25 April 2015

Raspberry pistachio sable

Hello from the Atlanta airport on my way back to Richmond! Ah, I'm not looking forward to school and starting to feel exhausted already haha. I really should have caught up on sleep, but I started reading this fantasy book series and once I start I can't stop (all nighters, reading on the can etc...). I've been trying to read everything non-medical before school starts! I've also been baking up a storm, and baking into the wee hours of the night. It's bad when you've been startling your family as they come downstairs and see a glowing oven and a pair of eyes in the darkness...oops)

I'm all about spring baking now and really starting to enjoy the warm weather. Actually, it's always warm and sunny weather in LA. I'm just leaving it and going back to Virginia D: Sorry, going back to school brings out the whining in me. I can't help it. I guess I'm just going to have to whine for the next 10 years of my life. haha...(?)

But, I'm super excited to see my friends, my bf and even grudgingly have to admit that I want to go back to a scheduled life. I get so antsy not doing anything and so so restless. I'm the worst couch potato and also the worst person you want to sit next to while watching anything, because I WILL ask numerous questions throughout the movie. I've been driving my mum up the wall while she watches her Korean dramas. "Where is the love triangle? Why is the female protagonist so helpless? Who is she in love with again? Why is the evil wealthy mother so cruel?" You know... the typical K-drama plots. I really only watch them to ogle at the actors hehe...

I leave you with this recipe inspired from a recent visit to a French pastry shop. I think I'm speaking for a lot of bakers out there, but there are times when you see an overpriced pastry and you think to yourself..."I could make that for a fraction of the cost". So I returned home, googled sables, consulted a few French cooking blogs, and got to baking. Here, Sables aka French buttery shortbread is covered in cool vanilla pastry cream, topped with fresh raspberries and studded with crushed pistachios. I recommend you make it (like, seriously) ;)

makes two 6x3" sables
sable breton recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Sable breton
70g granulated white sugar
80g butter (~7tbsp)
pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
112g all purpose flour (~ 1 cup)
7.5g baking powder (~ tsp)

Pastry cream
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream + 1 tbsp powdered sugar

handful of shelled pistachios, chopped coarsely
6oz raspberries, washed and dried

  1. Cream butter, salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, lemon zest
  2. Add flour and baking powder and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until a soft dough forms
  3. Press dough into tart molds, filling about half way up. Make an indentation in the middle so you have raised edges (I actually cut a generic cardboard box that holds 4 sticks of butter in half lengthwise and covered that with foil to make my molds! Yay for DIY!). Cover with Seran wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs or overnight
  4. For the pastry cream: whisk in a very small pot all the ingredients except whipping cream. Heat and continue to whisk on medium heat until it becomes goopy. Wrap with seran wrap and cool to room temp. In a small bowl, whip heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar until stiff. Fold into cooled pastry cream, cover and put in the refrigerator
  5. Preheat oven to 350F and bake sables for 15-20 mins or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely
  6. Spread honey on the raised edges of the sables and sprinkle coarsely chopped pistachio. Shake off excess. Spread a layer of pastry cream in the center and arrange raspberries on top 
*Best baked and eaten on the same day. Otherwise, cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

20 April 2015

Pork Belly Ssam Kimbap

Being at home is the greatest. It's funny to think that during high school and college, all I wanted to do was to be far far away from home. After living in different continents for more than 5 years, my family has upped and moved to LA and now I can be at home whenever I WANT (well... other than school days). Currently, I've been driving my mum up the wall asking her to cook this and cook that. I'm in such a frenzy when I'm at home, because I feel like I have to eat everything and do everything I can't while I'm in Richmond.

My poor mum haha. This time, I've enlisted her help to make some kimbap. I used to have the best lunches in secondary school and all my friends would coo over them. I owned this gigantic metal multi tier behemoth of a bento box, that would carry Japanese curry one day, spaghetti the next and even shrimp tempura for lunch. My "simpler" lunches consisted of different kinds of kimbap. I can't think of another woman who can whip out rolls and rolls of sushi for me and my twin AND our friends at lightning speed other than my mum.

