Oh Sweet Day!

My Mom’s Super Power Salad

January 29, 2015 by Fanny | 1 Comment

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I visited my mother in Hong Kong around this time last year. Despite the fact that she’s older, her life was busier. On top of her packed routine activities, she had a pair of new twin granddaughters to take care of. For those few weeks, I witnessed her flying through her days with non-stop tasks that involved both physical and mental abilities. I remember when I had my first child, the first couple weeks were totally zombifying. The inexperience was one thing, but the physical level it requires to be a new mom was immeasurable. My mom surely had the experience, but she’s in his 60s, she still looked energetic. Very energetic, like she already has two babies attaching to her body, and she’s ready to help out the house building across the street!

How does she do that? She eats red rice. Every morning she cooks herself a bowl of red rice, and eats it with black beans, oatmeal and raisins for breakfast. It gives her energy and helps her bowel movement. I promised her I would have the same breakfast back home.

Except I didn’t keep on doing it for a very long time. Chaotic mornings are not a very good excuse, I know. But anyway…

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More than often, I looked at that big box of red rice I had bought a few days after I came back from Hong Kong, and I would only think about my mom and wonder how to use it. Besides red rice, nuts and avocado are also my mom’s favourite power food. And it inspired me to come up with this salad. I top a big bed of vegetables with all these power ingredients that my mom loves – red rice, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and avocado, and serve it with some ginger peanut sauce. This salad has all the flavours and textures that everyone loves. Crispy vegetables, crunchy nuts, tangy dried cranberries, buttery avocado, creamy dressing…So irresistible and unforgettable, and most important, truly healthful!

I’ve been having it a couple times every week. For lunch or dinner. And the crave is still here! I just love eating it! And every time I am eating it, I am thinking about my mom. That short period of my salad time is the time I am connecting with her. Totally enjoying it!

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Ingredients (serves 2):

Ginger Peanut Sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
Salad
4 cups washed and cut lettuce (red, green, butter or romaine)
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup cooked rice (red, brown or any long grain rice)
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 avocado
 

Directions:

To prepare dressing, warm peanut butter and honey in microwave for 10 to 15 seconds until peanut butter is thinned. Whisk in other dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Mix lettuce and spinach. Place vegetables on the bottom of a large salad bowl.

Scatter rice, cashews, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries on top.

Cut avocado in cubes and put it on the salad.

Drizzle dressing on top and serve.

To Ethan – Crazy Building

January 27, 2015 by Fanny | 2 Comments

Dear Ethan,

We signed you up for drawing classes recently. Well, if there were math classes where they teach 6-year-olds how to do Algebra, I would definitely sign you up for those too. But I assume that someone is still working on those classes, and apparently drawing classes came pretty handy.

The truth is you love to draw! When you have a piece of paper, you will either write a math problem and solve it by yourself or draw a picture. You often want to show me a drawing when I am either too busy cooking or wrestling that third load of laundry. “Mommy, I have something for you…” “Wait! Ethan. ” Mommy! LOOK!” “OKOK! Just wait a second!” All these attempts to finish up my works will have to stop when I get to look at that picture. Filled with your creativities, imaginations and details, your pictures always get me unable to say anything except “ETHAN! WHAO!” Yes! This speechless and breathtaking.

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You came home with this drawing from your first lesson. You called it “Crazy Building”. I would call it “What The Hack Were You Thinking, Ethan?” I had to frame it and put it in the middle of the living room. So when I’m feeling stressful over that puddle of spilled milk on the floor, I will look at this picture, get into your head, be crazy and have fun a little bit before I pick up the Swiffer.

Love,
Mommy

Categories: Son

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Marshmallow Frosting and Bananas

January 26, 2015 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty much about eating this craziness, a.k.a. a beautiful combination of peanut butter, cheesecake, meringue and bananas. I’ve made peanut butter cheesecake so many times. And I thought going with chocolate ganache was the most heavenly thing! Except I was so wrong. And I only realized that when I came across with this wonderful inspiration.

