Closing Time…

Hi all, thanks for accompanying me on thus far in my food aventures.  As I’ve said before,  I will no longer be posting new content here, but have moved everything over to my new site, bashfulbao.com.  Eventually, once I complete the reformatting process, this site will forward to the new site.  So please continue to share in my experiences and stories; I promise we’ll have a good time.

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Peach Tapioca Pudding & A Goodbye

This will be my last blog post.  No, it’s not because I’m getting married, it’s because when I get back from the honeymoon, I will be posting at bashfulbao.com only.  I’ve been posting on both sites to give you guys a sort of transition period, but now the time has come.

Eventually this site will no longer be a blog, and will simply forward you on to the new site.  But I’m going to wait to do that until I get back.

I shall reiterate what I said in my first post about the blog move.  If you want to continue following me through my culinary crusades (and I truly hope you do) you will have to re-subscribe on the new site.  I made nifty little buttons for you to do so.

It took me a while to think about what recipe/photos/mood to leave you all with for the next week.  I tried to stay away from peaches, I really did, but I have like 8 more recipes involving them to share and it’s already creeping into September, so I need to unload these babies…ahem.

So I picked my favorite.  I love peaches.  I love tapioca pudding.  Bam, heaven in a jar.  Did I mention I drenched mine in the caramel sauce I used in this recipe?  Did I say heaven in a jar already?

You get the idea.  And now I must prepare for this wedding thing.  Wish me luck!

Peach Tapioca Pudding

Adapted from Sunita’s World

Makes about 6 individual servings

½ cup tapioca pearls
2 cups milk
2 large, ripe peaches, peeled, stoned and cut into small pieces
5 Tbsp honey, divided use

2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, soak the tapioca pearls in the milk for one hour.

In a small saucepan, heat the peaches, cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of the honey over low heat. Stir well, cover and cook until the fruit softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pan with the tapioca soaked in milk over medium low heat along with the cinnamon stick, remaining 3 Tbsp honey and brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 3/4 of the cooked peaches and continue to cook until the tapioca pearls are completely done and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring frequently.

Once the mixture has thickened, discard the cinnamon stick and spoon into bowls, jars or ramekins.  Let the pudding come to room temperature, then cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Serve with remaining cooked peaches and caramel sauce.


Wonton Crackers

Another kitty visitor!

Can you tell I’m getting married on Sunday by the tone of my recent posts?  I certainly hope not.  I like to think I’ve been very calm and collected through this entire process.

How have I accomplished this you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure that’s just the kind of girl I am.  I never imagined what my wedding would be like growing up; that’s not the kind of girl I was.  I was out getting dirty and playing sports or reading, but never daydreaming about what the centerpieces at my guests’ tables would look like or how big and fluffy my ball gown would be.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is that, this wedding has no standards to live up to, no dreams or wishes to disappoint.  For me, it will be what it will be, and as long as I actually get married and the people witnessing it have a good time afterwards, then it’ll be a great wedding in my mind.

And it all kind of starts tonight.  Tonight is Luke’s bachelor party.  Which leaves me at home, making crackers?  No, but I am preparing for something.  We’re having our friends over for a house party on Saturday, so while Luke’s out partying (don’t worry, my party is on tomorrow night), I’m planning, baking and cooking for Saturday.

Part of the spread will be dips, chips, etc, and since I’m getting into this whole DIY thing, I decided to make my own crackers.   Why is it that making something as simple as crackers can bring such joy?   I felt such satisfaction when I pulled these out of the oven, that it almost seemed unmerited.  But the crackers are crisp and tasty, so who cares.

Wonton Crackers

Adapted from Andrea’s Recipes

Makes 50-80 crackers*

1 package wonton wrappers
baking spray
2 large egg whites

Topping ideas:
coarse sea salt
poppy seeds
sesame seeds
black sesame seeds
cumin seeds
curry powder
garlic powder
chili powder
cinnamon + sugar

 Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°.

Take a stack of about 10 wonton wrappers and cut them in half into triangles. Leave the rest in the package so they don’t dry out. Lay the triangles on the baking sheet close together and cut more triangles as necessary to fill the sheet. Spray some canola oil on the triangles, then flip them over. Brush the top side of the triangles with the egg white.

