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!

Bawk Bawk!

As the Olympics come to a close, it’s always a bittersweet feeling. What an incredible experience, every time! I love how the world comes together to compete in these terrific sports. It truly brings us together. I couldn’t believe how many sports there were this year. Astounding! Congrats to everyone who participated; those who took home medals and those who didn’t. Everyone’s a winner! They’re the best in the world, no matter what! I certainly admired the awesome sportsmanship throughout the games. It was so touching and beautiful to see. Those were the most memorable moments to me. It meant more to me than ever. 2020 gave us a lot to reflect upon and appreciate. Cherish one another; love each other, and be kind.

It was a busy weekend in the kitchen, cooking and roasting up a storm! This coming week is my aunt’s birthday. In celebration of her birthday and for my culinary assignment this week, I’ve roasted a young whole chicken and made gravy from scratch. Good ol’ comfort food. Yum!

I was so nervous because I’ve never roasted a whole piece of poultry before. I usually buy a whole chicken that’s already cooked. It’s so much easier to work with!

In my readings this past week, I learned that roasting and baking are one-in-the-same. Though, I’ve never heard someone say they’re going to roast a cake. I found it very interesting that both terms mean the same.

Before roasting the chicken, I had to truss it. Trussing entails tying the chicken legs and wings snugly together with butcher’s twine so that they are close with the body. Trussing is important for the chicken to cook evenly in the oven. It also prevents the legs and wings from burning. I lathered my chick with butter (olive oil is fine, too) and seasoned with good ol’ salt and pepper. I also seasoned the inside cavity as well. I cut onions, carrots, and celery to create a mirepoix bedding to lay the seasoned chicken on. The mirepoix, a French term, is cooked slowly with the liquid and fat from the chicken. This will be used to make the gravy afterwards. The end goal is for the chicken to be golden brown and for the skin to be crispy. It took nearly two hours for the chickie to cook. The thermometer finally read 165℉; she was cooked thoroughly. Hallelujah! The chicken was juicy, tender, and oh-so-flavorful. I was stoked!

Onto the gravy… I used the mirepoix and the juices from the chicken to first make a roux. I added flour to create a thickening agent. Then added chicken broth to create the gravy. I poured the contents into a mesh strainer, and voilà! Homemade gravy! It was pretty simple and oh-so-good!

For my aunt’s birthday I made a mocha jelly dessert dish. I initially saw a video on Emmymade’s Facebook page on chocolate jelly. I, of course, altered the recipe and made it my own. It turned out to be more of a pudding texture, but it tasted fabulous. It was very rich. Next time, I’ll add more gelatin.

Emmy loves to make unique dishes. This link has some pretty wacky stuff: https://www.emmymade.com/7-wacky-retro-recipes-for-you-to-try/. Not sure if I’m totally game to trying them. Some of them are quite strange. The 7-Up mayo jello salad and the rainbow sherbet snowball cake look interesting. She’s got some interesting stuff on her Facebook. It’s quite entertaining.

Have a marvelous new week! Cases are rising everywhere. Stay safe and healthy!

FS x

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Papa’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father-figures! Hope you had a chillaxing day, doing absolutely NOTHING! We appreciate all that y’all do for us. Thank you, thank you!

My family and I are celebrating with my dad. My sister and I cooked steaks, seasoned with garlic pepper, and rack of lamb, marinated with teriyaki sauce. We’re using the Instant Pot air fryer combo we got my dad for Father’s Day last year. It has all kinds of cool features: air fry, bake, broil, and roast. We’re using ALL the features. So exciting!

I made a Greek yogurt sauce to complement the meats. Yum! That’s my favorite part about eating red meat, which I’m so excited to eat because I don’t have very often anymore. Red meat is a delightful treat. I was introduced to this delicious pairing when I went to Turkey in the summer of 2010 for a world conference.

The yogurt sauce is similar to the Greek tzatziki sauce. It’s very simple to make. I add my own simple touches to it to make it my own. I used plain Greek yogurt and seasoned it with garlic pepper, minced dried garlic, and dried dill. Voilà! All done! The sauce is so good, I can eat it by itself. Uh huh! You heard right!

Now, gotta have them veggies! We made green beans and brussel sprouts, cooked with garlic balsamic olive oil, onions,and garlic. Scrumptious! Now, that’s how you get people to eat their vegetables, haha!

We also had Portuguese sausage, the best sausage there is, in my opinion (I’m not a huge sausage fan) and shrimp tempura. The tempura was already pre-made, thanks to Costco. My dad cooked oysters in a buttery garlic sauce. Oh my! I was in heaven! I love oysters. We don’t eat it all the time. Whenever we do, I savor every bite! It’s a wonderful treat!

