Honey Matcha Caramels

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Hope everyone enjoyed your holiday weekend and spent quality time with your loved ones! The holidays came and went so quick! I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to keep the “holiday feels” for as long as possible. One way is to keep the kitchen table stocked with candies and other sweets. I’ve recently found my candy thermometer and it’s time to actually put use to it. Do you also have a drawer full of kitchen gadgets that have gotten lost and forgotten?

I’ve made brittles and toffee in the past and wanted to try making caramels. Having Christmas being this past weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to practice on making batches of different caramels without having hundreds of pieces to eat on my own. Out of the different recipes I’ve tried, this one was my favorite so I’d like to share the recipe with you!

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These caramels have a really nice texture and the slightly bitter/earthy flavor from the matcha really balances out the sweetness from the sugar. I highly recommend making these if you’re a fan of soft chewy caramels and what I really like about this recipe is that one batch doesn’t make a ridiculous amount. Again, I used matcha from MotionMatcha and honestly, I think the flavor from MotionMatcha really made the flavor of these caramels better! Often times with other brands, I have to use extra matcha just to really taste the flavor, but the flavors from MotionMatcha is quite concentrated.

Before starting, make sure to have everything prepared as caramels are VERY quick to make and you don’t want the sugar. Also, make sure to keep your eyes on the thermometer. If the temperature goes too high, you’ll end up with brittle or crunchy sugar versus a soft luscious caramel.

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Honey Matcha Caramels
Adapted from Snixy Kicthen

3/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. matcha powder
5/6 heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1. Prepare a 8″x4″ pan by lining the inside with parchment paper. I ended up using a Pyrex container.

2. In a small bowl, combine matcha powder and about 1/4 C. heavy whipping cream. Using a whisk or a fork, mix the matcha powder and heaving whipping cream until there are no more lumps of matcha powder. Add this into a small pot and add the rest of the heavy whipping cream to the pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles form on the sides of the pot. Make sure the cream mixture doesn’t burn. Set aside

3. In another small pot, add the sugar and honey and heat over medium high heat and stir continuously until the sugar and honey completely melt.

4. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that the bottom of the thermometer is completely submerged in the sugar. Heat the sugar honey mixture until the temperature reaches 302 F without stirring at all.

5. Now add the butter and kosher salt and slowly stir in the warm whipping cream. WARNING: The sugar will sizzle as you add the whipping cream so be careful. As the cream is added, the sugar mixture temperature will lower.

6. Continuously stir the mixture until the temperature reaches 248 F. Immediately pour the hot caramel into your prepared pan. Don’t scrape the excess caramel from the sides of the pan otherwise you’ll get hard bits of sugar in your caramels.

7. Let the caramels cool for at least five hours before cutting into it.

8. When the caramels are completely cooled, cut caramels into small pieces with a sharp heavy knife and wrap each piece in a piece of parchment or wax paper.

Matcha and Chocolate Shortbreads Dipped in Dark Chocolate

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Tis the season for baking cookies! Not that you’re ever not supposed to bake cookies…

Shortbreads are one of my favorite types of cookies. My hands seem to have a mind of their own when a bin of shortbread cookies are in front of me and within a blink of an eye, half of the container is gone. They’re just so flakey and full of flavor. C’mon, who doesn’t like butter?!

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I’ve recently partnered with Motionmatcha for this post and recipe. Motionmatcha is an online store that sells matcha in ready to go packages that can be mixed with water for a quick drink and an instant pick-me-up. In the afternoons, I’ve stopped drinking coffee because drinking coffee after 1:00PM either keeps me up at night or makes me crash like no tomorrow. Instead, I’ve replaced that afternoon cup of coffee with a glass of matcha and I haven’t experienced crashing since. For those who know me well, you know I’m a matcha fanatic and will consume anything matcha at any and every change I get so I definitely had to make something when I received a package of matcha in the mail. Not only have I started drinking Motionmatcha almost daily, I’ve come up with ways to bake with them. Stay tuned for more recipes to come, but for now, enjoy these shortbreads! And if you’d like to try some Motionmatcha products, you can get 15% off here!

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Matcha/Chocolate Shortbreads
About 3 dozen cookies

2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. matcha
1 Tbsp. dark cocoa (black cocoa if you have it)
1 C. butter (2 sticks), separated, softened at room temperature
1/2 C. confectioners sugar
2 C. bittersweet chocolate

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl then set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, cream butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the flour and salt mixture into the creamed butter and beat until just incorporated.
4. Split the dough in half and move one half of the dough into another bowl.
5. To the dough left in the standing mixer, add the matcha and beat until just combined. Remove from the stand mixer and set aside.
6. Now, place the remaining half of the dough and place into the stand mixer. Add the dark cocoa and beat until just combined. Remove from the stand mixer and set aside.
7. On a slightly floured surface, roll each kind of dough into a log, about an inch and a half in diameter. Wrap in seran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F and place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet.

8. When the dough has hardened a bit, remove from the seran wrap and slice the dough into 1/4 inch discs and place onto the baking sheet. These cookies don’t spread very much, so not much room needs to be left inbetween each other.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you see the bottom edges just about to turn golden.
10. Let the cookies sit for about two minutes before placing them onto a cooling rack.
11. When your cookies have fully cooled, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments in a small bowl. Mix the chocolate with a spatula after every 30 seconds. When the chocolate is completely melted, dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate, one at a time. Place each dipped cookie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and let the chocolate harden. The chocolate shouldn’t stick to the parchment paper/silpat when removing the cookie.

Farm To Fork SF

I was invited to attend an event with Farm To Fork this weekend showcasing sustainable beef and carbon ranching. There was also a short film on sustainable agriculture and how cows are raised, which really educated me on where our local high quality beef comes from. In addition to that, there was excellent live music and drinks to accompany the unbelievably delicious beef we had. Let me just show you what we ate!

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Chef Chris Kiyuna from The Perennial: Beef tartare on a slice of grilled persimmon.

This little bite surprised me! Upon first glance, I thought this was beef tartare on top of a cracker, but to my surprise, the “cracker” was a slice of grilled persimmon. The persimmon had a slight crispness to it and had a slightly sweet flavor which went perfectly with the beef tartare. And I thought I hated persimmons! Isn’t it pretty?

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Chef Tu David Phu – Feastly/Independent: TomKat Ranch sirloin tartare with chanterelle mushrooms, seeds, shaved daikon, and dill all on a piece of grilled rice paper.

This was probably my favorite dish of night! The beef and mushroom was so flavorful, but light, and the texture of the rice paper just tied everything together. The rice paper was rice paper wrap used to make Vietnamese spring rolls, but instead of wetting it with water, it was torched. Adding heat to the rice paper makes it kind of fluff up giving it the texture of a shrimp chip. Genius!

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Chef Tu David Phu: Coastal Hill farm egg with smoked cream, maple, amaretto, sage, and salt

I ended the night with one of these delightful eggs and it was the perfect dessert. I was expecting this to be savory, but it was slightly sweet and had a pleasant creaminess from the cream. Very rich, but not overpowering.

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Chef Wes Rowe from WesBurger ‘N’ More – Stemple Creek Ranch specialty brisket burger

Am I allowed to cuss on here? F*ck. This was probably one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while! It was a burger simply dressed with caramelized onions, mustard, and sliced pickles. That’s it. This burger really proves that good quality beef doesn’t need all the fancy condiments to taste good.

Overall, this event was a good experience of fun and educational and I recommend anyone to come and support any of the Farm To Fork events!

Pumpkin Praline Cake

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Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s already the last quarter of the year. As much as I look forward to Fall every year, I never realize October is here until I go grocery shopping at Trader Joes and see EVERYTHING pumpkin. Of course I can never go home without a pumpkin product. This time around, I decided on picking up a can of pumpkin puree to actually get a start on some Fall baking.