Sprinkle on whatever combination of toppings you like.  I used leftover everything topping from this recipe.  Sprinkle spices first, then add seeds and salt. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and crispy, about 7 to 9 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Remove and allow to cool on the pan, then keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*You can always make this recipe using whatever amount of wonton wrappers you happen to have.

 


Fauxstess Cupcakes

Sometimes you just need a break.  Right Izzy?  A break from life on the first floor to explore the carpeted realm of the stairs and beyond.  Until she peed in Luke’s office.  Twice.  In one night.  I think someone was upset that her mom forgot to give her fresh hay in a reasonable timeframe.  What a fresh bunny we have.

But I’m talking about a different kind of break.  Yes, August is peach month and I’m sure you’ve seen enough posts about what to do with your 80 pounds of peaches you just couldn’t resist getting at the farmer’s market.

Well, there won’t be any of that here today.  I need a break.  A break from peaches and stone fruit, a break from zucchini and squash, because honestly, I can only eat so much of it before I’m thankful their season is over.

So let’s make something unseasonal.  Or rather, something that’s always in season.  Chocolate’s popularity never waxes and wanes; its versatility manifested in its ability to lend its flavors to other dishes while still remaining distinct.

I thought about a chocolate peach dessert.  I thought about it long and hard, but in the end decided I just wanted chocolate.  And marshmallow fluff.  Because that never goes out of style either, right?

Fauxstess Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 24-26 cupcakes

For the cake:
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup canola oil
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
6 Tbsp water

For the filling and frosting swirl:
2 cups marshmallow fluff
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
½ tsp cream or milk

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, canola oil, 1½ cups of the sugar and the water.  Whisk to blend well.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.  Continue beating, gradually adding in the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar, until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Add a quarter of the egg white mixture to the bowl with the batter to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed, about 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the marshmallow fluff and butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar and salt and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more.  Transfer the majority of the filling mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip (about ½” wide), reserving ½ cup in the mixing bowl.  Blend in the cream to the reserved filling mixture to make it smooth for piping the swirl on top of the cupcake.  Transfer this to another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (like the kind you’d use to write words with). Chill until ready to use.

Fill the cupcakes by inserting the pastry tip directly into the center of each cupcake and squeezing in a dollop of the marshmallow mixture.  If excess filling comes out of the top, just scrape it off with a knife so the top of the cupcake is essentially smooth.

Make the chocolate glaze by placing the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or the microwave.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.  Take the cupcakes one at a time and invert them, dipping the top into the chocolate glaze.  Transfer them to a wire rack or baking sheet and let the glaze set.  (You can speed this process up by chilling in the refrigerator.)  Once the glaze is set, use the reserved portion of marshmallow frosting to pipe a uniform swirl across the top of each cupcake.  Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Peach Brown Butter Scones

Going through the process of transferring this blog to another domain and host has made me feel like I know absolutely nothing about computers or the way the Internet works.  And here I was thinking I was an informed individual.

I feel like I find myself Google troubleshooting (i.e. typing how to….into Google) way too many times a day.  I guess this stuff’s not common knowledge, but geeez, it certainly is time consuming.

Especially since I have to go through every post I’ve made in the last 10 months.  Do you know how many that is?!?!  A lot.  I have to go through them all because I’m reformatting them using a WordPress plug-in called Easy Recipe.  Easy Recipe frames the recipe portion of each post, delineating it from everything else, and giving it a print page link.  That way, you can print out the recipe without having to print out the entire post and pictures/copy and paste the recipe into a word document to print it.  Nifty, eh?

So it’s for you guys that I do this.  I stare at my computer screen until my contacts stick to my dried-out eyeballs, meticulously reformatting every post.  It’s all for you.  But then I did something for me.  I made scones.  Wonderful, fluffy, peachy, brown buttery scones.  Yep, you heard me. Brown butter in a scone.  Perfection, I’m telling you.

Brown Butter Peach Scones

Adapted from Tutti Dolce

Makes 10-12 scones

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1 cup peeled and diced peaches

2/3 cup buttermilk or heavy cream

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp turbinado sugar, for topping

Cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes.

