Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beautiful Chocolate: Mast Brothers!

Oh my sweet and thoughtful friend Miko fulfilled a chocolate dream of mine last week... and it was a SURPRISE! I opened up our crickety old metal black mailbox last week to retrieve the day's mail. Inside was a little package sent to me... I opened the package and squealed with delight-- a super cute birthday card from Miko, and a bar of my very own MAST BROTHERS chocolate!!! I really felt like lucky little Charlie in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory when he got his once-a-year Willy Wonka bar of chocolate for his birthday from his two sets of grandparents and his mom and dad. I felt even more like Charlie when I unwrapped the beautiful fleur de lys print paper stock to reveal a gold foil wrapped bar underneath!! And... once again... just like Charlie when he found the soggy dollar bill buried deep in the snow, then went to the nearest corner store to buy himself a bar of chocolate... I peeled back the gold foil and broke off a square of the chocolate and let it melt in my mouth.

Let me explain further.. we live in CANADA, see! No Mast Brothers chocolate here! And they only just began to provide an online ordering service, but at $100 for 10 bars, a leeeetle bit pricey... but Miko's friend Alia, who lives in Brooklyn, helped out in buying the bar for Miko to give to me!

The bar I received was dark chocolate, almonds, sea salt and olive oil, 72% Madagascar cacao! The Mast Brothers make each bar by hand... with lovely ingredients. I can relate to the painstaking process of making each piece by hand from scratch! I just think their packaging and design is just so perfect and nice. Here is a link to view more of their beautiful packaging!!

Wouldn't it be fun to have your very own chocolate factory? A mini chocolate factory in a tiny, beautiful, well-lit with natural light kitchen?

DREAMY. PS... a Willy Wonka link for you too!

Monday, November 16, 2009


TERRINE: my definition: randomness food items floating in space jammed into a mold using gelatin or other fun products.

Ie: Jello explosion table of delightful desserts...

and fun times egg and meat party trapped in clear aspic...

Oh trompechompe. I've ignored you so badly in the last two months and for this I apologize. It seems as though Cupcake Mountain has taken over my life, and my hobby of updating this here blog fell by the wayside for a bit. But no longer.

So it was my birthday once again (you know how that thing happens? Once a year it seems to occur?) on November 15th and I had another "theme" party of sorts... "FOODIE!" My cousin-in-law and I are deeply obsessed with the television program Top Chef--so much so that I bought her a subscription to Food & Wine mag for her birthday, and one for myself too... and now a foodie themed birthday. The request: that guests bring a "foodie"-ish item. I was also told that I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE A DESSERT because I am always the dessert maker at parties-- I love making them and admittedly I was in PAIN AND CONFUSION because I was like, "Uh oh. I gotta make a savoury? What the H am I gonna make??"

So... I flipped through some varying recipe books of mine... and found the perfect mix of comedy and (hopefully)... deliciousness... the TERRINE!

I had seen the terrine be prepared many times on Top Chef. Okay, so it looks like it's a bunch of things packed tightly into a stainless steel mold, then chilled, upturned and cut into fancy slices that can be laid atop crostini or plopped (placed?) in the middle of a plate. Usually made with venison, or head cheese (yum!) or tongue, I've been told... since I have become a vegetarian of late (since starting to read Eating Animals... though reading this has since been interrupted by Barney's Version)... so I made mine with fresh goat cheese, asparagus, roasted portobello and sweet red pepper and wrapped it in blanched leek leaves.

So here is my documentation of "My First Terrine" !!! Enjoy! Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres cookbook...


Study first. Le Cordon Bleu handbook has some nice pics and ideas... for instance, putting your filling in a piping bag. Brilliant! Much less messy than trying to paddle and pat it down with a spatula...

Martha! Look at that triple threat of terrines from her Hors d'Oeuvres handbook! The two on the left involve the use of gelatin though, which I wanted to avoid.

First, line your terrine mold with cling wrap so it overlaps over the edges. Then, add quickly blanched leeks, lengthwise, as they make a handy dandy terrine wrapper.

Fill your piping bag with filling: mine is fresh goat cheese, beat with some plain yogurt to make it smoother, and sauteed finely diced leek ends (the white part).

Bricklay those cooked-until-just-tender asparagus in! It's like they're floating in clouds of tangy chevre!

