Just Like A Circus

I believe in the art of organizing. Marie Kondo is my hero. I could spend hours at The Container Store. So now that all of the planet is pretty much under lockdown, I’ve had time to purge, audit and organize our fridge and pantry cabinets. In trying to store all the food we have for X amount of time, I took pleasure in organizing the shelves and FIFO-ing (kitchen term for First In First Out) all of our food. When making breakfast the other day, I had a handful of perfectly ripe pears that I wanted to add in this oven pancake recipe I found. Of course I had to veganize it. Honestly, these oven pancakes tasted like funnel cakes and transported me to a time not long ago where we could go to the county fair and eat all the things.

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Caramelized Pear Oven Funnel Cake Pancakes

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

6T vegan butter, divided

3 ea. pears, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4-inch wedges

2T coconut sugar

Juice of half a lemon

1t ground cinnamon

1C plant-based milk (I used oat milk and had great results)

1t pure vanilla extract

1C Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake + Waffle Flour Mix

2 T flaxseed + 4T water

Powdered sugar for dusting

METHOD

Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flaxseed eggs, 1T of the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Add in the flour mix. Whisk till the batter is just incorporated. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium-high heat. Then add in half of the pears and half of the coconut sugar and cinnamon, sautéing till it’s nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Add 2T of butter, melt, and pour in half of the pancake batter.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pancake is golden and puffy.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

To All the Employees I’ve Loved Before


ACS_0293This is a love letter to all of my employees, co-workers and fellow hospitality management,

The last few days have been so hard for everyone. When I learned that we would be closing our dining room services for at least 4 weeks on Sunday, I had mixed feelings—part relief that we all had the opportunity to socially distance ourselves and help slow down the spread of Coronavirus. The biggest part of me was absolutely heartbroken what that meant for our 50+ employees at our restaurant. These are the hardest times right now, and I sincerely wish I had the power to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I could to save you all. I have no power over this. None of us do. I’ve been crying for the past 3 days because I love you all so very much and it has been an absolute honor and privilege to be your AGM these past 2 years.

I know exactly how you’re feeling right now, and it’s absolutely terrible. Some of you don’t know that I’ve been through a lay-off, too. Back in 2008 during The Great Recession I was laid off from my editor job at a publishing house. I didn’t see it coming. I had graduated from journalism school and was just beginning my journey as a journalist (my childhood dream). It felt even worse because just 2 months before the day I was laid off, my brother died in a tragic accident. I had just come back to work from bereavement leave and was trying to distract my sadness and depression after losing my brother. Obviously everything felt even more intense.

I lived off of unemployment for almost 2 years—applying for jobs, internships, freelance gigs, whatever I could to stay above ground. I worked so many odd jobs during that time, but nothing that could financially support me. Unfortunately there weren’t any more journalism jobs to go around for the other thousands who lost their jobs, too. I even volunteered at a children’s hospital during my unemployment because I wanted to make a positive difference in kids’ lives. That “job” was the best and most meaningful experience of my life, and I wouldn’t change any part of it. It has helped shape me into the person I am today.

After not finding work for 2 years I decided to chase a passion of mine and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. My time at the CIA, and meeting all of the beautiful humans I had the amazing opportunity to learn from and work with, were some of the best years of my life.

After graduating I settled in the Bay Area and worked so many industry jobs—food stylist, line cook, pastry chef, food truck operator, catering coordinator, I can’t remember them all. But then times got really tough in the Bay, and the increasing cost of living (and a really shitty living situation) led me to being homeless. Yes, homeless. Luckily, I had such a huge community of friends who helped keep a roof over my head, and I slept on couches, mattresses, and spare rooms for a few months while I looked for an apartment. That proved to be difficult because my line cook wages couldn’t afford me a studio or 1BR apartment. After couch surfing for a few months, I gave up on living in the Bay Area. I exhausted all of my resources, but I am so grateful for that time. It humbled me immensely.

