Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Seattle, WA 98121
Since starting this blog, I've become very aware of the lack of traveling I've done in the last year or so. Prior to writing this blog, I had quite a few trips, but since starting this blog, the farthest I've traveled is the Bay Area. I haven't even left the state.
So when the opportunity came to spend a few days in Seattle with some friends, I gladly seized the chance to take a trip. I'd never been to Seattle prior to this visit. Before I started being interested in food blogs, the only thing I knew about Seattle was that it rained a lot and it was home of the doctors on Grey's Anatomy.
A few months ago, I started reading about Seattle being quite a culinary center, offering lots of great food, which definitely piqued my interest.
A visit to Seattle meant having to try some of the many restaurants that are part of the Tom Douglas empire. Tom Douglas is a winner of the James Beard Award, and he beat Chef Morimoto on an episode of the American Iron Chef. He currently owns about 7 restaurants in the Seattle area.
On our first night, we arrived starving and decided to check out Serious Pie, Tom Douglas' venture into pizzas. The joint is casual and small. There are no reservations, but you can put your name on a list and they'll call you when your table is ready.
We arrived at about 5:30 and waited about half an hour for our table. There was quite a lot to explore nearby, so we didn't mind the wait.
Inside, we were seated at a tall, small table with bar stools. The menu was very simple, with only a few appetizers, pies and desserts to choose from.
I chose the chanterelle mushroom with truffle cheese.
Surprisingly, there was no bread served with our meal. It made it a little awkward because the pizza did take a while to arrive. From my seat, I could see the pizza dough being spun until it was very, very thin.
When our pies arrived, I was starving. The pizza crust is very thin and crispy. Towards the center, it tastes more like a cracker rather than pizza dough. I loved the taste of the truffle cheese on my pizza and could eat this cheese all day long. The pizza was good too, though some parts of the crust was too thin for my liking.
Boyfriend chose to order the house salumi pizza. This pizza had a bite to it that was a refreshing change of taste from the truffle cheese and mushrooms. BF and I both enjoyed the pizzas but we weren't blown away by them.
It was a good way to spend our first meal, but I left feeling slightly underwhelmed after hearing so much hype.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I saw a recipe for Clear Water Sponge Cake on The Little Teochew which looked very much like the sponge cakes that are often sold at chinese bakeries. Super spongy and light as air, the chinese sponge cakes are usually the size of oversized muffins. I always pick up a few when I visit a chinese bakery and I make sure to eat them right away because they spoil quickly.
I wasn't sure if these clear water cakes were the same, but they looked remarkably similar and they were easy to make. In fact, I was a bit suspicious at how easy the recipe looked. A lot of chinese desserts and bakery items are pretty complicated to make.
After I finished mixing the batter, I realized that there was no baking powder agent to make the cake rise. I was really concerned. I knew the egg whites would help the sponge cakes rise, but I wasn't sure it was enough. I double checked the recipe, but I was afraid that something got lost in the translation, or perhaps the flour used in the original recipe already had baking powder inside it.
To my relief, the cakes came out fine. They were soft, spongy, airy. They didn't rise that much though. So I still wonder if I was supposed to have baking powder in there. Perhaps next time I'll fill the batter cup higher too, to make these cakes higher.
I'll have to investigate more to see if I should have put in baking powder, but the recipe as written is great too. The cakes tasted just like the chinese sponge cakes I get in the chinese bakeries! I used a regular muffin pan rather than the oversized ones, so these are more like mini sponge cakes. I had no idea they were so easy to make. Next time, I'm just going to make my own rather than buying them.
Mini sponge cakes (adapted from The Little Teochew)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 50g corn oil
- 50g cake flour
- 3 egg whites
- 50g castor sugar
- Dash of salt
1) Beat (A) till well mixed with an egg beater.
2) Sift in (B), mix well.
3) Whisk (C) till frothy, add (D) and beat till stiff peaks.
Fold in the egg white mixture to egg yolk mixture in 3 additions, mix
till well combined. Scoop the batter into paper cups till 60% full.
5) Bake in preheated oven at 150C for about 18-20mins.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
About a month ago, I made mini cherry almond cakes, which I really liked. One of the changes I wanted to make to my first attempt was to make the tea cakes smaller, as the original recipe intended it that way, allowed the whole cherry in the middle to be a big part of the tea cake.
Another thing I wanted to do was pit the cherries even though you are supposed to put a whole cherry in there. No one was eating the cakes the first time because they complained about the one little seed inside the cherry. So this time, I used my Cherry Pitter, and pitted the whole cherries, before putting each cherry in the middle of the tea cakes.
Last time, the cherries were pretty well covered with batter, so this time I let them stick out. I do think that they ended up popping up a little too much, so next time I'll stick them down a little more in the batter.
The cherry cakes looked even cuter in their mini size and they tasted just as good as last time. The mild sweet taste of cherries mixed with almonds is a delicious combination. These cakes are also really easy to make if you have all the ingredients.
And with the cherries pitted, these cakes were a much bigger hit this time around.
Cherry and Almond Cakes (recipe found on the cookie shop)
- 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for muffin tin
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for tin
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour (I used this one)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 5 large egg whites
- 4 teaspoons kirsch
- 30 sweet (Bing)cherries (pitted or not depending on your preference)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees/ 180°C. Brush 30 cups of 2 mini-muffin tins with butter, and dust lightly with flour. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When it begins
to sputter, reduce heat to medium. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally,
until butter has lightly browned. Skim foam from top, and remove
skillet from heat.
2. Whisk together flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add
egg whites, and whisk until smooth. Stir in kirsch. Pour in
butter, leaving any dark-brown sediment in skillet, and whisk to
combine. Let stand for 20 minutes.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon batter into each buttered muffin cup, filling about
halfway. Push a cherry into each, keeping stem end up. With a
small spoon, smooth batter over cherries to cover. Bake
toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges to
loosen, and unmold.
Cakes can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature