Category Archives: Food

Brown Butter Pecan Brownies

It has been a while since i blog and it’s been a while since i baked . I was thinking about baking coconut cake , which i haven’t made for years by now .. but i changed my mind after seeing , i needed 3 sticks of butter just for the cake . Partly i was guilty because i had just finished my morning run and the thought of 3 sticks of butter .. made me re-think .

My solution .. well .. was brownies .. though it still uses butter .. but somehow i felt better with my choice LOL

brown-butter-brownies

This is brown butter pecan brownies , you can skip the nuts if you don’t like it , and it will still be yummy . But you def have to make the brown butter . Brown butter is easy , just melt the butter and let it boil for several minutes until it changes color , almost like caramel color , then you take it off the heat . The flavor of the brown butter makes this brownie special and much better than regular brownie .

Funny …. my friend said . ” who bakes brownies ? ” LOL .. well me .. it’s super easy and why would you want store brought brownies when you can make it super easy , quick and tastes much better ! Really , you don’t even have to own a mixer to make this !!

You will need :

10 tbsp. of unsalted butter

Melt this butter in a pan on a medium heat , once the butter is melted , do not take it off the pan , you need it to boil still until it is foamy and finally changes in color . It should look like this by 5 minutes and it should done , take it off the heat brown-butter

As soon as it’s off the heat , immediately add in :

1 1/3 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp. of salt

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

Mix it well with wooden spoon , then replace with whisk . Once it’s all blended , add in :

2 large eggs , add the egg one at a time and whisk well until combine .

The batter should look shiny at this point , then add in

1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. of all purpose flour

Mix well and finally add in 3/4 cup of pecans if you’re using .

brown-butter-brownie-mix

Preheat oven at 325 F , line a parchment paper on a square pan 8x8x2 , and pour the batter into the pan . Bake for about 25 minutes .

 

Arancini

Usually when i made risotto for dinner , i always ended up making too much for our little family . It is family of three after all . And then nobody wanted to touch the risotto the next day because truth is .. who really wants leftover risotto ? Risotto is always the best when it’s just got done being cooked , overnight ? not so much ..

So that was the story last night , i cooked risotto , with seared scallops , and of course by the time we finished , there was no scallops left LOL .. just risotto and there it went to the fridge , maybe someone will eat it tomorrow ?

Before it went to trash after sitting so many days in the fridge , i thought why not turning this leftovers into rice balls ? As a snack of course , not main course .. my family likes rice , my son loves cheese and who doesn’t like deep fried food ? LOL .. so there it was .. mixing up Arancini , Italian Rice Balls stuffed with mozzarella . It is super easy and simple , just a little mess from the oil to deep fry , but other than that .. it’s quick . As long as you’re not cooking the risotto right now .. if you do , you probably will have to wait til it’s totally cool , or you’ll have problem shape it into balls .

arancini1

You need :

Left overs risotto , about 2-3 cups , or whatever you have !

1-2 eggs , i did 2 for 2 cups of risotto

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

you can add grated parmesan i believe , but i don’t have cheese grate or food processor at the moment , due to relocating , so i skipped the fresh parmesan

about 3 oz of mozzarella ( i bought it from the deli and just ask them to cut about 3/4 inch thick just 1 slice would be enough , then dice it)

extra bread crumbs to dredge the balls

canola oil

So , just mix the eggs , risotto and bread crumbs together , add parmesan if you use it . Mix well , shape into a ball and stuff it with mozzarella cheese . Roll it into the bread crumbs and deep fry . Make sure it’s hot oil and turn down to medium low , cook for 4 minutes until it’s golden brown . Your cheese should be melted by this time !

arancini2 arancini3

Sourdough Bread

Originally posted on Jan , 30th

Now we’re on to the real stuff ! Baking sourdough bread . You now have the seed that you store either on the counter if you bake a lot of bread , or in the fridge if you bake bread say once or twice a week , like me . And you have made the mother starter or the preferment , whatever you want to call it . Now we can bake bread .

Except it’s not quite that simple and fast .. well the ingredients are simple , you can create bread from just water , flour , and salt . That’s pretty much it in sourdough bread . You don’t even need milk , butter or eggs . It’s magic ! The non sourdough bread will need instant or dry active yeast in the package that you can buy from the store , and it will take probably an hour to double after you mix your dough , and then shape and let it sit for another 30 or 60 minutes to double in size then bake . So regular bread , will take approx. 3 hours to make give and take .

How about Sourdough bread ? Well sourdough bread baking is like testing your patience , it doesn’t take a lot of your time , it just a few minutes here and there , and a lot of them are waiting , you don’t need to sit and watch it but you can leave them and 4-7 hours later you can handle it or do whatever you need to do .

So , planning ahead is a must when making sourdough bread . The preferment recipe was from MaryAnn’s www.jaklamas.com

This is what i mixed to make preferment :

1/3 of the sourdough seed

2/3 cup of lukewarm water

about 8 oz or 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour

Mix this well and let it sit until doubles , might take 4-8 hours or less , depending on the temp .

Once this is done , you can either go store it in the fridge , or use it right away . The longer you store it in the fridge , it will increase the degrees of sourness in your bread . So if you’re like me , don’t like it super sour , then you better be off using it right away or after 2 days . I did not have patience during my first time because i wanted to make them NOW ! lol .. so i did , there was slight sourness / tang still , even though i used it right away .

When you’re ready to make them , you need :

All the preferment you just mixed ( or you can half this if you want to only have 1 loaf of bread , the recipe results in 2 loaves )

1 2/3 cup of water

4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tbsp. of table salt

Mix all these together with wooden spoon then switch with your hand until smooth , then form into a ball and place it on a lightly oiled large bowl . Cover with plastic , and then let it proof , it takes about 4-6 hours .

Once it has done the bulk fermentation / proofing the first time , you can either store it in the fridge for whenever you ready to bake or shape it and bake today .

So if you need to bake , say tomorrow morning , you can shape it , and place it on a loaf pan overnight to do its final proofing in the fridge , they won’t double in size as fast , it’s going to be slow growth , but once you bake it in the oven it springs up really good , so no need to put it on counter to come to room temperature before baking it . Straight from the fridge in the morning after your oven heats up to 450 F for half an hour , i put my bread in right away , and you can score it better when the dough is cold .

