baking

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

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Moroccan Eggs and Rolls

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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.

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 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…

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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!

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Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Almond Oatmeal Cookies

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Photography by. Connor Langford(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Model: Zoe Hoad

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This past weekend was a weekend that I had been dreading for a while. The week before Mother’s Day was a trying one. I couldn’t keep my head together. I felt all over the place and noticed myself slipping back into past negative patterns. To forewarn any of my readers that have a past of child sexual abuse, sibling sexual abuse, etc. and are triggered by such things, please don’t read further. I want this to be a safe place to come to and I wouldn’t want to harm you in any way.

Not to be dramatic, but at times I do see my past as a very unfortunate, sad story that should be told through film. It is one of those stories that make you do a double take. At times I find it unbelievable myself and I always question if there was anything else that I could have done, but the answer is always no. None of it was my fault or responsiblity.

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The Marshman’s…

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There was this old photograph that my adoptive father took of all five of us children. I was a baby at the time and I think they just had me for maybe a few weeks or so. I was laid in the middle of my childhood blanket while the other children poked my belly and touched my face and surrounded every part of me. That picture truly describes the experience I felt living with them. Living in the Marshman household, dealing with sexual abuse from two of my siblings for four years, I felt trapped.

The moment that could have probably shifted my life entirely was when my adoptive mother saw my brother on top of me. After that moment, she knew for years that I was getting sexually abused, but said nothing. When I decided to finally come to terms with what I had been through as child, I went to her first. Her response was simply put, “I figured that was going on.”

The word ‘RUN’ should have come to me, but it didn’t. I didn’t want to be alone, so for years I tried to get my adoptive family to understand what I had been through. They still made excuses for my abusers and their actions. Such things like, “Your selfish and a bitch.” “It was a three age year difference, so it doesn’t matter that it happened.” “Come back in 20 years!” were said through the six-year course of me trying to get them to understand and be supportive.

Yes, all of them let me down, but my adoptive mother let me down the most. Being abandoned by the woman who gave birth to me, still left scars, but in a way I can disregard her, because I never knew her. Yet, having my adoptive mother abandoned me when she saw me get abused, hurts me to the core.

Not all Mothers are wonderful. Not all parents should be parents. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shouldn’t be celebrated. We honestly should celebrate the decent parents out there every single day that we can. Acknowledging the good out there is important and it’s also important to acknowledge the bad. My adoptive parents shouldn’t have adopted five kids and brought us up in a toxic, sexually tensioned, dysfunctional environment. Unfortunately, I’m not the only case out there. Sibling sexual abuse is the most common but the least talked about. We need to talk about it. We need to share these stories to help others.

It’s important…to get myself through Mother’s Day, I was there for myself and celebrated my loving husband and my mother in law. My mother in law is the definition of what a good mother, a good parent should be. She is strong, caring and supportive. I am thankful that I have that now. I wish that for every child out there if not now for later on in their lives.

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Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 24

Ingredients

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup of dark brown sugar

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. of almond extract

1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. of sea salt

1/2 tsp. of baking soda

1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon 

2 1/2 cup of oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. With a standing mixer cream butter and sugars together at medium-high speed. Once fully mixed, add two eggs and the extracts to the sugar mixture. Mix until combine and set aside.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the following dry ingredients until mixed. Flour, sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Then slowly add the dry mixture 1/2 cup at a time to the wet ingredients in the standing mixer. Set the standing mixer on medium-high speed.
  5. Once the flour is incorporated, add the 2 1/2 cups of oats and mix into dough, until fully combined.
  6. Once finished lightly coat a cookie pan with cooking spray. Place the cookies one a time with a spoon, leaving a few inches in between them.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 F. or longer as desired. Once finished baking, let the cookies cool on the pan for 3-5 minutes then with a spatula transfer to a plate.
  8. Yields 24 medium-sized cookies.

Enjoy!!!!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira

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Styling cubes by. Garrett Hagen

Bathroom Pizza…

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Photography by. CHANEL(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Don’t be alarmed by the title, there is more to this story I promise…

My husband and I had a period of when we were away from each other. At the time we were boyfriend and girlfriend and during that period, I was unfortunately overwhelmed with a toxic family while living with them. My loving husband was up in Jersey City finding us a home. I was devastated that I couldn’t be with him and experience finding our first place together. Fortunately, his mother (my now mom) was able to help him.

