Egg Creams and a GIVEAWAY here-what?!

4 Oct

IMG_0471.JPG
I’m actually not lying to you when I say it’s the best. I don’t know why I said “actually” as I never lie. Hence the lack of product endorsement on my blog.

But there is a stevia product out there that is the best. Actually it is the only one I find tolerable. Which could mean that it is still crap, except that it is not. It’s good.

I am speaking to you of NuNaturals products. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is real. In fact it is so sweet that you can only use teensy tiny bits of it to sweeten things-hence why it is calorie free. The one problem I have with all the other stevia sweeteners is that they are hella bitter. But I first got into NuNaturals when I tried some of their liquid stevia sweetener and found it was just sweet. No bitter. Whee!

Do not mistake me. This is not a total sugar substitute for me. I will never leave sugar completely, but I am a sugar addict so all I’m saying is I want us to have an open relationship.

I confess I get a huge kick out of getting to try new things for free. I promise I won’t share with you any of these things that don’t deserve to be shared. However I gladly would share NuNaturals so imagine my girlish squeal when I opened my email and saw this:

“We have recently introduced some additional new items that I would love for you to try. We are very excited about our NEW INDUSTRY FIRST, STEVIA BASED, ” O ” CALORIE, SUGAR-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, COCOA SYRUP , SIMPLE SYRUP, & COCOA MINT SYRUP.”

OOOOOHHHH free kitchen toys! Ones I am behind.
Vitamix I am looking at you.

And I get to host a blimey GIVEAWAY!!!! Yes you, you too could try this stuff and MOOOORRRRE! Details at the bottom of the post.

In the meantime I had actually been playing around with the venerable beverage known as an egg cream which has neither eggs nor cream and I had never tried before this year so I couldn’t vouch for “venerable” but I figured why not plug my new syrups into the equation? Ps in this equation 2+3=6

This is NOT a classic NYC diner version. More like a Beverly Hills post-spin class one? Not that I would know. There are a gajillion different versions of an egg cream out there and I had never even had one before so had no gauge. Also I’m using stevia syrup so I gave up on trying for authentic long ago. I just went whole vegan hog and made this a ridiculously LA drink. I used an alt mylk. Which is to say almond milk. The only way this could get more classic LA would be if I garnished with a kale chip, which you are welcome to do, but I wouldn’t.

Here’s my alt drink which surprised me in its tastiness. I found myself craving one days later, which is my marker for if a recipe is worth sharing. You could use regular milk and syrup in this if you like but I don’t know if the proportions would need to be different. Fortunately, this is a drink you can keep adding to until it is mixed to your liking. Much like us LA people alter menu items until no longer recognizable as their original version. But if you do tinker with this and end up drinking a bacon-infused tomato toddy, please don’t tell people it is an egg cream.

Then again, perhaps you could. After all, this is the drink that has NOTHING to do with its name.

Classic Los Angeles Egg Cream
2 Tbsp. nunaturals chocolate syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
club soda, to taste
Add your milk and syrup to a glass and give them a stir. Top off with as much club soda as you deem fit. Enjoy. Easy peasy.

Okay, the giveaway! Here is what you win:

( 1 ) one bottle of the Cherry Vanilla Stevia Liquid,
unnamed-3
a 50 pkt box of our NuStevia White Stevia Powder packets,
unnamed-4
PLUS a bottle of our NEW COCOA SYRUP
unnamed
& a bottle of our NEW SIMPLE SYRUP.
unnamed-2
Each of your 4 winners will receive the complete product selection of all 4 items with the retail value of $ 55.00 , PLUS A FREE BONUS PRODUCT!

And I was advised to tell ya, you can get a discount on the webpage: http://www.nunaturals.com
Here’s how Ron the sugar-free poppa (ironic since he is my sugar papa when it comes to these products and…oh, sugar free…haha I get it) says to get it:

“When they get to our checkout page they should enter the DISCOUNT CODE ; BLG1214 and they will receive – 15% DISCOUNT on their ENTIRE ORDER. ( excluding any other discounts ) This discount remains EFFECTIVE UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2014. Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding $35.00 after discounts.”

