upper-class British sensibilities. I decided to use some high quality Cascadian tea instead this time. Here's the recipe:

2 cups Twinbrook Cream
1 cup Twinbrook Whole Milk
3/4 cup Sugar

- Put the whiskey in a sauce pan and boil until syrupy, add the milk and cream to the pan.
- Bring the cream and milk to a boil, turn off the heat, add the tea, and cover with a lid. Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes.
- In a separate (non-plastic) bowl, whisk together the eggs yolks, vanilla, and sugar.
- Pour the hot cream mixture over the egg mixture (through a strainer to catch loose-leaf tea) being careful to temper the eggs. In this case, tempering can be accomplished by simply pouring the hot liquid slowly and stirring vigorously.
- Cool the liquid until it feels cold to the touch, but not frozen. I usually do this in the freezer and it takes about 15 minutes or so. You could also let it cool in the fridge overnight if you're patient.
- Pour the cold liquid into an ice cream machine with a pre-frozen bowl, turn the machine on, and walk away (ahh technology!)
- When the ice cream is "done" in the machine it's at the soft-serv phase. Scoop it into a plastic container and put it in the freezer for at least a couple hours to let it "hard" freeze.

Several years ago when I was in culinary school, my friend Josh got an ice cream maker and started making so much ice cream there was even talk of him and our friend, Chris, starting an ice cream company called Wopanajew! ...Wopanajew never happened, but a lot of good ice cream sure did, anyway, I still use the method Josh taught me all those years ago! Thanks, Josh!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I think it's safe to say summer is finally here! Alex made a pretty awesome summery dinner last night. At the farmers market a "bunch" of basil was more like a bushel. So needless to say, we have a ton of basil now and Alex got inspired to make a salad out of nothing but basil, strawberries, and chevre. The chevre was so creamy, and the strawberries so sweet, it was like eating ice cream, except it was actually a salad! Brilliant! We made burgers to make a meal with the salad. Of course we used our standard Skagit Valley Ranch beef patties and Tall Grass Bakery brioche buns. Alex also cooked up an onion-eggplant-yellow squash thing that he intended to have along side the burger, but I easily talked him into putting it on the burger - it made a super yummy burger topping! He seasoned the eggplant-squash stuff with lime juice, white pepper, Liquid Aminos, and nutmeg. Here's a picture of Alex's plate before he put the eggplant-squash stuff inside his burger:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Chinese or something...

I was laying in bed earlier today, failing to take a nap, but day dreaming about what makes Chinese food so darn tasty. Those thick voluptuous sauces that are so sweet and salty, and so delicious - I needed to attempt to recreate this. I've long been skeptical of using straight granulated sugar in savory foods, convinced that I could coax the sweetness out of vegetables. But it never quite compares to some of the sauces served at restaurants. After consulting my Chinese cookbook I convinced myself that plain old granulated sugar is the answer.

I put two pans on the stove; one for searing Skagit Valley Ranch pork country-ribs, and the other for sauteing veggies. While the pork got nicely browned, I sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and summer squash. When the pork was perfectly browned on all sides I added some Bragg's Liquid Aminos (soy sauce), chicken demi-glace, and a splash of water. Then I put a lid on it and let it all simmer. Just before the veggies were done cooking I added some chicken demi-glace, Liquid Aminos, fish sauce, a pinch of granulated sugar, a small dollop of molasses, paprika, cinnamon, star anise, szechuan pepper, and salt. At the very end I added some chopped boc choy and turned off the heat.

Sugar is the answer. It works with the salt and other spices to create a truly well rounded flavor profile that fills your mouth with a comforting intensity. Oh and I made some wild rice pilaf to go with the pork and veggies also. Here it is basking in the sun and garnished with basil:

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I worked under Chef Jerry Traunfeld when he was at the Herbfarm, so I've been wanting to check out Poppy ever since it opened a couple years ago. When I was at the Herbfarm, it was during Jerry's final years there and I could tell he was suffering burn out. He used to talk about how much he hated the excessive decor of the Herbfarm and he dreamed of the day when he would have is own restaurant with simple minimalist decor. I strolled by Poppy right after it had opened. As soon as I saw the bold 4-color scheme (red, yellow, black, and white), bare walls, and simple tables - I knew this restaurant was everything Jerry had been wanting to do, but wasn't able to as long as he worked for someone else. This revelation is quite exciting, knowing what a phenomenal chef Jerry is. I could only imagine what culinary magic he would create when given complete and total freedom.

The way I understand it, the story goes like this: Jerry Traunfeld worked at the Herbfarm for 17 years and then left to go travel around India for a year or so. When he returned from India, he created Poppy following the inspiration he had gained from India. Naturally, at the Herbfarm, Jerry was all about herbs, herbs, herbs. The food at poppy is a meditation on spices with a foundation of herbs and simple, delicious food.

