This cake is unfortunately not my idea, nor is it one uniform recipe because I have tried and tested it in different ways over the past few months. Parts of this recipe are gleaned from some amazing bits I have found online and the remaining are from my own experience of trial and error. It is originally known as the Kievsky Cake and is eaten all over Eastern Europe.Read More
These adorable snowflake cookies are lovingly made with all kinds of aromatic spices like cloves and cardamom to name a few. My goal was to make them somewhat reminiscent of pfeffernusse (peppernuts) cookies--a traditional German cookie that I've fallen in love with eight Christmases ago while I was visiting Greg's family in Kansas.Read More
For the longest time I've been the complete opposite of a homebody. Just ask my mother...My poor mother, bless her heart, who was neither delighted nor reassured that I would ever come home safely all those years she put up with my habit of eating lunch, then disappearing until dinner time, only to repeat it all over again. Such was my typical pattern as a little girl. Happily, yet naively, wandering the streets of Buenos Aires without a care. I thought I could change my bent as I grew older in the States, where laws for "wandering" children are meticulously monitored and actually enforced, but nothing could help me shake off the feeling of uneasiness.Read More
When everyone else is clamoring about how they don’t want summer to end along with its bounty of berries, I’ll always be the one muttering something along the lines of “no but seriously...Fall is way better, and so are knee high boots and spice scented candles and people are just nicer all around", all whilst sheepishly sipping on a hot cup of coffee in the blistering 90F's.
Something about fall tends to slow me down in a positive way. I wouldn't say my life is currently packed with business meetings or back to back graveyard shifts, or anything of that sort really, unless you count back to back disciplining and the attempt to teach honorable things to your toddler in that same category, then yes it is equivalent to having a back to back something. The tempering effects of fall--if not resulting in the physical--then the mental and the spiritual, appeal to me more as years go by. They remind me to settle my heart and just be, to trust God and to hit the reset button whatever the circumstance. To reflect on current blessings, and to share them somehow along the way, often with a side of coffee and dessert on hand.
This year though, Greg (husband) and I noticed that a few things about me have changed exponentially. For example, I no longer rely on Stevia as evidenced by all my recipes from the past year. And summer fruit, as opposed to hard shelled produce like squash and pumpkin (LA has these all year round), has never been one of my greatest forms of sustenance up until this summer. Berries, watermelon (my favorite), and gigantic mangoes on sale are making a daily appearance in this household which indicate something's up, you guys. I love sales! But what's less obvious is that I don't mind things that remind me of summer, like this creamy and refreshing pasta dish. Experts do say however, that women tend to change more over the course of their 20s-30s than men do, so there's a lazy explanation. But I digress.
Given that my palate has evolved in so many ways since years past, I'm not so apprehensive towards fusion type foods anymore. I suspect this green tea soba with clams is a heinous sound to your precious ears. But it couldn't be any more lovely (surprisingly) in every sense of the word. The green tea soba is mild in taste and the wheat+buckwheat flavor still makes itself known--loud and clear. Clams also have a way of naturally flavoring any stock or pasta dish, so not many ingredients are necessary for the busy last-minute home cook. Clams and creamy soba make for an extremely flavorful pairing with a mysterious punch at the end, which is a result from minced garlic and the natural juices percolating from fresh clams.
Even though a creamy pasta base normally suggests a cloying of the taste buds especially when eaten in the peak of summer, fresh cucumbers lighten this up tremendously. It's amazing how one simple ingredient can transform the image of an entire dish, and now I'm curious what new found methods you are using in your kitchen! Please do share.
As a side note, always make sure to soak fresh clams in water for about 30 minutes. Doing so will rid the clams of sand granules and unnecessary salt, along with any nasty things we don't want in our bodies. Plus, it's actually kind of fun to watch them open up under water!
Green Tea Soba Pasta alle Vongole
Makes 2-3 servings || Inspired by Just One Cookbook
Time: Approximately 1 hour including the soaking method
200g dried Cha Soba noodles (or regular)
2 lbs. fresh clams
2 tbsp butter (unsalted preferred)
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 fresh cucumbers, grated
Place all the clams inside a large bowl and fill it with water, enough to cover all the clams. Let it soak for about 20-30 minutes and until most of the clams are opened up. When you are ready to use them shake any excess water out.
