Ganache, you’re great!

My son turned 5 on Wednesday. I’m still in shock and sugar coma. He loves chocolate cake, actually he just loves cake and anything that I bake. Each year I ask him what he wants for his birthday and his answer is always chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Sometimes the chocolate cake will be mixed with pumpkin or filled with a cranberry cream, this year it was chocolate on chocolate.

20121019-073140.jpg

This hardest decision is whether I make a buttercream or ganache frosting. Buttercream is great, but the sugar can put me over the edge and the kids up the wall! I asked Milam what he wanted, yes my son knows the difference between both. He opted for the creamy stuff, ganache.

20121019-073434.jpg

I have been making ganache for several years now and have had some really not so good turn outs. Cream and chocolate are delicate ingredients and must be handled with care. Do you melt the chocolate and then add the cream or do you heat the cream and then add the chocolate? How much cream to chocolate, every recipe changes to the cooks taste. Some have a higher ratio of cream to chocolate or just the opposite. I don’t use milk chocolate for anything I bake. It has too much sugar and milk already added, making it difficult to control sweetness.

20121019-074029.jpg

Don’t rush your ganache or you’ll be disappointed. I prefer to heat the cream and then have a bowl of chopped up dark chocolate waiting to be melted. Once you pour the hot cream over the chocolate, be patient and let the melting magic happened. You don’t want to stir it too much. Just let the chocolate be heated up by the cream and gently give it a stir to help the melting process.

20121019-074623.jpg

20121019-074634.jpg

20121019-074643.jpg

20121019-074658.jpg

As the chocolate melts it will turn glossy. Gently stir the mixture to incorporate the bottom pieces of chocolate. If there are lumps, don’t worry. Simply put the heat proof bowl on top of a pot of boiling water, don’t get the mixture too hot, you only want to heat up the bottom of the bowl.

A ganache, once cooled, can be poured, whipped, or pipped. If your desired consistency is for pouring, then you’ll need to add a tablespoon of corn syrup to the finished product (it helps with the smoothness).

20121019-075336.jpg

So here’s my recipe.

Chocolate Ganache

makes 2 whipped cups

You’ll need:

8 oz heavy whipping cream (it’s best to use non ultra pasteurized, but it can be hard to find or if you don’t eat dairy you can substitute in any non-dairy milk)

8 oz chocolate; chopped into small pieces

Measure chocolate and set aside in a bowl. Heat the cream in a pot on the stovetop until it comes to a boil. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently. Don’t burn the cream! Once it’s steaming and boiling around the edges pour over the chocolate and gently stir.

Now this is going to be challenging but do not stir the mixture for at least ten minutes. Stirring too frequently will incorporate too much air, which slows down the melting process. After 10 minutes, give it a good stir and watch the magic happen. Gently fold in the bottom bits to ensure an even melting.

20121019-081022.jpg

20121019-081118.jpg

Advertisements
Ganache, you’re great!

Decolonize Your Diet

A friend, who is a currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley, posted this link to an awesome website/blog about decolonizing your diet. Food talk is the talk at the moment, particularly at UC Berkeley. Given that my interest also is in food I thought I would share this blog post with you to show one slice of the larger pie of food talk.

Decolonizing Your Diet

Also, this semester there is a course titled Story Telling in Food and Agriculture which is part of the Edible Education series put on by Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. The classes are open to the public, but they are also recorded and put on youtube. Check them out! They have a rotating series of speakers covering all aspects of the food justice and education spectrum.

UC Berkeley Edible Education Series

 

Decolonize Your Diet

The simplest chocolate fudge recipe!

Chocolate fudge: you either love it or hate it. If you hate it, then stop reading now.

I am about to give you the simplest fudge recipe I have ever encountered. I actually found it rummaging through some old cookbooks about 6 years ago. I had never read an Amish cookbook before, but I was incredibly impressed by their recipes. This one was a keeper. I like to use super dark chocolate, but that’s just me. Trader Joe’s sells a 1 lb chocolate bar that ranges from milk chocolate to 87% cocoa. Use whatever chocolate you prefer.

This photo is of a recipe that had been doubled and cooled in a 11 by 7 rectangle pan.

