Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes…Mmm

I love these cupcakes.  Soft, fluffy, and just a subtle taste of strawberries. I made strawberry cupcakes in the past and I didn't like them at all.  The sourness of the strawberries were very apparent in the batter and I didn't like how the entire batter tasted of strawberries. These cupcakes are not like that.

They are sweet.  The batter is light and fluffy and moist. The strawberries blend well with the batter. It's a bit like eating vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries mixed in, as opposed to eating strawberry flavored ice cream.

It took me a long time to decide what strawberry cupcake recipe to use. I'm so happy I chose this one. The cupcakes are easy to make and I'm definitely going to make them again and again. 

I saw some great strawberry frosting recipes as well, but the frosting would have been wasted on my family, so I opted to leave these plain. I think they still look cute with the bits of red sticking out.

The recipe I chose was posted by Fake Ginger. The only modification I made was replacing the buttermilk because I didn't have any. I used sour cream instead. I was afraid that it might make the cupcakes dense, but that wasn't the case at all.

Strawberry Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Fake Ginger)

Ingredients

2 1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon
salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2
eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used sour cream)
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
2 cup chopped strawberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cupcake pans.

2. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl.

3. In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one
at a time until combined. Add buttermilk (or sour cream), oil and vanilla until
combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in
berries.

4. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 way. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool
completely before frosting.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pluot Buckle

Little Bro has been begging me to buy him pluots from the farmer's market for the past few months. I didn't had a chance to go until July 4th weekend. Waiting until the end, I got some great deals on donut peaches, white nectarines and pluots.

Little Bro was pretty excited and ate a few the first few days. And then he stopped eating them. This is very typical of him. In chinese, my parents always use the phrase that loosely translates to "your eyes are too big," meaning you want more than you can handle. So I had all these dying pluots and after getting sick of staring at them rotting away, I decided to make a dessert out of them.

I pulled the older sister card and made everyone eat a big slice. I served it warm, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

I recalled making a pluot buckle before which I had enjoyed and decided to make it again. Since I had so many pluots, I doubled the recipe. The recipe was more complicated than I remembered. I had thought it would be more easy like a crumble, but it was definitely more like making a cake from scratch, adding fruit, and then adding streusel topping to it.

Because the pluots were so overripe, they basically sunk to the bottom of the batter. Last time I had made this, I remembered the batter and streusel helped make the pluots sweeter. This time, the pluots seem to take on a more sour/bitter taste when eaten with the batter.

I still like the batter, but perhaps it would work better with other fruit like blueberries. I think next time I might try making a crumble instead. Though hopefully I won't have a next time incident involving lots of overripe fruit sitting around.

Pluot Buckle (Recipe adapted from allrecipes)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pluots, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 8×8 inch pan.

  2. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar, shortening, and egg.

  3. In a separate bowl mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
    Stir into sugar mixture, alternating with milk. Stir in pluots.
    Pour into greased 8×8 inch pan.

  4. To make topping: Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and
    butter. Sprinkle over cake batter.

  5. Bake at 375 degree F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pho Hiep and Grill

Pho Hiep and Grill
6947 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92111

I've been wanting to branch out and try different pho places. Every time I see a review from one of my fellow San Diego bloggers, I'll say to myself that I need to try that place out. Unfortunately, I never write this stuff down. This weekend, we decided to get some pho and I didn't have much time to choose a place.

Lucky for me, Dennis of A Radiused Corner writes really thorough posts on his meals, often discussing several meals in one post. He recently did a post documenting various pho places he tried out. After reading his SD Pho findings post, I decided to check out Pho Hiep and Grill. I was particularly interested in the fact that they have the saw leaf herb in the vegetable platter and the cha gio (egg rolls) are supposed to be bigger than the typical ones served.

After we ordered, we got the vegetable/herb platters: enough for one for every two people.

There was indeed the saw leaf herb, though only a little of it. It was actually hidden and I put them on top for this picture.

We also got a plate of shredded cabbage, something I haven't seen before:

I ordered the rare beef and tripe:

The broth was about average for me. Not too light, but not as rich as some other places. While the small order looked about the same as other places I've visited, I think there might have been less noodles than usual because I had no problem finishing my bowl.

One of the people in my group ordered this spicy vermicelli soup with pork blood:

Baby Bro ordered a number #1, which has everything and is extra large:

You can't really tell how big the bowl is but he said it was pretty filling. 

We got two orders of the eggrolls:

The eggrolls indeed were bigger than the ones I've gotten at other places and were fried up quite pretty. But there was something about the filling that I didn't like as much. I think maybe it was too salty.

All in all, it was a decent experience. If I am in the area, I'd go back to this place, but I probably would not make the drive specifically just to eat pho here.