Coffee Meets Donut

16 07 2016

I had a bit of time this week (in consulting speak, we call it being ‘on the beach’) to do some fun things for myself. I caught up with some good friends over wine, and even had the opportunity to volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity build site in San Francisco. I learned how to install fiberglass insulation and managed to complete a whole wall by myself. It’s hard work and the dust and fiberglass particulates are terrible irritants, but the work is so gratifying. And to top off a good week, I had a whole Saturday to myself to take on a donut project, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers Hint of Vanilla.

2016-07-19_12-37-48

Coffee Donuts
Source: Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
If you have an early copy of the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook as I do, there are numerous typos and errors that are addressed in the newer edition. One such example is this recipe, where the original butter called for was an erroneous scant 5 grams, when it should be 55 grams. The below reflects the updated version.

Ingredients
Dough:
518 g all purpose flour
10 g instant dried yeast [subbed with active dry yeast – works the same, but needs more rise time]
74 g granulated sugar
9 g kosher salt
212 g whole milk, at room temp
111 g eggs
3 g vanilla paste [subbed with 1.5 tsp vanilla extract]
55 g unsalted butter, at room temp and cut into small cubes
Canola oil for frying
200 g vanilla sugar, for

Coffee Pastry Cream:
Recipe from Hint of Vanilla
132 g yolk [from about 6 eggs]
110 g granulated sugar
30 g cornstarch [subbed with sweet rice flour which yields a softer, less stiff custard]
550 g whole milk
20 g coffee beans [I used Sightglass beans]
27 g unsalted butter, at room temp and cut into small cubes
2 g vanilla paste [subbed 1 tbs vanilla extract]

Directions
Begin the night before you want to serve these donuts. Place the flour and yeast [active dry or instant] in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and quickly pulse a few seconds to mix evenly. Add the sugar, salt, milk, eggs and vanilla and mix on low speed for 4-5 minutes to incorporate. Set a timer and continue to let the stand mixer run for another 30 minutes. The dough will become smoother and less shaggy over time. At the end of the 30 minutes, add the butter a bit at a time, incorporating with each addition. Stop to scrape down the dough as needed.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured work surface, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. With your hands, gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape, and fold up like a letter into thirds. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, and again stretch the dough into a rectangle, and fold the sides up like a letter. Repeat a few times. Place the folded dough into a prepared bowl or large container [I like to use non-stick spray on my large round graduated storage container], with the seam side down. Cover and let sit for at least 2 hours.

DSC_9611

After the initial proof, remove the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat the dough into a rectangle and press and large bubbles to the edges. Again, fold the rectangle like a letter, rotate, and repeat. Return the dough to the bowl or container, seam side down, cover and allow to proof overnight. While the Bouchon cookbook recommends refrigerating the dough overnight, I actually let my container ferment on top of my (very warm) home server overnight and it rose beautifully.

DSC_9614

The next morning, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about a 1/8″ thickness. I used a 3-inch cutter to cut 15 rounds from the dough. Any scraps were gathered and re-rolled to form more donuts. If you did not want to fill them, you can cut holes in the middle like with traditional donuts. Because I filled mine, no center hole is necessary. Discard any scraps too small to use, or roll into a ball to make donut holes. Place the cut dough onto a silpat lined pan, cover, and allow to proof for another 1-2 hours, until the donuts have doubled in size. You’ll know when it’s all ready when the dough is pressed, and the impression remains.

DSC_9651

While the dough is doing a final proof, begin making the pastry cream filling. Combine the milk and half the sugar in a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, roughly chop the coffee beans or gently crush them with a heavy bottomed pot. When the milk/sugar comes to a slight boil (tiny bubbles on the edges), remove from heat and add the crushed coffee beans. Let the milk infuse for 15-20 minutes. Pour the milk/coffee mixture through a coffee filter and/or sieve. Discard the coffee beans, and weigh the milk to ensure there is still enough (as the beans may have absorbed some of the milk) – add additional milk as needed. Place milk back into the saucepan and heat to just a boil

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar, egg yolks, and starch and whisk until pale in color. Temper the eggs by ladling in a small amount of hot milk, whisking all the while to prevent scrambling the eggs. Gradually ladle in more milk, whisking the whole time. Pour the milk-egg custard base back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking until the custard thickens. Remove the saucepan from heat, and slowly add the butter and vanilla, continuing to whisk to incorporate. Cool the pastry cream to room temp and set aside or cover and refrigerate until use.

