Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food and Fitness

Brown Butter Mochi Muffins

Mochi Muffin

These brown butter mochi muffins are quite different from any other muffins. For one thing, they have a chewy soft texture with intriguing little bursts of flavor that is the best version of mochi I’ve ever eaten. Ringing through them all, is the nutty taste of brown butter, then butterscotch with a resonant intensity of burnt caramel, and finally the crunch of sesame seeds that pop out to startle you. I think it’s safe to say, one batch probably won’t stay around very long, but if you are blessed with any left-over muffins, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4-days.

Brown Butter Mochi Muffins

Makes 1 dozen medium-sized muffins or 2 dozen mini-sized muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans

1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups mochiko (glutinous-rice) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

black and toasted white sesame seeds for topping muffins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease cupcake tins with butter, including the top of each muffin cup to help release the muffins after baking.

To brown the butter, place the butter in a heavy saucepan, and set over medium heat. Cook, swirling, until the butter turns golden brown and begins to smell nutty. This will take about 5 minutes total, be careful not to let it burn like I did with my first attempt. Remove from heat, and add coconut milk and brown sugar. Whisk until sugar and coconut milk melt. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together mochiko flour, baking powder and salt. Pour milk mixture into dry mixture, and whisk until smooth. The batter will be lumpy. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tin completely filling it to the top. Sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds.

Bake 45 minutes until golden brown. If using mini-sized muffin tin bake for 30 minutes.

Remove muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.

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Comfort in Cookies

Double chocolate cookie keto

In unsettling moments, one place that always provides sanctuary for me, is in the kitchen.

An unexpected turn of events, recently led me down the coast of California to visit my son, who lives in Los Angeles. We spent the day sharing things we enjoy together: a walk around the lake, breakfast at a new restaurant, conversations on life, while also savoring the quiet moments, and spending time in the kitchen baking cookies, naturally.

Late in the afternoon, at the end of our visit, my son offered to bake some keto-friendly chocolate cookies. The smell of baking never fails to improve my mood and on this particular day, it might just bring a little comfort for a tender heart.

Besides I was really curious, eager to find out how my son would turn out a batch of cookies sans sugar, and minus all of the carb-laden ingredients that make cookies delicious. Keto, or ketogenic is a low-carb diet based on eating real foods that offer healthy benefits. The idea intrigued me. A lot.

And I have to admit, there is something really satisfying and comforting, about watching my son embrace the cooking process in his own kitchen, watching him engage in a dialogue with food that unfolds his story.  I find myself standing beside the kitchen island filled with awe, when a realization suddenly hit me and I digress for a moment, becoming conscious of a difference that stands out like night and day—- my son’s cooking style is the polar opposite of mine!

Step inside my kitchen and the first thing you’ll notice when I’m preparing a recipe, is that it’s very organized. Every bowl, measuring spoon, and ingredient is lined up and ready to be creamed, mixed, or chopped and sent off to its final destination. I also mentally prepare in advance for the cooking adventure, absorbing myself fully in the process, like a method actor exploring a character. I completely immerse myself in the recipe, dissecting every angle imaginable, as I visualize and breathe my next creation.

My son’s approach to cooking sharply contrasts with mine. A creative thinker, he allows his existential journey through food to be guided by delight in haphazard curiosity and spontaneous improvisation. “What do you think if I combine ghee with butter?” he calmly asks, realizing there’s not enough butter in the refrigerator. Or, “I just found some cocoa powder I can throw in,” he says thrilled by his discovery. “Maybe add a few salted nuts?”

He relies on a recipe like a set of guidelines to forge his own culinary path, rather than a roadmap with constrictive rules. It adds a bit of suspense to the process and also serves as a nice reminder that recipes, like life, can’t always be perfect.

Tasting along the way, his cooking style is more defined by feel rather than exact measurements. None of his ingredients are precisely measured, as he casually scoops the concoction of cookie dough from the bowl onto the baking pan with sheer pleasure and satisfaction.  He pops the cookies into the oven, trusting his own intuition and senses to guide him when they will be ready to come out. Like an ear for languages, it’s a talent.

