croissant, the first

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I made croissants for the first time this weekend! They ended up being underproofed, womp womp. But the good thing about baking trial and error is that your errors are often still pretty tasty, and these were no exception. You can’t go too wrong with butter and dough.

The recipe I used this go around came from The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman. It was a pretty straightforward, two-day affair. I found croissants intimidating before because they seemed involved, but there isn’t too much active time. Most of the time was resting and chilling.

This was also my first attempt at laminated dough, and it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I should have let the dough warm up just slightly before rolling and cutting and shaping, because the butter was a bit too cold and cracked during that final stage. And my folds weren’t as neat as they could have been.

I’m prepping for another attempt this upcoming weekend. This time, I’m using Dominique Ansel’s recipe from Masterclass (if you’re curious, here’s a referral link). This one requires prepping a levain, so I started that process as well. I’d never made a fermented starter of any kind before, so that in of itself has been fascinating.

I can feel the mild obsession creeping in. A flurry of baking approaches.

bscotch shenani tarts

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Made vegetable tarts the other night, mostly to use a summer squash that had been languishing in the fridge for nearly two weeks. It wasn’t on purpose, but they ended up being in the Butterscotch Shenanigans colors of purple and gold.

Made up of summer squash, purple potatoes, caramelized onions, pesto (with almonds instead of pine nuts because I didn’t have pine nuts on hand), and brie on puff pastry. Sprinkled with some tarragon.

mezcal+kombucha

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Hot weather means afternoon cocktails. This one was made with mezcal + kombucha + mint simple syrup. Garnished with mint, a grapefruit twist, and a tiny bit of salt.

We were trying out interesting kombucha flavors, and had half a bottle of GT’s summer edition Unity kombucha, which has flavors of cherry, coconut, and lemongrass. Mezcal was a joven mezcal from Creyente.

kimchi jjigae

I’ve had a craving for Korean food ever since the March issue of Bon Appetit showed up on my doorstep.

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NOMS.

So over the weekend, Adam and I rounded up the ingredients to make kimchi jjigae, a stew made with Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru) and red pepper paste (gochujang), and most importantly, kimchi. From what I understand, the make-up of this stew is flexible outside of the kimchi (it’s in the name after all).

I used the recipe by Sohui Kim from Bon Appetit as a base, and added a few more vegetables. The chili pepper flakes and paste aren’t overtly spicy, despite the glorious orange-red color of the stew. I also found that the kimchi I used was salty enough that I didn’t need any additional salt.

You can follow the link to get all the details. Here are the changes I made:

  • Increased all the amounts so that I would have lots of tasty leftovers
  • Added diced daikon and some baby bok choy
  • Added baby bella mushrooms —  next time, I would use shitake, which would hold its own a little more readily against the strong flavors in the stew, but I forgot to buy some
  • Used bacon, but I would use a thicker cut of pork belly or some pork shoulder in the future
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It’s not the prettiest stew ever, but it is forking* amazing.

The result was a bowl of warming, funky deliciousness that was perfect for a rainy weekend. And a cloudy Monday. And a chilly Tuesday. And… well, you get it.

*Adam and I are finally watching the Good Place.

a cancelled dinner party: sweet potato galettes

We have been trying to have a small get together with one of my friends and her husband for months now. It’s been hard to coordinate because her schedule is rather busy and she’s wrangling littles.

The plan, as most of our plans tend to be, was to have them over, ply them with drinks and childfree time, and have a nicely adult dinner.

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Vegetables! Textures! Being an adult!

She is vegetarian, so my usual dinner party stand-bys don’t really work. I don’t have much practice planning a vegetarian menu, but I knew that I wanted to stay away from the here-is-some-pasta-I-guess? vegetarian solution. I wanted to put together a meal that was still simple, but didn’t rely too much on bread/pasta/rice to act as filler.

Enter, my Ottolenghi cookbook. (And also the Serious Eats website, as per usual, for ease of referencing in the kitchen.) Between it and it’s predecessor Plenty, both by Yotam Ottolenghi, there are plenty (heh) of tasty and beautiful vegetarian recipes.

We settled on a date — it was supposed to be this past weekend — but at the last moment, childcare plans fell through and they had to reschedule.

