Tomatoes around the world

The ingredient of August will be tomatoes!!! I apologize for the late post. My writing has been slow lately. My husband is out of town for two weeks. When he left for training, my daughter was sick for a good part of the week and now I’m fighting the sniffles. I am so thankful I have my parents living near by where they could watch her while I went to work though the commute was twice as long. I’m surprised I was able to even squeeze in some writing this past week.

Anyway, I chose tomatoes for August because I want some excuse to make some good gazpacho. The gazpacho I’ve attempted to make in the past has tasted somewhat off…maybe there was too much bread or maybe it was too acidic. Maybe I have not found the right gazpacho recipe. I’m still willing to look around because people rave so much about gazpacho. Plus it’s appropriate for the summer time because it’s too darn hot for ramen, pho, and chicken noodle soup.

I think unlike the past “Eat Around the World” challenges I’ve done, there will be more home cooking this month. That means I got to do better with plating and presentation for the blog ;-).

Anyways, I got around to making this tomato galette. It was all made possible because my sister watched my daughter while I get to prepare the pastry dough, chop the tomatoes and garlic, and grate the cheese. Thank you sister for watching Lana so we can have dinner! I got the galette recipe from Epicurious by Andy Baraghani. This is the first time I’ve successfully made any pastry dough. Other key takeaways from this recipe:

  • You must use chilled butter and ice water when making pastry dough. This is important and that is why my past attempts in pastry dough have failed.
  • I did not have a food processor, I used a pastry scraper/chopper to mix the butter and flour and following that the ice water. It worked out fine.
  • I replaced about 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour.
  • When the galette was assembled, the recipe stated to chill it in the freezer for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. You must do this!
  • I decided to use heirloom tomatoes but really any tomato would do.
  • For the cheese, I used mozzarella because we had a block of it in the fridge. I had also had a block of cheddar. I should have mixed up the cheeses.
Tomato galette

I’m so happy how this galette turned out. It was like a rustic deep dish pizza!

Anyways, what is your favorite tomato-based dish? As always, you don’t have to be a homecook participate, it could your favorite tomato dish at a restaurant. Or do you have a garden and you would like to show off the tomatoes you’ve been growing from your balcony. My favorite thing about tomatoes is the variety — there’s so many kinds!

July recap: I wanted to do a shoutout to Liz from One Million Photographs for participating in July’s EAW challenge. She made this lovely blackberry sorbet. Plus I notice she does quite a bit of homecooking too. I’ve actually never made sorbets and they definitely do not require an ice cream maker. As always I am on the lookout for new ice treats especially when there’s not enough room for my ice cream maker.

Upcoming EAW challenges: For September, there was a vote and it look like the theme for September will be Apples. I’ve already decided the theme for November will be Feasts — dishes you would bring to a large gathering. For October, I have not decided and will welcome a poll :-). Please note, the poll is viewable on a web browser or desktop browser, not on the reader app.

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. The theme for August is tomatoes.  All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate. Deadline is August 30th.

Making and eating ice cream (Eat around the World challenge)

I thought this would be a fun recap of all the ice cream I tried this past month for July. Since August is a hotter month, you’ll still find me eating some more ice cream…maybe I’ll find some time to make more ice cream and popsicles. Don’t forget — I’m also going to be experimenting with tomatoes and looking for dishes that incorporate tomatoes. That will be fun!

I’m pretty much writing this post almost half asleep. This week has been chaotic and incredibly energy-sucking. I’m surprised I am even able to squeeze some time to blog. I’ll share more for this upcoming weekend coffee share.

Anyways here are some ice cream dishes. All these places are places I’ve visited for the first time.

Cold Brew Milk Shake (Paradis Ice Cream)– Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Mix ice cream and cold brew coffee! This is cold brew coffee mixed with cajeta (caramelized goat milk) and coconut.

Cold Brew Ice Cream Shake
Cold Brew Ice Cream Shake from Paradis

Ice ream sandwich (The Baked Bear) – This was a major sugar bomb. The ice cream is Butter Brittle Cake sandwiched between two different cookies. One cookie is red velvet and the other is white chocolate macadamia nut. I think I should have gotten the ice cream only. The cookies could be for another time.

