Month: January 2012

Frosty Flowers

I had mentioned in a previous post that my mother recently gave me a gift card to Michael’s to get some baking supplies.  “Flowers, you need to learn to  make flowers.”  Well, I got my supplies and quickly went to work with some thawed buttercream I had saved.  It was a big fail.  My super delicious buttercream just didn’t have the stiffness to be able to hold a flower together.  I did some research and found that people typically use Crisco rather than butter for decorating purposes.  It seems that the frosting I use for layering and eating can be different than that for decoration.  I gave it a shot and the new recipe I came up with works great for flowers – very stiff and easy to color.  The only problem is it definitely tastes like the frosting you get on cupcakes at the grocery store.  I guess if you prefer super sweet frosting, that’s ok.  Long story short, I am continuing to practice my piping skills when it comes to flowers and using …

Growth

Of all the various hobbies I have attempted to master, there is just one where I can’t seem to thrive – that is keeping plant alive.  I over-water, I under-water, I just can’t figure it out.  One thing I have learned is that when a plant seems to be doing well, don’t move it. Last year my next door neighbor was very pregnant, and naturally her friends threw her a baby shower.  She brought me 3 plants that were apparently party favors.  I shuddered a bit at the gesture, knowing how well I kill plants.  Well, they all seemed to lose their flowers rather quickly, then their leaves.  There was one that just held on for dear life.  So I put it on my balcony and barely touched it.  Below is the picture of this plan after I had it for about 4 months. This is the plant today – blooming and everything!  I don’t know how this happened.

Shabbos Special: Lavender Vanilla Cake

I don’t know how the idea got in my head, but for some reason I decided a lavender cake must be made.  Upon my search for various recipes, all of them had lemon.  Not quite sure why, but I just didn’t want to deal with lemon.  So, after much though, I decided to make up my own recipe.  I figured it would be easy enough if you infuse milk with lavender.  I had done it before with mint to make mojito cupcakes.  Well, the lavender vanilla cake turned out to be such a huge success, I baked another one to bring to shul tomorrow for Shabbos! LAVENDER MILK Lavender milk is the most essential ingredient in both the cake and the buttercream.  I figured I would teach you how to make it first, then just reference the lavender milk in the other recipes.  Perhaps the hardest part of making lavender milk is finding the culinary lavender.  After a rigid search, I did find some at a specialty shop called Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market at the …

Aloo Gobi (vegan)

More Indian food.  Yay!  The prep for this dish is a little intimidating, but once everything is chopped, it is smooth sailing from thereon out.  Here ya go: Ingredients:3 tsp oil1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds1/2 onion finely chopped1 lb potatoes1/2 tsp ground turmeric1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp ground coriander1 1/2 tsp garam masala1 can of whole tomatoes1 large cauliflower, cut into florets3/4 inch of ginger, grated1 tsp sugar1/2 cup frozen peas Boil the potatoes in a pot of water until they are cooked through.  While they potatoes are cooking is a good time to prep your other vegetables.  Once the potatoes are cooked through, removed them from the water and set aside to cool.  Heat oil in a dutch oven or a deep pan over low heat.  Add mustard seeds and cover with lid.  Wait for the mustard seeds to pop – and I mean ALL the mustard seeds to pop.  If you lift the lid too early, you are likely to get a scalding hot mustard seed in the eye!  Once the mustard seeds are …

Jeans anyone?

Does anyone out there hate jeans shopping as much as I do?  I just don’t… fit.  I saw these jeans on the Forever 21 website.  I like to go there from time to time, even though I usually feel out of place being on the verge of 30 years old.  But the truth is I have personal knowledge that the owner is a very devout Christian and supports Israel not only in words, but financially as well!  I saw these jeans on the website and had to give them shot: I know what you’re thinking – cute, but waaay to skinny for me!  Well, I tried them on, and can I tell you for only $10.80, these jeans are downright the best jeans I’ve ever worn?!  đź™‚

