Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strawberry Tarts, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Carrot Cupcakes

Emeril Lagasse's Strawberry Puff Pastry Tart.

Sounded so really good.. but it was a let down. I think I know why.
1) I didn't melt ice cream and place the tart on top. The sweetness would have elevated the tart. It needed it.
2) The puff pastry I used wasn't really all that good. It wasn't super flakey and buttery as I would have liked. It really does pay to make your own puff pastry.. but man OH man is it time consuming.

The mascarpone filling was yummy but I think I over mixed it because it became this congealed blob. Thank goodness it still tasted ok. It was easy to make and overall an ok dessert. One sure fire way to tell how good (or bad, in this case) your food is: there are left overs. =(

Oh well. I guess I can't take it too personally since it wasn't my recipe. Though... I may not have executed it well and thus wasn't as tasty as it could have been.

When you take out the puff pastry, thaw it out, and then unfold it, it looks something like this. You have to roll it out gently with flour to make the creases go away and into one uniform sheet.
Emeril's original recipe called for one full sheet. But since I planned on taking these to a dinner gathering, I thought it would be a good idea to cut them into smaller squares and rectangles for individual portions. Bad idea...

I cut small squares and scored them as Emeril says to do.

I egg washed the scored edges and folded them over. I even squished them down with a fork..

But when I baked them, it looked like one big puff ball. Even with the docking (the holes in the middle) it all rose together. Because the surface area of the folded edges were so small there wasn't enough mass to keep them together. So in the baking process all the folded parts unraveled.

Chefs are great at improvising when things don't go according to plan. What did I do? Cut the center part and pushed it down so I could put the filling inside.

This filling was very easy to make but I think I mixed to too long because it became like this. I don't know what caused it to do that. Maybe the acid in the orange juice?? Yo no se.

Then I filled the centers with the congealed.. I mean delicious filling.
Then I sliced strawberries about 1/4" thick and laid them on top of the cream.

The glaze was a mixture of jam and water. I happened to have this $9 bottle of strawberry jam that my brother bought for me (I had made another tart for my dad's birthday that didn't turn out so well). So I used this jam for the glaze.

I heated the jam just a tiny bit to get it loose and added some water until it became pretty liquidy.
Emeril's recipe ends there, with the addition of melted ice cream that I left out, but I had this crumble mixture that was made for the other strawberry tart as mentioned before. So I added it for garnish.

The crumble process...

Left over tart shells.

Ground in a food processor.

Added some brown sugar.
Then some oats.Cut in butter.

Baked until golden brown.

It was... OK. Needed more butter I think.

* * * * *
Garlic Mashed Potatoes are one of my rare savory dishes that I love to make. It was my dad's birthday and to accompany the many steaks we had was the mashed potatoes.

I don't really use a recipe. I steam them in our rice cooker (actually, my mom does because I still don't know how to use that advanced looking thing). While it's cooking, I heat up some half and half or heavy cream with minced garlic. That way the garlic infuses in the cream. Then I mince up some onions and celery really, really fine.

Crunchy in something soft.. something that Gordon Ramsay might yell at me for but I love it. The crunch gives the taters some substance for me. The more crunch.. the better.

That's pretty much about it.

As soon as it comes out of the steamer, I mash it with a potato masher. Butter is added as well with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I slowly incorporate the warm half and half until it's fully absorbed into the potatoes. In the middle I switch from the masher to a whisk. Add onions and celery.. and there you go. Cheese would also go very well but I forgot to get it.

* * * * *

Carrot Cupcakes.

Hannah sent me this recipe that she got as a wedding favor from her boss's wedding. It was her husband's mom's recipe. I gave it a go and is pretty dang moist and delicious! And really easy to make too!

The Cake
2 Cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Sift together

2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Canola Oil

4 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla

2 Cups Grated Carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1 (8.5oz) Can Crushed Pineapples, Drained
(I think I used about 1 cup)
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

In a bowl combine the sugar and oil and mix well.
Add the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
Add vanilla (there was no vanilla in the original reicpe but I wanted to add it in).

Fold in the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts until distributed well.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the center of the cupcake feels firm.

The Filling
I had so much of that mascarpone cream left over from the tart I just used that. Afterall, mascarpone is the cream cheese of Italy.. or so I like to think.

The Topping
Don't know why I thought coconuts would go well with this. I hate coconuts. But I toasted them and topped the cake and cream with it and it was quite delicious! It lost its crunchyness after a bit so I recommed waiting just until it's about to be eaten to top it with the coconts.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lemon and Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

One of these days I will come up with my own fabulous recipe.. but until then I'm just gonna have to settle with trying out other people's brilliant ideas.

