Tag Archives: baking

Summery Sangria on a Cold San Francisco Day.

7 Aug

My dad gave me a watermelon and an orange flesh melon fresh from the countryside.   I got an idea to make sangria with them, but, since I can’t drink up two whole melons worth of sangria, I invited some friends over for brunch.  I was hoping to play some Taboo because, well….I LOVE TABOOOOO!!!!

My plan for Taboo didn’t really pan out, though, and we ended up watching the US win a gold in synchronized diving.  GO USA!

After a few rounds of sangria (recipe is below), I was getting a little inebriated and decided I’m going to bake those darn Chocolate Chip and Cherry Cookies I’ve been wanting to make for the past few weeks.  I’ve been planning on making these for literally two weeks but my lazy butt kept telling me not to.

I must admit, baking when you’re drunk isn’t the most smartest thing to do, but it isn’t the dumbest either.  No, I didn’t burn myself or set anything on fire, but I feel like the cookies would’ve came out much more delicious if I was sober.  I was kind of disappointed in myself.  They weren’t horrible, but they weren’t spectacular.  Maybe I could have creamed the sugars and butter longer, or maybe I was too drunk and didn’t notice that they weren’t as fluffy as they should be.  My friends seemed to like them and even took some home, which I’m grateful for, otherwise, the boyfriend and I would get fat (0^.^o)

I first encountered this fantastic combination of chocolate and cherry inside a cookie at Frog Hollowwhen I used to work for a firm in the SF Ferry Building about 7 years ago. I don’t know why I never thought about making these until recently….what a huge brain fart.

The other day,  I had to go get a cookie from them to figure out what I did wrong.  My case study with the Frog Hollow cookie first began with eating it and savouring the flavors, followed by saving half for the boyfriend, and trying extremely hard to refrain from eating the rest.  I couldn’t even wait to get back to my office before I took a bite out of it!  Yes, they’re that good!

First off, I noticed that my cookies are not as brown as theirs.  Maybe I need to use more brown sugar in place of the regular sugar.  Second, they’re dried cherries were more mildly flavored, not too sweet not too tart but with just enough of a cherry flavor.  The ones I used were a bit on the tart side. Guess I’ll have to try the recipe again, sober! (-.^)

Next time I make these, I’m thinking of using quality dried cherries, and a good chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base.  Then I’ll just add the cherries and walnuts into it and hope it turns out like the Frog Hollow ones.   Anyone know a good chocolate chip cookie recipe?

Watermelon/Any Melon Sangria

melon (cut in 1/2 inch cubes)
1 cup brandy (I used E&J)
1 cup blackberry liqueur (I used Manischewitz)
2 bottles of cheap white wine (I used 2 buck chuck Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe’s, aka Charles Shaw)
7-up or sparkling water for some fizz
Dice up the fruit and soak it in the brandy and liqueur in a covered Tupperware overnight. 
The next day, scoop out the drunken fruit and putting them in a serving bowl or pitcher.  I used two separate pitchers because I didn’t want to combine the orange flesh melon and the watermelon together as one sangria. But for each sangria I used a cup of brandy and a cup of liqueur.
Add the white wine.
Serve it up and add a  little splash of either 7-up or sparkling water.  You can also garnish with mint or basil.

East Meets West

5 Jul

Back in April, I went to Hawaii with my mother, my brother, and the boyfriend.  There, we had the most fantastic shortbread cookies your taste buds can ever imagine.  They were from a local Hawaiian company called Betty’s Best and they have pieces of Japanese rice crackers (arare) in them.

First off, Betty’s shortbread is to die for.  It’s so buttery and soft but not too flakey.  Then, Betty adds arare in it?!?!  It’s like a little piece of shortbread heaven.  The arare adds a nutty salty complex to the buttery shortbread.  My mom gave me a bag of rice crackers and encouraged me to remake Betty’s arare shortbread.

