First of all, I want to thank all my readers for coming back each week to read my blog. Second, I want to inform my wonderful blog family that I (We- The Husband, Son and thee) have moved. MOVED as in FAR AWAY from California. We moved to the “beautiful island” of Formosa known as Taiwan.
Taiwan is my husband’s birthplace-just so you know I’m not totally
crazy baked moving to a foreign country (only half crazy baked). I will continue to post my treats and you might notice a slight tropical or Asian flare sometimes with the choices I bring to my recipes, but American style treats will continue to be a large presence on my blog.
By request from my friends and family-I am also going to try to post more pictures (other than just food porn), so you can enjoy my discovery of Taipei/Taiwan along with me. I am having such a blast discovering all the amazing food and especially the fruit here in Taiwan. I cannot get enough of the fruit. To kick off my most recent fascination of mangos, I chose this recipe from Donna Hay.
Last week I bought some ripe mangos at the out-door market here in my neighborhood and they were so amazingly sweet I had to go back for more this week. Did I mention I love the fruit here?! I keep telling my friends back in the States that the fruit here in Taiwan is so freaking amazing, and I have to admit I never had a mango that tasted so good until I moved here. The mangos here have a flesh that is soft and silky and not fibrous at all. The bananas in this recipe are there more for the creamy texture that they bring to the party rather than the taste, so restrain yourself from using bananas that are overripe as that is not what is required in this recipe.
Banana-Mango Frozen Yogurt
recipe: Donna Hay
yield: 4-6 servings
1 Cup thick plain yogurt, cold
2 ripe (not overipe) bananas
3 ripe mangos
1. Cut the bananas and mangos and place in ziplock bags. Freeze until firm-about 3 hours.
2. Place the yogurt first in a Vitamix or blender. Top with the frozen fruit and process until smooth. You may serve at that point which will give you a more soft serve texture. To continue until firm, place the finished frozen yogurt in an air-tight freezer safe container and freeze until firm.
Before you know it, the dog days of summer will be here, (WOOF!) and everything will seem unbearably hot. In the next instant– you will be scratching your head wondering where the summer went as you cover your plants to prevent frost. Does it not happen that fast?
The day the mercury reaches 90 is when you realize you do not have a tank top (silly you for waiting until July) and you will head to the mall to find winter coats on display. What- you were not aware you passed into that parallel universe of seasons?
Sitting on the porch, with your heels kicked up, the music playing a soft Marvin Gaye in the background…The kids are at the movie theatre with their friends, the husband is out playing golf and it’s just you and the dog staring at each other. Woof.
Yes, I hate to tell you, but you are panting just like the dog. Woof. That’s why he’s staring…
Pull this ice pop out of the freezer, kick back, close your eyes and enjoy the solitude, and try to forget you were too late in buying a tank top, ’cause it doesn’t really matter…relaxing is what matters.
Tank top be damned.
Pineapple Mint Ice Pops
yield: ~ 6-9 pops (depending on size of molds)
one pineapple (rind removed, cored) cut into chunks + it’s own juice OR one 20 oz. can chunk pineapple packed in juice
Sugar (to taste-1/4 Cup to 1/3 Cup)
8-10 mint leaves, washed
In a blender place the pineapple including all the juice, and the sugar and blend until smooth. Add the mint and pulse the blender until mint is the size of very small flecks (about 3 pulses). Let the mixture sit about 10 minutes (bubbles will float to the surface). Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and tap the molds on the counter to release any bubbles. Freeze for 40 minutes and insert wooden popsicle sticks. Continue to freeze until firm.
Being a foodie, I like to be intrigued by trying foods I’ve never had before. The kumquat suddenly intrigued me. For years I had always walked by that little mysterious orange fruit and never paid it any attention. This year though something happened that was unexpected. It was kind of whispering my name from afar. Just me and the little fruit in the produce aisle. Beckoning me to come over and say hi. A slight flirt and tease-as to say, well hello there-why have you not noticed me before? Kind of like the quirky guy in chemistry class who you suddenly notice one day is kind of cute and a lot less quirky and lo and behold he was there all along. You just never noticed before because you were too busy with your bunsen burner. Sorry for the ninth grade flashback. Anywho~ the kumquat. It was daring me to buy it and take it home and make something yummy with it. So I did. It was cute and quirky, but very tasty.
