Madison, Houston, and Galveston

kona shave ice

Hey y’all! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been off playing cheese intern on a truck and figuring out how to live in Wisconsin. For the next two weeks, I’m with the rest of the intern squad down in Texas, driving the truck around to give away samples. I’m so happy to be back cooking in a commercial kitchen and developing recipes. This whole post is basically going to be a photo blast. I’ve gotten to do everything from feed over 1500 people at a food truck festival in Madison, to take a cheesemaking course, to eat goat tacos in Houston. We’re heading to San Antonio and Austin next week, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Until then, enjoy these pictures!

grand cru

cheesemaking

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goat tacos

houston mural

It’s adventure time!

Minnehaha

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Life has been really busy the last few weeks, and it’s about to get even busier. GT just graduated from college and is getting ready to move. I’m moving to Wisconsin to start my internship with an amazing cheese company (henceforth known in my posts as “The Big Cheese” company) in just a few days. Between it all, it’s been stripping my childhood bedroom, finishing my finals, saying goodbye to friends and family, and cramming in every last second errand that I can fit into my schedule. It’s unfortunate, but blogging has taken a back seat for the last few weeks.

There is however, good news! While I am going not going to be able to post a lot of recipes this summer, I will be doing some travel posts, since my internship will be taking me to food events (like the Food and Wine festival in Aspen, Colorado!!!!) all over the country. I’ll be writing about all my adventures aboard the food truck I’m working in, and, of course, the different foods I get to experience. Once I’m back home in September, recipes will start showing up again. Make sure to pop in and check out my adventures!

Love,

-Kara

Favorite Friday Things

Sushi burrito

It’s been a crazy week! GT and I signed on our first apartment, and I bought my wedding dress! It’s also pre-finals week, so I’ve been studying like crazy to get ready for my last finals ever. There hasn’t been time to make anything and post it, but I did have time to put up this week’s Friday things post! Check out what the rest of the internet has been up to!

Sarah made Japanese dirty tater tots! OMG, do these look good, or what?

Michelle put matcha in her egg creams.

Adrianna swirled together some buttery potato roses.

Sarah made these awesome 15 minute lazy Asian noodles, which is pretty much my go-to lunch when I’m starving and there’s nothing in the fridge.

Erica took inspiration from Turkey and made Cilbir (Turkish eggs), also known as the only way to get me to eat yogurt.

Outside of food, this BB-8 car charger is so dang cute! I’d love to have a little co-pilot with me when I drive.

Who doesn’t need a sushi shirt?

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

Winona

GT and I are off doing adult-y things this weekend like apartment hunting and looking at the new town where we’re going to be living! It doesn’t feel real yet. It’s been a whirlwind, and I haven’t had too much time to post, but I did have a couple minutes to whip this post together. Take a peek at what other bloggers were up to this week!

I hate kale, but Jessica’s kale Caesar salad on pizza crust looks amazing!

Steph made tiny California sushi cones, and they are adorable!

Linda took some gorgeous flowering broccoli rabe and turned it into crostini with bagna cauda and burrata.

Heather created this gorgeous explosion of a birthday cake to celebrate the release of Tessa’s new book!

Deb made a batch of the perfect garlic bread and my carb-loving heart wants to try this ASAP.

Megan made a stunning hibiscus, lime, and mint spritzer that is perfect for spring/early summer.

Michelle also jumped in to help celebrate Tessa’s book with this beautiful chocolate earl grey london fog cake!

Outside of food, Minnesota has lost a legendary musician, and all of Minneapolis came out to mourn on Thursday night on First Ave. Even if you didn’t like his music, if you’re Minnesotan, you still grew up as a Prince fan. When I was driving down to Winona, all the radios were paying tribute to Prince by playing his music.

Currently obsessed with these tiny dessert pins from Urban Outfitters. So cute.

This bowtie is shaped like a taco! My brother G would die for this.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

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It’s been a crazy week, and I have about five minutes to put this up so I’m going to say: check out these awesome posts from this week!

One of my first drinks was an amaretto sour, and Jessica’s amaretto bourbon punch sounds amazing.

Sarah made these glorious passionfruit cheesecake malasadas and since I can’t to go to Hawaii, these are the next best thing.

Rosie made a gorgeous chocolate glam rock cake and has fueled my late-in-life sprinkle obsession.

Danielle got her hands on some ramps and made pickled ramps with ramp butter and aleppo to celebrate spring.

Jen took inari and stuffed it with spicy ahi tuna and it’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in sushi.

Thalia baked some chocolate chip espresso kiss cookies with homemade chocolate kisses!!!

Michelle made a passionfruit curd pie that is beautiful and sunny.

Outside of food, Vans just came out with a Late Night Crew line and I want to buy the donut pair so bad!

I’m just starting to get into makeup (I bought myself the Naked 2 palette as a birthday present) and several of my friends have talked about how great this Smashbox primer oil is.

Back at it again with the Modcloth, but here is the world’s punniest lunch bag.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

PB&J Pullapart Bread (GF)

PB&J Pullapart bread

It’s the little things that count right now; the peace in the chaos that I can find at random moments. April has been a really busy month, and my life just got infinitely more crazed. GT just got a job, and that means that I will not be moving home after my internship. So, I’m in the process of packing to move for my internship, and packing away my childhood bedroom, on top of finishing all my homework and beginning to study for finals. Free time doesn’t really happen any more. There’s packing to do, homework to finish, wedding planning to worry about, and errands to run. I had an hour today, one blissful hour of free time where I didn’t have any obligations. So I baked. It is one of the last times I’ll get the chance to roll dough out in my mother’s kitchen; to use her green marble rolling pin. To bake for my brother and hear his excitement over something I whipped up. It’s bittersweet.

pb & j

G has always loved peanut butter and jelly, ever since he was little. When he was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, it meant that all of his beloved jellies and jams had to go away, since the sugar and pectin were making him sick. My family has never been one to can things, but I starting making quick jams after his diagnosis. Just fruit, a little cane sugar, some lemon juice. Squash the berries and simmer until jammy and dribbling off the spoon. Let it cool, and smear on toast or fill a cake. It helped make up for the loss of so many things. This peanut butter and jelly pullapart bread might not be able to make up for me leaving, but it’s at least a start. 

PB&J Pullapart Bread 2

PB&J Pullapart Bread 3

PB& J Pullapart Bread

For the dough

2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Pillsbury)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, very cold

¾ cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, ice cold, plus more for brushing

For the jam

1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup natural cane sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp sea salt

Splash of vanilla

For assembly

Biscuit dough

Jam

Smooth peanut butter

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  For the dough, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Using a food processor or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the mix resembles cornmeal. Pour in the milk and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Roll the dough out in between two sheets of floured parchment paper. Cut the dough into even squares.
  2. For the jam, combine all ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and turn on medium heat. Squash the berries with your spoon. Cook until thick and jammy. Let cool before using.
  3. To assemble, alternate dolloping about a tablespoon of peanut butter and jam on each square, then stack horizontally in a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Brush with a tablespoon or two of buttermilk. Bake at 375° F for 35-45 minutes until lightly brown.

Favorite Friday Things

Sugar Loaf in spring

Hey guys! It’s been quite the eventful week! GT and I finally set a date for our wedding (and I went back and LOL’ed at my old posts about how we’d wait until May to touch wedding planning), and picked a venue, so both sets of parents are happy we’ve finally decided on when we’re getting hitched. I tried on a ton of wedding dresses, and my mom put me in the world’s prettiest ballgown that made me look like Cinderella, but could also stand up by itself. My sister-in-law-to-be also just turned 17, so I made her the birthday pie to end all birthday pies to celebrate. The weekend should be nice and relaxing, but I just remembered I need to start packing to move for my internship, so maybe not! I’m not the only one who’s had a busy week. Check out what my fellow bloggers have been doing!

Mandy teaches us all the correct way to cook in a hotel room with this Cantonese porchetta sandwich.

Sarah made one of my favorite take-out dishes, dan dan noodles!

Betty whipped up these amazing kimchi ahi poke bowls and I’m in love.

Karen baked a pb & j bread pudding that GT would die for.

Michelle made a cake out of chocolate chip pancakes and be still, my breakfast loving heart.

Thalia created the prettiest white chocolates you’ve ever seen.

Alana churned out this incredible coffee halva chocolate chip ice cream.

Posie made these adorable mac and cheese muffins.

Outside of food, I tried on a lot of wedding dresses this week. If you’re ever looking for a place with good prices that will treat you like a princess, check out The Wedding Shoppe in St. Paul. They’re awesome and their dresses are unbelievably beautiful.

I need to buy myself a travel jewelry case, and this envelope organizer is too cute! Gee, you can’t tell I’m obsessed with Modcloth at all, can you?

 Finally, this sweet little guy was rescued by firefighters and received an appropriate name.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Food of the Gods (Bacon Jam)

Bacon Jam

I have to admit to you right off the bat that these photos are crap, but they’re all I’ve got since I was too busy trying to cram as much bacon jam into my mouth as I could possibly fit. I’d also intended to make some gluten free buttermilk biscuits to go along with this recipe, but that plan went out the window as soon as I took my first taste.

Bacon Jam 2

It’s like my eyes opened for the first time and I could see in color. Everything in my life has been pointless up until now, because I haven’t been making and eating this bacon jam. The food of the gods wasn’t ambrosia, it was this delicious porky spread, probably eaten on whatever they could spread it on. Honestly, I would eat a flip flop if you smeared some of this stuff on it. Half the batch ended up in my stomach in less than 10 minutes, and I can’t be bothered to feel the slightest bit of shame about it. Seriously, it’s that good. You need to go make this right this second. It takes an hour, start to finish, and requires chopping. That’s it. Why are you still standing here? Go! Make the bacon jam, and spread the gospel!

