It’s been a while and boy have there been a lot of changes. In case you were wondering, yes, all the windows in the house have finally been replaced, all the hardware, screens and stucco work were finished. Everything was finished a few weeks after we got back from New Mexico. The lone exception is in our breakfast nook and that’s because I’ve been intending to do a little mosaic tile project there forever and just haven’t gotten around to it.
Where are we now? Well the wife and I are safe at home going on 8 months now. Fortunately still working our 9-5 jobs, just working them from home. Which is why there hasn’t been any recipe posts or vlogging. My workflow in the past was to do all my filming when my wife was away on business trips and then do the editing when she was home. But now we’re both home (all the time) there’s not really a way to navigate filming in our kitchen when she’s on a video call in the next room. And my studio space has been converted into a second home office since I will be working from home through the new year. So not really conducive to filming for the near future.
During the beginning of shutdown, I heavily relied on cooking from my freezer and pantry. But as we rolled into summer and several heat waves, dinner has been pretty simple with some form of grilled protein and veggies. We’ve been eating a lot of tomato cucumber salad and roasted corn and zucchini. Over shutdown, we’ve taste tested several vegan and vegetarian protein options. Keep an eye out for a review in the coming weeks. And now that fall is here and the weather in Southern California is finally cooling down heartier comfort food will be making a comeback.
F.Y.I. winter 2020 will also be different. I will not be taking orders for holiday cookies, cakes or tamales this year. Thank you to everyone that has ordered them in the past and hopefully we’ll be able to get back into the swing of things in 2021. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you high and dry. You can find my tamale recipe here and the link to all my Holiday treat recipes here.
Oh and I almost forgot this, eventually you will be able to buy my donuts and other baked goods at our bakery Glory Hole Donut Shop. Donuts and other treats aren’t for sale yet, but our merch is. Check it out.
Vote, stay home, wear a mask and wash you hands often.
As is prone to happening with home renovation projects , our window replacement is going on much longer than we had anticipated. We probably should have learned this lesson with the kitchen remodel 2 years ago but we didn’t. This time around it wasn’t pesky knob and tube wiring hidden away that’s the source of delay.
Our hope was that the project would be completed while we were in New Mexico, but alas it was not. As we stand now, all the windows have been replaced, but the screens did not arrive. Which may seem a pretty simple thing to slap some screens on some windows but not so. All the screens are custom fitted to each window and a finish carpenter has to hand finish all the mill work. Once that’s done the painter needs to come through and stain/paint each window and screen frame. After that then the crank and lock hardware needs to be installed. Then at some point, stucco repair has to be done. This is the fun of living in a nearly 100 year old Spanish Revival and the price one pays (financially, emotionally and physically) to try to restore it to its previous glory.
On the good side, they don’t work on the weekends so we get a bit of a reprieve from folks other than us being in and out of our house all day. We’ve been ordering a lot of take out because it’s a huge pain to tarp and un tarp everything or do dust abatement to be able to use the kitchen. Which ultimately is why there has not been any new posts, because not a lot of cooking has been getting done.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the kitchen will be 100% complete by the end of this week.
Some of you may be aware that I’m not a huge fan of chicken, but I acknowledge that chicken breast are super easy for cooking during the week and can usually satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. They’re versatile but can get pretty boring especially if you’ve meal prepped a bunch for the week.
So this week I’ll share with you 3 easy marinades to change up that boring chicken. Personally I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts, but feel free to use which ever chicken cut you wish. You can marinade the chicken for as little as an hour or overnight. The chicken can be roasted in the oven, grilled or fried in a sauté pan.
Spicy Citrus Marinade
⅓ cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
½ cup orange juice
2-3 pineapple spears or rings or ½ cup pineapple juice
1 jalapeño or serrano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp coarse salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ achiote powder
1 TBS dried oregano
2 green onions
Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over chicken pieces and let marinade at least 1 hour up to overnight.
Spicy Southern Style
½ cup plain greek yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream
¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl and pour over the chicken. Marinade at least 1 hour or over night.
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup plain greek style yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves finely minced or ½ tsp of garlic powder
½ tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried oregano
Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over chicken.
