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  • Flourless Almond Cake Pud Thang - What's in a Name?

    Themes - Gracious and Good, Level Up Food/Tech Tie In – Dessert, Baking, Souffle Homage - CPCC Chef Jess Cochran Ok, there is a real story here. Yes its rooted in baking, its kinda rooted in chocolate but leveled up by the surprise, the gift, of white chocolate. Hmm hmm that’s right, white chocolate. Sounds cool (it is), sound expensive (its not), tastes delicious (sho yah right!). A chocolate confection minus the cocoa solids, enhanced with almond...that’s where we are going. So lets start where most of us start when it comes to delights in this theme, the chocolate lava cake. I can actually go back to the chocolate souffle, which I first had at the Maison Blanche restaurant in Paris, but I think that’s another BLOG for another time. Champagne and a walk along the Champs-Elysees were involved. Your girl has lived quite the life many times over...but lets get back to the lava cake😉. Always enjoyed at the end of a meal especially when shared, goo-goo eyes and all, I never really understood how it was made. How did they get the pudding aka lava, inside the cake? Underneath the joyous dallop of whipped cream or the fresh fallen snow effect a dusting of confectioners’ sugar creates, traces of piping entrances where no where to be found. Was it simply raw uncooked batter, I thought from time to time whilst spooning bite after bite into my mouth, or was it just dessert trickery by the Pastry Arts Gods, not to be questioned? Culinary school solved all of that. Step into the light, one of my favorite Chef Instructors, Jess Cochran. In the midst of 2nd level Garde Manger class where we were focused on the nuances of presentation, aspics and defining the different between traditional hors d’oeurves, canapes, (two bites vs one bite)...he shared, showed and then led us to the temple that was, the flourless chocolate lava cake. It was on! Once learned, it was my go to quick-ish desert, as the batter could be made, portioned into prepared ramekins and frozen raw for when the need or desired arrived to satiate a sweet tooth. While impressive to most, creating a wow factor when tapped out of the ramekins, I wanted to push the envelope for a different flavor profile. Having folks in my orb that are not fans of chocolate (no dessert shaming intended), was a big impetus as well. All of this led to the thought...what if I could create a vanilla-ish version, enhanced with a beloved extract. Great idea right? To the internet I went, looking for a base recipe to somehow combine with Chef Jess’s. Well...the internet had news for me. While Im sure it is out there, I could not find a flourless one and/or a version that didn’t somehow incorporate cocoa. Soooo, I did what I do best in these sitchs, I went into my head, my creativity center...and the pantry🤣, and got to work. I wish you could have been there when my first attempt came out of the oven. I swapped out the cocoa for almond flour, which I did not sift (note: almond flour is heavier than cocoa powder...this will be relevant shortly) and added flavorings to support the almond forward direction (this changed the structure of the cake...this also will be relevant shortly). It was baked according to the original recipe, puffing up beautifully, emerging from the oven lightly golden on top. The aroma was incredible. I let them cool slightly and my eyes were dancing as and I turned the cakes out of the ramekins. That dance quickly faded when the cakes collapsed. I mean flattened, with the center oozing out what looked like raw batter🫣. While the taste was on point, they were a warm hot mess. The heaviness of the almond flour, the introduction of the almond extract, and the cook time which was on the shorter side, as I did not want the tops too golden brown ...indicated some changes had to be made...for real. Round two incorporated all the fixes needed. The almond flower was sifted along with the corn starch through a hand held strainer, the cook time was to the longer end, extended based on how my oven was showing up that day, and the cooling time was a solid 15 mins. Having already decided this was a serve in the ramekin deal, the center was soft but not runny. It filled the gap between a cake and a pudding, with the taste and mouth feel even better in this semi solid evolution. I mean it was soo successful, I got cute HereInMyKitchen and came up with a few other nut forward versions along with the almond forward version Im sharing with you. That’s the story of the Flourless Almond Cake Pud Thang and as you have by now surmised, how it got its name. Check it out, try it out. Be it served with a quenelle of vanilla whip, a sprinkle of 10X sugar or by itself...I know you are going to dig it! Technical info: The lava in a chocolate lava cake, is indeed cooked. The soft center is the effect of the high ratio of sugar to flour and eggs that keeps the center from becoming solid within the allotted cook time. Did you let out a whoosah breath there? You're welcomed👩🏽‍🍳

