Cooking fish in a papillote will forever remind me of going to Benihana as a kid. The chef (after he caught a shrimp tail in his hat) would always make my mother her favorite: a piece of salmon steamed to perfection in a piece of folded parchment. It was the first time I saw this technique, and I imagine it was my mom’s first time, too, because after that she always cooked her fish this way. “It’s healthy and easy and no clean-up!” she would always say. My mom, like all moms and lazy adults with no children, hates doing dishes so this technique is great to ease this sentiment.
Today I teamed up with Samsung, who recently put together these beautifully shot videos with some amazing chefs (Christopher Kostow? Whoa, hello!) on some of my favorite techniques. I personally love cooking technique and since I didn’t go to culinary school but have somehow found myself cooking for a living, I often times need videos likes these for reference. They help when I need to brush up on the basics.
I don’t discuss failures very often because a lot of the time, they’re sort of boring stories, i.e., my leavening ratio was off, the dish was bland, spices should’ve been toasted, etc. They’re not really all that exciting, but I think talking about them is important because probably from the outside it looks like I ace every single dish and the reality is that I don’t. AT ALL. And also, we all know perfection is dull. Is there anything more boring than perfection? No.
Today I was hoping to share with all of youse a beautiful silky smooth recipe for Homemade Yogurt. I started out hopeful. I did a ton of research and settled on the fact that there was no way I was going to buy a yogurt maker. Because A: I don’t need another kitchen gadget. B: I don’t make that much yogurt to justify the cost.
So, I did what a lot of people suggest: I mixed in a teaspoon of sugar into 2 cups of fresh milk (just to encourage the bacteria) and heated it to 170F-180F. At this time, the milk should cool to 110F. I did this. And then I mixed in about 1/4 cup good-quality Greek yogurt. (I wanted the two strands in there, so I used Greek.) I transferred the liquid to sterilized jars and left them out on my counter to sit. I’ll admit that it was drafty in my apt. It’s winter (ish) in LA after all. After around 8 hours, it was still super milky. I put it in the fridge thinking it would firm up. NOPE.
Ok, second try. I turned my oven on and set a baking sheet with the soon-to-be-yogurt on top. The oven was set to nearly 400F so it was really, REALLY warm in my kitchen. Six hours later, STILL LIKE MILK.
Tried it again just to make sure I didn’t mess up a step. NOPE. Still the same.
Josh came home, examined the yogurt and told me that at his restaurant they keep it out for longer, they move it from different places within the restaurant depending on the temperature and that it actually is fickle. It’s not an exact science.
UGH! As a person who writes recipes for da innanet, I can’t deal with the fickleness, especially when we can just buy damn yogurt for like $3. Why would we deal with the moodiness of yogurt?
If we’re DIYing something that we normally would just buy, my motto is that it needs to be less expensive than buying it at the store and the process needs to be easy because time is valuable. So, rather than attacking this for a fourth time, I decided to let it go. I decided that maybe I should just buy yogurt because making it at home was too dramatic and too uncertain and I don’t have time for dat. And I’m guessing neither do you.
So, here we are, first failure of 2015.
I’ll promise to share more failures in the future. I think they’re important. Also, if you’ve successfully made yogurt in the past, LET ME KNOW YOUR WAYS!
I do things at the holidays I don’t always do during the year: I (attempt) to decorate every corner of my apartment; I bake any chance I get; and I put antler ears on Amelia and force her to take pictures with me. Basically, what I’m saying is that I embrace the season and try and make the most of it. A big part of taking advantage of the season is creating things, arranging things, and making my home look as pretty and magical as possible.
Today I teamed up with Target to show you a pretty and fuss-free dessert table. Treat-making is my favorite thing to do but I do know that during the holidays it’s tough to tackle a gigantic project for a party (I tackled a buche de noel on Saturday, more on that later!), so I wanted to give you something super easy: Cappuccino Truffles! The best part about this recipe is the fact that it requires a lot of downtime, allowing you to turn your attention to making the dessert table look as cute as possible. I wanted the dessert table to feel cozy (I know, surprising), neutral and natural, and rely on gold and silver to bring some sparkle.
The recipe starts with heating cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate, after a little stir action, it goes in the fridge to chill.
During this time, I hung this cute tree garland around the table. I also hung this wall garland I made a few days prior that consisted of some cedar, pine cones and tallow branches. All you need a bit of floral wire and a few nails! Super easy.
I hope you’re inspired to make some treats and make your space cute and cozy. ’Tis the season!
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 truffles
Serving Size: 16
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped (chips are also fine!)
1/4 cup coffee granules, finely ground
1/4 cup instant milk powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until it reaches a light simmer. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate into a shallow dish, such as a 9-inch pie dish, and transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the coffee, milk powder, salt and powdered sugar. Pulse until finely ground and mixed. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop (or a melon baller), scoop out mounds of the chocolate mixture onto a piece of parchment or wax paper (they’ll look a bit like wonky circles—don’t worry!). Transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional hour. Remove from the fridge and using your hands, roll the mounds of chocolate to form a circle (don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles) and then immediately transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional 15 minutes. Roll the chocolate balls in the coffee mixture and place in mini cupcake liners. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve, at which time, allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, just to take off a bit of its chill. Garnish, if you like, with a teeny dusting of powdered sugar.
