Saturday, July 26, 2008

lunch from jamie oliver, snack from tyler florence....

Blueberry Scones
Makes 8 (very large) scones

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
a pinch salt
5 tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
1 cup cold heavy cream
3/4 cup blueberries

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or simply a fork or 2, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should look like coarse meal. Make a well in the center and pour in the cold cream. Stir until the dough just comes together, be sure to not overmix. There will be some dry spots at the bottom of the bowl, but they should come together when you pinch them. The dough should not be sticky. Gently fold in the blueberries. It's best to use your hands for this to prevent breaking the berries (unless you like a blue scone).

Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured board, and pat into about a 12 x 3 x 1 1/4 inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half and then half again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut each of these squares diagonally into the traditional triangular shape. Place the scones onto an ungreased cookie sheet and brush with cream. Sprinkle the top with sugar for decorative purposes.

Bake the scones in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

These scones are delicious, moist and tender, with a nice crunchy top. They're not very sweet, so you might want to consider a glaze on top (Tyler suggested lemon). I also found it too troublesome to roll these out because the berries are so fragile, so I usually just form round, drop scones. I made about 12 good-sized ones with this recipe; making 8 would result in rather large ones. You can substitute blueberries for other fruit (i.e. raspberries are quite nice) or use this recipe as a base for other flavors. I added almond extract and chopped almonds to some, then sprinkled the top with slivered almonds. Try stirring in some chocolate bits for a sweeter treat.

something decadent...summer carbonara

Jamie Oliver was on this morning, tempting me with a beautiful recipe of zucchini carbonara. I scanned my fridge, decided that I have the ingredients necessary for it, and made my rendition of this classic Italian dish.

Classic carbonara is made with heavy cream, egg yolks, cheese (usually parmesan or precorino), and pancetta. Jamie added summer zucchinis and fresh thyme. I decided to forgo the bacon, and added in yellow squash, mushrooms, and pencil asparagus (everything I have in the fridge). It was quite good :)

Summer Carbonara
serves 4-6

6 squash (yellow or green) or zucchinis
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced asparagus
2 garlic, minced
1 pound penne
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese
splash of white wine
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
fresh or dried Italian herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc.)

Add salt to a pot of boiling water. Drop in your penne, giving it a stir once in a while to prevent sticking. Cook it according to the package instructions.

To make the sauce, whisk together the egg yolks, heavy cream, and white wine. Stir in half the parmesan cheese and season with black pepper. Set aside.

Slice the squash into half moons or sticks. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a heated, large, high-sided pan pan (so you can toss your pasta afterwards). Once the oil is hot, add in the zucchini and garlic. In about 30 seconds, toss in the sliced asparagus and mushrooms. Season with pepper and herbs. Sautee the vegetables until the squash and mushrooms are golden. Add salt to taste.

The pasta should be cooked to al dente by now. Strain them and add to the vegetable mixture, but be sure to save the pasta water. Turn off the heat under your pan and work quickly. Add in a ladle of the pasta water and your cream sauce mixture. Stir everything together quickly (no more cooking, otherwise you'll scramble the egg). Add in the rest of the parmesan cheese and more pasta water if needed. The resulting sauce should be smooth and shiny. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve right away.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Fruit Tart

Saturday was my friend Aileen's 22nd birthday, and she had a little potluck get-together to celebrate. Originally I was just going to make a mixed berry salad (I was feeling lazy), stopping by Berkeley Bowl in the morning for a wonderful selection of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. But then I decided I could spare some effort, and instead made this fresh berry tart.

The tart has a sweet butter crust, blind-baked and cooled. The cooled shell is brushed with a layer of melted preserve to prevent it from becoming soggy. Inside is a filling of vanilla custard, made with vanilla pudding and whipped cream. Fresh fruits top the whole thing off.

