Quick Rice Cooker Castella

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  This is going to be a quick post on an easy and quick recipe that I saw today and just HAD to try right away.  I was browsing FB and saw this video:  https://www.facebook.com/dingo.food/videos/854615187974792/

Bake a cake in a rice cooker????  say what???1230161535-1pm

I always wondered why my Zojirushi Rice Cooker had a “cake” button and who would be crazy enough to bake a cake in their rice cooker… I guess I was crazy not to try it sooner!  At least with this Castella recipe, the rice cooker was just the right amount of heat and steam to make a fluffy, light, and airy Castella cake, which is basically a type of sponge cake, but a far cry from those dry sponge cakes that need to be soaked with syrup.  It’s a childhood favorite growing up and now my own children have adopted a love for them as well. Try it with a tall glass of milk!  You’re welcome.

And without further adieu, here are my converted measurements for the ingredients which were all in grams.  (If you know Korean and you watched the video, you may have noticed I substituted Mirin for Soju, since that’s what I have in my pantry and we don’t have soju in our home.)

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Quick Rice Cooker Castella

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided into 1/2 cups
  • 1 TB Mirin
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2  1/2 TB honey
  • 1  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 4 TB oil (canola, vegetable)
  • scant 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Grease your rice cooker with Canola oil spray.
  2. Whip 6 egg whites in a clean stand mixer with whip attachment and add 1/2 cup sugar in 3 increments until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  3.  Whip 6 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the Mirin, salt, and honey and whip.  Add the cake flour and mix.
  4. Fold in a third of the meringue (egg whites) into the yolk batter and carefully fold in.  Add another third and fold.  Finally, add the remaining meringue and fold.
  5. Mix the oil and milk together then fold into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into greased rice cooker pot and push your “cake” button or the video says “steam” setting for 60 minutes.
  7. carefully invert the cake out of the pot onto a plate, cool, and eat!

*Note: the top of the cake will look pale when you open the rice cooker and you may wonder if the cake is “cooked” through.  You’re welcome to try the toothpick test,  but it was nicely browned on the bottom of the cake (which becomes the top when you invert it).

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Now go and try it yourself!!!  I’m  never baking my Castella in the oven again!!!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!!!

-Flora

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Steamed Korean Buns

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It’s a cold, rainy day here and I’m enjoying just shuffling around the home and being grateful for the warmth, shelter, and food in our tummies.  I’ve got a little slot of time before the Thursday afternoon madness resumes  so I thought I would post an old-time favorite snack of mine that we made a while back but I never got around to posting.  If you noticed my last post was some time ago … there’s been some crazy real estate swapping that went on which kept me just a bit preoccupied.  I’m the type that likes to concentrate on one thing at a time and feel frazzled if I have too much going on and of course I ended up starting a part-time job at the same time we decided to sell and buy…  so there’s my excuse 🙂

Back in SoCal, I loved walking through our big neighborhood Korean grocery store and walking to the back of the store where they made “Wang Mandoo” and sneaking a pack into the grocery cart.  “Wang” means king and “mandoo” means dumpling.  So you can imagine they were giant, softball-sized dumplings filled with my favorite “Japchae” or glass noodles.  The slightly sweet steamed bun exterior mingled with the savory beef and veggie japchae interior was perfection that would leave you feeling like the “after” of a Snickers Bar commercial.

I found this recipe for steamed Korean buns many years ago on a Korean baking site, and it’s just perfect when you live 30 mins from the nearest Korean store (compared to 5 mins growing up) and you do not want to do the Caldecott Tunnel but you want some “Wang Mandoo”.  Plus, homemade is always better, right?   The recipe was all in grams so I measured all the ingredients into volume measurements for my own sake and I’m sharing them with you.  I didn’t notice any difference in the result when I used my converted volume measurements to make them again and again.

I made two different fillings for my buns: “Wang Mandoo” with Japchae filling and “Hobbang” with sweet red bean paste filling.