Bacon Jam 3

Bacon Jam

Adapted from Wild Greens and Sardines
1 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin strips
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
¼ cup dark coconut sugar

¼ cup grade A pure maple syrup
1/4 rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup freshly brewed (strong) coffee

½ cup water
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet, 10 to 12 minutes, until it starts to crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to drain the bacon fat), add the shallots and sauté 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the syrup, sugar, vinegar, coffee, water, and bacon. Add in the cayenne, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, 50 to 60 minutes, until the onions are well caramelized. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more water.

Cool and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse a few times until thick and chunky. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

Favorite Friday Things

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Happy Friday! This week has been so busy, and I am looking forward to relaxing a little this weekend. Between running around touring the last wedding venue, registering for my final college class ever(!!!), and working through a mountain of homework, I’ve barely had time to myself. I’m in Winona for the weekend to decompress and try to relax, although GT and I are going to attempt to pick our wedding venue so maybe relaxing isn’t going to happen! Oh well. It’s been a busy week for everyone in the blogosphere, and here are some of my favorites from this week!

Sarah made these amazing Salty Dawg cupcakes with malted milkballs and caramel. I’ll have all of them, please.

Courtney whipped up some ahi poke bowls and wrote a sweet tribute to go with them.

Megan churned up some mojito ice cream and has me dreaming of summertime.

Lindsay turned spring rolls into a noodle bowl and this is everything I want out of life. Also, she gets how I feel about fish sauce. 

Lauren baked this unbelievably tasty looking sausage and smoked mozz pizza with sweet potato bechamel. Sweet potato sauce?? Genius!!

Marcella baked up these pretty amaretto and almond tarts.

Outside of food, (actually, not really) it was my birthday last Thursday, and my mom surprised me with a cake from my favorite bakery. Angel Food does the most amazing cakes and I have no shame whatsoever in admitting that I ate half the cake by myself.

This swimsuit is covered in burgers and pretty much the only way you’d ever see me in a bikini.

These tea towels are too cute and a double pun for Parks and Rec fans.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

The Best Bread

The Best Bread

Bread is magical. Flour, salt, water, and a little yeast. Stir it together, and leave it alone on the counter for a few hours. Throw it in the oven. Boom. One of the most perfect foods that exist billows to life. Ever since my diagnosis, people have constantly asked me what I miss eating the most, and the answer is always bread. Not your supermarket Wonderbread shit. Real bread, with a crust that crackles when you squeeze it, that perfumes the house with yeast while rising, that has a chew and tang when you bite into that perfect golden slice. Gluten free bread can be pretty great, but nothing comes close to a boule of sourdough; a pain de baguette; a floury loaf of ciabatta. One of the gifts that I am grateful for is that my skin doesn’t break out when I handle wheat dough like some Celiac’s. Bread baking for me is such a cathartic, magical experience that I can’t imagine giving it up. It’s why you see so many freaking recipes for wheat bread on my blog, even though I’m a gluten free blogger. Bread calls to me, six years after I had to give it up. And so, I bake. I mix, knead, punch, pummel, and shape. I spray the inside of my oven with cold water for the perfect chewy crust, even though I won’t eat the bread. I practice my decorative slashes with a knife to make a loaf more attractive. I work on my kneading skills, until I can roll perfectly smooth dough balls with just one hand. Bread isn’t just food; it’s a way of life.

The Best Bread 2

Once I master (or come as close to mastering as my Swedish Protestant guilt will let me admit) a bread, I move on to the next one. There’s something I love about rising to meet a challenge. Yeast breads in particular have such a reputation for being finicky and difficult, but they are my favorite type of bread to make, and my favorite doughs to master. When Bon Appetit came out with their “best ever” bread recipe that took 3 days to make, I was intrigued. Fermented doughs are always a bit fiddly, so I love to mess around with them to see if I can make it work. The video immediately made me determined to master this recipe. The dough is incredibly wet and sticky, and requires literal folding and slapping of the dough because it’s too gooey to knead. It took two days to ferment in the fridge.

The Best Bread 3

All the work paid off. This is the best loaf of bread I’ve ever made. The crust is crackly, chewy, and has the telltale little bubbles under the surface. The interior is soft and tangy, with just the right amount of give. The hardest part was waiting for the bread to cool down before tearing into it. If you have patience and a little time, make this bread. It’s the best loaf you’ll ever make.

