Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hau'oli Lā Hānau Alison!

First off, I finally found the piping tip that I'd been looking for forever. It's amazing, and I love it! I tried using it the first time for the batch of cupcakes I am about to blog about below, and ah, the swirls are amazing! Of course, I need more practice as always.

Anyhow! Two or three weeks ago, my cousin Karen ordered a batch of cupcakes from me for her friend, Alison's birthday. Karen requested red velvet cupcakes with a Hawaiian theme. She and Alison went to Hawaii not long ago, and they had a blast.

So I got off work late yesterday. I didn't get a chance to work on the cupcakes until 9, after I was done with dinner and chores. I baked the cupcakes, and while they were cooling, I made the frosting. After that I went onto making the decorations. I never been to Hawaii before, but whenever I think of Hawaii, I think of their flowers and sea turtles! So immediately I started making them. I also made some white chocolate strawberry seashells with a pearl that I used edible pearl dust on. I also used chocolate to make mocha starfish with graham cracker "sand". I realized if it wasn't for the flowers, it would be more like a sea or ocean theme.
I packed everything, and decorated a hour before I handed the cupcakes over to Karen. She loved it, and I hope her friend, Alison does too!
Karen told me that Alison loved it very much! When I asked her what she means by loved it. Karen said loved everything of it, look and taste. Yay!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lemony Sunday

Sundays are usually sweet and sour to me. It's sweet because that's a day off, but sour because it is always followed by a Monday, which means going to work for me.
Anyhow, I always enjoy eating things that are sweet and sour. Have you ever heard of those "super lemon" or "super strawberry" candy? I love those along with all other sour candies when I was growing up. I also love those sour prunes and plums, sweet and sour soup, etc. My mom used to tell me that I should stop eating so many sour things if I want to give birth to a baby boy one day. She said women who eat sour things tend to give birth to baby girls and not baby boys. (Not that my mom is being sexist, but I told her once that I want one boy and one girl.) I'm not sure where she gets that from either.

Okay, enough of my lemon talk. So on this lemony sunday, I decided to make lemon bars! This is my second time making lemon bars, and it came out set, golden yellow and perfect. It was just missing this particular flavor that I recalled from last time I made it. I don't know how to describe that flavor, it reminds me of steamed Chinese duck eggs minus the saltiness! Maybe I got it confused with the key lime pie I made couple months back. But with or without that flavor, it was still lemony and yummy!

 My boyfriend reserved half the batch for himself before I brought the rest to work. Not to mention I ate 3 1/2 bars within 4 hours after making it. Maybe it's not a good idea to make these, but it's so comforting to bite into the chewy sweet and tangy goodness, with the bar crust melting in the mouth. But yeah, definitely need to chill a couple months before making these again. I don't want to end up eating the whole batch.

"Bloody Embryo" + Red Velvet

I hope my title didn't scare you away from reading this. I wasn't referring to a real embryo. See picture below! "Bloody" huh? Get it? Oh yeah, there's blue one too if you refer back to my "Blueberry Velvet" post from December 16. Okay...anyways...

So yesterday, I'd decided to make my favorite cupcakes of all time, Red Velvet. It was for my friend, Lily. It was her birthday yesterday!

The cream cheese frosting turned out really well, it was light, very fluffy and not overly sweet. In fact it was better than usual for some reasons. I have no idea why, I always make it the way I usually make it. My boyfriend said he could easily do a frosting shot with it. Yay!

I was glad my friends enjoyed it. Janny complimented that it wasn't super sweet, and it tasted better than some of the cupcake shops she'd been to. I couldn't been happier!

The cake also turned out very moist and fluffy, and not undercooked-dense at all. I will be making this again in a couple days for my cousin's friend since it's her birthday and it's her favorite cupcake as well. This is the same cousin who told me to make the Winnie the Pooh & Bunny cake for her mom. So this upcoming cupcake batch is going to be my first paid order! (I only charged for materials since I'm still practicing and experimenting my recipes and techniques.) But yes, my first real order! Maybe one day, I'll make my dream come true by opening a cafe/bakery. In the meantime, I'll patiently wait, do my biotech job, earn money and bake more goodies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strawberry Season!

I love strawberries! It's a habit for me to check their prices every time I go to the supermarket. Every time the price drops, I buy enough to last me days. But as time gets closer to Valentine's Day, I know strawberries will go on sale, and indeed it did the week before Valentine's Day! Yup, so I bought myself a big box! A week and half later, I bought myself another big box! I put them in yogurt, I put them in salad, and I eat them after dinner. Ah! They are heavenly!
Anyhow, so like every February, I will buy and make some sweet treats with strawberries. Last year I created a cream filled Strawberry cupcake, the year before that I made chocolate dipped strawberries. This year, I decided to make cupcakes again, but this time, I came across Sprinkle's recipe and got super excited!

 I like how fluffy Sprinkle's cupcakes at the shops are, but I always think that their frosting are too sweet. Before I try their recipe, I read comments on how the cupcakes turned out to be...I realized a lot of them said the cupcakes came out moist but super dense. Stupid me, I made it anyways, and indeed it turned out SUPER dense but moist. I didn't like how dense they are. But asked for the frosting, it was fabulous! I will definitely make that frosting again! I think I need to retry the recipe, or alter it to make it less dense.
Here is Sprinkle's recipe. If you are going to try making them, tell me how they turn out!
Sprinkle's Strawberry Cupcakes

Ingredients for Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen
  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  •  Sprinkle's Strawberry Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Ingredients for Sprinkle's Strawberry Frosting

Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Baked Buns

I'd been meaning to make Baked BBQ Pork Buns because it's something both my mom and I enjoy eating when we go tea houses together. It's funny because we both don't like the steamed ones but we love the baked ones. I wanted to make them and surprise her one day, so today I tried to make some, except it was kind of late of the day to go get some pork. I decided to go ahead and substitute it with chicken in the mean time.

Oh yes, I also got adventurous and made some with Italian-style fillings with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, spinach and turkey.

I just took some chicken breast and minced it myself. Then I also chopped some napa cabbages and red onions into the mix. Then, I seasoned it and cooked it.

The buns turned out pretty good. The only thing I didn't like about it is that I let it baked too long after the egg wash. So it got a little more brown, but not burnt. Next time I'll just bake it less. Also, I find it very entertaining watching the buns rise and bake in the process. It's mesmerizing for some reasons.

I will make this again, but with BBQ Pork next time. I should present them to my mom and see if she thinks it's store bought.


After going to a bar with some friends one night in Little Italy of San Francisco. My bff and I stumpled upon a teeny tiny cupcake shop on Columbus Street. The shop was hidden, but the brightly-lighted cupcake sign attracted my attention. Like that bright sign, the cupcakes at this shop were all brightly colored.

The cupcake shop is like a drive through window. You see these cupcakes on a window of display but when you order it, you have to order it through this tiny window with the guy behind it. He then gave us the cupcakes from the window too. But those cupcakes were some of the best I'd ever had! Moist and not overly sweet at all. Unlike most cupcakes I had, which I only take a few bites of, I could eat the whole cupcake from this shop myself!

With its green color, the Lilly Pad was the first cupcake that got my attention. It was a green tea cupcake with a jackfruit frosting. It was very unique and delicious! The cake was very, very moist even though I didn't eat it until the day after I bought it. The frosting didn't taste much like jackfruit but it was fruity and not overly sweet. And hey! What other cupcakery uses jackfruits? Brilliant!

By flavor, the mango cupcake was my second choice. This was everything mango, and I couldn't asked for a better mango cake. It tasted exactly like it. The cake was also very moist and delicious. It's the only cupcake place so far I know that has mango cupcakes.

I would definitely go back to this place again if I am in that area and can find parking! I would definitely love to try their other unique and colorful cupcakes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

So for Lunar New Year, I made some oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend's parents. I'd made this cookies a couple times before and both his parents enjoyed it. So I wanted to go "bai nin" with something and not arrive with empty hands.

This cookie is super duper easy to make, considering I followed the Quaker Oat box but just changed up the sugar content myself since cookies made with exact box recipe was too sweet for me. I learned that on my very first batch.

Quaker Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (modified/less-sweet version)

~makes 4 dozens

1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 cup raisin

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4. Combine and sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and add into wet mixture.
5. Mix in oats and raisins.
6. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Let cool.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

Pier 1 1/2
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 397-8880
Who loves sashimi? I do! It tastes even better when it's in a sauce, ceviche style! My friend and I went to La Mar for lunch one Saturday afternoon on a bright and sunny day. The atmosphere of La Mar was fabulous! The restaurant is super clean, spacious  and modern. It contains a large patio overseeing part of the bay. With patio tables and umbella, the scene makes a sunny Saturday afternoon very relaxing and divine.

Upon seated, the waiter brought out a basket of complimentary freshly made chips that consists of taro, yam, plantain and potato. By the way, it was the best chips I ever had! It wasn't too oily and it was filled with  flavors. It also comes with three housemade dipping sauce.

La Mar is known for the ceviche, so my friend and I ordered a ceviche sampler since we couldn't decide among the long list.

Starting from top left, the sampler contains ceiche nikei, which is ahi tuna in a Japanese tamarind sauce. The on top right is my favorite, cebiche chifa, which is yellowtail with peanuts in a sesame ceviche sauce. The bottom right one is cebiche mixo, which is contains mahi mahi, calamari and octopus in a ceviche sauce made with cilantro, red onion and habanero. Lastly, bottom left is cebiche clasico, which is Caifornia halibut in a classic lime and pepper sauce.

We also ordered a pan con lomitos chimichurri, which is a sandiwch that's made with Peruvian style skirt steak strips, with tomato, avocado, onion gouda cheese and chimichurri sauce on an ACME roll. The meat is so, so tender. The gouda cheese was delicious, very smokey yet doesn't cover up the other flavor.

La Mar is on a pricer side of a restaurant but I highly recommend it, especially on a sunny day. Sit at the patio, sip on their famous pisco sour cocktail and of course, eat some ceviche and chips...oh kind of relaxing Saturday!