November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Pumpkin Baileys Irish Buttercream Frosting

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A delicious fall cookie. Baileys takes it over-the-top. If you don’t have Baileys on hand, add whatever flavor you’d like: vanilla extract, pecans, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cream cheese, and maple syrup pair well with pumpkin.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: About 44 cookies

For the Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional if you’re using pumpkin pie puree, which already has spices in it)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 cup pumpkin pie puree)

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, cream the butter and sugar. Add in eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition, followed by vanilla, then pumpkin puree. Gradually add in flour mixture until combined.

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3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour (or in the freezer for at least 20 minutes).

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4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

5. Roll about 1/2 tbsp of dough into a ball. Use flour on your hands if necessary. Place the ball on the baking sheet and flatten to about 1/2 inch thick. Continue with remaining dough, placing each 1 inch apart.

6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes just until the bottoms begin to lightly brown. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the Pumpkin Baileys Irish Buttercream Frosting

Note: this recipe will create much more buttercream than you need for this recipe. It’s enough to frost a double layer cake (recipe to follow) AND to generously frost the cookies in this recipe. You can store leftover buttercream frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months (thaw in fridge before using).

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie puree
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (optional if you’re using pumpkin pie puree)
  • A dash (or more) of Baileys
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

1. Slowly cream together the butter and pumpkin with an electric mixer or whisk.

2. Beat in the vanilla extract, spices, and Baileys.

3. Slowly add the powdered sugar about a cup at a time until the frosting is the right consistency. If the frosting is too thick, add more pumpkin puree, milk or water. If frosting is too thin, add more confectioners sugar.

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4. Frost cookies and set aside for the frosting to dry. You can store these in the fridge or the freezer until serving time.

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Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

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August 20, 2014

Molten Chocolate Cake with Nutella Lava and Raspberry Coulis

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This spectacular dessert will satisfy even the pickiest eater. It’s also a perfect Valentine’s Day or birthday dessert. The only special equipment you need are the molds, which are useful for crème brulee, soufflé, panna cotta, and holding ingredients while you cook. Be sure not to overcook the lava cake in the oven – the cake will continue to cook even after you take it out of the oven, so if you overcook, your lava will turn into cake!

The Nutella core is my own addition to the recipe (because why not?), but if someone has nut allergies or opposes, feel free to experiment with other flavor combinations. Some flavor combinations that you could play with: peanut butter core with chocolate drizzle + sea salt + roasted peanuts; mango puree core with coconut cream + toasted coconut flakes; pear puree with caramel drizzle; pistachio cream with dried cherries… The combinations are endless! For more flavor combinations, I highly recommend The Flavor Bible – an essential reference guide for any home cook that will help you develop intuition for flavors that go well together. It’s great for when you have one ingredient and want to see what goes well with it.

Adapted from Jean George’s famous molten chocolate cake recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 7 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Serves 4

For the raspberry coulis

2 1/2 cups fresh/frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
zest of 1 lemon – grated (optional)

Puree raspberries with sugar, zest and lemon juice in a blender, food processor, or handheld blender.

Optional: If you don’t want any seeds, pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids.

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For the lava cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more to butter the molds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, the best you can afford (do not use milk chocolate, the fat content is too high so the recipe won’t work)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 teaspoons flour

butter and cocoa powder for dusting the baking dishes
confectioners sugar for sifting on at the end (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

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2. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Add the espresso powder and vanilla at the end and stir to combine.

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3. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light, thick and glossy.

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4. After the chocolate has cooled a bit pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

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5. Butter and lightly cocoa powder four 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out the excess cocoa powder, then butter and cocoa powder them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
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5. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.

6. Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Spoon the raspberry coulis over the cake and around the plate in a decorative way. Serve immediately with some vanilla ice cream.

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Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

November 17, 2013

Strawberry and Peach Crisp

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Apologies for the long hiatus! Life has gotten super hectic this past year. I will try to post more regularly from now on.

