Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zucchini, Lime, and Cilantro Pizza

There's a delicious pizza place in Berkeley, CA called Cheese Board Pizza. They only serve one variety each day, all of the components are organic/vegetarian, and more often than not there's a line out the door for lunch. On the day that I visited, the pizza of the day consisted of heirloom tomato, red onions, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, basil, pine nuts, and garlic olive oil. It was amazing.

Although my pizza was wonderful, I didn't have the opportunity to try the best flavor that Cheeseboard offers -- cilantro, lime, corn, feta. I tried to recreate it once and that was disastrous, but the other day I stumbled upon a recipe taken from the official Cheese Board Cookbook. I was ecstatic. I made numerous adjustments/shortcuts from the original recipe, which I feel guilty about...but come on -- who has enough time to make pizza dough from scratch?

Recipe adapted from The Cheese Board Cookbook via A Chow Life

  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (supposed to use fresh, but I did frozen)
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 serving of garlic herb pizza dough from TJ's (<3 this stuff!)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I omitted this)
  • 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
  • Red pepper flakes

Prepare the mis en place: in a bowl, combine olive oil with minced garlic and set aside.

In a separate bowl, measure out corn kernels and toss with black pepper.
Chop up onion, zucchini, and cilantro, and quarter the lime.

Once all the toppings are ready, adjust oven racks to top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven, then preheat to 450F. Roll out the dough onto a large greased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese onto the dough, and layer on the sliced onions.

Add zucchini rounds, corn, and remaining cheese on top. Sprinkle on salt and red pepper flakes. Bake in lower rack for 8 minutes, rotate to top rack for 8 more minutes, then switch back to the lower rack for the final 5 minutes of baking. 

Once the pizza is done baking, remove it from the oven and brush crust with garlic olive oil. Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle lime juice on top. Ta da! I threw together a salad while the pizza was baking, and felt pretty good about myself after this meal. I know I's still pizza, but there's a lot of veggies in it so I don't feel so guilty.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strawberry White Chocolate Ganache Cupcake

My coworkers said that I've really outdone myself this time.

Start with a basic vanilla cupcake base, but throw in diced strawberries. I used the same recipe from a different strawberry cupcake that I made, except I halved the recipe, doubled the strawberries, and omitted the champagne.

Prep strawberry buttercream: one stick softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp strawberry gelatin powder, 2 diced strawberries, 2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp milk. Beat together until light and fluffy.

Prep white chocolate ganache: heat 1/4 cup heavy cream and stir in 1 cup white chocolate chips.

Dip cakes in ganache...

...and then swirl on some buttercream. So incredibly decadent. I ran out of frosting for the last couple of cupcakes so those were ganache only, sprinkled with white pearl sugar, but they were no less delicious.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Happy Belated National Donut Day

I try hard to be trendy and wanted to make a cronut (croissant + donut) dupe for the occasion. There's plenty of tutorials online but I was looking for something simple and didn't require a deep fryer. SFist came to my rescue.

They're dipped in white chocolate ganache (just white chocolate chips melted in heavy cream) with various toppings. The ones in the middle are the donut holes. Those were the best part, probably because I over baked them so they came out a tad crispy on the bottom.

Coconut in the front, cookies and cream in the back


Look at dem layers. Unfortunately the texture didn't at all resemble a croissant, but I was still impressed.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Peach-Filled Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

I work across the street from Starbucks and the baked goods selection tempts me every day. I noticed a couple weeks ago that they had new limited edition summer sweets, featuring items such as raspberry swirl pound cake, very berry pound cake, and peaches 'n cream muffin. I tried the muffin and... it was okay. Not as in it wasn't good, but I felt deceived. It was just peach chunks baked into a muffin -- where's the cream?

I huffily googled recipes for peaches and cream muffins that would trump Starbucks... but I got distracted by cupcake recipes instead. What I ended up making didn't at all resemble what I had intended to make, but that's okay because these were amazing. Who needs stupid muffins anyways...

Cake/filling recipe from the Food Network, frosting recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients for filling (make this first):
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peaches, pureed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Ingredients for cake (make this second):
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used yogurt as substitute)
  • 1/4 cup peach puree

Ingredients for frosting (make this last):
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

First, I pureed some peaches -- about two cans for both the cake and filling recipe. Drain out most of the syrup first but add 1/2 a cup to help it blend, and drizzle in more of the syrup if your blender is giving you a hard time.

Add peach puree and sugar to saucepan and bring to a slight boil over medium heat. In a separate bowl, mix together cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water until there are no lumps. Add cornstarch mixture to the puree mixture and stir well for an additional minute. Transfer to fridge and let cool while you make the cupcakes. 

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, add melted butter and sugar, and whisk well.

Whisk in egg and vanilla, then add dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder). Stir to mix and then whisk until combined.

Add in peach puree and yogurt, and stir until combined.

Scoop into lined cupcake tin, about 1/4 cup of batter per tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting.

The frosting recipe is pretty much just put all the ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together until smooth. make sure that your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature, otherwise it won't come together. Transfer to a frosting bag.

Mmm cupcakes. Wait for them to cool.

Cut off a little cap using a pairing knife, fill hole with peach filling, and replace the cap (you will need to cut off the cap tip for it to fit back in).

Your cupcakes are now ready to frost!

Oh man... and they taste as good as they look.

Best Mac and Cheese?

I was craving mac and cheese, so I googled best mac and cheese recipe. Lo and behold, this recipe must be what the internet unanimously agreed upon because it was the first result. 

I tried making it and I was sadly a little disappointed. Not in the flavor, not at all, that was spot on. But the texture was a little grainy. It was  better the next day after being microwaved because it seemed like the graininess melted away into the sauce overnight. I don't think there is something wrong with the recipe though, but rather something to do with my technique, because grainy mac and cheese has been a problem for me for awhile now (this one being a little more noticeable than usual though). Don't let this deter you from trying to make this though, because it's simple and fab, and if you manage to get a velvety smooth sauce, please provide tips.

(According to the Internet)
Recipe from Kitchen Treaty

  • 8 oz. shells, penne, or elbows
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3 cups medium cheddar cheese, grated
  • I added bread crumbs and bacon because...why not?

Cook your shells to al dente - I swear shells is the best type of pasta for mac because it has these generous pockets to hold the cheese sauce. Mmmm.

While the shells were cooking, fry up your optional bacon. By optional though I don't really mean optional, as it'll bring this dish to the next level. Cut the bacon into pieces once properly fried.

When the shells and bacon are ready, preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter over medium heat on stovetop.

Add flour, salt, mustard, pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir constantly for three minutes.

Stir in milk and whisk frequently for 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened considerably.

Turn off the heat and stir in 2 cups of sauce until it's melted.

Mmmm cheese sauce. Add in pasta and stir well.

The recipe calls for laying the remaining cup of cheddar with the pasta before baking. But... I only had two cups of cheddar and I was too lazy to make a grocery run. So instead, I skipped the layering step and topped my mac with bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned on top. 

Top with bacon and serve. Unless you skipped the bacon, in which case you should cry a little inside.