March 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
A combination that the hubby absolutely adores, and I have, through him, learned to love as well. I’m not exactly a chocolate kind of girl but this union has made me crave it at times. It’s now my combination of choice when it comes to chocolate. If you’re wary of the fusion, one taste of this will make you a believer.
The recipe I found was weak in orange flavor, so I added grated orange and orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier, on the frosting.
And because a quarter has almost past that I’ve been silent on the blog front, here’s the recipe without further ado…
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (tweaked from a Williams-Sonoma Cake Recipe)
What You’ll Need:
- 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 -2 oranges (depending on the size; I used 1 large orange)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract / essence
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
For the Frosting
- 6oz. (170g) bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until dissolved; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.
- Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed, and a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.
- To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cook to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, orange liqueur, and zest until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch (12mm) star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.
To melt chocolates, chop it into small pieces and put it in a stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan over but not touching, barely simmering water. Heat until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Do not allow any water or steam to come in contact with the chocolate, or it will become stiff and grainy. Or, chop the chocolate into large pieces, place in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave on low for 1 minute. Continue to microwave if necessary, checking every 20 seconds, until the chocolate looks softened, then stir until smooth and liquid.
January 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
Credits: JSprague Digi In Deeper Course Material
This noodle soup dish has a typical Yunnan local flavor that could only be had in some parts of Yunnan and carries with it a love story. A scholar, preparing for the imperial exams retreated to an island in a lake. The wife delivers lunch to him daily, crossing a long wooden bridge. Dismayed that she couldn’t keep it warm, figured out that adding a thin layer of fat on top prevents the heat from escaping. And by doing this, she discovered that she could bring the broth across the bridge and cook the rest of her Noodle Soup there.
And with that, I had our driver bring us to Qiao Xiang Yuan, a restaurant chain famous for its Guo Qiao Mi Xian, which translates to Across the Bridge or Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle.
Driver Wang ordered for us. Minutes later an attractive mix of ingredients laid before us. There were slices of lightly cooked (some raw) meats, Yunnan ham, strips of bean curd sheets, mushrooms, vegetables, rice noodles (of course) and a piping hot broth with a layer of chicken fat and oil glistening on top, the key to this noodle soup. The meat sliced wafer thin so that it will cook almost immediately when added to the broth. Once the vegetables and noodles are added, stir it a bit, and the Guo Qiao Mi Xian is ready to eat.
A must try when in Kunming.
Qiao Xiang Yuan: Shulin Jie, Wenhua District, near Jinbi Guang Cheng
November 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
This salad made me a fan of fennel. Crunchy and has a fresh, sweetly musky taste similar to liquorice and anise. Paired with apple, it masks the licorice flavor (perfect for those not keen on its taste) and adds to the freshness of this salad. Packed with many health benefits from relieving anemia to improving eye care, this salad was my intro to this herb.
In fact, it has opened the door to many more delicious Fennel recipes, which I will share with you eventually.
In the meantime, here’s the recipe adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life.
What you need:
- 1 medium fennel bulb, about 10 ounces
- 1 small Green Apple
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
What you do:
Prepare the fennel:
- Cut off and discard the stalks and fronds.
- Using a vegetable peel or a small knife, trim away any bruises or brown spots on the bulb’s outermost layer of skin.
- Cut it in half from root to stalk, and trim the root end.
- Using a sharp knife or a mandolin and working with the one-half of the bulb at a time, slice the fennel very thinly, 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Set aside.
Prepare the Green Apple:
- Using an apple core, remove and discard core.
- Then cut the apple in half from top to bottom.
- Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice it very thinly, just like the fennel. Set aside.
Assembling the Salad:
- Make a layer of fennel slices. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
- Then place a layer of apple on top of the fennel. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice, and season with salt.
- Shave thin ribbons of cheese. Drizzle with oil.
- Repeat and finish with a good sprinkle of lemon juice, a generous splash of oil and a few shavings of cheese to garnish.
- Serve with salt and pepper to taste.
September 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
Credits: Paper from Splendid Finn’s Now is paper series; Polaroid Frames from Splendid Finn; Happy Day worn ribbon by Trixie Scraps
Sounds strange to some but surely got me interested. And so I found myself in 1st Colonial Grill on Rizal Street in Daraga one evening after dinner with my team.
