"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Monday, May 18, 2015

Melissa's Kiwi Jam :)

Missing my former co-worker - Melissa!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Modernist Food / Kitchen Debut / Pride Party ~ The Lovely & Talented Mathew Guiver

My roommate, Mathew Guiver (@mathewguiver), has the skills of a professional chef, with the creativity of an artist and the cooking stamina of a Olympic Hurdler. For a recent party, he prepared an unbelievable menu for a very special Pre-Pink Kitchen Warming Party. Below is his blog post with photos of the food. I'm thrilled to have this be his debut on Good Looking Home Cooking and look forward to many more posts from him!

A few months ago, a new guy entered my life… (Don't worry though, I promise the romance in this story is focused on my passion for food). As luck would have it, he was finishing a kitchen remodel but openly admitted that he didn't plan on cooking in it very often. In discussing a party to celebrate the completion of his new kitchen, David asked if I would be interested in taking care of the food and libations. Obvi, I said yes, and immediately went into brainstorm mode.

While working on the menu, I saw the invite that was sent out to our guest list.

The lovely & talented Mathew Guiver? Me? Immediately I started getting texts about this invite. "This guy's really into you," "I want a man that calls me lovely & talented," etc.

Talk about pressure! Not only that, but this invite got sent to his close friends, and the party would be my introduction to a dozen or so important people in David's life.

Shit, I thought. I really have to deliver on an incredible menu. The concept I settled on was a day of food representing the four major meals, all of which had been deconstructed and rebuilt with modernist cooking techniques. Here's the menu I came up with (admittedly after two weeks of research and testing).

Ice cream sandwiches made of bagel infused ice cream and cream cheese cookies, topped with freshly whipped cream

Reverse Caesar salad made of a Parmesan cracker topped with Caesar avocado spread, crouton crumbles, and romaine foam

Zucchini noodles with raw macadamia nut Alfredo on a pasta dough chip

Chocolate covered bacon banana bread balls and vodka marshmallows

Interested in learning how to recreate these dishes? You've come to the right place.

This was actually the first dish that came to me. As a dedicated Food Network fan I've watched pretty much every episode of shows like Chopped, Next Iron Chef, and Cupcake Wars. During an episode of Next Iron Chef a year or two back, chef Anne Falkner won a challenger with a dish that included toasted bagel ice cream, and I decided this was my opportunity to recreate it.
Ice cream recipe

I had to do a bit of testing to find a combination of ingredients that worked for my own ice cream. Additionally, after experimenting with different ways to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, David and I decided it was best to invest in one. We actually found a great machine for under $40 on Amazon, and I highly recommend buying one if you plan to make ice cream at home.

3 poppy seed bagels
2 c heavy cream
3/4 c milk
3 Tbsp cream cheese
1/4 c buttermilk
1/4 c sour cream
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Set oven to broil.
2. Cut bagels in half, place on the top rack of your oven, and let them become blackened. You may want to open a window or turn on a fan, because you will need to go beyond toasted, and make sure the surface of each bagel is completely black.
3. Put bagels in large bowl, add cream and milk.
4. Use an immersion blender and work through the bagels. Make sure that there are no chunks of of toast and that you have a smooth, thick mixture.
5. Add cream cheese, buttermilk, and sour cream. Blend until smooth.
6. Finally, add your egg yolk, and vanilla. Blend once again, then cover, and place in the refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Pour the mixture into your chilled ice cream maker canister, and surround it with ice and rock salt.
8. Run your ice cream maker until your mixture has reached a creamy yet firm consistency. You'll be spreading this onto your cooled cookies to make the ice cream sandwiches so you don't necessarily want it to form a semi solid state.

Cream Cheese Cookies
I actually based my cookies on Ina Garten's Regelach recipe. I did make a few adjustments to increase the strength of the cream cheese flavor. Additionally, since I used the cookies for ice cream sandwiches I didn't over bake them. I wanted a soft chewy cookie, so I baked them at a low temperature and removed them before the bottoms had much color.

1 1/2 packages of cream cheese (12 oz)
1 stick of butter
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour

1. Let your cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Do not microwave them, it will run the dough.
2. Mix your butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.
3. Add sugar and cream. Then add salt and vanilla.
4. Slowly add flour until combined. Do not over mix.
5. Remove dough, and roll it into a ball on a floured surface.
6. Cover dough, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
7. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
8. Roll out dough on floured surface until about 1/4 an inch thick. Using a circle shaped cookie cutter (you could also use a cup, or the lid off a mason jar) cut out your cookies and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
9. Bake for 10 - 11 min, then let cool on a wire rack.

