Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lemon Sorbet with Asian Pears!

Summer isn't over just yet! Not until I say so... okay well maybe I have absolutely no control over that but I'd like to think I do. So while I still have the summer warmth around, I'm going to play with my ice cream maker just a tad more before it goes back into storage.

Since it seems that lately all I make are desserts, I thought I'd tone the "bad" stuff back down and do a lighter dessert this time around. Lemon sorbet sounds like a refreshing treat.

Actually what drove this was my friend's mom giving me a ton of delicious Asian pears! I can only eat so many... so I thought it was time to use some for my experiments as well. This one was hard to think of, Asian pears are not really meant to be cooked and so baking was more or less out of the question. Making a crispy pear mushy is anything but tasty. 

Let me tell you it is a horrible idea to be thinking of things like what to do with Asian pears when you're about to fall asleep because during the off chance that you get a great idea, you end up being too excited to actually fall asleep (clearly my love for food is too great and so even the ideas excite me...). So after a somewhat less restful night, I came up with the idea of combining little chunks of Asian pears into a sorbet of some sort. I decided lemon seemed best fit for the task. 

For something as simple as a sorbet, I sure made a nice mess while making it. One way to test the acidity of the lemon, get some onto your shirt and then let it bleach little specks onto it, which is exactly what happened. Now my t-shirt has a nice tie-dye effect thanks to the random juice flying all over the place when I was trying to squeeze the life out of the lemon (or perhaps it was taking the life out of my hands, who knows). Times like these I wish I wasn't so lazy to take out my juicer...but I am so I suffer the consequences. Oh well... at least it was just one of those raggedy t-shirts I wear around the house.

In the end it was all worth it! If you love lemony anything, this will for sure make your mouth water and if you accidentally eat the whole thing, good news, its not as damaging as say...an entire pint of ice cream. As the ice cream maker is churning away, already you get hit with the lemon, citrus fruit aroma. The Greek yogurt gives it a creamier texture and little chunks of Asian pears gives it a nice bite. A cool, light summer dessert to enjoy indeed.

You can even make it a little bit more exciting by adding a splash of vodka or limoncello to the mix.


Lemon Sorbet with Asian Pear
adapted from Taste of Home: Lemon Sorbet
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 4-6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  •  lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 Asian pear, diced into little chuncks
Procedures:
  1. In a small sauce pan over medium, cook and stir sugar and water until mixture comes to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 2 more minutes (uncovered). Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir in lemon juice, zest, pears, and yogurt and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions (approximately 30-35 minutes for me). Transfer to freezer container and freeze for an additional 4 hours before serving. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nectarine Crumb Cake!

Where has the time gone? I swear it was a blink of an eye, but how did we get to the end of summer so quickly?! I was driving home the other day and ducks/geese were already starting to head south for the winter…what? I’m still caught up in the mist of summer.

Clearly I like to live in delusion….

Whatever the case, because it is near the end of summer, stone fruits are in full fled! We have a little “garden” at my work and its filled with all sorts of little treasures. Fruit trees hidden in the shrubs, one day I will gather enough caring souls to bring the garden to life! It’s truly a shame that that no one at work really knows about that little area. It’s filled with all sorts of fruits: pomegranates, peaches, apples, lemons, limes, tangerines, and today’s star: nectarines!

The tree is covered! I felt like a little kid all giddy picking the nectarines off the tree. What's better than using locally grown fruits (not to mention organic too!) to make your tasty desserts?! I cannot let those poor fruits just fall to the ground, they must be enjoyed and I will bring awareness!

Okay, now onto my experiment, nectarine crumb cake! After gathering my basket, which really was a plastic Safeway bag, of goodies, I set to work. Time to find a recipe worthy of these luscious fruits. Finally after filtering through a bunch of different nectarine related recipes, I settled for 2 and combined the elements I liked to create this one. I think it turned out more like a coffee cake more than anything but I like the name crumb cake better. Either way, its nothing short of delicious and its super easy! Another win for the inner lazy!

Nectarine Crumb Cake
Adapted from Nectarine Golden Cake and Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle
Ingredients:
For cake:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-4 nectarines, pitted and cut into ¼” slices
For streusel:
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

Procedures:
For streusel:
  1. Brown butter by melting it at medium heat. Stir until butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat and let it cool before proceeding.
  2. Once butter is cooled, add in all the other ingredients and mix until it begins to crumble. Set aside
For cake:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
  2. Beat butter and sugar together with electric mixer until fluffy. Add in 1 egg at a time, mix and then add in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour until well combined
  3. Layer on nectarines. Top with streusel and sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SF Street Food Festival 2013 + Embarcadero Center/Piers

SF Street Food Festival, we meet again! I look forward to this every year, or at least since I’ve known of its existence about 3 years ago. How can anyone not be excited about a street filled with all sorts of delicious, tasty, and mouth watering treats?! Not to mention also very affordable, prices ranging from $3-$8 per dish. Nothing but good eats, the best kind of festival there is!

This annual event takes place in the Mission District of San Francisco where food enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and vendors all gather down several blocks to celebrate the joy that is food! The streets are filled with people and everyone’s got something delicious to enjoy, foods from all over the world. Infusions of dishes you can’t even begin to imagine.

This year I decided I was going to do a little research before embarking on my journey. I needed to be smart, my stomach can only hold so much (I’m not going to lie, I may have also stuffed a zip-lock in my purse that day…just in case, you never know. Yah, I know I have a problem). I figured it be best that I scope out the potential vendors so I don’t fill my tummy early and not get to eat the starlets of festival. To save you from the grueling details, let’s just skip to the best part: the food!

Here are my personal highlights from the day:
(*) were the recommended dishes from various websites during the researching process


Bini’s Kitchen*: Turkey Momos
Nepalese turkey dumplings, with spicy tomato cilantro sauce, very moist and very delicious

State Bird Provisions*: Garlic Bread with Burrata
Possibly the best garlic bread I’ve ever eaten in my life! No joke, this is a must try. Not only are they visually pleasing, but the bread is amazing. Slight crisp, borderline crunchy, on the outside and soft, warm, and chewy on the inside. I’m not sure I like the burrata (Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream) as much with the bread but it was pretty good by itself.

Lers Ros Thai: Thai Iced Tea
Thai ice tea was so common, it was nothing special. I was just thirsty and wanted something to start my journey.

Onigilly*: Spicy Shrimp Japanese Rice Ball Wrap
Cooked bay shrimp mixed with spicy aioli and Pollock roe with brown rice.

KoJa Kitchen: Kamikaze Fries & Korean BBQ Beef Koja (sandwich):
Crisscut Fries topped with korean bbq beef, sauteed onions, kimchi green onions, and drizzled with our signature sauce and japanese mayo

Korean BBQ Beef korean bbq beef with sauteed onions, sesame vinaigrette slaw, drizzled with our signature sauce and served in toasted hand-made rice buns
I almost wanted to buy their whole truck…luckily, or rather unfortunately, I was getting rather full by the time I got there. I would go back in a heart beat. So genius to make buns out of rice!

Three Twins Ice Cream: Mocha Difference
Caffeinated coffee with flecks of dark chocolate, gotta finish with something sweet and strong.

Until we meet again food festival, you will be missed.

So after successfully stuffing my face, I suppose it’s only reasonable to attempt to walk around so my appetite will perhaps find its way back to me. The goal is to always make room for more food. 
Where to venture to? The piers by the Embarcadero Center were a nice place to start. I’ve only been in this area one other time and that time, it was dark and closed. Not much excitement or things to see…it was somewhat later in the night when I came. However, near sunset, beautiful!

Took a bunch of pictures and I will let those speak for themselves.
This was my favorite picture of the day, a shot I took standing off Pier 14. Perfect view.

I love the shape of that building on the far left. Sometimes you just have to admire architecture.

Unfortunately because I went out to play, there is no recipe to share for this post, but it does give me a new idea to start a new segment in my blog dedicated to travels and good eats. Hmm...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Pistachios!

Have you ever made something and had leftover ingredients. I know I have. No matter what the recipe, sometimes you just end up with tad bits of batter, butter, frosting, sugar, or in this case (eclairs), chocolate!

What to do with leftover melted chocolate… hmm… I can make hot chocolate, drizzle it onto ice cream, or simply lick by the spoonful OR I can be inventive and make some chocolate coated nuts! Actually it was a while ago when I accidentally fell upon this. I believe it was my chocolate raspberry torte experiment and during clean up I dumped the leftover almond bits into the leftover melted chocolate and set it aside to be dealt with later. Who knew what I came back to was something amazing.


It seemed rather wasteful to toss out perfectly good consumable food, so I scraped the chocolate covered almond bits off the bowl and threw a piece in my mouth. WOW! Why didn't I think of this before?! Delicious accidental discoveries are the best.

So now I present to you, dark chocolate covered almond pistachios! Feel free to replace dark chocolate with milk chocolate if you're not a dark chocolate lover like I am. Either way, the results will be mouth watering (unless you're allergic to nuts...in which case, do not attempt!).