At that point, I had already gathered ingredients for Ottolenghi’s sweet potato galettes, as seen on the cookbook cover. I could have abandoned the cooking plans altogether, but why waste the opportunity to try a new recipe and go meat-free for the weekend in the process?

It turned out, as has everything else I’ve made from these cookbooks, delicious.

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Sweet potato galettes.

I’m already thinking about possible future riffs:
– Purple potatoes, chili powder, cotija + parsley cilantro oil
– Beets, pistachios, goat cheese (plus figs if additional sweetness desired)
– Carrots, garam masala, spicy pecans
– Turnips and apples, parmesan, maybe some bacon + tarragon in the oil

But if you want to try to original, here’s the recipe.

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a variation on pork adobo

The weather is finally going to get cooler this week. Maybe by this weekend, it’ll actually even feel like fall. And as we all know, fall is the season of comfort food and cookies. And decorative gourds.

One of the comfort foods that has worked its way into my regular rotation is pork adobo. It’s now one of A’s favorite meals.

Adobo is a Filipino cooking method in which meat or seafood is marinated and cooked in a vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. It sounds simple, but the result is complex and delicious. It’s tangy, rich, sweet, salty,  and a perfect food for when the weather is turning colder. It’s one of those things, like chili or mole or curry — every family (or even individual) has their own version. I like to add coconut milk for a creamy element.

You can use this recipe with chicken or beef or probably whatever you want. It’ll change the cooking times a bit, but the method is basically going to be the same.

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eggs in purgatory – tomatillo edition

We had our good friends M & M over for brunch this past weekend. Well, it started with brunch at our place and then sprawled out into the evening time too, which was amazing. They are some of the best people.

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Lemon rosemary cream scones

I tired a new recipe for our brunch, a variant on eggs in purgatory. Eggs in purgatory is an Italian dish of eggs cooked in a tomato sauce. The sauce is usually kicky and bright, infused with umami and spicy heat. The eggs are soft, with the whites barely set, and the yolk creamy and golden and runny. You top it with cheese and eat it with toasty bread and it’s just one of the best things.

When I was thinking about brunch dishes to prepare, it came to the forefront because it’s easy to put together, and you can do a good amount of advanced prep, so that when you have company over, you’re not in the kitchen trying to fry up individual over-easy eggs.

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macaron lab notebook

Remember those lab notebooks you had to put together in high school and/or college chemistry? The graph paper, the carbon copies, the wrinkled and warped pages from when the notebook got inevitably wet. Those were the days…

Sort of.

I was thinking about them today because I’ve restarted my macaron experiments in earnest. I’ve made these cookies successfully previously –

 

Those smooth tops! Those ruffled feet! – but the notes I took at the time were sloppy and incomplete. Although I have a bunch of flavors that I want to try baking kicking around in my head, I’m reluctant to experiment too broadly until I’ve nailed a base cookie consistently (because that’s how my brain likes to work). There are a few major parts to doing that – the recipe, the technique, and the oven.

For the most part, I’m using Stella Parks’ French macaron recipe (with some adjustments here and there for cooking time, oven temp, etc. – I try not to mess with the ratios too much). I’ve had good success with it in the past, and I love that she breaks baking down very scientifically and demystifies the process. (Her book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, is the next on my cookbook wishlist.) There are a couple other recipes that utilize a different cooking methods that I want to try at some point, but this hers is definitely my go to.

As for technique, I have a method of doing the meringue and macaronnage that I think is pretty consistent at this point. I’m sure there are variations between batches, but that much can’t really be helped.

So the part that I’m really trying to dial in right now is the oven and baking method. My oven has both convection and conventional settings, as well as a removable divider in the middle that transforms it into a makeshift double oven (that I rarely use because I find that it does not separate different temperatures all that well). It’s calibration is a bit off, and it loses heat pretty rapidly (about a 25 degree drop in temp every time the door opens – I checked with an oven thermometer because the display does not tell you that). But it’s a poor craftsperson that blames her tools, so I’m still trying to learn the weird ins and outs (there seem to be many) of my particular oven.

To do that, I need what every scientist needs – documentation.

Enter, Airtable. (There are several pictures of sexy, sexy spreadsheets coming up. If that’s not your jam… too bad, I guess?)

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