Wednesday, June 20, 2012

accidental bliss.

Hello summer. Or rather, welcome.  Instead of talking about the sun and how glorious it is, how much is  makes this city sing, and how it's officially the first day of summer I thought I would just show you this.

Blue sky, Ferris wheel, and one giddy girl behind the camera lens.  It's days like these that make you so happy you can't even believe how lucky you are. So excited even though you can't put a finger on what exactly the reason is, you have to share it with someone. And when there is no one in your immediate grasp, these kind of days often end in a long cross country calls to your sister who can only begin to make sense of your excitement when you take your first breath after twenty two minutes of non stop chatter.

That is accidental, stumbled upon, no-real reason kind of bliss. It's my favorite kind.

It was in one of these transcendental states of accidental bliss that I rather inadvertently made this.

While I am not much of a planner, I usually set out to make something specific when I step into the kitchen. More often than not I have a craving, special ingredient, new recipe, or occasion that tends to steer me towards the end result.  But yesterday, yesterday was some spontaneous domino effect kinda baking.

Honestly, I wasn't going to bake anything. I was going to clean.  But when I went to throw away some brown specked bananas, I realized I hadn't replaced the garbage bag, and in the moment it took me to set down the bananas and replace the trash bag I thought hey- I should probably use these.

So then I was going to make cookies. Cowboy cookies to be exact.  My second snafu (or shall we say stroke of good luck) was that I only had super cold butter. So I cheated and went to soften the butter on the stove, but as a I do from time to time, I got momentarily distracted and my butter went from soft to bubbling so I figured I might as well let it go all the way to brown.

So then I had bananas and brown butter and the inkling of a plan. If you don't know this about me, and why would you I guess, I love alliteration. A lot. I mean look at my name, it was meant to be.

Anyways, for no other reason than wanting to add a forth b to the mix I added some bourbon.  That's what happened. Born out of a spontaneous string of events, affinity of word sounds, and most importantly a state of utter accidental bliss I present Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread. 


Brown Butter Banana Bread

1/3 cup butter, browned and salted
2 -3 large brown bananas mashed
1 egg (beaten slightly)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional... but really?)

Brown butter on stove. Wait for butter to bubble, get translucent, then remove from heat before it burns. You should be able to tell by the smell, brown butter smells more like nuts than actual butter.
Mix butter in with mashed bananas. Add in sugar, egg, vanilla, bourbon. Sprinkle in salt, spices, and soda.  Add in flour last. Stir to combine. Add in choc chips. Pour batter into buttered bread pan and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

boats and birthdays and of course, cake.

My roommate in college was allergic to all raw fruits and vegetables.  If that were me I would probably die. But then I was reminded the other day at a birthday brunch on a boat drinking watermelon mimosas that if I were allergic to raw fruit, I could still eat cake. Specifically, cake with fruit, that is baked, juicy and delicious.

So I would have that going for me.

This cake is also gluten free. And mostly vegan. Mostly. I am mildly opposed to gluten free, but this cake is good. I mean really good. Not just good in an ok way especially for being gluten free. Good. Just good  in a melty, crumbly, strusseley, crunchy, you would never know except I just told you sort of way.

It can be our secret. I won't tell.

Anyways, I did some research on gluten free baking and am still working on a few tricks, but it seems to come down to the viscosity and the fluff factor. Very technical terms, but basically you don't want to overwork your dough and you want to make sure you have enough of a binder. Also, I am morally opposed to xantham gum- mostly because it is really expensive and comes in too big of a package, so I've just been adding extra baking soda and egg whites. I am not sure if it's a fluke yet, but it worked well with this particular coffee cake.

My conclusion on the whole gluten free baking thing is that it can be delicious if you don't try to hard.

Meaning, you can't just make your favorite dessert and take out the gluten and expect it to be just as good. Especially, if you like chocolate chip cookies.  They will never not taste like cardboard. It's a fact. Or at least it's what I am going with for now, but I don't have all that much invested in disproving my thesis. If I never eat a gluten free cookie again I would be extremely content.  That being said, desserts that don't revolve around the unbeatable match of gluten and butter- so no pies and no cookies sorry- can rather easily be just as, and sometimes more, tasty than their gluten full brethren.

To be fair I don't really remember the recipe I used exactly. But the good thing is I have a lot of brown rice flour, almond meal, and coconut oil so I'll try to get it down to a science.

Until then, cheers to birthdays, boats, and coffee cake that makes you gush.

Monday, June 11, 2012

booze. and other things that happened this week..

It's been a big week for booze. Or at least for me hanging out in distilleries....

It's not really dessert I know, but it's sweet and it's what I was up to.

First Vodka. Who knew that vodka doesn't always suck on its own? And that it is sometimes particularly good in a giant moscow mule....

I covered the launch of Glass Vodka and the Glass Distillery in SODO on friday. Mostly I got to to listen men in silver suits with pocket squares tell me about premium Vodka and got to feel a little like P.Diddy on a yatch.  It was fun.

I also got to eat steak on little squares of toast.


That would have still been a good about amount of distillery action for me for one week, or rather, more than usual. But then on Saturday I got to help bottle, label, and package Big Gin for my friends at Captive Spirit.  Seriously what a perfect Saturday.  Good music, good people, good coffee, and of course good gin.

Really good gin.

Specifically,  I got to try their barrel aged gin- aged in barrels from Heaven Hills Distillery- and that tastes exactly how I sometimes wish whiskey tasted like all of the time.  Good bless America.

Oh and one last thing non-booze related, for now at least I still think rhubarb lemon gin and tonics sound good, I bought, sliced, bagged, and froze a lot of rhubarb.

A lot. Somewhere in the eight to ten pounds range....

It won't be exactly the same, I know, but the chance at winter rhubarb pies and dream bars was too hard to resist, if they last that long...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

peas and carrots

Let me start by saying, this has nothing to do with peas and carrots. Nothing. I just couldn't think of a coupling less annoying than ying and yang. Maybe I should have gone with zig and zag?

Or maybe just chocolate and coffee.

First, lets talk about coffee and how much I love it and how I drink way too much of it. Way to much. I'd like to think of it not so much as a habit, but as a luxury I indulge, however somewhere along the line it's taken a turn (or shall we say zig) for the worse.  It would be too painful for all, you and me included, if I were to actually calculate how much I spend on coffee a week, or a month, or christ- in a whole year. I could probably buy a yacht, or at the very least a motorboat...

Here's the thing about me. Besides loving to bake, I don't cook anything. I mean anything.  Left to my own devices I usually eat vegetables and more often than not raw. Honestly, for all the coffee I drink I can't even make that great of a hot cup of joe at home.  This is not an exaggeration. I am slightly hopeless when it comes to my culinary prowess.  I get easily distracted. Usually, unless I am baking something delicious and sweet I forget what I'm doing. I start sauteing asparagus, or cooking rice, and the next thing you know I'm folding laundry or getting lost in a book and the kitchen is starting to smoke.  I should learn I know, I may even like it, but for now I'll take raw vegetables and lots and lots of dessert and cold brew coffee.

It's easy. Really easy. So easy I'm amazed it's taken me this long to do at home.

Step #1. Fill jar with 1.5 cups or more of ground coffee beans
Step #2. Fill with 9 cups of water, approximately.
Step #3. Refrigerate for 24 hours
Step #4. Strain
Step #5. Add ice and depending on how strong your beans were, cold water.
Step #6. Drink.

So that's the first part of this fantastic match.

The second. Chocolate. I think you know how I feel about cake, it's not as good as pie, and I just don't care for frosting of most varieties, but I do like powdered sugar and what I will now refer to as Monday cakes. They're your everyday kind of cake. No celebration needed. Except of course, the celebration of coffee and chocolate.

I first saw this recipe here, weeks ago. Honestly, I almost dropped what I was doing, ran to the store and bought buckwheat flour, but I didn't. That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it though...

So here it is.

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake.
What? Yes....

This cake fits so many bills.  First, it's chocolaty and buttery- an obvious yes for any everyday or any day cake. Second, in addition to being all about chocolate, it is more appropriately all about the eggs. As someone who went egg less for most of her life, there is nothing I appreciate more than the sight of pluming, billowing piles of eggs and sugar. Yes please.  And finally, due in most part to the fluffing of the eggs I used my beautiful kitchen aid, which as I've mention earlier, has sat unattended for far too long.

Monday Cake.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Heavy pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Set aside. Mix sugar, eggs, and salt together until fluffy and twice the volume.  Usually takes about 9 minutes. DO NOT skimp on this step. It's worth the wait.

Add in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Mix. Sprinkle almond and buckwheat flours into mixture, fold to combine. Pour into buttered and parchment papered cake pan. I would definitely suggest using parchment paper, I didn't and things got a little hairy.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and your choice of toppings. Whipped cream, berries, ice cream, or let me suggest-- coffee.