Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Financiers

I know... I'm a little late with this whole rhubarb thing. Let me explain: I've never, ever tried rhubarb before and for the longest time, I didn't even know of it's existence. Ever since I had learned about it, I've always wondered what this mysterious fruit/ vegetable tasted like. This summer, I've been on somewhat of a lengthy quest to try to get my hands on some rhubarb;  I searched Farmer's Markets, specialty grocery markets, everywhere (or so I'd thought...).
You'll never believe where I found them, I'm still pretty baffled myself. Well, I finally found them at freaking Albertsons! Really?! After all this time, I found them at the regular supermarket? It was like I had been stuck by fate - they magically found me on the last days of Summer and boy am I glad.
I didn't really know what to expect with rhubarb but I was pleasantly surprised with the results - especially in these financiers! I've been eyeing financiers for some time now but never had the opportunity to make them, and I must say, I am quite enamored. The beurre noisette or browned butter smelled so incredibly divine when added to the batter and added this rich, nutty flavor. The poached rhubarb was slightly tart and had the most lovely texture, which I find very hard to describe, so you'll just have to try it yourself.

Since these are gluten-free financiers, it uses rice flour, which can easily be substituted for all purpose, but perhaps this is why I loved these little cakes so much, because they reminded me of mochi cakes, which have a dense and slightly chewy texture. You will definitely see me & rhubarb in the future!

Rhubarb Financiers
Yields: 12 financiers
Original recipe here.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
pinch of salt
4 large egg whites
1 cup poached rhubarb (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375 F and position the rack in the center. Lightly spray or butter the inside of 12 financier molds or muffin cups with cooking spray and place them on a baking sheet, set aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it turns into a rich hazelnut brown color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes before straining it to remove the little dark butter particles at the bottom of the pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the powdered sugar, ground almonds, flour and salt on low speed until just combined. Add the egg whites and mix until all the ingredients are coming together. Add the brown butter, increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth. Divide the batter among the molds and divide the poached rhubarb pieces evenly among the top. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Poached Rhubarb

1/4 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1-inch pieces)
1 tbsn. sugar

Place the water, lemon juice and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the rhubarb. Poach for 2 - 3 minutes then gently remove the rhubarb from the poaching liquid and set aside (they will continue to soften as they cool). 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Best Ever Soft Chocolate Chip (Almond) Cookies"

A little rant: Blogger has really been annoying me lately! What's up with all the changes?! Now, change is not normally a bad thing but when you worked so hard to make your blog look a certain way and you begin to love it, it's totally not cool for Blogger to screw it all up! Ugh anyways... onto the post!
As a baker, you should have certain things in your arsenal, such as the perfect chocolate cake or the perfect pie crust, but really, the most important is the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I must be honest, I haven't tried very hard to find one, but maybe it's best I leave it to find me.

Though this isn't your traditional CCC, since I threw some chocolate covered almonds in, this cookie has got it happening. After stumbling upon this recipe from Lindsay Yeo's blog, I felt I had to make them, especially after reading her little link to the strange amount of flour used - it was so intriguing, so scientific, so me!
What drew me in was, not only did she title them "the best ever" but "the best ever SOFT chocolate chip cookies." I love soft cookies! Give me chewy and soft over crunchy any day! These are perfectly soft, just as she said they would be, but they did have just a bit of an outer crunch of a shell, which made them awesome.

The almonds added a nice crunch and had delicious almond scent from the extract. I threw them in because I had them on hand, but the next time I want to try a real almond chocolate chip cookie, I'll have to try these. And if you want the classic, go ahead and leave the almonds and extract out!
"Best Ever Soft Chocolate Chip (Almond) Cookies"
Yields: about 5 dozen
Adapted from here.

360 grams flour (about 2 3/4 + 1/8 cup) Scientific explanation here.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, chopped
1 1/2 cups chocolate covered almonds, roughly choppped

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a large bowl on low in the microwave or on the stove. Add the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 F. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes or until light brown around the edges.

Tailored Tuesdays

1. Anna Sui "Silk tuile sequined waistcoat"

2. T by Alexander Wang "Racer back jersey tank"
3. J Brand "Low-rise glossed stretch denim jeans"
4. Michael Kors "Darrington large crescent hobo bag"
5. Alexander McQueen "Leather skull bracelet"
6. DKNY "Aura wedge suede ankle boots"

All images can be found at

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kalbi Spring Rolls

Ah, Korean Kalbi, it's the meat of the gods. Juicy, incredibly flavorful and fatty beyond words. 