This is how they looked like from overnight proofing in the fridge to 450 F oven heat up for half an hour , then baked for 5 minutes and turned it down to 425 for the next 25 minutes .

sourdoughbread1

It has what they call ‘oven spring’ because after overnight in the fridge , that dough wasn’t that high before i put it in the hot oven . So that would be my preferred method . I did try some other method , which resulted pretty good too , but i started making the dough early in the morning , about 6 or 7 am . Then letting it proof first time , and about noon , the dough was ready to be shaped , and then final proof about 3-4 hours and then baking them .Now if you don’t have to go out or anything else to do , this would be okay , but otherwise the overnight is the best method . Because you will be sleeping while the dough is doing it’s final proofing and it doesn’t take too much of your time . By the time you’re up , your dough is ready to be baked .

Update , Feb , 1st , 2016

So , i decided to order a banneton for me , it’s a wicker basket , that you use to proof your bread , in its final proof . Before i had banneton , i used glass bowl lined with light oil and parchment paper . I was excited over the weekend of getting this banneton , i bought it from amazon , it’s not bad price $12 , and if you love bread baking like me , i am sure you wouldn’t mind getting this wicker basket .

Made the dough right after church yesterday , it was around 1.30 when i put the dough together . I just wanted to try this banneton , to see how it works . First proof , then second proof i left it overnight , using banneton . I made sure i sprinkle generously with rice flour . Rice flour is a must in my asian pantry , so it’s not an extra thing where i had to go get it .. i had rice flour on hand , and sprinkled it on the banneton and placed my boule on it seam side UP . Then i lightly oiled a plastic wrap and covered it loosely , and place it in a grocery bag and proofed it overnight in the fridge .

So here’s my boule in the morning after proofing its final stage in the fridge overnight . It was about 12 hours in the refrigerator . I peeled off the plastic wrap easily , but carefully , i didn’t want any tear on the dough . Looked pretty good to me .

banneton1

 

And i flipped it over / inverted it cookie sheet lined with parchment paper . The rice flour all over the banneton actually helped with no sticking . And i was very happy with it . See how cool it is with banneton , this you will not get with regular glass bowl obviously .

boule1

Then i scored the boule with razor blade .

A note , i decided to try to bake it with dutch oven as well . So right after i woke up , i preheated my oven up to 500 F , and i placed my dutch oven lightly oiled , with the lid on , inside the oven . Yes 500 F .. it has to be screaming hot .

You might want to make sure your dutch oven can handle 500 degrees heat . Mine is from food network and it does handle the 500 degrees heat well .

So , back to my boule that was sitting on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper . The boule now is ready to be scored , i had to work quickly with scoring . And as soon as i finished , i grabbed the parchment paper , and lowered the parchment paper with boule into the screaming hot dutch oven .

Preheat the oven for an hour at 500 F . I used convection

Lower the bread into the dutch oven carefully , close the lid . Turn oven down to 475 F , baked for 20 minutes .

Take the lid off , turn down temperature to 450 F and bake extra 30 minutes .

 

The result was .. THIS …

_MG_7622 _MG_7619  _MG_7613

_MG_7605

Isn’t it beautiful ? I was so happy , the crust turned out so beautiful , then the scoring i did was not bad at all ( imo lol ) , and oven spring and it smells wonderful .

As beautiful as it is , i decided to give the bread to a neighbor friend , they’re an older couple , used to own a restaurant in Austin , he wasn’t feeling well , but he loves bread , while she loves sweet stuff . So , i gave this boule to them , and we sat down had a cup of coffee and slice of sourdough boule , they loved it , they said it was delicious and i thought that too . LOL ..

So that’s pretty much my journey in creating a perfect , and beautiful looking sourdough bread , that probably ( almost ) looks like coming from a local bakery . Here’s to #artisanbread , very fun to create and i really enjoy every moment of creating this . In sourdough .. patience is a virtue !!

Update : January , 2017

Experimenting by adding more water , higher hydration , there will be more holes in the bread . Stretch and fold gently instead of kneading like regular bread . I did not measure how much water i added but will try more water next time to see if it helps .

Preferment and how to take care of your seed

The last time we left off , we were around mixing the ‘ mother starter’ or we can call this ‘preferment’ stage . That previous entry was all about the ‘seed’ , without the seed we won’t be able to create a mother starter to make the bread .

So how did the mother starter / preferment looks like ? Well after leaving it on the counter for few hours . probably around 4 hours . This really depends on the temperature in your house , mine was at 68 F , warmer and it will double quicker for you . Remember i have 2 batches of the seed , from those 2 seeds , i tried 2 mother starters .

This one using the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s book , according to him , using bread flour . It rose really nicely .

preferment1

 

The second batch was from MaryAnn’s recipe ( from Jaklamas Farm , jaklamas.com) , using regular all purpose flour preferment2

The first one rose significantly , the second one rose just enough by the time i took this picture . But i ended up using both of them with great result !

So what do we do with the rest of the seed ? Well i put them all in the fridge , Ben and Jerry , that’s what i call those 2 seeds in different bowls .

After almost a week in the fridge , i took them out to feed them . I haven’t fed them since Monday , so last night was day 5 since the last feeding , i believe you can do this once a week or if you use them often , you might need to feed them often and can leave them on the counter . I don’t need them often , so i left them in the fridge since i had enough preferment for me to make the bread anyway .

So i took them out , they look good , not as bubbly as the first time i put them in , but i let it sit on the counter while i mixed up their ‘food’ which i use equal amount of flour and water as the seed . So if i had 80 grams of seed , i fed them with 80 grams of flour and 80 grams of water . The flour and water has to be the same amount of the seed , because these seed ” ben and jerry ‘ will need to eat those flour and water in order to grow . And if there’s not enough food for the crowd , they won’t grow ( bubbles ) , which make sense anyway . Put it this way , if you have 2 babies , but you feed them with food for just 1 baby , the babies won’t grow and won’t be happy because they don’t have enough food . So 1:1:1 seed :flour:water

This is how they looked right after i took it out from the fridge , last feeding was 5 days ago , and right after i mixed up with the food .

ben and jerry1

They actually looked pretty good right after from the fridge before feeding , I had just stirred Ben so it didn’t look so bubbly , but before that it was as bubbly as Jerry . Then i fed them .

