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Archive for the ‘Tastes’ Category

candles & cakes

Very briefly.

coconutcakeLast week two of my loveliest colleagues celebrated their birthdays, and the confluence pushed me over into bake mode.  Not that that’s very difficult.  This latest concoction (another modification of the pistachio cake recipe) was three layers of macadamia nut cake, separated by layers of dark chocolate ganache and toasted coconut flakes, then frosted with the ganache all round.

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willscake

Meanwhile, a few weeks earlier, I made this one for my best friend’s surprise-but-not-quite birthday dinner: a lemon-blueberry macadamia nut cake.  The three layers here were also macadamia nut cakes (as construable from the sentence prior), but with lemon glaze and blueberry preserves in the space between, and topped with a lemon buttercream frosting (that needs to be, well, improved) and fresh blueberries.

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kingdom of dumplings

dumplingsThis past weekend, we discovered this delightful joint in the Sunset — a nondescript little store maybe 15 feet wide and 40 feet deep? — adorably dubbed the Kingdom of Dumplings.  They keep a chatty flock of little old Chinese ladies in the back of the room who sit around a small folding table industriously wrapping dumplings (a gleeful reminder of afternoons when my mommy and aunties and I wrap trays of wonton for big family dinners), which they flash freeze then sell in packs of fifteen or twenty.  They have a considerable assortment — wonton with a variety of fillings, potstickers, even 小龍飽 (a rather precious, Shanghainese sort of soup dumpling).  I can’t say they were spectacular (I have to say ours are yummier, but I guess that’s not surprising), but the fact that you can buy fresh-made freeze-packs of dumplings sure is.

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cakewalk

innardsSo finally–! My entrée into the world of cakes, after a long interlude on the back burner.  We went to LA for Labor Day, where my lovely aunties had a surprise birthday party at Fraîche ready in waiting for Daddy. Anyways, I found the recipe for this chocolate pistachio & marzipan petit-four cake at Smitten Kitchen, and baked it for Daddy’s birthday, very covertly schlepping it down by plane.  It only occurred to me partway through that a three-layer cake was probably a little daunting for my very first cake bake, but it was actually simpler than I thought and turned out spectacularly.  And it was perfect — nice pistachio cakes separated by layers of chocolate ganache, homemade marzipan and apricot preserves.

The not-so-laborious odyssey, chronicled

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echinoidea

uniHere’s another curio from my trip to LA — uni soup during the HKSA Foundation dinner at the Bonaventure.  I find it rather interesting that the wikipedia page on sea urchins mentions that “sea urchins are harvested and served as a delicacy” but declines to elaborate any further gastronomically.  Anyways, apparently they’re in the Echinoidea class of critters, which also includes sand dollars (saw these at Monterey Bay and was tickled pink), sea biscuits (really — sea biscuits?!!) and heart urchins!

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the itty bitty cake

ittybittycakeBack in August, when I was exploring cakes to make for Daddy’s birthday party in LA (a long overdue post that is coming shortly — I promise) I found the recipe for this cake on Smitten Kitchen that was deemed a must for all chocolate-and-peanut-butter lovers.  That would be Mommy.  So when she came to visit this weekend, I baked her her own itty bitty, four-inch, triple-layer chocolate peanut-butter cake.  Note: itty bitty four-inch cakes require a (successful) search for itty bitty four-inch cakepans.  

A little bit more on making the little bitty cake!

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le petit tour du porc (i)

udon1Recently, I finally made 鹹菜肉絲 — one of my (many) favorite Chinese home-cooked dishes growing up and which, for some odd reason, I’ve never made yet myself.  The four characters, translated literally, mean “salty vegetables” and “strips of meat”, though I think the actual term is “雪菜” (lit. “snow vegetables”).  In any case, this dish involves pork stir-fried with chopped pieces of preserved (and very salty) veggies.  And it’s delicious with rice or these yummy udon noodles.

Instructions to follow…

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teatime

english roseA few Saturdays ago, I met my coworker L. for afternoon tea at the small but charming English Rose — a tea room just off Main Street that we’ve been meaning to explore for months now.  We were delighted to find that the place was bright and airy, filled with happy but not rowdy tea-partiers (reservations are a good call) including a family celebrating the birthday of one small boy, daintily and thoughtfully decorated, old-fashioned and — as we’d hoped and hoped — one that served clotted cream with their scones!

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