Let’s make something

August 26, 2010

I think I should post a recipe.  It’s been too long since one of those.  I mean isn’t that what I made this blog for?  Apology number 546.

Let’s make something:

get your self some butter.  Extra cold and unsalted.  Take a cheese grater and do your thing.

Now whisk yourselves yourself a little flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Now back to that butter pile… the essence!

Add it to your flour mixture and gently toss the mixture together evenly

add some buttermilk


and get chyo hands diiirty!

here we are

flour a surface

now turn out your dough

knead once or twice…

maybe three times

and make yourself a ball

oh sweet ball…

now get at it with that damn rolling-pin!

give it all you got, only a few whacks to express the oppression!!

ok calm down and roll it out

give it a fold and cut em out, i used a cup about 3-4 inches in diameter

Warning not to get too into dough beating… or you’ll end up with ones like these.


I mean they will still taste good.

But alas, do it right and here we are:

glorious to behold.

and now go ahead and treat yourself to a turkey, avocado, egg n cheese biscuit ‘wich

extra fresh cracked pepper.  I’m addicted.  Truffle salt if you have it. yess….

you will be glad you did.


Buttermilk Biscuits

(from Homesick Texan and browniesfordinner.com )

Makes 10-12 biscuits.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder  (don’t mix this up with baking soda.  big mistake, I don’t want to talk about it.)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons) butter, cold

3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients.

Using a pastry blender (pre-cheese grate, it’s a christmas miracle!) or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until the flour is just incorporated but the dough is sticky and loose.

Pour dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. The dough should be smooth and no longer wet. (Sprinkle the surface with more flour if the dough is sticking).

Shape the dough into a ball, and hit it with a rolling-pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple of minutes.

Roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick and then fold it in half. Cut out your biscuits from the folded dough using a round biscuit cutter or a glass.

Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Make sure the biscuits are slightly touching so that they will help each other rise up instead of out.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

Where do I begin?

August 18, 2010

I’m recently home from a Euro-trip. One of those 5 week, life-changing, self discovery, coming of age, type deals.  You could call me lucky.

Occasion:  My recent High School graduation.

Companions:  My two beautiful best friends.

Destinations:  We tried to cater our destinations to where we knew locals and had a cool place to stay.   In Order of arrival: London, Amsterdam, Normandy (France), Dijon (France), Nice (France), Monaco, Verona, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Paris, London, SFO.

Among all the craziness I managed to photographically document all the memorable and tasty culinary experiences worth the blog, taking up all my camera’s precious memory much to the dissent of my friends… only because I arguably “couldn’t delete the food pictures!”.  I think those of you as culinary crazed as me would defend them just the same…

So I guess I’ll begin in London….

One of the most incredible culinary experiences occurred within our first few days in London at the Borough Market.  I live in the bay area where the fruit is fresh, the avocados are ripe and the fish is nothing short of sushi-grade.  But oh no, this market was like Pike Place Market + SF Ferry Building Sunday Farmers Market+ Cool London Attitude.  Those who say the food is shit in London has obviously never been here.  And though I can’t entirely  disspel that rumor, given my friends and I mainly survived on the 2 pound breakfast at my brothers LSE dorm and cliff bars for dinner, (not because we did not want to participate in London fare, but mainly to save money) the experiences we did have dining out were quiet great.

So Jboz and I basically splurged a great deal at this market: calorically and monetary.  Ordering every dish if a faint whiff suited our fancy, or anywhere the line grew long.  We walked down a stone road leading to the market; we though we were in it, enjoying the quaint and low-key vibe until we hit the bustling epicenter.  This is where things got good.

Starving, we rushed over to a stand selling chorizo, red pepper and rocket sandwiches. yum.  The British love rocket…. kind of like Californians love arugula?  and why am I even making this analogy?…. moving on.

This Curry looked insanely great…

Exotic meats and game…

Juicy Scallops.  I liked these because they left the roe on the scallop, personally my favorite part; I feel it’s the most tender and flavorful.  Seared with bacon, lemon and mixed vegetables.

Basil Pesto and humus

the bustling market place

do I see “award winning”?

“I could write a book and call it the perfect sandwich”

sausage, onions and dry cured bacon on ciabatta.  Generously topped with grainy mustard and a sweet/ tangy apple chutney.

This stuff is out of this world.  On the right, you can see the massive cheese wedges put directly under the broiler.  Then the guy literally picks the entire thing up and scrapes off a ridiculous amount of the hot, gooey cheese over boiled potatoes, cornichons and pearl onions. Dying.

Fresh Fish

Fresh Juice

A gorgeous vegetable Quiche

For dessert we finished off with something light… I couldn’t fathom a buttercream topped cake or chocolate ganache.  This was perfect; a fresh squeezed juice called “the zinger”.  A mixture of wheatgrass, ginger, apple and lemon.

Wheatgrass, nature’s greatest caffeine jolt.

Ever in London? Go Here:

239 Borough High Street
Camberwell, London SE1 1, United Kingdom
020 7407 1002

Party at my house!

July 24, 2010

I did it!

Yes, I graduated from high school.

In celebration my family decided to host a party at my house.  We transformed our yard with hundreds of flowers and cleaned out the pool.  I sent out an evite inviting family friends and a few girls to celebrate with us.  I told them to bring a bathing-suit and an appetite. It would be a humble, tasty backyard party.

Well, my humble plans were foiled when my mom started creating the menu.   Of course at our house, with two outrageous foodies the food would be good.  But it wasn’t till my mom had hired the sushi chef, paella maker and monstrosity of desserts that I realized this would be no back yard bbq.

To my horror, just two hours before the party a 10 foot tall moving truck parked in my front yard carrying everything from cocktail tables to decorative rhinestones.  Definitely not a humble backyard bbq…

Scrambling to get everything ready, we barely finished preparing by 5:00.  One thing about my family is that we are always late.

I had planned on making a few desserts, but it took my mom so long to get home with the ingredients I could only make up some cookies.  She came sweeping in two hours before the party with the linens and a carload from Costco.

I ended up making some humus and sangria for the party too.

For the sangria, I just checked out a few recipes and improvised without following anything too closely (same with the humus!).  I chopped up several pounds of fruit, basically everything I had in the house: strawberries, limes, oranges, apples, pineapple and mango.  I added plenty of white rum (bacardi), red wine from bevmo, and agave nectar to sweeten.  I may have added a few splashes of fruit juice.   I let the fruit marinade with the rum for a few hours before putting it all together. Twas very simple.

For the humus I used several cloves of garlic, tahini, pinto beans, parsley, fresh cracked black pepper, salt, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, along with other spices seasoning to taste.  Came out wonderfully.

I honestly can’t remember what cookie recipe I used.  But was basically an ordinary CCC recipe.  I cans ee some white chocolate chips in there too.  They were pretty great if I do say so myself…

more food….. my favorite chai noodle dish was served, made by a good family friend.  cold noodle salad with a sweet, sour and tangy fish sauce dressing, mint, peanuts, lime, onions, carrots and more!

along with some other favorites…

these are incredible…. truffle infused blanched almonds… go to Costco and get them. now! and pair them with cheese.  mmmmm.

ok, now as for my persistent absence from the blog. Well, I just returned from a month-long European Extravaganza with my two best girlfriends as a veritable graduation getaway.  Prepare yourself for some awesome culinary travel documentation in my next post.

Momofuku… a review.

June 9, 2010

I recently took a short trip to New York.  like 24 hours short.

A few days before the trip I got ahold of the most recent s.pelligrino 50 best restaurants 2010.  I was surprised to see momofuku ssam bar made 26 on the list.  I’ve previously been to the momofuku noodle bar, which was tasty; and the milk bar, which I absolutely loved.

I had visited the Ssam bar before because the milk bar is located in the back. I was intrigued by the newest review so I made a point to go eat there before we left.

I arrived with my mom a little before 6:00, through the unassuming doors before the Tuesday dinner rush and my mom and I got two seats at the bar.  we weren’t starving so we kept the meal light and wanted to order just a few dishes.  Here we go…

(Excuse the photos… taken from my mom’s iphone in bad lighting.)

first dish was a fuji apple kimchi; when I read the menu I believed I was getting their traditional hand pickled kimchi ( the best I have ever had! tired it last year at the noodle bar), with the addition of apples.  This was however just apples, replacing the cabbage entirely.  Served with a creamy dressing, a strip of bacon and a few leaves of arugula.  It was tasty, and the components worked nicely together, however I was craving the juicy and spicy kimchi I had had before and this couldn’t stand up to my expectations.

This next dish was a special of the night of something.  It was some sort of firm, raw fish with cucumber, candied mustard and green onion.  The sauce it was paired with was like a thick gelle, with a subtle flavor.  Honestly, I didn’t think this was worth the money we spend (probably like $12 or something).  The candied mustard was nice and surprising, but that was about it.

Next, we ordered a stuffed, deboned quail served with cabbage and a savory chinese broth.  This dish was the star of the show, the quail was delicately moist and tender and stuffed with a sticky rice that was perfectly sticky.  The broth had tones of five spice and star anise.  It was warming, comforting and delicious. 5 stars.

The last dish brought to us was the soft shell crab recommended by our waitress.  Was served with a few asparagus tips and I can’t even recall anything about the sauce at this point, so not very memorable.  The crab itself was perfectly fried, but that didn’t make up for the cost.  At 20-some dollars I could have gotten a perfectly tasty deep-fried soft shell crab at any Japanese restaurant in San Francisco for half the cost.

Dinner was decent, but from what I ate it wasn’t quite worthy of 50 greatest restaurants in the world.

Now of course I went to the milk bar, but I’ll tell you about that later.

Make her a breakfast with warm popovers and fresh sweet strawberry butter.

Buy the most beautiful flowers you can find, peonies prefered a must.

Whip up a delightfully light coconut cake with lemon curd and swiss meringue buttercream- three layers will do.

Take her to the Legion of Honor to see the Cartier Exhibit.

I made a Happy Mom.

For mother’s day, I made a no frills, simple breakfast for my mom.  Eggs cooked her favorite way, fruit salad with mangos, pears, bananas, and strawberries, tangerine juice, hot tea and warm popovers.

Popovers was the one thing my mom requested I make for her.  She had clipped this recipe from the newspaper.  They were fantastic. I didn’t have popover cups so I used a muffin tin; worked out just fine.

A few tips to making perfect popovers: make sure the milk and eggs are room temp before mixing.  Don’t try to save calories by using cooking spray, use a good amount of butter to line the muffin tins (popovers are pretty dang low cal anyways!).   Never open the oven while the popovers are cooking, like a souffle they will deflate 😦 .  Popovers do not freeze well, and let the batter rest about 30 minutes before putting them into the oven (allows the flour’s glutens to relax).

With this recipe you put the popovers into a cold oven.  I know, wtf!? But it works out, trust the process.

Popovers are impressive and so easy to make.

Recipe Adapted from the Marin Independent Journal

(using a muffin tin, this made 9 popovers)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk, room temperature (I used about 1/2 buttermilk, 1/2 milk mixture)

1 Tablespoon melted butter or veggie oil

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven.  Grease each muffin cup generously with softened butter.

Whisk the eggs, milk and butter in a large bowl.  Add the flour and salt and mix until smooth. ( Now this is when you let the batter sit for awhile)

Pour batter into the greased cups about 2/3 full.  Place in oven and then set to 400 degrees.  Bake until puffed and golden brown about 35-40 minutes.  Do not open the oven before they are ready or they will collapse. Voila!

For the strawberry butter I adapted a recipe from Joylicious

This recipe is more taste-as-you-go, but I’ll give you an outline of how I made it.

I used about 3/4 of a pint of sweet, ripe strawberries and minced them

It gave me a little over a 1/2 cup

I also added about a 1/4 cup of organic strawberry jam

I put that along with about  1 1/2 sticks of butter into a stand mixer and mixed until uniform

I added more jam, and powdered sugar to taste as I went along.  I ended up making quite a lot that’s still hanging out in my fridge.

As for lemon coconut cake, this one  shines.  The frosting and curd is not to sweet, and the cake has a beautifully tight crumb.  I usually make my own lemon curd but I found some jarred, store-bought curd in the house and decided to try it out.  I must say that homemade is 100% tastier than the store-bought variety, however this worked out better because the texture of the jarred curd was thicker and made frosting the cake much easier than I imagine working with fresh lemon curd would be.  Both would work!

I also just got back from New York.  Quick trip, I think I literally spent 24 there.  Great Foodie post coming your way soon!

I adapted this recipe from Not So Humble Pie

Lemon Coconut Cake

2 1/4 cups (244g) cake flour

1 tablespoon (12g) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup (295ml) whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature

4 large egg whites, room temperature

1 1/2 cup (302g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons fine lemon zest

1 stick (8 tablespoons 113g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Buttercream

1 cup (201g) sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/4 cup (59ml) fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure  coconut extract

To Finish

about 1/2 store bought or fresh lemon curd

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded or desiccated coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F and place a rack in the lower third of your oven. Coat two 8″ or 9″ pans with butter or nonstick spray and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment. Place the pans on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a second small bowl, combine the milk and egg whites and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix for a minute on medium speed until fragrant. Add the butter and cream together on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the coconut and vanilla extracts and then grab your bowl of flour and milk.

Reduce the mixer’s speed to slow and add 1/3rd of the flour. Once moistened, increase the speed to medium and mix until incorporated. Then add 1/2 the milk mixture and beat until the mixture is uniform. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, alternating until you’ve finished with the last 1/3rd of the flour. Mix the batter for a further 2 minutes to ensure it is lump free and well aerated.

Divide the batter between your baking pans (I think it was a bit over 500g for each pan) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the centers of the cake springs back when touched lightly.

Place the cakes on wire racks to cool. After a few minutes, run a knife around the outside of the pan to release the cake and remove from the pans. Allow to cool right side up until room temperature.

To make the buttercream:

Combine the sugar and egg whites in a bowl over simmering water. Whisking constantly, beat until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar is no longer gritty. Remove from heat and continue to beat until you have a thick, glossy meringue.

Transfer the meringue to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat for several minutes on medium speed. Once the bowl of the mixer feels cool to the touch you can add your butter, one stick at a time beating on medium high. Once the butter is all in, continue to beat for 6-10 minutes.

The mixture may seem to curdle at some point but don’t worry, continue to beat and it will come together into a velvety buttercream.

Once well beaten, you can add the lemon juice a little at a time, beat until absorbed and then adding more. Then add the extract and you’re ready to frost

To assemble the cake:

Spread a third of the lemon curd onto the bottom layer of the cake and then a layer of buttercream. Top with a second layer of cake and repeat two more times. Place the last layer on top and then crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of icing. Chill the cake until the icing is firm and then frost the cake with the remaining butter cream. Smooth the remaining buttercream over the cake with an offset spatula until it is level and smooth.

Sprinkle the coconut over the top of the cake and coat the sides by gently pouring the coconut between your hand and the cake.

The cake is best eaten the day it is made. If you need to store it, refrigerate it covered for up to two days, allowing plenty of time to bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Sorry, I’ve been traveling…

In the past two months I’ve been to Hawaii, Santa Barbra, San Luis Obispo, LA, and New Orleans. College visiting, vacationing, ect…

And with proms, AP testing and graduation coming all at once I have been pretty darn busy!

Please excuse me for being blog lazy :/

I’ll go ahead and take you on a brief culinary tour of my trips.

I went to Oahu with my mom and day for a long weekend.  So relaxing.  The food down there is either incredibly expensive due to all the tourist, or super local and fattening.  The most common, local dish is an extra-large plate of a fried meat or fish drenched in gravy over rice and creamy maccaroni salad on the side.  Not the type of food you want to be eating everyday. One place you can check out for the super local cuisine is the rainbow drive thru:

A must go is Leonard’s bakery.  The malasadas are to die for; basically round doughnuts.  We tried the cinnamon sugar, and lilikoi (Hawaiian passionfruit) cream filled flavors. Outstanding!

We went to Nobu for another outstanding meal.  Not local, but you can always expect incredible food from here

above is a delicious scallop dish I tried. I didn’t manage to capture of it, the new sty;le sashimi is the bomb; slightly seared with a rich scallion infused oil and topped with fried garlic, perhaps the best thing I ate that night.

Another incredibly filling and expensive dinner came from BLT steak house at the trump tower hotel we stayed at.  We ( three of us) ordered the porterhouse for two along with some appetizers and accompaniments…….


after my mom got done with this bad boy:

Not a whole lot of culinary photos from my trip to southern California.  I did however, manage to document one incredible dinner at our hotel.

My family and I stayed at a gorgeous resort in Rancho Palace Verdes in LA.

Luckily we were there for Friday night, because the one of the restaurants has an incredible seafood buffet.   At 50$ a pop it’s well worth the experience.  The buffet has everything from oysters on the half shell, to every type of fish cooked every which-way, king crab legs, incredible cheese selection, salad arrangements and a fantastic dessert set up and more.  Of course I managed to document the desserts.  They had several and we made a point to taste every single one.

above is an opera cake, strusel berry cake and flan.

above is a mango mousse cake, apricot chocolate mousse and lemon chiffon cake.

We agreed this parfait layer tiramisu was the best.

although I think my favorite might have been this passionfruit mousse topped with the berries.  incredible, bursting passionfruit flavor in a light and creamy mousse.

I think I’ll leave New Orleans for another post…. don’t want to overwhelm!

Chinese New Year

March 20, 2010

As long as it took me to accept my overbearing mother and estranged customs I love being Chinese.

I’ve been raised in a wealthy, suburban, predominately white community my entire life.  The closest thing I had to a chinese heritage was my mother forcing me to take lion dancing lessons on sunday afternoons, something I always dreaded growing up.  As I was enrolled into a private catholic school, my biracial half along with two other students made up the entirety of the diversity percentile in my grade, and I dreaded my mom volunteering for field trips and room mom where she spoke in her thick Cantonese accent and carted around my peers with her-truly- awful driving skills.  For awhile I pretended not to like Chinese food, and was rude and moody about being dragged to Marin Chinese Cultural Association (MCCA) volunteer events.

I don’t precisely remember when my attitude changed, but I think going to school in San Francisco was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.  I met so many different types of people and made Chinese friends. Now, Asia is my absolute favorite place in the world  (Hong Kong, Taiwan Japan), and when I get home all I can think about is my next trip.  I can also no longer deny my love for dim sum and pan-fried seafood noodles. I opened myself up to the culture and realized how much my race significantly impacts who I am and my understanding of diversity.  It’s one of my favorite things about myself.

And while my mom has become genuinely americanized; between texting on her iPhone all day and  after hanging out with her girlfriends to play tennis, she’ll pick me up from school and we will go to Irving st. to get wonton noodle soup and duck.  I love my culture.

I also love celebrating chinese new year, sorry this post is so overdue.

My mom is now the president of the MCCA.  Every year, the group hosts a food booth at the discovery bay museum’s chinese new year celebration.  The lion dance team performs and the event attracts hundreds of elementary and toddler aged children.  I spent the whole day working the food booth, our menu:

Noodles= long life.

I spy cupcakes…….

of course I had to make something festive!  I decided to make some red velvet cupcakes; good call, they sold out fast!

And perhaps my favorite food we sold….

If you have never had lo mai gai, well then that is unfortunate indeed. A peek inside  reveals…

sweet chinese sausage, ground pork and egg surrounded by steaming sweet sticky rice delicately wrapped in a banana leaf.

and all within a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Red Velvet Cupcakes

From the Purple Foodie

Adapted from: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Yield: 12 cupcakes. Double the recipe for 2 9 inch layer cakes.

4 Tablespoons / 60g. butter, at room temperature

¾ cup / 150g. sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 / 10g. Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp / 20ml. red food coloring

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup / 120ml. buttermilk or well beaten yoghurt

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (if you’re using unsalted butter)

1 tsp teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 170°C/350°F.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

In another bowl, beat butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed.

Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Turn the mixer up to slow speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk, a third of the flour, half the buttermilk, and ending with the rest of the flour. You can fold in the last third of flour by hand.

Spoon mixture into cupcake mould line with paper or into silicone moulds.

Bake for about 20-25 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting the cakes.

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

From Milk and Honey Cafe

for 2 dozen cupcakes
adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Recipe, as well as from lucyinaz


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8 oz Philly’s Cream Cheese, cold


1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt and vanilla until combined. At this point, the mix is going to look really dry and crumbly, but be patient and it will come together, about 4 minutes.
2. Add cream cheese and mix until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. DON’T OVERBEAT. Frost as desired!

Lemon Coconut Goobers

March 4, 2010

I have a friend named Goober.  It was Goober’s birthday last weekend.  Goober is a dear friend, one that truly appreciates my baking more than most my others.  I had to go all out for Goober.

It’s Wednesday.  This week has been so unbelievably long even though I took Monday off.  The weather has been ridiculously sporadic and off-beat.  1 hour intervals of rain and sunshine.

However I think I’m feeling a little better now that I took a two-hour nap tonight.  I got up and made this Salmon and Cream recipe sans blinis, did I tell you I gave up gluten for lent?  well that too.  I noshed on the rest of the mango I didn’t use for the recipe while I caught up with a dear 17&baking pen pal via email.  I’m also listening to Miike Snow, my newest obsession I discovered through une-deux senses.  Holy crap look at what I just wrote; my life revolves around blogs.

Let’s get back to Goober.  Fun Facts:  Goober is 18, meaning she can engage in the life changing world of cigarettes, porno, strip clubs; you know, the important things in life.

Goober’s chinese name is Mei-Ling.

I only talk in a Chinese when I am with Goober.  (note:  I do not know how to speak Chinese)

Goober and I just started a blog.

Goober likes to eat everything.  I love that; sometimes it’s overwhelming because there is so much good stuff to choose from, but when you have a list of recipes you’re dying to make, the less restriction the better.

Dorie Greenspan claims this is “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart”, describing the texture as velvety and deceptively light.  Uh…. well in that case!  I made a pate sablee crust and topped it with meringue.

When I was making this I thought I had totally ruined it; I used a food processor and after I processed the cream it was straight-up liquid.  I expected it to be the consistency of lemon curd, however I put it in the fridge to chill and four hours later, Viola!  Lemon-cream dreams!

Pierre Herme’s Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

makes 8 servings


1 cup sugar

Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

4 large eggs

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)

2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (21 tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

1 fully baked 9-inch tart shell

Making The Tart

Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

1. Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.

2. Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

3. As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

5. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.

Serving: The tart should be served cold, because it is a particular pleasure to have the cold cream melt in your mouth.

Storing: While you can make the lemon cream ahead (it will keep in the fridge for 4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months), once the tart is constructed, it’s best to eat it the day it is made.

The Meringue Adapted from Cook EatLove

Notes from Author: Because stabilization is achieved with the cornstarch paste, this meringue topping will not weep, leak, or deflate, even when refrigerated for several days. Since the pie filling should be piping hot when the meringue is added, measure out and prepare the cornstarch paste in step 1 below before embarking on the filling recipe above.


1            Tbsp            Cornstarch

1            Tbsp            Sugar

1/3            Cup            Water

4            Each            Large egg whites, room temperature

½            Tsp            Vanilla

¼            Tsp            Cream of tartar

½            Cup            Sugar, preferably superfine

Procedure steps for meringue

1.            Mix the cornstarch and sugar in a small saucepan, then add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Using a wire whisk stir briskly and boil for 15 seconds. Remove the thick paste from the heat and cover. (Now go ahead and start the filling in step 2 from the top section of this recipe.)

2.            In a clean and grease-free mixing bowl add the room temperature egg whites and beat until foamy.

3.            Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.

4.            Slowly and gradually add the sugar and beat in well on high-speed until very stiff and glossy but not dry.

5.            Reduce the mixer speed to very slow and add the cornstarch paste 1 tablespoon at a time. When the paste is incorporated increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for another 10 to 15 seconds.

People like their stand mixer or grandma’s old wooden bowl.  My favorite kitchen tool is my gas torch.  Hands down.

Don’t think I’m done Y’all!  That was for Goober’s birthday…. but what about the LADY GAGA themed Birthday Party!?

Yes.  I needed something delicious and I was thinking coconut.

Notes about this cake.  It is seriously delicious, definitely upped my baking rep.  I ruined the consistency of the frosting, however it still tasted great.  Me, being super shameful about wasted ingredients still used the loose frosting between the layers and around the cake but whipped up some swiss meringue buttercream and topped with organic unsweetened coconut.  Using both frosting didn’t really work out; it was super difficult to frost but flavor was not lost!

I’ve seen all these colorful cakes so I decided to make mine festive with gel and liquid food coloring.  (Gel is much more vibrant).  I only got pictures after half the cake had been demolished from the night (there were like 3 humongous cakes at the party!)

Southern Coconut Cake Adapted from Tender Crumb

Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake

For the cake:

5 large egg whites

½ cup of milk

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

3 cups of cake flour

2 and 1/3 cup sugar

4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.

Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.

Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.

Cream cheese buttercream frosting

12 ounces of cream cheese, slightly chilled

1 stick of butter plus 6 tablespoons of butter (7 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup of water

3 egg whites

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.

Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.

With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

I was frightened at how simple this SMBC recipe was…. luckily I had made SMBC several times before so I knew what to look for, but you should find a more specific recipe if your making SMBC for the first time.  Great recipe though!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Adapted from Whisk Kid

To frost:

5 egg whites

1 c sugar

2 sticks butter, room temp

1 tsp Vanilla extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

I had a piece of cake even though I’m on my Gluten Free diet.  shhh.

The Ranch

February 19, 2010

Happy New Year!

The 14th was Chinese New Year, which means extensive preparation and a whole lot of food.  I’m not gona lie, I didn’t end up getting super into it this year, but what generally does need to happen in preparation is a cleaning of the house, a haircut (these must be done BEFORE the date), new clothes purchased for New Year’s day, filling the house with fresh fruit, cherry blossoms, flowers, candies, cakes, and chinese sweets.  The day of, my mom and I usually go to the Chinese temple, no washing of the hair is allowed (don’t wash away the bad luck!), no fighting or none of anything you wouldn’t want to stick with you for the new year; New Year’s day is a reflection of the entire year.

In all honesty I didn’t even see my parents the day of Chinese new year.  New Years Eve we went out to a profuse 10 course traditional dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in China Town San Francisco.  Among my all time favorites, Egg white and dried scallop fried rice, Hong Kong style pan-fried noodles, and steamed whole green onion Ling Cod.  Holy crap I ate a lot; what made matters worse was the surprise birthday dinner I had to attend for my friend at an Italian restaurant in North Beach. Ugg…. don’t judge me for having a piece of cake at the party.

Fast forward to the next morning; Chinese New Year day, oh yea it was also Valentine’s day too (:/)  Luckily I was already with my single girlfriends.  We wanted a retreat, and conveniently the birthday girl has a ranch in Healdsburg (in the country about 1 1/2 hours from the city) which we decided to drive up to.

What can I say about this place?  Idyllic and picturesque.  The kitchen looks as though it was taken out of pottery barn magazine, I was so excited to jump in there and get to use it.  Surrounded by vineyards, a white wrap around porch and a Kelly green, grassy lawn every moment spent there is a calm satisfaction I could only relish in.

My friends and I were fortunate to have the house to ourselves.  We aimlessly explored the property, took the golf-cart out for a spin, and I took photos on my camera.  Later, we went to the local market where we sampled more cheese than should have been allowed for free and came back with fresh chicken and vegetables for grilling, salad materials, and ripe peaches and nectarines for a galette.

The weather was perfect; bright, sunny and warm.  I was wearing my shorts mid-February.  Sunlight streamed through the windows and filled the kitchen with a warm glow while I began to prepare my fruit galette. I felt right at home in the classically charming kitchen.  I breathed in what felt so much like summer.  I was inspired to make this because 1) the house conveniently had pie crust in the fridge 2)  It’s the simplest of all desserts 3)  I didn’t need a recipe 4)  It felt right; the day reminded me so much of summer and I wanted something light, delicious, homemade and rustic; just like the ranch.

I didn’t use a recipe for this galette, they are so simple and I have made them several times. I had a pre-made pie crust in the fridge.  Typically I would have used cornstarch but since I had none I added a small handful of flour, shook a few tablespoons of tapioca into the mixture (I wanted to try it because it was on hand), a squeeze of lemon, and about 1/3 cup of sugar ( if any)

Step by step tutorial:

I sliced two ripe peaches and one ripe nectarine

next, I added a small handful of flour, sugar, and a bit of tapioca ( just because I had it on hand)

important that you squeeze a half of a lemon into the mixture; it brings out the bright fruity flavor; even better if you add a teaspoon of zest.

now mix gently with hands…

and pour out onto your 10 inch diameter rolled, round pie crust

Neatly place in the center with a 1 inch border.  I like to make sure they look somewhat organized, but don’t worry this is supposed to be homemade and rustic looking!

now fold the crust over, I dotted the top with just a bit of butter and brushed a little on the crust.  What you really want to do is make an egg wash for the crust using 1 egg and a few tablespoons of cream, however I had none of these.  It gives the crust a gorgeous golden brown color.

Now place in the center of a 350 F degree oven.  You want to bake this for about 20 minutes, until the juices are bubbling in the center and the crust is puffy and brown.  Don’t become worried if the fruit looks really dried out about 15 minutes in, give the juices some time!

My friend had been preparing the bbq pit and the chicken had been marinating while I made dessert….

time to get cookin!

I found this marinade in the pantry.  I think it is supposed to be for fajitas. It was delicious and we continued to brush the chicken with it as it grilled as well as some good old bbq sauce.

A lot of my friends are picky eaters. Not me.  Well something exciting is that I got them to eat my grilled onions and squash, they couldn’t resist; they’re that good.

I’m getting hungry… dinner’s almost ready

The sun began to set as we plated the food and sat down to dinner.  I couldn’t think of a more perfect Valentine’s date then good food, drink and my best friends 🙂

I also whipped up a simply delicious caprese salad sans basil + cornichons+green olives

the chicken was so perfectly moist, with a crispy, crusty skin

I learned how to make pizza through my internship…. maybe next time I’ll give this baby a whirl.

And what can I say about these ladies… other than, well I’m kind of obsessed.

St. Valentine

February 16, 2010

St. Valentine,

I have attended Catholic religious schools for the past  10 years of my life, and still do not precisely know who you are or why such a day filled with tacky drug-store manufactured cartoon cards, or chalky and suggestive heart shaped candies has been named after you.  However, I want to, in the most sincere tone of course, thank you for creating a holiday which makes all singles feel like total loners.  Amen.

Ok maybe that was harsh, but Valentine’s day sucks.  There, I said it.  Now I’m not trying to delve too much into my personal life, but I’ve never had a entirely ‘successful’ Valentine’s day, and my mom’s polite badgering of  any recent love interests only makes matters worse… ugg. Out of pity, she invited me on to join her and my father on their candlelit dinner date.  Ok, now I’ve reached an all-time low.

Well, then again I can always drown my hum-drum self-absorbed Valentine’s day sorrows in…. Did somebody say BAKING!?

Yes, I get excited for every opportunity I can bake, especially when It’s something as tacky and festive as Valentine’s day.  Even better.

Now I wanted to make something exciting and different.  I’ve been doing a lot of self evaluation of my baking and let’s face it, I’m a boring at-home baker.  Sure the pictures are nice, but I usually stick to what I know in my own kitchen: pies (from scratch…whoohoo..), layer cakes, cupcakes, and tons and tons of drop cookies.  My pal Elissa at 17 and baking prompted my need to be adventurous;  she does the daring bakers challenge and lately has so much variety on her blog (doughnuts!).  So I’m totally on a bread baking obsession, and even though I still have never attempted it at home, I’m in the mental preparation state. (haha, more like I haven’t found a minute to get yeast at the store!)  Quick Fact and Backround:  I do an internship at Orson Restaurant and Citizen Cake Bakery in San Francisco. (:D) And though I haven’t earned one pay check I get to be a totally adventurous baker, going off the whimiscally fabulous recipies of Elizabeth Falkner.  There, I’m able to make  filo wrapped date cigars, ficcocia, green apple sorbet, date pudding, cheddar bacon scones ( I had to use a deli slicer as the restaurant cures it’s own bacon; so crazy and intimidating after I saw what happened to  Mickey Rourke in the Wrestler! Luckily I escaped with all 10 fingers),  blueberry maple cheesecakes and the alfajores that are to die for. As a pronounced chocoholic, I maydare to say that it is  perhaps the most incredible cookie that I have tasted (although David Chang’s momofuku milk bar’s cornflake cookie is a contender).

That paragraph was totally all over the place now that I read it over, but in conclusion, I had to make these whoopie pies because I died when I say them on Annie’s Eats.  They were too, too cute (Bakerella Status).  I guess I stepped a little out of the box because I never have made whoopie pies before….  (boringggggg)  They turned out cakey and soft just like I imagine they are supposed to.  When I brought them to school, one of my friends raved that they tasted like pancakes. (In a good way I guess).  I cured my own buttermilk substituion (milk+ 1 tablespoon lemon juice+ 5 minutes= buttermilk :D).  I also used a marshmellow frosting which I added 2 tablespoons of sourcream to get that tangy flavor,  I didn’t have any of the ingedients for the cream cheese frosting.  The sour cream ended up deflating my frosting a bit, so I wasn’t able to achieve towering and fluffy whoopie pies. My mom’s reaction was “those are pretty ugly”… so  I left suggestions to prevent this down by the frosting recipe.

Please enjoy!

Adapted From Annie’s Eats

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring (I used a few teaspoons)


Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

Using a heart template cut out from card stock, trace evenly spaced hearts onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets.  Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures


1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons dried egg whites, reconstituted according to package directions(equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Frosting:

Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl and set it over the saucepan. Heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 7 minutes. Take off the heat, dd the egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5-7 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute to cool the frosting. Add the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. I added a few tablespoons of sour cream, but the frosting started to get flat so I would suggest taking a third of the frosting out, mixing it with some sour cream, and folding the mixture back into the frosting.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.