Making Almond Paste aka Complete Madness

My boyfriend hinted requested that he wanted Pignoli cookies for Valentine’s Day. And I love a good food challenge so I obliged! Then I saw the recipe called for almond paste and apparently no supermarket in my five-mile radius carried. So I made my own because the recipe to do so seemed simple enough and I later found out almond paste is super expensive so this might have been a money-saving blessing in disguise.

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First of all, when it says “peeled almonds” don’t get out the vegetable peeler like I did. I don’t know what my problem is half of the time in the kitchen but I believe it has something to with the fact that I just don’t THINK AT ALL. When I told people I did this, they laughed at me like I was an idiot…which is deserving because I really was an idiot. Don’t worry, I only peeled 5 or 6 almonds and cut myself with the peeler  just a few times before I said “Forget it!” and stormed away from the kitchen in a huff and decided to Google how to peel almonds. Surely there was a better way. And DUH there was. Boil them for 60-90 seconds and these babies literally FLY out of their skin. I’m not kidding. It was like the fucking fourth of July in my kitchen with almonds shooting everywhere, bouncing off of the ceiling. Madness. I’ll be finding naked almonds in my place for the next few weeks…

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Chocolate Pudding Cake

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I love chocolate but chocolate cake is not my favorite thing on the dessert menu. I find it to be too dry and prefer a yellow cake with chocolate ganche instead of a ordinary chocolate cake. Well, if all chocolate cakes were as rich and good as this one I might change my mind. But then again, I wouldn’t call this a cake in the traditional sense–it’s more like a souffle because it’s super light and airy but dense with rich, chocolate flavor at the same time.

I’ve made a few chocolate cakes/cupcakes and I have never really been thrilled with them. I think I can nail a good chocolate ganche frosting but the cakes, while good, are just never really the home run I’ve been hoping for. But this one I was really, really pleased with. It came out just like I imagined it would! It was super simple and straightforward and I’m proud to say I did not have one kitchen related meltdown or even feel a tinge of baking stress while working on this cake. And from someone who stresses out wayyyy too much in the kitchen, that means this recipe is sure to be a complete no-brainer to all the mellow Martha Stewart-like bakers out there.

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I’d rather eat a super bowl of soup than watch the Super Bowl…

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I was trying for some alliteration in the title, but in my reality, the soup can be substituted for a variety of foods. I’m not sure what the point of this post is but I feel strongly about what I’m about to say, so just go with me here.

I hate football. Ok, maybe I don’t actually hate it. I don’t mind watching a game or 2 on Sunday (if I can have some intermittent scenes from the Real Housewives thrown in during commercials). But I can’t stand all day marathons of games I don’t care about with players I’ve never heard of. THE WORSE is fantasy football. My boyfriend constantly and endlessly blabbering on and on and about his fantasy team makes watching football as unbearable as it gets. At least he won his league this year (Congrats, Andrew!) but beat my sister (Sorry, Ali!).

With that said, I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl in a serious way. Football wise–I’m excited to seeing a fellow Temple University alum, Bernard Pierce play…but that’s about it. I really don’t care about the commercials or Beyonce either, unfortunately.

I’m really, really looking forward to the food.

This is like the perfect excuse to make the most unhealthy, delicious, spicy, deep fried dishes I can think of. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Maybe too much. Just when I think I’ve narrowed it down…I haven’t. So if you have ideas, drop me a suggestion!

Think BIG flavors. Like W.W.G.F.D.? (What would Guy Fieri do? Is that dumb? Yes.) Hopefully my food isn’t as bad as the food he serves at his restaurant that the NY Times RIPPED him over. But maybe I’ll wear my sunglasses on the back of my head when I cook to get some good Guy vibes!

What good stuff are you making for Superbowl Sunday!?

Around the World in 80 Plates: Demon Chef

Many things happened on last night’s episode of 80 Plates but I need to start by discussing the Demon Chef. WTF was that all about!?

First of all, I get that we’re in Hong Kong this week and people dress a little more avant garde there…but does that excuse the dangly cross earrings and mom-ish haircut?

And he was wearing a sleeveless shirt. That’s not just weird. It’s simply not sanitary. I don’t want someone cooking for me with his armpits exposed to the food he’s about to serve me. Like “here’s your lovely steak cooked rare accompanied with a sauce made with balsamic vinegar and B.O.” No. Never.

But we’ll get back to this character later, even though all I really want to do is forget this man exists. Nightmares.

Like I said, this week the cheftestants head to Hong Kong. Nookie and John become one team and Liz and Nicole become the other team. Avery, who has no remaining team members from last week chooses to be on Liz and Nicole’s team. I don’t know why either, guys.

Nookie may be a big guy and ultra-slow but he’s smarter than the girls and keeps winning these “courses” so I would have chosen him. But she picks the girl’s team. The worst team. Nicole completely blows it. For some reason, she thinks she is suddenly good at doing ev-ery-thing. But she’s not. She single handily loses the challenge for her team because she SUCKS at working with crabs, making dumplings and breathing and walking…

Avery is about to bust. Watching Nicole massacre everything she touches makes her one step way from throwing a full-on hissy fit. She knows she did herself in on this on by not choosing to team with Nookie and John, who are breezing through every part of the challenge. So the men win the exceptional ingredient–some time to pow-wow with a real live sous chef from Hong Kong. Bravo couldn’t think of something a littttleee better?

This is the first “Takeover” that the chefs are cooking as individuals and not as teams. The weaker chefs seem to be freaking out. Liz  and Nicole look to each other in sadness and fear and sigh. They all will also go to the Demon Chef’s restaurant to learn how to cook with innovation. Liz and Nicole give each other the puppy dog eyes again. “WHAT are they doing to us!?”

The chefs sit at the counter of the Demon Chef’s kitchen while he barks orders at his sous chef. He creepily hits on Avery and makes weird jokes at the rest of them. I think I have mentally blocked out most of this scene except for one of the dishes the D.C. made called “sex on the beach” which featured some food that looked like a used condom filled with cream atop pile of something that looked like sand. And Avery ate it. You can stop reading now if you like. I won’t be offended.

So it’s finally time to cook and Nookie makes an oyster with a tapioca pearl. Kinda elementary and simple but the judges seem to like it.

John makes a pile of crazy. His “snow” melts, scallops are overcooked and the plate looks a mess. He is also attempting to work the front of the house. Attempting. Poor John!

Liz doesn’t have enough time in the allotted four freakin’ hours to make her pork dish. But somehow four hours was enough time to cook it extra dried out. Huh.

Nicole whips up some duck thing. Who knows.

Finally, Avery makes a dessert which looks delicious! It’s a mango coulis with a ginger cookie and it looks super pretty so she rightfully gets the win!

The rest of chefs vote off Nicole. John goes on this whole tirade of why Nicole should be voted off–she has no passion! True, she’s boring as dirt but I don’t know anyone on this show besides my beloved CHEVEN who’s exuding passion.

Next week 80 plates goes South American. Ole!