Let’s Do A Makeover!

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I’ve been thinking about the weight of the world right now. The proverbial dark cloud currently encapsulating our planet. Our upcoming presidential election and the possible changes (good or bad) that come with it. I’m unsettled, and the only thing we can do right now is take extra care and precautions to be healthier and safe. To be more proactive than reactive. To vote for the most competent and capable candidate. I’m trying my best to relax and stay calm, but that’s very difficult when you have OCD as I do.

Needless to say, it’s time to escape, if only for a few hours. I decided to watch one of my favorite movies that always sparks joy—“Clueless.” Yes, that iconic ‘90s film that managed to turn a Jane Austen novel into a reimagined fashion revolution.

It’s actually the perfect movie to watch right now. (Did you know “Outbreak” is the 9th most-popular movie streaming on Netflix right now?! So much for escape.)

In the words of Cher Horowitz:

“I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength…”

<Cut to an exterior shot of the Westside Pavilion>

CLUELESS. Image shot 1995. Exact date unknown.

Fun fact: I know and can recite the entire movie from beginning to end. (I’ve honestly watched this movie maybe 1000 times. Not an exaggeration.)

Cher Horowitz is such a mood right now. That scene where the guy at school bumps into her very persuasively so she quickly pushes him off as she quips,

“Ugh. Get off of me! As if!”

Honestly, that’s how I feel right now.

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On my day off while I was socially distancing myself, I stumbled upon a recipe from I Will Not Eat Oysters for Rye Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. It looked so dreamy and delicious, I had to make it. And just like Cher and Dionne gave Tai a makeover, I reworked the recipe, veganized it and then added a couple of superfood ingredients. (Superfood is super important right now, wouldn’t you agree?)

I’m convinced I’ve succeeded because I had left out a container of these only to discover the morning that my boyfriend had eaten almost all of the cookie cups after I had gone to bed. (Little did he know they are super healthy. Bwahaha!)

Feel free to play Jill Sobule’s “Supermodel” in the kitchen while making this recipe.

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The key ingredients in this recipe are:

Walnuts: An excellent source of antioxidants and significantly high amounts of omega-3 fats called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)s, an essential fat that studies have shown helps to lower heart disease risk. Helps decrease inflammation, control blood sugars, promotes healthy gut and helps control blood sugars and lowers blood pressure.

Maca powder: A superfood chock-full of vitamins (including B1, B2, C, and E) with more than 20 amino acids and also contains calcium, zinc and iron. AND it helps increase your libido.

Flaxseed Meal: Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fats ALAs, lignans and fiber. It also helps lower blood pressure and may improve cholesterol.

Blackstrap Molasses: Yet another low-profile superfood. It’s an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Tahini: It’s rich in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cacao Nibs: Packed with flavonoid antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Rye Flour: High in fiber and contains small amounts of zinc, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

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Superfood Tahini Rye Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Prep time: 3 hours 20 mins (“Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes!”)
Yields: 18 cookie cups

INGREDIENTS

226g plant-based butter (I like Earth Balance)
200g coconut sugar
50g maple syrup
50g blackstrap molasses
100g tahini
3T ground flaxseed + 4T water
2t pure vanilla extract
150g all purpose flour
40g rye flour
30g maca powder
1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1 1/2t Kosher salt
1c dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
1c dairy-free dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1/2c cacao nibs
2c walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

METHOD

Melt the butter. Pull off heat and set aside to cool for about 10 mins.

Once the butter has cooled down a bit, add to a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and mix with the coconut sugar till fluffy. About 5 minutes on medium speed. Turn off the mixer and add the maple syrup, molasses, tahini, flaxseed egg and vanilla. Mix for another 2 minutes, or until incorporated.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients, in three increments, on low speed. Once all flour has been added, throw in the chocolate chips, chocolate shards, cacao nibs and chopped walnuts till just incorporated. Don’t over-mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion out a scoop of the dough and place inside a standard muffin tray. Once all dough has been scooped into each muffin tin, place the entire tray in the freezer for at least 3 hours. This allows the flours to relax. Cover the top loosely with parchment paper.

Once your dough has rested, pull out your dough tray from the freezer and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Bake 12-17 minutes (depends on your oven). When fully cooked (I like mine slightly gooey in the middle) pull them out and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying!

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A Love That Spans Centuries

Photo by A Streetcar Named Devour

Original photo by Aimee Spicks/STARZ

I stan a ride-or-die couple. And I’m currently obsessing over Starz-streamed series, “Outlander.” If you haven’t watched yet, the story revolves around our two main characters, Claire (a time-traveling WWII nurse from England), and an 18th Century Scottish Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser. I won’t delve too much into the storyline, but these star-crossed lovers will do whatever it takes to protect each other. It’s a love that spans centuries.