I've wanted to make Kalbi spring rolls for I don't even know how long. As you all know, I'm pretty obsessed with spring rolls. They're portable, delicious, refreshing and for the most part, healthy. Ever since I made Japanese inspired spring rolls, the Ahi Tuna Rolls, I knew I'd have to make a Korean inspired spring roll, and here it is!

I think the most challenging part of making these rolls were deciding what kind of dipping sauce to serve  with them. Stuffing them was the easy part: kalbi, check! Kimchi, check! Deliciousness, check! For the dipping sauce, I decided to make a tangy gochujang and lime juice dressing. It reminded me more of a salad dressing but the tanginess was nice with the fatty pieces of kalbi. Next time though, I'll try to make a creamier sauce. Mmmmm.

Mmmmm juicy, grilled Kalbi:
Kalbi Spring Rolls
Yields: 4 - 6 servings

For the spring rolls:
2 lbs. marinated kalbi, grilled
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/4 package of rice noodles, cook according to package
1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
4 green onions, chopped
rice paper

For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsn. gochujang
1 tbsn. sugar
1 tbsn. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
4 tbsn. fresh lime juice or rice vinegar

To make the dipping sauce, whisk all the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved and everything is well combined. Add more lime/ vinegar or soy sauce to your liking, set aside. To make the spring rolls, slice the kalbi into bite-sized pieces, set aside. To make rolling easier, set the ingredients out like an assembly line. To assemble, wet one rice paper and lay out on a clean surface (I like to use one and a half sheet for stronger rolls). Add some pieces of kalbi, some lettuce, some kimchi, cooked rice noodles and green onion. Roll by pulling the top towards you covering the fillings, then pull in the sides, then finish by continuing to roll to the bottom. Enjoy with the gochujang sauce!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In & Out {Orange, CA}

Ah, In & Out, the Southern California staple.
I'll tell you, as a Southern California native who was born, bred and fed on this stuff - I'm committed to the stuff and I'll stand by it till the end. With a simple menu, it's hard to go wrong. Everything is fresh and delicious!

Must have: banana peppers! Never seen them before? That's because you haven't asked for them! Ask and an employee will magically whisk them out from behind the counter and you can proceed in enjoying them with EVERYTHING (but not the shakes, please).
Yep, it can get pretty messy.
Shakes ftw!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Matcha Custard Eclairs with Chocolate Ganache

What I love most about making and baking things is just playing around with flavors. Turn a root beer float into a cupcake. Add some kimchi to a pizza. Infuse green tea into EVERYTHING. Oh, how I love it so.

I don't know what happened to my eclairs but for some reason they were oddly flattened. Despite this little detour, they still tasted awesome. I cannot even express how delicious these were! The choux pastry was just barely sweetened, and the bitterness of the matcha powder cut into the sweetness of the custard, so the chocolate glaze added the perfect amount of sweetness and richness that the eclair needed. I loved how the matcha flavor was delicate but still very prominent, and of course, custard. How could you go wrong with custard.
These photos are my ode to matcha. I love, love, love tea and love, love, love matcha green tea even more! It's earthy, rich and luxurious. And bonus, very good for your health.
Matcha Custard Eclairs with Chocolate Ganache
Yields: about 18 5-inch long eclairs
Choux pastry recipe here.

For the pâte à choux:
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup flour
5 large eggs
For the chocolate glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsn. unsalted butter
1/2 tbsn. light corn syrup
2 tsp. water

For the green tea custard:
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. matcha powder

To make the choux, preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter and place over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mixture has formed a smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan and some of the moisture has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium-high speed, incorporating each egg before adding the next. When all the eggs have been added, the mixture will be smooth, thick and shiny.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice. Pipe out "fingers" about 5 inches long and 1inch wide, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and starting to show some color, about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and continue to bake until the shells feel light for their size and are hollow inside, about 12 minutes longer. They should be nicely browned all over. Remove from the oven and using a metal skewer, poke a small hole in the end of each shell to allow the steam to escape; this keeps the shells from collapsing. Let cool on racks.

To make the custard, whisk everything together until well combined and begins to thicken, about 3 - 5 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use. To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepot filled with barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost completely melted, but do not overheat. Remove the glaze from the water bath and set aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until perfectly smooth. To assemble, you can either slice the choux pastry in half or use a pastry bag to fill the pastry with the custard. Once filled, dip the tops of the pastries in the chocolate glaze and set on a rack to allow the glaze to set. If desired, you can dust the tops of the eclairs with some extra matcha powder!

Most delicious thing I've eaten in a while!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

I die for all of this. ALL of it.

1. Pringle of Scotland 'Draped wool cardigan'
2. Elizabeth & James 'Gypsy silk blend blouse'
3. 7 for all Mankind 'Mid-rise straight leg jeans'
4. 3.1 Phillip Lim 'Diamond printed silk blend bralette'
5. 3.1 Phillip Lim 'Cheeky printed silk blend shorts'
6. Fendi 'Vertigo leather ankle bootie'
7. Mulberry 'Oversized alexa leather bag'
8. Yves Saint Laurent 'Fringes gold-plated earrings'

all images can be found at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Lime Truck {Irvine, CA}

The Lime Truck is one of those Yelp gems. You've never heard of it before, but you keep seeing it's name pop up on the corner of your Yelp page. Your interest peaks, you click, and all of a sudden you're reading numerous amounts of rave reviews. Then you wonder... why haven't I eaten here yet? The Lime Truck classifies itself as "California Beach Cuisine." I classify it as outrageously delicious cuisine. After just reading an interview of the truck's head chef, Jason Quinn, I was thoroughly impressed. I mean, the guy is 24! I loved his opinions on food and his optimism about the Orange County food scene, plus his taste in music is quite sublime.

But, I digress. Onto the food! My favorite of everything I tried had to, had to be the Middle Eastern lamb sandwich. It was diiiivine. The lamb was tender and full of flavor, and with the fresh veggies and yogurt-ish sauce, mmmm. I want another one... immediately.
Would you look at that? It's the most beautiful home smoked salmon I've ever seen! Home smoked salmon off a food truck? Umm... ridiculous much? And tell me, who would have thought to pair it with Siracha remoulade? Jason Quinn that's who. Genius, that guy.

In all honesty though, this smoked salmon was unlike any other I've had. My favorite smoked salmon plate is still the basil cured salmon from The Ramos House Cafe, but this was a close second. I don't know how to explain it, but it was purely salmon. All I could taste was salmon, but I mean that in the best way possible!

Ahhh, how I loved this Israeli couscous and roasted eggplant salad! The eggplant was cooked perfectly!!! Not too mushy, like so often done and I loved the addition of the cashews and cranberries.

Everyone on Yelp was raving about these carnitas fries, and after learning that they spend 10 hours a day preparing the carnitas, I knew I had to try it. Basically, I don't know how you could not like this, just look at this monstrous, beautiful thing. I saw Jason, the chef, hand-tossing my fries and I knew right then and there it would be good. The carnitas was REE-diculously tender, seriously and the other flavors were spot on as well. I think the stars of their menu were definitely the drinks, not because the food weren't stars, but because drinks are so often neglected! I love how they offer fresh, seasonal drinks and on a summer day, you couldn't ask for anything else. Also, my favorite part is that their drinks aren't too sweet so they don't weight down the meal in any way.
On the left: strawberry-acai mint. On the right: pomegranate aloe vera

And lastly, the tangerine limeade. This one was my least favorite of the three, but that doesn't mean much since I still enjoyed it. It had a bit of bitterness, which some might be opposed to, but it didn't bother me much.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

I've been wanting to make Root Beer cupcakes for I don't even know how long, but there were always only two options: use root beer extract or use just root beer, which I've often heard doesn't impart much flavor into the cake. Then, I saw Baking Bites feature a new kind of root beer recipe, using root beer syrup!
I have to tell you, I was pretty excited. In her recipe, Nicole uses a store bought root beer syrup, but also provides directions on how to make the syrup with regular root beer, yipee! This recipe was pretty simple, and making the syrup was super simple too, so that was nice.

