From brittle to cookie

This weekend was very long. I spent the last three days baking in the kitchen. It was exhausting!

This week’s assignment was baking chocolate chip cookies- from scratch. Sounds easy, right? Hah! Think again! I had to make them a few times before they were to my satisfaction and acceptable to submit to my chef instructor. So glad they turned out in the end. Baking is not my forte, but my hope is that I’ll improve my baking skills throughout this course. I want to be well-rounded in all areas of culinary arts.

There were a lot of emotions I encountered during this experience. Frustration, confusion, annoyance… Despite those feelings, there were also some positives that came out of this event. Gotta look for the silver linings in every event.

So, I’m two weeks into my pâtisserie course and I’m finally using my food scale. I’m familiarizing myself with the different measurements. Last week, we measured in ounces. This week, it’s all in grams. Measuring everything in grams was simple, thanks to the food scale. However, when the recipe stated 90g of eggs, I was very puzzled on how I would accurately measure that. 90g of eggs is basically like 1 tsp, LOL! That doesn’t sound accurate at all! Baking recipes always requires at least a couple of eggs. I took matters into my own hands and guesstimated. I tried adding just one egg to the dough mixture. I had to test the waters somehow…

Let me share the recipe and instructions before I talk about the end result of my first attempt at baking these cookies. This recipe yielded 20 (2 oz. size) cookies.

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 120g dark brown sugar
  • 4g Kosher salt
  • 90g eggs
  • 5g vanilla extract
  • 300g pastry flour
  • 4g baking soda
  • 300g chocolate chips
  • 120g chopped walnuts and macadamia nuts (or pecans)

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. Prepare a cutting board and chef knife to chop macadamia nuts.

3. Mise en place ingredients (basically, portion and measure ingredients so they are ready to go).

4. Prepare a stand mixer.

5. Cream butter and sugar until it is a sandpaper-like texture.

6. Add one egg at a time, as well as vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate into the mixture.

7. Prepare a second mixing bowl and sift dry ingredients.

8. Combine dry ingredients and combine the creamed mixture.

9. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

10. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

11. Use cookie dough scooper to scoop dough onto baking sheets.

12. Bake between 8-12 minutes.

13. Let cookies cool before serving.

This is what transpired from adding in one egg.

It’s a brittle!!! 😱 But it was darn good!

The first thought that came to mind was “they’re burnt!” No, they’re actually not. My cookies turned into a brittle, which was really crispy and delicious. The color is really dark because of the dark brown sugar. I really enjoyed it, but that’s not what we were going for this week, so I remade the assignment.

I spent a good amount of time reflecting on what I did incorrectly and pondered what I could do differently to change the outcome of my baked cookies. I had a deep feeling it was the eggs, that I didn’t add enough. I followed my gut and added another egg (two total) to the dough mixture during my second attempt. Thank goodness, it worked!

Now this is what I’m talking about!
Doesn’t this cookie look delicious? My mouth is watering!

Overall, baking is not as simple as cooking. Everything is precise and cannot be altered like cooking can. Further, you can’t always bake by taste, like with cooking. Once the baked dish is ruined, the entire process needs to be redone.

To conclude, here’s how cookies are made more crunchy and/or chewy.

Until next time… Thanks so much for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing. I appreciate all your support!

Take care,

FS x

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Hola! Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th-October 15th. In honor of this celebration, we’re featuring salsa verde and empanadas this week. Ironically, these are the dishes I made for my first week of my new course on culinary and pâtisserie. Whoo hoo!

Let’s start with salsa verde- ‘coz it was simple and pretty quick- hehe!

Ingredients (yields two cups):

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • Bunch of cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 Garlic
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 oz Onion
  • Salt- to taste
  • 1/2 of Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Tomatillos (canned or fresh)
    • 1 canned 13oz
    • 5 fresh (I guestimated since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos at my grocery stores)

When using fresh tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk. Also, before blending, fresh tomatillos, they should be blanched or broiled. I did both.

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  • Heat canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Season with salt.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will keep fresh up to five-to-seven days.

I’ve never made my own salsa before. I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it was. I would love to experiment in making other salsas like pico de gallo and salsa roja (red salsa). Ooh, I can’t wait! I’m on a salsa kick! (I’m doing my quick salsa dance right now 🤪💃🏻). My university had a ballroom dancing course that I took. It was pretty cool, but definitely had its challenges. Salsa was a bit difficult to learn. My favorite dance was the foxtrot. It was the first dance we learned and was the easiest.

Onto empanadas… Empanadas are basically Spanish turnovers. They can be filled with either a savory or sweet filling. We’re filling them with savory ingredients.

Ingredients (yields eight servings)

  • 2 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cake flour
    • *NOTE: can substitute both flours for all-purpose flour (3 oz total)
  • Canola oil (optional for deep-frying)
  • 1/2 oz lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz monterrey jack cheese or mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 poblano pepper (roasted, seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz warm water
  • Sift flours into a mixing bowl.
  • Add lard or vegetable shortening and blend into flour (I used vegetable shortening).
  • Dissolve salt in warm water before pouring into the flour mixture.
  • Knead dough until smooth.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile…

  • Scrape the filmed skin off the poblano pepper, using the back of the knife.
  • Remove seeds and cut into dices. (The seeds will make the flavor more acidic)
  • Combine cheese and pepper into bowl.

30 minutes later…

  • Weigh the dough on a food scale and divide into eight equal pieces.
  • Sprinkle flour on surface and rolling pin.
  • Roll dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin, creating a circle.
  • Place cheese/pepper mixture on one side of the circle.
  • Fold the other side to create a turnover.
  • Press dough around the filling and crimp edges with a fork.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a 375ºF oven until golden brown.

Happy October! Wishing you a great week ahead. Until next week…

Peace and wellness,

FS x

Please check out my social media platforms for more posts throughout the week!

GBD Goodness!

Week 12 is here! I completed my final culinary assignment in my Culinary Foundations course. It was bittersweet. I can’t believe how quickly 12 weeks went. I’m grateful to my chef instructors for their valuable and constructive feedback. I’ve gained so much knowledge over the last three-and-a-half months. Next week, I begin a new culinary course on Culinary and Patisserie. I’m excited to keep learning! Thank you for joining me on this escapade.

I made deep-fried chicken legs and onion rings. I had a deep fryer that I used once many years ago. I was excited to utilize it again. However, that plan failed. Turns out, the deep fryer no longer worked. Bummer! Onto plan B- deep-frying in a pot. I monitored the temperature of the (canola) oil with a candy thermometer. The temperature needed to be between 325º and 350ºF.

350 on the nose!

I made the chicken first. Set up the breading station with seasoned flour, egg wash and milk, and coating flour- in this order.

After the chicken is coated, they’re ready to be submerged into the hot oil. After about 10-15 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot, drain excess oil on a paper towel, and check the temperature of the chicken to make sure it is mininum 165ºF (temperature doneness for poultry).

Look at this golden brown deliciousness [GBD (minus the “-ness”)]! Wow! Glorious! When I took a bite of this, it brought me back to when my late grand-aunt made her famous fried chicken. It tasted very similar to hers. Wonderful memories…

Ingredients for fried chicken:

  • Chicken legs (bone-in thighs are ok, too)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs
  • Milk (1 c. per egg)
  • Canola oil

Moving onto the onion rings. This involves making a batter before we dip them into the hot oil.

Ingredients for the batter:

  • Egg yolk (beaten)
  • Club soda or beer (I used beer)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg whites (whipped and folded into the batter)

After the batter is made, the onions are ready to be dredged in plain flour before they’re dipped in the batter. The temperature of the oil should be 350ºF. Slowly dip a few battered onions into the pot at a time to avoid overcrowding the pot.

Once they’re golden brown, remove them from the pot and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Note, the onion rings won’t be as golden brown as the chicken because of the whipped egg whites.

I loved that the batter on these onion rings were light, airy, and fluffy. You could taste equal parts of the beer batter and the onions.

Ingredients for onion rings:

  • Large white or yellow onions (cut into 1/4 or 1/2″ slices) (one large onion makes A LOT of rings!)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Egg yolk
  • Egg whites (whipped and folded into the batter)
  • Club soda or beer (4 fl. oz.)
  • Baking powder (1/2 tsp.)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Canola oil

Stay tuned next week as we continue this extraordinary culinary journey. Thanks for reading!

FS x

We’ve got ourselves a Mexican fiesta!

Happy last weekend of July and start to the 2020 Olympics! I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night. The Japanese do not disappoint! My peeps; my motherland. So proud! Go Teams USA and Japan! Wishing all the athletes the best of luck!

