Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post-Holiday Low-fat eating

I overdid it over the holidays. Cadbury chocolate bars, donuts, rice pudding, yule log cake, plum cake, See's candy; I was eating See's toffee-ettes on top of brownies by the handful. It got ugly. After all that, I had one of those rare occasions where I stopped craving sugar. December 26th came around and not even a twinge of a sweet tooth could muster to show up. Thank goodness!
I'm starting the New Year's resolution a little early and dedicating myself to having some healthy habits. I love posting about dessert, but I figured that I could start here on my blog and bring some ideas to all of you too for ways to recover from the holiday sugar-binge.

Greek FAGE 2% yogurt with pomegranate and a drizzle of honey. Delicious!

Lunch: Salad, hummus wrap and water
Lettuce, sliced fennel, chopped dried apple, a couple chopped walnuts and a basic vinaigrette. Take 1 tbs olive oil and 2 tsp vinegar, any type. Whisk in a small bowl with a fork, add a pinch of salt, freshly cracked black pepper and one pinch of dried Italian herbs. Pour over the salad and toss.
The hummus wrap is made with Whole Foods red pepper hummus and these great, zero-fat tortillas from the "Fat Flush" company. If you toast them, they get really crunchy but 20 seconds in the microwave makes them very soft and chewy. These tortillas have a lot of fiber and make a great wrap.

 Water: Water is so important, we all know it's true. But when it's cold out, for some reason drinking water gets a little hard for me, unless it comes in the form of hot tea. So, I decided to add some flavor. I put sliced Meyer lemons and seedless cucumber in a glass and even filled a few water bottle to take to work. The added flavor helps me drink the amount I should and it tastes very refreshing!
My godmother makes these yummy drinks all the time, I remember drinking my glass almost instantly, it was so delicious on hot summer days while my friend Melody and I played dolls (:

You can chill individual servings or fill water bottles. Try other fruits too!
 Afternoon Snack: I brought a little baggie of these guys to work. Tart, dried Montmorency cherries from Trader Joe's and some walnuts. They are very tasty, but I'm not going to lie: changing your diet is hard and I got real hungry later! Keep some baggies of these in your car to tide you over, the walnuts have the 'good fat' that you need and might help you resist swinging into a fast food joint before you get home to your healthy foods!

I managed to stay on the bandwagon for dinner too! Two more wraps, some Superfood and a bowl of quinoa  with shallots and Bragg Liquid Aminos spray. Quinoa is a great staple once you get used to it, because it is a complete protein!
Healthy eating and Happy New Year! <3

Sunday, December 25, 2011


My grandmother lent me a few cookbooks a while back, including a Yiddish cookbook. I can't seem to find it on Amazon, but it is written by a very charming lady and it includes a recipe for zwetschenkuchen.
She introduces this dessert, saying "A German-Jewish cake for Rosh Hashanah. The name comes from a zwetsche (pr quetsch), a variety of small, dark blue plum found in Southern Germany and Alsace that ripens in time for New Year and Yom Kippur". I loved this little tidbit of information, I am always fascinated by new cooking terms and ingredients. It also reminded me of a favorite book by Eva Ibbotson called "A Song For Summer" about a young woman living in Germany around the time of WWII.
It was the photo that got me, however. The picture showed a round tart tin holding a cake of plump plums surrounded by golden cake that puffed up between them, making them look like fat little purple island. To top it all, the deep purple plums were ever-so-lightly dusted with powdered sugar, bringing any image you've ever had about "sugarplums dancing" come to life. I was enchanted and convinced that I had to bake this wonderful confection for Christmas.
Plums are not in season this time of year. Nope, not at all. The clerk at Oliver's told me they didn't carry any because the ones from Chile that are available this time of year are so watery and tasteless that it's not worth it. Well, I didn't like the idea of watery and tasteless even though I did want to have plump little plums in my cake and not sad, soggy preserved ones. I was about to substitute cherries, but the $10.99 per lb price shut down that idea pretty quickly. Besides, sugared cherries have nothing to do with Christmas, it just wouldn't be the same.
I was saved when I found whole, canned plums from Oregon. Awesome.
No, the plums are not as lively and chubby-looking as in the book, but that will just have to wait til summer. I hope you enjoy these pictures though, even without the perfect plums, I still think the powdered sugar on the plums looks stunning.

This one's my favorite pic (: I got the fabric in the remnants rack at Joanns. So pretty!

Zwetschenkuchen (or Sugarplum Cake)
I adapted this recipe a bit because I didn't have self-rising flour. Thank-you google. The dough will have to chill for at least 1 hour. Prep time, 30 minutes. Baking about 30-50, depending on the shape of the tin you use.
1 2/3 cup flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
11 tsp chilled butter
zest of 1 small lemon (I used a Meyer lemon, yum!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 small egg, lightly beaten
2 lb 4 oz damson or Victoria plums (or canned ones from Oregon if its winter)
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Cut the butter into it with 2 knives. Lightly use your hands to break it down until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Mix in the sugar, zest and cinnamon. Bind the pastry with the egg a bit at a time, you don't want the dough to be too wet. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Cut the plums in half and remove the pits.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Grease a 10inch flan pan or tart tin with a removable bottom. Lightly press the pastry into the pan to cover the sides and the bottom. Pack the plums, cut-side down into the pastry base. You can use halves or cut them into smaller pieces and arrange them into a design. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is soft and juicy. (I baked mine on a cookie sheet so it would be easier to move into and out of the oven). Let cool in the pan. Dust with confectioner's sugar. You can serve it with toasted almonds and sour or whipped cream.

Yule Log Cake: Buche de Noel

I have been saving this recipe since I was probably ten and I've finally made it. Years later, I recognized the chef in the newspaper clipping to be the head of the culinary department at SRJC!
Here's my Buche de Noel, it's made with the chocolate roulade recipe that I saved. It's flourless and super delicious. The cake is filled with chantilly (or whipped cream for us American folk) and chocolate chips. I topped it with an extra square of Ghiradelli chocolate and honeycomb toffee. I first tried this by the seaside with my family, the Scotts in Whitby, I think.
I don't have a recipe for this tasty toffee, because it was a bit of an experiment, but here's the gist: Prep a pan by buttering it, covering with parchment and buttering the parchment. Start making toffee, swirling the sugar but not stirring. Get it to 270F then remove from the heat. I added about a tablespoon of lemonjuice and swirled, then added two tablespoons of baking soda. It will foam. I then stirred it and poured it onto the buttered pan. Let cool completely then break into segments.

I loved how the chocolate looked, half melted with the Ghiradelli emblem still showing!

Egg whites.

Chocolate chips about to be rolled up into the roulade. They're so cute (:
Tiramipursuit Buche de Noel
I used the SRJC recipe for the cake but added tips and helpful hints to make the process a little easier.
for the roulade:
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup water for the water bath
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
for the chantilly:
1 pint of whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a half-sheet pan by buttering it, lining it with parchment paper, buttering it again and flouring it. Tap out the excess flour from the pan.
Get the water steaming, then put the top half of the double boiler over it, whether it is a bowl or a smaller pan. You don't want any steam to get into your chocolate or it may seize. Melt the chocolate over the hot water bath. Stir until smooth, then let cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with only 1/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale. BEat in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.
In another large bowl, slowly start beating the egg whites. Once foamy, you can add the cream of tartar and start increasing your speed. Beat to soft peak stage, then add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.
Stir one fourth of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and the then fold this new chocolate/white mixture into the remaining egg whites gently. It is lumpy, so be gentle with the whites but don't stress too much about the folding. I tried to really mix that first 1/4 in thoroughly, I even used a mixer so it would fold a little easier. It was a little lumpy still in the end, but the lumps baked out for the most part because they are just pieces of chocolate (:
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a metal spatula. Bake the cake in the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes or until it is puffed and just set. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. The cake sinks as it cools.
Prepare the chantilly:
Start whipping the cream. Add the sugar and vanilla once bubbles start to form. It is a lot of liquid, so it could take up to ten minutes depending on the speed of your beater. Once it is fluffy, showing little clumps it is ready. You don't want it soft or loose at all, because it will be supporting the structure of the cake.
Once the cake is completely cool, invert it onto another sheet of parchment and carefully peel off the bottom layer of parchment. The recipe says to sprinkle it with powdered sugar here, but my cake was pretty dry so I skipped it. Then spread the whipped cream onto the cake carefully until it is evenly distributed in a thick layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pull up on the parchment and roll up the cake into a log. Don't try to make the spiral too tight or the first rolls will crumble. The cake is delicate, so you might experience some cracking as I did. I'm not sure how to prevent this, but I liked the effect because it looked like bark.
Garnish with honeycomb toffee and a piece of chocolate, if the company you used has a nice stamp on it. Or get creative and make some marzipan or meringue mushrooms, chocolate leaves, sugared cranberries or whatever garnishes you like.
Bon Appetit!

Hannukah Donuts from Food Network Magazine

I tried this recipe from Chuck Hughes' article in Food Network Magazine this month!

I started experimenting and made some regular donuts too (:

Jelly Donuts from the Food Network
Active time: 50 minutes
Rising time: 5 hours at minimum
1 cup warm milk (about 105F) don't let it get too hot, or it will kill the yeast
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
Vegetable oil for deep frying
jelly or seedless jam for filling
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. Bloom the yeast: pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir to dissolve; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs to the bowl and whisk until blended. Add 2 cups of flour and mix with the dough hook to combine, stopping to crape down the bowl. (I just used a wooden spoon). The dough will be sticky, if it's too wet, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour (ok, I'll admit I did more like 1/2 cup). Add the butter and mix until smooth.
3. Brush a large bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours or overnight.
4.Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and dust with flour. Dust a clean surface with flour. Turn out the dough and dust with flour. Roll out to 1/2 an inch. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch round with a cookie cutter and transfer to the baking sheets. Reroll the scraps and repeat. Dust the rounds lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hr in a warm place.
5. Heat 2 to 3 inches vegetable oil in a large pot until a deep-frying thermometer reads 360F. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts, turning until golden brown. Use tongs to do this. Then remove with tongs or a skimmer to drain on paper towels.
6. Fit a pastry bag (or ziploc) with a 1/8 inch round tip. Insert the pastry tip into the side ofa doughnut and gently squeeze to fill. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve warm.
Happy Holidays! <3

Christmas Morning Rice Pudding

Merry Christmas!
My mom requested this for breakfast this morning; rice pudding with a blackberry cinnamon compote. I used this combo in a school presentation a couple of weeks ago, combining British and Indian ingredients and flavors.

Rice Pudding (Kheer) with Blackberry Compote
I prefer rice pudding in the British or American style where it is a little more dense and less liquidy, so technically this isn't a real 'kheer', but it is based on the recipe.

For the rice pudding:
2 cups of coconut milk
2 cups of whole milk
3 tbs white sugar
1 cup basmati rice
2 tsp cinnamon or cardamom (optional)
Bring the coconut milk and milk to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the rice and sugar and let simmer. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Cook until the rice is soft and most of the liquid is gone. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate. If it is dry after chilling, stir in a little milk to moisten it. You can also stir in some spices if you like.
For the blackberry compote:
2 baskets of blackberries
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Put the water and sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and let sugar dissolve. Feel free to stir. Add blackberries and cinnamon and stir gently. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the blackberries are bright red and very soft. Carefully strain and pour the berries into a heatproof bowl or jar. Add a little liquid to suspend them so they maintain their shape. Let chill, then use to garnish the rice pudding.
Bon Appetit and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rainbow Sparkle Cookies

Amani and I just made these rainbow sparkle cookies for him to take to his little preschool tomorrow!
The recipe is from the Family Fun cookbook, which you can find in my books section! It has a lot of great, simple recipes.
I let Amani help me make them and (with washed hands), he rolled the balls of dough in the sprinkles and violently pounded them down onto the cookie sheet. It was very cute (:
I know he looks a little evil, but he would only stay still for a split second, it's the only one I got that's not 100% blurry! He's still kind of in motion though. But I had to get a picture of my chef!

Rainbow Sparkle Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Rainbow sprinkles

Whip the butter until fluffy, then cream with sugar. Add the egg and incorporate. Add vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients in thirds, mixing inbetween.
Let chill for about 30-45 minutes. You could do longer, but we did fine just letting it cool and solidify a bit. Remove from fridge and roll into balls a little larger than gumballs. Pour the sprinkles into a bowl and roll each ball in them. Pat each ball onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350F. They won't really get golden, but they will not be doughy.
Voila! Enjoy with a friend ( : Happy Holidays!

Yellow Beets and Sunchokes

I tossed these chopped yellow beets and sunchokes lightly in olive oil, ground pepper, a pinch of salt and provencal herbs and lavender. Then, I baked them until soft. The sunchokes cook much faster. so you might consider cutting smaller pieces of the beets, the smaller pieces of beet cooked at about the same rate as the artichokes.
Pretty colors, huh?
A perfect winter snack (:

Belated Daring Cook's Post!

My first Daring Cook's post was put on hold because this is finals week! Gasp! I really shouldn't have even done this probably, but hey I still have time to study.
Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!
Because I'm a vegetarian, I marinaded tofu instead and made these yummy bao! I also excluded the oyster sauce for this reason and excluded the food coloring because I just don't like red dye #-what-have-you. The recipe was really fun and educational, thanks, Sarah!

So Delicious! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Confetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Buttercream

Today was my 20th birthday and I made cupcakes for my family and friends! I am so glad to be posting again, I have been so busy with finals and transfer stuff the past couple weeks!
I love confetti cake, so I tried mixing sprinkles into my favorite yellow cake recipe and it turned out great!
I topped them with this frosting that tastes just like a candy bar (:
Enjoy! <3

Chocolate Chip Frosting
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup room temperature, softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Melt the chips by microwaving  them in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time and stirring frequently. Stop heating when they are mostly melted and then stir until the chocolate is smooth. Let cool slightly while you whip butter in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chocolate and continue to whip, then add the powdered sugar and whip until smooth and fluffy.
Find the yellow cake recipe here and just add 1/8-1/4 of sprinkles, depending how colorful you want them (:
Bon appetit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Big Project coming up!

Hey everybody, Thanks for the great feedback and all the views for the past week, I have been so excited about my readers' responses!
I have a huge project due on Monday for my mythology class and I decided to do this final project as a culinary presentation. I will be comparing two holidays, the Celtic Beltane and the Hindu Diwali!
So, stay tuned and please excuse the absence of frequent posts. Can't wait to share the final product!