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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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, Recipes, Savoury

Fig and Bacon Jam

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I love crossing the lines between sweet and savoury. As someone who makes sweets for a living, it’s nice to change  things up a bit.

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Yesterday I had some very ripe figs, and decided I wanted to make something both sweet and salty to satisfy my cravings. I love that the bacon lends a nice smokey undertone to the sweetness of the figs. This morning for breakfast I had the jam with some fresh baked brioche and some truffle pate. Ohh yes, it was that kinda morning.

Fig and Bacon Jam

makes about 1 L

185 g thick cut bacon

50 g brown sugar

787 g very ripe figs, stemmed and quartered

198 g granulated sugar

10 g pectin

1/8 tsp salt

Dice bacon into 1/4″ pieces. Over medium heat, fry bacon until lightly golden, then add brown sugar and toss bacon to coat in sugar. Cook until sugar is melted and bacon is caramelized. Add figs and stir into bacon. Using a rubber spatula, stir figs frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. Let mixture simmer until figs have broken down quite a bit.

In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and pectin until there are no lumps. Add sugar mixture to pot and toss figs and bacon in sugar. Let simmer until jam is very thick, stirring to prevent scorching. If desired, blend about half of the jam to make it more smooth. Keep in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. Enjoy the next day!

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Dinner, fruit, lunch, Recipes

Pork Chops with Figs and Pomegranate Wine

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Today I wanted to surprise Robert with a nice lunch, so this morning I perused the market looking for some inspiration. Until today I’ve never had a fresh fig before, so when I saw them on sale I was immediately intrigued.

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Aaaand I’m hooked. I’ve never been a fan of dried figs (or any dried fruit, really) but fresh figs are so much more tender and juicy, without the chewy, gritty texture that dried figs can have. The market also had pomegranate wine on sale, so I took advantage of that as well. I added some caramelized shallots, garlic, and mushrooms too, and served it all on a bed of parmesan and chive polenta.

Pork Chops with Figs and Pomegranate Wine

Serves 2

2 boneless pork chops

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium shallots, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 each fresh figs, quartered

1 1/2 cup pomegranate wine

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper (I also used a bit of smoked paprika and dried thyme, rosemary would’ve been awesome too). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan, then add pork chops and cook 3 to 5 minutes, flip, and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until cooked through and well-caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add 1 more tablespoon of oil, then add sliced shallots. Saute shallots until they turn a deep amber color. Add mushrooms and garlic, sauteing until tender, then add figs. Season with salt and pepper, then deglaze pan with pomegranate wine. Let wine reduce for 3 or so minutes, then return pork chops to pan to reheat. Add salt and pepper as needed.

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Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Shrimp Rolls

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Yesterday I decided to surprise Robert with a nice lunch, so I made us some shrimp rolls with oven-baked herb fries and a creamy balsamic dipping sauce. Needless to say it was devoured in seconds!

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This was my take on the southern lobster roll, and just happened to be a lot more wallet-friendly! The shrimp were tender and sweet, and the paprika gave it a nice smokey flavor and some heat.

Shrimp Rolls

makes 2 large sandwiches

3/4 lb peeled, uncooked shrimp, cleaned

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper, to taste

lettuce/greens/etc.

2 large rolls/buns

In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and toss together raw shrimp, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil. Saute shrimp until fully cooked, then toss in mayonnaise mixture.

Slice open your buns and lightly toast. Line one side of buns with lettuce, then fill with your shrimp. Serve while shrimp is still warm, and enjoy!

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