The method by which food is served is unlike any other fine-dining experience I've had. There are appetizers and then there are thali's. The waiter warned us the thali's take a while, so we ordered some appetizers to start.

Fried Eggplant with Honey (and cardamom?!) and Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Borage and Nasturtium flowers. The fried eggplant blew Alex and I away. The eggplant flesh melted into silky smooth mush within it's crispy fried outer shell. Despite the fact that everything was fried, that fresh-picked from the garden flavor and texture still came through. Almost as if the frying was merely to add a crunchy outer shell and nothing more.

Next we dove into the thali's. A thali is a selection of several dishes served at once on a large round platter - each dish is only a few bites and contained in it's own little bowl. The long time trend in fine dining has been to serve small plates, one at a time, and in a particular order. Essentially, the fine dining restaurant dictates what you will eat when. However, with a thali, you receive everything all at once and you get to decide how to go about eating it. I feel like the original purpose of Poppy was for Jerry to have a place where he could publicly play with spices. But by serving the main attraction as a thali, he welcomes the public to play and explore spice and flavor as well. Alex and I had a lot of fun eating each dish on the thali in different orders and experiencing the way flavors influence each other. Here are our thali's, apologies for the awful pictures, my camera was not happy about the lighting situation and I'm not one to use flash in public.

Each platter contains 10 small dishes. In the foreground is my platter which had the following:

morel mushroom, english pea, and sage risotto
gothberg goat cheese agnolotti with fresh porcini and favas
carrot and black cardamom soup
cucumber raita with caraway and almond
radish, and grilled spring onion salad
beets with spice bread and mint
zucchini and basil gratin
local roots broccoli with oregano
bing cherry pickle
nigella-poppy naan

Alex's platter is on the opposite side of the table:

quillayute king salmon with pinot noir sauce, sea beans and bacon
tails and trotters pork loin with green sauce and corona beans
chilled fennel yogurt soup
cucumber raita with caraway and almond
radish, and grilled spring onion salad
snap peas with lemon thyme
beets with spice bread and mint
zucchini and basil gratin
mango, strawberry and peppermint pickle
nigella-poppy naan

Each dish was only a few bites, but it was still a LOT of food! Without realizing it, we spent nearly 3 hours trying to finish eating everything and we were on the verge of being painfully full by the end of it. As we were eating, we tried to put the experience into words, and final ended up drawing a graph. Complexity is on the x-axis, and Number of Dimensions is on the y-axis. If you plot each dish on this graph, I believe you would come up with a distribution that has it's mean at a very low level of complexity, but high number of dimensions. Like this:

This is the magic of Jerry Traunfeld. He takes the simplest things, like broccoli, and creates a multi-dimensional masterpiece. Broccoli might be my favorite vegetable, and Jerry coaxed out the very essence of broccoli, while partnering it, and not over powering it, with salty, smokey, spicy flavors that dance around your mouth in concert with freshest most beautiful broccoli flavor and then finishes with a peppery warmth in the back of your mouth. The simplicity of Jerry's food gives it a distinctly not snobby feel. It seems like he just found the best broccoli (or any ingredient), barely cooked it to perfection and sprinkled some spices on it. It's all about the details though, and that is where Jerry's talent is. It's not just Jerry though, it's all the chef's in his kitchen at Poppy that create this incredible food night after night. Mmmmm, Poppy!

P.S. I almost forgot the icing on the cake: at the end of the meal, the check was delivered in a POCKET PROTECTOR!! So hilariously random, I'm speechless.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Edible Flowers

There's something really exciting about eating flowers. Maybe it's because they're so intricately beautiful, or because it's not usually something you find at a restaurant or the grocery store. Even the farmers market rarely sells edible flowers. I have to say I feel rather special when I have space to garden. And with edible flowers I can have my pretty flower and eat it too! So here is what's on the menu today:


Calendula is in the sunflower family and is also called "pot marigold". I love to pick all the petals off and sprinkle them on salad like yellow (or orange) confetti. They have a fresh crunchy taste with slight bitterness, very reminiscent of mild lettuce.

Violets and Pansies

Pansies and Violets are all edible members of the genus Viola. The ones shown above in my garden have a mild flowery sweetness to them, almost like a rose.

English Daisies

Another sunflower family relative, these are in the genus Bellis and have a flavor almost like celery with a mild bitterness.


Dianthus is a genus in the Carnation family and has a surprisingly sweet and bitter flavor that makes your tongue tingle almost as if each taste bud is saying "it's sweet! not it's bitter! sweet! bitter!"


I love nasturtiums (NESS-ter-SHUMS), both the flowers and the leaves have a thrilling sharp bitterness to them and the seeds can be pickled to make capers!

Squash Blossoms

Here's a flower I hope most people have had. Stuffed squash blossoms can be a popular seasonal dish. Squash make two different kinds of flowers; male and female. The female ones make squash when they receive pollen from the male flowers. So be careful to only eat the male flowers if you want to get any squash. (Look for the powdery yellow pollen inside the males)

Brassica oleracea

B. oleracea could be anything from cabbage and brussel sprouts to broccoli, mustard, and bok choi. The flowers can be diverse, though they all have four petals which won them their original name of Cruciforms. They're colorful and have a mild flavor.


