About Me

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"Tout fait Maison" probably is the closest way to express how I like to live my life. I have always love making everything from scratch in my own kitchen since I was a little girl growing up in Hong Kong. Unfortunately kitchens in Hong Kong are much smaller and people do not always have the "real" oven there but only the toaster type oven. Therefore, things did not always turn out in my Hong Kong kitchen until I get my real kitchen here. To me, baking and working with dairy products are like doing science experiments. I get extremely excited when I see that my cheese is forming the way it should be or my bread is rising properly. When my end products come out perfectly, that is probably what I strive for. So I would like to share my secrets with all my friends who enjoy baking and enjoy kitchen experiments as much as I do. I have been a French trained aritsan chocolatier for the last 8 years and I still feel like there are so much to learn in the chocolate and pastry field. Having traveled the world and trained in two of the most amazing schools in France (Valrhona Chocolates and Lenotre),my goal is to spread my joy of baking to all of you.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tres Leches Cake


Okay I admit that I have a lot of favorites and this cake is pretty up there in terms of my favorite cakes.  Tres Leches Cake also known as pan tres leches "three milk bread" which is actually a sponge cake soaked with three kinds of milk and usually they are evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream (but you can also cut the fat by using half and half or even whole milk) then top with whipping cream.  The reason for using a sponge cake because you want a cake to have light crumbs and spongy so that it will soaked up all the milk.  In my version, I put some vanilla beans into my sponge cake and also some rum in my three milk but if you like it to be original you can omit those.  The first time I was introduced to this cake was when I was teaching English as a second language at San Francisco YMCA literacy program.  At the end of every session we would have a potluck and since there were a big Hispanic student body at our school students would bring their homemade tres leches cake to the party and I remember just kept on eating and eating and I almost ate half of the cake, yeah probably it was not a good idea but it was so delicious that I could not stop eating.  As I am sure that if you are any kind of a cake lover you couldn't either.

Ingredient:

For the Cake
70g of flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 large egg, separated
A pinch of cream of tartar
90g of sugar
60 ml of whole milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla essence (optional)

Preheat oven 350 and spray a 6 inch cake pan

Using a hand mixer, whisk egg white and cream of tartar until soft peak form then slowly add the sugar into the egg white mixture and whisk until all sugar are mixed in

Add the egg yolk and vanilla if using then mix well.

Mix together flour and baking powder then fold 1/3 of the flour into the egg batter, then add 1/3 of the whole milk then repeat this whole process until all the flour and milk are gone.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake about 22 mins and see if it is done by pressing the top of the cake lightly and if it feels firm then it is done and I usually like to leave the cake in there for another 2 mins with heat turn off just to make sure it is done.

Take the cake out and leave it to cool a little bit before flipping it out

Us a skewer poke the cake with lots of holes so that the milk mixture will be a able to get into the cake.



For the three milk mixture

1/3 cup of evaporated milk
1/3 cup of condensed milk
1/3 cup of heavy cream (or half and half or whole milk)
1 cap full of rum if using

In a bowl mix all the milk together (and rum if using)



Then warm it up in a microwave for about 30 second till warm

Pour over the wam sponge cake slowly until milk is gone

Do not pour too fast or else the cake will not soak up the milk

For the whipping cream topping

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar

Whip until firm

Leave cake to soak up the milk for a few hours before serving

To serve cut a slice of cake and top with the sweetened whipping cream

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Shakshuka


The first time I had this breakfast dish was when I was still studying at UC Berkeley and a friend of mine took me to this little Isreali restaurant and it was served with a very yummy flaky flatbread.  In Arabic, Shakshouka means "a mixture" and precisely what this dish is about.  It is a mixture of tomatoes, shallots, garlic with some spice and a poached egg on the top.  It is very fast to whip up in the morning or lunch or even dinner.  Serve with some toast or toasted English Muffin (which is my favorite) I like to do them in individual iron skillet but you can make is in a big skillet for bigger parties and one egg for each person.

