Not Your Average Fried Chicken – Bakesale Betty

Standard

The first thing I noticed was the line. There had to be at least thirty people waiting. Was this fried chicken sandwich worth that long of a wait? The people in line stared at us with envy as we received the cardboard boxes containing the much sought after sandwiches.

Now I’m going to admit something here. I don’t usually like fried chicken. Now here is where you gasp and think that I am crazy. I’m just not a fan of the crunchy, dried breading. It pulls from the juiciness of the chicken in my opinion.

Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich, well now that is a different story. The chicken was not crunchy, but rather moist and actually a bit spicy. I learned from Bakesale Betty herself, in her blue wig and all, that the chicken is fresh and not just your average fried chicken, but a buttermilk fried chicken.

The chicken was accompanied by a jalapeño slaw that kicked up the heat and provided the sandwich with a fresh crunch. To top (and bottom) it all off, the sandwich was encased by a bun that tasted as fresh as the chicken. The bread was soft and provided a layer of protection from the spiciness of the chicken and the slaw.

Bakesale Betty

Bakesale Betty2

Would I say that the buttermilk fried chicken was worth a wait in line? Why yes, yes I would. After talking with Bakesale Betty, I learned that the line, while most likely always having been present, if a result of the new hours donned by the small eatery, 11am-2pm. Wanting to spend time more time with her family, Betty and her husband decided to shorten their business hours, which seems to only have heightened the buzz surrounding the shop.

Advertisements

Meals & Memories with Mom

Standard

The smell of sugar and frying dough filled the kitchen. My mom and her siblings assisted my grandma in her baking, eager to help in order to feast on the filhós (Portuguese doughnuts) as quickly as possible.

filh_s

It was a tradition in her house to make filhós on Fat Tuesday to welcome the Lenten liturgical season. But with the intoxicating smell of the filhós frying on top of the stove, my mom and her siblings were worrying very little about what their ashes would look like on their forehead the next day or even what they were giving up for the next forty days. They were mesmerized by the glistening sugar crystals coating the fresh hot doughnuts. The time seemed to tick by slowly, as they waited for the filhós to cool down. As soon as my grandma decided they were cool enough to eat, they were devoured in true Fat Tuesday fashion.

When my mom was married, she didn’t really have to adapt her cooking because my dad was also Portuguese and grew up eating the same food as my mom. But when I came along, she recalls that she received her largest cooking challenge.

Not only would I not eat anything green, but I also detested milk and usually refused to try anything that I was unfamiliar with. It also didn’t help that my mom’s aunt would make multiple meals in one afternoon to ensure that I was eating. (She worried that I was too skinny, but the Portuguese always think you’re too skinny.)

Growing up, my mom didn’t have the luxury of being a finicky eater. Her parents migrated to California from the Azores and found work on a dairy farm. My mom and her siblings were expected to eat whatever was put on the table, including blood sausage! Almost everything was homemade and had some cultural tie to their Portuguese heritage.

When my mom had us, she decided that she wouldn’t force us to eat anything that we didn’t like, unless it was affecting our health. I just happened to push the boundaries so far that I turned into a very selective eater. Listening to my mom’s stories about the slower meals she ate growing up makes me wish I had grown up  during that era. A time when families sat at the dinner table together and had home cooked meals. And a time when you ate what was put on your plate and were thankful.

Disney Eats!

Standard

“Get ready screamers! Head back, face forward and hang on!” A cool rush of air envelops my face and sends my hair straight up in the air. The force pushes my stomach to the back of my seat and I feel a shot of adrenaline race through my body. A flash of park passes by me on my right and then I’m sent through a loop that flips the earth upside down. At this point I’m thinking I shouldn’t have eaten the whole bowl of broccoli and cheddar soup (or was it the whole plate of chicken tamales?).