Cilantro flowers make coriander when they go to seed, but the flowers are incredibly flavorful also. I swear the flavor is half way between coriander and cilantro - super yummy!


Borage has a mild flower that is a beautiful addition to any salad. UV radiation from the sun causes these flowers to turn from blue to purple to pink.

Some other flowers to note that have already bloomed and died this year: most herbs (i.e. sage, rosemary, thyme...), onions/chives, and peas.

Mmmm pretty!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Spring is official as soon as the morels start popping up. Morels are easy to identify, but that doesn't mean you can just go picking anything that looks like a morel at first glance. If you're foraging early in spring and think you've found the first morel of the year, chances are it's actually a Verpa. Some people eat Verpas and love them, others think they taste gross, and some people get violently ill from eating them. There have even been reports of people eating Verpas for years, and then one day, suddenly developing a violent allergy to them. So, eat them at your own risk (they wont kill you), but here is how to tell them apart:

On the left is a true morel (Morchella esculenta) and on the right is a Verpa (Verpa bohemica). They look pretty similar, especially since they can both vary in color. The difference is how the wrinkly cap attaches to the stem. Morels caps are continuous with the stem making sort of a single hollow tube. Whereas Verpas have the wrinkly cap more or less draped over the stem and not as connected. It can actually be hard to keep the stem and cap connected on a Verpa, they fall appart easily. But morels will stay intact unless you take a knife to them. Here's a picture of a morel and a Verpa cut in half to show the stem attachment:

It's morel on the left and Verpa on the right again. Also, notice how the morel stem is nice an smooth on the inside, whereas Verpas can have cottony-looking tissue filling the stem.

So why go to all the trouble of finding and correctly identifying a mushroom? Because it's DELICIOUS.

Here are some morels sauteeing in butter with some spring onions and fresh garlic.

Morels and butter make excellent pasta sauce.
(In addition to the onions and garlic, I also added Italian sausage and sea beans.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Katrina Cakes!

Katrina Cakes are very similar to Mandy Cakes, except I'm actually writing down the recipe this time and Katrina Cakes are simply vegan, whereas Mandy Cakes are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free. I started with the Joy of Cooking's standard muffin recipe and morphed it into this:

Mix in one bowl:
2 cups Flour (Bob's Red Mill All Purpose)
6 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (Scharffen Berger Unsweetened)
1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder (also Bob's Red Mill)
tiny pinch salt

Mix in a second bowl:
1 cup Sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/4 tsp Organic Molasses
1 cup Hemp Milk
6 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil, melted
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Pour the contents of the second bowl into the first bowl and whip until smooth. Then add about 1/3 cup of Mini Chocolate Chips and portion into a pre-greased muffin tin (I greased it with coconut oil). Bake on the top rack at 400 degrees F.

This makes about 16-18 cupcakes.

Funny Story: My first batch of cupcakes burned, filled our apartment with smoke, and set off all the smoke alarms as I was writing the above. That all took less than 10 minutes! Sooo, here's some lessons learned:

1) Keep an eye on the clock! (batch number two has been in the oven for 6 minutes now...)
2) Keep an eye on the oven! (nothing burning yet, and the temp inside the oven is in fact 400)
3) Bake cakes at the top of the oven! (they were near the bottom first time)
4) Egg Replacer has a funny texture. So for batch number two I omitted egg replacer and increased the amount of baking powder and coconut oil instead. I also added a little bit more vanilla. (they might have been burnt, but that first batch was a good taste-test!)
5) Ripping the smoke alarm off the ceiling and throwing it under a bunch of blankets is an extremely effective way of making that god-awful noise stop.

The second batch came out beautifully and I topped them with coconut frosting. I used the rest of a 14oz. jar of coconut oil, plus a lot of powdered sugar (at least 1 cup), and some food coloring and edible sparkles to make the frosting. I tried to make purple, but the thing about purple is that it's not necessarily equal parts red and blue, especially when you're using cheap food coloring... sooo, if they're in the right lighting, I swear they're lavendery, but the important part is that they are sparkly!

(For the record, to turn Katrina Cakes into Mandy Cakes; just substitute some Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for the regular gluteny flour.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dinner for one

Ahh yes, late night dinners at the end of the quarter. I have to say I did pretty darn well for whipping up something to shove in my face between Economics and Physiology. We have the best garden I think I've ever had since I left my parents house and it's finally starting to produce. So I made a salad out the few things that are big enough to eat: Spinach, Cilantro, and Chives (flowers and leaves). Then I quickly fried up some duck breast from the duck we roasted last night and voila:

I didn't even put dressing on the salad, the cilantro and chives added plenty of flavor - horray homegrown food!