chocolate, prune & whiskey ice cream

chocolate prune whiskey ice cream
chocolate prune whiskey ice cream
chocolate prune whiskey ice cream

This ice cream is all at once intensely deep and chocolatey all while not being too chocolatey at all. It’s a chocolate ice cream for those who don’t really love chocolate all that much. Which, okay, I know might just be me.

But stay with me for just a bit longer – it’s also a chocolate ice cream for those who like chocolate paired with other, complementary flavours! The dried fruit and whiskey lends it the muted acidity of a dark aged fruitcake, and that slight acidic undertone in combo with chocolate comes across as coffee. It’s complicated! And so very alcoholic, too.

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black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest
black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

My posts have been fairly substance-less of late. I had meant to spend more time writing about things that matter far more than getting a proper puff on your choux or preventing soggy bottoms – pandemic fallout, policing and media to name a couple things. Yet, I’ve gradually returned to solid frivolities – a return signifying the privileges I have to be able to disengage from matters of life-and-death for others, at least on the blog front. Recently the pace of life has picked up again and I’ve landed myself with quite a few more responsibilities (which I was rather enjoying the lack of during the last few months). While I’ve been having more significant conversations with family and friends (US politics top of mind, of course), as far as the blog goes, I’ll need to find a new equilibrium.

Writing this blog is certainly extremely low impact, but I think it contributes to the general milieu where we hear these issues emphasized over and over from various channels. It helps keep me from lapsing into (more) complacency – and organizing my thoughts in writing first helps me talk about them in person.

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fruitcake (2020)

fruitcake 2020
fruitcake 2020

Happy winter holidays! Every year around this time we pull out the fruitcakes: dark, sticky, dense, eighty percent dried fruit, full of tradition and less so, elegance.

While the exciting time, when we can taste the cake, is now, the process usually starts in late summer or fall. Brushed with rum and wrapped up in paper and a double layer of plastic, the cakes age in the dark whilst pondering their existence for at least a few months – or a few years (the best fruitcakes are old and existential).

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cookie box 2020

cookie box 2020
cookie box 2020

This year I won’t be seeing the extended family members I usually gather with during the holidays. While my favourite thing about the holidays is not quite to be, my second favourite thing, the food, can still happen. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been thinking so much about holiday baking this year – given my rabid love for butter, it is somewhat a consolation that while many things are different, at least there is still plenty to eat!

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basler brunsli

basler brunsli

Basler brunsli are Swiss cookies made with finely ground almonds, chocolate, egg white and spices. The cinnamon and clove give them a gingerbread-like vibe, with a texture that transitions from slightly chewy right out of the oven to crisp after they’ve cooled. And – if there are dietary restrictions – they are gluten free! (That is quite the rarity on this blog.)

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rosemary & gruyere sourdough brioche

rosemary gruyere sourdough brioche bun loaf
rosemary gruyere sourdough brioche bun loaf

If we were to try to summarize the state of my sourdough starter Bartholomew, “criminal neglect” would be an accurate term to use. But recently my sourdough starter has been the happiest and liveliest it has ever been. And no, it’s not because I have taken on the mantle of pandemic sourdough baking. Rather, my mum has. And she has also taken to the task of keeping Bartholomew fed and watered with gusto.

I feel a bit jealous sometimes – a companion I created in eighth grade, living up life under someone else’s care and seeming all the more happier for it. But sometimes if you love someone, you’ve got to let them go.

And more than I am jealous, I am lazy so all in all it’s a relief. The situation has been rather convenient – upon spontaneously deciding I want to do a bit of sourdough baking, I can borrow some bright and bubbly starter. (This, as opposed to opening the jar for the first time in months to find a layer of sludge laying below an inch of alcohol, necessitating a week-long pampered revival before Bartholomew deigns to leaven even the smallest bun.)

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beet green pasqualina

beet green pasqualina

I have, perhaps, lamented the annual fall beet harvest before, where we are routinely overwhelmed with a last minute deluge of beets prompted by the first frost. But the problem dubious blessing about growing your own beets is that you also end up with triple the volume in beet greens.

And so after we’ve had our fill of boiled beet greens, beet green goma ae, beet greens cooked with garlic, and beet greens cooked with dou ban jiang, I start to wonder what else we can do.

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hopped orange & vanilla ice cream

hopped orange vanilla ice cream
hopped orange vanilla ice cream
hopped orange vanilla ice cream

In late summer and fall, leafy green flowers dangle from the vines of the hop plant. They look an awful lot like pinecones, and also a bit like floral armadillos. When crushed, they leave behind the scents of citrus and pine on your fingertips. I don’t know what sort of nature-channel-style I’m attempting to write in, but those lime-tinted armadillo pseudo-pinecones are (as you may have guessed) hops, the ingredient that gives IPA its bitter citrusy oomph.

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