If you try it and dig it you can like em’ up on ye olde Facebook page.

TO ENTER
So here is whatcha do: I am thinking of a number between 0 and 1000. Leave me a comment with what number you think it is. Whoever guesses closest wins. If someone guesses one above and one person guesses one below the higher number wins. If more than one person think of the right number I will put their names in a hat (or bowl or jar that remains to be determined) and draw. I know I am asking you to trust me on this but…why would I lie about stevia?

Contest is open a month until October 24th, midnight PST.

Green, not with envy

22 Sep

IMG_0263.JPG
Ohmygod life right now. Whereas I spent a good chunk of this year envying everyone who didn’t have disaster crashing down on there heads-did I tell you about my collapsing ceiling? I had an entire ceiling collapse of its own accord earlier this year.
IMG_2732
I counted myself as lucky that I wasn’t in the room when it happened but it still sucked. And I wasn’t getting enough jobs and a potential book deal didn’t end up happening and there was briefly a boy and just as quickly not one (silly boy) and so on.

Things always do improve though at some point. The last couple of months have been fantastic. Although initially distraught when one of my two improv teams broke up, suddenly we had the time to shoot all the films n such we’d been wanting to make. So we did shoot a bunch of shorts and several weeks ago I got to be a goth vampire. It was really delightful fun:

IMG_0279.JPG

I realize I don’t look like I’m having fun. I was trying to make fun of that silly model pose. Where they suck in their stomach like they need to or something. As if. Blech.

I also got to play a heroin addict in a web series but I will spare you the pictures of how incredibly disgusting I spent my days on set being. Let’s just say there were track marks, massive bruises, and…greasy, greasy, GREASY stringy hair. Anytime I sit down to get my hair done on set and the stylist starts with “now, the way I rat your hair it’ll be easy to untangle”, it is a bad sign. Because the day will end with me ripping out masses of hair that won’t come un-ratted. But the pain (inner and outer) was worth it. I hadn’t played a dramatic role in a while and it sho nuff filled me up.

On the food front I am starting to get more cookbooks sent to me by publicists to write about in my Hello Giggles column. I’m pleased to report the most popular review yet was about Savory Pies, written by Greg Henry magnificent Sippity Sup….night swimming. I became even more a fan when he invited me to join The Table Set for a little Nightswimming and drinks n nibbles with him and the Set. They are positively as lovely to hang out with in person as they are to insert in my earholes. It’s a podcast people. Get out of your filthy heads.

Earlier this weekend I shot a spec episode this lil’ show I came up with called Girls on Girls. I could explain how it isn’t SO dirty but I’d rather let your filthy minds wander where they need to. Until we get picked up.

So right now, needing a new agent, sans romance, not dipping where I’d like to be on that silly imdb star rating…I’m not so bothered by it.

What am I bothered by? The distress I felt the other day as I combed grocery store after grocery store in search of my beloved rainbow chip frosting. Which apparently is now a rainbow sprinkles frosting. Fucking sprinkles. I do not believe in sprinkles-either the vulgar-tasting frosting maggots or the cupcake store. Cupcakes, along with sprinkles, can go to heck. What I like I a good SLICE of blimey CAKE on a PLATE! With a FORK! Wow. Wanna get me riled up? Just start talking cupcake smack. Blech again. UGh. Sorry. Walking it off.

I now will let you eat cake.

Green Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream adapted from 75th Anniversary The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
For the Cake:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (which means sift a bunch first, then measure it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk (or whatever your brand says is the equivalent to one cup of buttermilk-if you have real buttermilk you can leave this out)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, whisked together
1 tsp. vanilla, whisked with the eggs
1 cup water (or, if you left out the powdered buttermilk, use real buttermilk here and don’t try to use regular milk-it lacks the acidity you need)
about a Tbsp. food coloring
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Get all your ingredients out of the fridge, you want them around 70 degrees before starting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, or butter them.
For the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk powder (if using) and cocoa powder.