Ingredient:



Serve 1

One small shallot, chopped
One to two cloves of garlic, chopped
2 little Roma tomatoes, chopped
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
Squeeze of tomato sauce
Dash of red chili flakes
Dash of Za'atar (A blend of middle eastern herbs)
Dash of Harrisa ( Tunisian red chili paste)
One egg
Chopped cilantro and parsley to taste
Shredded cheese (optional, I like it on mine but not in original dish recipe as I like cheese on everything )

Miss en place all the ingredient

Heat skillet to medium high heat, add oil

Add shallots, garlic, and a little salt, sizzle until transparent

Add chopped tomatoes cover the skillet till tomatoes are soft



Add more salt, sugar, tomato sauce, chili flakes, Za'atar, Harrisa and mix well together until it becomes a sauce

Then break the egg on to the sauce and let it poach (do not stir) and cover the skillet and check after one minute and cook the egg to your liking usually I like the egg whites to be more done and yolk still runny.



Toast your bread at this point

Before serving add herbs and cheese if you are using on top



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Garlic Noodles






If any of you have been to AN's Family restaurants you should all know the secret garlic noodle that they serve.  I still remember the first time I went to Crustacean in San Francisco and had the garlic noodle it just blew my mind how good it was and ever since then it's history.  Pretty much all we ever wanted was that crazy garlic noodle they charge up the storm for.  And I have been trying to make them with all different ways for years and I knew there's cheese, garlic of course, and tons of butter in it but no matter how I do it, it never comes out the same.  But lately I think I have gotten close to the point that I am satisfied with it and so I would like to share my version of it with you. 

One little note NO SUBSTITUTE please because it kind of only taste right with these exact ingredient and funny enough they are all the cheap stuff.  And you can play with the amount you want to put in as you wish but the two ingredient that makes it is the sugar and the sweet soy!  

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And as for the noodles you can use spaghetti, the Pancit noodle that you can find Chinese markets works well with the chew (they are also called YI FU noodles or Cantonese noodles), the Shin Ramen works well or any other instant ramen or any egg noodles of your choice, I like thick and chewy ones. 




Ingredient:

Salted butter (like a little square worth for one serving)
Kraft Parmasean cheese powder (the green bottle we all know that cheap stuff)
Garlic powder (no fresh garlic, fried or anything else must be powder!!!)
Sweet soy or if using regular soy you will need to add more sugar (I like the Lee Kum kee Sweet soy) 
Granulated sugar or organic cane sugar
Noodles

Boil water and add noodles once noodles is done drain and transfer to bowl

Add butter first and toss together until all butter is melted then add the rest of the ingredient and toss till well mixed.  Taste as you go and add more of any ingredient to your liking. 

Enjoy!!!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cheese, Bacon and Herbs Cream Biscuits



Southern food had always been one of my favorites food and when my husband lived in New Orleans for a year we had plenty of shrimps and grits and a big serving of these biscuits.  These are so easy to whip up especially when you need them very last minute or when you crave them early in the morning.  With just a few ingredient you will be able to make these amazing little biscuits in 15 mins.



Ingredient:

1 1/2 cup of self rising flour
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I personally like sharp cheddar)
1/4 cup of bacon bits (I always have a bag of this from Costco)
1/4 cup of chopped herbs
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream (another must have are the ones from Trader Joes they are UHT and are on the shelves plus they do not need to be refrigerated so you can keep them in pantry whenever you need it)

Preheat oven 450 degrees

Mix flour, cheese, bacon and herbs then add the whipping cream
Mix until batter form then use an ice cream scoop and scoop them onto silpat
Brush the top with more whipping cream and sprinkle some more cheese if you like
I sometimes like to brush a little honey on the top to make a little glaze


Bake for 10 mins.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

World's easiest Pâte d'amandes maison et Pâte pistache maison (Almond paste and Pistachio paste)


I have been trying to find the perfect french almond paste recipe for such a long time and either they would require making sugar syrup or they would make a load that I do not need.  Also finding the right texture is very tricky too and I have finally found a way to make it in seconds and literally do not require any cooking!!!  Besides that you can make any quantity you like and flavor the paste to your heart desire and you will end up with a super smooth and pliable paste.  Practically you can use any blanched nut meal and make hazelnut paste or cashew paste but I just happen to like almond and pistachio most. They can be used in making baked goods most of the time Italian cookies call for a lot of almond paste and French little cakes call for pistachio paste. You can also roll them into balls and stuffed into dates or use them in chocolate making. 