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Why didn’t I think about bananas!!!!!! Peanut butter and bananas! Aren’t they best friends?! And the marshmallow frosting is simply a genius addition. Like Jessica said, whipped cream would work too. But I don’t want nor need to cut down the sweetness because I am addictive to the fluffiness and the sweetness and the craziness. And I would totally use peanut butter cookies to make the crust. Too bad I was too desperate and too lazy to bake the cookies. So I used graham crackers which was still wonderful. The only thing that you will have to stick with, I think, is to have everything in your every bite. Seriously, a little bit of banana, meringue, cheesecake and cookie altogether. A MUST! Because missing any of these will leave you feeling a bit unsatisfied.

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Last week I also spent a lot of time breathing in the beauty of a newly created spot in my kitchen. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing massive. Just a few hours of shelving, organizing, crafting and decorating. And here it came a lovely and lively corner filled with cookbooks, plants, arts, goodies, treats…

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In case you forgot the potato arts that you did when you were a kid, it’s time to pick it up. I came across with this, and I couldn’t help but get my potatoes and colors ready right away. And look, it only took me less than an hour to create this DIY art piece. All rustic but chic! Loving it!

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Ingredients (7-inch cake):

Crust
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling
2  packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon water
fresh banana slices
 

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350F. Grease a 7-inch spring form pan.

Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients together in a food processor or with a fork.

Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 250F.

To prepare filling, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter on medium speed until smooth in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add brown sugar and beat to combine. Then add egg, heavy cream and vanilla extract, mix for 2 minutes or until well blended.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.

Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour.

Chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Before serving, leave the cake in room temperature for 30 minutes.

To prepare frosting, in a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy for a minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and water, and beat for another 2 minutes until frosting thickens.

Smear the meringue frosting thickly on the top of the cake. Using a small metal spatula to create swoops and peaks.

Serve with fresh banana slices.

Blueberry Crumble Bar

January 21, 2015 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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Such an easy recipe that anyone can make it. Kids love it! Any berries will do! And I can’t have enough of the crumble!

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Ingredients (about 25 square bars):

1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 cups fresh blueberries
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Mix 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a food processor.

Add butter and egg, process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pat half of the mixture into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust.

Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

12 Perfect Bread to Wake Up To

January 19, 2015 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Check out 12 perfect bread to wake up to

by Oh Sweet Day! at Foodie.com

Breakfast in our house is pretty much like a buffet most of the time. Seven boxes of cereal, three types of cheese, white or whole wheat or honey bread, four kinds of fruit, cinnamon rolls, chocolate buns and mixed berry muffins, omelette, pancakes, waffles… Not that all of these will necessarily be displayed on the kitchen table altogether, but quite close!

My kids have never been good eaters. They like to pick their food and not eat it, or just eat a portion of it. And as a mother, you want to give them varieties to make eating breakfast fun. Cause you know they won’t eat their lunch at school, and the next meal after breakfast is dinner! Now you see what I am talking about – the importance of stuffing your kids with breakfast!

Bread is always the winner in our house, especially sweet bread. Only the fragrance of warm cinnamon rolls is good enough to rush my boy to collect himself and sit tight for his breakfast. My chatty girl will stop talking the whole time when she’s picking out those chocolate chunks from her banana bread to eat before finishing the whole thing. I would wake up to nothing but a smell of yeast. My kind of breakfast has to include bread, at least a slice of toast.

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Braided Bread with Strawberry and Cream Cheese Filling

Braided Egg Bun

Chocolate Swirl Bun

Cinnamon Roll

Dark Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

Honey Beer Bread

Hot Cross Bun

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Mini Baked Donut

My Best Banana Bread

Pull-Apart Bread

Strawberry Jam Breadstick

Chocolate Swirl Bun

January 15, 2015 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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Over the Christmas, I received a bread maker as one of my presents. I was kind of sceptical of using it at the beginning because I’d been making bread manually for years, why do I need a bulky machine that I have to find space to store? Until I started using it, and realized how powerful that machine is! You literally just turn on the machine, put in all the ingredients, close the lid, wait a few hours, and a big loaf of fresh bread is ready! Magical! Of course if you even consider measuring your ingredients is too much work, I don’t know what to say. You know putting on your shoes, walking or driving to a store to buy bread seems even more tiring.