Beat the butter until it is good and creamy. Keep the speed high and slowly add in the sugar. Make sure it is nice and fluffy before proceeding. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla. Now turn your mixer to low. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the water or buttermilk and all the food coloring-I just dripped in the color until I was satisfied with how it looked. Then beat in another third of the flour mixture and the second half of the water. You may need to scrape down the bowl some. Beat in the last third of the flour. Beat it good. Divide it between the pans and bake 25-35 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans in the oven midway to so they cook evenly. You know your cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Well there may be a crumb or two, you just don’t want it coated in batter. Start testing early because you really don’t want to over bake this.
For the frosting:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar carefully. No sugar blizzards please. Beat in the irish cream until you have a nice consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, ya frost. Yeah cake.

shake it, get down, and misinterpretation. and a shake.

5 Sep

IMG_0351.JPG
For once I did not try to change it. This easily alterable recipe. I went with the flow. It worked REALLY well. What do you know?

Which is not to say I don’t have ideas. Ideas which may happen with the leftover recipe components. But I gave this base, depraved, vile-in-spirit recipe a whirl, and it held up. Really blimey well. So well I wanted it the next night. Then again I find that things involving sugar and alcohol usually hold up solidly in the face of adversity.
Who does not love a shake that can be consumed with a spoon therefore rendering the cup unserviceable when a bowl is nearby?

I’m trying to flow more, generally. Not sweat “the small stuff”. Just do it. Whatever it is. Which changes a lot although pretty soon a brainchild of mine that has been festering in my noggin’ for over a year may just spring forth as vibrantly as Athena from Zeus’ head, and nearly as wise. Less angry.

That was cryptic. More details when it actually has happened.

This recipe makes a boatload of cubes of the recipe base, which are then blended in batches with Kahlua. I know, I know, it sounds so gauche. Gauche comes in large quantities though. So I have leftover cubes of the base to try some variations that I have in mind. Perhaps amaretto would be nice. Or adding in some cinnamon. I’m gonna play with the leftover cubes. However! That is not because I wasn’t fully sated with the recipe just exactly as Bon Appetit told me to make it. Well-what BA told me for the base of the drink anyway. I did not have the stuff for the whipped cream recipe, so I didn’t do that. I suppose that means I was still controlling things, but I just don’t think anything can replace the joy of jetting oodles of Reddi-wip (which I just now realized was “wip”, not “whip”) on top of the shake and into my mouth.

I know, you may be tempted to “make it better” and use something instead of my chosen Reddi-whip. But how about trusting me, the one you trust and tolerate, to guide you? This gauche-ness is good. for once I did not try to change it. I went with the flow. It worked. What do you know?

Kahlua Shake adapted (read, cut in half)from Bon Appetit
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 plus 3/4 cup H2O
1 cup half and half
6 Tbsp. Kahlua (2 per drink)
Whisk sugar, espresso powder, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the water. Place over medium-high heat, then whisk and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts to boil. Take off the heat and add remaining water and the half and half. Pour into something with a spout. Like a pitcher or a measuring cup. Pour into ice cube trays. I got 28 cubes. Freeze.
However many cubes you end up with, take 1/3 of them (math!), put in a blender (despite my love of immersion blenders, this still makes me long for a Vita-mix), and add 2 Tbsp. Kahlua and blend, blendy blend. Top with whipped cream. Delight. Spoon. Straw? Nah. Spoon.

Yet MORE Pie

4 Aug

IMG_0125

I can’t stop. I just keep posting pie. I am on a crust quest. Both for the perfect basic crust and the perfect frito crust.

It is very important to have ambitions.

Some of my acting goals are getting met at the moment-I start on a web series this week (playing a heroin addict!) and a short I wrote and am acting in is getting produced. So I feel as the metaphorical dessert for my acting repast, I can give pie a sliver of brain space.

They say it is important to not make grand sweeping goals without the accompanying actions you must take to achieve them. So, “win kcrw pie contest” is not a good goal. “Have intercourse with Trent Reznor” is not a good goal either, but for other reasons.