You can use my Japchae recipe here for the “Wang Mandoo” and the red bean paste filling was purchased at my past Korean store excursion.  You can really put anything you want inside the bun, Spam and kimchi is super yummy, too!  Or you can just make buns without any filling!  I made both japchae filling and the red bean paste filling and they were both so delicious!  Would be perfect for this cold, rainy day… wish I had some right now.

img_1843In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, yeast, sugar, salt, and dry milk powder.

img_1847Add the warm water and mix/knead until dough forms.  You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Once you have a ball of dough, add in the oil and knead until you have a nice, shiny dough that isn’t sticky.

img_1848Divide the dough into little balls (60 gram balls, about the size of a golf ball).  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with clean cloth and let rest for 15 mins.

img_1861Flatten a ball of dough and fill with desired filling of choice.  Pinch ends closed then place onto a square of wax paper.  (If not using filling, just place ball of dough onto wax square)

Watch my mom pinch and close the dough for the bun.  Apologize for the static background noise.  watch with sound off 🙂

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This is my store-bought Red bean paste

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Traditionally for the “Wang Mandoo” you place the seam side facing up and for the “Hobbang” you place it seam side down.

img_1871Let dough rise in a warm place for 30 mins

img_1872While the dough is rising, start heating your pot of water for the steamer over med high heat

img_1874Place the dough into the steamer (don’t over-crowd, they will grow) once the water is boiling and you see steam rising.  Steam for about 10 mins. Don’t open the lid while steaming.

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And Voila~ beautiful, fluffy, warm, delicious buns!!!

Steamed Korean Buns Recipe (왕만두/호빵)

Makes: about 2 dozen buns

Ingredients (Bun)

  • scant 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 TBS baking powder
  • 1 1/2 TBS dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBS non-fat dry milk powder
  • 1 cup warm water (more or less)
  • 1/6 cup vegetable or canola or grapeseed oil

Filling

Japchae Recipe or store-bought Red Bean Paste or be creative! 🙂

Directions

  1. Prep: cut out 24 little 3″x 3″ squares of wax paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, yeast, sugar, salt, and dry milk powder.
  3. Add the warm water and mix/knead until dough forms.  You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Once you have a ball of dough, add in the oil and knead until you have a nice, shiny dough that isn’t sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into little balls (60 gram balls, about the size of a golf ball).  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with clean cloth and let rest for 15 mins.
  5. Flatten a ball of dough and fill with desired filling of choice.  Pinch ends closed then place onto a square of wax paper.  (If not using filling, just place ball of dough onto wax square)  Traditionally for the “Wang Mandoo” you place the seam side facing up and for the “Hobbang” you place it seam side down.
  6. Let dough rise in a warm place for 30 mins
  7. While the dough is rising, start heating your pot of water for the steamer over med high heat
  8. Place the dough into the steamer (don’t over-crowd, they will grow) once the water is boiling and you see steam rising.  Steam for about 10 mins. Don’t open the lid while steaming.
  9. Carefully remove and enjoy your steams buns!!!
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Before my mom devoured hers 🙂

I’m going to get my butt out to the Korean store soon.  My stock of Korean ingredients is dwindling… probably when it stops raining.  Yes, I’m spoiled with good weather here and don’t go out when it rains… and my parents live in WA… ha.

Thanks for reading and stay dry and warm out there!

-Flora

Birthday Wishes… Shopkins

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My little girl just had a birthday; and of course no birthday celebration is complete without a cake topped with birthday candles to wish on before they are extinguished in one (or a few) puffs, which concurrently blankets the cake with tiny droplets of birthday girl germs.  But we digress… let them eat cake.  Germs are everywhere.  Besides, this cake is bulletproof!  It’s covered with homemade marshmallow fondant which no one likes to eat anyway.  I just peel mine right off and get to the good stuff: 4-layers of moist chocolate cake, devil’s frosting, and french vanilla frosting just under the peel, err… fondant.

I’m definitely not a fondant fan, but I must admit that certain cake requests (like this Shopkins cake) does require edible modeling clay to achieve that smooth, plastic look of a toy.  Most of my cakes are covered in buttercream or whipped cream, but I made an exception for this one since I didn’t think tinted buttercream would look as nice as fondant would.

My little princess got 2 birthday parties!  One on her actual birthday with family, including grandma who was in town, and her second party with a little group of friends at our humble home for a night of pizza, “Snow White” the movie, popcorn, and cake, followed by a spontaneous game of balloon war; organized chaos at it’s best!

