Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Themed Sugar Cookies

Halloween is literally in a couple of days! Because of this, I decided to make Halloween Themed Sugar Cookies and film a youtube video while doing it! Enjoy!

Halloween Sugar Cookies Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9LDTPOu8WI

-Aaron John

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pan de Sal


No video this week. Instead, it's back to good ol' fashioned pictures and stories. Pan de Sal is a filipino dinner roll. Growing up, we always had Pan de Sal in the house. If we didn't have "tasty", which is what my parent's called regular sliced white bread, we had Pan de Sal.


There's a filipino bakery that's maybe 10 minutes away from our house where we always would get Pan de Sal. I loved going there when I was younger because I was always able to pick one item for myself. Whether it was a chocolate cupcake, black forest slice or a sugar donut, it would just make the weekend that much better. That bakery always brings me back to those memories and what it's like to be a kid again.


To this day, my parent's still go to that bakery and they still get the same three things. Pan de Sal, Pan de Leche and "Butter Bread". However, for some odd reason, they didn't go to that bakery and we didn't have bread for the week. Well, being the baker of the family, it was time to make my own Pan de Sal!


Pandesal
Recipe by Axille's Corner

Ingredients
1/2 warm water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups plus 3 tbsp unbleached bread flour or all purpose flour
1/2 cups plus
1 tbsp pure cane sugar or plain sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt or regular salt
1/4 warm water (2nd cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil

Directions
Dissolve the yeast in warm water (between 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit). Add sugar and stir, make sure that the yeast is well dissolved. Place it in a warm area of the kitchen.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt then give it a good stir with a wire whisk or a spatula.

Mix the vegetable oil into the second cup of warm water, stir and set it aside.

After the yeast had been activated and foamy, mix and fold it into the flour. Add the water and oil mixture next but in 2 to 3 batches so it will incorporate evenly into the flour mixture. Once the flour starts to stick together, start kneading (I prefer kneading it in the same bowl but you can use a cutting board or a kneading board) Knead the dough for about 5 to 8 minutes until the dough is somewhat smooth. ***TIP: if dough is too sticky, dust it with a tablespoon of flour at a time. I would recommend no more than 2 tbsp as this may make the bread dry and tough. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water and the same rule as the flour applies.***

Once the dough becomes slightly smooth and elastic, place it in the same bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap, an extra cover and towel will help the dough to rise. (Brushing the the bowl with oil will keep the dough from sticking but not really necessary, using a spatula will also help with scrapping it off the bowl). Let the dough rise for a 1 to 2 hours or until it doubles its size. ***TIP: make sure to place it in a warm area.***

 After the dough had risen, place it on a cutting board or a clean surface and divide it into 16 pieces. Divide the dough in halves to have even size portions. After dividing, take one of the dough and start pinching the opposite ends of the dough together, do a half turn and pinch the ends again. This will help smooth out the uneven sides and helps form it into a ball. You may leave it the way it is or knead the dough with the heel of your palm into a circular motion while cupping to control the dough, this will form the dough into a smooth and firm or tight ball.

Place the dough balls into a baking sheet lined up with parchment paper. This will help the bottom side of the dough from sticking and burning. You may use bread crumbs or corn meal to dredge the dough to have the traditional effect (I prefer to eliminate it completely because it is not necessary if the only purpose is to keep it from sticking on the baking tray and for less cleaning).

Put a plastic wrap gently over the dough then cover it with a kitchen towel to help the dough rise. Let it rise for 1 to 2 hours until it doubles its size. ***TIP: This is the most important part of the proofing process so make sure it rises and doubles its size, otherwise, your bread will not be as fluffy and airy. Check the dough after 1 hour, if it hasn't doubled its size, let it rise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Slow rise is very common during the cold season when there's not enough warm air and humidity in the room. Dough rises quickly and easily during the warm seasons, so factor in these types of conditions when making a bread.***

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven at 375 degrees. ***TIP: Only remove the towel and plastic wrap once the oven had been preheated, otherwise this might deflate the dough depending on the temperature of the room.***

After the oven's temperature had reached to 375 degrees, place the baking sheet in the middle rack or center of then oven and bake it for 8 to 10 minutes. ***TIP: Depending on the quantity of the dough balls, if it was divided into 12 pieces or less then bake it for 10 to 12 minutes, if 16 pieces, then bake it for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a timer and set it at 8 minutes then keep watching till the bread starts to turn brown. It's better for the color to be light golden brown as this will continue baking even after removing from the oven.***

Place it on a cooling rack and wait for 5 minutes before serving. Serve it with your favor spread or eat it plainly and enjoy.

