Saturday, February 26, 2011

Science & Cooking

I was in the middle of typing up an Apple Pie for Dummies recipe until I got sidetracked looking up items on Amazon, which lead me to a Science & Cooking series by Harvard on youtube. Since the lectures are between 1 hour and 2 hours long with 12 videos, I'm sure you can do the math and see how my blog entry was delayed. However, I'm glad I stumbled onto the video, because it's fascinating learning why certain ingredients and techniques work. All this knowledge opens up a whole new world to experiment in and let my creativity take over.

Click here to the youtube playlist.

But this video (also embed below) is my favorite out of the entire series. I never noticed the power of gelatin. The only gelatin in my world is Jello. This lecture opened my eyes and helped me see the possibilities of creating dishes through the power of gelatin. It's crazy how much science is part of cooking and how much it can help elevate a dish to the next level. PS Jose Andres is a great speaker -- made me laugh, but also informative.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coffee Cake Redux

I made this coffee cake awhile back with a minor adjustment. (aka I gave the cake a crust. >.> oops.) Despite running into the small issue, the cake was a hit. My family thoroughly enjoyed the intense coffee flavor. I've made it several times since then and always followed the recipe. However, this time around, I decided to put my own twist on it. I applied frosting, because I had cream cheese I wanted to use. The last few times I made the cake, I didn't enjoy the greasy taste and found it much too sweet. In an attempt to adjust the recipe to suit me, a lighter fluffy more sponge like cake was created, but with the same intense coffee flavor.

Coffee Cake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 TBSP instant coffee
1/2 cup water
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 TBSP of butter
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk (I substitute with evaporated milk occasionally)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour pan.
  3. Add coffee to water. Set aside.
  4. Mix sugar, flour, and salt.
  5. Melt butter in pot. Pour coffee into butter and boil for 10 seconds. Turn off heat.
  6. Beat egg until thick and creamy.
  7. Mix buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and soda until combined.
  8. Add butter/coffee mixture to flour mixture.
  9. Fold buttermilk/egg into mixture.
  10. For an extra coffee buzz, add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of instant coffee into batter.
  11. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

JSB stealing a bite after I finished taking photos.
I have such frugal tendencies that many of my projects stem from leftover ingredients. I'm not saying that my projects are of low-quality. I simply have a strong need to maximize all the ingredients without wasting a single drop. It's a challenge that I give myself to complete.

Topped with a coffee toffee bean and instant coffee.

This masterpiece was one of my challenges. For awhile, we had a carton of whipping cream sitting in the fridge. Alas, it wasn't enough to make any fancy desserts that I've been wanting to attempt. What better method to utilize leftover heavy whipping cream than to make ICE CREAM!! Ice cream comes in all sizes and the only important aspect is the ratio. As long as I maintain it, there's no way that I can fuck (ahem...I mean mess) up. I love this recipe by David lebovitz. It's simple and tasty. I found it a bit too sweet for me so I reduced the sugar below. If I had Kahlua, I would add a tablespoon.Huzzah!

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz (from San Francisco Chronicle)

Serving Size: 1 pint

1/2 cup condensed milk
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup half & half (I used heavy whipping cream)

  1. Whisk together condensed milk, coffee, and half & half (or cream).
  2. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plate Fail.

An adorable egg pan that JSB received for Christmas.
JSB gave me a bunch of pretty plates for Christmas and I've been itching to use them. Despite making an unappealing meal, it was still an excuse to play with the plates! Let's just say, beansprouts + fried egg aren't the most photogenic couple.

Happy V-Day, Mr. Egg and Ms. Beansprouts!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I remember when I first started to dapple in the art of baking and making yummy goodies. I was deathly afraid of letting anyway else try my creations except for my family and boyfriend. I didn't mind letting my family, because they're family...I don't have a reputation to keep. Besides, my grandma thinks everything I make is the greatest pastry or sweets ever. I didn't mind letting my boyfriend have a taste, because he had to love me even if what I made sucked. Beyond those selected few, I simply wasn't confident enough to let others try. Eventually, I worked up the courage to giving goodies to my roommates. Along the way, my sister passed my om nom noms onto her friends. Without realizing it, I grew confident and I began to thrive on the pleasure that others felt from eating my food or if they disliked it, I felt a strong need to create a treat that was better than the last. Even if someone enjoyed what I made, I still wanted to improve on it and make it better.

I didn't expect to grow this cocky, but I have reached a point where I'm starting to give baked goods as simple gifts. At the preschool I work, parents were generous and gave me gifts during Christmas. I felt bad not having anything to give them in return to show my appreciation. I decided on making them honey caramels and oatmeal raisin cookies. The parents that spoke to me about it asked for recipes! Boy, did that make me feel good! Whooo.

Honey Caramels
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey

  1. Line a 9 by 9 inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan - just before a simmer. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 260 to 265°F degrees. Pour caramel in container and allow it to cool overnight.
  3. The next day, cut caramels into pieces and wrap with parchment paper. Remember to oil your cutting utensil to prevent sticking.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Wow. This leadership position is challenging and stressful at the same time. Ever since this position started, I've been dining on Froyo afterward as a treat. I can't say I dislike this position yet, but it's different from what I've done in the past. I've written in my resume how I've lead teams in group projects, but it's nothing compared to running a team and executing goals to meet the expectations of the clientele we're serving.

Despite the struggle from my first 3 session, I'm starting to find my groove. I'm starting to feel more comfortable leading both the class and my team. (Thank goodness.) I thought I would be nervous and anxious at every meeting for the rest of my life, but it feels good to know that I can grow and adapt. I'm waiting to see if I'll grow to enjoy being in a leadership position or if I'll be scarred for life.

Mini-Pumpkin Tart. I was experimenting with crust that day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sourdough French Toast

I used to love french toast when I was younger. The egg soaked bread pan-fried to perfection and then drenched in butter and syrup. My gawd. Heaven, I tell ya. Then something dreadful occurred. I grew up. French toast ordered at a restaurant was too greasy, too mushy, and way too sweet for my palette. (Side note: why does that always happen? I used to love Kit-Kat, 100 Grand, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, but as an adult, it's BAD candy-- too sweet, too junky.)

Today, I created the perfect french toast for an adult palette. A french toast that holds it shape, a bit of sourness to cut the sweetness, honey in the egg mixture, and topped with powdered sugar for the right amount of sweetness. My favorite part about my version is the chewy crust from the French bread.

Sourdough French Toast

  • 2 to 3 day old sourdough French bread (I used Boudins, 7 inch sandwich roll)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
**The batter is enough for half a sandwich roll**

  1. Slice sourdough into thick 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices.
  2. Whisk egg and milk together until combined. Tiny pieces of egg whites floating around is okay.
  3. Microwave honey for 20 secs and add to egg/milk mixture. Mix honey until dissolved.
  4. Have the batter in a shallow dish and dip slices in it. Approximately 5 secs on each side.
  5. Heat a non-stick pan. Add butter. To test if the pan is ready, add a bit of batter and see if it sizzles.
  6. Gently place slices in pan and allow it to sit undisturbed for 30 secs. Check and see if it's browned. If it isn't, let it sit for 10 more secs and check again. If it's browned, flip it over on the other side and allow it to cook for 30 secs. Check to see if it's browned. If not, allow it to cook longer and check again.
  7. Garnish French Toast with raspberries and powdered sugar.
*I hate wasting so I made scrambled eggs with the rest of the batter.*


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