The Cookbook Cleanse

With this new year underway  it seems that everyone is in full resolution mode. I have never really been big into new years resolutions but this year somehow feels different. I have decided that this year will be better than the last; more exciting, more adventures, lots more tasty food, more great memories.

I know that one thing everyone seems to want to do once the clock strikes midnight is work off all the weight that seemed to find us between the holidays, if not more (myself included.) As much as I’d love to be one of those girls who can juice cleanse her way into her skinny jeans, when I don’t eat solid food I’m not someone you want to be trapped in close proximity to.

So instead I cleanse my comfort food cookbooks for healthier options. I also like to try and replenish my savings after all the christmas spending I’ve done so I hit up one of my favorite cookbook spots – the library!

Most libraries carry a decent selection of cookbooks or have the ability to acquire them for you through an inter-library loan system.  This is a great way to pick up some great reads that are light on your waistline and on your purse.  My rule of thumb is that if I like it and I cook 2-3 things out of the book then I’ll consider buying it.

Some of my favorites this season are:


When you trade a night out for a night in sometimes that can means your tastebuds suffer. Rebecca did a great job in creating this amazing book that helps you to eat well even on a budget. If I ever meet her, she’s getting a big-ol-hug. This is probably one of my favorite new cookbooks I’ve added recently.

Candice’s books have been a staple in my cookbook collection for years now. I love returning to them when I’m in the mood for something tasty and light; plus she has a lot of great health tips peppered in throughout this book. My favorite section is the one on date night meals – I’d love for a fella to make me a candle lit dinner. (Swoon.)

Homemade by Clodagh McKenna is simply wonderful. (How cute is the cover?) She has a little bit of everything in the book from homemade ketchup to Pine nut & Rosemary Crusted Lamb to homemade muesli. Next to her muesli recipe my she is responsible for one of my favorite brunch recipes – her Cinnamon French Toast with Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone (it’s my favorite lazy thing to make and makes me feel like I’m eating at one of my favorite spots Superba Snack Bar.)

So if you’re like me and rather would just spend one more day at the gym to offset the cookie you know you cannot pass up, I hope you’ll consider a cookbook cleanse instead.

Enjoy!

Sofia

Inspiration

So I haven’t posted on here for awhile… fail I know. Sometimes though you need to take a step back and reevaluate.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that I haven’t completely dropped off the face of the earth.

There have been some changes in my life that caused me to rethink some things and get a new perspective, a part of this is what I want this blog to be.

So I…

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Took some bubble baths..

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Read some books…

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Got silly with some friends…

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Drank lots of coffee!

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Traveled around…

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And basically looked for inspiration.

I’ll be making some changes which I hope you’re really excited about –  I’ll be posting more consistently about food but also about my travel adventures! I am also happy to announce the business side of things with my recipe consulting & development.

I also have a new project that has been in the works for awhile now that is coming together called Follow Your Taste Buds which is a culinary tour company that does walking tours of West Los Angeles for now but will soon do abroad tours and be in other cities. (Gotta start small 😛 )

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Vacation Break

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that I probably won’t be updating much over the next couple weeks as I’ll be on vacation in Istanbul. I’ll try to share as much as I can, but no guarantee. However be prepped for when I get back to blow your minds!

Enjoy yourselves!

List-a-licious

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I love a good list. I believe that they have magical properties; they help keep you on task, give you a sense of accomplishment when you cross things off (total bad-ass status), you can get creative with them. Feeling inspired from 51st episode of the Joy the Baker Podcast, I decided I would legitimize my culinary bucket list via actually writing it out, which crazily I have not yet.

Here goes nothing…

1. Make pasta from scratch
2. Make a proper thanksgiving turkey, by myself.
3. Take a cooking class in another country (probably either England, Paris, or Italy)
4. Cook fish, and like it. (I’m allergic shellfish -sad- and have been strayed away from fish for a long time but now I feel the need to ease it into my life…face your fears right?)
5. Cook my way through a cookbook.
6. Build a dream kitchen (does that count?)
7. Meet a culinary great of my time… Jacques Pepin perhaps? (This must be done while not going full on fan-boy, always keep it classy. )
8. Learn to make chocolate & croissants.
9. Publish something (either in a journal, magazine, or book.)
10. Open a cafe.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, I hope to accomplish these things in my limited time here on this planet, and I think the pursuit of which could make for a very interesting adventure. Get excited!

What’s on your bucket lists?

Enjoy!

Book Spotlight: The Sweet Life in Paris

What a crazy week, I feel like I’m not the only one in that boat. Of a similar vein I find it hard these days to fit in much leisure reading, it usually translates to a very hopeful list and an overflowing bookcase. (I have a love hate relationship with Barnes and Noble for this reason.)

I just recently finished reading a book by David Lebovitz called The Sweet Life in Paris. The book allowed for a much enjoyed reconnection with my inner francophile. I’ve always loved Paris. The beautiful culture and tasty food win me over every time. This book was a culmination of two of my loves.

