Named One of Pioneer Woman’s Fantastic Food Sites, an Award, and School Update

O-M-G! Today, I found out that Pioneer Woman named me one of her favorite food blog sites. I cannot believe it. With so many FANTASTIC blogs out there, I cannot begin to believe I would be one of her favorites. I cannot believe she has even visited my blog. Wow. I’m so honored. Thank you, Ree!

Also, msmeanie from Chocolate Chip Trips gave me an Honest Scrap Award a while ago, and I kept forgetting to post about it! I looked up the origin of the award and found out that you’re supposed to be write down five things about yourself and the readers are supposed to guess which one is true. I thought that sounded like fun, so here goes!

  1. I speak 5 languages fluently.
  2. I used to be a cosmetologist.
  3. I am a member of the mile-high club.
  4. I am have some Irish in my blood.
  5. I love nuts and alcohol!

I couldn’t think of really crazy descriptions. Am I really that boring? haha Good luck guessing! LOL!

UPDATE ON SCHOOL: A couple of you have been asking about school, so I thought I’d provide an update. First of all, I have been done with coursework since last year, so I go to campus primarily to teach, go to occasional meetings, and that’s it. I teach only one course three days a week, so I’m left with a lot of free time to work on my dissertation proposal. So, that is why I have time to cook, bake, take photos, and blog because I teach one course and do not have any classes to attend. In between time, I also work on my papers and grade.

I still haven’t heard from my committee about my paper, and I’m hoping I pass. If I don’t pass, I won’t earn my doctorate degree, which has been my goal since I was 9 years old. Yes. NINE years old. If I do pass, however, I can go on and turn in my dissertation proposal. I hope to graduate next Spring in 2011. My mom said that if I graduate next year, we would go back to Europe, and she would pay for everything! How’s that for incentive? So, please pray for me or send good karma that I pass. I’m really nervous about the results. I don’t know what I would do without my PhD.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

Churros con chocolate caliente al estilo español

Let me first tell you that I hesitated on making these churros because of the source of the recipe. My photos cannot even come close to her photos. I don’t aspire to get to her level, but the caliber of her photos makes my photos look more like they did when I first started blogging LOL! But you know, I had to get over the intimidation and just make these. In fact, I thought about making these churros for so long that I’d memorized the recipe!

When doing research on different churro recipes, I found many variations. Some did not call for eggs while others did. Also, some Spanish churros do not have a cinnamon/sugar topping because of its dependence on the thick, hot chocolate drink that serves as a sugary accompaniment. Although these doughnut-like pastries originated in Spain, one can find many churros and variations (e.g., filled with dulce de leche) in México, Argentina, Perú, and other places as well. The recipe for the churros is very easy and is like making a pâte à choux.

If you’re planning to make this just for yourself and/or one other person, please half this recipe. I had so much dough leftover that I ended up throwing it all away because I am not crazy about a lot of fried foods (except for French Fries!! hehe). However, you could use the rest for éclairs or gourgères, which I forgot to do!

For the chocolate caliente, I had to look for a recipe from another source because I didn’t want to make a bisque or an egg custard. I wanted my hot chocolate to be similar to the hot drink found in Spain that normally accompanies and coats the churros. Sadly, my chocolate didn’t get as thick as the drinks in Spain, but it was thick enough to coat my churros fairly well. Next time, I will use either another recipe or add more cornstarch. Nevertheless, this drink was so rich and delicious. I absolutely loved it. I’m glad I have another cup’s worth left. I think I’ll end this post and drink it right now.

Churros

from the honorable Cannelle et Vanille

125 ml (1/2 cup) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
110 grams (about 1 stick) of butter
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
150 grams (about 1 cup + 2 Tbsp) AP flour
3 large eggs, room temperature
canola oil, for frying
cinnamon and sugar, for coating

Instructions:

Pour water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, and heat just up to boiling point. Turn off heat, and immediately add all of the flour (español: en un golpe). Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a moist ball of dough (It will smell sort of like buttery, mashed potatoes YUM!).

Pour the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a deep fryer, and heat it up on medium heat until it reaches 365 degrees Farenheit.

Meanwile, transfer this flour/butter mixture to a stand mixer (or mix by hand), and mix the dough for a few minutes to cool it down.

Add the eggs one at a time. Once the dough is uniform, turn off the mixer, and transfer some of the dough to a pastry bag with a #5 tip (I used #21 b/c I didn’t have the other tip) or churrera.

