White Truffle Mac & Cheese

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I was a weird kid. I was never into traditional kid foods like Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, or Kraft Mac & Cheese.

I was really into spinach, asparagus, and pineapple deep dish. (If you haven’t tried Spinach Pineapple Pizza, I encourage you. It will blow your mind.)

It wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered homemade mac & cheese and fell in love. Crispy topping, perfectly cooked noodles, crazy amounts of cheese. What’s a girl not to love?

Mac & Cheese and bikini season normally don’t mix but I came across Candice Kumai’s  recipe and felt that it could totally be modified to one of my favorite treats. She uses almond milk which adds a great flavor but less calories (vs heavy cream). I tweaked her recipe a bit and wah-lah, a less bad for you Truffle Mac & Cheese. You can thank me later 😉

Truffle Mac & Cheese
(Adapted From: Candice Kumai’s Platinum Mac & Cheese)

3 cups Macaroni (uncooked)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
t tbsp all purpose flour (you can totally use gluten free here)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 cups Almond Milk
1/4 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Truffle Cheese
2 tbsp White Truffle Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)

Garnish:
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1/8 cup Truffle Cheese

1) Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box. Strain and toss with the Truffle Oil. Set aside.
2) Melt the butter in a large sauce pan on medium low heat, at the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a paste like texture forms.
3)Add the garlic powder and almond milk. reduce head and allow to thicken for aprox 20 minutes.
4) When the sauce coats the back of a spoon add the noodles and cheeses.
5) Transfer to a over proof skillet and garnish with Italian Seasoning, salt, and extra cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes.

Enjoy.

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Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream (Gluten Free)

Before I moved to LA I lived in Chicago and managed an ice cream store called Bobtail. One of my favorite flavors that would make an occasional appearance was Coffee Oreo. In a fit of nostalgia and craving some peanut butter I decided Peanut Butter “Oreo” it is. Since gluten (the protein in wheat) can be a bit bothersome on some stomachs I figured might as well make this one more friendly (however you can totally use the real deal here).

There is something incredibly indulgent while maintaining an innocence about this flavor. It’s like being a kid in an adult way, because I don’t know about you, but I was more into eating ice cream as a kid rather than making it. That is until I was introduced to the ziploc technique in my high school science class.

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream

Base (Adapted from Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

1 1/2 cups milk (full fat is best)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn/tapioca starch
1/8 tsp sea salt
5 egg yokes

1. Whisk the sugar and the egg yokes together. Set aside
2. Mix the starch in with the milk, one tbsp at a time. Heat the milk on medium heat until a rolling boil. Take off the heat and slowly add to the yokes.
3. Pour the yoke mixture back into the sauce pan on low heat, add salt, allow to thicken. Chill when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Peanut Butter Sauce

1/4 cup Peanut Butter (make sure this is gluten free if you’re intolerant — I used Jiff)
5 oz heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
splash of vanilla
1/8 cup powdered sugar (more to taste)

Heat all ingredients in a sauce pot of over medium heat, whisking occasionally until combined. 

Ice Cream

Base
1/4 cup Peanut Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Peanut Oil
1/4 cup  Gluten Free Jo Jo’s from Trader Joe’s (Or Oreos) — You can also sub out the cookies for chocolate chips

Combine the Base, Peanut Sauce, and oil into an  Ice Cream Machine (I have a Cuisinart), Mix until done. Stir in toppings. Freeze until solid. Serve!

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Enjoy.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

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There are few things in life that are tastier than bacon, unless of course you’re a vegetarian. (Although with pure number of meat flavored non-meat products it makes me think you miss it…) Bacon is also a manly food which makes for a perfect Fathers day addition. These biscuits are simple and quick to make, so let Dad sleep in and then wake him up with a delicious brunch; some eggs, biscuits and OJ, then convince him to fire of the grill so he can show off his skills. It is summer after all.

Maple Bacon Biscuits (adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

biscuit:
5-6 slices of Bacon
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 stick super cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp butter, set aside (this is for when they come out of the oven)

glaze (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup

First you’re going to need to cook your bacon up, if you’re making these as a surprise from someone and your kitchen is downwind from where ever they are I recommend doing this before hand and just wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge. You can cook your bacon however you like but I recommend stopping when it’s  still chewy, it will make for a more suple biscuit. Once you’ve got your bacon diced it up into small little pieces. Set aside.

