Weekend at Jamie’s
A few weeks ago I went over to my friend, Jamie’s for a sleepover. Jamie lives really far away from me, in Walnut , a little suburb outside of Los Angeles, with not much to do other than eat and shop and eat. It’s a trek to go out there, especially when you hit the going-home traffic during weekdays, for this reason I don’t get to go see her that often, so when I do it’s always a treat. 
When Donna and I arrived, Jamie had oatmeal cookies and a Rustic Peach Cake waiting for us, a neat surprise after our long drive there. We spent the rest of the day eating dinner in her backyard, which was full of all sorts of welcomed and unwelcomed wildlife. You see, not being in the city, you realize what other animals live along side you.
We saw a few bunnies running around and hiding behind the bushes. We saw gopher holes, but no gophers, they were probably hiding inside their holes. Then during dinner, a hawk landed on the fence. We kept a watchful eye on him, lest he try to steal my tiny dog, Miles. But the hawk didn’t do anything, he just perched there for a long time.
After dinner it was a couple rounds of Uno. Then we wanted something a bit more challenging, so we broke out the Scramble (this is what our friend Donna likes to call Scrabble). I’m not good with Scrabble, but both Jamie and Donna are. They thought it was funny when I got mad because Donna had used her blank tile as an “s" to make bed plural, "beds.” Then it was Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo before bed.
Kudos to Jamie for putting on such a fun and relaxing get-together. She scrubbed her kitchen, just for us!
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» Get the Recipe: Jamie’s Spinach Sauce 

Weekend at Jamie’s

A few weeks ago I went over to my friend, Jamie’s for a sleepover. Jamie lives really far away from me, in Walnut , a little suburb outside of Los Angeles, with not much to do other than eat and shop and eat. It’s a trek to go out there, especially when you hit the going-home traffic during weekdays, for this reason I don’t get to go see her that often, so when I do it’s always a treat. 

When Donna and I arrived, Jamie had oatmeal cookies and a Rustic Peach Cake waiting for us, a neat surprise after our long drive there. We spent the rest of the day eating dinner in her backyard, which was full of all sorts of welcomed and unwelcomed wildlife. You see, not being in the city, you realize what other animals live along side you.

We saw a few bunnies running around and hiding behind the bushes. We saw gopher holes, but no gophers, they were probably hiding inside their holes. Then during dinner, a hawk landed on the fence. We kept a watchful eye on him, lest he try to steal my tiny dog, Miles. But the hawk didn’t do anything, he just perched there for a long time.

After dinner it was a couple rounds of Uno. Then we wanted something a bit more challenging, so we broke out the Scramble (this is what our friend Donna likes to call Scrabble). I’m not good with Scrabble, but both Jamie and Donna are. They thought it was funny when I got mad because Donna had used her blank tile as an “s" to make bed plural, "beds.” Then it was Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo before bed.

Kudos to Jamie for putting on such a fun and relaxing get-together. She scrubbed her kitchen, just for us!

———————————

» Get the Recipe: Jamie’s Spinach Sauce 


Recipe: Jamie’s Spinach Sauce

During my sleepover at Jamie’s, she whipped up a simple and tasty dinner for all of us. Jamie does everything fast, she cooked this whole dinner while Donna and I were setting up the table. It’s a simple spinach sauce, toss it with some pasta and add your favorite meat, she used sausages, but I think chicken breast would work great too. But my favorite part about this dish is the beautiful green color, it’s so appetizing and looks so pretty on the dinner table.

Here’s the recipe for Jamie’s beautiful spinach sauce, as given to me by the inventor herself, short and sweet, as always.

Fettuccine with Spinach Sauce

  • 12 oz. bag of spinach
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, diced
  • 1/4 a yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz creme fraiche
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 4 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or use fresh Basil, thyme, etc. to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of black pepper)
  • 1 package fettuccine

Cook the fettuccine according to package.

Heat up a big pan and coat with cooking spray/oil/butter/whichever you prefer. Toss in the bacon and cook until enough fat liquefies into the pan. Take out bacon to top pasta later and leave in the fat and oil in the pan.

Throw in the onion and garlic. Cook until slightly caramelized.

Add chicken stock and spinach and cook for 2 minutes.

Put spinach, onion, chicken stock, lemon juice and zest into blender and blend until smooth.

Add creme fraiche, herbs, salt and pepper. Blend well until the creme fraiche has been well incorporated.

Toss the pasta and sauce together (as much sauce as you want). Plate and top with bacon. If you wanna be a little extravagant, sprinkle a bit of goat cheese on top as well. Serves 4 to 6, depending on how much your people like to eat.

Read the story behind the recipe: Weekend at Jamie’s


Q
You are an EXCELLENT photographer! The photos that you took look professional!
Anonymous
A

awwww, why are you anonymous? But thanks anyway, that’s such a nice thing to hear.