As a kid, I wasn't very into my lunches, and always gave them away. It was more, "eat as little and as fast as I can and then playtime!". Now, I can literally eat everything and will eat anything (although I'm not sure if that's good for my waist line). I'm constantly begging my mum to make me food when I'm home :P

Anyway, if you're familiar with Korean BBQ, you'll have heard of sam gyup ssal (삼겹살 or Pork belly). And you'll have heard of taking a lettuce leaf, adding rice, barbecued meat, ssamjang (bean paste) and wrapping that up and stuffing the whole thing in your mouth. It is just glorious. If you haven't tried it, I suggest that you nab the closest Korean next to you and march down to the closest Korean BBQ restaurant! Also, have a bottle of soju while you're there ;) I think Ssam is a pretty well known concept now, since there are restaurants like Momofuku Ssam bar in NYC and Korean restaurants popping up in every corner. But, now you can make your own at home and in sushi form!

Pork Belly Ssam Kimbap
makes 4 servings

2 cups short grain rice
1 tsp sesame oil (plus more)
1 pinch salt
4 sheets sushi seaweed

1 carrot, julienned
3-4 long Korean chili peppers or jalapeños, seeded and julienned
1/2 head red leaf lettuce
8 perilla leaves
2 slabs pork belly
3 tbsp Ssam Jang aka. seasoned soy bean paste (can be bought in a Korean/Asian store or see below)
  1. Cook rice according to package. Allow to cool to room temp and then season with 1 tsp sesame oil and a pinch of salt
  2. Fry julienned carrots in a little bit of olive oil for about 2 minutes (still maintaining the crunch). Prepare and wash all other vegetables; jalapeños, lettuce, perilla leaves
  3. Season pork belly with a little salt and pepper. Fry both sides until fully cooked. Cut into 1cm strips
  4. On a sushi mat, spread a layer of seasoned rice onto sushi seaweed with wet hands. Add 2 leaves of lettuce, 2 perilla leaves, strips of pork belly, some carrots and jalapeños in a line, Spread a little ssam jang along the line too
  5. Roll all the ingredients tightly away from you with the mat so that the end closest to you reaches about half way up the sheet of seaweed. Continue to roll away from you. Repeat for the other 3 rolls
  6. Add sesame oil onto hands and spread thinly over the dry seaweed on the rolled sushi
  7. Slice kimbap with a super sharp knife and serve (best eaten on same day)
Make your own Ssam Jang
1 tbsp doenjang
pinch of sugar
1 tsp of Korean chili powder
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
  • If you already own doenjang (bean paste), then you can make ssamjang by mixing all the above together. 

16 April 2015

Matcha Mochi Toast

Namaste! I'm back from the Himalayas! Before going to Nepal, I thought namaste was something only yoga instructors would say at the end of the class, but now I know that it's kinda like saying Hi (gosh, could I be any more ignorant?). Hiking the Himalayan range was so grueling and taxing. It didn't help that I had not moved a muscle for the past 3 months while studying, I didn't own a pair of hiking boots and I somehow caught the flu in Korea before my trek. Let's say that not being able to breathe through your nose while climbing 3000m in high altitudes and having coughing fits was pretty unpleasant. Also, on day 2, I knew I shouldn't have tried Yak cheese. I mean it was delicious, but dairy to my belly was like...Montezuma's revenge (haha, tmi?). Despite everything, I really would do it all over again...in maybe another 10 years when I've recovered the use of my legs :\

I didn't want to fill this post full of pictures, but I did add the Himalayan range from the highest point of my trek on Pooh Hill at the bottom. If you're thinking of going there, feel free to ask me any questions. My friend and I were seriously so unprepared, I'm still wondering how we even made it through. It would have helped to check the weather too, because I was freezing my buns off every night.

I made a stop by Korea before heading to Nepal, and it gave me so many recipe ideas to share! There's a cafe called Osulloc, that specializes in all things Matcha. I was in heaven! They sold this Matcha milk tea spread, which was so divine that I just wanted to spread it all over my body. I'm pretty sure this cafe will come to LA, because we have all the best food chains come to Koreatown (Sorry for anyone not living in LA :P). But until then, I've made my own version of it.

Here, I spread the jam on some bread, throw on some almonds and place a thick layer of chewy mochi. It's a play on the popular 'Injeolmi toast' that's taking Korea by the storm. There's so many textures going on here! You get the crispy from the toast, a crunch from the almonds and then a dense chewiness from the mochi, all wrapped up in a sweet matcha filling! Oops drooling again :P

Matcha Mochi Toast
makes 1 sandwich

2 slices of buttermilk bread
1/4 cup sweet glutinous flour
2 tbsp hot water or milk
pinch of salt
handful of chopped/sliced roasted almonds
Jam of choice (I used matcha milk tea spread - recipe below)

Matcha Milk Tea jam
adapted from a korean site
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup matcha powder (using encha culinary grade matcha)

  • Making matcha jam
    • in a small pot add milk, cream, condensed milk and sugar. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time
    • It should be pretty thick at 20 mins and somewhat light tan color. Add or sift matcha powder into the pot and whisk vigorously to incorporate 
    • Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until pretty darn thick. Pour into a glass jar and allow to cool before putting a lid on it. Keep in fridge.
    • It is pretty spreadable when left outside to thaw or spread onto hot toast (like peanut butter if you were to put it in the fridge)
  • Assembling mochi toast
    • In a small bowl, mix sweet glutinous flour and salt with hot water. You should be able to form a ball with your hands, and it will be a little powdery. Stretch or roll into the size and shape of your slice of bread (note: I didn't add any sugar because the jam was sweet enough. You can add a few tbsps if your spread isn't very sweet though)
    • Heat a small fry pan with a little bit of oil. Wipe with a kitchen towel to spread a thin film of oil over the base of the pan. Add your mochi square onto the pan and fry on medium heat for 2 minutes each side
    • Meanwhile, toast slices of bread
    • Spread matcha jam onto a piece of toast, sprinkle chopped almonds over it, place cooked mochi and another piece of toast on top
    • And there you have it! 

We woke up at 4am and hiked uphill for an hour to watch the sunrise. There was a lot of people on the top, but not throughout the hike thankfully. I can't wait to tackle Mount Everest next!

30 March 2015

Matcha Tres Leches Cake

Hello blogworld! I'm finally free to blog! Although, I will be MIA again for another 2-3 weeks. :P I'm actually typing this post at the airport about to board the plane for Korea and Nepal. I seriously only have a ticket to Nepal and NO plans. This makes my type A personality go crazy, but I haven't had any time to book/plan anything, so I am without hotel, itinerary, travel insurance or proper hiking equipment. Yikes... It's supposed to be raining all throughout my trip and I only brought a pair of Nikes to trek the Himalayan range. Hmmm.. I'm starting to worry now, but I'm about to board in half and hour and can't do anything about it. D:

I hope I come back in one piece... Besides that, I made this cake as homage to the matcha almond lattes I drank every.single.day.of.studying. I'm really sensitive to caffeine and coffee makes me go crazy, so I was so grateful when I learned of Encha from my fave blogger, Betty of  lejusdorangeblog.com. They make different grades of matcha, which is awesome because I always feel guilty using a lot of it for baking. Matcha lattes seriously saved my life, since I obviously can't be sleeping all day and they taste so delicious that it put me out of my studying misery. THANK YOU ENCHA!

Matcha Tres Leches Cake

makes a 8 x 8" cake
adapted from allrecipes.com

6 tbsp white sugar (divided)
3 medium/small egg yolks
3 medium/small egg whites
2.5 tbsp almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp matcha powder - using almond latte grade from ENCHA

3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp matcha powder
heavy whipping cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour bottom and sides of a 8x8" pan
  2. Beat egg yolks with 3 tbsp of sugar until fluffy. Mix in 2.5 tbsp milk, vanilla, flour, baking powder and matcha powder
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites with the other 3 tbsp of sugar until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter carefully
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  5. Allow the cake to completely cool. Pour a ton of holes into it with a fork or toothpick. Mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, almond milk and matcha powder. Pour over the cake slowly until it is absorbed. Chill in the fridge overnight
  6. You can whip about 1/2 cup of whipping cream and put an even layer on top before chilling. I just served the cake with dollops of whipped cream and strawberries

I received a bag of Encha culinary-grade matcha for this post. But, I honestly love their stuff and bought their almond-grade out of my own pocket, which I used to make this cake. All product opinions are my own!

