Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ivory & Ebony

Title_Image_1

I appreciate diversity. I actually require diversity in every facet of my life – e.g. demographically, culturally, dietarily, in social circles, trail mix, and (of course) in dessert options. Following suit, I recently made these two flourless cakes for a dinner party and then subsequently to celebrate a lovely coworker’s birthday the next day – a total multitasking baking win for no leftovers! The first is a chocolate lover’s dream: a deceivingly light Nutella cake with hazenut dark chocolate and a rich ganache. The second: an airy cinnamon snacking cake made with almond flour, then topped with roasted almonds and dusted with spices. Both are gluten-free (’tis the craze these days, so let’s hop on that bandwagon), using nut flours that I whipped up in my mighty mighty Vitamix. All hail the all-powerful Vitamix!

IMG_2924

photo (8)

The importance of diversity is really about balance – anything too homogenous automatically becomes uninteresting (and unappetizing – 50 filet mignons in an aluminum vat, gross). Also, I firmly believe that as a baker we can adopt the model that too much of a good thing – when accompanied by other good things – is never a bad thing. People appreciate their options!

Cake #1: Almond Cinnamon Cake

Adapted from Nigella’s iphone app Nigellissima (beautifully done, btw), also seen here.

8 egg whites
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing tin
1 ½ cups almond meal
1 teaspoon
1 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar, to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease the springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are opaque and start to hold their shape, then slowly add the sugar, whisking until it’s all incorporated and the mixture is thick and shiny. Add the almond essence and the clementine or orange zest. Then, in about 3 goes each, alternately whisk in the oil and the almond meal (mixed with the baking powder) until they are both smoothly incorporated into the meringue.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, then mix together the flaked almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
    Bake for 35-40 minutes (though start checking at 30), by which time the top should have risen and be set and the almonds become golden, and a cake tester should come out clean, barring the odd almondy crumb.
  4. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in its tin on a wire rack. Once it is no longer hot, spring open the sides of the tin, but don’t try to remove the cake from the base until properly cool.
  5. When you are ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.

Cake #2: Nutella Cake

Adapted from here.

For the cake
6 large Eggs
1 pinch of Salt
125 g Unsalted Butter (softened)
400 g Nutella (1 large jar)
1 Tbsp of Frangelico liqueur
100 g ground Hazelnuts
100 g Dark Chocolate (melted)

For the icing
100 g Hazelnut (peeled weight)
125 ml Double Cream
1 Tbsp Frangelico liqueur or Water
125 g Dark Chocolate (chopped)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (degrees Celsius).
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, and then add the Frangelico, egg yolks and ground hazelnuts and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry.
  4. Fold in cooled, melted chocolate to the Nutella mixture, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of whisked egg white before gently folding the rest, bit by bit.
  5. Pour into a greased 23cm/ 9 inch round and lined springform tin and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
  6. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others.
  7. Make the ganache: put a heavy-bottomed saucepan onto the stove and add the cream, Frangelico (or water) and chopped chocolate. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted.

  8. Take it off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency (should be a smooth cream like texture).
  9. Release the cooled cake from the mould carefully, leaving it on the base (as it is wet and heavy and will break). Slowly glaze the top of the cake with the chocolate ganache.

  10. Finish it all off by placing the toasted (and cooled) hazelnuts onto the cake.
Advertisements

Bachelor Pasta

pasta pic

I’m not one to throw some red sauce on a pasta and call it an achievement. I usually see people doing that to a pasta and writing about, taking a picture of it, or charging $16 for it, and think “really, that’s it?” Maybe I’m not a pasta purist – although I had no problem living off of spaghetti pomodoro for a month in Italy. But outside of the Old World, where all tomato sauce usually starts in a jar, it leaves something to be desired.

Let me tell you right now, that’s not what this is. To start, it comes from whole canned San Marzano tomatoes, so  friends and neighbors, put your Bay Area tomato snobbery minds at ease. Second, this is Spaghetti All’Amatriciana, which means it’s really about slow cooked onions and pancetta. I had this in Rome and it’s never left my consciousness since. Lots of salty deep flavor from the pork, not to mention a hefty, hefty dose of red pepper, makes this surprising in addition to being no-brainer delicious.

photo (3)

I got this recipe out of some sort of Bachelors cookbook made by Esquire, which is easy enough as it is…then cut the time by about half. I found it long enough to develop those deep flavors, but I’m sure going the whole way with it is even more awesome. I also used regular bacon out of necessity (really Whole Foods? If you can’t find a market for pancetta in San Francisco, where can you?). I thought it would be a bigger deal than it was, but nice thick-cut smoky bacon does work quite well. The recipe actually calls for guanciale, but unless you’re a bachelor trying to impress someone you probably don’t have to worry about pulling out all the stops.

Spaghetti All’Amatriciana – Bachelor’s Style

6 0z pancetta or good bacon
1 large onion
2 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
two 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomato puree (or buy whole tamatoes and chop or puree)
1 lb spaghetti

Heat a skim of oil (about 2 tbsp) in a large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat begins to render and meat is no longer pink, about three minutes.

Add onion and stir, coating onions with the rendered fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about ten minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is aromatic, about ten minutes more.

Add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and thickens slightly, the flavors blend, and the fat floats to the surface, about 40 minutes (or as long as you can stand it before it just looks too good and you’re just too hungry).

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain but don’t rinse, return spaghetti to hot pot, and toss with the sauce.

Fueling for Panamania


Title_Image

Sam and I just returned from a 10-day, 26-mile trek through the insanely beautiful Panamanian rain forests, beaches and headlands with one of our closest friends. It was, to say the least, a trip of a lifetime. We experienced fairy-tale like circumstances that circulated between The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Cast Away (minus the Tom Hanks crazy), discovered the art of the salted rim on a perfect Chelada, sweated like mo-fos under 90+ degree weather and 100% humidity, and learned the many ways one can appreciate the kilt (don’t ask). Of course, waking up before the sun rose everyday (EVERY. DAY.) to embark on these treks left us insatiably hungry during the course of our trip, but being the Asian Martha Stewart that I am, I stocked us up with an arsenal of snacks that included dozens and dozens of power bars. We ended up needing every last morsel – I actually ate the last granola bar right before I boarded my flight back to LA.

Image

Our stockpile of adventure snacks included the granola bars here as well as two date-based power bars. My dad said (via text) that they were the “bombest protein bars in existence” and I can’t decide if it makes me prouder to say that he conveyed his approval over text message or that he colloquially uses “bombest” as an adjective more often than I do. Nonetheless, his wise words attest to the greatness of the recipes that follow:

Image

photo (7)

Spice Date Power Bars

Recipe adapted from here

1 cup almonds
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup Medjool dates
1 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon sea salt
Place nuts, dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until well ground. Pulse in vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and salt and remove mixture from food processor and press into an 8×8 baking dish. Refrigerate overnight (6-8 hours) and cut into squares and serve.

Coconut Apricot Power Bars

Recipe adapted fron here

1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Line a 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, set aside. Place cashews in a food processor and process until nuts are evenly chopped, set aside. Put dried apricots in the food processor and process for 3-4 minutes to finely chop. Add coconut, oats, agave syrup, coconut oil, hemp seeds, ginger and salt. Process until mixture comes together. Add the chopped cashews and pulse until well combined.

Put the apricot coconut mixture in the parchment lined baking pan and firmly press into pan. Cover the bars and place in a freezer for one hour. Unmold bars, trim ends and cut into even rectangles. Bars will last up to one month if stored in an air tight container in the fridge.