We will be on an unscheduled hiatus. My computer is on the fritz and it turns out its really annoying to try to write posts using an iPad. To keep up with my culinary shenanigans until I get the computer fixed, follow me on instagram at eatatsams.
It’s still Lemonpalooza around here. Our lemon tree is going crazy and we’ve got a lot of fruit ripening right now. So we’re scrambling to find things to do with all the fruit. Our tree produces grapefruit sized lemons with really thick peels which are ideal for cooking, because they produce a lot of juice and the peels are perfect for resting.
This weeks recipe is for lemon scones. Scones are a really easy and simple dessert and as we discussed last week, just by swapping ingredients here and there you can really change to flavor profile of scones. Scones are essential a type of biscuit, my recipe calls for baking powder as the leavened. I use the food processor for cutting the butter into the dough, but if you don’t have one, you can use a couple of butter knives, a fork or a pastry blender.
2 cups all purpose flour
6 TBS chilled butter
½ cup kaffir (can sub sour cream, plain yogurt or buttermilk)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp lemon extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 TBS lemon zest
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBS sanding sugar
¼ cup milk
Place all ingredients except milk, zest, kaffir and sanding sugar into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 20 to 30 times, add the zest and slowly drizzle in the kaffir while pulsing the food processor. Dough should look like wet sand this should take about 10 pulses and should look like this:
Turn dough out onto a floured work service and form into a 1 inch thick disk like so:
The dough may still be slightly crumbly and that’s ok. Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and cut into wedges.
Place wedges on to parchment lined baking sheet and brush with milk
Dust the milk brushed scones with sanding sugar.
Bake scones in an oven preheated to 400F for 15-18 minutes. Scones should be golden brown on the bottom and starting to turn golden brown on the edges.
I teased in last weeks post that I’d share a recipe this week that makes a good use of homemade fruit curd. But this is one of those weeks where it seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all the things done that I’d like to/need to.
This blog tends to be a casualty of that. I’ve got a cookie project that I’ve been working on for the past few weeks, that needed to get shipped out, so that has priority. I have a little bit of time off coming up at the end of this week and will hopefully be able to get that promised recipe up plus do some planning ahead for some future post.
Now some of you may be aware that I’ve got a thing for decorated sugar cookies. In fact, I wooed my wife with sugar cookies, I even used a sugar cookie demo as my final in one of my classes in college (the same class that required that I have this blog). So I expend a lot of time and thought designing cookies and related materials, I have 3 future cookie projects already in the works. I’ve been planning a project for my Mother-In-Law’s 75th birthday celebration. I came up with a motif, I opted for FLA-centric theme because that’s where my in-laws live and found some really cool cutters at my favorite local cake shop (shout out to Classic Cake Decorations in Westminster, CA) to form the basis of the theme and planned to use stencils to help embellish the design and to make backgrounds on some of the cookies. I use stencils for practical reasons, its faster than piping and well to be frank, I just don’t have the hand strength and stability that I once did to do that level of detailed piping.
In the past, I hunted online for something close to what I wanted or that I could make work to augment the theme, then waited however long it took to get to me if it wasn’t available on the Amazons. I’ve had a Silhouette for a couple of years now and one of the reasons I got it was to make my own stencils for various projects and in particular cookies. I’ve made stencils for etching projects and such, but haven’ dealt with thicker material like that of re-useable cookie stencils. My plan was to do that with this project.
There are a multitude of reasons to make your own stencils, for me, the ability to design my own stencil and not have to pay for someone else’s designs is huge, and there are limitless design possibilities with custom stencils. Then there’s also the ability to monetize the stencil making by selling them and getting ROI for the materials and equipment you use, versus tacking that cost into cookie pricing and such.
I ordered some 6″ square 7 mil mylar from Amazon because they’d fit perfectly into a stencil genie. The cost in material is $.45 each for stencils that can be reused and washed multiple times. And at 7 mil thick, the material is thick enough to not get blown around by the airbrush and misshaped when using thick royal icing. There’s also a workflow argument to have multiples of the same stencil so you can reduce the washing time between color changes and such.