Once the oil is hot, squeeze portions of the dough into the hot oil, and use a knife, scissors, or your finger to break off the pieces. Fry for about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place churros on a paper towel. Add cinnamon or sugar to the hot churros, if using.

Chocolate caliente al estilo español
adapted from Spanish.about.com

16 oz (2 cups) whole milk
1/2 tsp cornstarch (I suggest adding more)
pinch of salt
4 oz milk chocolate (I used Callebaut)

Pour in the milk and cornstarch into a small or medium saucepan, and stir well with a whisk. Turn on the heat and heat just to boiling point. Once the milk boils, take it off of the heat, and add the chocolate. Stir well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Once the chocolate has melted, return the mixture to low heat until it thickens. If it doesn’t thicken, add more cornstarch to a small amount of cold milk. Stir the cornstarch mixture well and then add it to the chocolate mixture. Continue to heat on low heat until it thickens more.

Enjoy!

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

How to Make Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

I apologize for giving you all another ice cream post right after the CCC dough ice cream, but I made a Chocolate Ice Cream a while ago and have been debating on whether I should blog about it since I didn’t like it and didn’t like the photos of the ice cream due to the low light.
Anyway, I thought that this chocolate ice cream was going to be so good. It was full of Callebaut milk and semi-sweet chocolate, cream, egg yolks, vanilla, and milk. What could be wrong? For some reason, the taste of this chocolate ice cream was flat. I wouldn’t normally blog about a recipe that I didn’t like, but I did for two reasons:

  1. To show off the new knife I got for my birthday!!! Woot! Thanks, mom!!
  2. To ask you all what I could do to this chocolate ice cream recipe to make it taste better.

Chopped ChocolateIt yielded only a little, which I’m now happy about. Once I perfect this recipe, I will double it to get a normal amount of chocolate ice cream. So, I’m opening the floor to you all for ideas. Help! I want to love this recipe haha. It’s full of good chocolate!

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream melting

In the meantime, try my favorite ice cream recipes! Vanilla bean, vanilla bean with brown sugar, espresso, Mexican chocolate, gelato al limone, chocolate chip cookie dough, coffee, double chocolate toffee, mint chocolate chip (w/extract), and Mint Oreo Ice Cream!

*UPDATE* Here are the adaptations I’ll make: I think I’ll use espresso powder b/c I try to use it in all of my chocolate recipes. I’ll also added vanilla extract.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from Ice Cream!

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
2 large egg yolks (I accidentally used 3)
1/4 cup (50g) extra-fine sugar (just grind sugar in a food processor; I reduced the amount of sugar b/c of the semi-sweet chocolate, then I added more sugar (total 1/4) b/c it wasn’t sweet enough for me)
3 1/2 oz (100g) good-quality milk chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
1 3/4 oz (50g) bittersweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet b/c I don’t like bittersweet)
1-2 Tbsp espresso powder
2/3 cup (150ml) heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the milk in a medium saucepan, and heat gently to near-boiling point. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl, using a regular or electric whisk, until thick and pale. Gradually beat the milk into the egg mixture.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and continue stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the bowl from the heat, and stir in the chocolate pieces, stirring until smooth. Allow the custard to cool completely. Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap or waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight (I did the latter).

Once cool, stir in the cream, and churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately, or transfer to a freezer container. Cover the surface directly with waxed paper or foil, and put the chocolate ice cream mixture in the freezer.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Thank you for the little bowls, Lydia!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

If you love Cookie Dough, chocolate chips and ice cream, try this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream!

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. That is my motto for this ice cream flavor. I’m not a fan of cookie dough and cookie dough ice cream, but for some reason, I decided to set aside a block of the Triple Chocolate “Chunp” Cookie dough for this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice CreamI started with a base vanilla ice cream recipe from Dorie Greenspan. I rolled up the reserved cookie dough into a small thin log and refrigerated the log along with the vanilla ice cream custard base. After churning the custard the next day, I cut up the log of dough into small pieces (you could cut them in bigger pieces, if that is what you prefer), and then added them to the churned ice cream.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice CreamI was surprised at how good this ice cream was since I’m not crazy about Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream nor the regular dough. It was beyond FANTASTIC. The vanilla flavor was very pronounced and meshed well with the chewy pieces of dough and chunky pieces of rich chocolate.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice CreamSo, reduce your trips to the store for store-bought cookies and ice cream. Reuse your cookie dough in this ice cream. Recycle the container you used for the ice cream for another batch haha. Enjoy!!

