Beach Baguette

This is a simple yet incredible sandwich I made my mom and myself for the beach. The inspiration came from a nearly identical sandwich I had at Whole Foods, and even though I try to avoid shopping there whenever possible, sometimes their lunch is very convenient and occasionally worth the price.

The sandwich I bought was in a baguette which was the first sign of greatness. In the sandwich was brie, apple slices, and thick cold cuts of turkey. Sounds simple, which it is, but it has all the texture needs and flavor combos: soft and crunchy, savory and sweet. Easy to make and easier to pack for the beach. No fuss, no mess. There was leftover grilled chicken in the fridge, so we used that. Here it is:

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BAT (Brie Apple Turkey) Sandwich

Makes 2

Ingredients

One baguette

About one wedge of brie cheese

1 granny smith apple

4 slices smoked turkey or whichever white meat you have around

Dijon Mustard

Mayonnaise

Cut the tips off of the baguette (save for Nutella scoopers later). Cut in half vertically and horizontally, making two sandwich shells. Coat the bottom slices with dijon mustard and the top slices with mayonnaise. Cut thick slices of brie, about 1/8 inch thick, and lay onto the bottom halves of bread. Next, cut the apple into slices slightly thinner than the brie, and lay one layer above the brie. Lastly, add two slices of turkey to each sandwich, then close it up. Pack in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready for the beach.

Of course, feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking, my own seem to be a good average. If you’re wary of apples with cheese, thinner slices will be a good gateway into a whole new world.

Enjoy the beach! The water is perfect rn.

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These Days’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

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It’s been some time since I last gave you a chocolate chip recipe of mine, even though I always refer to my constant struggle to find the best recipe. While it is a constant struggle, I’ve been on a break to work on a fun and exciting Nutella cookie…more on this to come. In the meantime, I will leave you with my latest chocolate chip cookie recipe. And I’m not going to belabor the definition of the best chocolate chip cookie, because it’s different for everyone. There’s a quote from market researcher and spaghetti sauce selling extraordinaire Howard Moskowitz pointing out this phenomenon, when describing an experiment with one of his first clients: “There was no such thing as the perfect Diet Pepsi. They should have been looking for the perfect Diet Pepsis” (from Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “The Ketchup Conundrum”).

The point is not that I read a Malcolm Gladwell essay (you should too, though) but that I can’t tell you what the best chocolate chip cookie recipe is. If you happen to enjoy yours chewy on the inside,  butterscotchy, and full of chocolate like I do, this will get you in the right direction.

Happy baking!

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Chewy Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields around 35 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups chocolate chips/chunks

Brown the butter on the stove, constantly stirring. Transfer to a heat resistant bowl and let cool. When the butter is cool, combine with sugars and vanilla. Mix in the eggs. Gradually fold in the flour, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Add the chocolate morsels. If you have time, chill in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight.

Bake in the oven at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are browning and the center is almost-but-not-quite-done. Let cool on the cookie tray.

 

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Hey there! While you wait for the latest from me and my traveling and baking adventures, check out and like my new Facebook page!

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And if you have a Bloglovin’ account, add me here! Next week will be the last installation of Portland, Oregon, and after that will be an intro to Portland, Maine that I’m visiting for the long weekend! Check Instagram for live updates of the New England adventures, and come back soon!

Holiday Hens

It’s a little late to talk about Thanksgiving, but here’s some inspiration for the rest of the holiday season. My mom and I had the same idea to make Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving. One for each of us, and one more for leftovers. Turns out I could barely finish the half that I put on my plate. We ate the hens along with some sautéed asparagus, and turnips, potatoes, mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts that we roasted with the hens.

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We went with a dry rub of cayenne, garlic powder, sage and salt on the hens and vegetables (we subbed sage for thyme on one hen), and covered for the first half of the roasting, at 375° to keep the juices in. Then we uncovered it for browning. Before are photos of before the oven, halfway through cooking, and done.

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For dessert, my mom(!) made trifle, which is a British dessert made from cake, juicy fruit, and custard. The idea is that the fruit juices and custard seep into the cake making it soft, similar to bread pudding. It all gets layered on top of each other.

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first layer: brownies

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second layer: berries

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third layer: whipped cream

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repeat!

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Yellow cake is traditionally used, but…chocolate! So I suppose both my mom and I made this…my mom made all the parts, and I combined them.

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Trifle! Better than bread pudding, which I could never get into.

What’s the best thing you’ve had or planned on for the holidays? Leave your dish ideas below!