My Dad & I… the Slowest Cooks in the World
Every time my dad comes to Los Angeles for a visit, he always flies the 2-day flight from Surabaya (where I was born) to LA, by way of Japan.
I’m sort of a brat, I never really appreciate how much work flying half-way across the world is. Until not too long ago, I’ve always taken for granted the fact that I really have the most supportive parents of anyone I know. Anything I, or my brother and sister, want to do, they’ll back us up. Not so much in words, our family is not big on talking, but they’re there for us in other ways, in more “practical” ways, namely financially. We never discuss money, all my life I’ve always made to believe that we’re poor, not in a we-can’t-afford-to-buy-food sort of way, but they just want to make sure I know that money don’t grow on trees. But somehow, every time I want to do something, like say, go to college, they always have the means to help me.  
As a kid I never gave these things a second thought, I felt like it was my right to be taken care of by my parents. Sometimes I even felt like they don’t support me enough, especially because for most of my life, I was apart from them. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 12 while my parents stayed back home, and that’s how we’ve been living since. Sometimes I felt like they’re not there for me, the way other kids’ parents are. But I’m realizing now that even though they weren’t here in person to take care of me, they were taking care of me in other ways.
So here I am, 12 years after I moved away from my parents. And my dad still brings me goodies from home when he comes to visit me. Not only that, when he was here last month, on his last night here, we cooked a meal together. 
On his first day of visit, on the drive back to my house from the airport he was telling me about this fried snack that’s really popular right now back in Indo, it’s called Resoles Mayo. The way he described it to me was, they take hard boiled eggs, and they mash up the yolk with some mayo and mustard and seasonings, and then dice up the egg whites, along with some ham and carrots, then they add cheese, and mix it all together. Then they put the filling in a lumpia (Indonesian egg roll) wrapper (it’s thin and round like a crepe, but not sweet). You roll it up and deep fry it. “Enak!” he said, “delicious” in Indonesian.
My dad is a picky eater, he only likes Indonesian and Chinese food, so for him to say he likes something, that must mean it’s really good. He really wanted me to know what he was talking about, so we spent his last night in LA dicing, slicing, frying, for 5 hours, to make resoles mayo. 
He never made it before, only ordered it from restaurants, so he could only guess what really goes into this resoles. But we just made it up as we go along. We never really measured anything, we eye balled and played it by ear. And 5 hours later, after we took turns frying the little bundles of resoles, we were finally done and ready to eat. I thought it came out really good, considering we didn’t follow any recipe, and we made the wrappers from scratch!
Though, I wouldn’t care if it tasted good or not, I’m so grateful to have a dad who wants to spend 5 hours in the kitchen trying to figure out a recipe with me, just so I can have a taste of something he likes. I know, I’m something special, well to him at least. 
———————————
» Get the Recipe: Indonesian Deviled Egg Rolls (Resoles Mayo)

My Dad & I… the Slowest Cooks in the World

Every time my dad comes to Los Angeles for a visit, he always flies the 2-day flight from Surabaya (where I was born) to LA, by way of Japan.

I’m sort of a brat, I never really appreciate how much work flying half-way across the world is. Until not too long ago, I’ve always taken for granted the fact that I really have the most supportive parents of anyone I know. Anything I, or my brother and sister, want to do, they’ll back us up. Not so much in words, our family is not big on talking, but they’re there for us in other ways, in more “practical” ways, namely financially. We never discuss money, all my life I’ve always made to believe that we’re poor, not in a we-can’t-afford-to-buy-food sort of way, but they just want to make sure I know that money don’t grow on trees. But somehow, every time I want to do something, like say, go to college, they always have the means to help me.  

As a kid I never gave these things a second thought, I felt like it was my right to be taken care of by my parents. Sometimes I even felt like they don’t support me enough, especially because for most of my life, I was apart from them. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 12 while my parents stayed back home, and that’s how we’ve been living since. Sometimes I felt like they’re not there for me, the way other kids’ parents are. But I’m realizing now that even though they weren’t here in person to take care of me, they were taking care of me in other ways.

So here I am, 12 years after I moved away from my parents. And my dad still brings me goodies from home when he comes to visit me. Not only that, when he was here last month, on his last night here, we cooked a meal together. 

On his first day of visit, on the drive back to my house from the airport he was telling me about this fried snack that’s really popular right now back in Indo, it’s called Resoles Mayo. The way he described it to me was, they take hard boiled eggs, and they mash up the yolk with some mayo and mustard and seasonings, and then dice up the egg whites, along with some ham and carrots, then they add cheese, and mix it all together. Then they put the filling in a lumpia (Indonesian egg roll) wrapper (it’s thin and round like a crepe, but not sweet). You roll it up and deep fry it. “Enak!” he said, “delicious” in Indonesian.

My dad is a picky eater, he only likes Indonesian and Chinese food, so for him to say he likes something, that must mean it’s really good. He really wanted me to know what he was talking about, so we spent his last night in LA dicing, slicing, frying, for 5 hours, to make resoles mayo

He never made it before, only ordered it from restaurants, so he could only guess what really goes into this resoles. But we just made it up as we go along. We never really measured anything, we eye balled and played it by ear. And 5 hours later, after we took turns frying the little bundles of resoles, we were finally done and ready to eat. I thought it came out really good, considering we didn’t follow any recipe, and we made the wrappers from scratch!

Though, I wouldn’t care if it tasted good or not, I’m so grateful to have a dad who wants to spend 5 hours in the kitchen trying to figure out a recipe with me, just so I can have a taste of something he likes. I know, I’m something special, well to him at least. 