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Of course I used Ina Garten’s Cheesecake recipe but without the jam, just topped with fresh raspberries.

So lucky mommy (yes, that’d be me) got to bake a cheesecake for her family party and this cute Shopkins cake for her party with her friends and I’m going to share my Shopkins cake construction process.

Little princess wanted a chocolate cake, so little princess got a chocolate cake for her special day.  I used Toba Garrett’s chocolate cake recipe from her book “The Well-decorated Cake” and I promise it’s the BEST chocolate cake you will ever taste!  She claims it’s good to the last crumb, and believe me, it is!  For the filling, I made a HUGE mistake and accidentally  made chocolate icing!!!  Like the kind that you drizzle over desserts for the nice chocolate-spilling-over-the-edge look, and that doesn’t work for a cake filling unless you want a “Sleeping Beauty” type of cake look with all the layers sliding and frosting dripping and the whole cake leaning like the Tower of Pisa.  That’s why, my friends, we should stick to tried and true recipes when attempting a special cake for a special occasion.  Lesson learned.  SO, instead of dumping the chocolate icing, I just doctored it by adding more butter and powdered sugar and it was fixed!  Now, I had delicious devil’s chocolate icing buttercream that was perfect layered with the chocolate cake.

After that detour, I decided I didn’t want to risk the dark brown color of chocolate frosting possibly showing through the light yellow fondant so whipped up a batch of our favorite vanilla frosting, which is also found in Toba Garrett’s book (see above link) called French Vanilla Buttercream.  This buttercream tastes like vanilla ice cream and has a texture that’s lighter and in between a buttercream and whipped cream.  Definitely one of my go-to recipes and have used it in many of my past cakes.

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I made 2 batches of marshmallow fondant and colored one batch yellow then left a larger part of the 2nd batch white and colored some pink and a little black.

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I wanted a taller, cake but I didn’t want to bake a 3rd cake, so I cheated and used my inverted cake pan as my 3rd cake layer to give the cake more height.

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I was in a rush and wasn’t careful removing my 2nd cake from the pan and it broke in several places!

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see how much of the outside broke off?!?!

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But it’s okay!  Just take those broken cake crumbs and mix it with your frosting and now you have chocolate cement to fill in the cracks.  (This is also how you can make cake pops.  crumble cake, mix in frosting, shape, and stick onto sticks)

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Whew, there. Now the cake is good as new 😉

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I split my 2 cakes in half so I got 4 layers.  Put some frosting on my “fake” cake layer then stack cake, frost, stack cake, frost… you get the picture.  I purposely left the top layer rounded since I wanted to keep the rounded look for the Shopkins Wishes cake.  Refrigerate your stacked cake for about 30 mins so it’s easier to cover with frosting and doesn’t shift.

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Smooth on your vanilla buttercream frosting with an offset spatula and refrigerate again while you work on rolling out some fondant. Notice how I frosted my cake pan, the bottom layer of my “cake”.

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After you work your fondant with your hands to get it pliable again, roll it out as big as you can.  I wasn’t able to get it big enough to drape over the entire cake, so I just cut out two 6″ strips (height of the side of cake) and stuck it on.  Get a wet paper towel and run it over your fondant so it will stick to the cake. (dampen only the side that will be touching the cake)

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Carefully smooth it out with your hands or a fondant smoother tool.

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I used two strips to cover the sides of the cake. (you can see the small seam on the left)  It’s okay, I’m going to add the arms there later.

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Roll our your white fondant, then use an 8″ cake base (cheese board from Dollar tree) as a guide to cut out a circle.  You want enough of the white fondant to come over the side of the cake.

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Use a sharp knife to cut around the fondant like above to achieve the look of icing drips.

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Again, dab a wet paper towel over the fondant, then carefully position over the top of the cake.

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Now for the pink band around Wishes.   Roll and cut out an appropriate sized band

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Stick it on with some water then use a blunt knife or I used a wooden skewer to make the slanted indent patterns on the pink band.

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Now make your eyes, nose, arms, and lips and attach with some water!  It already looks so cute!

