pomelo, coconut & yuzu cream puffs

pomelo coconut yuzu cream puffpomelo coconut yuzu cream puff

Growing up, I always ate pomelo with my grandpa because he was the only one willing to peel them. We’d score the top – always needing to cut deeper than expected to get through the pith – and then wrestle out the fruit from the centre (you can find some photos of the pomelo peeling process here) keeping the peel in one piece. My grandpa would then put a plate on top of the peel to help it dry flat into a flower, and thereafter it would spend a couple months dangling somewhere in the kitchen.

Nowadays I can peel my own pomelos (and I sometimes even cut my own pineapple! how I have grown), though I still look forwards the arrival of pomelos every winter.

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my (current) favourite hands-off whole wheat sourdough

whole wheat sourdoughwhole wheat sourdough

this loaf in several words: 67% whole wheat, 80% hydration and minimal interaction

I had put together this post over the summer as I was getting very consistent results with my usual sourdough loaf (though not the loose craggy crumb I dream of!). And if I’m to continue following along current pandemic-baking trends, sourdough is up next, given that many have trouble finding yeast plus newfound time to nurse slow-growing loaves of bread.

But this is a, hmm, casual sourdough, shall we say? It was something I developed when facilitating my inattentiveness and impatience was a priority. The features: single rise and some cheating with the shaping. I really mean the “minimal interaction” part.

I titled this post, “my (current) favourite” back in the summer when I wrote it. I revived my sourdough starter recently (hello again Barty!), and the loaves that I’m making now are not this bread. I’m taking a slower pace, and a renewed interest in techniques that I generally avoided. Like practicing shaping without deflating. Oh and kneading, something I dumped as soon as I was able to in my rather tenuous and unimpressive bread-making journey.

So, my go-to loaf from a different time and a bit of a different world. Not ardently whole wheat (67%) and definitely not too serious.

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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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coconut & grapefruit marmalade tarts

grapefruit coconut tarts

What is food blogging like in a pandemic? My blog oscillates between the asinine and, occasionally, trying to be a bit of something else. Today is another trying-to-be-a-bit-of-something-else sort of day.

You’ve probably noticed that there is a theme strung throughout the constant inundation of pandemic updates. While each individual headline isn’t a surprise, it is remarkable how clearly COVID-19 has broadly articulated inequities. Which is to say that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the more vulnerable and marginalized.

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prune & rum sticky toffee pudding

sticky toffee pudding is quintessential warming winter dessert. here i’ve gone a bit of a different direction with a pudding that is all dark bitter notes and sharp rum and nutty whole wheat.

prune sticky toffee puddingsprune sticky toffee puddingsprune sticky toffee puddings

My parents’ dessert of choice at the neighbourhood pub they frequent is always the sticky toffee pudding. It sits in a warm bowl filled halfway up the sides with toffee sauce and drizzled with creme anglaise. I love it too, but we all agree that it is remarkably sweet!

Desserts are desserts so I have nothing against sweet and sugary desserts – it is a treat after all. But I also have nothing against lower sugar and lower sweetness desserts. It’s all a matter of personal preference, and my personal preference tends to sway to the side of lower sweetness desserts. In the end I often end up enjoying them more and I figure it doesn’t hurt if they have less sugar in them as well.

Here is my version of a sticky toffee pudding – made with a dark rum caramel and a whole wheat and prune sponge – and in the style of many of the desserts that I make, it tastes barely sweet. It’s a different sort of sticky toffee pudding – the flavour profile is a dark and burnt and bitter version of the usual with intense biting notes of burnt caramel and rum, plus all the nuttiness of prunes and whole wheat flour. I loved it – it’s just my type of pudding!

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holiday cookie box 2019

winter holiday cookie boxwinter holiday cookie boxwinter holiday cookie box

At home the winter holidays are persistently associated with cookies of some sort of another – or at the very least, lemon bars – and starting a couple years ago, a whole mass of cookies in the form of a cookie box.

It’s a lot of cookies of course – previously I brought the box to my old lab or to a party, but this year the box made an appearance at a family dinner after which I divvied up the remainder into ten ribbon-tied bags of cookies as Christmas gifts for friends. Looking at the empty cookie box afterwards, I had a swell of satisfaction like the sort after putting away tree ornaments and having them all fit together into the right number of boxes. I purposefully choose dry and crumbly cookies for the box, types which which travel well and keep for a few days. There’s more premeditated intention to share than my usual bake-first-figure-out-who-to-dump-this-on-later, and I have to say, it’s satisfying. (Perhaps there was also some relief at seeing a rather stressful quantity of cookies have clear purpose.)

