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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

I tend to stay away from sweet coffee drinks; I prefer cappuccinos and freshly brewed coffee with a little bit of cream. There are a few places here in the Mission that tempt me with their sweeter coffee drinks though. What makes Coffee Bar's vanilla bean latte and Sightglass's vanilla cold brew so great? Homemade syrup.

Big name companies use syrups to flavor their drinks with a ton of preservatives and artificial flavors. Lucky for us, delicious and natural simple syrups are easy to make at home. No need to pay $4 for a vanilla bean latte...you can make it right at home!

This is the perfect gift to bring to your best friend's holiday party or to your next dinner party as a hostess gift. The syrup lasts for two weeks in the fridge, meaning the hostess will be thinking about your generosity long after the party. Pour the syrup into a nice bottle, and tie it with a ribbon for show. 

Simply syrup is equal parts sugar and water. This recipe adds a vanilla bean to boost its flavor. You can find a mint simple syrup here. Add it into coffee, tea, or cocktails this holiday season.

Vanilla Simple Syrup

Makes one bottle

1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Take the vanilla bean and slice it open. Scrape out the seeds, and throw the seeds and the pod into a small pot.

Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

Add in the sugar and water to the pot, and then heat over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Let the syrup cool in the pot, and then pour into a bottle. Tie with a ribbon. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Crispy Za'atar Chickpeas

Crispy Za'atar Chickpeas

Z knows better than anyone else that I love presents. For me, presents aren't just things, but rather highlight the time and effort someone took into finding you that perfect gift.

Presents don't have to be silk pajamas, jewelry, or a new scarf (though I won't say no to those either). I love small tokens of affection, like little packages in the mail filled with delicious treats, that always seem to arrive come the holiday season. And while you can spend quite a pretty penny at Dean and Deluca, you can easily create delicious food gifts at home on a realistic budget.

These crispy chickpeas are simply delicious, and one of the best food gifts to give and receive! Everyone can eat them (no worrying about dairy, gluten, nuts), and they are just the right amount of salty, crunchy, and addictive. Pour some into a cellophane bag, tie with a cute ribbon, and start mailing them to friends and family across the country. 

These chickpeas are so easy to make that I am also going to whip up a triple batch for Z's and my annual Channukah party. Finding a dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian snack option can be difficult, and these will be a great addition to any holiday party. 

Crispy Za'atar Chickpeas

Crispy Za'atar Chickpeas

From NYTimes

2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Za'atar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Spread chickpeas out on a paper towel. Pat dry, then let dry for an hour at room temperature. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread chickpeas evenly on the pan, and bake for ~ 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. Chickpeas should be crunchy. 

Place chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, Za'atar, and salt. Toss, then enjoy!



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: San Francisco Foodie Treats for Under $20

During the holidays, I love to send family and friends some of my favorite treats from here in San Francisco as gifts. While not all of my family members are bonafide foodies, they do love a delicious meal and a fun treat. It's a great way to share part of my favorite city with loved ones. There's no better way to explore a city than through its food, and San Francisco has plenty to offer.

The best thing about food gifts is that you can find a high quality gift at a great price. All of these presents are under $20!

passion olive oil
Passionfruit and olive oil curd sounds delightful on pavlovas, ice cream, and more. $12 from Craftsman and Wolves.

The most beautiful and delicious sweet-and-salty chocolate bars for your sister. $7.95 each from Charles Chocolates.

tacolicious

Bring some Tex-Mex flair to your parents' holiday table with a delicious braising sauce from Tacolicious. $10.99 from Williams Sonoma.

0402MACH-2T

Fill your sister's house with the spicy and sweet smell of masala chai. $17 from Samovar Tea.

Sightglass Coffee is taking the world by storm, and your younger brother will love their fresh beans. $16.75 from Sightglass Coffee.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

10 Ways to be a Great Thanksgiving Guest

Thanksgiving Table Decor
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I love cooking with family all day in the kitchen, a table full of family and friends, and so many of my favorite foods in one meal (gravy! roasted green beans! stuffing!).

That being said, hosting Thanksgiving won't be in my future anytime soon, and I'm more than happy visiting family and pitching in with their traditions. Given that most of us will be traveling the country and being guests for the holiday, it's worth sharing some etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Here are my top 10 tips for being a great Thanksgiving guest...

