I’m back in Paris!

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So for those of you that are new to the blog, I’ll first start off by saying that I studied abroad a year ago. For four months, I lived, studied, and interned in Paris. I came back home to the States knowing that I would come back one day.

However I did not think this day would come so quickly. I am traveling from a college friend and for the next couple posts, I will show you guys what we have seen and eaten around Paris. (Also, just because I cannot bring my camera everywhere with me, you can also follow me on Instagram (@audperki) where I will keep my account frequently updated as I travel.)

We plan on traveling for a little over a week, and we will also hit up Monet’s garden in Giverny, and Rouen. This trip has been planned for months and I am so excited to show you guys our adventures. So far, we haven’t done much as we decided to not push too many sights in too little time. However, I have assembled some photos as a teaser to show you guys what is to come.

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*Shout out to my host family who not only let us stay with them, but also gave us breakfast on the patio this morning. It was such a sight to wake up to. On the left is chestnut paste, some crackers to eat with tea (at least I do), a baguette, and a sampler of plain and chocolate croissants.

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A close up of the croissants because why not.

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The Luxembourg gardens.

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Lastly, a haul of groceries we picked up at the market street where I used to go to school. On the left is fig bread – which I was told was sweet and salty, canelés – which are rum custard cakes, some fruit and vegetables and a roll of goat cheese.

 

s’mores cupcakes

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This is less of a recipe post and more of an idea post. I am sure you guys have heard of this cupcake before. The s’more cupcake, an easy frosting hack that was popularized on Pinterest as an easy 2-minute solution for lazy bakers. I wanted to use this blog post as an excuse to try the baking hack out and give you guys my take on it.

(For those that want the actual chocolate cupcake recipe, you can find it here. I used one from Sally’s Baking Addiction. (I love her blog, especially when I am looking for something more technical.))

When I made these cupcakes, I had them in mind for a family outing and I wanted them to pop and make a good impression. That idea aside, I can be a fairly impatient cook. This is perfect for people similar to me because this cupcake topping is incredibly easy and takes 2 minutes tops to achieve. In fact, take your eye off of your cupcakes and they will be ruined – it’s that fast of a process.

On most Pinterest posts, you will see this as a two step project. Place the marshmallow on the cake. Then, put it in the oven heated to its broil setting. However here are a couple tips on how to prevent your cupcakes from turning into a Pinterest fail.

  1. Flatten the marshmallow first. This is especially helpful if you want the top of the cupcake to look like it was iced and not just topped with a generic marshmallow. I initially struggled with having a weirdly, partially covered cupcake. I wanted it to look like I had iced everything and then toasted the top. You can achieve this look by flattening the marshmallow into a rectangle, and then laying it flat onto the top of the cake. This way, the heat will hit more of the marshmallow directly, creating an even melted and toasted look. To help things along after the cakes are done toasting, press the melted marshmallow further into the cupcake and it will create a “spreaded” look.
  2. Since the key to this recipe is broiling the marshmallow tops, it is important that you do not walk away from the oven. It takes less than a minute for the marshmallows to toast and seconds for them to move from toasted to completely burned. Be ready with oven mitts and make sure to remove them the moment they have a nice golden brown crust.

Lastly, I have a tip to take this idea to the next level. I liked adding a chocolate drizzle and sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs. The only difference that separates you from having cupcakes that look they came from a boutique is that last minute spent on decorations. Take an extra 30 seconds and melt some chocolate chips. Want to be even more fancy? Microwave a graham cracker for a few seconds to make it soft. From there, you can take a small cookie cutter and cut out some cute shapes and use them to top your cupcakes.

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30 minute Kheer, an easy summer refresher

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So I will start this post off with the fact that Texas is at it’s peak heat (at least in my opinion). Now, it’s pretty well known that Texas is hot in the summer. However, now we are hitting triple digit temperatures.

