How you doin’? Since you have so much time on your hands and your cooking skills have undoubtedly improved during the pandemic, I am throwing you a bit of a challenge today.
In Lisbon at A Padaria Portuguesa the center of the restaurant is the hot bakery and the star of the bakery is the Pasteis de Nata—Portuguese Custard Tartlets.to edit.
Many cuisines have a custard dessert, in America we have custard pies, in France it’s the Crème Brûlée and in Hong Kong you can find the Don Tarts on the dim sum cart. Pasteis de Nata is so popular in Portugal that every bakery has their version. Pasteis de Belem is the most famous. They bake over 20,000 of these tarts a day.
What makes these tarts so much better than other international custard offerings? The pastry is thinner and crisper and the filling is usually still hot and creamy from the oven. They are sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon—they are absolutely delicious. Despite there being lots of wonderful freshly made Nata houses in Lisbon, A Padaria Portuguesa and Pasteis de Belem are definitely the best.
I’ve watched this recipe made in APP central bakery for years. This is a difficult recipe to make at home, but during this time you should have all the time in the world. I decided to simplify it a little to tailor it to the American kitchen. You’ll find that you already have all the ingredients in your kitchen pantry and refrigerator—they just require a few basics. It is a rather busy recipe and some practice is helpful, but well worth it.
Prep time: 1-1/2 hours
Chill time: 2 hours or overnight
Bake time: 25 minutes
Ready In: 4 hours
For the laminated dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold water
1 stick unsalted butter Plugra (European-style), softened, divided
For the syrup
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon water
1 lemon, zested with a microplane
For the custard
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
Syrup (from recipe above)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
To make the laminated dough
#PasteldeNata #CustardTart #aPadariaPortuguesa #Lisbon #Portugal #QuarantineKitchen #Covid19 #PerspectivesTheConsultingGroup #Dessert
How you doin’? If you have been homeschooling and babysitting your kids all day every day it probably seems like the pandemic will never come to an end.
Yes, you love them. You often felt guilty before that you weren’t spending enough time with your kids and now you realize, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s tough being a teacher, entertainer-in-chief and mom or dad all at the same time. So maybe it’s time to do a craft or baking project as a change of pace.
Let me offer you the simplest starter baking recipe project (along with a brief history lesson), which I know is suitable for all ages for both cooking and eating. Take notes—there will be a pop quiz shortly.
First, for the history lesson… Shortbread evolved from a medieval biscuit bread into a buttery cookie. Some versions are rustic, some are quite elegant. Shortbread may have been made as early as the 12th century, but its invention (or at least, the refinement to its current form) is often attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) in the 16th century. She had a team of French chefs who had the time, labor and ingredients to perfect the recipes.
Shortbread recipes first appear in cookbooks of the time, although origination often precedes the first reference in print by a significant number of years. Alas, Queen Mary didn’t enjoy her shortbread with tea before her head was separated from her body, nor did her cousin Queen Elizabeth I [1533-1603]—tea didn’t arrive in England until September of 1658. It may be difficult for us to imagine a world without a comforting hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Why “Short” Bread? There are two different explanations for the name of this cookie. Some sources cite the crumbly or “short” texture of the biscuit. Others attribute the name to its high percentage of shortening, or butter (the word “shortening” refers to any fat). Butteriness is an important quality in shortbread—so much so that in 1921 the British government legislated that a product called shortbread must get at least 51% of its fat from real butter.
This is the most basic cookie recipe there is. There are only three ingredients—real butter and brown sugar give it an irresistible flavor and all-purpose flour gives it the signature texture (the extracts are optional). Quick preparation and baking time will give you and your kids a quick reward.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 to 25 minutes
Yield: about 48 “biscuits” (24 servings)
2 cups salted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
ChefSecret: Use a low-water content, European-style butter—I prefer Plugra for best results. The secret to Plugra European-Style Butter is a slow churn process that creates less moisture and a creamier texture when compared to ordinary American table butters. This secret becomes yours for higher, fluffier cakes, flakier pastries, unbelievably creamy sauces, rich enviable risottos, sizzling sautés and extraordinary flavored compound butters.
#Dessert #Shortbread #KidsBaking #PerspectivesTheConsultingGroup #QuarantineKitchen #Covid19
How you doin’? I don’t know about you, but I am missing Dodger baseball. We came so close to getting into the World Series last year that I thought we would be on a tear this season. Alas, it looks like this season is going to start late if it starts at all.
What do you think of when you think about baseball? I think summer, I think of the diamond and the stadium, and then I think of caramelly, crisp Cracker Jacks. Well to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t have to be summer for me to devour a whole bag of caramel corn.
The original Cracker Jack caramel popcorn had a most compelling, come-back flavor. Once you started eating them you couldn’t put the box down. For me, the reward wasn’t the cheap little prize found in each box, but the caramel coated peanuts—they were the best part of this all-American classic snack. I would set prize aside, dig down to the bottom of the box for the caramel coated peanuts (that’s where they always migrated to) and then, and only then, I would munch on the caramel corn.
This Cracker Jack hack is very close to the original, but I did take a few liberties. You will find it’s a little darker because I used brown sugar and dark corn syrup. It’s best for munching right away but is also the perfect buttery toffee popcorn recipe for gifting, snacking, or bringing to any sports event or concert!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour 30 minutes (approximate time depending on the oven)
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
For the popcorn
1/3 cup coconut oil
3 cups popping corn kernels (mushroom popcorn—see ChefSecret below)
This will make about 12 cups of popped popcorn.
