Cherry Clafoutis

food

It is Summer time and that means many fruits are in season! The good thing for us consumers is that prices drop and we can save tens to hundred of dollars on certain groceries. It’s axiomatic to say that cherries are quite expensive. The average price is about $3.99/lb. and because cherries are quite heavy, you can end up spending loads on not that many cherries.

My eyes are in disbelief because some grocery stores are selling cherries for $0.99/lb!! Purchasing plenty is clearly ineluctable and while I do snack on many, making dishes out of the cherries are also an option. I’m not a huge fan of cherry pie, but there is a French dish called Cherry Clafoutis that uses cherries as the center of attention. The dish is quite light, refreshing, and includes a slight tang from the lemon zest.

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I urge you to make this dish now!!


Cherry Clafoutis

yield: 2 mini gratin pans (17 cm.) or one 9 in. gratin pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 c. milk (any fat percentage will work)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. caramel extract (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. AP flour
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Butter the baking dishes and coat with a thin layer of flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the milk, eggs, extracts, and butter together.
  4. Add in both sugars and lemon zest and whisk until incorporated.
  5. Sift in the flour, salt, and baking powder and whisk until incorporated.
  6. In the baking dishes, lay the cherries, pitted sides up and sprinkle the slivered almonds on top. Pour in the batter and bake in the oven for 30-35 min. or until browned.
  7. The clafoutis will puff up significantly but will deflate once slightly cooled. Dust with powdered and serve when warm.

The clafoutis can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days and heats up in the microwave extremely well. I enjoyed the clafoutis with a cup of hot tea and coffee and it was absolutely delicious! Clafoutis has a gooey, pudding-like texture but I don’t like that texture as much so my recipe yield a slightly gooey interior with a semi-crispy, bread-like texture on the edges… It is so so delicious!! I achieve this by adding some baking powder and I actually prefer it this way. I also use less sugar than traditional recipes because cherries add a great amount of sweetness already!

I hope you enjoy cherry clafoutis, especially in this season of cherry craze!

Tomato Cheddar Biscuits

food

Some people may find biscuit-making onerous because it takes quite the effort to cut cold butter into the dough, but what if I told you  you can actually make biscuits without butter! Sounds off and improper but these biscuits are scrumptious and a bit different from regular biscuits. They’re kind of like Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits with a slight quiche flavor.

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These biscuits were made extemporaneously so I am pleased with the outcome. My indolence kicked in this morning and rather head to the gym I made these instead. It was an arbitrary decision and I don’t know whether it was a good one or not…..


Tomato Cheddar Biscuits

yield: 6 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 c. cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp. chopped bacon
  • 1/4 c. chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium egg
  • 4 tbsp. frozen spinach (chopped and dried)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cheese, cornstarch, tomatoes, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, oil, Greek yogurt, spinach, and bacon.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and incorporate until evenly combined.
  5. Flour a clean surface with 2 tbsp. flour and roll dough out onto surface. Knead for 1-2 minutes and shape into a rectangle that is about 0.5-1 in. thick.
  6. Cut into 6 squares and transfer to a baking sheet to bake for 12 min at 350 F. Use an egg wash if you would like.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven! The biscuits can last in the freezer up to a week or freeze really well.

 

Green Tea Marble Cake

food

My mom enjoys purchasing over-priced baked goods from high-end grocery stores, but I’m often intransigent on this because homemade pastries are just as piquant, possibly even more, and the production cost is often cheaper! I know I’m biased and I’m only saying this because of my baking obsession but hey!! makes sense doesn’t it?

I happened to visit home and my mom complained of the lack of sweets at home to accompany her coffee so I decided to make a mini green tea cake and cut it into bite size pieces for a delicate touch. I created a marble pattern which appears to be convoluted but it really could not be any simpler. A simple knowledge on the technique can elevate your baking game. Whoever first came up with marbling was quite astute I must say.