By contrast, I’m one who slavishly counts the seconds with my kitchen timer, in case I get distracted and forget something in the oven. Plus, I like to play by the rules. So many factors go into baking, it’s as much a science as an art. I’ve learned that the smallest alteration in the ingredient or method can completely change the cooking chemistry outcome. Thinking to myself, I begin to wonder about my son’s baking result.

But by the time the sweet smells of chocolate begin to fill the house, I quickly abandon all conventional baking wisdom, and my sense of anticipation is rising from the seductive aromas emanating from the kitchen.

Still warm from the oven, I eagerly reach for a cookie and gently break it apart with my hands. I can’t wait to taste it! I bite into the brownie-like cookie and taste a hint of flaky salt that carries the intensity of the stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips melting in my mouth. It reminds me of a super moist lava cake dripping in a silky river of chocolate. I find myself eating slowly, savoring the way the sweet and salty flavors ricochet around each other. Each bite makes me want another. I want more —- a lot more.

Although my son and I have very different culinary styles, we share the same philosophy about cooking, and appreciate the meditative sanctuary that our kitchen offers us. The intrinsic value of a dish, the product of a labor of love— is the joy it brings to each other.

Cooking is about engaging in the moment. It meets us wherever we are, like a yoga practice. It opens a path that is within us, like a treasure waiting to be discovered.  It is a tactile balm that soothes our heart. It waits to unfold slowly, like a lotus flower blooming.

We find stillness and quiet reflection in our kitchen sanctuary. It is a respite, a contemplative temple of food, where we can retreat, when the noise of life becomes distracting.

Double Chocolate Cookies (Keto)

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup, plus 2 Tbls unsalted butter, softenened

½ cup, plus 2 Tbls swerve sweetener

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract

1 ¼ cup almond flour

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup stevia sweetened chocolate chips, plus a little more for topping

Flaky sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine softened butter and swerve sweetener until  creamy and well-blended.

Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Stir in the almond flour and mix until combined. Add sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  The batter will be sticky.

Using an ice-cream scoop, form tablespoon-sized mounds of dough onto the baking sheets and press the tops down a bit with your fingers, or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle several chocolate chips and a little flaky salt over the top of each cookie.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies

Keto Chocolate Chip CookieA super moist cookie full of flavor, with a sprinkling of flaky salt that can carry the intensity of pure dark stevia sweetened chocolate chips. This recipe cuts down on the carbs by using almond flour and swerve sweetener as a sugar alternative. Even if you aren’t on the keto diet, you will love these!

Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup softened butter

2/3 cup swerve sweetener

2 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup stevia sweetened chocolate chips

Flaky sea salt or fleur de sel

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350˚.

Combine softened butter and swerve sweetener in a stand mixer and mix on medium until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.

Whisk together almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate medium-sized bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice-cream scoop, set tablespoon-sized mounds of cookie dough onto lined baking sheet.  Lightly sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt or fleur de sel.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Let cool on the cookies sheets for 15-20 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Keto Berry Clafoutis

Berry ClafoutisA twist on a classic French dessert, this Keto Berry Clafoutis combines farm eggs, cream, butter, almond flour, swerve sweetener and fresh berries. When baked in the oven, it turns into a rich dense custard pancake-y dessert oozing with juicy berries, minus all of the excessive sugar carbs.

Keto Berry Clafoutis

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, room temperature

¼ cup swerve sweetener

½ cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅓ cup blanched almond flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups berries

Directions:

Generously butter a 1-quart shallow baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, swerve, cream, butter, and vanilla.  In a small bowl, stir together almond flour, and salt.

Whisk dry ingredients into wet until smooth.

Arrange mixed berries on the bottom of pan, then pour mixture over berries.

Bake at 325° for 45-55 minutes, until clafoutis is set in the center and top is golden.

Cool and serve.

 

Turmeric Latte

Turneric LatteMeet your new favorite latte! Creamy coconut milk, spiced and fragrant with fresh turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, is accented by just the right amount of sweetness that is both soothing and rejuvenating. There’s a good chance you will need to make this. Your body will thank you!

Turmeric Latte

Ingredients:

¾ cup coconut milk

¼ cup water

½ inch of fresh turmeric, grated

¼ inch fresh young ginger, grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Directions:

Whisk coconut milk, water, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let mixture steep 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into your cup. Makes 1 serving.