  • Tools, Riffs & References - Farmers Market Finds

    In Season, Local, Farm to Table, all monikers that when attached food, make us feel extra good about what we are purchasing and or eating. My journey with all of this goes through every phase of consumerism we know. From eating extruder produced deli products on pre-sliced white bread fortified to replace what was depleted during the manufacturing process, to produce from my families vegetable garden, to fresh strawberries from my Nana’s patch, to pre-package just add water delights and frozen ensembles of convenience with a warm apple thingy that you lived for in the center, to oh my GOD we have to clean out our system macrobiotic eating, vegetarianism, pescatarian-ism and onward...arriving at my current mode which is... Buy, prepare and eat, the best food that you can for where and how you live. The more seasonal and local, the better. PSA. In much of the United States as well as here in Charlotte, fresh food more specifically produce, is widely available for those that have access to get to it. I use the word access to emphasize...food deserts are real and exists all around us including here in the Queen City, which boggles the mind given our agricultural standing and the number of farmers markets in the area, but truth it is. A shout out to all those who are working on addressing this. It isn’t an easy problem to solve as, along with the challenge of bringing fresh produce into food deserts, layer on the challenge of bringing fresh produce that’s familiar and or comes with information about how to prepare what may not be familiar, in manner that would appeal to its recipients....which is not always an option for various reasons. Another BLOG for another time. PSA complete. In my quest for all that is fresh, seasonal and local, I frequent a few farmers markets. My favorite thus far is the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, one of four owned by the State of North Carolina. In the time before, on weekends, 3 huge buildings and 2 incredible large covered open air areas, one of which is dedicated to “Got To Be NC” meaning all items sold in that area are from North Carolina, were full of folks discovering, revisiting and buying all kinds of fare including fresh flowers, kombucha, and perhaps wares of one of many cooked food vendors via a food truck or stall. Today, not as many buildings are open but Im always able to fill my fishnet market bag with seasonal good-good that turns into some even better good-good HereInMyKitchen. A recent trip this Spring enabled me to gather the key ingredients for my lemon & vinegar dressed slaw. Purple cabbage with its come hither leaves waving me over, beautiful orange carrots that I knew would deliver a hint of sweetness with each bite, mint, not just for a muddle cocktail or two, but rough chopped along with cilantro, adds herbaceous-ness that you only get from fresh leaves. On other visits to the market during the year I score whats available seasonally. Beautiful eggplants in varying varieties for a couple of different dishes I do, heirloom tomatoes that lead to an amazing thick and hearty red sauce, berrys, apples, stone fruit (can you say pie or galette), gorgeous squash, some smooth, some pebbly or striped, greens, corn, mushrooms, herbs out the wazoo. You get it! Many times I have walked out with a week’s worth of produce for less than $10.00. Now on occasion I may pick up some non-produce items cause...Im prone to a little recreational food shopping every now and then, but for the most part, Im walking out with all that I need for meal prep for the week. An intangible find at the farmers market is the joy, that just being there, brings to the soul. Knowing Im in the mix with others who vibe fresh food, who are trying to support local vendors and farmers while we point, select, fill our bags, listen and laugh at stories being told or a food experience being shared. Old mothers with their baskets in tow walk amongst the crowd, the diversity in shoppers pluck the imagination as to what dishes will be prepared from their selected items. Small children hold a parents had in one of theirs and a sweet treat in another. Chefs, cooks, families, meander amongst the colorful offerings and in a moment,are part of a meaningful intention and movement to use what comes from the earth to nourish our body, minds and spirit. I don’t have a real ending for this BLOG as Farmers Market Finds are a part of my everyday existence. I may not runout of the house on a rainy day for protein, but I will for produce, as eating fruits and vegetable daily is just how I live. When it can be seasonal and local, its even better and makes my foodie soul smile. So if and when you can, seek, find and buy from that road side stand, that co-op, that Farmers Market and geek out, roll around in, shout from the stove top, about all that is good and nourishing in your foodie finds.