The book is a perfect marriage of his adventures of the American experience in Paris and delicious recipes. He takes you on a journey of him finding his footing for a new life in Paris and all the while getting the juicy bits about French culture and colloquialisms then closes out with a recipe. What more could you ask for?

It was a great read and I highly recommend it. You can pick it up from Amazon here. In the spirt of that, who would I be if I didn’t try one of those oh-so-tempting recipes. I decided to go with every girls favorite, the chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake (From David Lebovitz)

9 ounces (250g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (120 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature, seperated
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

I find it’s always best to gather everything before hand, not just for photo purposes.
It helps to know if you’re missing something before hand.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C ). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter together until melted and smooth.

3. Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, and flour.

4. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, begin whipping the egg whites with salt. Keep whipping until they start to work soft peak. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until the whites are at hard peak.

5. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until the mixture is smooth and no visible white streaks remain.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top and bake for 35 minutes, just until the cake feel slightly firm in the center. Do no overbake.

7. Let the cake cool in the pan before serving.

Storage: The cake can be store for up to three days, or you can freeze it for up to one month. Make sure if freezing to wrap well.

My notes/advice: Use a mixer, not a whisk. I attempted this one just to see if I could and my arm nearly fell off. Thank technology and life will be easier. Separate eggs with your fingers, not the shells, it could decrease potential for any extra “goodies” that can come from exposure to the shell. Also make sure the chop your butter into small pieces when adding it to the chocolate, it will help it melt quicker. When testing to see if it’s done baking simply press on the top with your fingers, and try to avoid opening it early, doing so can cause the cake to fall. This cake comes out a bit looking like a brownie, at least to me, so I make some chocolate butter cream frosting to dress it up. For this you simply take some butter and whip it with a mixer and then sift in powdered sugar until you get your desired sweetness and texture. You can thin the frosting with cream. I also sifted in cocoa powered with the sugar to flavor it. (I used about 1 stick 8oz to 3 1/2 cups of sugar.) 

Enjoy!

Picnic + Beach = Paradise

If you live in the Los Angeles area you might have been able to sneak away from your responsibilities and soak up a little of this January sunshine that we’ve had this past weekend. Sadly I was too busy to really take full advantage of it… but the weathers supposed to be wonderful next weekend and feeling inspired I’m totally going to rope some friends in for an afternoon at the beach, complete with a picnic!

Picnic cuisine is one that takes a bit of preparation, especially if you’re traveling to your destination. That doesn’t mean that you can’t just throw down a fun blanket and host one in the comfort of your own home! I always imagine them including those cheesy fireplace videos for pure novelty’s sake.

There’s a variety of styles that you can go with for your picnic-pleasure, my favorite is sandwiches but finger foods are also high on my list. I think getting a little funky with sandwiches can be easily achieved by trying a replacement for breads (think pita, lettuce, tortillas) or adding some fun veggies (lately I’ve been lovin’ some grilled zucchini).

Some fun sandwich ideas

BL(A)T W/ Cheese
Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, & Tomato
Try this with: pita bread and a lite flavored mayo (I like chipotle)

Roasted Veggie Wrap
Choose some of your favorite veggies; for example zucchini, asparagus, thinly sliced carrots (length wise), sprouts.
Grill/heat them up in a pan (I use a panini press) and let them cool. Spread some hummus on a spinach tortilla and
add in your cooled veggies and roll the tortilla, be sure to fold in the edges first. Cut in half, enjoy.

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Season (to your liking) and boil a chicken breast 10 minutes on high, lower and let simmer for aprox 30 min. covered with a slight crack so some heat can escape. Most of the liquid should be gone at this point, if not just check back every few minutes. You want the chicken to be tender so that it’s almost falling apart when you poke it. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork. Add some BBQ sauce to the chicken and toss gently. Add the chicken to your carb of choice, I find that hamburger buns work well. Garnish with cheese.

No picnic is complete without some tasty beverages to quench your thirst. Lately I’ve been getting into flavored lemonades. I prefer do more of a lemon-lime-ade with Meyer lemons and Persian limes.

Lemon/Lime-ade Base
4-Persian Limes
5 -Meyer Lemons
3 Cups of sugar

Juice the lemons and limes and pour into a 2-qt pitcher. Fill leaving 2 inches from the top with water. Add sugar cup by cup, tasting as you go to get your desired sweetness.

Flavors: Pomegranate & Blackberry
Simply juice a 1/4 cup of either fruit and add the juice to a 8oz glass of your base.

Also try mixing half sparkling 1/4 sparkling water to 3/4 base mix to get a sparkling lemonade.

A fun way to serve these is in mason jars, garnish with some lemon wedges
(or mint when just using the base, think virgin mojito).

Enjoy!