Friday, October 30, 2009

cuteness for sale

what does this have to do with food?

silly question. she's eating a gingerbread man. gingerbread men are cookies... men that don't cause you emotional stress. unless you are the type that stresses over eating cookies. then yes, they still give you stress. so avoid them. or just stop stressing about cookies.

my sister/roomie is selling some christmas cards on etsy. they are cute! buy them!

i feel like i need to post a gingerbread cookie recipe right here. but i haven't actually tried any yet, will do that this christmas. i did decorate some last year for work. they were fun. if you follow my blog, feel free to send me nagging emails about baking gingerbread men. maybe i should be politically correct here... gingerbread people? yes. i will make some gingerbread people this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

what i want in my kitchen

(photo taken by someone at not by me)

a french press that doesn't look like a french press? yes. i want this. it is awesome.

looks like you can get it at it is a 'cafatiere pura orange ceramic french press 8 cup.'

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

... and pumpkin pie again

thanksgiving: the time of year we roast birds that are way too big for our ovens and turn vegetables into sweet desserts. weird.

i like yams, but i've never really liked that sweet yam stuff that people make for thanksgiving dinners. i've never roasted a turkey, and honestly have no plans or desires to. i much prefer chicken anyhow. and i do have plans AND desires to roast a chicken this year yet. maybe for christmas? or my birthday... ooh... potential dinner party plans are developing in my head now.

i decided to forgo the turkey tradition (that i've never really followed anyway so its really not that unusual for me) and made waffles instead. i had some friends over for brunch and made a batch of traditional waffles, and a batch of vegan waffles (one of my best friends is vegan, so it makes me be creative and try more new things). the regular waffles fluffed up and cooked perfectly - although would have tasted better right off the wafflemaker instead of being let to sit in a pan in the oven to slowly get wimpy. the vegan waffles, however, had issues. they browned nicely and tasted great, but it completely split apart and baffled me.

i got the vegan waffle recipe at veganyumyum (a fantastic blog with beautiful photos), minus the blueberries.

(my kitchen after a day of waffles, pie, and lounging about. not pictured are the sink + another counter of dishes)

but my post doesn't have 'waffles' in the title, it has 'pumpkin pie,' so i shall now get back on topic. ahem.

so i made pumpkin pie. this tradition i upheld with much glee. i made 2 of them. one of them vegan. i wasn't exceptionally fond of pumpkin pie as a child, but i have been loving the crap out if it now that i have been making it myself.

lately, my go-to-pie-crust-recipe has been taken from simply recipes. for the filling i followed the recipe from joy of baking, but i have also used the crust recipe from joy of baking last year when i made pumpkin pie and i remember it turning out as well.

i'm not an expert pie dough baker, but i'll do my best to explain the basics of making pie dough, as i know it.

this one in particular is called a Pâte Brisée

  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 to 8 Tbsp ice water
  1. first thing i do is cut the butter (if you want to make your pie vegan, this is where you substitute earth balance or another vegan buttery spread, in place of butter) into cubes and toss them in the freezer for a few minutes (wrapped in wax paper or something)

  2. whisk dry ingredients together (flour, salt, sugar) in a medium/large bowl

  3. throw cold butter cubes in and cut with a pastry cutter. (or if you're a rich, fancy baker, use a food processor). some recipes say you can just use 2 knives for this, but i've never tried it. if you don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor, just use your hands. it's quite fun to use your hands. cut until it looks like 'coarse bread crumbs'

  4. add ice water a little bit at a time, and 'toss' the mixture until it starts to stick together. if you squeeze some of the mixture together and it stays together, its pretty much ready. i generally use all 8 Tablespoons of ice water, though...

  5. form into 2 round disc shapes, plop onto parchment paper and refridgerate for a while. about an hour-ish. you can use it right away, but putting it in the fridge does something like relax the gluten or something technical like that. but you can use this time to make your filling. after 45 minutes to an hour, take the dough out of fridge and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before rolling. holding the dough with your hands helps warm it up quicker too. mm... body heat.

  6. filling!
    • 3 large eggs

    • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 - 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin

    • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream

    • 1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar

    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • whisk eggs in a large bowl. add everything else and stir/whisk. i added some nutmeg too.

  7. use the same parchment paper you used to wrap the dough in the fridge. put a bit of flour on it, plop the round disc of dough on it, and start rolling. make sure your rolling pin is well floured.

