Sunday, June 22, 2014

Boston Local Food Festival- Mozzarella House

I'm taking the leap, I'm branching out, I'm volunteering as tribute. Keeping to my New Year's resolution to be bold and brave, I submitted an application to blog for a local organization that promotes locally sourced food, beverages, ingredients and vendors. Every year they host a food festival and were seeking bloggers to help them promote this year's event. I am fortunate enough to say I am now a Boston Local Food Festival blogger! You'll notice a link to their website is now housed on Livin' Lemon and I encourage everyone to subscribe to their blog to get the scoop on local places.

Look for this icon in the right-hand column to visit the BLFF blog!

My first assignment was to meet with the owner of Mozzarella House, a locally owned and sourced cheese factory. I say factory lightly because it's actually a creamery. The small operation consists of 5-6 employees who make soft cheeses by hand, keeping the tradition and integrity of Italy's cheese processes intact. Their specialties include mozzarella, burrata and ricotta cheese. You can read more about the manufacturing and local ingredients on the Boston Local Food Festival blog!

A summer favorite of mine

However, I do want to highlight some great uses for their cheeses. I mention a couple in the official post but want to reiterate how delicious this cheese is. Since it's made from fresh local ingredients, its shelf life is shorter than larger brands but it tastes much better and is even better for you.

The recommended cheeses and pairings
For mozzarella, there's the classic tomatoes and mozzarella but I was advised not to add balsamic vinaigrette. The cheese speaks for itself, no need to add anything else! The burrata cheese is similar to mozzarella but is made with heavier cream so is rich and tastes great with fresh fruit. I didn't make a recipe with the ricotta but I have no doubt it would be amazing and I would love to try it in a fruit and cheese dessert!

Stay tuned for more local food opportunities!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Chocolate Frosting

Hello, my name is Emily and I'm a chocoholic. I'm not ashamed of my addiction and I've learned to accept this diagnosis as a hereditary trait that is shared by both my mother and sister. Together, we bond over hot cocoa and Butterfingers, quickly turning to 'eat some chocolate, you'll feel better' as our go-to advice. Now that I'm older, my sister has been smart enough to teach me the ways of adult chocolate which involves chocolate martinis and I have returned the favor with chocolate bourbon cake. Together, we can make it through this often embarrassing addiction.

Getting ready with some flour and cocoa
Now that I have your attention with 'chocolate', surprise! This recipe is actually vegan. Don't run away, I promise the cupcakes are delicious and just because they're vegan doesn't mean you should run screaming towards the cookies. I was intrigued by this recipe because it uses avocado as the butter/oil substitute. I'm a fan of the popular motto that cocoa is a plant and chocolate comes from cocoa therefore, chocolate is a vegetable so adding avocado made this even healthier in my  mind. Of course, I tasted the batter just to be sure. This recipe also uses vinegar which was really what I was concerned about however, it actually added a nice zing to the batter, almost like pop rocks.

Does this look any different from non-vegan batter? Didn't think so
Here's the fun part: I invented the frosting (sort of)! Woohoo for modifications!! It really wasn't that big of a deal but I'm pumped. My roommate recently ordered a vast quantity of coconut oil so I've been researching cooking uses. Apparently you can use it to make whipped topping and frosting. I want to also experiment frying with it since it's fatty but more on the side of 'good' fat and would add a nice flavor to something like shrimp. Back to the frosting though, it calls for coconut water to thin the frosting. I'm not a fan of coconut water, I've tried it plain and I've tried the mango variety and I think they're strange. I would prefer to just drink water!

Sweet sweet maple water
I recently went to spin class at Handle Bar (I'm discovering a small addiction to spin class with the pump it up vibe) and had a blast! Afterwards, they had fruit and water as well as a vendor for Pure Maple Water. A friend of mine did a whole review of Maple Water here but I decided it would make a great substitute in this frosting recipe. Maple water tastes sweet but not overwhelmingly so, not like some artificial fruit drinks. The recipe only requires 2 Tablespoons of the water so I was free to drink the rest.

