I love how pretty the color of this cake came out. The purple pink tones makes the cake look delicate and princessy in my opinion.

For a while now I’ve tried to achieve a purple sweet potato cake that maintains it’s purple color. It usually turns a dull greyish purple once I mix the batter with egg yolks, like the one I made here. I am beginning to suspect it has something to do with the type of purple sweet potatoes available in the US.

Not too long ago, a fellow blogger told me to try adding lemon juice to the sweet potatoes to maintain the color. I’ve been wanting to try it out. So I was going to try it out for this cake, but I was also afraid it wouldn’t work. And I was planning on making this cake for BF’s family and I didn’t want to end up with a grey cake.

So then I thought about using ube. Ube is a purple yam that is very commonly used in filipino desserts. It also has a vibrant purple color like purple sweet potato. I’ve  baked with ube before, making ube cupcakes, and the cupcakes turned out a nice pink. So I decided to make an ube chiffon cake.

I’ve never seen fresh ube before, but they sell frozen grated ones at Ranch 99, so I think you should be able to find it at your local asian grocery store. You can see a picture of the one I use from this post.

I tried a new chiffon recipe. Lately I’ve found some new recipes that create an even lighter cake than my previous chiffon cakes. The cake came out light and cottony. BF liked how the colors looked on the cake.

There are some things I would do differently next time. For one, I am going to try  make a uniform paste by steaming the ube first and mashing it in a food processor. I just used the finely grated ube as is in for this cake, so there are lot of flecks of ube inside the cake. I also will add more sugar. I modified a recipe for a sweet potato chiffon cake, but sweet potato is naturally sweeter than ube, so I should have upped the sugar levels for the ube cake.

Now that I know how to make a chiffon cake using ube in the batter, the possibilities are endless. I think I’ll try regular sweet potato, taro, and attempt purple sweet potato again.

Ube chiffon cake (adapted from Little House)

Makes one 7 inch chiffon cake. I used this Wilton Pan

Ingredients

100g grated purple yam
3 tbs milk
15 ml lemon juice
3 egg yolks
20g white sugar (this is what I did for this cake, but next time I’ll try 50g; the original recipe calls for brown sugar but I didn’t want to dilute the purple pink color)
1/8 tsp salt
50ml canola oil
3 tbs water
85g cake flour
4 egg whites
50g white sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).

2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites, 50 g white sugar and cream of tartar until stiff and glossy peaks formed. You should be able to hold your bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the rest of the white sugar, salt, water and oil until combined.

4. In a small bowl, mash the purple yam with the milk and lemon juice. Add the purple yam mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until blended and smooth. Sift in the flour and beat until smooth.

5. Take about half of the egg white mixture and fold it into the batter. I use a spatula and keep stirring until no egg white streaks remain. Then add in the remaining about of egg whites and fold until no streaks remain.

6. Pour the batter into the ungreased pan.

7. Move the oven rack to the one row below the middle. Put cake in and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake’s surface is golden brown. When you touch the cake it should spring back.

8. Remove from the oven and revert the cake pan upside down to finish cooling and rising. Put a plate underneath in case it falls out.

9. When the cake is completely cooled, gently run a plastic knife around the rim of the cake and then remove cake from pan.

Mice cookies

When I saw these mice cookies on Serious Eats, I knew I had to try making them. Cookies that look like cute little mice! How perfect is that?

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  The cookies don’t spread much during baking, making them ideal to mold into shapes. I had some trouble shaping my mice and getting them to all look the same, but I was pretty happy with my first attempt.

The cookies are a cross between shortbread and sugar cookies and have almond extract flavoring. The little almond ears are very delicate and many of mine fell off. I skipped the licorice tails to make these cookies more adult orientated.

Next time I think I will experiment with creating something other than mice, but these mice are super cute and would be perfect to bring to a party.