I’ll start where I left off: with a crisp featuring seasonal fruits! Here is a wonderful recipe featuring strawberries from our Fall CSA Share from Red Fire Farms. We went to Red Fire Farms and picked these strawberries ourselves, 2 gallons of them! I loved that experience. They grow many varieties of strawberries so we got to try them all.

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Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Serves 6-8

3 cups strawberries, quartered
3 cups peaches, sliced (about 2 large peaches)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, plus some for the pan
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for juicy fruit
Dash salt

1. Heat the oven to 400 F. Toss the fruit with half the cinnamon or apple pie spice, the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar (and a tablespoon of flour if your fruit is juicy) and spread it in a lightly buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.

2. Combine all the other ingredients, including the remaining cinnamon/apple pie spice and brown sugar, in a food processor and pulse a few times, then process a few seconds more, until everything is well incorporated but not uniform. To mix the ingredients by hand, soften the butter slightly, toss together the dry ingredients, then work in the butter with your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a fork.

3. Crumble the topping over the fruit and bake until the topping is browned and the fruit is tender and bubbling, 30-40 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

September 2, 2012

Summer White Peach and Blueberry Crisp

It’s the end of summer, but what better way to celebrate this season’s end than with a delicious crisp that honors late summer’s ripest fruits? You can use any kind of peach you want, as long as it’s fresh and ripe. Same goes for the blueberries. This is an easy and versatile recipe: instead of peaches, try other stone fruits (plums, pluots, nectarines, apricots, cherries) and instead of blueberries, try other berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, white raspberries). Mix and match, have fun! Taste this last bit of summer.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serves 5-6

For the fruit:

  • 2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the crumble:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (plain white sugar)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (optional, if you like oats!)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. (Optional step if don’t want peach skins in your crisp): Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches.

3. Slice the peaches into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, line a baking pan with foil. Spoon the mixture into the baking pan.

5. For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. If you have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.

6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 13, 2012

Oatmeal Date Bars

Use the best-quality dates you can find! Fresh medjool dates are my favorite and they worked perfectly in this recipe. Store in an airtight container, the bars will keep for a couple days.

 

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Total time: 1 hour, largely unattended

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter 8×8-inch metal baking pan.

3. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

4. Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl; stir to blend.

 

5. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form.

6. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture over. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture; press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.

 

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

August 13, 2012

Whole Roasted Trout with Thyme, Lemon, and Garlic

This is a simple and beautiful dish that is so easy to make. Roasting in foil packets minimizes cleanup. Instead of trout, you can use salmon, halibut, catfish, striped bass, rockfish, branzino, etc. Instead of thyme, you can also use fresh parsley, basil, rosemary, dill, and/or tarragon. A perfect weekday dinner, serve with rice (or any whole grain) and a fresh salad.

Advance preparation: You can prepare the fish and make the foil packets several hours ahead. Keep in the refrigerator until shortly before cooking.

Total time: 15-20 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 10-15 minutes, unattended

Serves 1-2

Adapted from Recipes for Health

  • 1 whole rainbow trout, boned
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 bay leaves (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Grease the foil with olive oil so that the fish doesn’t stick to it when roasted. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and open it out flat, skin side down.

3. Place the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and a couple lemon slices down the middle of the trout, and fold the two sides together. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish.

4. Making sure that the trout is in the middle of each square, fold up the foil loosely, grabbing at the edges and crimping together tightly to make a packet. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking one of the packets after 10 minutes. The flesh should be opaque and pull apart easily when tested with a fork.

5. Place each packet on a plate. Carefully cut across the top to open it, taking care not to let the steam from inside the packet burn you. Gently remove the fish from the packet, and pour the juices over it. Serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 10, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu

This is NOT the Americanized version of this classic Sichuan dish: this is the real deal! You can find Sichuan peppercorns at a Chinese grocery store on the cheap, or you can order them online. The Sichuan peppercorns give this dish its characteristic tingly sensation and spicy flavor. If you don’t have both dark and light soy sauce, you can just use 2 tsp of the soy sauce you have.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 2

Adapted from Appetite for China

  • 16 ounces dou gan or extra firm tofu
  • 2 to 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 5 to 6 scallions, roughly chopped, plus some thinly sliced scallions for optional garnish
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • At least 10 dried red chilis (add more for more spice)
  • 1 tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns (or ½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns)
  • At least one handful of dry roasted peanuts

Marinade

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or medium dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Sauce

  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp dark Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock or water

1. Cube the tofu and mix in the marinade ingredients. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. If you haven’t done so already, mince the garlic and peel and slice the ginger. Roughly chop the white parts of scallions, and thinly slice the green parts for garnish (optional.) Either leave the dried chilis whole, or slice them in half and take out as many seeds as possible.

3. In another bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. (Note: Different brands of soy sauces vary in terms of saltiness, so taste your sauce. If it’s too salty, add some sugar and water to dilute.)

4. Heat a wok with oil over high heat. Before the wok begins to smoke, add the chilis and Sichuan peppercorn. Stir-fry briefly until the chilis are slightly blistered and oil is slightly fragrant.

5. Add tofu and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

7. Pour in sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients.

8. When the sauce is thickened and shiny, stir in peanuts.

9. Transfer to plates, garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Artichoke, Goat Cheese, Sweet Pea, and Mint Ravioli with Lemon Chive Butter Sauce

More ravioli from Eastern Market! Again, the sauce is versatile: you can use any type of pasta you want!

Tip: If you don’t have a grater, you can shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a peeler.

Time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

  • Pasta, of choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • small bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta.

2. While your pasta cooks, melt butter over medium-high heat; cook until golden brown.

3. Add chives and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside.

4. Drain the pasta, but leaving some cooking water, and gently pour into saute pan and return to heat.

5. Add the cheese, toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Pesto and Feta

This is a delicious Greek-Mediterranean fusion recipe that features the beautiful produce of summer. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, make sure that each ingredient is the freshest and best quality you can find! Be careful not to over-season, since the feta is naturally salty. Although this is best eaten right away, you can make a big batch and store in the fridge for about a week. This would be great in a sandwich or wrap for a weekday lunch or as a quick snack.

 

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Adapted from Gluten-Free Veggie Gourmet

  • Olive oil
  • Basil Pesto
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 3 oz feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup), more if you desire
  • Garnish: finely shredded fresh basil leaves

 

1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking pan with foil.

2. Cut off bottoms of eggplants, then cut 1/4″ thick crosswise rounds. Cut 1/3” thick rounds from the tomatoes.

Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from DC’s Eastern Market

3. On baking pan, arrange the eggplant rounds side by side. Lightly brush eggplant rounds on both sides with olive oil to keep the eggplant moist and to prevent it from sticking to the foil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 8 minutes.


4. Spread each eggplant round with pesto, then top each with the largest tomato rounds. Top the tomato rounds with feta. Make another layer with eggplant rounds, pesto, tomato rounds, and feta, then top with remaining eggplant and feta.

Roasted eggplant

Stacks on stacks on stacks!

5. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through and cheese on top is softened. Transfer stacks to 4 plates and drizzle plates with olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a staple everyone should know how to make: it’s versatile (put it on eggs, pasta, risotto, fresh vegetables, chicken, sandwiches, wraps, stir it in a soup, etc.), it’s delicious, and it’s EASY!

Tip: Fresh pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for several months in ice cube trays. Use the pesto “cubes” as needed. If freezing, don’t stir in the cheese; stir in the cheese by hand just before serving.

Time: 5-15 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

Adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
  • ½ to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)
  • salt, to taste

1. Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the oil in a food processor or blender (or mortar and pestle).

Pine nuts

Toasted pine nuts

Quality extra virgin olive oil

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture.

Pesto!

3. Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

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