On Saturday night I witnessed the men’s street skateboarding athletes from the US, Japan, Peru, Brazil, and France showcasing good sportsmanship to one another. Hugging, encouraging, and supporting each other. It brought a warmness to my heart. The world coming together.

I recalled my very first trip to Japan in 2015. Tokyo was already underway in preparing for the Olympics. A lot of construction building those extraordinary infrastructures. Amazing! They were already selling Olympics merch, too. I bought some hand towels as souvenirs. I remember thinking about wanting to be in Tokyo when the Olympics occurred. Who knew that we’d experience a global pandemic in 2020. So glad I didn’t buy tickets. I hope all who did were able to get a refund. Sending good energy that cases don’t soar out-of-control during these next couple weeks in Tokyo and amongst the athletes and all who are involved in making the Olympics happen. I’m looking forward to watching my favorite sports: gymnastics, swimming, and diving.

We’re highlighting on two dishes I made: rice pilaf and Mexican pinto beans, aka frijoles de olla. I was extremely nervous to make the rice pilaf on the stove. Every time I used to make pilaf on the stove, my rice would turn out mushy. Thank goodness for rice cookers! It’s a staple in almost every home in Hawai’i and especially amongst Asians. I learned over the years that a rice cooker can be very handy in cooking all sorts of foods, besides rice. There’s a Buzz Feed article I came across years ago. I’m glad the link is still active: https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/rice-cooker-recipes

As suspected, my first attempt at making the rice pilaf turned out mushy. Ugh! While my taste testers enjoyed the texture, I certainly didn’t. I had another go at making it. This was unacceptable to submit to my instructor. The second time, I didn’t follow the recipe to “the T.” I added in less liquid than the recipe called for and hoped it would be enough to create a “just right” texture and consistency. Phew! Thank God it worked! My second attempt turned out perfect! And boy, was it delicious! Or should I say, addicting! It was buttery, light, fluffy, and somewhat chewy (in a good way). The dish included butter, chicken broth, and onions (brunoise style cut 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″). I didn’t know rice pilaf required baking for 18-20 minutes after boiling on the stove top. Whaaaat? Yep! It helps the rice absorb the liquid and creates that fluffy texture. Ooh whee!

Onto the frijoles de olla. That was pretty simple and self-explanatory. I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Any dried beans needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Also, they’re to be seasoned last, after the beans are fully cooked. If they’re seasoned before they’re tender, the beans won’t cook properly. I learned something new! The Mexican pinto beans included the following ingredients: sliced onions, and chopped garlic and jalapeños. All ingredients are thrown into a pot, covered in water. They’re to be brought to a boil and then to a simmer until the beans become tender. Once the beans are tender, lard, or white fat from pig, is added. Lard can be substituted for butter, which is what I used. Bam!

Have a marvelous new week ahead!

Stay safe,

FS x

Carrot Craze

It’s finally happening. Culinary school. This week, I began my first course of my culinary program. I was excited, yet nervous. Watching the live and prerecorded videos and reading the material helped prepare me for the new cutting technique I learned, as well as the lab assignment I had to cook.

I learned about the oblique/roll cut this week. To accomplish this technique, one cuts the carrot in a 45-degree angle and then rolls the carrot 180-degrees and repeats the process again. The purpose of this cut is add dimension and to evenly cook the carrots since they will be cut at relatively the same size.

The featured dishes I made for this week’s assignment were carrots vichy and carrots purée. I started with the carrots vichy first. The dish entailed: carrots, sugar, unsalted butter, salt, and water. It was a very simple dish to make. The carrots are barely covered in water and are brought to a boil. Once they’ve reached boiling point, they are to be brought down to a simmer until the liquid nearly evaporates. The carrots should then become tender and soft. The liquid will form into a glaze. The dish can be garnished with fresh parsley. Black pepper is a must. And then the best part- tasting. It was delightful!

Moving onto the purée. It required the same steps as the vichy; same ingredients as well, minus the sugar. After the carrots are tenderized, they are to be strained. Save the boiled carrot water. The cooked carrots are put into a food mill, mesh strainer, food processor, or blender to purée. I used a food processor. To create a smooth purée texture, pour some of the boiling carrot water to the mix. The purée tasted excellent. It was smooth, creamy, and velvety. Yum!

I’m excited to share this journey with y’all. Stay tuned for next week’s dish.

Be safe,

FS x