  8. (see pictures below)

8. (roll from center out, and try to keep in a circular shape.
roll until about 1/4 or 1/8th of an inch thick)

9. (roll into circle that is bigger than your pie pan.
place pan on top of dough, and gently flip,
then peel the parchment paper off and press the dough into pan)

10. (now you can pour the filling in.
and cut the edges of the pie dough off with a knife or scissors)

11. bake! in a preheated 375 F oven.
for 45 to 55 minutes
(until crust is browned and filling is set.
test by inserting knife one inch from the edge and it should come out clean)

12. serve with freshly whipped cream and indulge your senses.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

gluten free pie crust

my friend came over today to bake with me. since she has celiac disease, we did some gluten-free baking experiments. we tried 2 pie crust recipes.

the first recipe we got from the back of a bag of gluten-free flour mix. i don't remember the ingredients in the flour, but it included rice flour, guar gum, cornstarch, potato flour... and other things. i won't write about that recipe since i don't have it here.

the second recipe (the following one) i got from

  • 1 cup superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch OR cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar (OMIT sugar if making a savory filling)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum OR guar gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 large, lightly beaten egg
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 cups) cold, cubed butter

  • cube the butter into small cubes beforehand, and stick them in the freezer (wrapped in wax paper) for a bit to make sure they are really cold
  • whisk/sift dry ingredients together in a medium or large bowl
  • cut in the cubes of butter with a pastry cutter (or use your hands or 2 knives. or a food processor if you have one and don't like to get your hands dirty and bake old-school) until it looks fairly evenly lumpy and crumbly (like coarse bread crumbs)
  • lightly beat eggs separately and add to flour/butter mixture, using hands or spoon to thoroughly blend.
  • add ice water and use your hands to combine. dough will come together (roll it around bowl to collect excess crumbs)
  • dough should stick together in a ball-shape when you squeeze it together.
  • divide into 2 discs and wrap each in wax paper separately. refrigerate for an hour before rolling (or freeze for later use) but take it out of fridge 20 minutes before using.
  • when dough is 'pliable' enough, roll between 2 sheets of wax paper, but be sure to still use flour! dough will stick to wax paper if you don't use more flour. if rolling pin gets sticky, rub with flour.
  • roll until desired thickness (1/8 inch or 1/16 inch thick), peel one layer of wax paper off and transfer to greased pie plate. peel the second layer of paper off and press into pie plate. now it is ready to fill with filling and bake, or to pre-bake it.

this pie tasted pretty fantastic (we used a pumpkin filling, suitably appropriate for next weekend's thanksgiving feasting), but i feel like there was a bit too much butter, seeing as the drip tray underneath the pie was pooling with grease.

i have baked a gluten-free pie before using just rice flour, salt, sugar, butter, and ice water, but it completely shattered on me when i was transfering it to the pie pan. it didn't just tear... it shattered. like glass. sticky, moldable, glass. luckily i don't care much for pies looking perfect, so i just patched it up, smushed it in the pan, and continued to bake it. i think using a thickener or starch with the flour is definitely helpful though. (such as guar gum, xanthan gum, arrowroot powder, cornstarch...) also the eggs definitely helped keep the dough together. but we will have to experiment a bit more to come up with a perfect gluten-free pie crust recipe. i am determined.

oh yes. we also made turnovers with some of the leftover dough. they tasted fantastic. we rolled the dough, cut out squares (approximately 3x5 inches), plopped jam in the center (and sugar because my jam was sugarless), brushed beat egg along the edges, and folded and sealed the edges together, to make a pocket. we baked those at 450 F for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

even dirty dishes can look good after a couple glasses of wine...

i had a lovely evening. we had people over for dinner. today was the fall equinox. apparently something to celebrate? (my sister thinks so) luckily, i'll celebrate almost anything if there is good food and wine involved. even when everyone leaves and you are faced with this:

it manages to look beautiful because you have that warm, fuzzy feeling inside - you know, from the tasty food and wine. even dishes can't put me out when i've had a good evening.

Monday, September 7, 2009

my my

i'm sure i have over 50 pictures waiting to be posted and written about. in the last 2 months of my absence from blogging, i have baked so much, and eaten so many good things. its a shame i'm just too damn lazy.

is a chocolate from mink. mink is where i go to when i need to indulge and want to have a party in my mouth. and my sister (who is awesome - i know she reads this so i have to say that) knows it too and left me a box of some chocolates wrapped in cute wrapping paper when i came home from my trip last weekend. mink not only makes their own chocolate, and comes up with amazing chocolate combinations (chocolate + mint + bourbon; chocolate + rosemary + fleur de sel + caramel; chocolate + chai + spices; etc etc), but they do coffee too. and hot chocolates. and hot chocolates with peppermint. and hot chocolates with pepper and spices. and they donate all their tips to charities.