Pat pat pat down with an offset spatula. Really pack 'er in.

Add more filling: I roasted sweet red pepper and slices of portobello mushroom for about 15 minutes on 400 degrees. Let cool completely before adding to terrine of course... Continue to "pipe and pat" and layer it up until you reach the top...

When you reach the top, fold over the leek edges. Then fold over the plastic cling wrap, then put the lid onto your terrine, put into fridge and let it set for 4-6 hours until well chilled!

Carefully unmold your terrine using a flat plate on top of the terrine--flip over and carefully unmold. Then, carefully unwrap. Then, slice with a sharp serrated knife!! I also made butter crostini (using store-bought French bread) in the oven, broil both sides so it gets crispy.

Hello, cuteness!! I thought it looked like a funny little caterpillar...

Slice 'er up and place on buttered crostini... Bite into deliciousness! Hooray!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soft Serve Ice Cream Dreams

As I've said before in this blog and for anyone who knows me, one of my fave things EVER is a perfect soft serve ice cream cone! When I was in Japan visiting my sister and best friend Tara, I would have green tea and vanilla soft serve swirl ice cream almost every day-- whenever I saw it I would get it! In Japan they also have amazing flavours like black sesame soft serve, purple taro soft serve... This place in New York Momofuku makes crazy flavours too-- I've never been there but I'd like to try! There are some reviews on the ice cream here and here.

Basically whenever there is a chance to get soft serve, I will try it. I've had ice milk soft serve, high butterfat soft serve, soft serve that tastes like plastic, frozen yogurt soft serve of many different brands from different shops... soft serve sandwiched between chocolate cookies as an ice cream sandwich... It always looks like magic to me. That hum of the compressor and the motor, a pull of a handle and the smooth pouring out of white billowing fancy swirls of ice cream... Wonderful! When there is a choice of twist, I usually get vanilla. Vanilla gets a harsh rap for being boring... No way! Delish! Unless it's green tea on the other side, in which case I get swirl.

Today I got the pleasure of a real live soft serve ice cream demonstration, at a food machinery sales demo kitchen located in Port Coquitlam! Deep fryers, milkshake machines, hot holding display cases, slushie machines, the test kitchen looked like a little mini mart. Yes, I got lost on the way there, and I got lost on the way home, but my excitement kept my mood high! My new friends Sam and LK (see below!) walked me through the process of how a soft serve ice cream machine works... I even got to pump a few of my own, and try their "Razzle" maker too, which is essentially how you make a Dairy Queen blizzard. FUN!

Sam and LK also answered all of my queries, such as:

"What on earth is behind those handles that you pull down when you make the soft serve?"
Behind the handles are these little party chambers that are like big long frozen tubes. Above is a pic of the handles removed, revealing the inside. The turning mechanism attachment (as seen above, partially pulled out of the chamber) scrapes off the perfect amount of ice cream from the sides of the frozen tubes and pumps it out into a beautiful ice cream swirl. Apparently Taylor soft serve machines are the only ones with a fully frozen chamber using liquid technology; other machines use a frozen "coil" technology.

"How do you get the ice cream mix all up in there??"
On top of the machines are chambers called "hoppers". Basically where you pour your ice cream mix, which is then covered with a lid. The hoppers have a tiny hole in which a stick is inserted into it with an even TINIER hole. The mix seeps through the tiny hole, and when you pull down the lever, the right amount of mix gets sucked into the hole, to then get frozen in the frozen tube, which then billows out onto your cone. This is where you would pour in test batches of your own flavour creations: I want to try making some delighftul new flavours! Of course green tea, as I LOVE green tea soft serve, but also raspberry, caramel, etc... The key to the soft serve is texture, and my pal LK said it's tricky getting the right homemade formula. But I am gonna try!

"Can I try this thing??"
Yes, most certainly!!
Wheeee!! So fun!! My dream job!!!

My haphazard soft serve ice cream pile!

My ice cream... so fun!!!

I drove home with a whole lot of information about soft serve machines: water cooled vs. air cooled, the importance of servicing these puppies, how to replace parts, how to wash the parts, and an operating manual and a spec sheet for a specific Taylor Soft Serve ice cream machine, as well as my little ice cream cup. YAY! Now I know how these crazy machines work!! Too fun...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome To The Saanich Fair!

Rich admiring a very decadent pair of fur pants

Pickle on a stick!

