Homemade Lemon & Herb Goat Cheese

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This sounds super fancy, but the lemon aspect was actually an accident. A beautiful, delicious accident. Just go with it.

A friend and I recently attempted homemade mozzarella, it was decent. We did a few things wrong (#1 was using the microwave instead of a stove) and decided not to be so experimental in our next cheese venture. Cue the goat cheese, four ingredients but a lot of attention to detail. We made a day of it, took our time, and tried a few flavors. One observation in my cheese research was a lack of detailed homemade goat cheese recipes, so here’s one for y’all!

Ingredients/Supplies [makes one small mound- we doubled]:

  • 1 qt. goat milk
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1 oz. of vinegar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Dried herbs de provence

  • Cheesecloth
  • Colander
  • Food thermometer
  • Small bowls for shaping (optional)
  1. Line a colander with two or three layers of fine cheesecloth.

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2. In a medium pot, heat the goat milk until it reaches 180’F. Stir frequently to ensure even heat throughout. Check often- ours went from 160 to 210 very quickly! If it does go over 180, turn the stove off and wait for the milk to cool down before moving to the next step.

3. Add lemon juice, stir a few times. Add vinegar, stir just until combined, and let sit for ten minutes. You’ll see the magic starting right away!

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4. Pour into the cheesecloth/colander, add the salt and mix lightly with a spoon or rubber spatula.

5. Gather ends of the cheesecloth and tie to your sink neck to hang & drain for about an hour. Do not squeeze out extra liquid- this is what makes it spreadable vs. crumbly.

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6. Take your ball of goat cheese and either sprinkle with dried herbs & serve, or prepare a small bowl with a light brushing of olive oil, line with dried herbs, and press your cheese into the mould. Release the cheese from the mould, refrigerate & serve.

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Buttermilk Biscuits with Scallions & Goat Cheese

This delicious recipe only uses ONE bowl and ONE baking sheet. No awful sticky clean-up, and a fairly quick beginning-to-end process. The biscuits didn’t rise & pull as much as I had hoped. I think its because I made the dough round too thin, so I changed the recipe to say roll to 1 inch instead of 3/4. Despite being a little thin, these are flakey biscuits with the perfect herb flavor. Check out the epic breakfast sandwich I made with the fresh biscuits! This is my new favorite grocery find.

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Biscuit Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
3/4 cup  (one and a half sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
1 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup scallions
1 1/2 cups goat cheese
1/2 cup bacon pieces (I didn’t use bacon this time, but it would definitely at a nice smokey flavor if you don’t have any vegetarians around!)
1 large egg for egg wash

Don’t have buttermilk? No prob.
Add 3 tsp white vinegar to every 1 cup whole milk, and set aside for 7-10 minutes. The milk should curdle and become buttermilk from the acidity.

Directions:

  1. Preheat to 400°F. Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cold butter cubes and use your hands to mix in with the dry ingredients until there are consistent butter pieces throughout the mixture.
  2. Create a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and add the cold buttermilk and egg into the well (a-la mashed potato and gravy volcano). Stir just until the egg and buttermilk are evenly distributed.edited_dsc_0045
  3. Add the scallions, goat cheese, and any other fixin’s you’ve chosen. Stir to combine until the biscuit dough starts clumping together into a ball. Be careful not to over mix.
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  4. Dump dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut biscuits out of the dough. Continue until all dough is used.
  5. Place the dough circles 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with egg wash. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.
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Succulent Watercolor Macarons

This is the most annoyingly trendy post, I know. And when I set out to make this recipe, I really intended on only painting “watercolor” flowers, but succulents are so darn cute I couldn’t stop! Anyway- still got about 20 inches of snow on the ground here in DC. I know other cities get this amount of snow on the reg, but the nation’s capital was NOT prepared for this. First snow plow sighting was 72 hours after the snow started…72 HOURS! Needless to say, I got a lot done in the kitchen this weekend.

This post is really about edible watercolor painting technique, but with it comes more learnings about “macaronage”. Some tips:

  • Using food coloring (gel or liquid) in macaron shells requires the baking time to be almost doubled. Totally doable, but if it is your first time I recommend sticking to the basics.
  • You’ll find slightly different recipes everywhere, but they are all the same. Pick a recipe that requires a kitchen scale, and stick with it.
  • Bang the shit outta those pans! Getting all the air bubbles out is imperative.
  • Let macarons cool completely before removing from the sheet.
  • If all macarons have cracked tops: you over whipped the merengue, or overmixed the batter. If only some macarons have cracked tops: that was from inconsistency in batter. It may have been unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl that weren’t incorporated. Make good use of those 30 folds- get all contents off the sides of the bowl and into your batter!

With that, here’s my go-to recipe:
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
5 ounces egg whites (144g), give two days to breathe in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before using them.
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 whole vanilla bean
1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt

The Shells

1. Measure the almond flour and powdered sugar, and place together in the food processor. Pulse on and off for a minute, or until the mixture is homogenous in color and there is no almond flour stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

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2. Sift the mixture carefully and you should end up with about 2 teaspoons of these sneaky little pieces of almond. Too big to go through the sieve, too small to get chopped by the processor. Dispose of the extra almond nibs. Leave the sifted mixture in a bowl and set aside.

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3. Place the aged room temp egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

It is VERY important there is no remnants of oil on the attachment or in your bowl. I’ve wasted dozens of eggs due to oil-in-the-merengue disease, so I actually bought a separate bowl and only use it for oil free recipes (a little bit crazy I know).

Whip according to the following steps-

SPEED 4 –> 3 minutes

SPEED 7 –> 3 minutes

SPEED 8 –> 3 minutes (after this step is when you add any food coloring or flavoring extracts)

SPEED 10 –> 1 minute

The mixture should look like a smooth, shiny marshmallow fluff consistency. If at any point you see the mixture start to break apart or get a bubble-bath-foam texture, stop right away and you may be able to salvage it. Foamy is okay, but when it starts to break apart instead of being a cohesive mixture… that ain’t good.

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hello, beautiful🙂edited_12864. Unfortunately no pics of this step. Shake the merengue off of the whisk and pour ENTIRE dry mixture into the bowl at once. Now you are going to do the classic macaron fold. Fold for appx 30 strokes- alternating between folding the dry mixture with the egg mixture, and then mashing the mixture on the side of the bowl with your spatula. Fold, mash, fold, mash. Go slowly….check your mixture after every stroke…..and make sure to get every bit (even the edges of the bowl) mixed in.

The mixture shouldn’t be runny, but should be cohesive and smooth enough that when dolloped, the dollop takes 20 seconds to re-join the mixture.

5. Place in a piping bag fitted with a wide tip (I didn’t use one this time). If you’re not used to controlling a piping bag, I would fill halfway and do a few batches.

edited_12886. Pipe small symmetrical circles by keeping the piping bag still and pushing until your circle is a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Do not move the piping bag in a circle while you pipe or your macarons will look like snail shells. Your macarons will expand so give them space- I got a little impatient below.

7. Now the fun part- take your pans immediately and BANG them against the counter 4 or 5 times. You should see tiny little air bubbles escaping from the top.

8. Let sit for 30 minutes before baking.edited_1289

9. Bake at 300* (some ovens need 315*, know your oven!) for 18 minutes. LET COOL before you even try to touch these puppiesedited_1291

The Filling

I did a basic buttercream for the frosting and then used homemade blackberry jam that a co-worker made and canned this summer! Thanks Dave!

8 tbsp butter

4 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp whipping cream

1/2 cup jam

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The watercolor- use small NEW paintbrushes and use drops of gel food coloring as your paint. Mix plenty of water with each color and experiment from there! At first, my colors were too vibrant so I continued to add water. Here’s my “canvas”:

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Roommate even helped paint some! She lived in Paris and has a deep love for three things- baseball, french macarons, and cheerios.

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I’ve made french macarons many a time and continue to learn new things/tips every time. I was super happy with these because they passed all of the french macaron criteria: the perfectly smooth top, exactly the same size (thanks to my new silpat), and they grew beautiful little feet at the bottom. Can’t wait to play with some valentines macarons!