DSC_9641

Back to the donuts – after the final proof, go ahead and preheat a large, heavy pot with canola oil. I used my Le Creuset and filled it about 2-3 inches with canola oil and let it warm up to about 350*F. Have a drip rack/baking sheet ready. Also, have a shallow plate or saucer dish filled with sugar for coating handy. Gently lower the doughnuts into the oil and fry for 30-45 seconds until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip them over and fry again for 45 seconds. Transfer the donuts to the rack to drip excess oil and cool, while you fry the next batch. Once you’re done frying all the donuts, toss them in the granulated sugar and coat. Set on a clean rack.

DSC_9661

Once all the donuts have been coated with sugar, use a knife to make a small incision on each donut. Pipe the pastry cream into each donut – you’ll know the donut is full of cream once it starts to ooze out. Enjoy!

DSC_9723

I’m a really messy piper – I managed to get that pastry cream all over the counter and my hands. Not sure how folks manage to do it so neatly. Whatever the case, these are delicious. I will admit to eating the small donut holes immediately after frying them and dunking them in the sugar – no filling needed. However, once filled, the coffee kick was quite nice too. This is a great starter recipe, with room for infinite permutations. Berries are in season now, I think I may try a few berry fillings before the season is over.

This weekend is proving to be really great so far and it’s only Saturday. I’ll be filling in the rest of the time reading, occasionally doing some GRE practice problems, and meal prepping for next week. Thanks for stopping by!

AnhD





RESPECT

6 07 2016

Once upon a time, when we were little – we thought our parents were gods. Infallible and perfect beings, who fed us and cared for us and loved us unconditionally. Those things are still mostly true for me, except now, I’m wiser and know that parenthood is full of blunders and trials and lessons learned. Similarly, as a kid – there were a bunch of people I really respected. Older girls who were full of energy and ambition and passion, who I looked up to and secretly wished were my older sisters. Dream power couples who lived (what I naively thought) perfectly enviable lives. Accomplished men and women who I deeply respected and tried to emulate. But as I grew older, I began to experience this phenomenon, where these folks who I had so admired began to lose some of their allure and luster. Those dream couples have since divorced. Those accomplished men and women live duplicitous and selfish lives, and their interpersonal relationships are in shambles. Those same girls who I had modeled myself after have long since abandoned their dreams and succumbed to an uglier side – slaves to various addictions, mean-spirited, cynical and not the shining role models that I had dreamed of. As a kid, I clearly put them all on an unfair pedestal. And in terms of their eventual fates – a lot of it was circumstance. And while I hate to say it, but a lot of it was probably choice too. And though it’s mean and judgmental of me, it’s made me lose a lot of respect for these individuals, who once upon a time, inspired my dreams and were the gods of my childhood.

2016-07-05_10-03-04 An arrangement of dahlias, tulips, hydrangeas, peonies, roses, climbing roses, rice flower and white fuchsia

Summer Fruit Crisp
Source: This recipe is a mishmash of the ATK’s Skillet Apple Crisp topping recipe and my own filling. One of the beautiful things about a crisp is that you can’t really go wrong with the filling as long as you’ve got good fruit, a bit of sugar and some thickener. That’s really all you need. The rest is really all up to your own tongue and personal preference. As a note though – berries are low in pectin and will need a bit more starch to help thicken the juices, while stone fruits, particularly plums, have more pectin and will need less help from the starch to achieve that nice thick, syrupy consistency. I used apricots, which I peeled using the boiling water bath trick, but would have also liked to have used plums and cherries, which are also beautifully in season this time of year. Maybe next time.