1 teaspoon fine salt
For the caramel corn
12 cups plain freshly popped popcorn (from above)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup dark corn syrup (Karo Syrup)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (often sold as popcorn salt)
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups salted Spanish red peanuts, skin on
#Snacks #CrackerJack #CrackerJacks #CrackerJackHack #CaramelCorn #Dodgers #Baseball #PerspectivesTheConsultingGroup #QuarantineKitchen #Covid19
How you doin’? Do you have a lot of time on your hands? (Warning: If you are working from home or home schooling the kiddies, this may be too much for you to handle—Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Yogurt may be a better option and more rewarding.)
Do you want to feel that you really accomplished something beyond just pushing buttons on your Instant Pot? Well, here’s the 2020 Quarantine Kitchen Challenge—making yogurt from scratch in your Instant Pot.
As fair warning there are other, simpler ways to get your daily dose of yogurt. If you don’t mind all the sugar and additives there are plenty of brands at your local grocer. Check the labels… some may be cleaner than others.
Or, you can always purchase a single use appliance—a yogurt maker. They cost between $27.99 to a couple a hundred bucks. They are not very complicated to use. They are fairly automatic but take up a lot of room on your kitchen counters or cupboard and will eventually wind up in the same place as your juicer, automatic bread maker and slow cooker.
Let’s face it, you already have an Instant Pot that you are using for everything else, why not take a flier and make some yogurt in your trusty Instant Pot?
Here are some tips for making homemade yogurt. I do guarantee—homemade yogurt tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff. Now that you have plenty of time on your hands, give it a try.
Yogurt Making Tips
For your yogurt culture, you can use either store-bought plain yogurt with active cultures, a freeze-dried heirloom starter, or yogurt from a previous batch of homemade yogurt. A yogurt starter culture contains live bacteria that convert milk into yogurt—that’s a good thing. The bacteria feed on the lactose and convert it into lactic acid. This ferments the milk, making it thicker and giving it that tart flavor associated with yogurt. Every starter culture has its own blend of bacteria which gives the yogurt a specific taste and texture—it’s alive. Check out the internet to find the style of yogurt you prefer.
If you are using freeze-dried heirloom starter for the first time, read the directions that come with it. Instead of adding 2 tablespoons of yogurt, you’ll add the entire packet of freeze-dried starter in step 3.
Smell your Instant Pot gasket before you begin. If it carries a strong aroma of chili or curried lamb, you may want to order an extra gasket, as the yogurt can absorb those smells. Reserve the neutral gasket for making yogurt only.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 4 to 12 hours, plus chilling time (most good things take time)
Yield: about 6-1/2 cups of homemade yogurt
1/2-gallon pasteurized milk (we like organic, whole cow’s milk)
2 tablespoons yogurt culture
Hey, you did it! You made homemade yogurt for the first time in your Instant Pot. Isn’t that rewarding? I am so proud of you!
#InstantPot #Yogurt #HomemadeYogurt #PerspectivesTheConsultingGroup #QuarantineKitchen #Covid19
The first year my brother enrolled at the University of California, Davis campus my dad treated our family to dinner at the Nut Tree Restaurant, Vacaville. It was a magically wonderful experience… including the small gauge train that circled the property, and the general aviation airport (that later in life I used to fly in for a weekend brunch). Over the years the Nut Tree became one of my favorite places to stop when visiting Davis and later when driving along the heavily traveled corridor of Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Sacramento.
The Nut Tree Restaurant was an early pioneer of, what is now known as, California Cuisine, with fresh fruits and vegetables featured in their recipes. By 1978, the Nut Tree was identified as "the region's most characteristic and influential restaurant." A notable feature of the restaurant was its large indoor aviary that had glass walls extending from floor to ceiling. Nut Tree knives and cutting boards, as well as books on aviation, were sold in the gift shop.
The restaurant attracted many notable visitors including Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Danny Kaye, Shirley Temple Black, Chuck Yeager, Peter Marino, and Bing Crosby, among others. In 1983, the Nut Tree catered a luncheon hosted by (California) Governor George Deukmejian for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the State capitol.
Don Birrell was design director for the Nut Tree from 1953 until 1990. The Nut Tree's outdoor patio area was designed to loosely resemble Tivoli Gardens, in Copenhagen with unique its lighting and kiosks, and every plate was a food stylist’s dream.
The Nut Tree had a number of wonderful signature menu items… Whole Pineapple With Marshmallow Sauce, Seasonable Fruit & Sorbet Fruit Salad, Chicken Almond, Fried Shrimp, Freshly Baked White and Wheat Mini Loafs and, most memorable, Orange Nut Bread.
Because of changing times, rising property values and family squabbles the restaurant closed in in 1996. Fortunately, I managed to save one of the best recipes—The Nut Tree Orange Nut Bread.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Bake time: 45 to 60 minutes
Yield: 1 large loaf or 2 mini loafs
For the orange rind prep
1 cup, orange rind, ground (from about 2-3 medium oranges)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the cake batter
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, oil or melted shortening
2 large eggs, unbeaten
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, roasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon raw sugar
To prepare the orange rind
Who is Ed Engoron?