Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I don't know . . .

I read a helpful hint about writing and editing a better blog was not to edit mid stream. And I'm guilty of that constantly. An even right now, as I write this in evernote before I put it in my blog. I've written and deleted my title several times already. So with that said onward to finishing my thoughts and this post

I don't know what's got into me but I have been cooking and baking up a stop for about the last month. It's not that I have any more tme on my hands or have parties or people to cook for. I think most of the inspiration comes from my garden and the farmers market goodies that I've got this summer. 

All my pickles have come from my picking up those great heirloom carrots from Canal Farms. People still can't stop talking about them

I've been testing recipes left and right and most of them have been great. The last one was the roasted tomato salsa from It was super delicious. Way better than I even expected. And it make so much. I made half a batch and still was able to give some away bring it into the office. Here's the link to the recipe:

not the best shot bur really good

And yes, I've been on a veggie kick. Kind of started with my new eating habit [salad, salad and more salad] and looking different things to eat. And I've trying to eat what is in season also. And with that said here's what I've tested: frittata, beet and black bean burger, baba ganoush, and kimchi. I've also been roasting up some veggies to add to my endless amount salads I eat. 

one of my salads: tofu and soy/ginger dressing
Healthy Snack
baba ganoush with veggies from the farmers market
1st attempt @ Kim Chee
1st attempt at kimchi

And last but not least, I promised my cousin Julie I'd post my apple bread pudding recipe. I have to say this is my go-to recipe, easy and can be made ahead of time and frozen. I make this at least once a week for the recipe  restaurant. I tried this with other fruits but the customers seem to only want the apple. Wish I had a picture of my bread pudding but I never took one. Maybe later this week I'll post a picture.

Caramelized Apple Bread Pudding
Serves 8 or 12

1 gallon zip lock bag of stale bread, cubed**
1/2 c raisins

3 c whole milk 
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t vanilla
2 t cinnamon
1 t salt
2 T butter plus extra 1-2 T butter for pan

Caramelized Apples
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced 1/8" thick*
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c sugar

4 eggs, beaten

Vanilla Sauce
1 can condensed milk
2 t vanilla
1/4 c powdered sugar--you can add more or less to taste

Grease baking dish with 1–2 T of melted butter. Note about the pan: My pan ceramic that is 8 x 11" and 3" deep. Use a 9 x13 pan if you don't have this size the slice will be thinner. 

In a large bowl add bread and raisins and mix together.

Making the custard
Add custard ingredients to a pot, heat over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles forming on the edges. Don't boil. Stirring occasionally. The milk should be steaming. Pour milk mixture over the bread and the raisin and mix till all the bread is soaked with milk mixture. Don't over mix, you still want the bread cubes to keep its shape somewhat. 

Caramelizing the apples
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a frying/saute pan medium heat. Add sugar to the melted butter, slightly stir it to help it melt evenly. It should start turning brown at the edges, keep stirring you want all of the sugar to turn evenly brown. It should be light brown all over. It's probably better to lighter than darker brown because the darker it get the more bitter it will taste. Add the sliced apples. Now this is when you will probably freak out because you think you just ruin your beautifully caramelized sugar. Nope, you didn't. The sugar will seize (becomes hard clumps) because of the juice from the apples, but just keep stirring the sugar and apples together. Apples start producing a lot of juice and the clumps of sugar will melt into the juice. Now reduce the apple juice to half and the apples should tender. 

Pour the mixture into the bread custard mix. Mix well so the apples are evenly mixed in.

Now turn on your oven to 350º.  Once my oven is ready, my mixture is cool enough to add the eggs to the bread custard mix. Mix well but try not to break up the cubes too much. Pour mixture into butter dish/pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Top should be golden brown and puffed up a bit. You can you a cake tester to see if comes out clean or I just press down on the top with my finger and if it springs back it's ready. 

Vanilla Sauce
Mix all the ingredients together well. 

We serve it warm with drizzle of vanilla sauce. This recipe keeps really well in the freezer. I slice it up into the serving size, double wrap in plastic wrap then in foil. Should keep for a month. Take out and defrost in refrigerator. I heat up the slice for a minute in the microwave to get the texture of the bread soft. 

*I use fuji because it hold up to the caramelization but use whatever apples you like.

