January 21, 2011

lavender shortbread.

Tonight, Lisa and I whipped up a batch of perfect buttery little shortbread cookies with a hint of lavender, so tasty and yummy-smelling! Probably the easiest and quickest cookies I’ve ever made, and also now one of my absolute favorites! Perfect with tea on a cold wintery night…or any time really ^.^

Inspired by a lovely bag of lavender sugar and beautiful canister of rose tea Lisa brought over from Cardullo’s in Harvard Square - thanks roomie!

Aren’t they adorable??


Lavender Shortbread
2 dozen small cookies

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. lavendar sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and flour until well combined.

Using hands, shape into small balls and roll in lavender sugar. Flatten lightly with a small glass dipped in lavender sugar.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until bottoms are golden brown. Cool before serving.

Enjoy with hot tea!

"Try one, you’ll love it I promise!" But no guarantees that you’ll be able to stop at just one…or two…or ten?

January 18, 2011

asparagus & aioli.

In Science & Cooking class, we made a delicious aioli - garlic and olive oil sauce - during our Emulsions unit that I got a sudden craving for today…super garlicky and creamy, it goes with just about everything and is perfect any time for a garlic lover like myself.

The kind we made and that I made today is not considered traditional because it uses egg yolk as a stabilizing agent. Classic Catalan aioli is made of only garlic, salt, and olive oil, notoriously difficult to perfect since there is no help from an extra stabilizing agent like lecithin from egg yolk, only the garlic as an emulsifier, so you must be extremely careful and patient in adding in the olive oil literally a drop at a time. We tried the classic version in lab too but failed miserably. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize the emulsion had “broken” until my TF said so 20 minutes later…all that laborious whisking for nothing, sigh…

Needless to say, I didn’t want to have that same experience again (although someday when I have the upper body strength, I will practice until I make a satisfactory classic aioli), so today I stuck with the non-classic but much easier and equally delicious recipe. Since it contains raw egg, this aioli/mayonnaise not really food-safe so you can use milk instead of the egg for a safe “lactonaise” version. Recipes from lab for all three versions after the jump!

Although the non-classic (and lactonaise) version is much easier and quicker, it still requires care - if you add in too much oil at once, the emulsion will break - so be patient and work slowly! It’s definitely worth the effort for a pungent, very garlicky, sharp & bright sauce that adds amazing flavor and richness to any food. I served it with grilled asparagus, an egg-white omelet, and pan-fried polenta for a zesty and healthier twist on the ever-popular asparagus eggs benedict. Very delicious. Very.

Doesn’t look very appetizing yet, but it’s already super garlicky and delicious, trust me!

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January 16, 2011

paint chip art

New art for my room, thanks to this brilliant tutorial from Aunt Peaches!

Yes, I shamelessly and speedily grabbed one of every single paint swatch in the hardware section at Walmart and shoved the huge stack into my pocket. Yes, the act of doing so made me giddy like a small child. Yes, I realize you’re technically allowed to do that so it really wasn’t as bold or daring as I think.

And yes, I know this is not food-related. But yes, I am very very proud of the final product (despite the minimal skill and effort involved), whipped together in an hour while watching the Miss America pageant (Miss Arizona was robbed, I swear…come on, she’s the female and hot version of Terry Fator!!).

polenta palooza

Inspired by this and this and this, I ate polenta for every meal today (and also cooked poached eggs for the first time!). Yes, I went a bit overboard, but this stuff is just so versatile and delicious - all the dishes I made were totally different, each utilizing a different polenta texture and different flavors, and all were super tasty and tied together via the satisfying creaminess and grittiness of this beautiful and nutritious yellow grain. Recipes after the jump for Hot Breakfast Polenta w/Poached Egg, Tomato, and Chinese Preserved Vegetables, Mini Polenta Cakes w/Blueberry Sauce, and Polenta Bites!

Breakfast/brunch: hot polenta with poached egg, tomato, and Chinese pickled vegetables (zha cai)…and a dab of siracha, of course :) This was my favorite meal of the day, so simple and clean, satisfying, super delicious, and nutritious! My family already eats a lot of oatmeal and rice porridge (congee), which I love and are very similar to grits, but it was nice to have a slight change of pace this morning. Plus, the bright yellow color of the polenta with the other colorful toppings perked me up right away :)

(Note: My parents both agreed the polenta was very tasty and good alternative to oatmeal, but they still prefer the latter as their daily staple since apparently oatmeal has a bit more fiber and other nutritional value.)

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January 13, 2011

truffles & spices.

Trader Joe’s has, among many glorious goodies, an incredible selection of chocolate covered things - chocolate covered blueberries, raisins, cranberries, powerberries, pretzels, espresso beans, you name it. A few months ago, I even spotted a box of dark chocolate covered ginger and picked one up just to try it - I really love the flavor of ginger but would never have thought to pair it with chocolate. I figured the candies would be candied ginger dipped in chocolate, so the ginger taste would probably be very light and largely overpowered by the chocolate and sugar, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ginger flavor was actually very fresh and bold, the main attraction rather than a supporting role to the chocolate. The texture and flavor made it seem like it was just a small piece of fresh ginger dipped in dark chocolate, and I keep reminding myself to try making it myself sometime.

I was going to today, but after surveying the cabinets and discovering a mostly-full box of cocoa powder and leftover heavy cream in the refrigerator I bought for the quiche but only used a couple tablespoons of, I decided to make use of the cream before it went sour to create a truffle version of the ginger candy.

And then I got to thinking about all the other flavors and spices I love and could possibly pair with chocolate…

I ruled out star anise, basil, rosemary, garlic, siracha (can you believe my brother and I have finished most of a large bottle of this stuff in just 3 weeks??), black pepper, and oregano. Who knows, maybe one of these spices could actually be tasty with chocolate…but with only one bag of chocolate chips at my disposal, I wasn’t willing to risk it today.

I settled on cinnamon, ginger, and chili powder, but after overcooking the cream for the first batch, I had to kick out one of them and chose cinnamon since it was the least interesting to me of the three - better luck next time, buddy. 

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