Saturday, February 26, 2011




I would love to say that my first foray into making caramel was successful but alas, that was not the case. It is fairly simple to make as long as you follow the one cardinal rule: never, under any circumstance, take your eye off of it. I underestimated how long it would take for the sugar to caramelize and I grew impatient as it seemed like it was taking forever for the sugar mixture to change color. Cardinal rules are there for a reason and my need to multitask got the best of me. I turned around to look for a glass jar and shortly after, I smelled something burning. Just like that, my caramel quickly went from not being ready to being slightly burnt. However, I was determined to not put it to waste. After all, it wasn't horribly burned... it was just slightly bitter with a deeper caramel flavor that what I had originally desired.

I salvaged the caramel by pouring it into a gelato base where the milk and heavy cream worked beautifully together to lessen the burnt notes. The Kitchn had a post with recommendations from Mario Batali for making homemade gelato. I used two of the three which were to use whole milk and to underchurn the base since gelato is more dense than ice cream. Churning it for too long would result in airy gelato, which is not what it should be.

Of course, if there is a way to add decadence to a dessert, I am the all about it. Salted caramel poured over burnt caramel gelato? Yes, please!

Adapted from

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream 4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar


1. In a medium saucepan, mix milk and cream. Warm until foam forms around the edges. Remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until frothy. Gradually pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture gels slightly and coats the back of the spoon. If small egg lumps begin to show, remove from heat immediately.

3. Pour the mixture through a sieve or fine strainer into a bowl. Cover, and chill for several hours or overnight.

4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a sealed container, and freeze until firm. If the gelato is too firm, place it in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from
Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly.

2. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.

3. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.

Yield: 1 3/4 cups

Monday, February 14, 2011


This post is long overdue. I went to Hong Kong and China in July and anyone who has been to Asia knows that you mainly do one thing while you're there - you eat!

Cha siu bao - I ate one every single day...literally. If I didn't have a fresh bao when I went out for breakfast at dim sum, I surely had a defrosted and steamed one for lunch, which was surprisingly just as good.

I'm not too cool to pretend that I'm a martian.

My aunt and uncle in Hong Kong have a standing table for breakfast at the Panda Hotel. They eat there every single day. The food is quite good but I don't know if it is good enough to warrant a daily viewing of the demonic pandas. The one on the left particularly frightens me.

The black squares in the latte are grass jelly, a gelatinous dessert that's popular in China. I was surprised by how busy the Starbucks were given that I barely frequent them myself in order to lower my "latte factor." I thought I'd see fewer people due to the significantly lower cost of living especially since the prices were the same as the U.S.' Please note that those are not my fingernails.

The Chinese love their potatoes...with mayo and corn. I don't get it either.

Oh, Hong Kong....I love you. You, too, China. I will see you both again in a few months!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A haiku for my afternoon snack, courtesy of Macaron Cafe.

Passionfruit maccie
Flaky and chewy goodness
Another one, please!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


When I’m bored at work I stuff my face with food. Sheer, utter boredom drives me to eat bowl after bowl of Special K with strawberries. Yes, I am aware that the freeze-dried strawberries resemble astronaut food, that they have a fuzzy, foamy, unnatural texture and an almost acrid, sour flavoring. Every once in awhile though, I get a strawberry that looks like a heart and that just confirms the loving relationship I share with the cereal. Insanity? Perhaps. You try dealing with boredom.

I digress. I am unabashedly addicted to Special K. Portion control? That means limiting myself to just one bowl at a time…until I need to go back for another bowl. I typically eat half a box of Special K per day. This can’t be good for me. I think it's time to put an end to my cereal addiction.

On my quest for a new afternoon snack I tried 'Wichcraft's granola and yogurt. Their granola is delicious but clearly too decadent for an everyday snack and the yogurt is full fat Greek yogurt, which does not bode well with my stomach. My research for granola lead me to New York Time's granola recipe and it was raved upon by many bloggers. I love anything with ginger so when I came across Bitchin' Camero's gingery olive oil granola while looking for different variations on the NYT's recipe, I knew it was the one I needed to make. By using Fage's 0% fat yogurt and this less decadent granola, I ended up with a perfectly sweet, healthy snack.

My body is already thanking me for keeping it void of thousands of calories from cereal. But, from time to time, I do long for my beloved Special K and that brief, joyous moment when I find a heart shaped freeze-dried strawberry.

Gingery Olive Oil Granola
Bitchin' Camero, adapted from the New York Times

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup Grade B Maple Syrup
1/2 cup ginger sugar, or 1/2 cup organic cane sugar and 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1 cup dried, unsulfured apricots, diced

Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix all the ingredients, except for the apricots, in a large bowl.

Spread the oats onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven when the oats are crisp and golden.

Toss with the apricots and let cool.

Makes about 8 cups.