We’ve been having fresh home-made white bread, whole wheat bread or brioche for breakfast. And it actually got me to start thinking about what else I could do with this machine. And I realized that when it comes to fancy bread, like cinnamon rolls, sweet buns or challah, the machine might not be really that usable. Although it can help with the kneading, you will need a pair of human hands to handle all the messy stuff – the filling, rolling, cutting…

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In the process of explore those fancy bread recipes, I came across with this chocolate swirl buns recipe. I make cinnamon rolls all the time, this kinda of buns doesn’t really sound intimating to me. And I was only hooked with the idea of stuffing brioche bread with chocolate filling. This batch came out from the oven yesterday right before my kids came home from school. After snacking, late night dessert and breakfast, they were all gone! Simply too good to stay anywhere except your belly!

Ingredients (12 buns):

Dough
1/2 cup milk, warm to touch
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Filling
225 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
 

Directions:

To prepare the dough, in the large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm milk.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk sugar and egg until combined. Then slowly whisk in the yeast mixture.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flour and salt. Run mixer on low and add egg mixture,  mix until combined. Add butter and mix until incorporated.

Switch to a dough hook, let it knead the dough for 10 minutes on low speed. The dough will become sticky and stringy.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour to rise.

To prepare the filling, pulse chocolate, salt and sugar in a food processor until the chocolate is very finely chopped with some parts almost powdery. Add butter and pulse machine until it’s distributed throughout the chocolate. Set mixture aside.

When the dough is risen, move it to a lightly floured surface and gently deflate it.  Roll dough into a big rectangle, about 12 inches on the short end and 20 inches on the long end.

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate mixture over the dough.

Roll the short side of the rectangle tightly toward the other short end, forming a 12-inch log. Pinch the seam together at the end.

Slice it into 1-inch slices. Place the sliced rolls in a well greased muffin tins. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F, and bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve warm or in room temperature.

French Chocolate Silk Pie

January 12, 2015 by Fanny | 13 Comments

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I’ve been wanting to make this pie after I came across with the name. All French and silky? It must be something! And chocolate? I knew I had to make this! The only concern was that most of the recipes contain raw eggs. And it kind of freaks me out. Not that we have any problem with raw eggs, but when you have young kids in the house, you have to be a little cautious.

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I thought about omitting the eggs to avoid all the troubles. But I also figured that the eggs give the essence of the pie filling – silky, creamy and decadent. Of course plus all the butter and whipped cream. Yes, High Cholesterol Alert! But it’s been how many days in 2015? Just a week or so. That means all the fitness and healthy resolutions can totally wait!

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So I decided to cook the eggs and sugar over a water bath, just to kill off the bacteria, or just to make myself feel better eating the pie. Because the pie is all about enjoyment, excitement, luxury and satisfaction. This pie is good for any occasions. I am even thinking to make small pies or tartlets for Valentine’s Days.

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Ingredients (9-inch pie):

Crust
2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
70 grams dark chocolate, melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon shaved dark chocolate
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan or springform pan.

To prepare crust, mix Oreo cookies crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl, until a moist yet crumbly mixture forms. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, cook sugar and eggs in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, keep whisking until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Stir the melted chocolate into the mixture until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside until completely cooled.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating until fully combined.

In another bowl, beat the cream and vanilla until it holds firm peaks. Reserve about half cup for garnish. Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

Pour the mixture in the crust. Smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate the pies until set, at least 4 hours.

Remove pie from pan, top with the reserved whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serve.

Espresso Cake with Espresso Macarons

January 5, 2015 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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Happy 2015! Our holidays was filled with food and booze and presents and of course laughter. A lot of good memories to tag along when we were crossing that threshold. Here we are. All getting back to school and work. Well, I know, it sucks! But when you realize that your kids are staying up late for too many nights, watching too much television, making too much trouble staying home, being too annoying to their parents, it’s time to look forward to school.

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And here I am. Back to the blogging mode. Now this cake. THIS CAKE!!! Yes! All the capital letters and exclamation points. Because this cake was unbelievably amazing. If you are a coffee fan, you should get your cake pans ready and bake this cake NOW! I found this recipe from Pastry Affair, one of my favourite food bloggers. This coffee-infused cake was fluffy and moist. I was all caffine-high and mixed up a tiny batch of espresso buttercream to go with the cake, instead of the white chocolate buttercream from the original recipe. What do I say? Amazing, addictive, SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!

You don’t have to add the macarons. I did because it just happened that I had some leftovers from my client’s order the other day. But watch out those macarons. They can totally kill you even if you are not a big fan of macarons like myself. I think the espresso flavour really hooked me up with these cookies. I was snacking on the shells like crazy!

