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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

raw kale pesto

Kale Pesto 3
Kale Pesto

oh hello there end of May, almost June.
i hope that you had a wonderful memorial day weekend, that we all remembered the men + women who have fallen.
dw + i officially packed up his little 3rd floor apartment, moved across town to my penthouse condo.
we're so grown up.
the heat is in full swing, we're making plans to pick berries, attend festivals, music concerts and visit with friends, local and regional.
we're also deciding between this or this.

i am glad for summer.
there is a possibility of planting a new tree.
home improvement projects. {i apologize in advance, we will be documenting such diy tasks in this here space...}
the days look bright, sunny, cheerful and more importantly to me, fun -- with him by my side.

you can follow our daily adventures on instagram. i can't promise that the pictures will be great, but i can guarantee that i'll have off the wall, crack-filled commentary.

in the meantime, i'd like to share this raw kale pesto recipe. not so much a recipe, but more of an ingredient list that should give you the inspiration to make it. use the freshest ingredients possible, organic if you can help it. use leafy greens: kale, spinach, beet greens, sorrel, parsley and pair with red tomatoes fresh off the vine, or mix with roasted chicken, or simply slathered on a chunk of toasty bread. personally, i had to stop myself from eating it right from the processor.

raw kale pesto

1 bunch of kale, washed + de-stemmed
2 cloves of garlic
pine nuts, can be roasted but i didn't bother. no exact measurement, maybe a handful? up to you
olive oil, to loosen the mixture, drizzle slowly until desired consistency is reached
dash of cayenne pepper
juice of one lemon
salt/pepper to taste

in a food processor, add the kale and pulse until all has chopped down. squeeze lemon juice in, add in the pine nuts. pulse some more. slowly drizzle in olive oil. you might have to scrape down the sides to ensure everything gets mixed in there. season with salt/pepper and dash of ceyenne pepper.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

wedding | Lemon Chiffon Cake + Raspberry Curd + Lemon Cream Cheese Butter Cream

wedding cakes galore

as evidenced by the previous post, my dear friend nuria joined with her beloved jesse in matrimony recently. to celebrate the occasion, i made the cakes. it seemed right, you see. from the moment of nuria's arrival here in the US, i have made her a welcome cake, birthday cakes + treats, even a live angry birds game.

as she embarks on this new adventure, i wanted to create flavors that would mainly punctuate the milestones of their life together: sweet, but not cloyingly so, just saccharine enough that the everyday mundane still appears bright. richly tart, their lips puckered always ready for kisses. smooth, that the trials of any hardship would bypass them completely. there was also a chocolate cake, for variety, for safety, and mainly, for the deep depth of Love.

the Spring season is in swing, i can feel it in the air, i can taste in the produce and fruits. had there been time enough, i would've picked the raspberries myself, each fruit lovingly plucked for freshness, ripeness and jewel tone. before the summer fully sets in, go fruit picking, taste what the earth has given birth to this season. in the meantime, have some of this cake.

i will tell you, this lemon chiffon cake was a dream to make. weigh the ingredients carefully, use the freshest of eggs, buy organic lemons for their peel/zest and by all means, celebrate your life, your love and each other.

Lemon Chiffon Cake + Raspberry Curd + Lemon Cream Cheese Butter Cream
adapted + inspired by Use Real Butter and Cake Central

i used 8X2" round cake pans and a 6X3" cake pan. i ended up with 3 8X2" cakes, cut horizontally. i used 5 layers
1 cup lemon zest simple syrup
2 cups raspberry curd
Lemon Cream Cheese Butter Cream

Lemon Chiffon Cake
14.5 oz cake flour, sifted
8.75 oz powdered sugar
6.75 oz whole milk
6 oz veg oil
3.25 oz eggs (equaled to about 2 1/2 eggs. i beat them first & then weighed...)
0.5 oz baking powder
13 oz egg whites (it came to about 10 large eggs, amount of eggs may vary...)
9.5 oz granulated sugar
3.5 oz lemon juice

preheat oven to 375F. grease pans with butter, also use parchment. (*note*: for the 6" pan i did not bother with parchment and it came out clean.) in a mixing bowl, whip egg whites + granulated sugar on high until medium peaks form. meanwhile, sift remaining dry ingredients in large bowl. mix in the eggs, oil & milk until incorporated. fold egg white peaks into batter gently. divide mixture into cake pans, bake for about 25 minutes.

