Friday, December 31, 2010

What to do with Whipped Cream

Gong Bao Ji Ding and He Tao Xia

Homemade Pickled Vegetable Fried Rice

Tofu Cheesecake with Honey

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creamy Polenta with Poached Egg and Bacon Mushrooms

Avocado Caprese

This salad is a twist on the classic caprese, using avocado, olives, and dill in addition to mozzarella and balsamic vinegar.

Avocado Caprese
ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped dill
2 olives, finely diced
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

1. Layer the plate with tomatoes, avocado, and mozzarella.
2. Garnish with dill and olives.
3. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Using the salt and pepper grinders, add some sea salt and black pepper.

Morimoto Tofu Cheesecake

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lamb Dumplings

Dumplings remind me of the holidays...maybe it's because we tend to make them around this time of year. The multi-step process lends itself well to having many hands helping in the kitchen - as kids, we would smash the dough disks but several years and hundreds of dough disks later we've finally proven ourselves worthy of the meatball-wrapping step. Seriously, why do grown ups get all the fun?

These are filled with lamb. The recipe is very inexact: a bunch of ground lamb, a smaller bunch of jiu cai (chives I think), some shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine), some salt, sugar (?), ginger, soy sauce, water, shrimp. I don't know why we never follow a written recipe - maybe it's to create that intense moment of anticipation right before you bite into the first dumpling, since every time the dumplings are different.

Or maybe it's just because we're lazy.

Cutting the dough. The trick is to turn the rope 90 degrees every cut so you don't end up with flatter disks each time.

Rolling the dough disks. The trick is to make the edges thinner than the middle. I did this job for a while too before graduating to the elite meatball-wrapping step.

The filling. According to our mom you have to mix it vigorously in one direction with chopsticks and a little water to loosen up the meat.

A tablespoon of meat is how much we usually put.

The pinching step!

I like to enter my dumplings in beauty contests with the other dumplings on the plate. See that one in the upper right? Isn't she beautiful?

They're ready after they float and boil two more times.

My dad made the garlic sauce with a makeshift mortar and pestle. Other ingredients: Chiakang (?) black vinegar and soy sauce.

Dinner is served! Happy holidays. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ming Tsai Sesame Noodle Salad

We love Ming Tsai's new cookbook, Simply Ming One-Pot Meals. The Asian fusion recipes are delicious, easy, and healthy, and there are gorgeous pictures for every recipe.
As Ming says, recipes should serve as a jumping off point for your own creative meals - you shouldn't copy a recipe line for line because that's just sort of extremely boring, dontcha agree? (Maybe the real reason is that we're just too lazy to go out and fetch the exact ingredients and too cheap to let the ingredients in our fridge rot, but that doesn't sound like a very chivalrous reason, so we'll just pull the creativity excuse.)
We used soba noodles instead of egg noodles, and radishes, carrots, a soft-poached egg, nori, sesame seeds, shaved parmesan cheese, and blanched mung bean sprouts instead of romaine lettuce, chicken, cucumber, and red bell peppers, as Ming's recipe suggested. For the sauce, we used freshly ground Whole Foods peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine, sliced scallions, red chili sauce, soy sauce, some Chinkiang black rice vinegar, and maybe 1/2 cup of hot water to make the sauce runny enough to coat the noodles effectively. I think grated fresh ginger and miso would be good additions too!

These noodles were phenomenal - the peanut sesame sauce is a perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, spiciness, tangy-ness, and umami, and clings wonderfully to the radishes, noodles, carrots, and bean sprouts. The one thing we would change is to include some meat! Maybe some chicken or bacon or beef or ground pork would be delicious.

Sesame Noodle Salad (serves 4)
8 ounces soba noodles
2 carrots, shredded with food processor
2 radishes, shredded with food processor
2 cups mung bean sprouts, blanched
freshly ground pepper
toasted sesame seeds
slow-poached egg
nori (dried seaweed)
shaved parmesan and gryuere cheese (optional)

Peanut Sesame Sauce
1 cup creamy freshly ground peanut butter
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Chinese black rice vinegar
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
1 Tbsp hot chili sauce (Lao Gan Ma brand is what we used)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Cook noodles as directed and divide among bowls or plates.
2. Mix sauce ingredients together, adjusting water level until it has the consistency of European style yogurt.
3. Assemble your own bowl or plate, adding veggies and sauce and tossing to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds, egg, nori, and cheese, as desired.

Momofuku milk bar cereal milk ice cream

Ladies and gents, prepare yourself for the yummiest ice cream in the world.

If you are stuck indoors thanks to good ol' California rain this holiday season, I highly recommend investing in an ice cream maker so you can start churning out homemade ice cream. I also highly recommend investing in a heavy duty treadmill and/or Stairmaster, probably the only better thing than homemade whipped cream to go with said ice cream.

This ice cream uses milk that has been steeped in caramelized corn flakes. If you have never met a caramelized corn flake, consider the following dialog:

(Scene: kitchen, two baking sheets spread with caramelized corn flakes have been resting on the counter for some time)

Mom: Ohmygosh. These are so good.
Me: What? You ate some?? They're supposed to be fo-
Dad: Yeah, they're so good.
Me: You too??
Mom and Dad: Oh, we weren't supposed to?
Me: Uh, no, not really, these are for ice cream. That's okay. How much did you eat?
Mom: Ah, maybe this much (gestures toward cupped palm)
Me: ...there's one and a half sticks of butter in there!

Due to this unfortunate incident, we may have used less caramelized cornflakes than the recipe called for, but the world did not end at all. In fact, it is just beginning.



For Caramelized Cornflakes (makes 18 oz; recipe adapted from Momofuku)

  • 10 oz cornflakes
  • 2 oz nonfat dry milk powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (we used a teeny bit less because our tongues aren't calibrated to average salt levels)
  • 6.5 oz (one and a half stick) unsalted butter, melted

For Cereal Milk (approximately 1 cup):

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 14 oz caramelized cornflakes

For Cereal Milk Ice Cream (makes approximately 3,5 cups):

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cereal milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we used a teeny pit less)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (we omitted this b/c the cornflakes added enough saltiness to the cereal milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 oz caramelized cornflakes, to serve


  1. To prepare the caramelized cornflakes, preheat your oven to 275 F (140 C). Put the cornflakes in a large mixing bowl and crush them with your hands a few times. Combine milk powder, sugar and salt in another bowl, give it a stir and set aside. Add the melted butter to the cornflakes and then the sugar mixture and toss to combine. Spread out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven until they caramelize, for approximately 35 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
  2. To prepare the cereal milk, combine 14 oz of caramelized cornflakes and milk in a large mixing bowl and let steep for an hour. Strain the milk with the help of a fine-mesh sieve (make sure to press on the cornflakes with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible), strain once again (through a finer sieve or cheesecloth this time), pour it in a container and set aside.
  3. To prepare the cereal milk ice cream, pour the heavy cream in a medium bowl and place it in the fridge until needed. Combine cereal milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. In the meantime, in a medium pot, whisk together egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks while whisking constantly. Place over medium heat and stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Pour the custard through a strainer into the chilled heavy cream and stir to combine.
  6. Chill the mixture overnight, then freeze it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Serve with the remaining caramelized cornflakes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

S'more Cookie

S'mores Cookies


1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1.75 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

2 Hershey bars (I used dark)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with foil.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs. Drop cookie dough 1/8 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. You should fit 12 cookies per sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven and remove from oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a piece of a hershey's bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for 3-4 more minutes. Cool on counter.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

David Lebovitz's Raspberry Ice Cream

David Lebovitz' raspberry ice cream. The raspberries are not cooked, so the flavor of the fresh berries is maintained and the end result it simply divine. Words cannot describe the fruity freshness of the flowery raspberries!

1½ cups (375ml) half-and-half
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1½ cups (375ml) heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1½ cups (375ml) strained black raspberry purée (from fresh or thawed frozen berries)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
about 1/8 t xanthan gum (optional; helps keep ice cream scoopable)
-Warm the half-and-half, pinch of salt and about half of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
-In a separate medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar. Slowly pour the warm liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
-Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Vigorously whisk in the xanthan gum, if using, and quickly pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the raspberry purée and lemon juice, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
-Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, but to preserve the fresh berry taste, churn the ice cream within four hours of making the mixture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mochi Herb Cakes

Our mom made these yummy mochi herb cakes. I can't tell you what the herb is because it's a family secret. Just kidding, I just don't know what it's called. It looks like a weed and has tiny yellow flowers, and we picked it by the fence surrounding the golf course at Blackberry Farm. But you could probably use any herb that tastes good with mochi.

To make them, put mochiko, finely chopped herbs, a pinch each of salt and sugar, and water in a bowl, and mix until it forms a ball, adding water as needed. Form into small patties and brown 1-2 minutes per side in a skillet with some oil over medium high heat until translucent all the way through.

Bran Poop Muffins

They look like poop, help you poop, and taste like...anything but poop! At just 150 calories each, these muffins are nothing like the gummy “healthy bran muffins” that are hard to swallow. No, these babies are gloriously tender and moist with a fragrant orange hint from the zest, and have a lovely bran texture. The secret lies in the use of pureed dried fruit, banana, and yogurt. Only ¼ cup of brown sugar sweetens these muffins, which are flavored with the natural sweetness of dried fruit and banana. Walnuts rather than raisins stud these muffins with crunch and flavor, contrasting well with the toasty, lightly sweetened muffin flesh.

Do not fill the wells until heaping full; the batter will spill out of the tin and onto the oven floor, infusing your kitchen with forest fire scent. If you don’t have raisins, you can easily substitute any dry fruit such as apricots, cranberries, or blueberries with equally delicious results. Be careful to toast bran until just fragrant, and not let it burn.

Bran Poop Muffins

Makes 12

2 cup (125g) wheat bran
1 cup (120g) dark raisins or other dried fruit
1 cup, plus 1/2 (370ml total) cup water
1/2 cup (120g) plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 tsp of fresh orange zest (unsprayed)
1 banana, mashed
1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil (canola works well)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup (65g) flour
1/4 cup (35g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

2. Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring every 3 minutes so it cooks evenly. Be careful not to let the bran burn; remove bran after you smell a lovely toasted aroma. Let cool for 5 minutes.

3. While the bran is toasting, heat 1 cup (135g) of the raisins with 1/2 cup (120ml) of the water. Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water is all absorbed. Puree the raisins in a measuring cup with an immersion blender (food processor or blender work too) until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, yogurt, 1 cup (250ml) water, then mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, brown sugar, and mashed banana.

5. Stir in the oil, egg and egg white.

6. Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and pour into wet ingredients. Stir gently with rubber spatula until the ingredients are just combined.

7. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling the tins all the way but not mounding the batter (batter may overflow onto oven floor and burn). Because muffin tins can vary in size, don’t try to make exactly 12 muffins; just fill the tins to the top. Sprinkle the tops with chopped walnuts, if using.

8. Bake for 21-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in one of the middle muffins comes out clean (a few tiny dry crumbs are okay, but no mushy stuff).


Broad beans - sweet and delicious! Aren't they cute?
Steamed artichokes. Did you know that artichokes have a substance that inhibits our sweet receptors, and that the next bite of food we take sweeps these guys off of the receptors, and that this resets our sweet receptors and makes us perceive sweetness? Isn't that cool? No wonder food tastes sweet after a bite of artichoke.
Fresh chopped scallions from farmers market...mmmm
Blanched bok choy. Nature is so beautiful, no?

White Chocolate Chunk Almond Cookies

We've made a lot of cookies, and these are some of the best. We mistakenly left out the white sugar, and made the cookies with just brown sugar. This worked even better because the chunks of super sweet and milky white chocolate chunks provided greater flavor contrast to the nuttier, less sweet (but still decently sweet) nutty buttery cookie. If you like white chocolate or almonds, or butter, you have to try these! Use good butter - Clover organic is the one we used, and we think it really made a difference by producing a richer, fuller butter flavor.

White Chocolate Chunk Almond Cookies (adapted from "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies" from Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2009)

1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted fresh organic butter

½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar (we forgot to add this and it was still delicious)

¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1¼ cups white chocolate chunks

¾ cup chopped almonds, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Lunch at Apple

Yummy salad with organic fruit, and a made-to-order thin crust brick oven pizza topped with rosemary potatoes, ricotta and another-cheese-I-can't-remember-the-name-of, and roasted tomatoes.

Black Bean, Tomato, Apricot Salad

Pre-chopped romaine lettuce that comes in a bag is disgusting. But if you buy it fresh and cut it yourself, it's nutty, crisp, and fresh. (Ain't I profound? If it's fresh, it's fresh) Throw in some plump organic raisins, quartered farmers market sweet cherry tomatoes, toasted slivered almonds, sweet black beans, and chopped dried Turkish apricots. Why Turkish, you say? I wish I had a smart answer but the truth is that they were on sale.

Nuo Mi Fan (sticky rice)

Quite possibly one of the most delicious things on Earth. Just steam some sticky rice with yi ren mi (I think it's called coicis seed in English) in the pressure cooker for 1 hour and let it sit in there for another hour to allow everything to get really soft and happy. Then add something nutty, sour, salty, sweet, meaty, and fresh. Here's the breakdown:

peanuts - toasted and crunchy (nuking them in the microwave for a minute or two usually does the trick)
pickled mustard leaves stir fried with pork belly meat, soy sauce, miso, and sugar
cilantro and scallions
sugar and salt, to taste

You can also add chili oil, Chinese sausage, thin egg strips, pickled radish, and anything else that strikes your fancy.

Asian flavoring agents

Ready to be wrapped up and thrown into the hot tub! With a nice fatty chunk of pork belly. Why am I writing in fragments you ask? Good question my friend. That is because this is a very fragrant pouch of happy flavoring agents! Ho ho, I am too funny.

By the way, if you wanted to make one for yourself, just combine a bay leaf, some star anise, scallion white parts, sichuan peppercorns, dried red chili pepper, shiso (perilla) leaf, cilantro ends, cumin, fennel, and this Chinese spice (the round white things in the bottom left) called "kou ren." Wrap it all in a triple layer of cheesecloth, tie it, and throw it into a pot of water with whatever you want to add deliciousness to. Sorry, that does not include your hubby.

I don't want to give it away in the title!

What is this? Of course you are stumped! Now don't even try to pretend. Nope, that's not right. Here's another hint:
Give up? Thought you would. Never in a million years would you have guessed that it is a...(drumroll please)...fig! Haha, got you, no? What do you mean it was obvious? You cheated didn't you? You little crook...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fool Proof Sponge Cake

Got this recipe from Baking Illustrated. Soft, vanilla-y, spongy, light, milky, buttery, eggy in a good way...what did you say? Your life is still not complete? I'm sorry, my ears really do trick me these days. Speechless? Ah, now that's much better.

Foolproof Sponge Cake

1/2 cup cake flour (2 oz)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (1.25 oz)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar (can probably decrease to 2/3 cup if you dislike sugar)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 8-or-9-inch cake pans and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or use paper baking cups.

Whisk/sieve the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat the milk and butter in microwave on low power just until the butter melts. Add vanilla extract; keep the mixture covered and warm.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large, oil-free metal mixing bowl and reserving the yolks in a small bowl. With hand-held electric whisk, beat the whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites to soft, moist peaks.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and turns a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes. Scrape beaten yolks onto the whites, but do not mix.

Sprinkle/sieve the flour mixture over the egg mixtures and fold gently with a large rubber spatula until barely combined, 12 strokes if you're lucky. Make a well in one side of the batter and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes. Also make sure that you have incorporated the butter into the mixture. There should not be visible grease/oil as you pour the mixture into the cake pans.

Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pans or scoop into the paper cups. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, about 16 to 18 minutes for 9-inch cake pans and 20 to 22 minutes for 8-inch cake pans.

Cool completely on racks. Run a thin knife around the inside of the cake pans and then invert them onto the racks (or onto cardboard rounds or tart pan bottoms) to release the cakes from the pans. Remove the parchment paper.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strawberry Almond Genoise Layer Cake

Baked this for our cousin, Bonnie, for her 23rd birthday! Happy birthday, Bonnie.

It's a vanilla genoise cake, baked in two 8-inch pans, each split into two and soaked with almond vanilla syrup. The cake is filled and frosted with a whipped mascarpone cream and cream cheese frosting with fresh strawberry coulis on the middle two layers, and is decorated with chantilly cream, strawberry coulis, and fresh strawberries and toasted almond slivers. Will post the recipe soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Our mom made these delicious Japanese style black beans, cooked in a pressure cooker with soy sauce, sugar, baking soda...and maybe some other secret ingredients. ;) They have a texture like mochi or sticky rice crossed with the perfect chestnut, and impart a sweet, savory, earthy black bean flavor. The beans in this photo were made from a variety imported from Japan, called Tanba Kuromame - I think they were $12 for about a handful. ( ask your friend with big hands to buy them for you)