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Archive for the ‘Food-Others’ Category

Crazy Hokkaido Pumpkin Pie

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If there weren’t Hokkaido pumpkin in the mart, I would not dare to try to bake this pumpkin pie. This is such an intimidating recipe to try from the beginning, just because it is a pie. To make even a OK pie crust seems so hard for me thus I have never challenged seriously.

Even after passing the test with decent pie crust, to make a filling for this pie looks more difficult than any other ones I know the recipe of. The biggest obstacle is that there is no canned pumpkin puree in Korea, as far as I know. In addition, the recipe calls for canned candied yam, which hardly I believe available. Eventually I had to roast pumpkins  and sweet potatoes in oven, as I did not want to give up on trying the recipe as the pumpkin was so sweet and delicious when I had tried for the first time.

By deciding to try it, I paid the huge price as the filling was so hard to make it, especially the last step , which was sifting; it was very dense mixture(had to cook on stovetop to get rid of some moisture and intensify the flavor).

After all, the effort was rewarding as the pie comes out at least decent(I always have hard time to call the food I cook tasty). This is in fact the first time I made the pie crust so there is a lot to be improved, but it was at least passable. The taste of filling is very intense(think I overbaked a tad bit), so it was better eating with cream loosely whipped. It was worthy trying, but I am not sure I will bake another one in near future or for only myself.


Written by bluexmas

November 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

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Project Sandwich Loaf

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I have been dabbling in baking for quite some time, and I’ve had some OK breads like ciabattas and country loaves. However when it comes to sandwich loaf, struggle is the right word representing the outcome. More than anything, the outlook never matches with store bought ones; I never have one rises really well.

That is why I decide to practice baking sandwich loaf with same recipe, at least ten times, without too much of high expectation. The first goal is to have right shape which is only by proper implementation of fermentation.

And the one in the picture above is the third one. I have been baking with same recipe about once in a week. The recipe is originally from <Baking Illustrated>, but I adjust the amount of all purpose flour to add whole wheat flour with the ratio of 3:1. The recipe calls for milk, but I substitute it with water since  but I wanted to test it out with water first.

The most important feature of the recipe is that you use the oven for fermentation to make it rise rapidly. I don’t have real good sense to recognize when I finish the second fermentation, which is for the shape, and I guess I got it a little better this time. This one looks real store bought sandwich bread at least by appearance. Unfortunately, the texture lack a bit as it felt a bit dry and crumbly. However, I was satisfied at the the shape was right. This one stayed about 5~10 minutes longer in the oven that I originally intended, until when I had the oven heat around 130 degree Celsius or so. For next one, I am planning to try cold rise for the first fermentation. I like to do cold rise, but never done for the sandwich loaf.

Written by bluexmas

November 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

triple, not so triple

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Considering the original meaning of the word as an adjective, trifle should be some trivial desserts; not so. While it is one of the easiest desserts to make, it can also be one of the best. What you need to do is to prepare ingredients and assemble them, and put in the refrigerator overnight to meld all the flavors together. As it must be made beforehand whatever the occasion is, I think it is one of the best desserts anyone can make.

The one in the picture is made of strawberries, whipped cream and pine nut meringue cookie from Berkeley, CA. One friend of mine sent them to me and I immediately liked the taste of pine nut, which is very subtle and not overwhelming like other nuts. I happened to like putting things I got from others as gifts to fuse into other stuff, i.e., making ice cream out of the tea. So the idea of crumble the cookie into the trifle, and it was successful.

After assembling everything and let them rest overnight, I put strawberry and basil leaf as garnishes. It is not surprising that strawberry and basil get along really well.

Written by bluexmas

April 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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whole wheat bagel

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From both of his fantastic baking book A Bakers Apprentice and Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Bread, what I wanted to bake at first was bagel, even though I never have been a big fan of it. Once in almost every other week, people brought in bagels from Einstein bagel located right across the street from the office, and I barely ate it. The beauty of bagel is that chewy texture, but I never like it.

However, I really wanted to bake myself at least once to see whether I can really achieve that chewiness or not. In addition, I thought that whole shaping and boiling process was pretty cool. So I tried white wheat version first, and the result was OK; it was definitely chewy, and also a little bit tough.