whipped egg whites

the sides will pull from the pan cleanly. remove from pans and allow to cool completely on rack. cut rounds horizontally, as evenly as possible. i did end up with six layers, but one of the layers was all sorts of wonky so that was left out to nibble on, along with the 6" cake. end result was a five layer cake.

Lemon Zest Simple Syrup
1 TBL lemon zest
1 cup of water
2 cups sugar

heat water + sugar in sauce pan until sugar is dissolved. bring to a gentle boil. allow to cool. add in the zest.

simple syrup layers

Raspberry Curd
approx 3 cups of crushed/rough pureed raspberries, seeds included (this was leftover from the raspberry reduction that i used to color the butter cream for the chocolate cake)
1 scant cup sugar
2 oz butter
4 TBL cornstarch
splash of water

heat up raspberry puree and bring to a gentle simmer. stir sugar + butter. in a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water. you'll end up with a slurry paste. whisk into berry mixture, stir until thick. it'll take a few minutes. take off heat. allow to cool.

Lemon Cream Cheese Butter Cream
8oz cream cheese, room temp
4 sticks + 2 TBL unsalted butter, room temp
zest of about 6 organic lemons
lemon juice, as needed
2 lb + 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

i'm not gonna lie, i fudged a bit on the amount of powdered sugar and butter used... it's all about consistency people. use your best judgement.

beat the cream cheese + butter until fully incorporated. scrape down the sides of bowl often. in 1/2 pound increments, sift in powdered sugar + mix well. again, scrape down the sides of the bowl. add in half the lemon zest and if you need to loosen the mixture a smidge, add a teaspoon of lemon juice. you want the frosting to be fluffy. sift in remaining powdered sugar, mix, scrap, zest, mix, juice, scrape until reached desired consistency. my end result turned up smooth and airy, very lovely to spread. actually, it was a dream to use.

brush all layers with simple syrup. i did the process twice.
spread the curd on layers, i went stingy, concerned it would make the spreading of the butter cream difficult. i won't make that mistake again.

raspberry curd

choose the sturdiest of layers to be the base, browned-side down on serving plate. spread layer of curd first, and then butter cream on top, i did pipe a border along the edges & had a blob in the center, spreading it out with off-set spatula (which is your best friend in this step). place second layer on top. repeat until all layers are on. between layers, i would pipe in butter cream to fill in gaps, to even out any floppy sides. just make sure the layers are as lined up as possible. crumb coat along sides and top of cake.


walk away from cake for at least 30 minutes. or go to dinner for about 2 hours.

finish frosting sides & top, decorate as you wish.

the decoration design i chose came from here, complete with tutorial. i did not use a tip, i just snipped off the end of the piping bag to the size i wanted the circles to be. the key is making sure the frosting is nice & pliable/soft.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

wedding: Nuria + Jesse

the elm sign
tree + flowers
vase + utensils
jesse + nuria
n+j vows
n+j doorway

post of note:

for the entire wedding extravaganza pix, go here.

photographer: Lan Pham || creative styling + direction: Lan Pham || location: the elm, hampden, baltimore, MD || dress: kasper || veil/headband + gloves: Claire's || shoes: aldo shoes, wagy || hair + make up: sister-in-law Lauren Krier || his attire: H&M, banana republic, & macy's || event coordinator: Sharon Price || celebrant: Jason Torpy of Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers || booze: the wine source || catering: tapas teatro

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nem Nuong Rolls ~ photo tutorial + giveaway

this is a photo laden post, a tutorial of sorts on how to prepare a summer roll. a recipe will not be included.

i've entered a meatball contest. it's next month, in Hunt Valley, MD at the Wine & Food Festival. i have two extra tix to give away. if you are planning to be in the area and/or live here already & want to join in on the craze, leave me a comment below. i'll enter you into the drawing. tix can be picked up at Will Call. deadline: May 18th at 4pm. congrats to Nancy + Brent!

the meat in this roll is called nem nuong, a grilled pork sausage that is heavily flavored with lemongrass, scallions & garlic. i made these a few years ago, but i've since modified the recipe to hopefully appeal to the american palate.


no seriously, do not drown the rice papers. you want the rolls to have a slight chewiness to it, not break/tear in your hands before they even get to your mouth...


you really can have whatever vegetation you want. i grabbed these greens at the market but most of the time, i rarely put half these things in.

nem nuong roll

that's basically it. depending on how i feel, how i place in the contest, i'll post either the nem nuong recipe or figure something out.
either way, wish me luck!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Clementine Chicken & Broccoli

Clementine Chicken & Broccoli

you may not know this, but english is not my first language. i grew up in a household where i was expected to speak vietnamese at all times. as a child this was easy, as it was all i knew. when i started going to school i learned english. my first year in pre-school i was mute, i was equal parts too shy to speak and uncomprehending of anything anyway. the following year, in another school, one that i could walk to, was a different story. all of a sudden i could talk up a storm in fast english ~ i was going to make up for lost time!

i don't know how it is done now, but when i was in school, roll call was everyday. it was exciting for me, to hear my name called out, it made me feel visible - important. one day i happened to hear a teacher say that when your name is called out, to say "present!" in reality, what i thought i heard was "PRESIDENT!" i was determined to incorporate such a saying when my name was called.

i'm not sure how long i did this for, but every single time my name was called out, i would raise my hand very high and say loudly, "PRESIDENT!" oh the humanity, i felt so incredibly grown up saying it! i'm sure mrs. rooney, who incidentally i am still in touch with and i have plans to have lunch with her this weekend! (squeel!), would pause perplexed but continue on. in my 5 year old mind i was probably thinking that she was making note of how flipping awesome i was! by chance a classmate corrected me and being my stubborn self i didn't believe him, but the seeds of doubt were planted and i stopped saying it. the novelty of having my name called out wore off, especially when substitute teachers would mispronounce my name and eventually, roll call became a dreaded event.

i think back to those days, when i was a little shy asian girl, talkative to the point of distraction, eager to be seen & heard most of the time, and cringing in dread when my foreign name was butchered. these days i'm not afraid to correct someone, i speak more english than i do vietnamese. how i've come so far!

this dish is a slight butchering of a chinese take out classic. i bought a bag of clementines recently but it's past its season, the fruit is too tart for my liking. so i used them in this dish. the result is tangy, but fresh, still distinctly chinese with an american touch.

Clementine Chicken & Broccoli

Clementine Chicken & Broccoli
use the link for exact measurements. i used it as a guideline but i ended up eyeballing everything.

1 lb organic chicken breast, skinless, cut in bite-size pieces
AP flour
cayenne pepper
ground ginger
veg oil

juice of one lime
rice vinegar
soy sauce
juice of 4 clementines
brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
knob of galangal, cut into cubes

mix the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch & add to a small sauce pan. heat gently. i cut the galangal big because i wanted to just get the essence but not necessarily bite into them. same with the garlic.

meanwhile, add the dry ingredients in mixing bowl. heat up some oil in a pan. dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, shake off excess and fry up. i did not deep fry. brown all sides, do in batches if necessary. as the chicken reaches cooked, in a small bowl add the cornstarch with cold water and add to the saucepan. the sauce will thicken. at that point, add it the chicken pan. coat thru. if you want, reduce the sauce a bit.

serve with steamed broccoli & white rice.

Clementine Chicken & Broccoli

around 1 year ago: Kentucky Horse Racing Pie
around 2 years ago: Roasted Garlic Hummus
around 3 years ago: Ma Po Tofu
4 years ago today: Sock Animals!