Final prep: 
1. Make sure that your cookies have cooled before attempting to assemble your sandwiches.
2. Scoop about 3 Tbsp of ice cream onto a cookie. Place a second cookie on top and press down so ice cream spreads.
3. Freeze for a few hours, or overnight.
4. Just before serving, remove and let thaw for 10 minutes. Top with fresh whipped cream.

It took me awhile to come up with the reverse Caesar salad cups. I knew I wanted to do something with a foam in order to show off some of my molecular cooking skills. I finally decided to do a lettuce foam, and from that came the thought of doing a Caesar salad but somehow deconstructed. When you bite into my reverse Caesar salad cups you get all of the flavors of a Caesar salad, but with none of the same textures.

Parmesan cups

2 c shredded Parmesan cheese (do not use grated, it won't come out right)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut 3 inch by 3 inch squares of parchment paper.
3. Place paper squares on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese onto paper, and form a circle shape.
4. Bake for a few minutes, until cheese starts to brown.
5. Remove from oven, and immediately invert each piece of paper (with Parmesan circles) over a shot glass. This will create the 3 dimensional cup shape. Now, you could go with a flat Parmesan cracker, and it won't involve risking any burns to your fingers. However, I really like the look of the cups over the flat crackers.

Caesar Avocado Spread
To create my Caesar spread, I borrowed from Lauren's Latest and just made a few modifications.

1 avocado
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
3/4 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 c shredded Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth.
2. Taste, and season or add additional oil to reach desired taste and consistency.

Crouton Crumbles
I love making croutons, but had to test a few different types of bread to decide which to use with my reverse Caesar salad cups. I decided to go with hot dog buns, as the crust to bread ratio gave me a crumble with the color I was looking for.

3 hot dog buns
1 tsp garlic powder

1. Rip up your hot dog buns a few times, then let them sit uncovered for six to ten hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Using your hands and a fork, work through the bread pieces until you have reached a crumb like consistency.
4. Place bread crumbs on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with garlic powder, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Romaine Foam
1 head romaine lettuce
1 - 2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp soy lecithin powder or granules

1. Rip up romaine lettuce into a blender.
2. Add water, and blend until smooth.
3. Strain mixture using a sieve or cheesecloth.
4. Let cool in refrigerator for at least an hour.
5. Add soy lecithin and use an immersion blender to work a foam. The foam will only form on the surface of the mixture so you will need to scoop it off the top in order to continue foaming.

Final Prep:

OK, I'm not going to lie… The romaine foam is a pain in the ass, but it's a pretty awesome technique that most people wouldn't expect at home. It's very sensitive, and will lose all of it's volume if you handle it too much. You'll essentially need to assemble all of your Caesar cups, then foam and top each one and serve IMMEDIATELY.

To assemble the cups, place them on a serving dish, then pipe a layer of avocado dressing that coats the bottom. Sprinkle your crumbs, then top with fresh romaine foam.


I really enjoy homemade pasta. It can be a bit of work, but is well worth it in my opinion. There are essentially only 3 ingredients in pasta: flour, salt, and eggs.

I definitely wanted to make a homemade pasta dough, but decided to do something different with it. I came across this article on heo yeah yum, and it inspired me to create pasta dough crackers.

But pasta crackers wouldn't be enough. I was already going all out with this meal, and wasn't going to stop now. My mother always told me that "anything worth doing is worth doing well," and it's a saying that has always stuck with me. I usually go quite overboard, but that’s a whole other story.

A few years ago I became a bit fascinated with raw food preparation, and actually did a few raw vegan cleanses, one of which lasted about six months. I definitely recommend eating more raw dishes, and if anyone is looking for a cleanse that won't leave you hungry, then raw vegan is the way to go! One of my favorite raw fishes was a zucchini pasta with a macadamia nut Alfredo, so I decided to use both elements to top my pasta crackers.

