Category Archives: sweets & cookies

Park Chow’s Cinnamon French Toast with Marscapone Cream

Home made version of Park Chow's Cinnamon French Toast (recipe)

For those of you in San Francisco, you can go and make your own comparison–but for the rest of you, you’ll have to trust me: the best French toast you’ll ever have is at Park Chow in San Francisco. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s moist, it’s sweet and cinnamony. And, for weeks, I worked on perfecting my own version for a cinnamon french toast recipe. Here you have it–enjoy! (and if you’re really in for the whole experience, get some coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company–it’s where they get their custom blend!)

Mascarpone Cream Topping Recipe
1/2 C heavy whipping cream, whipped very firm
1/2 C room temperature mascarpone cheese
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T whiskey, creme de cocoa or other liquor of your preference

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. In an ideal world, you’ll cover it (or put it in a mason jar like I do) and refrigerate it until very firm.

Cinnamon French Toast Recipe – serves 3-4
4-5 1 inch thick slices Semifreddi’s cinnamon twist bread (a brioche style loaf with a slightly stick outside & cinnamon layers), quartered to triangles
3 eggs, whisked
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup milk

Whisk everything but the bread together, and then begin soaking the bread slices in the mixture. They should be pretty darn soggy.

Cook in 1-2 T butter in a 10-12 inch skillet at medium high heat. If your slices are very thick, or seem not to be drying out, reduce heat and cover lightly with a lid to steam through. Serve with real maple syrup, warm.

Red Velvet Macarons & Thank You Gifts

red velvet french macarons made with italian method

Another round of macarons..using the Italian method. Admittedly, I was a little rushed and a little lazy piping this out, so they are a bit unevenly sized.

Basic French Macarons (Italian Method)

Part One
1 1/2 C powdered sugar (168 grams)
1 1/2 C Almond flour (or other nut flour; 168 grams)
2 large egg whites (55 grams)
Any extracts (use sparingly, 1/4 tsp or less), cocoa powder, or food colorings are added in this stage

Part Two
2 large egg whites (55 grams)
3/4 C granulated sugar (150 grams)
1/4 C water

Stand mixer (If you choose to use a hand mixer I recommend having four hands, or you will find this to be a pain.)
Candy thermometer or good probe thermometer
Piping bags (1 large, one smaller for the icing; I prefer to use one with a coupler)
3/8 plain piping tip
Non-temperamental oven, or oven thermometer and hawk eye

Line 2 baking sheets with silpats or parchment; You may want to create a template to place below the parchment when piping of 1 inch circles. Prep your large piping bag with the tip, using a coupler or not. Preheat the oven to 275 F.

Place two egg whites in bowl of the stand mixer and add the whisk attachment. Plug the beast in.

In a bowl, preferably with a flat bottom, mix the powdered sugar and almond flour well. Add any powders such as matcha or cocoa at this time. For RED VELVET cookies/chocolate cookies, add 20 grams cocoa powder as a replacement for some powdered sugar. Always replace powdered sugar with dry flavorings in order to keep the balance of the batter. Add the egg whites and any food coloring and extracts such as vanilla, almond, etc. Mix into a paste with a large spatula, until it shows even color.

In small saucepan on medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Place the thermometer in the pan from the get-go, when it gets to 226F, begin whipping the egg whites on high. When the sugar reaches 230 (egg whites should be a bit foamy), remove it from the flame and add the liquid slowly to the whipping egg whites to create an Italian meringue. Continue whipping until the bowl is cool to touch, about 8 minutes or so, depending on the temp of the room.

Fold the cooled meringue into the almond mixture. Notice that the batter looks like shiny plastic; watch for it to look like wet plastic shortly after the ingredients are combined. Be sure not to stir the batter, but to fold* cutting in and rotating the bowl. When it looks shiny, stop, and put it in the piping bag.

*Find a youtube video on this if you aren’t sure how. The videos are all wrong, I just looked. None of them are quite right. The main thing is to put your spatula in vertical, like a knife. Then, pull it through along the side of the bowl and around, gently turning it over the center and letting the batter you scooped drop. Rotate the bowl 1/4 and cut into the center and do it again. Rinse and repeat. It’s important.

Pipe them out into even 1-inch circles spaced 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-20 minutes; Mine took about 14. Check every 2 minutes after the first twelve by touching the top of the macaron with a flat finger and trying to shake it. The cookies are done when the top moves just a little against the ruffle.  Let them cool a minute or two before attempting to remove with a small, sturdy metal spatula. They taste best if you stick them in the fridge covered overnight, or even the completed cookies this way. They’re good up to five days, and the cookies without filling can be frozen.

Cream Cheese Icing for Red Velvet Macarons
4 oz cream cheese room temp
1/2 stick butter room temp
1/2 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter and cream cheese – whip 30 seconds or so. Slowly add sugar with a hand mixer on low, scrape sides once in a while. Add vanilla and blend until fluffy, 1 minute.

Italian Buttercream Icing – Great standard macaron filling
2 egg whites (55 grams)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
60g unsalted butter at room temp, roughly diced (just less than a 1/2 stick)

Whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl bain-marie style (over a pot of simmering water) and heat the mixture, whisking often, for 3-5mins until the  sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and whisk on high speed with a hand mixer until it is stiff and shiny, similar to the Italian meringue made for the macarons. Add the butter slowly, one cube at a time, and continue to mix till all the butter is combined. Add any flavorings and refrigerate to firm up to use in a piping bag.

You can flavor and color this icing many different ways; try adding some green tea powder when the sugar is melting, or some food coloring once it’s whipped up.

ligurian olive oil

& Thank you gifts! I hosted my old roommate (of Tuscany Road Trip 2006 fame) & her friend a few weeks ago; recently a surprise package arrived! She sent me delicious fig balsamic and extremely hard-to-get-my-paws-on Ligurian Olive oil!! Way to bring back awesome times, K! I spent lots of weekends in Cinque Terre when I lived in Florence, and it just brought back amazing culinary memories. I can’t wait to use it.

Fried Chicken on Fresh Corn, English Peas, and Kale; Plum Ice Cream



Fried Chicken Nuggets on Kale and Fresh Corn

Fresh Plum Ice Cream

Yesterday we had some new friends over for dinner, and I planned the menu while starving after my morning yoga class. I resurrected the tomato soup (tomato soup recipe) I always make (but haven’t for about a year), took a hint from a restaurant we went to recently and constructed a fried-chicken breast nuggets dish on fresh corn, English peas, and kale. I already had the peas and corn from my farm shipment and wanted to make sure they didn’t go to waste.

Fried Chicken Breast Nuggets on Kale, Fresh Corn, and Fresh English Peas

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 bunches kale
4 ears corn
1/2 lb fresh English peas in pods
Sunflower, avocado, or peanut oil enough to fry in a large, high sided skillet, about 2 cups or more
2 T butter

For Chicken Coating:
1 C flour, set aside

For Chicken Batter:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 egg whites (can use whole eggs if you prefer)
1/2 cup milk

Frying the chicken:
Cut the breasts into a few different sized chunks in order for the chicken to cook evenly by being fried. None are larger than 1.5 inches thick, 2 inches long, 2 inches wide.

Heat oil at least 1 inch deep in a large high sided skillet; do not fill the skillet more than half way. It should be about 375 degrees; if you don’t have a thermometer (I don’t), test it with a bit of batter.

Generously salt & pepper two sides of the chicken pieces, and coat in flour. Dip into the egg mixture/batter, then back in the flour, placing within a few minutes into the hot oil.

I fried the chicken in 3 batches in a 10 inch skillet to not over crowd.

Chicken will become golden and firm when poked, flip it only once and remove and place on a rack or paper towels to drain. If desired, sprinkle with sea/kosher salt at this point.

The vegetables:
Ahead of time, wash and cut your kale–remove the thick stem, cut into 1 inch pieces. Boil some water, add salt when boiling and blanch the kale for a few minutes until deep green and tender. Drain and set aside.

Wash the corn and cut it off the cob, remove the peas from their shells.

While the oil for the chicken is heating, heat the butter in a skillet. When hot, add the corn and some salt, and continue stirring or flipping until 1/3 is golden/gaining color. Add the fresh peas and cook a few more minutes as the chicken finishes its last batch of frying.

