Monday, December 7, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

I have decided that I want need the following items for Christmas:

A paella pan. Crate & Barrel, $30. With it, I will make Christmas paella. And/or New Year's paella.

And (of course), this paella cookbook., $12.89 ($18.95 list price).

Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller., $29.25 ($50 list price). Visit one of my favorite blogs, Furey and the Feast, for a recipe for brownies from this cookbook.

This deep-dish red lasagna baker. Cost Plus World Market, $20.

This ridiculously expensive Emile Henry pie dish (although this can wait as my mom recently discovered and gave to me a lovely blue Chantal pie dish among her seemingly endless supply of dishware/bakeware). Williams-Sonoma, $44.

Lunchbox Project prints by Lisa Orgler (in love with these right now)., $15.50.

Also, I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pumpkin chocolate fleck sugar cookies.

I meant to make these for Halloween.

Actually.. I've been meaning to make sugar cookies for Halloween for at least the past three years, ever since I bought Halloween cookie-cutters at a post-Halloween sale at Crate and Barrel. Those post-holiday sales are so very dangerous. My cookie cutter and cupcake liner collections are proof.

Anywho, as I had written in my last post, I have been doing a whole lot of pumpkin-hankerin' lately. And I wanted to make jack-o-lantern pumpkin sugar cookies that actually tasted like pumpkin. So here's a tried and true sugar cookie recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Carole Walter, altered a bit with a little pumpkin-chocolate pizazz.

These cookies are sugar cookies with a hint of pumpkin -- not anything like pumpkin drop cookies that have more of a cakey texture. Also, I'm pretty particular about my sugar roll-out cookies. They've got to be firm (though not dry), and they've got to hold their shape -- 'cause cookies that spread out into indistinguishable blobs bug me.

But these.. these make me grin.

Pumpkin Chocolate Fleck Sugar Cookies
Adapted from "Classic Sugar Cookies," Great Cookies, Carole Walter

3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (plus more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup finely shaved semisweet chocolate
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

To decorate:
Sparkling white sugar OR
Icing of various colors (made with confectioner's sugar and a bit of milk)

1. Strain together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on medium-low.
3. Beat the egg and vanilla together and mix into the butter-sugar mixture. Add the canned pumpkin. Mix in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined.
4. Measure out about 1/4 the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the chocolate into the dough, being careful to not overwork.
5. Empty out the rest of the dough onto the floured surface and lightly knead the all the dough together three or four times to create a marbled effect. Divide into quarters and shape into four disks. Wrap each disk with plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

6. Using one disk at a time, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut using various cookie cutters and transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Brush tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired.
7. Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and wait a few minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Wait until cookies are completely cool before decorating with icing, if desired.

These were yummy, but I think I'd prefer them just a tad sweeter. I might try adding 1/4 cup brown sugar next time, see what that does.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Summer and fall obsessions.

Hello! I'm slowly resurfacing and it's taken longer than expected. But, here we go. Up and at 'em.

Let's see. I think I still had a few posts left on Japan, but it's friggen' November for Pete's sake. I might do a wrap-up later.

For now: A few summer obsessions that have trickled into fall.

YummyEarth Organic Hot Chili Pops

Particularly, the Chili Mango Mambo pop -- a sweet, fruity sucker with a hot chili kick. And it's organic and natural and made with real, good stuff. Win! I get them at my local Sprouts.

Breyers Rocky Road Ice Cream

I practically lived off this during the hot summer months. I originally thought I liked Breyers ice cream in only strawberry and mint chocolate chip, and that the more traditional, richer ice creams just weren't.. rich enough. But their good ol' rocky road proved me wrong. Maybe it's just 'cause Breyers makes rocky road just the way I like it -- marshmallow swirl instead of whole marshmallows (a pet peeve of mine), chocolate-covered toasted almonds instead of just plain nuts, all in creamy chocolate ice cream. Mmm mm.

Pumpkin and chocolate

Oh, man. I have been craving this combo like mad recently. My boyfriend even offered to stack a brownie on top of a slice of pumpkin pie to help satisfy my craving, and I probably would have eaten it if it weren't for the root canal I had earlier that day.

Terrible experience, by the way, that root canal. I do not recommend it.

Rutabegorz has pretty much saved my life on more than one occasion with its gargantuan iced pumpkin cookie. It is thick and soft, almost cake-like, and my attempts to savor it slowly are always met with utter failure. I only wish chocolate milk was at the ready to wash it down.

The other weekend, I trekked out to Claremont for Some Crust Bakery's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

These are perfection -- the texture emulates a chocolate chip cookie over pumpkin cake, and the chips are always warm and gooey. I wanted to buy a hundred of them, but I walked away with only two. Whyyy did I buy only two?

It's ok though, because the following week I made these:

Pumpkin whoopie pies. Here's the recipe on When making the cookies, drop the batter in little spoonfuls unless you are planning to undertake whoopie pies the size of burgers.

