Archive | February, 2011

Sweet Corn Muffins

24 Feb

This recipe is from my old blog so I feel like I’m cheating a bit by reposting it, but I really like it and want to share it with those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I enjoy a good cornbread, but I’m very particular about it. I like it just so. While this recipe isn’t perfect, it cures my cornbread cravings every time. I love the crispy, crackly tops, which give way to a dense, moist muffin inside. The agave nectar gives the muffins a slight sweetness that I also love. When in season, I dress up these muffins by adding corn kernels or blueberries for some extra flavor.

Sweet Corn Muffins
Makes 12 small muffins

Ingredients
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 six oz container plain soy yogurt (I recommend Whole Soy & Co brand)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/8 cup canola oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the soy yogurt, agave nectar and canola until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently stir until thoroughly combined. The batter should be very thick — too thick to pour.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Use a small spoon to smooth out the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Devour!

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Bitter Cake and a Swimming Pool of Ramen

19 Feb

Being sick can really mess up your whole week! I got whatever superbug has been going around and two weeks later, I’m still in recovery mode (but back in my routine for the most part, thankfully). Not all was lost last week while I took time off to rest though. For starters, I had some crazy dreams while on Nyquil PM, including an awesome food-related one:

In a spacious banquet room, a large, silver platter of various vegan sandwiches sits atop a round dining table covered in white tablecloth. As I go to reach for one, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute keeps on grabbing my arm and stopping me from taking one of these delicious, veggie-packed sandwiches. I’m super frustrated, but Rainn/Dwight is much too fast for me, so I move on.

I walk through an indoor/outdoor courtyard and spot ahead — can it be!?– a swimming pool of vegan ramen! Fresh wheat noodles floating in a dark, shoyu-based broth. I excitedly inhale the savory aroma and anticipate the taste on my tongue as I jump in. There are already two other women in the pool and we all happily float about in the warm broth — me on my back, with long, soft strands of noodles flowing between my arms and legs. I look up and on the deck overlooking the pool is none other than Desi Arnaz, one of my favorite actors/producers of all time! The drama of the vegan sandwiches behind me, I am in bliss.

I’m so not kidding; that was the exact dream that I had. And in my dream, I knew that sandwiches and ramen were vegan (I’m not just making that up now). I was so excited about my dream, I actually woke up my partner to tell him about it. He looked at me like I was crazy…

While I was sick,  I also started reading Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen, which was recommended to me by one of my mentors. Though far less overt in my previous experience working at nonprofits, I could relate to the sexism in the workplace that Dahlia Jurgensen writes about. I’m a little more than half way through and so far, it reads more like a memoir than a detailed account of the experience of being a pastry chef. Her experiences are definitely eye-opening, however, and provide some insight into how things work in a fast-paced professional kitchen (e.g., be prepared for long hours, low pay and a high-pressure, high stress environment). Jurgensen’s story of her ascent from a bored office worker to a pastry chef thus far has been both entertaining and inspiring and I’d  recommend it to anyone curious about career in the culinary field.

Lastly, I managed to bake one thing last week (I have a hard time doing nothing, even when I really need to): a chocolate olive oil cake from one of the dessert recipes in Great Chefs Cooks Vegan. The use of cake flour gives the cake a soft, delicate crumb that I liked, but I found the finished product to be much too bitter. When I scanned the recipe, my gut told me that it called for too much baking soda — two teaspoons for one-and-a-half cups of flour! — but I decided to go with it since it was created by a famous chef and I figured it must have been tested. I did, however, reduce the teaspoon of salt it called for. Turns out, my gut was right and the cake had a noticeably bitter taste. I was planning to take a photo for the blog, but since I wasn’t happy in how it tasted, I scrapped it. I’ll have to try the recipe another time with some adjustments and see how it turns out.

Masala Chai Truffles

8 Feb

When I’m not baking, I play with chocolate. This past weekend, I decided to make masala chai (spiced tea) truffles. The first step was cold infusing tea into my ganache. Cold infusion basically means you let your ingredients slowly release their flavors and aromas in the liquid you’re trying to flavor without using heat. In this case, I soaked black tea leaves in coconut milk overnight and strained them out before using the milk to make my ganache. Though you do have to use more tea to draw out the flavor, the benefit of cold infusion is that you get the great flavor of the tea without any bitterness that you might get from seeping it in hot liquid.

To make the ganache, I used approximately equal amounts of coconut milk and chocolate by volume (if I were using something less fatty and more watery such as soy milk, I’d decrease the milk-to-chocolate ratio).  I simply heated the tea-infused milk until it just began to boil and then poured it over my bowl of dark chocolate. I let it sit for a moment and then whisked it until completely melted and smooth.

Next, the ganache went in the fridge to cool and harden for a couple hours. Once it hardened, I scooped small balls of the ganache and coated the balls in a mixture of cocoa powder, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and peppercorn. I don’t have exact measurements to provide, unfortunately, because I just winged this. Luckily, truffles are very easy to make! And the fun part is that you can improvise with flavors — both with the ganache filling and the coatings.

The blend of spices and hint of tea in the ganache give these truffles a subtle but sophisticated flavor that I love. What’s your favorite truffle flavor that you’ve made or eaten?

M.I.A.

6 Feb

I gone without posting for much, much longer than I intended. I’ve just been dead tired. I’m tired from doing work that I love though, so it’s all good. Even so, sorry for being missing in action for so long. I hope to get back on schedule this week. In the meantime, here’s a photo of some French bread I baked recently. Not a dessert, but delicious nonetheless!