• Goat Cheese-y Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and a Poached Egg

    I am delighted to announce that this past week, I poached my very first egg!! I cannot even begin to tell you how long I have put off this particular task, for some reason, even the very thought of it struck fear in my heart. But this past week, I was home alone for several days and, without an audience, I poached not one, but TWO eggs. It’s important to note however that I did in fact ruin two other eggs before I made two suitable ones, but I feel as though that was bound to happen. I’m proud of myself because I pushed past my fear of not being good at a cooking-related task, because I am not perfect and sometimes I have to mess things up before I can get them right! And that’s okay!! Who knows if I’ll ever be able to recreate this, but if I can, Eggs Benedict for everyone!!!

    Today was such a productive day if I do say so myself, aside from a quick downward spiral about what I want to do with my life, I went grocery shopping to prepare for the coming weeks recipe tests, made this ridiculously good dinner, and started a batch of overnight chocolate chip cookies that maaaaay or may not include brown butter (recipe coming soon). Nothing clears my head like coming home, turning on some music, and cooking for hours. That’s why sometimes, I fully appreciate a labor intensive recipe, or at least one with a few moving parts, because the process is so fun and relaxing, even if I am attempting a first poached egg. Give me a glass of wine and some Hozier and I am good to GO. This recipe is a combination of a few different steps, each pretty basic on their own, but when combined, make the most magical of dinners. A simple polenta upgraded with the salty tang of goat cheese swirled in, buttery sauteed mushrooms inspired by the foundation of this recipe from Bon Appetit, and then the egg which breaks open and spills its runny yolk all over everything and truly brings TEARS to my eyes.

    Aside from all these happy things above, here are five MORE things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Hearing the rain on the roof while you lie in bed at night.
    TWO. Someone telling you what you need to hear, even if it’s not what you want to hear.
    THREE. Vanilla scented candles.
    FOUR. Laptop stickers.
    FIVE. Spring tulip arrangements.

    SERVES: 2 to 3 dinner portions
    PREP TIME: 30 minutes

    GOAT CHEESE POLENTA INGREDIENTS

    5 cups water
    1 cup cornmeal
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1 Tbsp salted butter
    4 Tbsp goat cheese

    GOAT CHEESE POLENTA STEPS

    ONE. In a medium saucepan, bring the 5 cups of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly whisk the cornmeal into the water so that there’s no lumps. Continue to stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture gets thickened slightly.

    TWO. Turn the heat to low and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cornmeal has expanded and no longer tastes raw. If necessary, add up to ½ cup more water as needed, to keep the polenta at a stirring consistency.

    THREE. Stir in the tablespoon of butter until incorporated, and then add the goat cheese, a tablespoon at at time, until the polenta is smooth and creamy.

     

    SAUTEED MUSHROOMS INGREDIENTS

    1 lb. mushrooms (cremini, button, etc.), cleaned and torn into pieces
    3 Tbsp. olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    1 shallot, finely chopped
    Handful of parsley, chopped

    SAUTEED MUSHROOMS STEPS

    ONE. Heat the olive oil on medium high heat until very hot, then add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the water cooks off the mushrooms in the first 10 minutes, and then the mushrooms begin to brown.

    TWO. Once the mushrooms are browned, add the garlic and shallots and mix to combine, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until the raw taste has cooked off the garlic. Chop the parsley and set aside for plating.

     

    POACHED EGG INGREDIENTS

    2 large eggs
    Kosher salt and pepper

    POACHED EGG STEPS

    ONE. Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer on medium heat. Crack the first egg into a shallow bowl. Gently create a whirlpool in the water using a slotted spoon, and add the egg into the center of the whirlpool, carefully stirring in order to encourage the whites of the egg to wrap around the yolk.

    TWO. Cook the egg for about 2½ minutes, until the whites are opaque and set, but the yolk is still runny.

    THREE. To serve, add a generous portion of polenta to a bowl or plate, top with a spoonful of mushrooms, then a poached egg. Sprinkle some chopped parsley or parmesan cheese on top and DIG IN!!!

    xoxoxoxoxoxoD!