Tangerine Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream & Candied Kumquats
1 pint kumquats, washed, stems removed
1/3 Cup water
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
Slice the washed kumquats into thin slices; about 3-4 slices for each kumquat, being careful to discard all seeds. In a heavy saucepan combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and add in the sliced kumquats. Reduce to simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes until the slices are translucent. Turn off the heat and remove from the heat and allow the kumquats to cool in the syrup. Store kumquats in the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks. (The citrus syrup is great over crepes or drizzled over a warm biscuit with butter).
(yield: ~ 36 mini cupcakes)
1 1/2 Cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 Lg eggs
zest of one tangerine
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed tangerine juice
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp. vanilla will do)
1/3 Cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a mini muffin tin(s) with paper liners or use a silicon pan if you can.
2. Sift (or whisk) together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy on medium high speed until fluffy; about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stop the mixer from time to time to scrape the bowl as needed. Add in the zest, orange juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in two additions; ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
4. Fill each cupcake well to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 7 minutes then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling. Frost with buttercream when cooled and garnish with a slice of candied kumquat.
2 Lg. egg whites
1/2 Cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
orange gel food coloring paste (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla, then beat until smooth. Add the optional orange food gel paste if using, stir to combine.
For weeks it’s been raining in San Francisco. Finally we hit a break this week and the weather yesterday was so amazing. The Husband spent some time cleaning up the garden and spiffing up the backyard. I swear the grill was whispering my name. Calling me, beckoning me to grill a hunk of meat. It just so happens I had a nice seasoned tri tip in the freezer (pssst: Guy Fieri tri tip at Costco is the bomb!) so I took it out last night to defrost. Here’s the menu: Santa Maria tri tip, roasted vegetable ratatouille and rice. I am the grill master in my house. The Husband does not have the grilling gene. It’s okay by me though, he does a good job of clean up once the meal is over. This special meal deserved a good dessert. I wanted something rustic, simple and tasty. Blackberry cobbler seemed to fit with the menu. I had some frozen blackberries in the freezer so it worked out perfect. You can certainly use fresh in this recipe. This is the type of dessert you throw on the table and scoop it out into bowls along with vanilla ice cream. Bring on summer…
one (16 oz.) bag frozen blackberries, thawed
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 Cup Bisquick baking mix
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 Cup cold milk
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. butter a 2.5 quart casserole dish or an 8 inch cake pan. Toss berries and all juices obtained while thawing, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Bake for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl; combine bisquick mix, lemon zest and milk. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baked berries. Brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix and return to oven to bake for about 25 minutes longer or until a toothpick comes out clean once biscuit portion is pierced. Serve warm with ice cream.
I’m still not good at weekly banana management. Probably never will be. Don’t you find it fascinating that a green banana can ripen so fast? It’s like all of a sudden you’ve stepped into this fruit time warp. One day you’re cruisin past the kitchen table, you glance at the fruit bowl. Nah, don’t feel like a banana today, maybe tomorrow….you’re feeling like yogurt. So off you go, off to work and the next day, you glance at the bowl again. You pick one up put it in your bag for lunch at work. Work gets crazy; you don’t eat it and then it sits on your desk. Tomorrow you promise yourself, “I’ll really eat it tomorrow”, “Really I will”. It’s utterly astounding how this happens; this fruit time warp. Somehow a stargate has opened, you’ve entered a parallel universe and you’ve lost all track of time during the week. You swear you just passed by that bowl and they were green! All of a sudden you are staring down a bowl of dark bananas and you know. That inner voice speaks to you. It says, “YOU BETTER MAKE BANANA BREAD” or throw those suckers out. I can’t throw em out. I know, you too? Guilt gets me every time. Banana guilt. I decided banana muffins instead of the bread. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. Enjoy, guilt free.
(recipe adapted from: The Sono Baking Company Cookbook)
yield: 16-18 muffins
Banana Walnut Streusel Muffins
1/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 Cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Lg. eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 Cup buttermilk, sour cream, or whole milk yogurt
1 Cup walnuts, chopped
1. To make the streusel: In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the cubes of butter and using your fingertips work the mixture into pea-size crumbs; set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
2. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla and bananas.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, beating until the flour is absorbed. Beat in the buttermilk. Fold in the walnuts.
6. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup fill the muffin cups. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the muffins, pressing it into the batter slightly.
7. Bake one tray at a time. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 450 degrees, then immediately turn down the oven to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 14-16 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Using a table knife gently lift and turn the muffins on their sides in the muffin cups. Let cool completely in the pan.
Spiced Blood Orange Marmalade
Blood oranges are one of those things when they are good, they are really good and when they are bad, well…. they are not that great.
