I’m always very open when it comes to trying chocolates that are made locally. When I found the L’Amourette brand in a mom and pop store, I just had to try it. $4.99/bar.
Ended up being pretty disappointed in this bar. The Venezuelan cocoa beans were too earthy, which did not contrast the dulled flavor of the pistachios well. I couldn’t really taste any of the salt in the pistachios at all, and overall there was lack of good flavor in the bar. Verdict: won’t try again.
Ingredients are cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cane sugar, salted pistachios, and bourbon vanilla beans.
I’ve been getting lazy with some of my food as of late, with all the hustle and bustle at work. Quick and tasty is still my motto, and for several weeks was defaulting to this as part of my post-workout meal, being heavy in carbs and high in nutrients.
This concoction includes celery, onion, carrot, shiitake mushroom, azuki beans, and short grain brown rice. It’s my general preference to default to sticky types of rices, but I’ve tried it with other rices as well, including white rice, which does not lend as good of a flavor to the dish as brown. I germinated the rice and soaked the beans in separate bowls for two days.
This mixture of foods is also good for TCM dampness, as all these food elements are great for easing it up on digestion, when prepared properly, and nourish the spleen.
1/2 cup azuki beans
1/2 cup brown rice
1 large onion
2 Tbsp cooking fat (I used EV olive oil)
1 bunch celery
4 medium carrots
4 large shiitake mushrooms
salt to taste (I used 1/8 tsp)
1. Soak azuki beans and brown rice in separate bowls for at least 1 day overnight, preferably 2 for best results.
2. Dice the onion and cook on medium-high heat with the olive oil until it browns, stirring occasionally.
3. While the onions are cooking, dice the celery and carrots and slice the shiitake mushrooms. When the onions are browned and translucent, add the celery, carrots, and shiitake into the pan.
4. At this time, incorporate the ingredients and let them cook for a few minutes. Rinse the beans and the rice briefly and then add to the pan, incorporating all the ingredients.
5. Take 2 cups of water and pour into the pan. Bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
6. Most satisfying served warm.
It’s finally getting sunny in NorCal again! I definitely look more forward to the latter half of the spring, when the sun comes out and things get a little warmer. To celebrate the weather, I decided to make sorbet, which is a nice, refreshing treat that is more satisfying than ice cream in hot weather (in my opinion, of course).
When this sorbet was fresh out of the ice cream maker, it actually had the consistency of Hawaiian shave ice, over which I was very excited, because it is very difficult to match the melt-in-your-mouth snow consistency of shave ice unless you have a special machine. (Note: Mainlanders, it’s SHAVE ice and not shaveD ice. Thank you).
Anyway, this was a great experience playing around with the ingredient dynamics and I am proud to present one with ginger, honey, and lemon juice.
2 cups water
1 Tbsp ginger
1/4 cup honey
1 lemon’s worth of juice and zest
1. Roughly mince the ginger and add to the water. Bring the water to a boil. Once it begins to simmer, turn off stove and allow ginger to steep at least 60 minutes.
2. Add the zest of the lemon to the water and steep another 30 minutes.
3. Strain the water and add the lemon juice and honey to the now just-warm water. Stir to incorporate the honey into the water (heat up the water if it is not warm enough), and let cool in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
4. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and allow to churn for 20 minutes.
5. Allow to sit in freezer to finish firming up.
Still with the ice cream trend, I have begun to wander the realms of unusual ice cream flavors. Wandering the farmers’ market and searching stalls for ideas, I finally settled on giving basil a try.
It came out very delicious. The amount of basil I used I think was perfect in achieving that minty flavor without being overbearing. I also used local honey in lieu of sugar because I wanted that deep honey flavor to enhance the herbal essence of the basil.
1 full stalk basil (stuffed into about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup honey or sweetener equivalent
4 egg yolks
1. Roughly chop the basil leaves.
2. Heat coconut milk on medium heat in a pan over the stove. Add honey and incorporate for 3-5 minutes as the coconut milk simmers.
3. Add the basil and stir to incorporate. Turn off heat and let steep for at least 60 minutes.
4. Strain the mixture of the basil and return the liquid to the pan, allowing it to come back to a gentle simmer, with just enough heat so that there is no bubbling of liquid.
5. Beat egg yolks in a bowl. Add some hot liquid into the bowl and stir. Do this 3-4 times until the egg yolks are well-incorporated into the liquid added without curdling or chunking.