-Aaron John

Friday, August 29, 2014

Youtube Channel? Yes!


Hey everyone! Yes, you've read right. I have just launched my new Youtube Channel and posted my first ever video. I wanted to take my blog to the next level and this was the way to do it. I want to have cooking demonstrations, Q&A sessions, and all sorts of different challenges. I still want it to be about food but I also want to dive into some of the fun youtube videos as well. Don't forget to like, subscribe and share the video and my channel!

Until next time :)
-Aaron John

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Coffee Cake with Pecans


I think I'm just slightly obsessed with cinnamon rolls. Maybe it's the cinnamon sugar? Maybe it's the cream cheese frosting? Maybe it's the bread? Maybe it's an excuse to eat something sweet for breakfast? Either way, who can resist a cinnamon roll? I know I can't.


In about two weeks, I'll be headed to San Diego and a part of me is looking forward to buying a Cinnabon cinnamon roll at the airport before the flight. Those oversized cinnamon rolls are so freaken' delicious! The smell alone is just so badass! Please...can I just have one now?


It's been years since I've made cinnamon rolls but I didn't want to make a cinnamon roll. I'll leave that up to Cinnabon. But I still had a craving for it, two weeks is way too long of a wait. I just had to have something cinnamon-y. Therefore, this Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Coffee Cake with Pecans will do!


If you are a fan of the innards of a cinnamon roll, this is for you. Innards is probably not the best word to describe something so delicious, but who cares. It's fluffy, sweet and reminds me of the center of cinnamon rolls. The pecans give it a little somethin' somethin' to cut through the sweetness and give a little crunch. Don't like pecans? Leave it out or substitute it. I'm not one to judge what you do in your kitchen. Either way, it will be delicious!


Cinnamon and Lemon Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
Original recipe by Flo Braker
Makes a 9″x 5″ pan 

Ingredients
Sweet Yeast Dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Cinnamon Sugar Filling
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted to be spread over the dough

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
Make the Sweet Yeast Dough
Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]). Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work with. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.

Meanwhile, make the cinnamon sugar mixture by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. [I suggest using a ruler and getting this as accurate as possible, for a prettier loaf that will fit better in the pan. I also suggest making sure both sides are floured, so that the dough will be easy to lift up later.] Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. With the dough sliced but still together, sprinkle the dough lengthwise with the cinnamon sugar mixture, followed by the pecans. Take each rectangle and top one over the other. Continue to top with rectangles, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with the cinnamon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. It might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

The recipe recommends you tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I just carefully ran a knife around it. Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack, then flip onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm cake with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks.

-Aaron John

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Guacamole


Guacamole and tortilla chips...soooo freaken good! It's weird, avocado on it's own I have issues with, but guacamole is a whole different animal I can eat all day. Give me guac and tortilla chips and it's crack to me.


It may be the only green "condiment" I would gladly gobble up. Remember when they used to make colored ketchup in green and blue? That was disgusting. Why? Probably because it was just an unnatural color of green or blue. Guacamole on the other hand is the most delicious green color you may ever see in a dip.


Creamy, chunky, spicy from the chiles, burst of red color from the tomatoes, freshness from the cilantro and a slight tang from the lime juice...oh lawdyyy...don't leave me in a room with guac and chips. So easy to make and so delicious!


Guacamole
Recipe by Me

Ingredients
2 ripe Hass Avocados
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and finely diced
1/4 white onion, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 roma tomato, diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions
With a fork, mash together the avocados, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt and pepper until smooth yet still chunky. Add in the onion, cilantro and tomato and mix until combined. Chill for about 1 hour so the flavors can mingle.

-Aaron John

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