Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Food for thought: BEST ROOMMATE. EVER

So I haven't mentioned this yet. I have the best roommate ever. Ever.

This morning I woke up to a hardboiled egg hiding in a pot on my desk. For me. Yay :)

Roomie wakes up about 2 hours before I do (strange schedules) and makes coffee (don't tell the CA) and breakfast for herself. Today was eggs and I got one :) Pretty damn awesome. Also, who doesn't love the smell of coffee in the morning? Even though I usually sleep through it.

And then she bakes with me and shops with me and mothers me (okay I mother her sometimes too). So yeah. This blog is a tribute to Roommate.

Also, exciting news. ish. The California Strawberry Commission is apparently releasing a strawberry-recipe eBook for the iPhone and they want to use my chocolate ganache strawberry meringue tart! (That's a mouthful. Pun not intended). So you won't be seeing anything new I've made lately because I'll be working on making sure the recipe is converted to cups and tablespoons as well as reworking the banana walnut muffin recipe.

And finally.... I received a package today filled with goodies :) my electric mixer, ice cream maker, rice cooker and food (read: ramen). Yay for packages and presents!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Number 21: Mini chocolate chip muffins

As promised, my roommate and I (with the help of another friend) made chocolate chip muffins after a long and painful walk to and from Jewel-Osco. We opted to go for the cheaper grocery store a good 20 minutes away to buy our flour, sugar, milk and eggs instead of the wallet-crushing Whole Foods.

So. Here they are! We cut a recipe in half because we only wanted these to last a week, but really after the first five minutes about half of it was gone.

Oh! I forgot to mention another exciting thing in my last post. Found Tahitian vanilla beans on sale at a mall in Montclair, CA for about $3 each. Very exciting.

So here's the recipe modified to our mini-muffin tin. Have fun!

Mini chocolate chip muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/6 cup white sugar
1/6 brown sugar (dark)
1 tspoon baking powder
1/4 tspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled (it's important to have room temperature or cooler butter to prevent eggs from curdling)
1 egg
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or to taste)

Grease a mini-muffin tin. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large mixing bowl with a whisk until smooth
2. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl until well-incorporated (egg, milk, butter)
3. Form a well in dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into dry. Mix until just incorporated.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Evenly distribute batter. If you want larger, coffee-house style muffins fill them almost to the top.
6. Top muffins with extra chocolate chips if desired.
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. A toothpick (or wooden chopstick in my case) should come out clean.

Makes 22 to 24 mini muffins.

Food adventures: Hello from Chicago

Sorry for the lack of posts - I know it must have been weird after the everyday posts of summer.

Anyhow I know you were thinking what I was trying not to think - with school and reading and wanting to have a life, how am I supposed to keep baking?

Well fear not (*cringe. Sorry for the cliches). Today (as in today, Friday, after the first week of school and before a weekend of reading) my roommate and I will walk to the local Jewel-Osco and buy some groceries (i.e. baking supplies).

I have vanilla beans on hand, as well as vanilla extract and a mixer and whatnot. Our master plan? Mini chocolate chip muffins to provide us with a week of breakfast. So expect a recipe post soon! :)

Anyway on top of my schoolwork I've been trying to find a job at a local bakery, so hopefully that'll come around. I just really want to get a feel for baking and become better at it.

Other exciting news: I ventured into the Spice House on Central in Evanston and it. is. awesome.

Three types of vanilla beans (and extract), the cheapest one is $1.89 per bean. For Madagascar beans. AH! And then the Tahitian beans. AH!
And orange blossom water, lavender, rose water, pure wasabi. AH! You know what this means? THIS
and THIS and, well, a lot of other stuff that I can only dream of making in my tiny dorm kitchen.

Anyway I can't wait to tell Boyfriend about Spice House :) He's cooking wontons tonight.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Number 20: Mini banana-walnut muffins

Okay. Hopefully, you won't hear from me in a while because that means I'm super busy packing/getting ready for school/ getting ready for class. Starting college again and I'm going to miss my kitchen :(


See then your muffins will turn out nice and fluffy and sweet, instead of flat and dense and pseudo-sweet like mine. I'm super impatient so oh well. Also, if you noticed, these are tiny. My mini muffin tin is tiny. They're on the same dish my jasmine tea macarons were on - just to give you a scale.