  • Milk and Cookie Pie

    I’d like everyone to know that when I made this pie the other day, I had just returned home from the eye doctor, and my pupils were so dilated my eyes were practically all black, and any amount of light literally BURNED, I was like a damn vampire. However, I made the mistake of mentioning this pie, created by Erin McDowell and originally found here, to my siblings when I came across the recipe, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, as a result, I baked this pie in a kitchen as dark as I could make it, squinting the entire time. And STILL, it was fabulous, which is probably mostly a credit to Erin’s recipe, but also I LITERALLY blind-baked a pie so there’s that. Someone please tell me I’m funny…pls.

    Anyway, this past Easter weekend was full of food and also rainy weather, which wasn’t so great for the spring-y holiday, but made it extra cozy for me while holed up cooking and baking for 16 people with my mom! In addition to the dinner classics like ham, scalloped potatoes, and such, I made 2 different spring desserts: a pavlova, like this one I wrote about last week, and also another almond cake, which I wrote about here! Both are good desserts to make the night before, since the pavlova can dry in the oven overnight, and the cake is covered in a glaze that keeps it moist. We all ate lots of food and Easter candy, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do, and now that the day is over, catch me scooping up all the discounted Peeps at CVS am I right?? But back to the present, let’s get baking, shall we?

    Here are 5 things to be happy about at the beginning of this week!!
    ONE. Appreciating the good fortune of loved ones.
    TWO. Ghost stories and marshmallows by the fire.
    THREE. Stained glass.
    FOUR. Feeding your mind.
    FIVE. Downspouts after a rain.

    MAKES: 1 9 inch tart
    PREP TIME: 30 minutes
    BAKE TIME: 20-24 minutes
    INACTIVE TIME: 1 to 2 hours or overnight

    COOKIE CRUST INGREDIENTS

    6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    ½ cup light brown sugar
    ¾ tsp vanilla
    1 egg yolk
    1 + 2/3 cup all purpose flour
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ½ cup chocolate chips

    COOKIE CRUST STEPS

    ONE. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Place the prepared pan on a baking sheet, and make sure that you have enough room in both your freezer and fridge for later.

    TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the egg yolk, then mix to combine.

    THREE. Carefully add the flour and salt, then mix until incorporated. The mixture will be crumbly, but should stick together when squeezed. At this point, stir in the chocolate chips so that they’re uniform, then press the dough into the prepared pan, making sure it’s even on all sides.

    FOUR. Place the tart shell in the freezer and let it chill while you preheat your oven to 350ºF.

    FIVE. When it’s ready to bake, prick the bottom and sides of the dough with the tines of a fork, then bake until the crust is lightly golden brown, between 20 and 24 minutes. Set aside to cool completely while you make the filling.

     

    FILLING INGREDIENTS

    1/3 cup cool water
    1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
    1¼ cup heavy cream
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean)

    FILLING STEPS

    ONE. Mix the cool water with the gelatin in a small bowl, and allow to bloom for at least 5 minutes.

    TWO. In a small saucepan, heat together 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the bloomed gelatin and heat until that too dissolves, about another minutes.

    THREE. Pour the heated cream mixture into a large glass measuring cup or bowl with a spout. Stir in the remaining heavy cream and milk. Carefully pour the cream mixture into the cooled crust, and transfer the whole pie to the fridge. Chill for at least 1 hour, up to overnight, until the panna cotta filling is completely set.

    DECORATION INGREDIENTS

    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1 Tbsp granulated sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Chocolate chips/ cookies for decorating

     

    DECORATION STEPS

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together until medium soft peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    TWO. Generously pile the whipped cream onto the center of the pie, and smooth out as desired. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, shavings, or mini cookies as desired.

    YUM! XOXOXOXOXOXO

     

     

     

  • Conchas!!