Hannah sent me this link for Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches that was on the cover of this month's issue of Gourmet Magazine. I made this at 6AM on yesterday morning so I could take it to small group later that night. So, I didn't have the time to document the process.

This was difficult for me. Two reasons:
1) I had to make everything before 8AM so I could get to work by 9.
2) My freezer is jam packed with stuff so the ice cream didn't really harden all that much.

The entire making process was easy enough. But the unmolding and cutting was quite stressful.

Some things to note if you decide to make this.

-Use small blueberries. If you use HUGE ones like I did, just make sure you mash them well. They were chunks of blueberry ice when I bit into one.

-Take both cookie sheets out of the baking receptacle, line it with plastic wrap, THEN build the ice cream sandwich. I made 1 1/2 times the recipe so I could make more. So, I used a 9x13 cake pan for the cookie part and baked it twice. The first one I took out and the second I left in the pan then let it cool and then the ice cream... But as I was trying to unmold, it didn't want to come out. Needless to say... it was a hot mess.. I guess cold-once-frozen-but-melting-at-an-exponential-rate mess.

All in all... it was quite delicious.

* * * * *

On the computer at work I have the latest picture I've taken of my delicious sweets. The other day my boss was commenting on how great it looked. We had to test out some recipes for a client of ours and he told me to bring my camera. He took his normal pictures and he let me take my "close-up" shots. Here are the final products.

Who knew my little Canon could take such beautiful pictures? And a with a little photoshopping.. they're pretty amazing.. hahaha! I can't help it.. I'm really proud!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Macarons

My second attempt. Not too shabby, I must say.

This time I used Martha Stewart's recipe for the macarons with the addition of Trablit, a coffee extract. The same buttercream filling was used as with the previous macarons.

To give it some extra pizazz I tried coloring some of the batter with a darker brown color and streaked it inside the pastry bag with the rest of the batter but it came out a little sloppy. But still gave it a little more flair than leaving it plain.

* * * * *

On a tangent from my normal sweet entries, I'd like to share something brief about a rare phenomenon... cooking.

I made a sandwich for myself today.
(Yes, I realize that this is not really "cooking" but when it comes to savory stuff.. this all falls into that category)

This is my typical sandwich:
Toasted bread, melted cheese, little bit of sandwich meat, tomatoes, avacados, mustard... and a WHOLE LOTTA LETTUCE.

As you can see, about 75% of the sandwich is lettuce. I particularly like iceberg lettuce because it lays more flat than romaine and has so much more of that crispy "crunch" that I so deeply love in my sandwiches. It's not because I think that this is so much healthier because I know that iceberg lettuce pretty much has next to nothing in nutrition. I just love it like that.

My grandma from Korea has been staying with us for about a month now and she makes comments every now and then about how I seem more like an American person than Korean because of the things I tend to eat. She saw me eating this sandwich today and said the same thing.

But I told her: "Grandma, as much as I am like an American person..."
"...I still need my kimchi."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Macarons. French Ones, That Is...

I've heard about Macarons for while but haven't really ventured out to buy one or make some. Thanks to the lovely miss Hannah, who forwarded me a website address that led me to do some searches on macarons (aka macaroons), I came upon this site by a man named David Lebovitz and his blog about chocolate macarons.

Gave them a try and it turned out... ok for my first try. The batter was super bumpy both times I made it even though I pulverized the almonds as much as I could. I also found a Martha Stewart recipe that I might give a go this week.

Anyway, here is a rough visual of the process.

In a food processor add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and almonds.

Even after a while in the food processor I still had some big chunks.

So, I poured the remains into this small blender used for smoothie drinks to pulverize the rest. Next time, I'll just buy almond flour.

Next, is to make the meringue with the egg whites and sugar.
It should stick up straight into the sky like this and have a super glossy coating.

In a bowl, slowly add the dry into the meringue. The picture has a whisk, but a spatula will work the best.

I was really careful not to overmix because David Lebovitz was talking about how fragile the batter is.. but my batter was extremely stiff and didn't have that nice smooth top. So... the next time, I'll be really rough with it.

Use a round piping tip on parchment paper or a silpat. Silpat worked the best.
KEY - Rap the sheet pan a few times really hard to settle the batter.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.

And viola.

I used a swiss buttercream recipe and added some Trablit (a coffee extract) and melted chocolate for the filling. It was quite yummy. People said it tasted like brownies.

My brother said that these looked like the Mini Sirloin Burgers that Jack in the Box has.
"Yippie ay yay, mini chocolate macarons! Hiyah!"

I don't see any resemblance.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I'm off to Arizona for a mission trip. I wanted to write a new blog of all the things I've been doing but alas.. even now I only have 3 hours to sleep until I have to wake up.

I will leave with a picture of some cookies I made for the team.

Pray for us!