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Make 3 white snakes then coil into these little swirls

 

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Attach the swirls and make some white “sprinkles” and the cake is complete!  She wanted a “6” on her cake and didn’t want just green candles (which is what Wishes has).

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She loved her little party and was so excited she kept hugging me and telling me ‘thank you’.  That’s what makes my Saturday spent on a birthday cake, all worth it!

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Eating a slice or two of cake helps, too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Toba Garrett’s “The Well Decorated Cake”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2  1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (good quality), melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and parchment line two 8″ cake pans (2″ high).  Melt chocolate, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together on med- low speed until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Add eggs into the butter mixture, scraping bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in a third of the flour mixture, mix. then a half of the buttermilk.  Mix and scrape bowl. Repeat until you have ended with the rest of your flour mixture.  Scrape bowl.
  6. Add in your melted chocolate and beat on med-high until well mixed.  Scraping bowl as needed.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove carefully onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost cake after completely cool.
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Her friends got to go home with these cute Shopkins keychains from the supplies I had left from a past party where I had bottlecap necklaces.

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I found that printable for free on pinterest and taped them onto pink craft bags.  My girl is into word searches so they got a word search booklet and mechanical pencil (from Dollar Tree) and a pretzel rod dipped in white chocolate w/ sprinkles, plus the keychains.

 

Good luck with your baking adventure!  Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Umma’s Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi)

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I have a confession to make.  I am Korean.  Okay, that wasn’t my confession.  Here it is:

I am Korean.  And I buy my kimchi.  -_-  I know, I know.  I don’t deserve to lay claim to my Korean roots if I don’t make my own kimchi or own a kimchi refrigerator.  (Yes, there is such a fridge and it keeps kimchi and regular produce fresh forEVER!)  But wait, do you know what kimchi is?  It’s only the best, tastiest, and healthiest Korean mealtime staple with natural probiotics and lots of Vitamin A and C.  Basically it’s fermented Chinese cabbage (can also be made from a variety of other vegetables and seasonings) that is eaten as a side dish and ranges from mild to spicy, to watery, to fishy.

My mom’s visiting and I’m taking full advantage of her Korean cooking skills and documenting her kimchi-making process so I can try to replicate it next time I run out of her kimchi.  I’ve made kimchi by myself once before in my lifetime and I must confess it was a fail.  My mom sort of walked through the steps and ingredients with me over the phone and I tried to mimic it… and well… it just wasn’t the same.  Hopefully, standing over her shoulder and breathing down her neck while watching her make this kimchi will help me the next time I attempt it.  We sort of measured the ingredients as she went along because, like many Korean moms out there, her measurements and recipe is in her head and her hand.  She just sort of eyeballs it and adds more or less by taste.  I was probably frustrating her whenever I stopped her to measure the ingredients 🙂  but she was super patient with me.  So here is how my mom makes her kimchi:

 

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Add lots of salt to a bucket of water (should taste like the sea). We used Kosher Salt because I don’t have Kimchi salt, but my mom prefers to use Kimchi salt (which might be the same as rock salt).

 

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Slice your cabbage in half, vertically.

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Slice again, so you have quartered your cabbage. Cut off the hard core/stem, but we want enough of the stem to keep the leaves together.

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Dunk your cabbage quarters in the brine water, let it drain, then salt between each leaf, concentrating on the thicker, white (non-leafy) portion of the cabbage.  Repeat for all.

Here’s a quick video to help you (and me) see how to prep/brine the cabbage.

 

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After salting all the cabbage, pour the rest of the salt water over the cabbage and let it brine for about 2-3 hours. (depends on how much salt and water.  taste it after 2 hours to determine)

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Turn and rotate the cabbage halfway through brining

 

Meanwhile, make the kimchi paste/marinade by chopping your onion, Korean pear, ginger, garlic, and radish, place in a blender, add your fish sauce, then puree.

