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.

Continue reading Tomatoes around the world

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.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Have some cookies!

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Wow, it just occurred to me this is the last weekend of 2020. What am I doing this weekend? Well two of my friends and I are doing the first ever cookie swap. We agreed to meet at my house to swap our cookie boxes and have lunch. It is different from years past where we had much larger gatherings and everyone brought their own food. We would eat, chat, do a White Elephant gift exchange, and play games for hours until it got really late.

The rules of the cookie swap are simple: bake up to three different types of cookies and each box must have a dozen. We also agreed on a theme and we decided to do travel theme. Actually it started with one of my friends who said she was planning to make some Mexican cookies and it sparked an idea to do a travel theme. It is fitting since we all like to travel and we have not been able to travel anywhere this year.

My cookie box theme is New York City and I based the cookies off of my time there. The first cookie on the top row is the Black and White cookie. This cookie can be found in NYC delis. The dough is cake-based and so soft. For this recipe, I used store bought frosting instead of making the frosting — I did not have time to practice it. I did not have buttermilk, so I instead mixed 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Top: Black and White Cookie. Bottom (from left to right): Cuban Sugar Cookie with Passion Fruit Jam, Compost Cookie (inspired from Momofuku Milk Bar)

The next cookie I made (with the assistance of my nephew) is a Cuban Sugar Cookie called “Torticas de Moron.” It is a sugar cookie with a lime twist. I made this cookie because when I was at NYC, my friend and I would eat breakfast at a local Cuban café almost every morning. I could not find any guava jam in any grocery store. To substitute I used passion fruit jam. I enjoy making this cookie and would like to try it with dulce de leche and eventually guava jam if I could find it.

The third cookie is the Compost Cookie based off of the cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. I remembered the first time I had the Compost Cookie, it was so unusual to have potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, chocolate chips, and butterscotch all in one cookie. What I did differently was skip the graham cracker crust recipe and instead crushed the graham crackers. I guess I was tired trying a new recipe just to only used 1/2 cup of graham cracker crust for the cookies. What would I do with the rest of the graham cracker crust? Of course make pie, but I think I’ll take a short break from baking desserts.

I have plenty of cookies leftover after baking for most of the day. I have plenty to give. Here, have one or some. Do you have a cookie recipe? Comment below!

For other plans for the rest of the weekend, I am working on my 21 for 2021 list. I am also working on writing a reverse 20 for 2020 list, reflecting on all the things I did this year.

Five Things Friday: No Spanx needed!

Five Things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

Survived our housewarmings My favorite part is that I had an excuse to try a bunch of different recipes. The big hit was the sourdough focaccia bread. It was very easy to make. In second place was the Green Goddess dressing.

Blackout podcast I’m only one episode in so it is hard to judge right now. I’m usually a news and investigative journalism type of podcast listener.

No Spanx needed! It is probably the best feeling ever. I guess this is what happens when you do intermittent fasting and exercise regularly. I’ve been going to barre four times per week this month which is a real accomplishment. When we had to move out for a few weeks during our remodel, I barely went to barre because it was too far away from the place where we were staying. It was almost a miracle to go even one time per week at that time.I did not want to commit to another membership elsewhere if our stay was going to be temporary.

Overdrive app There are times where I am tempted to buy a book, but then there is the Overdrive app which helps make curbing my spending possible. Thank you, Overdrive for helping me save money. As much as I would like to go to the library to pick up a book, there are times where I come to find that the book is not available in my neighborhood library. Plus I don’t have to worry about forgetting to return the book and pay those library fines! Finished my first book of the year! I finished my first book of the year. It’s Darcy Bell’s A Simple Favor. It seemed to have some sort of slapstick quality to it. I assume the movie is like this too…

Weekend Coffee Share: We’ve got madeleines

The madeleine bake-a-thon came to an end of Friday. Whew! If we were having coffee, we’d be at my house and I’d serve some cold brew and eat some madeleines and macaron’s from the wedding. It was a wonderful wedding — I’d say one of the best weddings I’ve been to. It was nice to see you don’t need to drop a whole lot of cash to have a great wedding (and a great marriage). It was nice to also run into old friends and former co-workers again.

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Orange Blossom Flavor Madeleines

Where this week go? I spent a large part of the week preparing the madeleines. I am somewhat burnt out on making any more desserts after the wedding. I told myself after this wedding, I’ll do some sort of Whole 30 Challenge. Instead of doing it for 30 days, I’ll do it for 15 days. I’ve done the Whole 30 Challenge and got through the whole month of March successfully. It was life-changing for me. I was amazed I was able to avoid sugar and alcohol for the whole month. Also this mini-challenge could not have arrived at a better time because I ran out of sugar — so no more desserts for now.

Instead of doing 15 days, why can’t you do the entire 30? Again, I would say timing is a factor. It’s summer time where a lot of the season is heavy on events such as weddings, travelling, and social events. Or how about this? I’ll aim for Whole 15 for my first milestone and from there, I’ll see if I can take it all the way to Day 30.

San Jose for another day. This week went by fast. On Wednesday, I flew to San Jose and stay there 6 AM to 6:30 PM. I arrived to LAX AT 7:40 PM and did not arrive home until after 9 PM. I was so tired.

*inhales deeply* On Friday, my day ended with a bit of anxiety. Not a great way to end the work week, and neither a great way to welcome the weekend. At around 3:30 PM on Friday, I received a reminder e-mail from my grad program admissions the deadline to submit all my application materials was due this Sunday. I thought I fixed my issue in regards to the delivery of one of my academic transcripts. I received an e-mail from my grad program they received my transcript as soon as that  arrived. The weight of receiving that e-mail — even thinking about that e-mail — felt like a pit hanging in the bottom of my stomach. As soon as I received that e-mail on Friday, I immediately e-mailed back to the admissions program asking what else I was possibly missing. I anticipated I would not get a reply — maybe they received these responses around that same time from a lot of the applicants like me. *exhales tenuto*

Reads. Oh yeah, this week I finished two books, Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham and Modern Love by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg. I told myself this month I need to work on my “Current Reads” page.

This coming week:

Reviewing my agenda, so far it looks not so busy compared to this past week. Again, that could be deceiving. As of lately, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to avoid burning out and managing my work and life load. If I don’t get around to something, I should not punish myself. It’s been an interesting way of approaching…well…life. All my life, I’ve been running, running, running but it I asked myself “To what? To where?”

Also, I’ll let you know how this Whole 15 thing goes.

Julie Weekend Coffee Share

Credit: The Smushed Peach

Interested in participating in the Weekend Coffee Share yourself? Come on over to Nerd in the Brain for more details! Check out the link party page or this wordpress tag for inspiration.