Monday, October 31, 2016

Roasted Garlic Chili Oil!

One of my favorite coworker makes some of the most delicious authentic Mexican food in the world (at least in my world) and every time she whips up anything, knowing I have a deep love for food, she would always give me some. Another reason why I love her food is because she knows how to put some kick in her food. Yum! I love spicy!

So one time she brings me some chili oil to go with the dish and I could not get enough of of the chili oil, I could probably have put it on everything. It was delicious and I want more! I wanted to learn how to make it so I would never run out of it! Luckily, she was kind enough to share with me how she made it. Turns out, there's not much to it, actually gave me a few more ideas along the way. In the meantime, enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Chili Oil (very spicy!)
thanks Aqua!

  • 3oz bag of arbol chili (should be able to find in you local grocery store in the Mexican aisle)
  • 3-4 cups of olive oil
  • 7 - 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp smoked paprika 
  1.  Place all the ingredients into a sauce pan, over medium heat (in a simmer), cook everything until chili oil becomes very aromatic (about 15-20 minutes). Occasionally stirring. Be very careful, oil can be very HOT (literally)
  2. Once the oil is done cooking, set aside to cool. When the oil is cool enough to handle, transfer everything into a blender and pulse until desire consistency for the chili bits.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Beer: Guide for Sour Beers

Of course my first beer post is going to be about sour beers because they are my FAVORITE! Up until about a year ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed. This beer business is still relatively new for me, I've only started taking interest in it these last few years (mainly due to the caveman). To my greatest surprise, the world of craft beers is enormous! Arguably just as vast as the wine industry but very down played. It's definitely something that's gaining more momentum these days.

When I didn't know any better, I thought all beers were just slight variations of Coors Light, BudLight, Budwiser, etc, so initially after I had a few "beers," I decided it wasn't not my cup of tea. Well turns out, I didn't even scratch the surface. After being introduced to a lot more varieties and types of beers, I slowly began to develop a newfound respect for it. 

I ran across an article by Lucky Peach: A Guide to Sour Beers, that I'd like to share. Even though sours are my favorite, I actually don't know a whole lot about them so this is a pretty cool article to go through for some basic starting information and recommendations. Unfortunately some of the descriptions doesn't really do the beer justice, if anything it may sound gross but just note that the description is generalized and when it says things like "barnyard" it does not mean the pungent punch you in the face smell you get when you walk into an actual barnyard, it's talking about subtle notes of the aroma, like if you were a few houses away subtle. 
So here is a quick summary guide: 

  • originated around Brussels
  • wheat ale fermented by wild yeasts
  • hops are aged for several years to provide oxidized and cheesy aromas
  • the hot wort (unfermented beer) is left open to the cool air overnight to inoculate with wild microorganisms for fermentation
  • beer is tart, acidic, barnyard and animal funk, lemon, vinegar, and sharp cider
  • could be vintage specific or a blend of vintages
(pronounced gooz, if you're French and ger-za if you're Dutch, and ??? if you're American? ...a little bit of American humor?)
  • made similar to lambics but is a blend of old and new lambic to create a new concoction. 
  • usually made up of lambics 1-3 year olds although sometimes can be much older
Fruit Lambics:
  • made same as lambics but cut with whole, crushed, or juiced fruits to help balance harsh overtones of pure lambics
  • young lambics sweetened with Belgian candi sugar
Flanders Red:
  • originated in West Flanders region
  • blend of aged and young beer
  • reddish-brown malts, lacto fermented in oak vessels for 2-3 years
  • funky, bracingly tart with fruity esters and red wine-like tannins 
Old Bruin: 
("old brown" or brown Flanders)
  • similar to Flanders Red except this is from East Flanders
  • more malty and sweeter notes of ripe plum and raisins, lower tartness
Berliner Weisse:
  • native to Berlin
  • quick ferment wheat ale
  • lactobacillus fermentation causes tartness in beer
  • very similar to Berliner Weisse except with the addition of salt and coriander. 
Smoked Sour Ale:
  • no longer made but was once produced using smoked wheat that were unintentionally smoked using old malting techniques
** side note: I guess similar to wines, old world naming systems for beers are very region specific and strict which basically states that only beers produced in that region can be called that specific name. Example: Lambic are called lambics because of the region in which they were produced, like Champagne is produced in Champagne, France and the rest of the world has to call their bubbly "Sparkling Wine" even though they may be made the same way (another topic for another day)
Spontaneous Ale: 
  • the American made version of German lambics minus the official name of being called Lambics
Mixed Fermenation Ale:
  • like spontaneous ale but with specific strains of yeast/bacteria that are intentionally added to the fermentation
  • several different types of yeast are added and goes through a couple of fermentations
  • not necessarily sour if there was no lacto- or pedio- aids during fermentation where tartness is developed
American Style Gose:
  • better known as German Gose inspired new world version of the historic one which means its free play, like a remix
American Style Berliner Weisse: 
  • same as above but Berliner Weisse inspired.
  • kettle souring: where lactobacillus is introduced to the warm wort in the boil kettle there the wort is acidified then the bacteria is killed off by boiling the wort.
Dry-hopped Sour:
  • a blend between Gose and Weisse but hops are added to the mix to introduce citrus characteristics

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Passionfruit Almond Bostock!