“Get together with pie fanatics to taste-test new crust recipes” is a good goal. It is achievable and gives a concrete course of action. I did that recently. I now have a new base recipe and a couple ideas of tweaks for the next round of crust. That taste-test get-together was just that: a small get-together. What was NOT small was the last pie event I held with my co-hosts Alice and Joel.

photo-37

Indulge me as I regale you with tales of the last pie party. Joel HAS achieved the “win kcrw pie contest” goal. He won for best savory pie. Of course now he wants to win both the savory and crust categories so he can have a shot at the coveted “Best in Show”. He offered to help host, since he has a whole dang house with ample parking. Alice and I gladly took him up on that. So as not to step on my pie glory he contributed an apple tart. Then he decided to make a tortilla español. And to use his grill to make paella too. Alice made a cherry-ginger sangria, and one involving bell peppers that was bloody delicious.

I made another version of my southwest purple potato pie, and the first stab at a dual-crusted upscale frito pie. And then just cause I’m nutty decided I really wanted to make the this recipe I had been ogling for some time.

I was quite scared of how things would pan out for the frito pie. It was really only the second time I have concocted a pie all on my own. This monstrosity has a regular bottom crust, a spicy black bean and mushroom filling, and a top crust with involving Fritos that have been ground up, as well as regular and corn flour and butter. In an ideal world I would have gotten my hands on some huitlacoche but I’ve yet to locate any. If anyone has a source for corn smut, I want to know! So I’m still working on the frito pie. It’s a dang tasty thing though. And a lot of folks cited it as their favorite of the night.

And a lot of folks there were! Our pie parties have grown from tiny, to a group of five learning about crust, to having more teaching plus a matching cocktail, to having two matching cocktails, to having a dark side and a large group, to this July’s MASSIVE pie, paella, and sangria FEAST, with around 30 guests.

It was an epic night. It was a beautiful night. It was a filling night.

When I finally perfect the frito pie I will tell you more about it. Same with the purple potato pie. In the meantime, the cherry streusel one was already perfection, compliments of those wacky people at Bon Appetit.

And in case all this is not enough pie for you, check out what I am proud to say is my most popular Hello Giggles column yet. I am particularly happy because I was writing about Greg‘s amazing Savory Pies cookbook and the potato-crusted macaroni and cheese pie.

But first, dessert!

Cherry Streusel Pie adapted from July 2005 Bon Appetit
Crust: I made a butter rendition, but as I mentioned I am still tweaking it. Here is a very basic, reliable, and (I think) tasty crust recipe I frequently use. You can also read there why I sometimes think a shortening crust is preferred.
Filling:
1 scant cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 14.5 oz. cans sour cherries. Most of the liquid strained.
dash almond extract (my addition)

Streusel:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet lined with foil below this rack, if you fear spills. As you should.

Line your pie pan with your crust and put it in the freezer. Mix the first four filling ingredients. Add cherries and almond extract and stir. Allow to sit ten minutes.

Mix all dry ingredients for the streusel. Add the butter and vanilla and use your fingers to get a nice pebble-like consistence.

Pour the filling into the crust. Top with the streusel. Put it on the middle oven rack and bake about 20 minutes then tent foil over the top to keep the streusel from burning. Bake until the streusel is golden and and the filling bubbly, around 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack.

Nancy is THE best

15 Jul

20140715-224936-82176488.jpg

I almost do not want to tell you about The Copper Still. But I will. It deserves attention. Nancy deserves attention.

Nancy Kwon is Los Angeles’ best bartender AND best mixologist. I stand behind this opinion and anyone who challenges me should pay her a visit. Being a good bartender and a good mixologist are not the same thing. Nancy is also hella hot (and yet told me not to have pictures of her in this post), warm-hearted, brilliant, and prefers her Sazerac heavy on the absinthe rinse which makes her a woman after my own heart.

Oh hell she is not after it. She has it.

Just take a look at what is behind the bar. She has a collection of booze and bitters I could spend a month exploring. And on any given night she is experimenting and having people taste to help her perfect her next drink. For instance last night I saw a plate out with various little piles of salt. She was trying to determine which smoked salt was the best rimming mix for the mescal drink she was developing. I’d be impressed just at the smoked salt. But she gets so detail oriented that she had to choose which type of smoked salt to use.

