Monday, May 26, 2008

Ginger Scones

Ginger Scones & Chai @ Teaism

Over the weekend, I went down to Washington D.C. with a few friends of mine in order to visit other friends. One of my favorite thing about visiting different cities is to check out the food, of course, so I was quite excited when someone suggested Teaism for an afternoon snack. I'd read about them on other food blogs so I went straight for the ginger scones and a mug of chai. I love their scones. They don't suffer from dryness like so many scones do, and they had nice big chunks of candied ginger to bite into. A little butter on top didn't hurt either. It was almost good enough to distract me from the chocolate torte with green tea ice cream that K. was eating across the table from me.

Chocolate Torte @ Teaism

Look at that gorgeous pile of strawberries! I consider it a supreme act of willpower and friendship that I didn't distract K. by yelling "Eek! A camouflage wallaby!" in order to steal it. Next time, chocolate!


Anyhow, now that I am back in NY and chilling on this lovely Monday, I decided to try out my own version of ginger scones. Actually, I googled for Teaism ginger scones and found a recipe they provided to the Food Network site; here is my version:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons frozen butter, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup of crystallized ginger chips (mine are from King Arthur)
3/8 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk the dry ingredients in a small bowl to combine. Rub the butter in with your fingers until the flour mixture is the texture of cornmeal. It's okay (and in fact, good) to leave some larger chunks of butter; this will make the finished scones flaky instead of crumbly. Stir in ginger chips, and milk until the mixture is just combined. Don't overwork it. Pat out the dough to about 3/4" thick and cut into rounds. I used a 1.5" cutter and got about 11 little scones. Brush the tops with a little cream or milk and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

The verdict? Well, they taste pretty good but they're not quite like the ones at Teaism. I should probably have added a bit of ground ginger to the dough but I didn't have any, and didn't feel like running to the store. Also, my oven is gas and heats only from the bottom so I have a problem with getting the tops to brown (before the bottom burns). But, the ginger is nice and spicy....and I think I'm going to go have another one now!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mmmmmm, chocolate


To continue in the birthday theme, my cube-mate (as in, sitting in the next cube from me, not sharing the same one--it's not THAT dire at work yet!) was kind enough to bring me these two interesting looking chocolate bars. The one on the left is from Seeds of Change; it's a dark chocolate bar with cashews, coconut, and mango in it. The other bar is another dark chocolate bar (71%! My coworker knows what I like :)) by Malagasy, which seems to be a British company. I haven't had a chance to try this one yet, but I'm sure it'll be amazing.


I broke open the Seeds of Change bar first, because I was intrigued by the idea of chocolate and mango. It's a good, strong chocolate with nice texture from the coconut and nuts. The mango is not a very strong flavor, but I think it's probably better that way; there was also some other fruity flavor in the background that I was having trouble identifying, but reading the ingredient label (I am smart, huh?) revealed that it was passionfruit. Delicious! Thanks, S.! Can't wait to try the other one too.


And one more birthday related thing--my coworker sent me these gorgeous roses! They still smell amazing.


Finally, in non-birthday-related news, my Christmas cactus clipping started blooming despite its home in a paper cup full of water. So, I transplanted it into a proper pot today. There are a total of three (yes, three!) flowerbuds. Pretty! Well, that's that--I'm off to DC tomorrow for the holiday weekend. Yay!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birthday Steamboat & Lemon Syrup Cupcakes


After the initial gnashing of teeth and wailing about the indignities of age, I finally calmed down enough to answer my mom's question of what I wanted to do for my birthday dinner. I had already gone out with a bunch of my lovely friends on the Friday before (at a fantastic restaurant which I will write about in a separate post sometime) so all I really wanted to do was to stay home with the family and indulge in one of my all-time favorites--HOTPOT.

Hotpot is also known as steamboat, and is similar to shabu-shabu in that you get a big cauldron of stock into which you dip thinly sliced meats of seafood. Because they're so thin, they cook in a flash and then it's ready to be dipped in your own personal bowl of sauce and eaten. My personal blend is sha-cha, soy, and sesame oil, whereas my brother likes to go for straight gochujang (Korean bean paste) and my parents like to include fermented bean curd. It's a nice, communal way of eating, and although it's obviously more appropriate in winter, I love it enough to eat it anytime.


Here's a closer shot of the contents of our stock--there are as many variations as there are cooks. Ours had lots of fish balls, fishcakes, bok choy, beef tendon balls, pork balls, frozen tofu, regular tofu, and pumpkin. There almost wasn't enough room for the meat :).

All in all, a nice birthday!

Lemon Syrup Cupcake

And on a related note, one of my coworkers has the same birthday as I do, so I brought him a card and a lemon syrup cupcake. I just used the recipe for Lemon Bread from the Williams-Sonoma website, except that I doubled the syrup recipe and baked it in 12 cupcake liners instead of a loaf. When the weather starts to turn warm, I find that I prefer fruit and citrus flavors rather than chocolate, and this fit the bill nicely.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Matcha Japanese Cheesecake


Okay so it's been a while since I said I was going to experiment with making my own green tea cheesecake, but life has gotten in the way. And by life, I mean mostly work! But I went home this weekend for Mother's Day and decided to kill two birds with one stone--experiment AND have a nice treat for Mom. So as you can see in this photo, we had already sliced into the cake. Whoops!

I used the basic recipe for Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake from Lily's Wai Sek Hong, which I've made before with excellent results. This time, I omitted the lemon juice and zest and added about a tablespoon of matcha powder and a dash of vanilla. I probably should have added more matcha powder as the color came out very pale. The taste was not strong enough either, but I can't complain about the texture!


See how light and airy it is? The color is actually somewhat greener than it looks in the photo but anyhow. I loooove Japanese style cheesecake because the texture is so much lighter than NY style cheesecake. This is not to say that this is particularly healthy, of course--there are 6 eggs in the cake! But only 1 bar of cream cheese. So, better than Junior's cheesecake, I'm sure. I also had a slight mishap with not wrapping the pan with enough tin foil before putting it in the water bath, so I had a little bit of leakage, which caused a slightly denser bottom, but it wasn't a disaster.

So the verdict? Next time, more green tea! And also, I need to be more neat about lining the pan so that my edges don't come out so ugly! Still, it was pretty delicious. No need to go back to Tafu!