Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shrimp Tacos

Currently, I am residing in Todos Santos, Mexico, with Imma who I went to Alaska with in August. Our friend Gracie is staying with us as well. The road here from Cabo San Lucas is under construction, so there is no road, just dust and rocks, and it goes on forever. When I finally arrived in Todos Santos, it was too dark to see the magic of the town. To recover from the drive, today was spent with a long walk on the beach, a midday nap, cooking and reading.  

Today's sunset

The beach here is intimidating. The pacific ocean collapses on the shore with such fury it is impossible to  leave the waves once you've entered. No one enters the water here, but you don't need to swim to enjoy its beauty. I walk along the beach during the tail end of the sunrise and the ocean is littered with life. So far I have seen a whale, birds of all types, and lots of sting rays. The sting rays swim in large groups close to the shore and as the waves crash you can see them tumble. When the waves have reached their maximum height, it looks as if you are looking at the sting rays through a class window in an aquarium. After the waves crash the tips of their wings break the surface of the water created many small ripples. This morning they were jumping out of the water exposing their white belly. 

Late in the afternoon, we decided to try out the barbecue with our left over shrimp. Imma was in charge of lighting the fire. It took a while, but after a trip to the local market to buy more lighter fluid we had a rapid fire. The shrimp cooked extremely fast.

To go along with the shrimp we made salsa and a salad. We also had avocados, cheese and beans on the side. We made the tacos with corn tortillas we bought at the local market. I also cut up some papaya and salted them. The tacos were very easy and used whatever we had on hand. Specifically, the ingredients I used were as followed:
  • 1 tomatoe
  • 1/2 onion 
  • refried beans
  • gouda cheese
  • 1 avocado
  • shrimp
  • cilantro
  • garlic and olive oil added to the salsa

There isn't really a recipe to follow when making tacos like these, but thats the fun part. Just pair ingredients you want to eat and see what happens. 

As we ate our meal, we watched the sunset. Towards the end of the meal, the night sky started to take over. The dessert sky is definitely something to be reckoned with. After we finished eating, we talked and watched the stars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sherry and Citrus Glazed Carrots

For the past three to four years a friend of mine, Camille, has thrown a wonderful holiday party in which we all dress up. It started out as a small get together with no more than ten people all of whom were local. As the years progressed more and more people slowly started to appear. This year we had a total of thirty people, which we were not expecting. In the past we had all worn our old prom outfits, played apples to apples and ordered pizza or ate some simple pasta. However, this year, with so many new people we needed to figure out how to feed them all on a budget while creating a presentable meal.
Camille and I

A turkey was donated to our cause and we ended up making some sort of thanksgiving dinner with mac and cheese instead of stuffing. With so many picky eaters and vegetarians the baked mac and cheese was perfect. We made two pounds of the pasta and it was all eaten. As for the turkey, i just followed the instructions from The turkey turned out perfect. We also made the kale and brussels sprouts salad I previously posted. However my favorite dish was picked out of Bon Apetit Magazine, Spiced Glazed Carrots with Sherry and Citrus.

We started out with 2 lbs of carrots, but a half an hour before the dinner we had eaten all of them! So we had to buy 4 lbs more. It was a very quick dish, which took away a lot of the stress. I am not posting the recipe and instead have provided the like in the paragraph above. However I do have a few comments. The recipe calls for exact amounts, but I have found that guestimates work out just fine. Also orange juice works out fine if you don't want to buy clementine juice. Also I added more water when 'boiling' the carrots which made the recipe easier and it turned out fine. Just do whatever feels right and the dish will still be perfect. Just remember to eat it while its warm! Cold cooked carrots aren't my favorite.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini Lemon Cakes

Things have been a bit hectic, this past fall. Adjusting to the quarter system at UC Davis  has taken its toll and I have been unable to keep up with my blog. I do regret this, but I have learned to manage my time better and hopefully I will be able to create more posts during the winter quarter. The course work at UCD is challenging, but I am enjoying it. I am looking forward to finishing Organic Chemistry and starting the upper division biology series required for my major. 

I have been on break for almost a week and a half now. So far its been good and surprisingly productive.   Two Fridays ago, I finally passed my driver's license test which was a huge relief. I also finished my immunizations for my hospital internship next quarter. They were all rather routine, except for the chicken pox immunization record. Instead of being immunized for the chicken pox, I took a blood test to prove I already had the chicken pox. I also got to see my girl, Nanny, the best part so far.

