Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kitchen Adventures: Kouign Amann

Lord knows I love butter (mon péché mignon, as the French call it, along with extra dry gin martinis and chocolate in the middle of the night). We all know the French REALLY love butter. So when my coworker (let's call him A for now) made me this bready, wonderful, buttery-rich dessert, I just KNEW I had to try and make it myself. Hailing from Douarnenez, in the Finistère region of France, this Breton bread-cake is horrible for your heart and waistline but so, so good in your mouth.

The premise is simple - it's a pastry made of basic bread dough laminated (layered) with oodles and oodles of butter. The technique, however, requires practice and very very cold butter (frozen if possible), so that the layers come out nice and even. Mais, ne vous découragez pas! Practice makes perfect.

Here's A's version:

For the Dough (also makes a nice basic bread or pizza dough all by itself)
800g all-purpose flour
25g sea salt
30g butter, softened
15g fresh yeast
400mL water

  1. Prep the yeast. You can take a little bit of tepid-warm (NOT hot) water and a teaspoon of sugar, and mash the fresh yeast gently with a fork in a bowl. Set aside. In a few minutes, this should look frothy and smell a bit like beer.
  2. Combine the salt, flour and butter. Incorporate the water, little by little, and add the yeast (do not add yeast and salt at the same time - the yeast will die), kneading into a firm dough.
  3. Knead into a ball in the bowl; cut a little "X" on top, cover with saran wrap and leave to double in volume in a warm (but not overly hot) place, about 30-60 minutes.
For the Filling
550g butter, unsalted
400g brown sugar

  1. Roll out the dough about 0.5" (1cm) thick.
  2. Cut the butter into slices, and assemble to make a butter "sheet" to fit about half the surface area of the dough from the previous step. Dust with sugar, then fold the dough over. Roll out the dough again.
  3. Repeat the process until you have used up all the butter and the sugar. At this point, your dough should look layered, with butter and sugar in between the layers.
  4. You can cut a square about 6"x6" (15cm x 15cm) and put in a cake pan (fold in the edges to form a circle), or cut strips, roll them up and put them in a muffin pan as I did.
  5. Let the dough rest for about half an hour before baking at 180 degrees Celsius (~350 Fahrenheit), until golden brown. Flip over so the other side can caramelize as well; continue baking until a golden brown color is reached (baking times will vary - a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean).
Et voilà, Kouign Amann. It's seriously so so good. Mine turned out a bit funny looking as the butter got too hot and didn't layer perfectly, but it was delicious nonetheless. Try it with a cup of coffee... You'll be convinced.

As I mentioned before, you can use the basic dough to make bread too, see Exhibit A in all its glory:

Super easy, and quick enough to include as a side to a weekday dinner! Just remember to add a small container of water in the oven for moisture when baking, so you don't get overly crispy bread.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

What to Eat For Dinner Tonight: Stir Fry On a Bed of Vermicelli

We have a super hectic work schedule - and by super hectic I mean we tend to finish work at 11pm, so when it comes to "what to eat" during the week, we want something fast and easy. And what's more easy to make than stirfry?

Here's what's in it: Bell Peppers, Garlic, Beans, Broccoli, Onions and Carrots. And of course, Vermicelli

The vegetables are fried in a little bit of olive oil, and then cooked in a little bit of beef broth, oyster sauce and soya sauce.

In a separate pot, cook the Vermicelli until it's edible, and then drain it in Cold Water. When the vegetables are done cooking, dump the Vermicelli into the vegetables so that it soaks up that delicious sauce.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Food Porn: Les Glaceurs - Ice Cream and Cupcakes

453 Rue Saint-Suplice
Montreal, QC H2Y 2V8

I wouldn't say it's the best cupcake I've ever had, but it was pretty damn good!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Poutine: The Classy Way

Poutine made with Baked fries, Italian Sausages, grated le Petit Québec cheese, and Basil all soaked in Gravy. Yummy Canadian goodness.