Don’t forget to check cout a plethora of other ice cream flavors such as vanilla bean (twice), espresso, milk chocolate, Mexican chocolate, gelato al limone, coffee, double chocolate, mint chocolate chip (w/extract), and Mint Oreo Ice Cream!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice CreamChocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 moist, plump vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract)
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
Chocolate Chip Cookie dough (I used about 80-100 grams of dough; go based on your preferences, but don’t use too much, or it will interfere with the base flavor)

Bring milk and cream to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. If you are using a vanilla bean, put the seeds and pod into the pan, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, bring the milk and cream back to a boil before continuing (I turn off the heat right before it’s about to boil). If you are using vanilla extract, wait until later to add it.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened (until it looks pale). Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid (I usually just pour in half the hot liquid, whisk, and pour egg mixture into the pot). Pour the custard back into the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. If you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track (about 5 minutes). The custard should reach at least 170°F, but no more than 180°F, on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and strain the custard into a 2-quart measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. Discard the vanilla pod (I left the pod in while it refrigerated to intensify the vanilla flavor); or if you are using vanilla extract, stir it in now.

Refrigerate the custard for 4 hours or overnight before churning it into the ice cream (I always leave my custard in overnight.).

Remove the pod. Scrape the chilled custard in the bowl of an ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, cut up the log of cookie dough into small pieces. Pack the ice cream into a container, and drop pieces of cookie dough into the custard. Stir the mixture well to evenly distribute the dough. Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Adobo Sauce

A few weeks ago, I made shredded beef tacos that called for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I didn’t have a can of that sauce on hand, but I had two or three bags of guajillo, ancho, and pasilla peppers leftover from a mole sauce I made a long time ago.

As I always do when I don’t have a store-bought version of something, I started searching for recipes for the real thing to see if I could make it at home. I decided to use a recipe from Emeril Lagasse (did you know that he has a cooking blog?), and it worked out perfectly. I didn’t taste it b/c of all the chiles, but the smell and look of the sauce looked perfect.
I re-used this sauce in the tamal/tamale pie I made the other day. Since my good friend requested that I post the recipe, I figured I would do it ASAP. (Love you, TSB!!) This sauce doesn’t take long to make, and I’m sure it tastes better than the store-bought variety. Enjoy!

Adobo Sauce
adapted from Emerial Lagasse on Food Network


4 dried ancho chiles
6 dried guajillo chiles
2 Tbsp minced onion, divided
3/4 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles, turning frequently, until very pliable and soft; do not allow to char. Remove from the skillet, and transfer to a plate. Remove the stems and seeds and place in a saucepan.
Add enough hot water to just cover, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and allow chiles to soak until very soft and plumped for about 20 minutes. Strain in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, and reserve soaking liquid separately.

In a blender, combine the chiles, onion, garlic, salt, teaspoon sugar, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, and vinegar and puree until smooth, adding a little of the chile soaking liquid (only as much as is needed) to enable the mixture to blend. The consistency should be thick but smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

Tamal or Tamale Pie?

I was struggling with the proper way to name this dish since “tamale” isn’t a word in Spanish. However, this dish is nothing like tamales, so I guess “tamale” is appropriate since both are are not authentically Mexican :). Anyway, when I told my Mexican girlfriend that I was making this dish, she went crazy because it is nothing like a tamal. I’ve made tamales, and I’ve helped my girlfriend’s mother make tamales as well. So, I’m aware of how much work, time, and ingredients are involved in making the real thing.

LOOK! As a reward to myself for completing my paper, I bought my first Le Creuset item at an outlet mall! It is a 3 1/2 quart casserole pot. I love it!

Nevertheless, I was curious about the combination of cornbread, cheese, and seasoned meat all in one dish and wanted to try out this dish. No matter how this dish should be called, I must say it is beyond tasty. I loved it so much that I immediately spooned out seconds after eating the portion you see on the plate below.Look at that crust!


