Monday, October 13, 2008

>> Earl Grey Ice Cream

I can't remember why exactly, but I was flipping through Nigella Express and a page caught my eye. It was a recipe for no-churn pomegranate ice cream -- the ingredients were simple, requiring the juices of one pomegranate and a lime, powdered sugar, and heavy cream. I had some heavy cream whose expiration date was quickly approaching, however I lacked pomegranate, let alone a lime. After musing about what flavour of homemade ice cream I should create - I decided that if I must make ice cream, it must be a unique flavour that is for the most part, uncommon in the realm of ice cream world! It suddenly occurred to me that I should attempt earl grey tea flavoured ice cream: I would make a concentrate of earl grey, substitute lime with lemon juice (which should complement the bergamot oil of the tea nicely), use a bit more powdered sugar to counter the tart or sour taste of the lemon juice. I even added some orange zest to give the ice cream more texture and zing. My recipe is below <3

: :  Homemade Earl Grey Ice Cream
adapted from Nigella Express: No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream recipe
Serving Size: 6+ (depending on how much or little one can eat in one sitting ;p)

1 cup of organic heavy whipping cream
1 cup of powdered sugar
6 ounces Earl Grey tea concentrate 
2 tbspoon of lemon juice
*orange zest is optional

First, make the Earl Grey tea concentrate: Steep 2 tea sachets (I used Harney & Sons' Earl Grey Supreme) in 6 oz. of hot water for 5 minutes. Remove tea sachets and chill the concentrate until cold.
Second, add powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange zest and whisk until it is a uniform mixture.
Third, whisk in cream and continue whisking until the mixture becomes a sort of thick and fluffy batter, or until soft peaks form.
Fourth, transfer ice cream batter into a sturdy airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours or even overnight. 
To serve, allow ice cream to sit in room temperature for at least 5 minutes before scooping. For garnishing, be creative! I used shaved dark chocolate and a spiral of orange peel. 

: Afterthoughts :
The ice cream itself turned out nicely, I found that it was very rich (it is heavy cream after all... as my mom put it: Too much could give someone a heart attack). Thus why I believe that the serving sizes can be that small :p
The texture of the ice cream is a little bit flakey, a little on the icy side, but I think that's if you leave it in the freezer too long. Another reason could be because I took a long time to whisk/whip up the ice cream batter -- I was initially stubborn and over-optimistic that I could whisk the mixture by hand, but then later resorted to whisking it by my electric mixer. I think the period of me whisking it by hand wasn't very beneficial to fluffing air into the batter, thus why the ice cream was a bit dense and a tiny bit icy..
My concentrate of earl grey, is a little on the strong side (according to some) - but as someone who works with tea on a daily basis, I didn't find it overwhelming ;p I suppose one could just steep only one of the tea sachets for half the time, to reduce the strength of the tea. 
I thought that the lemon juice and orange zest give the ice cream great dimensions of flavour, a nice tartness and subtle sweet citrusy note. 
After I made the ice cream, I was super excited about buying cute little ice cream bowls (technically called latte bowls) to serve my ice cream in - very classic dessert diner look - from Anthropologie. I couldn't resist the soft sky blue or the clean and simple white. For $2.50 a piece, I had to get both.. Just wait, I'm sure my collection will grow as I find more and more reasons to get one in each colour. ;p 
Sadly it will be a while until I make more ice cream, but I'll continue contemplating what other flavours to experiment with.. Ginger? Persimmon?  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

>> Autumn Breakfast

Autumn is truly descending upon us here in Seattle. The leaves are tinged with hints of bright fiery red, hues of vibrant orange, and golden yellows. Today is actually the first day of class for UW students, whereas for myself, it's an odd feeling of not being part of the bustle of students in a flurry of getting to class on our beautiful timeless campus. The nostalgia is certainly hitting me. However, this morning I woke up with a sore throat. Not sure if I'm getting sick, or if it's a reaction to some leftover mussel-pasta that I ate last night, but I decided that I would make myself a hot breakfast. I went onto the Quaker Oatmeal website for some sort of inspiration and found a recipe for maple apple oatmeal! However, I lacked a few ingredients.. such as cinnamon and apple juice, but regardless, with a few adaptations, it turned out really well ( well, according to my palate ;D ). My adaptation is as follows:

:: Maple Apple Oatmeal
The Quick & Dirty Method (aka via microwaving)
Serving Size 1

1/2 cup of old-fashioned uncooked oats
1/2 cup of 2% organic milk (or more if you like creamier oatmeal)
1/2 cup of freshly diced organic apples + (optional) thinly sliced apples for garnishing ;)
1-2 tablespoon of good maple syrup (mine is from my most recent trip to Whistler, BC)
1 teaspoon of whole or ground flaxseeds (to kick it up with some Omega-3s)

Place all ingredients into microwave-safe bowl, mix well and microwave for 4 minutes. Add thinly sliced apples to bowl for garnishing!

: Afterthoughts :
I would have had fun making this on the stove top but honestly, I was really hungry so I decided to make it in the microwave. It's a nice easy and less-mess way of making it, especially if you want to give yourself a morning treat but are in a hurry to bolt elsewhere.
I found that using milk instead of apple juice (as is called for in the Quaker Oat recipe), makes the oatmeal creamier. Also, I thought that the proportion of milk to oatmeal was a good choice because I like my oatmeal slightly firm (not mushy). I love the texture of the cooked apples, tastes reminiscent of apple pie, but much better for you ^^
To improve this adaptation, I suppose if I had some cinnamon on hand (I just moved recently, so lots of things are lost in boxes somewhere), I would definitely add a dash of it, perhaps even some nutmeg too. Also, perhaps adding some walnuts or other nuts to it would be a nice crunchy finish also.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

>> Ode to Blueberries

It is now September and with a long-cast glance back at the mild Seattle summer, as you may recall from my most previous post, I was pretty much infatuated with eating blueberries. So infatuated to the point of going blueberry picking at a local organic berry farm. It was loads of fun and get this: the price of one pound of organic blueberries was just $1.50. That's amazingly cheap. At Whole Foods, PCC, or Metropolitan Market (the latter two are local Seattle natural foods markets), a pint of organic blueberries is easily $4.99. Astounding.

So in light of posting about blueberries (despite backtracking a bit) -- what first triggered my infatuation with blueberries dates back to July 4th. I, of course, made dessert for a Fourth of July barbecue. I decided to make a tastefully patriotic-looking cheesecake yet still wholesome, showcasing the seasonally fresh flavours of summer goodness. So this is what I came up with: a vanilla bean cheesecake with an almond meal crust, decorated with freshly sliced strawberries, vanilla cream cheese piping and sweet plump blueberries: red, white and blue. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

>> Good Morning 早上好 !

While eating breakfast this morning, I was contemplating on what I should write about - then it occurred to me that I could blog about what I was eating! The idea came to me as I've noticed that many people (namely a lot of my university peers) often skip this vital meal of the day (although who am I to say because sometimes I'm dashing off to work or somewhere else clutching a banana, yogurt or apple really early in the morning, but at least it's something!) My boyfriend often touts the importance of breakfast and I can't agree more. 

This summer has marked the beginning of my affinity with blueberries however, I can't say that I've been experimenting very much with them. I'm just as happy eating them fresh as toppings on pancakes, cheesecakes, and frozen yogurt, etc.

All summer long, I've been indulging in the most simple yet delicious food combination: fresh organic blueberries and organic vanilla yogurt! Even though you can virtually eat this any time of day (sometimes I like eating these as part of my getting ready for bed routine too), I often eat these in the morning.

This morning in particular (in addition to a bowl of organic low-fat vanilla yogurt from Trader Joe's) and a smaller bowl of delicious blueberries, I made myself some french-pressed coffee (the beans roasted locally from Caffè Fiorè. It's pretty much my favourite blend of espresso as it is very versatile -- it can be ground for either french-pressed coffee or espresso! The coffee has a lovely textured nutty and sweet finish. And to top it off, the beans are organic and fair-trade!! Paired with the french-pressed coffee are some scones that I bought from Whole Foods the other day: ginger-currant and pumpkin oat scones! Both are delicious, especially after they have been toasted in the oven and served with a dab of butter. The ginger-currant scone is my favourite though, highly recommended!

|| A pause.

With the last foodblog entry dating back to February of this year, it is now towards the end of August.

While finishing my last couple quarters of my last year at the University of Washington, despite having loads of culinary adventures, I was unable to document them (via this blog) as I was very busy with school (and of course, life in general, really).

However, I never stopped taking an enormous amount of photos of the food that I've eaten/made/seen. This only means that my Mac is heavily laden with truly appetizing photos that have yet to be uploaded onto this blog for me to share!

And so it goes..!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

>> tokara : january wagashi

So while in FreshFlours back in December with Co-Chan, we noticed that there were boxes of 和菓子 wagashi on sale, beautifully wrapped and in front of the display was a dainty little business card that said Tokara. Upon closer inspection, we realized that Tokara was not far from where we were, so we walked a couple blocks and was in front of this cute little Japanese-styled house with a small roofed wagashi display along the fence, a traditional Japanese gate-like entrance and a rock garden out front. As it turns out, the wagashi-maker makes wagashi fresh and seasonally, so before January transpired, I made sure that my friend and I could pay Tokara a visit.

To accompany the
wagashi, we made a trip out to our favourite matcha haven, KOOTS Green Tea. Granted, it was a ways away in Bellevue, but how in the world could you eat wagashi without pairing it with a beautiful frothy bowl of 抹茶 matcha, sitting at a tatami matted area; it was just perfect. As my good friend exclaimed when she first held the wagashi in her hand: "It's just like a cloud!!"

wagashi was indeed very soft, and it was beautifully crafted (Chef Tokara makes them fresh the day that they are picked up!). The lighting is a little off in the picture, otherwise you'd be able to see the soft subtle underlying pink through the semi-translucent mochi layer. The filling inside was smooth silky with a surprisingly tangy tropical fruity taste of pineapple or passionfruit. It was divine, and every soft bite chased with the warm deep bitterness of the 抹茶 just made it taste better and better. I must say though, I've been browsing pictures of the hanabiramochi online, and none of them look as beautiful/cute as the ones that Chef Tokara made. :)

The type of
wagashi that we had was
はなびらもち (hanabiramochi).

As defined by Wikipedia: 葩餅 はなびらもち Hanabiramochi is usually eaten at the beginning of the year.
Hanabiramochi are also served at the first tea ceremony of the new year.


The name "hanabiramochi" literally means "flower petal mochi". The original form of Hanabiramochi is 菱葩 (ひしはなびら) Hishihanabira, a dessert that was eaten by the Imperial family at special events coinciding with the beginning of the year.

Hanabiramochi was first made in the Meiji Era (8 September 1868 - 30 July 1912), but it is now a familiar New Year wagashi.


The exact shape of hanabiramochi is strictly defined by tradition. The white mochi covering is flat and round, folded over to form a semicircular shape, and must have a pink color showing through in the center of the confection, fading to a white at the edge. Unlike a daifuku the mochi must not completely seal the insides.

In the center of a hanabiramochi is a layer of anko, a sweet bean paste, commonly the white kind made from sweetened mung beans. In the very center is a thin strip of sweetly flavoured gobo (burdock, which protrudes from the mochi on both sides.

Symbolic Significance

The red colour showing through the white mochi is not only appropriate to the celebration of the new year but also evokes the Japanese apricot/plum (ume) blossom, which in turn represents the purity, perseverance, and renewal associated with the New Year.

The gobo represents pressed ayu, a fish exclusive to East Asia, and a prayer for a long life.

Monday, February 4, 2008

>> Mmm, mochi is so versatile..
^ Mochi with an (紅豆) filling in a silky sweet yet salty azuki soup (zenzai).

^ Natto! + Shredded White Radish (daikon oroshi) ^

^ Edamame Paste (zunda) + Kinako! ^

Saturday, February 2, 2008

>> Mochi Pounding Ceremony

Every year in Seattle there's a mochi pounding event, in which mochi is traditionally made. It's a pretty exclusive event in which you have to go through an elaborate process of, but all in all, it was well worth going to. Not only to attendees get to participate in pounding mochi, but it's sort of like an 'all-you-can-eat' event as well, with lots of toppings and even some soup bases for the mochi too. I took loads of photos but here are some that show the process of making it.. I'll include more of the actual food items soon! =p

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

<< Voilà! Goma cheesecake!

Despite my worrying about the matcha crust, it worked out perfectly. It tasted delicious: lightly sweetened, a slight bit of matcha flavour and the colour of the crust is a gorgeous tint of green tea green.

As for the cheesecake itself, it was fluffy, slightly moist and not too heavy. I added about 6 tablespoons of 黑芝麻粉 (ground up black sesame powder) and dashed some whole 黑芝麻 (black sesame seeds) into the cheesecake batter. Then for the finishing touch, I sprinkled some more on top before baking.

All in all, the layers of a lightly sweetened soft-cookie-like matcha flavoured crust and silky smooth goma cheesecake tasted amazing and it's pleasing to the eye as well. The cheesecake paired with a hot cup of gyokuro-cha is divine!

When Co-Chan comes back from Japan, she's in for a treat. =D

Saturday, January 26, 2008

<< 黑ごま Cheesecake

My most current culinary ambition is to venture into a new territory of cheesecake flavours: 黑芝麻 / 黑ごま (goma) / black sesame! I have a standard cheesecake recipe that I base all my cheesecakes on and the two types that I've tried and succeeded with so far are: matcha, widely acclaimed! (according to friends and family) and pumpkin : for Thanksgiving! .. I'm not sure exactly when or quite how I was so inspired to make 黑ごま cheesecake, but after long discussions with Co-Chan and her encouraging enthusiasm, it became more and more of something that I've been excited about creating for the past month or two now.

Unfortunately late into the evening when I decided to embark on this culinary first, whilst thinking that I had all the ingredients.. I suddenly realized that I was lacking a crucial element: graham cracker for the cheesecake crust. >< .. I was ALMOST going to wait until the morning to go out and buy some, but after my sister encouraged me to "take risks," I finally decided that I'd try to make my own crust.. a sort of cakey matcha crust that will be a thin layer below the creamy goma cheesecake. Sounds nice right? Ideally, why yes. However, I'm kind of anxious because I improvised to make an attempt at creating the matcha cheesecake crust.

Anyhow, currently the goma cheesecake is fresh out of the oven and cooling down. It looks great, a deep golden brown top dusted with the 黑芝麻, and the aroma wafting out of the oven smells amazing, the 黑芝麻 smells sweet, nutty, and heavenly. I just hope that the cheesecake won't cave in >< or crack that terribly much =( I guess tomorrow after chilling it, only then will we know how it is taste-wise, eh?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

<< Kinako pancakes!

Recipe based off of Delicious Coma's kinako pancake recipe..

My first try. 不錯, will try again very soon =p
Deviations: added more milk to the batter.. instead of maple syrup, I used organic honey as a spread. Then dusted kinako and brown sugar on top. Not too shabby, fairly yummy actually.