Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Dessert

If only I could make quenelles!

I call this ensemble of foods my summer dessert.
- Blueberry cornbread
- Crushed gingersnaps
- Fresh peach slice, strawberries
- Vanilla gelato
- Salted pumpkin seed & pistachio chocolate bark
- Port berry reduction
- Dulce de leche panna cotta

The panna cotta turned out wonderfully with a smooth texture.  I used the following recipe;

- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 2.5 sheets 160 bloom/silver strength gelatin sheets
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche

  1. Heat the heavy cream and milk together.  Remove from the range, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bloom the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.  Shake off excess water.
  3. Add the gelatin to the heavy cream/milk mixture, and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add dulce de leche, stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour into mold of choice.
  6. Garnish with chocolate shavings

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beef and Spring Vegetables

Think I went overboard with the addition of sweet peas to the plate (unnecessary garnishes), otherwise pretty happy with how the dish turned out.

- seared steak with a roux-less demi glace
- duo of carrot and sweet pea purees
- cumin roasted potatoes and baby squash
- baby greens for garnishment

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Oven roasted potatoes, haricot verts, pan seared salmon with mango salsa, chocolate flourless cake with raspberry coulis & gelato

Had a weeknight party for four; whipped up the following menu whose prep I barely finished in the span of three hours.

Lightly curried oven roasted potatoes

Bought two bags of organic "petite-toes" from Whole Foods.
  1. Wash potatoes.
  2. Boil potatoes (with skin on) until tender, about 10-12 minutes.  This step helps to create potatoes that have a tender interior and a crisp exterior.
  3. Drain.
  4. Lightly brush cooking sheet with oil.
  5. Cut potatoes in half, arrange on cooking sheet.
  6. Lightly sprinkle with salt/pepper.
  7. Bake at 425 F for half an hour, remove, flip over.  Potatoes should have a wonderfully nice crust.
  8. Lightly sprinkle with curry.
  9. Decrease oven temp to 375.
  10. Bake 15 more minutes.
  11. Serve with fresh green onions.

Haricot verts with shallots
  1. Grabbed a bag of frozen haricot verts from Whole Foods and 1 shallot.
  2. Minced shallot, sautee.
  3. Add haricot verts.
  4. Season with salt.
  5. Serve with dash of sliced almonds.
Pan seared salmon with mango salsa
Whole Foods had whole coho salmon on sale this week, so I took advantage.  I cut the salmon fillet into ~ 4 oz portions.

  1. Season skin side of salmon with salt, pepper, paprika.
  2. Sear in hot pan for 5 minutes (do not turn).  Do not crowd salmon fillets on pan.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. After 5 minutes, move pan directly to oven.
  5. Bake ~ 5 minutes for medium-rare, 6 minutes for medium.
  6. Remove salmon from oven.  Skin should be perfectly crisp and flesh should be tender.
  7. Serve with mango salsa (mangos, red onion, tomato, avocado) and  garnish with pea shoots or other micro greens.
Chocolate flourless cake with red wine raspberry coulis and gelato
For the red wine raspberry coulis, I used the following:
  1. Cook 1 bag of frozen raspberries from Whole Foods with juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 cup sugar, ~ 1/2 cup red wine.
  2. Simmer until liquid slightly reduced.
  3. Blend resulting mixture.
  4. Strain, and save for later.
Preparation of the chocolate flourless cake could not be easier.  Used a straightforward recipe from epicurious that did not require the separation of yolks/whites.

  1. Melt half a bag of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips over a double boiler.
  2. Also add in 1 stick of butter to the melted chocolate.
  3. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sugar.
  4. Add in 3 eggs and "whisk well".  
  5. Add sifted 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.
  6. I then lined the bottom of an ~ 8 inch springform pan with non-stick aluminum foil, and poured the batter in.
  7. Bake at 375 F for ~ 25 minutes.
  8. Remove, let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before cutting.
  9. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.
Serve with raspberry coulis, gelato (or other ice cream on hand).  I confess that I did not have time to make my own gelato, and instead scooped some from a pint of Talenti that I had on hand.  

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Dumpling Making

Making dumplings from scratch has long been a family tradition.  One of my most highly prized possessions is the wooden dowel that my Dad gifted to me, which I use to roll out dumpling skins.

Dumpling making is a communal effort.  Uncles, aunts, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, and cousins are involved in each step of the process.  Competition and good natured verbal jabs abound.

While snapping pictures with my Canon T4i and 50mm 1.4 lens, I was mesmerized by each person's hands.  Making dumplings isn't easy.  Brute strength is needed (or is it kneaded, pun intended) to make the dough, and dexterity is a must for making dumplings skins.  Wrapping is a whole different art form unto itself.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Earl Grey Gelato Ensemble Dessert

Part of a dessert I made for potluck, which also included a salted coffee/chocolate soil and an eggless chocolate mousse with candied ginger kumquats.  If only I could make decent quenelles!  Plating was awkward, also too many brown earthy colors in that dish!  Since I served 25 such plates at a party, I'll say it was moderately successful as it was pretty tasty.

Was aiming for a play on breakfast drinks, with the mini-mugs and chocolate-coffee soil versus the Earl Grey gelato. 

Toasted Sesame White Chocolate Triangles
White chocolate
~ 1 tsp sesame oil
Black sesame seeds

I melted white chocolate in a double boiler, then let it cool slightly to room temperature and added ~ 1 tsp of sesame oil.  I also toasted black sesame seeds at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, then added them to the white chocolate once they cooled to room temp.

I then poured the melted white chocolate into a pan lined with wax paper and refrigerated the chocolate until hard.  Then cut into triangles.

Chocolate-Coffee Soil
I used Chef Leong's recipe here, but reduced everything by a factor of 5.

Earl Grey Gelato
1 x quart of half & half
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla bean pods
2 heaping Tbsp loose leaf Earl Grey Tea (ratio is slightly more generous than 1 tsp per 8 oz liquid)

-        I initially made a bouquet garni of the Earl Grey tea leaves using cheesecloth, but I felt this didn’t maximize the wonderful fragrance of the tea leaves.  So I ended up adding the tea wholesale into the half & half mixture and later straining it through a sieve.

Beer braised short rib and Lightly poached Salmon

I hosted a dinner several months ago, but kept putting off updating the website.  The plating was not my best. 

Beer braised short rib with parsnip-celery root puree.  Eh, are those weeds growing on top?

Lightly poached salmon with citrus olive oil, tomato confit.  That salmon needs to be smaller!

Roasted Beet and Feta Easter Salad

Made mini-Easter salads to bring to a church potluck.

Roasted some red beets, although in retrospect, I wished I had used orange beets instead for an improved visual contrast.  Add crumbled feta, walnut pieces, and a mix of baby arugula and baby romaine leaves.  Served with orange balsamic vinaigrette.

I prepped the mini-salads in a Calphalon baking pan, as shown above.
Then I added miniature forks to them.
And voila!  Looks like they shrunk a little by the time the last picture was taken.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Recipe

2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
⅔ cup water or milk
1 (15 oz.) can Libby’s pumpkin puree mix
1 heaping tsp. ground ginger
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
1 heaping tsp. ground cloves
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

¾ to 1 cup chocolate chips, pref. 60% Ghirardelli bittersweet

Rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine sugar, oil, applesauce, and eggs.
  3. Add water and mix.
  4. Stir in pumpkin mix, ginger, cloves, cinnamon.
  5. Separately combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder.  I usually use a whisk to combine them.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in thirds until just mixed.
  7. Add chocolate chips.
  8. Divide batter between pans, filling no further than past the 60% level.
  9. Sprinkle tops with rolled oats
  10. Bake for ~ 50 min or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Makes ~ 8 x 4" x 2" x 2" mini-loaves or two large 10" x 5" x 3" loaves.
  12. I used these paper mini loaf pans
    2. You can buy them in bulk (and more cheaply during the holidays) at Plastic Container City at about 35 cents per pan, although Amazon is cheaper off season.
Notes: Adding applesauce enables the reduction of vegetable oil.  I think yogurt or sour cream will achieve the same effect, but I haven't tested this theory.

Also, I usually buy the large 30 oz cans of Libby's then use half.  Although Libby’s is presweetened and prespiced, the final loaf is not over sweet or spiced, in fact, it's just right.  I was previously using unsweetened organic pumpkin puree, but Libby's was cheaper and turned out just as tasty, if not better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dessert: Pliable Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache with Lemon Curd Gelato, Salted Marzipan Crumble

For dessert, I made a pliable bittersweet chocolate ganache with lemon curd gelato rounds and salted marzipan crumble for contrast and a pistachio macaron for color.

I used Bryan Voltaggio's recipe for the pliable ganache, pioneered by Alex Stupak from Alinea, from Bryan's dessert course in Season 3's Finale of Top Chef. The necessary ingredients were purchased from The Modernist Pantry, and they were pleasantly reasonably priced.

The dessert turned out quite well. Desserts have always been my forte, guess I need to work harder on the other parts.

