To my husband…

Today is my husband’s birthday. The most used sentence or thought that runs along the lines of, “I don’t know what I would do without you…” couldn’t be truer in our relationship. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. He has gotten me through some tough moments in my life.

There are times when I think that he saved me from a bad situation when I was coping with a toxic family. He was the only one that took the time to understand me and genuinely cared about what I was going through. I have never met anyone else like that. Someone that is so kind and patient. He gave himself completely to me on the nights where I was curled up in ball on the bathroom floor contemplating suicide. He helped me out of that dark hole with his love and kindness. I will always be thankful for that.

So today is for him. Life can get in the way sometimes and it’s hard to stop and remember that we have loving people in our lives. It’s important to take the time to remember that. I have a loving husband and friend by my side for the rest of my life which is pretty amazing.

So, Happy Birthday my love. May this coming year bring you joy, growth and success, for you deserve it. Love always, your kitten.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake

By. Lady and Pups

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Advertisements

Christmas Time is Here (Julia Child’s croissants with cranberry jam filling)

I will always remember that Christmas.

That time of year is back again and I can already feel the anxiety setting in. There are times when I can’t help but think about the past. Especially about the time I opened up to my adoptive father about being sexually abused as a child.

Christmas time when I was a younger was all that I waited for with every passing year. I remember decorating the house till every room was filled with some sort of tinsel or sparkling lights. I cherished every second of it. You couldn’t stop me from dancing to the Grinch soundtrack with The Who’s singing “Trim up the tree with Christmas fluff…” That time of year was magical for me. Over the years it unfortunately lost its sense of innocence. That Christmas when I told my father about being abused left me raw and alone. I will always remember that Christmas.

The week before Christmas I had to say goodbye to my husband. We were both celebrating the holiday with our families, me in Virginia and him in Florida. He was my boyfriend at the time, but I still found it difficult to leave him. Maybe it was because I knew that I could confined in him about being abused. As soon as I made it back to VA with my adoptive parents I felt this sense of gloom over the house. Before entering the house that I grew up in, I looked up at it and all the memories of being abused flooded in. How I stayed in that house for years, I still don’t know how.

When Christmas Day came along I kept on contemplating if I was going to tell my father or not. My mother who already knew and saw me get abused said, “It’s up to you Bernadette.” I had to build up my courage throughout the day until by 8 pm or so I sat my father down and told him.

The moment went by so quickly. All I remember is him saying a joke afterwards about me being abused and him getting me a wet wash cloth to wash away my tears. That’s how it was with them. They think by washing away the problems that they will magically disappear. That method never works.

Now, that I am estranged from them, I can’t help but feel that Christmas has to be perfect. It’s not healthy to think that way and I’m slowly working on it. Even though this year has been tough in so many ways politically, socially and personally,  I have a loving husband. I have a silly dog and a new family in my husband’s family. I have met new people who I can consider real friends. I know that 2018 will be better. I know this because I will keep on trying to live for me and not for the family I grew up with.

Julia Child’s Croissants

Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking 

By Julia Child and Simone Beck 

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 1/4 tsp. of yeast

3 tbsp. of warm water (100 degrees)

1 tsp. of sugar

Second half of recipe

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of sugar

1 1/2 tsp. of salt

2/3 cup of warm milk

2 tbsp. of canola oil

1 3/4 sticks of chilled unsalted butter 

Cranberry Jam

Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

Pinch of pepper and salt

1/2 tsp. of cinnamon

1/3 cup of fresh orange juice

1/2 cup of water

 

Croissant Recipe: Equivalent version of croissant recipe. Here is a video of the master herself making some croissants on the show the French Chef.

