strawberry milk with matcha panna cotta

strawberry latte & matcha panna cotta

Last fall my roommate and I spent an hour in line at the new Machi Machi, a Taiwanese tea shop chain, that had opened up in Toronto – the wait an obvious necessity, my roommate pointed out, as after all, Jay Chou is a fan. We also discovered that Machi Machi drinks make for perfect colour-coded fashion accessories and there is a super cute wall to take photos with (note: none of these infants, dogs or fashionistas are me).

Long wait aside, we both agreed that the fresh strawberry latte with panna cotta (also a fashion necessity) was our favourite – strawberries pureed with milk, poured over a soft and jiggly panna cotta, and the whole thing drank with a straw. Eating panna cotta with a straw is pure brilliance.

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white cheddar & za’atar scones

cheddar za'atar sconescheddar za'atar scones

My introduction to Bouchon Bakery  by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel began with my sister waxing poetic on everything she had made from the book. Even the chocolate chip cookies were probably the best cookies she had ever made.

This scone recipe is a riff off of their savoury bacon cheddar scones, and they are probably the best scones I’ve ever made.

What’s that – a good scone? Yes – a good scone: i.e. the perennial struggle! There are many things that I tend to make terribly over and over again, scones one amongst them. There have been tough scones, flat scones, scones that are just straight up proper paperweights.

These scones are actually, like, good scones – baking up light while tasting like blocks of butter and browned cheese and herbs.

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almond pear cake

pear almond cake
pear almond cake

I realise that by now much of the Northern hemisphere is well into spring, but my sense of the seasons is arrested back in winter… probably because I’ve barely spent any time outside. The windows are open to get a bit of fresh air in, but I’m still craving heavy warm foods.

This almond pear cake is more definitely a winter-y/fall cake.

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green curry banana bread

green curry & coconut banana breadgreen curry & coconut banana breadgreen curry & coconut banana bread

It seems that right now banana bread is taking off! While I’ve never been too big a fan of banana bread, there are exceptions. For example, an exception flavoured with Thai green curry paste and crested with a crispy coconut fragipane of sorts.

I’ve been making banana bread with this flavour profile for years, inspired by a green curry banana bread that was once on the menu at milk bar. Over the years, on the rather rare occasions I’ve made banana bread, I’ve transposed the combination of Thai green curry paste and coconut from one banana bread recipe to the next until I settled on my current favourite. Then four years ago I threw some leftover coconut tart filling overtop and all of a sudden, I had a new motivation to make banana bread.

I’ve titrated the curry paste to be just enough to taste and to warm the mouth with each bite. The banana bread itself is on the fluffier and softer end of the banana bread spectrum, which I find a virtue, though still moist.

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mocha java loaf

mocha java cakemocha java cake

This is day 10 of 10 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses!  Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.

Harbord Bakery is an everything bakery – the main wall lined with shelves proffering rye breads, fluffy challah, dense poppy seed Danish rings, and the fabled Thursday-through-Sunday-only chocolate babka. In comparison, the mocha java cake is a bit more discreet. We’ve only ever seen it in the freezer section, innocuously tucked away against the lemon and blueberry loaves. My roommate bought it once out of curiosity – a deep brown loaf cake with a tight, silky crumb, and intense coffee flavour. We devoured it within days – a slice for breakfast, oh a slice for afternoon snack, maybe another with tea in the evening. It’s such an anticipated treat that when we do buy it, we usually crack open the plastic clamshell as soon as we get home and eat the first piece (or two) while still frozen, breaking the softly brittle slices into pieces in our hands. It is just as great frozen too.

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duck broth jook

jook, or rice porridge, is a definite winter comfort food for me. this is one of my favourite ways to make it, with a strong duck broth and simple garnishes

duck broth jookduck broth jook

My mum would always make jook (congee or rice porridge) for me when I was sick. The degree of flavour would depend on the degree of sickness; a cold meant a base of chicken broth, whereas a stomach flu would call for nothing more than rice cooked in water with a slice of ginger.

While these blander variants are just what I want when I’m under the weather, my favourite sort of jook is not one I grew up associating with sickness. After buying a BBQ duck, my mum would dismantle it and the the bones, stripped of the meat, would be simmered for a couple hours for a strong broth which made a jook heavy with meatiness and spices and a just a tad bit sweet.

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week-end citron (lemon loaf 3.0)

SAM_7484SAM_7480SAM_7494When I was younger, we would purchase this lemon loaf cake from Première Moisson in Montreal. I thought it was so special and regal, packed in a stiff transparent plastic box on a gold piece of cardboard. And packed was key: the cake barely fit in the box, and each time you slide it out, the top of the cake streaked the plastic with glaze. Those 1800 cubic centimetres contained satisfaction for days.

The cake had two presentations — first it would be the crisp morning coating of a crackly sugar glaze, and later, after a day or so, the glaze would be softened and the crown of each slice would be moist and saturated with lemon and sugary glaze.

I’ve been trying to make a lemon cake that lived up to my excessively detailed and visceral memories for a long time. That goal had vaguely concluded with the previous lemon loaf cake–I wasn’t fully satisfied, but I had brought that cake recipe as far as I could.

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