Last day, yo!

Well this is it, kids.
My last day of school. Potentially ever. It’s been a long, rough year here, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Oregon Culinary Institute has taught me so much, and has helped me grow more than I ever thought school could. I’ve made some amazing friends, and done some incredible things. I’ve put in more 16 hour days than I ever thought possible. I’ve worked for months straight without a day off. I’ve volunteered for fantastic events, met famous chefs, and acquired two solid jobs thanks to the training and opportunity presented to me through them.

I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve fallen asleep in class. I’e walked out of class. I’ve worked myself to tears, and through it all I’ve received nothing but support from all of my chef instructors and fellow students.
It’s been one of the best years of my life, and I know it’ll only get better from here.

Thanks, OCI. It’s been fun! ❤

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The Foods That Helped me Grow

So in my second to last class at Oregon Culinary Institute, I had to do a project about a food subject that interested me. Stumped for ideas, I ended up creating a short blog about the different foods that had helped shape my passion for the culinary world, and why they meant so much to me.

Anyways, it’s alittle cheesy, but I s’pose also not a terrible read.

If you want to take a look at it, I guess you could click Here.

Home made Hippy-sauce

So I was at my local produce stand a few days ago, picking out a few of the last not-from-storage granny smith apples Portland will see for awhile, when the guy who seems to be currently running the joint looks up from hauling out a new flat of apples and says “Hey lady, I’ll give you a case of those right now for five bucks! I need to get rid of ’em. Or hell, you could even do half those and half them pears that’re on their way out. What do ya say?”.

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..Well. Needless to say, I said YES!, and away I walked with about 25 lbs of crisp, tart apples, and probably 15 lbs of lightly bruised, super sweet pears.
As they sat in my apartment for the next few days, filling my kitchen with the sweet, crisp scent of fall, I realized that I needed a quick solution to the 40 lbs of slowly-going-spotty-fruit, the idea for Hippy Sauce was born.

Hippy Sauce

What You Need:

  • 10 lbs of Apples
  • 5 lbs of Pears (very ripe ones work best)
  • about 1/2 a cup of Honey
  • about 1 cup of water
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of molassas (depending on personal taste)
  • a few tbsp (2-4?) fresh ground Cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp each freshly grated Nutmeg, Allspice, and Cloves

Now, bear in mind that this recipe is very subjective. The amount of honey will vary on not only how sweet you like your apple sauce, but also what type of apple you’re using, and how sweet (read, over-ripe) your pears are. Anyways…

1. Peel about 1/2 of your apples and pears.
2. Core all (peeled and unpeeled), and cut into big chunks (1/4ths – 1/6ths).
3. Throw into a big stock pot (I used a 10 quart) with about a cup of water (just enough to moisten the bottom of the stock pot).
4. Bring liquds in pot to a gentle boil, then cover with a lid and let simmer on med-low for about a half hour.
5. Add honey, molassas, and spices (to taste). Stir, and let simmer until apples and pears are soft and starting to lose their forms (my personal favorite) or longer, if you prefer a soft and uniform applesauce.
6. Mash lightly and enjoy! (or blend with a hand-blender, or in a mixer if you’re one of those that doesn’t like chunky sauce..)

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Cheesecake. ‘Nuff said.

When I was younger I hated cheesecake. I hated the whole idea. I didn’t understand how a cake made from cheese could ever be anything but disgusting. In my mind I envisioned white cake, layered with cheddar and swiss.

Just the thought made my stomach turn.

I’ve learned my lesson since then. Ah, the years of cheesecake induced bliss I went without… It’s a damn shame. While I can never get those years back, I can ensure enjoyment for all my future years (and yours, too!) with this simple recipe.

I love this recipe. It was taught to me by my friend Sarah during a fantastically boozy summer spent in San Diego, and it is very easily adapted to whatever you want.

The Best Basic Cheesecake

Yield: 1, 9-10″ spring-form pan

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers*
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I prefer Honeymaid. I know they’re more expensive, but I really do think it’s worth it.

Filling

  • 3 packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

For crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all crust ingredients together and press into the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Let cool before filling.

For cheesecake!

  1. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Bring cream cheese, eggs, and butter up to room temp (70-75 degrees). This is very important. If the ingredients aren’t warm, they will not mix properly.
  3. Combine cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer at medium speed (or by hand, if you’re kitchen isn’t big enough to hold an electric mixer.. *sigh*) until totally Incorporated, but not fluffy.* Remember to scrape down the sides of your bowl, or you will end up with chunky cheesecake.
  4. When cream cheese and butter are fully creamed, turn the mixer to med-low and pour in your sugar.
  5. Add your eggs, one at a time, mixing each until almost fully Incorporated.
  6. Add your salt and vanilla.
  7. Pour batter onto par-baked crust, and bake approx 70 minutes, or until cheesecake is set.**
  8. Cool to room temp to avoid cracking, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Enjoy chilled. This recipe is delicious alone, with berries, or with a chocolate or caramel sauce.

