Airo's Profile

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Powdered Brown Sugar?

What about the muscovado sugars? Well, not the dark kind, as I can see that is going to be crazy to even think about "powdering" that, but the light muscovado sugar? I've got LOTS of that, as well.

The brands I buy for light muscovado are India Tree and Billington's.

I love using the light muscovado for my blondies, but if I wanted to give them a buttercream iced top layer, then I could use a powdered sugar treatment there with the brown sugar (?).

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

Yes, exactly. American buttercream.

OK, cool. I will give the oven suggestion a try and see how that works. I guess I should add cornstarch to this once the sugar is ready to blend after being dried out?

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

Yes, I love Vitamix. I have a deluxe set which contains both a wet and dry blender and use it for so much. I will definitely give this a try in my dry blender.

Can potato starch be used as a starch addition, as well?

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

Those are the natural brown (or tan) sugars (light and dark) I have in my pantry - demerara, turbinado, sucanat, light muscovado, and dark muscovado. They're the kinds I bake with when I use natural tan or brown sugars in my recipe, nowadays. Each for different qualities in my recipes.

I now mainly cook and bake vegan and with whole foods and ingredients. So when I am making desserts, I don't use refined white sugar. I'll substitute that with natural cane sugar (a brand like Florida Crystals or some of the selections from Whole Foods Market).

I hadn't planned on using a powdered brown sugar in most recipes, just ones that I'd specifically want that kind of flavor and visual profile with. I was thinking that the distinctive taste of a brown sugar would be quite intriguing and different in the context of utilizing a powdered sugar, made with it, in a buttercream icing.

But since I've never tried it, I was curious about whether or not it would work and if anyone in a community like this has tried it. I was told that brown sugar powder is popular in some Asian markets. I've no idea because I've never seen it anywhere.

I've made a brown sugar icing before (with just brown sugar as it is), but it has a different texture than an icing made with a traditional powdered sugar.

What do you think of the oven-dried suggestion that was mentioned elsewhere that I described? Do you think that might eradicate the issue with the brown sugar being too clumpy to powder?

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

I don't want to use any bleached or refined white sugar. I'd rather use a natural brown sugar. That's why I prefer using one of the brown sugar varieties that I already have in my pantry. I am assuming that a really dark variety like muscovado is out of the question, in terms of powdering. LOL The molasses content is quite high in that. Not even sure that would "powder."

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

I also wonder if I'd need a starch of some kind to add to the powdered sugar, if this could be done? Like cornstarch, arrowroot, or something like that?

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Powdered Brown Sugar?

I've never seen it in stores, but am curious as to whether or not this can be made at home. If it's possible, basically...because of the molasses content.

Anyone have any tips or advice...even pictures? Can't really find that much online about this, either. Scant info here and there, but not very detailed.

Someone suggested, on another site, to dry out the brown sugar in the oven at 250 degrees for 35-40 minutes and then take the dried sugar and blend it for a powdery texture, but I can't help wondering if "drying" it first would make the sugar caramelize.

What would I use powdered brown sugar for? A variety of things, but specifically for making a buttercream icing.

Jan 31, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Making Caramel with Muscovado Sugar?

It actually came out very well and QUITE distinctive. Firmed up nicely for my dark caramel tartlets when it was placed in the fridge to cool down and chill.

Here's a photo of it after taking it off the stove. I should have taken photos of my tarts, too. I will be making them again next week, so I'll have new photos to show.

Dark muscovado caramel (vegan):

http://theculinarycurio.com/images/da...

I used coconut milk and Earth Balance to substitute for heavy cream and butter, respectively.

Jan 07, 2012
Airo in Home Cooking

Making Caramel with Muscovado Sugar?

I just got new stock of muscovado sugar (India Tree brand), so I am going to experiment with making a caramel from this sugar this week, and see how it turns out.

If it comes out right, maybe I'll make some caramel tartlets...

Thanks for the tip on temperature settings. That might help, for sure. :)

Dec 29, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Making Caramel with Muscovado Sugar?

I really -love- muscovado sugar and am intrigued with the idea of making caramel from it.

Anyone ever successfully made caramel with muscovado sugar? Does it caramelize well and does anything need to be done differently in the caramelizing procedure?

To make a caramel sauce, I usually take white sugar and heat it up in a thick-bottomed sauce pan until it completely melts and then I add in the butter. Once that completely melts, I take it off the heat, wait for a few seconds and then slowly add in the cream (and any extracts) and stir it in. It foams up initially but then it turns into a nice, thick, gooey, smooth, delicious, and velvety caramel sauce, especially as it cools down.

