Friday, January 30, 2009

Mixed Berry Almond Cobbler

I've been wanting to make cobbler for a while now after I had this glorious piece of peach cobbler at The Gypsy Den. This weird hot-in-the-middle-of February weather has permitted an abundance of berries at my local markets and at a great price too! I've been pretty busy with school and stress from upcoming midterms, but this recipe was so easy and quick that I decided to give it a go ahead. 

I used a mixture of blueberries and boysenberries for my cobbler. But you could really try this recipe with tons of other types of fruit as well. I made a mini-cobbler just to make sure the recipe was blog worthy but I doubled the recipe for you all. 

My cobbler turned out really well. The crust was nice and moist and crispy on the edges. Truthfully though, I think it could have done with a little less almond flavor or even none at all, since it kind of overcame the light flavor of the berries, but the scent from the almond was heavenly. Why wait for summer for this beauty when you can have it all right now? Flaky crust, warm juicy berries, cold creamy ice cream all swirling on your taste-buds... are you drooling yet?

Mixed Berry Almond Cobbler
Yields: 4-6 servings
You can find the original here, which I tweaked slightly. 

1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsn. all purpose flour
4 cups mixed berries (I used boysenberries and blueberries)*
1 tbsn. vanilla extract
1 tbsn. lemon juice

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract
3-4 tbsn. almond paste, crumbled (depending on your preference to almond flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the berry mixture and toss well to coat. In another medium sized bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Next, add the whipping cream and almond extract, mix well but do not overmix! Next add the almond paste and incorporate well. Pour the berry mixture into a 9x9x2 inch pan, then pour the sticky dough mixture all along the top of the berries. If desired, you can add some crumbles of butter for some extra goodness. Pop into the oven until golden brown and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream and enjoy!

* Try to avoid strawberries because they tend to be too watery for cobblers and make it soggy.

Allll mine!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

FFF (Friday Flickr Favorites)

Happy FFF everybody! As you can see, I am still obsessed with Bokeh which predominantly takes over my favorites this week. But the top row of photos is from my best friend, CC, check out her photostream here.

To locate these pictures, peruse through my favorites section here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Banana Bread with Walnut Coffee Crumble

The bananas at my house are regularly thrown into the garbage. We buy them, we forget about them, they start to turn a hideous brown color, then we remember their presence and quickly discard them into the trash. It makes me sad to waste so much food all of the time so I decided that it was time to make a change... and that change came in the form of Banana bread! 

Banana bread is by far the best way to use up uneaten and overripe bananas. It makes the perfect breakfast with a nice cup of coffee and is great because the bananas keep the bread so moist. I even burned mine a little and it tasted as if nothing had gone awry at all - that's the beauty of it all. And P.S., another way to save your bananas from the dumps is to freeze them. If you know you won't be eating them, just slice them and put them in your freezer for quick smoothies!

Banana Bread with Walnut Coffee Crumble
Yields: 1 loaf, serves 8 - 10

For the cake:
3 - 4 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 extra yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups of flour

For the crumble:
1/2 cup walnuts, plus extra
2 tbsn. brown sugar
2 tbsn. flour
2 tbsn. cold butter
1 tsp. instant coffee
1/4 tsp cinnamon
powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy. Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the mashed bananas, then the baking soda, salt, and flour. Only mix until combined, if you over mix the bread will be tough. Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan.

In a food processor, mix 1/2 cup of walnuts, brown sugar, flour, cold butter, and instant coffee. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together and form little pea-sized crumbles. Top the batter with the crumble, then sprinkle on the cinnamon. If desired, you can add some roughly chopped walnuts for extra crunch. Bake until a inserted toothpick comes out clean or until nice and golden brown, about 50 - 60 minutes. Once done, let cool completely, slice and enjoy with a nice cup of hot coffee!