** I get my bread from the restaurant, usually hard rolls. I cube the bread and put in the gallon size zip lock bags and throw them in the freezer. So I have the bread ready to make when I need it. It's usually 5-6 hard rolls to fill a gallon freezer bag. Stale bread works the best for this recipe. If the bread is too fresh, it becomes really mushy when you add the wet ingredients. Still useable/eatable but doesn't look as good.  I also have adding some slices of whole wheat bread, it adds a nice sweetness. 

Finally note: after I wrote this, I realize this my recipe doesn't sound as easy as I think it is as.  I make it on weekly basis. But give it a try, I think you will like it. My customers keep coming back for and always get a to go order when for later when they are too stuffed from dinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Stubby Carrots

  by april_yurie
photo by april_yurie on Flickr.
Made me smile when I harvested them today. They are taking a long time to come in.

I've gone pickle crazy

this past weekend. On top of the pickled veggie slaw and made a batch of Pickled Carrot Slices from NYT that a friend sent me the recipe to try.


Here's the brine cooking up. Dried chili, coriander, bay leaf, star anise [it was suppose to be cloves but I didn't have it] and the green garlic/scapes are the spices. I used the purple and yellow heirloom carrots I picked up at the farmers market from Canal Farms.

Kind of looks like pickle mango from Hawaii.

Here's the finished product. The purple carrots tinted the brine this reddish purple color.  These pickles are a little sweeter than slaw. It smells great when you open the bottle from all the spices. Thought it may too spicy from the dried chili but it wasn't. Made 2 pints. 

The eggplants in the background I also picked up at the farmers market from Pop's Farm. They had all kinds of colors and shape of eggplants there. The girl at the register told me the lavender ones are most mild. I do love my Asian purple eggplant [sliced and pan fried and topped with lemon shoyu], so as a good foodie would do, I picked up a couple of both types to make up a batch of baba ganoush. Stay tune for some pictures.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

For a Breakfast Birthday at work


Tomato Swiss Chard Frittata. Veggies from my garden. Made the veggie frittata so everyone could eat. Most of have gone off the carbs. It came out really great and quite beautiful.

Used this recipe as the base: How I adjusted the recipe: 3 egg whites (what I had)  and 4 whole eggs, fresh basil from my garden and Gruyère cheese (what I had). 

What I've been cooking . . . again and will cook again

I've been moving up the ladder of canning and started pickling. But instead of have bottles of pickles stacked on my shelves, I've been stuck on one recipe because it so delicious and adds so much interest to my eating routine: Pickled Veggie Sandwich Slaw from In addition to the tasting great, the finish product looks so beautiful. It's a great gift.

I made my second batch with most of the veggies from my farmers market--heirloom carrots (purple and yellow) [the yellow was incredibly sweet], radishes, red and orange peppers, garlic scapes, kirby cucumbers, celery and sugar snap (from the asian food store). 

waiting for the brine

purple carrot, some are much more yellow inside
The purple carrots added some color to the brine. Making it even more beautiful. I ended up with 2 pints and 6 half pints.
Pickle veggie slaw
marinating in my fridge. YUM!

Another great way to eat this slaw on top of a pulled pork sandwich. Sandwich provided by, of course, Cafe Bua. From our daily lunch specials. It add an extra tanginess and crunch to the sandwich. 
Sandwich from the restaurant, pickle slaw by me from the 1st batch

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Summer Vacation: Part 3--Garden of the Gods

I thought I posted this weeks ago. Oh well, here you go.
See those people looking up at the top of the left path: there's a rock climber going up there

Our last full day, we started out driving south from Estes Park to Garden of the Gods--about 2-3 hours. As like the rest of the trip, no planning had not happen and we were just kind of winging it. I just entered "Garden of the Gods" into my google map app and off we went. Drove past Boulder--tons of cyclists in both directions.

Got to the park visitor center right around lunch time. Out goes the diet and it was chili dogs for both of us. We finished up just in time for the movie about the park--nicely done. Really worth the $5. And I assume that how they make their money to maintain the park, since the park is free. 

Now we are down from the mountain and it is hot and dry. Of course I forgot to put on sunscreen, my hat was somewhere in the car and no, we didn't bother to bring a bottle of water. I think we were too excited to be lucky that we got a parking in a packed parking lot and those red rocks were calling out. 

After the park we were going to Pike Peak but we found out it would take 3 hours up and back and we were spent. We went to a historical castle in the town of Manitou. We basically ran through that because we were too tired stop and read all the description. It's a nice town probably worth a stop and roaming around. But it was pack with holiday crowds and we just wanted to get to the hotel and rest up for our early (extremely) morning rise to catch our plane back home.