Coconut sundae (POPS Artisanal Creamery) – This is probably my new favorite ice cream place. It’s a plus that it’s close by. It looks indulgent because there’s whipped cream, sprinkles, a cherry, and it’s covered in coconut shreds but it’s less of a sugar bomb after having the ice cream sandwich. The ice creams there were avocado almond and cacao. Because it is close by, they have a new frequent visitor!

coconut sundae ice cream

I did make a couple of ice creams, but they came in the form of a creamy popsicle since our freezer does not really have a lot of room for the ice cream maker. My BIL likes to buy a lot of meat and stuff it in the freezer. I don’t intend to buy a new fridge — I told him not until after we renovate the kitchen which will be years from now.

I enjoy making popsicles when I have leftover fruit and some yogurt or some milk. I blend and put them in popsicle molds. They take up less space than freezing the ice cream maker bowl.

berry creamy popsicle
Blueberry yogurt creamsicle

I also experimented with kulfi. We have cow’s milk in the fridge. The thing is, my BIL is the only one who drinks cow’s milk and there’s always leftover milk by the time the milk expires. I’ve used the milk to make Japanese milkbread or make and freeze tangzhong for future milkbread. I was thrilled to learn I could also make kulfi and I don’t need an ice cream maker to make it so so so creamy. I love the spices and pistachios incorporated into this kulfi. Last week when my 12-year old nephew was staying over, I offered him to try it. He didn’t like it, which means more for me.

kulfi

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. July’s theme is ice cream. All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate. Deadline is July 31st.

A Heavy declutter weekend

It’s great day to have a coconut sundae! Yup, I am still writing about ice cream for my July “Eat Around the World” challenge. Don’t be intimidated by how indulgent it looks. It’s less of a sugar bomb compared to the ice cream sandwich I had the other day.

I can’t wait to share the other ice creams I’ve had this past month! I even made a couple of ice cream popsicles.

POPS Artisanal creamery coconut sundae

My husband is off for two weeks for his annual training, plus it’s Phase 3 for his Officer Candidate School. So what could I do for the next couple of weeks considering COVID cases have spiked? Well, lots of things.

Saturday was Lana’s first day at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. I got a deal to try unlimited classes for two weeks but looking at the schedule, we could only do the weekends. As tempting as it was to get a membership because she enjoyed it so much, I don’t think we’ll be able to make the most out of her membership if we are only available on weekends. We’ll be out of town on some weekends which does not justify the cost per use.

After Lana’s class, I started working on her room. Her room will be where we had our home office/craft room/storage room for many years. Right now Lana’s crib and dresser is there and she’s been sleeping in that room for the past month. Though I’ve spent the last few weeks decluttering here and there, I decided this weekend was the weekend to aggressively declutter. While she was sleeping, I assessed what to donate, shred, trash, and relocate.

I also spent my morning rearranging stuff in laundry room because my BIL buys too much toilet paper and paper towels — it’s way more than we need! After all, my husband and I barely use paper towels. We use old rags and towels to clean. Instead of toilet paper, we use a bidet. I placed the paper towels and toilet paper in places where it made more sense. I put toilet paper in the bathrooms and paper towels in the kitchen pantry. There was still A LOT left so I put the rest in the linen closet. The linen closet required a little bit of decluttering and consolidating but I made it work. I’ve had this talk with my BIL to stop buying so much toilet paper and paper towels when he first started living with us. His reasoning is that it’s his way to help us out. I already told him he wasn’t helping out and I don’t consider it a contribution because we hardly use it. Plus, it’s more work unnecessary work (see me relocate toilet paper and paper towels in other areas of the house.) My husband has had the same talk too, but I’m not sure how effective it is to lecture someone to change. Maybe it was best as landlady and owner of the house to take action so the laundry room isn’t so darn crowded.

Anyways back to Lana’s room, I am also working on getting her room painted. I am ashamed to admit this, but after a lot of thought I decided to hire a professional to paint her room. Why am I ashamed? Because I have to deal with replies like “it must be nice to have money to hire help” as a way to shame me, to “check my privilege.” I’ll admit I am in a better place financially now versus my college years. Also deciding to hire help did not come without reflecting what costs I need to cut back for the time being. Our meals for the next few weeks will be foraged from the fridge and the pantry — thanks to my BIL stuffing more food than we need (and hardly eat). The only exception I’ll make is buying fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. The only baby food I buy are the wafers, baby cereals, and formula. Other than that she eats whatever I eat. Honestly, I already cut a lot other things–I don’t buy a new tube of toothpaste until I get EVERYTHING out.

