Blog Archive

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Very Second Souffle'

Aaron calls it a "Soo-fuf-ful". He's makes me laugh. Shout out to my girl, Ani, who got me the cookbook (Happy Cooking, Giada De Laurentiis) that inspired me to give this one a whirl. Also, thank you to Aaron, who supplied the copper bowls, without which this dinner would have resulted in a very tired right arm, and possibly a tantrum... **

Cheese Souffle'

2 Tablespoons + 2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon finely grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated Parmesan*
1/3 cup grated Gruyere*
1/3 cup grated Sharp Cheddar*
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
3 eggs, separated
1 egg white
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a 1 1/2 quart souffle' dish or baking dish with 2 tsp. butter. Dust with 1 Tablespoon of Parmesan Cheese. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. 

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour, whisking until the mixture becomes a smooth, creamy paste. Add milk and let simmer until warm, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, Gruyere, Sharp Cheddar, Salt and Cayenne. Let cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Quickly whisk the cheese/milk mixture into the egg yolks, a little at a time to prevent curdling. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl (I highly recommend copper, if available), whisk together the four egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff glossy peaks form. In three batches, gently fold the egg whites into the cheese/milk mixture. It's ok if there are a few remaining streaks of white. You just don't want the egg whites to collapse.

Pour this into the prepared baking dish. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is a nice golden brown. The mixture should be firm, but slightly jiggly in the center.

Bon Appetit! 

* You can use any cheeses you have laying around your fridge, as long as the cheeses all amount to 1 cup; Sharp cheeses will give the most flavor. 

**About 10 years ago, I attempted a lemon souffle' for dessert. I wanted it to be a surprise for my parents. So while they were gone my sister, Emily, and I began our work. Emily was going to hollow out lemons to be the souffle' cups in which we would bake our glorious desert. I could already hear the praise. Well Emily accomplished her task P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y. I had already been through 2 rounds of trying to whip up egg whites which would NOT fluff up for my life! I had been beating these eggs with a hand mixer for about 45 minutes... I lost it. The kitchen counter was crowded and so I picked up the first thing I could find and flung it across the kitchen and into the living room. We heard something break. Emily stopped dead. We just looked at each other. I went to go pick it up. It was a sample size bottle of Listerine from the dentist's office (Jessica had been there earlier that day) and the cap had somehow been cracked. We wiped up the small mess and thought we'd be able to hide it from Mom and Dad. Nope. They came home and smelled the Listerine. It turns out, the Listerine somehow sprayed across the newly finished ceiling and stained it a bit too. 

Yes. I got in trouble... big trouble. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Salmon En Croute

This was an interesting adventure:

I'm not what most people call a "fish person". Fish is smelly, scaley, and tastes, well... fish-y. However, I have had an occasional bite of salmon a couple times in my life and the experience wasn't altogether awful. So, when I saw Gordon Ramsay's "Salmon en Croute" featured on Master Chef Jr. I was tempted to try it. I mean, how bad could salmon, wrapped in a package of flaky, buttery, crust be? At Aaron's cue, this was the weekend to try it. 

And they turned out pretty well. I, however, was a mess as I handled the pink, stripey, slippery flesh of the salmon. I held my breath as I unwrapped the package I got from the fish counter. I closed my eyes and I stuck my hand in the package to pull out the fish. According to Aaron's record, I kept muttering to myself, "oh my gosh, ew, eek, blech, oh my gosh", etc. throughout the whole process of flicking off the remaining scales, and noticing the silvery skin still attached in places. There also may have been a loud moan as I realized that after I painstakingly wrapped the salmon in its "croute" I forgot to season it with salt and pepper... so I just as painstakingly unwrapped it, seasoned the sucker, and re-wrapped it again. Not one of my best or favorite experiences in the kitchen... until I saw this: 

It was beautiful! I was proud! I couldn't believe it! I had taken a less-than-detailed copy of a recipe and made it work. And while I still picked at the unfamiliar parts of my fish, the results were un-fishy and pretty tasty. I'm still not a huge fan of Salmon, but if I had to, I could eat it again, and I daresay I may even enjoy it and call it "de-lish!"

To end dinner, I was feeling particularly ambitious, so I also made a 4-ingredient Martha Stewart Chocolate Pie. Not too shabby for a Sunday Dinner for two. 