the chocolate pictured has got a dark chocolate ganache filling with subtle honey and blackberry in it.

brilliant. now i am craving chocolate. at 12:40am when i should be sleeping. hooray for the stat tomorrow!


is the apple pie i made today. well, the last slice of it. which is resting happily in my belly currently. what can i say about pie? its fantastic. this one is a conglomerate of spices with apples. i used cinnamon, cardamon, and vanilla beans. and sugar. never forget the sugar. for the crust, i used the recipe at simply recipes and its worked well for me nearly every time. if you are patient with the dough and let it sit in the fridge a while before rolling, and don't tear it up by rolling it while its still cold, then its a beauty and becomes a wonderfully rich flaky crust that you want to be best friends with forever. i use butter only, no other shortening, and i don't care how many people rant about how better shortening is in pie crust... butter is best. firstly, because butter is natural. secondly, its not hydrogenated. thirdly, it just tastes better.

sadly, i can't really give a recipe for the pie filling. i kind of made it up. but i can give a general overview:
i spent hours peeling, coring, cutting apples.
i dumped them in some lemon water to sit and wait patiently.
i drained the lemon juice off, but kept the teensiest amount of lemon juice with the apples.
i added: lemon zest, cinnamon, sugar, flour, cardamon, vanilla beans (scraped from a split pod), vanilla extract, sugar.

i was inspired by the milk eggs chocolate blog and her vanilla cardamom pear pie.

and that's enough writing for one night.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

my cupcake extravaganza

this post is long overdue.

long story short:
my parents had an anniversary this summer.
30 years.
we had a party.
i made cupcakes.
the end.

here they are:

(sadly, i don't remember where i got the recipe. i used a recipe for lemon poppyseed cake. once the cupcakes were out of the oven, i squirted each cupcake with a lemon simple syrup, to give it an extra lemony taste. i made a lemon buttercream to go on top. i was a little frosting happy, because i still have some frosting in my freezer, just waiting for me to make cupcakes again. i think i ate enough sugar just making the frosting to keep my glycemic index high for a few months. )

party context:

(not a flattering picture of me, but that's how i look when i bake, so deal with it. i made about 9 dozen cupcakes in total. my boss let me use his bakery to do it. what a great boss.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

pizza + beer

i was walking slightly aimlessly at the farmer's market on saturday when i passed the 'knead some dough' stall and decided i wanted some fresh pasta. this is when i noticed a tiny sign on the display case reading 'pizza dough: $4,' which made me all excited. don't ask me why. i really don't know. so i bought the stuff - without asking any questions about how to use it, how long to bake at, etc etc.

then i had to deal with this pizza dough sitting in my fridge. so i invited my friend melody over and we created amazingness. we made our own pesto (basil+roasted cashews+garlic+parmesan+olive oil+salt) to spread instead of the typical tomato-ey pizza sauce. then we added cooked chicken, marinated artichoke hearts (from costco - they're freaking awesome), leftover roasted cashews we didn't use in the pesto, basil leaves, and a mixture of shredded cheeses (havarti, cheddar, parmesan). we baked it at 400 F, and probably ended up leaving it in for 25 minutes? maybe longer. the crust was 'golden brown' and the cheese was all melty. for the occasion (yes, pizza is an occasion), i bought some domestic beer to drink with the pizza. i tried some bowen island honey brown lager. it was delicious paired with the exceptionally greasy pizza.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

leftovers omelet

i realize that a 'leftovers omelet' doesn't exactly sound appealing, but it is, in fact, quite tasty. also, quite practical. not sure what to do with the leftover stirfry you made last night because you have no rice left? use it up in an omelet! sounds like i'm advertising a product... when i'm actually advertising your own creativity and innovativeness (not actually a word, but it should be).

i used 3 eggs for my omelet (free range, organic), beat them with salt, pepper, milk, chopped basil, grated parmesan. fried the omelet (some people flip the omelet before throwing the insides + cheese in, some people don't flip... i'm not sure which one is right, and i sometimes do one, sometimes do the other. the risk you take with flipping is cooking the eggs too long and getting a rubbery omelet.), threw in the leftover stiryfry (after nuking it in the microwave), havarti cheese, and closed the omelet. after the cheese melted, i sprinkled more parmasan on top for effect. then i enjoyed my omelet with some toast, avocados, and coffee. and that was my dinner. the end.

