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 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 in lap, and tea sitting right next to 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!