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Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs

We're always looking for an easy dinner, and we're often looking for a new way to jazz up chicken.  This new recipe for Cirtus Marinated Chicken Thighs is that new jazzy technique.

Ingredients:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/4 cup of oil

1/2 cup of soy sauce 

Juice and zest of 1 orange
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 grated cloves of garlic (use jarred if you want)

1 small shallot, minced.
1 scallion, sliced on the bias

1. Add oil, soy sauce, garlic, and all citrus juice and zest into a ziplock bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Remove chicken from marinade and place on foil-lined sheet pan. Reserve marinade.

3. Place in pre-heated 400 degree oven and bake for about 15 minutes, then under the broiler (500 degrees) for 3 mins. (Cook times mar vary: Cook chicken until internal temp is 160 and juice run clear)

4. Pour the remaining marinade (in the ziplock Bag) and shallot into a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to medium heat and cook another 6 minutes until thickened and reduced. This high heat cooking will enable you to use the marinade as a sauce–boiling it raised the temp. to above 160 degrees since raw chicken was present in the marinade pre-cooking.

Remove chicken from oven, place chicken on a platter, pour sauce over chicken, and garnish with sliced scallion. Delicious!!

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Want an easy, bread-less, not-too-sweet dessert?  What about a dessert that can be made 2 days in advance?  Well, this, my friends, may be it!
 

 

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
 Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4½ c half and half
  • 1½ tbsp powdered gelatin
  • ⅔ c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch salt
Equipment:
  • 6 jars or ramekins
  • Paper towels
  • cooking spray or melted butter
  • 2-quart saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Large bowl
  • Thin knife
 
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease the ramekins: Spray the ramekins with cooking spray or melted butter, then use a paper towel to wipe out most of the oil, leaving only a light residue. This will help the panna cotta release if that’s how you choose to serve the dessert. If you’ll serve the dessert in the jars, then you don’t need to grease the jars.
  2. Bloom the gelatin: Pour the half and half into the saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over top. Let soften for 5 minutes or until the surface of the milk is wrinkled and the gelatin grains look wet and slightly dissolved.
  3. Dissolve the gelatin over low heat: Set the saucepan over low heat and warm the milk gently, stirring or whisking frequently. The milk should never boil or simmer. If the mixture starts to steam, remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down. Milk should be hot, but not boiling. Gelatin melts at body temperature, so you don't need the half and half to boil to melt the gelatin.
  4. Check to make sure the gelatin is dissolved: The mixture should be smooth. Either touch the mixture and rub half and half between your fingers to see if it’s gritty, or dip a spoon in the half and half to see if you can detect grains/grit in the half and half.
  5. Dissolve the sugar: Stir the sugar into the half and half and continue warming until it dissolves. It should take about 3-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Remember not to boil the mixture, as it will break down the “gelling” ability of the gelatin.
  6. Whisk in Vanilla and the Salt: Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste and the salt.
  7. Pour half and half mixture into the ramekins or jars and chill: Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins or jars and put in the refrigerator to chill.
  8. It will take about 4 hours to set if you will invert the panna cotta. If you’ll serve from the jars, you only need to set the mixture for about 2 hours. They can be chilled over night.
  9. To serve “plated”, here’s what you to Fill a large bowl with warm water. Wipe a dessert plate with a damp paper towel. To release the panna cotta edge from the cup, run a thin knife carefully around the sides of a ramekin. Dip the ramekin in the warm water up to its rim, and hold it there for about 5 seconds.
  10. Invert the ramekin over the plate and shake gently to help the panna cotta fall out. It should fall out on the plate easily. (If it does not, return to the warm water bath in increments of 2 seconds.) Reposition on the plate if desired—because you wet the plate, it should be easy. Serve immediately,
  11. Or, serve in a clear jar! You can serve the panna cotta in jar for a rustic treat, topped with macerated strawberries.
For the Balsamic Macerated Strawberries, take 1 pound of strawberries, that have been washed and hulled. Quarter the strawberries and the place in a bowl with 4 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze. Stir and set aside for 30 minutes, so the flavors have a chance to develop. Spoon on top of panna cotta and serve.

2013 Operation Santa: Need donations to provide lunch to kids on Christmas Eve

Every Year, the North Hollywood Jaycees and LA Valley College partner up to create "Operation Santa".  [ http://www.noho.org/operation-santa-location-noho/ ]


Operation Santa works with local public schools to find the children most in need of a good Christmas (e.g. gifts).   Here's how Operation Santa works:  Volunteers purchase gifts for children.  Then, on Christmas Eve, A Santa and an Elf drive a bag of gifts to a needy family, or, that family comes to LA Valley College to pick up gifts and take a photo with Santa.