Salty Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Salty Oatmeal Choc ChunkMy Saturday morning ritual begins with tea and some reading to get into the right mindset before starting the day. I linger in bed, holding on to every precious minute of solitude, appreciating the power a single moment can bring.

Under the watchful eye of my dog, I rise to the sound of his tail wagging in a rhythmic beat against the wooden floor.  Excited and hungry, I feed him.  I grab my gym bag and head out the door for a workout of spinning and yoga, a routine that will put a smile in my mind and rejuvenate my body.  I can’t think of any better way to celebrate the weekend. Seriously.

Ready to greet the festive atmosphere of music and local food, can only mean it’s time for the farmers’ market stroll. The street is bursting with color, flavor, and the sweet smell of spring that is so up-lifting.  I snag a sunny spot outside at a nearby café, and order a tall glass of New Orleans style iced-coffee, à la Blue BottleBien sûr!  Blue Bottle, famous for its coffee, carefully selects their beans from growers around the world, and use each batch within 48 hours after it’s been roasted.  Can it get any better?

I return home and settle in the kitchen with a cooking project that will feed my soul.  Baking cookies is a weekend thing, and although my kids are grown, it still fills up my heart to set a plate of cookies out for them. Even, if only in spirit.

I open my cupboard and reach for some leftover pecans, a chocolate bar, and a container of oats.  Hmm, looks like a great beginning for an oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie recipe. Before I pop them in the oven, I sprinkle a little kosher salt over the top, as an afterthought.  Sweet and salty is always a good combination.

The sweet aroma of deliciousness coming out of my kitchen sends a wave of nostalgia over me.  I break open a warm cookie and take a bite.  The melted chocolate, crunchy pecans, and chewy oats bring me comfort like a hug from my kids, and yet, at the same time,  reminds me of everything I love about my day. I reach for another cookie.

What is your weekend ritual?  Do you have a special recipe you make every weekend?

Salty Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

This is a lovely vegan cookie recipe that is easy to prepare.  Try substituting the flour for oats or pecans, if you prefer gluten-free.

Ingredients:

2 cups oats

½  cup all-purpose flour

1 cup finely ground pecans

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¾  cup maple syrup

½ cup coconut oil

zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raisins

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Kosher salt or fleur de sel

Preheat oven 350˚

Directions:

Combine oats, flour, ground pecans, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Stir in maple syrup, coconut oil, orange zest, and vanilla extract.  Add raisins, chopped chocolate and mix to combine. The batter will be sticky.

Using an ice-cream scoop, drop the cookie dough form on to a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt or fleur de sel over the top of the cookies.

Bake at 350˚ for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from pan to a cooling rack.  Makes 2 dozen.

The Science Of Cooking: Citrus Rocks!

 

IMG_0826“If we look deeply into a flower, what do we see? Sunshine, a cloud, earth, minerals, the gardener, the complete cosmos.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

Citrus Rocks the Science of Cooking Class where fourth grade Chef Scientists explore the link between minerals that originate in the soil, to the unique role it plays on the human diet, along with a little citrus history, some fun anecdotes, and a healthy recipe.

Citrus Love: With its sheer variety and profusion of colors, citrus fruit esteemed in many cultures as a symbol of happiness — is not hard to love. Even though many citrus fruits are common, there are a few lesser known examples in our harvest basket that stand out. From the wild-looking, yet extremely fragrant Buddha’s hand, to the tiny oval kumquat with its sweet rind and intense tart pulp — make our lips pucker, to the bowling-ball sized pomelo that hangs on trees spanning across the landscape to an impressive 50 feet high.  The citrus harvest basket is brimming with diverse learning opportunities that weave together lessons about folklore, health, environment, and more.  It imparts a sense of wonder and appreciation that inspires students to retell the citrus anecdotes from memory throughout the year.  Retelling a story is a valuable sequencing skill that supports reading comprehension and writing skills in the classroom, and is notable, since cooking classes only meet one hour a month, and in some cases, less than that.

Good to the Bone:  As we turn our spotlight over to the science lab, fourth graders  discover that minerals come from the earth, and humans absorb these minerals through the plants they eat.  As scientists, they explore the nutrients in citrus fruit, and learn that aside from the immune boosting benefits of Vitamin C, it is chock-full of minerals that help our bones, teeth, and muscles, to name a few.  And last but not least, folate, a nutrient that improves mood by raising the serotonin levels in our body, can help explain why we feel so good after eating citrus fruit.

