Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Pretty in purple. I love all things purple, so when I was first introduced to ube, I liked all these ube flavored foods because of the vivid purple color. Ube is the filipino name for purple yam and is often seen in filipino cuisine, especially in various desserts.
So here's my little rant. Ube and taro are often mixed up, which irks me to no end. Mainly because I have a special fondness for taro. Taro and ube are two completely different things! I don't really know who to blame for the mix-up. I've seen many filipino food blogs that translate ube as "taro" instead of "purple yam." I've even seen things in the grocery store saying ube/taro.
Ube = purple yam. Taro is a root that isn't actually very purple. There are small taros which are usually white. And the big taros have a light purplish to it. But it's very light. If you cook with taro, it'll usually be almost a greyish hue. Only if you steam it, does the purple come out and even then, it's a very light purple. As a result, when you see taro flavored desserts or drinks, you'll often see food coloring added to it that makes them look light purple. Ube is a much darker purple. When you cut it open, you see the dark purple. The two plants also look different from the outside. And of course, they taste different too. So that's my rant. They are not the same thing people!
Burnt Lumpia had some ube cupcakes on his blog that I was interested to try. I went out and bought some frozen grated ube which I found in the freezer section at Ranch 99. They've been sitting in my freezer for a while.
The cupcakes were easy to make. I love how vivid the color of the raw and cooked ube is. It's a bit sad that the color gets diluted in the cupcakes. The cupcake batter turned a pinkish purple. It reminded me of mixed berries yogurt. I was tempted to keep adding ube to the batter to deepen the purple color, but I didn't want to mess with the recipe.
When the cupcakes were first baked, I couldn't resist eating one. The outside was pink, but the inside was a light purple. So pretty. My cupcakes was moist and sweet. However, after they had cooled, I tried one the next morning. The batter was a bit more dense now and slightly dry. I think I might play around with this recipe slightly to get a fluffier/moist cupcake. It wasn't too dry though. And with the frosting, it gave it the moisture it needed.
I was debating what kind of frosting I wanted to put on. Ube is often mixed with coconut. I thought about a coconut frosting, an ube and coconut frosting, a marscapone cheese frosting. Finally, I ended up with a whipped cream frosting flavored with ube. I used a bottle of ube flavoring I had picked up at Seafood City. It made the frosting delicious and added a beautiful purple to the frosting. Of course, with the purple frosting, the cupcakes looked more pink. Oh well. The ube flavored whipped cream frosting was really tasty and somehow very different from a regular whipped cream frosting. I thought it was the perfect complement to these cupcakes.
Ube cupcakes (adapted from Burnt Lumpia)
1 cup grated ube yam (can be found frozen in Asian markets)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 Tablespoons butter (1.5
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Thaw and drain ube yam. Place ube on a small sheet of foil, place
foil in steamer basket and steam for 15-20 minutes until ube is soft.
Remove ube from heat, place in small bowl, and mash ube with a spoon.
Allow ube to come to room temperature, then add milk and vanilla to ube
and mix well. Set aside.
3. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter and
sugar together on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a
time, until blended after each addition. Add oil and mix to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda,
5. Add a portion of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix on low
speed until just combined. Then add a portion of the ube mixture to the
egg mixture, continuing to alternate between the flour and ube until
everything is just combined.
6. Place paper baking cups into muffin pans and spoon batter into cups
until 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes until
a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove cupcakes
from pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
This weekend, I had one of those moments where I didn't know what I was craving. BF began driving down Convoy Street, naming one restaurant after another. I kept saying "no" to each choice. And then I saw this grand opening sign for A Cafe. Apparently it's been open a couple of months, I'm surprised I didn't notice it until now.
It's advertised as a Hong Kong style Cafe. However, this seemed more like just another tapioca tea cafe spot. And it happens to be located right near Tapioca Express and Tea Garden.
The place offers tea drinks and various chinese dishes. The food menu is more extensive than a typical tea cafe. The prices were also a bit higher too.
We ordered a Yang Chow Fried rice. The quantity was okay, but the price a bit high, especially for fried rice. Nothing stood out about this dish. It wasn't that good, just average.
We also ordered the braised string beans. This wasn't made right at all. The beans weren't cooked long enough. The beans are supposed to be fried, creating a softer texture and a more wrinkly appearance. These were barely wrinkled and tasted more like stir fried rather than deep fried beans. The pickled vegetables they put it were also extremely salty.
I saw handmade fish dumplings on the menu and was so curious even though I didn't have high expectations. One look when they came out and obviously the skin was not handmade. The thin, wrinkled texture are evidence of premade skins. I guess they might have wrapped these dumplings themselves but the skin wasn't handmade. The sauce served with it was sweet which I didn't like.
We also ordered a diced filet mignon with pepper sauce. It was served with ketchup rice. The filet mignon was actually cooked pretty well. Not overcooked and the dish also was not too salty, as can often happen with pepper sauce.
BF also ordered a mango milkshake. It tasted just like the mango lassi served at Indian restaurants. So while I liked how it tasted, I think this may have been a mango yogurt drink rather than mango milk.
All in all, the food was just average. I think the prices are too high. I wanted to get a shaved ice originally but I was too full.
While we were eating, I noticed the owner of DeDe's walk in. After asking the waitress, I found out that A Cafe is owned by the owner of DeDe's and the owner of Imperial Mandarin.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I saw pictures of gorgeous blueberry muffins from Stick to Your Hips almost a year ago. I thought they were some of the most beautiful muffins I'd ever seen. I absolutely loved the big plump blueberries that decorated the top of the muffins.
I've been wanting to make these muffins ever since, but I never had any ricotta cheese lying around. I finally went out and bought some so I could make these muffins as well as some other recipes that require ricotta cheese.
These muffins tasted good, but they weren't what I was expecting. They use almond flour. I like the taste of almond and I like almond cakes, but the use of the almond flour caused the muffins to be pretty flat. I'm used to the overflow of muffins and the creation of a crusty muffin top, but these didn't really rise much and didn't develop muffin tops. To me, these tasted more like blueberry almond cakes rather than like muffins. I like them; they just weren't what I was expecting. The ricotta cheese did make them very moist. I think I also want to see what ricotta cheese does in a regular blueberry muffin recipe.
I definitely like the sprinkling of blueberries on the top of the batter. I'm going to start doing that for all my blueberry muffin recipes.
Blueberry Almond Ricotta Muffins (adapted from Stick to your Hips)
1/4 cup butter,
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh or frozen
Raw sugar for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12
regular muffin cups and set aside.
2. In a large bowl cream the butter
and sugar. Beat in whole egg, egg white, vanilla extract, almond
extract, and ricotta cheese. In a small bowl mix the flour, almond
flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the ricotta mixture just until moistened. Fold in 1 1/4 cup berries.
3. Fill muffin cups
with batter. Press the remaining berries on the top of the batter and
sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden on the edges
and a tester comes out with moist crumbs.