Friday, July 29, 2011

Blackberry Macaron with Meyer Lemon Buttercream

Yeah, I’m on Macaron “madness” lately, LOL.  Seems like a lot of the sweet recipes that I posted lately involved Macarons.  What can I say, these Blackberry Macaron with Meyer Lemon Buttercream are my latest creation and they got me my very first “paid” Macarons order after a “taste test”.  Open-mouthed smile

No doubt that I’m happy to receive my very first Macaron order (without any advertising or marketing efforts); I’m actually more thrilled that someone appreciate and loves my creations.  Smile It really makes me happy if my products can put a smile on someone's face.

Ha…I guess it’s about time to promote and advertise my products here then!  Smile with tongue out  It really made me want to start a little home bakery and share all kinds of baked goods with more people out there.  Shall I?  Will you purchase from me if you live in my area?  What should I include in my bakery?  Leave me a comment and let me know, would you?  I really want to get your feedback before I get my feet too wet!  LOL.  Thank you and I truly appreciate your supports!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Penne Rigate Pasta Salad with Rib Eyes Steak and Balsamic Herb Dressing


This is definitely one of my favorite summer pasta salad recipes.  I can have this for lunch or dinner a few times a week.  In fact, we do.  NO ONE in my family would complain having the same dish over and over again.  “It’s a keeper” kind of recipe and you will want to make it more often.  Not only it’s super simple to prepare, it’s full of flavor and satisfying.  Pair it with a glass of red, relax and enjoy this at your patio on a summer evening makes you forget the long day you had at work.


It’s a versatile dish that you can substitute with your favorite type of pasta, meat and/or vegetable of choice.  I love to use penne rigate pasta (furrowed) in this recipe.  The dressing just hide in between the ridges on the penne and makes each bite a bit more flavorful. 


If you’re not a big fan for Rib Eyes, you can substitute with veal chops, pork chop or even shrimps for the protein in this recipe.  Since my family loves rib eye, it is what I use most of the time.  For the veggies, you can mix it up with spinach, watercress, or arugula for a peppery kick.  Whatever you substitute, don’t omit the herbs and balsamic vinegar here.  Those are the key ingredients that really make this dish pop.  You’ll love the tartness and sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and the spiciness from the mustard.  The flavors really compliment well with each other.  


Go ahead and enjoy a hot summer evening along with this Rib Eyes Steak Pasta Salad.  Your family will definitely requests you to make this dish again.

Join GoodLife Eats for the Surprisingly Nutritious Spaghetti Link-Up sponsored by Barilla pasta.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Birthday—Baby Girl


In the past birthday parties for my little boy, I’ve made Japanese Cheesecake to celebrate.  You can check out the recipe and pictures here.  The Japanese Cheesecake was super easy to make, light, fluffy and anyone who’ve tried it would love it and ask for the recipe.

For baby girl’s birthday this year, I decided to make something new.  Something more girly for her. 


Plus, I’ve got an incentive to make a more girly cake.  It’s the lovely pink stand that you’re seeing in these pictures.  I purchased this cake stand from the Amazon gift card granted by the Fairy Hopmother.  Here’s the detail if you’ve missed that post.  How could I not create a girly cake to match this lovely cake stand?  Plus, my kids love strawberries and it’s the peak season to enjoy them.


This cake might sounds similar to the Meyer Lemon and Strawberry Mousse Cake that I’ve created before.  But in fact, they were quite different.  With my baby girl’s birthday cake, I used the Meyer Lemon Cake recipe here.  Baked it in an 8-inch round cake pan and split it in half to create 2 layers. The previous Meyer Lemon cake was a vanilla sponge cake.  Along with the fresh strawberries in between the lemon and strawberry mousse layers, I also added some Lemon syrup onto the top of the cake.  The Meyer lemon flavor was a lot more intense compared to the previous layered mousse cake that I've made.  However, the sponge cake portion of the earlier version was more soft and more fluffy.


Another difference is the mousse layer.  Instead of making the Lemon Mousse from scratch, I used the Meyer Lemon curd that I had on hand and folded in some whipped cream, and that was it.  Super simple.  Here’s the recipe for the Meyer Lemon Curd.  I managed to make extras for our guests to take home too. 


I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to celebrate my baby girl’s birthday with us.  Thank you for all the wonderful gifts, warm wishes and precious memories.  Including all of you, who visited my blog today.  Thank you!