Here's my recipe take on Gordon's recipe for the Salmon, complete with American measurements and temperatures:

Salmon en Croute 

(Serves 2)

2 servings of salmon, skin removed 
(you can have this done at the fish counter)
1 1/2 tsp. chopped, fresh dill
1/2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard, divided
3 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
Salt and Pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 package of puff pastry 
(I recommend splurging for the good stuff, such as Dufour's)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees*

Combine the butter, dill, a large dash of salt and a large dash of pepper, and mix well, and divide in half.

Next, slice your salmon in half to make a top half, and a bottom half. If your salmon fillets are not square, trim them to make them so. Once you've done that, pat the salmon slices dry. To the top of the bottom half, spread half of your butter mixture; To the bottom of your top half, spread half of the mustard. Re-assemble your salmon so that the butter and mustard meet in the middle, and season generously with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Divide and trim a square of pastry dough (about 4" x 4")**. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the section of dough to a 3 millimeter thickness, or approximately the thickness of a nickel. Place salmon in the middle of the pastry, and brush the surrounding area with egg. Wrap like a present, trimming where necessary (you want an even ratio of pastry to salmon all the way around), and sealing well the seams. Brush the tops and sides with egg wash. Cut three small slices diagonally along the top, to vent steam.

Bake in the oven until pastry is golden brown and salmon is done to your liking, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

* If your oven has the capability, adjust the temperature setting to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.

**Manufacturers fold their puff pastry in order to fit it in the packaging. When you unfold it, the fold lines make great guides to indicate usable "sections" for this recipe.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Scottish "Raison" Scones

...personally, raisins are not my favorite. I know many would disagree with me, however I think raisins have no place in baked goods. blech. So i substituted the assigned recipe with chocolate chucks. 

This week's assignment was "Scones and Coffee". It was a weird chapter for me, because A) I don't drink coffee, and just didn't care about that part, and B) I didn't feel like I learned anything novel (which may have been a result of speeding through the coffee portion), except that these scones are not very sweet and pretty much plain bread with chocolate chips. They sure do look pretty, though. 

To learn more about this course, click here: Scones and Coffee

Friday, October 23, 2015

I love Happy Accidents

I planned to make Ina Garten's Summer Garden Pasta for dinner the other night. What ended up on our plates, was a delicious and flavorful twist on the original recipe, that I can now call my own. 

Again, this was one time I just tossed in a bit of this and a bit of that, so I'll try to approximate the measurements for you. Also, I highly recommend doing the steps in order as this doesn't take long to make, and enables you to multi-task while still achieving the desired result. 

Allyson's Summer Garden Pasta

8 oz (about a half package) angel hair pasta
24 oz. heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered*
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
3/4 tsp. Knorr Caldo de Pollo (you could also use chicken bouillon granules)
Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Bring water to a boil.

Heat oil in 10-inch saute pan. Add tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Let it cook down until the juices flow (about 5 minutes) and create a small amount of sauce. Add the caldo de pollo. Let cook for an additional minute or two. Adjust seasonings to taste. Remove from heat. 

Boil pasta according package directions (usually 4-5 minutes). With tongs, remove boiled pasta from the pot and add directly to the saute pan with the tomato "sauce". Toss together thoroughly. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

*If you can't find heirloom cherry tomatoes, you can you regular cherry tomatoes, instead.

Friday, September 18, 2015

What I learned about bread... that you really can't stop learning about it. Bread is like cooking, as ballet is to dancing. This is where you learn all the basics of chemical reactions in the kitchen. I've decided that once you've mastered bread, you can make ANYTHING! 

I learned that SO many different results are possible, simply by changing the combination of ingredients and cooking methods: You could make the same batter and by simply changing the way you cook it, come up with at least two very different results (as is the case with crepes vs. popovers); By simply having a larger water to flour ratio, you can have cake instead of bread. 

I've dabbled in bread before, but never without help from an experienced bread baker. I'm happy to say that this chapter's assignment is one I did all on my own: Challah Bread. After it came out (warm from the oven) and I got to cut it, I actually took notice of the "crumb" (the name given to texture of bread or cake). I think it's something we all sort of take for granted. Many of us have taken notice of the huge holes that sometimes sneak itself into a loaf of bread, but have you ever really looked the much smaller ones? Did you even notice they were there? I never did, until I read this chapter. 

Those holes, (obviously) are caused by air, and happen in the early to mid stage of baking. Thanks to whatever leavener is used and the resting period, the inside of bread accumulates all these holes filled with gas. In the first few minutes of baking, the gases expand until the crust forms on the outside of the bread and then can't expand anymore. So what happens to these burgeoning bubbles? They explode causing the gases to distribute themselves in the parts of the dough that have not yet solidified. This is what creates the the crumb: that tender, delicate texture we all enjoy. 