I’ve been stalking the markets lately in hopes of finding some and yesterday I found some a the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. I was so excited the moment I saw them. If you have never had a blood orange, you must try one if you get the chance! When picking a good one, look for the reddish blush of color on the outside skin, if you don’t see any reddish hue; seek out another one. When they are ripe, they are really sweet. They are great sectioned into salads and when juiced, they yield a pretty ruby red color. One of the great ways to enjoy one is juice one and add to a glass with ice and fill with either sparkling soda, lemon-lime soda or skip the ice and replace with chilled champagne.
I was in the mood for making marmalade but not the conventional way that takes a while and is a lengthy process. I found this recipe in the cookbook Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma. Her recipe uses pink peppercorn and coriander seeds but I decided to go a different route and used cardamom, vanilla and cinnamon. The beauty of this recipe is that it is a small batch and it does not require too much effort. I like to call it “Lazy man’s marmalade”.
Spiced Blood Orange Marmalade (recipe adapted from cookbook: Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma)
yield: About 2 cups
3 Medium blood oranges
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup blood orange juice
1/2 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice ( I used one meyer lemon and 3 small lemons to equal 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
Wash the oranges well. Slice the oranges with their skin into rounds, then cut the slices into small, even dice.
Notice the orange on the left side of the board; this one is a good example that is not that sweet; the skin on the outside did not have hardly any red hue to it and you can see the flesh inside is not red.
Place the diced oranges in a large saucepan, then add the sugar, blood orange juice, and lemon juice. Stir well. Add in the vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and cardamom. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the marmalade to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from scorching.
Cook the marmalade until the peel of the oranges is tender and translucent and the liquid is thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated.
p.s. I think this would be amazing spread on biscuits the next time you serve fried chicken, pull this out!
Fraisier Gateaux with Creme Mousseline
This month’s “Daring Baker’s Challenge” is the Fraisier. The July challenge is hosted by Jana of cherry tea cakes. www.cherryteacakes.com
The recipe is written by the very talented duo here in San Francisco; Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of famed Tartine Bakery.
It is a light chiffon cake layered with cream mousseline filling with fresh strawberries. It is light and perfect on a hot day when you don’t want anything heavy. It is also very impressive to bring to a potluck, and perfect to make ahead of time because the filling has to set to become firm, and the cake will not dry out.
The Daring Bakers July 2011 Challenge:
Fraisier (recipe from Cookbook Tartine)
Basic Chiffon Cake:
1 C + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 C sugar (measure out 3 Tbsp. from this to reserve for whipping with egg whites)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1/3 Cup + 1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. lemon zest
5 large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Method for Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and all but 3 Tbsp. of the sugar. Stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and whisk to combine about 1 minute until smooth.
6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form; add in the 3 Tbsp. of sugar and beat on med-high until the whites before firm and shiny.
7. Using a clean; (make sure it’s grease free) spatula; fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter from step 5. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until combined.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and Bake at 325 º for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring ring from the sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. The cake can be refrigerated for up to four days. Wrap in plastic wrap if storing in the fridge before assembling.
1 Cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 C sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. gelatin
1/2 Tbsp. water
1 Cup heavy cream
1. Pour the milk, vanilla bean paste, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine.
3. Add the egg to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put 2 inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
11. Measure a 1/4 Cup of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit over the simmering water [double boiler method] without touching the water.
12. Heat the cream until it is 120 º on an instant thermometer. Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath and whisk in the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate with two additions; whisk each time to combine.
13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment; whip the heavy cream until medium stiff peaks. Immediately fold in the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.
1/3 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1 Tbsp. Madeira
1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil to let the sugar dissolve.
2. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly, add in the Madeira.
3. Transfer the syrup to a covered container to be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be kept for up to a month.
Components: Baked 8-9 inch chiffon cake, recipe cream filling, 1/3 Cup simple syrup, 2 lbs strawberries, confectioners sugar for dusting, 5 oz. almond paste.
1. Line the sides of a 8 inch (or 9 inch) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Split the cake in half horizontally forming two equal layers.
3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup.
4. Hull and slice in half enough berries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry up against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
5. Pipe cream in between the strawberries and a thin spiral layer across the top of the cake.
6. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle over the cream layer. Cover the berries with all but a Tablespoon of the cream filling.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners sugar. Tint the almond paste with one drop of green food coloring and knead until the color is fully incorporated, and roll out the almond paste to about 1/16 inch thick to the same size of your cake (8 or 9 inch). Spread the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cream filling on cake. Place the round of almond paste on top of the cake.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours so the cream can firm up.
10. When ready to serve, release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.