———————————

» Get the Recipe: Indonesian Deviled Egg Rolls (Resoles Mayo)


Recipe: Indonesian Deviled Egg Rolls (Resoles Mayo)

There are no measurements for this recipe, actually this is more of a guideline than a recipe. The thing is, not only we played it by ear, but I think you can adjust the quantity of all the ingredients to suite your liking. 

Indonesian Deviled Egg Rolls

For the filling:

  • hard boiled eggs
  • cooked ham/bacon/chicken breast, finely diced*
  • carrot, finely diced*
  • cheddar/gruyere/mozzarella cheese, finely grated*
  • mayonnaise**
  • mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, whisked (for egg wash)
  • 2 - 3 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)

* We used smoked gouda and pancetta, because that’s what I happen to have on the fridge, but feel free to substitute with other kinds of meat and cheese. The ratio should be 1 egg : 1/3 meat : 1/3 carrot : 1/3 cheese.

** We used regular american mayo that I had on the fridge. But my Dad was convinced that Asian mayonnaise would be way better. The Asian mayonnaise that my Mom usually gets is the Kewpie mayonnaise. You can get it in Asian stores. It’s taste quite different than american mayo, a little sweet, a little tangy, and very rich & thick.

For the lumpia wrappers*:

  • 1 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 − 2 cups of water
  • dash of salt and finely ground pepper

* To cut down on time (and frustration), use store bought egg roll wrappers or wonton wrappers.

To make the filling:

The trick to this recipe, according to my dad, is to make sure to dice all the filling very finely, and don’t put too much filling in each wrap. 

Peel and half all the hard-boiled eggs. Scoop out the yolk and set aside on a large mixing bowl.

Dice all the egg whites very finely. Then dice the carrot. Set aside.

Add mayonnaise to the reserved egg yolks, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Then add a little bit of mustard to taste, about half a tablespoon at a time. You want the ratio to be roughly 1 egg yolk : 3/4 mayonnaise : 1/4 mustard

Mash the egg yolks, mustard, and mayonnaise together, until you get a smooth, thick paste.

Then add in all the diced ingredients: egg whites, carrot, and grated cheese, to the mayo mixture. Mix them together until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To make the lumpia wrappers:

This was the most challenging and time consuming part of the recipe. You can use store-bought ones, but if you’re feeling like making a mess and experimenting, do make your own wrappers. I have to tell you though, it took us a few tries and a ton of patience before getting the hang of it.

Whisk together flour and egg. Then start adding the water, about 1/2 a cup at first, and then keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time, until batter is thin enough, so that it drips off the whisk when you lift it up. You want it to be the consistency of a crepe batter. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.

Place a non-stick skillet on medium heat. If your non-stick is like mine, and starting to loose its non-stickiness, lightly wipe the surface with a dab of butter, to make sure the wrapper won’t get stuck on to it.

Use a ladle and pour batter on to the pan, and as you’re pouring, start swirling the pan, to coat the bottom as evenly as possible. You want to have a circle of batter covering the bottom of the pan. If there are any holes in the circle, drip a bit of batter on the area to patch up the hole. It took me about 15 wrappers before I started to get the hang of it.

When the wrapper is just cooked through and the edges lift away from the pan, remove it carefully (you need not turn it over). Repeat with the remaining batter. 

To assemble the egg rolls:

Once all the wrapper has been made, start assembling the rolls. Place about a tablespoon of filling onto the bottom third of the wrapper. Then fold the bottom corner over the filling and roll firmly to the halfway point.

Tuck the left and right sides snugly over the egg roll, then finish rolling. You should end up with something that looks like a tiny burrito. Repeat until you’ve used up all the remaining wrappers and fillings.

Brush each egg roll with the egg wash. Then roll each egg roll in the bread crumbs.

Heat a small pot filled with oil. Once the oil is really hot, fry egg rolls 3 or 4 at a time until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Drain on paper towels. Serve with some white rice or by themselves as appetizers! And finally, after 5 hours, we’re ready to eat!