The frosting looks a little crumbly until the water is added
This frosting was a hit! I was baking these for some very healthy friends so I wanted to emphasize that the cupcakes were vegan (not a hit) so made with avocado (this was the hook) and the frosting was a healthy variety. It still has powdered sugar but is definitely much better for you than most frosting which use a block of cream cheese or two sticks of butter. The only downfall would be if you're making something that doesn't go with coconut because coconut oil is bound to taste coconutty, sorry!

The final product in all its chocolatey goodness 
Ultimately my frosting only covered half of the cupcakes so I had a bunch of vegan cupcakes sans frosting which is basically a muffin, right? So sans frosting, these make a great breakfast on the go.


Cupcakes (from Joy the Baker)

  • 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup mashed avocado (about half an avocado)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. This recipe makes about a dozen cupcakes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, avocado water, vinegar and vanilla until well-combined. You can also use a rubber spatula or spoon for this task.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until combined. You want to ensure that now flour mixture is left unsaturated.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan so the cups are a little more than half-way filled.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting.

Frosting (for 12 cupcakes)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 5-6 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of maple sugar water (or coconut water)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  1.  Cream the coconut oil and powdered sugar together until smooth. You may need to warm the coconut oil to make it pliable.
  2. Little by little, add the cocoa powder and continue to mix together with a hand mixer.
  3. Add the maple or coconut water and vanilla and cream until smooth. 
  4. Add sugar to taste, if necessary.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rhubarb Moscow Mules (and Fail Donuts)

The theme of the last few posts has been rhubarb, moving from rhubarb baked goods into ice cream and drinks. Well, this post will sort of be the end of rhubarb items for awhile. I have more tricks up my sleeve for this plant! I recently read about the popular drink known as a Moscow Mule. It seems like a great summer drink and alternative to mojitos. I also have an unhealthy love of ginger beer, which is misleading because it's a type of soda like root beer and contains no alcohol, so I've been sipping dark 'n stormies recently.

Gosling's ginger beer is also a good option (comes in a can with a seal on it)

A Moscow Mule was invented to get rid of vodka back in the 1800's because it wasn't a popular liquor (yet). It is usually served in a copper mug with crushed ice and mint leaves. Ginger beer and lemon juice are added to the mint over ice along with the vodka. Instant condensation will occur.

You can almost see my reflection!
Based on the success of the rhubarb gin fizz and inspired by a pin for a strawberry Moscow Mules, I decided to use some of the rhubarb syrup with this beverage to put a little Lemon twist on this drink. It definitely gave it a sweeter tinge and balanced the tang of the ginger beer very well. The rhubarb taste wasn't as strong as in the gin fizz but I also opted not to include the lemon juice in this variety. This is best enjoyed sitting outside on a summer evening.

I'm doing it right
I also tried to fill donuts with rhubarb sauce (not syrup) but alas, no success. Don't get me wrong, the donut with the sugar and the rhubarb was amazing but the process of donut-making was a mess. I have a history of not being able to make bready things or anything that requires yeast (see Parker House Rolls) so I tried to make these donuts and ended up with a) very small ones b) very not risen ones c) couldn't punch a hole to add the rhubarb so ate them straight and dipped in rhubarb sauce.

Ultimately I did eat a bunch of these donut holes but my plan to recreate malasadas from Hawaii with rhubarb filling failed pretty miserably. And by failed miserably, I mean failed deliciously because in the kitchen, that's how we roll.

Soon we'll be baking with avocados and talking about what the moon should be made out of....

Recipe for Moscow Mules
  1. Fill a glass (or copper mug) with ice and 2-3 mint leaves.
  2. Pour 2 ounces (one shot) of vodka over ice.
  3. Top off with ginger beer and give a gentle stir.
  4. Add a splash of rhubarb syrup or lemon juice if desired.