Easy Creamy Chocolate Fudge a la Amish

  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler
  2. Stir in milk
  3. Add salt, vanilla, and nuts
  4. Pour into a greased 9 in square pan.
  5. Cool; cut into squares and serve!
The simplest chocolate fudge recipe!

Under the Avocado Tree

This past weekend my best friend of 14 years got hitched! It was a beautiful and homegrown kind of wedding at the Fairview Gardens in Goleta, CA (right outside of Santa Barbara). I was the maid of honor, cake lady, and piñata candy maker! It was all the sweet little homemade touches that really pulled the whole event together. I was incredibly impressed by all the hard work and detail that my gal put into the wedding. The location was magical. The ceremony and reception were in the avocado orchard. It felt like stepping into a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, where magical realism shapes every cervice and touch.

Homemade chocolate fudge for the piñata. Individually wrapped with love.

(Check out the simplest fudge recipe ever here)

A farm fresh dinner made by the bride upon our arrival.
fresh organic flowers we picked up at the farmer’s market to make our bouquets and flower arrangements.
Home made caramels! First time ever making them too! I would say they came out tasting like butter!

(Check out the caramel recipe!David Lebovitz ‘s Salted Butter Caramel recipe is so yummy! It was my first time making caramels so I was a tad nervous, but I love his recipes and commentary and they were a crowd pleaser!)

Organic strawberry jam made by the bride with strawberries from the urban farm. They were the filling for the cupcakes too!
The beautiful San Ynez Mountains.
Home brew anyone? Beer and label made by the best man.
Picking up flowers the day before the wedding!
Looking through the avocado tree to where the ceremony would be held. The sun shimmered through the branches like little burst of sun kisses.
The bride spent 3 days making this pinata!
The Bride and Groom crafted these awesome pint glasses as party favors for all the guests!
Our very talented friend and the second bride’s maid hand painted each ceramic pot to hold the table numbers. She even flew them all the way from Costa Rica!
The ceremony was breath taking. The colors, the dresses, the lighting, the love, and the couple were all perfect!

(In case you were wondering, our dresses were handmade in Mexico by the talented Aida Coronado. Her embroidery is colorful and immaculate.)

Just pronounced husband and wife!
The delicious cupcakes! Sun kissed lemon-strawberry cupcakes. The strawberries were picked the day before the wedding by our kiddos. Talk about local and sustainable.
The ‘day of the dead’ cake topper.
Who doesn’t want to dance under an avocado tree?
The couple’s first dance… again the lighting was perfect!
Yay! Cake time!

All in all every part of the wedding was as vibrant and colorful as the bride and groom. I feel so honored to have been invited and to have contributed to the wedding.

Under the Avocado Tree

Eat Real. Eat Fast. Eat This.

This past weekend was the Real Eat Festival in Oakland‘s Jack London Square. You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘another food festival?’ Why, yes foodie friends, who doesn’t love eating good, fast, cheap food under blue skies and a bright shining sun. Given my limited budget and fluctuating waistline (I’m the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding next weekend), I only made it out to the Saturday festivities. This time I got to be an attendee rather than a worker bee. Working food festivals is hard work, but a rush of fun! I got to see some familiar faces from La Cocina and Off the Grid, all hustling their products to the masses with their beauty and grace!

There were a ton of vendors bustling out a variety of hot, cold, packaged, and speciality foods. Lots of good beer, mixed drinks, and agua frescas by the lovely Hella Vegan Eats ladies (a La Cocina incubator program member).

Pineapple infused with mint agua fresca
Hella Vegan Eats slanging their juice!

Aside from the amazing variety of food available, there were food and cooking demonstrations, life-style booths spreading the word on urban gardening and farming, and live music.

The first dish of the day was from Chac Mool (another La Cocina incubator program member). Two tacos of carnitas (stewed pork) and nopales (sauteed cactus) on two freshly made corn tortillas. Yummy!!!

Carnitas and Nopales Tacos

Next was on to Chop Bar and their whole roasted pig! I love me some pork, especially when it’s a whole roasted hog. Crunchy, succulent, and salty pig skin encasing a tender, juicy meat..mmm mmm oink oink… It was finger licking good!