  • Tools, Riffs & References - The Apple Galette, The Spring Form Pan and How I Got Here

    Themes - Gracious and Good, Next Steps Food/Tech Tie In – Par-cooking Filling, Galette Production I wish I had a Nana (Esther) or Ma (Clarissa) story to go along with the Apple Galette recipe just released but alas...as we were a Sweet Potato Pie or Blue Berry Pie lane fam, I don’t. We enjoyed a good Apple Pie here and there, no doubt but...the road that led to the Apple Galette and the focus of this BLOG, the “Spring Form Pan”, emanated elsewhere. Now the Apple Pie was a Cousin Mattie Thing. She was a grandma-ish, cousin-ish of the older folks, lived close by, sold “for real” soul food dinners out of her home on Saturdays, complete with dessert. ALL of her food along with her 4-6 dessert options, were equally loved by her customers including her Apple pie. Having my turn at working for her, taking orders, wrapping plates of pork chops, collard greens and potato salad in wax paper, placing them in brown grocery bags folded sideways to accommodate the yeast rolls and often, Apple Pie placed on top, I was able to taste everything she made at least once and as a kid I was extra focused on the desserts. Imagine that 🤣 Truth moment - Apple pie wasn’t in my top 20 sweet delights to pursue, and it took years and time in Paris, France checking out Tart Tatins (Apple Tarts) that were on a whole other level to get me there. Tart Tatin apples sliced thin, caramelized in butter in a straight or sloped sided skillet, spices and flavorings added in before putting the crust on top and flipping over when done, was what raised the apple and a crust combo a little higher as a dessert choice. Higher than cheesecake? Not sure about that. I mean cheesecake was elevated. It required a whole different pan, that graham cracker or cookie crust that had to be pressed into bottom and ever so slightly up the sides. Based on how much butter was in it, incorporating an aluminum foil base first that cleverly covered the outside of the bottom, then snapped into place, locking in for the cheesecake ride via the latch of the spring form pan, the foil too creeping up the sides... seemed part of the level up deal. My cheesecake making skills were ok when I was just starting out on my own and I have blown through quite a few spring form pans over the years including a heart shape one that I have no idea what happened to. It must be with all of the missing pan bottoms, one foot of a pair of socks and plastic container lids. The good news is, I improved over the years and can flex easily with lemon, almond, sweet potato and wait for it...apple cheesecake So skip forward a few decades to going apple picking here in North Carolina with the girls. I mean, reaching up in the trees, lifting, twisting and putting in the bucket, apple picking. We all came home with more apples than needed (of course) and that’s after eating apple everything at the orchard. Did I mention having apples already in the fridge. What to do, what to do? With dough in hand, a spring form pan on the wrist, it was time to bring all the memories to the kitchen and produce something new. I got right to it, peeling, coring, slicing apples into 1/4” wedges, soaking them in water with lemon juice to deter browning, cooking them down a little to start that natural pectin thing happening. Spices, flavorings and butter bringing it all together before then turning this infused wonder into its vessel. Yesss, that buttered spring form pan that’s been lined with dough waits to put a crust hug on the layers of pommes. Whats cool about a galette is, you get all the goodness of a pie with one third less guilt, save for all the extra butter used to get that cook down started🤣, and...it looks cool, fancy even, like super-duper extra work went into it, which it did cause getting that dough to stick to the sides of the spring form pan so the apples can be spooned in, takes some stick-to-it-ness but...the end result is worth it. Using the spring form pan also creates sides and allows them to get a little heat on them, a little crust on the crust as it were, that flakes ever so gently when cut into. HereInMyKitchen...that's exactly how I like it. So that’s the story of “The Apple Galette, The Spring Form Pan and How I Got There”. Good Ingredients and Good Technique does indeed deliver, Good Food.