 

No need for excess rambling, let’s just get into the recipe because I am dying for you all to try it!


Green Tea Marble Cake

yield: 2 loaves (6 x 3.5 in)

Ingredients:

  • 9 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2.5 tbsp green tea powder
  • 3 tbsp. milk powder + 0.2 c. water (or 3 tbsp. milk)
  • 1 c. + 2 tbsp cake flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat butter for 1 min with an electric mixer. Then add sugar and cream for 4-5 min.
  2. In a small bowl, roughly beat the 3 eggs together.
  3. Into the butter, add the 3 eggs gradually while beating on medium speed.
  4. Gradually sift in the cake flour, salt, and baking powder at once and fold with a spatula until the mixture is homogeneous and no clumps are present.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together green tea powder and milk until a thick gooey paste forms. The paste is an ogre color and does not look pleasant but don’t worry!
  6. Take about 1/4 -1/3 c. of batter and mix with the green tea paste until one solid green color forms.
  7. Preheat the oven to 340 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  8. Take the green tea paste and add it into the batter in 5 dollops. Then fold the batter with the spatula 4 or 5 times until a marble pattern is formed.
  9. Pour into the pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until loaf is slightly browned on top.
  10. Slice the loaf and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.

My favorite thing about this cake is that it isn’t too sweet, which is how I actually prefer my desserts to be. I enjoy eating it for breakfast or for a snack since they are bite-sized! Refrigerate in the fridge for up to 1 1/2 weeks or freeze them. This cake freezes extremely well so you can also make it in big batches and save it for later!

Chinese Hot Dog Bread

food

If I haven’t stressed how much I like Asian bread, then I am stressing it now again. Asian bread and Western bread have disparate textures because Asian bread is made with a tangzhong method that creates an eggy, fluffy, moist bread dough that is simply irresistible. I love all types of bread but Asian bread holds a special place in my heart.

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I have been hand-kneading dough since I don’t own a mixer yet, and it should be known that enervating dough is a serious workout. Apparently 2 min. of machine kneading is equivalent to 10-12 min. of hand-kneading! No wonder my shoulders hurt so much the next day. However, handmade dough allows the cook to appreciate the outcome more and reflect on the blood, sweat, and tears (not literally) put into forming the dough. Just know that the pride you will have afterwards is ineluctable 🙂


Chinese Hot Dog Bread

yield: 8

Ingredients:

For bread:

  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 2.5 tbsp. sugar
  • 0.25 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 tbsp. yeast
  • 150 mL warm milk
  • 2.5 tbsp. softened butter
  • 1 small egg beaten

For filling and topping:

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 0.5 c. chopped green onions
  • 2 tbsp. beaten egg (save the rest for egg wash)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. On a clean surface, combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and warm milk. Combine until evenly incorporated. Add the egg and butter and knead for about 30-45 minutes until the dough is smooth and passes the windowpane test.
  2. Set in a warm and humid area and allow the dough to rise for 1-2 hours.
  3. Punch the dough to release air and slice into 8 even pieces and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, combine the chopped green onions, egg, and vegetable oil in a small bowl.
  5. Once the second rise is complete, take one dough bowl and roll it out into an oval shape using a rolling pin. Place a hot dog inside and seal the dough shut. Using a clean pair of scissors, cut the hot dog and dough but not completely, leaving a bit of dough attached on the bottom and flatten out the pieces into a floral shape. (This process is shown in the video above). Repeat for the other breads and place on a baking tray. Cover with a cloth or foil and allow to proof for at least 45 min.
  6. Preheat the oven to 340 F.
  7. Once proofing is complete, add the egg wash and the green onion mix onto the bread. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy the bread fresh out of the oven!

