Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Salmon Sandwich

LEFT OVERS... Ugh... I love to cook, but I dislike having left overs. I am not one of those snobs who hates eating something the next day, but come on! I want to cook new things! so faster the left over leaves my fridge, sooner I can make new stuff!

I really like salmon BLT. I guess I like anything meat with mayo, mustard, and bacon. but since this is truly a left over salmon sandwich, I did not have bacon, nor lettuce. But really, this sammie does not need anything more, in my opinion. Maybe if i had some water crest or arugula, that would have added some peppery kick!

Oh, the tar tar sauce was also an leftover item from about a week ago when I made my crab cakes. It's an good item to have around when you are having seafood especially.

Salmon Sandwich

1 piece of salmon cooked (grilled, baked, fried, whatever. make sure it's seasoned.)
1-2 pieces of bread. (I had mine as an open face sandwich, but whatever... this is a leftover recipe!)
1tbs tartar sauce
a hand-full cherry tomatoes
a clove of garlic, smashed
a pinch of salt and peper
a few leaves of basil

1. add basil to the basic tartar sauce. if you don't want to make the tartar sauce, I would just mix together some mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, capers, and some basil. it's still going to create some god flavor to go with the fish.

2. heat the cherry tomatoes in a small pot or skillet with salt, peper, a clove of garlic and a bit of EVOO. let it simmer and pop for about 10 min. Once they all popped and some areas are being charred, I smashed them with a potato masher lightly so they are all.... smashed. some juices will come out, so just keep simmering until it all get nice and thick.

3. toast your choice of bread and butter it. I kind of pressed on the middle of the bread so it created a very shallow "well" so that my cherry tomatoes doesn't escape. lay the tomatoes at the bottom, place salmon on top, drizzle the whole thing with your sauce. if you were to add any leafy-ness to this, I would put it under the salmon.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting

BEST vanilla cupcake recipe I've found so far.

The batter makes the moistest cake EVER. The sour cream does the trick, maybe?
My mother, who does not usually appreciate cupcakes, really liked this combination of the cake and frosting. Oh with the sprinkles.... who can resist these beauty!!??

Ok, the recipe for the Moistest, most flavorful vanilla cupcakes! I do not know where I got the recipe from... :( but I added some cream to it at the end because when I was making it, the batter was REALLY thick. trust me, this one is a winner.

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
2 egg yolks
vanilla extract
1/4 cup cream

Pre heat oven to 350

1. sift the dry ingredients together (ap flour, sugar, baking powder, salt)

2. in a bowl of a stand mixer, mix the wet ingredients aside from the cream. (butter, sour crea, egg, egg yolks, vanilla) just mix to combine. I use about two tbsp of GOOD vanilla.

3. slowly add the dry into the wet. I do it this way: add some dry, follow it with cream, add more dry... and so forth.

4. when the batter is smooth, its ready. don't over mix.

5. distribute the batter into lined cupcake tin (only put about 3/4 of the way up, this batter doesn't rise so much, but better safe than sorry!), and bake for about 20 min. I usually check it by touching the very top of the risen cake; if it's bouncy, it's done, if it's a little wet, leave it in there a little longer.

6. take it out and cool it completely before frosting.

THE frosting.

When I make frosting, I am more adventurous. The amount of butter, cream cheese, and the powder sugar can be adjusted to your liking, but a lot of butter cream recipes said to put 2-3 cups of sugar to 1 stick of butter. So I used my 1/3 cup measuring cup and kept adding until I liked the sweetness of my frosting.

1 stick butter
1/4 package of cream cheese
2 1/3 cups of sugar
about a cup of freeze dried strawberries

1. make the strawberry paste. If this is too much, just puree some fresh strawberries, but I heard that fresh ones contain so much water that it could make the frosting really runny.
to make the paste, put your freeze dried strawberries in your food processor and pulse it until it becomes powdery. then I add a little water at a time to make it into a paste. This result in about 2 tbsp of paste.