Ingredients
Topping:
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 c pecans, chopped and toasted
1 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp table salt
12 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
3 c fresh mixed fruit, hulled and chopped as needed
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1/3 c granulated sugar [or to taste]
3-5 tbs corn starch, depends on the consistency you like

Directions
Preheat oven to 375*F.
For the filling, gently toss all the ingredients together without bruising or crushing the fruit. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the liquids to release and thicken.2016-07-05_10-05-31Gently scrape the fruit and any juices into a deep pie dish [my Emile Henry was perfect], and place on a baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes.2016-07-05_10-06-33Meanwhile, combine all topping ingredients and stir to combine. Place in fridge while fruit filling bakes. At the 20 minute mark, remove fruit filling from oven and top with the nut-oatmeal mixture. Return to oven and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until the juices are bubbly and the top is a beautiful golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to let the syrup thicken. Serve warm as is or with whip cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy.2016-07-05_10-00-40

We had this over the 4th of July weekend, and it was perfect. The topping was crisp and deliciously sweet and nutty, while the fruit was still slightly tart and smelled divine paired with the lemon zest. What a perfect ode to summer fruit.

These days, I don’t see too much of my fallen heroes. I’ve distanced myself and am a bit rueful of what could have been. It’s no one’s fault really, except perhaps mine and my childish expectation alone. And while I can’t change what has been (and they likely don’t care what I think of them), I suppose these fallen heroes still serve as a great teaching moment – and that’s intrinsically valuable enough for me.

Thanks for reading and hope you’re enjoying your summer.

AnhD





Summer Pasta

13 06 2016

On some weeknights, it is impossible to pull together the willpower to cook a full blown dinner. Except for this dish, which I will gladly make. It’s a smart and delicious weeknight meal for a number of reasons. Shrimp is a quick cooking protein that does not require too much prep and de-frosts quickly. Kale is one of those dark leafy greens that can be stretched a good long while in the fridge – so even if I haven’t been to the market in a while or my CSA box is running low, there’s usually a bit of kale around. Summer tomatoes are beautiful – large, juicy globes of sweet and tart fruit. A single large tomato was able to provide us with all the sauciness needed for this dish – and it was just delicious. I normally hate tomatoes – typically watery, bland things… but not in summer. When they are THIS fresh and THIS good, you really need to pair them with complementary flavors and showcase these beauties.

2016-06-15_08-23-50

June2

Shrimp & Kale Summer Pasta
Source: Adapted from the NY Times
This dish is so easy, it really doesn’t need a recipe. I added a striped bell pepper for some additional sweetness, as well as fresh basil to really highlight this as a summer dish. Feel free to swap out with other vegetables you may have in your kitchen.

Ingredients
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, de-ribbed, washed, dried, and cut into small strips
1 tsp oregano and/or thyme
1 large tomato, small dice
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and cubed [optional]
15-20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined [I used size 16-21]
1/4 tsp sugar
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly shredded [optional]
parmigiano reggiano or pecorino, for shaving [optional]
1 lb spaghetti or fettucine noodles
olive oil

Directions
Fill a large pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, add a splash of olive oil to a large, heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the strips of dry kale and sautee until most of the liquid from the kale has evaporated and the kale has wilted to a soft texture. Add garlic and dried oregano and/or thyme, and stir-fy until fragrant without burning the garlic. Add more olive oil as needed. Then add the diced tomato, and cook down until a thick sauce forms, about 10 minutes. The tomato will caramelize and reduce. If using, also add diced bell pepper and allow to cook until softened. Lastly, add the shrimp, tossing until the shrimp is bright red and cooked through. If the sauce seems a bit dry, add a ladle of the pasta water and allow to incorporate and mix with the tomato mixture. Season with sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste. Turn off heat, and toss drained pasta noodles into pan and twirl until noodles are covered in sauce. Top with fresh basil leaves and shaved/grated cheese, if using. Enjoy!

June3

Again, this dish really doesn’t need a recipe so much as a process. During the winter, I’ll use canned tomatoes. Or sometimes if the fresh tomato isn’t quite flavorful enough, I’ll add some fresh lemon juice and zest for some zing. I could also easily swap out these veggies for an kale/asparagus/pea combination, which I think would also be good this time of year.

June4

As of late, my kitchen countertop has been seeing fewer pots and pans and more vases and flowers. Not a bad thing, but certainly a bit different.

