Rum-Soaked Golden Raisin and Walnut Knots

Viviana's Kitchen

Last month I spent a solid, good two consecutive weeks being Chef Viviana, plumping myself and my family up with sugary carb foods like what I’m about to share today, and enjoying the start of a new year in a relatively relaxed environment, on the precipice of starting Marie Kondo’s decluttering KonMari method in my life – which, by the way, is going somewhat slowly, and my room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.

PHEW. What a mouthful. ANYWAY – I’ve been following Thida Bevington on Instagram for a while, and her feed is a dessert lover’s dream, to be honest. In January I decide THAT’S IT. Her Nutella knots were so aesthetically pleasing, I thought to myself, I need to exercise my creativity one way or another, why not through something my mouth can enjoy?

I tried the knots with Nutella first, but I find that it sort of…evaporates? in the baking process. I did a couple more batches afterwards with my signature walnut-almond and rum-soaked white raisins, which I enjoyed much more.

Enjoy the recipes below:

Sweet Dough

250g milk
60g butter
500g white flour
120g sugar
15g fast action dry yeast
1 egg
10g salt

Walnut-Raisin mixture

3/4 to 1 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups walnuts, ground
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup rum, cognac, or whiskey
water
A blender, but if you don’t have one you can smash them up in a bag with a kitchen hammer

Instructions

For the dough:
1. Warm the milk and butter to about body temperature, should feel lukewarm.
2. Place the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (I use a stand mixer) and mix together.
3. Add milk and butter, egg, and salt and mix with a dough hook for 2 minute on low.
4. Increase speed and mix for another 5-6 mins, until well incorporated.
5. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Place in a clean bowl and let rise in warm environment for 2 hours, it should double in size.

For the walnut mixture:
1. In a small bowl, soak your raisins in your choice of liquor (I use rum), while the dough is rising. I usually start this process before anything else, and you can even do it overnight.
2. Grind your walnut and almonds to a fine texture until you have about 4 cups worth.
3. Heat your honey in a small pot until it just start to bubble then add honey and raisins (with the liquor) to your nuts.
4. Add water by the tablespoon as needed if mixture is too dry.

How to put it all together:
1. On a well floured surface, roll out your dough into a big rectangle, something around the size of two baking pans, but make sure it’s not so thin it rips.
2. Spread half your nut mixture evenly on the middle third of your dough canvas, then fold over one third of your dough, and spread the remaining mixture on top of that, then fold the last third on top of that.
3. Gently roll out your dough until it is flatter, then cut it long ways into 8 strips.
4. Knot them up to your liking and in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 355F.
5. Lightly beat 1 egg and egg wash your rolls before popping them in the oven for roughly 30-40 mins, or until they’re golden brown.

Please visit Thida’s Instagram for tutorials and visual step-by-steps of everything I’ve just written!

You can also follow me on Instagram riiiiiight here.

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Looking Ahead

Miscellaneous

Hey there! It’s been a hot minute – what else is new?

Truthfully, I have been absolutely spanked by this year’s holiday season, but they’re finally over and I finally have consecutive days of time off coming up and I’m thrilled because I have a bunch of stuff I need to do to “get my life back together” as it were.

Anyway, with this new year, comes new goals and aspirations.

This year, I’m participating in Reddit’s r/WeeklyPhotos 52-week photo challenge. If you’re interested in joining, here’s the welcome thread for the challenge.

I didn’t get a chance to post week one within week one on here (but I did on Instagram, @vivianapodinaphotography) so I’m posting it at the beginning of week two here, because by the time I decide what I want to do for week two, it’ll be later in the week anyway.

So week one’s theme was “look ahead” – cause you know, new year, new goals and stuff like that. It’s coupled with the category vision.

We’ve been letting my neighbor’s cat come inside cause it’s super cold out lately (like, single digit and negatives) so he can have a snack and enjoy some warmth for a bit. Anyway, a few days ago he was making himself at home in my room and I found the perfect opportunity to not only take pictures of him because he’s my favorite kitty, but also, he stares off at things a lot – so you know, how can I pass up the cliche gazing in the distance opportunity?

Anyway, the first photo is the one I used for the challenge because it’s clear, but I shot him in full manual and I captured a few others I really liked. The second is a full manual shot, but it’s a bit blurry where I wish it wouldn’t be.

I find the trouble with shooting full manual is often that staring through a tiny peephole, I can’t always gauge whether my focus is going to come out like I think it will when I actually snap the photo. But we’ll see, maybe I’ll get better at it this year.

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Buddha Bowls: The Easiest Meal Ever

Viviana's Kitchen

I don’t recall how I came across Buddha Bowls in the first place, but it was probably while browsing Pinterest a few months ago. I was immediately drawn to the rich colors of all the vegetables together and, since it was Lent season, the easiness of making them.

As for why they’re called Buddha Bowls, the best thing I could find was this article, where writer Rachel Tepper Paley delves into the composition of the bowls and interviews an Instagrammer. This part stuck out to me as the most “informative”, as far as informative goes for the title of the article.

At their core, Lein said, Buddha bowls are about “balancing the different types of food that you eat,” and not eating too much of any one thing.

Essentially, Buddha Bowls consist of one type of grain (quinoa, rice, bulgar, etc), greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc), healthy carbs (chickpeas, beans, etc) and veggies (carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, literally whatever). As you can imagine, the possibilities are basically endless.

I made a relatively simple version using Qrunch quinoa burgers and roasting chickpeas in turmeric. I will say that in these photos, I used broccoli, but I’ve also used thinly sliced red cabbage drizzled with EVOO and vinegar and it’s soooo good. I also made tzatziki sauce from scratch Recipe below!

Ingredients

1 Qrunch quinoa burger
1 fat carrot
1 handful broccoli
1 can chickpeas
turmeric powder
spray oil
salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a pan, fry your quinoa burger until cooked through. Make sure to spray the pan beforehand to avoid sticking. Crush with a utensil once done and set in your bowl.
  2. In another pan, cook your chickpeas with turmeric powder, salt and pepper. Spray your chickpeas with spray oil so they don’t stick to your pan while they’re cooking.
  3. Steam your broccoli by boiling water in a pot, place your broccoli in a strainer, and cover with a pot lid. Let sit until your desired firmness. I like mine on the crunchier side. Plus, I like to not kill off all of the vitamins and minerals in my food.
  4. For the carrot, in the photos you can see I’ve chopped it, but grating your carrot will create a better texture contrast and be easy to eat. Grating your carrot will also allow its juice to come through and give the dish a little moisture.
  5. Assemble, eat!

Bonus: Tzatziki Recipe

4 tbsp Chobani plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
handful fresh dill
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
3 cloves garlic, finely diced or grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients, refrigerate, serve.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram for more photography! @vivianapodinaphotography

Sunroom

Portraits

I did a fashion photo shoot this morning for one of my friends, Kristine, and I wanted to share a few pics with you guys.

Her and her husband live in this really neat house down in Highland Park with badass vintage wallpaper, amazing interior architecture, and the cutest little sun room, where we staged the shoot. The purpose of the shoot was to capture the ensemble she made, but as you all know, I’m always more attracted in capturing people’s faces when I have the opportunity. So after the clothing part was done, I put my portrait lens back on and took a few shots of the model’s face.

The first couple shots are taken with my 18-105mm lens, and the last one is my 50mm portrait lens.

I’m always grateful for opportunities like this to get me out of my comfort zone and play with light and different people. I think these photos came out well, although I’m still learning.

P.S. Don’t forget, you can now follow me (professionally!) on Instagram, @vivianapodinaphotography

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#Single4Life

Miscellaneous, Viviana's Kitchen

Alright, first thing’s first.

For all you photophiles (what’s the actual word though?) who wanna see more of my photography, you’re in luck! I decided to make an Instagram account for just my photography, @vivianapodinaphotography, after finding out you can now link your accounts and switch between them easily. I’m pretty excited and geeked and thrilled by the small gathering of followers I’ve already accumulated (18 with just my first photo, how cool!) and I’m looking forward to discovering more artists and photographers and being discovered by others as well.

That said, it’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means I’ll be doing absolutely nothing differently from any other day of the year because I’m #single4lyfe. But I thought this would be a great occasion to gift myself something I’ve wanted for a while – new workout shoes! I found this gorgeous orchid purple pair at DSW on clearance and they’re SO COMFORTABLE. I’m in love.

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On my way home I also stopped by Natalie’s Bakery to pick up bread and indulged myself in some V-Day treats. Picked up some cannolis, a little strawberry heart tart, and a slice of honey sea salt pie (not pictured). I haven’t tried the pistachio cannoli or the tart yet, but the orange zest cannoli and honey pie are superb.

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Hope you guys have a good weekend! Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you regardless of relationship status. <3