For dessert, my dad requested a haupia pie, which my sister bought. Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut dessert.

Time to grind all the delicious foods! Ciao!

Have a great week. Happy belated Juneteenth, now a federal holiday (yay!), and Happy Summer!

FS x

Happy Pi 𝝿 Day, 03/14!

Today, we’re featuring a ground turkey pot pie (see image) to celebrate 𝜋 day! Pi, a mathematical term, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14159, or 3.14, as most commonly known.

Did you know that pi has been computed to over one trillion numbers beyond its decimal point? It’s an irrational and transcendental amount, and will continue infinitely without recurrence or sequence. That’s pretty trippy! The number goes on and on and on… Wow! That’s math for ya. Very mysterious and beguiling!

Visit https://www.piday.org/ for more information.

I’ve always found math fascinating, especially beyond simple arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There’s so much in the mathematical world that I don’t know about. I learned from a former tutor that there’s math beyond calculus. I always thought calculus was the end of math. Nope! There’s so much more out there. It’s amazing!

I took Kumon at a young age. I was always ahead in my math classes at school, which was such a blessing as I reflect back. Kumon made it easier for me to understand math, especially in school. But the math got harder and eventually, I couldn’t keep up with my Kumon homework and school homework. I stopped taking Kumon around middle school. When I got to high school, I struggled in math throughout my four years. I decided to re-enroll in Kumon, in hopes that I’ll understand the material better, but it was too late. Because I wasn’t ahead anymore and was basically doing the same level of math in both Kumon and high school, it was too overwhelming and I ceased the program again.

I appreciate the Kumon program so much. I think every parent should enroll their children in Kumon for both math and reading. It really does help the student thrive and excel in those key school subjects. I also took Kumon reading for a few years, but not as long as I took the math program. I wish I stuck with Kumon throughout middle and high school, even though the math was getting harder. It would’ve helped me a lot as I learned a new math subject every school year.

While I was in high school, my personal goal was to take AP Calculus in my senior year. And during that time, I thought calculus was the end of math. I tried so hard to get there throughout my four years, but I didn’t. I made it to pre-calculus, which was a great accomplishment, nonetheless. That was a very hard class. I’m not sure how I would’ve survived calculus. Even with extensive tutoring, I just could not grasp the concepts of the pre-calculus equations. It literally felt like a foreign language to me. I felt so lost.

Moving on…. Let’s talk pies now! Literal pies that we can eat and not calculate and contemplate on. These homemade pot pies are simple to make, but do take some time. There’s a lot of prepping involved. But in the end, it’s so worth the time and effort. They’re so hearty and yummy!

I was first inspired to make these pies from an AllRecipes recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/26317/chicken-pot-pie-ix/. My aunt’s friend shared the recipe with her. Overtime, I made the recipe my own, as I always do. I love modifying my recipes and give my personal touch to them. The picture above is a ground turkey pot pie. I love making my dishes very hearty. I added various veggies, including Okinawan sweet potato to the pot pie mixture. It changed the taste and texture of the mixture and made it scrumptious! Better than the original recipe.

I wish you a celebratory day with a lot of pies!! Happy eating and computing for all you math lovers!

Pai! Get it? Hehe!

FS x

Sixteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Brick Oven Pizza

It’s sweet 16.

16. Recognizing that everyone deals with crises differently.

We’ve gone through an ordeal of crises in 2020. I came to understand that everyone has dealt with the tribulations differently this year, including myself. While I was feeling motivated and optimistic, others around me were feeling stressed and depressed. As a compassionate person and licensed social worker, it’s in my nature to empathize and imagine myself in other people’s shoes to understand how the certain situations and multiple factors affect their emotions. Things like: familial discord, financial struggles, loss of vocation, lack of socialization and personal interaction, loneliness, and uncertainty of the future… This year’s circumstances immensely attested to our emotional and mental health. But we will rise from this. We always do. We are resilient. We come out better and stronger.

Overtime, I’ve experienced going through the spectrum of emotions this year. I started off feeling positive and driven, but those emotions slowly turned into frustration and despair. I had to practice a lot of self-talk, self-motivation, and self-love to get myself through the year.

I was searching the internet and came across a colorful wheel of emotions. This pretty much explains the entire year, and then some…

Last Christmas, my colleagues and I went to our boss’s house to make pizzas in her man-made brick oven (see featured image). It was a beautiful oven. The pizzas we made were delicious. I made a pesto base with spinach, vegan cheese, onions, and garlic. It was scrumptious. Yum!