A Day in the Life: Food52


You may know that I work at the food website food52.com. It’s a great resource for home chefs: thousands of recipes, daily content on what butter to use, how to season cast iron (I need to do that…future post?),  cookie maps! and then our shop with bespoke kitchen tools and home decor. Need a bed and breakfast tray? How about a mushroom log? As the photo producer I’m responsible for making sure all the photos for the site are shot and accounted for. That means I get to run around the set with the stylists and tell them when the mashed potato flatbread is ready to be shot, or if we’re missing ingredients for the vegan fish sauce. Sometimes I even get to be a food stylist, and bake things!

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Shot by Linda Xiao

Last week we launched our holiday market pop-up right in Union Square. Many hands poured over the space to make it look like it does now. If you’re in the city, stop by and say hello, or shop around for the holidays.

 

Friday was #nationalcookieday, and we were fortunate enough to have the Union Square Hospitality Group grace us with a visit, and cookies from almost all of their restaurants.

Keep yours eyes out for more fun #f52life tidbits. And if you have any questions, send them my way!

Ina Garten’s Coconut Cupcakes

     Way back when I was in San Francisco, I made some cute coconut cupcakes and made a semi-real shoot out of it. I had apparently started an entry for them a week after I made them, so I guess I’ll humor you with the original post…here ya go! In the meantime I will be buying groceries and re-acquainting myself with this apartment’s cozy kitchen. Yes, I’m back in Ithaca for the home stretch!

     This could be considered another rendition/episode of “What’s in the Pantry?”, because for the last month we’ve had so much coconut in the house, and I wanted to do something about it. While searching for vegetable recipes in the Barefoot Contessa cookbook, I stumbled across the recipe for Ina’s famous coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. If you’re also wondering “cream cheese frosting? With coconut?”, we were on the same wavelength. Until it actually happened.

Stand mixers are still very exciting. Coconutty awesomeness.
#artsyoverheads

Making frosting is so fun, and so dangerous. I’m hoping cream cheese frosting
is healthier than buttermilk frosting. The one issue that never seems to be resolved is the overwhelming amount of frosting that is left once you have frosted the cupcakes.
I think Jake and I halved the ratio of cupcake:frosting for the chocolate chip cookie dough
cupcakes
, and only three cupcakes were left unfrosted. Note to self: halve frosting recipe
always.

Look at that pretty cupcake! It’s all about using the knife tip to make those cool-lookin
layery lines.
Just like this!
Have I mentioned how much I love rubber scrapers? I’ve gotten whole cookies and cupcakes
from using rubber scrapers. Just. Saying.
Enjoy the following photos from the miniature shoot proceeding the baking.
Carmen’s recipe notes: first off, you can always squeeze more cupcakes out of these recipes than they say. Second, I used yogurt and twoish teaspoons of lemon juice instead of buttermilk (not in the pantry) and they came out fine – dense, but not dry. Lastly, do what you will with the frosting recipe. However, I do recommend halving it if you don’t need a sweetener for your next 15 bowls of oatmeal.
Ina Garten’s Coconut Cupcakes
(3/4 of this recipe) Makes 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Recipe can be found here

A Summer in San Francisco

     To continue my end-of-blogging tendencies, I have run out of time to share all my gastronomic adventures with y’all in a chronologically appropriate time. So it is now the time to conglomerate the  highlights of the rest of my endeavors in San Francisco, the night before my flight back to the East Coast, when I should instead be making lunch/dinner/meal for the stingy domestic flight that won’t provide me with one for free. Featured here is the best chocolate chip cookie I purchased in the city, the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, Tartine Bakery (big deal), and Chile Pies and Ice Cream, north of the Panhandle.

     So another As Seen on “Unique Sweets” player here is Goody Goodie Cream and Sugar. This place is tucked away very nicely in what I guess is technically Mission. Nothing much is in the area, except some excellent chocolate chip cookies. I met the woman behind the baked goodness, Remi Hayashi. She was very kind and filled me in on her secret when I asked her what was crunching in the goody goodie cookie, with four different kinds of chocolate: cocoa nibs. Nuts, right? No, not nuts at all. This is all chocolate and almost no batter (once you bite into it). I would say a definite 2:1 chocolate to dough ratio here, no lie. And what’s better than a free milk shot to go with your cookie? Not much.

     They’re also just very attractive cookies. Perfectly round and colored on top. Also nice and thick.

 There she is, doing her cookie thing.

