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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

Courtesy of Miss Chien

Right now, I am stuck with too many cookies.  All I can say is that I bake when I am stressed.  You know, the CPA exam studying will do that to you, and there is only so much of “share the love” you can do when you’re virtually pounding out 3 dozen cookies every other day.

I have stopped baking so much partially because of this, but more so because I have hit that point where I learned as much as I can as an amateur baker that baking another brownie doesn’t really excite me anymore.  That’s why, I posit, I have to make so many darn cookies–that batch just doesn’t excite me the way it used to a few years ago!

I have tried the cake decorating route.  I threw my hands over the straight-up cooking route.  I am starting to dabble a little more in food photography.  Nothing has quite found ground yet, so where do I go from here?

For now, I am just spending time with friends and showing them how to bake things like these chocolate sables.  My friend had chosen to make them because they were so beautifully elegant.  Then again, what of Pierre Herme’s is not beautiful or elegant?

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Of all the possible ways I choose to spend my leisure time during tax busy season, I chose to stand for a few hours straight, dirty myself up with flour and butter, and wait some more only to wash off the oily stains of cookies or cakes.  Sometimes, the thought tired me because my body was so badly in need of sleep, but I found myself needing more of the exercise of thinking about the nuances to create a sweet, charming, and beautiful dessert. Something about daydreaming over ripe berries and juicy tomatoes kept me going.  Haha, to some degree, they were the colorful markers that the tax busy season would be over soon.  That’s why when it was all over, I was absolutely ready to make a fruit dessert.

Right now, it’s a bit of this funny season, where the winter fruits have left the stands, and the summer fruits have yet to arrive.  There’s not much to work with other than the heart-shaped strawberries, which I have oohed and ahhed and have eaten plain or macerated for simple desserts, but I am really pining for the other summer berries, especially blueberries.  The thought of ripe berries baking until the juices burst and stain and splatter with dark-almost violet-blue splotches over coffee cake makes me happy.  Until they appear on the stands too, I have to make do with the dried kind.

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These days, my time feels shorter than normal.  Although I pulse through the school routine just fine, I realize that free time (as I know it) is nearly over.  Busy season is coming soon, and with that, comes my first set of horror stories and late work hours.  Haha, I can be doing the storytelling soon instead of listening to managers and partners shock young interns and first-year associates :)

Thus, I have been keeping myself busy, so I would stop worrying.  I am whittling down my bucket list of things to do.  I am getting out of the house (and books) more often.  Of course, that pulls away from time in the kitchen hence the dearth of posts.

I am here again after realizing how much I missed the serenity of mindfully rummaging through the drawers for measuring spoons; listening to the whirl of the standing mixer cream butter and sugar; and scooping neat balls of cookie dough out on a pan.  I am returning to the kitchen to whittle down the last of my list of things to make, starting with these Christina Tosi cookies.

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I forget sometimes how empowering it is to be attuned to myself.  I tend to speed-walk through life.  Seriously.  Ask my friend who tries to follow me through a dense SF crowd by the black ribbons on my coat fluttering through the wind.  I like to think of myself as a blip–maybe you see me, maybe you don’t!

Lately, I think to myself, Maybe that’s because I don’t want people to notice me.  Of course, that’s silly.  How is someone to ignore a girl whose sweatshirt (in bubblegum pink, I might add) demands, “Gimme sugar.”  That’s just begging me to be teased.  I might as well stop trying to disappear and be content with myself–physical presence and all.

That realization brought me to the yoga studio for the first time in six months.  Long time, no see, Anusara Yoga.  Hamstrings tight?  Check.  Unbendy hip flexors?  Check.  Twig arms?  Check!  After over an hour of practice, I can barely lift my arms above my head, but I feel like twirling around on the hardwood floor in pseudo-ballerina style.  This is the purest happiness I have felt in a while.  Who knew being physically present and grounded can make someone so happy?

That brings me to these A16 almond cookies.  Made of almond paste and ground almonds and sweetly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, these are the almond purist’s kind of cookie–that is, my kind of cookie :)

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Living as an adult child in my parents’ house is awkward, especially having lived out on my own.  Even going through my daily routine merits questions.  Scurrying out the door in workout gear still merits the questions of “where are you going” and “when will you be back?”  To that, I coyly answer, “Before curfew?” ^.~

Other times, it’s a bit challenging to maintain a sense of humor.  I like having my own space free of surveillance, especially since I do not believe I have any intentions that merit concern.  I know, I know–baking and yoga are very worrisome activities.  Well, I can see if it is a concern if maybe if I was attempting world domination seducing people one cookie at a time :P

In any case, I attempted to keep my dad off my back since I know he’s very partial to thumbprint cookies.  The man likes his jam and his cookies.  Together?  He can’t help but eat a couple in one sitting.  Plus, this twist on the classic has honey-roasted peanuts in it.  It’s the perfect combination to keep him thoughtfully nomming on cookies instead of fussing over his daughter.

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I am having a tiny problem getting started on this bake sale menu.  As you can see, it’s all set.  However, I need to test the recipes since most of them I have never tried before!  Unfortunately, it’s a lot to do, so I am starting to feel unmotivated.

For now, I am trying to be honest with myself and getting through one recipe at a time.  Baby steps!  Maybe once I get this project started, it won’t seem so bad.

Then, I received Ready for Desserts in the mail, and in my excitement, I nearly forgot about my bake sale project.  I guess that’s what happens when you see all these food bloggers trying out all sorts of interesting recipes in his book, and I wanted to too!

As I was thumbing through the book, I noticed that he had an intriguing recipe for green tea financiers.  Although I have never made a financier before, the idea of a little grassy green cake rolled in white and black sesame seeds sounded adorable.  Plus, it would be within the bake sale theme!  Off, I headed into the kitchen.

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I have been thinking about New York a lot lately.  Maybe it’s because one of my dear friends is considering attending medical school in the City.  Or maybe it’s because I see so many recipes from NYC (and the boroughs) restaurants popping up on Serious Eats.  Or maybe I am just feeling nostalgic because all I have are fond memories of visiting such a vibrant city.

My fascination with NYC started when I was going to college in central New York.  My classmates, many of whom were from the City, Long Island and Jersey, insisted that I was missing out on awesome food.  Although they came off as slightly zealous (i.e. poking fun of my unusual moon cakes [nothing wrong with them! O-O] that I received during Mid-Autumn Festival from my mother), I knew they were well-intentioned.  Furthermore, I always felt as though I had my head in the sand during my high school years thanks partly to intense nerdom [Asian high school, don’t ask] and partly to my introversion.

Thus, I spent most of my freshman year following my dorm mates around, which introduced me to a world that included such delights like garlic knots and fried dough.  Granted my college town then was surrounded by pumpkin patches and corn fields, I always felt like I was getting a preview of New York City food culture–that is, I never seemed to get the full experience of something that was awesome and inspiring.  Food always seem to fall short of expectations, but I assumed that was because I was here and not in the City.  One of those was the ever-so popular black-and-white cookies that many in the East Coast seem to hold so dear.

“You’ve got to try it.  They’re AMAZING!  My most favorite cookie ever!”  my classmate gushed.

With that in mind, I innocently marched up to the only bakery in that small, small town that sold black-and-whites and bought some only to find that these beautiful cookies tasted mostly of icing sugar.  Sugar bomb!  I was sad.  Really.  How could a cookie so pretty and charming taste so saccharine?  I was unimpressed, and it took me a few years before black-and-white cookies piqued my interest again…  (more…)

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