Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quatre Quarts: French Style Pound Cake

Quatre Quarts must be one of the simplest cakes to make. So easy! The idea of the cake is to have equal parts flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. This makes a very buttery and sweet cake, yum! OR you can doctor it and put less sugar (like my mom) or less butter (if you don't like rich food) or both (if you are on a diet). Then again, if you are on a diet, don't make this cake (unless it's a diet for people who need to gain weight). Anyways, the recipe is simple. Take three eggs* out of the refrigerator and weigh them. Put the same weight of the other three ingredients. If you like math:
3 eggs= x grams**
you need x grams of flour, x grams of sugar (or less), x grams of butter (or a little bit less), and a tsp. of baking powder<-- DO NOT FORGET BAKING POWDER!!!!.
Melt the butter and mix all the above together in a big bowl.
Now you have some freedom, you can add pretty much any tasty flavoring you like. Some extras that I enjoy include chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and pear chunks. Pre-heat your oven to 350F and wait around, or if you are smart, your oven is already preheated! Pour batter into a greased pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. Enjoy!
*3 eggs will give enough batter for an 8x8 or 9x9 cake
**I use grams, but any other unit will work (as long as it measures mass, this does not include: inches, liters, meters, gallons...)

Monday, January 28, 2008

My brother's Birthday Dinner!

It was my brothers birthday Monday, but we celebrated it Sunday with some family friends. We ate my mom's pumpkin risotto with my dad's whole roasted chicken, and for dessert... a Mango-Pineapple-Ginger-Chocolate-Upside-Down-Cake-Thingy!!!!! (I made it) I got the recipe from this really cool book I have named I Want Chocolate by Trish Deseine. It's a very tasty book. The cake I made was in short mangoes and pineapple chunks covered with chocolate cake batter, baked, and served upside down. It good, but didn't taste as gingery as I thought it would. We served with fresh pineapple and mango on the side with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
My mom's risotto was also tasty as usual, the pumpkin was soft and sweet, and the rice was smooth and oniony. I love onions.
My dad's roasted chicken is actually very easy to make, and comes out beautiful and moist. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the chicken.
Here are some recipes:
buy a whole chicken and a chicken stand.
Trim off excess fat, and place thin, flat pieces garlic underneath the skin.
Place chicken on stand and bake for 45ish minutes at 350F.
Cut up some onions and start cooking them with olive oil.
Add risotto rice to pan and stir for a while.
Add chicken broth and put pumpkin cubes on a baking sheet and in the oven until they are brownish.
Add all the other stuff for risotto.
When everything is done, serve with pumpkin on top of rice.
Mango, Pineapple, and Ginger Upside-Down Dessert
Cut 1 mango and 1/4 pineapple into cubes.
Melt 6 oz dark chocolate chocolate with 1/2c butter.
Beat 1/3c sugar with 2 eggs, then with choco-butter mix that you melted until frothish.
Fold in 2/3c flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp chopped preserved ginger,and 3 oz choco chips.
Place fruit in a 9x9 or similar sized greased pan (you could try using the parchment paper technique) and pour cake batter over them.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 350F oven. Then take out cake, cover with foil and put it back in for 15 minutes (that makes 45min total)

* * *
Before the dinner, we found some cool looking drink: Sparkling Ginger Drink. This was not your old Canada Dry Ginger Ale, it actually had GINGER in it! It was tangy and yummy. I made a very good "ginger float" by putting a scoop of ice cream in it. (Notice the bottle is empty)
P.S. It was non-alcoholic

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suisha House: a Japanese Bistro

Friday night, our power went out, caused by the never ending rain we are having. So, we decided to go out! We went to see the movie Juno, hilariously funny (not redundantly repetitive). After the movie we ate at some random Japanese restaurant we saw. It was called Suisha House The ambiance was pleasant. My brother ordered unagi donburi (grilled eel over a bowl of rice), my dad ordered a three peice combo with tempura, mackerel, and nigiri sushi, my mother asked for teriyaki beef, and I decided to try the chicken udon (chicken soup in western terms).
When my udon arrived, I could feel the heat radiating from it. The steam was intense and I believe the temperature was just under a boil. Once the soup cooled down I was able to taste it. Oishii! that means delicious in Japanese! The broth was flavorful and warmed my tummy after the "journey" under the rain :) After drinking some of the broth, I tried to drag some flat rice noodles up using my chopsticks. This proved to be easier said than done. The noodles kept sliding back into the bowl! I ended up using my spoon and chopsticks together Italian-style to keep the noodles out long enough to cool them and eat them.
In my udon I also some pieces of chicken, but they must have given all their flavor to the broth because they were quite tasteless. With the udon came three pieces of crisp delightful gyoza (fried pork dumplings). Gyoza are usually good and these were no exception. Nothing better than well made comfort food!
I also had the salmon nigiri sushi from my dad's combo plate. The raw fish was soft and nutty with the slightly sweet and vinegary rice underneath. A delight! Everyone liked their food, except that my mother stated that the teriyaki was too sweet. (it always seems to be). When I didn't finish my udon (big bowl, remember) we passed it around the table because my entire family wanted some. My dad wanted to finish it, but my brother, my mother, and I kept asking for another spoonful. Funtastic!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Brownie Mix Comparisons