Wishing you all the best last week of 2020. Let’s go out with a BANG!

FS x

Hello, I’m baaaack!

Howdy All! I’m back. I apologize for being MIA for so long. I hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I also hope that everyone has been hanging in there and taking good care of themselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We’ve all endured a wild and challenging year. We’ve made it to the final month of 2020. The year is almost over. Everyone is eager for this year to end and for 2021 to begin. Let’s finish this last month with a bang!

During the week of Thanksgiving, I created my first ever talk-through video on how to make fresh cranberry-blueberry sauce with red wine sauce. It was quite exciting to make.

You can view the entire video on my Foodnista Soul’s Facebook and Instagram: http://www.facebook.com/foodnista.soul and http://www.instagram.com/foodnista.soul.

I’ll be back to post more soon.

Have a blessed holiday season. Remember to take it one day at a time. Breathe!

FS x

My belated Thanksgiving Feast

Hola! So sorry I’ve been absent for a while. Life has been insanely busy the latter half of this year. If you are a follower of my other social media platforms, I tend to update those sites more often. Please follow!!! However, I do plan to resume posting blogs on this site as well.

The holidays are here again. I hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and having a great start to the holiday season. The days are flying by so quickly! Christmas is in 19 days! Trying to savor this special time of year. It’s my ultimate favorite that I hold dear to my heart.

Sharing my Thanksgiving feast in today’s post. My family and I never shy away from tradition on Thanksgiving. We got to have the turkey, stuffing, yam, ham, mashed potatoes, rice, and gravy! Oh, and we can’t forget the two famous pies- custard and pumpkin!! Yum! That’s our feast, and we never get tired of it!

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The stuffing is homemade and is very simple to prep and make. On my Instagram, I will post some videos of the dishes I made this Turkey Day, including this yummy stuffing.

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My mouth is watering looking at this and reflecting on that delicious meal.

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Homemade desserts made by my cousin- layered jello and mini tarts. I couldn’t resist- they were amazingly good!

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Oh, and I had to have a slice of this! Pumpkin pie from A’ala Bakery is bomb!!!

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…And this custard pie, too- haha! FYI- A’ala Bakery is closing its doors at the end of this month, so get your fix while ya can!

A’ala Bakery
1425 Liliha St.
Honolulu, HI 96817

Have a blessed and safe holiday season!

FS~

Gotta love them stir fries!

Happy Sunday, almost October, and Fall!

I love stir fries! I love cooking this dish, too. It’s simple and healthy for ya. I made a teriyaki ground turkey breast rice bowl. It was bomb! Enjoy the videos.

This entrée is inspired by: https://www.yellowblissroad.com/teriyaki-turkey-rice-bowl/

The following ingredients that made this wonderful dish are:

  • Ground turkey breast (ground turkey is fine, too)
  • Rice (any type of rice. I used a mix of quinoa, wild, basmati, jasmine, and white rice)
  • Shoyu (soy sauce)
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic salt
  • Himalyan pink salt
  • Cornstarch (for thickening of the sauce)
  • Red wine vinegar

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Ingredients and seasonings

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Da final product! Whoo hoo!

Have a great week!

FS

Hard core balsamic vinegar!

Boy, oh boy! Balsamic vinegar is where it’s at! It’s potent, but oh-so-good, and healthy for ya. Did you know it’s made from grapes?! I had no idea! Where was I? Haha! Makes me think of wine.

I was inspired by our Easter luncheon to make a dish with balsamic vinegar. I also learned how healthy it is for you. Time to use this ingredient much more often.

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I made a honey-balsamic chicken dish, courtesy of AllRecipes.

It was a very simple dish. I, of course, added onions and garlic to my dish. My must-haves!

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I baked the chicken for an hour and 10 minutes at 375 degrees. It was really good! Best to marinate the night before- not required, though.

I also made a spinach, quinoa, and strawberry salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing. Oh, to-die-for!

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Ingredients for the dressing. I measured 1/3 c oil and vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar. The garlic powder and pepper are bonuses! Hehe!

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Beautiful salad; beautiful colors. You can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or on the stove. I cooked it in the rice cooker- one cup of quinoa and measured two cups of water, as instructed, but the quinoa came out a bit mushy. Next time, I’ll put 1.5 cups of water instead. Can’t always trust the instructions. That’s why I always cook by taste, rather than following a recipe to-the-tee. I use recipes as a guide.

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend! Relax and unwind…