Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

It’s Saturday afternoon. I woke up at 7am this morning for a 7:45am plyometrics class. I stayed for the 9am yoga class. Then I went to brunch at Plate in Malibu where, ironically enough, I proceeded to eat everything on the plate, and almost the plate itself.

Apparently today, I am a bottomless pit. I say that not only because of brunch, but also because I’m sitting on the couch, Staten Island Cakes on in the background, checking e-mails and trying to tame my new mild obsession with Twitter (words I never thought I’d say), all the while armed with a butter knife, a dark chocolate bar, and a tub of peanut butter.

Chocolate bar?


Peanut butter?


Chocolate bar dipped in peanut butter?

Heaven. On. Earth. Period.

This is the perfect time to tell you about what I did in the kitchen 2 days ago. Yes - it involves peanut butter and chocolate :)

It all started 2 weeks ago. My beautiful sister and I drove from L.A. to Vegas. Naturally, we stopped at the Williams-Sonoma outlet. I’ve been there many times before. Every time I went, I would stare longingly at the Cuisinart ice cream maker, so pretty and elegant in its perfect little box. I would never buy it, though, because I didn’t really know how to make ice cream, nor did I have the confidence to figure it out.

But 2 weeks ago, I was a different Lauren. I was the Lauren who had gone to pastry school. I was the Lauren who was armed with her Laduree cookbook direct from Paris, and filled with ice cream recipes. I was the Lauren who made her first batch of ice cream one magical night at Nu Restaurant in Vancouver last March. So, this Lauren picked up the ice cream maker, and hulled it up to the cash register. $39 and change, and my life was forever changed.

It took me a few weeks to take it out of the box (it’s like a new pair of shoes: you buy them, wear them around the house, pick out a spot for them in your closet, and then say good morning, good night, and every salutation in between to them until the perfect occasion presents itself - the occasion that is worthy of your new shoes to be taken out on the town in all their glory.....), but then it happened. Armed with my fresh ingredients (not cooking with dairy or wheat these days meant I had no eggs or cream on hand, so I had to make a special trip to the store) and my cookbook, I was ready and oh so excited!!

I couldn’t find a recipe for chocolate peanut butter ice cream, so I took the dark chocolate ice cream recipe from my Laduree cookbook and improvised.

Milk almost to a boil, sugar dissolved, chocolate chopped, yolks whisked, peanut butter waiting patiently, mixed together, chilled overnight, into the ice cream machine yesterday morning - abra kadabra, alamazoo - chocolate peanut butter ice cream for you!

Now, please excuse me. I need to get the peanut butter off my computer. Oops.


Lauren's Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream

200g dark chocolate, rougly chopped
600ml half and half
3 egg yolks
120g granulated sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
1/4 - 1/2 cup peanut butter, depending on how strong you want the PB flavor to be

First, read your ice cream maker instructions. I had to place my bowl in the freezer until completely frozen before I could use it. I did it overnight, but if you're doing this same day, think that 4-5 hours is enough time to give yourself.

Roughly chop your chocolate. Have you PB ready.

Place the half and half and the sugar in a pot on high heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow.

Once the cream and sugar start coming to a boil (be careful not to let it boil over!!) remove it from the heat. **Temper the cream mixture into the eggs, and then pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the cream and sugar. Place the pot back on low to medium heat, and stir gently and constantly until the mixture is thick enough so that it coats the back of a spoon, and when you run your finger down the back, the mixture doesn't run back into place (like a custard).

** To temper, add 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks as you whisk constantly so that you don't cook the yolks. Once incorporated, add another 1/4 cup while whisking vigorously. Quick tip: place the bowl with the egg yolks on a wet towel on the counter so that it doesn't slide around while you whisk with one hand and pour the milk mixture with the other.

Once off the heat, stir in the chopped chocolate and peanut butter to stop the cooking process. Stir for about 5 minutes until smooth. Transfer to another bowl or dish, cover, and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Once chilled, pour into your ice cream maker for about 10-20 minutes, depending on the consistency you want. Transfer to a freezer safe container with a lid. Place in the freezer for about 2-3 hours before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings (1 litre).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cashew Gravy Bowl

Man, do I ever love love love cooking and baking while the food network is on! All my friends keep me company as I chop, simmer, saute, bake and all that jazz. Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, Giada, Ina – all my peeps! Of course, I cannot really eat most of the things they make, but still – there's just something about having them on while I am in the kitchen that serenade me as I multitask in the kitchen.

This morning? I'm making another batch of donuts (I almost can't keep up! The requests keep flooding in and it's so wonderful and surprising, all at the same time!!), and making lunch and breakfast simultaneously. Breakfast is a banana, strawberry, mango, blueberry shake with almond milk, water, and Vega, a vegan plant protein powder that I am mildly obsessed with. Lunch is inspired by the Dragon Bowl at The Naam in Vancouver and the I am Fortified quinoa dish at Cafe Gratitude in L.A. A country apart, these restaurants have such a similar take on creating vegan food that is not only delicious, but filling too! The Dragan Bowl that I love at the Naam is made up of quinoa, tofu, steamed veggies, beets and potatoes smothered in miso gravy and peanut sauce– so good! The I Am Fortified at Cafe Gratitude consists of seasonal veggies on brown rice or quinoa with your choice of green tahini, thai almond, or sesame ginger sauce – DE-lish!

So, feeling inspired to create something similar in my kitchen, I took a trip to the Farmer's market Sunday to arm myself with the necessary ingredients: kale, beet greens, fingerling potatoes, garlic, garlic, more garlic, cremini mushrooms, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Not having any miso paste, but having plenty of cashews, I scoured the internet for miso gravy recipes, and cashew gravy recipes, hoping to somehow combine the two. What I came up with was a concoction a-la-Lauren that is admittedly delicious! It started out rocky – I didn't really like the taste at first – but as I adapted and added different seasonings, I ended up with a sauce I adore, and a dish that shall be named Lauren's Quinoa Bowl with sauteed greens, seasonal veggies, garlic roasted potatoes and cashew gravy. It's quite the mouth full, in more ways than one!

I tried to put the recipe together for you, but I must ask you for some leeway: I had my ingredients spread out and just kept adding and tasting until I got what I wanted. So, though I tried to remember the approximate amounts of everything, the recipe I put together for you may need to be adjusted in your kitchen. You can e-mail me for questions as you go! – I'd be happy to walk you through it!

Ok, here we go.

Lauren's Cashew Gravy Bowl

  • 1 package (1lb) fingerling potatoes, chopped into bite sized peices
  • 1 head kale, chopped
  • 1 head beet greens, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 4 carrots, cut ¼ inch thick diagonally
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
For the gravy:

  • 1 ½ cups cashew
  • ¾ cups water
  • 4 cups low sodium veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons grated ginger
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt, to taste


Cook your quinoa according to the instructions on the box. I did 2 cups of quinoa for this recipe (and therefore, 4 cups of water). Once done, set aside and keep warm.


Wash your kale (1 bunch) and beet leaves (1 bunch) thoroughly in cold water. I washed them twice to ensure any sand and critters are gone. Set them aside to dry – either pat them down with a paper towel, or put them through a salad spinner. Either way, you want them dry before you chop them, because you are going to sautee them in oil, and oil and water do NOT mix (water causes the oil to splash dangerously). Chop them up. Set aside.


Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash and dry your fingerling potatoes (1 bag, or 1 pound). Keep the skin on. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and place on a sheet pan. Mince 4 cloves of garlic. Place garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper over potatoes – toss to coat. Once all the potatoes are coated, place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until tender.


Wash the veggies. Cut your carrots (about 4) into ¼ inch thick pieces, on an angle. Set aside. Cut your broccoli (1 head) and cauliflower (1 head) into bite sized pieces. Set aside.


Put 1 ½ cups cashews and ¾ cups water into a blender or food processor. Blend until a thick paste forms. Get it as smooth as possible. Place in a big sauce pan. Place all other ingredients in the sauce pan on medium heat. Adjust the seasonings as you go. I ended up adding a lot of salt, and playing around with Worcestershire sauce and honey as well. Once you have the flavor right, let it simmer for about 10 minutes, to cook down and thicken up a bit.


Heat 2 pans: 1 for the greens, and 1 for the seasonal veggies. For the greens, cut up 4 cloves of garlic. Place them in the oil on low heat so as not to burn them, but cook them out for about 2 minutes. Then add your mushrooms. Sautee them until golden brown. Then add your greens. You need a big pan for this because the kale is like spinach: at first, you think it's a lot, but then it cooks down to ¼ of what it was to start with. Add salt and pepper until you have the taste you want. Once you are happy with the taste and the veggies are cooked down, take them off the heat and set aside. Keep warm.


Sautee the carrots, cauliflower and broccoli in olive oil, salt and pepper on medium to medium-high heat. Keep them al dente (still slightly hard). Once you achieve this, place all the veggies into the cashew gravy, and let them cook for about 7 minutes.


Remove the potatoes from the oven. Place 1 serving of quinoa on a dish on in a bowl. Place desired amount of greens, mushrooms and potatoes on top of the quinoa. Top with cashew gravy and veggies. Be careful not to give yourself too much – that cashew gravy is filling!

Enjoy :)


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Acai Bowl

I’m full.

I woke up this morning and did a plyometrics class (P90X moves - think aerobics class on steroids). Apparently wanting to torture myself, I decided to stay and do an hour and a half long yoga class directly after plyo. Did I mention I hadn't had anything to eat yet?

Not good. In warrior one, instead of focusing on my third eye, I was thinking about food. What will I have for breakfast? What time is it? 45 more minutes?? What? Warrior 2? Back off – I'm tired!

And on and on it went. Quite the noisy little brain I can have when I'm hungry!

And then class ended.


My boyfriend wanted to make us omelets, and I thought an acai bowl would be a perfect compliment!

If you've never had one of these before, prepare to be introduced to your new favorite breakfast food. My personal favorite is the one at Novel Cafe in Santa Monica, but today I discovered how to make one in the comfort of my own home! Yay! Everybody wins!

So go out and buy some acai (in the frozen food section of your local grocery store). These guys are said to be super foods – packed full of antioxidants and oh so good!

Decide on your favorite juice. You will need a few splashes of this. I chose cranberry. I would have also used apple, mango, pineapple, or grape if I had them on hand. I wouldn't recommend using orange juice – the flavors might turn a bit bitter.

Make sure you have some bananas.

And strawberries.

And your favorite granola.

And a sweetener – honey or agave. I used agave.

Grab your blender. Throw in a banana, a splash or 2 of juice, 2 frozen acai bars, and a teaspoon or so of the sweetener, depending on how sweet you want it to be. Keep tasting as you go.

If you're having trouble getting the acai to blend, keep adding more juice or water, a tablespoon at a time (you can just eyeball this) until it blends. If you find the final product is too liquidy (remember – this is a bowl, not a smoothie, so you want it to be pretty thick), just throw in another banana to thicken it up.

Pour the acai mixture into your bowl. Add granola, strawberries, and bananas. Top with a bit more granola.

 Acai bowls and omelets - a beautiful Saturday breakfast!

Have a lovely weekend!