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  • About | HereInMyKitchen

    My Story Helping to move humanity (someone/something) forward via food be it in preparing, teaching or sharing, as I believe we can heal ourselves and our spirits through food, is my intention. Blessed with a 25 plus year international corporate career, reflecting various levels of leadership as well as brand and talent growth, transitioning to Culinary Arts has allowed me to utilize the joy of exploration, teaching and enhancing growth in and with others, in ways that pay homage to those who have given me their time, talent and most of all, their love. Be it at the apron strings of my Nana “Esther”, or shoulder to hip, heart to heart with my Godmother “Clarissa”, both of who inspired me to stand tall and walk forward in pursuing my dreams, in this next phase of my journey, I want to try and do more of that in an impactful way for others. Gracious & Good The Story of... What are those stories, those memories, those moments that conjure up amazing smells, incredible tastes, a great meal, that time when… ​ HereInMyKitchen, Gracious & Good is where I'll share a little sumpin’ sumpin’ that connects to, a particular ingredient or elements of a meal, be it when I fell in love with Falafel, my brothers love of Italian food, or the heart print moments made by Ma (Clarissa) and Nana (Esther) as I nestled up to them shoulder to hip. They created all kinds of goodness in their kitchens, making those pots talk. Ok, sometimes I just sat and ate, but you feel me. All that to say, Gracious & Good is where we can remind ourselves, when we are in our kitchens, we are not there alone. We bring to the cutting board, the pan and the table, all of those memories, real, enhanced and imagined, built on the love of good food. Level Up Let's Get Real, Very Real The truth is, you know how to cook, you love to cook, you do your thing in your way and it works…everytime. But evvvvery now and again, you dig learning something new. It could be a small thing like how to make beautiful blond Garlic Chips, other times it's how to properly sear, scallops or oxtails prior to braising (and what braising anyway?). HereInMyKitchen, with "Level Up" dishes, there will be a focus on techniques and cooking methods, that lead to that moment, when you look at what you have accomplished in your kitchen and say with a wink and a smile, yeah that’s right…I did that. Next Steps It's What's Up Your blanching and saute-ing are on point, your slice mushroom game is stellar, but what if those green beans you are blanching are long beans, and what if the mushrooms are not only sliced button or baby portobellas, but wild mushrooms full of texture and flavor. Yeah, that’s what Im talking about. HereInMyKitchen, we will share dishes that take that next step in pushing the culinary experience, often using everyday items. Thats...Whats Up. NoFood Left Behind Get All The Good, Good Peel to Fruit, Flower to Stem and beyond, HereInMyKitchen, it is an intention to share dishes that utilize every part of the food, that makes its way in the door, be it from a local farmer selling seasonal product or a neighborhood grocery store. Those broccoli and cauliflower stems make the most amazing soft tortillas and breakfast cups. The chicken bones combined with vegetables, fresh garlic and onions (including the skin)…net broth like nobody's business. The purple flowers of the chive plant, yearn to be utilized as they impart a subtle chive flavor and a pop of color to any dish, that will make your eyes smile. With an intention to leave No Food Left Behind, even a blueberry pie test gone left, we can agree, food is precious. Through food we can heal ourselves, our spirit and others. ‘Nuff said.

  • Privacy Policy | HereInMyKitchen

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  • Gracious & Good | HereInMyKitchen

    Gracious & Good The Story of... What are those stories, those memories, those moments that conjure up amazing smells, incredible tastes, a great meal, that time when… ​ HereInMyKitchen, Gracious and Good is where I share a little sumpin’ sumpin’ that connects to, a particular ingredient or elements of a meal, be it when I fell in love with Falafel, my brothers love of Italian food, or the heart print moments made by Ma (Clarissa) and Nana (Ester) as I nestled up to them shoulder to hip. They created all kinds of goodness in their kitchens, making those pots talk. Ok, sometimes I just sat and ate, but you feel me. When we are in our kitchens we are not there alone. We bring to the cutting board, the pan, and the table, all of those memories, real, enhanced and imagined, built on the love of good food.

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