 After a week of winter break, things started to wind down and wanting to do something special for the holidays, I baked 4 inch tall cakes to give away. I made four and gave three away to some of my friends.

I used Martha Stewart's Lemon Cake Recipe, which I found online. The only change I made was substituting the buttermilk for milk and lemon juice. I did this partially because I forgot to buy buttermilk and I liked the idea of adding more lemon juice. To make the substitute I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a 1 cup measuring cup and then filled the rest of the cup with milk. I let the mixture sit for about 7 minutes before adding it to the recipe. 

Baking these cakes was quite tedious, as I did not have small round cake pans. To overcome this problem I used a cookie sheet with a 1 1/2 inch border to bake a long, thin cake. I cut small circle cakes out of the parent cake, much like making cookies. The cakes don't have to be circular, but I found the circle to be easy to work with and it looked better frosted than a square or rectangular shape. I cut out 12 circles so each cake could have 3 layers. 

Next I used buttercream frosting to connect the different layers (The frosting recipes are at the bottom of the post). I added lemon flavor to the icing. After each cake was assembled I colored my frosting with food coloring and frosted each cake accordingly. Since the cakes were hand cut there are a lot more crumbs on the edges, which makes it harder to frost. To over come this problem I started with a lot more frosting than I needed and never let my icing spatula or knife touch the actual cake, only the frosting. The technique is similar rolling out pie dough. This will avoid crumbs appearing in your frosting and allow for a smoother frosting surface. After the cake is completely frosted I remove some of the extra frosting as I smooth out the cake. I admit, I still need practice when it comes to making a perfectly smooth cake, but that is what youtube is for.

In the picture below, notice the vertical lines on the side of the cake. My cakes were actually a bit lopsided, but the vertical lines created the illusion that they were straight by pulling the eye upward. 

After the cakes have been completely covered in frosting I let them sit overnight in the fridge allowing the frosting to harden. Then I made Royal Icing with egg white, also by Martha Stewart. This is the icing I used for the decorations. Unfortunately the icing wasn't as thick as I expected it to be, making it difficult to work with, because the designs would melt together. I most likely added to many egg whites per cup of powdered sugar. 

If I was to bake these cakes again I would change several things. First off I would buy mini cake pans, its just too much work without them. Also I would add more lemon zest to the cake batter and buttercream frosting. Instead of making the cakes three layers I would make them 4 or maybe even 5. I think the tall and thin look for small cakes is more professional. As for the icing, I would do a little more research and find an icing that is stiffer and can accommodate more designs.  I would also try a different icing for the outside coating, something tastier. 

Martha Stewart's Meringue Buttercream Icing
makes 3 cups

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tarter
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) of butter, cold, unsalted and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla or lemon juice
"1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 1/3 cup water to a boil. Boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees on candy thermometer).

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high until stiff, but not dry.

3. With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup into egg whites in a steady stream and beat on high speed until steam is no longer visible, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, piece by piece, on medium speed.

4. Add vanilla [lemon juice] and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until frosting is smooth and spreadable. If it looks curdled at any point during the beating process, keep beating to smooth it out. If it becomes too soft for piping, stir over ice water to stiffen."

Martha Stewart's Royal Icing 
makes about 2 1/2 cups
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 cups of confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
"1. Place egg whites in an electric mixer (it should be very clean and dry) and beat, using the whisk attachment, until frothy. Add 1.4 cup of sugar and mix well. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating on low speed and scraping down sides.

2. Increase speed to high and continue to beat mixture until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. At this stage, icing will be very thick. Add water [lemon juice], a few drops at a time, to thin it to consistency of a thick mayonnaise; after that it depends on the kinds of decorating you are doing. As a rule, icing should be stiffer for making petals, more malleable for lettering- but you will need to experiment. Storing icing at room temperature in an airtight container; keep bowl covered while working with icing. It should be used within two days."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Crumble

This post is a continuation of Thanksgiving from the previous post, Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad. By the time I got around to making this dish, around 3 pm, my feet were aching from cooking since a little before 10 am. Thankfully, I had help preparing the sweet potatoes. 