     This farmer’s market though…the biggest in the city, is up and running Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Saturday is from 8-2pm, and as you can imagine, the chef/restaurant owners don’t fancy wading through the crowd for the leftovers at noon, so the die hards get there right at 8 am for the best pickings and fewest people. One Saturday morning I got up at 7 just to get to the farmer’s market when it wasn’t crowded. I don’t do too well with crowds and grocery shopping: ask my classmates and they’ll tell you I wait until 10 pm to go to Wegmans. Well I got to the farmer’s market and while it was foggy, it was just so pleasant. Also beautiful (note tomato arrangement above). So many stone fruit samples. How else do you pick where to get your $3.50/lb nectarines?

Come hungry and get ready for a sugar crash later.

     Pluot: yes, plum-apricot.
Big bowl of greens.
Big popular bakery and a guy with cool glasses.
 So, animal fur. I guess it counts as being sustainable if you’re killing the
animals for their meat anyway, right?

It’s not just in the South of France (though it’s probably best there tbh).
     Oh, we can’t forget Umami Burger. Also known as $12 for a lot of truffle oil and “flavor”. There was nothing wrong with the burger per se, but I didn’t feel like the price was worth it. I have since tried a $3 In ‘N Out Burger, though, and was a good old fast food fix.
 Trying to go all Japanese. Not a bad looking place.
Community tabling it.

Check it: the original Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp (baked Parmesan
chip), tiny shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and
house-made ketchup.

Megan got the Truffle Especiale with Parmesan frico, truffled arugula,
truffle butter, and a fried egg. #mushrooms #trendy

With a side of truffle cheese fondue fries. Topped with “truffle salt”. Sometimes
you just gotta lol. The fries were for sure tasty though I’ll give Umami that.

     I don’t know how to describe the importance of Tartine Bakery to San Francisco, except to say that it’s very important. Everyone knows it, everyone has been there, and everyone probably has their preferred menu item. I have never passed the corner café without seeing a line of this length out the door. I do know that no-lines happen on occasion, though. One Saturday morning I found myself in the Mission and thought it only appropriate to try something.

     It’s a very small place, so don’t expect to get a table without waiting. But you go in – or rather line up, get in, order, and find somewhere to stay if you want. I think there may be some wait staff thing going on if you order lunch. Here are some literal sneak peek photos I took in stealth mode/from the hip (I’m getting better maybe?).

 They do all sorts of things here. I think that’s the lemon meringue cake
getting worked on back there.

Here is the finished product.

They’re famous for their bread pudding.

No wonder.
But they’re also famous for their morning buns. Remember C&W’s morning bun? The prices of the two differ by 20 cents, but the experience is galaxies apart. What came to mind when I was thinking of how to describe C&W’s bun was too harsh to post. But you must understand: I almost cried eating this morning bun. I almost bought another. Warm, citrusy, gooey, sugary meltedness on the top, barely done in the middle, incredible. Like no cinnamon roll I will ever have. If you go to San Francisco for one thing, make it this morning bun. I was so extremely content when I left. Thank you, Tartine Bakery.

     Chile Pies and Ice Cream are known for putting chiles in their apple pie with a cheddar crust or some such combo. I say why ruin a perfectly good pie, as does my intern buddy Erin, but I guess I can’t knock it yet since I went with the seasonal white nectarine with raspberries, paired with lemon cookie ice cream from SF’s Three Twins Ice Cream. I think one of those twins went to Cornell! This place is part of Green Chile Kitchen, a fun looking restaurant right next door to their NoPa location (north of Panhandle…does anyone really use NoPa as a neighborhood name?). It has some sort of old-fashioned, maybe rustic vibe to it. Check out that table top.

With a menu that changes daily, they have this cool roll of paper pinned to the wall.

Fun lights, except I couldn’t see all that well.

If you’re staying to eat, they’ll heat up your pie nice and gud. They also make
pie shakes. They will take your pie slice of choice and make it into a shake.
I’m not sure, either. Next time.

Fun lights like I mentioned.

       I’m leaving this city with more questions than answers, but at this point, with one semester to go and future choices to be considering, it’s not a bad thing. This time tomorrow I will be on the hustle side of things for one more round. Stay tuned for ridiculous senior(itis) endeavors, and thanks for reading this far! Keep your rubber scrapers handy for a fun cupcake recipe from weeks ago too…

What’s in the Pantry: Bananas

     Have bananas, will bake. After some consideration, I decided to make a dent in the pile of ripening bananas in the kitchen with some chocolate banana muffins because breakfast is important, and who doesn’t love some banana bread?

     I only ended up using three bananas. Which in retrospect is a lot, but it did not seem like it at the time. Hooray for fancy banana smashing devices.

     Filling muffin tins is a task. I might have added some extra chocolate chips to the tops. Pretty food is good food.