1. Arrive relatively on-time.

No need to be perfectly on time. A spare 5-15 minutes can be a blessing for the host who is rushing to put on nice clothes after a long day of cooking. Any longer than 15 minutes though and you're officially late. 

2. Dress for the occasion.

It's a holiday...dress like it! Jerseys are great pre-dinner, but make sure you bring a blazer and button-down shirt to change into. 

3. Never show up empty-handed.

Even if your host tells you to just bring yourself, you should bring a lovely gift for your host/hostess. I love the idea of bringing a great homemade pancake mix or muffins for a post-Thanksgiving breakfast, but a lovely olive oil or vinegar is a welcome treat as well.

4. Do not take oven real estate.

The oven is a precious resource on Thanksgiving, and your host has likely planned out each oven time for each and every item. This means you showing up with a carrot dish that needs "just 15 just as delicious at room temperature.

5. No phones during dinner.

Before and after the meal, feel free to Snapchat and Instagram away. As soon as you sit down to dinner, your phone should be turned off and away!

6. Offer to help the host.

Ask the host if you can stop by early to help set the table or chop vegetables. Sign up for dish washing after dinner! Any extra steps you take show the hostess you appreciate all of her work.

7. Ask before you buy wine.

A great host will tell you what type of wine to bring, so that your job is easier and so that the wine goes with the food. If your host doesn't specify, ask what type of wine they want to serve at dinner.

8. Inform your host of any dietary restrictions.

As a guest, it is your responsibility to let the host know if you have any dietary restrictions. Z and I always try to give friends plenty of heads-up about our no pork/shellfish rule. You should let the host know as soon as possible, ideally when you accept the invite. 

9. Behave at the table.

I'm not against talking about politics or religion at the table, but as a guest, you should be on best behavior and not engage in any heated discussions.

10. Send an immediate thank you; follow up with a handwritten note.

A quick thank you text the night of will let the host know you had a great time. A handwritten thank you note the following week is still the best gesture of appreciation. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Crustless Quiches

Crustless Quiche
Lazy weekend mornings are the best. I'm an early riser; while Z can sleep well past noon, I'm often up around 8am, even on weekends. I make a cup of coffee or tea (Irish Breakfast is my current favorite), and sit on the couch reading or catching up on a show. 

I unabashedly love breakfast, and within a half hour or so of waking up I'm in need of food. While our fridge can get pretty sparse during the week, there are some staples I like to keep on hand. Eggs, cream (for coffee/tea), and cheese are three of them, along with frozen fruit and almond milk for smoothies. Crustless Quiche
This brunch recipe creates a crustless quiche--a custardy and savory egg dish that comes together really easily with basic kitchen staples. While I do love flaky pastry dough, this crustless quiche is healthier, easier, and quicker to prepare.  
This genius recipe comes from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. You can add in chopped up roasted vegetables for a dressier look, particularly if you are serving this at brunch with friends. 

I'm out in New York right now (will be for ~10 more days or so), and I'm dying for a home cooked meal. DC is on the agenda for the weekend, and I'm hoping I can convince my friends to cook at home for at least one meal. Crustless quiche in pajamas on my own couch sounds pretty great right now. 

More brunch recipes: Blueberry muffins and shirred eggs

Crustless Quiche Recipe

From Mark Bittman

1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, gently heated until just warm
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup grated Emmenthal or Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated pecorino ro Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Butter

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. 
Crustless Quiche
Butter 4 to 6 ramekins, and pour egg/cream/cheese mixture evenly into ramekins. Bake in oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until almost firm. It should jiggle just a little in the middle.

Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
A few months ago, I received a frantic text from Z's mom..."I'm in Brooklyn...where should I go to eat?" While Brooklyn is a neighborhood I haven't explored as much as I would like, I did have a few places to send her to.

A bakery at the top of my list to visit is Baked, a classic American-style bakery. They are famous for their brownie, and I've featured their Pumpkin Whoopie Pies here on the blog.

Z's mom came back with a positive report--everything was delicious, and they have her a dozen cupcakes for free! While she couldn't bring me back cupcakes, she did send me one of their cookbooks, called "Baked Essentials".

