Tag Archives: desserts


For those of you who do not live in or near a city with a high concentration of people with Japanese ancestry, the above picture may be a little unfamiliar. So let me make an introduction.

This is daifuku. A rice cake if you will. The outside pastry is a very chewy rice dough (some would call it glutonous), the filling is called anko, a redish bean paste made from azuki beans and sugar. My understanding is that, while available all year round, they become quite popular around the new year celebrations.

I had my first run in with these treats about four years ago, when Derrick, a friend of mine from here in Seattle, took me into a local pastry shop and forced me to have one. As a person weened on cookies and pies, it’s taste and especially it’s texture came as a bit of a shock. But I found myself returning to them every so often when I would visit my local Japanese grocery store. They go quite well with hot tea.

They do have a certain aesthetic about them that draws me to them. As you can see, this one does have the dreaded green food coloring added to the dough, but I’m willing to give this a temporary pass, for the color may have some traditional meaning of which I am unfamiliar.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

I’m now of the belief that cooking and all of its iterations are a far more effective anti-depressant than any pharmaceuticals. Whilst cooking, your mind is occupied enough to not given extra attention to those ideas and events that may be bringing you down. After cooking there’s the end result of your endeavor. And if you make cake…well, it’s hard to be too depressed when eating cake.

This was my first attempt at a red velvet cake, being so inclined from reading Saveur’s article on Raven Patrick De’Sean Dennis III in this month’s issue (March 2006).

I was surprised that the red in red velvet cake comes from food coloring. Tara has told me that this is only partially true, as she has had cake made with wine or cherries that help give it the red hue. It doesn’t matter to me. The red cake helped take away the blues.

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 12 Tbsp Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar

Icing Ingredients

  • 12 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 12 oz. butter softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp/ vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease three 8″ cake tins with butter or shortening. Dust each tin with 2 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the remaining flour, along with the sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Mix together.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, red food coloring, vanilla and vinegar until fully emulsified.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and beat together well (the batter should have a smooth consistency). Divide the batter equally between the 3 flour-dusted pans. Place in the oven and bake between 25-30 minutes (rotating each pan 180 degress halfway through baking). Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Allow cakes to cool for 20-30 minutes before icing.

For the icing, mix together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.

Put 1 cake layer on a plate and spread 1/4 of the icing on top. Place second layer ontop and repeat the frosting task. Set the final layer ontop and use the remaining icing to coat the top and the sides of the cake. Press the pecans onto the side of the cake.

Serves 8-10

Technorati Tags: Food, Recipes, Cake, Red Velvet Cake

Milk Pie

Milk Pie

Clearly not every recipe I make is going to rock everyone’s world. Some recipes need an advocate, someone to say, “Hey, wait a minute. Don’t bypass this recipe because it sounds odd”.

Such is the case of the underappreciated Milk Pie. It’s a simple, unique version of a custardy-type pie that has it basis in Amish culinary traditions. It’s quite tasty and can impress if people would only give it a chance.

The pie is also a bit of a conundrum. It’s the perfect pie to teach your kids how to cook because it’s so easy to make. Yet, it’s probably the last pie you would want your child to eat as it’s so chock full of butter and sugar. *shrug* This is why I am not a parent.

  • One 9″ pie crust, based on your favorite recipe (chilled for 15 minutes in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 10 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Into the pie crust place the sugars, flour and salt. Mix by hand, slowly yet ensuring that little or no clumps exist. Drizzle the milk over the sugar mixture. Do not mix the milk with the sugar, simply let it hang out on top.

Dot the top of the pie with the pieces of butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 45-50, turning the pie 180 degrees in the oven at the half way point.

Remove from oven and allow to set for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Serves 8

Technorati Tags: Food, recipes, pies, Milk+Pie

We Get Letters – v. 20: How long will Crème Brûlée Store?

Mary Ann writes in -

Kate, you have a great website. Do you know how long I can keep Crème brûlée refrigerated? I am having guests for dinner this Sunday and the following Saturday. If I make the Crème brûlée on Saturday, would it be good to serve the following Saturday?

Kind Regards,
Mary Ann

Thanks for writing in Mary Ann. You’ve brought up one of my favorite desserts. With the cool custard beneath and the carmelized sugar on top, it’s one of only a handful of desserts that I believes demands near-perfection in order to deliver that “blissful shudder of the spine” (which I believe was an Emerson, Lake and Powell album title, or at the very least should have been).

To answer your question, a week would be way too long to store made Crème brûlée. Although there’s no definitive set period of time that could refrigerate this dessert, the eggs and cream within it certainly make it a volitile playground for bacteria.

On top of that, it would certainly affect the taste of the Crème brûlée as well. Unless it’s stored in a glass dish or ceramic dish and wrapped very well with plastic wrap, you run a risk of having other foods in your fridge permeating the subtlety of the dessert.

One might think freezing is a viable alternative as well, but you’ll see the folly of that once you try to thaw the creme. It will become cracked and lose a fair amount of water.

Really, the best answer is to store it no longer than two days prior to when your going to serve. In my opinion, even that’s pushing it. Most custard desserts simply taste better when they’re served within a few hours after creation.

Cotogne in Composta (Quinces in Syrup)

Quinces in Syrup

Question: How could I have gone through 30+ Years of my life without having a quince? This is the question I am asking myself after tasting this fruit.

Part of it is availability, to be sure. It’s not often that one can find quinces in the produce aisle. Had they been on my food radar, I would have had to gone out of my way to find these treats.

Quinces are worth such an effort. If you’ve never had them, think of them as apples on steriods. There’s a fair amount of bitterness in a raw quince, not to mention the fact that the seeds are poisonous in large amounts, according to Wikipedia.

But one can easily simmer these drawbacks away. Which is exactly how the below recipe works. If you’ve never had quince before, this is a great way to introduce them to your diet.

  • 2 lbs quinces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon orange peel zest
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 2/3 cup reisling (or other sweet white wine)

Peel and core your quinces. Slice them into thick chunks.

Place the quince slices as well as the peels and cores into a large sauce pan. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to cover the fruit.

Bring to a simmer (185 degrees F). Once there, cook for 1 hour. Remove the slices of quince to a large glass bowl, lelaving the peel and cores. Reduce the remaining syrup by 1/3 to 1/2. Strain, and pour over quince slices. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Recipes, Quinces

Strawberry Mascarpone Sorbet

Strawberry Mascarpone Sorbet

This recipe was inspired by a dessert that Tara and I shared at Osteria La Spiga. It would not surprise me if their recipe was inspired by Thomas Keller’s recipe that was going around the internet a few months back.

My major change to the recipe was to infuse a bit of strawberry into the simple syrup, and add about a half dozen sliced strawberries to the mascarpone itself. The result? A sorbet that reminds me of strawberry cheesecake. How can you go wrong with that?

  • 12 oz cold water
  • 9 oz bakers sugar
  • 12 strawberries
  • 16 oz Mascarpone
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice

Place the water in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in sugar. Float in 5-6 whole strawberries. Bring water to a boil, stirring to ensure that the sugar has melted into the water. Allow the syrup to reduce by about 1/4 to a third of its initial measurement. The Strawberries should have left the syrup with a bit of color. Take syrup off heat and allow to cool in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Slice the remaining strawberries. In a mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone with the strawberries . Remove the syrup from the refrigerator, discarding the whole strawberries. Whisk into mascarpone, being careful not to smash the sliced strawberries. Add the orange juice and mix in as well. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow it’s instructions (for me, by about minute 45 the sorbet had fully solidified). Place in a freezer safe bowl with lid, and store for about 2-3 hours before scooping and serving.

Serves 4-6

Tango Desserts

Summer Parfait

Kudos to local restaurant Tango, who consistently amazes me with their approach to desserts. They are one of a few places in town who are not afriad to move beyond the apple crumble/Creme Brulee/Cheesecake hackery which most places never stray far beyond (Note that the menu on the link is greatly out of date).

Kudos also to our waiter the other night, who unapologetically described the phallic nature of this dish in detail. Something that Tara and myself fully expanded upon after he left. I felt as if I was thirteen.

Seattle…gotta love it sometimes.

UPDATE: As Celeste noted, I forgot to say how it was….

This summer parfait, with frozen blueberry and apricot compote, based with a marscapone ice cream and set upon a meringue…

…was amazing.