As usual, we were running late, since we planned on eating at 4 pm and we still had over an hour of work to do. However, guests had started to arrive and everyone pitched in, shortening the preparation time. Around this time, when the kitchen is fully of chatter and I am surrounded by familiar faces, I remember why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. 


At the end of the dinner, pictures are being taken everywhere. With so many cousins its hard to get everyone in one photo, but we manage. This year, we had a new addition to the family, with the birth of my cousin Amber's baby.

Right to left: Amber, me, Sophie, Natalie, Todd, Tess, Loni
I have always wanted to make some sort of sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving, but I worried the dish would be too sweet. Yes, this dish is sweet, but its more of a natural sweet, full of fall spices.I have always had a large sweet tooth so this dish was the perfect addition. Placing a dab of this casserole in the middle of my plate I was able to mix a little into every bite. The combination of nutmeg and ginger is absolutely stunning.  I look forward to another occasion to make this casserole. 

"This is an especially festive, over-the-top take on the classic Thanksgiving casserole, topped with a crisp pecan crumble and dotted with marshmallows.

For the Filling:
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1" piece ginger, finely grated freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Crumble Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2  tsp kosher salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1/4 cup mini marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until soft, about 1 1/2 hours; let cool for 30 minutes, and then remove skins. Pass potatoes through a food mill into a large bowl; stir in sugar, butter, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, eggs, ginger, and pepper. Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish and smooth top; set aside.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, oats, sugar, pecans, and salt in a bowl; add butter and, using your fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until large crumbles form. Mound crumble mixture over filling, dot with marshmallows, and bake until filling is hot and crumble and marshmallows are browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving."

The picture and recipe description are from the Saveur Magazine.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

This year was, most likely, my families last Thanksgiving at my Uncle Mark's house in Sacramento. Every year, since we moved back to California, we have attended Thanksgiving at my Uncle Mark's house with about 25 other guests, including family in friends. It has been a very nice tradition and definitely my favorite holiday. I mean, what's better than a day simply about food, family and friends? It seems that everyone is happy on Thanksgiving, despite prior disputes and anxieties. Uncle Mark and his family have moved to a beautiful plot of land in Clarksburg, California. The property is perfect for them, and their kids, Asher and Talia, love it. 

This year my dad and I cooked the Thanksgiving dinner with the help of my Aunt Jen. As usual my fantastic cousins, the Olender's, brought amazing pies for dessert. My dad cooked the turkey, which my Aunt Jen's father raised, and the stuffing. With the help of family and friends, I made the side dishes; bacon mac and cheese, salad, mashed potatoes, creamed peas with bacon and a sweet potatoes casserole. I have only posted the sweet potato casserole and salad recipe. 

I added the salad to try and lighten things up. I was worried at first, because we have never had a salad for thanksgiving before, but it worked out perfectly. It was everyone's favorite dish. The salad is light, but crunchy enabling it to keep up with the rest of hearty Thanksgiving dishes. Even though we all ate ourselves into food comas, the salad allowed us to feel a little less guilty about it. 

"A bright alternative to heavy sides, this salad features Tuscan kale."
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan Kale (about 1 1/2 lb. total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 oz.  brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

In a small bowl combine lemon juice, mustard, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts.

"Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 Tbsp oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes.  Transfer nuts to a paper towl-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature. 

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds."

The picture and recipe description are both from the Bon Apetit Magazine. 

My dachshund, Nanny, and I

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rose Apple Pie

This post has moved. CLICK HERE to see the original content on my new blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Last weekend, some friends came over and we all decorated sugar cookies in preparation for Halloween. The recipe I used is called 'Holiday Cookies' from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine flour, salt and sugar first. The superfine sugar can be made by placing regular sugar in the blender or food processor. Then, using an electric mixer, add the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract. Mix until the dough looks crumbly and slightly wet. Next mix it together with your hands to create one solid piece of dough. Separate the dough into two pieces and create two flat circles which are then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 20 to 30 minutes. 

After refrigeration, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper, about 1/8-1/4 in thick. Work with only one flat circle of dough at a time. Once the dough has been rolled out, place it on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut and separate. Now cut the cookies into shapes and place them on a cookie sheet ready for baking. 

Preheat the oven to 375. Cook the cookies for about 10 minutes. If they are closer to the 1/8 in. or smaller thickness then they will be done closer to 7 minutes.  Let cool for 30 to 60 minutes.

Mixing the butter into the flour and sugar reduces air bubbles, but they still my occur. To combat them I check the cookies at 5 minutes, while baking, and if there are any bubbles starting to form I gently flatten them with a spoon. The superfine sugar improves the texture.

For the icing combine:
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners'/ powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • food coloring: black, red, yellow
A fork will work fine to mix the icing together. Separate your icing into several different containers and then add food coloring. You may need to make more than one batch of icing. Also, try and make the icing as thin as possible, it will dry faster. To cover the cookies with icing use a butter knife and some chopsticks for small details. Candies can also be stuck to the cookies when applied while the frosting is still wet. I placed shredded coconut on my ghost. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake and Fudge Frosting

Makes: 1 layer cake (8 in.); 6 servings
Time: 35 minutes, plus 1 hour, 20 minutes to bake and cool butter cake

  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
  • Butter cake (recipe on previous post)
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Fudge Frosting (Recipe at bottom of page)
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (1 bag on mini cups)
  • 3/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-in. cake pans. Stir 1/2 cup peanut butter into cake batter and divide between pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then invert cakes onto a rack. Remove pans and let cool to room temperature, at least 40 minutes. If you are pressed for time you can put them in the fridge, but this also increases crumbling during the frosting process.
Make peanut butter filling: In a medium bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat together remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth and fluffy.
Assemble cake: Dollop 1 tbsp. peanut butter filling onto a cake stand (to hold cake in place). Set one cake, right side up on stand. Spread with remaining peanut butter filling. Top with second cake. Frost cake with Fudge Frosting starting with the top, then working down sides. Decorate outside with cut up peanut butter cups. 

Fudge Frosting:
  • 5 oz. unsweetened chocolate 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp. milk

Melt 5 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate in a medium metal bowl set in pan over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Ad 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, and beat with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and 6 tbsp. mil; beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if frosting seems to thin. Makes about 2 cups. 

Basic Butter Cake

Makes 2 cakes (8 in. each); 16 servings total
Time 40 minutes, plus 45 minutes to cool

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-in. cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down side of bowl as needed, and adding vanilla with last egg.  Beat in flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with flour and making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. 

Divide batter between pans.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool to room temperature, at least 40 minutes. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta

pasta face
I have always enjoyed making fresh and dried pasta. The first time making pasta it is even without a pasta maker or machine, but after that first time the thrill fades and cutting tiny pieces of dough that stick together easily isn't much fun anymore. I would suggest making pasta without a pasta maker that will flatten and cut your dough for you at least once before investing in a machine. They can become quite costly, but if you are going to use it, completely worth it. However angel hair pasta strands are two thin to cut without some sort of machine. If you do not have a machine to work with make your strands much wider. The width is up to you. Even though it will no longer be angel hair pasta, it will taste the same.

The recipe is very basic:
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt

You have probably heard of a certain kind of pasta flour and I do admit that your average unbleached or bleached flour doesn't yield the pristine pasta you may find in Italy, but it does the trick.  For this recipe I used regular unbleached flour and it worked perfectly. To start combine the flour and salt. Mix. Next pour your flour mixture on a flat, clean surface. Make a sort of flour mound that is taller than it is wide. Now make a hole in the middle of the mound, this is for the eggs. You want the wall around this hole to be tall so the eggs don't spill over, but you don't want it too thin either. Once you have a nice sturdy wall around your hole add your eggs. If you are lucky the eggs didn't spill over or break through your flower wall. Start adding flour from the edges of your wall to the eggs, mixing and smashing it with the bottom of your fork. Continue mixing the mixture until it is no longer liquid. This process usually takes a while to get right. 

Once the mixture is no longer liquid begin to knead the dough. You want all of the mixture to combine into one solid piece. Feel free to add more flour if the mixture is too sticky or more water if it is too dry. If you are having a hard time, don't give up! Keep on kneading the dough. Although if it has been a half an hour and you are sure its not working, your probably right. Once you are satisfied with the consistency of the dough break it into two even pieces.  I usually use one piece and save the rest for later. Then work the dough with your hands, pounding and stretching, until you make a rectangle. 

