ProStart Culinary State Competition

/ Sunday, March 8, 2015

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Last week I participated in the state ProStart Culinary Invitational. The experience was amazing and I had such a great time!

So, the competition was between 10 teams. We had to cook a three course meal in one hour. But get this, we didn't have electricity. We only had two gas burners (essentially two stove tops). Everything else had to be done by hand in one hour. It was not only stressful, but seemingly impossible. However, my team of four pulled through and we made some amazing dishes.

My team and I prepping our station... as you can tell we are not very organized cooks :)

So I was in charge of the dessert, two people were in charge of the appetizer, and one person was in charge of the entree. (Shown below)

Our appetizer was a salmon cake with apple fennel slaw and harissa aioli (bottom left), our entree was a maple lamb shank with butternut squash, kale, and fragola saute (top), and our dessert was a chocolate panna cotta with rosemary salted caramel sauce, raspberry coulis, bruleed chocolate filled raspberry, candied hazelnuts, and a sugar spike garnish (bottom right).

To pull all that off we had to co-ordinate our every move and every ingredient. It was a crazy experience actually cooking it at the competition as well. While cooking our entree, the wine cork broke and we had to find something to use to push it into the bottle, I also had to gather all my extra sugar after I forgot to reserve some from the sauce for the sugar spike.

In the end, we didn't place, but our food got a ton of attention from cooking a lamb shank in one hour.

My dessert was highly praised and the chef told me he had tasted Sous Chef try-outs that didn't taste as good as what I had done! That of course was amazing to hear and made the experience all the more worthwhile.

Interested in knowing more? Check out the ProStart website!

Also, I made fortune cookies this week, but I'm not sure if I have time for pictures so I hope I can get those up sometime soon!

Apple Coffee Cake

/ Monday, February 16, 2015

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It has been a few week's since the last post because I've been working on creating a dessert for the ProStart competition I've been talking about! The competition is in two weeks and our menu is really coming together. I will be sure to post pictures of our final projects after we compete!

I also went to a great restaurant in Minneapolis last night called Victory 44 and tried their chocolate textures dessert. It had your standard chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, chocolate shavings, ect. But then, it incorporated caramelized white chocolate powder, which was an amazing concept I had never seen before.

I also drove over to the University of Minnesota to visit my sister, and she took me to an Asian grocery store called United Noodle. However, it was quite a walk from her dorm, made even longer by the 4 degree weather. Not to mention my calves cramped up and I was slipping on ice left and right making a downright fool of myself. But it was well worth it because I now have ice cream mochi in my freezer and am drinking a home-made bubble tea while writing this post.

So for the dessert this week I wanted something I could make last night and eat for breakfast this morning because it's President's Day and I didn't have school. So, I found a very interesting cake recipe that would make a perfect breakfast!

**This cake batter is more like a dough. It also doesn't rise so fill the springform pan all the way to the top!

Apple Coffee Cake

For the cake:3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 oz butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large apples (your favorite kind, I used honey crisp)
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
Grease and flour a 9" round springform pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough to allow room for the apples to be folded in. Cut the butter into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the sugar to the flour mixture and mix in. Peel the apples and slice them into large uniform pieces. Toss the apples into the flour mixture and combine them thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add to the apples and flour and mix in with a large spatula until just combined. Batter will be thick and dough-like. Transfer the dough into the prepared cake pan and flatten the top surface using the back of your spatula. Generously sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Test the center for doneness. The top of the cake should be golden brown.

That's it! It's a great recipe and I hope you enjoy!
Until next week!

Tea Panna Cotta

/ Monday, January 26, 2015

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So how have I been? Very busy, being the short answer. At my school, I'm on the Prostart Culinary Team. Prostart is a program for high school students, and they host a cooking competition every year. So everyday after school, I've been working on our menu and trying out new cooking techniques. I am in charge of creating the dessert... shockingly.
 The hard part is, we don't have access to electricity, just propane burners and metal campfire ovens. That and a one hour time limit put up many roadblocks to what can be made. But we are still working on it, and the competition is in about a month so we have plenty of time!

For people that have been reading this blog, you may know one of my favorite desserts in panna cotta. I made a salted caramel panna cotta a while back that was amazing! Panna cotta can be flavored in so many ways, so I decided that a would use all the extra tea I had stockpiled in my cupboards to taste test some tea flavored panna cotta.

I tried four different kinds of tea using the same panna cotta recipe. I found the best two (in my opinion of course) was the chai and the jasmine. They both had great flavor and were not too strong.