Take your buttermilk (or if you don’t have any on hand just take regular milk and squeeze a bit of lemon juice in –wahla! buttermilk) and whisk in the egg and heavy cream. Set aside.

In a large bowl take your sifted flour and add in your baking power, brown sugar and salt. Next quickly add your cold butter. Mix in with a your fingers or a pastry cutter until the cubes are now pea sized marbles. If you have  naturally warm hands, invest in a pastry cutter. I chill mine before I used it as well just too keep things extra flakey. Quickly  add your maple syrup and the milk/cream/egg mixture until just combined.

Dust your counter with flour and roll it out about 1 inch thick. Cut out your biscuits and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. For traditional biscuits use a 2 inch circle cutter, or if you don’t have one try a d 1 cup measure or a glass. You don’t have to be fancy here, creative is just a fun. Chill the cut out dough in the freezer while you preheat your over to 450 degrees. (You don’t want to preheat your oven when you’re working with cold butter.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. When they come out of the oven rub the butter we set aside earlier on the top. You can either enjoy this way or you can whisk  up some glaze to pour over. Just whisk the powdered sugar and maple syrup together. Feel free to play with the amounts to taste. Make sure though that it’s not TOO thick. You want it to be pourable.

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Enjoy.

Gluten-Free Spice Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

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Mondays are usually the day that I’m doing everything in my power to pry myself from the covers  and wishing the weekend would last forever. This Monday was better, this Monday I’m a college graduate which means I’ve earned the right to sleep in, wear pj’s all day, and eat cake for breakfast. You know, adult things. While I know that this is only a temporary arrangement I wanted to take full advantage.

I woke up craving something sweet but spicy — first thought was carrot cake but since I didn’t have any carrots in the house, and leaving was not an option I opted to try my hand at a gluten free version of spice cake. A bit ago I’d picked up some gluten free all purpose flour from a company called Pure Pantry. This particular brand is also soy, nut and dairy free. So off I went and this beauty came out as a result. I’ve been trying to shake up my cooking routine lately and decided to use some unrefined sugar, Mascobado, in this recipe as well.

Gluten-Free Spice Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting (cake adapted from: The Hungry Mouse, frosting adapted from Joy the Baker)

For the cake: 

1 1/3 cup Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour*
2/3 cup Mascobado Sugar**
1 pinch Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1 Vanilla Bean (scraped)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp cardamon seeds
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 stick of butter (room temperature)

For the frosting:

2 sticks of butter (softened)
6 cups of powdered sugar (sifted)
2 tbsp of milk
1/2 tbsp almond extract
1 pinch of salt

Optional: Slice almonds to garnish

*I used The Pure Pantry brand for my GF flour but I tested it with Bob’s Red Mill and it came out well too.
**You can sub in regular brown sugar for this.

Cake:

1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees and line to 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.

2. Steep the Cardamom seeds in the milk, set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light an fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time.

5. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the butter, egg, and sugar mixture.

6. Removed the seeds from the milk and slowly add the milk to the batter.

7. Pour the mixture evenly into the two pans and bake for 20 minutes (the cake will spring back when touched). Allow to cool completely.

Frosting:

1. In a stand mixer beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.

2. Scrape the sides and then add 5 cups of powdered sugar  (start slow, so the sugar doesn’t coat your kitchen and work your way up to a medium speed).

3. Add the milk and almond extract.

4. The frosting should be thick, if needed add the 6th cup of powdered sugar.

Frost the cake and garnish with sliced almonds along the sides.


Enjoy.

Cocoa Nib Palmiers

Growing up my mom would take me and my sister down to the Spanish bakery in our neighborhood. We would get a big silver tray and roam the isles filling it up with whatever caught our eye.

One of my favorites were the elephant ears or Palmiers.
They’re such a simple but rich dessert that is perfect paring to a coffee or a cup of tea.

When I was in Spain a couple of weeks ago you could buy a whole bag full for a Euro. It made such a great walking around snack.