From here on out your method will depend on whether or not you have a pasta maker. My methods reflect the use of a pasta maker. Now you want to roll out your rectangle to make a long and thin sheet. You want the sides to be as straight as possible. To achieve this I make my original rectangle as wide as my pasta maker, as pictured. This keeps a nice straight edge. Start on the widest setting and work your way back. My pasta machine had 9 different thicknesses. I went from 1 to 7.  The picture on the left is about the second round through the pasta maker and the picture on the left is the second to last round through the pasta maker.

After you have finished creating your sheet it should feel just about paper thin. Cut the short edges of your sheet so they are nice and straight as well. Now feed the sheet through the part of machine that cuts the pasta. This is usually an attachment. You want the attachment that will cut your pasta as thin as possible. As the pasta come out of the machine be careful not to tangle the little pieces.  It is easier if you have to people (one person to feed and the other to catch).

Once you have cut your pasta you may either cook it fresh or let it dry. If you have never tasted fresh pasta I would recommend cooking at least some of your pasta the same day. The cooking time for fresh pasta is very short, usually around 2-5 minutes. However since the cooking time often depends on the thickness and different kinds of flour and eggs used it is best to try a piece every minute or so. If you want to dry your pasta it is easiest to let it hang dry. You can buy a pasta drying rack, but you can also make one out of house hold items. If you have a towel drying rack then use that. Otherwise grab some hangers. You can find more ideas via the internet. Just make sure your rack isn't too thick or dirty.  However I disliked hung dry pasta because it crimps. If you want pure straight pasta it is going to take longer, but it is possible. 

To achieve straight pasta I covered a flat surface with flour and placed my fresh pasta on the floured surface. To prevent sticking you need to make sure that there is some amount of flour in between each strand. To do this you may have to lay out each piece individually, depending on how tangled you strands have become. Once you have your pasta laid out cut them into the size of the container you wish to store them in. Now simply let the pasta sit overnight. I do not know the specific time it takes to dry the pasta, but it has always been dry by mourning. 

Another way to dry the pasta is to coat it with flour and not try to fight the tangles. This is best if your tangles are beyond repair. For this method simply lay the pasta on a flour covered surface allowing it to crimp as it wishes. It may be best to create some artificial crimps as well to ensure air pockets so the pasta does not mold. However keep in mind that once it is dry it is very fragile and hard to move in this form. Keep in mind how you will store this pasta. Do not dry your pasta in a closed container. You want it to air out as much as possible. 

This method can be quite pretty if done correctly. Here, separate your pasta into small sections and twirl them into small circles, or bird nests. Don't forget to coat the strands with flour before hand, though. This method can be troublesome if there is too much pasta in one circle. If this is the case the bottom strands  sometimes do not dry completely. But you can make many small circles the size of your container and stack them. But once again be careful, pieces brake off easily. 

I do not know how long the pasta will keep, because I usually cook it within a day or two. If it is completely dry it should keep for a week or longer. But if you are worried, there is no harm in storing the pasta in the fridge.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I haven't had much time to cook this past month for two reasons a kitchen renovation and an amazing trip to Alaska. My friend Imma Trillo took me to the Kenai peninsula of Alaska. During my trip I encountered some very interesting food.

For one thing the food, and the gas for that point, is very expensive. The price of the food rarely reflects the quality, but every once in a while you run into something amazing. While I was in the town of Hope I had a bowl of fresh clam chowder which was phenomenal. It was very rich and hard to eat in one sitting, but amazing.  They added chunks of Alaskan Halibut and Salmon to the mixture.

Hope, Alaska

My favorite dish, by far, was a Raspberry Salmon Bisque I came across in the town of Kenai. The soup was a beautiful pink.  A perfect summer dish.

Another one worth noting was a cedar plank salmon dish served with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. I very much enjoyed this dish, but I have never had it before so I lacked a comparison. This dish seemed popular this summer, especially on This dish was from Seeward, Alaska.

Seeward, Alaska

Tomato, Basil, Gruyere and Goat Cheese Tart

These tarts were amazingly refreshing. Once again I apologize, but I do not remember the recipe for these tarts either. The bottom of these tarts is coated with dijon mustard and then layered with gruyere cheese. On top of the cheese there are alternate layers of goat cheese and fresh tomatoes. Finally sprinkle basil on top before or after baking. 

