How-To

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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!

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

And since my mom is the cutest (yours is too), I included a little card from Ashkan.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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.

(And here’s last year’s Mother’s Day post. My mama really is the best.)

Shopping Resources:

Wooden crate (The one pictured was purchased from Michael’s)
Teak Spoon
Weck 26-ounce Jar
“You’re Cute” Cards
Ben Medansky Mug
Painted Napkin
Jar of Buzzed Honey
Pretty succulent in a pot I painted
Bows and Arrows Coffee
Basket stuffed with raffia (and then I lined with a piece of linen I had)

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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Pie Crust 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Pie is my love language. And this week I’ll be serenading you with butter and caramel and fruit. It’s PIE WEEK!

Each day I’ll be bringing you a new pie. Some will be classics with small twists; other’s will be new-to-me (and you, hopefully) combinations.

Thanksgiving is next week and if you’ve worked it right, you’ve got the savory stuff down. You have your turkey reserved and situated. Dessert, though, might still be up in the air. If so, I urge you to make a lil’ pie. What’s great is that all of these pies can be made the night before and then served the next day. They all keep well.

I’ll admit that the first time I made pie, years ago, it was a complete disaster. I blame myself for being a terrible reader of instructions AND pies aren’t “easy as pie.” (That might be the most inaccurate, idiotic idiom I’ve ever heard.)

Pie has its challenges, though it’s definitely not impossible. Hopefully these tips and photos will help make you successful at da pie-a-makin’.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

INGREDIENTS: Freeze your butter. Start with frozen butter. I generally freeze the butter for about an hour or so prior to starting.

Step 1: Possible obvious advice: Careful when measuring out your dry ingredients. I always weigh out my dry ingredients (because I actually find it easier than dirtying up cup measures). If you do use cup measures, make sure to fluff the flour, scoop it and then level it off with a butter knife.

Step 2: Use a box grater to cut up the butter. I find this WAY easier than breaking it up using a pastry cutter. Just shred the frozen butter atop the mixed dry ingredients. The end goal when making pie dough is to get the butter to resemble pea-sized bits; well, if you use a box grater, you’re already there. This makes it so you handle the flour mixture less, which will result in a tender pie crust.

Step 3: The key to good pie crust is everything should be cold, cold, COLD! This includes the water. I usually drop a few ice cubes into the water so the water is chilly.

Step 4: I usually add about 50% of the water I need to the dry ingredients, mix it together, AND then add more water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead the dough a good ten times and form it into one cohesive ball. If it’s a bit shaggy, no biggie. When the dough rests in the fridge, the moisture will disburse throughout.

Step 5: This is a double-crust, so I slice it in half and reshape the dough into two discs. You should see the butter striated throughout the dough, creating layers of butter and flour.

Step 6: Let the dough rest. Resting the dough for an hour usually does the trick, but ideally it should be kept overnight. Have you ever had problems with your pie crust shrinking in the oven? This usually happens because there’s too much water in the dough and/or the gluten in the flour hasn’t had enough time to relax. Overnight is always better.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 7: Have you ever started rolling, only to find out the pie dough starts to crack on you?! Very frustrating. Allow the dough to sit on a floured work surface for about 10 minutes. This way it’ll shake off its chill, making it easier to roll out.

Step 8: Flour everything. Everything!! Press your rolling pin and roll outward. Give it one push, then rotate the disc a quarter turn, and repeat the process until the pie dough has reached about a 13-inch circle. Keep flouring, too. If the dough seems like it’s sticking to your counter, lift it and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Step 9: The transfer. I like to do it grandma style by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and then laying it over my pie pan. Some people like to fold it like a business letter and then transfer it. Both work fine.

Step 10: Trim the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. There will be a bit of shrinkage, so just prepare for it.

Step 11: Crimp, if you like! Or braid it. You can also take a fork and create little indentations. Place the pie pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is also a good time to preheat your oven. If you’re filling it with fruit, do it post-freezer trip.

Supplies:

Here’s what I like and why.

1. Pie Pan – Glass. I like this Pyrex one. I love vintage-y pie pans I find at yard sales, but they heat unevenly and get way too hot. I like that the Pyrex ones are inexpensive and see-through so I can see how the crust is doing.

2. French rolling pin. These are inexpensive, better looking (in my opinion) and way less heavy than the traditional ol’ handle rolling pins.

3. Box grater. See above for my long-winded, very passionate reason why I use a box grater! Another thing that would work is a food processor with the cheese grater attachment. But do we really want to clean a food processor? Not really.

Take the jump for the recipes!

Double Crust

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Dough for 2 nine-inch pie crusts

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (312.5g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon (7g) fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3/4 cups very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they're evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.
  2. Add a 1/2 cup of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (I usually need to add 3 to 4 tablespoons). Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. Divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
  3. Remove the first disc of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 13-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
  4. Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the rolling process as you did with the first disc. You have some options: you could create a lattice; you could cut into thin strips and create a braided trim; you could use a small cookie cutter (whatever shape you like) and make a cute trim that way. The ideas are endless! Get creative. Just remember to transfer the pie to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes and then brush the entire top of the pie dough with egg wash—it makes it a beautiful golden brown.
http://acozykitchen.com/pie-crust-101/

Single Pie Crust

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: One 9-inch pie crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4-8 tablespoons very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they're evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (I usually need to about 3 more tablespoons). Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. Form into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
  3. Remove the disc of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 14-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch pie dish. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Trim the dough around the pie tin, leaving a 1-inch overhang. To do a crimp all the way around: use your thumb and forefinger, crimp the rim of the crust into a v-shape. Transfer the pie crust to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes and then proceed with filling the pie crust.
http://acozykitchen.com/pie-crust-101/

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How to Make Chocolate Pasta // www.acozykitchen.com

Let’s make some pasta! I was pretty excited to learn how to make chocolate pasta. I came home with a few tricks that I’d like to share because I’m an over sharer and I like you.

I’ve made pasta in the past by just rolling the dough using a rolling pin, so I know it can be done, but your arm might fall off. A pasta maker makes life sooo much easier. I used this pasta maker. Is it great? Eh…I mean, it works. And it worked pretty great, actually. I got pasta! The bonus is that it’s pretty inexpensive. Its longevity will be tested. we shall see! In a perfect world where I make homemade pasta on a weekly basis, I’d invest in this one.

The pasta begins with mixing caputo flour, cocoa powder and salt. I’d like to discuss flours for a second. Caputo flour is finer in grind compared to all-purpose. It’s actually kind of similar to cake flour in its consistency, though its protein level (about 10-12%) is similar to all-purpose flour. And since it’s made of durum wheat, it means you’ll end up with a strong pasta that isn’t very elastic-like. It’s worth seeking out for this pasta, but if you can’t find caputo flour, all-purpose will work.

How to Make Cocoa Pappardelle // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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How To Bake A Flat Cake

I’m not sure there will ever come a day when baking isn’t magical to me. I still get giddy when I turn on the oven light, peek through the glass to see biscuits doubling in size. Or when a waif of baking banana bread skips through the house and under my little nose. Baking is my magic.

I love the trust and faith we must have in a recipe, in the ratio and in the ingredients. We trust that those ingredients will interact, react and transform into something so beautifully delicious.

Having just whispered all those sweet words of nothing, I’ll admit I’m not really a cake-maker-type girl. I’m not sure if a single layered-cake even lives on this blog. I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with me being an impatient person and thinking cake decorating is a little tedious. But when I want cake inspo, I turn to Sara from Matchbox Kitchen. She makes some insanely pretty cakes. One thing I LOVE about her cakes is how they’re all perfectly cylinder. The tops are completely flat. Flat cake tops are all the rage in the cake world.

Cake layers usually dome on us, rising right in the center and then cracking. I think doming on a quick bread is beautiful. I love it. My friend and baker, Hourie, wouldn’t think to serve a quick bread that didn’t dome. Cakes are different, though. But not to worry because baking flat cake layers couldn’t be easier!

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Gnocchi

Growing up I had an obsession with gangster movies. It started when I was like ten years old and my film buff of an uncle showed me Reservoir Dogs. When my parents picked me up from his house later that day and I started telling them my favorite lines from the too-grown-up-for-me movie I had just seen, they knew he had corrupted me. My parents were pretty bummed that I now wanted to trade in my Disney princesses for mob dudes, but I’m happy they let me watch all the shoot-’em-up movies I wanted. It made me a more well rounded child, I think.

So, When I used to think of gnocchi, my brain would first think of The Godfather 3, which, by the way, never see. Truly awful. It was the world’s first introduction to Sofia Coppola. She was sitting on a table in a velvet black dress, looking drop dead gorgeous, rolling gnocchi. While the movie was a total bust and super sad because it could’ve been good, the gnocchi scene is still one of my favorite food scenes.