June1

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Food Lab and Vanitas

6 06 2016

Over Christmas, I received J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab, and it was a great introduction to Kenji’s style of how he meticulously and methodically tests recipes and devises techniques. In addition to Serious Eats and The Food Lab, his resume includes a stint with (the also meticulous and scientific) Cook’s Illustrated, further credentializing his food chops. I have come to love his writing and his approach to food. I like to read most cookbooks cover-to-cover, and The Food Lab was a great compendium full of helpful insights. This weekend, I was prepping for a grad party and wanted to do homestyle tacos. Kenji came through, and I couldn’t be happier. Kenji is THE man. Below is his recipe found on Serious Eats, and boy it did not disappoint. Make these now. I bought 10 pounds of flank steak from Costco and let it marinate over night. The next day, I grilled the steaks, let rest, and did a small dice before stuffing them into my favorite La Tortilla Factory yellow corn tortillas, and topped with a homemade pico de gallo, homemade guac, crema, crumbled cotija and a squeeze of lime. I made a few tweaks to the marinade, but found the flavor to still be really tasty. Adjustments noted in [brackets]. Also, I apologize for the cellphone pictures, but didn’t have time to snap real shots with the DSLR while serving guests.

20160605_154748

Carne Asada Tacos
Ingredients
3 whole dried ancho chilies, de-seeded and de-stemmed
3 whole dried guajillo chilies [omitted]
2 whole chipotle peppers, canned in adobo [subbed with ground chipotle powder]
3/4 c fresh juice from 2 to 3 oranges, preferably sour oranges [replaced with fresh lemons]
2 tbs fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs Asian fish sauce
6 medium cloves garlic
1 small bunch cilantro
1 tsp whole cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp whole coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 tbs dark brown sugar
kosher salt
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut with the grain into 5- to 6-inch lengths [subbed for flank steak]

Additions
Pico de Gallo
Guacamole
Crema
Cotija
Wedges of lime
Corn tortillas

Directions
Place ancho chilies on a plate and microwave until soft. Transfer to a blender and add remaining spices, orange/lemon/lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, cilantro and brown sugar. Blend until smooth and season with salt. Taste should be balanced, but favoring the saltier side. Transfer marinade to a large ziplock bag or container and add steak, making sure to coat eat steak with the marinade. Allow to marinade overnight. As I used a plastic container, I periodically rotated the container to ensure that all the pieces of steak got a healthy douse of the marinade.

20160604_143345

Remove meat from fridge 30 minutes prior to grilling to allow meat to warm up [this is a good practice in general when grilling any kind of meat]. While charcoal is probably preferred [gives it that nice smoke], I fired up the gas grill and heated her up nice and hot for about 10-15 minutes and visibly smoking. Remove the steak from the container, allowing any excess marinade to drip off and place directly on the hottest part of the grill. A well-preheated grill will immediately sizzle and help form those lovely charred/grilled bits. Cover the lid of the grill, and cook for about 10 minutes total, flipping midway. Flank steaks are pretty thin, so it shouldn’t take too long. Internal temp should register in the high 120/low 130°F [I like it still pink on the inside, so will err close to 128°F].

20160605_150242

Remove meat from grill, transfer to cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes to allow steaks to redistribute juices. Thinly slice the meat against the grain, or if you’re like me, slice into small cubes. With the remaining marinade [now full of raw meat juices], place in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the marinade to reduce and thicken to a saucy consistency, whisking every so often to prevent lumps or burning. This should take 7-10 minutes. This sauce will be pretty salty, so use sparingly on the carne asada.

2016-06-06_03-32-39

Prep the garnishes and warm the corn tortillas. I love to do this on my still hot, but flame off grill. It leaves such pretty grill marks on the tortillas. Top each tortilla with meat, a bit of the reduced marinade, pico de gallo, guacamole, dollops of crema, spoonfuls of crumbled cotija, a squeeze of fresh lime, and you’re all set. Enjoy!
20160605_154732

These tacos are full of flavor. Tomatoes are at their best right now, and they lend a nice sweetness to balance out the salty flank steak, creamy guac and crema, and briny cotija. I was really skeptical about the fish sauce and soy sauce additions to the marinade, but they work so well in infusing the flank steaks with a ton of flavor and umami. So much deliciousness. I think my next challenge will be to master a good al pastor recipe.