Once making the white wheat version to get the hang of it, I tried whole wheat version right away to see that whole wheat baking thing is really working. The result of white wheat version was kind of given, even though it was a bit more tougher than I had expected, since it was just standard process of baking. However, baking with whole wheat flour is a little bit of different story as it is believed that with whole wheat flour, developing gluten is a challenge. In fact, I have tried to bake quite a few whole wheat version of my baking repertoire by simple substituting as much as the half of white wheat flour into whole wheat one, and the result was without a doubt, drier and tougher. I really didn’t care about that driness and toughness, but always wondered how to make it better with better guidance.

Finally, I could try with Peter Reinhart’s recipe for whole wheat bagel, and it was near disaster until I saw the final result. I really don’t feel like to elaborate the recipe here, since I will do it on my Korean blog, but I think I should mentioned that the dough was way too sticky than I had expected after mixing all the ingredients as the book directed, with that ‘delayed fermentation’ method, and I still can’t get why.

When I first tried white wheat version, the dough was extremely stiff so that the motor of my kitchenaid mixer was overload, and I ended up dividing the dough into  half to finish the kneading. Since  I had expected the whole wheat version would be the same as the book had indicated, I could not understand why the dough was like that; it was too sticky so that the devided dough could not retain its signature bagel shape after the second proofing. In fact, the dough did never form a ball after the second proof. It just collapsed. For the boiling, I had to reform the dough since it just could not retain its form.

Anyway, everything settled down after baking. Since the dough was very sticky, it turned out to be softer than the white wheat version I had baked before that, and tasted nice and nutty. For the topping, I put the coarsely chopped pecan I had kept in the fridge and it went very well with the flovor and texture of the bagel.

I ordered huge batch of domestic whole wheat flour and it is on the way, so I will bake more once I have them on my hands. I wonder domestic, not imported flour is the key of difference, as there can be difference in the ratio of gluten from in the flour.

And the other thing I should point out is that the baking time for whole wheat bagel is much longer than white wheat one. I had to underbake slightly than the book had indicated as I was afraid of buring the dough. I think I have to look at other recipes to  crosscheck.

Written by bluexmas

September 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Food-Others

The Next Food Network Star, Final

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Disappointing, but expected: I have expected that Aaron will be the winner all along, unless he screws it up to the point of no return. For last two weeks, he had almost reached that level, but they had kept giving him more chances and he got it finally. At this point, I think my criticism toward the show or FN is no longer meaningful as they just picked the one they had needed for a long time: Afro-American talent. I strongly believe that was the reason they did not put this on public vote as they were afraid to lose him like last season(cannot think Lori could be the better choice, but…). Anyway, Aaron was the worst among three finalists in cooking and entertaining. His concept or vision didn’t look like something can last long as it was not the idea can cover the ground of cuisine he would lean on. In addition, Guy Fieri’s show has already covered similar kind of concept. I am sure Aaron’s show will be less exciting than Guy’s as he doesn’t seem to have that level of entertaining skill (It was almost painful to watch him hosting his pilot show).

Except the fact that I cannot see her face more than one minute, Lisa did a fine job, whether I think all the ‘show and tell’ kind of presentation she had with Gordon Elliot is kind of fake or not(more often than not, I tend to think that kind of concept
work is fake…my profession makes me spoiled and skeptical). Anyway I am happy as I don’t need to see her anymore(sorry). Adam did his best despite the circumstances which FN never seemed to make him win. His entertaining skill was at his best and his cooking was good enough for people to feel that he is some sort of expertise. It is not that I have been rooting for him, but for me he was the best one to watch without feeling sick. His idea to the show was fine, but not really refreshing as Tyler Florence and Danny Boome’s show have already done same thing. Anyway, I am still believing that he will find a way, maybe the better one than this: he deserved to be in this level of competition.
OK, it is time to wrap up. I really don’t want to see this as a final result, but it ends up being something I have been expecting all along anyway. I am still thinking that Aaron’s show will not be very exciting, and there is high possibility that the first season will be the last one, like Amy’s.