The material arrived a few days ago, and I found that there’s not a lot of references online for what settings to use to cut mylar at this thickness. There was a lot of frustrating troubleshooting and trial and error to finally get decent cuts. I wound up losing an entire afternoon that was supposed to be spent baking to troubleshooting. Some of my patterns are really detailed so not having deep enough cuts, made weeding a nightmare (weeding is removing the negative/positive space from a stencil) and put a lot of undo strain on my eyes, many X-acto blades and the Portrait’s cutting mat. One of the patterns took nearly an hour to cut only to find out that it didn’t cut all the way through the material for most of the pattern, rendering it so tedious to weed that its not useable.
Now I realize this is a bit esoteric for some of you that came here to see decadent desserts or get some quick and easy recipe. But I know that some of you are also cookie and cake decorators that have die-cut machines like my Silhouette Portrait (the original not the 2 which would have eliminated this problem because it automatically sets the depth) and might be able to learn from my miss adventures.
So the take aways:
- allow plenty of time for the stencils to cut, the more intricate the stencil the longer the cut time.
- Keep a new blade for you cutter around
- Clean the blade between stencils
- have a cutting mat and craft knife handy to cut out the areas that didn’t cut cleanly
- go over your stencil pattern thoroughly before sending it to cut, to make sure the lines are clean and any containers (the negative space that is formed by looped style letters like b, a, e, etc) are attached to the pattern, otherwise they will fall out during cutting.
- and finally, the cut settings for the Silhouette Portrait are depth 10, speed 3, force 33, passes 7 (I’m unfamiliar with any other dye cutter so not able to provide guidance on their operation or what settings will work for them)
Here are the various stencils I made, the material is strong enough to stand up to airbrushing and thick heavy icing.
And now that that’s all sorted, I can get back to the actual baking and decorating of the cookies. Stay tuned.
As the title above sort of teases, the recipe this week is for a Butternut Squash Loaf. Or rather it was going to be. Even as a seasoned cook I experience kitchen mishaps. And I’m choosing to write this post about the ability to fail and acceptance of failure because I think that its important for all cooks especially newer cooks to realize that sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out and that’s ok. Especially with recipes that you find online or videos which make it seem that everything comes out perfect all the time. It doesn’t, most of us either are publishing recipes that we’ve cooked dozens if not hundreds of times and have been thoroughly/sort of tested. And even when I’m not creating recipes to post here, sometimes stuff in my everyday cooking doesn’t work out. I hosted a dinner party once with the intent of making falafel only to have the little balls of wonderful chickpea goodness disintegrate in the fryer. We all just laughed about it and noshed on salads and olives and commiserated. Sure I was dying a little on the inside mostly from embarrassment but there wasn’t really anything I could do to change the outcome so I just made the best of it.
Anyway the first part of the recipe goes perfectly fine. I got a couple of smallish maybe 1lb each butternut squash from the store. Sliced them in half and seeded them. Then I made a paste with brown sugar and butter and pumpkin pie spice and roasted them in the oven and then made a puree. Check out the video below to see the walk through.
I did that part a few days ago so I could use the homemade butternut puree in my bread. I got up excited to play around in the kitchen and started to measure out all the ingredients and doing all my prep. Everything is going perfectly fine, I get everything filmed and I get the loaves in the oven. But then I smell something burning so I check on the loaves. They’ve over-flowed out of the pan and one of them has even made it over the sides of the baking sheet (note to self clean the oven).
Time for the recipe post-mortem. First it looks like I over-filled the pans. No worries, I still have some batter left over so I can fill another pan and try again. Well this time it doesn’t over flow but it won’t come out of the pan and it tastes off. Like too much baking soda off. In my laziness/haste earlier in the day I couldn’t be bothered to find the Tablespoon measuring spoon so I just poured baking soda into the batter willy nilly. Well of course that’ll turn out fine. What could possibly go wrong?
Lessons we’ve learned today. Don’t over fill your loaf pans. Use metal or glass loaf pans and don’t be lazy with measuring while baking.
We’ve known for a few weeks that we were going to hit a mother-load of figs from the two fig trees out back. Well this week it happened. So we’re going to make fig and plum turnovers and then figure out some other stuff to do with all of figs ( fig jam and fig bars probably).
To keep things simple, I’m going to use store bought puff pastry to make the turnovers. Perhaps someday I’ll show you how to make puff pastry by hand, but its one of those things that’s extremely time consuming and takes a couple of days. I’m not a professional pastry chef and I actually have a 40 hour a week job that has nothing to do with cooking and baking so I know I don’t have that kinda time and I don’t know too many people that do. Store bought puff pastry will be just fine.