Summer Fruit Tart
Yield 1 10'' tart

1 recipe
sweet butter crust

1/2 of a 3-oz package of vanilla pudding
1 cup milk

1/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream

Fresh fruits (sliced peaches, sliced kiwis, berries, etc.)

Strawberry preserve, heated until melted

For pastry crust: Assemble as instructed here. Place the crust into a 10" tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until slightly golden and baked through. Cool completely before use.

For filling: Whisk together milk and pudding mix until well blended and thickened. Beat heavy cream in a clean bowl until stiff peaks stage. Gently fold the whipped cream into pudding. Refrigerate until use.

To Assemble:
Brush cooled pie crust with melted preserve. Pour filling into cooled pie crust, about 2/3 full (you may have filling left over). Arrange fruits on top. If desired, brush fruits with glaze also.

The recipe lends itself to many variations - from the flavoring of the custard filling to the fruit topping. It is also an opportunity to showcase some creative design in the arrangement of the fruits. I found out that I'm terribly unartistic, and spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how I can make the tart look decently presentable.

As for the cheat on the filling using vanilla pudding mix, I have to admit that my attempts at pastry cream and custards have failed in the past. Since I was rushed for time, I decided to go with the mix.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Daring Bakers - Danish Braid (chocolate croissants, etc.)

Finally. I'm sorry I'm so so late for June's challenge. I've been busy getting settled with my internship, continuing with Taekwondo and starting Judo. I've also ran out of eggs and sugar (how is that possible in my kitchen?!) I finally finished the laminated dough yesterday and assembled and baked the pastries today.

I was really excited for this challenge. I love croissants and danishes and I looked forward to playing around with different flavor combinations. I've been leery of making laminated dough before because of the sheer amount of butter involved. But after making buttercream that calls for 3 sticks of butter, 2 doesn't seem so bad ^.*

I made enough dough for 2 whole danish braids, but I'm taking my time baking them off. I know if I bake it all, I'll also eat it all. I used a third of the dough today for 2 small braids, 2 mini plain croissants, a chocolate croissant, and a pinwheel danish. I filled some of them with the caramel apple filling and the rest with bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate filling was just a small block of Belgian bittersweet chocolate. Once the chocolate croissant and braid had cooled a bit, I drizzled them with melted bittersweet chocolate. OMG, so good. I have to give the rest away before I eat it all.

For the dough (detrempe):
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For detrempe:

1 tbsp active yeast
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange, finely grated (omitted)
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated (omitted)
3/4 tsp ground cardamom (omitted)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (omitted)
2 large eggs, chilled, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

For beurrage (butter block):

2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

To make dough:

Detrempe (direction for manual method):
  • Combine yeast and milk in a bowl. Add in beaten egg, orange juice, sugar, vanilla, cardamom, vanilla bean, and zest. Mix until well blended.
  • In another bowl sift together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet ingredients.
  • Bring the flour into the wet mixture. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Add more flour if it is sticky (the feel of the dough depends on the humidity). Transfer the dough ball into a floured board and pat into a rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Cut butter into small cubes or grate using a box grater
  • Combine butter and flour in a bowl with high sides and beat until smooth and lump-free
  • I cubed my butter and tried to use a hand-held electric mixer on it. I got flying pieces of butter everywhere. So instead I mashed the butter into the flour with the back of a spoon, then used the mixer to smooth it out at the end. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To make laminated dough:
  • After the detrempe has chilled for 30 minutes, turn it out onto a slightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 18x13 inch rectangle (approximately 1/4 inch thick).
  • Spread the butter on the right 2/3 of the dough. Fold the left 1/3 (the portion without butter) to the right, covering half the butter. Fold the right 1/3 of the rectangle over the center third. You should never fold butter onto itself. This is the first turn. Wrap the rectangle and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Place the dough lengthwise on a floured surface (the short ends should be to your left and right). Roll the dough into another 18x13 inch rectangle (approximately 1/4 inch thick) Again, fold the left 1/3 over the center third and the right 1/3 over the center third. This is the second turn. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the process two more times for a total of 4 turns. After the final turn, refrigerate the dough for 5 hours or overnight. If not using the dough within 24 hours, wrap tightly in plastic and freeze. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator for easy handling.
Caramel Apple Filling
Makes enough for 2 braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (omitted)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used orange)
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat until slightly brown and nutty. Add the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Saute for 10-15 minutes until apples are softened and the butter sugar mixture has reduced to coat the apple slices in luscious strands. Let the apples cool completely before using as a filling (and try to avoid eating all of them). Leftover apples can be used as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake, oatmeal, or just eaten straight out of the bowl.

Danish Braid

1/2 recipe of the above danish dough
1 cup apple filling, jam, preserves, etc.
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk (for egg wash)

To assemble:
  • Roll danish dough into a 15x20 rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Place on a parchment-papered baking sheet to assemble.
  • Along the long side of the pasty, make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts, each about 1-inch apart, making sure to line up the cuts with the other side.
  • Spoon the filling of your choice down the center of the rectangle.
  • Starting with the top and bottom "flaps", fold the top flat down and the bottom flat up to cover the filling. Next fold the side strips over the filling, alternating left and right, until finished.
  • Beat together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
  • I was out of eggs by this point, so I just brushed the pastries with milk.
To Proof and Bake:
  • Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch. My braid didn't rise too much during this process.
  • Near the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake about 15- 20 minutes more, or until golden brown. The baking time will be shortened if you are making smaller braids or danishes.
  • Since my braids and danishes were smaller, I only baked them for 8-10 minutes after reducing the temperature.
  • Cool and serve the braid either warm from the oven or at room temperature.
fold left 1/3 over middle 1/3

fold right 1/3 over middle 1/3

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Contrary to popular beliefs (and this blog), I don't just eat sweets. Cooking is therapeutic for me, and in most cases, a lot less stressful than baking. With the specific chemistry involved in baking, missing a little of this or that could mean the difference between a beautifully puffed cake and a flat piece of cardboard (believe me, I've done that). I like the flexibility and forgiving nature of cooking, as well as its proclivity for creative experimentation.

Truth be told, I never had much Korean food before I came to Berkeley. But since I'm now part of a Korean martial arts team, headed by a very Korean master, surrounded by Korean teammates, it's a guarantee that most meals out are going to be Korean food. Not that I mind. One of my favorite restaurants in this area is little hole-in-the-wall place with barred front doors next to "Big Daddy's Chinese Restaurant" (no kidding). I think I had ddeokbokki for the first time there. Ddeokbokki is a homey dish of sauteed rice cake in a spicy sauce. The soft and chewy ddeok are colored a brillant red from the gochugang paste, tamed by the sweet from brown sugar and tang from tomato sauce. Since cooking is a method, I didn't provide a detailed recipe. I urge you to experiment with your own sauce and to create one with a balanced flavor that you like. Also, you can toss in whatever meats and vegetables you would like. This is a rustic dish, and everyone makes it a little differently.


Rice cake or stick
sliced onions
sliced green onions
sliced cabbage
crushed garlic
fish cake, chicken, or other meats
corn starch
cooking wine

gochujang (1.5:1 ratio with sugar)
brown sugar

If using meat, slice thinly and marinate in soysauce and cooking wine (enough to moisten). Add corn starch to coat (this will make a protective coating for the meat to keep it tender when cooking). Heat oil in a pan, add in meat and saute until 85% cooked. Remove.

Add more oil if needed and saute onions, cabbage, and garlic for a minute. Add in rice cake and cook for an additional minute. In the mean time, mix together gochujang, sugar, ketchup and soysauce. Add to cooking rice cakes. Add in sliced fish cakes (if using) or meat and cook for an additional minute. Finally toss in the green onions and cook for another 30 seconds. The rice cakes should be soft but not mushy and the vegetables and meat cooked.