Flipping through the cookbook, I was immediately drawn to the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf recipe. The orange and black combination is only fitting given upcoming Halloween celebrations!

Pumpkin and loaf cakes are a perfect match made in heaven; homey loaf cakes and pumpkin treats both conjure up images of crisp fall days and hot cups of tea.

I recommend making two batches, one for work on Friday and one for your friend's Halloween party. I promise it won't disappoint!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

From Baked Essentials

1 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cup pumpkin (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x5 inch baking pan, dust with flour, and knock out the excess. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and oil until well combined. Add the sugar and whisk again. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add 1/3 cup room temperature water and whisk again. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.

Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Use spatula to smooth out the top. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. 

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert loaf onto a wired rack and cool completely before serving. 



Monday, October 26, 2015

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
This week, I'm sharing two loaf cakes that belong on your Halloween dessert table. Today's recipe is a dark as night chocolate banana bread studded with chocolate chips.

For Z's birthday, we stocked up on bananas for toast, and as per usual, we were left with a plethora  of bananas. We bought four times as many bananas as we needed! Instead of letting the bananas go to waste, we froze half, and then put the rest into banana breads. 

Z is big fan of banana bread and chocolate chips, and as soon as I saw this double chocolate banana bread recipe, I knew we had to give it a try. I love how dark the bread turns out, plus the surprising banana flavor. 

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

I baked the chocolate banana bread on a Sunday, with hopes of bringing leftovers into work, but it was so delicious that we devoured the whole loaf that day! It's crazy good. 

Loaf cakes like banana bread make perfect fall treats--they pair great with an afternoon cup of tea, and I love eating them warm out of the oven on a cold day. Oh, and did I mention there's no fancy equipment required, and the prep process takes less than 5 minutes? Another reason to add this into your baking rotation.

 On Wednesday, I'll share another loaf cake that is perfect for Halloween--hint: it's orange and black!


Other recipes you would like:

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

From Smitten Kitchen

3 medium or large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mash bananas in bottom of large bowl. Whisk in butter, then brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder into a sifter, and sift over wet ingredients. Stir ingredients together, and then fold in chocolate chips.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread


Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter free. Let cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Then run a knife around pan, and invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Move the cake right side up. Serve warm (my favorite) or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hummus with Pita Chips

Hummus and Pita Chips
Yes, you can buy a pretty decent hummus at the store for $5 (you better be buying Sabra), but no supermarket hummus can compare to the amazing creaminess and taste of homemade hummus. I still dream about the hummus in Israel, served at nearly every meal with fresh pita and herbs.

Hummus and Pita Chips

Here in the Bay Area, Z and I like to travel down to Oren's Hummus in Palo Alto for fresh hummus and grilled chicken, but given the traffic and driving time, we don't make it down nearly as much as we would like. For weekends when a hummus craving strikes (which for me is about every other week to be completely honest), homemade hummus is the way to go.

Cooking hummus at home is really straightforward. It does require some foresight and thought, so buy the ingredients during the week and start the soaking process on Friday night when you get home from work/happy hour/dinner. By Saturday at noon, you'll have a giant bowl of homemade hummus for weekend football parties and fall picnics.

Hummus and Pita Chips

Every good hummus needs a vehicle to eat it with, and my personal favorite is homemade pita chips. Homemade pita chips are healthier than store bought chips, have way more flavor, and are easy to throw together at a moment's notice. Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, I flavored my chips with sumac and thyme.

Hummus and Pita Chips

I find that each person has their own hummus preferences, so feel free to treat this recipe as a guideline. Add more lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to your liking. Add in some roasted tomatoes or garlic. I serve mine topped with olive oil and a sumac/thyme combination, but grilled meats, pine nuts, and chopped veggies would all be outstanding.

Hummus and Pita Chips

From The New York Times and Ina Garten

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
6 1/2 tablespoons cold ice water
1 package pita
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Sumac
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water twice its volume. Let soak overnight. 

The next morning, drain chickpeas. In a medium saucepan, combine drained chickpeas and baking soda over medium high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add 6 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook at a simmer, skimming foam and chickpea skins off the top of the water, for 20 to 40 minutes, until chickpeas are tender (in my testing, it was about 20 minutes). When done, the chickpeas should crumble easily when pressed, but should not be mushy.

