June 25, 2009


I had dinner at Bianca about a year ago and made the fateful decision to order their Brodetto di Pesce. Oh! what a heavenly bowl of sublime goodness! The seafood was cooked perfectly, the broth well-seasoned, and the portion more than generous. Then I saw this post on Fat of the Land, and I decided I had to try making it myself.

It didn't even come close.

I predict a trip to Bianca in the very near future...

June 21, 2009

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

This cake was essentially a giant muffin, which is quite unfortunate if you, like me, don't like muffins. Something to do with the texture, which is always a deal breaker with me. No matter how good something tastes, if I don't like the texture, I can't eat it.

Personal idiosyncrasies aside, be rest assured that the cake did not go to waste. My grandmother took a liking to it and must've eaten a good quarter of the entire thing. And my 12 year old cousin Eric, whose usual reaction to whatever baked goods I bring over is a straightforward "I don't like your cooking!", had two slices.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

adapted from Gourmet, June 2009

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries (raspberries, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1/3 cup sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg.

At low speed, mix in the flour in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, mixing till just combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top. Scatter blueberries over the top and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Bake cake until it is golden and wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool.

June 13, 2009

The Toaster Oven

It's like staring into the gaping maws of Hell...

The exposed heating elements of this oven makes it impossible to clean. Said heating elements also have a tendency to set my towels on fire if I'm not careful taking a pan out.

I've resigned myself to the puddles of chicken grease oozing from the door whenever I turn the oven on. If you squint and look carefully, you'll see a mini grease stalactite waiting to drip down the top left-ish of the oven.

I've also accepted that the door will not close with a 10-inch pie plate inside. But that's OK--there's nothing a sheet of aluminum foil covering the opening will not solve.

Despite all this, it is the one kitchen equipment I cannot live without. I dub thee Pip.

June 8, 2009

Raspberry Rhubarb Vanilla Custard Tarts

These tarts are so dangerously addictive I feel obligated to post a warning on behalf of your waistlines: make a batch of these with friends over lest you gobble all of them up. Even then it might be an exercise in self control.

So I can't remember how much puff pastry I used for this recipe. It was probably a third of the puff pastry I made a few weeks ago using Tartelette's recipe. And I fudged the measurements for most of the ingredients since the original recipe was in grams and milliliters, and honestly, the conversions were doing my head in.

Raspberry Rhubarb Vanilla Custard Tarts
adapted from Delicious Days

Puff pastry

Raspberry Rhubarb
3 stalks rhubarb
5 tablespoons raspberry puree
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar

Vanilla Custard
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
1/8 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg yolks

Roll out the puff pastry into a thin rectangle, and then, starting from the shorter side, tightly roll into a log, wrap it in foil, and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Do not let it freeze. Cut the puff pastry into slices about as thick as your thumb, and form them into little cups. Fit them into a greased muffin pan, ramekins, mini tartlet molds, etc. Cover and chill in fridge while preparing the fillings.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Shave the rhubarb into thin slices and combine in a small saucepan with the raspberry puree, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Taste, and add more sugar if needed.

In another small saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and vanilla pod/seeds to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a medium bowl and beat till combined. Continue beating very, very slowly while gradually pouring in the hot cream mixture. Return this mixture to the stove and carefully reheat while stirring continuously. Avoid boiling. Remove from heat when the mixture has thickened.

Fill the puff pastry shells with custard, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Top with rhubarb raspberry puree. Do not overfill or the filling will overflow--puff pastry also tends to shrink a bit in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is a light golden brown.