29 July 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake

Yay I'm back from my cross country road trip! In one whole piece too. It was actually a lot of fun, with only some yelling and a few tears (ha!). Today is officially the start of classes and I just cannot bring myself to do anything productive. Yesterday, I watched Spiderman 2 during orientation but for Andrew Garfield...anything :D. The ending was so shocking and sad, and when it comes to sappy endings, I can't stop the flow of tears... even if I'm in the lecture hall :P Then my body felt like a jellyfish the entire night so no productivity there. I do need to get back to the grind though...because med school :(

I got a new 5 inch springform pan and other kitchenware stuff over the summer. Now I have absolutely no counter space so my mum made me put it all in a box in a living room. Soon half the living room will be filled with my stuff. Sorry, roommate! My first apology in the form of a cheesecake (with a oatmeal cookie crust! nom)


Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake

adapted from candidappetite for a 5" springform pan

Crust
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice
pinch of salt
1/4 cup flaked almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 (8oz) block cream cheese, room temp
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 cup vanilla yogurt (i used fat free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. For the crust, combine all the ingredients except for the butter in a medium bowl. Pour in the butter and mix until it can form a ball. Press into a 5-inch springform pan so it thinly covers the bottom. Try to not leave any holes or cracks. Bake for 17-20 mins or until the edges are slightly brown. Remove and cool completely
  3. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whip cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla yogurt until smooth. Mix in flour and make sure the batter is smooth.
  5. Take 1/4 cup of the batter and mix to the set aside brown sugar mix. This will be the cinnamon swirl filling.
  6. Fill half of the cheesecake batter over the crust. Add some cinnamon swirl batter in dollops and pour the rest of the cheesecake batter. Dollop rest of the cinnamon swirl on the top in blobs. Use a knife to create swirls in the cake.
  7. Place cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Do not open the oven door at all or there will be cracks! Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to sit inside for another 3 hours. (Although I used his method, I still got cracks. Maybe the water bath method is better)
  8. Chill overnight for best texture and taste (or at least 3 hours). Carefully remove the edge of the pan and serve with freshly whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. Hmm!


04 July 2014

Red Velvet Blueberry Cheesecake Macarons

Happy 4th! I am still so excited about Brazil's win over Columbia. Oh my gosh, that was an exciting game!! Woooo. Never seen so many grown men cry. Also, James Rodríguez **swoon**. I am betting Argentina and Brazil will go into the finals. That would be so awesommmeee. 

My mum is on a macaron fever with me ha. She loves them and makes me bake them every week. Here's a patriotic macaron for today! Happy nomming!


Red Velvet Blueberry Cheesecake Macarons

makes about 25 macarons

Red Velvet Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond powder
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 egg whites (aged 1 day in fridge and 1-2 days at room temp)
1/2 tsp vanilla
red dye (gel) 1 tsp

Blueberry Cheesecake Filling
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Blueberry Cheesecake: whisk all blueberries, water, sugar in a small pot. Heat on medium and stir from time to time until blueberries start bursting. Add cornstarch and stir until pretty thick. Remove from heat and cool. Whip cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar. Add the cooled blueberry jam and whirl only 3 times. You don't just want purple goo! Fill up a piping bag to chill in the fridge.
  • Macarons
    1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat and get a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip prepared
    2. In a food processor pulse almond flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder until mixed and fluffy
    3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium low for 2 mins, gradually adding in the sugar.
    4. Increase speed to 7 to whip for another 3 minutes and then at 8-10 for another 4 minutes. You should be getting a stiff meringue that you can make soft peaks with.
    5. Fold the dry ingredients in 2 batches with a rubber spatula and make smooth sweeps to the botto
    6. Fold the dry ingredients in 2 batches with a rubber spatula and make smooth sweeps to the bottom of the bowl. Add vanilla extract and dye and continue deflating the meringue. After about 40-50 foldings it should look glossy and when you drop some from your spatula to the batter, it takes about 10-20 secs for it to mold back into the mix
    7. Fill your pastry bag and pipe batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3.5cm circles, spaced 1" apart. 
    8. Rap the baking sheet a few times about 1 inch above the counter top to flatten the macarons and to get rid of bubbles. I also use a toothpick to pop the stray ones. Let them rest at room temp for 45-60mins. The tops should be REALLY dry and nothing should stick to your finger if you poke them. 
    9. Preheat your oven to 300 F in the last 2 minutes of the drying wait. Bake for 15 mins each pan separately, rotate pans and then bake for another 3-5 minutes. You can check they are done by lifting one macaron you can sacrifice. If the feet comes off, leave it in longer. You always want to overbake than underbake.
    10. Let cool completely before removing them from the paper. Line up similar sized ones and pipe the chilled curd filling onto 1 shell. Sandwich together.
    11. Let them sit in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 1 day before serving. Seriously!! They taste 100x better when the insides of the macaron shells soften a bit and the filling flavors come together.

