Thursday, December 23, 2010

ginger persimmon bread

Last week I tried to ‘stump the bartender’ with some persimmons. While the bartender was only mildly puzzled, a number of onlookers mistook them for tomatoes. While not unfamiliar with this fruit, I’ve never been wild about them. My experience was limited to mom handing me a peeled one, declaring it “dessert” and that I “should eat it.” Go, Asian desserts! They’re mildly flavored, kinda pretty, and just not very exciting.

Then came along persimmon bread in all its warm, spicy, and inexplicably addicting goodness. It’s like pumpkin bread, in that you don’t taste the persimmon, exactly, but you can’t stop going back for one more, tiny slice. Go on and become a persimmon convert.

The recipe calls for the more astringent Hachiya persimmon, but I subbed with Fuyu to great effect.

Ginger Persimmon Bread
From Joy the Baker

1/2 c persimmon pulp
1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt

1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 heaping tsp finely grated fresh ginger

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x4x3-in. loaf pan.

In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together persimmon pulp and baking soda. This will cause it to gel.

In another bowl whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, spices, and fresh ginger. Whisk in the persimmon mixture. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, one third at a time, mixing as you go along.

Pour into loaf pan and bake 55 to 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the loaf comes out clean.

a lisa frank christmas

This is essentially a recipe for homemade playdough dried out in the oven. I used kosher salt, which gave the dough a grainy texture, and would use table salt in the future. Lacking a more spirited palette of food dyes, I went with what I had. Welcome to my Lisa Frank Christmas, y’all!

Cookie Dough Ornaments
Adapted from Allrecipes

4 c AP flour
1 c salt
1 1/2c warm water

Combine flour and salt. Slowly pour in water while mixing. Stir until dough is evenly hydrated. Divide dough and mix in food coloring if your heart desires.

To make stripes, roll out ¼-in. thick rectangles of different colors. Stack them, cut the stack in half along its theoretical x-axis. Stack halves, then cut in half again along the y-axis. Stack the halves, then turn dough on its side so stripes are facing you. Roll out to ¼-in. thickness, and have at it! Don’t forget to poke holes for string.

Bake cookies at 325 F for 50-60 minutes, or until dry. Think hardtack.

Friday, December 17, 2010

chubby bunnies

I guess this rules out the chubby bunny relay race... ALSO. Eating marshmallows with chocolate chips poked inside are a sad, sad substitute for s'mores. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

let's make a cake!

If you think you know me at all, you know I don't do cakes. But sometimes I have this urge to spritz the kitchen with a fine mist of flour and wash lots of bowls. And that, folks, is how cake is made.

The second best part of making cake is eating the leftover lemon Mascarpone frosting over sourdough pancakes.

Cake sandwich, nom!

Cake is for victory! The best part of making cake is the birthday. Happy birthday, L!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

pumpkin cream pie

Think of your love for pumpkin pie. Now make it lighter. Smoother. Creamier. Put it in a spiced cookie crust. Top it with whipped cream. And there you go.

Pumpkin Cream Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Gingersnap crust
1 1/4 c gingersnaps, ground (I used graham crackers spiked with spices to great effect)
2 tbs sugar
pinch of salt
4 tbs butter, melted

Pumpkin filling
2 c milk

1/2 c sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c pumpkin (1 15-oz. can)

Make the crust:
Heat oven to 350 F. Combine cookies, sugar, and salt. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture into 9-in. pie pan. Bake 10-15 min, till crust is brown and toasty.

Make the filling:
Mix sugar, cornstarch, spices, and salt together in a bowl. Rub mixture with fingers to evenly distribute cornstarch. Very important for a smooth cream! Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla.

In a separate pot, bring milk to a boil. Temper yolk mixture with some of the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return mixture to the pot, whisking away over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Mixture will turn thick, like pudding.

Whisk in pumpkin, then strain through a fine mesh sieve for maximum smoothness. Pour filling into crust, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate to set. Top with whipped cream when you're good and ready!

Friday, November 12, 2010

coconut almond shortbread

Toasted coconut and almonds, a bain marie, and coarse sea salt can only indicate these are swank cookies. I hope you have a dishwasher, though these cookies make an excellent bribe.

The original recipe calls for cutting in the butter into the flour, a task I'm not keen on. Instead I did the classic creaming of the butter + sugar together, with pleasing results.

Coconut Almond Shortbread
Rather adapted from Pastry Studio

1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c whole almonds, toasted
1 c unsweetened coconut
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t salt
12 tbs unsalted butter ( 1.5 sticks!)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

4 oz semisweet chocolate
coarse salt

Toss almonds, coconut, and sugar in a blender. Blend till finely ground. Careful not to make almond coconut butter, though that's probably not a bad idea either...

Combine blended ingredients, flour, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar till nice and fluffy. Mix in the yolks and vanilla. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients.

Divide the dough into 2 balls, flatten each into a rectangle, wrap in plastic, then chill in fridge.

Roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness, then cut into shape of your choice. Pop on the fridge for a few minutes if the dough is getting too sticky. Put cookies on a cookie sheet. Chill.

Heat oven to 325 F. Bake cookies 13-16 minutes, pending on size and shape of cookie, till they start looking a bit toasty. Cool completely.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and coat cookies. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Nom!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the new digs

It has recently been brought to my attention that a few of you actually follow this thing and enjoy perusing my inane culinary happenings. I'm happy to report my cooking frequency is up, and my photography skills are about as poor as ever! That said, maybe, possibly some of it will make its way here. In the mean time, this is what I've been up to.

First, I moved from here:

To the other side:

It's pretty swell. If you roll up one pant leg, you can go see this:

Then on the weekends you can live the American dream and be buried in corn.
Life is good. How are you?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the missing piece

"The missing piece sat alone... learned to hide from the hungry ones."

(props to Shel Silverstein)

Lemon Drizzle Cake
Adapted from Sweet Treats Just Like My Mother Used to Make by Linda Collister

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup cane sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 meyer lemon
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder

Crunchy Citrus Topping
4 tbs cane sugar
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat oven to 350°F.

Mix together flour and baking powder.

In separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together till creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add lemon zest. Fold the flour into the mixture until well combined.

Spoon the batter into buttered pan (I used a springform. 8x8-in pan good, too). Smooth it out. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, pending on pan size, until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make topping by combining sugar and juices together.

While the cake is still hot, prick the top all over with a fork. Pour topping over cake. Let it cool in the pan. Top will appear crystalized and get nice and crunchy.

Monday, March 15, 2010


For all three of you that actually read this, I cracked the jaundiced garlic mystery via cross-application of knowledge. Whoa!

The UC Davis Postharvest website suggests I found a clove with the physiological disorder waxy breakdown. Affected cloves have yellow areas that darken over time, and as the disorder progresses they become translucent, sticky and waxy.
Low oxygen and insufficient ventilation during handling and storage may also contribute.

No word if you would die if you ate it, but I doubt it. A la Bill Nye, "Now you knowww.."

pizza pied

Hope you had a radiant Pi Day! Let's hear your best pi punchline...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Ever peel a garlic clove only to discover it's jaundiced and translucent? It also smells sweet like its roasted counterpart. wtf..?

Monday, March 1, 2010

gumbo z'herbes

Showcasing weak photography of saucy things in fluorescent light once again, I bring you the story of Maillard and the Green Gumbo.

Shrimp, andouille, and okra, alack! Not in gumbo z'herbes, a meatless variety full of a veritable bonanza of dark leafies. Thumbing through some recipes, I was a bit dubious how delicious a sink full of cooked down greens and some roux could possibly be. It seemed too simple to be, well, anything but green and bitter. Roux is pretty sweet.

By applying heat to flour in oil and an obsessive amount of stirring, amino acids and sugars participate in Maillard reactions, turning the mixture the color of peanut butter, and imbuing it with a complex, richly nutty flavor. This is the basis for the depth and savoriness of the dish, incredible enough that the seafood and sausage won't be missed.

Recipe authenticity is dubious at best, but it's good enough for Texas expat tastebuds in the land of happy cows.

Gumbo Z'herbes
Pretty much from Regan Burns

5 bunches greens - ie. collard greens, chicory, dandelion greens, mustard greens, spinach, parsley, beet tops, carrot tops, or turnip tops
3 cups water

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced, green tops reserved for garnish
1 large green bell pepper, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs Cajun seasoning (if you don't have it, try making it!)
2 whole cloves
3 allspice berries
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced marjoram leaves
Louisiana hot sauce (ie. Tobasco, Crystal's..)

Cook the greens:

Fill sink with cold water and submerge all greens. Leave undisturbed for about 5 minutes, then lift from the water and place in a colander. This lets the silt sink to the bottom, leaving your leafies clean. Repeat if needed.

Chop or tear greens into large pieces. Discard tough ribs of veggies. Place in a big pot. Add 3 cups water and place over medium-high heat. When it begins to simmer, cover with lid and reduce heat to medium low. Cook greens, occasionally turning with a pair of tongs, until they are very soft and wilted, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Strain greens, being sure to reserve the (beautiful dark green!) cooking liquid, approx. 3 1/2 cups. Allow greens to cool slightly, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Take about 1/2 of the chopped greens and purée in blender.

Make yo' gumbo:
In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. When it is hot, slowly sprinkle in flour, whisking to prevent any lumps from forming. Reduce heat to medium low and cook roux, stirring constantly until it is peanut butter colored and emits a toasted aroma, about 10 to 20 minutes.

Stir in onion, scallions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Pot will then smell oddly like kung pao chicken. Season with salt pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are
softened, about 5 minutes.

Add reserved green cooking liquid along with vegetable broth or water. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in salt, Cajun seasoning, cloves, allspice, and bay leaves and simmer, stirring often, until gumbo base is soupy and thick and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chopped and puréed greens and marjoram; cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Add hot sauce to taste and serve over cooked white rice, garnished with thinly sliced scallion tops.

Monday, February 22, 2010

badger badger...

MUSHROOM! Chanterelles drying in the living room after a successful mushroom hunt. Haven't been poisoned yet..!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Happy year of the tiger! In the spirit of Chinese New Year, I tried my hand at making some dim sum.

First there were the turnip cakes (usually seen in square form at restaurants), which are actually made from shredded daikon - a mild radish. Why the root vegetable misnomenclature, I don't know.

Then. THEN. Let there be egg custard tarts! Mmmm... flaky crust, creamy filling... Maybe a touch sweet for my taste, but that didn't stop me from eating three. I got my recipe straight from pastry studio
Here's what you do:

1. Make some pie dough. Roll out, cut into 3 /2-in. circles, and pat them into a muffin tin. There's so much butter, no need to grease.

2. Bake the little cups at 375 for about 15 minutes.

3. Make your magical pastry cream. I added 1/2 tsp almond extract instead of rum in the recipe. See here for pastry cream success.

4. Spoon cream into little cups, and bake for 15 minutes more.

5. Lick spatula and pot clean while waiting.

6. Devour tarts while hot.

7. High-5 self.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

hot tomato! blue tomato!

This recipe has made the blog rounds already, but thought I'd throw it up here anyway. In other news, I do not know how to take photos of tomato soup (under CFL lighting at night..) that do not look like ruminated remains. But not just any soup. No! Creamy tomato soup spiked with cock sauce and blue cheese!

The cheese brings the umami, but leaves behind the blue funk. And well, this soup is just another example of cock sauce making things more delicious.

This wants you to pull out your fancy blue cheese and canned tomatoes. I went to the cheese counter, gave all the blue ones a squeeze, and settled on a soft squishy gorgonzola dolce that looked like it would melt. The fancy tomato cans were in questionable condition, so I used some generic ones instead. I also didn't bother straining the soup. You, however, should follow the recipe as written, as I'm sure it will result in a soup even more luscious than mine.

Finally, do not be a noob like me and put the cheese rind in the soup.

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup
From Michael Symon's Live To Cook

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 c chicken stock
3/4 c heavy cream
2 tbs Sriracha sauce
1 tbs fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue cheese

Heat oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and pinch of salt and sweat the onions for 2 minutes.

Add garlic and sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cream, Sriracha sauce, and oregano and simmer for 45 minutes.

Pour soup into a blender, add the blue cheese, and blend until smooth, working in batches if needed. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reheat to serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

candied orange peel

Candied citrus peel is so classy, and apparently easy enough that a pyro-saccharo-phobe like myself can't botch it. I've been enjoying it chopped up in my granola, and think it'd be really sexy in some muffins or scones. Annnd I don't think you can feel much more industrious and circle of lifey than using the rind of the fresh squeezed orange juice you just made.
How to do it:

1. Cut 3 oranges in half. Juice.
2. Use a spoon to scoop out the leftover orangey membrane, so you just have the rind. Easier than it sounds.
3. Cut into 1/4-in strips
4. Heat 3c sugar + 1c water to 230F (important! use a thermometer)
5. Stir in strips and cook till rind looks translucent, and all candy-like. Approx 30-60 min.
6. Lay strips out on cooling racks on top of cookie sheets, not touching, until they dry out. Overnight seems to work.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

romanticizing wine

Sun-kissed hills of grapes of ancient lineage. A purple-footed Frenchman in the back stomping grapes. Orange safety vests. Oh, yes.

I got a little food scientist insider tour of a Beringer Winery, one of the mondo companies that turns out vino from all over the world under many different labels. Given my poor understanding of winemaking, the finer details of this tour didn't exactly stick in my memory, but here's an interesting glimpse beyond the tasting room with what I vaguely recall to be going on.
Piping in the juicy juice.
Ammonia is pretty sweet at getting really cold then absorbing heat from warmer things (ie. pipe of wine) to keep things nice and chilly.Rows of fermentation vats. All outside, interestingly enough.
Pumping some of the nicer wine into casks for aging. Cheers!

double your pleasure

Now that I think of it, the steam in Catalina Coffee's logo kinda resembles... gametes. Mmm...