Breakfast, Crafts, DIY, Fashion, Knitting, lunch, Savoury

Ballet Wrap Sweater & Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying this cold weather! Now that I’m back in knitting mode, I’ve been caught up in my latest sweater, this mini ballet-style sweater/cardigan/what-have-you. While it’s definitely not ideal to wear only THIS sweater in the cold, I think the fit and size is just perfect to wear over a dress or tank top (while you’re indoors!) The pattern is free on Ravelry and is absolutely adorable, if I do say so myself. While it wasn’t nearly as quick a knit as my last sweater (it’s those damn tiny stitches!), I would still say it was fairly quick for any article of clothing.

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In terms of yardage, this particular sweater was perfect because I just used some yarn that I had left over from a project I had done ages ago. I love the ivory tone and that it has iridescent threads running through it; it really makes it more feminine and just a touch more festive for the holidays. I decided to sew in the pink satin ribbon instead of knitting the straps as well, just to keep with that ballet motif.

In addition to knitting, I’ve also been doing quite a bit of cooking lately; after roasting my turkey for Thanksgiving (which was graciously provided to us by my workplace), I decided to turn some of the leftover meat into Turkey and roasted garlic Rillettes!

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I don’t think that I’ve mentioned it here yet, but a few weeks ago I decided to turn down my job offer in LA. I know, sad story. But at this point in my life I feel like I need to focus more on my personal life rather than JUST my professional one, as I have in the past. I mean,  I just got married, I’m still really young, and I would love to enjoy all this time that I have while I still have it. Besides, if I’m talented enough, there will always be another opportunity for me in the future that is just as good as that one, or maybe even better. As always, patience is key.

Anyway, back to the rillettes! Rillettes happen to be one of my favorite forms of charcuterie; give me any kind of rillettes, some crusty bread, a few cornichons, and some stone ground mustard and I’m pretty much the happiest girl in the world. While this isn’t your traditional rillette (notice it’s missing the layer of fat on top for preservation), this was just my way of using up most of the leftover turkey we had in our fridge. Apparently a 14lb turkey was too much for two people. Who’da thunk? No recipe here, but basically what I did was I took the meat off of about half of our roasted turkey and put it in a big pot with some melted butter, a ton of roasted garlic (which I conveniently roasted alongside my turkey), sage leaves, fresh thyme, peppercorns, dry white wine, and red wine vinegar. I let the mixture simmer in the pot over very low heat for at least 2 hours (with the lid on), until meat was incredibly tender and the liquid was almost completely reduced. Once the mixture had cooled slightly, I removed the peppercorns and herb stems (the garlic had completely melted by then) and put the meat and juices in a food processor and blended it on low until it reached the consistency that I wanted: spreadable, but not pasty. I packed it into a couple of ramekins, and refrigerated it until I was ready to dig in (:

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Bread, Custard, Dinner, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

New Season, New Horizons, and (Adoreable!) Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

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So I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here, but I swear I have a good reason for that! For those of you who haven’t heard yet, I got a new job! Yayy!! Soon I will be a Pastry Chef de Partie for a new restaurant in Downtown LA. A lot of my time lately has been dedicated towards getting ready for that job and leaving my old one behind (sigh…) but I’m really eager to put all of my energy towards this new place and just grow as much as possible. Ever since I left LA county for the OC, I’ve always known I wanted to go back, AND for those of you who know me personally, you’d know that I happen to be named after the City of Angels, but that’s another story for another time! Basically what I’m saying is that it’s like, my DESTINY, haha.

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So as you can see, things have been kind of hectic lately. But let’s forget about all of that for a second! It is now Autumn, and while it doesn’t quite show here in SoCal (it was 83F today!!) just seeing all the new fall produce at the market gets me all warm and fuzzy inside and reminds me that the holidays are coming our way. Today for lunch I roasted some mini pumpkins and stuffed them with a savoury bread pudding of sorts, and then topped them with some grated parm. Just thinking about it now suddenly puts me in Thanksgiving mode. I happen to love roasted pumpkin, whether it be for a sweet or a savoury application.

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No recipe here just because I only made 2 portions and it was such a small amount that I kind of winged it, but basically what I did was I mixed together 1 egg yolk with a scant half a cup of heavy cream, then I diced 1 slice of potato bread and tossed it in the custard with some fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, salt, pepper, and chopped walnuts. I cut the tops off of each mini pumpkin and scooped out all the seeds, then placed them on a lined sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil and gave a little sprinkle of salt and pepper (I roasted the tops of the pumpkins too, so don’t leave those out of the picture!!). I then filled each pumpkin with the bread pudding mixture, and baked them at 350F for 45 minutes. Once the pumpkins were fork tender, I topped each of them with a good amount of grated Parmesan cheese, and then let them bake for another 6 minutes until the cheese was nice and melted and just barely golden brown.

I’m definitely keeping this recipe in mind for when I can start throwing my own Thanksgiving dinners, especially as a great option for vegetarian friends. As always, thanks to all of my readers for keeping up with me even though I sometimes can barely keep up with this blog! Happy eating!