First of all, I can take the heat and secondly, bold flavors always call out to me. They don’t always appeal to my taste bud but more often than not, I like what I discover.
Such is the case with this Sili (chill pepper) ice cream. You taste the fruitiness of the pepper first then the punch at the end. It comes in 3 heat levels, we chose the middle. Pretty good but unforgettable is Tinutung na Kanin (toasted rice). A familiar flavour presented in an unusual fashion. The taste (of toasted rice) was very subtle and quite refreshing. And last but not the least is Salabat (ginger tea). I chose this because… well, you should know me by now. And it did not disappoint.
Other unique flavours also worth trying are Pili nut and Malunggay (mooring). But despite its many unique ice cream flavours, 1st Colonial Grill was first known for its Tinapa Rice and other iconic Bicol dishes. Yes definitely something to come back for.
September 21, 2016 § Leave a comment
This is for peanut butter lovers.
With cream cheese and whipped cream, this pie is a lighter, creamier version of the spread. So good. Ambrosially addicting, if I may say so myself.
Browsing through some recipes lately, I came across this peanut butter pie and thought of using up that slightly consumed bottle sitting in the pantry for a while now. I am not a peanut butter fan. I mean, I like it but never top of mind so I often have a bottle lying around untouched for months.
And besides, I bought a bottle of Almond Butter that’s waiting its turn to be consumed. Yes, I am anal that way.
What You’ll Need
- 1 (8-inch) graham cracker pie crust (how to make your own)
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 8 oz. whipped cream
What You Do:
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in peanut butter and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream.
Spoon mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.
July 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
Credits: Splendid Finn Now is paper in blue; zigzag stitching by shabbymissjenndesigns; Splendid Finn 4ever striped ribbon and pennets
It’s been a while… Can I tell you that I am still not spending enough time in the kitchen? So much for comfort zones and “everydays”. It’s just been a bustling kind of year for us. We’ve started a bed and breakfast up north (will write about that shortly), we just got back from a rejuvenating trip from the Holy Land, and we’ve gone on a diet since.
Nothing to do with the Holy Land, our diet, but more of a healthy resolution to keep our blood sugar and cholesterol in check. Recent check ups called for it, that’s why. So here’s sharing one of the winners (slightly tweaked from here) served on our table recently.
It’s a flavourful salad of smoked duck breast paired with a punch of a mildly sweet blueberry dressing that definitely qualified as mainstays on our table.
Arugula Salad With Smoked Duck Breast, Berries, and Hazelnuts
What You’ll Need
- 2 large handfuls Arugula
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 cup dried berries (I used wild blueberries)
- 2 tbsp coco sugar
- 1 smoked duck breast, cold, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup very sharp, good aged Cheddar or Gouda
- Sea Salt
What You Do
- Place the dried arugula in a bowl and set aside.
- Place the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and berries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a whisk until warm (not boiling – 3 minutes or so).
- Pour over the arugula, sprinkle with a little salt, and toss to coat.
- Place the arugula on a plate and top with the duck slices.
- With a vegetable peeler, peel thin slices of the cheddar or gouda over the salad.
- Top with the chopped hazelnuts and a little extra dressing. Sprinkle with a little salt.
April 12, 2016 § 1 Comment
Work will bring me to Hong Kong in a few weeks and I am reminded of the last dish I had a few years ago in Wan Chai. We walked from Gloucester to Lockhart Road to look for Hong Kong’s famous Under the Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. Known for their authentic and mouth-watering typhoon shelter crabs.
Back in the day before modern HK, there lived a community of fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Within this community rose a distinct culinary culture that centered on freshly caught seafood. As Hong Kong’s status as a fishing city decline, this community started moving to land, the younger generation trading up for better jobs.
We found the modest restaurant with staff that hardly speaks English. With an atmosphere like this, it almost always promises an authentic meal. The star of the show is the bits of garlic, chili peppers, and spring onion stir-fried till crisp then tossed with the deep-fried mud crab—insanely addictive. I love this version because I prefer fried or just steamed crabs sans any sauce, which sometimes masks the sweetness of the crab. The dry chill-garlic bits, albeit on the oily side, adds just the right flavour and heat to the crabs. A must-try when in the area.
See you in a few weeks Hong Kong. I hope to devour your impressive crab dish once again. And hopefully, introduce you to the people traveling with me.