2016-06-06_03-23-16

As usual, I’ve been pretty busy. We were in Southern California last weekend for a wedding out by Joshua Tree National Park. The scenery is really different – there is beauty in rocks and sand and cacti. Oh, and the most glorious sunsets I’ve ever seen.
2016-06-06_10-05-33

We also had a great time just eating our way through the OC and LA. It was a fantastic long weekend for us, celebrating food and love and life. I’ll post my trip recommendations in a different entry.

I’ve also been pursuing my other hobbies, as evident here.
20160605_085809
20160605_091000
2016-06-06_10-10-59

I’m still trying to figure out how all my hobbies and life goals tie in with each other, and what my next move is. I’m not one to remain too complacent or comfortable, and yet I wonder how I’ll be able to do everything that I’d like to do with this one short lifetime that I have. Or maybe Anne Bronte is right, vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas!

Thanks for stopping by,
AnhD





Sunday Morning

18 04 2016

I’ve become a bit of broken record, but it’s been busy around here. So busy, in fact, that there hasn’t been much time to bake or blog. My students and I have kicked-off our annual corsage fundraiser, where we sell and handmake corsages for highschool prom-goers. It’s a really fun opportunity to teach our students about project management, but also the craft of floral design and corsage-making. We’ve received 300 orders and have raised over $3,000 in just a few weeks! How incredible is that? It’s certainly taking its toll on me [it’s practically a second full-time job], but these kids keep me pretty energized with their youthfulness and eagerness to see us succeed.

_MG_0091 NEW

So today, on a rare (and self-imposed) off day on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I had to make these cookies, recently posted on Joy The Baker. Now, I love JTB – the blog is delicious and Joy is such a hoot. I am fangirling a bit here, but I always have such great success with her recipes. Here’s another, near fool-proof one. This recipe is a bit unique in that it has both cream cheese and instant milk powder, ingredients I have never put into a cookie. But whatever the case, it worked! And now I want all my cookies with cream cheese and instant milk powder. These cookies are perfectly chewy with a great crispness on the outside. Thanks to both the softened and browned butter, there is also great richness and caramely-buttery flavor. My only complaint (as if it’s a true complaint) is that these cookies are on the sweeter side. I may cut the sugar a bit next time, and see how I fare, but otherwise, these are absolutely perfect. This recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, which yields quite a bit of dough, so I scooped out raw 2 oz balls of dough, froze them on a sheet, then placed the frozen balls into a ziploc bag. These will be perfect after a long day at work – just plop back on a baking sheet and bake for fresh, easy cookies.

Cookie1

Browned Butter Macadamia White Chocolate Chip
Source: Joy The Baker

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned and slightly cooled
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c instant milk powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tspbaking powder
1 tspsalt
2 c coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, raw
2 c coarsely chopped white chocolate*

*As with all chocolates, bars that are roughly chopped are always better than pre-made chips. They melt better and are made of better quality ingredients. Opt for bars when able

Directions
With a stand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and softened butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Add both sugars and the browned butter and continue to beat until well combined. Add the eeggs and vanilla extract and beat until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredeints. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix just until combined. Remove the paddle attachment and fold in the chopped nuts and chopped white chocolate by hand. The dough is very soft and sticky at this point, so cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and fridge for at least 1 hour. As with the best cookie recipes, this allows the flavors to develop but also prevents the cookie from spreading too much, giving it nice shape.

Doughballs

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and using a large scoop (I used a 2 oz one), scoop out dough balls and place on the baking sheet, giving them 1-2″ of space. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to get golden brown but the middle remains a bit soft. Remove from oven and allow cookies to set on tray before moving to a cooling rack. Enjoy with milk.

Cookie3

Cookie2

I think in the future, I may added shredded (and non-sweetened) coocnut flakes to this recipe for some fun texture. But it really is perfect. My cookies didn’t spread quite as thin as JTB – they remained big thick biscuits even after being cooled (similar to a Specialty’s cookie actually), but their soft tender texture cannot be beat. This is definitely on the ‘make again’ list.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Our Hens

24 03 2016

On IG, I frequently post pictures of the wonderful eggs we’ve been getting here. We got our first 2 hens almost exactly 1 year ago, and have expanded to a flock of five. On the one year anniversary, I figure it’s time to meet the cast of characters.