The Best Bread 4

The Best Bread

Heavily adapted from Bon Appetit

First ferment

1/8 teaspoon yeast

1 ¼ cup + 2/3 cup flour

1 ¼ cup room temperature water

Autolyse

1 ¼ cup room temperature water

3 ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon flour

Final dough stage

¼ cup + 1 teaspoon room temperature water

2 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt

Directions

 Combine yeast and room-temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Take the temperature of your kitchen—between 72° and 74° is ideal for fermentation. If your kitchen is running hot, use cool water. If it’s a bit colder, use warm water. Add the flour and mix until no dry spots remain. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until it is mature (surface will be very bubbly), 14–18 hours.

    Drop a pinch of the fermented mix into a small bowl of room-temperature water. If it floats, it’s mature, and you’re good to go. If it sinks, wait 30 minutes and test again.

    Combine the water into your first ferment dough base with a spatula. Add the flour and mix until no dry spots remain. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit 2 hours. (This ­process, called autolysis, starts to develop the all-important gluten, giving the dough structure and chew.)

    Evenly sprinkle salt over dough, then add the water and mix with dough hook on medium-low speed. The dough should start to develop a shape and cling to hook after a minute or two. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until almost all the dough clings to hook and clears the sides of the bowl, 8–12 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes to let dough relax.

    Turn out dough on a clean surface. Holding a flexible bench scraper in one hand, quickly lift dough eye-level then slap it down on surface in one swift, deliberate motion. As you propel dough downward, let it fall off the ends of your hands and fold over onto itself; the dough will be sticky, but it will want to stick to itself more than your hands. Start slowly to avoid flying dough bits, then increase the intensity of your motion as the dough starts to firm up. Slap and fold 10–12 ­minutes, occasionally scraping bits of dough from surface with bench scraper. (If you’re not slightly winded by the time the dough is ready, you’re doing it wrong.) This important step builds gluten and strengthens the dough, which helps give the ­finished loaf a nice open crumb.

    Pinch off a small piece of dough and stretch it between your thumbs and index fingers on both hands. The dough should be able to stretch thin enough to let light through without breaking. If it splits or tears, the gluten is not yet developed enough. Continue slapping and folding another 2 minutes and test again.

    Place dough in a large clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit 30 minutes. Starting from one side, use a bench scraper to lift edge of dough, stretching it up and out of the bowl at least 12″ and shaking back and forth to encourage lengthening, then fold back onto itself. Rotate the bowl 90°. Repeat stretching process 3 more times, rotating the bowl after each turn. Cover and rest another 30 minutes. Repeat process 2 more times, resting dough 30 minutes in between each full turn. (This rebuilds gluten and feeds the yeast during fermentation.) Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, 30–60 minutes. Dough should look puffed and bubbly on the surface.

    To test if your dough is fermented, poke it with an oiled finger. The dough should spring back slowly but still hold a slight indentation.

    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured (use all-purpose) surface and do a final series of 4 folds, bringing edges into the center. Turn dough over, using bench scraper to help you, so seam side is down. Lightly dust with more flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest until dough is puffed and surface is dotted with a few bubbles, 20–50 minutes.

    Line a 9″ round colander with a clean kitchen towel and dust towel with an even layer of rice flour.

    Uncover dough and dust with a bit more all-purpose flour. Use bench scraper to push edges of dough toward the center to gather into a ball. Cup scraper and free hand around far side of dough and gently pull ball toward you, dragging dough several inches across work ­surface and rotating slightly. Repeat dragging motion several times, occasionally moving dough back to center of surface. The friction against the surface will help tighten the gluten over the dough, creating a smooth dome. Lightly flour top of dough, turn over with bench scraper, and quickly transfer, seam side up, to prepared colander; cover with ­plastic. Chill 1–2 days. The ­longer the bread sits, the more complex the flavor will be, but don’t chill longer or the yeast may die.

    Place an oven rack in lower third of oven and set a 3½–5½-qt. Dutch oven in center of rack ( I used my cast iron, enamel coated dutch oven). Preheat your oven to 450°. Let pot preheat at least 40 minutes. (If the handle on the lid is made of ­plastic, unscrew, remove, and plug hole with a small piece of foil.)

    Uncover your dough. Cut a round of parchment paper so it’s slightly larger than dough; place on a large dinner plate, and dust with cornmeal. Remove pot from oven and set on stovetop.

    Working on stove next to Dutch oven, flip the dough onto the parchment covered plate. Use a sharp paring knife, razor blade, or brand new box cutter to cut slashes in the dough in a design, cutting ½ inch deep into the dough. Use quick strokes. Working quickly and wearing mitts on both hands, slide dough and parchment into center of pot. Cover pot and bake bread 15 minutes. Remove lid and ­continue to bake, rotating pot halfway through, until crust is very well done—approaching the edge of burnt—30–40 minutes. Carefully ­transfer bread to a wire rack. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove parchment. Let the bread cool for at least an hour to let the starches set.