Posts filed under ‘Fruit’

Chinese New Year 2012 (including Superbowl Sunday)

Gung Hay Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year.

This year was different, as I suppose it is most years; but, of course, it was a bit more noticeable this year.  15 days allows usually for 2 weekends with 2 big Chinese banquets.  Since the whole thing started on a Monday, it was hard to justify stopping everything to do a banquet.  Instead I brought lunch in for mother from Zoe Ma Ma (a great local hole-in-the-wall Chinese place in downtown Boulder).  She was confused until she started to eat the noodles…!  After gymnastics, we met my sister and her family at another non-fancy Chinese restaurant in north Boulder.  It was fun all around and with no cleaning.

~Over the course of the next few days, I incorporated the dishes that needed to be eaten and tried new Asian dishes.  (On the first day, we had dan tart – custard tarts, almond jello with fruit, and CNY candy from the red box.)  We ate steamed fish, long noodles, etc.  We brought in many items for my mother.  I made ji (traditional rice noodle dish), orange beef, gai lan, and almond jello; my sister made lamb and broccoli, walnut shrimp, and a Japanese bean/rice mixture.

The last dessert I made for that big celebration with mom was Pichet Ong’s pineapple tarts – that look like little tangerines. (See The Sweet Spot.) I made them last year but this year I made just a few modifications and it seemed to go a bit more easily than the year before.  They tasted amazing.

Then over the whole course of the 2 weeks: dan go (egg steamed sponge cake), almond cookies, Japanese Wagu hamburgers, steamed whole fish, peanut noodles, and steamed fat go little cakes.

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~Between Superbowl Sunday and Chinese New Year this year, we also celebrated National Chocolate Cake day!  Here are the cupcakes I made:

~Superbowl Sunday fell the day before the end of CNY.  We (my sister’s family and my family) have a great time making all sorts of bad-for-you-foods – noshing and watching the game and commercials.  This time only one of us was truly invested and so it was a bit more relaxing.  We could enjoy the exciting ending without getting knots in our stomach.  Anyway, my sister used her new 3 crock crockpot for queso, vegetarian chili, and regular chili and she brought 3 other dips with chips.  My daughter made a shortbread sandwich cookie – the first time she did everything with just coaching and hints from me….(She even made her own homemade vanilla pudding mixture to use in the cookie recipe.)

~I made 3 types of wings – 2 different Asian wings and 1 very hot Tobasco wing (using the Tobasco wing sauce, along with another secret mixture) and non-alcoholic sangria.

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I also made Boston cream pie (because it was suggested on some site) using Gale Gand’s cake, a pastry cream from some where else, and my own chocolate glaze.  Finally, I usually make regular nachos but decided to make a sweet nacho… crisped tortilla triangles with cinnamon sugar in the oven, sprinkled melted milk chocolate and homemade dulce de leche sauce, finely chopped fruit, and shavings of white chocolate…. The last was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

This was in some ways a more relaxing way to do things and very much more multi-cultural due to Superbowl Sunday coming at the end.  It did feel very much like we celebrated the whole time and everyone left with good feelings…  Gung Hay Fat Choy — I hope your year will be a good one.

February 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm 2 comments

Daring Bakers Challenge July 2011 Fraisier

Daring Baker’s Challenge July 2011

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Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

(You can find the recipe here:  57_Fresh_Fraisiers-DB_July_2011.)

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For this challenge, we needed to make the chiffon cake and pastry cream from the recipes provided.  From there we could take it in any direction.  (By the way, the cookbook, Tartine, is fantastic.  I have made a few items from it and all have turned out wonderfully.)

*So…  Fraisier is similar to Fraise which is strawberry in French.  While I love strawberries, cherries have also just come into season.  I decided to make a Black Forest version because cherries are in season.

First, I made the chiffon cake.  In order to give the cake just a tiny bit more chocolate burst, I decided to add chocolate extract, as well as the vanilla extract and the cocoa called for in the recipe.

I also didn’t want to bother with dividing the cake and so used 2 cake pans.