This Cochin is our flock favorite. She has feathery feet, the most beautiful plumage, a really gentle nature and generally accepts all hens equally. We haven’t seen her be mean ever. Of our hens, she was among the orignal 2, but was the last to start laying. Quite the late bloomer, but we love her pink speckled eggs.
Cochin

This is our Salmon Favorelle, who is also from our original two and also has feathery feet. She is bossy and the leader of the flock, making it very clear who’s who in the pecking order. She produces the most delicious small cream colored eggs – the yolks are the creamist of our flock, and we love them soft boiled or over-easy. Unfortunately, she is also the most vocal and hates being cooped up, so we frequently joke (or not) about turning her into chicken phở.
Favorelle

To these original two, we added to the flock a trusty Red Star, specifically chosen for her reliability in laying brown eggs. Many conventional farms use the red star breed to mass produce consistent brown eggs – it’s what the breed was bred to do. Our specific Red Star has tried to usurp the Salmon Favorelle, and the both of them are very vocal with each other. Now I think they co-exist in relative harmony. Red Star is also the most courageous of our flock – never shy to try the new foods we provide them, and almost always the first to eat grubs, larvae and other treats from our hands.
RedStar

With the Red Star, we also added this lovely Ameraucana, and she is famous for her green eggs. Unlike the others, she is skittish and very fowl-like. She is independent, seems indifferent to our presence and stoically tolerates the pecking order. She does not participate in enforcing the pecking order.
Ameraucana

The last to be added to our flock is this little girl Blue Wheaten Ameraucana, who produces these small blue eggs. It’s generally not a good idea to introduce a single, young pullet to a flock, as she’ll likely be bullied, but we protected her from the pecking and torment of the Favorelle and Red Star until she was big enough to fend for herself. As a little girl, she would often fly up onto David’s shoulder as it was the safest perch away from the others. Even now, she’s still the runt and at the bottom of the pecking order, but is a little bit smarter and faster, and able to secure her portion of her snacks and treats before the others get to it.
Wheaten

We are currently getting 4-5 eggs per day, depending on the weather. In the very near future, we’ll be adding a black copper maran (for those dark chocolate eggs) and likely bantam cochin for their gentle behavior and lovely features. In a future post, I’ll share other hen-tending tips and tricks for those of you who may be interested in starting your own brood. In the meantime, the Backyard Chicken community is a great place to start.

Chocolate Pudding
Source: Tyler Florence
Every so often, I get a bad case of chocolate cravings and I can’t ignore it or wish it to go away. Instead, I feed it… I feed it this chocolate pudding recipe, and it’s perfect. Quick and easy and oh-so satisfying. Be sure to use good cocoa powder (now is the time to pull out the Valrhona), the best eggs you can find (from our yard!), and good milk (Straus Family Creamery). I’m not usually an ingredient snob, but for something so simple, it’s important to use quality ingredients.

Ingredients
2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa powder
4 tsp cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine salt
freshly whipped cream

Directions
Put 1-1/2 cups of the milk and sugar into a nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a very low simmer over medium-high heat, without scalding the milk. Remove from the heat, but keep warm.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl. Sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch right into the bowl to prevent any lumps and stir to combine. Pour 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture to help temper the custard, so that it does not scramble. Continue to whisk and add the remaining hot milk. Return the chocolate custard to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid boils, constantly whisking to prevent burns. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a small simmer, and continue to whisk until thick and resembles the consistency of pudding, up to about 5 minutes.
2016-03-21_02-25-23

Pour the warm pudding into individual cups. I used little tea cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before consuming. To serve, remove cups from fridge and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Enjoy.
2016-03-21_02-24-58

Like I said, this recipe is really simple. Prep/cook time takes about 20 minutes, and there’s that bit of waiting for the pudding to cool and set. I checked the pudding cups at the 2 hour mark and was impatient and just ate a whole cup then – they were fine. Not quite cold, but cool enough to be pudding and not liquid custard. This recipe is really chocolatey and velvety and not too sweet – infinitely better than the processed cups you find at the grocery store. This is totally worth the (small) effort, so go treat yourself, and make this chocolate pudding.
2016-03-21_02-12-04

