Archive for ‘Recipes’

August 28, 2013

Summer Homemade Ice Cream- Fresh Mint

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Summer is coming to an end, but that’s okay because I got an ice cream maker! My wonderful co-worker, Charlotte, gave me this amazing Cuisinart Ice-20 machine. Oh the possibilities of ice cream flavors are endless! And have I mentioned how much I love ice cream! Of course being impatient, I’ve made a few rookie mistakes like not having pureed my fruit thoroughly, resulting in icy bits of fruit. And for best results, the canister should be completely frozen.

So excited to get started, I purchased the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I made two desserts from her book and both came out excellent! This mint ice cream has a very strong, fresh herb flavor. It may seem a bit weird being that has an earthy and even grassy taste. However, I find the ice cream to be quite refreshing for the summer. It is best to mix in small bits of chocolate to balance the strong mint. I do really enjoy this mint ice cream and will make it again!

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Backyard Mint Ice Cream
Recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 cups whole milk
1 Tb + 1 tsp cornstarch
3 Tb cream cheese, soften
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tb light corn syrup
A large handful of fresh mint
2 trays of ice cubes
Optional: chocolate bits

Directions:

1. Mix 2 Tb milk with cornstarch to make a slurry.
2. Whisk cream cheese and salt in medium bowl until smooth.
3. In a saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and bring to a rolling boil over med-high heat. Boil for 4 more minutes.
4. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in slurry. Bring mixture back to boil and stir until slightly thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
5. Gradually whisk the hot mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
6. Roughly tear the mint leaves into small pieces and add to the mixture.
7. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
8. Pour the ice cream mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge into the ice bath. Let stand until cold, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to steep for 4 to 12 hours.
9. Strain out the mint leaves.
10. Pour ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy, about 25 minutes. Add chocolate into the mix during the last 5 minutes.
11. Pack ice cream into storage container and put in freezer until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

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September 16, 2012

Updates plus coconuts

Yes it’s been a long time… finally feeling some urge to blog again. So what have I’ve been up to these couple of months? Short answer : work. Business is doing well, which means busy. My company Ipomoea Films have increased our number of engagement sessions and weddings this year. Thankful for the word of mouth and people liking our work:) We’re attending lots of fun events and then editing, editing, and more editing! Whenever there is a break, I really become a lazy couch potato… One bad news is my Bumbe bike got stolen. I am really sad my personalized bike and birthday gift from Yip is gone:( I’ve been riding it everyday to work for the last 4 years… But the happiest news of all, is my closest friend recently gave birth to her first baby. It’s a boy!

Now that another summer is coming to an end, I’d like to share with you my favorite treat this season, COCONUT!  Coconut water is a great refresher and feel so tropical too! We brought 2 cases of young coconuts to help us manage this crazy heat.

On my moodest day this summer, Yip made this wonderful dessert! It tastes extra creamy when you scoop up the coconut meat with the ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Honey Pecans in a Coconut Shell

April 24, 2012

Marshmallow Fondant

This past weekend we went camping and grilled some chicken and made s’mores. We had a fun time and finished most of the food we packed, yet we came back home with a pretty full bag of marshmallows. Aside from making rice krispies treats, I have used marshmallows to make fondant. I’m not a great cake baker, but decorating with fondant is lots of fun! Following is a recipe for marshmallow fondant. I made this two years ago during my Ace of Cakes phase. Marshmallow fondant has simple ingredients and easy steps, but makes an extremely sticky mess. Results are absolutely cute!

Marshmallow Fondant
(makes about 2 lb fondant)

16 oz (1 lb) bag of mini marshmallows
2 lb bag of powder sugar
1/2 c Crisco vegetable shortening
2-5 tb water
Food coloring or flavored extracts (optional)

Directions:

1. Melt marshmallows in microwave: add 2 tb water to marshmallows, microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until marshmallows are melted.

2. Grease hands generously. Place shortening in a bowl for easy access when working.  (The next step will get very sticky.)

3. Add 3/4 bag of powder sugar to melted marshmallows and knead.

4. Add rest of powder sugar and continue to knead.

5. If fondant is dry, add 1/2 tb of water at a time.

6. Once the fondant forms into a smooth, elastic ball, it is ready to be rolled and shaped. To store for later used, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in a cool room or in the refrigerator. Knead soft when ready to use again. Add food coloring or flavoring to color fondant.