The Linzer Torte (the original form of this tasty treat) is actually much older than our fictitious Scottish Jacobite, and dates as far back as the 17th Century in Linz, Austria. (The oldest known recipe is from 1653!) The name originated as “Helle Linzer Plaetzchen”  which in German literally translates to “bright Linzer cookies.” The much easier to make version is the sandwich cookie, with its characteristic cut-out shape exposing the fruit jam and is lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar. This version is gluten-free and vegan.

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Gluten-Free + Vegan Linzer Cookies

Recipe slightly adapted from About to Sprout
Recipe yields about 8 cookie sandwiches 

Photo by A Streetcar Named Devour

INGREDIENTS

2.5 C almond flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)

4T coconut oil, melted

1/4 C date syrup

1/2t fresh lemon juice

1ea lemon, zested

1t pure vanilla extract

1/2t Kosher salt

1/4t Baking soda

1C Jam, fruit preserve of choice (my fave store-bought are from Crofter’s)

1/4C powdered sugar for dusting

METHOD

Combine all ingredients into a bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in a bit of almond flour till it’s pliable but not too dry.

Mound dough onto a flat surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 20 mins.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper.

Once dough is chilled, unwrap and place between two pieces of parchment paper.

Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 16 cookies (using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter) and place 8 of those cookies on the parchment-lined sheet tray. (You may need to re-roll your dough to get more cookies.)

Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter inside the larger hearts. If you don’t have a smaller cookie cutter you can free-hand it like I did.

Place onto sheet tray, making sure cookies don’t touch (they’ll spread a little).

Bake for 8-12 mins depending on your oven. Mine were done at 8 mins, so keep an eye on them and pull out once they’re a nice golden brown.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

TO ASSEMBLE
Line cookies with the base of the cookie bottom sides up and spoon about 1T of fruit preserve. Top with double-heart cookie half to expose the jam.

Top with a light dusting of sugar.

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The Kids Are Alright

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Holiday get-togethers can be a bit challenging for us folk who have food allergies. It is sadly true. We are the ones who come to birthday + holiday parties, weddings, showers, potlucks, sulking at the buffet table full of food that we simply cannot eat. We stand there and salivate over all the pies, pizzas, bread, cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, cheese plates, etc., that are hands off. I mean, we *can* eat them, sure, but that would mean we want to:

A) Die

B) Get rushed to the hospital 

C) Be stuck on the toilet for the next week, wishing we were dead 

D) Be stuck lying on the floor next to the toilet in the fetal position, wishing we were able to physically get onto the toilet 

It’s not fun. For us or for our loved ones who have to deal with it. I once accidentally ate a few bites of risotto at a “build your own risotto bar” at a wedding thinking that all the cheeses that were placed in separate bowls at the build-your-own bar were my signal that the actual risotto base didn’t include cheese. I was wrong. I was so deeply wrong. My body made sure to tell me how wrong I was. I was sick for a few days after that, and have avoided “build-your-own” risotto buffets ever since.

For holiday parties, and actually, any party all year round, I love making this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe and bringing it to parties because it’s so dang delicious, moist AF, and is gluten-free, vegan AND nut-free. It’s perfect for adults and kids with food allergies.

I hope you try out this recipe, and if you do let me know how it turns  out.

xo Kelly Rae

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free

Recipe slightly adapted from Kitchen Confidante

INGREDIENTS

1 C brown rice flour

1/2 C potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup or agave syrup

1/4 cup vegan butter or coconut oil, at room temperature

1 flaxseed egg (1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2 1/2 Tablespoons water, mixed together in a small bowl)

1/2 cup “vegan buttermilk” (coconut milk plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, mixed together)

3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork 

1/2 dairy-free chocolate chips (I’m a die-hard Enjoy Life bittersweet chocolate fan!)

METHOD 

Preheat oven to 300°F. 

Grease your loaf pan with coconut oil, olive oil or vegan butter and line the base of your pan with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir in the flax egg and then the bananas, and lastly adding the vegan buttermilk. Slowly add the dry ingredients and then the chocolate chips and mix till just incorporated to avoid over mixing.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. If in doubt, do the toothpick test.

Mint Condition

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Quick question! What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mine?

Mint + Chip.

Why?

‘Cause it’s double the coolness factor. Frozen in temperature and cooling in flavor. It’s next-level sensory overload. All of your senses are tested:

You SEE the bright green color
You SMELL that crisp scent of mint
You FEEL that cold, refreshing cream melt in your mouth as you bite into those chocolate chunks
You TASTE that creamy delicious mint packed with that bittersweet chocolate

And well, HEAR? If you’ve ever sat next to me while enjoying said ice cream (or pretty much any food I thoroughly enjoy), you’re sure to hear lots of “MMM” sounds. Sorry not sorry.

This year we started a garden on our balcony. It’s taken off and has done considerably well. Even with the sudden drop and rise of temperatures all summer long, most of our plants have been pretty happy. Our mint plant, which we originally planted next to thyme and lavender, took off immediately and spread throughout the entire planter within a week! That was an amateur mistake on my own part ’cause I knew that mint likes to take over EVERYTHING. And she did. So we uprooted her and placed her in her own good-sized planter where she was able to stretch and relax without bothering her next-door neighbors.

Having an abundance of mint isn’t a bad thing, either. I decided to harvest a few bunches and steep them into heavy cream as a base for this amazing ice cream recipe I found through David Lebovitz’ book, The Perfect Scoop.

The recipe was originally written for a Chocolate Malt Ice Cream flavor, so I made some adjustments to the recipe, and omitted the cocoa powder, replacing it with a snack-sized box of crushed Whoppers candy and chocolate sandwich cookies like OREO’S. I also added more heavy cream (using one of my local favorites from Sunshine Dairy). The resulting flavor is intensely rich, creamy and so silky smooth. Try it.

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Malted Mint Whopper Cookie Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart
Recipe via The Perfect Scoop

INGREDIENTS
3 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup malted milk powder

METHOD
Heat 1.5 cups heavy cream with the mint in a medium-sized saucepan. Once brought to a boil, whisk vigorously and lower heat to a low simmer, continuing to whisk. Remove pan from the heat and strain into a large bowl the rest of the heavy cream into a large bowl, combining the steeped minty cream together.

Gently warm the milk, sugar and salt in the same saucepan. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the yolks and temper the eggs by slowly adding the warmed milk to the  yolks, continuously whisking and scraping the now tempered egg yolk/milk mixture back in the pan.

Using a rubber spatula continue to stir and scrape the combined mixture over medium heat, making sure not to “cook” or “curdle” the eggs. Once the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spatula, immediately remove from the heat and pour through a strainer and into a shallow pan or bowl. Add the vanilla extract and malt powder. Cool the mixture by placing it into the refrigerator till chilled, overnight is preferred.

Once ready to churn, operate your ice cream maker and add the crushed Whopper candy and cookies toward the last five minutes of the churning process. Place the ice cream in the freezer to further freeze. Enjoy! (Or have a quick milkshake. Your call.)

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Pie, Actually

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The first time I had heard the words “Banoffee Pie” were when Keira Knightley’s character, Juliet muttered them in the 2003 film, Love Actually. 

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“Banoffee pie?” she asked.

“No, thanks.” said Mark.

“Thank god. You would’ve broken my heart,” she sighed.

Such irony in that scene, as he was so secretly in love with her.

After watching the movie for the first time in 2004, I immediately investigated this “banoffee pie.” Ban (banana) offee (toffee). What I discovered, a British treat with a crisp, buttery crust, tender bites of banana and dulce de leche, and a soft, pillowy whipped cream topping. The combination is all too irresistible.

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Banoffee Pie
Recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 4-8

INGREDIENTS
4.1 ounces butter, melted
8.1 ounces Speculoos cookies (or digestive cookies), crushed into fine crumbs
1 can (10.5 ounces) condensed milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 large bananas, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick, on a bias
pinch salt
1 small bar of dark chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD
Make the dulce de leche. First, remove the label on the can. Take the upopened can and place into deep pot and completely immerse the can in water. The can must be completely submerged in the water or it will explode.

Turn the heat on the stove to medium-high. Cover the pot and once the water begins to boil, turn down to a gentle simmer. Set a timer for 1.5 hours, checking frequently to make sure the can is completely covered in water, and pouring in more water if needed.

After 1.5 hours, using a long pair of tongs, carefully flip the can upside-down and return back to the simmering water. Add more water to the pot if needed. Set another timer for 45 minutes. When done, carefully remove the can from the water and allow to cool in room temperature for about 30 minutes before opening. Set aside.

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Mix the melted butter with the cookie crumbs in a bowl. Place the mixture into a pie tin, pressing down to ensure the crust is evenly distributed. Place into the refrigerator for 1 hour.

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While the crust sets, whip the cream in a mixing bowl with a whisk till soft peaks form. Don’t over-mix. Set aside.

After the crust has set for 1 hour, spread the dulce de leche over the base of the crust evenly.

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Layer on the sliced bananas. Add a pinch of salt to the bananas.

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Then frost the top with the whipped cream.

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Sprinkle the top of the pie with the chopped chocolate. Place into the refrigerator to set for at least an hour. Serve.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Universal Pictures.)