31 January 2015

Matcha Mochi Waffles with Maple Grapefruit Syrup

Haha, I know I said I was going to be on a blogging hiatus, but I just finished my last exam in school and I am taking a break this weekend before I plunge into the depths of studying. I literally have a brain fart and it needs recuperating. I'm going back to Los Angeles TODAY, where it is 80F (Fahrenheit means nothing to me as a celsius user, but at least I know this is warm)!! I shall be packing my rainbows (flip flops for Californians), shorts and tees. Although, what's the use of sun when I'm going to be indoors studying all the time.. :(

I leave you with this super simple recipe. I love matcha in everything, as you can see here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Okay, I didn't realize there were going to be so many links. Also, check out what I made in prep for lunar new year's below. It's a pseudo Japanese kagami-mochi... something you'll find everywhere for new year's. It's supposed to bring you lots of luck and prosperity for the new year, which is something I really need for this exam (literally a miracle please).

Anyway, this is seriously my final good bye... seriously :P.  I will be back soon though XOXO

Matcha Mochi Waffles with Maple Grapefruit Syrup

serves 4-5

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup mochiko
2 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp matcha tea powder (from Panatea)
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp melted butted
3/4 - 1 cup buttermilk

Maple Grapefruit Syrup
1 grapefruit, segmented
brown sugar
maple syrup

  1. Preheat oven to high broil setting. Lay segmented grapefruit on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and just a little streak of maple syrup over them. Broil until caramelized
  2. For the waffles, mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour to salt) and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine and mix so no lumps remain
  3. Preheat waffle iron and make waffles like you usually do!
  4. Serve hot waffles with grapefruit and more maple syrup

Here, I dressed up the waffles to look like kagami-mochi decorations you find around Japan during the Lunar New year. This makes me laugh hahaha.

20 January 2015

Bulgogi Kimchi-jeon Waffle Sandwich - 불고기 김치전 와플 샌드위치

While growing up, my mum, being the ultimate Korean tiger mum, tells me before any exam that that exam was going to be the most important exam of my life. In primary school, my mum said my 6th grade scholastic exam was probably going to be life-defining. Then, I hit secondary school and she said my GCSEs (some British exam) were going to be life-changing. And before I went off to college, she said my IB diploma exam was going to be a matter of life and death...  Now, I'm in med school and in the midst of studying for what is probably the most important exam of my life. Haha lol, I think I'm turning into mum.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that my upcoming exam is going to suck up a lot of time, so I will be taking blogging hiatus. I guess I could have started with that, so you didn't have to read all the junk above. #Sorrynotsorry, also #notsorryforthehastag!  I will be keeping my instagram alive though, because I am severely insta-obsessed. Only some mind-blowing, turn-water-into-wine miracle of an exam can stop me from instagramming.  Come find me there! (Did I put enough links? :P)

But for now, I leave you with this behemoth of a sandwich... until next time!

Bulgogi Kimchi-jeon Waffle Sandwich - 불고기 김치전 와플 샌드위치 

makes 2 waffle sandwiches

1.5 cup Korean pancake/jeon flour mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup kimchi, chopped into bits
3 tbsp kimchi juice
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Your favorite bulgogi recipe - click for details
1 lb rib eye, sliced thinly
1 asian pear
1/2 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
5 tbsp soysauce
3 tbsp mirin or cooking wine
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp pepper

2 fried eggs
handful of baby kale and chard
  1. In a large bowl, mix together Korean pancake flour and water. Add and mix in chopped kimchi, green onions, kimchi juice and oil
  2. Preheat your waffle iron, grease with a little veg oil and make waffles like you would normally do. Cook your bulgogi and fry your eggs in the meantime.
  3. To assemble: place 1 waffle down on a plate. Stack bulgogi, kale and a fried egg. Top with another kimchi waffle and eat it while it's hot
Note: If preparing a batch, you can easily double the waffle batter. ****Cool on wired racks because condensation at the bottom will make the waffle go soggy!!
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