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Breakfast, Cake, Custard, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

[Savory] Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Balsamic Figs

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I realize that it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted about something that isn’t a dessert or some kind of sweet treat, so today I’m happy to share something savory with you all! Yesterday I made a goat cheese cheesecake, and topped it off with figs tossed in a honey-balsamic reduction. One of my favorite restaurants in Orange County plays with the sweet side of goat cheese and pairs it with almonds and roasted peaches on top of their pain perdue, so this is sort of inspired by their lovely dessert.

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Figs marinating in the honey-balsamic reduction. Because Summer is coming to an end, right now is a great time to get your fig fix on. I love that they just sop up that reduction and make the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They also happen to look like shiny little jewels on top of the cheesecake, and you know how much I like to bejewel my food!

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Like most cheesecakes, this one bakes at a really low temperature for a long time, so I would suggest making it a day ahead and letting it sit in your fridge overnight to firm up before you dig in. Apart from using goat cheese, I think what really makes this cheesecake truly savory is the almond crust: it has a good amount of fresh cracked black pepper and grated shallots, so if you happen to like onions you’ll probably fall in love with this (just like I did!). Of all the savory recipes I’ve posted here, I would without a doubt say that this one is by far my favorite. The cheesecake is just so rich and creamy, and when paired with the tartness of the figs and balsamic vinegar, it just harmonizes on your palette.

[Savory] Goat Cheese Cheesecake

makes 1 (8″) cake

for savory crust:

29 g unsalted butter

150 g almond flour

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 Tablespoon grated shallots

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For crust: melt butter and toss together with almond flour, black pepper, shallots, and salt until combined. Press into a greased 8″ tart or cake pan.

for cheesecake filling:

225 g cream cheese, at room temperature

163 g goat cheese, at room temperature

60 g granulated sugar

67 g egg yolks

50 g whole eggs

80 g sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

For filling: preheat oven to 220F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together your cream cheese, goat cheese, and sugar until there are no lumps. With the mixer running, slowly add in your eggs and egg yolks, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Add your sour cream and salt, and paddle until filling is completely smooth with no lumps. Pour filling over crust and tap pan on your counter to flatten out the top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, turning cheesecake halfway through. Cheesecake is fully baked when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool down until room temperature, then cover and chill overnight before removing from pan.

for honey-balsamic reduction:

72 g balsamic vinegar

40 g grade A honey

257 g black mission figs, trimmed and cut in half

For reduction: In a small saucepot, combine balsamic vinegar and honey, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir frequently, until liquid has reduced by half in volume. Let cool to room temperature, then toss figs in reduction and let marinate for 10 minutes. Reduction will thicken as it cools down. Top your cheesecake with marinated figs, and dig in!

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Bread, Breakfast, Cake, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Vegan

Chia Olive Oil Muffins with Caramelized Peaches [Vegan]

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In the world of all the “superfoods” out there, chia seeds seem to be the next big thing. While I’m not one for fads, I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued; the promise of more energy, lower cholesterol, aiding digestion, and a multitude of other health benefits drew me in. I bought a bag at Whole Foods and tried it for a few days, adding a spoonful or so to every meal.

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The seeds themselves are, well, pretty tasteless. Think in terms of poppy seeds; they add a nice crunch but not much else in the flavor department. And as for using it as an energy booster, well anything I could use to boost my energy can easily be trumped by the amount of hours I spend at work, leaving me tired at the end of any day. What I DO like about them is their amazing ability to absorb water; chia seeds can absorb 9 times their weight in water, leaving a gelatinous by-product that could easily replace eggs as a binder in baked goods. The moment I heard this I knew it was time to hit the kitchen.

In this recipe I used a combination of almond flour, olive oil, brown sugar, and lemon zest, leaving me with a nutty, fruity, and tender muffin, great for any breakfast on the go.

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I couldn’t resist adding a bit of tartness to it, so peaches it was! You could really eat these muffins with any fruit, but I love the lacquered sheen of these peaches once they’re cooked. It adds a nice amount of acidity and sweetness that I think pairs well with the nuttiness of the muffin.

Chia Olive Oil Muffins with Caramelized Peaches

Makes 5 muffins

10 g whole chia seeds

50 g water

125 g almond flour

62 g cake flour

4 g baking powder

1 g salt

60 g extra virgin olive oil

40 g organic brown sugar, plus more for peaches

28 g water

3 g vanilla extract

about 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 ripe peaches

In a small bowl, stir together your chia seeds with 50 g of water, and let sit for 20 minutes until it forms a gel. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a medium-sized muffin tin with olive oil or line with cupcake liners. Sift together your almond flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together your extra virgin olive oil, brown sugar, 28 g water, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until combined. Whisk in your gelled chia seeds, water and all. Whisk in your dry ingredients, just until combined. The batter will look a bit lumpy and thick, like oatmeal. Distribute batter into your muffin tin, filling each well about 3/4ths of the way up and smoothing out the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan completely before removing. Store at room temperature.

For caramelized peaches: Set your oven to broil and place a rack on the highest level of your oven. Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Place peach halves on a lined sheet pan and cover the tops of each half with an even layer of brown sugar. Put under your broiler for 3-4 minutes, until all the sugar is melted and bubbles, and the peaches look shiny and lacquered. Let cool completely, then peel off skin (this should be easy since the peach is cooked) and cut into slices. Enjoy!

