Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bittersweet Chocolate Cream-Chocolate Cremeaux

T and I walked past the pudding snack cups at Target the other day, looked at each other, and had the same thought…”Awww pudding cuuuups!”

Simultaneously were taken back to when we were 7 years old, peeling back the lid and taking a plastic spoon to the sweet, thick, sugar-laden chocolate pudding. Ponytails and backpacks on, sitting in different elementary schools on a sunny day in San Jose, we were gobbing down that sweet treat—the one that we were allowed on so few occasions, the one we had to convince our mothers to buy for us.

“Don’t worry…I’ll make some chocolate cream” was the next thing I said.

Homemade chocolate cream means no chemicals, no fake-o sugars or anything of the sort. Bittersweet Valrhona chocolate stirred into a light anglaise. This chocolate cream was one of my first responsibilities at my first job at a restaurant. I dug up the Mead spiral notebook that was my constant companion during my stint there, and committed it electronically to my collection of recipes (in grams). Its fancy name is Chocolate Cremeaux

Served with sweet, dark cherries, blackberries and cream, we enjoyed this deeply chocolate cream on the patio with a Kunde Vineyards dessert cuvee from Sonoma Valley.

The first thought brought to mind as I took a spoonful and a sip was, “Yup, THIS is adulting.”

Chocolate Cremeaux
Makes 2 cups
135g      bittersweet chocolate
207g      milk
187g      cream
2            egg yolks
70g        sugar

Finely chop the chocolate and set aside in a large bowl.

Heat milk and cream just until small bubbles form around the side of the pot and it is very hot.

Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a small bowl. Temper the hot dairy by slowly pouring in the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly.

When all of the milk is incorporated, return the custard to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

Once the custard reaches nappè, 175° F, strain it over the chocolate and slowly stir with the whisk. Let the cream sit for 1 minute to melt the chocolate, then continue stirring until combined.

Pour the cream into a pitcher and divide evenly among 6 dessert dishes. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. After 4 hours, cover the surface of cream with plastic wrap.

The cream will keep for 3 days, with covered with plastic in the refrigerator.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gluten-free Focaccia

This recipe has quickly become one of my favorites ever. EVER. I have adapted the recipe originally found in GFF Magazine, and created so many different uses for it, both savory and sweet. Its our favorite go-to bread and I often make it for parties, picnics, and just to share with people who are not even gluten-free because it is delicious. I don't think there is a single recipe for gf bread that has given me the distinct feeling and pleasure of eating bread. The crumb is soft, the flavor is full, and the recipe (albeit slightly involved) makes the time from mixing to eating go by like nothing. It freezes really well, and keeps really well, and this fact really solidified my intense love for this recipe because I can pull it out to make croutons, crackers, and most recently...bread freakin' pudding. I have found it easier to weigh everything out with a food scale...its the pastry chef in me, I suppose.

Buy the magazine, make this focaccia. Follow OriginalCinnDesserts.com on Instagram @originalcinn and on Twitter @TheOriginalCinn  


I use a food scale, a metal baking pan, measuring spoons and cups, a sifter, 3 bowls (one small, one medium, one large), a whisk, a fork, a non-stick spatula and an offset spatula. I also spoon about ½ cup of the dough into a 4-inch cake pan to get a little something extra that I can freeze, or turn into a mini pizza!

Here we go…

67g mayonnaise, room temperature

80g mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1 egg, room temperature

14g (1 Tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons) kosher salt

1 ¼ cup seltzer water, divided

1 Tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast

20g (2 Tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon) granulated sugar

225g (1 ¾ cups) Cup 4 Cup

220g (1 ¾ cups) Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour

8 Tablespoons quality olive oil, divided

1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (optional)

1 Tablespoon Maldon sea salt (optional)

1. In a measuring cup, measure 1 cup of seltzer water and set aside. Measure ¼ cup of seltzer water separately and set aside.

2. Combine the mayonnaise and mascarpone in a small bowl, and whisk until combined. Mixture will have lumps, that’s ok.

3. Add the egg and whisk until smooth, then carefully pour in the seltzer water, and kosher salt, whisking gently just until combined.

4. Carefully pour 1 cup of seltzer water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast evenly over the water. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the yeast and stir with a fork to combine; you want the bubbles to remain in tact.

5. In a separate bowl, sift the flours together and set aside.

6. Once the yeast has become foamy, which should take about 5 minutes, carefully stir in the mascarpone/mayonnaise mixture with a non-stick spatula, again taking care to keep the bubbles in tact.

7. Add the combined flours slowly to the yeast mixture, and stir until the dough comes together.

8. In an 8x8 inch cake pan, add 4 tablespoons of oil, then put the dough into the pan. Spread with a fork or an offset spatula into the corners of the pan, and then pour the remaining oil over the top.

9. With your fingertips, poke deeply into the dough, to aerate. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour.

10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the dough with herbs and salt if desired; bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Culinary Aspirations for 2016

I wanted to learn how to embroider this year. So after finals this past semester, I went to Joann Fabrics to pick up a hoop, a 24 pack of embroidery thread, a needle kit, and this cake pattern. Finally, with a little time to myself, not inundated by papers, exams, or homework assignments, I sat to watch a few YouTube videos to learn how to embroider...cat in lap, and tea sitting right next to me...like I'm already little old lady. Funny though, once I started, I realized that I had already learned this somehow--like the spirit of a lifetime ago was patiently reminding me how to back stich. When I was a kid though, I half paid attention to the lessons my mother taught me about needle and thread, probably when I would have rather been doing something else, I'm sure. All of this came back to me, and I fell in love with embroidery. Thus far, I have embroidered cards, baby onesies for my cousins baby shower, and soon I will be tackling some Mexican floral patterns. 2016 was supposed to be my year to learn how to embroider...turns out that year was actually 1990, but still, 2016 will be the year I actually embroider.

This still leaves me with needing to fill the spot of "Goal for 2016". This year I will be turning 34. I've turned into a grown-ass woman...and grown ass women make goals--or something (I don't know, I'm just here, not really knowing what I'm doing half the time). Of course exercising and general organization of thoughts, things, and knick-knacks make the list, but I (ME), I am a constant student of food, and nothing usually takes precedence in my life over food. So here are my culinary aspirations for 2016.

This year, I want to...
1. Learn at least one enduring recipe or technique from a family member.
            My wife’s grandmother makes tamales every year for Christmas; the holiday staple that gets made in enormous quantities, served on Christmas day and bagged up at the end of the night for everyone to take at least 12 home. This December, my wife, her aunt, grandmother and myself gathered around the kitchen table, draped in a vinyl tablecloth with blue flowers on it to assemble the tamales for Christmas 2015. I learned how to fill and fold the tamales but the secret, sacred pork filling recipe was made ahead of time, and this year I want to learn how to make it. It would also be great to have my mom over and have her teach me how to make pozole. I have a soft spot in my heart for the porky stew with white hominy and chilies, topped with fresh lime, radish, onion and cilantro. Damn, that stuff is good!

2. Food writing.
            I can’t think of anything I love writing about more than food. A few years ago I got myself all worked up about constantly having a gorgeous photo, a recipe, and an interesting story to match when I write and post on OriginalCinn. Its because I had this ridiculous notion that I can’t have a successful blog without having all that jazz. It got me so frazzled that I had a complex every time I posted, frantically photographing in the shitty light available in my apartment, manically reading the content over and over again to make sure it was perfect before posting, then waiting patiently for comments to come pouring in…
But I have news for myself—I ain’t got time for that, yo! I vow, or solemnly swear or whatever to just write…about food because I love it, whatever I make, however it comes out, photographed in whatever light. Because, yeah.

3. Try new cuisine. Often.
            I admit this is in part due to my upcoming travels to Iceland. Never before did I think I would ever go to a place like Iceland, but I am so, so excited to be traveling to a place where the climate is something I have never experienced, and also a food culture I have never experienced. All that, while accommodating T’s gluten intolerance so I’m pretty sure there will be a Gluten Free Reykjavík post in the near future! Other than that, there are so many different cuisines in my area that it would just be silly not to find a new culture to experience within my city limits as often as I can…and then write about it.

4. Cook and learn from my vintage cookbooks.
            I went to an estate sale where there were probably thousands of cookbooks from the 1800s to the 1970s available for purchase at an incredible price. From the few I have picked up, I have learned so much about how people used to eat during the World Wars, in the 1890s, and what stands now in the place of where businesses used to be a century ago. There was a shop that stood on Market, a place for corsets, and bonnets in San Francisco, and now that address belongs to a McDonalds. The building above that used to be a hotel, is now offices. Fascinating, right? I have an amazing collection, and I need to really study them this year from an anthropological and culinary perspective.