Ingredients:
  • leftover melted chocolate (or about 1-2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 1-2 handful of chopped almonds
  • 1-2 handful of pistachios
Procedures:
  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (if haven't done so), remove from heat once melted.
  2. Mix in nuts and spread a thin layer onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper for easy removal.
  3. Let the chocolate covered nuts set or place into the fridge for about 30 minutes or until harden. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Roti Buns!

What is a roti bun and why is there all this hype around it? At least if you live in the bay area, these things have been popping up all over the place. My friends have been raving about them, and at first I was curious. I didn't know what they looked like, in my mind they were these delicate baked goods that must look and taste extraordinary! Well time passed and I've semi-forgotten about them. 

Finally, one sunny afternoon, while I was quickly trying to escape the mall, I ran across the bakery (Honey Berry) that sells them at the food court! Hurray! I excitedly glanced around looking for things that may appear like the roti buns I've envisioned in my head... quite disappointingly, all I saw were these whimpy looking buns and my thought was... what?! That's it?! All that and these are the oh so glorious roti buns everyone is raving about. How anticlimactic. 

Despite its rather unimpressive exterior, I decided not to judge a book by its cover and buy one to taste for myself. I wasn't expecting much but when I bit into it, I was hooked! It was so good! Warm, light, fluffy, and only slightly sweet so its not overbearing, I was shocked. Slightly ashamed I thought they were unworthy. Now we've also confirmed, definitely never judge a book or people or food or anything by its covers. What's inside could be a surprise. 

So I don't think I've fully answered the question of what a roti bun is still, but rather just provided a random side story of my personal experiences. So I guess if I had to describe them, they are these simple sweet breads that has a thin coffee crust layer baked onto it and sometimes its stuffed with some sort of butter filling (i.e. chocolate, cream cheese, etc). It definitely doesn't look like anything special but they are quite a treat when you do come across one. They remind me a little bit of Mexican sweet bread, but its not as dense. They also remind me of a Hong Kong bread called pineapple bun but not as sweet. Its somewhere in between those two but if you like either of the breads I've mentioned, you'll like this one.

I've never made bread in my life. It always seemed too labor intense and all that waiting around for the yeasts to do its thing... I guess when it comes to food, I don't like waiting too much. I didn't know this was going to be the case when I set out for this experiment. That'll teach me to leap before looking. Oh well, gotta start sometime, can't avoid breads forever, mind as well start with something fun.

Let me just say, this was definitely no walk in the park! I must've gotten confused and lost at least a couple of times during this whole process... no offense to the person who I got this recipe from... but it was a bit confusing. Perhaps it was not a good recipe for a beginner bread maker to try. As always, when I get lost, I try to make it easier for future others like me to avoid getting lost by adding commentary to the recipe I played with. Good luck!

I will definitely try to make these again, but maybe not this recipe in particular... my results were only mediocre. Though they were still very yummy, they were not the roti buns I've had at the mall...the trials will continue. (Here is another recipe that I'll probably be trying next time: Roti Buns by Misty Yoon)

Roti Buns: 
Makes 10 small buns
(commentary in orange)

For the dough:
  • 250g bread flour (roughly 1 1/2 cup)
  • 38g caster sugar ( ~ 1/4 cup)
  • 3g salt (~1/4 tsp)
  • 4g yeast (~1/2 package)
  • 1/2 beaten egg (...still don't know if this means 1/2 an egg that's beaten OR 1 egg that's slightly beaten ... I used 1 egg slightly beaten...take your interpretation)
  • 135g fresh milk (~3/4 cup)
  • 30g butter (~ 2 tbsp)
For the filling:
  • 100g butter (softened) (~ 1 stick/8tbsp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35g brown sugar
For the topping:
  • 50g butter (~ 1/2 stick/4 tbsp)
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 38g beaten eggs (~ 1/2 an egg)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated coffee dissolve with 1 teaspoon water (I suggest 2 tsp because I couldn't taste or smell coffee flavor in mine)
  • pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  • 50g plain flour
Procedures:
  1. For the filling: using an electric mixer beat the butter and brown sugar until light and pale until the sugar totally dissolved. Add in the vanilla extract for the final beating. Place the mixture into the fridge until it harden (I shaped it into a form that would later be easier to divide before placing it in the fridge to set). Divide the harden mixture into 10 portions and sit in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. For the toppings: beat the softened butter with icing sugar until everything well combine. Gradually add in beaten eggs then the coffee mixture. Add in pinch of cinnamon powder with the flour and beat everything until well incorporate. Place the mixture into a piping bag and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. For the dough: knead all the ingredients together except butter. When the dough become a smooth dough add in butter and continue the the kneading process until the dough become smooth and elastic but not sticky (and it was sticky!...just keep going...and I also added some flour in the kneading process to make it less sticky... perhaps the recipe did call for 1/2 an egg after all...). I used a standing kneading mixer to knead for approximately 30 minutes at speed 2 (I did  not... maybe that's another reason why my buns weren't exceptionally great).
  4. Divide the dough into 10 little doughs and shape it into round ball shape. Let it rest for 15 minutes before add in the filling.
  5. Roll out each doughs to a flat disc and add the butter filling. Seal it tightly. (make sure you seal it tightly otherwise it will split out during baking) (its also safe to make sure not to place the stuffing too close to the edges of the dough either because it will burst while baking...trust me...)
  6. Place each doughs on a baking tray, make sure they sit a part from each other because they might stick to each other during the baking. Cover the doughs with cling film and proof for 50 - 60 minutes (Mine didn't do much rising during this time, so I suggest either letting them rest longer in step 4 OR let these rest longer than 60)
  7. Before the doughs place into the oven, pipe out the filling in a spiral start from the top center of each buns. Bake for 12 minutes at 200'C preheated oven. (I baked at 375F degrees for 15 minutes)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eclairs!