Zyng Asian Grill in Mont Royal

I wasn't overly impressed, but the food was decent and fresh, so you know - it was fine. And they had Siracha which makes everything delicious

1371 Mont Royal Est 
Montreal, Quebec H2J 1Y8

Friday, 25 May 2012

Food Porn: For lunch today, Pasta Primavera

Penne, vegetables tomato sauce, sundried tomatos, and a touch of basil. Perfect for a beautiful Summer day!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hot Pot in Montreal: Fondue Chinoise À Volonté

At the corner of St. Mathieu and Maisonneuve, there's a new Hot Pot restaurant owned by actual Chinese people. Although the food buffet is not terribly fresh, it was delicious nonetheless.

When you sit down, the waiter asks for your drink order, your soup base, and what kind of meat you would like.

They offer Tsing Tao and Heineken Beer (just like a true Chinese hot pot restaurant), and there's all-you-can-drink soy milk and iced tea.

You're offered only two meat choices - lamb or beef, but the food buffet has a large selection of seafood, tripe, beef balls, and everything else you might find a hot pot restaurant.

In terms of soup bases, there are only two choices: spicy and non spicy. The spicy is really really spicy. In retrospect, I should have gotten the non spicy one and added spices from their sauce bar to it.

If you're looking for a good Hot Pot place to go, this is one of the better places I've been to in Montréal. The closest Metro station to it is Guy Concordia.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Food Porn: Back to My Roots - Shanghai Ketchup Shrimp

When I think of home, I always think of Shanghainese Ketchup Shrimp. It's one of my dad's best dishes, and it's so tasty that it makes me want to forever be daddy's little girl. It's also surprisingly simple to make! 

Get some shrimp, and Peel and Devein - if you don't know how to Peel or Devein, you can check out these instructions from Simply Recipes.

Here's what's in the sauce: 
  • Ketchup
  • Sugar 
  • Soya Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Scallions (optional)
Ketchup : Soya Sauce : Sugar ratio = 2:1:1
Pan-fry the shrimp in the sauce and that's it. Seriously.

Happy Tuesday! Hope you guys had a nice long weekend! I sure did.

Papa Yeung and I

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Les Beaux Jeudis: It's time to shut this place down

Photo courtesy of Crescent Montreal
I should have known that the second I entered Les Beaux Jeudis for lunch, and saw that there were only 2 other tables seated. I should have ran for the door when I saw the couple beside me eat half their meal in disgust and proceeded to grab the check before they even finished their drinks. But of course, I didn't. And I sat there and munched on the bread expecting the best meal of my week.

Every year my dad comes to Montreal and we go to Les Beaux Jeudis. Why? Because the food quality is was good, the service is was friendly, and they have a beautiful patio overlooking Crescent Street. Call it a tourist trap if you may, but every local Montrealer has raved over Les Beaux Jeudis at some point during the last 3-4 years.

Without fail, my dad and I went all the way to Crescent Street to have what hoped to be a delicious meal. It was the exact opposite. In fact, my experience was so bad that I wouldn't go there even if they paid me.

So let's talk about it.

What we ordered: Crab cakes, Cream of Pea Soup, Prime Roast Beef, and Spaghetti with Bacon.

The Food: Disgusting

The Crabcake, although it had a nice taste, was a mix of 90% fake crab and 10% real crab. Hey Beaux Jeudis, you thought we wouldn't notice? ANYONE WHO KNOWS FOOD WOULD NOTICE.

The Cream of Pea Soup was salty to the point that it was inedible, and the peas had such a disgusting undercooked texture, I can only guess that they put frozen peas into a blender and hoped for the best.

The Prime Roast Beef was over-seasoned, and we got well-done instead of medium rare.

The Spaghetti with Bacon and a tomato sauce - let's just say that you should NEVER put an obnoxious amount of salt whenever there is bacon.

The Service: Awful

I can't even explain how awful it is when a waiter comes by to ask how your food is, you tell them it's awful and they tell you they'll go get the Maitre D, and the Maitre D comes 20 minutes later.

It disgusts me that when we told the waiter the Prime Roast Beef was well done instead of medium rare, he didn't take the dish back to correct it, he looked at it and said "oh!",  put the dish down and walked away.

