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.
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