P.S. Try Laura's fantastic version done with pecans, you can find it here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lily Allen covers The Clash

Click below to listen to the song:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sprinkles {Newport Beach, CA}

I've been to Sprinkles a couple of times before. The flavor that first broke my Sprinkles virginity was a strawberry cake with strawberry icing. I've had strawberry cupcakes before and had horrible, and I mean really horrendous experiences. They tasted so phony and full of ingredients you couldn't even pronounce let alone find the origin of. But sprinkles was different, all I could taste was pure intense strawberry flavor. It won me right then and there.

Their simple display:
Simply tucked away:
Chai Latte on the left, Pumpkin on the right:
It's calling you, "EAT ME."
And eat it, we definitely did:
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a Sprinkles die hard fanatic. I can definitely live without them. We all could live without a lot of things, but life isn't about what we need, it's about what we want. Going through life without wants is like not going through life at all. It's just a cupcake when you think about it, just a damn cupcake, and a $3.25 cupcake at that! But they are delicious and there is no denying it.

The other day I decided to try some more flavors. Though I was heavily inclined into buying their famous red velvet, my love for chai and spiced pumpkin wooed me over. Though the chai flavor wasn't the kick in the mouth that I had hoped for, the nicely spiced cake became friends with my mouth immediately. The pumpkin was all I could have asked for: moist, earthy, delicious. Usually I am not the greatest fan to frosting; I absolutely hate overladen cupcakes! But what is special about Sprinkles is that their cupcakes and frosting combinations are perfectly sweet, at least for me. I lick the frosting till the last spot is gone, and that's pretty rare for me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

FFF (Friday Flickr Favorites)

My most recent Flickr favorites:

P.S. I kind of copied this FFF idea from Slow Like Honey, but shhhh... don't tell!

Chocolate Banana Waffles

I love Trader Joe's, it is my all time favorite little grocery store. They may not have everything, but they sure do have what matters, like their multigrain pancake mix. It is so versatile! I've even seen recipes for biscuits for it. But this time my sister decided to make waffles. She just got a 3-in-1 sandwich press, grill, and waffle maker and thought she should put it into good use. To top things off, she added chocolate chips and mashed bananas, one of my favorite flavor combinations. Making waffles couldn't have been any easier or more delicious! It's great too because we like to pre-make them, freeze them and then grab them on the go whenever we're in a rush. It's a hearty and stress-free breakfast. 

Chocolate Banana Waffles
Yields: 15 - 20 Waffles

1/4 of Trader Joe's Multigrain Pancake Mix
2 - 3 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
canola oil spray

In a large bowl, mix the pancake batter according to the directions on the box (you can make as much of this as you want, just make sure to fix the chocolate chip and banana amounts accordingly). Stir in mashed bananas and chocolate chips. Heat waffle iron and spray with canola oil before each time, cook until golden brown, about 8 - 10 minutes. Enjoy!


I just got some new things for my scrapbooking collection at home today, YAY! Don't you just love target? The dollar section has increased my dependence on weekly visits. I could spend all day there and I always tend to walk out with a checking account less filled than when I walked in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

I've been finding myself craving this salad for the last couple of weeks and quite frankly, I'm sick of buying $10 salads for something so brainlessly easy to make at home, and let me emphasize, much, much cheaper. I love saving money, especially in times like these!

Chinese Chicken Salad
Yields: Enough for 3 - 4

2 Romaine hearts, chopped
1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
8 oz. slivered almonds
3 green onions, sliced
20 wonton wrappers, sliced into strips
2 tbsn sesame seeds
1 cup or more of canola oil
4 Tyson teriyaki chicken breasts, sliced (from Costco)
Feast from the East Sesame Dressing (from Costco) 

In a small saucepan, toast the slivered almonds and sesame seeds over medium-low heat until nice and golden brown. Remove from the pan and fill with canola oil until it reaches about 1 inch in height. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until oil is glossy and hot, about 5 minutes. Drop the sliced wonton wrappers into the oil in small batches, making sure not to overcrowd! Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until finished and let cool for a couple of minutes. For the salad, toss all ingredients together and top with your desired amount of dressing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

YSL love

I've been looking for a new handbag and I was thinking Marc by Marc Jacobs since its the only designer that I can relatively afford. But it definitely didn't stop me from browsing such beauties as those seen below. I love the textured leathers and metallics at YSL, and especially the cross body bag: practical and glamourous. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spring Ready-to-Wear 2009

Here are some of my favorites from the recent Spring Ready-to-Wear collections:

Loved, loved, loved the technical gathering at BCBG Maz Azria...
...and the scalloping detail at Chloe...
...and especially the sparkle at Colette Dinnigan...
...and the killer revamping of B&W at Marchesa...
...and the three F's (fun, flirty, feminine) at Nanette Lepore!
But what I REALLY loved was Christopher Bailey's gorgeous collection for Burberry Prorsum; it had a way of tugging at my heartstrings. The beautiful earthy tones splashed in with pastels and the layering of sheer, wispy fabrics with strong architectural jewelry... I really could gush on for days. 
All photos by: Marcio Madeira

Bi-Rite Creamery {San Francisco, CA}

On a rainy day in San Francisco after a trip to the cult Tartine Bakery in the Mission District, we (some friends and I) wandered along the streets into Bi-Rite Creamery. Before finding lunch, we decided a starter of handmade ice cream would perk us up. We even dared it in the frigid weather! But honestly I could have been in the midst of Antarctica and I still would have opted for a scoop of Bi-Rite over a bowl of steaming soup.
I chose a double scoop of roasted banana and ginger toffee swirl, and let me tell you, the moment that cute wooden flat spoon hit my lips, I began swirling into a dream like world of sunshine and eternal happiness. No, I am not exaggerating. The roasted banana was beyond words and although I usually despise strong ginger flavor (odd, because I'm Asian), I could not get enough. Not only did the deliciousness make my day, but the staff was so incredibly charming and let us try as many flavors as our hearts desired! Because trust me, it was hard narrowing it down to just two.
The selection is just stunning!

Taylor's Automatic Refresher {San Francisco, CA}

While at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, we decided to do lunch as well. What better place to dine than a place filled to the brim with the best seasonal and fresh produce in the city. But rather than eating from a vendor, we stopped by at Taylor's Automatic Refresher, a burger joint named one of the best in the country by Gourmet Magazine.

B & I shared a Wisconsin Sourdough, a burger with grilled mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, mayo and BBQ on grilled sourdough bread. It was juicy and full of all-American flavor. And the sweet potato fries we had on the side complemented the burger really well, but then again, sweet potato fries complement everything well! The only major disappointment was the size of the burger, it was much tinier than I had expected but oh well...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Egg Salad Sandwiches

School has started and that means my lunches these days are predominately filled with sandwiches and granola bars, not that I'm complaining. Sandwiches can be just as exciting as any other lunch, especially when it's egg salad! Simple, good for you, and creamy deliciousness. 

A huge part of making a good egg salad is making sure the foundations are well set, and this means using perfectly boiled eggs. Don't scoff! Boiling eggs correctly takes more than just being able to boil a pot of water. No my friends, it takes skill. Thankfully, I've included a little lesson on how to boil the perfect egg, with help from the internet of course. Never will you encounter a gray, over-boiled egg again!

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Yields: 2 servings

4 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted
6 hard boiled eggs, shelled
2-3 tbsn. mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, washed and diced
salt and pepper, to taste

To boil eggs perfectly, according to, lay the eggs in a large saucepan and cover in water till it just covers the eggs. On high, bring the water to a boil and let it boil for three minute. After three minutes, remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Let sit for eight minutes. Then drain the pot and run the eggs under cold water. Once cool enough to handle, gently remove the shells.

Roughly chop the eggs. I like to remove half of the egg yolks so that it is a little healthier, but keep or remove the egg yolks to your liking. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and mayonnaise. Mash with a fork until a consistency of your liking. Then add the celery, salt, and pepper. Smear on some nicely toasted bread and enjoy!

Easy Almond Croissants

My sister is a waitress at an excellent but highly overpriced restaurant named Zov's in Tustin, CA. She always gushes about their amazing almond croissants and we decided we'd try them out. They are so incredibly easy considering you don't even have to bake the croissants yourself. Just stuff them, bake them, and devour them. Everyone scarfed them down within minutes tops, something I've never personally seen before.

