Cookbook Review: Big Bad Breakfast

Monday, September 26, 2016!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence is everything I want in a breakfast cookbook and more. I was really excited to try the recipes from this cookbook given how much our family loves breakfast and needed more variety than the usual pancake, waffle, French toast, and eggs. The book is broken down into nine chapters: the welcome basket, egg, omelettes and frittatas, pancakes waffles and crepes, breakfast for dinner, cereals and grains, breakfast sandwiches, sides condiments meats and extra, and drinks/cocktails. My absolute favorite recipe from this book so far would be the shrimp and grits. The shrimp and grits were easy to make and so flavorful. I’ve tried other shrimp and grits recipes and this one has turned out the best. Other delicious recipes are the rum raisin and orange scones, German pancakes, and peach lassi. I’ve already bookmarked the crispy rice Elvis treats, honey buns, monkey bread, fig preserve, and spicy bacon onion jam to try next. Besides the delicious recipes, Ed Anderson’s beautiful photography makes every picture drool worthy. If breakfast is the most important meal of your day, Big Bad Breakfast is the perfect book for you.

Dutch baby pancake with peaches and blueberries

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer, I’m not ready to let you go yet! I’m still stubbornly hanging onto summer but the reality is sinking in. Dwindling signs of zucchini and their blossoms, tomatoes, berries, and stone fruits and the appearance of pears, apples, grapes, and pumpkin and squash at the farmers market signalling that fall is only a few days away. I’m savoring summer in the simplest way possible, via a Dutch baby pancake loaded with summer fruits. Dutch babies, or German puffed pancakes, are such an easy and delicious way to start the morning. Blend everything up, throw it in the oven, and 15 minutes later you have a delightful breakfast that will wow everyone at the table. I paired mine with perfectly ripe, in season peaches and blueberries but you can to use any fruits you like. Enjoy the last few days of summer!

Dutch baby pancake with peaches and blueberries

2 tbsps unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose flour
4 small organic eggs
¾ cup organic heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe peaches, sliced
½ cup blueberries
Powdered sugar for dusting
Honey or maple syrup to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 12 inch cast-iron skillet, heat the butter over high heat until foamy.

3. In a blender, combine flour, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and puree until smooth.

4. Pour the batter directly into the pool of butter in the skillet and transfer to the oven.

5. Bake until the pancake is puffed and become golden brown on top, about 15-18 minutes.6.Remove from the oven, top with sliced peaches and blueberries, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with honey or maple syrup.

Cookbook Review: A Modern Way to Cook

Saturday, September 17, 2016,%20Flavor-Packed%20Meals%3C/a%3E%3Cimg%20src=%22//!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

I was excited to cook from a Modern Way to Cook given how much I love Anna Jones’ first cookbook A Modern Way to Eat. The book is divided into different chapters with length of time required to prepare and cook a meal, 20 to 25 to 30 and 40 minutes. After perusing the books, I decided to try some of the recipes and most of them turned out delicious. Some of my favorite recipes are the early summer green goddess salad, lemongrass peanut and herb noodle salad, Buddha bowl, beet and radicchio gratin, honey and white miso eggplant, rhubarb and strawberry crisp bars, rhubarb and apple crumble, and chocolate and Earl Grey pudding pots . The salad is loaded with all my favorite greens--sugar snap peas, asparagus, spinach, and avocado. I enjoyed the tofu from the noodle salad and Buddha bowls which have a bit of influence from Vietnamese and Thai cuisines and definitely different than how I normally prepare my tofu for a vegetarian dish. I’ve never used silken tofu in a dessert before and was surprised at how well hidden it was in the chocolate and Earl Grey pudding pots. Overall, the desserts didn’t take long to prepare and were delicious as leftovers. I didn’t care too much for the pho, sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi, or honey and basil cheesecake. I learned a few tricks from a Modern Way to Cook and felt inspired by some of the recipes. But between the two books, A Modern Way to Eat is my favorite of the two and has more of my favorite recipes.

Peach and blueberry cobbler with cornmeal drop biscuit topping

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

And in a blink of an eye, summer is almost over. I had many delicious summer recipes planned for the blog but they didn’t happen. To be honest, I got overwhelmed by looming deadlines from work and photo shoots for clients so the blog got neglected. I even had a photo shoot the day before we left for vacation and the day after we came back from vacation. I felt guilty but my husband gently reminded me that I can’t do everything--be a wife, a mother, a pharmacist, a freelance photographer, food editor, and a food blogger. He was right! I was taking on too much and becoming a grumpy, unhappy person. 

In the end, I realized I need to slow down and focus on what matters most, spending time with my loved ones. I turned down a few clients but felt happy that my calendar had more blank space for my family and myself including my creative outlet, this blog! So get ready for more regular posts starting with this peach and blueberry cobbler. If you’ve been following the blog for some time, you know I love easy desserts and a cobbler falls into that category. Peach is one of my favorite stone fruits that often ends up in either a cobbler or galette. I love a good peach pie but usually reserve that for a special occasion. 

Perfectly ripe, in season peaches pair well with blueberries and bubble into a fragrant dessert topped with scrumptious cornmeal drop biscuits. Don’t forget to add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream when the cobbler is still warm from the oven. If you don’t have peaches and blueberries, you can also substitute with other stone fruits and berries. We’re savoring the last few days of summer with this wonderful cobbler. Enjoy!

Peach and blueberry cobbler with cornmeal drop biscuit topping
1 pound of peaches, slices
1 cup of blueberries
¼ cup of sugar
1 tbsp of cornstarch

½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
½ cup buttermilk
1 tbsp sanding sugar for sprinkling
Vanilla ice cream for serving

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the peach slices, blueberries, sugar, and cornstarch and set aside to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. To prepare the biscuit dough, in a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine.

4. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces.

5. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just combined.

6. Remove the dough from the food processor.

7. Place the fruit mixture in a baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of biscuit topping over the fruit mixture. Sprinkle the top with sanding sugar.

8. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes using the middle rack until the fruit is bubbling, the topping is golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the biscuit comes out with moist crumb.

9. Remove from the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.10.Store any leftovers well wrapped in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Book Review: Mushrooms of the redwood coast

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast is the most impressive and comprehensive book on mushrooms that I have ever read.  There about 500 pages of information 750 species of mushrooms growing in coastal northern California with accompanied pictures.  The authors gave a lot of tips on how to find them in their natural habitat, identifying them, collecting them, and what tools are essential for mushroom foraging.  Twenty five major groups of mushrooms take center stage in this book such as chanterelles, amanita, dark-spored mushrooms, waxy caps, tooth fungi, truffles, and morels.  Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast is perfect for those mushroom nerds and those interested in mushroom foraging.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher 

Cookbook Review: Plated

Saturday, July 30, 2016

When I received Plated in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Plated is a cookbook from the online food delivery company Plated, similar to Blue Apron or Sun Basket.  One of my favorite sections is the flavoring chapter which teaches you how to make your own spices, marinades, dressings, sauces, condiments, and infusions.  This section is perfect for the home cook who loves those dyi projects instead of buying prepackaged spices and marinades.  

With regard to recipes, I’m not sure if the ones in the book are similar to the ones posted online but they seem very straightforward and versatile ranging from classic American dishes to Italian, Asian, Greek, and Middle Eastern.  Some of my favorite recipes are seared duck breast, beer braised pulled chicken, and steak gyros with yogurt sauce.  Since cherries are in season I tried the cherry clafoutis and everyone in my family loved it.  I’m already bookmarking many more recipes that I want to try.  With no expectation whatsoever, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the recipes from this book are.  I highly recommend Plated to anyone new to cooking but want to try a variety of recipes.          

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Earl Grey Pavlova with Figs

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My obsession with Earl Grey started a few years ago when I first discovered the London Fog at Le Marche St Georges. Coming back from Vancouver, I started making the London Fog at home and eventually moved onto experimenting with Earl Grey tea in desserts. Incorporating Earl Grey in ice cream was easy since all I had to do was steep the tea in the milk. However, the baked goods were a bit more challenging especially cookies, meringues, and pavlovas. I can’t say that I’ve mastered meringue or pavlova yet but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that hopefully will help you with your meringue journey.

Like macarons, meringue and pavlova are quite fickle. With very few ingredients, egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, cornstarch, and a tiny amount of vinegar, they’re supposedly simple to make but even the most experienced home bakers find them intimidating. Over the years, this Earl Grey pavlova has grown to be one of my favorite summer desserts when figs are in season. I hope you like this pavlova as much as we do!

Earl Grey Pavlova with Figs
4 egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup of sugar
1 tbsp loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp of cornstarch
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
Powdered sugar for dusting

Earl Grey syrup
2 tbsps of Earl Grey sugar from above
¼ cup of water

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
½ cup of mascarpone
2 tbsps of powdered sugar
8-10 figs, torn in half
2 tbsps of roasted, unsalted pistachios, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 8 by 10 inch rectangle on the parchment paper and dust with powdered sugar to prevent the pavlova from sticking.
3. Add the sugar and Earl Grey tea leaves to a spice grinder and grind until the sugar and tea leaves become powdery. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the Earl Grey sugar for the syrup.
4. Whisk the cornstarch into the Earl Grey sugar mixture until well combined. Adding cornstarch helps prevent the pavlova from shrinking during baking and creates a crispy outer layer.
5. Before placing the egg whites into a mixing bowl of an electric mixer, wipe the bowl clean and make sure that there’s no residual moisture. Any moisture will make it impossible to achieve thick, stiff peaks.
6. Beat the egg whites and whisk on medium speed until it becomes foamy, about 3 minutes.
7. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Add the Earl Grey sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue to whip until the the egg whites are stiff and glossy and firm peaks form, about 12-15 minutes.
8. Add the vinegar and cream of tartar and fold in gently with a metal spoon to combine. The vinegar creates a chewy pavlova and the cream of tartar helps stabilize the egg whites.
9. Spread the egg white mixture inside the drawn rectangle, making a slight indent in the center. Alternatively you can make 6-8 individual mini pavlova.
10. Reduce the oven to 275 degrees F and bake for 50-60 minutes or until firm to touch.
11. Leave the pavlova in the switched off oven to cool for an hour with the door slightly ajar.
12. To make the Earl Grey syrup, combine 2 tablespoons of Earl Grey sugar with water in a small sauce pan over low heat until the volume is reduced in half.
13. Whip the mascarpone, heavy cream, and powdered sugar together until thick and smooth and soft peaks form.
14. When ready to serve, remove the pavlova from the oven and place on a serving platter.

15. Spread the mascarpone over the center of the pavlova, top with figs and pistachios, and drizzle with syrup.