Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food and Fitness

Category: Uncategorized

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, 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 some leftover muffins, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-days.

Brown Butter Mochi Muffins

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

Recipe adapted from Brown-Butter Mochi at The New York Times by Samin Nosrat. Inspired by Third Culture Bakery at Berkeley, CA.

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 sweet rice flour (I use Koda Farms Blue Star Mochiko)

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 rim around each muffin cup to help remove the muffins after baking.

To brown the butter, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the saucepan occasionally, 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 separate large bowl, whisk together mochiko flour, baking powder and salt. Pour milk mixture into dry mixture, and mix until smooth.

Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tin completely filling it to the top. Sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds.

Bake about 45 minutes until they just feel set in the center and the tops are golden brown. If using mini-sized muffin tin bake for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving.

 

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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 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.

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.

Pear Ginger Crumble

Pear Ginger Crumble PhotoThis wonderful crumble, fragrant with pears, is perfect for the cooler days of fall when I crave a little comfort of a warm treat.  Oats, almonds and crystallized ginger give this crumb topping its flavor, along with the extra virgin olive oil.  It tastes amazing when still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Ingredients:

Topping

1 cup oats

¼ cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8  cup crystallized ginger, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Filling:

8 ripe Bartlett pears (about 4 pounds), cut into 2” chunks

½ lemon, juiced

¼ cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Topping:  Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, crystallized ginger and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and stir until evenly moist.

Filling:  Combine pears, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears.

Bake the crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden, 45 to 50 minutes.

Honey Chamomile Cupcakes

IMG_1337

Light and fragrant, honey chamomile cupcakes get their distinctive flavor from an aromatic tea infusion. Topped with clouds of honey whipped cream and jewel-like edible flowers, these miniature cakes— are simply divine.  Their taste is as refined as its beauty.  

Honey Chamomile Cupcakes

Ingredients:

¾ cup (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup dried chamomile flowers

1 ¼ cups – flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon zest

¾ cup sugar

2 large eggs

Edible flowers or Chamomile flowers, optional

Honey Whipped Cream, Recipe Below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line mini-cupcake tin with paper liners.  Makes 3 dozen mini-sized or 1 dozen large.

Directions:
Heat butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted, careful not to brown it.  Add the chamomile and let it steep for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it stand for 5 more minutes. Strain the chamomile through a sieve and set butter aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, mix milk and vanilla; set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With mixer on low-speed, add half of dry ingredients, followed by milk, then remaining dry ingredients. Do not over mix.

Using an ice cream scoop divide batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake 13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a rack before frosting.  Ice with honey whipped cream. Sprinkle crushed chamomile over the top and decorate with edible flowers.

Honey Whipped Cream

1 ½ cup heavy cream

3 Tablespoons honey

Pour heavy cream in a bowl and using a wire whisk whip the cream until it thickens slightly.  Add the honey and mix until it holds soft peaks.