To combat that, I plan on using this recipe that I developed. Kheer – or Indian rice pudding, is an easy, cheap and utterly refreshing dessert. Unlike traditional puddings, kheer is on the liquidy side, so it leaves you feeling cooled when you are done eating it. Also, one of the key ingredients of this pudding is cardamom. A sweet and citrusy spice, cardamom lends this dessert an exotic kick that blends perfectly with the milk. Just to add a little texture, I mixed in some sliced almonds to cut through the soft, almost mushy rice.

On one last note, in this recipe, I used a special type of rice that has already been pressed and flattened into a thin flake. You can use any type of rice for this, but in my case I had this on hand and thought it would break down nicely in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup flattened rice, or 1/4 cup of any other type of rice
  • 1/4 cup sugar, you can add more if you wish after this dessert is chilled
  • 1 tbs ground cardamom powder (Try to find this at a Indian grocery store as this spice can be heavily overpriced in non-specialty stores.)
  • A few tbs to taste of sliced almonds or crushed pistachios

Step 1: Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil while constantly stirring. It is essential to keep the milk moving over the heat or the fat in the liquid will burn.

Step 2: When the milk is at a heavy boil, reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Cook 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is fully cooked and starting to fall apart. You want the rice to be pretty soft and mushy as that will help thicken the milk slightly.

Step 3: When the kheer is fully cooked and has a texture similar to thin oatmeal, pull the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Then, store the kheer in the fridge to cool fully. You want this ice cold.

Step 4: Serve with more nuts sprinkled on top.

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Apple tart with oil based, vegan crust

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I’m back guys! Sorry for the minor delay. In this post, I am going to show you guys a simple, but beautiful apple tart that uses an oil-based crust.

I made this tart with the idea that it would be similar to a French alternative, the tarte aux pommes. In the French version, there is a layer of apple compote that glues the apple slices to the crust. However I didn’t like how mushy it could be. So I mixed the French and American style pies to make this result. Similar in appearance to a tarte aux pommes, this recipe has the texture of traditional apple pie. Crunchy, chewy and juicy, this is a pretty dessert to make if you have a few spare apples on hand.

Also, in case you guys have never used an oil-based crust, it is very similar to the traditional alternative. Only this one is more on the crumbly side. If you want an easier crust recipe – this is a good option since you just press it into the mold. (Original crust recipe from King Arthur flour.)

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I threw a little whole wheat flour in too)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 to 4 tbs water

Filling

3-4 apples, sliced thinly with the skin on (the skin helps give visual interest/texture)
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs butter, cubed (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Glaze

1 tbs orange marmalade or apricot preserves
1 tsp lemon juice, orange liqeur or water

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Mix all of the crust ingredients in a large bowl until you achieve a large ball. Press into an ungreased pie dish or tart pan. Prick the bottom of the pan with a fork to create vent holes.

Step 2: Mix the sugar, apple slices and cinnamon in a bowl. The apple slices should be a couple millimeters thick. Layer them in a flat, even spiral around the base of the tart pan. Place a few cubes of butter on top of the apple slices. Bake around 40 minutes until the crust is flakey and the apples start to shrivel up and soften. If the crust browns too fast, cover it with a layer of foil.

Step 3: When the tart is fresh out of the oven, rest it on a cooling rack. While it is cooling, microwave the orange marmalade so it liquifies, then add the juice/liqueur/water to thin it out. Using a pastry brush, dab the marmalade mixture over the surface of the apples. This will keep the tart from drying out.

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Fried rice with Chinese sausage and thin sliced egg

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This probably is one of my favorite recipes.  While a lot of fried rice is more of a mix of ingredients that are stirred together, I am going to show you guys a less traditional recipe. I’m also going to incorporate some small nuances of Vietnamese cuisine in this recipe since this is how my mother makes it.

I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of xoi, but it is a Vietnamese rice dish. Sweet sticky rice is often piled up with a variety of toppings like crumpled mung beans, coconut, sesame seeds, Chinese sausage or fried garlic. It can be made both sweet and salty (sometimes both) and it features sticky rice. Unfortunately when I had a xoi craving come up a while back, I did not have any sweet rice on hand. But I did have short grain, glutinous rice that would lend a similar texture. With that idea in my head, I decided to simplify the average xoi recipe into an easy fried rice recipe you guys could work with. Now on to the recipe!