Last year, I volunteered as an "elf" helping to distribute gifts. What I noticed (and even heard from kids) is that hunger is often an issue that these families face.   
 
 
Wanna Help?  There are two ways.
 
You can donate $1 or more today here by clicking this link:
 
 

 
Or you can volunteer:
  • Tuesday, December 24, 2013:  From 9am-1:30pmpm:  We will be cooking in the LA Valley college kitchen, finishing up dishes.  We will place the food items in disposable hotel pans and chafers to serve lunch 11:30am-1pm.
Tuesday 12/24
Volunteer Time Slots
  • 9am-10am (prepping food, setting up tables and food service area)
  • 10am-11am (prepping food, setting up tables and food service area)
  • 11am-12pm (prepping and serving food)
  • 12pm-1pm (serving food)
  • 1pm-1:30pm: (cleanup)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfectly Golden Sponge Cake: Secret to a Good Twinkie

On October 6th, you can join me at Surfas in Los Angeles to learn how to make the best homemade versions of store-bought treats.

In this 3-hour hands-on baking class, you will get to make each of the following recipes and take them home

  • Triple chocolate chip cookies
  • Homemade twinkies
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with marshmallow filling (like the Hostess ones!)
  • Orange Cupcakes filled with marshmallow cream
  • Apple handpies  

 

Here's a sneak peak into the baking secrets you'll learn in this Sunday's class:

A lot of people think that Twinkies are just a filled "butter cake", which is a traditional type of cake where butter and sugar are creamed together, then whole eggs are beat in, followed by flour and a leavening (rising) agent like baking powder, and lastly milk.  Butter cakes are denser than a Twinkie, which is actually a different type of cake called a "sponge cake".  

While sponge cakes use butter and eggs, sponge cake recipes call for whipping egg whites into the consistency of whipped cream, then mixing those fluffy whites (nearly a meringue) into the batter, which results in a lighter "spongy" type cake.    

If you buy a Hostess brand Twinkie bake pan, the recipe they provide in their kit is for a butter cake (not a sponge cake), which means that your homemade twinkies won't be as light as the real thing.  

 

Come to class this Sunday and actually make a butter cake and a sponge cake and see the delicious difference! And make a delicious version of the homemade Twinkie too!

 

Buy tickets today right  here:

 

-Chrysta

Spaghetti *In* Meatballs

Everyone's had spaghetti and meatballs, but have you ever had Spaghetti *IN* Meatballs?  

On this week's episode of Dishing on Movies, Dale and I make these delicious spaghetti inside meatballs for the new feature film release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Here are a few of my meatball making tips not in the video:

  1. Make sure your meat is room temperature:  It's more malleable at this state.
  2. Make sure you freeze the noodles:  It helps stuffing the meatballs.  If you're not feeling up to that, you can also cram loose noodles in there (I've tried it and it works!)  It's not as pretty, and the meatballs end up a little bigger, but it totally works!
  3. Baking the meatballs in the oven helps you "Set it and forget it" :  however, you can saute on the stove top (be gentle) or even simmer and slow cook in a pot of marinara until the meatballs are fully cooked (about 45 minus)

 

Go make these meatballs and sneak them into #Cloudy2:  It beats $8 popcorn.

 

Better than Storebought: a New Hands on Cooking Class

You guys have been asking for it and it's now here!  

I've partnered with Surfas Los Angeles again!  The next hands-on baking class is going to feature the homemade versions of your favorite store-bought treats.  

You will learn to make these treats without using the ingredients that you can't pronounce.  Speaking of which, did you see that article where they listed the 37 ingredients in the storebought Twinkie?

Students will work in our test kitchen to make the following treats:

  • Triple chocolate chip cookies
  • Homemade twinkies
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with marshmallow filling (like the Hostess ones!)
  • Orange Cupcakes filled with marshmallow cream
  • Apple handpies  

 

Buy tickets online here:

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently partnered up with a private chef catering business, at first to help develop a seasonal recipe book, and now I'm working both as an occasional private chef and in the corporate office helping to build this new company.  Pretty exciting stuff!   

At the office, we decided we wanted to give new clients an edible gift,  so we sourced a cookie maker who specialized in creative cookies package in cute little bags for giving away.  We ordered 65 cookie gifts, and since we had never tasted the cookies, we decided to taste one before we gave them away. They. Were. Horrible.  One of the cookies was a key lime cookie that had been injected with so much artificial green food coloring it looked as if it was radioactive.

In a pinch, we decided that I would make the cookies for the company:  not a stretch given that I'm an award-winning pastry chef!

I looked around the test kitchen and saw half a jar of Nutella, some chocolate chips, and a handful of toasted hazelnuts.  Then it hit me!  We were going to make Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies with toasted hazelnuts.