Bagel Bombs

Mother Dough (you’ll only use half this recipe- I save the rest for cinnamon rolls, pretzels, or extra baked bagels)

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 packet of yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup room temperature water

Bacon, Jalapeno, & Scallion Cream Cheese

  • 1 block 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup smoked and cooked bacon- chopped (save the grease!)
  • 1/4 cup scallions
  • 2 T diced jalepenos

Directions:

  1. Mix yeast, salt, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix by hand with the dough hook as a stirrer, and then start to use the mixer on low.
  2. Slowly add water and let mix on low for 4 minutes
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  3. Pat into a nice velvety ball and place in a well greased glass bowl. I use the bacon grease to oil the bowl!
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  4. Cover and put somewhere dark and warm to rise for at least an hour (I preheat my oven, then turn it off, and place the covered bowl inside).
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  5. Pre-heat oven to 325*
  6. Mix cream cheese and fixin’s.
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  7. With slightly wet hands or a small ice cream scoop, form into 8 balls. Freeze on parchment paper.
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  8. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a long rectangle and cut into eight pieces.
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  9. Place a frozen cream cheese ball in the middle of each piece (I intentionally made one extra- not that bad at math!!)
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  10. Bring the corners and edges to the top middle of the cream cheese ball, pinch the edges together to ensure the dough doesn’t have any openings.
  11. Place seam-side down on a silpat mat and brush with egg/water mixture.
  12. Cover with everything bagel mix- roll the sides in the mix to get a big flavor with each bite!
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  13. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until the bagel bombs are golden brown
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  14. Serve warm and enjoy!!edited_1275

 

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Incredibly humbled and honored to be reviewed by DC’s finest chocolate chip cookie blog, Cookies With Stephen. Although I’ve never met him, Stephen clearly has an unparalleled palate for the craft of chocolate chip cookies. 

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BROWNED BUTTER is the secret to this cookie. It’s what gives the dough a rich dark color, adds a little extra crunch to your bite, and leaves a sweet toffee-like taste in your mouth until you grab the next cookie!

So, the most important step to this recipe: brown the butter. Here are the five steps to browning butter. I don’t use exact times because its different depending on your stove, pan, and butter.

  • use good butter
  • melt on low, then turn heat to medium-low
  • ‘sautee’ the butter, stirring constantly while it simmers
  • as soon as you see the first sign of golden flakes at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat
  • if you’re feeling daring and think the butter needs a bit more darkening, put back on low heat. It’s better to remove the butter prematurely- as soon as one gold flake turns to black, the butter becomes burnt and you sadly have to throw it away.

Ingredients:

– 6 oz browned butter, cooled in the refrigerator

– 1 cup brown sugar

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 2 eggs

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

-2 teaspoons cornstarch

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 1/4 cup flour

-1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugars in a bowl with a fork or rubber spatula
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  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla
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  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined- do not over-mix.
  4. Add chocolate chips. At this point, I ditch the rubber spatula and mix with *clean* hands
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  5. Roll dough into a log, wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
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  6. Scoop the dough into 1.5 inch balls. Flatten with the bottom of a measuring cup, and sprinkle sea salt on the top. If you want a rougher look to your cookie, rip pieces from the dough log rather than scooping, and don’t flatten.
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Homemade Cheez-its

Take a break from holiday sweets and try out this 20 minute recipe!

I was recently talking with a co-worker about the types of food you’re embarrassed to say you love. Now, I’d normally say I have a fairly refined palate, I make an effort to try new foods, and I challenge myself with unique recipes in the kitchen. However the one exception to that rule is cheez-its. Freakin’ cheez-its. I’ve stopped buying them because they’re so mysteriously addictive.

After this conversation I decided to try homemade cheez-its. This way, if I’m eating them as a snack, I can control the ingredients [SALT!] and amount that I make. If anyone from Sunshine Foods is reading this: victory is mine.edited_1086

So, adventures of homemade Cheez-its:

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cut thin
  • 4 oz seriously sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded or cut thin
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp ice water

Directions:

1) cut or shred your cheeses

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2) Combine cheeses and butter. Beat with paddle attachment.

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3) Add salt and flouredited_10794) Slowly add ice wateredited_1080

5_ Combine into a ball. ONE BIG CHEESEBALL!

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6) Roll out (thickness doesn’t matter for this step) and refrigerate for an hour.edited_10827) Remove from the fridge and roll out to 1/8 inch edited_1083

8) The fun part! Cut into even squares and use a toothpick, straw, or end of a chopstick to poke a hole in each cracker. Note- the crackers grow, so the hole should look a little bigger than usual. The pastry cutter is not necessary, but definitely gives it the finishing touch to make it look just like the real thing!edited_1084

9) Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. edited_1085

Winter Marketplace @ Work!

