A Culinary Journal

A Culinary Journal

Classically trained NYC chef...turned California mom


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Classic Chocolate Truffle, A Confectionery Treat

Classic Chocolate Truffle, A Confectionery Treat

A chocolate truffle is a simple but incredibly delicious treat.  A truffle is something everyone should learn how to make, at some point, if you love chocolate.  Surprisingly easy, if you stick with a basic four ingredient truffle recipe like this one, and completely worth it. Technically speaking, a chocolate truffle is a confectionary, traditionally made with a rich chocolate ganache center and coated in a chocolate cocoa powder.  The name “truffle” derives from what’s considered their traditional shape, which resembles a truffle, otherwise known as the edible part of a tuber fungus. In the chocolate truffle world, there are now many variations.  The French truffle is the standard and made with cream and chocolate and finished by being rolled in cocoa powder or a thin coating of nut powder. The Belgian truffle is made with dark or milk chocolate filled with ganache, buttercream or a rich nut paste. The Swiss truffle is made by combining melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, which is poured into molds to set before being sprinkled with cocoa powder.  The American truffle is typically shaped like a half-egg, is coated with chocolate, and contains a mixture of dark or milk chocolate with butterfat.  Lastly, there is even a vegan truffle which can have various shapes or flavors but uses nut milk and nut butters instead of dairy products.

chocolate truffle

No matter what type of truffle you prefer, they are all delicious decadent treats for any chocolate lover.  This chocolate truffle recipe is incredibly easy to make, so simple, your kids can do it themselves (if you allow it) just watch the cocoa powder which can easily get everywhere.  These rich chocolate treats can truly be enjoyed anytime, but I think are a lovely way to end a dinner party along with an espresso or strong cup of coffee.

Chocolate Truffles

August 20, 2017
: 30
: 2 hr 25 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of good quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the ganache base, place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Step 2 In a small saucepan, over low heat, heat the heavy cream until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  • Step 3 Add the vanilla and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir well to incorporate and make sure all the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Step 5 Refrigerate the chocolate ganache for at least two hours to set.
  • Step 6 Working quickly, use your hands to gently roll into even balls (I use a melon ball to scoop). Place on the prepared baking sheet. If starting to melt, refrigerate briefly before finishing truffles.
  • Step 7 Place some cocoa powder in a small bowl. Gently roll ganache balls in cocoa to coat. Place on a plate and refrigerate until serving.
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How To Make A Crudité Platter Like A Pro

How To Make A Crudité Platter Like A Pro

A crudité is a traditional French appetizer and important part of entertaining, if you ask me.  If they are made right, they can be a great focal point, adding vibrant colors as well as offer a healthy food choice option for guests of all ages.  I am a big vegetable eater generally, but I almost always offer a crudité platter when I entertain, especially if I don’t know the food preferences of my guests.  Pair this with the perfect cheese board and some great wine and you have all you need for your next dinner party.  Below are the most important factors to me in making an appealing crudité platter:

Seasonal Variety:  A diverse selection of vibrant fresh vegetables is critical.  For warmer months, watermelon radish and ripe cherry or grape tomatoes are great options.  Lightly blanched sugar snap peas and asparagus offer a vibrant green pop of color.  In cooler months, try adding radicchio or lightly roasted yellow, red or striped beets to make your platter more interesting and earthy.  I think it is very important, as much as possible, not to buy pre-cut vegetables: they are often old, dry and tasteless.  Freshly cut vegetables will make all the difference in the world, despite the extra effort they take.  I suggest 5-8 types of seasonal vegetables, making sure to include simple options for those picky eaters–carrots and celery may not be “exciting” but they are loved.

Abundance: One of the biggest issues with crudité platters is when there is not enough, or there is not enough balance. Variety is important, but volume is as well.  To make the platter welcoming and appealing, the key word is making it bountiful.  A full platter is more inviting and makes guests want to dive in and enjoy.

A Great Dip: Most people dip.  Some don’t.  But honestly, most people prefer vegetables with a rich, creamy dip, I know I do.  There is lots of room here for what kind of dip you use, just make it a good one and avoid a vinaigrette, which is not guest-friendly.  I have used a Greek yogurt green goddess dip by Melissa Clark, which I have only lightly adapted, it’s a sure crowd pleaser.  I love that option because the herb flavors complement the garden vegetables well.  Creamy avocado-based dips are great, and a red bell pepper sauce or a spicy Sriracha are interesting choices as well.

Arrangement: There are two important things to remember here: crudité vegetables should be (1) cut to make them easier to eat, and (2) look appealing.  Different shapes and sizes allow to better visual balance.  A channel knife, for example, can be used with cucumbers to make them look like a flower shape, a vegetable peeler can make them look like ribbons which can be rolled.  Split your baby carrots lengthwise to make them bite-size.  Vegetable arrangement is just as important: organized but not too neat is ideal.  Alternate colors, shapes and sizes.  Small piles all around that blend are less intimidating than large isolated piles.  A well-arranged vegetable display will be so visually appealing, people will want to dive right in a and enjoy your masterpiece.Crudité

Greek Green Goddess Dip

August 17, 2017
: 1 1/2 cups
: 10 min
: 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, optional
Directions
  • Step 1 Place the dill, mint, parsley, basil, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  • Step 2 With motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Add feta and process until smooth
  • Step 3 Pulse in the yogurt. Taste dip and add more salt, if desired. If you like a creamier, richer dip, add mayonnaise and pulse to combine.
  • Step 4 Serve dip immediately or can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Cheers To The Almanac: This Cucumber-Tequila Cooler Is For You

Cheers To The Almanac: This Cucumber-Tequila Cooler Is For You

A special post shout out to The Almanac, a local Silicon Valley newspaper, for the awesome piece they just published on me and my blog this week titled “Chef In The House“.  I am super excited.  In honor of my very first press coverage, I developed this delicious, refreshing cucumber-tequila cooler as a “thank you” to The Almanac, Kate Bradshaw who interviewed me and wrote a lovely article, and photographer Michelle Le, who captured my food so beautifully.

cucumber-tequila cooler

This light, refreshing drink is slightly similar to a mojito, but with tequila instead of rum.  With just a little bit of sweetness, this cooler is fantastic on a hot summer day.  Cucumbers happen to be one of my favorite vegetables and I put them in everything, so why not a drink?  With their light melon aroma, they make wonderful additions to a variety of fun cocktails.  Originally from South Asia, cucumbers–which are actually a plant in the gourd family–are now grown on most continents, yet most (about 75%) are produced in China.  Cucumbers, with their 95.2% water content, are often assumed to be nutritionally useless.  But cucumbers have a number of nutrients and can be a source of fiber.  They are believed to be a cleanser with great anti-inflammatory properties, which is the main reason you see this popular vegetable used widely in wellness spas.  I won’t go so far as to say this cucumber-tequila cooler is good for you.  But in the world of specialty drinks, maybe it’s not all that bad for you either.

cucumber-tequila cooler

Cucumber-Tequila Cooler

August 16, 2017
: 1
: 10 min
: 10 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 two-inch piece of Persian or hothouse cucumber, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces seltzer
  • salt, to garnish
  • crushed ice
  • kosher salt, for garnish
  • cucumber ribbons, for garnish
  • lime wedge, for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Place a good amount of kosher salt on a small saucer. Wet the rim of a lowball glass with the lime wedge. Dip the glass into the salt to adhere to the rim of the glass. Fill with a good amount of crushed ice. Place the cucumber ribbons inside the glass along the bottom. Set aside.
  • Step 2 Place the chopped cucumber into a shaker. Muddle the cucumber until broken and smashed.
  • Step 3 Add the lime juice, agave and tequila and a cup of ice. Shake well for 15 seconds. Strain into prepared glass.
  • Step 4 Top with seltzer and garnish with a lime wedge.
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Classic Chocolate Truffle, A Confectionery Treat

Classic Chocolate Truffle, A Confectionery Treat

A chocolate truffle is a simple but incredibly delicious treat.  A truffle is something everyone should learn how to make, at some point, if you love chocolate.  Surprisingly easy, if you stick with a basic four ingredient truffle recipe like this one, and completely worth it. Technically speaking, a chocolate truffle is a confectionary, traditionally made with a rich chocolate ganache center and coated in a chocolate cocoa powder.  The name “truffle” derives from what’s considered their traditional shape, which resembles a truffle, otherwise known as the edible part of a tuber fungus. In the chocolate truffle world, there are now many variations.  The French truffle is the standard and made with cream and chocolate and finished by being rolled in cocoa powder or a thin coating of nut powder. The Belgian truffle is made with dark or milk chocolate filled with ganache, buttercream or a rich nut paste. The Swiss truffle is made by combining melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, which is poured into molds to set before being sprinkled with cocoa powder.  The American truffle is typically shaped like a half-egg, is coated with chocolate, and contains a mixture of dark or milk chocolate with butterfat.  Lastly, there is even a vegan truffle which can have various shapes or flavors but uses nut milk and nut butters instead of dairy products.

chocolate truffle

No matter what type of truffle you prefer, they are all delicious decadent treats for any chocolate lover.  This chocolate truffle recipe is incredibly easy to make, so simple, your kids can do it themselves (if you allow it) just watch the cocoa powder which can easily get everywhere.  These rich chocolate treats can truly be enjoyed anytime, but I think are a lovely way to end a dinner party along with an espresso or strong cup of coffee.

Chocolate Truffles

August 20, 2017
: 30
: 2 hr 25 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of good quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the ganache base, place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Step 2 In a small saucepan, over low heat, heat the heavy cream until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  • Step 3 Add the vanilla and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir well to incorporate and make sure all the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Step 5 Refrigerate the chocolate ganache for at least two hours to set.
  • Step 6 Working quickly, use your hands to gently roll into even balls (I use a melon ball to scoop). Place on the prepared baking sheet. If starting to melt, refrigerate briefly before finishing truffles.
  • Step 7 Place some cocoa powder in a small bowl. Gently roll ganache balls in cocoa to coat. Place on a plate and refrigerate until serving.
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