I have been going pumpkin crazy -- expect future pumpkin posts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


..atus. As in: hiatus. As in: this blog is taking a break (if you couldn't already tell), until October! See you then!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy belated anniversary to me.

I missed my own blog's anniversary by more than a week! I am ashamed. I can't believe I've had this blog for two years. I've had some big ideas for it mulling around in my head lately. I wonder if they will ever come to fruition. Only time will tell.

Thanks to all for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Earth's bounty. On a tiny little island.

If you ever venture to Yoron, you simply must experience the fresh, wholesome, organic goodness that is Sharon Fruit and Herb Garden Restaurant.

This restaurant is situated on an organic farm, and wouldn't you know it, all the fruits and vegetables and herbs come directly from the farm. The farm right outside the restaurant's doors. The farm that is tended to everyday by the happy people of Yoron. And by the happy kids of Yoron, who come to the farm from the neighboring preschool to learn about how veggies and fruits and plants grow.

I just loved it. All of it.

On to the actual eats: to start off, we had two kinds of pizza -- one with corn and ham, the other with calimari and shrimp and peppers. You can start off any meal with pizza, I think. Especially if they taste like these did.

Then, spaghetti with pork belly and fresh okra, onion and tomato.

And just in case we weren't stuffed from the huge mounds of pasta, they gave us little sandwiches, too. These were as simple and as scrumptious as can be.

Dessert was just amazing: fresh mango pudding. SO fresh, and you could taste it. I felt like I was eating the mango straight off the tree.

And finally: refreshing homemade papaya soda.

And something that isn't shown here: fresh lemongrass herb tea. Made from fresh lemongrass. That is GROWN, right THERE, in the gardens outside. That they hand-picked just for us. You just can't get any fresher than that.

I tasted Earth's bounty that day. And it was delicious.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don and don. (But not done.)

First, I have to disclose that I am no longer in Japan (unfortunately). I've been back for a few weeks now, but there was too much good food consumed to stop blogging about it! So bear with me as I hammer out these last few posts.

During our stay at Yoron Island, a tiny little island near Okinawa, we frequented a delicious little restaurant in town run by by the nicest Yoronese couple you might ever meet.

A small group of just strolled in one night, stuffed our faces, and in appreciation, brought back our friends a few more times to partake in the tasty local grub-eating.

A sampling of what was devoured:

Ten-don -- tempura (with the dipping sauce IN the batter) over rice.

Katsu-don -- breaded pork cutlet over rice.

Gyu-don -- beef and soft-cooked egg and onions over rice.


That's a lot of don. I ate a ton of don in Yoron. I realize this just now. Well, can you blame me? It's yummy, comforting, cheap cheap, and filling. We did a TON of walking. I needed don, for the energy and sustenance. Yes, that's right.

I probably didn't need this homemade gyoza, but I sure as hell wanted it.

Take me back! I'm overdue for my don.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Markets in downtown Naha, Okinawa.

Glorious sensory overload, especially for seafood lovers:

Mini mangoes! Together now: Awwww.

An Okinawan specialty: Taco rice.

Miso that resembles salsa:

I picked up this strange fruit: kanisuteru. The flesh was sweet, soft and starchy, and tasted similar to chestnuts.

Mango Tango ice cream from Blue Seal -- how Okinawans do ice cream.

Add Image

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Multi-course meal at Ichi No Yuu.

Our hotel in Hakone, Ichi No Yuu, served up some of the tastiest dishes ever for dinner, which came with our stay. This was one of the best meals of the trip thus far.

Fried unagi salad appetizer.

Delicate, custardy tofu with shrimps.

Cold buckwheat udon noodles.

The main course: sliced, steamed pork belly.

..With ponzu. I was in heaven.

Smoked salmon with wasabi spinach.

No meal is complete without steamed rice.

It just kept on coming: scallop fishcake with nori and mushrooms.

And for dessert: Fresh yuzu sorbet with pieces of candied yuzu peel.

We also had a multi-course breakfast the next day. Mmm!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shiso kamaboko from Hakone.

This was just a little ball of fishcake goodness with bits of shiso.

Sensei shared her bag of kamaboko (fishcake) with us. I was going to get my own, but we would have missed our train. Hakone is known for its kamaboko.

Serious comfort food.

Delicious shio ramen from a little dive in Chidori-cho in Tokyo, near our hotel.

I feel like I haven't eaten enough ramen on this trip. I've only had it twice. Blasphemy!

Pork katsu curry rice from Coco Curry House in Shibuya. The curry had bits of tender meat.

I finished it ALL.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More food on-the-go.

We're traveling around a ton, so a lot of the food I've been picking up comes from the konbini (convenience stores), train stations, food stands, etc.

A mixed sandwich box right before we're about to hop on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hakone.

Ham and cheese, egg salad, and tuna. I tasted a hint of curry in the wheat-looking bread.

By the way, looking at this photo again is making me crave American food. A really big, cheesy slice of pizza sounds so good right now.