Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

Love me a nice, cozy, oversized coat. Add some gold and leather and I'm set!

1. Maje "Alaska fur trimmed cotton parka"
2. J. Crew "Valentina cashmere cardigan"
3. Sandro "Epine silk blouse"
4. Citizens of Humanity "Avedon low-rise skinny jeans"
5. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Gold plated logo watch"
6. Lanvin "Leopard print ballerina flats"
7. Aubin & Wills "Sandbanks leather satchel"

All images can be found at net-a-porter.com.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lavender Hot Chocolate

There's something that must be done when you find yourself craving hot chocolate on a daily basis. The only answer is to make yourself some hot chocolate, immediately. When you have milk in your refrigerator and chocolate in your pantry, there really is no excuse not to do so.

Thank gosh, finally, the weather has finally caught up with the season. It's been cold with grey skies and light drizzles - basically, my dream weather. You don't understand how long I've been waiting for it to be winter weather, or better put, how long my closet has been waiting! Coats, jackets, boots and gloves finally get their day to shine outside of my four walls. Yipee!
This lavender scented hot chocolate was yummy. Super rich, filled with great chocolate flavor and just a hint of flowery lavender. But if you don't fancy lavender - I wouldn't suggest it, as it's a love or hate kind of thing. I wouldn't have this hot chocolate every day since it is really rich, but it is a nice indulgent treat for every once and a while. My favorite part is when the whipped cream mixes with the hot chocolate to make a frothy little concoction that is impossible to resist.

A well paired treat to a wintery cold day! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! My family had bunches of food galore and of course lots of desserts ;)

Lavender Hot Chocolate
Yields: 2 servings
Original recipe here.

Notes: since the lavender is fragrant, adjust the amount according to your preference. For a creamier hot chocolate, a 1:1 ratio or dark to milk chocolate can be used. 

For the hot chocolate:
2 cups whole milk
3 oz. dark chocolate (70% cacao)
1 oz. milk chocolate
1/4 tsp. lavender buds

For the whipped cream:
1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract or seeds from 1/4 of a vanilla bean pod
1/2 tbsn. sugar

For the whipped cream, place the cold cream, vanilla and sugar into a cold mixing bowl. Beat the mixture with a whisk or mixer until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready for use. For the hot chocolate, beat the milk and lavender over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the milk begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and let the lavender steep for 5 minutes. Strain the lavender and return the milk to the saucepan. Over medium heat, add the chocolate and mix until the chocolate is melted and incorporated. Whisk the milk mixture for 10 - 20 seconds or until frothy. Pour into a large mug and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Gorgeous lavender buds:
Good chocolate is necessary!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

Anyone have any holiday parties coming up? Gold is always the answer!

1. Elizabeth & James 'James long length wool blend blazer'

2. Narciso Rodriguez 'Silk crepe draped dress'
3. Guiseppe Zanotti 'Suede multi strap sandals'
4. Halston Heritage 'Susan leather clutch'
5. Marni 'Swarovski crystal link bracelet'

All images can be found at net-a-porter.com.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream

Fall is synonymous with pumpkin to me. The instant the weather starts to turn and the leaves start to change their color, the smell of pumpkin fills the air. When I was little, I swore to myself that I hated cheesecake and pumpkin pie. In my mind I never really knew why, but my sister told me she hated them, so I just knew I had to hate them too. Oh, how wrong I was! When I finally tried them for myself, I figured out that not only did I not-not like them, I loved them!

Last year was pretty ridiculous with the pumpkin shortage, so this year I made damn sure to stock up on all the pumpkin I would need and then some. I decided to try Bobby Flay's winning pumpkin pie from Throwdown! It boasts an untraditional graham cracker crust, an intensely flavored and smooth filling, all topped with boozy whipped cream and crispy oat crunchies to boot! The filling is incredibly dense (in a great way) and as smooth as can be - thanks to the straining. The oat crunchies provided a nice contrast in texture and I loved the maple scent of the whipped cream. 

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
Yields: 2 8" Pies
Original recipe here.

For the cinnamon crunch:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup quick cooking, rolled oats
1/4 cup light muscavado sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 1/2 tbsn. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

For the graham cracker crust:
2 cups graham crackers
8 tbsn. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, whisked (for brushing crust)

For the pumpkin filling:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cups dark muscavado sugar
2 tbsn. molasses
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved (or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
3 tbsn. unsalted butter, melted

For the bourbon-maple whipped cream:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, cold
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved (or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
2 tbsn. grade B maple syrup
1 - 2 tbsn. bourbon (to your taste)

To make the cinnamon crunch, preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until combined. Pour the mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and pat it into a rectangle, about 4x6 inches. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Break up into small pieces and store in an airtight container. 