The cookies were delicious.  They had a great chocolate flavor that was balanced by the hazelnut flavor that came through as a result of the Nutella and the toasted hazelnuts.  

 

I'm going to share the recipe with you, and embedded in the recipe are some professional baking tips that I know will help you make the perfect cookies!

 

 

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


1/2 cup Nutella


1/2 cup sugar, granulated white


1/2 cup brown sugar


1 egg


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1/2 teaspoon baking soda


1/4 teaspoon salt


¾ cup dark chocolate chips* (*reserve  ¼ Cup for chopping).  You can use semi-sweet in a pinch. 

This recipe can easily be doubled.   It will make about a dozen 3” cookies.

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Chop ¼ cup of the chocolate chips into smaller, coarsely chopped pieces. Set aside with remaining chocolate.

3.    In a mixing bowl, combine unsalted butter and Nutella just until combined.

4.  Add sugars to the mixing bowl, and mix just until combined.

5.  Add the egg, and mix for 30 seconds, or just until egg is combined. Add the vanilla.

It is here that most people make a crucial mistake in cookie baking:  they over-mix  the batter.  Unlike cake batter making, when making cookies you don’t want to beat eggs and sugars for 3-4 minutes until they are fluffy and aerated.  Over-mixing cookie dough in this step will negatively alter the structure of your cookie.  So, just mix that egg until it’s mixed into the butter and sugar, and when you no longer see the yolks, stop mixing. 

 

6.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).  Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

7.  Stop mixing when you no longer see the white flour peeking through your brown cookie dough.  Again, you don’t want to over-mix.

8.  Mix in the chocolate.

9.  Scoop your cookie dough into equal sized balls.  I like to use a cookie or ice cream scoop with a trigger spring, specifically a size 30# disher/scoop, but you can also use regular ol  spoons as well.

 

 

 

Now here is a pro-baking tip: 

Once you scoop your cookie dough into balls, freeze your cookie dough for at least 15 minutes before baking.  Have you ever baked a cookie from scratch and wondered why they weren't as perfectly round as the cookies you've bought at a bakery?  This is the secret of the pros!  We bake cookies from the frozen state.

You are more likely to get a perfectly round cookie when cold dough enters the hot oven.  Fresh cookie dough is soft and the butter in that cookie is at room temperature.  This softened butter and cookie dough means butter in that fresh cookie dough will start to melt before the cookie has “set” into the perfect circle.  This is why cookies spread when you bake them fresh (versus refrigerating or freezing the dough first.)

 

 

10.  Time to Bake.  Place your chilled (or frozen) cookie dough on an parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until edges are golden brown.  Bake time depends on the size of the cookie you make.

 

  • If you’re baking rounded tablespoons of cookie dough, it will take about 9 minutes for your cookies to bake.
  • If you used a 30# scoop/disher, which will make a 3” inch cookie, the cookies will take about 12 minutes to bake.

 

 

Recipe: Salted Caramel Sauce

Whether I'm making Salted Caramel Ice Cream, or using this incredibly delicious sauce to drizzle all over my apple hand pies, this recipe really only requires a pan and a spoon.  No thermometers, no special steps.  You just have to use your eyes to make sure the caramel doesn't burn.

Salted Caramel Sauce

 

Ingredients:

2/3 Cup granulated white sugar 

1 C cups heavy cream, warmed in the microwave to about 170 degrees (hot to the touch, but not boiling)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

½-1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon. (do this at the end, to your taste)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Directions

1.  Pour sugar into the bottom of a skillet. *Chefs Note: I prefer non-stick skillet for the easy cleanup.

2.  Heat sugar over medium heat. You’ll start to see it melt and turn into a brown color

3.  While sugar is melting, warm heavy cream until it is hot to the touch. About the temperature of a piping hot cup of coffee.  *Chefs Note:  Warming the cream makes it easier to incorporate into the hot caramel.  Cold cream will cause the boiling hot caramel mixture to seize.

4.  Once the sugar is all dissolved and is amber in color, remove pan from heat and slowly add in the warm cream.  *Chefs Note: The mixture will bubble, but will calm down as you continue to whisk in the cream.

5.  Add butter and swirl around until melted.

6.  Add sea salt and vanilla and stir until dissolved.

7. Use immediately, or cool in a container (like a jar).  To store, cover and refrigerate.  Use within 2 weeks.

 

Fast & Furious 6: A Fast 6 ingredient Paella on this week’s Dishing on Movies

Dishing on Movies is a special project of mine where Dale and I create recipes inspired by movies.  

 

For the first time ever, Dale and I were invited to the red carpet premiere of Fast & Furious 6, and it was pretty amazing.  You can watch our VLOG coverage here:

 

 

 

 

 

For the newest edition of the #Fast&Furious franchise, Fast & Furious 6, we were inspired by the location shots in Spain.  So much so that the recipe we chose to create for the movie was a Fast 6-ingredient Paella featuring Chorizo and Shrimp.  Learn to make the recipe by watching this week's episode of Dishing on Movies.

