Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dakota's (Amazing) POP Parlor!

Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Tart N Peppa", a blend of raspberry, lemon, dark chocolate, almonds, & black pepper. My favorite flavor!

I am a huge Top Chef fan. I actually own most of the seasons, and I put the show on whenever I'm working at home. Something about the sounds of passionate chefs facing ridiculous challenges in the background of my tiny place helps me stay focused on my work.

Recently, I've made Chef Dakota Weiss from Season 9 (Texas) something of a pen pal. From Hollywood to Louisville, KY, we've been in contact a few times. When I first saw her name in my inbox, I squeaked. Out loud. Don't judge me.

Anyway, she's really cool and extremely talented. Recently, she opened a gourmet popcorn business called "Dakota's Pop Parlor". When I get to a certain number of fans on my Facebook fan page, I'm going to give away some of her popcorn to a lucky liker. In the meantime, Dakota sent me some samples to, well... sample. :)

Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee

LOTS of samples. Opening the box was like Christmas morning, complete with polka-dotted tissue paper. (!)

Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee

That beautiful lady sent me a sample of each flavor, 13 in all. The combinations inside each bag were whimsical, fun, and intriguing. This popcorn is art.

I had a mini party this weekend with some close foodie friends so that we could sample Dakota's work. We were all truly impressed.

Someone with a sweet tooth will be more inclined to love every flavor because they are ALL sweet, even the savory ones like "Curried Pig" and "Sunday Supper". Everyone had different tastes, of course, but each of us LOVED "Candy Crushin", which simply sang with notes of orange and ginger. It was the group favorite.

Below are the flavors. My ABSOLUTE favorites are "Buzzed Nanuts" and "Tart N Peppa". The former is an incredible combination of espresso, chocolate, banana, and hazelnuts. It is the perfect sweet treat. The latter was a total surprise - initially, I just wasn't sure about the combination of lemon and raspberry with black pepper, but this popcorn is a dynamite powerhouse of flavor. The fruit flavors are perfectly sweet and impeccably balanced with the subtle bitterness of the dark chocolate and the savory bite from the pepper. "Tart N Peppa" is flat out addicting and AMAZING.

But those are MY favorites! Scroll down to discover what your own faves might be. :)

The Flavors
(* = my favorites)

Curried Pig
Madras Curry Toffee, Smoked Pistachio, & Bacon

Perk N Pop!*
Espresso Toffee, Toasted Coconut, & Macadamia Nuts

Malt in Your Mouth
Chocolate Malt Toffee, Maraschino Cherries, & Candied Jalapeno

Sweet Heat Wave
Honey-Lime Toffee, Cashews, & Ghost Chili

Peanut Gallery*
Peanut Butter Toffee, Marshmallows, & Roasted White Chocolate

Buzzed Nanuts*
Hazelnut-Chocolate Toffee, Banana Chips, & Chocolate Espresso Beans

Holy Mole
Chipotle-Chocolate Toffee, Toasted Sesame Seeds, & Cinnamon

Tart N Peppa*
Lemon-Raspberry Toffee, Black Pepper, & Marcona Almonds

Pumpkin Hatch
Pumpkin Pie Toffee, Hatch Chili Pumpkin Seeds, & Pinon Brittle

Sunday Supper
Roasted Chicken Toffee, Fried Sage, & Waffle Cone Pieces

Napa Nirvana
Cabernet Toffee, Golden Raisins, & Rosemary Crackers

Candy Crushin*
Orange-Ginger Toffee, Pink Peppercorn, & Pecans

Truffle Shuffle
Truffle-Honey Toffee, Black Pepper, & Parmesan

To order some of this amazing popcorn, please visit:

A few snapshots of my 2 favorite flavors:

Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Buzzed Nanuts"
Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Buzzed Nanuts"
Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Buzzed Nanuts"

And some more artsy, self-indulgent photos:

Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Tart N Peppa"
Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Tart N Peppa"
Photo property of Chef Madeleine Dee
"Tart N Peppa"
Go order some of Dakota's popcorn NOW! 
It would be a truly unique and memorable gift. :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Homemade Bread for Impatient People Like Me

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee
Chef Madeleine Dee's 90-Minute Olive Oil Bread with Fresh Rosemary
     I'm not a very good baker. I don't usually like to measure ingredients, I have zero patience, and following instructions makes me itchy. I have a few recipes for desserts that I've developed and I use them on a regular basis because they don't require a great deal of time, measuring, or patience.

     A couple weeks ago, I wanted bread. No, I NEEDED bread. And I didn't want to wait. So, I got out my flour and I made some. I cheated quite a lot on typical bread technique, and I expected it to be awful. But what came out of the oven (despite literally making up the measurements as I went) was beautifully browned, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It was really good! And you know how Italian restaurants always serve warm bread with olive oil for dipping? Well, this is just as good because there's olive oil already inside the bread! It wasn't the most gorgeous loaf ever (the shape is a little different every time), and it's not going to win any competitions against handmade baguettes in France, but for what it is, it's AMAZING. :) Also, it's incredibly inexpensive to make and you know exactly what's in it, unlike most bread from the grocery store. And it only took an hour and a half from mixing to eating. (!) I know, right? Yeah. Want the recipe? Scroll on down, buddy.

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee

Chef Madeleine Dee's 90-Minute Olive Oil Bread

1 tbsp. FAST RISE yeast
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1.25 cups luke warm water
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus a little extra for sprinkling over the loaf
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing onto loaf
2 tsp. finely-chopped FRESH rosemary, optional (only use 1/2 tsp. dried if you don't have any fresh)
3 cups All-Purpose flour,  plus about 1/4 cup extra for kneading
Parchment paper, for baking
A pastry brush or a folded napkin/paper towel

1. Preheat your oven to 400*F. In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), combine the yeast and the brown sugar with the luke warm water on low speed until well incorporated. Turn off the mixer and let the yeast bloom for about 5 minutes, or until it foams and the color of the mixture is a tan/khaki shade.

2. Turn the mixer to a low setting and mix in the 3/4 tsp. salt, the finely chopped rosemary, and the olive oil. Letting the mixer run, add in the 3 cups AP flour 1/4 cup at a time. Don't take too long - just scoop, add, scoop, add, etc. As it mixes, it will gather around the paddle and pull away from the sides. When it's smooth and all the flour has incorporated into the dough, immediately turn it off. Scrape the dough gently from the paddle and scoop underneath of it so that it isn't sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Cover quickly with a cloth or towel.

3. SUPER FAST BREAD PROOFING: Microwave about 1.5 cups water in a glass measuring cup with a handle for 5 minutes. Immediately (and carefully) remove the cup, put your covered dough inside as quickly as you can, and shut the microwave door! Let proof for 15 minutes.

4. Once proofed, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray or olive oil. Sprinkle a clean countertop with the extra 1/4 cup flour, then turn the dough out onto the counter and gently knead only 2-3 times. Shape into an oval (or get fancy - I don't know what kind of bread-shaping magic you have up your sleeve), and carefully lay the dough onto your greased parchment. Lightly coat the loaf with olive oil and sprinkle it all over with a couple pinches of salt. Use scissors or kitchen shears to cut 3 or 4 shallow slits in the top.

5. Bake for 30-33 minutes. It will be golden brown, it will smell amazing, and it will sound hollow when gently knocked with your knuckles. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes before serving.

It's best warm and definitely best eaten right when you make it. 
However, it makes great sandwiches the next morning/afternoon. 
It's especially good with a fried egg on top and bacon. :)

Consume within 24 hours for optimum freshness (it gets stale pretty fast), 
but I seriously doubt it will last past dinner.


Property of Chef Madeleine Dee

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.