6. Add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the liquid and stir. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is as thick and viscous as pouring warm honey.
7. Let the mixture cool and chill for about an hour.
8. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and allow to aerate/churn for 10-20 minutes, depending on desirability of thickness/airiness of the ice cream.
9. Allow to sit in freezer overnight to allow flavors to incorporate, before digging in.
Boy, have I been on a chocolate kick recently. I’ve been sucked more and more into grabbing a coffee every morning to begin my day at the local specialty shops, and it has been also feeding my cravings for chocolate and coffee combinations.
First up is the Moonstruck Coffee from Portland, OR, with its dark chocolate espresso bean with 68% cacao. (As a side, I really want to kick myself for not visiting this place when I was there a few months ago).
The coffee beans were cut and scattered throughout the bar. The chocolate had a smooth and clean mouthfeel and finish, but I disliked the clear continuity of as big of a fan of taste. The bean was faintly smokey and had a tad too much citrus for my liking. Could detect a hint of vanilla, which may have made the taste more confusing.
Ingredients: dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), and roasted espresso beans.
Unfortunately for me, the Charlotte’s Confections espresso chocolate bar from Napa was also disappointing in the same way.
The coffee grounds in this were smaller than that of Moonstruck, but again, a little too much citrus and too smokey. Additionally, this bar was a bit more earthy in taste, which to me, failed in muting a bit of the strength of the coffee. The chocolate was also a bit less smooth than the Moonstruck bar.
Ingredients were: dark chocolate (cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soy lecithin), vanilla extract, and ground coffee.
I actually preferred this chocolate the most. I think it was due to the fact that the coffee grounds were actually evaporated coffee, not the actual grounds from the bean, which helped to decrease the overwhelming flavors of the overall bar, whereas the actual coffee nibs unnecessarily increased the complexity. Since the flavors were more toned down and the citrus of this bar was not so apparent as the earthiness, I enjoyed this bar the most.
Ingredients included cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, ground coffee, soy lecithin, and natural vanilla.
Whoever comes up with these kooky ideas from Chuao Chocolatier definitely caught my attention. I picked up the Firecracker, mainly because it looked the most interesting out of all the typical chile-Venezuelan chocolate blends of the brand.
This bar really was a heck of a firecracker. After the chocolate melted slightly on my tongue, the rock candy really took off and danced in my mouth. When the noise died down, the chile created a slight burn, along with the rest of the chocolate, to allow the “embers” of the “firecracker” to die down.
I must say, it was quite a lovely treat. Taste-wise, though, not that big of a fan. The bar was a bit too sweet for my liking, and wasn’t too big on the chile-chocolate combination to begin with. However, I am glad that I was able to try it. A real one-of-a-kind experience!
Nutritionals for the bar: 380 calories, 26g fat, 48g carbs, 6g fiber, 4g protein, 4% Vitamin A, 12% iron. Ingredients were: dark chocolate (60% cacao, sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla), popping candy (sugar, corn glucose, lactose, carbon dioxide), pasilla chile, chipotle chile, salt.
What a start to a fun week!
I’ve been pretty lazy with my cooking lately. So lazy that I’ve been eating one meal for lunch 4-5 days of the week.
Excessive? Perhaps a little bit. But is it easy? Yes. Cheap? Very. Tastes good? Of course; it’s made by me. Well that makes an awesome lunch then, doesn’t it?
It’s very easy to just dice things up, plop the pork on top, and cook the night before. I’ve used pork sirloin, pork tenderloin, pork center loin, pork shoulder, pork country style ribs, pork stew meat, etc. Basically any cut of pork works best, although I found that it’s best to leave it as a large chunk versus cut-up portions.
Once a week (sometimes more often), I bust out the crockpot and use it to cook 2-3 lb of pork, which I would then spread across 3-4 days of the week for meals. Makes lunch easy. And each portion usually costs me around $3. Use fattier pork for more calories per serving.
1 large pear
1 medium onion
2-3 lb pork (I mainly use sirloin)
salt to taste
1-2 Tbsp rosemary
1. Slice pear into half-moon pieces about 1/2″ thick. Same with the onion.
2. Spread the onion at the bottom of the crock pot. Add a layer of pear, and add the cut of pork on top. Rub salt along the side of the pork.
3. Sprinkle liberally with rosemary.
4. Position several more pear slices atop the pork.
5. Cook on low overnight or at least 6 hours.