I wish my baby girl to be healthy, happy and beautiful as she always is.  Happy Birthday again, my sweetie!


Strawberry Lemon Shortcake Birthday Cake:  
Ingredients For the Cake:

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 
Zest of 3 Meyer Lemons
1 1/2 cups cake flour 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Ingredients For the Meyer Lemon Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Meyer Lemon Juice

Ingredients for the Meyer Lemon Cream:
2 cups of freshly whipped cream
1/2 cup Meyer Lemon Curd

Ingredients for Filling and topping:
1 pound fresh California Strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup slightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

To Prepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper on the bottom.

Cream the butter sugar in the bowl of an 
electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the lemon zest. 

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, the heavy cream, and vanilla. Add the flour and cream mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smooth the top, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in wiring rack.

To Prepare the Meyer Lemon Syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and Meyer lemon juice and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. 

When the cake is done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set it on a rack until it’s completely cooled.  Carefully split the cake in half horizontally. Spoon the Meyer lemon syrup over on the cut sides of the cake. 

To Prepare the Meyer Lemon Cream:
In a medium bowl, gently fold the 2 ingredients together with a spatula until well combined.  Set aside.

To assemble the cake:

Place the bottom half of the cake in an 9-inch spring-form pan.  Cut 8 to 10 strawberries in half and line them on the side of the cake pan, cut sides facing outwards.  Cut the rest of the strawberries into slices.  Cover the inside of the cake with a layer of strawberry slices.

Carefully pour the Meyer Lemon cream on top of the strawberry slices.  Cover the Meyer Lemon Cream with the remaining half of the cake. 

Keep the cake refrigerate if not serving immediately.  When ready to serve, remove the cake from the spring-form pan.  Pipe freshly whipped cream on top of the cake along the edges (I used a star tip).  Arrange the remaining strawberry slices in the center of the cake and enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Meyer Lemon Curd With Vanilla Sugar


As I was planning for my Baby Girl’s Birthday, I couldn’t resist but to incorporate something refreshing into the cake.   Here’s a little sneak peek on what went into her birthday cake, and I made some more as party favors for guests to take home.  My latest creation—Meyer Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar.  I’ll post the picture of Baby Girl’s birthday cake on my next post, I promise.  But let’s talk about this Meyer Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar first.


I have a jar, a huge jar actually, of Vanilla Sugar in my pantry that I have been using for baking.  It’s easy to make the vanilla sugar.  Simply split some vanilla beans in half (length wise), scrape the seeds out and snuggle the pods and the seeds into a jar of regular granulated sugar.  Just make sure the pods are covered by the sugar.  Let it sit for at least a few weeks before using.  The sugar is infused and perfumed by the fragrant and sweet scent of the vanilla beans.  As I used up the vanilla sugar in my baking, I refilled the jar with more sugar and add another vanilla bean every once in a while if necessary.  It’s wonderful and adds a lot more flavor to the baked goods. 


Why did I choose Vanilla Sugar instead of regular sugar in this recipe?  Because I ran out of regular sugar on the day I needed to make the Lemon Curd!  LOL….But what a lovely and tasty mishap!  This Meyer Lemon Curd turned out with another depth of flavor like a little surprise.  It certainly add a layer of sweetness without adding more sugar.  You can even see the little vanilla seed in the curd and it smells wonderful.


Simply spread the curd on a slice of bread and it’s the perfect breakfast or afternoon pick me up.  Here’s a simple white bread recipe that yields the most soft and fluffy loaf of bread if you miss that post from the past.  If you have some Lemons or Meyers Lemons on hand, make some Meyer Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar.  You’ll love what you created.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chocolate Library Review— To conclude the Hong Kong, Macau and Australia Trip

This is the last part of our trip to Hong Kong, Macau and Australia.  To see the previous posts of the trip, please click here, here, and here.
Before we travel back to Hong Kong, we knew that The Ritz-Carlton—Hong Kong, located in the International Commerce Centre(ICC), was going to open for business right before our arrival.  Of course, Ritz is a fine hotel, but what attracted me the most was one of the restaurants inside the hotel—The Chocolate Library, located on the 103rd floor of the ICC!  As a chocolate lover, how can I not visit them to try their chocolate afternoon tea?  So, are you ready to see the details?  Here we go…

Chocolate Library

The afternoon tea opened between 2:30pm to 6pm, we arrived early and there was already a short line in front of us waiting to be seated.  These empty seats (see above picture) next to our table were filled up in no time. 