Bring water to a boil in a medium pot, add dried noodles, bring the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until tender but firm. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter, place all the clams still in their shells and cook for about 2 minutes to get the flavors going in the pan. Pour in the cream, rice vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir and simmer lightly for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, parmesan, and grated cucumber and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes. Cheese should be melted throughout and the cucumbers will be slightly tender but still fresh. Garnish with more cucumber if desired, along with toasted sesame seeds. This dish will taste even better the next day! Keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge.
What are your favorite Asian+European fusion foods currently?
In what ways have you changed in the past year or so?
With my friend Susan's bridal shower being tomorrow and the wedding next month, I'm trying to be the more financially responsible version of myself. Quite truthfully a large chunk of my allowance money goes to...you guessed it. Food. It's quite embarrassing to admit, I must say. And sweet, doughy pastries that make up the 15% of my not-so-healthy-eating portion, might I add.
I am absolutely ecstatic for her wedding and in disbelief that it's so quickly coming to an end. This also means that I need to keep a tight seal on that wallet of mine, and my thoughts out of the gutter (pastry gutter to be exact) if I want to fit in the dress like the last time I tried it on. It's a long, elegant navy dress that hugs all the right parts (thankfully). So in light of honoring my sweet, doughy cravings without last minute alterations, I'm baking my own bread more often.
Bread making can seem like a dauntingly tedious task to some folks, but sometimes all that hard work pays off because there's something invaluable in knowing what actually goes into your food. While I am all for getting my sweet fix in an instant at the Torrance Bakery, I am equally approving of the laborious, yet forgotten approaches in life. Mixing, kneading, waiting, flouring, then kneading, and waiting some more, are so extremely satisfying to this old soul. "Pfffttt you,an old soul?" You might say. And I hear ya. But perhaps it's the notion that bread making uncannily resembles life in terms of waiting, changing, growing, regressing, and growing some more.
I earnestly hope and pray for Susan so that her marriage will be a blessed one filled with growing, reconciling, and ultimately loving at all costs. Just like I make bread at all costs. It doesn't always matter how frazzled I am because if I can stay up a few more hours just to see the dough rise and ponder about God's goodness, I'm one happy lady. :)
This bread doesn't require much work apart from my usual bread recipes. I do recommend, however, to always have powdered milk on hand if you want a fluffy and (super) tall rise. You can definitely use almond meal instead of hazelnut flour but I think the fragrant cardamom complements the rich, smoky taste of hazelnut just perfectly. Dried cherries aren't a must, but you certainly should add a dried fruit element to get this sweet and tangy combination.
It should be noted that I rolled the dough too loosely due to limited space so try to use a large surface area to work the dough. Rolling it from the outside in towards yourself should be enough to get the swirls of paste evenly layered, and as the photos suggest I rolled it in way too many directions so it looks a bit messy. But hey, it was unbelievably good.
This bread recipe is perfect for the family and healthy enough for breakfast or as dessert with condensed milk drizzled on top. I was also pretty surprised when out of curiosity I googled bread with cardamom filling--just last night. Turns out that there's actually a very similar bread originating from Finland. I guess there's always something to learn in the world of cooking!
Yeast Bread with a Sweet Hazelnut & Cardamom Paste
Makes one large loaf
Ingredients for dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp powdered milk
1 cup warm water
1 pack dry active yeast
2 large eggs
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt (or regular)
1 scrambled egg yolk for brushing
coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Ingredients for paste filling
1 1/4 cups hazelnut flour
1 cup confectioner sugar
5 tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup dried cherries (or other fruit)
Use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment if you have one to speed up the process. Start by dissolving powdered milk in warm water and follow by adding yeast. Let it proof for about 10 minutes. In the mixing bowl, mix together the flours and then add the milk+yeast mixture. Add eggs, butter, sugar, and knead with the dough hook at medium speed until you see the dough roughly coming together. Throw in the salt and knead at high speed until it's stretchy and soft, and if it's too sticky add a tbsp flour. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with a damp towel, placing it in a spot with no wind draft. Let it rise for about 35-40 minutes and turn oven to 375 F (191 C).
Meanwhile mix all the cardamom filling ingredients minus the dried cherries. Mix it until it becomes like a paste.
Roll out the dough on a large, floured surface (up to about 1/2 inch thick). Gently spread the paste on top and sprinkle with dried cherries. Grab the end that is opposite of you and somewhat tightly roll it in towards yourself. Place inside a loaf pan and make sure all ends are inside the pan. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden. After cooling down completely, store in airtight container.