beef bourguignon

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

I’ve gotten really into making my version of beef bourguignon recently because it’s actually super easy, really hearty and lasts for a couple of days. Plus it satisfies that need to chop and cook on a sunday. My take on it is basically this Ina Garten recipe but I omit the whole second half. And I don’t bake it, I just cook it on the stove at very low heat for an hour and a half. And I add potatoes.

(the picture is of just the vegetables before I add in the browned beef and wine, because this version is just prettier).

making croissants from scratch

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

I have wanted to make croissants from scratch at least once in my life. I feel it is my duty as a partially french person. So enlisting the help of friends, an absurd amount of butter, so much waiting, and about 48 hours, we made croissants. We also threw in some pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins for good measure. What follows is our process. It’s going to be long, so get comfy! The recipe is at the end if you ever care to do it yourself. It’s not really hard just incredibly time consuming. I will say that it’s worth it and that I will probably never do it again.

We used this incredibly classic, and dog eared patisserie book and translated not only the french to english but the grams to cups. At times it was not pretty. I love all the notations written on the side and all the history you could feel. The book belongs to my friend’s french mom and she’s used it for ages.

The actual assembly of the dough is not complicated. You mix three bowl of different simple ingredients and then combine them. It’s everything after that point that makes you feel incompetent.

So here is the dough. Now comes the fun part of letting it rise, rolling it out, cooling it, rolling it, adding loads of butter and then repeating.

Yeah, that’s butter. And only half of what you ultimately use.

This is the folding step (you can see that the butter has been spread out to form a thin layer over 2/3rds of the dough. The part that’s being folded over does not have butter (in case you’re actually making the recipe. Then you would roll it out in front of you, not side to side).

Once you do all the waiting and rolling cooling and folding and waiting you’ll be at this step (approximately 24 hours, you can see the butter step was at night and the rolling out was in the morning). Here is where you use even more muscle and you roll the dough out super thin and cut it into triangles to actually make the croissants!.

Rolling them up was super fun, who knew it would ultimately be so simple!

You arrange them on a baking sheet, brush them with some egg to make them shiny and then let them rise in a warm spot (if you have a gas oven with a pilot, then stick them in the oven where it’s perfectly dry and warm) for an hour.

then if you’re us, you also add in some pains au chocolat (basically you cut a rectangle and sprinkle some chocolate chips and roll them up) and some pains aux raisins (Almond paste and soaked raisins that you spread out onto the dough, roll up and then slice like cinammon rolls).

Here they are all puffed up from being warm for an hour and now they’re ready to bake!


Croissants From Scratch
(Disclaimer: If you have a kitchen scale I highly recommend using the grams measurements as it seems like some of my conversions might be off!)

Ingredients (clustered for a reason)
20 G (4tsp) yeast
50 G (3 Tbsp) sugar
2 Tbsp Milk
15 G salt (1 Tbsp)

40 G Melted butter (2 1/2 tbsp)
120 G Water (1/2 Cup)
120 Milk (1/2 Cup)

500 G wheat flour (4 Cups)
260 G butter (room temp) (1 Cup)
1 egg


1. Dissolve yeast with 2 tbsp room temp water, set aside
2. Mix sugar, salt and milk together, set aside
3. Mix butter, water, milk in a pan over low heat.

The process:

1. In a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon mix the flour with the sugar, salt and milk mixture. Once well mixed add in the butter water and milk mixture. Combine and add yeast last. When the dough separates from the sides of the mixing bowl it’s ready.

2. Place the bowl of dough in a warm spot of the kitchen, cover with a wet cloth and allow the dough to double in size, about an hour.

3. Sprinkle an 8×10 (or close) baking dish with flour and mold the dough into it (you’ll need the shape later for rolling out) and put it covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or until stiff.

4. Divide the butter into two equal amounts, set one half aside.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface with a rolling pin (and some muscle) roll it out into a rectangle about a 1/4″ thick. Spread one portion of the butter over the left 2/3rds of the rolled out dough. (the butter should be softer than the dough so that it spreads easily).

6. Fold the dough in three starting with the 1/3rd on the right that has no butter. (like folding a letter in thirds, see picture above). Roll the dough out away from you and not side to side.

7. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold it in three again and roll it out to the approximate size of the baking pan. Wrap the dough in a dry dishtowel and place it in the baking dish and back in the fridge for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.

8. Take the dough out of the fridge and repeat steps 5 -7 but instead of placing back in the baking pan, place the dough on a floured baking sheet and place, covered with the dishtowel, in the fridge for an hour.

9. Take the dough out and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness (90×30 cm rectangle) (35×12 inches). Cut the dough in half along the length.

10. Cut each half into 12-15 triangles keeping the base narrow. Starting with the base, roll each triangle into croissant shape.

11. Place the croissants on a greased baking sheet leaving space for each to rise. Brush the tops with egg (this gives it the shine)

12. If your oven has a pilot light then stick the baking sheet of croissants in the oven to rise for 2 hours. If you don’t have a pilot light in the oven then find a warm spot in the house.

13. Preheat the oven to 200C (390F) (not if the croissants are rising inside it though).

14. Brush on one more layer of egg and put the tray in the oven for 15 minutes. It’s best to keep your eye on them towards the end so that they don’t burn.

Voila! Croissants!

Chocolate Root Beer Bundt Cake

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Everyone loves a bundt cake and I love this one because it is so easy to make and because it uses brown sugar and root beer so it stays moist and delicious. I was inspired by Emma at the Marion House Book Blog and the full post and recipe are up on the kitchn.