Banana-walnut muffins
from A Dash of Sass

2 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 cup (approx. 1 medium) banana, very ripe and smashed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard muffin tin or use cupcake/muffin liners.
1. In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of the walnuts and the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and baking powder). Reserve the remaining 1/3 cup walnuts for the tops of the muffins.
2. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla, honey and melted butter. Mix in the bananas.
3. Fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Don't forget to scrape the bottom, where a lot of flour hides out.
4. Using a spoon, fill mini muffin tins with the batter. Fill up to the top if you want large, coffee shop-style muffins, otherwise fill the tins only 3/4 full. Top with the reserved walnuts.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing from tin. Makes approximately 24 mini muffins

Ok guys wish me luck at school. :)

EDIT. I am such a dunce -_- Sorry for anybody who tried this recipe before Oct 2. The numbering for the flour was wrong. I promise it won't happen again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Number 19: Vanilla ice cream and roasted pear


did say I would be doing breakfast foods - and I did! But I made two dishes today and I'm a little lazy. Two posts a day is a lot! So vanilla ice cream and roasted pear it- yum!

I have a love-hate relationship with brown sugar. I love the caramel taste it gives to dishes, but really? Must it turn into rock whenever I put it away
? It bent my measuring spoons.

Interestingly enough, I found a book titled "The Best Kitchen Quick Tips" in my mother's library - my mother has everything. Under "Brown Sugar" I found "Softening" which instructs us to place a cup of brown sugar in a glass plate or bowl, cover with a small piece of waxed paper, top with a slice of bread and zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Apparently the bread supplies moisture.

Cool. Didn't do it because my brown sugar was stuck in the box, but I'll definitely try it next time. In the meantime, I loosened the sugar using a chopstick like a pick. Fun stuff.

Sorry if that seemed random, but the recipe calls for quite a lot of brown sugar so it's relevant!

Speaking of the recipe. Vanilla ice cream and roasted pear. Ahhh it's so perfectly paired. I've wanted to try roasting pears ever since I ate at a tapas place in Evanston (Tapas Barcelona), where they had this amazing dessert (another one) with a roasted pear stuffed with white chocolate and served with vanilla bean ice cream. And I was going to be legit and make vanilla bean ice cream, but vanilla beans are so expensive and the cheapest place is Williams-Sonoma some 20 miles away. And I hate driving.

So vanilla extract it is. But still. It turned out good. Even my mother liked it!

Also, as you'll note in the picture, I attempted at making a caramelized almond crust (inspired by a semi-okay dessert at El Torito) but that didn't work out. So here's the recipe for the ice cream and pear (adapted from Tartelette and allrecipes.com, respectively). I'll come back to the caramelized almonds someday - anyone have a recipe?

Vanilla ice cream
with roasted pear
For the ice cream:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
2 tspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

For the pears:

2 bosc pears
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
dash of cinnamon (or to taste)

To make the ice cream:

1. Combine milk and cream in a saucepan and heat until it's steaming
2. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, vanilla and sugar
3. Temper egg mixture with the hot cream, pouring a couple tablespoons into the egg mixture and whisking vigorously. Gradually add the rest of the cream into the eggs, mixing continuously
4. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring continuously until the mixture coats the back of a spoon
5. Strain into a clean bowl in an ice bath. Continue stirring until it reaches room temperature.
6. Cover with plastic wrap so it touches the surface of the custard sauce. This prevents a skin from forming.
7. Refrigerate overnight and process in an ice cream maker to manufacturer's instructions.

To make the pears:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Peel, halve and core the pears
3. Place the butter on the baking sheet and put it in the oven until it melts.
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle brown sugar on top of the melted butter.
5. Drizzle cinnamon on top
6. Place the pears cut side down on the sugar/butter mixture
7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until barely soft

8. Sprinkle a little more sugar and cinnamon on top, or if the sugar isn't burnt, turn the pears and baste in pan sauce
9. Bake until tender and glossy, about another 15 minutes or so
10. Cool before serving with ice cream

P.S. Stick a cinnamon stick in the vanilla ice cream while soft, let it firm for a couple hours or overnight, and voila! Cinnamon ice cream. Although the vanilla is still much stronger.

And now, food talk. Breakfast-related. This is what I will miss while in Chicago:

Obviously I'm not going to miss bagels because Chicago has bagels - although the Einstein Bros Bagels near school is mad expensive.

But this is my favorite bagel, and Einstein doesn't have it. The rosemary olive oil bagel from the Clearwater Bagel Co in my hometown Walnut (I think there's others somewhere). Anyway, this bagel is the reason why I learned how to make rosemary oil bread, and not surprisingly, the picture doesn't do it justice. I loooooooove this bagel. Especially with Earl Grey tea.

Okay enough raving. Just thought I'd put it out there in case anybody finds rosemary olive oil bagels in the Chicago area.

Happy eating!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Number 18: Blueberry scones

So this is my last week at my lovely home with my beautiful kitchen in sunny California. Friday, I'm off to Chicago to live in a tiny room with a tiny kitchen and expensive groceries.

Considering the fact that I'm a college girl, I realized that I'm not going to have much time to bake. Tarts? Ridiculously time-consuming. So my master plan for these next few posts is to focus on recipes that are simple and easy, mostly breakfast foods because nobody should eat breakfast in the dining hall. So scones, muffins (mini muffins!), croissants, etc.

Today I found a recipe for blueberry scones via tastespotting and to my surprise, I had ALL the ingredients in my fridge and pantry. I love it when that happens - it'll be impossible at college.

We have a Whole Foods near school which is pretty pricey, but they have these cute little bite-sized scones so hopefully this will turn out the same. I used dried blueberries though - don't have fresh ones and I didn't want to drive today. But really, I should get out more. Maybe I'll go for a walk, scone in hand.

Blueberry scones
via the Kitchen Magpie

1 cup sour cream
1 tspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar, granulated
2 tspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup blueberries, fresh or dried (or any other fruit)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Mix sour cream and baking soda. This, according to the Kitchen Magpie, makes it go POOF.
2. Sift or whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until smooth and well-combined
3. Cut in the butter with knives, a whisk or a pastry cutter until fine and crumbly
4. Mix in egg and sour cream mixture until just combined
5. Knead in the blueberries, being careful not to squish fresh fruit and release juices
6. Separate into three circular discs, about 1.5 to 2 inches thick
7. Cut each disc into 6 slices
8. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops and bottoms brown slightly

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Food adventures: Sushi Gen


So this isn't really an adventure since I've been here before and I LOVE sushi, but I figured I'd take this opportunity to rave about my favorite sushi spot in LA. THIS is where I converted Boyfriend into a sushi eater, and now he buys sushi by the pound (?!).

Sushi Gen is an amazing traditional Japanese restaurant next to Little Tokyo and they have AMAZING toro. AMAZING. Every time I've gone there, their toro (fatty tuna) has always been perfect. Smooth and sweet and paired perfectly with rice. Always just the right color and the right texture.

Their sushi is always well-made, and the chefs are experienced. Sadly, their hamachi (yellowtail) is only decent, but their amaebi (sweet shrimp) and maguro (tuna) is also excellent. Uni (sea urchin) is also good.

They're always super busy but for some reason my parents and I have good luck and we're always seated upon arrival.


I tried eating the fried shrimp head for the first time today. Scary-looking things.

My mom, showing me how to eat it. I've never had it before and it freaked me out - you just remove the eyes and bite into it.

Anyway did I mention that I love sushi? My mom's worried that I won't be able to afford sushi in the future and then I'll just get skinnier and skinnier. Because sushi is the only thing I'll eat and keep eating.

Also, I keep hearing about this Sushi Sasabune - some people (cupcakes and cashmere) claim its the best on the West Coast. Really? Hmmm. Must try. Although it sounds like a non-traditional, experimental type of japanese cuisine and really, I'm more into the traditional.

That's all for now. Sorry, no recipes today. Bought a mini muffins tin for $10. Macarons are sticky again and I'm thinking of just going back to the David Lebovitz recipe. Made honey financiers with the cheapest honey I could find and some brown sugar - excellent variation.

Happy eating.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Number 17: Sweet rice cake/ MOCHI cake

One of my former dance TAs has a little maltese named Mochi. SO cute.

I've been obsessed with mochi ever since I can remember. Those pretty little Japanese sweets bought at the Asian supermarkets - AMAZING. My favorite was, and still is, the plain mochi with pink and green stripes.

And then fro-yo kicked in and mochi became all the rage - paired with strawberries on top of a tart frozen yogurt = indescribable obsession.

I've been bugging my mom to teach me how to make this ever since I started baking, but we never had the right flour. So I eventually bought some Mochiko sweet rice flour on my own and last night at 11 p.m. I told her "We are making mochi." And she said "OK, but I'm not waiting up for it to finish baking."

So here it is. My mother prefers baking it so it's more dry. Other methods include steaming it in a rice cooker or a microwave (really? I have to try that for college). It's super easy and now I'm dreaming up flavored mochi cakes. Green tea, strawberry, passionfruit, etc etc etc. You can change around the amount of egg or sugar - it's not really like cake where timing and measurements are essential. Dig in with a spoon right after baking it or let it cool and slice it up - either way it's still sweet, sticky goodness.

P.S. better picture to come. My photography isn't getting any better and I'm a little frustrated.

Mochi cake
16 ounces of sweet rice flour
2 cups milk
1 cup water
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle
1. Combine everything into a large mixing bowl. And I mean large - it's a lot of stuff to mix together and you don't want to waste any of it.
2. Mix together until smooth. No flour lumps or anything - it should be a thick, creamy liquid.
3. Oil a baking pan (I used a 10-inch one) with vegetable oil - try any with less flavor. I used peanut oil.
4. Pour the mixture into the baking pan, cover with aluminum foil
5. Bake covered for an hour. This should dry up most of the mixture, leaving moisture only on the top. A toothpick should come out clean.
6. After the hour, remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until visually dry on top.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food adventures: Indonesian

Today I went with a couple friends to try out this one Indonesian restaurant my Indonesian friend likes so much. Last time we went on a Monday only to find out it's closed on Mondays. Go figure.

Java Spice - 1743 Fullerton Road, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Highlights: Specialty drinks, banana leaves
Pictured: Coconut milk with rose syrup, coconut milk with green gelatin and brown sugar

We also had some shrimp flavored tofu wrapped in banana leaves. Not amazing, tasted like kimchi and I can't stand spicy food. But I did like the presentation and the fact that it was a banana leaf. The same way I like the fact that bamboo leaves wrap that Chinese rice dish.

Anyway, some entree pictures. I enjoyed my noodle dish, although I can't remember what it is. I just ordered what the server recommended. It all had a very familiar taste, similar to Chinese food (I hope I don't offend anyone).

Onto non-food related adventures.* Watched "9" after dinner and was severely, terribly disappointed. The animations, the drawings, the IDEA was so well-done, insightful, intriguing. The actual execution? A disappointment. The plot was so forced, so simple without any driving point other than curiosity. And quite honestly, the curiousity wasn't enough.

Character development also let me down. The nine individuals created had such potential to be amazingly human figures - their expressions and nuances were so well done. There was, however, no expansion of that. You got a glimpse of their character, but no understanding. And perhaps that's the theme with "9". You get a glimpse of the world, but no real understanding of the key players. The theme of manmade destruction, however, is force fed to you.

*Sorry. I know this is a food blog. But I figured different things will spice it up a bit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Number 16: Chocolate torte and salted caramel ice cream

Today was one of those days where you spend a lot of time baking and nothing really goes right.

It started like this.

I woke up wonderfully late (I love summer vacation). I churned the ice cream with no problems. Attempted to make macarons via Tartelette's strawberry macaron recipe. It took me forever to dry the strawberries, and I don't like how they turned out. Are macarons supposed to be crisp? Chewy? I should probably try some before making them but I can't find any here. And I was doing so well with the David Lebovitz recipe! Ah well.

So I ate some lunch, picked up dry cleaning, and bought some butter.

When I came home I decided to make chocolate ganache for tarts. I want to recreate my first post to take a better photo. However, I made too much chocolate ganache for the nine shortbread crusts left over from my fruit tarts. After some hasty decision making, I made some more shortbread dough so I can make more ganache tarts. Another hasty decision led me to change my mind.
Instead, I decided to make some chocolate torte. This way I can get rid of the ganache AND serve it with the caramel ice cream.


It was a lot of work, it was very backwards. Really, I should learn to manage food better (shortbread dough STILL IN THE FRIDGE. what to do?)

After dinner I served the torte and ice cream to complaints that the ice cream was too salty (sorry Dad). Then made some swiss meringue buttercream that tastes too much like butter and sugar and makes me sick. Not a good baking day, but we'll try again tomorrow I guess. Sorry for the bummer entry. Prepare for an optimistic Jessica and a better picture of the chocolate ganache, strawberry meringue tart tomorrow.

Lots of egg whites to get rid of. Might make some honey financiers again with cheaper ingredients to see how I can make this stuff at school.

Chocolate torte
with chocolate ganache and salted caramel ice cream
recipe adapted from Tartelette

For the chocolate torte:
5 oz chocolate (I mixed bittersweet and semisweet because I ran out)
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
3/8 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoons (15gr) flour
3/8 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon espresso
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For the chocolate ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt
1 egg

For the salted caramel ice cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon honey
1/6 cup water
1 1/3 cup half and half
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

To make the chocolate ganache

1. Bring the cream and milk to a simmer
2. Pour over chocolate and salt
3. Let sit for a minute, mix until smooth
4. Beat the egg and mix into the chocolate mixture

To make
the chocolate torte with ganache:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle and a rack on the bottom.
1. Line a square cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a stand mixer (or with hand held beaters), whisk the eggs and sugar on medium speed until slightly thickened.
4. Add the vanilla.
5. Turn the speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and whip for a minute.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients. Beat one minute on low speed until everything is incorporated.
7. Spread the batter on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or unti the center is just set.
8. Pour chocolate ganache over the cake and return to oven on the lower rack
9. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. If bubbles or cracks form it is overbaked.

To make the ice cream
1. Place sugar, water and honey in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Heat and mix until sugar dissolves
2. Once the sugar is dissolved cook until it becomes an amber caramel
3. Add in 2/3 cup of the half and half
4. Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring to dissolve caramel bits
5. Slowly add the remaining half and half
6. Whisk the eggs, gradually adding in some of the caramel mixture to temper
7. Gradually add all of the caramel mixture into the eggs, and return it back to the saucepan
8. Cook until it coats the back of a spoon, stirring continuously
9. Strain into a clean bowl
10. Place the custard into an ice bath and mix in the salt and vanilla until it reaches room temperature
11. Refridgerate overnight. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Number 15: Fruit tarts

Today was barbecue/high school friends reunion get together thing so I made fruit tarts, because you need a lot of people to eat up the custard before it goes bad. It was pretty successful. The barbecue, I mean. Fresh salsa and guac, carne asada, all the toppings and fruit tarts. Good summer dinner, although I'm still hungry. Those boys eat a lot.

I love the smell of strawberries and the way the colors of fruits collide on a tart - usually, I use kiwis, strawberries and blueberries but the blackberries were so amazing-looking at the market I skipped out on blueberries. Raspberries were just for fun.

I read on some food blog that the perfect tart crust recipe is like a baker's little black dress, and I agree. I love my crust recipe - it's buttery and crisp and perfect.

So here's the recipe. I used the same pastry cream recipe as the eclairs, just minused the chocolate. Wanted to try a simpler recipe without having to measure grams.

Fruit tarts
For the shortbread crust:
250 grams butter (unsalted)
125 grams confectioners sugar
1 gram salt
1 egg
360 grams cake flour (plus extra for rolling)

For the pastry cream:
2 cups (500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean stick)
2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

To make the crust:
note: using an electric mixer makes this much easier, but use the paddle attachment
1. Soften the butter. Sift in the powdered sugar and salt and cream the butter until it pales slightly
2. Mix in the egg
3. Mix in the flour
4. Turn out the dough onto a piece of clear plastic wrap, slightly floured
5. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you must use it soon, freeze it for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for flatter tart crusts, 365 for taller crusts
6. Take the dough out from the fridge and turn it out onto a slightly floured work surface
7. Flatten so it is 1/4 inch thick
8. Press into tart mold (?) and poke a couple holes onto the bottom with a fork
9. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden on the edges. Let cool

To make the pastry cream:
1. If you're using vanilla beans, scrape seeds into milk and let sit for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2. Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.
3. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
4. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled.
5. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).
6. Stir in the vanilla extract if using, and then remove the pan from the heat.
7. Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
8. Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments.
9. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

- The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

- In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
- Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
- I washed and dried the fruit beforehand, glazing it with a simple syrup to get a shine. Jam also works.
- Also, if you want, you can replace some cake flour with ground almonds.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Number 14: Jasmine chocolate truffles

So I took a break from actual baking yesterday - tired and had to pick up a family friend from school. Instead, I made these chocolate truffles from the leftover white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate jasmine tea ganache I made the day before for the macarons.

So no recipe today - just check out the jasmine tea macaron recipe here to see the ganache recipe. Let the ganache sit in the fridge for maybe 2 to 4 hours to firm up, scoop out little teaspoons and roll into a ball. Roll in chopped almonds (mixed with cocoa powder if you want) and wrap in plastic wrap to let firm up again. The jasmine flavor really stands out after a couple days in the chocolate.


Onto food-related subjects, and some not food-related subjects. Yesterday I watched Julie & Julia, which was pretty good, although Amy Adam's character came off as awfully whiney. I really hope I don't whine and complain as much as she does, but I realized that when recipes fail I feel like crap too. Hmmm...I'll have to watch my temper.

But that one scene with raspberry bavarian cream made me really want to try that.

Another thing I realized - I can't be a cook. Chef. Whatever. I can't stand working with raw meat.

Anyway last night I was complaining to Boyfriend about how desserts aren't interesting anymore (cheesecake, some apple thing with vanilla ice cream, etc). But today my parents took me and family friend out to Santa Monica and we walked around Third Street Promenade (touristy, I know, but it's still my favorite place). For a lunchtime snack we went to Bubba Gumps and for dinner - ah dinner - we went to Italian Trastevere.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but the point. Dessert. Fresh baked pears and chocolate cream cake with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I'm pretty sure the cream was freshly whipped, and it was amazing.

Okay that's all. I'm eventually going to try something with chocolate and pears but for now, fruit tarts for tomorrow's barbeque. Expect strawberries and kiwis.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Number 12: Jasmine tea macarons

I decided to try my hands again at macarons, to see if it was just beginners luck the second time (ok, so maybe that goes against the definition). This time, they didn't necessarily turn out as pretty because I didn't rap the sheets immediately after piping them - I think next time I will try Helen of Tartelette's recipe for macarons. I'm thinking strawberry.

So here's a new tidbit for the blog - I LOVE jasmine. As in the flower, the fragrance, and especially the tea. My dog is named Jasmine, my favorite perfume is based on jasmine and lily of the valley, and I drink jasmine green tea on a daily basis.

I went through a phase where I tried to make everything jasmine - panna cotta (I hate panna cotta! I can never get it the way I like it, no matter how easy people say it is), cookies, syrup. They were even my first try at macarons (almond macarons with a jasmine tea syrup). So last night I figured I can make jasmine tea macarons.

I don't have actual tea leaves - just tea bags. Boyfriend claims to have jasmine tea leaves but he never gave them to me (although, to be fair, I asked for them once when he was in China). And now he's off in Chicago so it's a bit awkward to go over to his parents and say "Hi! Can I have some jasmine green tea leaves please?" (All in Chinese, of course).

Anyway I'm sure with actual tea leaves you would only need a teaspoon or so, chopped.

I was thinking of doing an orange white chocolate ganache for the filling, but the jasmine wasn't strong enough for the macaron shells. So I ditched the orange idea because I felt it would have overpowered the jasmine. Instead, I infused the ganache with jasmine tea. The white chocolate definitely has more of a jasmine aftertaste than the dark, but we'll see tomorrow once the flavors settle.

Jasmine tea macarons
with jasmine-infused white/bittersweet chocolate ganache

For the macarons
2 large egg whites
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
50 grams almonds, to ground
2 jasmine green tea bags

For the ganache (choose between white or bittersweet chocolate)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 ounces bittersweet or white chocolate
1/2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
1 jasmine green tea bag
1 teaspoon corn syrup

To make the macarons
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
1. Ground the almonds, whisk and sift with confectioners sugar
2. Cut open tea bags and mix in tea leaves with dry ingredients
3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until it holds its shape
4. Add granulated sugar to egg whites, beat until glossy and very stiff (gravity-defying stiff)
5. Fold in dry ingredients in two batches. Don't overfold or else the egg whites will deflate
6. Pipe out 1-inch macarons an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops are crisp and barely slide against the bottom feet
8. Let cool before removing from parchment paper

To make the ganache
1. Cut open the tea bag and mix it into the cream
2. Bring cream, tea leaves and syrup to a boil and simmer for a couple minutes
3. Strain cream over chocolate, let sit for two minutes or so
4. Mix until smooth, add in butter and mix until melted

To assemble
1. Using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread ganache over the bottom of one macaron
2. Sandwich. These can sit in an airtight container at room temperature for five days, or freeze them.

Food for thought: What I will miss in Chicago

In-n-Out. Boyfriend always gets animal fries and a neopolitan shake - and I would steal some to go with my double-double protein style.

More food to come.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Number 11: Mint chocolate chip ice cream

It's super hot hear in southern California, especially with the fire and everything. So I had some extra mint yesterday and decided to make mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Some of my friends have been complaining that my ice cream scoops are ugly. I'm sorry, but I'm not a super perfectionist and really, perfect ice cream scoops freak me out after reading stories about food photography and how some photogs get their ice cream to look wonderful. In other words, sorry, but you'll have to deal with my inability to scoop ice cream perfectly.

Also, I'm having problems keeping the creaminess of my ice cream. I'm still trying to figure out how to store it. I've been storing my ice cream in either glass or plastic tupperware things with plastic wrap over it. Still, it's really annoying to try and soften it after a couple hours in the freezer - I usually transfer the ice cream and sorbets into the fridge but I'm just too impatient.

Okay onto the recipe, which is Isaac Mizrahi's mint chocolate chip recipe from Epicurious. I actually cut the recipe into thirds because I only had two eggs, so the reduced, changed version is as follows.

Mint ice cream
with semisweet and bittersweet chocolate

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup mint leaves, washed, dried and loosely packed
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 drops food coloring, green
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. Whisk together 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the egg yolks
2. In a saucepan, heat milk, mint leaves and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until it steams
3. Temper the egg yolks with a couple tablespoons of the milk mixture. Gradually pour in all the milk, whisking continuously.
4. Strain the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan
5. Cook the mixture until it coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil.
6. Strain into a clean bowl.
7. Whisk in the heavy cream and food coloring (without food coloring the custard sauce will be a pale yellow)
8. Refrigerate overnight for best results, or at least until completely cooled.
9. Churn in ice cream maker, pouring in the chocolate chips during the last couple minutes of churning.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Number 10: Mint chocolate macarons

The first time I tried (key word) to make macarons, they fell flat. I didn't really understand what they were at the time, I had never had one, and so I misread the directions that said "mix in dry ingredients" and didn't take the care to fold the ingredients in.

So obviously the macarons didn't rise, didn't keep their shape and didn't have those cute little "feet."

So after doing some research, obsessing over the technique and finding myself with an extra two (aged) egg whites, I decided to try my hand at it again.

This recipe is David Lebovitz's French Chocolate Macaron recipe. After seven times he found the perfect recipe with a way to make the perfect feet - and it works.

I split the egg whites up to make one batch of chocolate and one batch of mint macarons, filling them with a mint bittersweet chocolate ganache. (I burnt the first batch, sorry!)

Mint and chocolate macarons
with mint bittersweet chocolate ganache

For the macarons
2 egg whites, aged 48 hours in the fridge or 24 hours room temp
50 grams almonds
5 tablespoons sugar, granulated
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves

For the ganache
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon mint extract

To make the macarons
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
1. Ground the almonds with the powdered sugar until fine - sift
2. Split the powdered sugar and almonds in half, mixing mint leaves into one batch and cocoa powder into the other. Set aside
3. Beat the egg whites until it keeps its shape
4. Beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff
5. Take out half of the egg whites and put it into a separate bowl
6. In one bowl of egg whites, carefully fold in dry ingredients with mint in two batches
7. In the second bowl, carefully fold in cocoa dry ingredients in two batches
8. On a parchment-covered baking sheet, pipe out 1-inch macarons about 1-inch apart with a 2-cm pastry tip. Rap the sheet against the counter top a couple times to flatten the macarons.
9. Bake for 12 minutes
10. Let cool before removing from pan

*Note: Fold in just so the white streaks of egg whites disappear. Do not over mix or else the batch will fall flat

To make the ganache
1. Heat the cream to a boil
2. Pour over the chocolate, let sit for a minute
3. Mix the chocolate until smooth
4. Add in mint extract and butter, mix until smooth

To assemble
1. Spread ganache onto one cookie, sandwich
2. Paint on extra ganache with a toothpick

These are GREAT the day after. You can store them in an air-tight container for five days or put them in the freezer. Defrost them in the container to avoid the macarons getting soggy.