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Breakfast, Cake, Candy, fruit, lunch, Recipes

Blood Orange and Almond Torte

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The other night one of Robert’s friends invited us over for dinner with him and his wife, and I knew I wanted to make something sweet for the two of them.

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I wandered around the market in search of ideas. Once I saw the cart full of blood oranges, I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I made a hearty, almost rustic almond cake and topped them with the sweet, syrupy oranges.

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I love the deep color of the blood orange and the sweetness it holds; not overly tart and just slightly bitter from the pith. I cooked them in a syrup with hints of cinnamon, giving it a bit of warmth.

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The textures in the torte are what makes it such a great dessert; you get the crunch from the almonds, the chewiness from the candied oranges, and the dry crumb from the cake itself. This recipe is quite quick, and I will definitely be using it again, with other citrus fruits as well.

Blood Orange and Almond Torte

makes 1 (9inch) torte

For almond torte:

40 g granulated sugar

113 g butter, soft

55 g buttermilk

100 g egg

3 g vanilla extract

150 g All Purpose flour

8 g baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

35 g sliced almonds, plus more for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Coarsely chop the almonds, and in a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds until there are no lumps. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract, then slowly stream into the sugar/butter mixture while mixer is running on medium speed, until all liquid is absorbed. Scrape bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Change speed to low, then add dry ingredients, and mix just until all ingredients are combined. Batter will be quite thick.

Grease a 9″ cake round, and spread batter evenly into round, and bake 25-27 minutes or until sides of the cake have browned and pulled from the cake pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan, and turn over onto your serving plate.

For Candied Blood Oranges and syrup:

280 g granulated sugar

150 g water

10 g dark rum

2 cinnamon sticks

juice of 2 blood oranges (about 80 g)

1-2 blood oranges, sliced 1/8″ thick

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot, and bring to a boil. Over medium heat, let syrup boil until reduced by half (about 20 minutes) and rinds of orange slices become slightly translucent. Using tongs, carefully arrange slices on top of your torte. Chill syrup until it thickens to the consistency of honey, then discard cinnamon sticks and drizzle syrup over the top of the oranges, letting it drip down the sides of the torte. Garnish the top of the torte with more sliced almonds, and enjoy!

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Breakfast, Custard, Dinner, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart

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So I know that apples are more of an autumn thing, but Southern California has been ridiculously cold lately. I mean like, freezing. Usually in the morning I like to go for a jog at the beach, but with all the crazy winds and icy temperatures, I decided to just stay home and bake something to warm me up a bit.

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Almonds, gorgonzola, honey, and apples. It’s like an entire cheese platter mixed together to make an amazingly sweet and savory breakfast tart or tea time snack.

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For a quick and flavorful tart, I’d definitely say try it. The marzipan crust lends a crumbly, crunchy texture, while the gorgonzola custard filling adds a nice creamy touch.

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart

Makes 1 (10″) tart

For Marzipan tart shell:

112 g unsalted butter, soft

120 g marzipan, soft

160 g All Purpose flour

60 g granulated sugar

3 g salt

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a bowl of a stand mixer, paddle together butter and marzipan until smooth. Add your flour, sugar, and salt, and paddle until combined and dough forms large crumbles. Press dough firmly into a greased tart pan, and parbake shell for 12-15 minutes, until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For filling:

90 g crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus more as needed

70 g heavy cream

50 g egg (1 large egg)

cracked black pepper, as needed

2 apples, cored and sliced thinly (I used Red Romes)

honey, as needed

Whisk together gorgonzola, heavy cream, egg, and black pepper, leaving some large pieces of gorgonzola in tact. Pour custard over cooled tart shell. Arrange apple slices along the inside of the tart, fanning them out as you go. Lightly drizzle honey over apples.  Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes until filling is set.

Pull out tart from oven and set your oven to broil. Sprinkle some more gorgonzola crumbles over the top of the apples, and broil 2-3 minutes, until cheese starts to brown and bubble. Let cool slightly before digging in!

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Breakfast, Drinks, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Vegan

Peach and Key Lime Agua Fresca and One Lovely Blog

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Now that peaches are in season, I bought a couple at the market and wanted to make something that emphasizes the tart, fresh flavors of ripe peaches. No peach cobblers for this gal!

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I love the simplicity of agua fresca and the peach and key lime definitely pair well together in this drink. It’s lightly sweet and just a nice drink for any summer morning.

In other news, mypenandme has nominated KnitterBakerPateaChouxMaker for the One Lovely Blog Award! Yayy!

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I definitely feel honored for this nomination, so thanks again to mypenandme!

Peach and Key Lime Agua Fresca

makes 2

2 ripe peaches, peeled and pitted

5 key limes, juiced

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Chop peaches into 1 inch cubes. In a blender, combine peaches, lime juice, sugar, and water, and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, then chill.

If desired, rim 2 glasses with lime juice and dip rims in sugar. Divide agua fresca between glasses, and serve cold.

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