Then I did something absolutely crazy. I followed the advice of my astrologer (who I had an amazing in-person reading with on my birthday!) and moved to Portland. (I had fallen in love with the city when my friend Erika and I vacationed there for a weekend over the summer.) The thing is, I had nothing to move to. I had set up job interviews and viewing appointments for apartments but I didn’t know a soul in the city. I had phone numbers of friends of friends but no guarantees. I stayed at an Airbnb for a week with the goal of finding a job and apartment in that week. Omg I was ambitious, wasn’t I?

As you can imagine I didn’t find work. Or an apartment. But I did meet amazing friends who helped put a roof over my head and some interior design assistant work. But the hustle continued because I needed full-time work to secure an apartment. I applied for every and any job I could.

I did find an apartment during those early days thanks to my amazing friend Mel, who literally took me under her wing and saved me from homelessness in Portland. For that, I am eternally grateful to her.

The next couple of years I worked even more jobs—pastry cook, line cook, prep cook, dishwasher, bar back, host, busser, food runner, server, bartender, vacation rental manager, social media coordinator, etc. I did them all.
All that hard work brought me to hospitality management. Fast-forward 4 years (I still can’t believe how quickly that time passed), and I had the amazing opportunity to manage the team at the restaurant I’m at now. I’ve been the AGM there for a little over 2 years and it has been some of the most stressful yet rewarding years of hospitality management I’ve worked thus far. I have learned so much from every individual from my team, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity and pleasure to work alongside you all. I am hopeful that we will work together again.

My hope is that by sharing my tumultuous roller coaster of a journey, it will let you know how much I relate (who knows how long I will have my job), and that I will always have your back. I’m here for you. We are a family. What we do during these hard times will either break us or make us stronger. I know that you will choose the latter.

Stay strong, safe and healthy.

With much love and respect,
KR

 

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.

Processed With Darkroom

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.

Continue reading

Why do you build me up? Buttercup?


Desserts in teensy weensy jars and ramekins are so darn cute. This veganized recipe doesn’t require any baking–it’s foolproof and just needs about 2 hours in the fridge to set. That’s right. No butter. No cream, eggs. Nada. You might ask, how does this taste so good without all the dairy? And I’ll say, you won’t even miss it.

Xx Kelly Rae

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Chocolate Vegan Pots de Creme with Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crumble
Serves 8
By Kelly Rae — A Streetcar Named Devour

FOR THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBLE

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut variety you have in your pantry)
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Pulse together in a food processor till crumbly.

FOR THE POT DE CREME

INGREDIENTS
2 cups silken tofu (do not use firm tofu)
8 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate, melted (I use Enjoy Life)
3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon espresso powder (King Arthur Flour makes the best! I got mine via Sur La Table)
1/4 cup cashew milk (or any plant-based milk of your choosing)
1-3 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional, if you like a sweeter pot de creme)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted and for sprinkling

METHOD
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, making sure not to burn it.

Place all ingredients into a blender and zap till thoroughly blended.

Divvy up into different-sized ramekins or Mason jars, depending on how many portions you need. Layer the graham cracker crumble in between layers of the chocolate puree.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to fully set.

Serve with toasted shredded coconut. Boom.

Bagels for Days

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Bagels are such a versatile treat–you can pretty much top them with anything and they’ll be delicious. Cream cheese, jam, peanut butter, avocado, lox, pesto, seriously anything.

Here’s a super-easy recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Homemade Bagels
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Yields 6-12, depending on size

INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 and 3/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

FOR THE WATER BATH
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 3 teaspoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons raisins
egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

METHOD
Quickly whisk in the yeast into the warm water till completely
dissolved. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed the flour, sugar, and salt for about 30 seconds. With the mixer continuing to run on medium speed, slowly drizzle the bloomed yeast mixture, making sure to scrape out any undissolved yeast with a spatula, getting all of the yeast into the dough.

Turn down to low speed and mix until all the flour has been well incorporated into the dough. The dough will look choppy; once you get it to this point, bump up the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes. Once done mixing, the dough will be super stiff, that’s OK.

mandrake

(Mine somehow managed to resemble the mandrake root in Pan’s Labyrinth. Creeeeepy.)

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(Note: If you’re making cinnamon and raisin-flavored bagels, section off about 1/3 of the mixture and hand-mix the raisins into the dough.)

Otherwise, remove from the mixing bowl and shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place into the bowl, turning the dough ball to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and place in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough should to be noticeably larger.

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Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or SILPAT mats if you have them. Place a wire rack over a third baking sheet.

To shape the bagels, gently punch down the dough if you notice any air bubbles. Turn it out onto a clean surface and divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.

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Shape each piece into a ball and place 4 balls onto the two lined baking sheet. Then, hold up one dough ball and press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole, widening it. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest as you prep the water bath.

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Preheat your oven to 425°F.

To prepare the water bath, fill a large, wide pan with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring the water to just-simmering. Once simmering, add in the bagels, about 2-3 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the bagels for about 1 minute on each side, then transfer each bagel to the cooling rack.

To prepare your optional toppings: Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel, then sprinkle each with your desired toppings.

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Place the bagels on the lined baking sheets, and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to get an even coloration. The bagels should be golden brown and delicious.

Remove the cooked bagels from the oven and to cool for about 20 minutes before enjoying.

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(Cook’s Note: You can freeze your bagels in an airtight bag. Refrigerated bagels will keep for about 7-10 days.)

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj, Sententia Entertainment and Telecinco.)

A Miracle Worker

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I don’t get sick too often. Maybe once or twice a year, tops. So when I do get sick all hell breaks loose. I simply hate getting sick and avoid it like, say, the plague.

Blame it on over-exhaustion, not getting enough sleep, working too much. Whatever week-long illness it was, it was completely unbearable. I had this unstoppable cough that seemed to worsen at night while in bed trying to sleep. The incessant coughing led to a sore throat and muscle pains in the abdomen; it was like I was doing nonstop crunches, but no 6-pack to show for.

What I needed was a miracle. Or Miracle Max.

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My regimen to nurse these ailments included daily vitamins, Emergen-C, so much orange juice, a hot elixir comprised of honey, fresh lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric. (It does the trick and nicely coats the throat.) But what really helps is a chicken soup of some kind. I had purchased a whole chicken and decided to make this Peruvian Aguadito soup quite reminiscent of the ones I used to enjoy at the L.A. Peruvian mini-chain, El Pollo Inka, that I used to frequent. The soup only gets better with a squeeze of the restaurant’s cilantro-chile sauce.

This Aguadito is a miracle worker, a magician, or brujo–the Miracle Max of soups. It has magical powers, I think, bringing you back to life. So much so that I felt increasingly better every time I consumed it (I ate the whole thing over the course of a week).

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I butchered the whole chicken into 10 pieces (halving the breasts) and kept the leftover bones to make stock for another time. The base of the recipe is usually mild, but I needed an extra kick of heat to help clear my nasal passages, and replaced with whole jalapeños for the typical serrano.

Make this the next time you start to have the ill feels. And once you start feeling better, have fun storming the castle.

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Peruvian Aguadito Chicken + Rice Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Serves 4-10

INGREDIENTS
2 bunches cilantro, stems discarded
12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium-sized jalapeños, stems discarded
10 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken, skin-on and bone-in, butchered into 10 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts halved into 4 pieces)
1 medium-sized red onion, julienned
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup long grain rice
1 can corn, drained
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
Purée the cilantro, garlic, jalapeños, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a food processor or blender.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and season with salt and pepper, cooking for 5-10 minutes or till lightly browned. Turn and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes. Once all sides are nicely seared, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions and sauté till translucent. About 5-7 minutes. Add in the cilantro-garlic and jalapeño purée. Stir for 3 minutes to incorporate. Add in the rice, cumin and cayenne, stir for 2 minutes.

Slowly pour in the stock, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then add in the chicken pieces. Turn down the heat to low, add the corn and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Finish with the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Act III Communications and Twentieth Century Fox.)