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Archive for April, 2011


Today is the last day I bake in my Richmond home.  I’m moving next week and it’s a older house we are moving to, which we have to do a bit of renovation in the kitchen.  With a tight budget, we may do just simple upgrades of appliances and painting the cabinets ourselves.  I can see it will be a long while before I can bake again, so today I made my last loaf of my husband’s favorite raisin bread and finish up whatever I see siting in the fridge:  1/2 of a big carrot, an apple, and my 1/8 bag of raisin.  It’s a healthy muffin loaded with fiber.  I added only 1/4 cup of coconut and cannot taste any, thus I increase to 1/2 cup in the recipe.

carrot muffin

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Nothing from my kitchen is healthier than this:  homemade bread that does not have added chemical, that would have whole grain / nuts / dried fruits / whatever you like.

My husband never asked me to make anything particular, except once in a while he would say: Grace, it’s been a while since last raisin bread!

Yes, he only cares about raisin buns.  I feel guilty of not making any breads lately, thus today is the day to satisfy him.   Baking bread at home isn’t as hard as it sounds.  It’s time consuming because it takes time for the dough to rise, then you shape, then let it rise again before baking.  After trying out a few different recipes, I like the basic sweet dough recipe the most (from this Chinese baking book by Alex Goh):

With that recipe, I always make one loaf of raisin bread (only for him), and make a few small buns with various fillings to give away.  Today I am wrapping raisin and chestnut inside, then sprinkle some coconut and almond bits.

Raisin Chestnut Bun with Coconut almond top

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I have this old book dessert that I failed every single dessert I tried when I was young.  Now that I have more baking experience, I decided to give it one more try.  I came across three different souffle recipe, again all are so different.  This time I followed almost exactly what this book taught, except I had a little bit less butter, changed plain flour to cake flour to make it lighter, and just substituted Grand Mariner with Cointreau (just happened to have only a tiny bit of Cointreau left and I have the same liqueur chocolate at home!  Great for photo decor).

Cointreau Liqueur Souffle

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Here you can put the pulled sugar decoration on a freshly baked apple tart, then served it with vanilla ice cream.  The crunchy sugar along with the warm apple and cold ice cream is a heavenly 5-star dessert that will definitely blow your guests away.

Apple Almond Tart

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First time I saw about sugar spinning was from Pastry Chef Becky.  She worked at Pan Pacific Hotel and she demonstrated an “apple tarte tatin” dessert with a mesmerizing sugar decoration.  It looks really fun and I attempted once with sugar, corn syrup and it failed.  I so want to make it, thus I actually called up to the radio station when she was on air and asked for recipe.  I happened to make puff pastry from scratch, have a granny smith apple at home, and have 1/4 box of vanilla ice cream.  Isn’t that the perfect ingredients to make the apple dessert that I can experiment the sugar spinning?

It turns out a success….. very very fun.  I think I will do it again.

Apple Almond Tart with Caramelized Sugar Decoration

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I froze the lobster heads and shells after cooking the whole lobster a few weeks ago.  Lobster bisque is always something I want to make, as it’s expensive to order at a restaurant.  Well, it’s a lot of work, and I think coming up with a recipe that I can follow is the hardest.  The 3 recipes I read are all so different, so I’m using my common cooking method: combining what I think would be the best.  Roasting the shells first really brings out the flavor.
I added a bit too much paprika / black pepper.  Thus the soup is a bit more spicy (which we don’t mind.. but for the sake of one of the guests, we should be more conservative with the spiciness.  If you follow this recipe, you should be very satisfied with the soup.  My friend who does not eat lobster actually licked the soup bowl clean.  The saddest part is, it’s actually quite a lot of work, to produce just 5 bowls of soup.  I may not make it again, but definitely it’s one of the best soup made in Grace’s Kitchen.

Creamy Lobster Bisque

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I always think the sweet egg sushi is for kids only.  I never touch it when it’s in the assorted sushi platter.  Nevertheless, after tasting the traditional tamagoyaki in Japan and seeing the few famous specialty “egg omelette” stores in Tsukiji  (famous fish market near Tokyo), I changed my view on this egg dish.  I think it’s so fun to learn how to make it, so today I finally used the non-stick square pan I bought a few months ago from a local Japanese market.   After trying 1-2 rolls, I kind of understand the technique of rolling a nice tamagoyaki.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg sushi)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp light soy
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Brush pan with oil.  Cook over 4 / 10 heat.  You really need to watch a video on Youtube to understand how to cook the egg properly.  Anyways, add a small piece of sushi rice and you get EGG SUSHI !!  (I have a post of sushi rice recipe before)

Tamago sushi, with some simple roll sushi (canned salmon + shredded pork + mayo)

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