Lemon Verbena

Friday, June 11th, 2010

If you ever come across verveine (or lemon verbena as we call it stateside), buy it. It’s not a common plant on the westcoast so snatch it up as soon as you see it. Like mint, it’s a great herb to make a tea out of (just pour boiling water over it and let it steep. The french drink it after a big meal to help digest and chez panisse makes a verbena/mint version that sounds awesome). My aunt always had a bush growing outside the back door so she could take a handful of it and shove it in a teapot.

I bought this little plant at the Descanso plant sale a couple of months ago and plan to use it to experiment with different kinds of iced tea and some of these recipes:

Lemon Custards with Lemon Verbena
Lemonade Slushies with Lemon Verbena and Mint
Raspberry Apricot Compote with Champagne and Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena and Orange Blossom Fizz

Happy weekend, everyone!

The Marion House Book

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I just can’t get enough of this house and the stylish family behind it. The Marion House Book is a Canadian blog chronicling the ever changing interior design of an old Victorian Home. I love that it’s modern, but still full of textures. It’s getting me inspired to readdress this old house’s decor.

Check out the blog (complete with recipe for root beer bundt cake). Found it via Bloesom.

Sun Tea

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It’s summer here in Pasadena. It’s hot and you can’t really just drink all day to battle the heat, so I found an alternative: Sun Tea. It’s fun to make, because it’s easy, and it makes it feel like it’s really summer. This past weekend I did a combo of green tea and trader joe’s calm tea.

I put three tea bags in an old mason jar and put it in the sun for a couple of hours.

Then I poured it over ice, squeezed in some lemon and added a sprig of mint.

It was delicious. Plus, I realized, it would be a great mixer for cocktails.

So I wrote a post over on thekitchn about refreshing concoctions that start with tea. What’s your favorite kind?

Doughnuts and Bourbon

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

So Abby, Grace and I went out for a fancy meal of doughnuts paired with bourbon at a place called Grace (conveniently enough). We each had different expectations for this evening of debauchery but they all seemed to center on: doughy donuts, enthusiasm, booze and fun. What we got was, well, on the sterile side. The doughnuts were so so and the bourbon was in champagne flutes instead of chunky shot glasses or glasses you could really palm, and the restaurant was bright and empty (instead of raucous and full and loud like I pictured when I thought doughnuts and bourbon). We were more ladies who lunch than like indulgent foodies.

So we’ve decided that our version is better and we ought to host a night of homemade doughnuts (piles of doughnuts!), chunky glasses teeming with bourbon, good lighting, good friends and some loudish music.

What do you think, sound fun?

Interview with Marta Teegan of Homegrown LA

Friday, June 4th, 2010

I recently got a chance to interview Marta Teegan of Homegrown LA. She’s a chef and a certified Master Gardener and specializes in growing edibles. She is an inspiration and a treasure trove of information. Here are some of my favorite tips:

On easy to grow edibles:
“there are some veggies and herbs that are especially hardy, including mint (which should always be planted in its own pot so that it doesn’t take over your garden), oregano, thyme, chard, and kale. All do very well in pots. If you have the space for cucumbers to grow up on a trellis or railing, they are natural climbers, grow very quickly, and produce a large quantity of fruit – you will definitely be impressed with how many cucumbers a single plant can make!”

On exotic edibles to try growing:
“I find many people shy away from artichokes, so I always recommend growing them. They are such beautiful plants, they are prolific producers, and they are delicious to eat! I also always recommend that people with container gardens grow potatoes. Yes, potatoes can be grown in a pot! Nothing compares to the flavor of potatoes, prepared simply with butter and salt, eaten an hour after being harvested.

Some other great edibles to try would include cornichon cucumbers for pickling; the small, red pequillo peppers for frying with eggs; and Catalogna dandelions for a bitter green salad with shallots and bacon.”

See my whole interview with her over on Apartment Therapy.

And here are some updates from my own garden. The ‘cukes and squash are coming in and the tomatoes are looking promising. I accidentally (I’m lazy) let the lettuce bolt, so no more salad for a little while, but the swiss chard is still going strong!

Happy Weekend everyone. What are your plans? How are your gardens growing? Have you eaten outside yet?

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The cousins have all left and I’ll admit that I miss them. The house has been bustling for the last two weeks with multiple pots of coffee brewing each morning, laundry humming away, beds in the living room, lots of people eager to play with hazel and no shortage of fun things to do.

But what they left behind (besides, obviously, some great memories and seeds planted for future reunions and trips, etc.) is some Mexican Hot Chocolate. Lily and Owen have been traveling the world the last 3 years and they came here from a month long stint in Oaxaca. So they brought the most delicious hot chocolate with them and we enjoyed it (oh did we enjoy it) and luckily there’s plenty left to fill the the new quiet in the house.

For those that have never had Mexican Hot Chocolate it is an incredible blend of chocolate and spices that makes for a much more grown up flavor than traditional cocoa. The Aztecs and Mayans considered it a sacred drink and it was brewed and consumed unsweetened as part of ceremonies. Ours was premade, we just melted the bars of chocolate into milk on the stove. But if you aren’t as lucky, you can follow this recipe which calls for cloves, nutmeg, chili peppers and cinnamon.

Marinated Artichokes at Gjelina

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Had the best meal at Gjelina the other day (check out my last favorite meal there). We got a spot on the patio for lunch (my second lunch of the day to be exact) so Em and I shared a couple of dishes. The oysters were good, the beet and avocado salad was good too. But the Marinated Artichokes with Burratta and Crunchy Shallots took first place. Hop over here to hear me take a stab at how to make it yourself.

I love the design aesthetic of Gjelina though it’s way too noisy when it’s packed. Always try to get a table outside (tip: go early).

Here’s info on Gjelina in Venice.