5. Find a way to teach again.
            I really don’t think anything has given me any more joy in my culinary career than teaching. I really miss it and I will need to find a way to do it again. Even if it is teaching my goddaughters to make something yummy, teaching my wife how to do something cool in the kitchen, or teaching a group of people in a classroom like I used to. It is so much fun, and I can’t wait to get back in and start teaching again.

6. Transfer all of my recipes from notebooks to my computer.

            In all of the years I worked in restaurants, I wrote in notebooks. Now all of those recipes need to be transferred to my computer. It’s a lot of recipes, some I hope to revisit. On another note, I need to edit some recipes too. This is making my brain hurt and gives me heart palpitations...I have. So. Many. Recipes.

I will probably reach these goals, one way or another. I value every day I get to be here on this earth and experience everything I can. In combination with school, work, all of my craft projects, keeping up with reading and writing for my other projects, and cooking for my lovely wife, I feel like 2016 will be the year I experience, and write as much as I possibly can. 

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

10 Tips for the Non-Cook- How to Save Time and Money Cooking for Yourself!

Now that its January, most people vow to eat better in the new year. Healthy eating starts with eating real food, and cooking for yourself at home. Use these tips to become more confident in the kitchen, and to make your life just a little easier, especially if you are not accustomed to cooking.

Buy a whole chicken at the meat counter. Ask the butcher to break it down and package each half separately. Freeze one, then roast the other half, rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper, sitting on a bed of chopped carrot onions, celery and garlic. Roast at a preheated 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Bonus: if you drain the juices, into a hot pan and let it bubble for a minute, you have killer gravy!

Use up everything! 
Have a lot of carrot, onion, celery and garlic? Take the bones from the chicken you just ate, chop the vegetables up into chunks, cover all of it with as much water fits into your largest pot and simmer for a few hours and you have just made chicken stock…that will also keep well in the freezer! Once winter gets really harsh, you can have a delicious base for chicken soup!

Bring meat or fish to room temperature before you cook. It will result in even temperature and shorter cooking times.

Keep the root of the onion in tact as you cut it. Take a knife skills class if you feel like you need to. But having knife skills will make life in the kitchen so much easier, and is really the basis for anything you do in the kitchen Create your own seasoning combinations. If you always use salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley to season, cut the need to open 4 different spice jars and combine them all.
Like more pepper than salt? Then just add more pepper than salt. You control the seasoning!

Liven up your noodle. Sure, opening a jar of sauce and plopping it on spaghetti is really tasty, not gonna lie, but have you ever tried these amazing combinations? They’re delicious cold the next day too.
1.     Spaghetti with broccoli and red pepper flakes. Throw in some frozen broccoli in the last 2 minutes of cooking the pasta, toss in olive oil and season with salt, and red pepper flakes.
2.     Orecciette pasta with peas, butter and Parmesan. Same concept, but frozen peas have a shorter cooking time.
3.     Capellini with garlic and fresh basil. Chop the heck out of 3 cloves of garlic. Then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of kosher salt on the pile of garlic and keep chopping. Drain the pasta, leaving about ½ cup of the water in, then toss in some the salty garlic, then freeze the rest of the garlic paste in a plastic baggie for next time. Throw in chopped fresh basil to taste.

Using frozen veggies and pantry staples make these dishes so super simple and amazing in yo mouth!

Steak and Eggs, or Polenta and Eggs, or Veggies and Eggs! You got it, eggs pack a real culinary punch anyway you eat them. They are full of nutrients and healthy fats too. Just take some leftovers, cook up an egg and boom, insta-meal. Inexpensive, versatile and damn good….thanks, eggs!

The freezer is your friend. Keep blocks of cheese, bread and even herbs in the freezer and preserve the items that you may not go through before their expiration date. Chop up that bunch of herbs and put them into ice trays with a bit of water and freeze. Once frozen, remove them from the tray and store in zip-top bags.

Buy enough ingredients to make a few extra servings and take them to work for lunch. Never underestimate the power of leftovers. It will save money just bringing lunch to work, and you will also have more time to eat, and rest during your breaks. Standing in line for 30 minutes for a sandwich to be made, including the time it takes to get to the deli will eat up that hour you should be using to chill out (pun totally intended). 

