Monthly Archives: April 2012

Strawberry Preserves with Pepper and Balsamic

Recently we got the first strawberries of the year from FFTY. They were a bit white at the top, so I decided to use their preserves recipe from the newsletter to make them a bit more palatable. It turned out quite well; the pepper was an interesting touch. The preserves were a bit runny for my taste, but we enjoyed them on many a piece of toast for breakfast.


  • 2 cups strawberries (about 1 pint), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


In a small heavy saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil and stir. Simmer mixture, stirring and skimming foam occasionally, 15 minutes, or until thickened and translucent. Remove pan from heat and cool preserves completely. Preserves keep covered and chilled for up to 1 month.

–Recipe courtesy Farm Fresh to You newsletter.

Preserves simmering:

Finished preserves:

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Black Sesame Cupcakes with Green Tea Frosting

Even after making the black sesame panna cotta, I still had a bunch of black sesame spread left over. I had to Google something else to do with it. Enter this bizzaro-world recipe. It was definitely an exercise in experimentation and improvisation.

For the frosting I had to order what I thought was matcha powder, but was actually matcha in unprocessed form. I ended up whizzing it in the blender for a bit to reduce it in size since I don’t have a food processor. It ended up more powdery, but still a little bit like fine-cut grass (see photos below – it looked kind of cool anyway). I didn’t have black sesame seeds either, and it didn’t seem worth buying them, so I just used the white ones I had in my pantry. The batter looked and sounded exactly like cement mixing (see below photo), though it probably would have been even more so if I had used the black seeds. Oddly, after baking, the cake looked relatively normal.

The public reactions to hearing of the opportunity to try this taste sensation varied from thinly veiled disgust to confused interest. The only other time I had such unusual reactions was several years ago when I made Beer Cheese Cupcakes with Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Frosting. Those were not a hit when I tried to give them away, despite containing many tasty ingredients. I liked them, but one was enough due to richness. These black sesame/green tea cupcakes had a bizarre smell, and the first bite was a little overwhelming and confusing, but if someone was adventurous and willing to give things a second bite, they really grew on you. Friends who enjoy Asian desserts also seemed to like them. If you want to weird someone out or impress them, give this craziness a try!

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks (170 g) salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons black sesame paste
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) black sesame seeds [didn’t have these, just used white]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups (310 g) flour, sifted
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Cupcake Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring or tossing them constantly, until they are fragrant, about two minutes. (If you buy already-toasted sesame seeds, iri-goma, you can skip the previous step.) Crush the seeds with a suribachi or spice grinder until they are the texture of damp sand and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the sesame paste and seeds, eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, then the milk, and beat for a couple minutes.

Fill cupcake tin and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Matcha-Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients & Instructions

Makes enough for about 24 cupcakes

  • 1 8-oz (200 g) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (55 g) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 cup (125 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons matcha [given that I didn’t have actual powder that would distribute well, I had to put in much more than this]

Beat together the cream cheese, butter and whipping cream until creamy. Add the sugar and matcha and beat until glossy and smooth.

–Recipe courtesy

Cement-like cake batter:

Finished product:

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Carrot Cake Pancakes

I forget how I found this recipe, but when I did I knew I needed to give it a try. It was an interesting experiment, but I don’t think I’ll try it again. Pancakes with this much other stuff in them seem to cook oddly, and, mine at least, ended up pretty rubbery. The taste was delicious, though!

Pancake Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts [I didn’t use any]
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter, for griddle

Cream Cheese Topping Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of ground cinnamon


Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to 200°F. This will keep the finished pancakes warm.

To make pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and, if using, nuts and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Stir carrot mixture into dry ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you make the cream cheese topping.

To make cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and not lumpy. Whisk in powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk, vanilla and cinnamon. If you’d like a thinner topping, add the remaining tablespoon of milk.

Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into the hot pan per pancake, flipping once, until pancakes are golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer finished pancakes to a serving dish or tray in the oven, to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese topping.

–Recipe courtesy

The less than beautiful final product:

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Simple Tomato Soup

My dad sent me a link to I’m glad he did, because it’s a really great blog; there are so many recipes on it I’d love to make. Given the rainy weather recently, I was attracted to a cozy recipe like this to make first. The first time we ate it, I added toasted almond bits, green onions from the garden, and leftover brown rice. The other times we ate it, we had diced avocado from FFTY and toasted almond bits in it. Both combinations were lovely. This recipe makes a ton of soup and I didn’t think we would be able to eat it all before it went bad, but Woody and I just couldn’t stop eating it. It’s that good. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • to serve: any of the following that sound good to you – cooked brown rice, lemon wedges, toasted almond slices, pan-fried paneer, fresh thyme or oregano, oregano drizzle, a poached egg, [avocado]


In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften up – 10 minutes or so.

Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chile flakes, and cook just until the spices are fragrant and toasty – stirring constantly, 30 seconds or so. Stir in the tomatoes, the juices from the cans, and 6 cups / 1.5 L of water. Simmer for fifteen minutes, then puree with a hand blender until smooth. At this point you can decide if you’d like your soup even a bit thinner – if so, you can thin it with more water, or if you like a creamy version, add the coconut milk. Adjust with more salt to taste.

Serve, and provide toppings for diners to add themselves.

–Recipe courtesy

Incredibly tasty soup:


Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


Black Sesame Panna Cotta

I bought some black sesame spread at 99 Ranch because I wanted to try it on toast (the stated purpose for it). It was OK on toast, but not quite something I wanted to enjoy often. But I hate to waste food, so I kept looking for recipes that called for black sesame in order to use it up. I had also always wanted to make panna cotta, so this recipe worked quite well. As is visible in the picture below, the paste didn’t mix evenly. Probably using powder per the recipe would work better – the photo on the original recipe site has lovely distribution. However, the flavor turned out fabulously, and I will definitely make panna cotta again.


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp agar agar [I used a packet of plain gelatin]
  • 2 tbs black sesame powder [I used black sesame spread]
  • 1/4 cup honey [I didn’t use this topping, the panna cotta itself was plenty sweet]


To combine
Make sure you do not bring the milk and cream to a boil. Keep the heat low.

  1. Bring milk and cream to a simmer.
  2. Add sugar and stir a few minutes till sugar dissolves.
  3. Sprinkle agar agar into milk mixture and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add black sesame powder and continue stirring for two-three minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

To set

If you are using the silicone mold, steps 1 and 2 are unnecessary.

  1. Rinse glass ramekins in cold water and do not dry. Or, you can use silicone molds to produce either standard-sized panna cottas or tiny bite-sized panna cottas.
  2. Pour the black sesame cream mixture into the ramekins or molds.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve
You can garnish the black sesame panna cotta with a simple green herb in addition to the melted honey, or you can choose to dress it with fresh fruits or even liquor-soaked fruits.

  1. Place the bottom of the ramekins in hot water.
  2. Run a knife along the edge of the panna cotta to loosen it.
  3. Flip the panna cotta out on a plate. If you are using the silicone mold, you can just pop the panna cottas out.
  4. Melt the honey and drizzle over the panna cottas.

–Recipe courtesy My EpiKorean.

My unintentionally triple-layered panna cotta:


Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


Salt ‘n’ Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

I love salt and vinegar chips, so this recipe sounded great when I needed to use up some little potatoes from FFTY. I love the crisp edges and the zingy vinegar! Plus smashing them is fun – as long as you insulate your hand well enough.


  • 1 1/2 pounds small round or fingerling potatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar


  1. In a medium pot, bring potatoes to a boil over high in salted water. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes; drain. Place a folded dish towel on a work surface and place a potato inside. Gently smash potato so that it is flattened but still in one piece (edges will split). Repeat with remaining potatoes.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Place potatoes on sheet and brush tops with 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until crisp and golden, 35 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Remove from oven, toss with vinegar, and season with salt.

–Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine May, 2011


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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia with Sesame Asparagus (and Cheese Biscuits)

This tasty meal resulted from a bit of a bummer – Woody got sick on the day we were supposed to go to my parents’ house for dinner, and we wanted to protect old people from germ onslaught, so we didn’t get to visit. But my mom gave me fish & asparagus that we would have had at their place and I explored breading and frying fish for the first time. it actually didn’t go too badly. The asparagus turned out nicely too. With a couple of cheese biscuits to go with it, it was a fine dinner!

Fish Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 (3 ounce) fillets cod [I used tilapia]
  • 1 cup oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Add cod fillets, and marinate 5 minutes. Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix together cornmeal and flour. Season with paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, thyme and cayenne pepper. Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture.
  3. Fry cod fillets in hot oil until golden brown.

–Recipe courtesy SABRYSON on

Asparagus Ingredients

  • 36 asparagus spears [instructions don’t specify, but I cut these up into 3 inch long pieces]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Asparagus Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Snap off tough ends of the asparagus spears. Combine asparagus and the remaining ingredients in a jelly-roll pan, turning asparagus to coat.
  3. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp-tender; turn once.

–Recipe courtesy Cooking Light Magazine, May 2001

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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized