London Fog

The London Fog, or earl grey tea latte, is by far one of my favorite drinks when it is cold and rainy out…which is pretty much everyday up here in Seattle. I’ve seen a few different variations of the drink, but at the end of the day, you just can’t go wrong with anything that has steamed milk in it.

tea2

It may be 90 degrees and sunny in LA right now, but go inside, crank up the air, put on some slippers and make one of these suckers, you will not regret it!

tea3 tea4

London Fog

1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon madagascar vanilla bean paste (must be paste, not extract!)

organic earl grey tea
1 cup milk

First make a vanilla simple syrup by adding the sugar and water to a small sauce pan. Cook on medium/high heat until it comes to a rolling boil then turn off the heat. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste and set aside.

Steep the tea in 2 ounces of boiling water for about 5 minutes (or whatever the package says for the tea) in the mug.

Steam the milk. If you are like me and don’t have a steamer, heat the milk over medium/high heat in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer. Do not let the milk boil, it will create a huge mess!

When tea is finished steeping, add 1 tablespoon of the vanilla syrup, pour in the steamed milk and voila! You’ve got yourself a London Fog.

tea1

*store vanilla syrup in an airtight container at room temp for 4-6 weeks

Vegetable Beef Pasties

The first time I ordered a pasty, pronounced pah-stee, I asked for a pasty, pronounced paste-ee, you know, like the nipple covers? Well, it was embarrassing, to say the least.

pasty1

Anyways, for St Patties day this year, I decided to make some traditional meat pies for dinner. But wait, aren’t pasties Cornish, not Irish? Shut up.

pasty7

pasty4

Any excuse to eat pie for dinner is good enough for me! The flakey pie crust melts in your mouth with every bite and you find yourself going back for fifths seconds.

pasty6

Vegetable Beef Pasties

Pie Dough
1 pound pastry flour
10 ounces cold butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
ice water

Filling
1 pound lean, grass fed beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 large carrots, pealed and chopped
1 large russet potato, pealed and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

1 egg
pinch salt
splash water

Preheat your oven to 375.

To make the pie dough, cut the butter into small pieces, making sure that it is cold, if it is warm then it will melt into the dough and it won’t be flakey.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium/low until the butter pieces are a little larger than the size of a pea.

Using your thumb and pointer fingers, flatten out the butter chunks to create flakes. Slowly add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Don’t let it get too sticky!

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, add 1 tablespoon of butter to large pan, add the beef, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, add the fresh thyme and cook over medium heat until done.

In another large pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and saute the onion, carrots and celery on medium/high heat until the onions are translucent, then add the peas and cook until they are soft.

In a sauce pan, boil the potato chunks until soft, then strain the water out of them.

Add the potatoes and veggies to the meat and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter to make about 12 circles (I had to re-roll the pieces a few times to get 12).

Roll out the circles a little bit more into an oval shape, add a couple of spoonfuls of filling and fold the dough together like a pocket. Pinch the edges together so the dough stays closed while baking.

Mix your egg, pinch of salt and splash of water together to make an egg wash and brush the tops of the dough with it. This will give the dough a crispy and golden look. Use a sharp knife to make a couple of slices in the tops of the dough on each pasty to let the steam escape and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pasties are golden brown.

Enjoy with a Guinness…or tea

pasty2

Grapefruit Teacake

I’ve learned over the years that there are generally two kinds of people in this world: those who love grapefruit and those who hate grapefruit. I am the former, my husband is the latter.

grapefruit2

When I was in my first quarter of pastry school, we made all sorts of different cakes and quick-breads and my ultimate favorite was Lemon Teacake. I’ve been meaning to make it again for a while now but when I glanced at the uneaten grapefruit in my fridge, it got me thinking. Why not mix one of my favorites treats with one of my favorite fruits?! So I did, and thus we have Grapefruit Teacake.

grapefruit 4

I’ll have you know that even though my hubby hates grapefruit, which is insane, he loved this teacake. And I mean loved, as in he practically ate the whole thing in one bite.

graapefruit 1

Grapefruit Teacake

4 ounces (1 stick) of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups pastry (or all-purpose) flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces milk
1 grapefruit, zested (and juiced)

Glaze:
3/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 grapefruit

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest on medium speed until it is nice and fluffy and has an ivory color to it.

Mix and sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

When butter and sugar are creamed, turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl of the mixer in between each egg.

Alternately add the four mixture and the milk in 2 portions and mix until combined.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350-375 for about an hour, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the teacake.

When the teacake is almost finished baking, make a glaze by mixing together the 3/4 cup sugar and grapefruit juice in a small sauce pan. Heat on high just until it starts to boil then turn it off.

When teacake is done, remove it from the oven and poke deep holes with a wooden skewer (or thin knife) all over the teacake, making sure that the holes go all the way to the bottom of the cake. Immediately pour the hot glaze over the teacake.

Let the teacake sit for about 15 minutes then remove from the loaf pan. Let cool and enjoy!

grapefruit3

*Don’t skip the glaze! Without it, the teacake will be dry and the grapefruit flavor will be too subtle to taste.

Fried egg Croque Monsieur

The French really know how to cook/bake. I mean seriously, we can pretty much thank them for the crème de la crème of food: croissants, baguettes, croque monsieurs! What is a croque monsieur, you ask? It’s basically a better version on a grilled cheese. No, it’s grilled cheese on crack, smothered in more cheese.

croque4

I’ve made some pretty decadent grilled cheeses in my day (mushroom and goat cheese with bacon is a must-try!), but this was my first time making a croque monsier.croque3

This sandwich is perfect just the way it is, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding a friend egg to it and boy am I glad I did! Just look at that beautiful yellow yolk engulfed in cheese and tell me you don’t want to eat it.

croque1

Fried Egg Croque Monsieur
*makes 2 sandwiches

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 thick slices of french bread
2 cups shredded cheese (gruyere or parmesan are great!), divided
4 slices of havarti cheese
8 slices of ham
2 eggs
Dijon mustard

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400F and toast the bread slices. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and fry both of the eggs, flipping each egg once.

Make your Béchamel sauce: in a small sauce pan, melt remaining tablespoon of butter. When butter starts to bubble, add in the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Next, slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. Keep your eye on the milk mixture, whisking often to prevent the milk from scorching or boiling over. When the mixture has thickened slightly (about 6-8 minutes), add 1/3 of the shredded cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, whisk together and remove from heat.

To assemble the sandwiches: spread dijon mustard on one of the toasted bread slices, add one slice of havarti, two slices of ham, some shaved cheese, one fried egg, some more shaved cheese, two more slices of ham, one more slice of havarti and top with a toasted bread slice. Do this for both sandwiches.

When both sandwiches are assembled, place them on the foil-lined baking sheet and smother them with your Béchamel sauce. Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then switch your oven to broil and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the Béchamel sauce is golden brown and bubbling (it will take a little longer if using a toaster oven).

Remove from oven and enjoy your Fried Egg Croque Monsieur in all of its cheese, gooey goodness!

croque2

Cinnamon Sugar Cake Doughnuts

There’s a local doughnut chain here in Seattle called Top Pot Doughnuts. I happen to live directly behind one. It’s a curse and a blessing and sometimes you just have to give in and go buy yourself a dozen doughnuts doughnut or two. Other times, you just have to make them!

donut7

I try to use coconut oil as much as possible instead of other fats, so why not try frying doughnuts in it? Let me say, it works like a charm.

donut6

I got the inspiration for this recipe on Pinterest, obviously. You can find the original recipe here.donut2

Cinnamon Sugar Cake Doughnuts
*makes about 8 doughnuts 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

coconut oil for frying (I used about 1 pound)
cinnamon-sugar for dredging

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Pour the liquid into the dry and mix together until just combined, don’t over mix. The dough will be sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. While your dough is resting, make a cinnamon-sugar mixture — I did 2 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup cinnamon — and set it aside.

Heat your coconut oil to 350-375 degrees F. Make sure to keep and eye on your oil so it doesn’t get too hot, nobody likes burnt doughnuts! After 1 hour, scrape that dough puppy out onto a floured surface, sprinkle generously with more flour and roll out to a thickness of about 1/2 an inch.

Cut your doughnuts out with a round cookie cutter and use a significantly smaller cookie cutter to make the center hole. You can smash together and roll out the left over dough one more time but no more than that (it will become too tough and taste gross). Save the smaller center circles for doughnut holes!

Drop the doughnuts in the oil one at a time. The dough will sink at first then rise to the top of the oil. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes, or until it is a nice dark-golden brown. Remove doughnut from oil and place directly into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, dredging completely, and place on a metal cookie rack to cool. Repeat the process until all doughnuts are done. Don’t forget the doughnut holes!

Enjoy with a huge cup of joe.

donut3 donut5

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Is there anything better than coming home late from work and having one of your favorite meals already made for you? Why yes there is…when it’s chicken tortilla soup! Now, I don’t want to say that I’m lazy, but let’s be honest: who wants to cook after work? Definitely not me. Half the time I find myself rummaging through half eaten blocks of cheese leftovers because I would rather be malnourished that cook.

tortilla soup1

Alas, the “winter” months are still upon us here in Seattle and though I can’t wait for some warmth, I might as well embrace soup season while it’s still here.

tortilla soup 4

Throw it all in the good ol’ crock pot, turn it on, botta bing botta boom, you’ve got soup.

tortilla soup 6

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (Trader Joe’s has it)
1 12 ounce jar fire roasted red and yellow peppers (Trader Joe’s again)
1 cup frozen fire roasted corn (you can also use canned of fresh)
1/4 teaspoon spicy mexican style chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Mexican blend shredded cheese
Avocado
Crumbled tortilla chips

Throw everything from the chicken breast to the ground pepper into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4).

Before serving, shred the chicken breast with two forks (or you can use small chicken breast pieces to make it easier).

Top with a generous heap of mexican blend shredded cheese, crumbled tortilla chips and avocado. I like to use half of an avocado for 1 bowl of soup, but that’s just my personal preference.

Enjoy with chips, salsa and guacamole and maybe throw in a dos equis ;)

tortilla soup 3

Breakfast for Two: Croissant French Toast

The only thing better than a buttery, flakey croissant is when you dip it in eggs, fry it up and smother it in syrup. Valentine’s day is right around the corner and what better way to say those three little words than with a mouth full of…sugar?

ft3

French toast is by far one of my favorite foods and if you know anything about me, so are pastries so why not mix ‘em together?

ft2

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try making Homemade Croissants, and don’t forget to add the homemade strawberry compote.

ft4

Croissant French Toast

2 croissants
3 eggs
splash of milk
splash of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
cinnamon

1 12 oz bag frozen strawberries, thawed
1/3 cup sugar

For the compote: add the thawed strawberries and 1/3 cup sugar to small sauce pan and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries have turned to mush and the mixture is slightly thick.

For the french toast: heat a skillet (or frying pan) over medium heat and spray with coconut oil cooking spray, you can also use melted butter.

Slice the croissants in half, lengthwise.

Whisk together the eggs, splash of milk, splash of vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Dip each croissant piece in the eggs mixture, add to skillet/frying pan and sprinkle each slice with cinnamon.

Flip the croissants and cook until they are a dark-golden brown on both sides.

Serve with strawberry compote and maple syrup. I also whipped up some fresh whipped cream which you can find a recipe for here.