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Ingredients (5-inch 3-layer cake):

Espresso Macarons
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate ganache
Espresso Cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooled espresso or very strong coffee
Espresso Buttercream 
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cooled espresso or very strong coffee
Others
1 teaspoon espresso powder or cocoa powder 
 

Directions:

To prepare macarons, line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Put a master template under the parchment paper or draw about 12 1 1/2-inch circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart.

Process powdered sugar, almond flour and espresso powder in a food processor until finely ground. Sift the mixture through a sieve. If there are more than 2 tablespoons of large chunks left in the sieve, grind them and sift again. Set the mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla. Increase the speed to high and beat until very stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites until the ingredients are just combined. Continue to fold the mixture until it has loosened and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip and fill the bag with the batter. Using the template as a guide, pipe circles onto the parchment papers.

Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles. Let the cookies stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This allows the cookies to develop their crusts.

Preheat oven to 325F. Bake the macarons for 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not browned.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons to cool completely on the pans. Once cooled, gently lift half of the cookies from the parchment paper and turn them upside down.

Spoon or pipe a teaspoon of ganache onto each of the upside-down cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.

To prepare the cake, preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 5-inch cake pan, and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix in sour cream, oil and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just blended.

Stir in espresso or coffee until smooth.

Pour the cake batter evenly between cake pans, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream frosting, place butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add espresso and continue beating until well combined.

To assemble the cake, simply sandwich cake layers with the espresso buttercream. Top the cake with another thin layer of buttercream. Garnish with 6 macarons. Sprinkle cocoa powder or espresso powder on top.

Cover and refrigerate the cake. Leave cake in room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

Best Cakes of 2014

December 31, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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Today is a cake day! It’s New Year’s Eve. A lot to celebrate!

In our house, everyday is a cake day. I bake a lot for my family and friends. And I do that for my clients. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baby showers…Tons of parties. Tons of celebrations have filled up my 2014. And I am grateful for that!

I’ve painstakingly chosen my most favourite cakes of 2014. Really hard. Because I love all of my cakes. They all came with an occasion, a celebration or a story. Even though it was simply made for a dinner dessert, it had its moment.

Again, today is a cake day. You should definitely make a cake to celebrate your joyful 2014 and to welcome your fruitful 2015.

Cheers! xoxo

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Pecan Crust

Black Forest Cake

Lemon Yogurt Apple Cake

Ferrero Rocher Cake

Pikachu Cake

Halloween Monster Cake

Boston Cream Pie

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate and Strawberry Mousse Cake

Just for Mom Cake

Brownie Espresso Ice Cream Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Panda Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache

To Ethan and Maya – Ending 2014 with an usual inhuman incident

December 23, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

This season of illness has totally won! I’ve been coughing since weeks ago, thanks to you, Maya who started it. And I hadn’t really had a good night sleep without coughing until last night. And now the whole universe won’t cough for 2015 because I’ve done all the coughing for it.

Then a few days ago, Ethan, you ran over to our room at 2am crying and before your father finished the whole question of “What happened, Ethan? Are you okay?” You opened your mouth and shot a gallon of vomit across our gorgeous hard-wood floor and down duvet. Like a damn cannon. We jumped out of our bed right away making sure you were okay before I started to inspect the whole crime scene. I found some vomit footprints on the floor. And they only led me to another crime scene in your room. You threw up in your room before you DID THE SAME THING IN OUR ROOM. Why two times? I don’t know. Why it had to be all over the beds? I don’t freaking know.

So we were up all night wiping the floor, changing the beds, doing loads of laundry. By the time I was able to go back to bed, it took me another hour to cough. That morning you woke up at the same SIX O’CLOCK wanting all of us to be up too. When I was about to complain how inhuman you were considered what me and your father had done just an hour or so ago, I realized one, you are a kid. Kids are not human beings. Two, you had no idea what had just happened! Like What? I puked all over the bedroom over the night? Nah! It’s not possible! You are just lying. GET UP NOW MOM!!!!!!! I WANT TO EAT!!!!!

And there it is. The harsh cruelties of life. Over and over again.

I sincerely wish all of us a very healthy 2015.

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Love,
Mommy

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