It’s my favorite time of year! WOOHOO! Fall has finally decided to arrive in full force in Los Angeles. There will be a Christmas tree in my near future. And this week I’m going to try my hardest to send out my holiday cards. I’m also knee-deep into planning holiday gifts. I decided to conquer one of the most important ones first: this coffee tray.
This year work has been busy, busy. And behind the scenes with this lil’ blog there are projects and collaborations, which in many cases means there are contracts that I usually don’t understand. This stuff is not fun, but luckily I have my boyfriend’s dad, Michael, help me.
He reads contracts over, explains the details to me in an English I can understand, is so ridiculously patient when I ask the same question a million times, and he makes sure I’m not signing Amelia away in the process. (I’m not that stressed about it, I guarantee they’d return her after a few weeks!)
He just opened his new law office in downtown LA and I wanted to get him something really nice for it. Like every person who has to focus for long periods of time, he loves coffee, especially espresso.
This coffee tray is streamlined and simple, he can move it around his office if he likes, while still giving him exactly what he needs to make delicious espresso or coffee any time of the day.
The tray I picked up at Target (it’s actually from Oh Joy’s line). Oh and there are a few good-quality napkins in case he spills stuff. The colors are sort of holiday-esque but at the same time it won’t look THAT much like Christmas in June.
I also included a set of capsules from Nespresso. Maybe Amelia got a hold of one and chewed it a lil’ bit. Whoops!
I hope he likes this coffee tray (I think he will).
It’s not every weekend when I get the opportunity to gather my friends together and host a dinner party, so when I was invited to be a part of the #BertolliGoldLabel Italian Progressive Dinner Party, I said a-ok!
I’m a pretty casual person; this means I like my dinner parties to feel very fuss-free. Here are some guidelines I like to follow:
1. I kinda start to stress out when I see the host get up a million times. I feel like I should help! I don’t want my friends to feel like this so I make sure everything is ready (entree included), on the table, served family-style. This means from the time they arrive everything is very laid back.
2. At least one course is completely store-bought. In this case it was the sauce from Bertolli (more on that later), cheeses, charcuterie, figs and grapes and olives. Easy breezy!
3. Wine matches the food. My friend Whitney helped with this, selecting the perfect, super affordable Italian wines to go with our Italian-inspired dinner.
Today we’re talking about fall dinner party inspo. I’m exploring the world of plates and linens and flowers and color schemes. This weekend I teamed up with Bertolli to throw a dinner party, as a larger part of their #Bertolli Gold Label Progressive Italian Dinner Party with a few other food bloggers (like Tracy, Beth, Carrian and Kristen).
While the virtual dinner party plays out with fantastic recipes (see menu below), I’m also taking this opportunity to get my friends together in a backyard and eat fancy cheese, stuff our faces with a persimmon galette (recipe coming soon!) and delicious porchini mushroom lasagna featuring a new Bertolli Gold Label sauce. But more on the food next week! When people think of Italy, the first thing they think of is food, but details are in the table setting, too. So today is all about the pretty images I’ve been hoarding on Pinterest as inspiration for a fall table.
I love the idea of having a fall table with absolutely zero orange. I personally adore the color orange, but isn’t it refreshing to see fall tables with other color schemes? For this particular table I wanted the color palette to be a cool blue, baby green and beige. It’s a lil’ bit California meets Italy, a little cozy and a whole lot of cute.
My mama is one of the healthiest people I know. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to start working out regularly and eating a wee bit healthier. She eats the cleanest diet known to man and works out almost everyday. She loves Zumba, which means she knows more Pitbull and Drake songs than I do!
I figured I’d skip the perfume this year (though this scent subscription box thingy sounds awesome!) and give her something that is half homemade, half purchased and super cute. Enter: Breakfast In a Box!
Mailing food can be tough so I opted to go with this grain-free granola. Right after I made my first batch, I freaked out because I loved it so much and called my mom. She loooves granola, so I made some to include in this basket.
The granola was enough to fill this Weck Jar. As for the label, I took a piece of an index card, painted on a messy circle with some watercolors, waited for it to dry and wrote “Grain-less Granola.” Couldn’t be easier. I swear watercolors are my jam.
To secure it I sprayed it with a spray adhesive (my favorite thing ever) but some double-stick scotch tape would do the trick too!
I found this very local honey called Buzzed Honeys and included a jar so my mom can pour a little on top of her granola that she’ll probably eat with cold almond milk. (I know her well!)
I also figured she’d need a cute linen to wipe her mouth with. I picked this one up from Anthropologie.
Josh recently bought this bag of coffee from Bows and Arrows and I was stoked to see that it was from Peru. This was actually the first time I’ve tried Peruvian coffee. Since my mom is Peruvian, I thought it would be fitting to buy her a bag.