This picture below right here , took 2 hours right after the feeding , they’re already quite happy and bubbly. So they’re doing good , this morning they look even better . I didn’t check overnight , all i know they look good in the morning .

ben and jerry2

Also , usually during feeding , you will be instructed to discard some of them and just to keep certain amount , unless you want to end up with lot more seed !! In that case , since i hate throwing away food , i didn’t throw them away , i used half of the seed to make sourdough pancake just like i did before .

So now that your seed is happy again , either use it to make more preferment , which i just did this morning , or you can store it in the fridge . Always feed them before you store it in the fridge though .

Sourdough Pancakes/Waffles

How did i end up with sourdough pancake ?

Well .. my mother taught me never waste any food .. after trying to grow the seed for sourdough , i was really thinking that it’s such a waste discarding perfectly growing seed . The smells was already wonderful , with bubbles , so i knew i was on the right track . So at the end of day 5 of growing seed for sourdough , i was supposed to discard half of it , and fed the remaining half with flour water mixture . I thought .. i am sure you can do something with this leftover instead of discarding it .

Looked around and i found recipe for sourdough pancake ! And all i had to do just mixed the seed , with flour , sugar , water and buttermilk . Letting it sit overnight and add eggs , vanilla , more sugar if you think you need to , i did ! And oil .

After letting it sit overnight on room temperature , in the morning i was surprised , they’re fluffed up , doubled in size

sourdough pancake3

So here’s the recipe :

Make this to sit overnight on your counter :

1 cup of the seed  ( from growing seed starter entry )

2 cups of all purpose flour

4 tbsp.  of sugar

2 cups of buttermilk

Mix and let it sit overnight .In the morning , add in :

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

Add the eggs and vegetable oil into the buttermilk mixture , then add in the baking soda and salt . Stir well and cook your pancake on the skillet / griddle .

sourdough pancakes1

sourdough pancake2

Tres Leches Cake

Never heard of tres leches cake when we were back in Indiana . When we moved to Texas , our friend said tres leches was her favorite , so on her birthday , we had tres leches cake , but it didn’t do any good impression to me because to me the cake was overly sweet . It was just an okay cake , put it this way , i wouldn’t spend $25 for cake like that . It was .. yes .. store bought .

Fast forward , my mother in law came to visit over this past holiday , i was too busy to make dessert , so i ended up picking up this tres leches cake from grocery store . It was just a small cake , my son loved it , everyone loved it . The cake was so moist but to me .. again .. it was too sweet . I wouldn’t be able to eat more than 1 small slice nor that i wanted to .

So , then , this past time we went to Mexican restaurant , my son asked if he could have Tres Leches cake for dessert . This time it was really good and i liked it , we all liked the cake . It wasn’t overly sweet and was just perfect . I decided to try to make the cake the next day , turned out pretty well after a few adjustment . I think next time i will cut down the amount of sugar in the whipped cream and also the condensed milk to the milk mixture as well .

12540702_10153963775401812_2478923474440346880_n

Cake :

1 stick of unsalted butter , room temperature

slightly under 1 cup of sugar

5 eggs

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour

1 tsp. of baking powder

pinch of salt

  1. Beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy . Add in the egg one at a time , and the vanilla extract until well combined .
  2. Add the flour and baking powder and salt mixture a little at a time into the egg butter mixture .
  3. Bake at 350 F , on 9×13 inch greased pan . About 30-40 minutes , or until it’s done , depending on your oven . Let it cool and poke with fork all over .

The Milk mixture :

2 cups of reduced fat milk , or you can replace it with half and half , i don’t use whole milk , i used 1% milk

little less than the whole can of condensed milk

a whole can of the evaporated milk

Mix the milk and then pour over the cake , all of the milk mixture needs to be poured into the cake , the cake will absorb it .

Optional :

1 1/2 cup of whipped cream

1/2 cup of sugar or none

Beat the cream and sugar until stiff . Spread all over the top and refrigerate the cake overnight .

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

It was a hot day , there is basically nothing i wanted to do . Well i do want to something .. but it’s too hot , too hot to go out , wanted to get my pedicure done , too hot just to drive there , wanted to visit a friend .. don’t feel like it because it’s too hot !!

What to do ? what should i do ? I asked my husband ..

He said ” just make a bread .. you know cinnamon swirl .. ”

Me ” cinnamon buns ? ”

He said ” No .. the swirl .. ”

Oh .. great idea .. why not trying it since i never made cinnamon swirl bread , i am sure it’s not hard at all ..

So there it was .. cinnamon swirl bread in the making , while outside is 100’s F something .. with heat index up to the 110 F .. we were advised not to spend too long of outdoor activity ,instead .. LET’S BAKE BREAD ! Lol ..

IMG_2134

You need :

1/6 cup of warm tap water

2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast

1/2 cup of warm milk

1 tsp . of vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup of sugar AND 1/2 cup of sugar

3 tbsp. of melted butter

1 tbsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of salt

About 3 cups of bread flour

1. Mix the warm water with yeast until it dissolve , let it sit about 5 minutes , it should be foamy .

2. Warm up the milk , then add melted butter , add vanilla extract , 1/4 cup of sugar , salt and beaten egg .

3. Mix the yeast mixture with milk mixture .

4. In a large bowl , add in 2 1/2 cup of bread flour , add the yeast milk mixture , then mix with wooden spoon until it’s hard to stir , scrape off the dough on the spoon , flour your hand , and start mixing with hand . Add in more flour as needed , do not add too much or your bread will be too dry , too little it will be too sticky . You might need all the way to 3 cups , or a little under 3 cups , add in while kneading the dough , the dough should clean the side of the bowl and elastic . Knead for extra 6 minutes .

5. Butter the large bowl , place the dough in the bowl , cover with plastic wrap . Let it sit for 1 hour in a warm place to proof ( double in size )

6. Take the dough out , do not punch it down , just stick your finger in and deflate the dough , take it out , and roll it out into rectangle , 18 by 8 inches , sprinkle the sugar cinnamon evenly all over the dough . Roll it from the short side . Place it on a buttered loaf pan , and let it rise again for 40 minutes .