While the cake cooled, I made the pastry cream.  This is an incredibly involved pastry cream.  It’s actually a lightened one – that is, whipped cream is folded into the pastry cream base and the pastry cream is mixed with a melted gelatin.  The gelatin is what eventually holds the whole cake together.

Note that in order to cool the pastry cream quickly, I spread the it on top of plastic wrap on a small baking sheet.  Then I covered the top of the pastry cream with another layer of plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from developing).  Using the method of mixing the gelatin into the pastry cream over the bain marie was good, but I had to whisk a lot in order to make sure that the pastry cream was perfectly smooth.

*The cherries took a long time to pit and cut in half.  When I tried to put them around the edges, they didn’t stay up.  So, I piped a thin layer of the pastry cream.  I ended up facing the cherries with the rounded side outward because it just looked better.

To decorate the top, I whipped together some stabilized whipped cream.  Then I spread some on top and piped little rosettes to hold the whole cherries (with stems) that I had kept for decoration.  (I saw a picture of a black forest cake with the whole stemmed cherries and it just looked dramatic.  It made sense to try to re-create it.)

Note that I didn’t use plastic wrap to line the edges.  Instead I had professional plastic strips that are a bit sturdier.  They allowed me to use a slightly bigger spring form pan and just pull the strip tight around the cake (holding it on the outside with duct tape.)  Worked perfectly….

Result:  The cake was tall and miraculously stayed together when cut.  It was extremely dramatic.  While the black forest cakes on the web seem to have denser chocolate cake and vary in decoration widely, I enjoyed thinking about changing the Fraisier to fit the bill.  Everyone really liked this version – They thought that the cake had enough chocolate flavor and the whole thing was a lot lighter than it looks.  That is, for a summer cake, it was perfect – light (not heavy, as a butter cake would be), fruity, and creamy (but not overwhelming like a full-fat custard).

*Summary: While this is quite an involved production, each of the pieces was not difficult (and the pastry cream could be simplified).  I could see myself making it again with the strawberries.  It was a fantastic, light summer dessert and everyone liked it.

July 27, 2011 at 5:57 am 2 comments

Chinese New Year 2011

Ever since I finished college, I’ve been very interested in learning and keeping my mother’s traditions.  For several years when I lived in New Mexico, I also read books and the internet and gathered the information – including my mother’s own handwritten notes.  There are differences between what my mother does and what is considered “traditional”; however, after so many generations of the family living here, it’s not surprising.

~This year is different from previous years.  My mother is now living here in town.  So, aside from getting everything ready in my own home, I have also had to get everything ready for her.  This is a great honor for me; but, as you can imagine, it has meant a great deal of extra work – on top of my actual paid work and the general care of my family.  (The 15 days after Feb 3rd are filled with Superbowl Sunday, 2 birthdays and Valentine’s Day.)

~Feb 3rd was the first day of Chinese New Year.  I made Dan go, red bean soup, and fat go (or faat go, fatt go, fatt gou or fatt gao – all spellings on the web for prosperity cake).  The dan go is my mother’s recipe for steamed egg cake. (I prefer my mother’s cake. I have made this with a rice flour mix substitute to mimic neen go’s rice cake idea (also spelled neen gow).)  The red bean soup is a cobbled together from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. Finally, the fat go used half the pancake recipe from The Breakfast book plus the rest from the prosperity cake recipe of Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s website. (Notice that the cakes blossom up – into what look like flower petals.  I added more baking powder, even though we’re at altitude, to insure the flower – otherwise it wouldn’t be the same.)

origami fortune cookies

~I visited mom after breakfast and brought her a piece of dango and some of the sesame and peanut candies from my red box (as shown above).  This was my mom’s box.  She gave it to me after the first Chinese New Year in my own place after college.  I fill it with the Chinese candies from the store that I like and the Valentine’s day candies because they are often red, gold, and silver.

~We took mom out for a traditional Chinese dinner.  It was good – 3 cold dishes (vegetable stuffed tofu, cold chicken, and a scallop/shrimp ceviche like dish), whole fish, duck, Cantonese style noodles, vegetables in deep fried potato dish, lobster, and sesame seed balls for dessert.  I had not seen mom eat so much since she’s arrived.