This tiny lil’ unassuming Koreatown joint is easy to miss. It is attached to Jaragua, which is not. But through a curtain in the bar is indeed the restaurant which serves its creations late. It is a pretty tiny place. It is dark and red and black, and welcoming and not toooooo loud.

And here is a kicker: there is a parking lot. Which is too bad considering I would avoid driving here if I want more than one drink. All the same. Parking! I swoon, I faint, I would knight this bar if I were Queen of England. Which would be weird.
The Copper Still
4485 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Chocolate Pecan Tart

24 Jun

20140226-134131.jpg

Seeing as the next of my epic pie parties is scheduled for next month and I still haven’t given you the tart recipe from the last one (although I more than repaid you in giving the horchata cocktail, methinks) I thought it was high time to post this.

Acting is getting busy AGAIN! Just look at my star ranking, haha. Super.

Exciting Moment in Improv

Exciting Moment in Improv

Between acting and improv (which as you see from above frequently ends with me splayed out on the floor) and this lil’ column I’ve got my hands full. You should click all those links. Because the other thing keeping me so busy is self-promotion. Haha, again. Sort of. I jest. Or do I? Even I do not know.

So let us discuss the edibles. This pie is like a giant hunk of candy. It looks pretty, it tastes like dark sunshine (the kind with antioxidants) and is much easier than you would surmise. It is one of those things I made on a whim first when I was probably not even a teen yet. If I recall correctly we bought just enough cream to make it. My dad was helping me and the two of us burnt the cream. We had to wait until we could go back to the store the next day and get more cream to finish it.

But it was so blimey good I’ve held on to and repeated the recipe many a time since the Great Cream Incident of Nine-ty Something-or-Another.

Do make this. Don’t be me and get behind on your pie. It’s important.

Chocolate Pecan Tart adapted from Bon Appetit (from their RSVP section so they got it from a restaurant I know not any longer which one though because I wrote it down and tossed the magazine long ago)
2 cups pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. Semisweet chocolate
Heat oven to 325. In a food processor blend nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Add butter and blend until mixed. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a re moveable bottom or follow my lead and line a 9-inch pan with foil so you can lift out and unmold your tart later. Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop chocolate. Bring cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Pour into tart crust, removing cinnamon stick. Put in fridge to chill. Unmold before serving.

Too darned good again, I never learn my lesson

1 Jun

IMG_2468I initially made the basis for today’s edibles when I had just delved into the sordid underbelly of food blogs. Hence the shabbier than shabby pictures, and lack of recipes in many of my early posts.
My friend Maurice lived for those cakes, which originally were made with potato. He is an awesome friend. Also my acting partner in crime as we get together and help each other prep for auditions and such. Then we don’t feel so alone like the tortured artists we are. Ennui, etc…Being as such, I will make (almost) anything for him. And I let him finish the original batch of these cakes. I should have made more, as he kept asking for the “things with kelp”. He is now more than well schooled in kale, fortunately or not.
I didn’t get a chance to share my butternut squash version of these with him because again, they were TOO DARNED delicious and I devoured them all.
Butternut Kale Cakes adapted from this recipe in the January 2011 Bon Appetit
For Cakes:
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil spray
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. minced garlic (I used jarred)
8 lacinato kale leaves, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. dried powdered thyme
dash nutmeg
For Rouille:
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
Heaping dashes of cayenne and paprika OR Sriracha
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Mash up the squash with the buttah, 1/4 tsp. salt, and some pepper. Heat olive oil spray over medium then sauté the onion until softened. Add kale, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and sage and sauté until the kale is wilted and all liquid has evaporated. Stir into the squash with the thyme, nutmeg, and more pepper if you like. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 20 minutes on one side then gently flip and cook 20-30 minutes more. These are delicate. If you like broil for maybe one minute to get a bit crispy on the outside. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix up rouille ingredients. That was difficult. Hot or cold, these are grand.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers