4th of July Flashback

I just realized that I never posted this dessert I made for 4th of July...just like how I forgot to serve it at our 4th of July BBQ.  

Yogurt Mousse w/ Berries [07.06.2010]

Not the best picture - doesn't do the dessert justice, but I guess I was going all out for the Red, White & Blue theme.

The yogurt mousse was made with my fav -Fage Greek Yogurt.  Now that stuff is addicting!  I used a recipe from "LeB" in NYC that I was lucky enough to get.  It was definitely my favorite dessert there...and trust me, I had them ALL there.  The berries are tossed in a Lemon Verbena syrup...YUM.

Time to start planning the next BBQ for sure!



(A term coined by my co-worker.)

On a side note, I know it's been a  while since I've posted, but it's been a little hectic - dinners, weekend getaway and in the kitchen of course!  I truly apologize.  

Figs [07.11.2010]

Back to the topic at hand - figs!  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw figs at the market a couple of weeks ago.  They have a sweet, nutty flavor.  And, they are quite the interesting fruit - it's numerous varieties, it's shape, it's textures, it's look and it's variety of vibrant colors.  I've even learned that the fig tree typically bears two crops a year, the "berba" and the "borne."  The berba produces an inferior fruit that is usually too acidic, while the borne is the main crop that is harvested.  This little tidbit comes in handy since a fig tree has just recently joined the apple tree in my yard.

And yet, here's another nugget of knowledge for you.  Figs are an aphrodisiac - I learned this while participating in a culinary aphrodisiac charity event a few years ago.  Fig leaves are mentioned in the story of Adam and Eve, the Greeks associated figs with love and fertility and the inside of a fig is said to resemble a female's sex organs - you decide.

Ummm...on that note, check out my tarts...

Fig & Walnut Financier Tarts [07.11.2010]


Salted Caramel Corn Pops Popcorn...

What?!  There's got to be a better name for this addictive snack.  

In a weird delerium, my friend and I made this salty/sweet treat on a whim.  

Caramel Popcorn [07.10.2010]

I love it when no plans are made and you end up just having a good time and maybe even coming up with something yummy!



I know that it's been a while - that means that I'm catching up!  

For the Fourth of July, I made pulled pork.  It was kind of unbelievable how easy it was, but a little scary at the same time.  Right before I went to sleep, I blotted my pork butt to remove extra moisture, applied a dry rub and popped it into a 300 degree oven.  Scared as I was that I would wake up to a lump of charcoal in the oven, I awoke to quite the contrary!  8 hours later, the most amazing smell was permeating throughout the house.  The meat just needed to be "forked" and tossed with a BBQ sauce I made a couple nights before. If you know me, you know that I rarely eat leftovers, but I ate this four days in a row!

So easy, so delicious and inexpensive too.  Perfect party food for sure! 

Pulled Pork Sandwich [07.07.2010]


The Fruits of Our Labor

fter the fruit-picking adventure, it was time to get to work! The "fruits of our labor" are pictured below with the exception of Apricot Bourbon Caramel (so amazing) and Peach Basil Jam.

Roasted Stone Fruit Tart [06.23.2010]

Apricot Vanilla Jam in the Making [06.19.2010]


Peach Cardamom Jam [06.20.2010]

Cherry Amaretto Compote [07.17.2010]

Bruleed Cheesecake Mousse w/ Cherry Amaretto Compote [07.06.2010]


Summer Harvest

About a month ago, my boyfriend drove my friend and I on a journey out of the city to enjoy the splendors of summer.  The weather was hot, but there was a forgiving breeze every now and then.  We were lucky enough to catch a number of different fruits in season - it was the last weekend for cherries, right in the middle of peaches and the beginning of apricots...

Yellow Peaches [06.12.2010]

My Friend & A White Peach [06.12.2010]

Apricots [06.14.2010]

Cherries [06.14.2010]

Definately fun times - good company, fruit picking, a visit to our favorite store, our favorite iced lattes, hot dogs and ice cream.  What more could a girl want?


Let Them Eat Cake!

Hello Kitty Cake [06.05.2010]


I was given the opportunity to make a birthday cake - a big one (about 12" x 16" x 4.5").  The thing is that with all these cake shows on TV, people want sculpted cakes and think that they are easy to make.  Believe me when I say that it's not.  It takes a lot of planning, hard work and time.  I had to call in help.  My friend and I spent a good amount of time making and assembling this cake.  Considering it was the first big project we took on, I think we did pretty good - everyone was happy with the final product.  Personally, I had fun making the cake - I can't wait until the next order!


Easy as Pie...

Actually, easier.  The way I look at it, crostatas are a rustic style pie. 

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crostata [04.25.2010]

3 ingredients - pie dough, fresh fruit and sugar 

For this crostata, I simply rolled out a round of pie dough.  Instead of tossing the rhubarb in sugar, I mixed it with a healthy amount of homemade strawberry jam.  I piled the fruit mix in the center of the pie round, leaving about a 1.5"-2" border of dough.  That border is then folded over the fruit, making a crust and keeping the fruit in the center visible.  It is then baked in a 400 degree oven for 40 min - 1 hour.  

I love the handmade look of crostatas and its simplicity.  They are so delicious with ripe seasonal fruit!


Hot Churros!

Churros fresh out of the fryer are the bestI wouldn't say I'm a churro expert, but I've had a few in my day - none in an "authentic" setting however.  Have you ever had a cold one?  I have, at AT&T - hard and stale.  Yuck!  I think the best are at Disneyland.  They fly off the cart so fast that they don't have time to go bad.  (It might also have to do with that whole "magical" thing they have going on.)

Churros [04.24.2010]

Since Disneyland isn't just around the corner, I decided it was time to make my own churro.  I scanned through a few recipes online - the batter seemed to be a basic pate a choux that was piped and fried.  However, the one I decided on using was a pate a choux without the eggs.  I had my reservations because I thought it would come out too dense.  However, this recipe had the most positive feedback, so I went for it.  

I was pleased with the results.  The outside ridges were crispy and the inside was soft and not raw, but slightly chewy, which I personally liked.  I served the churros with a caramel dipping sauce.  I believe that using a thermometer was helpful in even frying, since many reviews had problems with burning the outside and raw dough inside.   



A couple of months ago, I bought the smallest tart rings I could find - 2.75" diameter.   Needless to say, I started tart making right away.

Lemon Lavender Tarts [04.13.2010]

Chocolate Custard Tarts [04.20.2010]

For the lemon lavender tarts, I made a regular lemon curd with dried lavender.  Once the curd was made, I strained out the lavender, filled tart shells that I pre-baked and finished the tarts in the oven for about 5 minutes.  I also ground together some sugar, lemon zest and dried lavender to sprinkle on the finished tarts.  

The chocolate custard starts as a basic sweetened ganache but with the addition of flavor and egg.  As with the lemon lavender tarts, I filled tart shells I had pre-baked and finished them in the oven.  For the finishing touch, I added a piece of edible gold leaf - thanks Thip!



I have come to enjoy taking photos of flowers in addition to food.  In my opinion, the set up is quite similar.  

Narcissus [03.29.2010]


Rosemary Citrus Olive Oil Cake

I find that cakes made with oil are quite moist, so I decided to go the Italian route.  With olive oil as a base, I decided to add rosemary and citrus.  

Rosemary Citrus Olive Oil Cake [04.11.2010]

The cake batter has finely chopped rosemary as well as orange and lemon zest.  I sprinkled the top with raw pinenuts before baking.  To glaze the top of the cake, I made a thick syrup by steeping a rosemary sprig with sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.  This gave the cake a beautiful shine a bit of a tang.  I'm not sure what initially inspired me to make this cake, but it's been on my to-do list for a while.  I was very happy with the results - the texture was perfect and held up.  The cake was full of flavor, yet it was still light and refreshing.  It make the perfect snack - morning, noon and night!


Mac Attack

As some of you may know, once you start making macarons, you just can't stop - it's a Mac Attack.   

Saffron & Yuzu Macarons [04.10.2010]

Black Sesame & Coconut Macarons [04.10.2010]

After making the Corn & Blueberry macarons, I was on a roll.  The funny thing is that I'm not the biggest fan of macarons.  I usually find them a bit sweet.  However, the saffron & yuzu macs in the first picture were quite agreeable to my palate - they had a nice tang to them from the yuzu buttercream.  I liked the nutty flavor of the black sesame shell, however, with the white chocolate coconut ganache filling, the second set of macs were definitely too sweet for me.

And although they are not my favorite sweet to eat, I really appreciate them and enjoy the challenge of making them, as they can be very finicky.  I was lucky enough to be given a a formula that I find fool proof.  The only thing is that when you try a new formula, it may take a couple of tries before getting it right in your own oven - so if you're having problems, don't give up!


Corn & Blueberries

Most may not think of corn as a common dessert flavor, but when you think about it's natural sweetness, it becomes more apparent. Blueberries go well with corn, so I made a blueberry compote.  Because blueberries have a large amount of pectin, it just needs to be cooked with a bit of sugar and you are left with a thick and flavorful compote.  

Sweet Corn Pot de Creme [04.03.2010]

I ended up making corn and blueberry macarons to serve with the pot de creme.  I used semolina and corn meal in addition to the almond meal for the shell.  This gave them an extra crunch.  They are filled with the compote, which worked perfectly because it was thick and the shells did not slide.  

Always happy when macarons come out well!  :)


We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I am loving my new Gelato spinner - the DeLonghi GM6000!  It was a birthday present from my parents last month and needless to say, in preparation for our 4th of July BBQ, I went a little overboard:

Bellini Sorbet
Mojito Sorbet
Peach Sorbet
Raspberry Sorbet
Strawberry-Buttermilk Shrebet
Vanilla Ice Cream
Burnt Caramel Ice Cream
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Strawberry Gelato & Saba [04.01.2010]


I made this gelato with my old Kitchen Aid attachment.  The flavor combination of balsamic and strawberry has recently become more prevalent.  Saba has a similar flavor to balsamic because it is made from a sweet unfermented syrup made from the must of Trebbiano grapes - basically an unconcentrated pre-balsamic vinegar.



I'm not sure if I can remember all the ways egg proteins can be denatured off the top of my head, but I'll give it a try:
- alcohol
- salt
- heat
- agitation
- acid
- time

I mention this fun little fact because it has to do with my next dessert.  

Lemon Pudding Cake [04.01.2010]

If you've ever made lemon curd, you know that use a number of these methods to denature your egg proteins - acid from lemon juice, heat from the stovetop, agitation from whisking, time and perhaps salt.  

This cake is like making a curd by baking except with the addition of flour.  The batter separates in the oven - all the liquids fall to the bottom of the mold and curdle while a soft spongy cake develops on top.  After flipping the cake out, you a the curd sitting atop a fluffy cake. 

I love the light and silky texture of this cake.  It is served with macerated strawberries and lightly sweetened creme fraiche. 

BTW, I looked it up and I had forgotten UV radiation as a way to denature proteins.


Sweet Basil

For some, basil in a dessert may seem odd.  I personally love it - it's light and refreshing and the flavor goes especially well with peaches and strawberries.  

Basil Frozen Souffle [03.30.2010]

I made the frozen souffle by steeping basil into cream overnight, giving it that fresh basil flavor and over all pale green color.  For the basil specks, I blanched some basil and then pureed it a little bit of corn syrup to keep it from turning brown.  I don't use the blanched basil as flavoring because it will affect the final outcome of the flavor - i merely use it for it's visual effect.   

Plated with the Basil Frozen Souffle is basil syrup, poached peaches, peach sorbet, amoretti crumble and fresh basil.


Patterened Carpets

I think I will start keeping an eye out for interesting carpet patterns.  Here are two that I have come across...

stay tuned for more.