It makes me sick that a restaurant with that big of a legacy has a Maitre D that doesn't know the difference between Well Done and Medium Rare, and proceeded to explain to us that "Well Done" was their standard of "Medium Rare". Hey, the next time we go, should we just ask for Raw?  Will we get Medium Rare then? And when I complained about the spaghetti he said "Well, when you ask for a dish with Bacon you should expect it to be salty". Sure! Salty is one thing, Kidney Failure type salty is a whole other.  That is NOT food. When I asked the Maitre D to try the food himself he said that he couldn't. ARE YOU FRIGGN KIDDING ME? You won't even TRY the food that your customers won't eat to see where the Hell you went wrong? What do you mean you're going to tell the chef? What the hell are you even going to tell him? Do you or the Chef have any qualifications to work in a restaurant? Do you even have taste buds? Does the chef taste his own food? I'm skeptical.

This will be the very last time I go to Les Beaux Jeudis - for drinks or otherwise. It was a disgusting experience, and I can only hope that they are gone from Montreal as soon as possible

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Food Porn: Prosciutto con Melone with a Palm Heart Salad

For the Salad:
Mixed greens
Roasted red bell peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Calabrese olives
Palm hearts
Balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt & pepper)

For the Prosciutto con Melone:
Cantaloupe or honeydew melon (choose a nice, ripe, sweet one)
Slices of prosciutto di Parma

Y'all are big boys and girls and know how to make a salad right? Make the salad, wrap the prosciutto around the melon, lightly dust with freshly ground pepper, and present like so. Easy peasy.

New Drinking Hole: Bar le Jockey//Being Introduced to the Negroni

So, if you know me at all - you'll know Ines doesn't do the whole sweet drink with the umbrella/crazy colors/fancy glassware. 99% of the time, if we're out at our favorite watering-hole (my pick: the Claremont, on Sherbrooke O. & Grey in Westmount, next to the Pharmaprix, for their extensive bar and consistently good food), you can see me clutching an extra-dry (and I mean DRY AS A BONE) gin martini with extra olives (MUST be made with Hendrick's); a Stolichnaya (or Belvedere, sometimes I like that fancy Polish vodka) on the rocks with a lemon twist; or a Macallan's 12 year scotch, double, served neat. If it's too hot for any of these (although there is no time of the year where it's too hot for a nice martini), I might venture out for some sangria or gin and tonic (but with the gin doubled and just a splash of tonic for effervescence).

I have a certain condescension when it comes to drinkers who drink their stuff mixed with a lot of things, to make it not taste like alcohol - it seems kind of like, going out to buy a Lamborghini, only to replace the engine with one from a Prius, or taking the claws out of a puma or something - so you could guess my skepticism as my beer- and rum-and-coke-drinking boyfriend lugged me out to Rosemont/Petite Patrie to Bar le Jockey (on St Zotique somewhere; I don't remember exactly), promising an extensive bar.

A flair show at Bar le Jockey; image courtesy of

Upon entering, I was greeted by good music (not too loud for once) - Red Hot Chili Peppers (from their BloodSugarSexMagik days), the White Stripes, Jimi Hendrix and other good stuff that actually does not resemble techno or wailing/screaming (major points!) - and a bartender that actually understood what I meant when I rapidly barked out "martini, sec, vraiement sec, fait avec Hendrick's et avec beaucoup d'olives, s'il vous plait." The martini had the proper legs on the sides of the glass, the bartender used the proper technique of RINSING THE GLASS WITH DRY VERMOUTH (not just haphazardly throwing it in the shaker), and didn't shake the gin for too long, resulting in a nice, smooth, dry martini, accompanied by the good kind of olives (garlic marinated queen olives in this instance - more points!). Like a good bartender, he asked me to taste the martini, so that he could remake it for me if it wasn't for my liking (big, fat, gold star at this point!). He didn't quite make it as well as the Claremont (which I have been frequenting for years, therefore they know exactly what I want - this guy almost nailed it - it might take a few visits before we solve this problem) , but he knew what he was doing and what I loved the most was that he didn't water down the martini because I'm a girl.

I have this mini-rant every time I walk into a bar and I ask the bartender to create me a drink, he makes me this pink-sugar-fruit-amaretto explosion thingy served in a pineapple or something - so preparing for a mini-b*tchfit, I asked him to make me something that I would like, that wouldn't be pink or blue or garnished with  cherries and umbrellas. He asked if I was very partial to Hendrick's, and I said I was, so he told me he would make me a traditional Italian cocktail, using Hendrick's and sweet vermouth, instead of the dry variety.

He made me a negroni - delightfully bitter, not sweet, and refreshingly citrusy. 1 part gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, and 1 part campari (or orange bitters), served on the rocks in an old fashioned (or lowball) glass wiped down at first with a burnt orange (yes, you get to set an orange peel on fire!), then garnished with a burnt orange twist, this traditional apertif has become a welcome addition to my very limited repertoire of "acceptable" drinks. It's a cocktail I feel is a bit neglected alongside the ever-multiplying explosion of appletinis, lychee martinis, screaming orgasms and other sugary-sweet drinks posing as grown-up cocktails, but is so much more complex and interesting in its portrayal of a single, unpopular flavor: bitterness (don't knock on bitterness - it's a very useful flavor aspect that can enhance other flavors placed alongside it).

All in all, the capable bartender at Bar le Jockey made my experience there very enjoyable, and I should think when I'm in the east end of town I will visit more frequently. For those of you who don't drink cocktails, the bar has a very nice selection of beers, rums and scotches as far as I could see (they have an extensive bar and I couldn't make out all the bottles), and for those of you who prefer the cocktail variety that makes me cringe like a vampire in sunlight, there are some house creations that are, for example, garnished with pink cotton candy and other sugary manners of garnishes (a gaggle of girls were going bonkers over that whole situation). My only caveat is that this bar has no food - and we know Ines likes food with her drinks - but they do have little nibbles that are pretty decent (cabanossi/mini pepperoni, pickled eggs, chips & salsa etc.). They also have flair shows (I got too tired to stay late for the shows... Ines is clearly getting old and decrepit), and a DJ that will spin your requests nightly. The pricing was a welcome change from bars in more popular areas; a cocktail will set you back around $9-12, depending on what's in it - I was used to some bars robbing me blind for a watery martini.

Conclusion: if you're in that neck of the woods - go to Bar le Jockey. You might end up hungry, but you will be very happily drunk, and you WILL have a lot of fun trying out new drinks.

Happy drinking, and wishing an awesome long weekend to all!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Montréal's Best Bakery: Première Moisson

There's nothing I love more than the sight of colourful pastries and the smell of freshly baked bread - so when I first discovered La Boulangerie Première Moisson, I almost had a heart attack - I mean, imagine a kid at Disneyland, except that it's an endless Disneyland and there's no time limit and no lines. Yes - that was exactly how I felt. I actually first learned about Première Moisson because a friend bought me two Chocolate spreads from there for my birthday - one Banana Chocolate and one Raspberry Chocolate, both of which were quite possibly the most delicious Chocolate spreads I've ever tasted (don't tell Nutella). From there on I expanded to the fruit jams, and then the pasta/house sauces. More recently, I've developed a love for their deli meats - which I know sounds like a weird thing to buy at a bakery, but I promise you -  it's very good.

As an added benefit, the last time I went to Première Moisson, I checked-in on Foursquare and my friend Fannie and I got a free baguette out of it, so if I haven't convinced you yet that this is the best place in the world, get Foursquare, check-in, and see for yourself!

Reaping the benefits of Social Media
*Images are courtesy of Premiere Moisson, except for the second one which is courtesy of my awesome cellphone.

The Food Porn Edition: Dinner last night

Vegetables, Cajun Spices, Chili Flakes, White Wine, Chicken Broth, and a little bit of Cream to hold it all together. Vegetarian doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Easy Dinner Ideas: Gamberoni Fra Diavolo

Lately, I've been trying to prepare more home-cooked meals, with whole ingredients, rather than wasting my food dollars by dining out (Pho remains an exception to this rule - it's just too damn delicious). I've been able to come up with some pretty fancy-looking dinners and lunches, without really breaking the bank or expanding my waistline too much - this recipe for Gamberoni Fra Diavolo is one of my more impressive attempts at culinary resourcefulness.

A little history lesson before we move onto the recipe: Fra Diavolo (or literally, "Brother Devil;" born Michele Pezza) was a Neapolitan bandit/brigand who contributed in the Bourbon defeat of the Neapolitan Republic in the 18th Century - fascinating (occasionally I like to Google such facts to appear knowledgeable in front of my dinner guests *cough* my mother & Korean relatives *cough*). Although rumor has it that he asked for this shrimp dish as his last meal before his death by hanging in 1806, there is no historical record indicating the veracity of this claim (Source: Various Search Results in Google - please don't quote this blog for your history paper - SHAME ON YOU!). Nonetheless, this Neapolitan staple is delicious, and pretty easy to prepare.

I put my little spin on this classic with ingredients I had on hand, and the taste test (my sister, Cheryl and myself) confirms it was indeed quite delicious. 

While various sources use different ingredients, this is what I used:

1 4-person portioned bag of rigatoni (you can use whatever pasta you have lying around)
1/2 jar capers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons of minced garlic (I love me some garlic)
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved (eyeball it - if it looks like there isn't enough - add a bit more)
2 medium roasted peppers, julienned into strips about 5mm thick
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons dried crushed chili flakes, or 1-2 fresh jalapeno pepper(s), chopped fine (I leave the seeds in for a spicy kick)
About 1 dozen king prawns (add more or less as your wallet permits - large prawns are pretty ka-ching, but I was able to snag them at the Chinese market for much cheaper), deveined and cleaned but with the shells & head on if possible (if the heads gross you out, you can chop them off, but they add a lot of flavor)
1/2 jar standard marinara or tomato sauce
Fresh basil leaf shredded finely, to taste (you can also use Oregano)
Salt & pepper, to taste
A little white wine or chicken broth, or water
Juice & zest of half a lemon
Lemon wedges, to serve

To prepare the pasta:
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Use plenty of salted water so it cooks properly, in a large pot.
  2. When there are about 3-4 minutes left on the pasta timer, add a good glug of olive oil into a large saute pan or wok. Add the garlic and chili, and saute to release the oils. Keep this hot, but don't let the garlic burn, or it will taste horrible!
  3. Once the garlic perfumes the oil, add the prawns to the pan, searing each side in the oil. Add the onion, saute quickly; add the white wine (or chicken broth/water) and close the lid to allow the steam to cook the shrimp and onions.
  4. Once the prawns are pink, add cherry tomatoes and roasted bell pepper, lowering the heat just a little. Once these are hot, add the capers also. Saute quickly; add the marinara/tomato sauce. Stir together until hot.
  5. Drain the pasta (by now it should be cooked) and add immediately to the sauce. Saute quickly to incorporate; salt & pepper to taste (if necessary). Add lemon zest, juice & shredded basil just before serving.
  6. Spoon the pasta onto plates (display the shrimp on top - so it gets a big "wow" from your dinner guests - you can even make them brandish those cocktail swords if you want, if you're juvenile like me); garnish with a basil leaf and serve with a lemon wedge (don't forget a finger bowl for the saucy shrimp and another empty one for the shells). This is delicious with a glass of Pinot Grigio (or your preferred dry white wine). Enjoy immediately*!
*This is equally delicious as leftovers, even if you don't have any shrimp left - the sauce itself is quite yummy.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

St. Patrick's Day Nutella filled Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

It's almost St.Patrick's Day which means it's time for drinking to oblivion, getting rich through leprechauns, and all things green!  I thought a lot about what I'd want flavour of green cupcake I wanted to make and had a long debate between Green Tea and Mint. In the end, Mint won because obviously, it is the most delicious! Especially with Chocolate. 

Here's how to make Nutella Filled Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: 

Ingredients for the Cupcake Base: 
- 1/2 cup of Butter, softened
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 an Egg
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 cup of Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
- A small small pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup of Sugar

Ingredients for the Cupcake Frosting
- 1 cup of Butter
- 4 cups of Confectionary Sugar
- 1 tsp of Vanilla
- Few drops of Mint/Peppermint Extract
- 4 tbs Whipping Cream (I couldn't find anything but Nutriwhip so I had to improvise a little bit- if you don't know how much Whipping Cream/Nutriwhip you should put, try the frosting - if you've ever tasted cupcake frosting, it'll be obvious to you)

Instructions for the cupcake base: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  1. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Beat together the Butter and the Sugar until fluffy.
  3. In a different bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and the salt.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, but alternate between the dry ingredients and the milk - pour half the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, then the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups - fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way.
  6. Shove into oven and bake for around 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool 2 minutes and fill a decorating bag with Nutella - poke a hole into the top of the cupcake and squeeze the Nutella in.
  8. Let cool some more. 
Instructions for Cupcake frosting: 
  1. Beat together Butter and Sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the Vanilla and Mint/Peppermint Extract.
  3. Add the whipping cream (you can add it a little bit at a time if you're worried about the consistency of the frosting)
  4. Fill a decorating bag with your delicious frosting.
  5. Make a swirl and start decorating! Add some chocolat chips for extra deliciousness!

Tonight's Dinner? Vegetable Stir Fry!

I love a great stirfry. I love when rice is cooked in chicken broth, and the chicken broth just gets soaked up into the rice in a way that can only be described as exquisite. Despite the fact that it feels like it takes forever to chop up carrots, it's a very quick weeknight meal, and it's absolutely delicious. All you need is: rice, chicken broth (use to cook the rice instead of water), salt and pepper, a little bit of Oyster Sauce and vegetables of your choosing - I used carrots, broccoli, onions and cauliflower. 

Happy Eating!

What's In My Lunch Box? Cod "Meatballs," Wild Rice, Sautéed Asparagus & Bell Peppers

A little intro to the What's In My Lunch Box series:
Bringing lunch to work/school doesn't have to be boring! By marrying the Korean & Japanese art of Doshirak/Bento to a busy North American lifestyle, we will feature delicious home-cooked, healthy, and INTERESTING brown-bag options to bring to work - a lot of flavor and fun that's light on your waistline and your wallet. Bonus: these options feature a lot of items that can be made in 45 minutes or less, or ahead of time and frozen.

In Ines' lunchbox today (lovingly packaged by her Korean mama):

  • Sautéed asparagus & red bell pepper (takes 15 mins or so)
  • Wild & brown rice as a starch (ignore the freaky purple color, it's delicious - about 30 mins in a pressure cooker)
  • Korean-style cod "meatballs," topped with a little Sriracha (actually a kind of "jeon" or egg-coated, pan-fried meat patty sort of thing - made ahead of time (~1 hr for prep) and cooked the day of - about 10 mins)
  • Not pictured: a nectarine, an orange, blackberry Greek yogurt, cucumber crudités as snacks throughout the day (almost no time to prep, just throw them in your lunch bag)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Coconut-Vanilla Cupcakes with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting

so… the other day, i had a sudden craving, no, NEED, to eat something sweet, creamy and soft… so i decided to make these delicious, moist cupcakes.
the secret ingredient in the cupcakes is the coconut milk, which has a higher fat content than regular milk, which gives the cupcakes a decadently rich texture. combined with the slightly tangy, creamy frosting, and the texture of the coconut flakes, this is heaven in little, deliciously edible mounds!
for an even more decadent treat, you could try filling the cupcakes with the frosting, or toasting the coconut topping.
in the summer months, you should keep these refrigerated, because the frosting does have a tendency to be a bit runny in hot weather.
recipe makes 18 to 36 cupcakes, depending on size of mold.

ingredients for base cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder* 
  • 1/2 tsp salt* (* indicates that these ingredients should be mixed and sifted twice) 
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed 
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (if unavailable
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup pure coconut milk, at room temperature (available in the asian section of the grocery store) 
  • 1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes 
  • 1 cup sweetened dessicated coconut flakes

ingredients for frosting:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 2x 8 oz packets of cream cheese, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup) 
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract) 
  • 2 tbsp coconut extract

  • sweetened dessicated coconut, spread out on a platter cupcakes (can be done a day before and set aside)

  1. preheat oven to 350F, with a rack positioned in the middle (or middle-top if you have 4 levels in your oven) of the oven. 
  2. line cupcake molds with paper cupcake liners. 
  3. in a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with a whisk until creamy & slightly fluffy (the old fashioned way - if you’re pressed for time, you can use a beater). 
  4. add the sugar in 1/3 cup increments, while beating the butter, making sure that all the sugar gets incorporated. 
  5. add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly. 
  6. add the coconut milk vanilla bean to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, incorporating thoroughly. 
  7. now take 1/3 of the dry mixture (sifted flour, baking powder & salt) and beat it into the wet ingredients. r
  8. epeat two more times, until all the dry ingredients are now incorporated. 
  9. add the dessicated coconut. 
  10. ladle the batter into the lined cupcake molds, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 full (or the mixture will overflow and you’ll have ugly cupcakes). 
  11. bake at 350F, for 18-25 minutes, until edges are golden brown & a toothpick/chopstick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached to it. 
  12. frosting - while the cupcakes are baking, prepare the following: beat the butter until creamy. 
  13. add cream cheese, half a package at a time, until it forms a creamy mixture. 
  14. add the sugar in four parts, incorporating thoroughly. add the coconut & vanilla extracts (or coconut extract & vanilla bean). 
  15. place in a piping bag and set aside in the refrigerator until the cupcakes are ready. 
  16. when cupcakes are completely cool, pipe frosting (using a plain, small-to-medium piping end) onto the cupcakes in a swirl. 
  17. roll cupcakes gently in sweetened dessicated coconut.

Nutella Drizzled Cheesecake

I have a love for Nutella. Okay, “love” might not be the right word. I’m obsessed with Nutella.
Here’s how to make Nutella Drizzled Cheesecake:
(Note: this recipe only makes 2 muffin sized cheesecakes. I’ve always wondered why every recipe I’ve read makes like, some ridiculous number like – 24 muffin sized cheesecakes. Am I really going to eat 24 cheesecakes? I don’t think so.)
For the Cheesecake Crust:4 Graham Cracker (Break ‘em into crumbs)
2 tablespoons of Butter
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the Cheesecake:
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 large egg
26.5ml heavy cream
For the topping:
1 Ziplock bag
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 muffin cups wit paper liners. Instead of using a regular muffin pan, I used a silicone muffin pan so i could push the Cheesecake out later from the bottom without it screwing up.
Mix together all the ingredients for the cheesecake crust, and line the muffin cup bottom with it. Your ingredients should look something like wet sand. If it doesn’t, you forgot something – probably the butter. Bake for 5 minutes, and let it cool.
Reduce oven to 300 Degrees F.
Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth – I have an electric mixer, but you can easily do it with a spoon. Mix in all the rest of cheesecake filling ingredients one at a time. Make sure everything is well incorporated, and spoon the mixture into the muffin pan on top of the cheesecake crust. Shove it into the oven for 20-25minutes. Let it cool, and then transfer it to the fridge. The best cheesecakes are the ones that are left overnight, but if you’re impatient like me, 4 hours is just as good.
For the topping, if you have one of those cone-shaped things that squeeze out icing, then that’s fantastic. If not, you can be ghetto like me, take a Ziplock bag, and cut a small hole in the corner. I got the idea from @alyssa_george who is by far, the best baker/graphic designer out there. Shove some Nutella in the Ziplock bag, and squeeze it towards that corner. Before you decorate your cake, make sure you test out how much Nutella comes out of the hole you snipped. Don’t stress too much about how your design will look – just let the Nutella flow!

Ingredient of the Day: Zucchini!

Zucchini (and scallop squash, another kind of summer squash) is a nice, summery vegetable that has so many uses and a delicate, sweet flavor. although some hate it, i personally love it, both raw and cooked. it’s also one of those vegetables that are so versatile, and can be eaten raw, stir fried, in sauces, salads and pastas, among a multitude of applications. given that it’s readily available and relatively cheap, it’s a nutritious vegetable that we can incorporate many different ways into our meals. it is particularly useful for adding summery color to your dishes and bulking up vegetarian/vegetable dishes, and goes great with proteins that have a mild flavor (white fish, chicken). in my home country, korea, zucchini is generally eaten cooked, in stews/soups, casseroles or as a banchan (side dish) - lightly sauteed in oil, then seasoned with garlic and saewujot (a kind of shrimp sauce), although it does have a pleasant taste raw (try shaving slices with a vegetable peeler like noodles, and then tossing it with a bit of lemon zest & juice, olive oil, salt, pepper & basil).

some ways i might cook zucchini:
  • chopped or sliced into pasta sauce/lasagnas 
  • turned into a ricotta and zucchini filling for ravioli 
  • as a side dish to poisson blanc en surprise (white fish surprise - fish cooked in a paper bag) - very simply cooked with some haricot vert and shallots 
  • in ratatouille 
  • take the blossoms, stuff them in the traditional italian way, the fry them in olive oil 
  • slivered using a vegetable peeler, then dressed simply as described above as a summery side salad 
What are some ways you might cook zucchini? how do you eat it where you come from?