Getting Pithy:  One of the many virtues of citrus is the entire fruit is usable– the pulp, the juice, and aromatic peel, complete as nature intended, and as it turns out, is the perfect ingredient for the recipe– Fruit Roll Ups.  Click here for the link to the recipe.  Student chefs put their cooking skills into action using four colorful varieties of citrus fruit– the Cara Cara, Moro Blood, and Navel Oranges, along with the Satsuma Mandarin. As they section, slice, zest, peel, and juice, their way through the recipe, our excited chefs discover after eating the soft pulp leftover from juicing, that the hollowed out navel orange morphs into a drinking cup!  Finally, we mix and match citrus vocabulary words, like pithy, zesty, and juicy in a citrus acrostic poem, where students create phrases using the concepts they learned from the Science of Cooking Class.  Mindful eating, along with citrus poetry is a great ending to our class.

Lemon Olive Oil Madeleines

ImageWhen Marcel Proust dipped his madeleine into his cup of tea, a powerful memory from his childhood emerged that led him to write the classic novel, Remembrance of Things Past. Imagine such a table from nostalgic past, set for afternoon tea, bursting with memories, sparked by the delicate flavor of this simple yet elegant, shell-shaped cake.

Lemon Olive Oil Madeleines

Ingredients:

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup olive oil

Zest of lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla

Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

Directions:

Lightly coat the madeleine mold with cooking oil.  Preheat oven to 350°

In a bowl of an electric mixer, whip eggs, sugar, and salt until thicken, about 5 minutes.

Sift in the flour and baking powder.  Use a large spatula to gently fold in the flour, do not over mix.

Drizzle the olive oil into the batter and mix to incorporate.  Add the vanilla and lemon zest.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Batter may be chilled for up to 12 hours.)

Scoop batter into madeleine mold, filling 2/3 full.  Bake for 10 minutes and un-mold on a cooling rack.

While baking, prepare the lemon glaze. In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice together.  Mix until smooth and creamy.

When the madeleines come out of the oven, dip both sides of each cake in the glaze.  Cool and serve with tea.

Soft Glazed Gingerbread Cookies

Springerle IMG_0079Classic glazed gingerbread cookies with a hint of molasses and a peppery kick of spices —look like an absolute work of art!  These hand-pressed cookies formed from a traditional Springerle wood mold, rival an artisan ceramic tile. A spice lover’s dream that will steal the show at every holiday treat table.

Springerle

Soft Glazed Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from Elisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine cookbook.  Springerle cookie molds can be purchased from House on the Hill.

Ingredients:

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

½ cup molasses

2 tablespoons rice syrup

Glaze:

Mix ½ cup confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon water until smooth.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, white pepper, baking soda, and salt.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter until creamy.  Add sugar and mix until completely incorporated.  Add egg and mix well.  Add the molasses, rice syrup and then mix until combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat together until fully incorporated.

Remove dough and flatten it into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate over night.

Springerle dough

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place dough on a floured work surface.  Using a rolling pin roll out the dough about 1/3 inch thick, then lightly dust with flour.  Using a cookie mold, press over the dough and trim the edges using a knife.

Springerle tiles

Set the cookie shape on the prepared baking sheet leaving about a 1-inch space between each one.  Bake 7-12 minutes, remove from baking pan and set on a cooling rack.  While still warm, brush the glaze over the cookies with a pastry brush.  Makes 12 cookies, (3 by 3 inch size.)

Butternut Squash Soup

butternut-squash-soup-jpgOn stormy weather nights when I crave something warm and comforting, there’s nothing like a steaming bowl of butternut squash soup to assuage the winter chill. This soup is easy to prepare and with a handful of simple ingredients, it will turn into something creamy and soothing. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds adds a little burst of color and crunch. Soup On!

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 pound sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 cups vegetable stock or water

3/4 cup coconut milk

Season with salt and white pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock or water to the onions and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash and sweet potato, return to a boil then, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash and sweet potato is soft.

Pour the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Add the coconut milk. Return the blended butternut squash and coconut mixture to the saucepan, then, bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and white pepper.