One weekend, I had the urge to bake something and didn’t want to make the typical pumpkin cupcakes I bake every year. I remembered seeing a praline cake somewhere online – something I’ve never seen before. I searched the web far and wide and found the recipe. Guys, I made this recipe and I’m never turning back. It’s SO easy to make, it doesn’t create a lot of dirty dishes, it’s extremely moist, AND it can be made into so many other forms! Pumpkin layer cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cake parfait.. ugh, the list goes on. The thing I probably like the most is that no special kitchen equipment is needed to make the frosting or the cake. I ended up making this cake at my boyfriend’s house – A man who doesn’t do ANY baking whatsoever with no baking tools in sight.

I’ve made this cake 3 times in the last month and it’s been a hit with everyone I’ve given it to. Instead of using only walnuts, I used a honey roasted mixture of nuts and instead of purchasing all of the different spices, I bought pumpkin spice. Also, before pouring the frosting over the cake, I took a serrated knife and leveled the top of the cake off so that some parts of the cake wouldn’t have more frosting than other parts. I then took some of the cake that was cut off from the top and crumbled it over the frosting along with the chopped nuts. Make sure you work quickly with the frosting. Sue wasn’t kidding about the frosting setting quickly! Make sure you have your cake already cooled and your spreading utensil in hand before making the frosting.

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The recipe below is how I made the cake, but the original recipe can be foundhere

Make this!

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Pumpkin Praline Cake
Servings: 12-16

Cake
1 15 oz canned pumpkin
1 C. sugar
1 C. canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda

Frosting
1/2 C. half and half
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 C. packed brown sugar
2 C powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. roasted mixed nuts of your choice, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or butter and flour the pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix canned pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs until combined.

3. Add the pumpkin spice and salt and mix.

4. Now add the flour and baking soda and fold the mixture until everything is just mixed together.

5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared baking pan and use a spatula to evenly spread the cake mixture before putting into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes and test with a toothpick. When after poking a toothpick into the cake comes out clean, it’s ready!

6. Set aside for at least an hour to cool.

7. Chop up the nuts and set aside.

8. When the cake has cooled, put half and half, butter, and brown sugar into a medium sized pot. Heat until melted and starting to boil over medium heat. Let the mixture slow boil for about a minute then take the pot off of the heat.

9. Add in the sifted powdered sugar and stir with a whisk until completely combined.

10. Immediately pour the frosting over the cooled cake.

11. Quickly sprinkle the the chopped nuts over the frosting before the frosting has time to settle and harden.

Cherry Frangipane Galette

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I know it’s a little late to be posting about cherries.. “C’mon Cheryl. It’s just about pumpkin season now.” I sort of misplaced my memory card while switching cameras and couldn’t get a hold of the pictures I took when this tart was actually made.

This tart was put together on one of those days where I felt like baking something, but was lazy AF. I didn’t feel like leaving the house to buy anything so I just opened up the refrigerator to see what I had to work with.Β  Half a bag of cherries, a lemon, butter, and a shit load of almonds.

I tend to make any excuse to make a dessert with Dorie Greenspan’s frangipane from her French Pear Tart recipe, cause it’s just that good and so darn easy. I ended up making a dough and the frangipane and by the time I got to the cherries, I already wanted to stick them back into the fridge and leave them there. Well, something came over me and I actually stood there pitting every single cherry then sprinkling some sugar over them. Then wah-lah. The finished product was a rustic cherry galette that not only was easy enough to make by a lazy person, but was crisp on the outside and not too sweet on the inside.

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Frangipane
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s French Pear Tart

6 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 C. Granulated sugar
3/4 C. Almond flour
2 tsp. All purspose flour
1 tsp. Corn starch
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg
2 tsp. Rum

In a food processor, combine butter and sugar until smooth. Add the almond flour, flour, corn starch and salt and pulse until combined. Add egg and run and pulse until well combined.