I ate this. Guilty. Bratwurst.

Me and Candyland!

Did you know soft serve ice cream is like my most favourite thing??

Saanich Fair Kid's Cake Decorating Competition!

Saanich is in Victoria BC, which is on Vancouver Island. There are lots of farms in Saanich-- corn, tomatoes, blueberries, pumpkins... last weekend, with my in-laws, we hit up the old Saanich Fair, in its 142nd year of country fair party-times. A really amazing fair with lots of community groups running fundraising foodbooths, live animals of every kind (good GOD turkeys are unbelievable looking!! All that hanging sagging brightly colored bumpy skin and Elizabethan collar-ish rounds and rounds of stark feathers!) My favourite part was the children's barn, where everything was made by kids! So wholesome, so cute! So amazing. Sewing, crafts, cake baking, pie baking, cake decorating, art... children should absolutely be immersed in learning things other than sitting in front of a computer or video game console! Get them to bake a pie! These kids did it with no fear!!

The theme for this year's fair, BTW, was "How The West Was Fun". Welcome to Canada everybody.

I bet even a KID made this sign!! Go kid!

The cake decorating competition!! By KIDS!

10 to 12 year olds. You can picture these young gals being so stoked...

Second place in the cookie contest!! It doesn't make dimensional sense but who cares!! It's a watermelon slice sugar cookie, made by a KID!

Mexican cowboy? Third place ribbon!! Those fingers got a bit toasty but it's tough to evenly bake when you have tiny parts such as those cowboy fingers. Black licorice rope!! By a KID!!

Turd pile cake! With straw, dirt and plastic flies!! This won first place blue ribbon!!

This is darn cute. By a KID!

This is cool too. How the west was fun!! Get it?? Reese's Pieces accoutrements!

This one was feeling the literal and figurative burn of the hot lights and the being-out-all-day situation. Little Miss Lady riding a cake buggy! Great work, KID!

Shoestring potato chips as hay, Sesame Snaps as snacks... Dyed coconut flakes as grass... KID!!

So, so awesome!!!! I just want to high five them all!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie has a certain lore to it doesn't it? It makes me think of 24 hour diners or grandmas. Do grandmas make banana cream pies? Who MAKES banana cream pies?? When I used to play music in bands, I remember touring and visiting a place called House of Pies in Houston, Texas. They had every conceivable pie and it was beautiful to look at. They also had 24 hour steaks, burgers, breakfast, etc...

This is the second year in a row I've made a banana cream pie for my good pal Josh on his birthday. He loves pies. I love how people love certain things. I guess I would be construed as loving pizza, and ice cream. I'd like to get better at making pies. It's a personal goal of mine!

So let me tell you about this pie. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, but instead of a traditional crust I made a graham cracker crust. I loooove graham cracker. I love S'mores so much. I love them so much some friends call me S'mung (my last name is Sung). The pie was very easy to make, just took some patience and some attention. I love how the cream custard filling thickens SO SUDDENLY! It's so cool. As soon as those bubbles start in the middle and suddenly you're stirring The Blob.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Crazy About Japanese Food

Me, me, MEEE! I am crazy about Japanese food. Also, Chinese food too, seeing that I am Chinese. Also, many many many other types of foods. But this post is dedicated to the delighfully delicious treats I had at this year's Powell Street Festival here in Vancouver, BC!

I also performed with my conceptual synthpop art group GUIMAUVES at this event, dressed as blobs from space, with our set geared towards the kiddies!!

me, my cutie nephew Brody in his crab yukata, and my sis Leanne!

I am on the right hand side. My good pal Raf is on the left. Three megafans up front.

Delicious potato croquettes!

Delightfully fresh tako yaki-- fried octopus fritter balls!!

my fave, kaki gori-- shave ice with sweet red bean, mochi, green tea syrup and condensed milk...

fried tofu with miso sauce!

okonomiyaki with chicken yakitori skewer! Party pancake with beef and delightful toppings, including bonito flakes, mayo, Bulldog sauce and shredded ginger.

Imagawayaki-- pancakes filled with sweet red bean... love love love these... Check out this cuteness and coolness, wish I could order these!

Fried noodle with a side of croquette!

This is a guide with photos on how to make your own OKONOMIYAKI! Enjoy!

Until next year, Powell Street Festival... Sigh...

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