 

In the video, I explain that my yeast was a bit old so my bread was not as fluffy. I have used this dough recipe before and when the yeast is fresh the dough is fluffier so I hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy this delicacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Almond Ice Cream Sandwich

food

Lemon and almonds pair extremely well together and I got the flavor combo idea from Costco’s Limoncello almonds! If Costco can sell this combo in almond form, then I might as well make it into ice cream sandwich form. It is Summer, and the blazing sun beats down on us, making us feel a bit phlegmatic so a tangy and cold dessert is the perfect dish to get ourselves up and awake.

Additionally, I had a surfeit of almond pieces in my pantry so why not? Beware, these sandwiches are addicting and sweet!!

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Lemon Almond Ice Cream Sandwich

yield: 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 15 lemon oreo cookies
  • 2 T melted unsalted butter
  • 1 pint almond flavored ice cream (I used Blue Bell Bride’s Cake)
  • almond slivers for decoration

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse oreos and butter together until a crumbly texture forms.
  2. In 2 parchment-lined 6 x 2 baking pans (you can use any size pan but the crust should be formed just around 6 x 2 in.), flatten the crust down and bake in the oven for 5 min at 350 F.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, scoop ice cream on one crust and place the second crust on top of the ice cream to form sandwiches. Place in the freezer for at least 20-30 min.
  4. Remove from freezer and cut into 6 pieces of more or less, based on the size you desire. Decorate with almond slivers and enjoy!

Lemon almond was a flavor I wanted to test out, but feel free to use different oreo and ice cream flavors! The combination possibilities are limitless and I may just test them out myself!

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Making Bubble Tea for the First Time

food

On episode 2 of Test Kitchen, I attempted to make tapioca pearls and milk tea from scratch. I grew up with bubble tea around my life since the drink originated from my family’s country, and in the recent years the drink’s popularity has grown exponentially, along with its price. I used to drive 20 minutes to Chinatown to purchase a cup of bubble tea for $2 and now I find myself paying $4-5! I am ecstatic at the drink’s success in the Western world but also figure if I could make my own drink, I could save some money!

**SPOILER**

 

 

And because this recipe was a success (I got lucky!), I am posting the exact recipe I followed. The recipe is adapted from Kusina Chef.

I had a ton of fun shooting this video and cannot wait to make more food in the future. If you would like me to make something for the very first time, please leave a comment!


Bubble Milk Tea

 

Ingredients:

For pearls:

  • 1 c. tapioca starch + 1 tbsp for dusting
  • 1/4  c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. water

For tea:

  • 2 c. brewed black tea (lukewarm)
  • 4 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. milk

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a slight boil and add in the brown sugar until dissolved.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the tapioca starch. Stir until semi-combined. Dough will be pretty dry at first.
  3. Dump dough onto a clean surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it comes together. You should now have a light brown dough that is pretty tough.
  4. Cut the dough into chunks and roll into a tube shapes until they are 1/2 cm wide.
  5. Cut the dough into small pieces and roll them into pearls. Place a cup of 1 tbsp. tapioca starch and let the starch evenly coat all the pearls.
  6. Allow the pearls to dry for at least 30 min.
  7. Boil a pot of water on high heat and pour the pearls in. Mix immediately to prevent the pearls from sticking together. Boil the pearls on high for 10 min. and then turn the heat down to medium. Let the pearls cook for another 10-15 min.
  8. Once done cooking, immediately remove the pearls and place in an ice bath.
  9. For the tea, stir in sugar until dissolved.
  10. Add the milk in and stir.
  11. In a cup, add the tapioca pearls, milk tea, and some ice. Serve and drink with a spoon or straw. I recommend a spoon since we’re trying to save plastic here! In the video I am using a reusable plastic straw.

Enjoy the drink with some friends and if you would like to see more bubble drink tea flavors, let me know!

 

 

Making Japanese Cotton Cake for the First Time

food, Uncategorized

I finally created time to start a mini Youtube series called “Test Kitchen” in which I attempt to make foods from around the world for the very first time and see whether it is a success of fail. Filming this video was extremely difficult because I am certainly uncomfortable with being on camera but somehow I convinced myself to go ahead and post it.