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Add your red pepper flakes and brown sugar to your puree and you have your kimchi paste

After the cabbage is salty enough, dump out the salt water, then rinse your cabbage in running water 2-3 times and let drain for about 30 mins.  Now get on some food service gloves (the red pepper on your skin will sting) and smear on that kimchi paste all over and between the cabbage leaves.  “Wrap” the outer most leaf around the quarter of cabbage then carefully tuck into a glass jar.  Fill the jar (cover w/ lid) then place in the refrigerator (or to eat it sooner, leave it out at room temperature for a day).  And you lucky ducks with a kimchi refrigerator, you know what to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 Napa (Chinese) Cabbage, washed
  • Lots of Coarse salt (Preferably Kimchi salt)
  • 1 cup fish sauce (I used Tiparos brand Thai Fish Sauce. Korean ones are saltier and less sweet, so add more or less according to taste)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Korean pear, chopped
  • 1 cup Daikon radish, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root, chopped
  • ~13 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups coarse red pepper flakes
  • 1 TB brown sugar

*You will need a big, wide bowl to brine, a bucket, food service gloves, and wide-mouth glass (preferably) jar to store kimchi)

Directions

  1. Add lots of salt to a bucket of water (should taste like the sea)
  2. Slice your cabbage in half, vertically. Then slice again, vertically, so you have quartered your cabbage.
  3. Cut off the hard core/stem, but we want enough of the stem to keep the leaves together.
  4. Dunk your cabbage quarters in the brine water, let it drain, then salt between each leaf, concentrating on the thicker, white (non-leafy) portion of the cabbage.  Repeat for all.
  5. After salting all the cabbage, pour the rest of the salt water over the cabbage and let it brine for about 2-3 hours turning and rotating the cabbage halfway through brine period . (depends on how much salt and water.  taste it after 2 hours to determine)
  6. Meanwhile, make the kimchi paste/marinade by chopping your onion, Korean pear, ginger, garlic, and radish, place in a blender, add your fish sauce, then puree.
  7. Add your red pepper flakes and brown sugar to your puree and you have your kimchi paste
  8. After the cabbage is salty enough, dump out the salt water, then rinse your cabbage in running water 2-3 times and let drain for about 30 mins.
  9. With food service gloves (the red pepper on your skin will sting), smear on the kimchi paste over and between the cabbage leaves.
  10. “Wrap” the outer most leaf around the quarter of cabbage then carefully tuck into a glass jar.  Fill the jar (cover w/ lid) then place in the refrigerator (or to eat it sooner, leave it out at room temperature for a day).  And you lucky ducks with a kimchi refrigerator, you know what to do.

*I bought only one Napa cabbage but the recipe makes enough kimchi paste for two Napa cabbages so the recipe calls for two of the cabbages.

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Good luck to you (and to me)!

Thanks for reading!

-Flora (and my mom)

“Thunder Cake” Happened…

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I borrowed this book ,”Thunder Cake”, from the library a couple weeks ago to read to my children when it was raining nonstop here in the bay area and we had some hail and thunder (but alas, we saw no lightning, much to my son’s dismay).  Maybe because of the hills, trees, and homes that block our view of the sky…  But as my High School Chemistry teacher always used to say, “we digress”!

This book is a story about a little girl who is afraid of everything, especially thunder, and how her grandmother “distracts” her into overcoming her fears as they gather the ingredients to make this special ‘thunder cake’ that needs to go into the oven right when the thunderstorm is above them.  Much to my children’s delight, there was a recipe at the end of the book for this special thunder cake which uses a surprising secret ingredient in the chocolate cake that (I must admit) made me giddy with excitement to try.

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We did our own “gathering” of ingredients for the cake, most of which I already had stocked in my pantry, but we ran to the store to buy the ‘secret’ ingredient and some strawberries.   Our run to the store could have been spared since we didn’t end up baking the cake until today and only because the strawberries wouldn’t last any longer if we didn’t bake it and I didn’t want to make another run to the store for one ingredient.

So what is the ‘secret’ ingredient you ask?  Well, it’s pureed tomatoes!  Isn’t that something?  I was skeptical but hopeful that it would turn out into a delicious chocolate cake and BOY, did it turn out into a scrumptious chocolate cake! And dare I say, it may be the best tasting chocolate cake EVER, especially paired with some light, fluffy chocolate frosting and fresh strawberries.  My kids are funny.  They start with the strawberries and then they eat the cake.  Every morning, I give them their fruit after their ‘main’ otherwise, they won’t finish their food and only eat the fruit.