03 July 2014

Lemon Mango Macarons

Summer holiday is almost coming to an end! I feel like I haven't had much time to really do what I want before going to school again. Like traveling to Iceland, going on the Lord of the Rings Trail in New Zealand... I wouldn't even mind Hawaii! But, I guess that's what happens when you don't plan and then you're stuck in a lab for your whole summer dissecting mice. Hmm... At least I should get my butt over to the beach while I'm in LA. I bet I'm the only person who lives in LA, who goes to the beach only once a year :\

But, I am going on a cross-country road trip soon... ONE WHOLE week with my mother. Hopefully we'll both survive. Because, mothers. Ya know?!

In the heat of the summer, I made these light and bright lemon-y macarons. Don't they just look like sunshine? ;)


Lemon Mango Macarons

makes about 25 macarons

Lemon Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
2 tsp lemon zest, dried overnight
2 large egg whites (aged 2 day in fridge and 1 day at room temp)
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
yellow food coloring (optional)

Mango Curd
1/3 cup mango, pureed and strained (1-2 medium sized mangoes)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp tsp salt
2 egg yolks
2-3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp butter (remove from heat and add)

  • Mango Curd: whisk all the ingredients except the butter in a small pot. Heat on medium and keep whisking it from time to time until it starts to simmer. Keep whisking until its pretty thick and starts spitting large bubbles from the top. You want it pretty thick so you don't get your macarons soggy. Whisk and whisk! Don't let it burn on the bottom! Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let it cool and then fill up a piping bag to chill in the fridge.
  • Macarons
    1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat and get a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip prepared
    2. In a food processor pulse almond flour, powdered sugar, dried lemon zest until mixed and fluffy
    3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium low for 2 mins, gradually adding in the sugar.
    4. Increase speed to 7 to whip for another 3 minutes and then at 8-10 for another 4 minutes. You should be getting a stiff meringue that you can make soft peaks with.
    5. Fold the dry ingredients in 2 batches with a rubber spatula and make smooth sweeps to the bottom of the bowl. Add the lemon extract and continue deflating the meringue. After about 40-50 foldings it should look glossy and when you drop some from your spatula to the batter, it takes about 10-20 secs for it to mold back into the mix
    6. Fill your pastry bag and pipe batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3.5cm circles, spaced 1" apart. 
    7. Rap the baking sheet a few times about 1 inch above the counter top to flatten the macarons and to get rid of bubbles. I also use a toothpick to pop the stray ones. Let them rest at room temp for 45-60mins. The tops should be REALLY dry and nothing should stick to your finger if you poke them. 
    8. Preheat your oven to 300 F in the last 2 minutes of the drying wait. Bake for 15 mins each pan separately, rotate pans and then bake for another 3-5 minutes. You can check they are done by lifting one macaron you can sacrifice. If the feet comes off, leave it in longer. You always want to overbake than underbake.
    9. Let cool completely before removing them from the paper. Line up similar sized ones and pipe the chilled curd filling onto 1 shell. Sandwich together.
    10. Let them sit in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 1 day before serving. Seriously!! They taste 100x better when the insides of the macaron shells soften a bit and the filling flavors come together.


26 June 2014

Pea Shoots and Kabocha Summer Roll

I got the itis so bad. My mum's here and she's been making all this delicious food, I'm about to pop. But I feel so blessed and blissful... maybe like the blissful feeling before I'm going to explode. Okay, definitely took that too far. Anyway, I feel too lazy to write this post. Sorry! I also left this short paragraph with an awful joke. Apoloooggiieeessss

Here is a vegan Vietnamese-like summer roll  I made before my mum came. Had to feed myself with all the leftover veggies :P


Pea Shoots and Kabocha Summer Roll

makes 15-20 rolls

20 sheets of rice paper
1/2 medium cucumber
1 medium apple
2-3 cups of pea shoots
1 small kabocha squash
few leaves of kale
cilantro

