Friday, August 22, 2014

Whole Wheat Cookies

Quenching our 
sweet thirst.
Do you remember when L.A. was a dessert desert? When a few sparse bakeries that baked from scratch existed, and took an hour to get to in traffic? We've come a long way, sweet babies, and we have a handful of people to thank for it.

I had the great pleasure. Nope. Let me rephrase this. I spent an evening pinching myself. I sat next to, across from and in shared space with bakers and food mavens I have admired for a decade. Transformative folks whose vision, above all else, is to elevate this city's sweet palate and teach us the ways of the craft. We talked bread, grain, chocolate, beer and the future. For the record, the future looks really, really yummy.

We have loved hosting some of L.A.'s best pastry chefs in our kitchen, and this year, we thought we would invite them to teach the next generation of bakers. This fall, our Pro Pastry Series will be enhanced with guest Chef Instructors, from Evan Kleiman for our Pro Pastry 1 Pie class (morningsor evenings) to Cooks County's Roxana Jullapat as our Pro Pastry 3 Puff Pastry master. Our Pro Pastry 2 students will get a class with our favorite confectioner Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections.

So what now? Who is going to take it to the next level? Culinary students? Bloggers, bakers and tinkerers? You?
In the spirit of baking forward, we've got another recipe using the newest stone-ground, whole grain locally grown wheat. Our handful of Pro Pastry Intensive students were given a bag of whole grain flour at the farmers market yesterday with a challenge: Bake these cookies using Kim Boyce'schocolate chip cookies from Good to the Grain. Use good, dark chocolate. Um, ok.  

Whole Wheat Cookies 
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

Place the bowl of a stand mixer:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (preferably unbleached)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)

Set aside:
2 eggs
1 tsp fine sea salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or pecans (optional)

Whisk together in a small bowl:
2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (whole grain, stone ground is best)
1-1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1. Cream the butter and sugars until lighter in color. Most recipes call for the butter to be room temperature, but straight out of the fridge will do so long as you cream it well.
2. Add the eggs and salt and combined until smooth. Add the chocolate (and nuts, if desired), and mix for a moment until combined.
3. Add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix until just combined.
4. Scoop onto parchment-paper lined cookie sheets at least 2" apart. Bake at 350 until just golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and let them finish baking and cooling on the cookie sheet.

Wishing you a delicious day, 
Clémence and Hadley 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Easy Granola

The Gourmandise School Logo
 The Gourmandise School  
 Sweets and Savories

Get your bag into it.
Drat. Hooray! 

The back to school bittersweet blues have arrived. Yes, waking up early to get kids out of bed is a drag, but no, we won't miss the i'm-bored-no-structure-who's-coming-to-the-beach-today-i'm-hungry nonsense. Summer is winding down and we're easing into a familiar routine.

The secret to consistent cooking at home is planning. And just to be clear, I hate planning (it's mostly the thought that someone thinks I should plan that puts me off, but that's for another email). So let's think of them as strategies. Keep a pantry stocked with a few essentials, and then let your hair down at the farmers market or grocery store and pick out whatever strikes your culinary fancy. Have beans and onions? Grab leeks, carrots and a little uncured bacon for a stew that you'll serve over rice, with polenta, or as a breakfast burrito (or all three if you make enough). Have a half a bottle of vinaigrette? Pick up a bag of potatoes, roast 'em, cool and toss them with the dressing, or grate 4 carrots and a beet and let them sit overnight with the vinaigrette for a salad that tests better after a day of rest.  

Better yet? Give yourself a day of rest. Or two. Spend two hours a couple nights a week with your haul of produce and make a few dishes. Label them and conduct your lunch packing and dinner operations from the couch, instructing the tired, homework-avoiding crews to warm up, toss or scoop your strategic planning by pointing to the fridge. Remind them of the cardinal rule: (s)he who does the cooking doth not do the dishes. If you need some inspiration for these meals, we've got a class for that. Hadley just posted her Healthy and Fast Fall Meals and Gill Boyd's Pro Chef series begins in a couple of weeks.

