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

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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!

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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

Ingredients

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.

Ingredients

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.