Another hobby my mom and I share is ceramics. She took it for years and when I’d call her with my gripes about not being able to center, trim properly, etc., she’d always give me a few tips and pointers that really helped. I buy her fancy ceramics sometimes because I know she loves it so.
I’ve been eyeing Ben Medansky’s ceramics for a very loooong time. I think this pink ceramic mug is pretty cute and perfect for Mother’s Day.
It’s actually so cute that I wish I could keep it for myself.
And since my mom is the cutest (yours is too), I included a little card from Ashkan.
What I love about this basket is that you can make it your own. I splurged a bit but you can definitely find a super cute mug that costs less, coffee from your local coffee shop and good-quality honey from the grocery store. I say make it your own, think about what your mama loves to eat for breakfast. I hope she likes it. I think she will.
When I first moved to L.A. I was on a crazy strict budget. I’m talking the kind of budget where I was eating once a day and that meal consisted of, like, a few dollar tacos. It was kinda sucky, but honestly I’m really thankful for that time in my life; it gave me drive and made me more conscious as to how I spend my money. Before this, I strictly bought beauty products at department stores and Sephora. My little broke period forced me to start buying beauty products from the drug store; and you know what, I still buy A LOT of my beauty products from Walgreens. I find that many of them are just as good as fancy products.
One of the things I stopped buying during this period was Fresh’s Lip Polish; not because it wasn’t effective—it’s my absolute favorite—but because I found that it was SO easy to make at home. I made a big batch the other day when my lips looked cracked and gross and really needed some refreshing. While Los Angeles has had an oddly warm winter, it has been super dry, leaving my lips not looking their cutest.
While I can totally do without Valentine’s day, I absolutely LOVE St. Patrick’s Day. I love Irish food and adore the color green, though just like Valentine’s Day, I don’t think food should be turned green against its will. Can we just let food live? Another reason I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Day, in college when I worked at a brewery, it was always my highest grossing day of the year. People love an excuse to drink. Me included.
If I’m being honest, I don’t always go for cream or milk mixed with my alcohol. I think it goes back to the days when I used to have to bus glassware that had the remnants of stout mixed with irish cream and whiskey. It was curdle-central all up in there and it was not cute, my friends.
Having said all that, I’ve had dreams of making Homemade Irish Cream without a curdle in sight.
Ok, so let me preface this post by saying that this isn’t a recipe. This isn’t a recipe for filtered water because that would be RIDICULOUS. And it’d be much like Paula Deen’s recipe for English peas. Remember this? It was amazing. No salt, no pepper, no nothing. Just lots of butter and peas. Very Paula-style!
A few months ago Rikumo offerred to send me a few pieces of Binchotan charcoal. I was super intrigued after reading about its purifying capabilities so I said yes, and a few days later it arrived wrapped in a piece of brown paper. As I did some research I found some interesting things. For starters, Binchotan charcoal is made in the Kishu region of Japan and is activated through extremely high burning temperatures, along with a rapid cooling process.
After this process, these charcoals are extremely porous and end up having a variety of uses; mainly ones that call for absorbing impurities. They’re specifically known for enhancing blood circulation when placed in hot baths, absorbing odors when placed in closets, smelly fridges or shoes, stimulating soil in your garden and lastly, purifying drinking water.
Purifying drinking water with these Binchotan charcoals is a bit of a process (albeit a very short and easy one), so I figured I’d show you, in case this is very new-to-you (it was to me too, like, two days ago).
If you’ve ever seen the film Chinatown, you know that water is a big deal in Los Angeles. There is heavy debate as to whether Los Angeles has super healthy water or water that follows outdated regulations. Because I can’t do a full-on investigation myself, I always filter my water or use bottled (though I try and stay away from the bottled stuff whenever possible). And honestly, I don’t love the way Los Angeles water tastes. When I lived in North Carolina, I thought the water was delicious! It tasted like it was straight from a spring. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I could taste the difference from these charcoals.
Step 1: When you receive the charcoals, they’ll be dusty. This isn’t a big deal if you’re putting them in a bath or placing them in your fridge, but since we’re purifying water with them, we’re going to start by rinsing and brushing off the excess ash.
Step 2: Transfer the charcoals to a pot of water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the water and allow the charcoals to cool completely.
Step 3: Fill your container with water and place the cooled charcoal inside. Allow the two to sit for several hours; about 2-3 hours. During this time the charcoal will absorb the impurities in the water.
Step 4: Feel free to leave the charcoal in the container and refill it when you’re low on water. The charcoal will work for 2 to 3 weeks until it needs to be refreshed.
Step 5: Refreshing the charcoal is super easy. Simply boil it for 10 minutes and it’s good to go. The company that makes this charcoal recommends replacing it all together every 3 months or so.
This cool-looking Chikuno Cube has replaced the box of baking soda that used to be in my fridge—it’s very effective! I also have my eye on this charcoal toothbrush. I think they’re pretty cool.
*This is not a sponsored post. I just think it’s a super cool product and wanted to share.