Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins!

The name might be a mouthful but I can promise you that these muffins are even better. Perfect for a special sweet treat in the morning or dessert at night. These are multi-functional muffins people! Get em while they’re hot!

I got this recipe from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang. I can personally attest to this recipe after having worked for Joanne for the past year. I did change just a few little things however, to make it my own! So here you have it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
makes about 24 muffins

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
4 T flax seed
1/2 c packed. brown sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c canola oil3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 T creme fraiche or sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 bag peanut butter/chocolate chips

**For this recipe, I added flax seed, used half brown sugar half white and added chips! Without these, you can easily make plain banana bread!

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flax seed. I used a fork to “fluff” the ingredients if you don’t have a sifter at home!

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3.Using a stand mixer, whip the sugar and eggs on medium speed until they become light and fluffy.

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4. On low speed, drizzle in the oil so it has time to incorporate itself into the egg mixture.

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5. Add the bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream and vanilla and mix until the banana is broken down into fairly small pieces. This should only take about a minute or less.

6. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture by hand.

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Right before all of the flour is completely incorporated, add 1/2 bag of chips and mix only until combined as to not overmix.

7067. Only mix just until there aren’t any flour streaks left.

8. Portion the muffins about 3/4 full and bake until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). You can also bake this full batch in a loaf pan but it will take much longer to bake in the oven!

7059. Wait until the muffins cool and VOILA! A delicious treat for any time of day.

704Let me know if you try this at home! Does anyone have any recipes they want to share or would like me to share? Have a good weekend and enjoy your muffins! Be sure to return on Tuesday for another blog post!

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Iggys Bread of the World: An Inside Look!

Flour is super cool because every couple of months, a field trip is scheduled for anyone who’s interested. This time around, we were visiting the official site of Iggy’s Bread of the World. Iggy’s Bread is sold ALLLLLLL over New England. I’ve seen their bread at a bunch of liquor stores, Whole Foods, open air markets, and more. Their bread is always fresh and looks soo good, so therefore I was pretty pumped about getting to visit their production site!

410Iggy’s was started 17 years ago in a small bakeshop, only 3,000 square feet where they produced and sold bread at the same location. They really focus on the quality of ingredients and where they’re sourced from, trying to maintain the wholesomeness of the bread baking process. Currently, their production site and storefront is at 130 Fawcett Street, Cambridge MA where they have a 30,000 square foot facility to accommodate their continual rising popularity!

Upon arrival, we got a good glace at the front of house operation- a tiny storefront but still busy with customers coming in and out. Soon after we were shuttled to their back offices to begin our tour. Hair nets donned, we headed to their packaging room.

Every day, that packaging room gets BUSY. Workers are quickly assembling, filling, labeling and organizing the boxes of bread getting them ready to send out for the morning delivery. They start the whole packaging process late at night as the first delivery leaves at 2am. Iggy’s makes a promise to deliver the freshest bread which is why they’re a 24/7 365 bread bakery!

Basically being in disbelief of how large their facility is, we entered their mixing room. As we passed through the doors, we passed their 3 silos full of flour. They then have an automated system where you can punch in how much flour you need which then dispenses the flour into another room. SO COOL! That machine also transports water and can change it’s temperature to accommodate different types of bread. Bread is only made four ingredients for the most part: Water, flour, yeast and salt. These four ingredients are then manipulated in different amounts and times of proofing all to produce different flavors and textures making bread a truly complex process.

402 403The mixing room was temperature controlled so all the bread proofed at the same rate consistently. Alongside the automated dispensing machine were two HUGE mixers that had fork tongs. Usually bread is mixed with a dough hook (the spiral shaped hook) but apparently the fork tongs gently mix the dough to create a more tender crumb.