*the more air that is whipped into the batter, the more the cheesecake will rise while baking, and the less even and gorgeous it will look when it’s done. The goal is to incorporate all ingredients fully, but not to make the batter fluffy, so mix as little as possible.

**cake will still be soft, but should move as one when jiggled, rather like jell-o.

Additions and Subtractions

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is how versatile it is… For instance.

  • If you halve the vanilla and add in 1 tbsp both lemon juice and zest, you end up with a delicious lemon cheesecake.
  • Or, you can swirl your favorite fruit preserves or homemade compote into the top of the batter for a lovely touch of fruit.
  • For the chocolate lover, If you melt like 1/2 cup of dark chocolate and then whisk it together with 1 cup of the batter, you can turn your cheesecake into a chocolate swirl cheesecake…

Really, the possibilities are endless, so play around!! The worst that’ll happen is you’ll have to make more cheesecake 😉

Ginger Hot Toddy

**Alright, this is the last drink recipe for a while (promise!) but it’s just so good I had to share.**

It’s cold season here in Portland, and with the constant drizzle and low temperatures it’s a wonder the entire population hasn’t been reduced to a sniffling, wheezing mass! Hot Toddy’s are notorious for keeping the snuffle monster away (or helping to beat him about the head if he’s already invaded).

This beverage promises to warm you up, calm you down, sooth your throat, and help you sleep! All whilst being absolutely delicious. In fact, it’s just what the doctor ordered. So grab a cup and enjoy 😉

Ginger Hot Toddy

yield: 1 mug

What you Need:

  • Your favorite mug*
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
  • 1 slice lemon (optional)
  • 1/2-1″ thinly sliced, peeled ginger root
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 2 shots of your favorite Brandy or Bourbon **
  • Boiling Water
  1. In a large mug combine  honey, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and thinly sliced ginger.
  2. Add 2 ounces brandy, fill with boiling water and top with a lemon slice.
  3. Let steep for 3-5 minutes and enjoy!

*This is important for maximum satisfaction and coziness!

**or any whiskey, rum, or tasty dark alcohol, I s’pose. But I like it best with brandy 🙂

The Original Sidecar

After buying brandy for my Spiked Apple Cider and then using it for my Ginger Hot Toddy, I still seemed to have an excess of brandy….

So, I did what anyone might – mixed it with some other liquor, threw in some lemon, and served it over ice.

I was all excited to serve this drink to my roommate, because it was mine, and it was awesome.. but of course he took a sip and said “Oh! Good sidecar, yo!” …so apparently it’s not mine originally at all. However, I did rediscover it for sure, and it’s tasty enough to share 🙂

Sidecar

Yield: 1 Beverage (I usually double this)

What You Need:

  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 fluid ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 fluid ounce triple sec
  • 1 fluid ounce brandy
  • 1 lemon wedge (for garnish)

How To:

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Pour in lemon juice, triple sec, and brandy.
  3. Stir garnish with a wedge of lemon, and serve.

Apple Cider with a little spirit~!

Alright. I may have gone off on a beverage kicker.

I think I’m just going to make this week a tribute to Portland Cocktail Week, which I would highly recomend to anyone looking for something fun to do this week. Sadly, my schedule does not match up with the rest of the worlds, so for now i will continue to enjoy my beverages at home, and go to bed by eight.

Anyways.

Hot spiked cider is similar to mulled wine, and just as satisfying. It’s got the heavy spices and sweet, fresh goodness of cider, with the lovely addition of Laird’s Applejack apple brandy. Mmmm.. It warm’s the soul.

This recipe is a compilation of several various recipes found online, and I find it supremely satisfying ❤

Spirited Apple Cider

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3-5 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 6 cups apple cider*
  • 2 oz orange juice or 1/2-1 oz lemon juice**
  • 3 1″ x 2″ strips of orange or lemon zest***
  • 2-4 tbsp honey****
  • 1 cup Laird’s Applejack Brandy, or a brandy of your choosing
* Unfiltered, locally pressed apple cider is my favorite :”] If, however, you don’t have access to this, Trader Joe’s has a delicious cider on sale this week.
**Use orange juice for a sweeter, mellower edge, use lemon to add a bit more tang. Adjust juice level to preference.
***Acquire this by peeling the outside a whole orange or lemon with a vegetable peeler. This will remove the zest without leaving the bitter white pith.
****Use less if the cider is very sweet, more if the cider is very dry.
 
How To:
  1. Melt your butter in a medium saucepan on a low heat. You are not trying to brown your butter. You’re not even trying to get close to browning your butter.
  2. Add your cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, and peppercorns to the butter. Toast, tossing occasionally, until the aroma of the spices fills your kitchen (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add your cider and orange or lemon juice, zest, and honey and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat, strain, and add brandy.
  5. Serve in hot beverage glasses, garnished with a cinnamon stick and a dash of cardamom.
  6. Enjoy ❤