Be adventurous!
Basically, all you have to do is keep basic ingredients on-hand, with a little creativity or Internet search skills and you can make a meal in no time at all. There is nothing healthier than eating real food, that is made at home. Not only is it good for the body, it is good for your soul. 

Cheers to a very happy year in the kitchen!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gluten-Free Banana Buckwheat Muffins

It has occurred to me that OriginalCinnDesserts.com has become a gluten-free blog.
While this is in no way a bad thing, it just kind of happened and I’m relatively bad at change. But it’s okay…I’m okay…

The truth of the matter is that I am a chef. I make food for people to eat it, and enjoy it. Currently, as I am pursuing other goals in life and because my culinary career has taken me to working just outside of the heat of the professional kitchen, my constant customer is my wife. Whether I am cooking for her, or a group of guests that include her at my dining room table, or just working on a version of something that I am craving (like Chicken and Waffles), I make it gluten-free.

This has actually become quite a good system. I think, “How do I make [insert yummy gluten-filled dish here] gluten-free?” and I get to work combining my mad-scientist food knowledge to get the desired product. It doesn’t always work [insert rock-hard chickpea crepes here] but when it does, I serve it and get a magical response from my wife that is something along the lines of, “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had…?”

Today, it’s Buckwheat Banana Muffins…Gluten-Free Buckwheat Banana Muffins.

This recipe is incredibly moist, and does not get rock hard the following day. Start the baking process at a high heat, then turn it down to complete. This is what will get you the ‘domed’ muffin.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Banana Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

¾ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp sweet sorghum flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat-oven to 375°

In a large bowl, combine the flours and remaining dry ingredients and stir with a wire whisk to break up any chunks of sugar or flour. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk gently to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Drop the batter into the wells of a muffin pan lined with papers or sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray. Top with macadamia nuts and place the tray into the oven and turn the heat up to 385°. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are fully set, then turn the heat back down to 375° and cook for 5 more minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
Cool for at least 15 minutes.

Adapted from The Bojon Gourmet

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Polvorones Rosas-Gluten Free Pan Dulce

I recently attended a poetry reading inside a panadería, a Mexican bakery, in the Mission District of San Francisco. As a source of after-work, mid-week adventure and to support a friend who was reading, we drove into the city. We were introduced to poets who feel so deeply for their culture, and they told stories about the lives they lead that fit into in the mile and a half of the city. The bakery, one of many along 24th street was simple, and not unlike the other eight that were on the next few blocks. The usual custom is for patrons to walk in, pick up a set of metal tongs and a tray, and make their careful selections from rows of conchas, galletas, and coronitas, flecked with sugar and sprinkles. Trays become heavy with brightly colored cookies and yeasted breads, then taken up to the front counter, which is usually adorned with statuettes of the Virgin Mary and other deities. The signature white bag of a panadería is then rolled at the top, and handed back to the eager-bellied man, woman or child who will bring their bread home to share, or eat on the go.

Pan dulce is usually eaten with company, and served with a cup of coffee, un cafecito, delicately spiced with cinnamon, or simply with cream and sugar. Stories are told around a big plate of pan at the center of the table, and the crumbs hold laughter and memories. It is a sacred ritual, a task that is taken seriously when you know you will have late conversations with loved ones and are going to need something tasty, or as something to have on-hand to offer unexpected guests.
Considering all of the routine that occurs within the bakery on a daily basis, on this particular night patrons were surprised, and even confused by the rows of chairs, the amplifier, and the microphone situated on top of a zarape that was draped over a paleta cart, bells and all. It was such a lovely evening in San Francisco, warm and pleasant. This almost never happens, and when the reading began, we were treated to words, flour, butter, and sugar—my most precious combination.

That evening, the pleasant aroma of sugar and flour permeated the air, and infiltrated my olfactory senses, taking me back to a panadería in Mexico I had gone to while visiting my grandmother as a teenager. It smelled exactly the same.

I had to reverse engineer this cookie, making it gluten-free. It is my wife’s favorite pan dulce and she hasn’t had one since becoming gluten-free.

Pink Cookies (Polvorones Rosas)
Makes 15 cookies

¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
Rainbow nonpareils
Preheat oven to 350°
*If you are using a different gluten-free flour blend, make sure that there is a higher ratio of cornstarch in it, or adjust the recipe to include more cornstarch. This creates the soft, crumbly texture in the polvorones.