These photos are hectic, because for me the holidays are hectic, and this cookie box is meant to be about the cookies and also that hectic time period of cooking and baking and gathering and making things for others. Or so I say. Maybe I was just too excited by the abundance of vaguely relevant props that come out of storage during the holidays.

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tiramisu cream puffs

tiramisu cream puffs: coffee creme pat and marsala marscapone cream in a whole wheat choux with cocoa craquelin

SAM_1050SAM_1065cream puff components

To pack it all into one sentence: these cream puffs are made of a whole wheat choux with a cocoa craquelin filled with a coffee pastry cream, topped with a marsala mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa powder. Texturally, it’s a jumble of the best sort: the pastry cream contained within the cream puff is silky, the choux pastry itself is crisp, and the marscapone is rich and light. I did my best to taste and sweeten judiciously so that the sugar content was kept to a minimum, but it is still, through and through, a dessert. I am so bizarrely pleased with how they turned out. It’s very hard to go wrong with the flavours of tiramisu!

These cream puffs are making me doubt my baking priorities a bit – sometimes I focus more on playing around with flavour combinations, and they usually taste fine or even quite nice but it’s rare that I find something where the combination is just really so nice. I should rely on the wonderful wisdom of favoured combinations more often.

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golden raisin & walnut tahini oatmeal cookies

a chewy tahini take on oatmeal cookies with golden raisins and walnuts

tahini oatmeal cookiestahini oatmeal cookies

Tahini chocolate chip cookies are quite the thing right now. I love the sound of them and can’t wait to give it a try, but what I’m more apt to make and consume are oatmeal cookies – and I thought tahini would go nicely in those as well.

Tahini does – they’re nutty and perfumed, and I chose to pack them with walnuts and golden raisins, but of course choose the fruit and nut that fits your fancy (pistachio/apricot would be stunning I think).

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apple sauce bundt with browned butter cream & tamarind caramelized apples

a super lazy applesauce (no peeling or coring!) and a simple spiced apple sauce bundt cake to use it in

applesauce bundt cakeapplesauce bundt cakeapplesauce bundt cake

There are particular blocks of the city that are never a bore to walk past. It’s been a bit hard to pinpoint what I find myself drawn to – I used to think it was age. Look at these pretty old buildings! I once texted to my friend, who, studying abroad in England sent me back a picture of some genuinely very old buildings… and I realized I wasn’t really into buildings solely for their vintage, nor for decay or collapse.

Rather, I think it’s a matter of accruement (a word I selected in part because of how satisfying and pretentious it is to say), or well, something along those lines. The cityscapes I find the most interesting are usually lively and cluttered. I tend not to notice the overhangs and alcoves and makeshift structures until I do. And I tend not to appreciate them for what they are until I do: the edges of the superimposed renditions collapsed into the building’s current form. In a literal sense, such as of new businesses, coexisting with old signs from past restaurants and shops that swing overhead, the front of the building itself engraved with its previous late-19th-to-mid-20th century purpose.

I love catching sight of those pieces of unintentional design – anachronistic architectural details, patchwork fences, sprawling greenery, unorthodox uses of furniture, intricate makeshift shelving, faded paints and old shadows. It’s the ways that some buildings are shaped by many small changes by many people all piled together. This sort of thing does often comes with some wear and tear, which can speak of neglect, or can speak of what wore it – and it’s the latter that is fun to focus on.

This all got me thinking about what makes me attached to recipes. Like those inherited hand-written copies with notes in the margins, ingredients added, quantities adjusted, in overlying scrawls in pencil and pen and blue and black ink – though I have very few of them. More often, it will be accruement that manifests as a series of more recent renditions, input from others and dramatic swings in concept. Things like this cake, which is pretty simple but also an accumulation of ideas and attempts bounced back and forth between my mum and I.

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olive oil panna cotta tart with figs

an olive oil panna cotta tart flavoured with honey and vanilla to reinforce its dessert allegiance, plus figs. 

olive oil panna cotta tartolive oil panna cotta tart

Sometimes I question myself – how do I still not have a go-to recipe for most things…such as a pate sucree? Every time I tend to use something a bit different – either because I start looking at different reference recipes or I start making up my own based on ratios (which themselves change, varying from 3:2 flour to butter like a shortbread to 2:1 flour to butter). Or I look at my previous posts and then start adapting those adaptations depending on what little bits of egg I have left in the fridge or how much butter I want to use…

Perhaps another reason I never settle on one recipe is because I’m constantly switching up how much whole wheat flour I use, or I try to make as little pastry as possible for the project and end up needing to roll it very thin– which works better some times than other times. I’ve been making more tarts recently though, so perhaps that will push me to finally settle on a tart dough.

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