Hummus and Pita Chips
Drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in food processor, and process until you get a stiff paste. With machine running, add tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, and salt (1 1/2 teaspoons). Slowly drizzle in ice water, and let process for 5 minutes until you get a smooth and creamy paste. If it is too thick, add more water as necessary. 

Transfer hummus to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes. Refrigerate if not eating right away--will last up to 2 days in the fridge.

For pita chips: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut each pita into 8 slices. Toss pita slices with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, sumac, and thyme. Spread pita slices onto a baking sheet, and cook for 10 minutes, tossing at 5 minutes. 

Enjoy! 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back to Basics: Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic Recipe
I love garlic. Garlic bread, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, pasta with sliced garlic, garlic green beans, garlic hummus--as long as it's on the savory side, I'm a fan of throwing a few garlic cloves into it. Z, on the other hand, claims to dislike garlic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will change at any given moment, because how could you NOT like garlic, but anyways, it means my food life is often garlic deprived.

Luckily, we had a few extra heads of garlic around the other day and lots of bread, which gave me the perfect excuse to create a batch of roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is more mellow and sweet than raw garlic, and it has this awesome creamy texture with caramelized edges. It's garlic for grown ups. 

Roasted garlic is my favorite as is on top of really good bread. It's a great low calorie alternative to butter! The options don't stop there though. Whisk it into a salad dressing, use it as a spread, throw it into mashed potatoes.--it'll give a flavor boost to anything you add it to.

Roasted Garlic Recipe
This is a nearly foolproof recipe, so there's no excuse for not making some roasted garlic this weekend. 

Roasted Garlic


1 head of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off of the garlic, so that the cloves are exposed. Try to remove a little bit of the white skin, while keeping the head of garlic intact. Lay a piece of foil on a baking sheet, and place the garlic on top. Drizzle the garlic head with olive oil, then wrap the head up in the foil. 

Roasted Garlic Recipe

Bake in the oven until cloves are caramel in color and tender, about 30 minutes. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Z's Birthday Brunch Menu

Hipster Avocado Birthday Toast
Z and I like hosting friends for parties, and birthdays are no exception. A few weeks ago, Z and I sat down to brainstorm menu ideas for his 26th birthday party, and Z decided on toast.

Toast Birthday Brunch Menu
Toast Birthday Brunch Menu

$4 toast is a trend here in San Francisco--bakeries are serving thick slices of their best bread, toasted and topped with toppings like cinnamon sugar, avocado, or Nutella. Z, like most normal human beings, likes all of those things, so he thought it would be a silly but delicious brunch idea.

hipster toast birthday brunch

We served five different types of toast, and then we had a mix-and-match station for our guests to make their own creations! We wanted a balance between savory and sweet toasts as well as dairy and dairy-free toppings. We served the following toppings: hummus and roasted tomato, avocado and flaky sea salt, Nutella and flaky sea salt, peanut butter with bananas and honey, and brie with honey butter.

Toast Birthday Brunch Menuhipster toast birthday brunch

A toast brunch menu is great because it is easy to put together, even easier to clean up, and really filling. I made the roasted tomatoes two days before, which means on the day of Z's birthday brunch, all I had to do was slice bread and apply the toppings. No real cooking required!

Toast Birthday Brunch Menu

The secret is to make sure the bread is slicked thick. It ensures people have a substantial meal even if they grab only two pieces of toast, and it also gives a more luxurious feel. The same goes for small touches, like honey butter and flaky sea salt. They add just a touch of sophistication that elevates the entire meal.

hipster toast birthday brunch

We also served mimosas and iced coffee mint mojitos since we're in the middle of Indian Summer here in San Francisco.

I hope this inspires you to serve toast as part of your next brunch menu!

Toast Birthday Brunch MenuToast Birthday Brunch Menu



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tailgating Favorites: Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip

Fall is finally here, which means football and tailgating are in full swing! I didn't grow up as a football fan, and I'm not partial to any NFL team, but college football is a horse of a different color. Z and I are still loyal to our alma mater, and we spend fall Saturdays tailgating with friends down at Stanford.