After a long morning of collecting fast passes and roaming around Disneyland and California Adventure, my quick pace slowed and my shoulders slumped as hunger set in. My family and I headed to Pacific Wharf Cafe to grab a bite to eat. Despite the unusual January heat, I already knew what I wanted – a piping hot bowl of broccoli and cheese soup.

photo 1

My brother and I scoped out a table in the shade, hoping to capture just enough coolness to create the right element for eating our soup. The broccoli and cheddar mingled with one another in the comfort of their bread bowl. Before my plate even reached the table, their conversation tickled my nose and made my mouth water.

Some people might be turned off to the idea of broccoli and cheddar cheese soup, but the green florets dispersed throughout the rich and creamy cheese have invited me to dine with them on numerous occasions.

The soup clings onto the wall of the bread bowl, as my spoon ferries the liquid to my mouth. Soon there is little soup left except for the remnants that have soaked into the bread. But in due time, that will be gone too, as the bread tears apart and becomes the new center of the meal. By the end, pieces of torn bread are scattered across my plate and I can’t possibly bear to eat anymore or even move for that matter. But then someone remembers that we have fast passes for California Screamin. We must not let them go to waste!

The Happiest Place on Earth. A place where your dreams can come true. A place where you can eat hot soup in a bread bowl on a warm day and it still tastes good. A place where you can eat a bread bowl and not feel bad about it because you have been walking around all day. A place where bread is broken and memories created.

 

Chopped! Lemons, Strawberries, and Chocolate, Oh My!

Standard

The countdown began…time’s up chefs! I looked at my half-baked cupcakes, naked with no strawberries nor the white chocolate buttercream icing I had still melting together on the stove. I hung my head down in shame knowing that I had taken on a challenge that I couldn’t quite pull off.

And then I realized that I wasn’t on the cooking competition show Chopped. Yet, my pulse still quickened a little as I reached inside the bag to grab the three pieces of paper that would determine my fate for my very own kitchen adventure. What would I do if I grabbed something I didn’t like or what if I got marshmallows and chicken? With the papers in hand, I passed the bag along and luck unfolded right before my very own eyes.

IMG_6051

IMG_6049

IMG_6050

Lemon, strawberries, and chocolate. The smell of a bakery began filling my mind, tangy lemon bars, chocolate dipped strawberries, a light meringue probably topping a lemon pie. As these common bakery treats paraded through my mind, it came to me – a moist lemon cupcake with a hint of fresh strawberry filling and a creamy white chocolate buttercream icing.

With this idea in my head, I raced to my dorm and packed my car, as I was heading home for the three-day weekend.

I arrived home with bags of ingredients that I would need in order to recreate the cupcakes that had been baked up in my mind. Luckily I would have more time than the contestants on Chopped, because there was no way I would have been able to get everything done.

I diced strawberries into tiny little morsels to create the sweet strawberry filling. While that was cooling, the KitchenAid and I made up from our last bout and we combined the creamed ingredients with the dry with absolutely no mess. With the cupcakes in the oven, I found myself with a moment that is unheard of on the popular cooking competition show – rest.

Once the cupcakes were popped out of the oven and almost cooled off, I began mixing together the icing on top of the stove. Once all the initial ingredients had melted, I began adding the powdered sugar, which turned the frosting into a clumpy mess, until the milk came in to save the day.

Both the strawberry filling and white buttercream icing came out a little too liquidly, but nonetheless, in true Chopped fashion, I improvised, grabbing a slotted spoon I began to fill the cupcakes. Reaching for another spoon, this time not slotted, I spooned the frosting onto the cupcake and let it spread across the surface and hang over the edges, taking on the appearance of snow hanging from a rooftop.

After letting the cupcakes cool inside the refrigerator, I couldn’t help myself any longer and served them up for my family and I. They were, and I’m going to have to say it, delicious. The already moist cupcakes shook hands with the strawberry filling and took on a whole new flavor reminding me of strawberry shortcake with a hint of lemon. And the buttercream icing gave the cupcake a different texture, as the icing had settled and hardened on top giving you something to sink your teeth into.