We spent most of our days apart chatting on the phone and Skyping. Now skyping can be one of the most frustrating forms of communication. I was living literally in the middle of nowhere and the reception was at best okay during the early morning, not sure why that was. So, it was always in and out while we spoke with each other. Yet, I cherished those conversations.

One of the most memorable ones was when my husband found a place for us and it was his first night alone in the apartment. He described the place as being gross and dusty and needing a very good clean. He said that he was feeling lonely too and wish there was something to cheer him up. I can’t remember if it was his idea or mine or the both us, but he ended up spending his evening talking to me on Skype while bathing in a bathtub and eating a box of pizza. It was one of the most hilarious moments that I got to experience with him. He seemed content at that point even though we weren’t together and  knowing that made me happy.

A couple of years later, we decided to recreate that moment together. The idea of having pizza while eating in a tub and watching anime was extremely tempting. So, we spent the evening making a homemade pizza that was topped with delicious, oily, salty meat.(My husband’s favorite) After making the pizza we got the tub ready and the Ipad set up with one of our favorite anime shows. Unfortunately, after a while the temperature of the water and the heat from the pizza was too much for me to handle and the bathtub experience only lasted for maybe five minutes. We still laugh about it, because it really shows what type of relationship we have. That we’re able to be flexible even when things don’t work out exactly the way we want them to. So, if you ever get a chance, enjoy the silly moments of life and cherish them.

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Bathroom Pizza (Pesto and Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients 

Serves 6-8

Pesto sauce:

One can of pesto 3.5 oz or half of can

3 big garlic cloves 
 2 tbsp of crumbled goat cheese and mix

5-6 white mushrooms thinly sliced

Tomato sauce:

4 big garlic cloves minced
One 6 oz can of tomato paste
 1 tbsp of honey
Sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp of olive oil
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
Pinch of white pepper
2 tbsp of oregano
1 tsp of basil
8 to 10 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of minced fresh tarragon

Toppings:

 1 small purple onion diced in circles  

half of a small red pepper chopped in strips
2 andouille sausage chopped in circles
8 oz of grated mozzarella 

Extra:

Olive oil

Yeast

Sugar

Flour

Corn Flour

Pizza Stone

Medium size bowl 

Damp dish towel

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Directions:

  1. Firstly make the pizza dough. I used this wonderful  pizza dough recipe from Sarah’s Cucina Bella website. Follow as instructed. While the dough is rising, continue to the following steps bellow for the sauces.
  2. In a small to medium size bowl, add the can of pesto, two big minced garlic cloves and goat cheese. Combine together. Then set aside.
  3. Then slice the other big garlic clove (3rd one) in long slices. Once finished wrap in plastic wrap and set in fridge.
  4. Then thinly slice the white mushrooms and set aside in fridge also. Preheat the oven at this point to 450 F.
  5. For the Tomato sauce, add all ingredients to a medium size bowl and combine. Set aside in the fridge with plastic wrap on top till ready to use.
  6. Prepare the toppings for the pizza. Grate the mozzarella and set aside till use. In a medium sauce pan sautee half of the purple onion and some of the red pepper with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sautee on low to medium heat until slightly brown. Set aside when finished.
  7. In the same pan or cast iron skillet, add the sliced sausage with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sautee until slightly brown or slightly crispy. Then set aside until ready to use.
  8. Once the pizza dough is done, lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough into a circle. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.)
  9. Then, create a uniform layer of corn flour onto the pizza stone so the dough doesn’t stick. Then carefully transfer the pizza dough to the pizza stone.
  10. Then its time to add the sauces, cheese and toppings. Start with adding the pesto sauce to half of the dough. Then add the tomato sauce to the other half. Once the sauces are on the pizza add the toppings accordingly.
  11. Pesto side- sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, garlic
  12. Tomato side- sauce, mozzarella cheese, sautéed onions and pepper.
  13. Once finished add the pizza to the oven. Bake for 6 minutes. Once the 6 minutes are up add the sausage and the remaining onions and peppers to the tomato sauce side. Then bake again for 15-20 minutes or until the sides are crispy brown.
  14. Enjoy!!!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira

Ferrero Rocher Granola with Kendall

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Photography by. Inez and Vinoodh(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Today’s inspiration is a young woman who is almost literally on EVERY single page of EVERY fashion magazine. She is on the cover and the main hit of Vogue’s September 800 page issue. Through the well-known fame of Keeping up with the Kardashians, she has been able to make a name for herself. This young woman is none other than Kendall Jenner. To learn more fun facts about her, watch 73 questions by the Vogue Channel.