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*SEE BELOW for UPDATED METHOD!!! Some pointers about making the cake.  The recipe really doesn’t give the step-by-step directions I’m used to in a recipe, but having baked enough cakes in my life, I started off creaming the butter (I substituted the shortening for unsalted butter) then added the sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks.  Then I transferred the butter mixture to a large bowl, thoroughly cleaned and dried my stand mixing bowl to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  I sifted the dry ingredients together and set it aside.  But here is where I panicked!  I added the water and pureed tomatoes to the butter mixture and of course with that much water, the butter is NOT going to incorporate it and looked like a curdled mess with the tomato puree and water mix.  But I just kept going, putting trust in the recipe (and crossing my fingers that it would turn out).  I started adding the flour mixture into the butter mixture then folded in some of the egg whites and repeated until I had cake batter!  It looked lumpy with butter still not incorporated in the liquid, but I still baked it according to the recipe and the cake turned out great!  It really tastes SO soft and moist!

*1/14/2016  So, I had to make this cake again and found a much better way to make this cake batter come together without lumps of butter.  

  1. Preheat oven to 350F . Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans
  2. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and the egg yolks.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Measure out the cold water and pureed tomatoes. (I strained it so no seeds or tomato skin pieces) 
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the dry mix to the butter mixture, next add half of the tomato/water mixture, then another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the tomato/water mixture, and finally the remaining third of the flour mixture.  (So basically dry, wet, dry, wet, dry into the butter mixture.)
  6. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form w/ whip attachment.  
  7. Carefully fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake about 30- 35 mins (toothpick test)

P.S.  I used fresh pureed tomatoes (and my son drank the rest and wanted more 🙂

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Oftentimes, I find butter cakes to be not as moist and soft as cake mixes, but this cake is so soft like a cake mix and tastes delicious!  I could only slightly taste a hint of the tomato (maybe because I knew there was tomato in it… the hubby couldn’t tell), but it was very good and even gives the cake a slightly red-velvet cake-ish hue.  I’m curious how the tomato helps the cake taste so good!

Now, the recipe in the book only says to frost the cake with a chocolate butter frosting.  SO, I used this chocolate frosting recipe:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate (melted)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

I melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave at 50% power in 30 sec increments or you can melt using the double boiler method.  Beat the butter until light, then add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy.  Then add the melted chocolate (shouldn’t be hot).

After tasting the frosting, I decided I wanted to lighten up the frosting and whipped about a cup of whipping heavy cream added a bit of powdered sugar then folded it into the buttercream frosting.  It made the creamy, intense chocolate frosting, into more of a chocolate mousse-like lighter frosting that I think paired perfectly with this cake and the strawberries.

So, there.

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Who knew pureed tomatoes could make the best chocolate cake, ever!!!

My 7 yrs. old has already requested that I make a copy of the recipe and save it so he can have it for his birthday (which is not ’til Sept).  Then his 5 yrs old sister chimed in and said she wanted the same!  It’s really that good!  Don’t believe me?  You’ve got to try it yourself!

Daddy came home while we were enjoying dessert so he got to read the book “Thunder Cake” to them while they ate their ‘thunder cake’!  Nothing grand going on here, but they were all so happy.  It’s the little things that count.  🙂  I love my family.

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Thanks for reading!

 

Love,

Flora

Early-bird Bacon and Egg Breakfast Tart

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What do you do when you get up at 6am to drop off the hubby at the BART station so you don’t have enough time for your morning exercise (since that means you would need to account for shower time) and you realize you have all the ingredients (surprising, indeed) to try out the recipe you have been wanting to try for a couple months now?  You roll up your sleeves and just do it, despite, after quickly skimming the recipe, the many steps including refrigerating the dough and pre-baking seems to threaten complicating your morning routine when you have lunches and snacks to pack, not to mention getting the kids out of their PJs and into semi-presentable (okay, passable) clothes for school.  You give yourself a pat on the back for getting it done with time to spare and now the kids are having fun playing with the empty laundry baskets that carted the weekly mountain of laundry onto the bed (one can be hopeful that it will get done before bedtime), where it awaits its return to the basket at night when you accept defeat, then back onto the bed then the basket a few more times before finally making it into their intended drawers.