Tea Panna Cotta

Adapted from: Hummingbird High

4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup loose leaf tea or 2 tea bags (I recommend Chai or Jasmine)
2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Infuse the cream by combining 4 cups heavy whipping cream and tea in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture has simmered, turn off the heat and cover the pan with aluminum foil, poking a few holes into the top to allow steam to release. Let steep for 1 hour.
When the cream has finished steeping for an hour, bloom the gelatin. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin into the surface of a small cup or ramekin filled with 3 tablespoons cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until the gelatin softens.
As the gelatin is blooming, strain the infused cream through a cheese cloth into a bowl, pressing on the tea leaves/tea bag with the back of a spoon to release all the liquid. Discard the tea leaves/bags. Transfer the cream beck into the saucepan and add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the bloomed gelatin, stirring over medium-low heat until the sugar and gelatin is melted. DO NOT boil the mixture.

Once the sugar and gelatin are fully integrated into the cream, divide the cream amongst eight 4-ounce ramekins. Chill overnight. Once set, the panna cotta can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

So that's it! It doesn't take that long to put together, and its a really fun time finding different flavors of tea to use.

 Until next week!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Tart

/ Sunday, January 11, 2015

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We are well into January and not only am I going crazy with my over-booked schedule, I'm starting to resent the -3 degree weather. However, it does give me a good excuse to turn on the oven and start whipping up whatever recipes my Pinterest home feed decides to show me!

This weekend was also my moms 50th birthday! So, I decided to make one of her favorites: creme brulee. It ended up not being baked long enough, (but thank god for microwaves!) In the end I got it to be completely cooked and very good, even if the consistency was a bit off from going to the oven to the refrigerator to the microwave to the freezer!

I'm currently eating the other thing I made this weekend, and it turned out amazing! I adapted the original recipe to include more of the staple ingredients regularly found in kitchens to save you all a trip to a specialty supermarket.

The idea of avocados and chocolate was not one I had heard of before, but I'm all up for trying new things so I decided to put it to the test! I'm super pleased with the results and its super simple to make!


Chocolate Avocado Mousse Tart

Adapted from: Le Passe Vite
Makes one 9 inch tart

For the Crust:
175 g grated sweetened coconut
250 g roasted salted cashews
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9 inch round tart pan. Place the grated coconut and cashews in a food processor and grind into a coarse flour.
Add cacao, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine. Scrape the bowl before adding the coconut oil, sugar, and water, and pulse to combine. Press the dough into the bottom of then pan as evenly as possible. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
Let cool completely before filling with mousse.

For the Mousse:
2 medium avocados
4 tsp cacao powder
75g semisweet chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla paste, or extract
1 pinch of sea salt
Cut the avocados in half, and remove the pulp with a spoon. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until a smooth cream.

For Assembly:
slightly toasted pistachios
sweetened shredded coconut

Fill the tart with mousse, even with a spatula, and sprinkle with pistachios and coconut.
The tart should be eaten the day it was made. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Until next week!

Cabin Trip and Cake Decorating

/ Sunday, January 4, 2015

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Happy New Year everyone!

I'm really excited for another year of baking, photography, and writing.

I got to spend New Years up at my cabin with some friends and family, and we had a great time in the below zero weather.

My fingers almost froze off trying to take some landscape photos, but I was able to get in some pretty good shots. I kept trying to switch setting which just made matters worse, and I ended up not being able to feel my fingers long after I got back inside.

Also, I got The Contemporary Buttercream Bible as a gift this holiday season. I've been leafing through the pages and am really enjoying the book. It's very informational for beginners like myself, and the cakes all have amazing design. So, if you are interested in cake design I would for sure check out this book.

Today I tried making the buttercream from the book, however I completely over mixed it and it was too dense. So when I tried to frost the cake, the whole thing completely fell apart.
Therefore, I don't have much of a picture this week, but I will be enjoying a very yummy, ugly cake.

So I leave you with a nice sunset picture, a book recommendation, and a promise of an amazing recipe next week. Until then.

Pistachio Dried Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate

/ Sunday, December 21, 2014

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If you are like me, these past few days have been a blur of stores and sugar. My kitchen is always busy with someone making a new Christmas cookie for out family's annual Christmas Eve party. In between the cookies, I'm trying to navigate awful mall parking lots in an attempt to find just a few more gifts. I've figured out that if you don't really know what to get for them, something handmade is probably the best way to go.

Well I had a ton of options for recipes this week, considering the amount of cookies that have been made in the last two days. Hands down my favorite one was the biscotti. It's pretty easy and makes for a great breakfast or dessert item.

Pistachio Dried Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate

Adapted from: Bon Appetit
Makes approx. 25

For the biscotti:

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
 3 large eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat sugar, eggs, oil, and almond extract until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in cherries and pistachios.
Scoop dough into two rough looking logs on the prepared baking sheet. Using wet fingers, shape each dough half into a 13" long,  3" wide log. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°.  Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip horizontally into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange slices,  standing upright, on a pan with a different piece of parchment. Bake biscotti 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate:  
8 oz. white chocolate

Melt white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stirring occasionally. Dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate. Place on a baking sheet fitted with wax paper and allow the chocolate to set in the fridge.

I seriously have eaten so many of these over the past few days! They have amazing flavor, and are some of the best biscotti I have ever had!

Until next week!
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