Chocolate Library Menu  

This was the menu for the Afternoon Tea Set.  We looked at the a la carte menu but there were not as many choices compared to the Afternoon Tea Set.  So, my husband and I both ordered the Afternoon Tea Set.

Chocolate Library Menu

While we were waiting for the food, we enjoy the beautiful decor around us.  With the soft background music playing along with the simple and elegant decor, the atmosphere was quite relaxing.  Being on the 103rd floor, the best thing to enjoy (besides the chocolate) was the magnificent harbor view.   Unfortunately, the day we were there was a bit foggy and the view didn’t show up clearing on the pictures that I’ve taken.  The fog got even stronger as we waited.  So, I didn’t have another chance to show you the views.  If you’re interested, click here to the Ritz-Carlton’s site and they have quite a few awesome pictures of the harbor view.

 Chocolate Library

First food item arrived was the Hot Chocolate made with Valrhona Chocolate.  Boy oh boy, if you are familiar with Paula Deen’s cooking show, you know how she loves to roll her eyes to the back, lean forward to the counter and tell you how delicious something was that she just tasted.  After just one sip of this hot chocolate, I had my eyes probably at the back of my head!  LOL  It was rich, smooth, creamy, decadent, and irresistible.  Yes, very chocolaty!  I can definitely sip this all afternoon long. 

Hot Chocolate made with Valrhona Chocolate 
Hot Chocolate made with Valrhona Chocolate

Me enjoying the Hot Chocolate
Yes, that was me enjoying the Hot Chocolate and the view.

Afternoon Tea Set

Here comes the Afternoon Tea set.  The serving vessel was so cool and looked just like an encyclopedia.  I was excited and eager to see what’s inside.

 Me and the Afternoon Tea Set

Afternoon Tea Set
Ta dah….lovely, isn’t it?

Here are the close ups of each item.

Smoked barbarie duck, cantaloupe melon confit on walnut bread  
Smoked barbarie duck, cantaloupe melon confit on walnut bread

First savory item, Smoked BBQ Duck, cantaloupe melon confit on walnut bread.  Honestly, there was just a tiny little bit of duck in there.  It would be perfect if the portion of the duck was at least doubled.

Cocoa nib chocolate bread, duck fois gras terrine 
Cocoa nib chocolate bread, duck fois gras terrine

Second savory item, Cocoa nib chocolate bread, duck fois gras terrine.  I loved the rich and creamy fois gras in this dish.  Perfectly matched with the cocoa nib chocolate bread.  Nicely done.

White chocolate berries shot
White chocolate berries shot (Ivory white chocolate 35% cocoa)

The White chocolate berries shot was divine.  My husband didn’t like berries at all and he finished the whole thing in no time.  The tartness from the berries balanced perfectly with the sweetness from the white chocolate mousse.  A lovely dessert.  Maybe I’ll try to replicate this in the future.

Milk Chocolate apricot 
Milk Chocolate apricot (Jivara milk chcolate 40% cocoa)

Not a fan of apricot myself.  This milk chocolate apricot was not bad.  The milk chocolate mousse on top was silky, light and perfectly sweet.  I didn’t care for the cakey bottom though.  A bit too soggy for my liking.

Chocolate framboise tart
Chocolate framboise tart

Loved this chocolate framboise tart.  Very chocolaty and decadent with a hint of raspberry scent from the framboise. A perfect chocolate tart.

Berries cocoa tart, guimauve  
Berries cocoa tart, guimauve (Manjari chocolate 64% cocoa)

Another classic dessert with the combination of berries and chocolate.  This berries cocoa tart, guimauve (marshmallow in French) was unique.  I love the little pink marshmallow on top. 

Chocolate mille-feuille
  Chocolate mille-feuille (Caraibe chocolate 66% cocoa)

Up to this point, I was really stuffed.  LOL.  Normally, I could take a lot more sweets.  Maybe because the cup of hot chocolate was really rich, I almost couldn’t continue…almost.  But how could I say no to chocolate?  So, I tried a bit of this chocolate mille-feuille.  It was rich and dense.  I was expecting something flaky and light, like how a typical mille-feuille should be.  Personally, I didn’t like the fudge bottom of this dessert.