Caramelized Onion Dip

With football and tailgating comes all the guilty pleasure food that I rarely allow myself to eat during the year, like this caramelized onion dip. This dip is inspired by the Lipton's Onion dip, but this one has way more flavor and no artificial ingredients. 

It's essentially a ton of caramelized onions, stirred into a combination of sour cream and mayo. It's creamy, not overwhelming salty, has a ton of onion flavor, and has a bright punch thanks to a slight addition of balsamic vinegar.

I love it to eat this at game days with potato chips and veggies, but it's also great as a spread on sandwiches. Put a bowl of this out at your next tailgate, and it's sure to disappear quickly. 

Caramelized Onion Dip

From Cook's Country

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds yellow onions, diced fine
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heath. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium low, and continue cooking until onions are golden brown (about 10 more minutes).

Caramelized Onion Dip


Add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and stir, scraping up browned bits on bottom of skillet, until water evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of water, and cook until onions caramelize and water evaporates, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar.

Caramelized Onion Dip


Let onions cool. Combine mayo and sour cream in bowl, then stir in cooled onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shop Kitchen Essentials!

Need a new whisk, or maybe it's finally time to order that crockpot? My Kitchen Essentials Guide is now shop-able! 

I spent a lot of time researching the best kitchen tools when Z and I moved into together. We needed a lot of kitchen tools, being recent grads, so I wanted to find good value items that weren't crazy expensive, but would also last a long time. I am really excited to share the guide with you so that you can outfit your kitchen with great tools as well! 

Next time you need to order something off of Amazon for your kitchen, stop by my guide first! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Brie and Honey Butter Sandwiches with Homemade No-Knead Bread

Brie and Honey Butter Sandwich

There’s no other way to say it: you got to make this sandwich, and you better do it with homemade bread. The sandwich is so simple that every ingredient counts, and this is no place to skimp on quality or calories! 

Speedy No Knead BreadThe sandwich is just bread, brie, honey, and butter, but it’s a heavenly combination that you can use on repeat. At tea parties, picnics, or just as a Sunday afternoon snack, there’s no place this sandwich doesn’t fit it (unless you are maybe going to a picnic with a friend who is both dairy AND gluten-free, which in this case, why are you eating a meal with this person?!?!). 

Brie and Honey Butter Sandwich

Z and I had this sandwich at Shed, and it was so delicious that we wanted to recreate it at home. I’m glad we did! It forced me to try the speedy no-knead bread recipe from The Times. I like the speedy recipe compared to the original because it allows for more flexibility; no waiting a full 24 hours here. It’s one of the simplest recipes around, and one of the greatest dinner party tricks. “Hi friends, you made a salad, that’s cool, well I made BREAD”. No need for your friends to know that the salad was probably harder to make than this loaf of bread. 

Is it the most perfect bread loaf around? No. But it’s pretty delicious and goes great with cheese, so make sure to stock your fridge with Brie!

Brie and Honey Butter Sandwiches with Speedy No-Knead Bread

From The New York Times

For Bread:
3 cups bread flour
1 packet instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Oil as needed

For Sandwiches:
Serves 2, adjust as necessary

2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoons honey, plus more for drizzling
6 thin slices of brie (3 for each sandwich)
2 slices of bread (use 4 if you want it to be a closed sandwich, but I prefer open-face here)

Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water, stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. 

Lightly oil a work surface, and place dough on it. Fold the dough onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Speedy No Knead Bread

Immediately start heating up the oven, setting it to 450 degrees. Put a heavy 6-8 quart heavy pot in the oven. When the dough is done resting, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Put the dough into the oven, seam side up. Shake the pan once or twice. 

Cover the pan with a lid, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid, and back for another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool pot on a rack, then take out bread and slice.

Speedy No Knead Bread

Combine honey and softened butter together in a small bowl. Spread the butter equally over the two slices of bread. Top with 3 slices of brie on each piece of bread, and drizzle more honey over if desired. Enjoy! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kauai Food Guide

IMG_7029


Z and I just returned from Kauai! We had a great time hiking, swimming, and of course, eating. Traveling for me is equally about the food as it is about the sights. For our visit to Kauai, I researched food pretty extensively; I want to make sure that if I am spending money out, it’s worth it! 

