Archive for the 'Recipe' Category

Sqirl’s Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Well, that was fun sharing a bit about The Suburban Years. Now, back to my favorite subject: dessert. This Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake from Jessica Koslow and the fine folks at Sqirl gets the honor of being the first cake to break in our new oven. Thankfully, the oven was calibrated properly and the cake turned out perfectly—gooey, caramel-y, and in short, everything I want to eat.

For cake

  • 14 tablespoons/200 grams unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), at room temperature, more for the pan
  • 8 ounces/225 grams pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup/80 grams dried currants
  • 1 cup/130 grams whole­wheat flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/80 grams all ­purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup/165 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For sticky toffee

  • ½ cup/170 grams agave nectar
  • ½ cup/110 grams packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted
  • Butter
  • Fleur de sel

Make the cake

Heat oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

In a small pot, combine dates, lemon juice and 3/4 cup/180 milliliters water. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer gently until dates soften and start to fall apart, about 6 minutes. Add currants to the pot and set aside to cool completely.
While date mixture cools, stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla and cooled date mixture, followed by flour mixture.

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Homemade Cardamom Marshmallows

Cardamom Marshmallows

The Astronomer and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary in late April. Festivities included reliving our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel and cooking up a little something inspired by old school anniversary gifts. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Since it is customary to bestow sugar upon one’s beloved in recognition of the sixth wedding anniversary, I decided to make marshmallows from scratch. This recipe, which is from Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore and Cecilia Leung of Pasadena’s Little Flower Candy Company, calls for three different kinds of the refined stuff—granulated, powdered, and corn syrup. Mmm…sugar. And lots of it.

Even with a novice behind the stove, this recipe yielded the most perfectly plush and pillowy marshmallows ever. The cardamom-sugar coating, a special twist inspired by my cardamom-loving husband, added warmth, texture, and intrigue. I couldn’t imagine a sweeter treat for my sweet Astronomer.

And just in case you’re new to the Astro-Gastro anniversary party, The Astronomer has been gifted Paper, Cotton, LeatherFruit, and Wood thus far in our marriage. Here’s to many, many more.

  • 1 1/2 cups (333 grams) water, divided
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) powdered gelatin
  • 2 1/2 (500 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (319 grams) corn syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sugar-Cardamom mixture (1 cup granulated sugar combined with 1 tablespoon ground cardamom)

Cardamom Marshmallows

Pour 3/4 cup (167 grams) water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and sprinkle with gelatin to bloom (allow the gelatin to absorb liquid and expand), 5-8 minutes.

Cardamom Marshmallows

Place 3/4 cup (167 grams) water, sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer to saucepan. When temperature of syrup reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat.

Mix water-gelatin mixture on low speed and slowly stream in hot syrup down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract.

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Bò Lúc Lắc – Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

When I was gifted four beautiful steaks this past Christmas, I briefly considered wrapping the fillets in bacon or chopping them coarsely for a tartare. But when it came down to it, The Astronomer and I both desired Vietnamese food, so “shaking beef” ultimately and unsurprisingly won out.

Since my family does not have a go-to recipe for bò lúc lắc, I turned to Chef Charles Phan of San Francisco’s The Slanted Door to guide me through the process. You could say that he’s got a way with shaking beef

Traditionally, this dish is prepared in a seasoned wok over a flame, which imparts an intense sear on the beef and cooks the entire dish with a flick (or two) of the wrist.

This pared down recipe caters to the home cook and yields immense reward for very little effort. While using a saute pan on an electric stove offers significantly fewer BTUs, the results were most satisfactory. We’ll be making this recipe again and again.

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
  • 1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice or white wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bunches watercress, washed and dried, or 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and separated into leaves
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Marinate meat with garlic, half the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon oil for about 2 hours at room temperature. (Refrigerate if your kitchen is very warm.)

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, remaining sugar, wine, soy sauce and fish sauce. Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Mix about 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Divide the meat into 2 portions, and do the same with the onion and scallions. Put a wok or a large skillet over maximum heat, and add about 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil smokes, add the meat in one layer. Let it sit until a brown crust forms, and turn to brown the other side. Browning should take less than 5 minutes.

Add half the onion and half the scallions, and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add about half the vinegar mixture, and shake pan to release the beef, stirring if necessary. Add half the butter, and shake pan until butter melts. Remove meat, and repeat. Continue reading ‘Bò Lúc Lắc – Vietnamese Shaking Beef’

Knuckle & Claw – Los Angeles (Silver Lake)

Knuckle & Claw - Los Angeles - Silver Lake

In a devastating turn of events, I traveled to Boston two weeks ago and did not consume a lick of seafood while in town. It seems that I’ve officially transitioned to the part in my life where family time takes precedence over food-centric pursuits. Well, I guess this is growing up

Knuckle & Claw - Los Angeles - Silver Lake

Needless to say, I was totally craving a lobster roll as soon as my feet touched down on Southland soil, so I made my way to Chloe Dahl and Nikki Booth’s Knuckle & Claw just as soon as I could.

Opened this past March, the Sunset Boulevard eatery serves up classic New England fare using Maine lobster that’s flown in daily. The menu is super-simple and highly-specialized; it’s my kind of place.

Knuckle & Claw - Los Angeles - Silver Lake

The Astronomer, June, and I shared the shrimp ($5), blue crab ($6), and lobster ($9) mini rolls, as well as the grilled cheese ($8) and a cup o’ soup ($8), on our visit.

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