*You can find all of these ingredients in an Asian grocery store, but if you have trouble finding Chinese sausage, bacon would work well instead.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Chinese sausages, sliced
  • 3 eggs, scrambled with a little water
  • 2-3 cups cooked white, short grain rice (you can change this amount if you have a strong carb craving)
  • 2 whole green onions, sliced, soaking in mix of 1 tbs sesame oil and 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • sprinkling chopped cilantro for garnish
  • sprinkling fried garlic for topping

Step 1: Heat a large frying pan on high. Add a good amount of oil, brushing the pan with a napkin to ensure there is an even coat of oil. When the pan is hot enough, add the scrambled eggs, rotating the pan to create an even, thin layer of egg. Reduce the heat to medium and place a lid on the pan so that steam can cook the surface of the eggs. Cook until they are solid.

Step 2: Roll the eggs up in the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into thin, half-centimeter thick ribbons. Use your fingers to shake the rolls so the ribbons separate and fluff up. Set aside.

Step 3: In the same frying pan (you don’t need more cooking oil for this step), cook the sliced Chinese sausage on high until they release their own oil and crisp up. Scoop the sausage out of the pan and into a plate, set aside. Keep any remaining oil in the pan, it will be used to season the rice.

Step 4: With the pan still heated, add the rice. Use chopping motions with a wooden spoon to separate the rice and cover the individual grains in a thin layer of oil. This motion will prevent you from squishing the rice, keeping the grains whole. When the rice is warmed and slightly toasted, add the oiled green onion. Stir the onion in and remove the pan from the heat.

*quick tip, the oil in the green onion helps wilt the leaves and mellow their sharp flavor.

Step 5: Now its time to assemble the plates. Put a bed of rice at the bottom of the serving dish. Top with the egg ribbons, Chinese sausage, cilantro and fried garlic.

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Shrimp and grits with kale and cilantro purée

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Comfort food time! Only this time I made it (semi) healthy. Though honestly, in the food blog world, anything with the addition of kale makes a dish healthy.

However this time I took things to the next level. In case you guys haven’t heard of shrimp and grits before, it is a common food in the south that mixes creamy grits and grilled shrimp. In this recipe, I overload the grits with cheese and I top the dish with a drizzle of lemon cilantro purée to lend a little acidity. Last, I gave the shrimp a smokey dry rub of chili powder and cumin to help mellow everything out.

Now on to the recipe!

ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 cup instant grits plus enough water (according to the package instructions) to cook it
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 1 cup defrosted frozen whole, raw shrimp (the bigger the better for this – no one wants wimpy shrimp for this kind of recipe)
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 tbs low flavor olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1: Blend the cilantro, lemon juice and zest and olive oil in a food processor until you have a smooth liquid. Add more olive oil as needed to help the blending process along. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook the grits according to package instructions, I made it in the microwave. Add the cheese. If the grits are too thick, thin it out with a little milk until the grits have the thickness of mashed potatoes.

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Step 2: Preheat a large pan on high. In a large bowl, rinse the raw shrimp in water. This will remove any excess fishy taste or salt. Drain the water from the bowl and pat the shrimp with a paper towel.

Mix the defrosted shrimp with the chili powder, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until they turn pink and are firm to the touch. Push the shrimp to the side of the pan and add the kale. Season the kale with salt and pepper. Cook until the kale develops a deep green color and softens slightly.

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Step 3: The plating! Start with a healthy dollop of grits. Make a small indent in the middle of the grits to make room for the toppings. Then, add the kale on top and then top with a few of the shrimp. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the cilantro sauce.

Three belated doughnuts for National Doughnut Day

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This is probably the prettiest post I have done so far on The Glutton Diaries. I remember dipping the first doughnut into the blueberry glaze and thinking, “Yep, I’ve done it. I love my job.”

