Hello everyone! I am excited to announce that Let's Live La Vida has moved to Wordpress! I hope you all continue to follow me at letslivelavida.com.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Saturday, August 31, 2013
|Greek yogurt with fresh fruit (and me in the spoon!).|
I'm the person who thinks about what she's going to have for breakfast while in bed the night before. I love taking in the smell of freshly brewed coffee and flipping pancakes while reading the front page of The New York Times. Now with classes starting everyday at 8 and 9:30 a.m., my college schedule does not accommodate such luxuries.
|Rolled omelette made with veggies from dinner the night before.|
Though my mornings are considerably more rushed than they were during those idyllic summer days, I refuse to compromise when it comes to breakfast. These two simple and healthy recipes take minutes to prepare and make me feel energized and focused during lectures.
The first--greek yogurt with sliced fresh fruit--will work with whatever produce you have on hand, no kitchen appliances required. For extra sweetness, mix in a bit of almond butter or jam.
|The kitchen in my dorm--where all the magic happens.|
For the filling, I recycled veggies from a stir-fry I made the night before. Transforming leftovers is a fundamental skill in college cooking, because you maximize the amount of time you spend in the kitchen and never waste precious produce.
Mixed Veggie and Goat Cheese Omelette
Tblsp of milk
Handful of diced, sautéed vegetables of your choice (I used eggplant, red bell pepper, and zucchini)
Crumbled goat cheese (or any other cheese you prefer)
Salt and pepper
1. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-low heat. Crack one whole egg into a bowl with one egg white, placing the yolk in a separate bowl. Add the milk to the yolk and combine with a fork. Salt and pepper both egg mixtures to taste.
2. Pour the egg/egg white mixture into the skillet, spreading it into a circle, and cook for a few seconds until just set. Place the veggies in a line in the center of the circle and sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over them. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the veggies and fold the two sides of the omelette over the veggies. Press down lightly on the omelette with a spatula, cooking until the yolk center is soft but not liquidy. Remove the skillet from the heat and serve the omelette immediately.
These recipes are part of my ongoing quest to cook nutritious meals from scratch in my college dorm. I encourage readers' comments and suggestions as I continue on this journey. For more information about the College Cooking series, click here.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Dorm food has a bad reputation. Pizza, chips and candy, energy drinks, and Cup Noodles constitute the four major food groups of the college diet. So how does a teen food blogger, one who considers the Saturday morning farmers' market the highlight of her week, navigate this daunting new environment?
Well, for starters, I will live in an apartment-style dorm this fall. My two roommates and I share a kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator, stove, and (hopefully) a small oven. I have access to fresh produce and pantry staples from an on-campus grocery store, but everything I cook must be quick and simple. Healthy snacks are especially important because they keep me going throughout the day and dictate my energy level.
Enter yogurt popsicles with granola and fresh figs.
This recipe allows you to use whatever you have on hand, mixing and matching flavors, with no fancy equipment required. Layer granola, mixed nuts, and ripe fruit with dollops of yogurt in a glass vessel, pop the glass in the freezer for a few hours, and enjoy a specially-designed, portable snack.
Some of my favorite combinations include toasted coconut and blueberries, almond butter and banana, and mixed berries with jam.
In the coming weeks, I will chronicle every chapter of my dorm food adventure. I invite you all to share any recipes and tips with me in the comments box. I look forward to discovering creative ways to enjoy fresh food within the parameters of college life.
Inspired by The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories
1/2 cup yogurt (I like the tanginess of Greek yogurt)
3 tblsp granola
2 ripe figs
2 tblsp fig jam
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle the sides of the glass with honey. Cover the bottom with a dab of yogurt. Layer bits of jam, figs and granola with the yogurt, sealing the top with yogurt. Stick a spoon through the center of the "parfait," and freeze for at least five hours. To release the popsicle, run the glass under warm water and twist the spoon.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
|The 7 Up pound cake is moist and tender, dusted with a thin layer of powdered sugar.|
Food makes memories. Some of my best meals involve gathering around a table with friends and family, talking and laughing for hours, and sharing incredible dishes. I love to cook and bake because great food creates the most enjoyable experiences.
Whenever I eat grilled fish, I remember my family's trip to the Mediterranean, where our lunch was sourced fresh that very morning. Macarons and croissants transport me to the streets of Paris, strolling leisurely and peeking into the display window of every patisserie I passed by. The desserts at Semisweet Bakery in Downtown Los Angeles bring me back to my childhood, with classic American favorites like chocolate-banana bread, decadent layer cakes, and strawberry pocket tarts.
A generous slice of blueberry cornbread-
the perfect balance between sweet and savory.
Semisweet is a charming shop nestled into a bustling Los Angeles street. The decor pays tribute to the 60's, with checkered tile tables, baby blue walls, and vintage accessories. Peering at the menu offerings made me nostalgic for the types of desserts I used to love as a kid- Oreos, Thrifty ice cream, and molten chocolate cake.
After much deliberation, I ordered the 7 Up pound cake, blueberry cornbread, Samoa macaron, and the traditional and PB Crunch Ding a Lings. All were excellent, but the pound cake and the PB Crunch Ding a Ling definitely stole the show. A Ding a Ling is Semisweet's rendition of the iconic Ding Dong- a chocolate snack cake filled with cream and dunked in chocolate glaze. You must try the peanut butter version, which satisfied my sweet-salty-crunchy-chocolately craving all at once.