Pliable Chocolate Ganache

- 375g 60-70% bittersweet chocolate
- 300g cream
- 100g sorbitol
- 3g agar agar (can buy in Chinese grocery store)
- 2g salt
- 50g glucose

- 1 gelatin sheet (I used silver strength)
- ~ 1 cup cold water

I'm not a sophisticated chef, this was my first time using gelatin sheets! I usually stick to cheaper Knox powdered gelatin! David Lebovitz has a great link on how to use sheet gelatin.

  1. Measure out quantities of all items.
  2. Finely cut chocolate into shavings or purchase in pre-cut form.
  3. Combine cream, sorbitol, agar, salt, and glucose and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. In the meantime, bloom the gelatin in water. Don't overbloom, about 5 minutes should do it. Remove when gelatin is softened (if it's falling apart in your hands, you probably left it in the water too long).
  6. Add gelatin to cream mixture until dissolved.
  7. Strain.
  8. Add strained liquid to chocolate shavings, mix until ganache is well formed.
  9. Pour into a pan whose bottom is lined with parchment paper (this will give your pliable ganache smooth bottoms).
  10. Refrigerate until solid, at least a day.
  11. Cut into desired shapes.
Marzipan Crumble

- Coarsely grated marzipan
- Almond meal
- Butter
- Salt

  1. Combine together grated marzipan, almond meal, butter.
  2. Bake in oven ~ 350 degrees for a few minutes.
  3. Salt the crumble.
Lemon curd gelato
- Lemon curd made the day before
- Half & half

  1. Mix the two together.
  2. Add to gelato machine.
  3. Scoop out rounds.


- Make macarons using your favorite recipe

Gumby would be proud!

Main: White wine poached Chilean Sea Bass in corn broth

I admit I over-poached the fish as my attention was distracted by other duties in the kitchen!

White wine poached Chilean Sea Bass

- White wine
- Chicken stock

  1. Bring solution to a simmer.
  2. Add in fish (apportion beforehand).
  3. Poach 6-8 minutes.
  4. Set aside.

Corn broth

- 3-4 ears fresh yellow corn
- Leeks
- Garlic
- 1/2 lime
- Half & half
- salt/pepper

  1. Microwave corn the day before.
  2. Cut corn kernels off the cob, but reserve some kernels for whole presentation by the fish.
  3. Sautee together leeks, garlic.
  4. Add corn kernels, cook a few minutes.
  5. Add half & half, bring to a simmer.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Blend.
  8. Strain liquid, discard solids.
  9. Season with salt/pepper, add juice of ~ half a lime.


  1. Using reserved kernels, roast in oven until slightly charred.
  2. Cook sweet peas.
  3. Sautee shittake mushrooms.

Assemble the elements!

Hmm, I wish I wiped off the left side of the bowl.

Appetizer: Summer Beet Salad with Green Curry Yogurt

The golden beets in the salad were delicious!

Summer Beet Salad

- Red beets
- Golden beets
- Feta cheese
- Baby arugula
- Beet powder
- Green curry paste
- Greek yogurt

  1. Wash red and golden beets well.
  2. Lightly brush with olive oil then wrap in aluminum foil.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1-2 hours, or until soft when poked with a knife.
  4. Remove from foil, peel skin. Slice.

Beet Powder

You can either purchase pre-made beet powder or use this recipe, which involves a lot of microwave time. I used a different recipe, but can't find the link.

Green Curry Paste

Mix together green curry paste, greek yogurt together to taste. Season as necessary.

Assemble the salad!

Another view. I was experimenting with different sized plates

Amuse bouche: Yellowfin Poke with Sesame Oil Powder

I like to cook at least one gourmet dinner a year in order to improve my techniques and flavor profiles. This year I tried to incorporate more "molecular gastronomy" techniques in the form of food powders and pliable chocolate ganache. I also wanted to showcase some colorful vegetables for this summer-themed dinner.

First up, an amuse bouche comprising Yellowfin Poke with Sesame Oil Powder.

Sesame Oil powder is easier to make than it sounds. I didn't have any tapioca maltodextrin on hand, so I substituted tapioca starch instead and it worked fine.

Sesame Oil Powder

- Sesame oil
- Tapioca starch

I basically added sesame oil to tapioca starch in a small food processor until it achieved the desired consistency and fragrance.

Yellowfin Poke

- Fresh sashimi grade yellowfin tuna
- Green ends of green onions
- 1 x small red onion
- ginger
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
- salt/pepper

  1. Finely dice the green onions, red onion, ginger.
  2. Finely cube the yellowfin tuna.
  3. Mix ingredients together to taste.
Serve sesame oil powder with the tuna poke.