Read the story behind the recipe: My Dad & I… the Slowest Cooks in the World


Scone Crit! 
If you’re friends with me, that’s the sort of email subject you’ll be getting on your inbox. Because currently I’m taking a baking course at The New School of Cooking in Culver City. It’s a very fun, very educational, and very expensive course. I’d rather not say how much it cost, but you can check it out for yourself, if you’re interested.
On our first week we learned to make scones, and I’ve been meaning to practice, so I’ve been on a scone kick in the past week. Thankfully, I’ve got great friends who put up with these sorts of baking frenzies and help me eat all the baked goods. One friend in particular, even helped me critique them. 
Normally I avoid showing my work to friends and asking them that dreaded question, “So, what do you think?” One should never put one’s friend in such a position. Friends are supposed to be supportive, not give you their honest opinions, that is unless they’re super special. My friend Jamie is super special. Somehow she manages to always be supportive of everything I do, and still be very helpful in telling me what she really thinks. 
So when I gave Jamie the task of critiquing my scones, she took the job very seriously and gave me a bunch of helpful insights. I gave her chocolate strawberry scones and chocolate cashew with raisins scones. She thought the chocolate cashew scone was more like a traditional scone, “it was lighter in both weight and taste, as well as crumblier.” As for the strawberry chocolate scone, she says, “the combination of chocolate with fruit is appetizing in theory, but it was the form of chocolate (the chips) that wasn’t exactly right?” She suggested to drizzle the chocolate on top, to get both the strawberry and chocolate flavors. Up to this point, I had not thought of using glazes to flavor the scones. She also suggested using zests, icing, and juices to flavor the scones. Cranberries with orange zest, apricot with lemon juice, zesty peach icing, cherries and lime? 
Wow, all I had to do was send her an email with the subject line of “scone crit” and she came back with a bag full of ideas. I had a sudden flash of a scene from Ratatouille when Remy and Emile just got struck by a lightning, which incidentally roasted the mushroom they were cooking into perfection. I want that. I want to find flavors that are so awesome, they’re “lightningy.” 
So here’s to friends who are full of great ideas and honest opinions. I dedicate the following recipes to Jamie, the muse to my scones.
———————————
» Get the Recipes:
Traditional & Versatile Blueberry Lemon Scone with Peach Glaze
Chocolate & Cashew Quinoa Scones
A Non-Traditional Chocolate Chip & Strawberry Scones
Light Cherry Scones - Two Ways (with Lime Icing or Chocolate Ganache)
Super Moist Blackberry Scones (a failed attempt at America’s Test Kitchen scones)

Scone Crit! 

If you’re friends with me, that’s the sort of email subject you’ll be getting on your inbox. Because currently I’m taking a baking course at The New School of Cooking in Culver City. It’s a very fun, very educational, and very expensive course. I’d rather not say how much it cost, but you can check it out for yourself, if you’re interested.

On our first week we learned to make scones, and I’ve been meaning to practice, so I’ve been on a scone kick in the past week. Thankfully, I’ve got great friends who put up with these sorts of baking frenzies and help me eat all the baked goods. One friend in particular, even helped me critique them. 

Normally I avoid showing my work to friends and asking them that dreaded question, “So, what do you think?” One should never put one’s friend in such a position. Friends are supposed to be supportive, not give you their honest opinions, that is unless they’re super special. My friend Jamie is super special. Somehow she manages to always be supportive of everything I do, and still be very helpful in telling me what she really thinks. 

So when I gave Jamie the task of critiquing my scones, she took the job very seriously and gave me a bunch of helpful insights. I gave her chocolate strawberry scones and chocolate cashew with raisins scones. She thought the chocolate cashew scone was more like a traditional scone, “it was lighter in both weight and taste, as well as crumblier.” As for the strawberry chocolate scone, she says, “the combination of chocolate with fruit is appetizing in theory, but it was the form of chocolate (the chips) that wasn’t exactly right?” She suggested to drizzle the chocolate on top, to get both the strawberry and chocolate flavors. Up to this point, I had not thought of using glazes to flavor the scones. She also suggested using zests, icing, and juices to flavor the scones. Cranberries with orange zest, apricot with lemon juice, zesty peach icing, cherries and lime? 

Wow, all I had to do was send her an email with the subject line of “scone crit” and she came back with a bag full of ideas. I had a sudden flash of a scene from Ratatouille when Remy and Emile just got struck by a lightning, which incidentally roasted the mushroom they were cooking into perfection. I want that. I want to find flavors that are so awesome, they’re “lightningy.” 

So here’s to friends who are full of great ideas and honest opinions. I dedicate the following recipes to Jamie, the muse to my scones.

———————————

» Get the Recipes:


Recipe: Traditional & Versatile Blueberry Lemon Scone with Peach Glaze

For my scone experiment, I tried out a few different base recipes for scones. Some turned out more traditional (light and crumbly), while others were more moist and heavier. I wasn’t really in a quest to find the perfect scone recipe, it was more of an exploration of flavors, not only what flavors goes well together, but also how they’re being used to flavor the scones. Fresh fruits, dried fruits, frozen fruits, zests, juices, icing, are all great ways to flavor. Can you imagine the possibilities of all the different flavors and textures to play with? 

I don’t really think there’s one recipe that’s more correct than others. Though this particular recipe is one that I found most successful when used with different fruits dried or fresh, so it’s good to have on your repertoire. This recipe is for a traditional scone, so it’s got a crumbly, almost melts in your mouth texture.

Blueberry Lemon Scone with Peach Glaze (makes 8 scones)

For the scone:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3oz chilled unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup blueberries or other fruits*
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 egg yolk

*I highly recommend fresh blueberries over frozen ones. If it’s fresh, set them in the freezer - they do not need to freeze, just get sufficiently chilled.  If you insist on using frozen blueberries, let it them thaw out just a little bit, don’t let them get mushy.

For the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp peach juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

To make the scones:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add lemon zest.

In a separate bowl beat cream and egg yolk.

Cut butter into 1” pieces, and using your fingers or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they’re pea-sized.

Gently fold in the chilled blueberries.

Add cream and egg into the butter mixture, sprinkling the wet ingredients all over, not just in one place. Then use your hand like a paddle, gently form the dough into a ball. Don’t over mix or crush the blueberries. It’s okay if the dough is quite crumbly at this point. It’s better than having a wet and super sticky dough, because it would be harder to handle.

Roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Shape into a disk about an inch high. 

Cut into 8 wedges. Brush the tops of each wedge with egg wash made by stirring an egg yolk with half tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

To glaze:

Whisk the sugar and peach juice until the mixture is smooth. Once scones are done and completely cooled, brush the glaze over the cooled scones.

Allow to set for 10 minutes. Scones can be stored on an air-tight container for up to 2 days, unglazed ones can be frozen up to 5 days.

Read the story behind the recipe: Scone Crit!


Recipe: Chocolate & Cashew Quinoa Scones

This recipe is using the same base scone recipe as the blueberry lemon ones. Except this time, I replaced 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour with some quinoa flour, adding a new flavor to the mix.

Chocolate & Cashew Quinoa Scones (makes 8 scones)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour*
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3oz chilled unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped
  • 1/3 cup cashew, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 egg yolk

*Whole Food usually carry the Bob’s Red Mill brand. If you can’t find quinoa flour, you can make it yourself by pulverizing quinoa into a fine powder, that’s what I did.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl beat cream and egg yolk.

Cut butter into 1” pieces, and using your fingers or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they’re pea-sized.

Fold in the chocolate and cashews, and raisins if using. Add cream and egg into the butter mixture, sprinkling the wet ingredients all over. Knead the dough into a ball, do not over mix.

Roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Shape into a disk about an inch high. 

Cut into 8 wedges. Brush the tops of each wedge with egg wash made by stirring an egg yolk with half tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Scones can be stored on an air-tight container for up to 2 days or frozen up to 5 days.

Read the story behind the recipe: Scone Crit!


Recipe: A Non-Traditional Chocolate Chip & Strawberry Scones

This recipe makes for a non-traditional scone, it’s more moist than the crumbly traditional English scones. It’s also got a nice crunchy texture because I added cornmeal to it. I like the fact that it’s gritty and has more of a bite to it. If that’s not your thing, you’re welcome to skip the cornmeal and replace it with regular flour instead.

Chocolate Chip & Strawberry Scones (makes 8 scones)

Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal*
  • ¼ cups granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup milk*
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped

* You can skip the cornmeal if you wish, and replace it with all purpose flour instead

* I used almond milk instead of whole milk, and it works just fine.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400F.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, yogurt, milk and zest and whisk to thoroughly combine. Set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubes of butter and cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they’re pea-sized.

Add the strawberries and chocolate to the flour mixture and toss to coat.

Add the wet ingredients and fold them into the dry ingredients, mixing just until the dough comes together. 

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and pat it into a large ball.

Cut the ball in half, and shape each half into a flat disk about ½-inch thick. Cut the discs into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake until slightly browned on top, about 15 − 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the scones cool. The scones are best served when still slightly warm. They can be stored on an air-tight container for up to 2 days or frozen up to 5 days.

Do ahead:

You can prepare the scones up to just before baking, then freeze the shaped dough. Though I prefer to freeze the flattened dough disk because it takes up less space on my freezer. I wrap the disk in plastic and store it in the freezer up to a few days.

When I’m ready to bake them, I just take them out, and cut the disk into wedges with a sharp knife. 

The scones can be baked straight from the freezer, with just a few minutes added to the baking time.

Read the story behind the recipe: Scone Crit!


Recipe: Light Cherry Scones - Two Ways (with Lime Icing or Chocolate Ganache)

By itself, these cherry scones are your traditional light and crumbly scones, slightly sweet and subtle, perfect for tea time. But dress them up with lime icing or chocolate ganache, and you can transform them into a more loud and punchy type of dessert. They’re all good in their own ways, it just depends what mood you’re in. 

The scone recipe is very similar to the base for the blueberry lemon scones recipe, but instead of heavy cream, this uses buttermilk, which makes it a tad less fattening, in case you’re trying to eat light. Pftt… then again, if you’re eating light, you probably shouldn’t be eating scones, right?

Cherry Scones (makes 8 scones) 

Adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes

For the scone:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherry (6 ounces), pitted and halved*

*If you don’t own a cherry pitter, you can use a paper clip to pit your cherries. That’s what I did.

For the lime icing:

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

To make the scones:

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat buttermilk and egg yolk.

Cut butter into 1” pieces, and using your fingers or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they’re pea-sized.

Gently fold in the cherries. Add buttermilk and egg into the butter mixture, sprinkling the wet ingredients all over, not just in one place. Then use your hand like a paddle, gently form the dough into a ball. Don’t over mix. It’s okay if the dough is quite crumbly at this point. It’s better than having a wet and super sticky dough, because it would be harder to handle.

Roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Shape into a disk about an inch high. 

Cut into 8 wedges. Brush the tops of each wedge with egg wash made by stirring an egg yolk with half tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the lime icing:

Whisk the sugar and lime juice until the mixture is opaque and smooth. Once scones are done and completely cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cooled scones. Allow to set for 10 minutes. 

To make the chocolate ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, until cream is hot, but not bubbling over. Whisk to soften the chocolate, until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Use a spoon to drizzle the ganache over the cooled scones. Allow to set for 10 minutes.

Scones can be stored on an air-tight container for up to 2 days, unglazed ones can be frozen up to 5 days.

Read the story behind the recipe: Scone Crit!


Recipe: Super Moist Blackberry Scones (a failed attempt at America’s Test Kitchen scones)

If you’re familiar at all with America’s Test Kitchen, you understand why I was intrigued to try out this recipe. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch an episode of the show, and you’ll see that the folks at America’s Test Kitchen are super hard-core scientists who take recipe development very seriously. They find the best way to make… anything! They test just about every possible variable in a recipe to come up with the best way to make it.

So when I found this recipe from Cave Cibum and saw that it was adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, I just had to give it a shot. As big of a fan as I am, I’ve never made any of their recipes, until now. 

Naturally, it’s the most complicated scone recipe I’ve seen thus far, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen are not ones to cut corners, they’re all about making the best recipes, not the simplest recipes.

Unfortunately, I did decided to cut corners, because I thought I could get away with it. And I did, until I skipped the step of freezing the dough first, before starting to work with it. Not a good idea, because my dough ended up being super wet and sticky, and very hard to work with. So, if you’re attempting this recipe, learn from my mistake, and follow the recipe, exactly, and do let me know how it turns out.

Blackberry Scones with Peach Icing (makes 8 scones) 

Adapted from Cave Cibum, originally from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

For the scone:

  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, frozen, plus extra for melting (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (about half a large orange)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk*
  • 1/3 cup sour cream*

* I made this recipe twice, and both times I ended up with a dough that’s too wet, so I modified the amount of milk and sour cream slightly. The original Test Kitchen recipe calls for 1/2 cup of both milk and sour cream. I’m suggesting to put a tad less, if you think your dough ends up being too dry, then you can add a bit more milk and sour cream as needed. This ain’t rocket science, know what I mean?

For the peach icing:

  • 1 tbsp fresh peach juice
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

To make the scones:

On the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter into a small bowl. Once grated, place butter back into the freezer. 

For full disclosure, I didn’t grate my butter. I know how to work quickly with my hands, and I’ve been using my fingers and sometimes a fork to cut butter into the flour for all the other scone recipes I’ve done, and they all work fine. I think grating the butter is just an extra precaution, to ensure the butter stay extra cold, I didn’t think it necessary, but next time I make this recipe, I’ll try grating the butter to see if it’ll make a huge difference in the end product.

Place berries in a bowl and set in the freezer - they do not need to freeze, just get sufficiently chilled.

Preheat oven to 425 ° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, and baking soda. Add in the grated butter and lightly toss until the butter is evenly coated. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and sour cream, then add to the flour mixture. Fold in with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Turn out dough onto a well floured board. Lightly knead the dough until it just pulls together, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Pat the dough into a 12-inch square, then fold the top third and bottom third of the dough over the middle (like folding a letter). Then fold up the sides of the dough over the middle to form a square. Place dough on a floured plate, then place in the freezer for about 5 minutes so the butter doesn’t soften too much.

Place the dough back on the floured board, and roll out to a 12-inch square.

Arrange berries on top of the dough and lightly press them in.

This is where my scones began to fall apart, right after I added the blackberries. The berries made the my dough really wet and unworkable. I tried to fix the situation by sticking the web dough on the freezer for 10 minutes, which helped a little. So at that point, I wasn’t able to follow the rest of the original recipe. I basically tried to flattened out the dough into a disk, and finally managed to cut it into 8 wedges.

But if you want to follow the real Test Kitchen recipe, this is what you should have done:

Roll the dough up into a tight log, pinching the ends and seam shut. Flatten the log into a 12x4-inch rectangle. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 even rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles (8 total). 

Place scones on baking sheet, brush with egg wash made by stirring an egg yolk with half tablespoon of water, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the scones are golden brown. 

To make the peach icing:

Whisk the sugar and peach juice until the mixture is opaque and smooth. Once scones are done and completely cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cooled scones. Allow to set for 10 minutes. 

Scones can be stored on an air-tight container for up to 2 days, unglazed ones can be frozen up to 5 days. I defrosted a frozen one a few days after, and added a tiny dollop of some home-made Crème Fraîche. Delicious!

Read the story behind the recipe: Scone Crit!


My First Five
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been in a baking craze, more than usual. I went on a scone kick last week (more on this later), and baked six different kinds of scones in one week. And then on Thursday, in an effort to use up all my fresh fruits, I baked a blueberry peach cobbler and some cherry streusel muffins, all in one night.
The problem with living alone is that there’s no one else around to help me eat all these baked goods. I’m not complaining, I like my baked goods, but I can’t (and shouldn’t) be eating all these sweets all the time. So I always end up looking for someone, anyone, to give away my goods to: friends, neighbors, and when I run out of those, random people in the hallway, like the mail lady or people checking their mailboxes (I live on the 1st floor, right across from the mailboxes, it’s prime real-estate, I tell you!)
Last Thursday when I was Tumbling about my dilemma, Jamie replied, “…hmm…if only this were the type of thing people like to buy…OH WAIT! THEY DO.” She’s right! The idea has been floating around in my head for a while now too: what if I just start selling these stuff instead of trying to find people to give it away to? Well, I finally decided to do it.
The first business idea I had was for a baked-goods delivery service for the people in my building. People sign up to get fresh baked goods delivered to their door three times a week. But I wasn’t sure if a.) people would be interested and b.) how much to charge for the service. So I decided to come up with a much simpler idea that I can execute quickly, and by quickly I mean, right now!
After I came back from my baking class today, I brought home a bunch of chocolate cupcakes. Instead of piging out and eating them all myself, like I normally would, I decided to set up a pay-what-you-want bake sale. The idea is to start promoting Caroline Bakes to all my neighbors. I made signs with my logo, so that people would become familiar with it. It’s also a way of doing market research. I want to know if people are interested in my baked goods and how much they’d be willing to pay for them.
The market research portion of my plan didn’t really pan out, since I only had one customer, and that was only because my manager told her about it. She was willing to pay $2 per cupcake, but she only had a five on her, and she wanted to take an extra one for a friend. I told her it was fine. I needed to get rid of the cupcakes anyways. So that was how I made my first $5 on my baked goods. It’s a sad figure from a business stand point. But it wasn’t about the money. That $5 marks a shift on my perspective. Until now I never seriously consider selling my baked goods or that people would be willing to pay for them. I bake for myself, because I enjoy it, but this might be the start of something exciting. I’m still pretty solid on my stance that I don’t want to open up a bakery or run a baking business. But it’s pretty exciting to try to figure out what exactly I can do with this whole baking thing. Even if it’s just a small side project like selling baked goods to the people in my building, it feels so rewarding. The thought of doing something I totally love and people wanting to pay me for it, it’s crazy, isn’t it?
P.S. I definitely think the cupcakes are worth more than $2 each, I have a figure in my head, but I want to know what you guys think. How much would you pay for the cupcakes?
———————————
» Get the Recipe: The Richest & Moistest Chocolate Cupcakes (with Chocolate Ganache or Buttercream Icing)

My First Five

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been in a baking craze, more than usual. I went on a scone kick last week (more on this later), and baked six different kinds of scones in one week. And then on Thursday, in an effort to use up all my fresh fruits, I baked a blueberry peach cobbler and some cherry streusel muffins, all in one night.

The problem with living alone is that there’s no one else around to help me eat all these baked goods. I’m not complaining, I like my baked goods, but I can’t (and shouldn’t) be eating all these sweets all the time. So I always end up looking for someone, anyone, to give away my goods to: friends, neighbors, and when I run out of those, random people in the hallway, like the mail lady or people checking their mailboxes (I live on the 1st floor, right across from the mailboxes, it’s prime real-estate, I tell you!)

Last Thursday when I was Tumbling about my dilemma, Jamie replied, “…hmm…if only this were the type of thing people like to buy…OH WAIT! THEY DO.” She’s right! The idea has been floating around in my head for a while now too: what if I just start selling these stuff instead of trying to find people to give it away to? Well, I finally decided to do it.

The first business idea I had was for a baked-goods delivery service for the people in my building. People sign up to get fresh baked goods delivered to their door three times a week. But I wasn’t sure if a.) people would be interested and b.) how much to charge for the service. So I decided to come up with a much simpler idea that I can execute quickly, and by quickly I mean, right now!

After I came back from my baking class today, I brought home a bunch of chocolate cupcakes. Instead of piging out and eating them all myself, like I normally would, I decided to set up a pay-what-you-want bake sale. The idea is to start promoting Caroline Bakes to all my neighbors. I made signs with my logo, so that people would become familiar with it. It’s also a way of doing market research. I want to know if people are interested in my baked goods and how much they’d be willing to pay for them.

The market research portion of my plan didn’t really pan out, since I only had one customer, and that was only because my manager told her about it. She was willing to pay $2 per cupcake, but she only had a five on her, and she wanted to take an extra one for a friend. I told her it was fine. I needed to get rid of the cupcakes anyways. So that was how I made my first $5 on my baked goods. It’s a sad figure from a business stand point. But it wasn’t about the money. That $5 marks a shift on my perspective. Until now I never seriously consider selling my baked goods or that people would be willing to pay for them. I bake for myself, because I enjoy it, but this might be the start of something exciting. I’m still pretty solid on my stance that I don’t want to open up a bakery or run a baking business. But it’s pretty exciting to try to figure out what exactly I can do with this whole baking thing. Even if it’s just a small side project like selling baked goods to the people in my building, it feels so rewarding. The thought of doing something I totally love and people wanting to pay me for it, it’s crazy, isn’t it?

P.S. I definitely think the cupcakes are worth more than $2 each, I have a figure in my head, but I want to know what you guys think. How much would you pay for the cupcakes?

———————————

» Get the Recipe: The Richest & Moistest Chocolate Cupcakes (with Chocolate Ganache or Buttercream Icing)


The Richest & Moistest Chocolate Cupcakes (with Chocolate Ganache or Buttercream Icing)

You can make this chocolate buttermilk cake as little cupcakes or as a normal cake, either way, this cake is moist and super chocolaty, it’s the kind of cake you want to eat with a tall glass of milk.

Chocolate Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4oz butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 10 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream

For the buttercream frosting (makes about 4 cups):

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
  • 2oz bittersweet chocolate*

* Only needed if you’re making a chocolate version of the buttercream frosting

To make the cupcakes:

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. If you’re topping your cupcakes with the chocolate ganache, make sure to use the tall paper liners, so there’s room for the ganache. If you’re doing the buttercream frosting, then you can use the regular size liners.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together cocoa powder and boiling water. Add brown sugar, followed by buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mix on low until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Alternate adding the cocoa mixture and dry mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16 - 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the chocolate ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat, just to a boil. Pour hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, and then stir until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is very smooth. 

To make the buttercream frosting:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement, cream the butter until very light in texture, 2 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to medium and add the cream or milk in a thin stream. Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until very smooth and light. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding a bit more sugar or cream/milk.

Make a chocolate version of the frosting by melting 2oz of bittersweet chocolate, let cool to room temperature and add to the creamed butter. Blend on medium speed before continuing with the above recipe.

To ice the cupcakes:

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a ladle to top each cupcake with chocolate ganache or frost with icing. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a small spatula or use a piping bag.

I’m not much of a piper, so the frostings on my cupcakes looked a bit pathetic. I added the fruits and chopped roasted almond topping to dress these cupcakes up (and hide the ugly frostings underneath them), plus I thought the crunchiness would add a more interesting texture.

These cupcakes are best the day they are made, but can be covered and stored for a few days.

Read the story behind the recipe: My First Five.


Getting My Words Together, and Keeping Them
I have an apology to make, to you, all 10 of you who has decided to follow this blog for whatever reason, but to myself mostly. You see, I’ve been very bad at keeping up this blog. Partly because I’ve been too distracted by work and life, but mostly I’ve just been slacking. This blog, which I started late last year has rarely been updated. Why? It’s not for the lack of recipes or cooking, I cook and definitely bake a lot… see? It’s the writing. I just find it so intimidating. Every time I think about writing up a post, it feels like work, I dread it. Even right now, I’m very slowly putting my thoughts together, and hoping that whatever words I end up string together would make some sort of sense.
A few days ago, I decided that I need to do something about this writing phobia of mine. There’s nothing better to motivate a slacker like me, than a good kick in the ass, especially if the ones doing the ass-kicking are high-school kids who have accomplished more in their lives that I have (or at least that’s how I feel at the moment). See, recently I found this bunch of young food bloggers (one of them I think just graduated from high school, most of them just started college, they’re all under twenty), they were speakers at this year’s BlogHer Food Conference! They formed this collective group called The Kitchen Generation, a collaborative food blog, with articles on recipes, food photography, and cooking/blogging related tutorials. The blog, and their individual blogs, have good writing, good photography, and good recipes, the holy trinity of a “successful” food blog, I think. 
Boy do they make me feel like a slacker. Looking at how much these people have accomplished, made me want to get my act together. So despite my phobia of writing, or rather, because of it, I decided to set a goal for myself: I’m going to start updating this blog regularly, once a week, from now until, well, eternity. So that’s my promise to you, and to myself, and I intend on keeping it. I’m actually looking forward to have a something certain that I know I would have to do every week, like a ritual, within my unstructured life. 
———————————
» Get the Recipe: Julie & Julia Inspired Mocha Chocolate Pudding

Getting My Words Together, and Keeping Them

I have an apology to make, to you, all 10 of you who has decided to follow this blog for whatever reason, but to myself mostly. You see, I’ve been very bad at keeping up this blog. Partly because I’ve been too distracted by work and life, but mostly I’ve just been slacking. This blog, which I started late last year has rarely been updated. Why? It’s not for the lack of recipes or cooking, I cook and definitely bake a lot… see? It’s the writing. I just find it so intimidating. Every time I think about writing up a post, it feels like work, I dread it. Even right now, I’m very slowly putting my thoughts together, and hoping that whatever words I end up string together would make some sort of sense.

A few days ago, I decided that I need to do something about this writing phobia of mine. There’s nothing better to motivate a slacker like me, than a good kick in the ass, especially if the ones doing the ass-kicking are high-school kids who have accomplished more in their lives that I have (or at least that’s how I feel at the moment). See, recently I found this bunch of young food bloggers (one of them I think just graduated from high school, most of them just started college, they’re all under twenty), they were speakers at this year’s BlogHer Food Conference! They formed this collective group called The Kitchen Generation, a collaborative food blog, with articles on recipes, food photography, and cooking/blogging related tutorials. The blog, and their individual blogs, have good writing, good photography, and good recipes, the holy trinity of a “successful” food blog, I think. 

Boy do they make me feel like a slacker. Looking at how much these people have accomplished, made me want to get my act together. So despite my phobia of writing, or rather, because of it, I decided to set a goal for myself: I’m going to start updating this blog regularly, once a week, from now until, well, eternity. So that’s my promise to you, and to myself, and I intend on keeping it. I’m actually looking forward to have a something certain that I know I would have to do every week, like a ritual, within my unstructured life. 

———————————

» Get the Recipe: Julie & Julia Inspired Mocha Chocolate Pudding