Once a year, Discovery holds a Winter Marketplace at the headquarters for employees to showcase and sell their handmade products. It’s such a cool event and opportunity to see the talent that is hidden within the building. Also my favorite place to shop for holiday gifts! There is a huge variety of goods being sold- from jewelry, to ornaments, to art and letterpress cards [oh my!], and of course- dessert! Here is my menu from the day:

  • toasted coconut marshmallows
  • peppermint marshmallows
  • hot chocolate on a stick
  • salted caramel cakepops
  • peppermint bark cakepops
  • nutter butter chocolate cakepops
  • peppermint bark
  • dog treats!

A few behind the scenes shot:

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And a few of the finished product!

Insane Birthday Cake {Momofuku Mashup}

Kate – Best friend, roommate of 4 years, and dessert-loving-seattlite of 25 years celebrates a big birthday this week! I was fortunate enough to take a class at the brooklyn Momofuku Milk Bar kitchen. Everything about the place was inspiring- the intoxicating smell of cereal milk mystery, the MASS amounts of butter and dough and industrial kitchen tools, and the overall energy of the employees (calling them employees doesn’t do it justice…magicians?). It was that day, looking at all the recipes and creativity at Milk Bar, that I decided the birthday cake I’d make for Kate this year. Here it goes…

Brown Butter Cake

  • momofuku recipe here

Chocolate Stout Soak

  • just chocolate stout beer lightly painted onto the cake. enough so you can see it start to seep through.

Salted Dulce de Leche Buttercream (dulce de leche to remind her of her time spent in south america)

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk [boiled for 1.5 hours to become “dulce de leche”]
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Malted Pretzel & Chex Mix crunch (chex & pretzels = our saturday nights)

  • 2 cups pretzels, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup malt powder
  • 2 cups corn chex cereal
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Chocolate Stout Ganache (she loves chocolate and beer, so this was perfect)

  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate stout

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Chicken Thighs in White Wine Sauce with Lemons, Capers, Artichokes, and Mushrooms

My first savory recipe on the blog! I cook a lot, but tend to only post about baking. I say this is a baking blog because that is my passion and that’s what you’ll get most of the time. However I’ve recently learned/confirmed that life is crazy and unexpected- so I decided to shake things up a bit and post a CHICKEN recipe (whoaaaaa). It really is nothing special, but a solid recipe and great for a quick weeknight meal.
Chicken Thighs
  • 4 Chicken Thighs – bone in, skin on
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 3 large cloves Garlic, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper

Pasta

  • 1 lb Capellini Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp reserved chicken fat
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp jar of Capers, drained
  • 1 jar of Artichoke Hearts, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 C White wine
  • ½ C Chicken stock or broth
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
Instructions
Chicken Thighs
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large pan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic slices and slowly saute until fragrant. Be patient- it’s worth it! Let the garlic really seep into the oil. edited_915
  3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them the pan, skin-side down. Let the chicken thighs cook approximately 8-10 minutes — until the skin has turned golden in color.edited_917
  4. Turn off the heat. Prepare an oven-proof dish with foil. Place the chicken breasts skin side down, and put in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip the chicken over.
  5. Bake the chicken, skin side up, for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and caramel colored.
  6. Remove the chicken and set aside to rest

Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with some olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.
  2. In the stove pan, heat back up the reserved rendered chicken fat and extra garlic oil. If your garlic is starting to burn, take it out and set aside. I added a little more garlic at this point but that’s optional- I love garlic.
  3. Add the the capers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sliced lemon and salt. Saute for another few minutes until the capers and artichokes just start to show some color and the mushrooms are darkening. (not pictured: mushrooms)edited_920
  4. Add half of the white wine, making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the white wine and the chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  6. Simmer the broth until it reduces by half and begins to thicken. Add chopped parsley. edited_921
  7. Add the pasta to the pan and stir or toss to fully coat all the strands with the sauce.
  8. Serve the pasta and the chicken thighs together, garnished with the remaining lemon slices and pine nuts. edited_923edited_922