Remove from food processor into a covered bowl. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Dough
Adapted from Food52
1 C. Unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. Granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 C. Ice water

2 Tbsp. Melted butter
Sugar

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Add the cubed pieces of butter and incorporate into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or the back of a knife, until crumbs the size of peas start to form. Slowly add water and mix until the dough becomes one big ball. Cut the dough in half and saran wrap each separately. Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

ASSEMBLY:

Put cherries into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon zest. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 400F.

When you’re ready to use the dough, prepare your surface with a light dusting of flour. Lay the dough on the flour and roll into a circle until about 1/4 inch thick. The circle doesn’t have to be perfect.

Spoon half the frangipane onto the center of the circle and spread the frangipane into a thin layer, leaving about 2 inches of the dough edge free.

Drain the cherries from the juice and place the cherries on top of the frangipane.

Fold the edges of the dough inward, creating something that looks like a pizza crust.

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Brush on the melted butter onto the crust and sprinkle on the sugar.

Brush melted butter over the “crust” and sprinkle with sugar. Place the galette onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you have a tart pan, place the galette into the tart pan prior to placing it onto the cookie sheet.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. When the galette is done baking, let the galette set on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring it onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.

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Serve cold or my favorite, warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

Chicken Adobo

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Have I mentioned how much I love chicken? I can pull a Bubba from Forest Gump if you were to ask me what my favorite chicken dish is… chicken nuggets, chicken stir-fry, orange chicken, chicken adobo, chicken ice cream.. Ok, I’ve gone too far. And I think I’ve just about told you my age by referencing the movie Forest Gump. Nevermind that. What’s most important is this chicken adobo.

I’ve had many chicken adobos in my lifetime and quickly found out how simple it is to make. I can count the number of ingredients it takes on one hand, if my hand had 6 fingers. All that’s needed is vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and chicken. Now, chicken adobo is slightly sweet and tangy and 100% of the time, the end result is some tender ass chicken. It’s basically chicken that’s been stewed/braised in all of those ingredients listed and in it’s own tasty juices until the chicken is cooked through. Authentic chicken adobo is made with cane vinegar (the brand I’ve seen is Datu Puti) versus white distilled vinegar, but if you don’t have cane vinegar at home, white distilled vinegar is perfectly fine. It’ll just be a little tangier. Chicken adobo is one of those dishes you play with to suit your taste.

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So…not that this recipe is spot on authentic, but I add one ingredient that totally throws the authenticity of this recipe right into the dumpster. ONIONS! Guys… in my household, we LOVE cooked onions that have absorbed all of the flavors the party in the pot can offer. The sweetness from the onions also replaces the sugar a lot of recipes ask for. Trust me, my fellow chicken connoisseurs. Tender braised chicken and onions packed with flavor on top of rice is the fricking best. I must say no more.

 

Chicken Adobo
Servings: 6

2 Tbsp. oil of your choice
12 chicken drumsticks
1 C. light soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 small bay leaves
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
1 medium sized onion sliced
3/4 C. vinegar

1. In a large heavy duty pan, heat oil of medium high heat.
2. When the oil is heated, brown the chicken drumsticks flipping them every few minutes until all sides are browned.
3. While the chicken is browning, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns in a medium bowl and mix together.
4. When the chicken drumsticks are browned, sprinkle the slices onions inbetween the chicken pieces and let them find their way to the bottom of the pan. Let the onions cook down in the chicken fat and cook until their translucent.
5. Pour the sauce into the pan making sure every piece of chicken is sitting in the sauce.
6. Next, pour the vinegar over everything. MOST IMPORTANT STEP: DON’T mix or stir the chicken in the sauce. After pouring the vinegar in, let the sauce come up to a boil before mixing the contents of the pan. If you mix the sauce it comes to a boil, the dish comes out more sour.
7. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked and tender.
8. Enjoy over rice.