Chocolate orange confit macaron
Chocolate orange confit macaron (Guanaja chocolate 70% cocoa)

A perfect chocolate macaron, except, I couldn’t taste the orange confit at all!  Did the chef forgot to put it in there? hm….

Marble cheese cake
Marble cheese cake (Coeur de guanaja 80% cocoa)

This was a wonderful cheese cake to end the meal. Again, couldn’t find the marble!  But just think of it as a regular cheese cake.  It was rich and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The price?  $398 HKD (around $50 USD) for two.  It was a nice experience and a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, especially when the kids were not around.  Special thanks to my in-laws and cousins who baby-sat the kids for us so my hubby and I could have a date together.  I believe it was the very first time we went out on a “date” alone without the kids, ever since we became parents!  It meant a lot to us.  So, thank you!

Now that you've read my review.  I would like to know what you think of this place.  Please cast your vote.  (It's just for fun, no sign up required.)


This post is linked to:
I’m loving it
Foodie Friday
Sweets for Saturday
Party Mindie Style

Friday, July 8, 2011

When Life Gives You Meyer Lemons, Make THIS Meyer Lemon Cake!


Some of you might know that I get unlimited supply of Meyer Lemons, all year around.  If you’ve missed that post, click here to read more.  Yes, I’m a very lucky girl.  Smile If you haven’t try a Meyer Lemon before, you’ve got to hunt down this fruit for a taste test.  Meyer Lemon is a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange.  The skin is fragrant and thin.  The color is a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon has a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common lemon.


I truly love the fragrant from the skin.  Therefore, I used a lot of zest in this recipe.  Oh boy, this was such a lovely cake.  It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s full of the Meyer lemon fragrant.  This cake was also fluffy and moist.  It probably was the moistest cake I’ve ever tasted.  Why? Because when the cake was done baking, I drizzled a Meyer lemon syrup all over it before icing it.  Sounds irresistible? It truly was.


When life gives you Meyer lemons, it’s the sweetest deal!  There are many ways to enjoy Meyer lemons besides making this cake and a lemonade.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes, Candied Meyer Lemons, Meyer Lemon and Herb Vinaigrette, Meyer Lemon Macarons, Meyer Lemon and Strawberry Mousse Verrines, and Berries-Kiwi, Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet.


Take a closed up look of the inside of this cake below.  You can totally see how moist it was.  With all the zest showing through each bite….hm….it truly was the sweetest way to end a meal.


I'm sharing this recipe with Holiday Recipe Exchange.  Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Kerrygold.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BBQ Galore

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day.  In the States, it’s the “official” BBQ day.  So, here we go.  A recap of what we had to celebrate 4th of July with family and friends.


What’s a celebration without some bubbly?  Plus, the person who “man the grill” needed a chilled drink too, especially with the hot weather.  It was nice to add a few frozen blueberries to keep it super cold.


On the menu, we had baby back ribs, citrus marinated chicken wings and chicken drumsticks.  We also had some shrimps and sweet onions skewers marinated with olive oil and thyme.

BBQ shrimps are the best when you’re hungry, they were done in just a few minutes. 


Of course we needed more veggies.  I used to roast asparagus in the oven and thought they were good.  After trying these grilled version, I can totally start the grill just for them!  They were so flavorful!  The grilling really enhance their natural sweetness and added a lovely charcoal flavor at the same time.  These asparagus were really tender, yet still had a great crunch to them.  nom, nom, nom….


Corn was another wonderful item to BBQ.  These were particular sweet and juicy.  I had some crimini mushrooms wrapped in foil too, but they were all gone before I had a chance to take pictures.


The chicken wings are my favorite items to BBQ as well (I really have that many favorites!)  With a coat of honey at the end, they are out-of-this-world-succulent.  Yes, wings are a little messy to eat, but totally worth it because they are finger licking good.


I totally forgot to take a closed up shot for the chicken drumsticks, the wings are too distracting!  LOL.  The drumsticks were juicy and flavorful with a hint of smoky flavor.  Not bad at all.


By the time the baby back ribs were done, I was quite full already.  But, still can’t help but to cut myself a piece or two. 


For dessert, we had Nutella Macarons, Mixed Berries Sorbet with Meyer Lemon and Basil, and lots of ice cream!  We’ll have another BBQ party coming up soon to celebrate baby girl’s birthday.  Can’t wait to enjoy more BBQ goodness with my family and friends.

This post is linked to:

Full Plate Thursday
Sweets For Saturday