What are bostocks? They look everything opposite of glamorous. Remember one of my favorite local bakeries, Gayle's? That's where I first set eyes on these mysterious pastries. They were 1/2 off in the day old pile! Can you believe it!? I snagged them up out of blind faith that anything from this bakery is delicious (and because they were 1/2 off! Duh inner cheap Asian). Thankfully, I was right, Gayle's never lets me down, they were delicious!

After I returned home from my victorious bargain find, I did a little research to see what they were but soon forgot about them completely until recently when I went to visit the Gayle's website and my eyes landed on the words bostock, suddenly every memory came flooding back and I wanted some! So what are they? Well according to a few web sources (Flo Braker of SFGate, Chad Robertson of Foodthinkers, and Sarah Jampel of Food52): Bostock is a simple French pastry, made with day-old bread (usually brioche or similar dense bread), brushed with a flavored syrup, topped with an almond cream and sliced almonds, and baked until golden. It is as simple and delicious as it sounds.

It's a pretty versatile piece of work. Enjoy it with a cup of hot coffee in the morning, snack on it in the afternoon with some fresh fruit, or have it as a dessert after a hardy meal with a dollop of whip cream. Whichever way you want it, it's all good! 

I had some passionfruit sitting around at home so I decided to make that my syrup of choice, but any syrup will do just fine. Yum.  
Passionfruit Almond Bostocks
bostock based on Atelier Christine and syrup based on PBS Foods 

  • 1 loaf Brioche bread, cut slices 3/4" to 1" thick (I used Trader Joe's Brioche buns, $2.99 for 4 buns)
  • sliced toasted almonds for topping (optional) 
For almond cream:
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp almond extract 
For passionfruit syrup:
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • 3 passionfruits (they are considered ripe when they're all shriveled like a raisin) 
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract (or orange zest)
  • 1-2 tbsp amaretto      
To make almond cream:
  1. Cream together butter and sugar then mix in almond meal, flour, and cornstarch until well combine and then add in egg. Mix together and then add in almond extract and Grand Marnier. Set aside in fridge to chill while you make the syrup.
 For syrup:
  1. Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes while still boiling
  2. Add in the passionfruit (including the seeds), lower heat to a simmer cook for an addtional 1-2 minutes then add in orange extract and amaretto
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes
To assemble/bake 
  1. Take a slice of brioche bread, brush with a layer of syrup (let its get saturated a little), then spread 2-3 tbsp of almond cream on top, sprinkle on sliced almonds. ** Make sure to leave about 1/4" between the almond cream and edge of the bread if you don't want it to bake over
  2. Bake in the oven at 350F for 12-20 minutes or until the cream is golden brown and fluffy. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie!

We just got our very first good batch of rain for the season this past weekend! More than 2 inches where I was and some hefty winds at one point. I'm hoping this will be a good sign for the coming winter. California has been in dire need of some nice rainy days to make up for past 3-4 years of drought. Fingers crossed!

Sometimes rainy season can be a pain, its wet and muddy everywhere, but when you have nowhere to go and nothing to do, it's the best! Needless to say, most of my weekend was curling up in the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and movies! 

Weekend movie marathon, mini movie review
X-Men Apocalypse|| I've always liked the X-Men movies, there's a nice balance of story-line and action with a touch of comic relief that's not too cheesy and this one was no different. The movies have been consistent with each other as well. Only inconsistent character is Quick Silver...this character appears in X-Men and Avengers/etc world but the character is played by different people, Scarlett Witch is nonexistent in X-Men and supposedly Quick Sliver is dead from the 2nd Avenger's all Marvel, it makes me wonder if its because they have so many movies, they forgot some details...
Captain America Civil War|| To be honest, didn't care if I saw this one or not but decided to watch it anyways. Not as bad as I had imagined but the story-line is a little choppy and dragged out... I got a little bored and started to wonder when the movie would end. It's nice that they included some of the other Marvel characters but the introduction for Spider-man (seriously another remake!?) was weak at best, it was so lame and ill fitting. Okay we get that he gets his own movie in 2017...but let's wait for Spider-man grow up a little bit, his character was annoying, it was like watching a little boy who had no concept of how incredibly serious the situation is... I think the movie makers were trying a little too hard with this one. Just because its star studded does not make it good.
Central Intelligence|| Kevin Hart and The Rock, you can't go wrong if you're looking for a light hearted action comedy. Have to give it to them, usually plots to these types of movies are easy to predict but I was thrown for a loop, couldn't quite figure out which way it was leaning because they did such a good job. Not too shabby. I had a good laugh 

So back to the kitchen, nothing like a good old chicken pot pie to warm your tummy when the weather is starting to cool.

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits  
  •  1 lb of cooked and shredded chicken breast
  • 3 cooked small Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery (optional)
  • 2 cups of thawed/fresh peas and carrots  (corn kernels optional)
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken stock (I usually end up making my own when I boil the chicken breasts)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • Optional: white pepper, Italian herbs, cayenne, paprika

  1. Lightly saute onions, celery with a little butter, salt, and pepper. Set aside
  2. In a large pot, make a roux by melting the butter and adding in the flour. Cook the flour a little on medium heat until it looks like mushy dough.
  3. While stirring, slowly add the chicken broth. Cook until broth thickens.
  4. Stir in veggies and chicken and season with salt, pepper, and other seasonings as desired. Simmer on low for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, scoop pie "filling" into a baking bowl/dish. Top with biscuit dough (other options can be pie or pastry dough)
  6. Bake in oven at 400F for 10-15mins or until dough is cooked and golden brown.