If you’ve ever made gnocchi, it’s hardly diffcult, but much like pupusas, it’s very touch and feel. And I do think making it for the first time might be a little intimidating, so I figured doing a little how to on making gnocchi might be helpful.

Make Gnocchi [click to continue…]

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Let me start by saying that if your grandmother makes pupusas, she probably makes them better than me. And if your grandmother taught you how to make her pupusas, then you probably make them better than me.

But if you, like me, don’t have a Salvadorian grandmother and have never made them/heard of them, then I feel like you’re my target audience today.

Since I’m Salvadorian-grandmother-less, this recipe on how to make pupusas started with me taking a trip to South Los Angeles to eat one of the best pupusas in this city at Los Churros. They were cheesy (oh so cheesy!), filling, hearty and so flavorful.

Pupusas with Curtido

Pupusas are made from masa harina (cormeal flour) or rice flour. They are usually stuffed with delicious things like beans, shredded pork or cheese. And since they tend to be so rich and cheesy, they are topped with a pickled cabbage situation that adds a refreshing, light and tangy element that really balances the whole thing out.

When I made them for the first time, I realized how similar they were to arepas. When my mom taught me how to make arepas (she was taught by my father’s Colombian great aunt), she taught me with no measurements, just touch and feel and how the dough looked. For someone like me who sort of thinks in ratios, it was SUPER annoying.

But I get it, a lot of this is just touch and feel. SO, since that’s the case, I figured I’d do a little how-to.

And here we go! (A GAZILLION PICTURES TO FOLLOW.)

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Do you wear perfume? What do you smell like? Is this a personal question? Prolly. I think it is.

I usually don’t like the smell of perfume; I just dig the smell of soap. But, for the past two weeks I’ve been thinking that maybe–since I’m a grown woman now–I should smell like something other than laundry detergent. You know, like, have a scent.

So I’ve been on the search. I’ve smelled a lot. Tested a lot. Sneezed a lot. Been grossed out by most. Too much perfume can be like nose pollution. It’s invasive. Don’t be invasive with your perfume–that’s just rude.

The one that I love over and over and over…the one I can’t get enough of: Chanel No. 5. Totally classic and pretty. Makes me feel like a lady. I can for sure picture myself as a grandma, with my wrinkly hands and gaudy broaches (plan on wearing those), smelling like it.

Let’s talk classic. The omelet variety.

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My google searches are crazy weird.

I mean…they mostly consist of food questions. And make-up questions. And fashion questions. But as of late…life questions? Yes, real life questions. Whenever something in real life confuses me, I turn to google…mainly for a laugh…and maybe I’m secretly hoping that life answers will pop-up within the first few sites. #sueme

Recent questions have included:

Are these my glory days (that’d be depressing); What to say/do when someone hurts your feelings (answer: buy pretty clothes, obvi); Do grownups believe in eyelash wishes (why wouldn’t you?!); At what age are adults supposed to have a real couch (no, but seriously am I supposed to have an adult couch by now?)…just to name a few…

All results (especially the google image results) are incredibly entertaining (and surprisingly educational).

(Have I told you I love using parenthesis?! Cause I totally do!!!)

All these “life” google searches bring me to this roast chicken.

Because I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there isn’t anything more adult than roasting a whole entire 4-pound chicken. This is totally a fact. I googled it. Duh.

There’s seasoning involved…tying it up in a (seemingly) complicated way, a good amount of cooking time and taking its temperature. You may wanna say, “ugh” and think it’s too complicated…but don’t worry, it’s super easy.

This recipe is as simple as it gets–it’s Marcella Hazan’s Lemon Chicken. One chicken, two lemons, salt and pepper. That’s it!

We got this. We totally do. Let’s be grown-ups! [click to continue…]

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Fall is coming!! Did you know that?! Of course you did. Duh, you own a calendar. I’m being annoying.

Whenever a new season starts to approach, I feel the need to clean under my bed, scrub my oven and wash under my refrigerator. I gotta get my life together, you know?

I’ve been meaning to organize my spices for what seems forever. Look at this mess.

There’s multiple jars of the same spice, spices in brown bags, spices in plastic bags, spice bottles with missing caps…basically a gigantic pile of spice mess.

I decided to get it together…and make my whole cooking experience a little bit easier.

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