To make the crust, keep the oven temperature at 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter and cinnamon to a medium bowl and mix until combined. It should feel like wet sand and just come together. Spread the mixture evenly into a 10-inch pie tin and use your fingertips or the flat bottom of a glass to firmly press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Brush with the whisked egg. Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the filling, reduce the oven temperature to 300 F. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugars and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the pumpkin puree, spices, salt, cream, milk and vanilla seeds and continue to whisk to combine. Strain the mixture through a coarse strainer into a bowl (this will make it velvety smooth). Whisk in the butter. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and pour the strained mixture into the pre-baked shell. Bake until almost set, about 1 hour (the edges will be set and the center will be jiggly slightly when shaken). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, if preferred. 

For the bourbon whipped cream, combine the cream, vanilla seeds, syrup and bourbon in a large chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form. To serve, cut the pie into slices and serve each slice with a large dollop of whipped cream and some of the cinnamon crunch.
I had some leftover filling, so I made some extra mini tarts!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

When I heard about such an existence of a red velvet layered cheesecake cake, I knew that it was a special present sent from the baking angels of Heaven. Red velvet is one of the finest creations man has ever made, but then to smoosh a big creamy layer of cheesecake in the center too? Genius, pure genius.
I'm still having trouble with making layered cakes look pretty. This one was no exception - it was uneven and the frosting was so hard to keep pristine from the red velvet crumbs. I covered the outside of the cake with some crushed nuts to hide my messy frosting job, but despite all that, nothing could beat how this cake looked cut! Seriously people, perfection! Taste wise, I can say no less. How could it not be good?!!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
Yields: 1 3-layer cake
Original recipe here.

For the cheesecake:
2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (2 packages)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsn. sugar
1 tbsn. flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsn. heavy cream

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsn. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsn./ 1 oz. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

For the cream cheese frosting:
16 oz. cream cheese/ 2 blocks, room temperature
8 tbsn./ 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. To make the cheesecake, melt the white chocolate, set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl using an electronic mixer, mix the cream cheese on low speed until creamy. Add the sugar and mix slowly until smooth. On low speed, mix in the flour. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla and cream until the mixture is smooth. Using a large spoon, stir in the melted white chocolate until incorporated. Pour the batter into a parchment paper lined 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center is set when you slightly shake the pan. Allow to cool before removing from the spring form pan. Allow to cool completely before assembling the cake.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl. Beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until an inserted toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool for 10 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely, then level.

To make the cream cheese frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until creamy and smooth. Turn the mixer on low and add the vanilla and salt. Then add the powdered sugar slowly. Once mostly incorporated, turn back to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. To assemble the cake, place your bottom layer of cake on the dish/ plate you will be serving it on with the leveled side facing up. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top - it doesn't matter how messy it looks since it will be covered. Transfer the cheesecake to the top of the cake, then spread another thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cheesecake. Top with the remaining layer of cake - leveled side down so that you have a clean surface. Use the rest of the cream cheese frosting to frost the entire cake. Enjoy!

Not the prettiest cake, but sure the tastiest!
Ahhhh sweet, layer-y goodness!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

1. Marc by Marc Jacbobs "Ukita leather bag"

2. Chinti & Parker "Elbow patch cashmere sweater"
3. Adam "Crinkle pleated silk skirt"
4. Monica Vinader "Mini marie 18-karat gold-plated necklace"
5. Belstaff "Barkmaster leather boots"

All images can be found at net-a-porter.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lovers' Carvings

Is it fortuitous that a couple days ago I changed my ring tone to this song, then I see it glorified in the new Kindle Zest commercial? Heart when happy things like this happen!

Previous post here.

Bibio . Lovers' Carvings

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

I think about food a lot. Maybe too much? Is that possible? I cook food, I eat food, I read about food, I take pictures of food - I think it really consumes my life. Sometimes I come across people who think of food as sustenance only and I get so confused. Food is so central to my life that it seems strange that people see it as such a small thing.
I'm always dreaming about what I'm going to be making next. While dreaming, I stumbled upon The Cupcake Project and her pumpkin pie frosting. Mind you, not pumpkin pie flavored frosting, actual, honest-to-goodness pumpkin pie AS frosting. Did I lose you? Let me break it down... a baked pumpkin pie filled into a piping bag and used as frosting! Genius right?