Anyways I had other reasons to hire someone to paint her room. The previous owners of the house did a terrible job painting our rooms — they just painted over the previous paint job. The walls need more than a little spackle. If I were to DIY, I would have only do the work when she’s sleeping. Why did I not paint her room while my husband was here? Well, when my husband is here not doing drill or training on weekends, I like to use my limited free time for “me” time like going to the gym while he watches Lana. Basically I am paying for convenience and efficiency. Something I am willing to spend.

#weekendcoffeeshare

Pistachio Kulfi (Eat around the World challenge)

I was planning on using my ice cream maker for this challenge, but I don’t think I have room for the bowl. My brother-in-law has been living with us for the past year and he loves to store far more food than he needs. He says it’s also for me and my husband, but we normally don’t eat that much meat throughout the week. Our fridge and our pantry is packed to the brim. I recalled when he first moved in, he asked if we could have a deep freezer and I go “for what? Where’s the room?” And then he asked if we could get a bigger fridge. I told him we’ll buy a fridge after we remodel the kitchen.

Our fridge is a standard size fridge. We’ve had a roommate before and she’s never had a problem with our fridge size. I don’t understand why he has a problem with our fridge size.

When I say “after the remodel” I don’t mean “it will never happen.” Kitchen remodels are expensive. If we don’t like what we’ve envisioned, then it’s an expensive mistake. A kitchen remodel will happen, it just won’t be tomorrow, this month, or even this year.

Anyways rant over. I came across kulfi, a traditional South Asian frozen dessert. The base is evaporated milk garnish with cardamom, pistachio, and saffron. Unlike regular ice cream, you don’t need an ice creamer maker. I can even use popsicle molds. One time I was making ice cream on a really hot day — the ice cream maker couldn’t make the ice cream properly because the bowl was condensing as soon as I took it out of the freezer.

Another reason why I wanted to learn how to make kulfi was that it was eggless recipe. Honestly, I prefer to avoid ice cream recipes that calls for eggs because I tend to accidently scramble them. Also, I get to make use of the leftover milk. My BIL for some reason like to buy a gallon of milk but he never drinks it. He says the milk is for us, but the thing is we don’t drink cow’s milk because of its short shelf life. That’s why we buy alternative milks. When the milk was about to go bad, I would make Japanese milk bread. I even kept a jar of tang zhong in the freezer because we had so much. Anyways, it’s good to know there’s another recipe where I can use leftover milk. I was starting to get burnt out on bread.

I bought a small tub kulfi at the Indian grocery store. I usually like to buy the final product to know what I should be looking for when making the dish. Though the technique does not require whipping, it is still creamy like ice cream. It’s not like a block of ice. I also observed it does not melt as fast ice cream either. Plus I love finding pistachio chunks!

Have you tried kulfi? Comment below!

Pistachio kulfi
Pistachio kulfi
Pistachio Kulfi
There’s pistachio chunks!

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. July’s theme is ice cream. All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate. Deadline is July 31st.

Ice cream around the world (and June recap)

Wow, it’s July already!

I had a lot of fun sharing some celebration themed treats in June. I shared my treats celebrating my wedding, the middle of the week (hump day), and when my husband’s first Father’s Day. I even made a cake with layers. I saved some cake scraps from the matcha cake and made some cake truffles. It’s very simple: break the cake scraps into crumbs, mix it with a little bit of leftover frosting, roll it in a ball, and freeze. After it’s set, melt some chocolate and roll the truffles in chocolate. It’s incredibly rich. I should have added toppings like almond or coconut shreds or white chocolate chips for better presentation. Also, I should learn how to temper chocolate for a shinier, smoother finish.

matcha chocolate cake truffle pop

Thank you Liz from One Million Photographs for sharing your dish celebrating the welcoming of summer with a crab dinner from Pike’s Place.

Anyways for the theme Ice Cream — my favorite dessert! I eat it frequently because it’s so darn hot where I live in the summertime I’ve had some ice cream kicks on my blog sharing some of the interesting ice cream flavors we have all around Los Angeles. Here are a few I’ve had:

I look forward to also using my ice cream maker. This month should not be too hot to make ice cream.

