Wednesday, November 14, 2007


実は、日本語版のCalifornia Kitchenこちらに移動いたしました。

Monday, July 9, 2007

Camera Test for EOS REBEL XT

I'm planning to buy a new digital camera so I tested Canon EOS today.

The top pic is EOS digital REBEL XT. Manual setting ISO800, No flash.
The pic below is power shotA540. Auto setting, Macro, No flash. How's difference?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Creme Caramel

It's a popular dessert which I made for customers last week end. That's very strange because some people called "Creme Caramel" but some people called "Custard", also some people called "Flan" but these three are same things.

We call "Pudding" in Japan and the most popular dessert for everybody from baby to adult. It's just simple ingredients and method which makes a delicious custard. The main ingredients are eggs, milk and sugar. Just egg and 1/2 amount of sugar mix together and add warm milk with 1/2 amount of sugar. Stir and strain once or twice then pour into ramekins and bake with steam. Some people use steamer on the stove but some people use the oven with Bain Marie(water bath)covered with a piece of aluminum foil. Ether one is OK but I recommend to use steamer for home and oven for commercial, just easy way to use steamer for home bakers because NO worry for moving the pan with hot water so.

Today's my Creme Caramel tastes pretty good but too rich for me because I used half cream + half milk and egg yolks+whole eggs. Since long time, my Creme Caramel is always used regular milk(Don't use fat free or less fat!) and whole eggs not yolks. I learned a delicious Creme Caramel when I worked for the pastry shop in Japan but I totally forgot that recipe.... Well, I will definitely try again with regular milk and whole eggs to make "Japanese Creme Caramel".

Oh, I just remember about "Pudding a la Mode" which is also popular pudding dessert in Japan since when I was a child. Just decorated with whipped cream and topped with melon, tangerine and pineapple pieces on the pudding.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Baby Shower Cake

Since I saw this cute idea for baby shower's cake from someone's picture on the net, I really wanted to make for someone. Finally a chance came to me! I got an order from our client lady who was planning for her daughter's baby shower. Her pregnancy daughter is expecting twin babies who are boy and girl. I can't imagine to have twin babies... sounds like little bit scary to me. But actually my grandma is one of twin so I'm sure I have a gene for getting twins...

Talking about my cakes, the party was 12 people so I used three 9" and one 6" cake molds to bake vanilla sponge cakes. I knew that's too much for only 12 people but I wanted make cake prettier so I just did it. (Actually I cut into small wheals, handle and cover so I really needed that much sponge cakes...extra pieces were gone to staff's stomaches!)

She requested me lemon flavor and raspberry so I filled with lite lemon mousse and fresh raspberries. Coated with lemon icing and piped cute pink and blue like flowers image for baby boy and girl. Oh yes, I set up cakes like stroller. It was a big hit! People around me liked my cake. Specially a banquet manager liked this cake so much and she asked me a possibilities to sell more cakes like this in near future. Sounds very interesting to me but I can't because I have too much work now and I don't want to have less time to make these creations. (It takes time more than I thought...)

Later on, I met a lady who is a member of our club and she told me my cake was so good and so pretty. Nice to hear anything like that! I think I got some clients for my future business.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I've just finished Mother's Day brunch for 460 people last Sunday. I wasn't expected that much banquets I have in my work and need to make lots and lots of desserts for them. I heard from April to June are most busiest season for the country club. The weather makes people come to play golf or do all kind of events. Of course wedding season is in June! Fortunately, I don't need to make the wedding cakes so that makes little bit my stress off. But still I have parties and upcoming events every day.

Well, a great season has the great vegetables and fruits! Here rhubarb is one of my favorite unique vegetable. I never had and cooked before so my first time to cook Rhubarb was compote at the cooking school in London. Actually I didn't like it because too much fibers and tastes so sour. I thought my teacher gave me wrong recipe? Who knows! Well, I knew that rhubarb and strawberry are great combinations since I moved to California. Here is the best combinations spring dessert "Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp" which I made for regular dinning service in weekend for few weeks.

At the beginning, I didn't cook rhubarb before I put into oven with crumble so it was bit uncooked in the center and I found it out later(actually I gave my boss and his wife was complained about it!). Yes, rhubarb needs more time for cooking than strawberries. So I cooked rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice for about 10min on the stove then transfer to ramekins and mix with strawberries and put crumble on the top. I think that makes them cook faster and cook all way through so less time and no worry about uncooked rhubarb pieces. Much better crisp I made than before!
I adapted crisp topping recipe from my favorite Claudia Freming's dessert book "The Last Course". I arranged sugar amount and spice but this is my favorite crisp topping always.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Spring has come! One of my spring favorite is artichokes. I didn't know and never seen artichokes when I was in Japan. I saw them first time 5 years ago when I moved in California.
I had no idea to cook this unique vegetable and my husband told me how to do.
The artichoke has lots of thorns just like cat nails and has hard leaves just like shells. You can only eat the bottom (small part) of leaf (see the picture below) and heart (see the second picture below)in the center.