Next we walked to the largest part of their factory. There were HUNDREDS of rolling racks filled with cooling loaves and rolls and workers shaping and loading loaves ready to be baked. It was so amazing to watch them work and be so in sync! Around the top of the room was a large conveyor belt. So listen up, this part is really cool. When the bread is ready to be taken out of the oven, a machine unloads these HUGE deck ovens and then lifts it up to the conveyor belt which then acts as a cooling system as it travels around the room. Once it makes a full circle, it can be loaded onto other racks for storage until packaging.

404 406 407 408They stick to fairly simple breads and never dabble in gluten free alternatives because it’s “irresponsible business practice” as our guide explained. It seems to me that they’re turning a huge profit so they’re able to really make their business focused on whatever they want!

It was a really cool experience and I’m so lucky to have been able to have had the opportunity. While making bread isn’t really my passion in baking, I’m always looking for the next opportunity to learn and grow within my profession! I hope you enjoyed this post and a special glance into the food service world! Until next time!

Baker Pet Peeves

As a baker, I realize that I work so hard to serve the customers. What the customer wants is what the customer gets. And most of the time, I’m happy to make their day! However, there are moments where my head is about to explode due to specific requests that totally goes against customer etiquette. Here’s a compiled list of my baker pet peeves (because we’re people too, ya know!)
1. If you need to change the serving time of a cake, don’t call 15 minutes before you’re coming to pick it up! Often times the cake isn’t finished because we’re on a very tight time schedule or maybe the cake hasn’t thawed enough to be servable! The earlier you let us know, the better.

2. On another note about time, if you’re making a same day order, you can’t rush the process. Most likely, we’re not going to say no but we can’t always have 100 mini cookies ready for pick up in an hour.

3. I’m on a baking team of 7 and only 4 to 5 of us work at the same time. So basically that’s only 8 to 10 physical hands that produce everything you see on the counter! If I happened to burn the croissants that morning, you can bet I’m more pissed at myself about it. Having a customer be mad because we don’t have them in house isn’t going to help.

4. Insider secret: if you want the mini versions of something, they’re usually 3/4th of the price of a full but only half of the serving. You’re getting jipped. But also, it makes my job a lot more difficult because I don’t make that stuff on the norm.

5. Also along the lines of minis- you can’t eat 7 mini tartlets and feel okay about that because they’re “small” when usually 2-3 minis equals one regular sized tart. EVERYTHING IS A LIE!

6. The mark up on fruit platters is RIDONKULOUS. We hate cutting your fruit for you. Don’t be lazy. (Although it is a good money maker soooo)

7. Don’t buy a single pastry to split with someone and then expect us to cut it in half for you in the back. Will my cutting it make the pieces more even or something? We DO offer utensils out front- you don’t have to eat like a barbarian so use them please!

8. I’ve also encountered orders where people ask for products to be pre-cut in half. Yeah, maybe that makes sharing easier, but it also makes the products look worse. Not to mention that some products aren’t meant to be cut in half which then totally ruins the integrity of the food. I worked hard to make that food so nice; don’t make me mess it up too!

9. Don’t eat 3/4ths of a pastry and then return it because you “didn’t like it”. YOU ATE MOST OF THE GODDAMN PASTRY HOW CAN YOU SAY YOU DIDN’T LIKE IT. Since we’re big on customer service at Flour, we WILL give you another pastry of your choice but we also really hate you big time.

10. Lastly, if you need to cancel your order, call. Don’t not show up and let the product go to waste! Nothing is worse than going into the walk-in and seeing a 14” lemon raspberry cake sitting there from the day before. UGH.

Overall, please please please just remember that food service workers are people too! We work hard to make food that’s both beautiful and delicious and want to make our customers happy. Check back on Tuesday for my review on another awesome Boston find- the SOWA market! 

Restaurant Review- Posto!

I recently went out to dinner with my co-workers to a place in Davis Square called Posto!  Flour is pretty cool to their employees and each team gets an allotment of money to put towards something that improves team morale and whatnot. So we all voted to go out to dinner and Posto was the restaurant that won!

Posto is at 187 Elm Street in Somerville, within just a few minutes walking distance from the Davis Square T stop on the Red line. It’s known for their wood burning ovens and famous pizzas and homemade pastas. The menu was super italian and also offered a couple vegetarian options which appealed to one of my co-workers. We were all set!

The menu was split into five sections: anitpasti, insalate, pasta, carne e pesce, and pizze. While I was tempted to try a pizza, I was in the mood for some pasta. But first, I had to order a drink! I’m not much of a wine or beer fanatic unfortunately, but Posto had a huge backbar and plenty of fancy italian wines to choose from. Most of my co-workers got a glass of wine but I stuck with what I was comfortable with- a madras (orange and cranberry juice with vodka).

For my first course, I ordered their winter salad which had scarlet butter greens, pommegranate seeds, goat cheese and a pommegranate vinagrette. It was a perfectly light salad which incorporated very wintery flavors! Yum! A couple of my other co-workers ordered the Arancini which is basically a fried rice ball with cheese in the center. It came with a spicy marinara sauce, oregano and lemon juice. I was almost sad I didn’t order that, but the salad was a perfect opener to the pasta I ordered which I knew would be a heavier course.

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For my next course, I ordered the tortellini stuffed with jonah crab on top of a butternut squash puree and a parmesan crema. Oh man, was this good. Crab and butternut squash are naturally sweet ingredients as far as savory foods good which was awesome with the housemade tortellini and parmesan crema. It also came with diced squash pieces and crispy kale bits on top which really helped add another layer of texture to the plate. It was a good portion for one person, as were all the dishes. We all ended up finishing everything on our plates from both courses. I ended up opting out of dessert but once everyone was finished, I think we were sitting comfortably but not stuffed to the brim.

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Overall, this place was pretty cool. They embraced their open kitchen and allowed guests to watch them make pizzas that went directly in their wood burning oven which is an added entertainment value to the guests. Service was friendly too which always helps! Sorry about the lighting in all of my pictures; the ambiance was pretty dim and candlelit. Which I guess can be all romantical if you’re on a date (whats that like though?) but I’ve never been a fan of when the lighting is too low. How do you see the person sitting across from you? All in all, I had a great night out with my co-workers and it was cool to try and new restaurant I didn’t know about but was also slightly out of my price range as a poor post grad!
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225Also in Davis Square that I’ve been told to try out is The Painted Burro and Rosebud Cafe. The Painted Burro is known for their lively Mexican food and Rosebud Cafe has a decent dessert menu if you really dig pie! I’m definitely going to add them to my list of restaurants to try in the future!

Until next week, friends!

The Bad Luck Club

It’s kinda like the Bad Girls Club. Except there’s no fighting, drunken brawls or verbal abuse. Or fun in general. Okay, maybe it’s not like the Bad Girls Club at all cause at least that might be somewhat enjoyable amongst all the drama.

I’ve just been the brunt of some pretty extensive weird/bad luck lately. So in case any of you have been living under a rock, Boston has been hit week after week with foot after foot of snow and now my yard has like 6 feet piled in it from shoveling so much. I’m even writing while we’re having yet ANOTHER snow day. But basically I was on my way to work one morning and it had just rained overnight. But little did I know, was that the rain had refrozen on the street thus creating DUN DUN DUN. Black ice.

So I hadn’t even gone down the street from my house where I hit this patch sending my car into a tailspin. I pretty much lost control of my car and hit a parked car. The other person’s car wasn’t as bad as mine; their bumper was a little scratched but that was about it. Whereas my car took the whole brunt of the accident: a crumpled hood, my front bumper cracked down the middle, my headlights pushed back into the car and my grill fell off. POOR BETTY WHITE!!

217I missed a day of work and the day after the crash I had to go get an estimate on the damage before I can take it to a mechanic to get it fixed. My neighbors blocked me into the driveway so therefore I was late and missed my appointment! UGH. My luck couldn’t get any worse. All of this rolled into one with my case of pink eye and my hit and run from the previous months; doesn’t seem like 2015 likes me very much for some reason! TAKE PITY ON ME UNIVERSE! I BEG YOU!

Fingers crossed for my luck turning around soon! And of course for this snow to stop wrecking havoc on everyone’s lives!

Another tiny little bad luck story, but also a very interesting story happened to me a couple weeks ago when I was going to work. I arrived early as per usual around 4:45 on a Sunday only to see a man pretty much leaning against the door and sloppily banging on the door at Flour. This is the only entrance I have into the building so I can’t exactly go up to the drunko and say “oh excuse me sir, I have to get into this building that you’re clearly trying to get into but you can’t come in”. He was in obvious/desperate need of a sandwich to sober up.

So I sit in my car, looking up the police phone number for Cambridge so I can have an officer come escort him away so I’m not late for work. As I’m on the phone with the police, he begins to stumble and zig zag away. He doesn’t even make it 10 feet from the door when he leans against the wall, slowly slides down until he’s sitting and then next thing I know he’s passed out laying on the ground. Luckily the cops showed up maybe 5 minutes later but the guy is completely unresponsive and then they have to take him away in an ambulance!!! What a start to my morning. But it made me 5 minutes late for work which wasn’t the greatest but I guess it could’ve been worse! #earlymorningproblems

(Edit: Since I wrote this post, I have also gotten a cavity and diagnosed with shingles. GO ME!)

Member meetings for the Bad Luck Club happen online so all are welcome. Feel free to leave your bad luck stories in the comments so we can all have a good cry together. At least we have each other, right?

Au bientot, mes amis!

Unexpected Sacrifices

I knew upon graduating college that I would be expected to give up certain things once in the food service industry. Every chef you’ll ever meet will give you a realistic vision of what you’ll give up: weekends, holidays, sleep, short work days, high salaries, paid time off, a dating life with an understanding partner, lack of time with families, the list goes on.

However, having been in the industry officially for the better part of a year, I’ve discovered a couple other sacrifices that they failed to enlighten me with…

With lack of sleep comes a couple of other side effects. Time is PRECIOUS and if that means rolling out of bed and getting out the door in less than 10 minutes, then so be it. Showering? Whats that? You’re just going to get dirty and spill raspberry syrup all over yourself tomorrow. The day after it’ll be chocolate pudding smeared on your forehead. Whatever, you’re just saving a little for you’re midnight snack later. Just kidding… kind of.

Personal appearance is definitely an area of life that suffers. I don’t mean not washing your hands before preparing food because that would be the biggest mistake of a century in the kitchen. And its definitely not forgetting to clip your nails because god forbid you get food stuck under them and unintentionally cause cross contamination. But instead, its the small sacrifices like never being able to paint your nails, or apologizing to the people giving you a pedicure since you have callouses growing on your callouses. It’s also having the same hairstyle every day ( usually a bun for girls, and especially in my case). Wake up? Bun. At work? Bun in hat. After work/after a shower? Bun. Bun all day all night.

Oh and I can’t forget to mention that your perfume is Au de Whatever You’re Cooking in the Kitchen that day. Maybe it’s bacon, maybe it’s onions and maybe it’s brownies. Its a toss up. True story: One day after work at America’s Test Kitchen, I went to a Sleepy’s to look at mattresses as I was preparing for adult life. The man trying to sell me a mattress asked what I did for work. Upon telling him that I’m a chef, he says “Oh, I thought I smelled a kitchen.” YIKES OH MY GOD. If I wasn’t self conscious then, I sure am now. Sucks to suck, Abby.

In the kitchen at work, you better be prepared for booty bumps and accidental boob grazes. Its unapologetic. Saying “behind”, “beside you”, “next to you”, “above you”, “hot pot”, “knife” or any of those versions in Spanish become your vocabulary on a regular basis. I can’t count how many weird looks I’ve gotten at the grocery store because I said “behind you” to someone. In a kitchen, that’s basically the polite way of saying “Get the fuck out of my way” but at a grocery store, it seems downright rude. My bad, general public.

My hands are wrecked too. Cuts, burns and bruises are the bare minimum of my problems. Swelling, cracking and dryness is what KILLS. ME. My hands are just screamin’ for some moisture. WAAAATERR (*insert only spongebob reference I know*). Also as I’ve mentioned before, eating real food and proteins goes by the wayside. Grilled cheese and cereal all the way baby.

While I’m sure this all sounds terrible, food service is so rewarding. I get to make food that I’m proud to say I made. Seeing a line out the door of a place where I work is pretty great too. I know the quality is on point and people are satisfied enough to return day after day. I’m sure it isn’t for everyone, but I don’t think I could be anywhere else! Hope you enjoyed a peak into my day to day life!

L8tr sk8trs

I am the Fudge Queen

Hello internet, Fudge Queen here.

So this past month, I have been given the opportunity at Flour to do their pastry of the month! So I went about trying to think of the perfect dessert we didn’t already have- something shelf stable, different in flavor/texture than other desserts and something that would challenge me and expand my knowledge of food a tiny bit. And TADAAAA! Fudge was born.

After searching through tons of recipes, I settled on one where I thought I’d be making it the old-timey way- no marshmallow fluff, sweetened condensed milk or just powdered sugar. I found a recipe and have been testing it a couple times at work and modifying the recipe to make it better and now I want to share it with you!

Maple Walnut Fudge:

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 T light corn syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 T butter
1/4 t salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, place both sugars, maple syrup, corn syrup, heavy cream and salt. Using a heat resistant rubber spatula, stir over heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Use a pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pot with water occasionally as the sugar cooks.

2. Once the sugar is dissolved, wipe down the sides of the pot once more*. Occasionally stir the mixture until the thermometer reads 180 degrees. Let the mixture cook on medium heat until it reaches 240 degrees (this may take awhile). Don’t adjust the heat unless the sugar begins to bubble up too high.

*Wiping down the sides of the pot is really important for one reason: crystallization. Basically as the water evaporates out of the melted sugar, it starts to return to its natural crystal form. For the beginning of the cooking time, the sugar crystals can be added back into the pot and be re-melted but after a certain point, you’ll contribute to OVER-CRYSTALLIZING the sugar which will result in a super gritty fudge! Ew!

3. Once the thermometer reads 240 degrees, pull off of the heat and pour into another bowl to cool to 110 degrees. Add your butter and vanilla at this point but do not mix in! (Note that this step can take AWHILE. It takes me 45 minutes to an hour to let it cool)

4. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and scrape in the cooled fudge mixture. Begin to mix on medium high speed- this may take about ten minutes. Once the color begins to lighten and it starts to grip and form strings to the side of the mixing bowl, it’s just about ready!

207 2055. Be careful not to overmix your fudge either or else it may begin to clump up slightly since it is cooling down. Fold in your chopped walnuts.

2046. In an 8×8 greased and parchment lined pan, add your fudge mixture and spread out with an offset spatula. I’d also maybe suggest pouring it into small, greased muffin cups for individual portions! Refrigerate for 2-24 hours before serving!

203This is how my final product turned out below!

201This was the final of a couple tests that I did! In my first test, the ratio of sugar was higher which resulted in a softer fudge that kinda melted at room temperature. The fact that I crystallized the sugar too probably didn’t help… oops. The second test had a much better texture but it was so sugary-sweet. So I ended up lowering the maple syrup a little bit and added salt to help balance the flavor! After another test to be sure, the recipe was finalized. Bada bing bada BOoOoOOoOm.

I had so much fun experimenting with this recipe and exposing myself to more “candy-like” items! Let me know if anyone tries this at home! Good luck and bon appetit my friends!