Archive | November, 2013

Weekly Snapshots

8 Nov

Lunch at one of my favorite places in L.A. I have an entire post dedicated to this lovely spot coming up. In the mean time, can any locals guess where this is?

As the end of my first semester of college draws near, I have been swamped with endless reading assignments and essay deadlines. I cannot believe time has passed so quickly–my weeks spent mostly in the library, nose buried in a pile of books. My workload has not allowed for much experimentation in the kitchen, nor have I longed to do so, quite honestly. While I maintain a healthy diet, my meals have slipped into a monotonous pattern dictated by simplicity and efficiency.

This past week, anything that I could pile onto whole wheat toast (homemade tuna salad, almond butter and bananas, and scrambled eggs with basil) qualified as dinner. My breakfasts have been sad repeats of a granola bar and fruit, usually wolfed down while power-walking to class. So this weekend, I look forward to indulging in foods I crave during the school days. This means obligatory visits to my favorite breakfast café and the newly opened Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Glendale. That’s what weekends are for, right?

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Every week, my mom surprises me with a different, hand-made flower arrangement in my room. One of the top three reasons I love coming home (after a good, long shower and clean sheets).

Flatbread pizzas from The Bread Lounge in the Downtown Arts District.

Homemade salad topped with the most perfectly soft-boiled egg. Eggs add richness and satisfaction to any vegetarian meal.

My family and I went out to our first dinner in months at Connie & Ted’s in West Hollywood. It doesn’t get much better than classic American desserts, done right.

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Orange-Walnut Twists and Vintage Finds

1 Nov

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As much as I love the smell of new shoes or the crackly sound pages make when you open a new book, older items have their unique charm. At vintage stores and flea markets, discovering a hidden gem among a pile of junk makes your purchase very memorable.

While strolling down Glendale Boulevard over the summer, I stumbled upon an used bookstore called Alias Books. Being a newspaper/magazine/literature-enthusiast, I could have spent hours perusing the shelves. Since I was on a time constraint, I headed straight to the most important section–cookbooks. When I spotted a 1959 edition of Pillsbury’s Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the Bake-Off Collection, I knew I had to have it.

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The first Pillsbury Bake-Off took place in 1949, when more than 4,000 finalists competed for a $50,000 grand prize. This book contains 1000 winning recipes from the 1959 event, organized by category: quick breads and muffins, yeasted doughs, cakes, and many more. Each recipe includes the name and hometown of the woman who created it, a special detail that gives the baked goods a sense of homeyness and personal touch. I initially bought the book because of the history behind it rather than for practical use, but it’s since become one of my go-to sources for delicious, retro treats.

For these orange-walnut twists, I worked with a yeasted pastry dough for the first time. Though the process was a bit labor intensive, I was thrilled with the flavor and gorgeous, golden appearance of the final product. I followed the recipe exactly, but added chopped golden raisins to the filling for an extra burst of sweetness. I recommend eating these twists on the day-of, ideally while they’re still warm out of the oven.

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An image from the 1959 Pillsbury Bake-Off.

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury’s Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the Bake-Off Collection.

By Mrs. Bertha E. Jorgensen, Portland, Oregon

  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup hot, scalded milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 to 41/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or other nuts you prefer
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped golden raisins

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tblsp. granulated sugar

Yields 18-24 twists.

1. Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Meanwhile, add 1/3 cup butter to the hot, scalded milk in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.

2. In a large mixing bowl equipped with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, salt, orange zest, eggs, and softened yeast. In increments of 1 cup, gradually add the flour until a stiff (but not dry) dough forms, beating after each addition. I used about 4 1/4 cups. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let stand 30 minutes.

3. While the dough is resting, prepare the nut filling. Using a hand mixer or a spoon, cream the butter until light and airy. Blend in the powdered sugar and then add the nuts and raisins.

4. Roll out the rested dough into a 22 x 12 inch rectangle on a lightly floured working surface. Spread the nut filling evenly on the 22-inch side. Fold the uncovered side over the side with the filling. Cut the dough into 1-inch strips (crosswise). Twist each strip 4 or 5 times. Hold one end of the twist onto a greased, unlined baking sheet, then curl the remaining strip around the center to form a pinwheel. (See above for step-by-step photos).

5. Cover the shaped twists with a damp towel and let them rise in a warm place (85° F) until light and doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375° F and bake the twists for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by cooking orange juice and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly bubbling. Brush tops of rolls with glaze and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the twists immediately to a cooling rack.