1.  Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to combine.
2.  Place the rainbow nonpareils in a small, flat dish and set aside.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar, with the salt until smooth. Do not over-mix.
4.  Add both yolks to the butter and sugar and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, pour in the vanilla extract, 4-5 drops of food coloring and stir to combine.
5.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix just until a soft dough forms.
6.  Using a 2oz. ice cream scoop, portion the dough into balls and press firmly into the nonpareils to flatten the cookie to approximately ½ inch width.
7.  Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and set them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Letting the dough rest overnight will give the cookie the proper crumbly texture.
8.  Bake for 12-14 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, 3x3. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooking rack.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallow Easter Eggs

Easter has the BEST candy. 
Seriously, I count the days in February until Valentine's day is over. Not only because Valentine's day is my birthday, not just because in early March, we celebrate our Half-iversary, and not even because Spring is steadily approaching...
It's 'cause of the candy. There is insta-joy when I see the purple bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs in the store next to the clearance $.99 chocolate hearts. I'm on my 4th package of them right now, no joke.

Easter, like most Holidays has lost its childhood luster, and I no longer get a new dress for church, I no longer get a basket filled with goodies, and instead of sprinting to find the most eggs, I help the kiddies find them and witness their joy when they find the egg with the twenty dollar bill in it.
Can I get in on that twenty? No, really...

This year I wanted to make something pretty, and tasty, and sparkly!  They don't take long, but they take some finesse. Anyone can make them, and putting the sparkles (sprinkles) on is so much fun, and kids would love it!! Step by step, here's the recipe and method.

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallows (Makes 12 eggs)
Special equipment:
Stand mixer
candy thermometer
12 standard size plastic eggs, washed, dried and coated lightly with cooking spray
18" plastic piping bag
#805 Ateco round plain tip (about 1cm)
Empty egg carton

1/3 cup raspberry juice*
1 tablespoon water
3/8 oz. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Non-stick cooking spray (high-quality)
Sugar crystal sprinkles
Nonpareils (the tiny, round sprinkles)
Jimmies (the long and soft sprinkles)

* Thaw frozen raspberries overnight in the refrigerator and strain the juice from the fruit. Bonus: stir the excess fruit into a big tub of plain yogurt, or pancakes for a yummy treat.

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Place the raspberry juice, and water in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over top and let it stand.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pot, and combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 2 ounces of water. Stir gently and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring and cook the sugar until the thermometer registers 248°.

With the stand mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin.

Once all of the cooked sugar is added, turn the speed and continue beating until the 'mallow is light and fluffy.
 You are gonna wanna stop here, but beating just a little longer will create a really fluffy 'mallow. At this point, add the scraped vanilla bean and continue beating.
Until it looks like this. If you beat it any longer, it will be too firm to pipe. You want it to be light, but not too cool.

Set the prepared egg shells on a large sheet pan. Fill the piping bag with half of the marshmallow and scrape everything as close to the tip as possible.
Pipe marshmallow into each half of the egg, squeezing from the very top of the bag. In the short half, leave a bit of a dome, and in the tall half, pipe only almost to the top. Be careful not to get any cooking spray on the mallow as it will prevent it from sticking together once it is set.

Pro tip: keep the piping tip just barely submerged in the marshmallow, slowly moving it up as you are piping it into the egg. This will keep the 'mallow evenly distributed through the whole egg.
Close the egg and let the excess come out of the tiny hole in the tall end. Most plastic eggs have this, so make sure yours does. Clean up the outside of the egg as much as possible, and place in the egg carton. Leave the eggs to sit out at room temperature for at least an hour or two. 

Test the egg to see if it is ready, carefully pop open the egg and see if it stays in tact as you try to remove it. Once it is easy to remove from the egg, they are ready to dip into the sprinkles.

Sugar crystal sprinkles stick best, but if you want to use jimmies, make a combination of crystal, and nonpareils with the jimmies.

Wrap the eggs in the carton with plastic wrap and let them sit overnight. They are ready to eat (so you can if you want), but the sprinkles will stick best when they sit long enough to dry a bit.

Package them in plastic bags, and adorn your Easter baskets with beautiful, delicious, sparkly eggs!