I made this post in honor of National Doughnut Day. I didn’t get the chance to head over to a local doughnut shop day-of, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I will admit that the base of this post is not a new idea. Want to know what the key ingredient was in this recipe? Pre-made biscuit dough. In case you guys have not already noticed, I am an avid fan of making simple food look fancy. I am also a fan of making semi-homemade food go the extra mile. In this case, biscuit dough is the most versatile ingredient I have ever worked with.

In the past I have steamed it for an easy steamed meat bun recipe, I have baked it into pizza, I have filled it with chocolate and rolled it in graham cracker crumbs for a s’mores ball, and I have wrapped it around a baked Scotch egg. I love that you can take such a neutral material and create so many things with it. So, when I wanted to make doughnuts, it did not take long to note that biscuit dough is a common cheat method.

The trend popularized on Pinterest. I saw that many people have taken pre-made dough and simply cut a hole in the center then fried it. However what I did notice was that people weren’t getting creative with their toppings. Almost all the pins I clicked on had the doughnut rolled in cinnamon sugar. While this is an easy (and awesome) way to go, I felt that it could get old easily. So, I fancied the method up a bit. In this post I will show you guys three options: fresh blueberry glaze (pictured in the collage below), chocolate ganache with a cookie crumble, and a simple half dip in chocolate with sprinkles.

While I know that these options are not as fast as a quick roll in sugar, I urge you guys to be taken in by the photography and give one of the options a go. Have a girl’s weekend soon? Make these! They are cheap and look fancier than they are.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can pre-made biscuit dough
  • enough oil to fill one inch of depth in a large frying pan (I used peanut oil)

Blueberry glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed, fresh blueberries (you can also use frozen)
  • 2 tbs. water

Chocolate cookie crumble:

  • 3 tbs dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tbs cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled graham crackers

Chocolate half-dip (this is to replicate the look of a black and white cookie)

  • 3 tbs dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tbs cream
  • sprinkles

Step 1: Using a 1 in. diameter circle cookie cutter, cut out the middles of the pre-made dough. While you are doing this, heat your oil in a large frying pan on high heat.

Step 2: Use a doughnut hole to test the temperature of the oil. When the air above the oil surface heats up, dip the edge of a doughnut hole into the oil. The area around the dough should immediately start to bubble rapidly. If it does not, set the dough aside and wait. If it does, start to gently drop your doughnuts in one at a time. Give them a nudge when they are in to make sure they do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Cook a couple minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and puffy before you flip. When the doughnuts are done, pull them out of the oil and have them cool on a cooling rack resting on top of a few sheets of paper towel.

Now on to the decorations:

Blueberry: Heat the mashed berries and water in a saucepan on high until it boils. Cook a couple minutes until the liquid thickens into a consistency similar to thin maple syrup. This cooking time will strengthen the flavors of the berry juice and develop more color.

Take 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid and pour it into the powdered sugar. You can pass it through a strainer first if there are a lot of chunks. Mix the sugar and juice vigorously. It will initially not look like enough liquid. However the more you mix, the more the sugar will dissolve into a thick, jewel-toned glaze. When you are ready, dip your doughnuts one-side-down into the glaze. Return them to the cooling rack glaze side up.

Chocolate/cookie: Microwave the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 20 seconds. Stir. Repeat. At this point, start heating the chocolate at 10 second intervals while stirring in between until everything is melted. Mix in the cream. Now you have your ganache (also known as truffle filling). Pour the cookie crumbs onto a small plate. Take a doughnut and dip one side into the ganache. Then, press it into the cookie crumbs. Return it to the cooling rack to set.

Chocolate half-dip: Repeat the ganache steps from above. Dip half the doughnut into the mix. This should look more like a black and white cookie in style. Set the doughnut back onto the cooling rack. Sprinkle the sprinkles (or any other topping you like) on top of the chocolate.

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