Pour browned butter into a glass measuring cup and chill in the freezer until solid and chilled, about 1 ½ hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Dice chilled brown butter into 1/2-inch pieces; sprinkle over flour mixture and use your fingers to mush the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place peaches between layers of paper towels and press gently to remove moisture; add to flour mixture, folding in gently.

Whisk together buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract in a small bowl; add to flour mixture and fold in just until moist.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 1” thick.  Add flour if the dough is too tacky to handle.  Cut the dough into wedges or use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds.  Place wedges or rounds onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake 20 minutes or until golden.

Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.


Hamburgers & Buns

Hamburgers!  You guys must be thinking that I finally got a grill, right?  After all that time at the apartment coveting our neighbor’s grill, smelling the sweet smoky aromas that wafted up to our second floor windows, but knowing that we were not renewing our lease, so getting one would be a pain.

And now we have a house, so there’s no excuse to not have one, so of course we do have one…it’s just that it’s still in the box.  Yeah, I know, for shame.  Hear me out though, the assembly instructions are as thick as a science textbook, and I might be good at Ikea assembly, but there are no gas lines and fire and heat running through my Ikea furniture.

I’m just afraid to mess it up, and so is Luke, but getting a father person over to our house to help set it up has proven difficult.  So in the box it will stay, probably until after the wedding.

I cooked these burgers in a pan on the stovetop, setting off the smoke detector no less than twice, even though the hood fan was on.  Of course I made my own buns (they were huge, I had no idea they’d rise so much…and many large “bun” jokes ensued).

I doctored mine up with some sautéed mushroom, cheddar cheese, and a caramelized pineapple ring, in addition to some parsley for greenery because for some reason I had forgotten to buy lettuce.

Please disregard my veiny hand

Neither of the boys (Diego and Luke) complained since I’m pretty sure they are both allergic to all green, leafy foods.  I also made some oven fries to accompany our burgers.  Definitely a good meal for our first entertaining stint in the new house.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Adapted from Foodie Bride

Makes 8-12 buns

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

2 Tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) plus more for greasing the rising bowl

2 large eggs

3 Tbsp sugar

3 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, add warm water and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let sit 10 minutes, until frothy.  Add the, oil, 1 egg, and sugar to the bowl.  Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough holds together, about 2 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If not, add additional flour by the Tbsp.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil.

Cover it with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-1 ½  hours.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Turn out the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half and each half into 4-6 pieces (make them smaller than you might think for a bun, they will rise).  Roll into rounds and flatten with the palm of your hand onto the baking sheet; placing buns about ½ -1 inch apart.  Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 20 minutes + oven preheating time.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp water.  Brush the buns with the egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Classic Hamburgers

 A Bashful Bao Original

Makes 4 patties

1 ½ lb 80/20 ground beef*

salt and pepper

Toppings:

8 oz button mushrooms

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 pineapple rings

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp butter

slices of cheddar cheese

condiments of your choosing

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and form it lightly into 4 patties.  Be careful not to handle the beef too much, the more you handle it, the tougher your burgers will be.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Once the skillet is hot, place the patties in the skillet.  Cook until the meat is fully cooked on the underside, about 3-5 minutes, then flip them over and continue cooking to your desired level of doneness.  Remove from skillet, place on sesame buns and top with your favorite accoutrements.

For these burgers, I sautéed the mushrooms until soft in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and smoked paprika.  I also sautéed the pineapple rings in butter and brown sugar until brown on both sides.  And of course, a nice slice of sharp cheddar.

*For hamburgers, you really want to use an 80/20 mix of ground beef.  You need that fat to ensure that it retains moisture.  Anything leaner and you will have a very dry hamburger.


Blueberry Muffin Cookies

Ok everybody, gather round, I’ve got some rather big news to share.  As an impending wedding present to Bashful Bao, I have purchased a domain name and hosting space.  See where I’m going with this?  Bashful Bao is going to be moving to bashfulbao.com!

The site is live, and my archives have been successfully transferred, but I’m currently reformatting the posts, so I won’t be forwarding to the new domain until after the wedding.  I’ll be posting in both locations starting today, so feel free to check out the new site, and re-subscribe (via email or RSS feed) so you don’t miss a recipe when I stop posting here.  Also, let me know what you think of the new header/layout.

In other news, our wedding is only a week away…eeeeeek.  That’s a squeal of excitement by the way, not stress.  I can’t wait for the big day to arrive.

But let’s get back to the present.  I was planning on posting about some sort of breakfast item since it’s Sunday, but then I saw the pictures of these cookies and couldn’t keep them from you.

They totally count as breakfast, right?  I mean, they are blueberry muffin cookies.  And yes, they do taste exactly like blueberry muffins, only better because they’re just the top.  We all know the best part of a muffin is the top.

These cookies have a brown butter base that lends its sweet nuttiness to the cookie dough that pops with bright blueberries as a cinnamony streusel embraces it from above.  They truly are a fantastic cookie/breakfast, perfect for a Sunday morning and after Sunday dinner. Now that’s versatility!

Blueberry Muffin Cookies

Adapted from Baker’s Royale

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

For the streusel topping:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

8 Tbsp (I stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the cookie dough:

10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup sour cream

1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

10 oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)

 Place butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat and heat until butter becomes brown and smells nutty. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Place sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat until blended. Add in melted butter and beat until combined. Add in egg and beat until mixture becomes light and opaque, about 3-4 minutes. Add in vanilla and sour cream and beat until combined.

Sift together cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add this mixture into wet mixture and beat until combined.  Gradually add in flour and beat to combine.  Finally, fold in the blueberries. The dough will be sticky.

Scoop the cookie dough out with a large spoon and drop about 2 Tbsp of batter spaced 1” apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake one tray at a time for 8 minutes. Remove cookie filled baking sheet and heavily sprinkle streusel on top of cookies and gently press onto each cookie, about 1 tablespoon per cookie (don’t worry if it spills onto the sheet). Return baking sheet to oven and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 


Honey Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream

Today’s post will be short and sweet.  It might have something to with the fact that I only have two useable photos for this ice cream.  I know, what kind of food blogger am I?  Will you accept a gratuitous picture of a grooming bunny as recompense?

This is one flexible bunny

In my defense, shooting ice cream on the non-air conditioned porch has its limitations.  I had about 10 seconds to take as many photos as possible before everything turned into a puddle of liquid.

And only two came out.  But I think you get the idea of this ice cream.  You take a honey cinnamon custard base and stir in pieces of chopped up peaches.  We actually had to go out and buy alcohol for this recipe since you need to macerate the peaches in vodka before adding them to the ice cream so they don’t freeze solid in the freezer.

The end result is an amazingly refreshing summer treat that perfectly blends the flavors of peach, honey and cinnamon.  I loved the contrast of the smooth ice cream custard and the bright, sweet peach pieces.  This has definitely been my favorite ice cream this summer.

Honey Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream

Adapted from The Merry Gourmet

Makes about 1 quart

1 ½ cups 2% or whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
5 large egg yolks
2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/2 pieces
2 Tbsp honey
1 ½ tsp vodka

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, ¼ cup sugar, salt and cinnamon stick, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the temperature is 175 degrees.  Meanwhile, put cream in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over it.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar with the egg yolks. When the milk mixture is hot, slowly add about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly.  Then, slowly whisk the warmed egg yolks back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon and reaches 180 to 185 degrees.

Strain the custard into the bowl of cream, stir to combine, and return the cinnamon stick to the custard.  Let the custard come to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.

Next, prepare the peaches.  Combine the chopped peaches with the honey and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until the peaches have released their juices. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When the custard has chilled sufficiently, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, pour the peaches through a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juices. Reserve the juice for another time or discard it. In a small bowl, toss the peach solids with the vodka. About 5 minutes before the ice cream churning is complete, add the peaches to the ice cream maker.

Transfer the ice cream to another container and freeze until the ice cream is firm, about 3 hours, and enjoy!

 


Cherry Almond Cake

Adjusting to cooking/baking and figuring out when/where/how to shoot the results in the house has been an interesting process.  Back in the apartment, I did most of my shooting on the radiator cover in the kitchen because it was convenient, and it got good light.

Things in the house have been a little tricky, especially when we first moved in.  I keep the window shades drawn in the kitchen because the house next door (aka across the driveway, we do kind of live in a city) is being seriously renovated and I don’t need the men over there knocking down walls and such to judge me as I meticulously arrange food, photograph it, then put it away.

But of course, I had nowhere else to shoot really and I liked the look of the kitchen floors, so I started there.  Of course I forgot that there was one other obstacle that I’d never ecountered before…a pet able to roam the entire house.  And so my first floor shoot was photobombed by my rabbit.  Not fun.

Bunny photobomb.

So I decided to shoot on the porch floor, where the bunny is not allowed.  But getting certain shots on the floor is hard.  It’s great for overheads but that’s about it.  Finally, we bought a table from Ikea.  It now resides on the porch and is my official shooting table.  But I made this cake before I had the table, which is why it was shot on the kitchen island.  Which doesn’t get great light.  Thank goodness for the free version of photoshop I got for work in college.

This cherry cake was one of the first things I made in the house.  It was the perfect welcome-to-your-new-kitchen cake.  Which means it helped me figure out the temperature variations in the new oven.  Scary I know, but thankfully I didn’t burn it.  In fact, this melding of cherry and almond into a moist, sweet cake was just what I needed after moving heavy objects around all day.

Cherry Almond Cake

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes one 9” cake, about 10 servings

For the cake:

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 ½ cups fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved

For the almond streusel topping:

¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup almond paste, crumbled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
pinch of salt

For the almond glaze:

½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp almond extract
2 to 3 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or pie plate. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix until combined.  Gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Transfer batter to prepared pan and arrange cherries on top of batter.

Next make the almond streusel topping.  In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, almond paste, butter, and salt. Mix together with your fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in pan.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and just enough milk to make a pourable glaze. Remove cake from pan and drizzle the glaze over it, then let set for 10 minutes.  Cut and enjoy!

 


Pad Thai

As you can tell, I stuck to using up my fruit by baking them into sweet things.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t try fruit in a savory dish (I once made a pear & cheese quesadilla) but there were just so many tasties calling out to me.  Maybe next year I’ll branch out a little bit more.

For now, let’s take a quick break and talk about noodles.  Yes, I know I could fill a book talking about my love of noodles.  So let’s narrow it down a bit, shall we?

Pad thai.  That quintessential dish with its lightly sweetened sauce, soft rice noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and chopped peanuts.  There is a wonderful Thai restaurant in my hometown whose pad thai I have unequivocally endorsed as the best pad thai ever.  And I order pad thai every time I go to a place where it’s on the menu.  None have been better.  Not even my own rendition sadly.  But!  This is the closest I’ve come to recreating it, and believe me, there have been multiple attempts.

The key to pad thai’s sweetness lies in using tamarind paste, as well as sugar.  I would never trust any pad thai recipe that includes ketchup.  Pad thai is not red.  There is definitely no ketchup in a thai kitchen.  If you can’t find tamarind paste at your local Asian grocer, try Amazon.  It is truly a key ingredient in getting your pad thai to taste like it came from a restaurant.  I didn’t have bean sprouts on hand, so I only used scallions for garnish.  I wasn’t going to drive for 30 mins just to get bean sprouts.

Even without their iconic crunch, I loved every bite of this pad thai.  I can’t wait to make it again.

Pad Thai

Adapted from Cook Like a Champion

Makes 4 servings

2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
2/3 cup hot water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice noodles about 1/8-inch wide
2 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
6 Tbsp chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
5 green onions, green parts only, sliced thinly

In a small bowl, dissolve tamarind concentrate in hot water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne and 2 Tbsp of oil and set aside. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak until softened and pliable but not completely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Whisk together eggs and 1/8 tsp of salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes, or until it’s just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes or until cooked through and pink. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Off heat, add the remaining Tbsp of oil to skillet and swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallot and return pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until light golden brown. Add eggs and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until scrambled, about 20 seconds. Add noodles and toss to combine. Pour the tamarind mixture over the noodles and increase heat to high. Cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of peanuts, bean sprouts, shrimp and all but ¼ cup of the green onions to the noodles. Continue tossing until well combined and noodles are tender, 2-3 minutes. If noodles are not yet tender, add 2 Tbsp of water to skillet and continue cooking.

Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with remaining green onions and peanuts.