What is this?  You hear rain outside!  It’s a welcoming pitter-patter with a few rolling thunders to pique the children’s interest away from the laundry baskets so you can finally put them away.  Besides, the youngest kept spilling out of the basket and you were afraid she would end up bumping her head on the furniture.  The kids have never witnessed a thunderstorm or seen lightning and so you show them a few youtube videos so they can see what lightning is like; nothing like experiencing nature vicariously through the web.  The boy was especially intrigued, and sat looking outside the sliding door waiting to see if the rumblings of thunder would make way for some lightning flashes across the gray sky, but none so far.  Maybe next time.

The rain is still coming down at a steady rate and you secretly hope the rain will continue for a few days so you can hibernate in your little home with the heater cranked on, maybe finally get some of the backed up projects done.  Too ambitious?  Perhaps, maybe just get through the day and squeeze in some laundry folding followed by the tedious task of distributing the folded laundry into its place.  Let’s take it one day at a time; or one moment at a time.  Breakfast is done.  Now on to…

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Unroll thawed pastry and cut into 4 squares. Fold in edges 1/2″. Brush with beaten egg. Refrigerate for 15 mins.

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Mix cream/milk with Dijon mustard. Mix in 6 TB Parm cheese. Spread cheese mixture into center

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Bake at 425F for 8-10 mins

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Slice grape tomatoes in half, slice green onions, cook bacon then slice into 1/2″ pieces

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Crack an egg and place into center of each tart. Scatter bacon, tomatoes, and green onions. Sprinkle with salt and remaining Parm cheese

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Bake for 5-7 mins, until egg whites firm up

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Beats cold cereal any day, but especially so on this cold, rainy day.

This recipe was adapted from Janice Cole’s “Chicken and Egg” recipe book.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Tart
ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 slices of Trader Joe’s Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 TB shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (sliced through the white part, lengthwise to make thinner)
Directions
  1. Thaw the puff pastry (or if you’re in a hurry, I microwave it very carefully at 50% power for 30 secs, then maybe 20 more secs, if needed.  You don’t want the dough to be hot).  Unroll the puff pastry then cut into 4 squares.  Fold over the edges of the dough 1/2″ and place on baking sheet covered with parchment. Prick the center of the pastry dough to prevent it from puffing up.
  2. Whisk 1 egg in a bowl, then brush it onto the pastry squares.  Refrigerate the dough for 15 mins (or you can put it in the freezer for a shorter period).
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.  Cook the bacon over medium heat until browned, pat the bacon with a paper towel to remove oil, then slice into 1/2″ pieces.  (I used kitchen scissors to cut them)
  4. Mix the heavy cream with the dijon mustard, then add 6TB Parmesan cheese and mix.  Spread the cheese mixture over the center of each of the pastry squares and bake for about 8-10 mins until golden.  If the center has puffed up, then prick with a fork to deflate.
  5. Crack and place an egg into the center of each tart and sprinkle with some salt, then scatter the bacon, tomatoes, green onions onto the egg, and scatter remaining 2 TB Parmesan cheese on top (I omitted the sprinkling of cheese)
  6. Bake for about 5-7 mins until the egg whites are firm and cooked.

Serve and enjoy!  Makes 4 tarts.

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Breakfast of the champs! My 3 kiddos enjoyed it, despite some picking off green onions and others, the tomatoes. 🙂

Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Korean Food: Bulgogi Bibimbap Recipe!

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Happy Father’s Day (yesterday) to all the wonderful dads, granddads, uncles, and all the male figures out there who are a role model/father figure to our little ones (and sometimes not so little ones…).  I am lucky to have an awesome partner to help me raise our three little ones in this parenting experiment we have undertaken that we, hopefully, don’t mess up.

We had a wonderful weekend filled with fun activities ranging from adult softball to swimming to a birthday party before our relaxing Father’s Day Sunday at home.  I had grand plans for Father’s Day… but well… it didn’t pan out.  I found myself standing in line at Safeway on Saturday night with some nectarines and whipped cream to make crepes for Sunday morning breakfast when I saw a college student in line before me with the Sports Illustrated Warriors Champs edition.  I asked him how much the magazine was, then I thought I should grab one as a last minute gift for my Warriors fan hubby.  He loved it!  And the crepes got raving reviews from the hubby and all three of the kids, so that was a score!  It was such a simple crepe, too!  Just used the basic crepes recipe that I always use, spread raspberry jam onto half of the crepe, then added sliced nectarines (peaches would be great too) and whipped cream.  So good!  You can never go wrong with peaches and cream.