These cakes had a tight crumb and were moist, but sadly, I didn't achieve as much root beer flavor as I would have wanted. Maybe, after all, I will have to use root beer extract or real root beer syrup. Though, these were delicious nonetheless! Of course, topped with ice cream, how could it not be? The root beer glaze added some flavor too, but still, not enough to my liking :(

Root Bear Float Cupcakes
Yields: 12 cupcakes
Original recipe here.

For the root beer syrup:
1 (12 oz.) bottle or can of non-diet root beer

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsn. butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup root beer syrup
1/3 cup milk
vanilla ice cream, to serve (optional)

For the root beer glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsn. root beer syrup
approx. 1 tbsn. water

To make the syrup, pour the root beer into a sauce pan and reduce it over medium heat until you have just over 1/3 of a cup left, set aside until ready to use. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the root beer syrup. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining flour until no dry streaks remain. Bake for 16 - 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. To make the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and thin enough to drizzle easily. Add additional water if you want the glaze to be thinner.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Com Ga/ Vietnamese Chicken with Mint Rice

Vietnamese Com Ga is probably one of the simplest, homeliest meals of our culture. Simple as it is, it's still one of my favorite meals.
I love how simple everything is, yet there's so much flavor, and the chicken really shines through. That's why it's super important to use free-range chicken in this recipe, because since the chicken is your main ingredient, you really want to use the best quality available. What makes the meal spectacular though, I feel, is the ginger fish sauce! It's sweet, tangy, salty and sooo delicious. Actually almost any kind of fish sauce makes me happy! The mint, cucumbers and marinated onions add great freshness to the dish as well.

The soup is optional but if you've never had fresh chicken stock before, please try this! With the leftover stock, you simply add some fish sauce to season it, then some fresh "Gai Xanh." I'm not sure what the English name of this is but it's similar to bok choy, so you can also substitute that. The broth is just so rich with flavor, it's incredible. I love this meal especially because though it's super healthy, you feel so satisfied after eating it.

Com Ga/ Vietnamese Chicken with Mint Rice
Yields: 4 servings

1 small, whole, free-range chicken
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken stock (reserved from cooking the chicken)
1 cup mint leaves, julienned
1/2 large white onion, sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 persian cucumbers, washed and sliced
nuoc mam gung, for serving (recipe below)

For the soup:
gai xanh or vietnamese bok choy (regular bok choy is fine too), roughly chopped
fish sauce, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, place the chicken (whole) inside. Fill the pot with enough water to almost cover the chicken. Heat over medium-high heat until the water is boiling, then reduce heat to medium to allow the water to simmer and the chicken to cook, about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to rest and the water to cool down. Once cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the stock, but DO NOT discard the water. Cut the chicken into small pieces, for easier eating.

In the meantime, put the rice in a large bowl with a few cups of water. Gently swirl your fingers in the bowl to allow the starch to separate from the grains. Once the water becomes white, drain and repeat this process twice more. With each time, the water will get less cloudy. The idea is not to get rid of all the starch, just enough so that the rice will not be too sticky or too dry when cooked. Put the rice in a sieve and drain until the rice is fairly dry. In a rice cooker, combine the rice with 4 cups of chicken stock and cook according to your machine's setting (alternatively, you can also cook this on the stovetop). Right before serving, stir in the mint. You do not want to do this ahead of time because the mint will turn brown.

With the remaining broth, you can either save it for future use or make soup. To make the soup, re-heat the remaining broth over medium heat until just boiling. Add fish sauce, to taste. Add the gai xanh/ Vietnamese bok choy until just wilted. Turn off the heat. Enjoy sprinkled with some black pepper, alongside your Com Ga.

In a medium bowl, combine the onions, vinegar and black pepper. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the vinegar to soften and marinate the onions. To serve, place some rice on a plate. Top with some marinated onions, cucumbers, pieces of chicken and a drizzle of the nuoc mam guon. Enjoy!

Gai Xanh/ Vietnamese Boy Choy:
The ginger-fish sauce concoction & the marinated onions:
Nuoc Mam Gung/ Vietnamese Ginger Fish Sauce

2 - 3 limes, juiced
2 tbsn. fish sauce
2 tbsn. sugar, to taste
2-inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1 red chili, finely diced (optional)

Combine everything until well mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use.