Mice cookies (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sliced natural almonds
  • Directions
    1. Whisk to combine flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually, beating until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in extract, then egg. Reduce speed to low, and add one-third flour mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. Halve dough and shape into disks; wrap each in plastic, and chill 2 hours or up to 1 day.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll about 1 tablespoon of chilled dough between your palms to form 1 1/4-inch- to 1 1/2-inch-long oval shapes. Slightly elongate one side to form face. Gently pinch bridge of nose to form eye sockets. With a paring knife, make 2 small slits at top of each shape, for placement of ears. (I didn’t do this step. Instead, I just broke a sliced almond in half and stuck each half onto the dough.) Place 2 sliced almonds into slits. Place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.
    3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are light golden brown on bottom and around edges, and tips of ears are golden brown, about 20 minutes. (I did not rotate my sheets and the cookies came out fine.) Transfer sheets to wire racks.  Let cookies cool completely on wire racks.
    4. To make the faces, I made some chocolate ganache and put it in a freezer ziploc bag and cut a tiny whole at the bottom and then piped eyes and a nose for each mouse.

    In the last year or so, asian buffets have lost their luster. While new ones continue pop up, they are usually old ones under new management. Even a brand new buffet seems to have the tired old feel of all the other asian buffets.

    The one exception we kept hearing about was Kome buffet in Daly City. As you may recall, my family has tried to visit it, but the location plus the long lines have kept us away.

    Then, a week before I was about to go home, my mom told me that the owner of Kome had just opened a buffet in San Jose called Tomi Buffet. Located in the Eastridge mall, Tomi occupies the former Todai.

    We went to dine on Christmas day. Dinner is $19.99 and there is currently 20% off for the grand opening. As soon as we stepped in, I was excited. The place was clean, shiny, bright and welcoming. It gleamed like a new restaurant.

    At the center of the restaurant is a large circular display, full of sushi and desserts. Usually the sushi suffers the most at these asian buffets, but Tomi had a huge display of sushi. There was nigiri, specialty rolls, sashimi slices and handrolls. And the best part for me: uni!

    If you love uni, you probably know that it’s expensive and non-existent at buffets. Tomi actually serves uni, but it’s a bit of a hidden menu experience. It’s not anywhere on display. You have to ask the sushi chef, and then he will take it out and scoop you out about 3 pieces. While they don’t say that it is limit one per person, they basically do restrict you because if you go back more than once, they tell you that they are “out of uni,” but they aren’t.

    The uni was creamy and very fresh. I’ve had a lot of uni lately from japanese restaurants that was fishy, so I was surprised at how fresh this uni was.

    Some other secret menu items include large clams and monk fish liver. When they told me they were allegedly “out of uni” they gave me a big handful of the clams and the monk fish liver. The clams were really fresh and crunchy rather than chewy.

    In addition to sushi, they have a lot of hot food items. There is a section of dim sum that includes pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao), steamed sponge cake, steamed red bean buns, shu mai. They also have steamed mochi. The mochi were really good and were one of the fastest items to disappear. I was only able to get it once.

    There is also a noodle bar that serves udon, ramen and wontons. I was too full to try this, but I did taste a wonton and it tasted like it was hand made and not from a bag of frozen premade ones.

    There was a tempura section but my dad said it wasn’t very good so I didn’t get any except for some shrimp tempura, which was alright.

    There was a section of hot food cooked items that consisted mainly of seafood. There were clams with black beans sauce (the clams were a lot bigger than other buffets), fish, sea cucumber, big oysters, crab legs.

    There was a soup section which included a shark fin soup. While I tasted bits of shark fin (not sure if it was imitation or not), the soup itself was very  bland and had too much cornstarch so I only got one bowl.

    Finally, there was another section that was all meat. There were many different roasted chicken variations, roasted duck, roasted pork, crispy pork, etc.

    At some point during the night, they began serving steamed giant clams. Inside each clam shell was some clam meat mixed with some noodles. These were only out for short periods of time and were handed out individually. You had to watch for them and line up quickly or they were all gone.

    There weren’t as many different desserts, but usually no one has room for dessert anyway. I tried the mango mousse, green tea mousse, chocolate cake. I also tried a longan and gobi berry jelly. They also had ice cream. When we went, they only had chocolate, but since then, I’ve learned they also have green tea and vanilla.

    The desserts here are all on the light side, and not too sweet. My favorite was the mango mousse.
    The food here may not be amazing, but it’s probably the best quality asian buffet we’ve been to in a long time. Of course, I don’t expect the high quality to last, but while it’s still new it seems the quality of food is pretty good for the price.

    Tomi Seafood Buffet
    2200 Eastridge Loop
    San Jose, CA 95122
    (408) 239-1000