Below are a few of the restaurant Z and I highly recommend if you are visiting the Garden Island of Kauai:

Java Kai: Z and I ended up stopping here almost every day for smoothies or coffee. They had a great selection of coffees they roast on site, and the smoothie menu has something for everyone. Z in particular loved the Acai smoothie that had acai berries and pineapple juice. 

Bar Acuda: By far the most acclaimed and famous restaurant on the island, Bar Acuda is the place to go for an extremely delicious (read: expensive) dinner. Their most popular dish is a $15 cheese plate of Humboldt Fog cheese, Fuji apples, and local honeycomb, but I also loved the lamb with feta and roasted tomatoes. 

Ha Coffee Roasters: A great space and good coffee makes this coffeeshop a score. It has a ton of space, wifi (in case your hotel doesn’t have it), and wide selection of coffee. I got the nitro cold brew, which was delicious and highly caffeinated, but Z’s salted caramel blended ice coffee was equally tasty. 

Moloa’a Juice Bar: This side of the road juice stand has all the tropical fruit your heart desires. Z and I loved the acai bowl here, which was a steal at $8 (compared to SF prices). It was giant (big enough to share!) and you get a great view. 

Kauai Restaurant Recommendations


Tropical Taco: The fish tacos at this restaurant are so good that Z and I ate them three times on our trip. The use insanely fresh mahi mahi, and then fry it to a crisp for their tacos. This was bonkers. 

Kauai Restaurant Recommendations


Koloa Fish Market: We tried two poke places, and this ended up being our favorite. Go for two scoops of rice, and then get the avocado poke. The ahi tuna is perfectly seasoned in an avocado sauce. At under $10 per person, it’s a great lunch spot. 

Kauai Restaurant Recommendations


Wishing Well Shaved Ice: Splurge on the organic shaved ice here. It’s $8 for two flavors of shave ice in a large bowl, plus toppings. Lilikoi (passionfruit) was so heavenly. I shy away from fruity desserts (I almost always prefer ice cream), but shaved ice might make me change my mind. 

Kauai Restaurant Recommendations


Lappert’s Hawaii: This Hawaiian ice cream staple is the place to go for macadamia nut and banana ice creams. In particular, I enjoyed their chocolate macadamia nut, which was chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Also, go for the cone! They are quite fresh here. 

Kauai Brewing Company: This brewery in Lihue features food trucks every Wednesday. The beer was good, not amazing, and you can try all 8 for $16. The atmosphere was really fun, and it’s a great low-key outing for the evening. 

St Regis Kauai


St. Regis Princeville Bar: The St. Regis bar has the most spectacular view of Hanalei Bay, and it’s worth the $16 cocktail to go watch the sunset. They saber a champagne bottle every evening which is also fun to watch. The snack mix which they give out for free is tasty as well. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake
Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

I warned you last week that fall was just around the corner, and here it is, with a Rosh Hashanah honey cake recipe.

While honey cake was never on my family's Rosh Hashanah table, it is a traditional recipe for the Jewish New Year. My family ate a lot of apples and honey, but honey cake was never on our agenda. To be honest, whenever I had honey cake, I ended up disappointed. It didn't even taste like honey!

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

When I saw this particular honey cake recipe in Cook's Country, I knew I had to give it a shot.  The recipe has almost 2 cups of honey in it, and the cake was perfectly sticky and sweet. My taste testers at work devoured the cake quickly, and it is sure to be a star on your Rosh Hashanah table. Plus, it's a pretty simple and straightforward recipe, no fancy kitchen equipment required.

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

For those out there who don't celebrate Rosh Hashanah...still make this cake! I love honey cake with tea in the late afternoon, but it would also be a hit for brunch.

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

From Cook's Country

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup honey

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heavily spray 12-cup Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray with flour. 

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Whisk water, eggs, apple sauce, vegetable oil, orange juice, and vanilla extract together in another bowl until combined. Whisk honey into egg mixture until fully incorporated.

Whisk honey mixture into flour mixture until well combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a skewer inside of the cake comes out clean. 

Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes, then use rubber spatula to loosen cake from sides of pan and invert it onto a rack. Let cool completely, for about 2 hours.

Whisk all three glaze ingredients together in a bowl. Drizzle evenly over cake. Let glaze firm (about 30 minutes), then serve. 

 

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