I compared a few recipes online, but I preferred the one I used because of the layer of corn and the mix-in of cheese in the cornbread batter. The “originator” of this recipe used Jiffy cornbread mix, but I used my favorite cornbread recipe instead. Even though I’m a southerner, I prefer a little sugar in my cornbread, but feel free to reduce or eliminate the sugar. It was easy to put together the cornbread batter, so I really don’t think you need go out and buy a pre-made box of cornmeal, flour, and baking soda. That is really all it is, you know haha.I know I almost always tell you all to try out whatever meal or dish I post, but this is really good. You can make it with ground turkey or a load of beans if you don’t eat beef. Make sure you season the meat/bean section well. I added the other filling options in the recipe below. Enjoy!

Tamal/Tamale Pie
greatly adapted from FoodWishes

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp veg oil
1/2 medium onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 lb ground beef, turkey, or canned beans (I actually used grass-fed beef for the first time)
1 cup diced peppers of your choice (optional; I didn’t use)
1 16-oz jar salsa (I used Pomì chopped tomatoes)
1 tsp salt (I used Lawry’s Seasoning Salt)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chipotle pepper (I used 3 Tbsp homemade adobe chile sauce; recipe here)
1-2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano (I used 1-2 tsp Mexican Oregano)
4 oz cheddar cheese, divided (I used sharp)
4 oz monterey jack cheese, divided
2 cups frozen or fresh corn

In a skillet, melt butter and oil. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add the beef, turkey, or beans and green peppers, and cook until brown (for beans, just move on to the next step).

Add salsa or chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper/adobe sauce, cumin, and oregano. Once the mixture is seasoned well, allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare the cornbread batter.

Buttermilk aka Dixie Cornbread
greatly adapted by Southern Plate

1 3/4 cups enriched white cornmeal (I used yellow)
3 Tbsp AP flour
1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
1 tsp baking soda
1-3 Tbsp sugar (depends on how sweet you like your cornbread)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (You could use milk + lemon juice, too)
1 egg
2-3 Tbsp melted butter
Stir together dry ingredients. Add buttermilk, egg, and add melted butter. Mix the ingredients until they are moistened; do not over-stir. Mix 3/4ths of the cheese to the cornbread batter.
Pour 1/4 of the mixture into the casserole pan.
Add 1/2-1 cup of the frozen or fresh corn on top of the batter.
Add all of the meat mixture. Then, add the rest of the corn (1/2-1 cup) (optional; I forgot to do this, so I had only one layer of corn, and it tasted more than fine.)
Add the rest of the cornbread batter.
Add additional cheese on top.
Bake uncovered in a preheated hot oven for 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I turned in my paper Sunday morning. My brain is fried. I missed blogging. Did you miss me? After spending hours and weeks on that paper, I just want to write simple, short sentences now. Funny how that previous sentence was pretty long. See? Brain. Fried.
While working on my paper, I was craving cookies. That craving may have come along after seeing the onslaught of chocolate chip cookies (CCCs) on the blogosphere. Anyway, I used one of my favorite CCC recipes and instead of using just one type of chocolate, I used all the chocolate I had in my cupboard: Valhrona fèves, Ghiradelli white chocolate chips, and Callebaut milk chocolate chunks (hence the name “chunp” = “chunk” + “chip” of chocolate).
These cookies came out perfectly. What I liked about them was the variety of flavors that just melted and mingled on my tongue. Also, with the three types of chocolate in there, each cookie came out tasting and looking different. So, one cookie tasted more like a white chocolate cookie while another tasted more like a milk or semi-sweet chocolate cookie.
Even when I accidentally overbaked them by one or two minutes, they were still soft in the middle. You are supposed to refrigerate the batter for optimal flavor, but I baked a small batch of cookies on the same day I made the dough and baked another batch the next day. Then I stored the baked cookies in a Ziploc bag for whenever I was hankering for a cookie as I typed my paper. I still have more batter in the fridge, and I plan to make ready-to-bake balls of dough, flash freeze them on a jelly roll sheet for an hour, throw the balls in a freezer bag, and then freeze them so they’ll be available for future cravings.
With the three types of chocolates, cake/bread flour combination, and refrigerated dough, this is not your ordinary chocolate chip cookie. I hope you make these today.
It’s good to be back!

Triple Chocolate “Chunp” Cookies
aka Leite’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and David Leite via The New York Times
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour (I weighed my ingredients this time around)
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1/3-1/2 pound semi-sweet fèves, 1/3-1/2 pound white chocolate chips, 1/3-1/2 milk chocolate
Sea salt (optional; I didn’t add extra flour on top because you can taste the salt in the cookie already)

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. (I use a whisk instead)

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and try to incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (optional) and bake until golden brown but still soft, 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com