in defense of food

i have started reading 'in defense of food' by michael pollan.
his writing style is a little hard to follow, but it's still fairly interesting. the book initially caught my eye while waiting at the LA airport a couple months ago, and i contemplated buying it for my flight, but $22 seemed a bit much for an airplane read. so i waited til i got to my trusty public library and requested it, which is when i discovered it was a popular book. i was #73 on the waiting list. i got it pretty fast though, and now i have to read it quickly since i'm sure its still a hot book. anyway, as i was saying, some of the book is hard to follow (so far), but i think the cover catch phrase is a good one to follow. 'eat food. not too much. mostly plants.' basically, pollan is defending food, actual food, versus the fake food that has overtaken our grocery stores. you know, the stuff that lasts forever and is made up of 'natural flavor' and chemicals, but because its got a 'health check' on it, it's good for our health. pollan also writes about uncovering how our society, which is seemingly obsessed with 'eating healthy' is becoming increasingly unhealthy. pretty much the big food businesses are doing just that.. business. with the pretense of selling food that's healthy and good for you, they don't actually give a shit about our health, they just want to make money and make repeat customers out of us. i know it sounds conspiracy-like, but if you really think about it hard enough, it makes sense and its actually quite scary. the more we consumers know about our food and our health, the less we will buy the processed, overly refined, high in fructose stuff, which won't make the food industry happy. but, i've only just begun the book and have much more to read. i already make a lot of my own food, and am a little anal about reading the ingredients on absolutely everything i buy, so i can only imagine i'm going to become even more anal about it after i'm done reading the book.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

iced coffee mojito

i'm posting the finished product first. you know, just to entice you to read further. it is quite delicious and will make a tasty + refreshing summer drink, when summer decides to commit to a long visit.

this drink is a delightful discovery: the iced coffee mojito. it's non-alcoholic, but like any drink, the iced coffee mojito has much room for improvements. ;) i discovered the drink while in san francisco a few weeks ago. i follow a coffee blog, cleanhotdry, that gave me a few wonderful places to find amazing coffee in san francisco.

philz coffee, where i had the iced coffee mojito, was the least elite place of the 3 i checked out, though it was a warm atmosphere and definitely an experience you shouldn't miss out on. (i will write about the other 2 coffee shops another day, though. today i am focused on the iced coffee mojito.) philz' slogan is "one cup at a time." and it really was that. you line up in front of a row of a few baristas, similar to lining up at a bank, waiting for a teller to open up. you get your own personal barista for a few minutes, and he/she specially makes your drinks using the pour-over method of brewing. each coffee is fresh, special, and often personalized with a sprig of mint.

back to the iced coffee mojito and my attempt to try it at home. first, i brewed some coffee. i use a french press at home. if you don't have a french press (sometimes sadly known as a 'bodem'), you really should get one. if you don't know how to use the french press, jjbean has excellent instructions (under the 'coffee basics' tab). for this iced drink, the coffee should be brewed stronger than usual - less water or more grounds - since you will be adding ice to it later.

while i was waiting for my coffee to brew, i muddled a handful of mint leaves and a few teaspoons of sugar in the bottom of my glass with a wooden pestle. if you don't have a pestle, i guess you could try and smash the mint on a cutting board and then transfer to the cup. after muddling the mint + sugar, i added ice.

i then poured the coffee into the glass + stirred. milk can be added now if you like milk in your iced drinks. i don't typically, although the drink i had at philz was with milk (at the barista's recommendation - he was cute + friendly, how could i resist?). final step: consume. so there you have it. try it at home on a nice hot summer day.

oh yeah, this is what happens when your hand and your eyes don't coordinate well. or when you are holding and peering into a camera with one hand, pouring coffee with the other. when you are too lazy to take out the tripod or ask your roommate for an extra hand.

Friday, March 27, 2009

being sick is sucky

... especially when you work hourly, so taking a 'sick day' really means you're sick AND you're losing money because of it. nonetheless, it was so good to take a sick day this week. i had a nice leisurely breakfast, incorporating lots of fruit in it, since eating fruit is good for the immune system (unlike the brownie + americano i ate after work today). so i put apples in my oatmeal, but i couldn't forgo the brown sugar. i don't know how anyone eats oatmeal without brown sugar, but maybe one day i will be able to cut the sugar in my oatmeal like i cut the sugar in my coffee.

i also had a blueberry + banana + yoghurt + other fruits i forget smoothie. the smoothie made up for my coffee. but my coffee was half decaf, my lame attempt at pretending i was boosting my immunity by using decaf beans along with the normal ones. i can cut out the coffee if i need to, really, and i usually do when i'm sick, but i just really like it, ok?