Kendall Jenner, isn’t afraid to speak her mind and she definitely commands the runway with her striking features and also having an amazing walk. I was very intrigued by the photo above taken by Inez and Vinoodh. I wanted to create something that would feature chocolate to resemble the nut-brown color from the outfit and purse that Kendall holds. So, enough with the chit-chat, here is today’s recipe…

Ferrero Rocher Granola

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled cereal oats

1/2-1 cup of whole grain rolled oats

1/2 cup of melted coconut oil

1/4 cup of raw agave syrup

1 tsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of coriander 

1/2-1 cup of wheat germ

1/2 cup of golden raisins

1/2 cup of finely diced dried apricots

1/3 cup of Ferrero Rocher chocolate

Extra

parchment paper

baking sheet 

big bowl 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients together, except for golden raisins, apricots and chocolate.
  4. Mix the granola mixture with your hands or stir with spoon.
  5. Once well combined, spread the granola mixture onto the baking sheet. Set aside until oven is ready.
  6. Finely dice apricots and chocolate and add golden raisins to a small bowl. Then set inside the fridge to chill.
  7. Add the granola mixture to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Once the timer has made it to 10 minutes left, add the apricots, chocolate and raisins.
  9. Keep on baking until golden brown.
  10. Take granola out of oven and let it cool completely.
  11. Keep granola in large zipper bag or glass container in fridge. Enjoy with milk, yogurt or even by itself! (Warning, this recipe is addictive–enjoy with caution)

 

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Photo and gif by. Bernadette Mira and Garrett Hagen

Oreo Brownies with Gisele

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Photography by. Paulo Vainer (Left) and Bernadette Mira (Right)

Today I am serving you guys a dangerously tempting and sweet treat. Of course, let’s start off with today’s inspiration. Gisele Bundchen. The overly talented Brazilian model and actress is one of the top paid models out there! When I studied some of Gisele’s photos and taking a glimpse into her life through Instagram, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and strangely relaxed. Her feed is not just jewels and glamour, but very yogi and natured inspired, which was very refreshing to see. I was drawn to her ‘down to earth’ like personality and also the love that was emanating through her photos.

On the subject of love, Gisele is also a mother of two and is solely focusing on family, which I admire very much. The photo above taken by the great Paulo Vainer, inspired messiness but sweetness in my mind. I couldn’t help but think of Oreos and how they crumble once bitten into. So, without further adieu, I introduce…

Oreo Brownies

Serves 8

Ingredients

12 Oreos (6 smashed and 6 whole)

1/2 cup of butter 

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

2 chilled eggs

1/2 tsp. of nutmeg

1/2 tsp. of baking powder

pinch of sea salt in batter and sprinkled on top

1/3 cup of dutch cocoa powder 

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour 

Extra

medium size sauce pan

heat proof medium size glass bowl(for melting butter)

small plastic bag

rolling-pin or hands (to crush Oreos)

hand-held beater with whisk or beaters

parchment paper

8 inch baking pan 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 335 F. Make sure one of the oven racks are in the middle to bake the brownies.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, add hot water half way and heat on stove to a simmer.
  3. Add the heatproof glass bowl on top of the saucepan and add 1/2 cup of butter.
  4. While waiting for the butter to melt, which will take about 8-10 minutes, crush six Oreos in a small plastic bag to create a crumbly like mixture. Then set the mixture aside.
  5. Prepare the 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and a little spray of baking oil or butter. Then set aside.
  6. By this time, the butter should be melted. Quickly remove the glass bowl with oven mittens to the side. Add in the sugar, nutmeg and eggs. With the hand-held mixer, mix the ingredients until well combined.
  7. Then, add the flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, crushed Oreo mixture and cocoa to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  8. With a spatula spread the brownie mixture into the 8 inch baking pan. Spread out evenly so it coats all sides.
  9. Then sprinkle a little sea salt on top of the brownies. Then put into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until done.
  10. Halfway through the baking process, when the brownies hit the 15 to 10 minute mark, add the rest of the six Oreos to the mixture to create a star like pattern.
  11. Once the brownies have finished baking, let the brownies cool on a cooling rack until ready to eat.

Enjoy with a glass of milk!

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Photo by. Bernadette Mira