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Ken hubby married a Korean woman, me, so we eat a lot of Korean food, and luckily, he loves Korean food! (most of it anyway… I can’t get him to eat rice cakes though)  So dinner tonight was bibimbap.  It’s basically lots of different seasoned vegetables (some pickled, others boiled or stir-fried) with some teriyaki-style marinated beef all mixed with rice; I like to add red pepper paste to mine. It’s gotta be one of the healthiest dishes out there, and it’s Soooooo good!  My mother-in-law joined us for dinner and this is her favorite dish.  She always orders the stone bowl bibimbap whenever we go to Korean restaurants, which is the same thing, they just put the rice in a hot stone bowl so the rice touching the bowl becomes nice and crunchy.

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I put together a recipe and measured the ingredients while making this today so I would be able to share it.  I eyeballed some of the ingredients but you can always adjust the seasonings to your own taste.  I tend to make my ingredients slightly more salty then I would normally season them because you’ll be mixing it with the rice, which is not seasoned.

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Bulbogi Bibimbap

serves about 5-6

Ingredients
  • 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 daikon radish, julienned (about 4 cups)
  • 2-3 bunches spinach (not baby)
  • 1 bag soybean sprouts (different from mung bean sprouts)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4-5 Mexican squash, cut in half vertically, then sliced
  • 1 lb bulgogi beef (thinly sliced beef)
  • salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, sugar, brown sugar
  • sesame oil, sesame seeds,
  • soy sauce, brown sugar, crushed garlic
  • cooked calrose rice (sushi rice, not long grain) (4 cups uncooked)
Directions
  1. Cook your rice in your rice cooker and cut/prep your ingredients.
  2. At least 1 hour ahead of time, pickle the sliced cucumbers by submerging them into a large bowl with salty water (should taste like the ocean) 🙂
  3. At the same time, but in a separate bowl, pickle the julienned radish by adding 3/4 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1TB salt and 1/4 cup water.  Set them both aside.
  4. Marinate the beef by massaging about a tablespoon of sesame oil into the meat with gloved hands then add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 4 TB brown sugar, and 3 crushed garlic cloves and mix.  Set aside to marinate.
  5. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then boil the soybean sprouts for 5 mins (becomes somewhat translucent) and drain.  Place drained sprouts into a bowl then season with salt, 1/2 tsp of sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp sesame seeds.  You can also add some crushed garlic if desired; about 1 clove. Mix with gloved hands. Sprouts are done, so set aside.
  6. Bring another pot of water to a boil and blanch the spinach.  Don’t overcook the spinach!  Just about a minute should be enough.  Drain, gently squeeze out the water and place the spinach into a bowl.  Add salt, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, (again, garlic optional) and mix.  It works best if you use food service gloves to mix by hand.
  7. Add about a tablespoon of oil onto a frying pan, heat over med high heat.  Add a clove of crushed garlic then stir fry the Mexican squash until cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add about a tablespoon of oil onto a frying pan, heat over med. high heat.  Add a clove of crushed garlic then stir fry the julienned carrots.  Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Drain the cucumbers, gently squeeze excess water from the cucumbers, then place them into a bowl.  Add a little sesame oil (about 1/2 tsp) then mix and the cucumbers are ready. Sesame seeds optional
  10. Scoop out the radish from the vinegar and place into a bowl.  You don’t need to drain it completely of the liquid.  You can add red pepper flakes if you want a kick to it, but I didn’t add it for the kids’ sake.
  11. Heat the pan and cook the meat until ready.
  12. Serve cooked rice in large bowls then place each of the vegetables and meat on top and mix.  Add a little more sesame oil if desired and also red pepper paste if you can handle the heat. 🙂

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My kids ate really well tonight!  The girls actually asked for seconds and my boy asked for a huge bowl of food to start off with and finished it!  We love bibimbap!!!  Try making your own~

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful, fantastic, awesome week!

-Flora