..yeah, this is just a pretty picture. not of food. although it may be edible... i've never looked it up. okay, so i just looked it up, and apparently narcissus flowers are poisonous. do not eat them. seriously. the name should really give it away... narcissism isn't exactly a desirable trait.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

old bread and chocolate

this is not news to me, but i am really slack when it comes to actually posting things i take pictures of.

i made this focaccia bread in october. and i only just ate it today. wow, i'm disgusting. just kidding. well.. anyway, the picture is from october also. i do not keep bread for 5 months before i eat it. maybe i used to keep food for that long (halloween candy, anyone?) but i am maturing and am learning to eat what i have instead of 'saving up' for a special moment in the future that doesn't exist. so now when i buy a bar of chocolate, i just eat it all in one sitting. this is a much better solution. :) speaking of chocolate...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2 x stroganoff


don't make this very often, but in the last 2 weeks, i've made stroganoff twice at home.


the first incident used buffalo meat. my sister and i call it 'buffalaganoff.' clever. we know. but it also used goat's yoghurt. if you've ever had any milk or cheese product from goat, you will know it has a distinct flavor. i call it 'goaty.' this was definitely goaty. not excessively, but enough that i had to eat slowly so as not to overload with the flavor and reap negative benefits from it. but for some reason i'm just weirdly sensitive with the strong/sharp flavors like goat. or brie, or blue cheese. i want so badly to have a mature palate and eat lots of cheeses like brie and blue cheese, but it may sadly take a long time for that to happen.

mushroom stroganoff

the second stroganoff occurred today, and i used mushrooms. just mushrooms. i have always (my mother will debate this) hated mushrooms, but recently have enjoyed some really amazing mushroomy eats. like a beef and mushroom soup at Roundel a few months ago, and a mushroom sauce on my steak somewhere else. so i decided to try the mushroom thing at home. last week i made some pizza and did mushrooms on half of it. meh... it was okay, but the other half of the pizza (artichokes and peppers) was much tastier. then today, in my need to be frugal and avoid my grocery-shopping-habit, i used up the rest of the mushrooms and made a stroganoff-type sauce with them. i really enjoyed it, but it would definitely be better with beef or bison WITH the mushrooms.


the basics of stroganoff (as i know it... which doesn't say much, since i've never really followed a recipe completely):
- fry your meat (beef strips, bison strips, or if you are vegetarian, skip this step) and set aside
- saute onions, garlic, mushrooms and brown them (mushrooms are optional. so is garlic i think, but i like garlic)
- add the meat back
- season with salt, pepper. additional options: nutmeg, coriander...
- add your broth or wine (both optional) and sour cream or yoghurt and simmer.
- serve warm on noodles. or rice.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

soup explosions & other fun things in my new home

this is what my kitchen looked like the second full day after moving in:

yeah, 'awesome' was the first word i thought of too, after other choice words, of course. apparently pureeing a hot soup isn't always a fabulous idea. the salvageable bit of the soup (see the green bowl bottom left?) wasn't half bad, though. my sister gave me a 'soup' recipe book for my birthday last year and i am attempting to actually use them, and be intentional with my grocery shopping. why was i being so ambitious when i had barely just moved into my home? ... i'm not sure. i'm never sure.

enough of my negativity. wait, no, not yet. our smoke detector? yeah, it goes off almost every bloody time we make food that involves some heating. like frying eggs. or making toast. oh yes, and the alarm goes off upstairs in our landlords' apartment too. 'awesome' fits this situation also.

okay, now i can be positive and post pictures that are oozing with positivity and warm fuzzies.

these were taken our first night here. below is our commemorative meal, but most importantly: wine. a really yummy Riesling Gewurztraminer, to be specific (and only $10!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

again about the cupcakes

its the cupcake's fault. i'm off my wheat diet. i did the no-wheat thing for an entire month (yay!) except for the occasional slip-up (i had yam fries at Steamworks twice last month and only figured out the second time that they were breaded - who knew i was that dense?). a month is a long time. really. i'd been contemplating quitting, but needed a good reason. so when the cupcakes arrived at my work, i knew i'd found my reason for quitting. seriously, if i'm supposed to sell customers on the cupcake things, i need to try the damn things, right? right. enough said.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

because everyone else is cupcaking it up

seeing as everyone else in the blogging world of food is posting about cupcakes and valentines-sappy foods, i thought i'd post a cupcake photo to fit in. one of my delightful friends had a birthday, and let me bake vegan cupcakes for her party. i had fun with it and now understand cupcake-obsessed women. or men (i've never come across one, please let me know if you have).