Directions for Cranberry Jam:

  1. Throughly wash the cranberries, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a medium size sauce pan, add all the ingredients and stir on medium to high heat until it starts to simmer.
  3. Once it comes to a simmer, turn down the heat between low and medium. Stirring frequently for 15 minutes or until the jam comes to the wrinkle stage.
  4. Once the jam has come to the wrinkle stage, take off the heat and cool for five minutes.
  5. Pour the jam mixture through a fine mesh sieve with a glass bowl underneath to catch the jam. Do this with a spoon and patience. This should take about 10 minutes to get all the mixture through.
  6. Cool the jam in a glass jar and leave in fridge until ready to use. Keeps up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Rich Hot Chocolate

I have never been one to be deeply in love with Chocolate or find it sensual. Yet, I try to work with it in recipes every now and then in hopes that it might change my way of thinking.

I’m currently sitting on my couch listening to Christmas music. The Sleigh ride song to be exact and I am craving to get my holiday fever on. So, to start the season off right, I wanted to share my hot chocolate recipe. It’s quick and not to toot my own horn, but it’s by far the best hot chocolate I have ever had.

Rich Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 small glasses (or 1 huge one)

Ingredients1/2 tsp. of cinnamon

2 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 cup of almond milk

2 tbsp. of condensed milk

1-2 tsp. of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

3.5 oz of 70% smooth dark chocolate (Lindt Chocolate )

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan add water to fill halfway and set on medium to high heat.

2. In a heat proof bowl melt the chocolate over the sauce pan. Add the chocolate gradually by medium size pieces until it fully melts.

3. Set aside and dump the water from the sauce pan and add the follow ingredients on medium heat. Almond milk, condensed milk, cocoa powder, cinnamon and 1 tsp. of vanilla.

4. Once the mixture has heated up a bit and starts to simmer add the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. Set on low heat while making the whip cream.

5. In a standing mixer or hand held mixer mix 1/2 cup of the heavy whipping cream with a tsp. of vanilla. Mix until fluffy.

6. Serve the hot chocolate in small mugs or one huge mug for yourself with a ton of whip cream on top.

Enjoy!

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Moroccan Eggs and Rolls

B30250D8-BA0C-47BE-88DE-E4FFBA30BCE7

Moroccan eggs, formally known as Shakshuka is probably one of my all time favorite dishes. It’s something so simple but utterly delicious. The combination of the spices with the sweet tomato sauce paired along with either sauté mushrooms or succulent chorizo is an experience that I always want to come back to. Well, possibly dive into depending on how hungry I am.

_DSC0447

 Even though this dish is simple, I wanted to pair it along with something maybe not so simple and adds a little bit more time in the kitchen. I promise you though, with a little more preparation ahead of time, it will be worth the wait. So let me introduce you to today’s dishes…

C748321F-C133-4157-9789-8E3917D7F17B

Moroccan Egg Dish with Moroccan Rolls

Ingredients

Egg dish

Serves 2-4 

2 to 3 eggs

1 14.5 oz can of puree/crushed tomatoes

half of 1 large yellow onion finely diced

3-4 large garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp. of olive oil

1/2 pound of chopped chorizo (or 1/2 pound of chopped white button mushrooms)

1 tbsp. of honey 

2 tbsp. of tomato paste

1 tsp. of paprika 

1 tsp. of crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp. of thyme

1/2 tsp. of turmeric 

salt and pepper to taste 

fresh oregano to top (optional)

Moroccan Rolls

Makes 6 

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup of white bread flour

1 tsp. of yeast

6.5 ounces of warm water

1 tsp. of sea salt

1/4 tsp. of granulated sugar

 4 tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds

Spice mixture

2 tsp. of cinnamon

1 tsp. of nutmeg

1 tsp. of turmeric 

1/2 tsp. of cardamom 

1/4 tsp. of black pepper

1/4 tsp. of cloves 

(Prepare spices together in a mortar and pestle to combine-keep in glass container till use)

Directions for Moroccan Rolls:

(May make the day before)

1. Gently rub the yeast into the bread flour. Once incorporated add the water, salt and sugar.

2. With either a standing mixer or by hand, mix the ingredients together till it starts to form together. Should take about 4 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Don’t  worry though, the dough will come together in time.