Alright, start to play!

A chocolate cake with butter cream frosting and marshmallow fondant. I didn’t have any food coloring and couldn’t figure out how to make the Bumbe figure gray. Yip, so brilliantly suggested to use the black sesame powder that we have in our cupboard. So Bumbe is made with sesame and Yun Yun is made with chocolate! Too cute to eat!

March 14, 2012

Citrus kind of Pie

There is a pie eating party at work on March 14, 1:59PM meaning π = 3.141592653… It’s Pi Day! This awesome nerdy holiday, a played on numbers, is simply fun and quirky. Co-workers bring their favorite pies to share and I get to sample a delicious slice of everything. Yum! How will you be celebrating Pi Day? Doing math home work? Or watch a movie/tv episode about π/pies? (I recommend a cute tv show called Pushing Daisies, about a pie maker who can bring the dead to life.)

Pies are one of my favorite desserts. However, pies can be quite labor intensive to make, especially on a weekday. If you are determine to make something special, may I suggest this simple pie-like recipe, great with season fruits and yummy enough for celebrating. A crostata is a different kind of pie, actually like a tart. It is an Italian baked dessert with a buttery pastry filled with jam, cream, or fruit. Right now, blood oranges are in season, so I found a beautiful recipe and gave it a go. This dessert has warm red colors and baked citrus flavors with sweet Italian cream cheese in a casual rustic style. Sounds interesting right?

Pinwheel Blood Orange Crostatas
Recipe adapted from theKitchn
(makes 6-8 individual tart)

Crust
1½ cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tb sugar
1 stick butter (chilled & cubed)
2 tb ice water
1 egg (beaten)
Sprinkle of raw sugar

Fruit & Filling
2 blood orange (slice into wheel shape)
1 orange (slice into wheel shape) – I used grapefruit.
8 oz. (1 tube) mascarpone cheese
2 tb sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
________________________________________

Preparing Fruit & Mascarpone Creme Filling:
1. Slice citrus fruit into wheel shapes and separating segments for triangle shapes.
2. With hand mixer, combine mascarpone cheese, sugar, and vanilla.

Making crust:
3. Mix flour, salt, sugar  and combine flour mixture with butter. You may use a food processor.  I mix it with my hands, squeezing and crumbling the dough until the flour and butter are evenly distributed into each other.
4. Add ice water and mix in with dough.
5. Form dough into ball, refrigerate for 20 min.
6. Divide dough into 6-8 balls.
7. Roll dough balls ~ 1/4″ thick and ~4-6″ diameter. Don’t need to worry about perfect edges. Place discs on parchment paper.

Arrangement & Baking:
8. Spread creme filling in middle of dough disc.
9. Arrange fruits, alternating colors to create a pinwheel.
10. Fold dough edges around covering half the fruit arrangement.
11. Refrigerate crostatas for half an hour.
12. When ready to bake, brush with egg wash and sprinkle on raw sugar.
13. Bake 375 degrees about 30 min. or until golden brown. Cool and top with creme.

 

Special message from sweet ipomoea: First time being Freshly Pressed! Thank you all for the likes, comments, and follows! It is so exciting to hear from people from all over the world! Thank you for your kindness! :D

March 3, 2012

Sweet & Sour Pork

This weekend, we are celebrating National Pig Day. It is my favorite event that my local farmer’s market organizes, where there are many pig theme decors, activities and yep food too! In the spirit, I’ll share this sweet and sour pork recipe, which I learned from my recent trip.

During my trip to Hong Kong, I managed to peek into Yip’s mom’s kitchen to see her secret in master cooking. This recipe was said to be passed from grandma to her and now to me. This is merely based on observation. I had to come up with the measurements as I cooked it myself when I returned home. All the ingredients are the same, but somehow food always taste better when mom cooks. This is not a dish we eat often at home, due to it’s popularity in take out and cumbersome steps. It is sure impressive for guests and colorful too. I feel happy knowing how it is prepared and cooking a tasty dish on my own.

Sweet and Sour Pork
(makes about 4 servings)

1 boneless pork chop (cubed)
1/4 of green and red bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 of onion (chopped)
3/4 cup pineapple (cubed)
1 egg
flour
oil for frying

Sauce
3 tb ketchup
2 tb vinegar (white/rice)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tb water
1/2 tb cornstarch

Directions:
1. Chop pork chop into 1/2 inch cubes and marinate for 1 hour or overnight with salt, sugar, and cornstarch.

2. Making the sauce:
Add ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, sugar, and water in a pot, cooking in medium heat. Stir to mix and adjusting the taste to your liking. (Example: needing more sour, add vinegar.) In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and a little water together. Add to your sweet and sour sauce to thicken it. Put sauce aside.

3. Frying pork:
Coat pork with egg wash and then flour to fry in oil. Take crispy pork out when golden brown and drain on paper towels. Put aside to cool. Refry pork to get it more crispy. Drain on paper towels to soak up oil.

4. In a wok, stir fry bell pepper, onion, pineapple. Don’t over cook. Add pork and sauce.

Hopefully, next time I go back to Hong Kong, I will learn more cooking. I know the bf will like that:)

October 11, 2011

Potsticker Recipe

Homemade potstickers are the best! Yip and I make them a lot at home and they are great with guests and parties. Back in college, my friends and I would have “wrapping” parties to wrap wontons and potstickers. It’s so interesting to see how different families have different styles of wrapping. We all bring our skills to the table to enjoy cooking and eating together. Making potstickers is not difficult, just a little time consuming if you’re wrapping them by yourself. (That’s why you have helpers!) I’ve never really have a standard recipe to go by because savory cooking is not quite as exact as baking recipes. You can basically mix the meat filling with any variety of vegetable or seafood. Some combinations I’ve added are mushroom, cabbage, chives, shrimp, and even pumpkin! They can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried (potstickers), and freezed. Recently, I made some delicious potstickers and remembered to jot down my ingredients. So I’d like share with you my homemade recipe:)

Pork Potstickers

1 package of potsticker wrappers

1 lb ground pork (I like to ground my own pork)

1 bundle spinach

1 small-sized carrot (julienne)

2 springs green onion (diced)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 tb fresh ginger (minced and mashed)

1 tb corn starch

1 egg

splash of rice wine

salt & white pepper

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Filling:

1. Prepare ingredients: julienne carrots (thin and small), diced green onions, mince garlic, mince and mash fresh ginger. Place fresh ingredients in a large bowl with the ground pork.

2. Cook spinach until welted. Squeeze out the juice with a strainer and spoon, cheese cloth, or your hands. Chop cooked spinach into small pieces and add to the bowl.

3. Add seasoning to the bowl of ingredients: cornstarch, salt, pepper, egg and rice wine.

4. Mix everything together.

Wrapping Potstickers:

5. Fill a small bowl with some water. This will act as “glue” to seal your wrapper.

6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Use your finger to brush water all around the edges of the wrapper.

7. Bring opposite sides together at one point and pinch in the middle. Pleating only the upper half of the dumpling, make about three pleats on one side going in the direction toward the center. Then repeat with the opposite side, so that the pleats on each sides are pointing towards the middle. You’ll get a nice crescent shape and a flat bottom.  (Stroll down for pictures.) If this is too complicated, you can just sealed the edges tightly.

8. Place your dumpling on a floured surfaced and continue to wrap more.

9. Before you wrap too many, it is a good idea to taste to see whether your filling is seasoned to your liking. Boil a small pot of water and cook a couple of dumplings. Let them cook in boiling water for a few minutes or until they float up. Taste test if you need more salt. If the flavor is good or got the approval of your taste tester, go ahead and finish wrapping your potstickers.

Cooking potstickers:

10. On a non-stick pan, arrange potstickers flat-side down and fill with water just covering the bottom of potstickers.

11. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turn on high heat and cover with lid.

12. When the water starts to simmer, turn to low heat to steam potstickers.

13. Let the water evaporate and fried til golden brown.

14. Serve with dipping sauce like soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Ta-da! Homemade Potstickers!

August 18, 2011

Chocolate Chip & Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Here’s a simple and yummy treat! I found this recipe because I wanted to use up the rest of my sour cream and I have all the ingredients at home. I made this cake after work, but when we were done with dinner, we were too full to eat it. So the next morning, here’s our wonderful breakfast! This is a coffee cake and it is intended to be served with coffee or for break time. Coffee cake does not need to contain coffee, and my cake didn’t have any coffee, so I like to be more literal and changed the name at bit. Also instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up a bar of dark chocolate with almonds, used a little less sugar and didn’t sprinkle all the cinnamon-sugar topping. You may add chocolate chips in the filling or nuts or fruits. I think all the variations will taste good!

Chocolate and Cinnamon Breakfast Cake
Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 cup flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping/Filling
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tb brown sugar
1½  tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Cream butter and 3/4 c sugar until fluffy. Add and mix eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients.
5. In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon sugar topping/filling ingredients.
6. Pour half of the cake batter onto baking pan. Sprinkle half cinnamon sugar over batter.
7. Spread rest of batter over and sprinkle cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips on top.
8. Bake 350° for 40 min or until golden and center comes clean.
9. Cool and serve with coffee.

I brewed up a pot of French roasted coffee in the morning and had it with my chocolate cinnamon breakfast cake! It was a perfect match:9 The cake is moist and crumbly too. Not too sweet and has Chocolate! Boyfriend approved! Both of us ate this throughout the day. Next time, I want to make a coffee cake with coffee!

Here’s nosy Yun Yun, who never likes to be left out of anything! Sunflowers were picked by my thoughtful boyfriend on his way back home from work:)

May 30, 2011

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Last fall, when I made a bunch of pumpkin puree from our Halloween Jack o Lanterns, I was inspired to make all these pumpkin goodies. The recipe that caught my interest in my search was pumpkin gnocchi.  Gnocchi are soft dumplings usually made of potatoes and flour. It just so yummy. What’s funny is that we can never pronounce gnocchi correctly. Guh-noki?, Nyo-chi?  My bf, Yip gave up and by default he says guh-noogie :)

So recently, I bought a can of pumpkin puree and made gnocchi again, following Closet cooking’s recipe. I love the color and the hint of pumpkin flavor. The dough is really sticky, so I used more flour than what the recipe calls for. It takes a long time to shape the little pieces of dough, especially since I want markings on each piece. For some reason, I had a hard time rolling pieces of dough with the fork, but Yip picked it up really fast (he is the better cook) and showed me. Now I can whip through the whole batch and have the patience to finish the job. Warning…making gnocchi is very time consuming, so you may want to shape half the dough and the other half the next day. But it is a fun activity with the help of  little ones or big friends too.

Since it’s usually the two of us, we freeze the gnocchi separately and place them in a zip lock bag. When ready to eat,  place however much in boiling water and cook in a sauce. Gnocchi tastes so good and a great alternative to our usual boring spaghetti.

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
1 cup flour for working surface/ dusting

Directions:
1. Simmer pumpkin puree in a sauce pan to absorb some wetness and let it cool.
2. Mix egg yolk into the puree.
3. Combine salt, nutmeg, and flour together.
4. Add flour mixture into the puree to form a soft sticky dough.
5. Take pieces of dough and roll out into long ropes about 1/2 inch thick.
6. Cut the rolled ropes into 1/2 inch pieces and then roll the pieces in flour lightly shaking off any excess.
7. Roll the pieces with a fork (or gnocchi board) to give them the ridges.
8. Cook desired amount of  gnocchi in boiling water until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain.
9. Cook in a sauce or fry.

I made a tomatoe sauce with spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, onion and  asparagus on the side, topped with cilantro and Parmesan cheese :9

Look at the cute little pumpkin hats I made for the cats:)

May 6, 2011

Macarons

For a week, I’ve been learning to make macarons. After work, I announced that I’m making macaron again and the bf replied, “Macaron, macaron, my face is going to turn into a macaron. ” Well, that’s because he eats all of my creations:) Macarons are so small and delicate, you don’t realized how many you pop into your mouth. They are made with only 4 ingredients: egg whites, ground almonds, powdered sugar and granulated sugar. That’s it.

However, the results of my effort are not great and I even went out to buy a Silpat mat and piping tools to make them right. I started with deflated ones, then burnt ones, overly sweet, and lastly, ones that cracked. To my surprise, I’ve used up my bag of powdered sugar, an ingredient that usually stay in the cupboard for too long. So, I think it is time to stop for awhile and bake something else. If anyone have any tips or easy recipes for macarons, let me know!

I came across this raspberricupcakes\’ piggy macarons and they are so cute! When I’m more experience, I will try her recipe. I only followed her method in assembling the pig. Luckily, I got one shell that looked like a pig. Macarons are very tricky…sigh

I savaged the few macarons that looked good enough for a photo shoot and let my bf eat all the defected ones.

My cat Yun Yun loves to hang out in the kitchen with me:)

April 13, 2011

Steamed Custard Bun – Pig Bun Version

It’s the middle of the week and I have a craving for bao, steamed bun. My boyfriend replied, “Ok, we’ll go to the city on Friday, yea?” Living in a small town with no Chinese bakery, we have to trek a long way to get some of our favorite food. It can be quite inconvenient when one of us gets a craving. After work that day, my boyfriend brought me some pretty croissant and danish pastries. They were wonderful, but I still wanted to taste soft fluffy bun. So I decided to do some research and found some potential recipes…BUT the ingredients can not be found in our local supermarket. On top of that, I was inspired to make them into a shaped of a pig after going to the Pig Day event at my Farmer’s Market.

After some delayed, here is my recipe for steamed custard bun (奶黄包 / nai wong bao).

Steamed custard bun (奶黄包)
Recipes adapted from the following websites: Lydia Teh’s My Kitchen and Jo’s Deli & Bakery

Bun
2¼ tsp instant dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water
(Optional: ½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice)

2¼ cup cake flour
3/4 cup wheat starch
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tb shortening or vegetable oil

2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cold water

Custard Filling
1 tb + 1 tsp custard powder
1/2 cup wheat starch
3 tb castor sugar
1/2 cup milk
3½ tb butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Making bun:
1. Sift together flour, wheat starch and icing sugar. Place flour mixture in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Gently stir water to dissolve the yeast, then slowly bring together flour mixture.
3. Add in shortening or oil and knead for 10-15 minutes until a soft dough is formed.
4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Meanwhile…
Making custard filling:
5. Combine custard powder, wheat starch, and castor sugar in a nonstick pot.
6. Add in milk and stir mixture over low heat until mixed.
7. Add butter and dissolve in mixture.
8. Add egg and turn off heat. Keep stirring to form custard paste.
9. Divide filling into 12 portions and shape into balls.

Continue making custard bun:
10. Dissolve baking powder in cold water, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined.
11. Divide dough into 12 portions. Roll a ball into a flat circle where edges are thinner than the center.
12. Place custard filling in the middle, and wrap to form a bun.
13. Place bun on parchment paper, and repeat for the other.
14. Prove for 10 min. and preheat steamer.
15. Arrange buns in a steamer with 1″ gap in between each bun. Steam on high heat for 15 mins.

To assemble pig, add the following steps to the recipe:
11a. Reserve one dough ball and color it pink with a few drops of red food coloring. (I didn’t have any food coloring, so I ground the closest red item I have, which is Haw Flakes.)
11b. Roll out the pink dough and shape little rectangles for noses and triangles for ears.
12a. Adhered nose and ears onto formed bun with a little water. Use a chopstick to poke nose holes.
12b. Eyes can be made with black sesame or raisins. Be creative! I used sushi seaweed and cut out different shape eyes to give my pig buns some expressions.

Notes:
-My custard powder and wheat starch was found in a small Chinese grocery.
-Original recipe uses low-protein flour aka Hong Kong flour. I haven’t been able to find it, so I used cake flour instead.
-For whiter buns, add a few drops of vinegar into steaming water.
-DO NOT open the lid during the steaming process.
-If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder has not fully dissolved.

Beautiful yellow custard and my secret ingredient, Haw Flakes.

It’s coming to life!

It was funny lifting the lid after the buns finished steaming, and seeing the pain expression “(>_<)” on one of my piggies.

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