Oxtail Pho

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Hello there! For the past couple of months, my mind has been focused on work, studying, and no play whatsoever. If we were able to see into each other’s minds, you’d probably see either a tornado or a block of mush, in mine.

I came across Steph’s recipe of oxtail pho onΒ iamafoodblog. It happened I was reading her post while standing in Costco. I looked over my shoulder and saw about 100 lbs. of oxtail sitting there right before my eyes. How could I not buy a couple of pounds and not make oxtail pho, right??

Steph simmered her soup stock for about 4 hours. Β Keeping in mind I’m completely mentally drained, I just threw everything into a slow cooker. That was probably the best decision I made that day. Slow-cooking the oxtail ensures fall-off-the-bone tender meat and also means stress-free no fuss cooking. I literally slept while the soup cooked. I woke up to a house that had the spicy aroma of pho broth flooding down the hallway. Almost as good as the smell of mom’s baking in the early morning. Right before serving, I heated the oxtail in a pan to create a crust and lightly sprinkled it with salt to create another dimension of flavor. I also tried to keep as much of the meat on the bone as I fully believe that one of the best ways to enjoy oxtail is to suck all of the meat and tendon off from the bone! Hey, no shame here.

This entire process took two days to make and about 10 minutes to eat, but it took very little effort and 98% of the time was waiting. Anyways, keep reading to see what I did. Thanks Steph for posting this awesome recipe!

First and foremost, take out your slow-cooker!

Oxtail Pho

Original recipe here
Servings: About 6 bowls of pho

Spices:

1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tsp. of whole coriander
1 heaping tsp. of whole cloves
5 star anise

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Stock:

2 large onions, cut in half, keep outer skin
3/4″ knob of ginger
medium sized daikon radish, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 lbs. oxtail
3 quarts water
2 quarts beef broth
1/4 C. fish sauce

Pho noodles (this time I used fresh flat rice noodles)

Garnish:

thai basil
bean sprouts
green onions, thinly sliced
sriracha
sliced jalapeΓ±os
cilantro

1. Place halved onions and ginger into a 400 F oven or toaster oven on broil. Toast until the outside of the onions are charred. About 15 minutes.

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2. While the onions and ginger are toasting, trim the fat from the oxtail. Place the trimmed oxtail into a large pot. Fill the pot up with cold water until all of the oxtail is covered about an inch. Place the pot onto the stove and bring the water up to a rolling boil. Boil the oxtail for about 10 minutes to remove all of the impurities. Pour the dirty water out and rinse the oxtail. Transfer the oxtail into the slow cooker. This is key to making a clear broth. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

3. in a small hot pan, toast the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise until fragrant. Put the toasted spices and cinnamon stick into the slow cooker. Also add the carrots and daikon radish.

4. Add the 3 quarts of water to the slow cooker. If you can’t fit the beef broth, no worries. You can add this in later.

5. Turn on your slow-cooker to low and slow cook for 10 hours.

6. After 10 hours, separate the onions, daikon, carrots, and oxtail from the stock then strain the broth into a clean large pot. Simmer the stock for at least another hour or until your desired taste. The longer it boils, the richer the stock will become. If you couldnt fit all if the liquid into your slowcooker earlier, this is the time to add it now. Add fish sauce and taste. If you want the srock saltier, add more fish sauce. Discard the onions, carrots and daikon or save for later to eat.

7. Let the stock cool then transfer the pot into the refrigerator. When the broth gets cold, a layer of fat will form on the surface. Remove the fat.

8. When you’re ready to eat, heat the stock until boiling.

9. Heat a frying pan and fry the oxtail meat and lightly sprinkle the meat with salt.

10. To prepare a bowl of pho, add a handful of noodles and a few chunks of meat to a large bowl. Spoon the hot broth over the noodles and oxtail then finish with your choice of garnish.

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Happy slurping!