3. I like using the technique where you stretch the dough and fold it back together. For an example, watch here (stretch and fold technique)* While doing this technique, it helps bring the dough together by slapping it onto the work surface then folding over. Continue this technique for 10-15 minutes until the dough starts to come together.  After ten minutes or so, you can start adding some flour to the work surface. While working the dough add the bread spices till incorporated. To form a ball, fold each edge of the bread into the center and pinch together so it holds it shape.

4. Once the dough has been shaped into a ball, in a lightly oiled bowl add the dough ball and cover with a lint free towel to rest for an hour in a warm area.

5. After an hour turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide the dough into two. With the palm of your hands create two log shapes. To create the log shapes, use the heel of your palm to flatten the two logs and gently fold one side into the center then continue to do the same with the other side. Pinch both sides together going all the way down the log, so they hold the shape.

6. Turn the logs over with the pinched seem facing downwards, and cut 3 equal slices from each log, creating 6 rolls. To create the rolls into small balls, use the same technique of folding the edges inward into the center then pinch the edges together. Then with the palm of your hand gently smooth the edges out by rolling the ball in a circular motion going counter-clockwise.

7. After forming the 6 balls, brush one side with a little water then dip the rolls into the bowl of toasted sesame seeds. Continue this process with all of them.

8. After brushing the dough, add the rolls to a *baking sheet* or pizza stone. Cover the rolls again to rest for 45 minutes in a warm area until they double in size.

9. While the rolls are resting preheat the oven to 475 F.

10. Once the rolls are done resting, mist the inside of your preheated oven with water, either gently by hand or preferably a spray bottle. Afterwards add the tray of rolls to the oven and bake for 11 minutes or till golden.

11. After baking, rest the rolls on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes.

Notes:* If you don’t have a pizza stone, I like to use a baking sheet to create the same type of surface by turning the baking sheet upside down. So, if you don’t have a pizza stone do this before adding the rolls to the sheet for the second proof. See in direction #8.

Directions for Egg dish (Shakshuka):

1. In a medium cast iron skillet, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil, diced onions and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 5-10 minutes until lightly brown.

2. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add the chopped chorizo or mushrooms and mix with the onions and garlic till brown on medium heat. Then add the tomato paste and mix in well.

3. Once the chorizo has browned add the honey and seasonings and mix well until fully combined.

4. Then add the can of tomatoes and cover the top of the meat or mushrooms by using the back of a wooden spoon so only the tomato sauce is showing.

5. On medium heat cook for about 5-10 minutes, while keeping an eye on the meat, onions and garlic underneath to prevent burning.

6. After some of the tomato juice has boiled off, create 2-3 separate holes for the eggs to be placed. By doing this, gently with a spoon create a small opening for the egg to cook, you should see the bottom of the cast iron skillet so it’s able to cook. Do this with all the eggs, by cracking the egg on a flat surface and gently adding it into the skillet.(Without getting shells inside.) Cook for 5-8 minutes or till the egg whites have cooked but the yolk is still runny. Once again, be mindful of the onions, meat and garlic underneath so they don’t burn.

7. Serve dish in cast iron skillet for easy dipping. Top with fresh oregano and Moroccan rolls on the side.

Enjoy and happy eating!

8123F0A9-A923-465F-A6F6-C35AF3EDD09A

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

I often wonder…

DB09033C-56EC-47BA-82B9-96DCDBCB34C0

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

I often wonder how people discover their “true calling”. Reading through Julia Child’s Life in Paris is fascinating and leaves me the question of how will I know what I would like to do as a career?  I mean Julia was in her late 30s if I remember correctly until she found her calling. Well, began to experiment with the idea of cooking. Perhaps, I am too picky when it comes to these things but I don’t want to be stuck doing something that I  don’t enjoy for years to appease others. I did that once, and I’m not going back there again (fingers crossed)!