 To learn more about this course, click here: Bread

Friday, August 14, 2015

Buttermilk Pancakes with Peach Raspberry Compote

Mmmmm... that FRUIT! I love the flavor combination of peaches and raspberries. So when I saw that this week's MIT assignment had a compote in the recipe, I knew that the pancakes would be the canvas for mopping up my favorite part of a pancake: The sweet stuff. It's not optional in my book. It's no secret, and I'm certainly not ashamed to admit: I was born with a sweet tooth. It just runs in my family. You can get the recipe for the pancakes (which are delicious in their own right) HERE, but as the compote's combination was my adventure, I'll post it below. Don't get nervous... it's supposed to simmer for a long time.

Peach Raspberry Compote

2 ripe peaches
1 pint fresh raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Peel and dice your peaches. If they're just right, the skin will peel off easily with the initial scrape of a knife.

Thoroughly wash raspberries. 

Combine everything in a saucepan and let simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Do this until the liquids reduce and you're left with a beautiful, syrupy, compote. 

You can enjoy this over pancakes, waffles, ice cream, cheesecake, etc. 

To learn more about this course, click here: Pancakes

Friday, July 31, 2015

Empanadas de Rosario

A couple weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Caiti, her husband, KC, and their sweet baby girl, Kaycee Jo, all came to visit. While they were here, I thought it might be fun to make emapanadas with KC. He served a two-year mission in Rosario, Argentina, where my abuela was born and rasied. So we did. :) 

I had the recipe my abuela had given me almost 10 years ago (Oy!), but had only made once. It was clear this was going to be an adventure as I realized only a few items actually had measurements!!! Luckily, KC was there to help and we tasted and added, and tasted some more, until we came up with the perfect measurements for the "Carne Dulce". This post really was a team effort: Thanks KC!


For the Dough:
3 cups sifted flour
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup cold water (salted with 1 1/2 tsp. salt)

In food processor: pulse flour and butter until it becomes a coarse meal. Add water and process until it balls up. The dough shouldn't be too sticky. Turn it out onto a counter sprinkled with flour and knead the dough into a ball. Let it rest while prepping the filling.*

For the Carne Dulce:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 tsp. paprika
7 Tsbp. sugar
4 Tbsp. Cumin
about 1 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped

In a large saute pan: Saute the onion and ground beef. Add paprika, sugar, cumin, raisins, salt and and pepper. Mix well. Add the eggs and mix again.

To Assemble:

Knead the dough and roll it out VERY thin. Cut into 6-inch rounds. Put the 1 - 2 Tbsp. of filling in the center. Fold in half, moistening the edge to seal. Press the edge with a fork, OR if you know how, use you fingers to fold a "repulgue". 

Fry in hot oil to cook OR bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes (like we did). 

Makes about 30. 


Make the Carne Dulce up to three days ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry together. Just add the eggs at the end. 

Unsweetened vs. Dutch

This week I learned lots about chocolate. As it is a favorite of mine, there really wasn't much that I read, which I didn't already know. HOWEVER - I did finally learn what the difference is, between all natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, and Dutch process cocoa powder:

For starters, chocolate is naturally acidic. Which, when exposed to other ingredients in a recipe that are basic (as in, they are bases according to ph scale), chemical reactions occur. The most commonly seen, yet taken for granted, is that of leavening. Let's say you're making brownies, or double chocolate cookies. As long as there is enough of a base included with the acidic, all natural cocoa powder, there shouldn't be any problem with the rising and creating of a fluffy texture. But let's say for some "unexplainable" reason, your cookies or brownies turn out flat. The culprit behind the cause could be many things, but the most likely factor could be that you used Dutch Processed cocoa, instead of all natural. Dutch Processed cocoa has had alkaline added to it, making it so that the natural acidic quality of the chocolate has been neutralized. Depending on the other ingredients called for in the recipe, it could be that there was not enough other acidic ingredients to cause a reaction. 