And like the old saying goes when life throws you lemons (and let’s not forget strawberries and chocolate) make cupcakes. Well, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes, but I think you get the point. Sometimes life takes a little improvisation and who knows maybe whatever life throws at you will turn out great.

IMG_6052IMG_1423

IMG_6053IMG_6055

Ingredients:

Lemon Cupcakes
• 1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup milk
• 2 tablespoons lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Strawberry Filling
• 2 cups diced strawberries (about 10 medium strawberries finely diced)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
• 1 and 1/2 cups (9 ounces) white chocolate chip
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 4 and 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Instructions:
1. Make the strawberry filling firstPlace the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 4 full minutes until the strawberry juices have been released. Add the sugar and cornstarch and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. The mixture will be much thicker. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prepare the cupcakes.

2. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.

3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating 1 minute after each addition.

4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix until completely integrated. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix the batter for 30 seconds.

6. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters flu. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

7. Fill the Cupcakes. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cupcake to create a little pocket about 1/2 inch deep. Place 1 teaspoon of strawberry filling inside and top with the piece of cupcake you removed to seal.

8. Make the White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Heat the white chocolate chips, butter, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until all is melted. Remove from heat.

9. Stir in the vanilla. Add the confectioner’s sugar slowly, stirring constantly, until combined. Add more milk or sugar to achieve desire spreading consistency.

10. Spoon the frosting onto the middle of the cupcake and spread with a knife. Be careful not to lift up the piece of cupcake covering the strawberry filling.

*Strawberry Filling Recipe credit goes to Sally’s Baking Addiction.

**Lemon Cupcakes and White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe credit goes to Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

To Battle a KitchenAid and Bake a Cupcake (Kitchen Disaster)

Standard

Three. Two. One. K.O.!

IMG_9321

And the winner is KitchenAid Mixer!

Alright so maybe it wasn’t exactly a full on boxing match, but the mixer and I were not exactly getting along. Flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda sat in a clear plastic bowl waiting to be sifted into the larger mixing bowl. I had a feeling, a sneaking suspicion, that these powdery ingredients were going to give me some difficulties when trying to combine them with their creamy counterparts.

I slowly turned the speed on the mixer up to blend the dry with the creamy. A volcano of dust erupted from the mixer and a tornado carried the tiny particles throughout the kitchen. Soft brown powder coated the mixer, laid obtrusively on the counter, and clung to the doors of the cabinets.

I regrouped, determined to make some moist chocolate chip cupcakes, and cleaned up the explosion. Adding more flour and cocoa powder to make up for the unfortunate losses, the cupcakes went on! They were mixed and individually cupped in no time.

After I slid the cupcake tins into the oven and set the timer, I went to sit down and wait for the sweet aroma to begin to fill the room.

I waited.

And I waited some more.

But while I could smell the cupcakes baking in the oven, they didn’t smell quite as heavenly as I had imagined.

The timer still had five minutes, so maybe I just wasn’t being patient. I turned on the oven light to take a quick peek at my creations and was horrified as to what laid before my eyes.

The cupcakes were black, not a smooth creamy chocolate brown, but black. I quickly opened the oven door and a burning steam coated my face and engulfed my glasses, making it impossible for me to see. I pulled the tin out of the oven and placed it on the stove top – they were burned, ruined, beyond any type of possible redemption.

Was it that I had put too much flour or baking soda after duking it out with the mixer? Did I set the temperature on the oven too high?

As I scanned the settings on the oven, I felt the pit of my stomach clench into a tight fist, I had set the oven to broil not bake. How could I make such a mistake?

IMG_0066

I was on the verge of tears and reached for the phone to call my mom. And then it hit me. It was just a batch of cupcakes. Life goes on and, honestly, I could just make another batch and who knows, maybe this time I would trump the KitchenAid.