3DB81A07-266E-4C6F-9546-CC3DBA357D23A7815759-8B80-4C1A-B900-96596C43A930

So, here I am. Spending most of the days carving out a schedule that wont leave me completely exhausted but filling it out with enough projects to leave me feeling productive. I have been playing with the idea of creating my own career, because being a young black woman in these times and let’s be honest ANY time, I have to create something meaningful for myself. I have learned through all the job interviews that no matter how talented I am that no one is going to give me the job I would ideally want because I am black. I am plunging in head first and fully going into the deep waters to discover myself.

I honestly have nothing to lose at this point. At the brink of living a world where everything seems to fall apart literally every week, I need to make the most of it while I can.

E5B6C3DF-C659-44A6-A206-BF684B011A42

Roasted Carrots and Potatoes with Hummus 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

Hummus

1 can of drained chickpeas 

1/4 cup of Tahini 

1/2 tsp. of paprika 

1/2 tsp. of cumin

1/2 tsp. of oregano 

1/8 tsp. of sea salt 

1/8 tsp. of black pepper

1/8 tsp. of lemon zest

juice from half of a lemon 

4 to 6 tbsp. of olive oil

extra oil for drizzling

Roasted vegetables 

4 to 5 medium size carrots 

1 medium size russet potato cut into half moons 

sea salt and pepper to season 

1 to 2 tbsp. of olive oil to coa

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F having a rack directly in the middle.

2. While the oven is preheating, throughly wash the vegetables and pat dry with a paper towel.

3. Then cut the stems/greens off the carrots and cut the potato into half moon shapes (diagonally).

4. Add parchment paper to the baking tray and add the vegetables to the tray while fully coating them in olive oil. Then season generously with salt and pepper.

5. Roast the vegetables to 30 to 45 minutes or until tender to the touch. Then let rest for five minutes and serve with hummus.

6. Prepare the hummus in a food processor. Add all the ingredients one by one and season to taste. Serve in a big bowl for easy reaching and sharing.

Note: If the hummus is too thick or dry, add water or olive oil 1 tsp. at a time until desired texture.

Enjoy…or as Julia would say, Bon appetite!

cut-cut

 

Mascot Grape Sorbet with Toasted Graham topping 

  Photography by. Bernadette Mira

The past couple of weeks have kind of been a blur. With the ups and downs, I try to remember the ups rather than the downs. It’s easier to get through the day trying to remember the positive things in life. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

So for today’s recipe, I unfortunately don’t have much to say or  have an insightful anecdote. I guess, remember that even through this tough time, in this difficult and painful world that love still exists. If we all remember that and strive for a better world, perhaps maybe it will happen. I’m truly cynical as person, but deep down I still believe the world can be better someday.

 

grape4

 