Learning this has been a revelation to me! Giada de Laurentiis, has these double chocolate cookies that, a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with making. The obsession only lasted a few days in all honesty, but I couldn't stop making them because my cookies turned out nothing like Giada's. Giada's were fluffy, light, and had beautifully rounded top. My cookies were flat, crinkled when they cooled, and not even close to having a nice round basic cookie shape, let alone a rounded top. After making about 4 batches in 4 days, I gave up. However, two years later, my memory still recalled those cookies as I was reading the book's chapter on chocolate. I'm excited to try them again, this time hopefully the correct adjustments *fingers crossed* 

For this chapter's assignment, I had to make a similar cookie to Giada's cookies. However, the process by which to make them is completely different than hers.  They did turn out fluffy and full like I wanted, though still not the prettiest cookie on it's own. All things considered, I think I will be sticking with the recipe from MIT from now on (you can find it below), and making modifications for presentation: Drizzling with melted chocolate, substituting Andes mints for the chocolate chips, etc. 

NOTE: At first, I tried melting white chocolate chips for drizzling... uh-uh... didn't' work. It congealed, balled up, and dried out. I'm guessing it's because white chocolate is different in that it is not really chocolate. According to the textbook, On Food And Cooking, by Harold McGee, "White Chocolate" is chocolate-less chocolate," with practically no cocoa at all. It's mostly a mixture of extremely processed cocoa butter (it is odorless and a bit ivory, whereas "real" cocoa butter is more like a eggshell white and has the fragrance of chocolate), sugar and milk solids. It's either for that reason my white chocolate didn't work, or it was just old. 

But me let me tell you: The minute I began melting the good quality dark chocolate squares, it was glossy, smooth, and seemingly didn't need any tempering... although I'm sure tempering still would have elevated the cookie more. 

To learn more about this course, click here: Death by Chocolate.

Friday, July 3, 2015

My Guac actually stayed green!

So this week in my MIT course in Kitchen Chemistry, I just learned a lot about avocados: the basics of their cellular/molecular structure, why they turn brown so quickly, and how to prevent that chemical reaction. So last night, I put it all into practice when Aaron and I made guac to have on our tacos for dinner. 

OH! the creamy, buttery, delicious texture and flavor! We miraculously had leftovers... Imagine my surprise when I looked this morning to find our guacamole remained green! That's NEVER happened to me before!!! So now I eat leftover guacamole and it is SO satisfying.

A basic guacamole recipe is below, along with each of mine and Aaron's variations. You can read the text after the recipes to figure out which ingredient contributed our success. :)

Basic Guac

2 avocados
onion, chopped (I actually left this out 'cuz I don't like raw onion)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
juice of half a small lemon

Aaron's Vartion
4 finely diced jalepeno pepper, with most ribs and seeds removed.

Allyson's Variation:
1 - 2 Tbsp. coarsley chopped cilantro 
1 large roma tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
lime zest, to taste.

Combine avocado, salt and lemon juice. Mash with fork (for slightly chunky texture) or Puree in Food Processor (for a creamy texture).

Gently fold in the chopped onion and add-ins.

Enjoy with chips, over tacos, etc. 

TO STORE: Cover tightly with plastic wrap in an air tight container, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Here's a bit of what I learned - 

Chemical Reactions
Part of the physical makeup of an avocado is an enzyme called, polyphenol oxidaise (PO). This enzyme hangs out in the cells of the avocado and is highly sensitive to oxygen. Once an avocado is cut, it's cell structure is broken, thus exposing this enzyme to air. Long story made short (and without too many crazy words that very few will care to read), this PO begins to create chains that link together and creates the brown color you see in an avocado. 
You can do three things to minimize this reaction. A) Cut off it's air supply and wrap it tightly with cling wrap. B) The avo's main enzyme is also sensitive to acid, so adding a bit of lemon or lime juice will slow the reaction. C) Cool temperatures also slow the reaction, so store the exposed avocado in the fridge. To be safe, I would do all three when possible. 

Health Benefits
As a fruit, avocados are unique in that they have very low sugar/starch content, and a very high oil content (the healthy kind of oil) - up to 30%. These oils provide a significant supply of lutein, a protein that is also found in the human body, highly concentrated in the macula of our eyes. Eating avocados has been found to help in preventing age related macular degeneration. As a diabetic, I find this extremely beneficial. Diabetes may primarily effect my eyes' blood vessels, but I also worry about my eye health, in general. So bring on the avocados!

To learn more about this course, click here: Guacamole.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Under Construction...

Caprese Bites

Also to come

My Discoveries as I complete the MIT (Yes, that MIT) Open Course on Kitchen Chemistry. 

Next time on Fudgin' It with Ally: 
Guacamole, Salsa and Tortillas.