I knew exactly what I wanted to make: pumpkin pie cupcakes. So that's what we have here: a crispy graham cracker crust, vanilla cake and the creamiest pumpkin pie frosting. I think the perfect Fall treat!
The anatomy of a pumpkin pie cupcake:
Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Yields: 15 cupcakes
Inspired by this; adapted from here and here.

For the cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 tbsn. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, divided
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

For the graham cracker crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsn. light brown sugar
3 tbsn. unsalted butter, melted

For the pumpkin pie frosting:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 can (16 oz.) pureed pumpkin
2 tbsn. molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsn. flour
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

The "frosting" should be made first as it takes the longest to bake and needs to cool before using. Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a medium bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients until well combined. Pour the filling into a 9-inch round pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 F and continue cooking for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean. Let cool completely before using.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with liners, set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. In another bowl, blend the eggs, egg white, remaining 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. Add to the batter in 3 additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions. Set aside.

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a medium bowl and mix well. Add 1 tbsn. of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner and bake for 5 minutes until the graham crackers are golden. Remove from the oven then fill about 1/2 full with the cake batter. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. To frost, scoop the pumpkin pie "frosting" into a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jasmine Green Tea Lemonade

There's something so thirst quenching about Arnold Palmers - just the perfect hint of sweetness from the lemonade with the subtle earthiness from the tea - I love it so! I think it's pretty swell to have a drink named after yourself - especially one as delicious as this. Hmmm... I wonder what kind of epic drink I could create? For some reason though, I don't think a drink with the name 'Michelle Huynh' would catch on as well!

Anyways, I adapted this recipe from Hannah. It's the perfect recipe with just the right amount of sugar and the right amount of tanginess. If it's a bit too strong or too sweet, the recipe is easily adaptable - just add water! I used jasmine green tea since it's my favorite but you could use whatever you'd like. Hannah told me that it's imperative to drink with stripe-y straws, so that I did! It was fantastic.

Jasmine Green Tea Lemonade
Yields: 6 - 8 servings
Adapted from here.

4 - 6 tea bags, depending on your preference of strength (I used jasmine green tea, but you can use any)
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
1 cup lemon juice (from 4 - 6 lemons)

Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat, add the tea bags and allow to steep for 8 - 10 minutes. To make the simple syrup, heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Combine the lemon juice, simple syrup and steeped tea in a pitcher, stir and refrigerate until cold. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crispy Kimchi Fried Rice

Short post - just a simple, delicious and incredibly satisfying meal. One of my favorite things to make when I want something quick!

Kimchi + Crispy Rice + Bacon + Perfectly Fried Egg = NOM.

Crispy Kimchi Fried Rice
Yields: 2 servings

1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsn. olive oil
1 tbsn. gochujang
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
2 tsp. soy sauce
3/4 cup chopped kimchi
3 cups leftover rice
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
2 large eggs, fried (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the rice and gochujang. Mix until the rice is evenly covered in the sauce, set aside. In a large fry pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and green onions until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and mix everything together well. Use a spatula to flatten the rice against the pan, and keep still for about 3 - 5 minutes to let the rice get crispy. Repeat until the rice is evenly crispy. Next, add the soy sauce and sesame oil, adding more to taste, stir well. Mix in the crumbled bacon, chopped kimchi and frozen peas (if using). Continue stir frying until everything is well mixed and the peas have thawed. Portion evenly onto two plates, then top with the fried eggs and enjoy!
Ooey, gooey yolk all over my rice!

Instrumental Mixtape

Old & new - perfect for these foggy, gloomy mornings we've been having!

Sigur Ros . Samskeyti

Ratatat . Cherry

Four Tet . She Just Likes to Fight

Four Tet . Sing

Broken Social Scene . Guilty Cubicles

The Cinematic Orchestra . Arrival of the Birds

Cale Parks . Moccasin Bend

Aphex Twin . Corrugated Tubing

Amon Tobin . At the End of the Day

American Analog Set . We're Computerizing and We Just Don't Need You Anymore

Balanescu Quartet . Waltz

The Books . Tokyo

Nujabes . The Final View

White Hinterland . Icarus (Instrumental Version)

Please, if you do anything today, pour yourself a warm bath, light some candles and play these songs on repeat. I love good instrumentals, especially this Sigur Ros song... gorgeous.