So, I scoured the internet in search for others who have tried to imitate Betty’s recipe but came up short.  It seems like Betty’s really is the best.  The only luck I had was from a forum on ChowHound where someone used a recipe for mexican wedding cookies and added arare to it.  They said that it was good but not quite the same. Some people suggested to use regular sugar rather than powdered sugar, cut in cold butter rather than food process it, or to add one egg and baking soda in it to make it less crumbly.  At the end of the forum, someone posted a link to these Arare Cookie Crunch.

I don’t think this recipe is an exact copy of Betty’s because it calls for margarine and butter and the ingredients list on Betty’s cookies doesn’t include margarine.  I gave up and decided to try the recipe using only butter like Betty does.  With that I made Kitchen Mischiefs’ Almost Best Arare Shortbread.  Read on to see how it’s made.

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups crushed arare (Japanese rice crackers)
Preheat oven to 325.
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.
Slowly add flour one cup at a time.  Then add vanilla.
Stir in arare.
Form teaspoonful balls of cookie batter and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

It tastes exactly the same as Betty’s, and straight out of the oven, the texture was there.  After a day or two, though, it was a bit more dense and hard.  I think I either need to use really cold butter or maybe I over mixed it…hrm…in either case, it was delicious.  I should just eat them all up on the first day when they’re fresh. (^v^)

Two Sides of the Same Coin

18 Jun

My friend’s birthday was last weekend and I asked her what she would like me to bake for her.  She requested peach cobbler!  I’ve never made cobbler before and was pretty nervous about it, so all week, I scoured the internet looking for a delicious but simple recipe.  I found tons of simple recipes but I was surprised that none of them called for spices.  Sure, I wanted simple, but I wanted it to be tasty as well.  I finally found  a simple recipe that included spices.  Behold the Southern Style Spiced Peach Cobbler!  I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of a few extra pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The cobbler filling came out tasty, although I had trouble getting a smooth consistency with the cornstarch.  I mixed and mixed and mixed, but it just came out  a little globby.  I would say this recipe is a success except for one major thing: the batter.  It was thick and had the consistency of biscuits.  I was hoping for something more like pie crust or similar.  You know, crispy but moist and gooey where it meets the filling.  I was pretty disappointed in the cobbler because of this.  My friend said she really liked it, but I know she was being really nice.  Even I didn’t like it.  The biscuity batter ruined it.  She explained to me that her mom makes the  batter runny and pours it over the filing, then bakes it.  It’s supposed to fill any nooks and crannies between the peaches.  I decide I was going to make another cobbler attempt for Father’s Day.

I kept the same filling recipe and added more nutmeg and cinnamon again, but with a slight modification.  My father is a diabetic, so I substituted sugar in the original recipe with Splenda.  Below, you can see the original filling recipe in black and the mods and notes for the nearly-sugar-free filling in blue.

My friend found this recipe that had that runny batter she was talking about.  I used the batter from this recipe, and the filling from the previous recipe to make my father his sugar-free cobbler.  See below for my notes and mods for the sugar-free batter.

We went out to brunch and bowling for Father’s Day, which was uber fun and my dad had a blast!  We didn’t get to cut into the cobbler until 7 hours later so it didn’t have that just-out-of-the-oven-warm-goodness, but my dad still loved the cobbler.  He had 3 helpings!  I reheated it slightly in the microwave before serving it and topped it with whipped cream.

Still, the batter wasn’t quite like pie crust consistency, but it was fluffy and light, and went well with the filling!  I’m still on a hunt to make a good cobbler batter!  If you have any cobbler batter recipes send them my way!

Nearly-Sugar-Free Peach Cobbler Filling
1 large can (29 ounces) sliced peaches in light syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (use Splenda instead.  I used 1/4 cup but it came out pretty sweet.  I think half of that would be best.)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus a few extra pinches)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (plus a few extra pinches)
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Nearly-Sugar-Free Cobbler Batter
¾ cup flour
¾ cup sugar (use Splenda instead)
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
NOTE: Don’t use self-rising flour, it’ll rise too much if mixed with baking powder.
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