Pasta Crackers

2 c and 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 c semolina flour
4 eggs
Olive oil
Sea salt

1. Mix all purpose and semolina flour, and form a well in the middle.
2. Crack 3 of your 4 eggs individually into a cup or mug, then transfer one at a time to the mound in your flour mixture. Never crack eggs directly into the well of your flour. Pieces of cracked shell are near impossible to locate and remove.
3. Mix eggs with a fork, and gradually work in the flour mixture.
4. Once combined, knead for 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Wrap with saran wrap, and let sit at room temperature for an hour.
6. Roll out pasta dough (1/4 at a time) until it is less than 1/8 of an inch thick.
5. Brush half of the surface lightly with olive oil. Fold in half, then continue rolling until the dough is once again less than 1/8 of an inch thick.
6. Cut 2 inch by 1 inch rectangles, and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
7. Turn oven on, and set to broil.
8. Combine the yolk of your remaining egg with a splash of water, mix with a fork, then brush the surface of your crackers with the egg wash.
9. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
10. Place in top rack, and let cook for a couple of minutes. These won't take long, and I highly recommend turning the oven light on, and watching while they bake. It only takes a second for them to go from brown and delicious to burnt.
11. Once the surface has browned, remove from oven, flip, and return for another minute or so.

Raw Alfredo Sauce

1 c raw macadamia nuts
1/4 c pine nuts
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 - 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water
1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Break up macadamia nuts into piece, place them in a jar or Tupperware container, fill with water, and let set overnight at room temperature.
2. Strain macadamia nuts and rinse.
3. Place soaked macadamia nuts, and all additional ingredients in a heavy duty blender.
4. Blend until smooth, while testing for consistency and flavor. You may wish to add additional water or oil depending on your climate.

Raw Zucchini Noodles


1. Peel zucchinis.
2. Using a cheese grater, grate the zucchinis while holding them lengthwise in order to get a long faux pasta.
Final prep:
The final prep for this dish is actually pretty easy. Once cooled, take a pasta cracker, spread about 2 tbsp of raw Alfredo, then top with zucchini noodles, and a couple of pine nuts.

I'd been wanting to test this recipe for homemade “adult” marshmallows for a while now. I can't take credit for the ingredient list or directions, but I can tell you they were delicious! I did substitute marshmallow flavored Smirnoff vodka for the liqueur, hoping it would increase the marshmallowness. Also, I would advise to use plenty of corn starch when handling the marshmallows, as they are quite sticky.
A few weeks ago David had asked me to pick up a slice of banana bread when I got us breakfast from a nearby coffee shop, so I definitely wanted to do something with banana bread. “But how can I make it more modern?” I asked myself. With a few minutes two words struck me, "bacon," and "balls."

Chocolate Covered Bacon Banana Bread Balls

Personally, I'm a vegetarian. I don't mind cooking occasionally with non vegetarian ingredients though, and though an infusion of bacon flavor could really set this dish apart. I didn't want to overdo it with the bacon though, so I simply rendered the fat from a package of bacon and used it instead of butter in a banana bread recipe.

3 1/2 ripe bananas
1/3 c bacon fat
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
4 Tbsp cream cheese
10 oz bag Ghiradelli Bittersweet 60% Cacao baking chips
1 Tbsp shortening

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 4 inch by 8 inch loaf pan.
2. Mash bananas in bowl with a fork until smooth.
3. Mix in bacon fat, then sugar, egg, and vanilla.
4. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over mixture, and blend.
5. Slowly add flour, and mix until just combined.
6. Pour mixture into pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Since you will be using this bread for your balls, you don't want to bake the loaf until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove your loaf when the toothpick comes out with just a bit of residue.
7. Let loaf cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until cool all the way through.
8. Crumble loaf into a bowl using your hands. Add cream cheese, and work the mixture until it is smooth but chunky.
9. Roll about 3 Tbsp at a time into balls. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
10. Pour baking chips into glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then mix. Repeat this process 4 or 5 times until the chocolate mixture is smooth. Mix in shortening.
11. Dip balls one at a time into chocolate mixture, then return to parchment paper lined baking sheet and let cool in the refrigerator.

Final Notes
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my culinary adventure! I know, the recipes may seem daunting, but they were actually pretty easy. I spent weeks testing and modifying each recipe so that you won't have to, and I can promise they are all delicious (although I didn’t try the banana balls, rest assured all of the non vegetarian party goers loved them).

If you don't intend to recreate any of these dishes, then at the very least, I hope my post has inspired you to think a bit more creatively about food!