Sir Mix-Mix A-Lot

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My first memory of devouring halo-halo (pronounced hollow-hollow, and Tagalog for “mix-mix”) was at an early age at Magic Wok, a Filipino restaurant in L.A. close to where I grew up. (The restaurant is luckily still around, but it’s now called Crispy House, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in L.A.) The food was soooo good; the best Filipino food I’ve ever had–crispy pata (fried pork belly), Shanghai lumpiang (Chinese-style deep-fried egg rolls), chicken adobo (braised chicken in herbs, vinegar and soy sauce), pancit bihon (stir-fried rice noodles), and of course, the house special halo-halo, a shaved ice/ice cream dessert with milk, Spanish flan, and various beans. Yes, beans. As in, frijoles.

the inspo: Halo-halo at Magic Wok circa 2012

the inspo: Halo-halo at Magic Wok circa 2012

Anthony Bourdain tried it for the first time on his show, Parts Unknown, and described it as, “It makes no goddam sense at all; I like it,”  and “it’s oddly beautiful.”

The standout part of halo-halo is the bright purple scoop of ice cream gracing the top of the ice-cold glass, called ube, a naturally-hued purple yam. Yes, yam. Yes, it’s purple. And it’s delicious.

Alone the beans, milk, ice cream, flan, shaved ice, and chunks of jackfruit and various jellies, are odd, but once mix-mixed, the blend of savory, sweet, creamy, caramel and sometimes tangy work perfectly well together. It actually works.

The key to enjoying halo-halo to its fullest is doing exactly what its name asks: mix! And mix! Use a long spoon to mix all the layers of ingredients together.

I haven’t had legit halo-halo in a few years, but during a recent trip to the local Asian market, I stumbled upon a quart of Magnolia’s Ube ice cream. I quickly added it to my basket and enjoyed it at home. I wanted to recreate the halo-halo that reminds me of the ones I had at Magic Wok with my family. Here’s my take on Filipino halo-halo, with homemade ube ice cream and Spanish-style flan!

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FOR THE ICE CREAM

Ube Ice Cream
Yields about 2 quarts
Recipe slightly adapted from Rot In Rice

INGREDIENTS
16 ounces (1 package) ube, grated purple yam*
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
(*Cook’s Note: Ube/grated purple yam can be found at your local Asian market.)

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METHOD
If your ube is uncooked (as most are in the package) steam it in a double boiler for about 20-30 minutes.

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Carefully remove the cooked ube and mash it with a fork.

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In a large sauce pot, heat the sugar and milks over medium-low heat till just-summering. Add in the mashed ube and mix till completely incorporated.

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Place the mixture into a blender or stick blender and purée till smooth. Mix in the heavy cream and salt.

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Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the grainy bits. Discard those bits. Place the ice cream base into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

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Place the ice cream base into your ice cream maker bowl, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Enjoy!

FOR ASSEMBLING THE HALO-HALO

Halo-Halo
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
Spanish flan (recipe HERE)
Ube ice cream (recipe above)
1 can evaporated milk
4 cups crushed or shaved ice
1 jar Halo-Halo mix*
(Cook’s Note: Halo-Halo mix can be found at your local Asian market.)

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METHOD
Gather 4 sundae or chalice glasses (I used a tulip-style one). Add a scoop of the ice in each, then add a layer of the halo-halo mix.

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Layer on another scoop of ice and halo-halo mix after that till you reach about 1/3 to the rim.

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Cut the flan into quarters and place a wedge on the top of each glass with 1-2 scoops of ube ice cream. Top with enough evaporated milk to cover a 1/4 to the rim.

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General Custard

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This Spanish-style flan recipe is super easy to make. I love using this recipe to accompany this Filipino Halo-Halo dessert recipe.

Spanish Flan
Serves 4
Recipe slightly adapted from AllRecipes.com

INGREDIENTS
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
kettle of boiling water

METHOD
Preheat your own to 350 degrees F. Place your ramekins (or whatever vessel you’ll be cooking your flans in) into the oven on a sheet tray to warm up.

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Heat a medium-sized sauce pan to medium-low, then add the sugar until it’s caramelized and brown.

While your sugar heats up, mix together the eggs and milks in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside.

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When the sugar becomes syrupy, turn off the heat and immediately pour into your warming ramekins.

(Cook’s Note: Heating the ramekins beforehand helps the caramel maintain its heat and not harden immediately.)

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Carefully pour the custard mixture into the filled ramekins. Then place the ramekins into a large, shallow ovenproof pan. Fill the pan with the boiling water about 1-inch from the base of the ramekin. Cover with foil and place into the oven for 40 minutes.

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Check for doneness, then allow to cool completely. When serving, completely trace the outside of the flan with a knife and then invert the ramekin onto a serving plate.