How to cook? You just need to cook it with lemon or vinegar water until bamboo skewer thought into center of artichoke.
Dip with lemon butter and eat the bottom of leaves. After eat leaves, take off the center of hair like and trim around of heart then you can use it for risotto, pasta, salad and anything you want. It's a sweet flower like flavor and texture is just like chestnuts.

I knew the artichokes and cream are great combinations. So I made Fettuccine Alfredo with artichoke hearts, shrimps, lemon zest and "Yuzuton" which is citrus x red pepper paste originally from southern part of Japan. It was so delicious!!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Clematis & Hydrangea

I don't know since when but my favorite flowers are always clematis and hydrangea. I used to love rose or different flowers just like other girls but now I love those flowers more than any flowers. I bought this clematis last year from TJ's and enjoyed beautiful flowers blooming so much and here they came back again! I'm so lucky because I didn't take care of them much.... oh, something different this year's clematis. Their colors are little bit light and flowers are small but still beautiful as last year.

About my hydrangea, it came to my house a year ago from my friend Angel who used be my co-worker and a very best friend of me. After few months, the blanches lost leaves and looked like sick but they came back this year again with beautiful leaves and many little buds. What an amazing thing! See little flowers are waiting for blooming? I heard an unique Hydrangea nature from Angle. The color of flower could be changed with different soil. For example, you feed acid into your soil if you want to your flower to be pink, then you need to feed alkaline for blue or purple flowers. I didn't try last year so I will try this year for seeing what's gonna happened.

My mom loved clematis and I sent her many clematis pots since when I was young so she always reminds me when she saws those flowers.
This clematis is not climbing one (I didn't know about it when I got this...) so I want to have a climbing clematis in near future but I need to find a space for putting.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My favorite brownies

Since I started to work for country club, I need to make lots of brownies. I've tried many brownie recipes but it didn't come out well as my thought. I was thinking that was oven problem, chocolate difference or method difference.... Many times tried different recipes and finally I met a great recipe which I really wanted.

I found this recipe from New York Times on April 11th. The name is "Supernatural Brownies" by Nick Malgieri. Actually I have his book "CHOCOLATE". He wrote all chocolate recipes of American, French, Italian and showcase display. It's awesome book!
Anyway I tried his brownie recipe from that book for Easter event and I liked it. But I got better result from his news paper's recipe.
Difference? I think it's chocolate. I used 72% dark chocolate before but I tried 54% semisweet chocolate from Trader Joe's this time. Also method is different. His recipe from the book said add eggs into chocolate and butter mixture. The news paper's recipe said egg and sugar whisk together then add chocolate and butter mixture into egg mixture. So that process makes more volume and not too dense, anyway best brownies I ever had.

Here is a recipe!
**Supernatural Brownies"**
adapted by Nick Malgieri
(8x8inch baking pan)

12TBS butter
6oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
a pinch of salt
3/4C brown sugar
3/4C granulated sugar
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
3/4C flour
1/2C chopped walnut, roasted

1. Butter a 8x8 inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325F. In top of double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer,whisk eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla.
2.Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. Add walnuts.Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45~50minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.

**For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped**
**I reduced granulated sugar amount from3/4C to 1/2C but still great taste and less sugar!!!**

Please try and let me know your result, everyone!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies

As you know I work for restaurant as a pastry chef. Do you know most of chefs and pastry chefs don't cook or bake at home so often? Yes, it's true! I cook almost everyday but I don't make dessert at home much. Just like regular chefs.

My husband is not a big sweet tooth person but he asks me to make simple dessert just like cookies and brownies sometimes. He told me that he didn't eat sweets much when he was young so do I. I like sweets but my after school snacks were vegetables such as fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet potatoes because my grandma grew those vegetables in the back yard and she fed me and my sisters always.

I have been busy for a while specially for big easter weekend came a week ago. So I didn't have enough communications with my husband. So I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies for him because he requested me to make for a while..

I got a great recipe from Kansan who is my blog friend in LA and she got it from NEIMAN MARCUS's web site and her husband(who kept recipe for long time). She tried two different recipes and tasted.
That recipe has an interesting story!
A customer liked the chocolate chip cookies at Neiman Marcus Cafe so she asked server for getting that recipe. A server's answer was NO first time but she got that delicious cookie recipe after negotiation. A story is not finished. She got a bill from them and charged $250 for that recipe. Of course she wasn't expecting that much money so she called them to return that recipe and giving back her money but it didn't work.
So that customer wrote and copy that story with recipe and send to friends.
I don't know that is true story or not but $250 is too expensive for recipe! I know that's signature recipe but still too much money...

I tried a recipe from NEIMAN MARCUS's web site one.
It's a very simple cookie recipe but nice and moist because of brown sugar and butter combinations. It was easy but not getting color so I baked a little longer than recipe. A half of cookies were a little too much baked because my tricky oven... they turned to crispy but another half were perfect! It was a nice and sweet smell in my house and my husband came to the kitchen and stand beside me to get warm cookies. It was very nice even crispy cookies too. So delicious!
I wrapped small packages and sent my friends. Hope they liked my cookies. I like eat cookies with fresh brewed black coffee or ice cream sandwiches. I always keep the vanilla ice cream in my freezer so I made several ice cream sandwiches for later so he will be happy!
This simple dessert makes everyone's smile. Of course great compliment from everybody! I can't make two different kind of mousse torte like cake shop but I can definitely make cookies and ice cream sandwiches at home.
Click here for California Kitchen in Japanese

Friday, March 30, 2007

Osso Bucco

I made Osso Bucco last night. It was my first time to make but it came just like restaurant's meal. What is Osso Bucco? Italian said Ossobucco alla milanese which is Braised veal shank from Milano in Italy. It usually comes with gremolata which is a mixture of garlic, Italian parsley and citrus zest.

I got 4 Osso Bucco from the meat shop. A shop guy asked me to him to cut those shanks into half but I said NO THANKS. That made a bad decision for me and I had a hard time to crack bones into half. Unfortunately, I gave up to cut so I cooked the whole shanks damp into my big Le Creuset pot.

Process for making Osso Bucco is very simple. It just needs a time for braising about 2hours.
I used recipe from my favorite recipe site and followed her recipe. I saw making Osso Bucco at my present work and former works. They used red wine for braising but her recipe was used white wine instead of red wine. Wine is different, taste is different! Taste more light and color was different but meat are tender and it was big success! Also gremolata made a nice refreshing flavor for braising meat.

In the restaurant, they serve Osso Bucco with creamy polenta so I wanted to make. But I couldn't get polenta from several stores in my neighborhood so I used corn meal and made corn mash. (I thought both are pretty similar. )I was bit confused about corn mash and grits.... Oh, my god! It got lumps everywhere and didn't go away even I used whisk. I was realized using grits process which is boil water first then add grits. I saw package and it showed water and corn meal together in beginning! It was a big mistake but my husband didn't care about it and ate it all. Thanks!

I learned several things from this cooking, specially bone and corn mash things. It was a hearty delicious dinner both of us and I definitely make it again!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Pizza at home

We don't go out or deliver pizza often but we love homemade pizza. Why? Because pizza shop's pizza has too much cheese on and crust is thick I mean too much bread.
I usually make pizza dough by myself but I found the great pizza dough from Trader Joe's in last year. It's only a buck and so easy to use. They have plain, garlic herb and wheat but I recommend garlic herb one. Anyway you just need to roll out that soft dough.

Of course, I always make pizza sauce from scratch. I use canned whole tomato, tomato paste, garlic and dried Italian herb mix. Just sautee garlic with olive oil and add other ingredients. Cook until thick sauce. Simple and easy!

I made salami and mushrooms pizza with Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese on the top today. I love Colombus salami which is the meat company in San Francisco. They make the great salami and meat products. I like their products since I worked for restaurant in CA.

About cheese, lightly top on my pizza is my way. No too much cheese on because we both have a bad stomach problem after the giant cheesy pizza when we eat. And Mozzarella and Cheddar is my favorite combination always.

I always create something different or something new for my pizza so I tried Thai Chicken Pizza this time. I just remembered about me and my husband had date long time ago and we ate Thai Chicken Pizza at the California Pizza Kitchen. Great memories and great foods for casual lunch♪
So I tried. I don't have that kind of sauce so I just spread hot & sweet chili sauce (I usually use for dipping sauce for coconut shrimps....) on the rolled pizza dough and sprinkle green onion, cooked asparagus, cooked chicken and mushrooms. Lightly sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and bake for 15minutes. Topped with lots of chopped cilantro makes great Asian flavor.
Hey, it was delicious! My husband said better than California Pizza Kitchen. Compliment!
For us, eat pizza with organic garden salad is better solution than buffalo wings!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Australian Wine Makers Dinner

I've been working as a pastry chef at the private country club since last month. I'm still new and need to figure out their events and occasions. We have the banquet events every weekend so many people come to the club. Everyone is expecting the great dinner and dessert.
Here they are! We served a delicious dinner for our wine makers dinner last Wednesday.
I made Apricot Souffle with Almond Ice Cream for their final. They were pairing with Australian Sparkling wine. I got this souffle recipe from Sou Chef's cook book. It takes time to process because we used dried apricots and make them soft and puree. But it's very easy after that process. Here is a recipe!

Individual Apricot Souffle
10 servings

1 1/2c water
1c dried apricot
1/2c sugar

Bring a gentle simmer, cover tightly cook for 20minutes.
Let cool for 30minutes and make puree in a blender with 1TBS lemon juice until smooth and creamy puree.

Beat 5 egg whites ( room temp), add 1/4tsp creme of tartar until soft peak.
Gradually beat in 1/4c sugar and make stiff meringue.

Add meringue into apricot puree and pour into buttered and sugar ramekins.
bake at 325 for 10min.
Serve immediately!