Persian Saffron Rice

Something we have a the privilege of a lot of exposure to in LA is Persian food, and they are truly the best (in my opinion) at the art of rice – even down to that gold crust they put on top.  This rice makes the perfect addition to any Indian or chinese dish. Ingredients: Rice (whichever amount you choose) Oil (enough to coat the bottom of a pot) Saffron – just a pinch or two We start with the Saffron.  For this dish I was making 3 pounds of rice, so I had to use quite a bit of Saffron.  Trader Joe’s sells a 1oz bottle for $6.  As you can see, Saffron is quite expensive.  In the picture below is the amount of saffron I used for 3 pounds of rice, but of course, you would need a lot less to accomplish 2 cups of rice.  With a pestal and mortar grind the strands, then dissolve in water.  I like to dissolve in just a bit of water, then once the rice is …

Republic of Pie

Sometimes when you drive around the same old streets day after day, you tend to not notice things.  This is especially true in Los Angeles when you rather than noticing new businesses opening up you are more intently focused on not getting into a car accident.  So when my boyfriend was driving me to Burbank for some dinner and movie, I was intrigued to see something new in the NoHo Arts District. The interior is very industrial, though homey and cute at the same time.  Lots of comfy couches, free water, and free wifi without limits!  No passwords on the wifi, no time-out. Though this shop boasts plenty of pie, it seems that their biggest business is coffee, and as you can see, the baristas take a lot of pride in their coffee arts. Perhaps the best part of Republic of Pie is window into the bakery.  You can watch their chefs actually baking the pies.  After watching for about an hour or so, these guys mean business and are very good at what they …

Best Challah EVAR!!!

As promised, I’m giving up my challah recipe.  Well, I’ve actually already told you about it before HERE.  Smitten Kitchen is by far one of the best food blogs on the internet, and stealing this lady’s recipe was probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  As with any bread baker though, there are tips and tricks that each person develops and makes their own.  I will just post Smitten’s recipe word for word below, but give you my own insight into flavor and timing thereafter. MY NOTES IN BLUE! Best Challah (Egg Bread) Adapted from Joan Nathan Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising Yield: 2 loaves 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons or 3/8 ounces or 11 grams) 1 tablespoon (13 grams) plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl 5 large eggs 1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt 8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling. IT …

Parve (non-dairy) Chocolate Cupcakes with Parve Buttercream!

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for any person who keeps a kosher kitchen is not cooking meat dishes without dairy.  If you mess up with the dairy substitutes, you still have the flavor of the meat to keep all the flavors in check.  For me, the hardest part of cooking kosher is making items that are traditionally dairy into parve items, which means “non-dairy and non-meat”.  The most poignant way for any kosher chef to challenge his/her parve skills is in desserts.  I have already posted some of my parve recipes such as ice cream, biscuits, and pancakes.  Today I am giving my my super top-secret ooey gooey to die for parve chocolate cake recipe! PARVE CHOCOLATE CAKEIngredients: 1 3/4 cups flour 2 cups sugar 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup canola oil 1 cup full fat coconut milk (if you are doubling this recipe, use one whole can) 2 large eggs 2 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp anise liqueur (I use Arack) …

Kosher Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

 I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was hired to cater a Shabbat dinner for about 50 people, and the theme is Indian!  This is my kosher Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.  Very good, and no dairy – yes, you can do it too!  I adapted this recipe from Pastor Ryan’s guest blog post on Pioneer Woman’s blog.  The two main differences are (1) no dairy and (2) I increased the recipe by six times (remember, I need to feed 50 people!).  I will change the measurements in the ingredients list to equal Pastor Ryan’s measurements for your convenience. Ingredients: 3 or 4 chicken breasts 2 cans full fat coconut milk 6 table spoons margarine (I use Earth Balance) 1 28oz can diced tomatoes 1 large onion (diced) 4 cloves garlic (minced) 2 inches ginger (grated) Cumin for coating – approx 1 Tb Ground coriander for coating – approx 1 Tb 3 Tb garam masala 1 Tb sugar (optional) 1 jalapeño pepper Coat the chicken breasts in cumin and ground coriander.  If you are NOT …