And with that, we'd like to serve you our favorite do-ahead breakfast-or-snack meal: Granola. Make it your own, adding anything from currants to chocolate and coconut. We make a big batch once a month and fill tiny 4 ounce jars, stacking them in the pantry for an easy tossing into backpacks.

Place in a large bowl:
4 cups rolled oats
Assorted fruits and nuts of your liking

Place in a small pot:
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
4 ounces unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
1 cup honey
2 Tbsps brown sugar

Set aside:
2/3 cup olive oil
2 egg whites, whisked
1/2 cup chopped mixed chocolate (roughly chopped, not too small)

I find that two extra cups of nuts and 1 cup dried fruits work best:
-Hazelnuts, Almonds and Currants
-Pistachios, Golden Raisins and Dried Apricots
-Pine nuts, Rosemary and Dried Apricots, finely chopped
-Coconut, Macadamia nut and Dried Mangos

1. In a large bowl, toss your oats, nuts and dried fruits together.
2. Bring the butter, honey and brown sugar to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in the oil, salt and vanilla.
3. Whisk your egg whites just to get them foamy.
4. Pour the butter mixture over the oatmeal and mix with a wooden spoon until coated.  Using your hands (it helps to add a little bit of oil to your hands), fold in the egg whites, making sure they are well incorporated (this helps form clusters).
5. Pour onto parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 250, stirring once or twice for even browning, for 40-50 minutes, or until everything is evenly toasted.
6. Once cooled, add in your chocolate, if desired. 

Wishing you a delicious day, 
Clémence and Hadley 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Your pick of peppers.

The Gourmandise School Logo
 The Gourmandise School  
 Sweets and Savories

Your pick of peppers.
Forget funnel cake, fried candy bars and popcorn. Peppers are here, and we're loving them roasted, toasted, broiled, fried, on a stick, in a cone and on the grill. They're a full meal kind of food, especially when they're stuffed. Don't believe us? Visit Alex Weiser's stand next Wednesday, where he'll be roasting them in his barrel, along with the best okra this side of the South (except maybe the fried ones from the Ace hotel downtown). 

Before you fill your bag with mystery peppers, be sure to ask which are mild, spicy and shoot-t0-kill. Pasillas are on the hot side of mild and easy to stuff, smaller and thinner than Poblanos, but you can use either for this recipe. If you're going to use a larger pepper, double the filling ingredients, and no matter which pepper you go with, be sure to wash your hands before rubbing your eyes after scraping the insides. Please.

Hadley's inspiration this week came from a unique dinner party being thrown by Dinner Lab on the 14th. Their take on Mexican cuisine, an ode to the Michoacan region and supporting Mexico Unido, will be presented by 6 local chefs, from Jason Fullilove to Francisco Guzman. Book your tickets now- have you seen the menu!?

Fresh Corn-stuffed Pasilla Peppers
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as an appetizer 

1 tbsp olive oil
2 ears corn, grated, with juices 
1/2 yellow onion, diced 
1 carrot, grated 
1 cup spinach 
2oz (1/2 cup) Jack Cheese 
1/2 tsp salt. 

2 pasilla peppers
1 oz Queso Fresco 
2 tbsps cilantro
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes until tender and translucent. 
2. Add corn with juices and cook down for 1 minute until liquid evaporates. 
3. Add carrot, spinach and jack cheese and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and season with salt. 
4. Cut a slit lengthwise on the top of each pepper. Gently scrape out the seeds from the inside the peppers and discard. Stuff each pepper generously with the mixture, careful not to tear the pepper.
 5. Cover peppers with foil, parchment or another cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and turn oven up to a broil. 
6. Sprinkle peppers with queso and broil for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Wishing you a delicious day, 
Clémence and Hadley