Easy Almond Croissants
Yields: 12 Croissants

12 croissants (I use the Costco packs)
A large bag of slivered almonds

For the Almond Cream:
3 sticks of butter
1 1/2 lbs. almond paste
3/4 cup of ground almonds
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. almond extract

For the orange simple syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the croissants in half horizontally, set aside. In a food processor, cream together the butter and almond paste. The add the eggs in one by one. Then add the almond extract and finally, the ground almonds and flour. Mix well and make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients for the simple syrup. Bring to a simmer and make sure all of the sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside.

To assemble to croissants, take the halved croissants and use a pastry brush to brush the simple syrup on the insides. Then spread a good amount of the almond mixture on each side and close. Spread a thin layer of the almond mixture on the tops of the croissants and dip in the slivered almonds. Repeat until done. Place on a large baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 - 15 minutes. 

A Day at the Swap Meet

On a lazy Saturday like this past one, B and I decided to go to the OCC Swap Meet. It's not so much that we want to find something but rather, we hope that something will find us. Swap Meets are either hits or misses, and when you're not looking for anything, that's when the best things find you, and boy did it find us!  I don't particularly like this whole summer during the winter kind of weather, especially when it cuts into my boot-wearing, scarf-tossing, cold weather days. But that's Southern California, and I'll have to get used to it. So you can understand how finding a treasure like hot pink strawberry juice made my day all better. Honestly the hot pink kind of turned me off at first sight, making me think to myself, what the hell is in this stuff? But I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. It was simply sweet with pure strawberry flavor and was the perfect accompaniment to spicy, creamy Mexican corn. I like mine best with everything on it: hot sauce, butter, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

The variety of juices offered on a hot day:
All smothered and such:
B cleaned it, and he cleaned it well:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Matzo Ball Soup

My parents have left my sister and I home to starve to death. While they have jetted off to Vietnam for a month, my sister and I have been testing our hands in the kitchen. And as it turns out, our hands aren't too bad. 

I've been ravaging the local food blogs for some recipes that I could try - a combination of affordable, easy, comforting, and delicious. So where else to look but my sacred Smitten Kitchen? That's where I found this amazing Matzo Ball Soup recipe and just about another gazillion good eats. This soup was so incredibly easy and simple. If you're looking for an alternative to the traditional Chicken Noodle Soup, this has got to be it. On a cold day, it's all that you're looking for. 

Matzo Ball Soup (modified from Smitten Kitchen)
Yields: about 5-8 servings

For the matzo balls:
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsn. vegetable oil
2 tbsn. chicken broth or seltzer water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the soup:
4 stalks of celery,  diced
4 carrots, diced
6 cans of low sodium chicken broth

To make the balls, combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the meal absorb the liquid. In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the carrots and celery, cook until soft, about 8 - 12 minutes. Sieve the vegetables out and place in a separate dish. Wet your hands and form 1-inch balls with the matzo mixture, drop into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the balls for about 25 - 35 minutes. Drop the vegetables back in, serve a big bowl for yourself and enjoy on a cold winter day!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bokeh Obsessed

With my Canon 30D, I also decided to buy a 50mm lens (mainly for the fact that it was the only other lens I could afford at this point in time). I wouldn't let the price fool you, it is a great lens. It works very well in low light and give you lots and lots of Bokeh. It's a simple and modest lens but that's what I like about it. There's not too much fuss but its gives unbelievable pictures. But let's move on to my obsession with Bokeh. If you don't know what that is, Wikipedia defines Bokeh as a word derived from the Japanese that is "a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas of an image produced by a camera lens."

And if words failed to explain what Bokeh is, here are some of my favorite Bokeh images that I found while wandering on Flickr:

"Golden Days" by moaan
"Bubble Blizzard Bokeh" by betie bet
"The Wishing Bokeh Fountain" by krashingmotions
"Cosmo & Bokeh = Love" by .kels. (a little busy)
"Mad Crazy Bokeh Tree" by Kristybee