Ingredient:

Equal part of blanched nut flour (pistachio which I purchased from NUTS.com, almond flour, etc)
Equal part of powdered sugar
Filtered water
Any essence of your choice (optional)
Food coloring (optional)

  • In a medium size bowl, add the nut flour and the powdered sugar and mix well some lumps are fine and in this case I used 1/4 cup each to make small batch
  • Add a few drops of water (if you are planning to use food coloring I would add them to the water and mix well before adding to the nut flour sugar mix), do not add too much at a time then mix and add another few drops if it looks too dry, until it resemble wet sand clumps but still got some dry bites

  • At this time, you can add a drop of essence to the mix, I use Fiori Sicili (kind of orange vanilla essence by King Authur) or any other essence you would like to add
  • Use your hand and knead the paste together and it should come together nicely and if it needs water, add one drop at a time until paste forms or if paste too wet, add more nut flour until you get a smooth paste
  • When it reaches the perfect texture the paste should look nice and smooth and should not stick to your hand
Pate Pistache
  • Roll into a log and use it in recipes or wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for later use
Pate d'amandes     


  • Paste should be able to keep in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks but since there is no preservatives in these paste it is best to use them as soon as possible

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mozzarella (Bocconcini)



When I was traveling to all parts of Italy I had the chance to taste the freshest mozzarella pulled by experience cheese maker who stir and pull these stringy and tasty cheese everyday.  Nothing taste more mild and sweet than a piece of fresh Mozzarella as you can taste the sweetness in the milk and also have the texture of chewiness. Once you have tasted the fresh ones it is hard to go back in eating those you find in the supermarket.  I know that there are many 30 minute Mozzarella recipes online and I have tried many of them and some tell you to do it in the microwave but I have failed most of those recipes myself.  It is not to say that they do not work and probably they do but I am just saying that I cannot get them to work well for me so I have read made this recipe a few times now and have gotten it to a point of fool proof for you.  Also many recipes out there use non homogenized milk but it is not always easy to find so I have decided to use Costco Whole Milk on my cheese making projects and by adding calcium chloride I have been able to achieve great yield.  I do not believe that we have to spend a ton on money to make good cheese at home but if you decide that you want to, I will not stop you either. So I hope you will enjoy this recipe and now go stretch some cheese. 

Ingredient

1 Gallon of Whole Milk
1 1/2 tsp citric acid (dissolved in 1/8 cup of water)
1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride (dissolve in 1/4 cup of water)
1/4 tsp liquid rennet (dissolve in 1/4 cup of non chlorine water)
2 Tbsp Salt

  • Leave milk to room temperature about 50 degree
  • Add citric acid solution to the milk and stir to mix well
  • Heat milk to 90 degree then take it off the heat
  •  Add the rennet solution and stir to mix well
  • Cover pot and leave it undisturbed for about 30 to 40 minutes to let milk set
  • At this time, the milk should be like one big Milk Jello or Panna Cotta texture and there should be yellowish color whey separated from the side 
  • Cut the curd into 1 inches cubes then use a skimmer to stir them gently
  • Then bring back the pot to heat curd to 108 degree 
  • Ladle curds into a butter muslin lined colander to drain for about 5 minutes

  • In the meanwhile heat a pot of water to 160 to 170 degree and do not heat beyond that or else it will be too hot for stretching and you will ending up destroying the cheese
  • At this time prepare a bowl of ice cold water and add 2 Tbsp of salt for setting the mozzarella balls when done
  • Pour the hot water into a big glass bowl to work the curd and I like to wear gloves to stretch the curds because it is quite hot
    Now put a portion of the curd on to the skimmer and lower it into the hot water and let the curd sit for a minute to cook. Then slowly knead the curd as if you are kneading a wet bread dough and when it gets soft enough then you can start to stretch.  Please do not alarm if the curd seems to break at the beginning it just means that it is not hot enough yet, so just keep lowering the curd into the hot water and knead inside hot water and eventually it will come together and will be soft enough for you to stretch.  So just stretch and fold and repeat a few more time enjoy the process and then when it is stretch enough form into a ball and tuck the bottom in then leave the mozzarella ball into the ice bath for 20 minutes to set.  


