Sunday, February 3, 2013

Popcorn Kernels make a difference?

It's no secret that I love my popcorn. I have a song for movie theater popcorn... I even took my childhood air popper from my Dad's house when I moved to Austin. We always used Orville Redenbacher kernels and I really didn't think anything of it.

One night I was walking through Target and thought to pick up kernels since I had run out at home. The only brand they had there was Pop Secret, so I went ahead and picked that up.

I popped up a small batch, drizzled my butter flavored olive oil, salt, and pepper and sat down to watch Downton Abbey. I took my first few bites and no problem. Then halfway through I noticed my teeth started hurting. The kernels were just really tough! After two more attempts and still with the after effect of aching teeth, I decided it was time to abandon ship on the Pop Secret kernels.

At the grocery store, there were a few more choices; the usual Orville, the grocery brand, and then the "higher end" grocery brand from Central Market. Since the latter had the marketing genius word of "organic" on it, I decided to try that.

Popped that up and it was nice normal popcorn. It's a bittersweet moment when I have to throw out popcorn...but Pop Secret leaves me no choice.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


My mom would pick these up from the Korean store, I had no idea how easy they were to make! Dee-lious!

Thanks to Maangchi! Her video is really cute, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras!

So I wanted to make a King Cake for today, but my last bouts with yeast breads have just made me sad. Being a sucker for any "new" named apple, I picked up a bunch of Opal apples last week only to find that they were past their prime and not delicious. This was the perfect opportunity to make Romanian Apple Cake. And of course, to make it King Cake-ish, I drizzled white chocolate dyed to purple, yellow, and green and planted some pecans in place of the baby. We'll see how it actually tastes tonight!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainbow Chip Frosting and the Quest for Yellow Cake

Happy New Year!

It's been slow on the posting front. This year I want to find a complete set of my goto recipes. I already have one for white cake and chocolate, but I've never tried making yellow cake. The perfect opportunity to try it out came up for my friend's husband's birthday. She requested a yellow cake with funfetti frosting. It almost seemed like we were stuck because her hubby loved the store bought funfetti...and it pains me to buy cake mix and frosting from the grocery store because I like knowing what ingredients are in my desserts. Plus, this was gonna be fun!

Instead I went ahead and made everything from scratch with the disclaimer if it's unacceptable, then I would go and make the store stuff.

I tried a Yellow Cake recipe from my new Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, and I think I'll have to give it one more try to make sure it wasn't user error. The cupcakes came out much too dry for my taste, although they had a nice flavor.

The Rainbow Chip Frosting was the best part of the cupcake. For that I used the Vanilla Buttercream recipe in the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, as it seemed very close to my favorite buttercream recipe. To that I added a vanilla bean and also the Rainbow Chips - which was just melted down white chocolate mixed with color. Inspired by Not Without Salt's blog. Once the frosting formed, I mixed a good helping of the Rainbow Chips to create the perfect chunkiness.

In the end, the outcome is a pretty fun frosting to add to my goto recipes, and the search for the yellow cake entry continues. There are two more yellow cake recipes in the cookbook that I have yet to try. But I am on my way!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pistachio Ice Cream

My ice cream maker has been sitting in the pantry, patiently waiting to be used. It's been a few years since I've made any kind of ice cream or sorbet, so I was excited to try it out again.

It seems like everyone around me has a taste for pistachio. I get an occasional taste for it, mostly because my Dad loves them. Although when I was a kid, I remember the shells being pink and your fingers getting pink from cracking too many open. I reminisced with a friend about this, and they pointed me to an article about pistachios on Wikipedia that stated that the coloring was in place to hide stains that may have occurred during picking. Did you know that?

Anyhow, I picked up a bag of pistachios from Costco...meaning somewhere in the vicinity of 4 lbs worth. Unfortunately, they are roasted and salted, so that became an extra step in order to use them in the ice cream recipe.

I found a recipe for Pistachio Ice Cream by Emeril, read some user comments to make sure it was a decent recipe, and then started cracking. Literally. I think cracking about one cup of pistachios has incremented my carpal tunnel counter. My thoughts during this? This ice cream better taste like angels.

After shelling a cup of pistachios, I threw them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to get the salt off. Strained them in a colander only to find that there was another layer to peel off!

Peeled the pistachios and then put them on a baking sheet to dry out in the oven. First I started off at 200F, and realized this was going nowhere fast. After about 20 minutes at 200F, I bumped up the temp to 350F and baked them for about 13 minutes more. Took them out, and let them sit for a few hours to cool off. Now it was break time! (Wine and cheese with friends :D)

When I came home, I was happy to find the pistachios were dry and unsalted. Phase two was ready to begin...making the custard. Standard fare, boil milks, beat eggs with sugar and combine. Then heat until it gets custardy. Mix the pistachios and extract in and you are good to go into the refrigerator overnight (or until cooled).
The final step is the simplest - it's the remembering that's the hard part. My ice cream maker has a core that needs to be frozen in advance. Knowing that I was going to make ice cream of some sort, I threw the core in the freezer the previous day.
I scraped the custard into the core and let the ice cream maker do its magic. About 25-30 minutes later, pistachio ice cream was ready!

I'm not sure if it tasted like angels...but I would say that the taste was pretty good. It was just sweet enough and creamy. I would like to try with unsalted pistachios, because I think my pistachios in the ice cream were a little just need to see if there can be some added crunch. Maybe not so fine pistachios next time, honey instead of sugar, and chopped apricots.

Pistachio Ice Cream (edited version of Emeril's)
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

Finely process pistachios and 1/4 cup sugar.
Heat milk and cream over stovetop until boil. Stir occasionally so film doesn't happen.
Beat eggs and 1/4 cup sugar.
1 cup a time, add the milk mixture into the eggs until all combined.
Put back into pot over stovetop. Stir occasionally so film doesn't happen, about 6 minutes the mixture will become "custardy". Remove from heat.
Combine pistachios and almond extract into custard.
Put into bowl and put saran wrap directly on the custard to avoid creating a film.
Put into refrigerator until completely cool.
Add to ice cream maker and let it go until ice cream forms - about 25-30 mins for this one.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stress Baking : Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

One of three things are typically going to happen when I am stressed. Cooking, baking, or cleaning. Fun? Not really. But, I need some kind of tangible productive activity to be happening. I need to see progress being made! As much as I'd like to think my brain will turn off if I indulge it in Real Housewives or some other equally mind numbing television, it's still working in the background. Last night's activity was baking.
I had some strawberries that needed to be used, and stumbled upon this Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread from My Baking Addiction's blog.
The recipe was super easy to put together. Was able to watch part of The King's Speech while the cream cheese and butter were softening, and then easily mixed it together to throw in the oven. I used all the strawberries I had - I believe it was a 1.5 pints. The recipe seemed really agreeable to this.
The only difficult thing was gauging when the bread was ready to come out. I started checking around 50 minutes and left it in for about 14 minutes longer. I suspect the extra strawberries had to do with this.
The bread turned out extra moist and just sweet enough with lots of strawberries!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Productive Morning : Berry Muffins

This morning, I felt productive.

Blueberry and Raspberry Muffins using this recipe