Pork and Corn Bread
This little piggy went into my mouth!

Did someone say corn dog??? That’s right folks, next was Tante’s hand-dipped corn dog that was oh so delicious!

It was THAT good!
Delicious Corn Dog!

Finally, a little something sweet. A freshly made cookies n’ cream ice cream sandwich from Sift’s Cupcake and Dessert Bar.

Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream Sandwich!
Who doesn’t love an ice cream sandwich!?

I even grabbed some Cheddar Apple Pie biscotti from Saint & Olive (a new comer to La Cocina as well!). I saved those special treats for my Sunday morning coffee.

The Biscotti Queen!
A Special Treat!
A beautiful handwritten note from Miss Olive!
Sweet, Salty, Spicy, and So GOOD!

All in all it was a fabulous day and I left with a full belly and a happy heart!

Eat Real. Eat Fast. Eat This.

A Full Bangin’ Breakfast

Having lived in England for several years, I tend to miss certain things, especially zebra crossings, rain in the summer, EastEnders, a cuppa, Sunday roasts, pints, and the English breakfast. Bacon, bangers (sausage), eggs, baked beans, toast, tomatoes, mushrooms, and black pudding (for the northern types) all fried/grilled into a greasy mess. Curing the worst hangover, nourishing the body for a hard days work, and clogging arteries for a lifetime.

20120911-153734.jpg
Oh, it tasted as good as it looks.

I never stated, nor have others, that the English make good food, but they sure do make food that sustains the body. I mean beer was breakfast for many years. What we now know of as ‘The English Breakfast’, ‘fry-up’, or ‘full English’ is a fairly recent conception, consisting all of the above ingredients, really emerging as a national breakfast post WWII and getting serious in the 1960s with the help of bed and breakfast establishments. Bacon has been part of the English diet since the eighteenth century and was happily married to the egg, coining the term ‘bacon and eggs.’ A match made in breakfast heaven!

This isn’t your everyday kind of breakfast. I remember going to greasy spoons, or cafés (as they are called in the UK) and devouring a full breakfast like a champ. Always surrounded by working-class men, college students, the unemployed, and the recently hungover. Not a lot of women around, they were probably watching their figures somewhere.

Given my affinity for all things English, my ex-pat friend Martin graciously made me a full breakfast. Despite his current trend of vegetarianism, he banged it out like a true Englishman.

20120911-164329.jpg
Martin, my token English friend. He’s a bit confused by his shirt…
20120911-164356.jpg
Pre-cooking food runway
20120911-164409.jpg
Don’t worry friends, there was no marmite used in this meal.
20120911-164425.jpg
Lard, yes!
20120911-164439.jpg
get in my belly!
20120911-170608.jpg
Who doesn’t love English sausage?
A Full Bangin’ Breakfast

I really like your peaches…

Summer has come and gone and all I can think about is how I’ll miss all the summer fruits. Nothing compares to freshly picked stone fruits. Their sweetness lingers in the air from miles away. Their firm yet supple flesh screams ‘eat me!’. I really do wanna shake their trees!

I remember driving through orchards in the Great Central Valley and being mesmorized by all the stone fruit trees, and especially by the amount of waste scattered upon the orchard floor. All I could think about was how sad the fruit must be, alone, bruised, neglected, and left to rot… I mean think about all the amazing things you could turn them into. Jam, pies, tarts, muffins, juice, cake, ice cream, and so on…

Amazingly enough, the peach and its less hairy sister, the nectarine, made their way to California all the way from China via the Spanish. Yes, those pesky bearded spaniards. Despite its delicate condition, the peach has travelled for thousands of years, and miles, to become a Californian agricultural summertime staple. I can’t imagine a summer without coddling a juicy peach with its sweet nectar running down my chin and drying up into sticky goodness!

Given that summer is quickly fading away into fall, I couldn’t help myself but make one last summer peach pie.

20120908-002307.jpg

20120908-002326.jpg

20120908-002341.jpg

20120908-002407.jpg

20120908-002451.jpg

I really like your peaches…