  • The gallon of milk should yield about 5 medium size Bocconcini or if you rather have one or two big balls of Mozzarella you can do that too.  Mastering the art of making Mozzarella and you can proceed to making Burata next which will be on my upcoming posts, so stay tuned.
  • You can eat the Mozzarella fresh or if you would like to store it for a few days, you can put them into a container of water and put into the fridge.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Valencay Cheese

Valencay (Pyramid Shaped French Ash Dusted Goat Cheese)



There was a tale that Napoleon came back from a disastrous campaigns from Egypt and stopped at a town Valencay where he saw this ash dusted pyramid shaped cheese that brought back bad memories.  He then furiously cut off the top of the cheese with his sword and that was how the shape of the Valancay came about.  There you go, a little history of the cheese we are about to make.

To me, I do not like a lot of the cheese making recipes out there because they tend to be huge in quantity.  I mean, I do not want to make 8 cheeses with gallons of milk as I am a very small batch kind of cook.  It is much easier to make 2 cheese and make multiple types of cheese at the same time than to make 8 of the same type of cheese.  So in most of my recipes you will be making a couple to a few little cheeses.

Ingredient

2 L of Non pasteurized Goat Milk (I use the ones from Trader Joe's made by Sunny Hill Farms)
1/8 tsp mesophilic culture
Tiny tiny pinch of Geotrichum candidum mold powder
Tiny tiny pinch of Penicillium candidum mold powder
1/16 tsp Calcium chloride
1/16 tsp Liquid rennet
Kosher salt
Ash (Vegetable Grade)

  • Heat milk in a sterilize stainless-steel pot over medium heat, warm milk to 72F.  I use a heat diffuser so that the milk will not scorch. Remove from heat.
 
 

  • Sprinkle culture and both molds over the surface and let sit for 5 minutes for them to rehydrate
  • Then use the skimmer with up and down motion slowly draw culture and molds into the milk
  • Dilute calcium chloride in 1/8 cup of cool water (preferably non chlorine water)
  • Add to milk and using that same up and down motion with a skimmer to draw in the calcium chloride
  • Dilute rennet in 1/8 cup of cool water and add to milk repeat just like calcium chloride
  • Cover the pot and let sit for 18 hours and during this time make sure you do not move the pot and do not attempt to cut the curd before 18 hours is up even though it might look like it is set after 8 hours but it is really not!!! 
  • After 18 hours there should be a lot of whey on the top and you need to remove as much whey as possible and you can do that by tilting the pot to get more whey remove

  • Now set 2 Valencay pyramid molds on top of the draining tray, slowly ladle thin slices of curd into the mold without breaking the curd as much as possible.  Just keep on piling the slices on top of each other until molds is filled.  When you fill them try to layer them evenly on all sides as this will make sure your end product come out nice and even

  • Do not attempt to add more molds, let the curd drain a little and keep on piling to the top as your cheese will shrink a lot after the whey is drained
  • Cover the draining tray and let them sit at room temperature for 48 hours, drain out whey from tray regularly during this process
  • Line draining tray with paper towel flip over the drained curd from the molds on to the paper towel
  • Sprinkle kosher salt on all sides of the cheese then using a small sieve dust cheeses with ash, you only want a thin layer and not thick but there should not be too much white showing


  • After putting the ash on, cover the cheeses again and let stand for 12 hours then remove cheese from the paper towel and place on tray directly and let sit for another 12 hours
  • Remove cheese and place them onto riping container
  • Let ripen at 50F and 85% humidity for 2 weeks
  • White molds will grow over the ash and once two weeks is up then you can place them in plastic container for up to 10 weeks
The Valencay should be firm inside and sometimes there might be a slight cream liquid around the edge

Enjoy with crackers!