~On Friday I went to visit my mother in the morning – brought her a pine nut cookie and another sesame candy.  That evening the extended family ate the leftovers – I added fresh rice and peanut noodles because there was not quite enough of each item left for the number of people.

~In previous years, I have had multiple CNY dinners, inviting many guests.  I am still not quite into the routine of this year.  So, my sister and I just celebrated together.  She brought 2 dishes (walnut shrimp and Chinese chicken wings) and I made whole fish and ji.  Ji consists of rice noodles, fat choy (mushroom), dung go (shiitake), and cabbage (which I forgot) and it can be made vegetarian but I used dried shrimp and oyster sauce (in the sauce for the dish).

~For dessert, I made almond jello with mandarin oranges, lychees, and maraschino cherries (for the bright red color, not for health).  I also tried “tangerine pie” (caramelized pineapple pastries) from Pichet Ong’s cookbook, The Sweet Spot. This is an involved recipe.  I made the dough and filling separately on Friday (to let the dough have time to rest).  Today I brought the dough to workable condition and made the rounds.  They have to sit in the fridge before you can brush them with yolk, stick the clove in (not edible), and bake.  However, they tasted great…
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~One of my friends posted that she had missed National Nutella day. When I looked, I found David Lebovitz’s site stating that World Nutella day is today. I hadn’t missed it…! I took a brownie recipe, removed 1/3 of the batter, mixed the nutella in, and then swirled it on top. It was very chocolatey…

February 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Daring Baker’s Challenge Nov 2010 – Raspberry & Nutella Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

[The Daring Bakers are part of the  Daring Kitchen.]

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OK… I’m late again.  This holiday season my mother is still in the hospital and my in-laws visited for a week around T-day. My mind has been all over the place.  So, I just wanted to give this tart its due and wait till after T-day.  While I did make traditional pate brisé this week, it was fun to make something related today. (I made a chocolate pecan pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie – with the pumpkin as the favorite.)  Simona provided so many variations that I may have to re-visit this challenge.

~The dough (pasta frolla):  I used version 1 with powdered sugar.  I also added some vanilla and cream because it was far too dry today.  (Dry & cold)

~Rolling & Filling:  I decided to go with the jam tart rather than the custard or the pastry cream version (custard rather than jam) or the fruit tart (similar to the traditional French fruit tart).  Also, I chose to make little heart cut-outs for the top rather than the lattice.  Since I have made a German version of a jam tart before (similar to a Linzer), I decided to break up the flavors by putting Nutella on the bottom.  Because I had leftover dough, I rolled it out and made cookies.  I sprinkled sparkling sugar over the top.

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~Overall:  In the baking, the jam bubbled over part of the crust.  So, I probably should  have put in a little less jam.  The dough tasted like a sugar cookie.  In the past, I always thought that there was too much jam in those German jam tarts.  With the layer of Nutella, this was just perfect and a nice surprise after hitting the sweet jam.  The family thought it tasted quite good.  I want to go back and try the pastry cream version now….!

November 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm 4 comments

Ted’s Bakery Oahu

Ted’s Bakery

~When I travel, I almost always try to figure out what people consider the specialty of the area or what bakery might be considered the best.  I love to see what other people are doing.

~Ted’s Bakery is known for their chocolate haupia pie.  It’s a basic 2 custard layers (chocolate and haupia) with the stabilized whipped cream like topping covering.  The chocolate flavor is not strong but chocolate and haupia go very well together.   [The picture shows the haupia pie in the bottom left and malasadas.  Dragon fruit and fresh lychees from Kahuku Land Farms.  There were 4 different farmers selling their fresh produce and other things.]

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~They have more than malasadas and chocolate haupia pie, though.  There’s a wide variety of pies in the large, refrigerated cases on the left as you walk in.  Then there are pastry items in the front order counter – malasadas, pastries like Danishes, turnovers, and cookies.  We love haupia and so we tried everything that had haupia and everything was delicious.  We also tried passion fruit and guava items, as well as standard chocolate and nut topped items.

Over the few days that we were in the North shore area, we were able to stop 3 times.  If you come too late in the afternoon, the selection is a bit dismal.  However, when we went on Sunday at around 12:30, there was still a wide variety of items.  The parking lot is small and it’s a bit of a mad house.  We were told that the garlic shrimp plate is good and it’s definitely on our list for next time.

~Note that you can buy many items at the Foodland or the Kahuku Superette (like meat, liquor, milk, and other fruits).  Neither place had the selection of baked goods that Ted’s bakery has.  It’s really worth the stop.

July 25, 2010 at 11:46 am 2 comments

Daring Baker’s Challenge June 2010 Chocolate Pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

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I’ve been baking but so busy with working and my daughter out from school that I haven’t had time to post anything.  I’m hoping to catch up these next two weeks.

~In any case, I made the Pavlova recipes as stated.   Several years ago I made a traditional Pavlova with vanilla flavored meringue (large) with mixed fruits (including kiwi) and a large amount of whipped cream.    So, this time I thought I’d go miniature with it.  While there was some discussion on the web about what constitutes a Pavlova (variations in what goes under/over the fruit, variations in the meringue, variations in the plating), I’d say that the dessert is a great summer dish – fresh fruit on light meringue with whipped cream.  You can add ice cream over the meringue (under the fruit) or pastry cream.

~It would have been smarter to spread this over several days but I just didn’t have the time.  This first picture shows the finished piped little meringues.  I could have been more detailed about this by tracing even circles on parchment but decided to go free-hand.  It worked pretty well.

~This second picture shows the candied orange peels sitting in the sugar cooling.  If the process is done correctly, you would cook until they are translucent.  You can then just store them and they will be sticky but beautifully shiny.  However, if you coat them in sugar, then it’s easier to handle.  I made some really long strands and they almost look like gummy worms…

Here are the finished pictures

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~The challenge called for a crème anglaise mixed with marscapone.  I didn’t like this sauce for drizzling.  It looked ugly.  So, I used it on the bottom of the plates.  To provide a little contrasting color on the plate, I toasted some pecans.

The flavors were good but the chocolate on chocolate wasn’t my favorite.  I might make a traditional meringue and add chocolate mousse or the chocolate meringue with a regular pastry cream in the future.

June 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm 4 comments

Daring Bakers Sept 09 challenge Vols-au-vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

IMG_2925I have made puff pastry many times and I own Baking with Julia.  So, it was fun to have an excuse to try another recipe from the book.  FYI: I love the soda bread from the book.  It’s incredibly easy – can be thrown together at a moment’s notice.  I’m just summarizing the puffs that I made this month briefly in this blog post, with additional details about the dough here.

dough after cutting 1/3 off

dough after cutting 1/3 off

* Steph was very generous in providing the specific information about vol-au-vents beyond the basic recipe for puff from Greenspan’s book.   To make a long story short, I decided to make little ones.  I also wanted to try the long triangular shape and some small squares.  In order to keep the sizes of the squares roughly the same as the circles, I used cookie cutters; thus, the squares were a bit harder because the edges ended up so small and were a bit more difficult to place.

SCAN0016*I also wanted to try the long triangular shape and some small squares.   For the triangular shape, one needs to cut a square and then cut the angled part of an arrow on either side.  You then fold over one side and then fold over the other side.  (See sketch.)  This results in a neat diamond on top and the bottom of a diamond shaped opening.  You don’t need to cut a separate piece to place on top.

A former instructor for CA students told me that you could keep the vol-au-vents even by putting a sheet pan or a screen on top.  Steph’s advice to use a Silpat on top worked perfectly for me and was easy to lift on and off to check doneness.  I appreciate learning this easier method.

IMG_2916I ended up with even circles and squares.  However, because I used one of my cookie cutters for the triangle shape, the centers of the triangular shapes ended up very small.  They were good cookies, though.

IMG_2917To finish the vols-au-vent, I made some chocolate pastry cream to go into them.  Then I simply cut some fresh peaches (Morton’s peaches) and decorated with a little raspberry and toasted almonds.IMG_2922

September 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm 2 comments

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