Semisweet's prices are also very reasonable given the top-notch quality and generous portions, a major advantage for someone who can never make up her mind on what to order. So visit this quaint bakery for delicious American treats that will make you smile.
105 East 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 228 9975
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Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Just two days ago, I graduated high school. My classmates and I wore white dresses and held bouquets, walked down an aisle to an outdoor stage (sounds like a wedding, doesn't it?), and waited anxiously to receive our diplomas. During stressful moments and late-night study sessions, I vividly imagined this day in my mind, maybe even counted down to it. Now that toasts have been made and achievements celebrated, it hasn't sunk in yet that I will not return as a student to the place where I spent the past six years of my life.
|Picking blackberries from my backyard garden.|
How do I thank my amazing teachers and advisors, my peers, and my family members for all they've done to help me grow? How do I prepare for a completely new environment filled with thousands of unfamiliar faces, historic buildings, and dorm life? Well, for right now, I'm focused on savoring the moment. I want to let my experiences come naturally rather than always look ahead or to the past. I plan to spend this summer doing what I am passionate about; no strings attached.
Obviously baking ranks high on my list of passions. Which leads me to this cake. A cinnamon-scented oat cake filled with ripe, seasonal berries. The top is crunchy from a sprinkling of turbinado sugar, but has a soft, tender crumb on the inside. I love the cake's rustic simplicity, because during this time of year it's all about allowing the produce to shine.
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, July 2013
4 tblsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 cup plus 3 tblsp quick-cooking oats, divided
2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mixed ripe blueberries and blackberries
3 tblsp coarse sanding sugar (turbinado sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour an 8-inch square metal baking pan, tapping out excess flour. Combine 1 cup oats and water and let stand until oats have softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and beat in egg and vanilla until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Add flour and oat mixtures and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in about half of the berries.
3. Spread batter in pan and sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons oats and sanding sugar. Scatter remaining berries evenly over top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving. It's best served on the day of.
Friday, May 31, 2013
I first heard about Dominique Ansel through a fabulous show on Cooking Channel called Unique Sweets. Unique Sweets profiles notable sweet spots throughout the country, featuring mouth-watering video footage and interviews with innovative pastry chefs. When my family and I traveled to NYC over spring break, visiting this bakery was at the top of my to-do list.
We ordered a variety of items to sample, including pistachio, hazelnut, and chocolate macarons, chocolate chunk and chocolate-pecan cookies, a Paris-NY, 10 mini madeleines, and a cannelé. You cannot go wrong with any of these options, but my personal favorites were the Paris-NY, the chocolate chunk cookie, and the mini madeleines.
The fact that each batch of madeleines bakes within minutes of arriving to your table shows incredible attention-to-detail and thoughtfulness. These petite French cakes, though seemingly simple, can be made several different ways with subtle textural and flavor nuances. Dominique's are light as air, practically melting on your tongue. The chef's chocolate chunk cookie, another ubiquitous classic, is crunchy on the outside and soft and melty on the inside, with notes of caramel from the brown sugar.
A few weeks ago, Dominique made waves with his newest invention, a croissant-doughnut hybrid called the cronut. Layers of flaky croissant dough are deep fried, filled with Tahitian vanilla cream, rolled in rose sugar, and finished with a pale pink rose glaze. Dominique tried 10 different recipes before he found the one, and now people line up at 5 a.m. to get their hands on this unique pastry.
Ansel inspires me with his ability to transform familiar baked goods into amazing works of art. His creativeness with flavor combinations and presentation are unmatched. Though Dominique has received much recognition for his work and is a James Beard Award Finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, he continues to push the boundaries. When I visited, I was surprised to see him working humbly behind the counter with the other employees. This dedication and passion for his craft makes Dominique Ansel a stand-out in the pastry world.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
New York, New York
(212) 219 2773
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Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Starting my own pop-up bakery business in February has already been such a fruitful and exciting experience. I have learned so many valuable lessons about entrepreneurship and have improved my baking skills by 110%. It's neat for me to take part in every step of the production process, from buying ingredients at the market to baking at home, and eventually seeing people enjoy my baked goods right in front of me. This meticulous, hands-on approach gives each one of my pop-up bakeries a special homemade touch.
For the past several weekends, I have set up shop at Kaldi Coffee in Atwater Village, a hip and rapidly developing L.A. neighborhood. I load up the trunk of my car with baskets of chocolate chunk and oatmeal-raisin cookies and cake stands for citrus-poppyseed loaf and almond cake. Creating treats to pair with coffee has been an interesting challenge for me. All of my offerings are subtly sweet with ingredients like orange zest, clover honey, and Medjool dates that provide complex, refined notes of flavor.
To me, an excellent dessert is one you eat slowly and mull over the different components that make it so good. I gain inspiration by going to bakeries, ordering a handful of items along with a glass of water, and spending time analyzing each one in between sips of water to cleanse my palette. For most people, this process is too time-cosuming and tedious, but doing it makes me even more passionate about my own little bakery. I hope that eating my products gives people the happiness and excitement that I feel when creating these baked goods.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my pop-up bakery at Kaldi is receiving compliments from customers in-person and online. If you would like to connect with Maral's Bakery online, "like" www.facebook.com/MaralsBakery for updates on where I'll be and when, new menu items, and special orders. If you are an L.A. local, visit Kaldi Coffee tomorrow April 28 to meet me and pick up a treat.
Maral's Bakery at Kaldi Coffee
3147 Glendale Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
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Most Sundays, 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.