    I would like to mark down March 10th, 2019 as a very special day in my life calendar, because it was the day that I made my first Concha, and I can already tell that we will have a long and happy life together. Also called Pan Dulce, these beautiful works of art are a Mexican bakery staple known for their intricately patterned tops, often resembling the swirl of a shell. A concha consists of two parts: a sweet cinnamon roll, and a crisp, colored (and sometimes flavored) streusel-like topping, which forms the crackly pattern on top. Whenever I used to come across pictures of these, I just assumed that some kind of baking pan or stamp was required and so I never really gave it much more thought. THEN, I came across this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, and suddenly they were so attainable!!! No stamp needed, just a pairing knife, a steady hand, and some patience, and since I have two of those things, I once again took a bread-making quest that paid of incredibly well!

    Almost as soon as you start this recipe, you will start to wonder why no one has managed to make a candle that can capture this scent exactly. No offense but the combination of fresh bread and cinnamon is the only thing that matters in this world. Truly. Anyway, if you thought these treats couldn’t get any better, boy do I have news for you! Something that is very fun and special about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable! By mixing different flavors and colors into your streusel topping, you are opening up so many possibilities here! You can add cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate, lemon zest, freeze dried berries, or combine several food colors for a rainbow pattern, and it’s 100% up to you! I kept mine on the simpler side for my first try, and used a red gel food coloring to give my Conchas a bright pink finish. From there, you could follow the traditional concha shaped top by cutting a shell pattern into the top (the bun rises and expands while baking to form the crackled top that these are known for), but you can also add concentric circles, stripes, grids, or any number of patterns and see how they turn out!

    Before we get started, let’s all take a moment to appreciate these 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Falling asleep in the car on the way home from a long day.
    TWO. Using something you had been saving for a special occasion.
    THREE. An evening of zero productivity.
    FOUR. An evening of extreme productivity.
    FIVE. Asking for a booth at the restaurant.

     

    MAKES: 12 buns with topping
    PREP TIME: 30 minutes
    RISING TIME: 2½ hours (divided)
    BAKE TIME: 18-20 minutes

    DOUGH INGREDIENTS

    3 Tbsp. warm water
    2½ tsp active dry yeast
    1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
    1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    1/3 white sugar
    ¾ cup evaporated milk
    2 tsp kosher salt
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    4 cups all purpose flour

    TOPPING INGREDIENTS

    ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Gel food coloring of your choice or 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

    STEPS

    ONE. Warm the bowl of your stand mixer by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. This will allow you to add warm water with the yeast and not have the heat change when it touches the cold metal bowl. Once the bowl is warmed, remove that water and add in the 3 tablespoons of warm water and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom and get foamy, about 5-7 minutes. If it doesn’t foam up, your water was either too hot or too cold, or the yeast is no good, so you’ll have to start over.

    TWO. When the yeast is ready, add in the oil, melted (and slightly cooled!) butter, sugar, evaporated milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Using the dough hook attachment, mix until the eggs are slightly broken up and everything is incorporated.

    THREE. Add the flour all at once, and mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth, and a little sticky. Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and transfer the dough. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

    FOUR. While your dough is rising, you can make the buttery streusel topping! Mix all the ingredients in your stand mixer until smooth and incorporated, then decide whether you want the topping to be chocolate (add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa) or colored (add gel food coloring of your choice!), or both! I went for pink this time but you can do whatever you want! Scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth of topping for each bun, I did this ahead of time so that the topping was ready when the bread was!

    FIVE. After the bread dough has doubled, turn it out onto a baking mat or countertop and section it into 12 rolls. If you want to weigh them individually so that they’re even, you can, but I just eyeballed it. Shape them by hand into uniform, round buns and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

    SIX. Take each topping round and flatten it into a disk in your palms, then lay it over the top of each bun so that the top is totally covered. Repeat for all. Using a pairing knife, cut some patterns into the top- you can research some of the more traditional patterns here, but you can also do whatever you feel like! When all designs are done, cover the whole tray with a towel and allow the buns to rise again for another 30 minutes, until doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350ºF halfway through this second rise.

    SEVEN. Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and the topping has spread into the classic concha shape. Best eaten soon after baking, with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate!!

    YAY! xoxoxoxD