In episode 1, I attempt to make one of my favorite desserts.. Japanese Cotton Cake.

**SPOILER**

 

 

 

And because this recipe was a success (I got lucky!), I am posting the exact recipe I followed. The recipe is adapted from Katherine Kwa at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChcB3_gYZR2ps0vHiHOpNrQ.

I had a ton of fun shooting this video and cannot wait to make more food in the future. If you would like me to make something for the very first time, please leave a comment!


Japanese Cotton Cake

yield: 9 x 2 in. springform pan

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 heaping T. cornstarch
  • 5 T softened butter
  • 100 mL milk
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 305 F and line a springform baking pan with parchment paper. Create a water bath around the springform pan with a larger baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, melt butter and milk in a microwave for about 30 sec and mix until evenly incorporated.
  3. Separate 5 egg yolks from their egg whites and place egg whites in a large bowl. Crack the last full egg into the bowl with the egg yolks.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar during beating in batches of 3 and add cream of tartar halfway through the process. This process can take around 10 min.
  5. Using a sifter, sift the all-purpose flour and cornstarch into the milk and butter mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Carefully fold in the egg white meringue into the milk, butter, flour mixture in batches of 3 and fold until evenly incorporated.
  7. Bake in the oven for 80-90 min. until the cake is golden brown on top.
  8. Take the cake immediately out of the oven and remove from the pan. Allow the cake to cool at room temperature for at least an hour.

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Feel free to refrigerate the cake before eating or eat immediately. Top with some whipping cream or enjoy with tea and coffee. This cake is fluffy and absolutely delicious… I promise you will fall in love with this cake and impress your friends/family.

I purchased a store bought sponge-cake and compared the two. DSC02293.JPG

The two were very similar in appearance, with a pale yellow color and a light browning on the top. The store bought cake was drier and fluffier than the homemade one whereas the homemade one was more moist and fluffy on the upper half but slightly dense on the bottom. However, I enjoyed the dense bottom on the homemade cake as it created a sort of crust and overall, I found the homemade cake to beat the store-bought cake because it was more moist and had the “crust” at the bottom.

 

Dolci di Noci (4 Ingredient, Gluten Free Cookies)

food

Walnuts are one of my least favorite nuts because they are pretty bitter unlike almonds, not very versatile. Search “almond recipes” and search engines will spit out tens of thousands of recipes whereas walnut recipes fail to yield as many. Walnuts are mainly used as an add-on in dishes such as brownies, salads, or crumbles, but if you are sitting at home with a giant 2 lb. bag of walnuts from a wholesaler, scratching your head not knowing what to do with it, you are in the right place because today we are making walnuts the star ingredient in Dolci di Noci. Dolci di Noci is a walnut cookie from Southern Italy that contains no glutinous product. The traditional recipe calls for only 3 ingredients: walnuts, eggs, and lots of sugar, but I have a reduced-sugar alternative recipe that is just as flavorful and ideal for an on-the-go snack.

Additionally, I decorated the cookies with a chocolate dip, an optional step that nonetheless elevates the presentation and flavor of the cookies. Enough with the rambling and on to the recipe….


Dolci di Noci

yield: 10-12 cookies (1-1.5 in. diameter)

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 c. coarsely ground walnuts (in food processor)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips for coating (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 F and prepare a greased cookie sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients together until a dough-like mixture forms. Dough should be semi-sticky.
  3. Lightly wet hands and roll dough into 1-1.5 in. diameter balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 min.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min before eating or for 15-20 min before dipping in chocolate.
  5. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave and dip half of the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a non-stick sheet to cool.

Place cookies in an airtight container and store up to 1 week. Cookies can be eaten cold or microwaved (if it does not have chocolate). These dolci di noci have become a favorite snack or breakfast of mine and are beneficial to health because walnuts decrease gut inflammation, fight against infections, and help lower blood pressure levels. Additionally, the cookies follow ketogenic guidelines for anyone who may be testing the ketogenic diet out.