Peanut dipping sauce
1/2 cup peanut sauce
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp agave
2 tsp hoisin
2 tsp soysauce
1/4 cup water
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, roughly peel kabocha and cut into large wedges.  Place in big pot in a single layer with about 1 cm of water. Steam kabocha for 10-15 mins until soft
  2. Cut cucumber, and apple into 2 inch matchstick pieces (You can squeeze from lemon over the apple to prevent browning). Wash kale and pea shoots. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut large wedges into smaller ones
  3. Heat water in a large pot until it is about to simmer and then switch off. Working one roll at a time. Place rice paper sheets into the water until soft and lay it open on a plate
  4. Add all the veggies and fruit you want on top. Although don't add too much or it'll burst. Fold the bottom end over your filling and then tuck the sides in before you continue rolling all the way. You'll get the hang of it after a few tries!
  5. For the dipping sauce, just mix everything together. Go easy on the soysauce because hoisin is already salty. Add 1 tsp each time and adjust to taste. You can always add water or lemon or more sweetness to dilute the saltiness if you go overboard (like me!)




19 June 2014

Baked Mini Mochi Donuts

Having been sedentary for so long, my body feels like it's 80 years old and on fire after running 3 miles today! I have set myself back from years of training for all the triathlons, marathons and races I used to do before med school D: I know a lot of students find time to do intramurals, exercise religiously and actually have a life during the academic year. But I am definitely not one of them. I procrastinate like no one else. Before I even try to start studying, I have an itch to tidy my room, organize my desk and lay out all my pens in order of color. If my laziness is really bad, I will even go ahead and clean the toilet! Anything to get out of studying :P

I have been improving over the year though, so don't you worry about me. I need to graduate and start bringing my gazillion negative bank balance to at least a few negative hundreds. You know?! Drives me nuts. Anyhoo, other than thinking about my lack of money and muscles, here is a donut recipe made of mochi. They are so wonderfully soft with a little chew and not too sweet (my kind of dessert!).

They do look a little funky shaped because I left my donut pan in Richmond, so I had to Macgyver one out of my muffin pan and foil. Clearly doesn't look as great. Oh well.. This recipe is a keeper so I will definitely make them when I'm back in school!

Alsooo, congrats to Melanie for winning Joanne Weir's Cookbook. I hope you enjoy it!



Baked Mini Mochi Donuts

adapted from lafujimama
makes 15 mini donuts

1 1/3 cup mochiko
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup agave or honey (I used agave)
2/3 cup coconut milk (or whole milk)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter, melted

variations
2 tsp matcha or 3 tsp cocoa powder

toppings
ganache - 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips and 2 tbsp coconut milk (or heavy cream)
sprinkles

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease mini donut pan
  2. Mix dry ingredients (first 3) in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mix wet ingredients: butter, milk, vanilla, agave and eggs
  3. Combine dry and wet mix and stir well. If you want to make some plain vanilla ones, fill 4 donut molds
  4. Split the rest of the batter, stir matcha into one and cocoa powder into the other. You can also just double up variations if you want to just make one type. Fill the rest of the mold
  5. Bake for 12-15 mins. Let cool a bit in the mold and then flip them out onto a rack
  6. Meanwhile, make the ganache. I just microwave the chocolate chips and coconut milk for 15-30secs. Stir vigorously to mix. Dip donuts into the ganache and then into sprinkles of your choice

13 June 2014

Matcha Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache

I am absolutely obsessed with Korean dramas right now. It's so bad for my health because I stay up all night watching them. I just finished a 20 episode one today, that are 1 hour long each in 2 days! My eyes are about to shrivel up and die in its sockets. I bet I'm going to sleep through my bus stop today, which I have done too many times and walked home to spare the bus fare back to my original stop :(

I can't even explain why I watch them. The love triangles drive me crazy, the acting is terrible, it makes me cringe when they try to speak English, the overdone story of rich boy gets poor puppy eyed girl drives me nuts.... I could go on forever but I just can't stay away from them!!  Somebody pull me away from the TV!!!

Now that I don't have my trusty KA mixer, I'm not in much of a mood to bake. I want to bake bread but the thought of kneading makes my arm willy-nilly :P Here's a macaron recipe I did before I left for LA (tweaked from Piña Colada Macarons). My macaron feet looks soo good now.

Also I have a giveaway (click!) this week. Don't forget to enter!