Thanks for reading!
AnhD





Call to Action

20 03 2016

In the last few weeks, I’ve been pretty busy balancing work and volunteering and all my little side projects. One experience in particular keeps playing over and over in my head. Last weekend, I volunteered at a correctional facility – we’re talking small misdemeanors and light weight crimes – and I was blown away by the generosity and care of my fellow volunteers. They looked like your typical Bay Area “tech bros” and gals, armed with prestigious degrees and employers and privilege. But what separated them from the lot of tech bros we have in the Bay – these volunteers actually cared about who they were serving. They served with such dignity and graciousness, and I think the residents felt it too. There were smiles, there was human connection. Most of the volunteers stayed and chatted with the residents, long after we had served our meal. There were many rounds of chess, a few crossword puzzles being worked on, even a few helping read through paperwork and other documents. There is something so incredible and enriching about an experience like this. It gives me so much hope that there are still people out there who care to make these types of connections, who feel that it is still important to give back, who know that these small but meaningful actions have beautiful long-term consequences in the future.

What saddens me is that I’ve noticed that many students and children volunteer at their local soup kitchens and food pantries, but when they become working professionals and adults, they seem to lose sight of it and do not continue that activism. I can speculate any number of reasons for the atrition rate (lack of free time due to the demands of adulthood, resume-building volunteerism, fulfilling school or parental requirements, etc), but it still does not account for the huge attrition. I truly do believe that if each person dedicated just an hour or 2 each week (or even month!) to help one’s local community – whether it’s picking up garbage at the park, working with children in an afterschool setting, weeding in the community garden, cleaning kennels at the animal shelter, serving food to the poor, working to improve computer literacy, helping register and inform voters – the lives of the beneficiaries (and the givers!) would be so greatly improved. I really think there could be a domino effect here, where by building this human connection, we manufacture human empathy, we cultivate a culture of kindness, we nurture generosity, effectively mitigating hatred and all the associated negative behaviors that stem from hate. We begin the model the behavior we like, thereby mirror the behavior we expect from others. Maybe we can be the ones to stop the tidal wave of hatred and bigotry and ignorance that has seemingly infected our country. Are we so bold as to believe that kindness can improve the world? Are we so audacious as to believe that your and my generosity of time and resources can change the course of the future?

DSC_9168_edited

Semolina Cake with Strawberries and Cream
Loosely based on The Mediterranean Dish
I had this dessert at a Mediterranean restaurant nearby, and it was incredible! Moist and nutty – I absolutely love semolina flour. The recipe I tried wasn’t quite the same as the cake I had at the restaurant (so I’ll do more digging) – but this cake is pretty delicious. Tender and soft and sticky – so much yum, especially once grilled, then topped with some mascerated strawberries and a dollop of whipped yogurt cream. To make this a bit more Mediterranean, I flavored both the cake and cream with rose water and just a hint of vanilla, just to make things a bit more interesting. Enjoy!

Ingredients
Batter:
1/2 c tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c sugar
1 c plain yogurt [I used Greek
2 c semolina flour
1/3 c milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp rose water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberries:
2 pints fresh strawberries
3 tbs sugar

Whipped Yogurt Cream:
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/3 c Greek yogurt
2-3 tbs sugar, or to taste
splash of rose water

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a loaf pan or small cake round.
To prepare the batter, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and yogurt, doing your best to beat out any lumps. Add the semolina, milk, baking powder, and melted butter, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for all the liquids to absorb. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake in oven for 30 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out dry. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool to room temp.

DSC_9146_edited

Meanwhile, small dice all the strawberries and throw into a bowl. Add sugar as needed and give it a toss. The strawberries will start to mascerate in just a few minutes, but may take up to 30 minutes to really start releasing juices and becoming syrupy. Toss occasionally to help with the process. I used about 3 tablespoons, but you can adjust that based on how tart or sweet your berries are.

While waiting for the cake to cool and the strawberries to mascerate, whip the heavy whipping cream until peaks form. Add Greek yogurt, sugar to taste, and just a splash of rose water, and gently fold into the whipped cream until the sugar dissolves and the yogurt is incorporated.

When ready to serve, slice the semolina loaf cake into 1″ slices, and grill each slice until brown. Plate the slice and serve with yogurt cream and berries. Enjoy!

DSC_9174_edited

I mentioned little side projects… if you follow me on IG, you’ll already know. But here are a few peeks.
MedBloomsNew

New_MG_0065

Thanks for reading,
AnhD








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers