Friday, January 28, 2011

Candied Ginger (Crystallized Ginger)

I'm on a ginger roll. My last couple of entries had a component of ginger and this entry also involves ginger. I gotta admit that ginger is one of my favorite spices. It makes for a wonderful dessert like my all time favorite: ginger milk pudding.

This recipe makes ginger the star, because it's the best way to munch on ginger while also satisfying my sweet tooth.

Candied Ginger (Crystallized Ginger)
From David Lebovitz

  • 1 pound (500g) fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4 cups (800g) sugar, plus additional sugar for coating the ginger slices, if desired
  • 4 cups (1l) water
  • pinch of salt


  1. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. It can’t be too thin, so use a sharp knife.
  2. Put the ginger slices in a non-reactive pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and repeat, simmering the ginger slices one more time. (Next time, I'm just going to simmer the ginger once...I prefer a stronger ginger bite)
  3. Mix the sugar and 4 cups (1l) water in the pot, along with a pinch of salt and the ginger slices, and cook until the temperature reaches 225F (106C.)
  4. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour, although I often let it sit overnight. Or if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot, so the syrup will drain away better.
  5. Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and spread the ginger slices on a cooling rack overnight, until they’re somewhat dry. The sugar can be reused in a batter or ice cream base, or for another purpose.

Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If you’re concerned with it crystallizing, add a tablespoon or two of corn syrup or glucose to the sugar syrup at the beginning of step #3. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.

I don't know if anyone is going to read this section, but I need to rant. Have you ever had a toxic friend? The one that brings you up and down and drives you crazy, but you can't seem to get away. You always seem to subject yourself to these negative encounters with this friend. The reason why you can't just cut the friendship is because it's family and you're stuck. Oye. What a dilemma it creates.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ginger Tofu Cheesecake

It's going to be a busy week for me. I have training, observations, meetings, and work to attend to. In some ways I am super excited, but I am also anxious. Anxious about how things will turn out and if I will meet the expectations I have set for myself. What can I do, but charge in and hope for the very best?

That's exactly what happened when I entered the Cathay Pacific Dessert competition. The premise is that they were looking for an Asian Fusion dessert to add to their menu...I thought long and hard and came up with ginger tofu cheesecake. Excellent idea in my mind, but it certainly was not a spectacular idea to to the judges. You know what really threw me in for a loop? The fact that one of the finalist was a lime ginger cheesecake. Really? really? I was mad for a good couple hours that night. In the end, my creative use of tofu wasn't appreciated. Hrmp. At least by not winning, I can share my recipe with the public.

The great thing about this recipe is the flexibility of it. If you want a lighter cheesecake, you have to use silken tofu and low fat cream cheese, but for a more traditional cheesecake, regular cream cheese and drained silken tofu is required.

Ginger Tofu Cheesecake

  • 1 cup Graham cracker, crushed
  • 2 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • pinch of salt

  • 1 LB Silken tofu
  • For Lighter/creamy version: 12 oz light cream cheese & 4 oz regular cream cheese, room temperature
  • For Traditional version: 16 oz regular cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla  extract
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 6 TBSP of ginger juice
  • 2.5 TBSP grated ginger
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped finely (optional--for an extra zing)

  1. In a 8.5 or 9 inch spring form pan, line base with parchment paper.
  2. Crush graham crackers in food processor.
  3. Melt butter.
  4. Combine crackers, butter, and sugar
  5. Press into 8.5 or 9 inch spring form pan.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

  1. Grease the side of the pan.
  2. Drain and beat the tofu until smooth. (If traditional version, leave tofu in a dish with a plate over it for an hour and pour the liquid. Then beat tofu until smooth)
  3. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  4. Add tofu and mix until combined.
  5. Add vanilla, lemon juice, ginger juice, grated ginger. Mix and taste. Adjust flavors as necessary if ginger isn't intense enough.
  6. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix well.
  7. Sift flour and fold. Fold in crystallized ginger if using.
  8. Pour filling over crust.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set and slightly jiggly when pan is moved.
  10. Turn off heat and allow it cool in oven for 60 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and run knife along outside edge of cheesecake.
  12. Cool to room temp, cover lightly with foil, move to refrigerator, and allow it to sit for 24 hours.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cilantro Grilled Cheese Sandwich

om nom nom

Awhile back, JSB showed me a grilled cheese sandwich that had crispy cheese on the outside. Love at first sight. Since that moment, I can't go back to normal grilled cheese sandwiches. Damnit. In an attempt to kick it up a notch, I decided to add my favorite herb: cilantro. My gawd, it was heaven. Next time, I may add some garlic...or maybe tomatoes and basil? The possibilities are endless!

Check out the crispy cheese~

I discovered that writing these entries twice a week is motivating me to come up with new ideas so that I can't run out of material. It also helps center me so that I feel less stressed about all the tasks I must complete.  I recently acquired a new position as a team leader and it's both frightening and exciting for me. I'm scared that I'll look like a fool or that I'm unable to motivate the team and classroom I'll be working in. My greatest fear is that I'll fail at the entire task and they'll have to terminate me. On the other hand, I'm excited that I will face my fear of public speaking, seeing what I can accomplish, and perhaps discover that I am actually good at leading.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I need a dress. boo.

I enjoyed the cucumber yogurt sauce so much that I decided to use it as a salad dressing as well. I must say, it tasted surprisingly well with pasta, turkey, broccoli, avocado, and grapes. (I <3 fruits in my salad.)

With my salad, I made a refreshing glass of ginger lemonade. Best stuff ever and simple to make. Juice from half a lemon, 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of ginger juice, sugar, ice, and soda or mineral water. Done.

On another note, I need to find a dress for a wedding banquet and time is running out...AHHHH~

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A milestone.

I reached a milestone today. I swallowed a pill at the age of 24. It took 4 glasses of water and I "accidentally" swallowed it so I am unsure if I can replicate the motions necessary to swallow a pill again. My mom said, "I should practice so I can swallow bigger pills when I'm pregnant."

Occasionally, JSB gets a sudden burst of inspiration and wants to create an elaborate meal from scratch. This time around, she made naan, tandoori chicken, and a cucumber dipping sauce.

In the beginning, I was apprehensive about the dipping sauce, because she said it was a mix of grated cucumbers, plain greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. Judging the ingredients, it seemed unappealing, but after the first taste, it was refreshing, light, and complimented the rest of the meal very well. The naan was good too. The chicken was okay.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I always thought a stand mixer was a waste of money. It's expensive, takes up up a ton of space, and it does everything that I can do. I prefer kneading and mixing ingredients by hand. If I needed to cream ingredients or whisk egg whites or cream, my handy dandy portable hand mixer can do the job perfectly. After considering these points, why would I need to buy the famed KitchenAid Stand Mixer?

Big and Mini Marshmallows
Then JSB and I encountered marshmallows and I finally understand why a stand mixer is a necessity. First of all, marshmallows require a lot of power especially near the end when it it thickens up and requires more strength to whip it. Our handy dandy hand mixer was doing a great job in the first 8 minutes of whipping, but as the 15 minute mark approached, the mixer was wheezing and coughing. The speed slowed down tremendously. In fact, only the mixture that surrounded the whisk was getting whipped -- the mixture touching the bowl wasn't even being agitated. In the last few minutes, I swear I saw bits of gray/blackish particles flying out of the mixer, but I can't be sure since when I tried to dig it out of the mixture I couldn't find it.

Lesson learned: A Stand mixer is necessary for this recipe.

JSB saw how the marshmallow was overpowering our hand mixer and told me to quickly pour the mixture out onto the the midst of her panic, she forgot to add the vanilla. The final result was a fluffy sweet mess that tasted of sugar and cornstarch.

Things I would change:

1) Use only powdered sugar instead of cornstarch, because the cornstarch left a weird taste on the marshmallows.

2) Remember to add flavoring. >.>

Recipe from Alton Brown

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

  1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
  2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:
  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  2. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows:
  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.
  2. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My First and Only BIG SNACK!

I had a blast with JSB today playing monopoly and spending time with her. It's a rare moment that I appreciate. After she returned home from the dentist, she made me lunch while I worked on making coffee ice cream and raisin bread. When JSB shows me these warm gestures, it makes me feel fuzzy and warm on the inside and I really appreciate her efforts.

A long
           time ago...

(say around Year 2010)

JSB surprised me with cinnamon sugar popcorn. That girl knows that I love my sugar and cinnamon especially Saigon cinnamon.

Bubble, my nickname.

Crispy popcorn paired with the caramelized sweetness of sugar and finishes with a note of cinnamon = my ultimate snack.

Om nom nom.

Even though JSB made me my ultimate snack, it's a tease, because there is a chance that it'll never happen again. Food requests will only encourage JSB to tease you and a reluctance to make it again. However, if I wait patiently and hope, there is a greater possibility that what I crave will appear again in my life.

Working hard on my note.
What I love more than popcorn are notes. Since JSB made me a "Big Snack," I demanded a note, because I always wrote her a note when I made her mini-snacks. Another difference between our snacks is that my snacks are too small for her while her portions are ginormous!! >.>

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's a New Year.

and it's time to make some new commitments.

1) Post at least twice a week.
2) Start exercising.
3) Keep track of how much I spend on my baking/cooking hobby.

Interesting fact:
I posted 32 posts for both 2009 and 2010.


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