Matcha Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache

makes about 25 macarons
notes below ***

Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
2.5 tsp matcha powder
2 large egg whites, ages 2 day in fridge and 1 day at room temp
5 tbsp granulated sugar

White Chocolate Ganache Filling
6oz white chocolate, chopped (or use chips, roughly 1 cup)
5 tbsp heavy cream

  • Filling:
    1. Heat heavy cream in a small pan until it is just about to simmer. Pour over chopped white chocolate (in a bowl) and let that sit for 1 min
    2. Then mix until you have a nice creamy consistency. Let it cool until okay to touch
    3. Fill a piping bag and place into the refrigerator until ready to pipe
  • Macarons:
    1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat and get a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip prepared
    2. In a food processor pulse almond flour, matcha powder and powdered sugar until mixed and fluffy
    3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium low for 2 mins, gradually adding in the sugar.
    4. Increase speed to 7 to whip for another 3 minutes and then at 8-10 for another 4 minutes. You should be getting a stiff meringue that you can make soft peaks with. Try not to over beat.
    5. Fold the dry ingredients in 2 batches with a rubber spatula and make smooth sweeps to the bottom of the bowl. You do want to deflate the meringue and after about 40-50 foldings it should look glossy and when you drop some from your spatula to the batter, it takes about 10 secs for it to mold back into the mix. Don't over mix or it will a runny and watery mess!
    6. Fill your pastry bag and pipe batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3.5cm circles, spaced 1" apart. 
    7. Rap the baking sheet a few times about 1 inch above the counter top to flatten the macarons and to get rid of bubbles. Let them rest at room temp for 45-60mins. The tops should be dry and nothing should stick to your finger if you poke them. 
    8. Preheat your oven to 310 F. Bake for 16-18 mins each pan separately and rotating pans halfway. You can check they are done by lifting one macaron you can sacrifice. If the feet comes off, leave it in longer. You always want to overbake than underbake.
    9. Let cool completely before removing them from the paper. Line up similar sized ones and pipe the chilled filling onto 1 shell. Sandwich together.
    10. Let them sit in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 1 day before serving. Seriously!! They taste 100x better when the insides of the macaron shells soften a bit and the filling flavors come together



***

  • I let the egg whites sit in the fridge longer (2 days) and let them rest outside for 2 days too
  • I baked them at a longer temperature. But if you bake them too long, they will turn brown and won't keep green. You may want to use green food coloring
  • It could be difficult to lift the macarons from the paper. When it has cooled for about 5-10mins, sprinkle some water on the baking tray under the parchment paper. The steam helps them unstick but peel them off quickly or they might get soggy

09 June 2014

Grain Salad with Walnuts, Figs And Grapefruit + GIVEAWAY

Hello from Los Angeles! It is so hot and dry here, I love it! I've had about 2 weeks of "vacation" from Richmond to Charleston to DC to LA. It's been quite a whirlwind of traveling and eating (4 times my body weight). And, now I'm starting summer research stuff at my old lab. I've been meaning to travel around the world before med school life sucks up all my time later...but I'm really indecisive and...(insert more excuses) and sometimes I feel I might need to study :O ?!  Having all this time to do fun things other than studying is a little unusual right now. Since I just spent the past year with my butt glued to my desk chair.


Even if I'm back in LA, I just found out that my mum is not coming back from her holiday in Hong Kong and Korea until the end of this month. What?! Where was the warning? Does this mean I have to wash my own clothes..? (haha kidding, I'm a real adult :\)


I digress!! I have a giveaway sponsored by California Walnuts, where they are giving away TV personality Joanne Weir's cookbook to one of my readers. Yay! Scroll all the way to the bottom to enter (US + Canada readers only, sorry!). Here is an adaptation of her salad recipe. I substituted figs, added some agave and a new grain, Freekeh, that I just discovered. Apparently, it has a higher protein content than quinoa? I love it's texture... very chewy like barley. Anyway, this salad just represents sunny LA and is very easy to assemble the night before. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Figs And Grapefruit

serves 6 
adapted from Joanne Weir

Dressing
1/2 tsp finely grated grapefruit zest
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp agave syrup
salt

Salad
3/4 cup millet
3/4 cup freekeh (or any whole grain like quinoa)
1 cup walnut, halved
2 grapefruits
1/2 cup dried mission figs, cut in pieces
3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Dressing: mix grapefruit zest, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl and let the flavors meld in the fridge
  3. Place millet and freekeh in a saucepan with 2 1/4 cups water and 3/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15-18 min (until all the moisture is absorbed). Set aside to cool
  4. Lay walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden ~7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool
  5. Using a sharp paring knife, cut tops and bottoms off the grapefruits. Cut off the peel and white pith from top to bottom and work your way around the grapefruit until it is bare naked. Cut sections out (between the membranes) and set aside on a plate
  6. Squeeze the membranes into the bowl with the dressing to extract about 3 tbsp of juice. Season dressing with salt to taste
  7. In a large salad bowl, toss grains with figs, toasted walnuts, parsley and grapefruit sections. Add dressing and toss together


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