What kind of ice cream flavors or textures can we find in your part of the world? Participating in “Eat around the the World” is easy! You can either comment here to submit your entry or pingback to this post. Cooking skills are not required to participate! You can also use the tag, “Eat Around the World.” Deadline to participate is July 31st.

The August theme is already set for Tomatoes. I look forward to playing with that theme in seeking out tomato themed dishes and making some myself. I would love expand my use of tomatoes beyond putting on a salad or a sandwich. September is still TBD so I decided to make a poll (viewable on browser not on the WordPress reader app for some reason).

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. July’s theme is ice cream. All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

Matcha cake with white chocolate cream (Eat around the World challenge)

I think I wanted to do an Eat Around the World blog challenge because I wanted an excuse to make foods I normally do not make. Take this matcha cake for example — or any cake in general. So far a lot of the foods I shared around the theme of celebration have been foods made by others like this wedding cake or this croissant. As someone who calls herself a home cook, I wanted to show something I made.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day and I wanted to take the opportunity to make a cake to celebrate my husband’s first Father’s Day. I normally don’t bake cake because it looks intimidating, it looks like it is a lot of work in terms of time or resources. But also I feel like if I have to make cake, it needs to be for a lot of people. I don’t think I would make a cake for just me and my husband.

This matcha cake is coated in what was suppose to be white chocolate whipped cream that turned into white chocolate buttercream. I whipped the heavy cream mixture for too long. I should have caught it when it started looking like stiff peaks. Anyways it’s all good. Maybe my mistake is an excuse to try again :-).

The recipe for the matcha sponge is from Delish.com. The whipped cream frosting is from Carve Your Cravings. It’s not as intimidating as I thought. The ingredients for the matcha sponge are ingredients I already had at home — yup, including the matcha powder. Instead of using a round tin, I used a bread loaf tin to bake the sponge. I made the sponge on Saturday night to let it cool into the following day. From there, I sliced the sponge in half and made the frosting. I chose white chocolate whipped cream because I did not have any cream cheese on hand.

Here is the final product:

Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea
Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea
Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea

I saved the cake scraps because I did not want to waste food. Plus I learned there are recipes that use cake scraps; you can make cake pops, cake truffles, mix it into ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, cake in a jar, and a milkshake.

Things I would do differently the next time I make this cake:

  • put fresh strawberries or pistachios in the filling or on top
  • make them into cupcakes or donuts!
  • stopped whipping the cream when it gets to stiff peaks
  • cover the cake with whipped cream frosting with touch of maple syrup

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. June’s theme is “Wedding Cake…and other Celebratory Treats.” All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

Wednesday Coffee and Croissants

I wanted to scale back the lavishness of a wedding to celebrate something ordinary like a Wednesday. I’ve been doing this recently to celebrate that I am halfway through another workweek. Plus, the lines in bakeries on Fridays tend to be long. I assume people are celebrating the end of the work week or they have Friday off..

Treating myself for a coffee and croissant on an Wednesday makes the middle of the workweek special. Wednesdays tend to be my busiest days also, so waking up a little early to leave my house a little early is worth it. Plus, I support small businesses.

This week has been pretty hard already. Since Sunday my car broke down and it’s still down today. My husband anticipated that the repair was beyond his skillset so I called for a mechanic to come take a look, but that did not happen until the following day. Monday happened and the mechanic shared his insight and said he’ll go look for the part and possibly come back later that evening or the following day. Anyways, I had to use my dwindling PTO to get that Monday off. I thought about getting a Lyft ride to work after the mechanic stopped by, but because I live fairly far the fare was pretty pricey for doing less than five hours of work that day.

Anyways here’s to another work week!

Ham and gruyere croissant
Ham and gruyere croissant from Proof Bakery

Do you do celebrate any “ordinary” days? Comment below!

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. June’s theme is “Wedding Cake…and other Celebratory Treats.” All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

Wedding cake…and other celebratory treats around the world (#1)

“Eat Around the World” is a monthly photo/writing challenge combining the love for food and travel. Share a dish based on the featured monthly prompt. The prompt could be around a particular dish, an ingredient, or a tool. 

Welcome to “Eat Around the World” — a new blog challenge…or is it a blog party? A blog potluck? A blog potluck is fun to say so I am going to stick with that.

This is the first post to kick off what I hope is going to become a long-running series where I invite the blogosphere to share their food around a certain theme each month. I wanted to combine my love of making food, eating food, dining out, and traveling. You don’t have to be a home cook to participate. In fact the inaugural theme is wedding cake and I don’t know many people who have actually made their own wedding cake.

I chose to make it monthly because that’s my bandwidth. But I am hoping I can challenge myself to attempt to make some of these foods throughout the month. Please bear with me since it is my first time doing anything like this.

To participate, please submit complete this brief form for review — this is to ensure that the people participating are well…real people. And it be populated on this sheet. Also, please pingback to this page. At the end of the month I will do a recap post.

The deadline to submit your responses is June 30th at 11:59 PM EST.

If you have any tips on hosting a blogshare (blog potluck), please let me know! I greatly appreciate the feedback!


On to the theme of wedding cakes (and other celebratory treats). I chose wedding cake because June is peak season for weddings. Ironically, I do not like a lot of wedding cakes, especially the ones covered in fondant. Also, my wedding was not in June, it was in October.

The wedding cake is the center piece of any wedding reception. Cutting the wedding cake is its own event on the wedding reception program while the main course and hors d’oeuvres are just something to keep the guests from not being too hungry. I’ve seen some stunning wedding cakes — they almost look like sculptures. But when I look closer and see the cake is covered in fondant, I am immediately turned off. I find fondant barely edible. You’ll probably find me tearing the fondant out as soon as I get a slice.

When it came to my wedding, I did not want to spend a lot of money on a cake that was unpalatable because it was covered in fondant. I get that fondant makes the cake looks prettier, cleaner, and more polished. I understand fondant is all about the photos, not about how it tastes. But sorry, I actually like to eat food in general.

We decided to do a small two-tiered cake and have a dessert bar of cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and dulce de leche cookies. The cake was made by a friend. She did a vanilla cake with strawberries and cream filling. The cover is vanilla buttercream. Another friend of ours made the cake topper. The cupcakes and cookies were from Porto’s bakery. The vase, cake stand, and pastry covers were from me. The event venue had wooden crates. Though it’s not pictured, the boxes for people to pack their desserts were from Michaels.

I was surprised how incredibly inflated the prices were between a wedding cake versus a regular party cake when looking around for bakeries. The cake could serve the same amount of people, but the wedding cake price would be at least double (or triple) the price of a regular cake. Since I did not have it in my heart to lie that I wanted a cake for a really large party, I thought to look for other creative measures by asking a friend to make a small wedding cake and do a dessert bar of our favorite treats.

Here it is, our wedding cake and dessert bar on a budget.

Our vanilla wedding cake with strawberries and cream filling with vanilla buttercream

I recalled when planning for the wedding, I wanted to have a cookies-only bar. I spent my time researching recipes but did not have any time recipe testing. I spent a lot of time DIY-ing other details for the wedding such as the invitations, centerpieces, table cards, etc. I was DIY burnt out from the wedding. A few years later I did have an opportunity to do a cookies bar for a friend’s wedding. I was so enthused to contribute the moment she told me about her engagement.

Share us your wedding cake — whether you were the bride, groom, or guest! Or was there no wedding cake and you served donuts? Or share with us other celebratory treats from around the world — whether it’s celebrating a birthday, promotion, a new home, graduation, paid off your credit card debt, etc. because honestly there are many other milestones worth celebrating. You can pingback to this post or submit your post on this this form. The deadline to submit your responses will be June 30th at 11:59 PM EST.

“Eat around the world” — a new blog challenge

I’ve spent a good part of the pandemic watching YouTube videos. My favorite videos are ones that involve food. It could be a recipe video, a food journey in a particular destination, a food challenge, cooking techniques, restaurant review, etc. I enjoy watching them all!

I’ve been entertaining the idea of having people share how their part of the world would eat something…it could be a particular dish (pizza), feature a particular ingredient (tomatoes), or use a cooking tool (cast iron skillet, cheese grater). It combines my love for food and travel. You don’t have to be a home cook to participate. You can share a dish from a place you dine at too

I plan to kick off my first prompt on June 1st. I am thinking the theme could be wedding cakes around the world…or some treat one would eat at weddings. I chose a wedding theme because June is peak season for weddings. I am inviting everyone to participate all June long.

Anyways I thought it would be a fun idea. I can’t wait to kick it off on June 1st!

Also…any tips of hosting blogging challenges? Comment below!