I slightly adapted this recipe from The Novice Chef

Cocoa Nib Palmiers

1 Sheet of Puff Pastry (thawed per the directions on the package)
1 Cup of Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup Cocoa Nibs

1. Preheat the over to 425 degrees F

2. Combine the spices and then dust a flat surface such as cutting board.

3. Lay out the puff pastry onto the mixture, trying to coat as evenly as possible. Dust the top of the pastry as well.

4. Sprinkle the cocoa nibs, pressing them gently in.

5. Fold the dough into the middle.

6. Fold the folder halves over again.

7. One more time!

8. Cut the dough into aprox 1 1/2 inch pieces and place on a parchment paper line cookie sheet.

9. Bake for approximately 8 minutes (until edges are starting to caramelize) flip over, and cook for another 8 minutes.

10. Remove and let cook on a drying rack.

Enjoy!

The Hunt: Finding Food Abroad

As I’ve gotten older, and my palate has become more developed, vacations to see beautiful things must be accompanied with tasty food. Having just got back from a brief trip to Spain, I was reminded that I don’t really want to eat bad food on vacation.

Not a bad statement, but really who does?

The trick is being able to find good food on vacation.  In Spain they don’t really start eating until late evening about 10pm so it gives you plenty of time between sight-seeing and dinner to look up some good suspects. Not being particularly sure were me and my partner-in-crime were going to end up we resorted to our favorite Internet café, Burger King.

When you’re on holiday, Burger King and McDonalds can be a great resource to your Internet woes. They 90% of the time offer free Wi-Fi. Usually you can just stand outside by the door or if you want to rest your feet, drop in, buy water or a pop and settle into to do your searching.

In the day and age of smart phones there is a plethora of apps that you can download. In the US Yelp is pretty spot on, as well as Trip advisor. Trip advisor is also good for international spots, in the app you can also download a map of the city which can be quite helpful.

If you have an IPhone, Yelp is great because the map goes straight to your map application, which has a GPS function that doesn’t require Wi-Fi to work. Simply load the route and follow along. Nifty, huh? Ideally if you were super concerned about this you would probably do your research before hand and have a lot more tools at your disposal.

If you find yourself somewhere more remote or are a more off the grid traveler (kudos to you), talk to the locals! Before you leave look up a few phrases in the native language; most helpful “Do you speak (insert your language)”,  “Where is good for (insert meal)” or at the very least “food” and “good”.  Failing that I would wander around and look for where a) the most native people are b) the biggest group is.  That should get you the most authentic and or safest bet for a good meal.

I’m starting a international food guide for this blog (similar to LA Eats); click here for more info on that

Enjoy and happy travels!

Fall Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Fall is hands down my favorite season. The leaves changing colors, falling off the trees and coating the ground in an almost dance like fashion. The weather getting cooler making it nice to be outside with a trendy sweater on. Then of course there’s Thanksgiving and all the tasty memories of both food and family that  it conjures.  Just the thought makes me warm and cozy.

One of the signature foods of fall is pumpkin. You can practically set your season watch by when it hits the shelves. (That is, if there were such a thing as a season watch.) Last week, LA got a little sprinkle of rain that made me yearn for the midwestern thunderstorms where you cozy up on the couch with a good book and a big gooey cookie. Or maybe that’s just me.

Either way, since LA doesn’t really have quite the fall I’m used to I needed to give myself a little push to believe that fall was actually upon us Angelenos and out came these tasty treats.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Adapted from: Pixelated Crumb

For cookies:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
1 lg egg
1 vanilla bean (scrapped)
2 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp of ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda

For coating:

1 cup sugar
2 tbps cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger

1. First cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the egg, vanilla bean, and pumpkin. This takes about 5 minutes.

2. Whisk the dry ingredients together and then mix with the wet ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, overnight is better. If you’re in a hurry, pop them in the freezer but make sure they’re covered tight!

3. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Create round balls of dough (I use a scoop) and then roll them in our spice coating. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Cook until golden brown about 12 minutes. (I like a bigger cookie. Using a 24 scoop they take about 20 mintues) Cool and eat!

P.S. Reuse that parchment paper!

Enjoy!