This is my problem, I watch too much of those cooking competitions. Currently semi-addicted to Master Chef (even though I just finished Hells Kitchen... I'm detecting a common theme here, no worries, I haven't picked up Kitchen Nightmares... yet...), and one of their elimination challenges were to make 6 eclairs in 60 minutes... holy goodness I would've failed. 


I just get so excited watching people make eclairs that I wanted part of the action...then when it was my turn I realized TV and real life is not quite the same... For one, there's no video editing to make what I'm doing that exciting and two, when I was making my eclairs, I kept having to look at the recipe whereas it looked like those contestant had the recipe memorized... I wonder if they get hints...


Luckily for me, I wasn't going to get eliminated if mine doesn't meet expectations though I still strive for perfection. The pâte â choux pastry dough had always been a hit and miss for me, though its finally starting to behave, still, unfortunately this experiment wasn't without flaw.


I think I've mentioned this in the past, but if I haven't, here it is again, unlike most people who baked with traditional full sized ovens, I have a toaster oven. Yup, all my experiments are baked in a toaster oven. In fact I don't think I've baked with a big oven in years (at least 3-4)! Its not that I don't want to... just not very accessible. I started out with one of those tiny toaster ovens but about a year or so later, I upgraded to one that was big enough for a 12" pizza which isn't bad at all (Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven). For the most part, that little guy gets the job done! However, because it's smaller and has a smaller cavity,  it heats up pretty quick and it also baked quicker too so you have to be careful. 


Anyways, the whole point of that random (or not so random) fact is that with eclairs there are several heat stages in the baking process. During the first 20 minutes, you want to blast it with high heat so that the pastry dough will rise, then you want to set it at a lower temperature so it doesn't burn while it continues to bake, then depending on what recipe you're looking at, it goes on to bake at one more temperature lower. TV completely cut out this part of the process...  

Despite the noted road blocks, I managed some decent looking eclairs. I probably would've still failed the challenge on TV because the eclairs didn't quite poof like they were suppose to, I sort of puffed them when I filled them with cream...so I cheated a little... hey they still turned out decent!


Eclairs

Makes approx 14

Adapted from Life Made Simple

Ingredients:
Pâte â choux:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter
4 eggs
1 c. water
¼ tsp. salt

Vanilla bean pastry cream:
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. butter
3 egg yolks
1½ c. whole milk
1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste

Chocolate glaze:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
½ c. heavy whipping cream, plus more if needed
pinch of sea salt

Procedures:
  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  
  2. To make the pâte â choux, place a medium size saucepan over low heat. Add butter, sugar, water and salt, stirring frequently. Turn heat up to a low boil, remove from head and add in flour. Stir vigorously until the mixture forms a thick paste and no flour pockets remain. Place over medium heat and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly to prevent burning (a thin film will form on the bottom of your pan).
  3. Place hot paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until it becomes slightly cooler.
  4. Then add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. The mixture will look shiny and will stick to the sides of the bowl. Beat for an additional 2 minutes on medium.
  5. Scoop dough into a large piping bag fitted with a large tip (around a ½" in diameter). Pipe 4"-5" logs onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing each two inches apart to prevent spreading & baking into each other.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to 350˚F, bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
  8. If needed reduce heat again to 300 ˚F and bake for 10 more minutes.