 

NutritionLabel

 

 

Chickpea Blondies (GF)

food, healthy

It is so crazy that food and health geeks have discovered that the use of legumes in desserts is a tasty and healthy replacement for flour and oils. While all-purpose flour has little nutrition value, beans pack protein, Vitamin B-6, and potassium, perfect for all types of people, especially. If you shop smart, chickpeas are actually ridiculously cheap. At my local grocery store, the chickpeas are $1 for a 15 oz. can or $1 for a 16 oz. bag of dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper for the amount you are getting so I do opt for the dried type. The recipe I made is not vegan, but I have included a substitution to where it can be made vegan.

The cons about dried chickpeas are that you must soak them and boil them, but with planning ahead, dried chickpeas have worked fine for me.

So how do I soak chickpeas? I have a water boiler that boils water in a mi. ute so I first wash the dried chickpeas under running water, then pour boiling water over the chickpeas and allow it to soak for at least 4 hours. The chickpeas are then good to go, so very little preparation is required. The longer you soak, the better, but do not soak past 24 hours otherwise the chickpeas will sprout.

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Chickpea Blondies

yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 c. almond butter
  • 1 large egg OR 1 flax egg for vegan option (flax egg= 1 tbsp. ground flax/chia + 3 tbsp. water)
  • 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. liquid sweetener
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using paper towels or a clean dishcloth, dry the chickpeas and place into a food processor along with all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  3. Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
  4. Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
  5. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes before cutting in and enjoying the goodness!

Bars are best when fresh out of the oven and served with a glass of cold milk. Store in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Please feel free to make the vegan option. I personally like the non-vegan version better because it was a bit fluffier, but the vegan one is delicious as well. It is more dense and more fudgy.

NutritionLabel (1)

 

 

 

 

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce (Vegan)

food, healthy

I am actually allergic to several foods, including tomatoes. Ugh!! I know!! How do I eat pasta, ketchup, or so many other savory dishes with tomato? Luckily my allergy is mild and I can enjoy tomatoes without too much suffering. The best thing for me is simply to avoid them as much as I can (which is almost impossible). However, I have realized that in this food era where people are making cauliflower lemon bars, chickpea brownies, and other unconventional foods, pasta sauce does not necessarily need to be made from tomatoes. When coming up with ideas, I realized that naturally red-ish vegetables are pretty much limited to carrots and red bell peppers. Some day I’ll experiment a carrot pasta sauce but I experimented with red bell peppers and the result was an absolute hit!

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Extremely creamy, flavorful, and bright with colors. It’s salty with a slight hint of sweetness from the roasted bell pepper. I am in love with this sauce and I have already made it twice since last week. I made a simple pasta dish but will use it in a lasagna recipe in the future. I cannot wait for you all to try this! Because I am not vegan, I tested out a vegan and a non-vegan version and they taste quite similar so I will be posting the vegan version due to a now-high demand for vegan recipes.


Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

yield: 2 c. sauce

ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. non-dairy unsweetened milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F. Rub bell peppers with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until the outside is charred.
  2. Remove from oven and let bell peppers cool for 5 min.
  3. In a skillet, put 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes until transparent and lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Remove the skins from the bell peppers. They should come off very easily.
  5. In a food processor, place the bell peppers, garlic, onions, milk, salt, and nutrition yeast. Pulse until the sauce becomes incorporated and is a light red color.
  6. Remove from food processor and serve immediately with pasta OR cook for an additional 5 minutes on the stove top.

This sauce can be consumed straight from the food processor or can be cooked on the stove after. I have tried both and found that both taste great. I did like to cook mine additionally on the stove top to heat it up and slightly cook the garlic.

This sauce is a huge crowdpleaser and will satisfy all your pasta cravings! Impress your vegan friends and make this sauce right now!