Strawberry Yogurt

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Ahh, vacation. I just got back from an epic roadtrip in California with my friend Natalie. We took the trolley to Tijuana for a day, then rented a car and drove from San Diego to Santa Cruz and back, stopping for many adventures along the way (see: butterflies, whale watching, being offered drugs in an alley in Mexico, not accepting said drugs in Mexico, skydiving, hiking, hanging with townies, and so on). It’s really amazing what a weeks worth of fresh air and glorious views will do to a girl. I came home refueled with tons of energy, unfortunately at midnight… After jumping right back in to a 7 am day at work the next day, I got home from work and worked around the house all night making homemade broth, then soup, then unpacking everything and cleaning. And no, incase you are wondering, that is not normal. Though I wish it were. Since then I’ve still been on an high energy kick and am feeling great. I finally got the chance to make that homemade yogurt, so listen up I’ll tell you all about it.

As much as I want to tell you that my first time making yogurt was a breeze and as the recipe suggests, anyone can do it, I beg to differ. So you know, I do have a delicious batch of strawberry yogurt in my fridge at this very moment, but how it got there is not the greatest. My first problem arose after I had already started heating up the milk and realized that the recipe calls for the oven to be set at 100 degrees F, but mine only goes to 170 at the lowest. I figured that if I shortened the cooking time from 6 hours down to 4.5 or 5, it would be completely fine. I also didn’t have enough small jars to portion it out into single servings like the recipe did, so I just used one large jar full of plain, and a smaller one that I mixed in some strawberry preserves. My mom made these preserves with fresh strawberries from her garden, but the mixture didn’t “gel”, as she says, when they were cooking, so now she calls it “strawberry ice cream topping.” Regardless, it’s delicious. And I digress… Continue reading

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Back in the swing of things…

Ah, the holidays are over. Finally we can all get back to our normal lives and pant sizes (unless you’re like me and have a plate of cookies in the freezer that you just broke into).

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Not that I believe the holidays are all about the gifts, but I gotta say this year I really scored in the cookbooks department. I got books about bread, pastry, foraging, the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (!!!), and a little surprise gem sent across the country to me from my good friend Natalie. It’s called Home Made Winter by Yvette van Boven, a Dutch food stylist, illustrator, and culinary editor. If I ever were to write a cookbook, this is exactly what I would want it to be like. It’s full of not only hundreds of creative, resourceful, and simply delicious sounding recipes, but also is glittered with her own adorable illustrations as well as photographs of the lush Dutch landscape taken by someone named Oof Verschuren. It’s honestly a work of art. Well done, Natalie. And Yvette. And Oof. Well done.

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Apple Cider Cream Pie

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

I made this pie last week with the idea to blog about it and encourage you to make it for your Thanksgiving celebrations. Of course I didn’t think about the fact that this past week would be ridiculously busy considering I work at a bakery and its almost Thanksgiving. It took me 3 days to finish one load of laundry this week, people.

Ok, enough whining. With procrastination as the theme of this post, I hope some of my fellow wait-til-the-last-minute-ers may find the time to make this tasty pie for their holiday dinner. Also, there’s another whole month of holidays for you to indulge…in case you forgot.

Additionally, I feel the need to share that microwaving this pie, as my dear roommate did, is a bad idea. Unless you’re into pie soup, in which case, go crazy.

Apple Cider Cream Pie

Pie Crust

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 stick cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

6 tablespoons ice cold water

Measure flour, sugar, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Cut butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. With a pastry knife, cut butter into flour until pea-sized bits are formed. Then add ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring to incorporate. Once the dough begins to come together form a ball with your hands. If it is still crumbly, add another tablespoon of water. Once you can form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it (at least 1 hour).

Apple Cider Pastry Cream

3 ½ cups apple cider

2 cups whole milk

½ cup sugar

Pinch salt

5 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, simmer the apple cider until it is reduced down to 1 cup.

In a separate saucepan, heat the milk and sugar stirring occasionally so that the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and cornstarch. Once the milk is beginnig to bubble, pour a ladle-full of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk together immediately. Continue whisking and pour in another ladle of the milk to temper the eggs. Now that the eggs are warmed up, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk and continue whisking until thick. Add reduced apple cider, and turn off the heat.

Pour custard into a pre-baked pie shell (I baked mine at 350 lined with parchment and filled with beans to avoid bubbles I the crust). Once cool, top with sweetened whipped cream and cinnamon. I also thought of topping it with candied walnuts or pecans, but I ended up just sticking to good old whipped cream.

EAT.

Bagels

Growing up in the midwest, I never had truly experienced the greatness of a good bagel. I honestly didn’t even know what I was missing. I actually thought they were supposed to be dense and bready, with a structureless outside. It’s a bit sad, but I didn’t know any better, so I didn’t mind. Back then bagels to me were just a vehicle for cream cheese anyway. Continue reading

Sour Cherry Brown Butter Tart

I’m obsessed with sour cherries. So obsessed, in fact, that I bought two buckets of them last year when I went to Door County. Initially the second bucket was for my mom, but, um, sorry mom… I kept them for myself.

I’m finally about half-way through with the second bucket, mostly due to this tart. The original recipe calls for raspberries, but thanks to my favorite blog in the whole wide world, Smitten Kitchen, the idea to use cherries was introduced to me. I made it for my dad’s birthday (in September–yeah, I’m behind), and it was so good I ended up making it again for a family party a few days later.

Still not convinced? On my dad’s birthday I brought it with me to my brother’s bar, Rootstock, and after sending a few slices to the kitchen, the sous chef came over to our table just to tell me how amazingly delicious it was. Score. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Yeah, I went there.

It’s the end of August. As fall quickly approaches, you will soon be exchanging the time you spent all summer going to street festivals and drinking margaritas at 3 in the afternoon for quiet nights in, and if you’re anything like me, whiskey. And chocolate.

As a baker, I know that the majority of what I make is already considered an indulgence for most of you, but this recipe also contains a strong hint of gluttony that I’m not even going to try to hide. It will be the perfect treat to share with friends and family on those special nights in. Remember–no more bathing suits ’til next summer. Are you with me? Continue reading

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts, Two Ways

Oh wow, it’s been a month, eh? Looks like I got a little behind! There’s been a lot going on — which I know is no excuse as we’re all busy — but incase you’re interested I’ll fill you in.

I got a new job! At a bakery! It’s going great, thank you for asking. It’s right up my alley and I feel like I’m learning a lot. I’m currently interning and will send more updates along the way. Continue reading

Ginger-Honey Orange Marmalade

Last summer, my good friend Laura moved to Ecuador for a two-year position as an elementary school teacher in Quito. I was lucky enough to get to see her a few times when she came home for Christmas, bearing lots of gifts for friends and family from Quito and her travels. As she knows I love to cook, she brought me some delicious miel de jengibre, or, as we call it, ginger-infused honey. That’s a girl after my own heart.

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Red Currant Sage Jam

The other night I was goofing off on the internet and came across an article about hidden treasures in different Chicago neighborhoods. I immediately looked up the one for my neighborhood, Logan Square, and read about a Polish grocery store called Wally’s Market. I love going to ethnic grocery stores to stock up on ingredients that would be 5x the price at Whole Foods, but haven’t done so at a Polish grocery store considering most of their food is not exactly vegetarian-friendly. But, after reading that it contains “two dozen types of mustard and a 20-foot-long pickle aisle” I had to check it out. So, the next day, I hopped on the bus in the rain and rode off to Wally’s. That’s what normal people do in their free time, right?

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