It was my friend's birthday Sunday, so I decided to bake her brownies. Since brownie mixes are generally successful, I bought a mix before going to Tahoe. The mix was by Ghiradelli and was called "Double Chocolate Brownies." Then in Tahoe my other friend, Olivia, and I decided that we should make brownies for ourselves as well. My brother chose a mix he thought looked "interesting." This mix was by Kodiak Cakes and 100 percent whole grain all natural Big Bear Brownies. We made both, Ghiradelli in the round pan and Kodiak in the square pan.
The Ghiradelli batter looked fudgier, more like average brownie mix batter, while the Kodiak was thicker (I had to ad 1/4c of water more than asked to be able to stir it.)
When the brownies were done, I tried removing them from the pan. Unfortunately, we must not have put enough butter in the pan because they would not come out. I took care of the Big Bear Brownies, and Olivia was responsible for the Ghiradelli. Since the brownies were stuck, I decided to use a spoon and I made a big mound of brownie on a plate. Olivia made lumps on another plate. When the time of truth arrived, it turns out the healthful brownies were almost unanimously preferred, only Olivia's dad liked the Ghiradelli better. "Both are too sweet, but Kodiak is less so," said my mom. Another factor was that the Ghiradelli were undercooked, probably because of the altitude, even though when we took them out of the oven, the Kodiak seemed less cooked.
Since I made these for my friend's birthday in the first place, I guess I just brought her all the leftovers in a tupperware. After having sat 2 days in the refrigerator, the undercookedness of the Ghiradelli was less noticeable, and both were tasty!

What I'm eating: Chili Dogs at Squaw Valley Ski Resort

So, my family goes to Tahoe often, and we usually ski/board at Squaw Valley. After skiing or snowboarding (I board), all morning, we need a hearty lunch to keep us going. Hearty is the perfect definition of the meals served at the food court.
Yesterday I chose a chili dog: a hot dog with beef chili poured on top with cheese. It wasn't bad, but the hot dog was too salty. It would have been just as good without the sausage, just chili in a bun. Without the sausage, it would also be smaller and easier to finish.
With the chili dog I had some fries, my secret soda fountain mix, and half an orange. Recently, the food court started using cups made from corn. They look like plastic but are apparently 100 percent biodegradable. My family made jokes about eating the cups, but the drink inside did not taste like corn.
Anyways, the food here at Squaw isn't too bad, just very filling.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What I'm eating: Mustard, Greens?

I see my mother dumping the rice in the rice cooker. She lays the salmon gently in the pan and sticks it in the oven. Then she takes out the wok and I think "ooh, maybe we're having broccoli! (broccoli is my favorite vegetable.)" But my mother takes a big packet out of the freezer and sets it on the counter. It is labeled "Mustard Greens." Now I'm quite accepting with food, but to me, mustard was always yellow, but green mustard apparently exist. (I did some research and mustard greens are, without a surprise, the stem and leaves of various mustard plants. They are also supposedly excellent sources of vitamin A and K.)
Now dinner is ready. I sit down and see this beautiful arrangement of color in front of me. It's my plate. The salmon and rice perfectly shined the greens to brightness. But here comes the real test: I take a forkful and chew. The taste is bitter and strange, but not all that bad. I still don't want to eat more anytime soon, but, if I had the choice between that and eggplant, I definitely vote green.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Success! or, partially... Tamagoyaki (sweet rolled omelet)

I made 2 omelets, one was eaten last night, and the other this morning. In the one I made first, I accidentally put 1 tbsp of soy sauce instead of 1 tsp as was directed. I tried scooping some of it out , but it was impossible. So, I didn't put the pinch of salt that the recipe asked for. This first omelet tasted fine and was a success.
For the second omelet, I made sure to just put 1 tsp and a pinch of salt. When we ate this in the morning though, it tasted too salty and not at all like the ones you get in Japanese restaurants. Now I know that 1 tbsp of soy sauce is the better.
Both omelets had the same problem though, The recipe said not to let the eggs darken, but I found that impossible. Oh well.

Final recipe:
3 eggs
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp dashi broth
-1/4 tsp instant dashi powder
-1/2 cup hot water
-Mix, stir, and take 3 tbsp

Break the eggs into a bowl, mix in the other stuff.
Heat a small frying pan with a small amount of oil.
Pour a third of egg into it and let cook about a minute, lifting the edges to let uncooked egg flow underneath.
Pick up one edge w/ chopsticks or spatula and roll it
Repeat twice with remaining egg mixture, letting new egg flow underneath rolled part, and rolling from the rolled part (if that makes sense).

This is actually quite fun to do, once you get the hang of it.

I found dashi!

Yes, I have found dashi, the fish instant broth. Bonito flakes were third on the ingredient list, the first 2 being glucose and MSG. Oh well, I survive.
My mom is going to make teriyaki chicken to accompany the omelet.

First Post

This is my first post on this blog! Today I am going to attempt at making sweet rolled omelet, or 卵焼き, たまごやき, tamagoyaki. The japanese omelet thing! In japan, it is usually eaten for breakfast or in bento boxes for lunch. The recipe is basically eggs+sugar+dashi broth. Dashi is a broth made from bonito flakes or anchovies, and after lunch today I am going to try to find some. Tamagoyaki is usually made in a rectangular pan , but I don't want to buy one yet, so I will make in a common circular pan.