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Written by bluexmas

July 29, 2008 at 10:02 am

Posted in Food-Others

The Next Food Network Star, Week Seven

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I don’t think it was only me who had guessed that there would be no eliminated contestants: the preview from the week before the last one gave too much of clue. However, I guessed that they would go through one more round to eliminated one to the final of two.. so that was only difference between my guess and what actually happened.
The reason for me is that they didn’t want to eliminated Aaron: he was the worst among three, in both cooking and entertaining. Three pastas were to much and none of them looked appetizing. Even worse, his presentation was horrible and I had to flip the channel. I think that they wanted to get rid of Adam as much as they did to save Aaron; had he done slightly worse than he did last week, he would already be eliminated. However, I think their judgement was impaired: Tuschman guy said ‘with one bad week among seven, we cannot eliminated him’, but had they already eliminated guys mostly based on each episode’s performance, more than anything? It was too generous, while they pointed out Adam’s ongoing inconsistency. I don’t think that’s fair. I think he did great job, especially in cooking and they seemed to be still hesitant to give him a credit in that department. To me, he looked most relaxed and food looked great. Cannot see any problem for him to cook.
Lisa… I have to admit that her singing was great, but singing itself cannot make me like her. There were critical failure in cooking, in addition to poor performance in filming promo. Overall, she was slightly better than Aaron as nobody was able to detect her lack of quantity in monkfish. They are heading to the final… I have no idea who will win, but if that is not solely based on performance, I bet Aaron will win and he will be gone after one season of awkward show. My favorite to win now is Adam, as I have been impressed by his overall performance, but hard to imagine they let him win all the way, even harder for Lisa. One last thing: by the preview, it seems that they will decide the winner by jury, not by open vote. Is it only me who thinks fishy?

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Written by bluexmas

July 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

Posted in Food-Others

The Next Food Network Star, Week Six

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At the end of the show, Kelsey had to leave and I did not expect that. However, she seemed to be outmatched in almost every aspect of the challenge and irked crooked-face Tuschman guy one more time with that ‘culinary school’ comment. She hadn’t really one of my favorite contestants all the way, but there were nothing really much to dislike her and I don’t understand why the culinary school comment is such a problem as that is all she has for now; she is just 23 and FN knows that. Few weeks ago, that crooked-face guy criticized her by comparing her comment to aviation school graduate, and I didn’t think it made sense at all. If they think her lack of life experience can be the issue, they should have not selected her, or Shane either for that matter, or even raised the age limit so that any twenty something or younger person don’t apply for the competition.

Personally, I don’t see any problem with their relative lack of experience as I believe they can bring the fresh air which can balance the lack of experience out. I just don’t understand why they make such a big deal out of their age after bringing them to the show; it looked like they were spitting to their face. To me, they didn’t even look that immature or lacking at all. Anyway, I think she will find her way to cook in front of camera, somewhere not FN.

Ok, here is the breakdown:

-Lisa: I think I have to confess that I could not even watch Lisa was on TV; putting all the hair and makeup aside, I cannot watch her moving so frantically all over the place. I was wondering how she avoided cutting her finger while chopping herbs like that. At the end of the show, she said she needed to warm herself up in front of the camera, and I don’t think that will happen as that is just her personality. In fact, that scene reminded me of Lori, the runner-up of last season, as it seems they are sharing some kind of bitchness and FN just want to play with it until the end, or just next week… I just don’ think she will win all the way(oh well, Rachel Ray is still having her show, so why not?).

-Aaron: I think  his cooking solely save him this time. He didn’t even start cooking Chicken Parmesan until less that 20 minutes left, but was able to finish strong. He still seems to lack TV skill, but he can learn it, I guess (is it something FN has to offer? Training, I mean…). Now it is his to lose, considering FN is believed to be dying to get Afro-American talents.

-Adam: I don’t think he is less qualified than other contestants, so I don’t understand Tuschman guy’s argument of him lacking passion. He just wanted to eliminate him so badly, I guess. I don’t think he can go beyond this week, but is able to find another TV job: good looking, acts very natural in front of camera. He may be the better one than they think, and I think he deserves more.

Oh, here is one more thing: throwdown format of last week’s challenge was that interesting. Overall, I still think last season’s format is a lot better.

Written by bluexmas

July 16, 2008 at 6:54 am

Posted in Food-Others