Mascot Grape Sorbet

Ingredients 

1 pound of Mascot Grapes

2 tsp. of Pinot Grigio wine

pinch of nutmeg

1/2  14 oz can of condensed milk

Graham Cracker Topping

Ingredients

Two original graham crackers 

2 tbsp. of good butter

sprinkle of cinnamon 

pinch of sugar

pinch of sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a food processor add 1/2 of the grapes and mix until combined.
  2. Then with a cheese cloth or fine strainer, strain the grape juice into a separate bowl while leaving the seeds and pulp behind.
  3. Once all the juice has been strained add it into the food processor again while incorporating the 1/2 can of condensed milk, nutmeg and pinot grigio. Mix until well combined. Then set aside.
  4. Heat up a medium size sauce pan on low to medium heat and add the other half of the grapes to the pan.
  5. Once it starts to simmer, start squashing the grapes with a wooden spoon to get out the juice. When all the grapes have been squashed, cover the pan for five minutes on low heat to simmer.
  6. After five minutes, strain the juice into a separate bowl.
  7. Once all the juice has been strained add it to the food processor with the first mixture. (Should get about 1/2 -3/4 cup of juice from this)
  8. Pulse the mixture together until fully combined.
  9. Then pour the mixture in a tightly sealed container and freeze over night.
  10. Extra step:(Not necessary) The next day add the sorbet to the food processor and blend again and freeze again for another day.
  11. To prepare the graham cracker topping, heat up a non stick pan to medium to high heat and add 2 tbsp. of butter.
  12. While the pan is heating up finely crumble up two graham crackers then add them to the pan.
  13. With a wooden spoon stir the graham crackers into the butter while adding the cinnamon, sugar and sea salt.
  14. Once the graham crackers have turned slightly browner for about 2-5 minutes, take the pan off the heat and pour the graham cracker mixture into a separate bowl. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Then serve on top of the sorbet. Enjoy!

 

grape1

 

candle

 

Longing for kitten… (a blackberry fig jam recipe) 

             

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

I grew up with the sheer luck of having at least seven cats at different times through out my childhood. Living in the country these cats tended to roam around the house and in the outside world, which led to most of them ghosting away and never coming back. Yet, there was always another cat to take it’s spot. All of those cats weren’t officially mine and at times I longed for a cat to be only mine that I could take care of.

Yet, there was one exception. A cat we had named Cheeseball who belonged to my middle sister, seemed to grow fond of me over the years. Like my estranged family they ignored most of the pets we had around the house so I watched over Cheeseball like he was my own.

cheeseball

I remember taking photo shoots of Cheeseball, like he was a dashing model posing for every shot. Surprisingly he was quiet patient when it came to me taking photos of him. There were many mornings that I would come out of the bathroom shower and have him greet me at my feet. But if I didn’t pay every bit attention to him he would bite at my legs until I gave him a pat or kiss.

After moving away to go to musical theatre school in New York when I was 20, Cheeseball ended up running off to the neighbor’s house, because my family didn’t take care of him. Every time I would come back home to visit I would long for him to come over to the house, yet he never would. There were many moments when he would just stare at me from afar. It was hard watching him from a distance and not being able to reach him. I miss him still. I’m sure he is off in cat land somewhere chasing the sun and eating to his heart’s content.

I still long for a cat though. A kitten to raise. Maybe it’s because I can’t have children…? I don’t know, but I hope that I can be a mother figure to a kitten one day and give it all the affection in the world. Taking care of something and watching it grow is the most joyful I have ever been.

cat3

Blackberry Fig Jam

Makes one 16 oz. can

Ingredients

1 cup of blackberries

2/3 cup of finely diced figs (about 3 figs)

3 tbsp and 1/2 tsp. of granulated sugar 

1 cup of water 

1 tsp. of cinnamon

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

1/4 tsp. of coriander 

1/2 tsp. of lemon zest

juice from half of a lemon

1/4 cup of cold water

2 tsp. of cornstarch 

cat1

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, add the blackberries, figs, sugar and water and set on medium to high heat till it starts to simmer and the sugar dissolves. Stirring  frequently for about five minutes.
  2. Lower the temperature to low heat and add the spices and lemon zest.
  3. Stir for two minutes until the spices dissolve.
  4. Raise the temperature again to medium heat and add the lemon zest. Let the jam simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. After ten minutes, add 2 tsp. of cornstarch to the cup of cold water and stir completely until the starch dissolves. Then add the starch mixture to the jam.
  6. Stir the mixture into the jam. After a while the jam will start to thicken. Continue to stir for five minutes or so.
  7. After five minutes set the jam mixture off to the side to cool for ten minutes.
  8. After ten minutes, use the immersion blender and blend until the chunks of blackberries have liquified.
  9. Gently pour the jam into a heat safe container, such as a maison jar and close with a tight lid and set in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy this jam along side a creamy hunk of brie and toast.

 

030cheeseball and i