Assemble by placing the hot corn mixture on the plate or bowl, adding the kale and topping with the fried chicken.

Plum Ice Cream:

A friend and coworker gave me some delicious, overly ripe plums last Wednesday, so I made plum preserves of the immediately with very little sugar so they retained their color and tartness; I left them in as large of chunks as was possible and canned up two small jars. They came into play when I decided to make a delicious, custard-y vanilla ice cream and swirl them in.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

3/4 Cup milk
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 T brown sugar
pinch salt
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 plump, full size vanilla bean
1/3 cup plum preserves

Heat the milk, salt, and sugars in a saucepan over low heat until sugars combine and milk is beginning to look granulated/clear. While milk is warming, scrape the vanilla bean seeds out of the pod and add it to the milk, and add the pod itself too.

Whisk lightly the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add warm milk to temper/warm the egg yolks. Once warmed, pour the egg yolks into the sauce pan with the milk and stir well as you do so to prevent coddling.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a spatula until custard is thick enough to coat the spatula. Strain the mixture into the cold heavy cream, wrinsing the vanilla bean pod and adding it back in again. Chill thoroughly and then follow your ice cream maker’s instructions, adding the preserves when the ice cream is fairly thickened, almost done.

Fresh Plum Preserves

Plum preserves recipe: Wash, then cut plums into halves or quarters if they are still very firm, place in a pot, cover with about 1/8th to 1/6th the volume in sugar, the juice of a lemon or lime or more for a great quantity, and bring to a boil; immediately reduce to a simmer for just a couple of minutes, turn off, and can.

Vanilla-Mint Pu-erh Tea Ice Cream from Rishi Tea & Rishi Teas

pu-erh ice cream made with Rishi Tea Vanilla Mint Pu-Erh

Some regular readers may have noticed a certain obsession lately, namely that my creativity in the kitchen with concerns to ice cream has been largely centered around tea as of late. In terms of flavor, this is my favorite ice cream tea to date.

This may not come as a surprise to anyone who makes ice cream at home, but I have finally concluded that anything less than 50% cream and 50% half & half is just not creamy enough to make a soft, scoop-able, delicious ice cream at home. The photo above was made with 100% half and half, and while the taste was delicious, the texture was lacking. So, I have amended my recipe below for your future success.

1 oz Rishi Vanilla Mint Pu-Ehr Organic Tea
1/2 pint organic half-and-half
1/2 pint organic whole cream (I recommend Straus Family Creamery for your ice cream dairy products)
1/3 cup sugar + 1/3 cup water
Additional boiling water

Combine the sugar and water and bring to the beginning of a simmer over heat to make a simple syrup. Turn off heat and reserve. Does not have to be cool to use.

In a medium to large metal or glass bowl add the tea, but reserve from the 1oz enough for one pot–you should brew it when you eat the ice cream for a hot & cold experience. Pour enough boiling water over the tea to moisten all of it and let brew 1-2 minutes.

At 1-2 minutes, add the half and half and the cream, then the simple syrup. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 36. Optional: let stand at room temperature for 30 min-1hour for more intense flavoring, before placing in refrigerator.

When mixture is fully chilled, follow instructions for your ice cream machine being sure to strain the mixture as you pour it into the machine.

As a tangent, the folks at Rishi Tea are really down to earth. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that they’ve been around for more than 10 years, because they really run as a small, local company simply doing good business, and they have some really great products. Like my friend P at Red Blossom, they source their own teas and have personal relationships with the growers, and have some great products they offer for wholesale–so you can likely find their products locally if you prefer not to order online.

If you enjoy less traditional teas such as blends or fruit infusions but appreciate excellent quality, for example, this vanilla mint blend, Rishi is a great source. I also enjoyed their “iron goddess” oolong, but as a moderately experienced oolong drinker (read: I have no right to be snobby and am only moderately more exposed to excellent teas than the next person), I’d personally return specifically for the flavored teas and look forward to experimenting with more of them in cuisine as well (plum oolong dashi with umeboshi-pork roll and shiso?? just an idea).

Come to think of it, it’s pretty much summer, so some flavored ice tea could be in order for back yard get-togethers, and they seem to have some tasty options.