Rose Apple Tart

I made these a while ago and don't really remember the recipe, but I do remember the basics. Cut the apples into small thin half circle pieces and cooked them over the stove until soft. Then place the soft pieces and their juices into a large bowl and add sugar and lemon juice. Let the mixture sit. Arrange the apples in the tart pans in the shape of a flower. Unfortunately I do not remember how long I baked these for. Look for browning along the edges of the apples.

I loved these tarts because they are so personal. They are a perfect way to dress up a dinner.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bake Sale Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are roughly 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, these cookies are perfect for a bake sale.  I have always found it awkward trying to sell small cookies. Because of the size of these cookies, I feel comfortable charging around $1.50 during a fundraiser.

Total time: 40 minutes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix. In a medium bowl mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Mix together the flour mixture and the egg mixture. Finally mix in the chocolate chips. 

Each cookie will consist of 1/4 cup of cookie dough. Place the dough 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 15- 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool.

Yields about 25 cookies.

These are the chocolate chip cookies James likes to make.  :)

Original Recipe

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Canned Cherry Pie Filling

It's officially been a year since I used this recipe to can cherry pie filling! I wanted to come back and remark on how the canned filling held up. Within the first couple months of using the pies were always fantastic, but the one I made today (7/14/12) smelled a little fermented before it was put into the oven. Although I am not saying it was bad, I very much enjoyed my slice of cherry pie and couldn't taste the slight fermentation I had smelled earlier. Overall I would say try to eat it within about a year and don't go to heavy on the cornstarch otherwise the filling will turn out too thick. Enjoy!

James wanted to can cherry pie filling and he even bought a cherry pitter for the event! The following recipe is for one can or one pie, but can easily be multiplied. We made about 10 batches. Unfortunately, I do not know much about canning and would recommend looking up how to properly seal the jars.

For one pie filling you will need:

  • 5-6 cups of cherries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1-1/3 cup of water or cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To begin, wash and pit the cherries. I would strongly recommend buying a cherry pitter. Then boil the cherries for approximately one minute.

Mix 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 cup of sugar in a large pot. Add the 1 and 1/3 cup of water or cherry juice. Add the almond extract. Stir and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Then add the cherries and stir gently.

This recipe is specifically for canning, but it works great for a fresh cherry pie as well. The baking instructions for this recipe work for canned filling or freshly made filling. 

Line the pie pan with your choice of pie crust. Next, pour the pie filling into your pie crust. James and I chose to do a lattice upper crust.  Cook at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, and then another 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. After about 30 minutes, cover the edge of the crust with tinfoil to prevent burning. Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours.

This pie filling recipe is modified from pick your own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Apple Pie

I went to Costco with Amy Davey the other day and we bought a bunch of green apples. There were so many that I had to bake an apple pie. Although I am still scared of crust made from scratch (it always seems to fall apart on me) so I bought some from Whole Foods. Unfortunately the store bought crust started to fall apart so I resulted to a lattice upper crust which I am not very good at.

A traditional apple pie does not have a lattice crust. It can be done, but usually the apples towards the top of the pie are a tad crunchy. To avoid this I substituted cornstarch for the flour. This will make up for the juices that dry out from the holes in the top. There are so many ways to make an apple pie.  I love apple crumble pies because they remind me of fall and are usually full of spices and sugar. However, I can't wait to try a spiral apple tart where the apples are thinly sliced and arranged into a spiral flower shape. It is simply beautiful.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • tinfoil
Preheat the oven to 425. 

After chopping the apples, combine them in a large bowl with the flower, cinnamon, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly with hands or large wooden spoons. Grease you pie pan and then line it with the bottom crust. Pour the apple mixture into the bottom pie crust. Cut up the butter into small squares and spread them out on top of your apple filling.  Choose an upper crust style. If your pie is fully covered by the upper crust poke of slice small holes or slits into the pie so it will be able to breathe. The slits are usually strategically placed in a star shape in the middle of the pie.

Sprinkled Cinnamon on the upper crust

 Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.  After 30 minutes reduce temperature to 350 and place tinfoil around the edges of the pie (to prevent burning). Cook for another 30-40 minutes. After 30 minutes place a toothpick through one of the slits or holes in your pie to test the firmness of the apples. At this point you can decide to continue to cook the pie for another 10 minutes (a total of 70 minutes= 30+40) if you feel your apples are still too firm.

After the pie is finished let it sit for about 2 hours before slicing or eating. 
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