The store bought stuff is easy to find, you can find it in the freezer section in the grocery store. It’s usually next to things like frozen cream puffs, pound cake, pie shells and phyllo dough (all great things for quick easy desserts). To use, you just need to let the puff pastry thaw for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. I rolled it out until it was about a ¼ thick then cut it into squares.
Then I brushed adjacent edges with egg wash, folded over corner to corner so non egg washed edge is touching the egg washed edge. To seal the edges, work the tines of a fork along the entire length of the two short edges.
You should have something that looks like this:
I brushed the turnovers with milk then I baked the turnovers in an oven pre-heated to 400F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Plum and Fig Filling
1 cup each of diced figs and plums
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of ½ lemon
pinch of salt
¼ corn starch sifted
Place all the ingredients except the corn starch into a medium sized bowl and let sit for an hour or in the fridge overnight. You should see a pretty decent amount of liquid has come out of the fruit. Sift in the corn starch and stir slowly until the clumps work themselves out. It should look like this:
Let stand for 15 minutes. Cook on low in a heavy bottomed pan until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for 3-5 minutes while continuously stirring.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. To cool mixture to workable temperature more quickly, put the fig mixture into a clean heat safe bowl and then place that bowl into larger bowl that’s been filled with ice. Once the mixture cools down its ready to use or you can store it in the fridge for later use.
This same process works for making all kinds of pie fillings but will work best with fruits that are high in pectin like stone fruits and apples.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon finely chopped
2 – 4 TBS whole milk
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually add the milk and mix with a fork or whisk. You’re looking for a texture that allows the glaze to easily run down the tines of a fork.
Its another hot one here in Southern California, which puts me in the mood for some lighter food and given the richness of last weeks duck tacos a few salad days might do me some good. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme that was discussed a few posts back, Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna seemed like a good way to make use of some of the freshly ripened tomatoes from our garden and produce that we’ve received this past week from Imperfect Produce. My local Sprouts has a decent selection of frozen sustainably caught fish and we try to keep some tuna and salmon in the freezer for leaner, lighter protein options.
Salad Niçois is a composed salad with greens, olives (usually Niçois), scallions, tomatoes and boiled eggs with either anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil. Sometime back in the 30s recipes started to appear for Salad Niçois with boiled potatoes and green beans. Which I’ve added to my version as well. Putting the salad together involved a little bit of chopping, making the vinaigrette and searing the tuna. I used some leftover fried fingerling potatoes and then boiled eggs for about 6 minutes. During the last few minutes of the eggs boiling, I tossed in some chopped green beans along with a teaspoon of salt to blanch. Then I drained the eggs and green beans and put them into ice cold water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, I drained the water and added more cold water.
Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna
6 cups cleaned and chopped greens ( we had hearts of romaine so that’s what I used)
2 scallions chopped
1 cup sliced and cooked fingerling potatoes
⅓ cup olives
2 tomatoes cut into quarters
2 boiled eggs
½ cup cooked chopped green beans
2 4-6 oz tuna steaks
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBS olive oil
4 TBS Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
To start, put the garlic clove, salt and pepper, oregano and lemon juice into a mortar and pestle and crush together until a paste forms. Put into a zip top freezer bag and then add the olive oil. Place the tuna steaks into the bag and rub with the marinade until all sides of the tuna are coved and set aside. Lightly dress the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and let sit while you sear off the tuna. Using a dry non stick skillet on medium high (or on the grill if you have a wire grilling basket), sear the tuna. Don’t try to move the tuna around, when its sufficiently seared it should easily come off the pan to flip on a gas flame this is usually after about 2 minutes. Sear the other. side for about a minute if you prefer your tuna medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest on a cutting board. Assemble the salad either on individual plates or in a large bowl and dress the greens with the remaining dressing. Slice the tuna and add to the salad and serve.
1 part cider vinegar
2 parts extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp anchovy paste or 1 anchovy filet
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp mayonaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp peppercorns
½ tsp dried oregano
In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and salt together until a past forms. Then move to a small bowl and whisk with all the other ingredients until everything is well combined.