2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, combined the butter and cream cheese with a paddle attachment. Add sugar until you are happy with the sweetness.

3. add your strawberry content. mix until it is well combined and the frosting is nice and pink.

** note: I know some people use jams to make their fruit flavored buttercream. Jams already contain so much sugar, so if you were to use jam or preserves, I would REALLY cut back on the sugar:) but this works well without a fuss.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ina's Chocolate Cake

Best gift to a home party EVER.

As you can see in the picture, it is the silkiest chocolate buttercream I have ever had. Since I don't seem to have much luck with SMBC, I think I will stick to something like this :)

I took this to a family when they invited me over for dinner. they had two children and they gobbled it up! the father also had a weekness to chocolate cake, and said this one was like the one of his grandmother's recipe that he makes occasionally.

I think the best part is the moistness of the cake. At the end, by adding the coffee, it makes the batter seem REALLY runny, but as you stir it, I guess the flour starts to absorb the moisture and it thickens up a bit.

This is also great for coffee lovers too. I think for more "adult" flavor, you can really put more espresso/espresso powder in the butter cream or top it with those chocolate covered coffee beans.

you can find the recipe here on food network.


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.


Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Potato and Cabbage Gratin

Tyler Florence had another awesome Ultimate dish. I love love love Potato gratin. Its an easy, filling, CHEAP, tasty dish. Usually, I just make it with slowly caramelized onion layered with potato slices to make mine, but Cabbage adds... more English feel. It has a very strong smell of cabbage, potato, and pungent Parmesan cheese. If you are iffy about cabbage, this may not be the dish to turn you around :)

This will be a perfect dish to take with you to a pot luck, if it's a vegetarian one (gasp), then omit the bacon. It looks impressive, feeds a ton, and it's HOMEY.

Recipe can be found here on food network.


  • 1 head savoy cabbage, cored, cleaned, and shredded
  • 1 (2-inch) piece slab bacon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the gratin dish
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped to 1/4 cup
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch), see Cook's note*
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Finely shred the cabbage. Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch chunks. Place a small skillet over medium-low heat and fry the bacon, until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to bacon fat in frying pan. When it has melted add 1/2 the garlic and give it a quick stir with a wooden spoon to soften. Add the cabbage and coat it with the butter. Slowly let it wilt. Add the bacon. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat and add most of the chives, reserving a little for the garnish.

Generously butter the bottom and sides of an ovenproof casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, 1 1/2 cups of cream, 1 cup of Parmesan, and the remaining garlic, Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, place a layer of potatoes in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and repeat with 2 more layers. Spoon the cabbage mixture on top and spread it out evenly over the potatoes. Top it off with 2 more layers of potato and Parmesan. Pour the remaining 1cup cream over the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Leave for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chives.

*Cook's Note: Slice the potatoes immediately before using so they don't turn brown.

Friday, July 15, 2011

chocolate chip cookies

See the little sprinkles of my sea salt?

Everyone's heard of the NY times Jacques Torres recipe, right?? Me too! I had just never had the oomph to go get that bread flour and the cake flour it asks for (everyone says is the secret to his recipe). But tis the summer. As a student/ graduate/ teacher, summer is.... "Wweeeee~~!!!"

I finally bought some bread/cake flour and then made these with that 36 hour waiting period that is ALSO the secret. The reason for my baking these were for me to give to my committee members as they evaluated my thesis and decide whether or not I am worth graduating. They said the cookies were delicious! aaand I passed. win win. I also gave a stack of them to my ex-work place. This stack spent some good amount of time in my HOT car, so it almost tasted right out of the oven! Divine. One thing I did not get for these special cookies were that special Chocolate disks that JT uses. I just chopped up some assorted chocolate bars from my fancy grocery store.

These are truly amazing.

recipe from the NYtimes.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons

(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

I made mine smaller than he suggested, so baking time was more like 15 min.