7. Once it’s done proofing , preheat oven 350 F and bake the bread for about 25-30 minutes . Take it out , brush with butter on top .

IMG_2140

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pie is really yummy , although , for the longest time , i never had interest in trying them when we go out to a pie place , or even when i am in the mood of baking pies . I’ve done many type of pies , from classic apple pie , to pumpkin , all the way to blueberry pie or fruit pie . But never in my life i would try making coconut pie .. it’s just so .. coconut .. nothing really interesting in there .

When i was younger , living in tropical island , i had the advantage of eating fresh young coconut , yum , and then my mom used to buy fresh coconut , then grated it , and add some spices to it , and fry the coconut flakes , it was meant to be side dish .. it is called ” Serundeng ” I was never really into it , because i just didn’t like it ..

Fast forward years and years later .. i am still not a big fan but i don’t mind it .  I had coconut flakes in the granola bars i usually make . Until the other night , a friend of mine who happened to be a neighbor texted me ” do you have vanilla extract ? ”

Of course i do !! This is a baker and a cook you’re asking to !! So she came by and borrowed few tsp of vanilla extract , jokingly i said ” you have to call me when dessert is done , after all i contributed into the making of coconut pie !! ”

Then hours later she texted me ” do you want to come over for dessert ? ”

Of course i said YES ! LOL

It was a delicious coconut cream pie , i became a fan right away . Blueberry was my favorite pie after i made it .. then now .. i think coconut cream pie is the one !!

I tried looking at my pie book , found a recipe for filling , which is quite easy , just a custard filling , except i added shredded coconut so it’s very coconutty !! Then the crust , i used coconut flakes itself , instead of regular pie crust . It def takes the pie to another level !!

So here it is !!

For the crust

1 stick of unsalted butter

3 cups of sweetened coconut flakes

Melt the butter in skillet , add the coconut flakes , keep stirring , don’t stop until it’s golden brown , about 5-7 minutes . Watch so it won’t burn . Once it’s done , lightly butter the pie pan 9 inch pie pan , and press the coconut flakes onto the pan , press it firmly with the base of a glass , since it’s very hot you can’t use your hand !

Then chill in the fridge , while you prepare the filling

11220125_10153579256746812_8338924330041404005_n

Custard coconut filling :

1/3 cup of cornstarch

1/2 cup of sugar

1 tsp salt

Mix well , then add :

2 3/4 cup of milk , i used 2% milk

Stir well , turn the stove on , and keep stirring until it’s almost hot . Meanwhile beat :

4 egg yolks

When the milk mixture become hot , not bubbling yet , pour in steady stream into the yolk mixture , whisking while pouring into the egg yolks mixture . Then mix well , pour this milk egg yolk mixture back into the pot , and whisking constantly , until it’s bubbly and thick . ( this process is called tempering )

Once it’s done , turn stove off , add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of coconut flakes .

11667337_10153579256921812_6042474435629563981_n (1)

Pour this coconut custard pie filling into chilled crust . Refrigerate for 4 hours , then make the whipped cream topping :

1 1/2 cup of heavy cream

1/4 cup of powdered sugar

1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

In a chilled bowl , mix the heavy cream with powdered sugar , beat really high until stiff peak . This topping goes on top of the custard filling and sprinkle the top with toasted coconut flakes .

IMG_1362

Baked Beans

I was in charged to bring side dish , originally was going to make potato salad , but changed my mind , and tried making baked beans . You could always get canned baked beans , such as Bush’s baked beans , but what fun is that ?

So i decided to try it , i like baked beans but in my opinion , home made is better than canned . With their sweet smoky flavor .. i couldn’t resist but to try ..

I was right .. everyone at the gathering loved the baked beans , someone even said ” it’s not 4th of july without the baked beans .. ” LOL ..

So here is baked beans

You need ;

8-10 slices of thick bacon

fry the bacon , until it’s almost done , and then leave about 1/4 cup of the fat , and reserve the rest or throw it away , for Asians like me , bacon grease is like gold , so i saved it and put it in the fridge for cooking next time , great flavor !

Then add in :

1 large onion , finely chopped

1 green pepper , diced

and saute about 5 minutes . Next , add in :

2 large cans of pork and beans

About 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce , i used kraft sweet BBQ sauce

Almost 1 cup of brown sugar

About 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

That’s it , simmer and bring it to boil then transfer it into your casserole dish . Place the bacon on top of it , and bake it at 325 F for about 2 hours until it’s very thick and your house smells so yummy !!

July 4th Blueberry Pie

So the title said July 4th ,of course you don’t need to wait til July 4th celebration to make this yummy pie dish !! You can do it anytime , but i would suggest summer would be the best time , because of you want to do it when blueberry is in its peak . Sweet , juicy , reasonable price blueberry from you pick or from the store !

The other day i stopped at grocery store after the gym , and i picked up some fruits when i saw 99 cents a pint of blueberry . To me that’s a great price and hard to pass up . Immediately i think about .. Blueberry Pie ! And beside .. July 4th is this weekend .. so of course i have an excuse to bake a home made pie !!

To be honest , it has been a while since i baked pie from scratch , the last time was during thanksgiving , i baked pecan pie , so i do miss doing all this yummy things in the kitchen . I have been occupied with coloring yarns , and if you knew me well enough , you should know .. before a knitter and a dyer , i was a foodie at first .

So there i was that afternoon getting myself ready to whip up pate brisee , or simply .. A PIE DOUGH 🙂 Except i found out that i only had 1 stick of butter .. while i needed 2 sticks , luckily i had 1 pound of frozen butter .. so had to wait til it’s chilled but not frozen .

IMG_1723

The pie dough is not hard to make , esp , i used food processor , call me cheater , but that food processor makes the job a lot quicker , easier and less mess !! So here is the dough recipe ..( if you’re short on time , or just too lazy for pie crust , just buy from the store .. it makes the job a lot quicker !! and skip this step ! )

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour 

2 tbsp. of sugar 

1 tsp of salt , unless you’re using salted butter , if you do salted butter , you can skip this

2 sticks of cold butter , unsalted

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice cold water 

If you do have food processor , this is the time to use it . Just dump the flour , sugar and salt in it , then pulse few times to combine , cut up your butter into small chunks , add into the flour mixture , pulse until the mixture combine , coarse like pea size clumps , then while it’s running , drizzle the water start with just 1/4 cup only , and pulse until it comes together , if it’s too dry still add little more ice cold water , try not to pour all at once , you don’t want them to be too wet , enough so that it comes together . Don’t pulse it too long , or your crust will be hard . 

Dump the mixture on a plastic wrap , divide into 2 balls , flatten into disks and place it in the fridge , chill about an hour at least . You can do this ahead of time , a day will be fine too .

If you do not want to go through this home made pie crust , you can simply run to the store and buy ready made pie crust .. but then again .. what’s fun about that ? 🙂

Once the dough is totally chilled , you’re ready to make pie !!

IMG_1729

You will need flour , so the dough won’t stick to the surface when you roll it out .. you need rolling pin obviously .. here’s picture step by step .

1. Roll out your pie dough , about 10-12 inch diameter . To fit 9 inch pie plate

pie1

2. Transfer pie dough into the plate

pie2

3. Now you’re going to add the filling :

7 cups of fresh blueberry , washed and picked

1/2 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of cornflour , esp when it’s very juicy blueberry 

1/4 tsp. of cinnamon 

juice from 1 lemon 

Mix all these ingredients gently you don’t want the berries to burst . Then place the berries into the pie plate . Piling up in the center 

pie3

 

4. Now , roll out the 2nd pie dough , and using knife , or decorative cutter , cut an even number , i did 12 i think or maybe 10 . You can skip this step if you don’t want lattice top , just roll out the dough and place it on top and make slits here and there . This is for lattice topping

pie4

pie5

5. Once you’re ready to bake it , brush it with egg yolk wash , sprinkle generously with sugar and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes then lower it down to 350 F for about 55 – 60 minutes . The berries should be bubbly . To make sure cleaning up is not a messy job , line a parchment paper on a cookie sheet . Let the pie cool totally before serving . Serve with a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream !

pie6

Here is Homemade Blueberry Pie !!

blueberry pie

My favorite to serve this blueberry pie is with scoops of vanilla ice cream

IMG_1745

Spicy Pulled Pork Pop

Lately i have been a fan of a quick easy and last forever meal .. I just hardly had the time to spend in the kitchen with running around here and there , and homeschooling , and the new hobby of mine of knitting . The kitchen took a step back , but that doesn’t mean i can forgo my family’s meal . I still am a make from scratch kind of a girl , but i love how easy some meal can be prepared but it still delicious and nutritious . Not that this recipe is very healthy for you .. since it has pop / soda in it .

Sounds crazy ? well i made ham with coca cola before , so the idea of cooking pork shoulder or pork butt with dr.pepper to me wasn’t so crazy . The recipe was found online and i’ve made it 3 times so far . My family likes it , i like it because it has a good taste and it lasts a long time .. you can make pulled pork sandwich , you can turn this into taco , you can turn it into burrito bowl , just by adding pico de gallo that is super easy to make , and warm up some shell and make some pinto beans . So it is very versatile , or you can just eat it with rice and vegetables .. so there .. what more could you ask ?

pulled pork pop

 

Ingredients :

About 5-6 lbs of pork shoulder or pork butt , trim a little of the fat but dot remove all of them

24 oz of dr.pepper or any store brand would do

2 large cans of chipotle in adobo sauce , if you don’t like spicy just use 1 , or small can . I like the spiciness

2 tbsp. of brown sugar

salt and pepper

2 large onions , quartered

Throw all these ingredients in a large dutch oven , put the lid back on . Turn your oven to 300 F , and throw the dutch oven in the oven , let it slow cook for at least 6 hours . By 6 hours your pork should be so tender , and will fall apart . Serve in a sandwich buns or make taco or burrito etc ..

Breakfast Burrito

The other day i was invited to a friend’s house for a breakfast . She made us breakfast burrito , which was very yummy . I never had breakfast burrito , but as the name calls , it contains tortilla shell ,with scrambled eggs , potatoes , chorizo and salsa . It was delicious . So this morning i thought i should give it a try , beside my family loves chorizo . It turns out really good , not to mention it’s so easy , barely anything to it . The chorizo gives out all the flavor you need so you don’t even need to add any more seasoning .

I added onion and cilantro into my breakfast burrito , i would make the salsa , but as i went to pick up tomatillo from local grocery store , they ran out of hot peppers , they had nothing left , no serrano , no jalapeno .. so i put the tomatillos back and i didn’t buy a thing for the salsa . We ended up having the burrito with tabasco , good enough for now .

You need :

a package of chorizo

1/2 large onion , chopped finely

4 potatoes , skin on , diced very small

4-5 large eggs , beaten

Tortilla shells

Brown the onion , then add potatoes , cook about 5 minutes , add the chorizo and cook until the potatoes are tender and chorizo is done . Once you see fat on the skillet , you can crank up the heat to high heat to burn all the fat . Then add eggs into the same skillet , keep stirring or else you will end up with omelette . That’s it !! Serve on warm tortilla shells !

breakfast burrito

Lemon Madeleines

I’ve made Madeleines few times before . And i remember the very first time i was skimping on buttering the mold and ended up ruining madeleines . But they all turned out nice as far as i can remember .

Fast forward , the other day i decided to try this recipe from Baking Chez Moi book that my hubby ordered for me around Christmas time . I did mention i wanted this book , i like Doris Greenspan’s cook book , so i figure i might enjoy her french baking book just like the french cook book . The first recipe i tried was the marble cake , it was good but quite heavy and a little on the dry side .

This time my choice landed on Lemon Madeleines , i barely have anything in the fridge so my ingredients were quite limited . Lemon madeleines doesn’t even need many ingredients just butter , flour , sugar , egg , and lemon . Funny thing , you don’t even use the lemon juice , just the zest !

I followed the recipe to the T , lemon madeleines that i made before this , didn’t take this long . Okay the batter didn’t take long to put together BUT .. the waiting period was total of 2 hours !! So after making the batter , i had to chill it for an hour in the fridge , guess you can always try to get the batter ready even a day before if you want to save time . Then i would spoon the batter into the molds and again i had to chill it for another hour in the fridge .

And how long to bake them ? Only 10 minutes in my convectional oven ! LOL .. all of the waiting .. and only 10 minutes baking time , oh and did i mention only produced 12 madeleines ? LOL .. but totally worth it ..

The madeleines was all puffed up i never seen it that huge ! I opened my oven and i was there .. scream in delight .. it is huge !!!!!! My husband laughed and laughed .. for me getting so excited to see my madeleines look so good .

madeleines1

But anyway here is the recipe :

1 lemon

1/3 cup of sugar

90 grams  of all purpose flour

1 tsp. of baking powder

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp. of honey

2 large eggs , room temperature

1 stick of melted butter , warm melted butter

1 tsp. of vanilla

2 tbsp. of whole milk ( i used 1 % since i don’t have whole milk )

1. In a small bowl mix the all purpose flour , baking powder and salt , whisk well , set aside .

2. In a larger bowl , mix the sugar and lemon zest , rub with your fingers until the sugar mix with the zest and becomes moist . At this point , basically the whole kitchen smells like lemon LOL

3. Once you’re ready , beat the sugar and 2 eggs vigorously , or use standing mixer , and about 2-3 minutes it will look very pale and double in size . Then add vanilla and honey , mix well .

4. FOLD in the flour , do not beat with mixer , use spatula or wooden spoon , carefully and gently , then add the warm butter , fold in carefully and add the milk .

5. Chill the batter in the fridge , cover the batter with plastic wrap directly onto the batter , chill an hour . Once you’re ready butter the madeleine mold and flour it , and remove excess flour . Spoon a dollop of the batter into the pan , chill for another hour .

6. Preheat oven to 400 F , throw in a large cookie sheet , once the oven is ready place the madeleine pan on top of the cookie sheet . Bake 10-12 minutes , you might need to bake it longer , my oven is convectional so it’s quicker , and to see if madeleine is ready , touch the puffy part , if it springs back then it’s ready to be taken out . Tap the pan into the counter and carefully remove madeleines immediately . Sprinkle with powdered sugar

madeleines

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo

This was our dinner last night .I think i’ve made them few times already , just forgot to blog about it . Although i don’t know how i forgot .. because this meal is totally awesome . Months back i borrowed a cooking book by Nigella Lawson from the library . She used to have a show on the cooking channel and i used to watch her show .

One of the recipe that attracts me in that book was this spanish chicken with chorizo . Me and my family are a big fan of chorizo . This spanish sausage is full of flavor that would burst out in your mouth and gives so much flavor when you cook it together with chicken . Not only that it has an awesome taste , it is super easy , everyone can cook this and will come our delicious ! Note one thing though , make sure you have the best tasting chorizo because that is where most of the flavor comes from . I adjust a little with the original recipe .

spanish chicken

 

Ingredients :

About 8 chicken thighs , i chose and always choose chicken thighs for braising and long cooking because they have the best taste and won’t dry out like chicken breasts , but it is your choice .

8 small shallots or 4 large shallots , or you can even use red onions if you’d like

2 packages of chorizo , or you can just use 1 , whatever you want

4 medium size of potatoes  , skin on

smoked paprika , kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

So all these are your ingredients , just rub the chicken with olive oil , skin side up , add the chorizo all over , crumble it with your hands , and add potatoes , and onions on top .In fact i was actually thinking maybe i should add brussel sprouts and bury it between the chicken , because an hour at 425 F cooking will totally smush and burn the brussel sprouts LOL . But anyway , throw them in the oven at 425 F and roast them for an hour or so , once in a while use turkey baster to baste the chicken with the juices that comes out .

Project completed !

So , i have finished my first ever knitted sock over the weekend . In total it took me a little bit over a week to finish the socks . Probably closer to 10 days for the pair . I had orders to get done , so for 2 days i focused on making hats and gloves , i had to skip my finishing sock at the time .

Since this was my first experience with knitting sock with the real sock yarn , i have to say , it’s quite different than i am used to , i hardly worked with yarn so thin . There must be hundred thousand little stitches in that sock i completed . It was a little strange having to use super small needle ,it’s like holding a toothpick ! But i def enjoyed the process . It is very time consuming , the only thing i have complain about this hobby is that the amount of time you spent sitting on the couch . But on that 2nd sock i completed , i decided i can knit standing up . I am the type of person who can’t sit too long , i like standing up , i do stand up a lot when i do a lot of kitchen stuff , be it cooking or baking . So , on that half pair i completed , i knitted it mostly standing up while at the same time , teaching and waiting on my son to complete his school works .

This is how the finished sock looks like

sock plain1 sock plain2 sock plain3

 

They’re beautiful aren’t they ? i love how the color turns out too . They fit perfectly , and i had worn them couple times already . I also wash them in the machine , but i didn’t use dryer to dry it , i just lay it flat to dry . Which i think the safest way to dry sock . With so much hard work and time that i put in making these socks , i want to make sure they are well taken care of ! Sometimes we don’t realize the amount you put into making handmade items .

This pair of sock was made using a basic sock pattern that i got from local yarn store . The pattern did help me so much because of the very detail and clear explanation including the amount stitches on which on what needles . So that pattern would def be my go to pattern if i ever want to make a plain vanilla sock again .

All and all , i am pretty happy and very proud of what i did with the sock . I had never thought i would be able to create handmade items like this .

A friend had warned me before i started knitting sock that it can be addictive . And she was right .. once i finished that first pair , the next day i already picked which yarn i wanted to use , and that was back on Monday night . Now , i am half way there .. 🙂

sock vanilla1

sock vanilla2

 

That was a picture that i took yesterday afternoon .. i am working on the instep now . Using the vanilla latte pattern . The pattern somehow confuses me after turning the heel , but i managed . Hopefully it turns out just fine .

Half way completed

I finished my first knitted sock yesterday , it took a total of 5 days , i don’t know how many hours , i don’t know how many stitches . I don’t always knit either because i had things to do such as  working out , homeschooling my son and cooking and cleaning , and all those things . I do most of my knitting at night time , or whenever i get a chance even when i had to stand up waiting for some few things to finish .

So , after working out yesterday morning , while listening to my son reading History out loud and checking his work on vocabulary , as well as him studying his Skeletal System , i was there standing up by the kitchen counter and knitting my sock . Without i know it , it looked pretty darn long and i thought i better try this on . Thank goodness i did , because it was right UNDER the big toe .. even my pinky was covered up . That means , i need to start decreasing and making the toe area .

knit sock process1

That’s how it looks like when i started to decrease to make the toe . I decided to end my sock with 3 bind off needles , instead of what the pattern asks which was a kitchener stitch . I did a kitchener stitch with one of my big thick sock , but i must have done something wrong because there was 1 stitch hanging out lose .. so it was too scary for me to use kitchener stitch again . Now that i learned an easier bind off method . Can’t really say 3 binds off needles is easy actually , the hard part was trying to put the stitch in the back in front of the stitch in front . Just like regular binding off , it’s hard when your yarn is so fine and the needle is so small . I ended up using crochet hook to pull the yarn and it worked better for me . Here is the final result for my first knitted sock .

knit sock finished1

I really do like the way it looks , sock yarn is awesome !! The pattern that i use was a pretty basic sock , and i am already so happy with how it looks . Not only the look , but knitted sock definitely stretchier compared to crochet sock . Now started on my other half pair .. before the second sock syndrome hits me .. hopefully i can complete the other  half within 5 days as well .

Knitting sock is addicting !

So , i think i have an addiction to sock . I crocheted my first pair of sock before christmas last year . And then i crocheted another pair by the end of the year . In the beginning of the year , i thought i’d like to try to tackle this knitted sock that i see a lot online .

I am part of this page , that has some awesome people with creativity . One of them was busy knitting socks , and that’s how i got interested in knitting sock . I am a newbie with knitting since i just learned couple of months ago . So the thought of knitting socks can be a little far fetched . I in fact , was told , by this lady who worked at Joanne . I had a question back then and another lady sent me to this particular lady by the cutting area because she is the one who supposed to know about needle arts .

There i was asking a stupid question actually , a question that i supposed to know anyway . But with how excited i was with the thought of getting started on my knitted sock , i just asked . What size of needle is best for making knitted sock ?

She said it depends on the yarn , the information is at the back of the label and i should be able to see whether it’s size 1 or 2 or even 3 . On my hand was size 3 that time . And i was like duh .. i knew this .. why did i even ask anyway . I crochet and i should know in each label that yarn has , it includes the information if you crochet or if you knit , what size of hook or needle you will need . Why did i even ask ?

But then she continued asking , are you new to knitting ? I said yes , i just started to learn to knit a month ago . My husband added , she’s been crochetting a while , just started to knit , and wants to make sock .

The lady at the cutting area , said ” Oh you just learned , i wouldn’t try to knit a sock if i were you , it’s hard and complicated ”

I did not expect that at all .. her words were so discouraging . And i wasn’t like that , even though i hear a lot of words about how complicated socks are , crochet or knit , nobody really said that directly to me . I was surprised – in a bad way .

So my response was ” well i am going to try it anyway , if it doesn’t work , i can always frog it ( take it apart ) , after all , it’s only yarn ”

I was very dissapointed with how this lady reacted . She works at the craft store , and i expect people would be more encouraging rather than .. oh don’t do it , it’s too hard , you wouldn’t be able to do it . Why couldn’t she just say .. that’s great , it’s a bit complicated but i am sure you can do it .

And i know people can do it , there are so many resources nowadays if you want to learn something , or if you belong to a group , which i do , you can ask for help from these people who are more experienced than you .

So fast forward a week later , i started my first knitted sock . I was pretty successful , though i picked the wrong needle for it . It was a little too big , so i made 3 socks , the first one was a no go because it’s too big , it fits my husband’s foot though . 2nd sock and 3rd sock , eventually became a pair , and it was made from worsted weight yarn . Which is just for a practice , before i am using the real sock yarn . Since that was a success ..

This past weekend , i picked up my sock yarn , which i have a lot .. i have bought so many sock yarn for someone that just crochet yarn few weeks ago . I have plenty to choose

sock yarn

These are my little stash of sock yarn .Sock yarn are pretty and they’re expensive compared to regular worsted weight , not to mention if you get it from Local  Yarn Store , it is def costs more money than regular chain craft store .

So my choice was the sock yarn up front on the left side . I bought this from LYS closed to my home , this particular LYS , has a lot of collection of sock yarn , which i like of course 🙂

That first day i started to knit the sock , it took me forever ! 2 hours and i only got 1 inch of the cuff done . And i was supposed to make 5 inches long cuff . I though .. this might take a month to finish LOL

knit sock1

The next day i finished the cuff , and started to make the heel flap

knit sock2

And the day after , which is going on to 3rd day , i started turning the heel , made the gusset and finally reaching the instep , which is going to take long to finish before going to the toe ..

knit sock3 knit sock4

 

I have to say , sock takes a long time to knit , it’s because the sock yarn is very fine and very thin compared to worsted weight yarn , and plus you have to use small needles too . So it takes a while , and it is def a labor of love !!!

How did i end up addicted to the needles ?

For quite sometime i have been adding crochet as my other things i love to do , cooking and baking are still my passion . I love doing those ! But , about the end of 2013 , i started picking up a crochet hook , and i remember years and years ago when i was pregnant , i learned  basic simple crochet and decided to make a blanket , to which took forever to finish . Never .. ever again will i make blanket as a first project ! LOL .

So , on that October 2013 , i was hooked , i re-learned my stitches online , youtube is a great source if you learn just about anything you want . My first choice of project was a hat , and then i made more hats , made gloves , scarves , eventually i learned to make amigurumis , those are stuffed animals that are made from crochet . I was totally hooked ..

These are some of the stuff i made since 2013 for crochet items

cowl veggies amis infinity scarf tablet sleeve phone case socks

 

And i still have plenty more to share . But anyway , i have never thought i would be able to crochet all these items . Whether it’s accessories , fashion items , or something you can use , such as tablet cover and phone case or even socks !

Then suddenly last year , around the month of November , i had the urge to learn to knit . From what i heard , everyone always tells me , knitting is hard , crochet is easier . And i see how people knit , with 2 needles and i was like , how do you work on that .. 2 hands working at the same time ? That’s just nuts ..

But i was quite determined at the time , and i bought myself straight needles , i was basically blind as far as knitting items , what they’re for . There are so many knitting stuff out there , so i was at hobby lobby to buy my first knitting needles , but there are so many kinds .. i know size matters , but there are straight needles , there are needles that look so dangerous with 2 pointy ends .. there are these 2 needles connected with some sort of tube . I had no idea which for what .. I just picked up the one that looks least dangerous .. LOL .. straight needles . Just like huge version of nail !

Then i sat and watched on youtube how to knit and purl . I picked it up right away , i thought this is quite easy .. let’s choose a project . I chose a scarf , even for crochet , scarf , basic , regular scarf is not hard to make . So scarf was my choice , to my surprised , i finished my first knitted scarf within 5 days , and i loved it ..

knitting project1 knitted scarf

That scarf is about 55 inches length and i felt so excited after finishing it . I thought can’t believed i just knitted ! Imagine with just 2 stitches , knit and purl , you can create so many pretty items . I know scarf is only just the beginning for me .

Then i got sidetracked with holidays around the corner , i had orders i needed to finish , cookies to bake and stuff like that . So orders came first , then after the holiday was over , i decided to go back to learn knitting items .

My next choice landed on socks . Why sock of all other items ?

I crochet socks and i love how it turns out . I love the combination colors of the yarn , and the fact that you can never have too many socks . You however can have too many hats or scarves ! So i thought .. i was told crochet sock wasn’t easy , it was intimidating at first , but i have to say , it’s not as hard as it looks .

So sock it is .. my choice to learn to knit socks . Well .. i ran into some discouraging moment while i was at chain craft store . The lady that was helping me , said ” i wouldn’t knit socks if you just learned knitting , really if i were you i wouldn’t choose that .. ”

I thought those mean words are so discouraging .. the least they could do was ” oh great , it’s a bit complicated , but i am sure you can do it !! ”

I still bought the needles for socks , and researched for an easy pattern for a very beginner sock knitter . My choice landed on Easy Peasy Sock . I was so excited to learn it .. here is how it turned out

knitted socks

So that’s how i am addicted to knit socks now .  I think it’s fun to do , and relaxing and just love how it turns out . Don’t get me wrong , i still like crochet , but for socks , i think knitting would be better choice .

Interesting that i never ever thought that i would be able to create cute pretty items like these . I always thought myself as a person who isn’t creative or into arts . But my both boys at home beg the differ , they say i am artsy and i am crafty as well . LOL

So anyway , if you ever think that you can never learn how to do something , you’re wrong . You can always learn anything you want , as long as you have the time , the patient , and keep practicing . Library can help , but nowadays with how easy internet access , i am sure everyone can just stay home , and google it , or find youtube to teach you how . I didn’t even take classes for crochet or knitting , i could if i want to . Many local yarn store or craft stores give classes for cooking , baking , knitting , and crochet , they’re about $20-$35 per class . But i never took any of them , i just used the internet to teach me how . If i can do it , i think everyone can do it as well !

Oatmeal – Raisin Cookies

After a month long full of sweet last December , to be honest with you , though i baked a lot of them , i hardly had any of them . So , last night suddenly , we had the urge to bake easy simple cookies , my choice landed on oatmeal raisin cookies . I always loved oatmeal raisin cookies . So here is easy simple recipe of oatmeal cookies , you can omit the raisin , it’s your choice  , but to me , it has to have raisins for me to like them !

Ingredients :

10 tbsp. of softened butter

3/4 cup of white sugar ( not heaping )

3/4 cup of light brown sugar ( don’t need to pack it )

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

2 3/4 cup of roll oats

1 1/2 cup of raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375 F

2. In a mixer , beat the sugar and the butter until combined and smooth . Add eggs , beat until fluffy for a minute or 2 . Then add vanilla , baking soda , pinch of salt and flour . Mix well , then add the roll oats , raisins and pinch of ground cinnamon if you like .

3. In a parchment paper lined sheet , drop the cookie dough by tsp. full , and bake for about 8-10 minutes .

Praline Rounds

When i first making this , i was quite excited , i love pecans ,  i like anything praline . So when i baked them and took a bite of it , i expected a great flavor . But i found something is missing . Granted i skipped the frosting that was supposed to be on the top of these cookies . I didn’t think it would miss a great flavor by skipping its frosting . After all , i am not really into frosting anyway .

But i was wrong , the recipe makes 2 logs of cookies . The good thing about this cookies was that you can make the dough few weeks ahead of time , esp. with busy christmas time , it’s a big help if you can make the dough way ahead of time . So with these 2 logs , i baked the 1st log and threw the other one in the freezer . Later on , i found out that i needed to make the frosting since the first batch i made , i didn’t add any frosting . Taste wasn’t the greatest .

On christmas eve , i let the dough thaw out in the fridge , and sliced them nicely , and while they’re baking in the oven , i decided not to skip the frosting this time . Made the frosting .. plenty of them , and had to throw away a lot since i only made for half batch . But my suggestion , when you make this cookies , def , make the frosting , it is very important !

praline rounds

 

Ingredients :

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup of shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 egg

2 tbsp. of milk

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

brown sugar frosting

1. In a large mixing bowl , beat butter , shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds . Add sugar , baking powder , baking soda and salt . Beat til combine , add egg , milk and vanilla . Beat til combine , add flour as much as you can with mixer , and 1/2 cup of chopped pecan .

2. Shape the dough into 2-10 inch log , wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap , chill in the fridge or you can throw it into the freezer for future use . Thaw before using . It needs to be chilled at least for 4 hours before slicing and baking them .

3. When you’re ready , slice the dough into 1/4 inch thickness and bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet , about 10 minutes or so , 375 F .

Frosting :

In a saucepan , combine 1 cup of packed brown sugar , 1/4 cup of butter , and 1/4 cup of light cream . Bring this to boil for 1 minute and stir constantly . Remove from the heat , add 1 1/3 cup of powdered sugar  , stir until smooth and combine . Drizzle this on top of the cooled cookies .

praline rounds