Friday, January 28, 2011

Easy Tortellini Carbonara

I'm sorry about not updating recently, I've had a cold thanks to my wonderful boyfriend. I'm back though, and mostly better so without further ado, here's today's recipe.

So who doesn't love a good pasta recipe right? I mean, look around and see if you raise your hand. You didn't. Today I'm bringing you a recipe that is, as usual, absolutely delicious AND incredibly easy. Hope you enjoy!

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions. 
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the bacon, cream, parsley and cheese; cook over medium heat until heated through.
Drain tortellini; toss with cream sauce. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Matcha Green Tea Muffins

In case you didn't already realize, this blog is partially inspired by the wonderful Emilie Autumn. So, once a month I will post one of her recipes until I run out of them. After that? Who knows, but it sounds like a good idea now, so its going to happen. So, I present to you, Emilie Autumn's Matcha Green Tea Muffins, one of her latest recipes. Hope you enjoy!

~Makes around 30 muffins~

2 1/2 cups sweet sorghum flour
1 3/4 cups quinoa flour (a complete protein : ) !)
1 cup arrowroot flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp xanthan gum (this takes the place of gluten and improves texture!)
1/4 cup matcha green tea powder
1 1/3 cups canola oil (if organic, canola oil is actually good for you!)
3 cups water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (use raw ACV like ‘Braggs,’ combines with the baking soda to help muffins to RISE!)
1 tsp almond extract (REAL!!)
1 1/2 cups agave nectar (light or raw)
1 1/2 cups coconut nectar (the syrup/sap, not the milk)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift the flours into a large bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and combine well.
In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined. (If batter seems too try, add more water. Too wet? More sorghum flour.)
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins (use either cupcake liners or simply butter and flour the tins ~ otherwise your muffins will stick like MAD!) and bake for 15~20 minutes OR until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Please do not let batter sit around, but use it up as quickly as you can (it’s science stuff, just trust me on this one.)
Now, I know you’re thinking that this recipe looks very bizarre, expensive, and uses difficult-to-find ingredients. It is all of these things. It is also worth it, because, with your new ingredients, and a scientific approach to creating Gluten Free and Vegan (also soy-free and with no refined sugar!) delicacies that can bear any resemblance to (or often be better than) the versions we all know and love, you will be able to experiment and invent new recipes of your own — once you learn the basic formulas, you can do anything, but you have to learn the rules before you can break them. I highly recommend using all organic ingredients if possible — the flavor and health benefits far outweigh the costs. I also highly recommend dressing up as a Geisha and serving these as part of an elaborate tea ceremony for someone you’d very much like to kiss. Worked for me…
AND! Never forget that baking is pure science elevated to an absolute art, and that, when you bake, you are engaging in the ancient practice of alchemy, i.e. altering the form of a thing into an entirely different thing. When you bake, you are working magick in a very real way, so honor your kitchen, your tools, your ingredients, and yourself every time you put on an apron, and infuse your creations with all the joy and love you with so share with those you feed. Because you can change the world, one muffin at a time.

<X3 EA

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scones, Three Different Ways

Ah the scone. How could we ever live without it? Today I will present to you three of my favorite scone recipes, one for Breakfast, one for Dessert, and a traditional fruit scone.

Bacon and Cheddar Scone 
 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly slices
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)
For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.
Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Slice the dough into 8 to 10 wedges.
In a small bowl combine the egg and water and whisk together.  Brush each wedge lightly with the egg wash.  Transfer the scones to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

3 cups plain flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup cream
1 cup lemonade (sprite) not diet.

icing sugar (confectioners sugar) for dusting the baked white chocolate scones.
freshly whipped cream to serve – optional.

In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, baking power and salt. Sifting the flour will help make the scones light.
Stir through the white chocolate chips.
Add the cream and lemonade. Mix through until almost together then add the raspberries. Fold through. The mix should still have some dry spots it should not be uniform like a cake batter.
Divide the scone recipe into three. Take each piece and put on a baking tray that has been lined with non-stick baking paper. Mound to a similar shape as in my photo, and mark the top using a knife into four. Four will give a generous serve so you may want to mark them into six. Cut down to almost half way, this will make pulling apart the baked scones easier.
If you want make them the traditional way then tip the mix out onto a floured bench and pat into a block that is about 5cm thick. I use a 5.5cm round cutter to cut 16 scones. 
Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I actually place them into a 24cm (9”) square cake pan lined with baking paper in four rows of four. This way they bake together giving them greater height and I feel they lose less moisture during baking.
You won’t get all 16 cut out on the first go, just push the left over mix together and cut the remaining scones.
The mix can be sticky so you may need to keep dusting the cutter and your fingers with flour.
Bake in a preheated oven set at 200oC for 18-20 minutes.
Leave to cool slightly before serving. Dust with icing sugar and serve with freshly whipped cream.
Blueberry Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Place a baking mat on a baking sheet, and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Stir in blueberries and zest.
Using a fork, whisk together cream and egg in a liquid measuring cup. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, and pour in cream mixture. Stir lightly with fork just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times to mix well.

Pat dough into a 6-inch square about 1 1/4 inches thick. Using a floured knife, cut into four 3-inch squares. Cut squares in half on the diagonal to form eight triangles. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Organic VS Conventional

We all know that organic is better for you right? Well, we're going to take a look at what you should buy organic, and what you're fine with just buying nonorganic.

The Dirty Dozen

If you pay attention to what you eat, you know that some food are just not clean. Pesticides attack these fruits and vegetables and that can lead to danger for you. For those of you that know these, think of it as a review, those of you that don't know about them already, look at this as your dirty dozen 101.


Since celery has no skin, it is highly susceptible to pesticide residue after you've washed it.


Though peaches have skin, its a very very thin skin. If you can't find organic, then just stay away.


Did you know that strawberries can have as many as 59 pesticides on them!? Its even more dangerous to buy them out of season because they come from countries that don't have as strict regulations as the US does.


Even though you can remove the skin off of apples, that doesn't mean that you should buy conventional. Even though it helps a little, there is still lots of residue, and you're getting rid of a bunch of the nutrients that make them healthy


These have to be one of the most dangerous berries on the non organic market. Not only are they thin skinned, they can contain up to 52 different pesticides.


Just like peaches, these have a very thin skin. 39 different pesticides and poisons?! No thank you. Try to buy organic, and as with strawberries, try to buy them in season.

Bell Peppers

So what about these? Well, containing more pesticides than nectarines, these think skinned veggies may be delicious but that doesn't mean that they are worth the risk.


Not only is spinach not very high in iron, it also is considered one of the most toxic leafy greens when it comes to the pesticide count. Since you aren't absorbing the iron (Oxalic Acids anyone?) either skip it completely or make sure that you buy organic.


Just like spinach, this leafy green, though hardy and generally resistant to pests and disease, this leafy green is still loaded with pesticides.


This summer favorite isn't as safe as you'd think. Not only are they loaded with pesticides when foreign grown, but cherries in the US have been found to contain three times as many pesticides as those grown outside the country.


Potatoes are safe right? I mean, they grow underground! Well looks like we've both been fooled. Even though you can peel them, that doesn't change the fact that they're loaded with pesticides.


Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.

So now that we know what to buy organic, what can you safely buy nonorganic?

Basically, the truth is that anything that has a thick skin is safe enough that you can skip buying organic. Bananas, Kiwi, Mangoes, Pineapple,etc. Also things like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Corn, and Onions.

So all in all, use your best judgement when you're buying produce. When in doubt? Buy organic. Its safer and it tastes a lot better.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mac & Cheese - The Grown Up Version

If you were like any normal kid, growing up you loved your mac and cheese. If you're like me, you still do. This is my take on the classic kid friendly food, but with a gourmet twist on it that could impress even the most critical in-laws,  bosses, or future love interests.

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or shells
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
Quarter loaf of French or Garlic Bread
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Russian Tea Cakes

These have to be one of my favorite things to make. They're lovely with a cup of Earl Grey, or a nice tall glass of milk. They also freeze very well, so I usually make two or three batches at a time since they're so easy. The simplest way to freeze these is just put them in a nice plastic container and keep them flat in the freezer.


1 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 Cup powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 Cup powdered sugar and salt. Beat in vanilla till combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Stir in almonds.

2) Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, until bottoms are lightly brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

3) Roll cooled cookies in 3/4 Cup powdered sugar. Be sure to allow cookies to cool before doing this, otherwise powdered sugar will melt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream Frosting

 I'm gonna start this whole blog thing off with a favorite recipe of mine. Now, this is a completely Vegan recipe but for the record I'm not Vegan.

2 cups almond milk (or coconut milk, or soy milk, or rice milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (or 1 1/2 cups agave nectar)
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut oil (or vegetabe oil. veg oil makes an almost too moist cake, still delish)
2-5 Tablespoons of red food coloring, basically color to your liking. If you want a REDDER cake you will need to use LESS chocolate. (OR you can use about 3/4 cup of BEET JUICE ((pureed or finely shredded)) for a natural red color, and the beet flavor goes undetected!)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add vinegar to almond milk, and set aside to curdle.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Add vegetable oil, food coloring, and vanilla extract to the curdled almond milk, and mix.
Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.
Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes or until done.

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, we use Earth Balance
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup lavender almond milk (bring milk and a handful of dry lavender to boil, take off heat and let steep for 10 mins then let cool before making frosting)

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
Add the vanilla and lavender almond milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.
Add a couple drops of purple food coloring if you want!

Welcome to The Asylum Pantry!

Goodness its been a long time since I've blogged. Not that anything ever took off... However, here I am, and here you are. I welcome you wholeheartedly and hope you'll stay for a while.

So. Who am I you ask? Well, I'm Raayvhen or at least that's what you need to know, and I'm here to share with you a vast number of wonderful recipies. Sometimes they will be baked goods, other times just good food. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Adieu for now,