Could I do the same process with muscovado? Plus, it's so dark and "molassy" in smell, I'd be nervous of whether or not I am burning it without realizing it.

Dec 27, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Baking Fuyu Persimmons (for dessert)

I will be making a triple fruit trifle for Thanksgiving, tonight. I am using Bosc pears, green apples, and Fuyu persimmons.

I LOVE persimmons and have a ton of them in my kitchen that I usually eat as naturally sweet treats. However, I've never baked them before and am wondering if I should bake them with the skins on. I plan to spice and sugar them, and bake them in the oven for their own flavored layers in my trifle.

Will the skin soften when it bakes or will it remain similar to the way it is when raw?

Nov 23, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Preparing Ground Tofu?

I have a couple of blocks of firm tofu in my refrigerator. I use it in all sorts of recipes but I've never prepared ground tofu at home and am very interested in doing this so there's more versatility in how I enjoy tofu.

Does anyone have any tips on making ground tofu at home? Do you buy ground tofu already prepared?

I was thinking that I'd chop or process the firm (or extra firm) tofu into very tiny chunks and season it up well (of course after draining all of the water out) and then fry it in a pan like ground beef or turkey is often done.

I could do this and face trial and error, but wanted to post here first to get some advice or ideas...and to find out if the supposed technique above is the right way to go about making my own ground tofu for things such as:

--stuffed bell peppers with rice
-vegan tacos
-vegan dirty rice
-filling for vegan enchiladas
-topping for vegan/vegetarian nachos
-homemade lettuce cups

and so on.

Jul 24, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Vegan Brownies = Delicious?

Thanks, guys, for the links and the ideas!

I might try the silken tofu idea (replacement for eggs?), as well as giving Earth Balance a try (replacement for butter).

I hear that Earth Balance comes in sticks like butter, but that the sticks and the tubs can't be used interchangeably in terms of measuring for amounts in recipes. Don't know if that checks out, but I've read that a few place online. I've only purchased the small tub (the olive oil blend, which is yum on warm whole grain toast).

I might also try incorporating a chocolate ganache layer on top using coconut cream or coconut milk as the non-dairy substitute. That might work to create a nice fudgy top layer above the moist brownie part.

Jul 17, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Vegan Brownies = Delicious?

I've been vegan for about close to 5 months now and one of my favorite desserts to indulge in and make from time to time was brownies.

I especially enjoy the gooey, fudgy brownies over the light, cake-like kind. Or at least something in between the two textures..

I realize that egg yolks (along with lots of sugar) and butter are some of the key ingredients to creating that nice, moist, rich texture. But vegan brownies would have to forgo those dairy and egg ingredients.

Has anyone had any really good fudgy vegan brownies that taste just as good or, dare I say, even better than traditional fudgy brownies? Is it possible?

If so, any recipes to share as well as experiences trying out different types of vegan style brownies? Really curious to hear about comparisons.

I want to try my hand at making some vegan brownies soon as I've been having a strong craving for this old favorite lately, but have been bummed that I might not enjoy brownies without the eggs and butter. Some people have told me to look into Earth Balance, that it is very similar to the taste and function of butter.

Jul 16, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Soaking Nuts?

I've read here and there about the importance of soaking nuts over night and then dehydrating them because nuts become easier to digest therefore releasing more nutrients when metabolized. This all pertains to making nut butters or even eating raw nuts on a daily basis.

I make nut butters quite often (pecan, macadamia nut, walnut, almond, peanut, etc.), but I don't soak the nuts first.

I just buy the nuts raw or roasted from the store in the bulk section (preferring organic selections when I can find them) and take them home to turn into nut butters either using my food processor or Vitamix blender.

My nut butters always come out fine and I've never had any digestive issues after eating them. But I am concerned now about whether or not I DO need to begin routinely soaking nuts before preparing my butters. I wouldn't want to miss out on any important nutrients while eating my nut butters.

Anyone have any concrete info or knowledge on this? I've looked around online, but hard to find definitive information.

May 06, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Fries: Fried or Baked?

I like to bake sweet potato fries, as well. For my seasoning blend I like to use cumin, chili powder, paprika, sea salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper and olive oil. They come out spicy and delicious.

I'd love to try making my own garlic fries. I've always enjoyed those when eating out.

Apr 28, 2011
Airo in General Topics

Fries: Fried or Baked?

I will definitely try that strategy (two temp.). Thanks for the tip, because that's how I like my baked fries, crispy on the outside (with skin) and smooth, creamy on the inside (no mealiness).

Apr 28, 2011
Airo in General Topics

Fries: Fried or Baked?

LOL! Yes, I thought the as I posted the thread. Kind of weird to call them fries. But I guess "oven fries" like Escondido mentioned makes more sense.

Baked potato stalks (weird)
Baked potato sticks (hmmm, still sounds weird, lol)
Baked potato wedges (problem is not all are wedge-shaped)

Apr 28, 2011
Airo in General Topics

Fries: Fried or Baked?

Do you prefer your fries baked or fried? And why (for your answer)?

Also what are your favorite types of potatoes to make fries from?

I might try using my blue potatoes this week to make baked blue potato fries.

Apr 27, 2011
Airo in General Topics

Using Dates in Chili?

You really can't taste the coconut milk at all. I just add some to give creaminess and richness to the chili. :) Almond milk would be another good idea, too.

What I do to make my chili is I cook and boil my beans with some olive oil, white onions, a few garlic cloves, bell peppers and celery. I let this cook for a little over 2 hours on low heat. The house is engorged with the smell of spices at this point. I like to do this first with my beans because I am making sure they are heavily infused with flavor from the start for my chili.

As the beans cook, I will make a pico de gallo or a chunky salsa blend and keep it in the fridge to remain cool and fresh for when I need it.

When the beans are done, I take them out the pot and drain the flavorful and aromatic bean broth from them and keep both the beans and the broth in separate bowls.

In the pot I cooked the beans with, I will add a quarter cup (for 2 cup of raw black beans cooked) of olive oil and let that heat up.

To that I add more chopped white onions, a few more garlic cloves (I love onion and garlic!), some chopped and de-seeded jalapeno peppers. When the onions have softened in the mix, I add in cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and lots of chili powder and stir that up. When that's heated up a bit, I take my drained beans and add those back in the pot and make sure they are stirred up well with everything.

Then I take my chunky salsa and the herbal bean broth and add both of those in.

I dump in a good amount of Roma tomatoes (whole) because I love how they plump up further and burst in the mouth (like grapes) with warm tomato flesh and juice when they are cooked and bit into as I eat chili.

I also put in my mushrooms (I love the texture they bring to the chili), some lime juice and lime pulp (only enough to add to flavor but not dominate), a bit of coconut milk, sea salt (to taste), paprika, and coconut sugar (also to taste). I might add in a bit more cilantro, too, at this point even though cilantro is already in my salsa. I'm a cilantro fiend.

I let this all simmer and thicken up for about half an hour. I always love this time because the house truly smells insanely good and I can't wait to dig into a huge bowl topped with fresh avocado.

Some more good additions to this chili would be blue, red, or purple potato wedges, squash and zucchini, tortilla strips, and shelled soybeans.

Apr 27, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Using Dates in Chili?

Well, the chili I make is a spicy black bean vegetarian chili. These are the things I put in my chili:

Cooked (not canned) black beans that have made their own "bean broth" while simmering, green and yellow bell peppers, several cloves of garlic, celery, white onions and olive oil, mushrooms, roma tomatoes (put in whole), homemade salsa or pico de gallo (used as a base, includes fresh cilantro), jalapeno peppers, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, sea salt, coconut sugar (to add some natural balancing sweetness), lime juice and pulp, some coconut milk.

I eat and serve my chili with slices of fresh avocado on top, in a bowl, which goes really well with the rich and spicy flavor of the chili. It's always addictive for me to eat. Hard not to eat bowl after bowl of the stuff when I make it.

If I used dates, I would not use the coconut sugar but instead I'd chop up and make a loose paste out of 2-3 dates and put them in the chili to cook. I'd have to taste after putting in 2 and see where the flavor profile is, whether it needs one more date added or it has enough sweetness with just 2 dates.

I'd use large Medjool dates since I enjoy their flavor. Yes you can definitely buy them in bulk. Many of those dates are grown and harvested in Southern California. I usually buy them from Whole Foods or Sprouts, but I am looking into other places to get them in larger bulk supply. The Farmers Market in LA has some stalls that sell them in bulk. I can totally say that when Medjool dates are in my house, they don't last long at all.

I use them in so many things (fruit smoothies and shakes, desserts, etc) and enjoy eating them alone. They are ridiculously good. They taste like candy to me.

Apr 27, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

BEST FRENCH FRIES IN LOS ANGELES

These don't qualify as traditional fries, but lately I've been loving the Sweetheart (sweet potato) fries at the Veggie Grill. I go to the VG in El Segundo.

They are served with a chipotle ranch sauce made with Vegenaise. That was my first time trying Vegenaise when I initially dined here and I enjoyed it. Tastes just like mayonnaise...maybe even better. I've since purchased some to make things with at home when I get around to making my own sweet potato fries.

But for those in LA, I recommend trying these at the Veggie Grill.

Apr 26, 2011
Airo in Los Angeles Area

Using Dates in Chili?

Anyone ever use Medjool dates to naturally sweeten and balance the flavor in a chili recipe? I am big on using natural and whole sources of sugar (organic honey, agave nectar, natural sugars, brown rice syrup, etc.) rather than artificial and highly refined sources of sugar.

When I cook chili, I usually use a few tablespoons of coconut sugar to give some sweetness to my chili, but the idea of trying dates came to mind and when I looked online, I couldn't find any recipes that particularly used dates as a sweetener.

I might give this a try. I am thinking of chopping them up in small pieces and making them into a loose paste and -then- adding it to the chili to dissolve while the chili simmers and cooks. I am thinking the complex, sweet flavor of a Medjool date would go well with all of the spices and add to its thick and hearty texture.

I am even thinking date syrup would be a good idea...

Apr 26, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Making Homemade Marshmallows

Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. I've never made homemade marshmallows, but I'll be making them this upcoming week to see how they turn out. I'll certainly report back when I do.

Jan 30, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Making Homemade Marshmallows

Can pectin be substituted for gelatin in a marshmallow recipe? Most marshmallow recipes seem to call for gelatin.

I personally don't have a problem with using gelatin but if I am preparing them for others, I am sure I'll come across someone who might object to the use of gelatin and I just want to know if there's a substitute for it that works the same or similar.

Jan 26, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Litmus tests: Thai food

I strongly agree here about Pad Thai being the litmus test. It seems to be valid every time when I judge a Thai eatery.

Jan 19, 2011
Airo in General Topics

Doughnuts: Shortening vs. Butter

Are you saying that in California, if I opened up a bakery that made doughnuts, I'd be required by local law to both make and fry them with and in shortening?

Jan 14, 2011
Airo in Home Cooking

Doughnuts: Shortening vs. Butter

I am looking to finally experiment with doughnut recipes. It will be my first time making yeast dough doughnuts, although I am not unfamiliar with making other yeast dough desserts (sticky buns, sweet rolls, and so forth).

When I look up recipes for doughnuts, I notice that in the dough-making stage, many require the use of shortening over butter.

Now I know shortening, in some recipes, makes for a flakier and crumblier texture, but in doughnuts why would shortening be preferable to butter? Although both are fats, do they both produce different textural results in doughnut recipes?

I would like to use butter over shortening (for matters of taste and wanting a natural and healthier ingredient), but if shortening is important for an ideal texture in doughnuts, what other natural and tasty oil/fat can be used to produce the same results?

Thanks in advance for any advice or tips.

Dec 31, 2010
Airo in Home Cooking

BEST FRENCH FRIES IN LOS ANGELES

Salt Creek Grille (I go to the one in El Segundo) has some great garlic fries.

Sep 25, 2010
Airo in Los Angeles Area

What do you love and collect?

I love mason jars and glass containers. I have a fascination with ceramic vessels in general. So I collect these whenever I can and am obsessed with the idea of canning things and making innovation and tasty concoctions, even if it means an exotic mixture of fruit for a confiture.

I also love odd and interesting drinking glasses and eatware, especially in distinctive color schemes, shapes and patterns.. If money allows, I collect those, too.

I have a ridiculous collection of decorative confectionery such as sprinkles, sanding sugars, nonpareils, dots, sugar confetti, dragée, sugar crystals and the like in various colors and styles. I love the way these look on shelves and I adore having so much to choose from when making desserts look whimsical and creative in a particular sense. This type of stuff honors the perpetual child within me.

I am a big fan of collecting unique and intriguing packaging, too. If I buy a box of cookies or I get a cute, decorated package (the kind with the lunchbox design with the handle on top) that holds a couple of orders of frozen yogurt in it, then I'll keep the packaging for inspiration and creative ideas. I always appreciate and love great package design for food.

You know, this reminds me. I used to LOVE the tall glass containers that POM Wonderful sold their juices and teas in. Each glass had the company logo on it, too. Anyone remember that? I kept those glasses afterwards as they made cute drinking vessels to collect and today I have a good collection of them from the past.

Sep 25, 2010
Airo in Not About Food