 

Fast and Furious 6: 6 Ingredient Paella

  • Saffron Rice (recipe below)
  • Sofrito (Garlic, Tomato, Tomato Paste, sautéed onion recipe below)
  • Spanish Chorizo:  1 pound
  • Shrimp:  ¾ pound
  • Peas: 1 cup
  • Spanish Spice Mix (2 tbsp Paprika, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp ground pepper)

 

1.) Make the Saffron Rice (listed below), set aside. This can be done in advance.

2.) Make the Sofrito:  This is your traditional flavor base.  This can be made in advance

3.) Cook Protein: Add olive oil to a pan and bring to temperature. Slice chorizo and sauté until done. Remove from pan.  Next, add your shrimp and cook 2 minutes on side #1 and 1 minutes on side #2. Remove shrimp.

4.) Add Sofrito: Into the fat and meat juices, add 1 cup of the sofrito. Cook until warmed through.

5.) Add Rice:  Add 5 Cups of room-temperature Saffron Rice to the sauté pan with ¼ cup of liquid.  (chicken stock or white wine or water.)  Warm through.

6.) Add Peas:  Add room-temperature peas to the rice and stir.

7.) Add Chorizo:  Add ¾ cooked chorizo into the rice and stir.

8.) Assemble the Paella: Place shrimp on top of the rice, as well as the remaining chorizo.  Place lid on top of dish and let steam for 1-2 mins.

9.) Finish:  Finish with an optional squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of Italian parsley, finely chopped

 

Saffron Rice

2 cups of medium grain rice

3 1/2 cup of liquid

30 Saffron fronds

 

Directions:


1). Make Saffron Water: Bring 3 1/2 Cups of liquid to a simmer.  Add Saffron.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Then bring to a boil.

2.) Rinse Rice: Rinse the rice once, moving your fingers through the rice, until the water runs pure without any milkiness. Drain.

3.) Cook Rice: Place the rice in a pot. Add enough water to cover the rice by 3/4 inch.

An easy way to measure the water is to use the knuckle test – the water should come up to the first joint of your knuckle. (If you need a measurement, consider this: For 1 1/2 cups rice, I use just over 1 3/4 cups water).

4.) Bring to a Boil: Bring the rice to a boil, uncovered. Boil 1 minute.

5.) Reduce Heat, Continue Cooking: Once rice has boiled, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

6.) Remove from Heat: Keep covered: Remove the rice from the heat and allow to sit, still covered, for at least 10 minutes.

7.) Fluff and Serve: Fluff rice with a fork before serving.

 

Sofrito 

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 can of crushed tomatoes (approx. 15oz)

1 tbsp crushed garlic

2 tsp paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

1.) In a sauté pan, sauté onion into olive oil until softened.

2.) Add the garlic, and sauté a minute.

3.) Add the paprika and continue to sauté another minute.

4.) Next, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.  Cook together until mixture has thickened into a jam-like consistency.

5.)Cool and use in any dish, like eggs or the Fast6 Paella

 

 

Poke Ball Cake Pops: Dishing on Movies

On this week's episode of Dishing on Movies, we team up with @HappiLeeErin to make Pokemon-inspired, Poke Ball Cake Pops.

 

 

To make these delicious Cake Pops, you can use your own favorite recipe for cake and frosting, or even buy store bought if you wish.  But, in case you want to make it extra special, extra delicious, and homemade, you can follow these Basic Vanilla Cake and Buttercream recipes from the Kiss My Bundt Cookbook.

 

 

Kiss My Bundt Bakery's Basic Vanilla Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder 
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter 
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar 
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla 
  • 1¼ cups whole milk 
     

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
2. Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Slowly add sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
3. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a separate bowl and add to batter one at a time, blending well after each addition. Continue beating on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. 
4. Add vanilla to milk. 
5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, mix 1/3 of the flour into the batter at a low speed, then 1/2 of the milk, alternating until all ingredients are combined. 
6. Spray a baking pan (13x9x2)  with baker’s cooking spray or grease and dust with flour. Pour the batter into the prepared Pan

7. Bake cake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. 

8. Invert cake onto a cooling rack.  for 30 minutes then serve.

 

 

 

Kiss My Bundt Bakery's Basic Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tbsp milk

 

Directions

1.  In a mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy.

2.  Sift powdered sugar and slowly add into the butter mixture.

3.  Beat butter and powdered sugar until incorporated.  Add vanilla extract.

4.  Add 1tbsp of milk to the mixture, at a time, until the frosting is a creamy "spreadable" consistency.

 

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