     Moist and happy. Thank you Joy of Cooking Vol. 2 for the banana bread recipe for inspiration P:

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Edited From Joy of Cooking Vol. 2 banana bread recipe
Makes 17 muffins. Sorry about it.

Ingredients
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of half a lemon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup pulp of ripe bananas (2-3 large bananas)
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (disregard the last thing I said about this stuff)
1/2 cup (or more) chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugar and lemon zest until creamy. Beat in eggs and banana pulp. Sift dry ingredients together and gradually add to batter. Add chocolate chips. Place batter in 1.5 greased muffin pans, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

On the Hunt: Brenda’s French Soul Food Beignets

     Ramadan has officially commenced around the world, so it’s a good thing I ran around the SF food scene early in the game. But don’t think a month of daylight fasting will deter me from the restaurant tables; I’m already making plans to visit Candybar Dessert Lounge  *rubs hands*.

     I guess I like doughnuts; enough to find the best of the best in town according to Google. That’s probably one of a handful of things I got from my Uncle Banji – shout out for sacrificing the trans-fat-full Krispy Kremes. Brenda’s French Soul Food is a cute restaurant in the occasionally dodgy Tenderloin neighborhood, where Chef Brenda Buenviaje brought her New Orleans culture and cooking to share with San Francisco. We came for the beignets, but left with the intention of trying the shrimp and goat-cheese omelet or cornmeal-fried oyster po’boy. I’m a sucker for seafood and deep frying, so I think I could do some real damage here.

     This place gets packed. Lines out the door, and extra cozy dining rooms. This is a good sign, right? So is this one: “house rules”. They need a whole frame – I’m in. And luckily, literally. The 2pm Friday crowd was minimal, and my roommie Megan and I were seated within 5 minutes of entering.

     Check out the silverware cans and condiment buckets. True southern feel? I would think so, but I’ve yet to make it to Louisiana. What I do know is that some of these cans came from the famous Café du Monde in New Orleans. Authentic!

     Casual yet classy. Check out the mirrors on that wall. Check out the wall.

     So beignets. Megan and I were kinda in over our heads here…after some consideration, we went for a plate of traditional beignets, and a plate of Ghirardelli-stuffed beignets to split. Three beignets of each, three beignets each to consume. Totally doable, right? Maybe, but the real question is always “should it be”, isn’t it? We could barely move after enjoying the dense fried dough mounds and dark chocolate chip pockets, doused in powdered sugar.

     What exactly is a beignet, though? You could call it the French version of a doughnut, but for us, it’s closer to a “fritter”. I call it a ball or square of fried dough, that is always be covered in powdered sugar in this country. What may make it particular is the dough itself. The “choux” pastry is light and has butter, egg, and flour. Without yeast, these treats expand when steam is created from all the moisture and heat. In this traditional beignet, you can see the pocket of air. But don’t be deceived: these beignets pack a heavy punch. After one, you’re trying to calculate how you will finish the other two waiting on your plate.

     So much beignet…so little room. Here we have a lovely chocolate-stuffed beignet, where the middle is made up of Ghirardelli chocolate chips. Did I mention Ghirardelli originated in San Francisco? And this thing was chock-FULL. We instantly reevaluated our choice to order two plates among consuming our first one of these. I may have preferred shooting it than eating it – you really need to enlarge these images to get the full experience. The chocolate chips hadn’t even melted fully…there IS such a thing as too much chocolate, and I think we were in sight of a limit at Brenda’s. In any case, it was an excellent experience and I have no regrets. Only next time, I’ll be trying at least one of their different varieties: Granny Smith Apple (with honey butter!!) and Crawfish. A la prochaine, Brenda!

Real Tales of San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge. I guess it’s officially orange?!

     If my others forms of social media have yet to update thee, I have made it across the country to the Golden State for the first time since I was seven years old for a martial arts convention. Yay! California is big, and San Francisco is crazy: Crazy landscape, crazy weather, crazy people and crazy food. For the next ten weeks, I will be eating my way around as much of the city as I can while photo assisting, food styling, baristaing and fasting during Ramadan (hmm…we’ll get to that later).
     So I’m gonna pull a Joy the Baker on this one – sometimes food bloggers think their readers are interested in their lives outside of food. So here’s a couple of picture of non-food to go along with this life update. Enjoy these while I get my important/food life together with finishing my French blog and putting together some first SF posts for y’all.

Palm trees? Must be Cali.
Colorful houses and electric bus wires. All the buses in San Francisco are zero emission.
ZEERO.
Pretty sure that’s Alcatraz…
So many Prii (note the Transamerica pyramid in the distance)