October 31, 2010

Spiced Ginger Cake with Poached Pear and Caramel Sauce

I stumbled upon this delicious dessert at one of our favorite restaurants. We used to dine there on special occasions with families and close friends. The food is wonderful and the service is outstanding. This dessert recipe is adapted from Wente Vineyard. I've made some adjustments to the recipe based upon my preference. The cake is rich and moist and full of flavor. This will be a delightful dessert for the holidays!

Ingredients: Poached Pears
4 oranges
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
7 cups water
1½ cups sugar
4 firm, slightly ripe Pears
1. Peel orange zest thinly with a vegetable peeler. Cut into half and squeeze juice from oranges and add to a large pot. Add water, spices, sugar and zest and halves of oranges.
2. Peel pears, sliced in half and remove the center and seeds. Add to pot and simmer on low for about 25-30 minutes, or until tender but not too soft. Remove and let cool. When cooled, slice them into 4-5 slices leaving the stem on the top.
Ingredients: Caramel Sauce
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup Port or Riesling (room temperature)
1. Combine sugar, water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and let it come to a boil until it resembles a rich amber color. Gently add in the wine as the mixture will bubbles. 2. Continue to stir over low heat until mixture is dissolved and smooth. Remove from pan to cool. (This can be prepared the day before.
Ingredients: Ginger Cake
2½ cups flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup light molasses
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot boiling water
pinch of salt
9x5 baking pan, greased pan or individual cake rings
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, dried spices, and salt. Whisk together molasses and hot water to mix in a separate bowl.
2. Mix butter, brown sugar, and egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until mixture is creamy. Mix in the flour mixture and molasses at low spped until it is smooth without lumps.
3. Pour batter into a greased pan. Bake in oven for about 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Cut into squares if you are making it in a cake pan.
4. Serve ginger cake warm. Place caramel sauce on the plate and then the cake, and top with fanned poached pear. Place a dollop of cream or ice-cream. Drizzled more caramel sauce on top if desired.
Printable Recipe

October 17, 2010

Apple Spiced Cake

A friend mentioned that I don't have many cake recipes. I am not much of a baker, but I can make a decent cake occasionally. This cake is easy to prepare and it is great served warm with whipped cream or just plain. I love this with golden delicious or granny smith apples. It is a moist cake that has a tangy lemon taste and a twist of my favorite spices: ginger and nutmeg--wonderfully delicious!
1½ lbs apples, peeled and cored
¾ cups sugar
4 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1¼ cups self-rising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp. baking powder)
4 oz. melted butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
9" springform cake pan
1 Tbsp. melted butter

1 springform baking pan
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush baking pan with melted butter and line the base with paper.
2. Slice the apples thinly and add to a bowl, pour lemon juice and ginger on top. Mix well and set aside.
3. In a bowl, beat egg, sugar until it is thick and creamy. In another bowl, mix flour and salt together.
3. Add in half the flour into the egg mixture and fold in gently with a metal spoon. Drizzled in the melted butter from the side and fold into with the flour mixture. Add in the rest of the flour to mix, then add in the apples and fold gently to mix. Use a spatula to level the top surface and sprinkle nutmeg on top. 
 (This works well if you have a nutmeg grater)
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake in center of oven for about 45-50 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Remove and let it cool down for about 10 minutes and then invert on to a wire rack. Turn the cake onto a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar if you desired.

October 10, 2010

Grilled Fish with Turmeric

What a wonderful treat! A dear friend gave us a freshly caught fish yesterday. It was a rod cod and it's flesh is white and meaty. I have some left over banana leaves and I am going grill it outdoors.
I am sure for the most part, most of you know how to tell if a fish if fresh. Here's a few tips: a fresh fish should not smell fishy; the eyes should be clear with no cloudiness, and not sunken; the gills should be pink/red and wet and not slimy. 

1 fresh fish, clean and gutts removed
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. lemon grass powder
1 small chilli, sliced
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
juice of 2 medium lime/lemon
1 piece banana leaf, soften (you can use aluminum foil)
1) Mix all the dried spices and lemon juice in a bowl. Slit the fish on both sides. Marinade the fish and leave for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
2) Spread a thin layer of oil on the banana leaf or aluminium foil. Put the fish on top and wrap and seal corners with tooth picks
3) Grilled on stove on medium for about 30 minutes until fish is cooked. The eyes of the fish should be white in color. Remove and serve with extra lime if desired.

October 3, 2010

Fresh Figs with Mixed Greens

Figs is one of my favorite summer fruits as it is full of flavor and nutritious. It is rich in potassium, calcium and fiber. It is great eaten fresh, dried or cooked like a sauce to flavor other meats. I like mine served with a simple dressing. You can tossed in your favorite cheese and nuts of your choice. Enjoy!
1 pack of fresh mixed greens or arugula
3-4 fresh figs
Feta cheese (optional)
chopped walnuts (optional)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin oil
2 tsp. orange juice
pepper to taste
1) Washed and wipe figs clean, remove stem and sliced lengthwise. Mix vinegar, oil, and orange juice, season to taste.
2) Place a handful of greens on plate, arrange figs and drizzle with dressing. Toss some feta cheese and walnuts on top and serve.

October 2, 2010


I remember fondly the first time we had this snack was in a cherry blossom festival at Japan town in San Francisco. The entire square was so alive with exciting colors, music, and traditional Japanese festivities. There were artwork and dance demonstration for audiences young and old.
Taiyaki is Japanese for baked sea bream, it is a fish-shaped pancake-like cake with a sweet filling, generally red bean paste. It is made with a special mold that opens on both sides and batter is pour on the bottom and  cooked on both sides until golden brown.
Ingredients: (make about 8-10)
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 small egg, beaten
200 ml. water
18 oz. red bean paste (rinse lightly to remove sugar and drain)
1) Sift flour and baking soda in a bowl. Pour in the egg, water and mix till batter is smooth. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes.
2) Season pan with some oil and remove any excess oil. Spoon some batter into the mold and fill with red bean paste, cover the top with another spoonful of batter. Bring the top lid to cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn pan over to cook on the other side until both sides are golden brown. Unmold and serve.

Printable Recipe

October 1, 2010

Cold Soba Noodles/Buckwheat Noodles

During the hot summer the heat can be quite unbearable at time and you want something cold and refreshing to eat. This reminds me of a dish--cold soba (buckwheat) noodles with dipping sauce and condiments. Eating it is fun as you pick a small amount of  of each condiments and mix it into your dipping sauce bowl. Then you pick up the noodles and dip it in the sauce and eats it. It is light and refreshing and sure to whet your appetite! Most of the items can be purchased at any Asian or Japanese grocery stores.
350 gms buckwheat noodles
Condiments: (of your choice and/or availability)
finely grated fresh ginger
finely chopped shiso leaves
finely julienned myoga (Japanese ginger)
finely chopped green onions
finely shredded nori seaweed
toasted sesame seeds (black/white)
Nanami togarashi (flavored pepper)
a dollop of wasabi
½ cup Kikomann soya sauce
½ cup mirin, with alcohol base
¼ cup brown sugar
Dashi Stock:
A piece of 4-5 inch dried kombu seaweed
2 packets of bonita flakes
3 cups water
Dipping Sauce:
1 cup of kaeshi
1-2 cups dashi stock
1) Heat the mirin sauce over low heat, then add in soya sauce and sugar. Cook until sugar has melted and remove any scum off the top. Strain and set aside.
Dashi Stock:
2) Presoak the kombu in 3 cups of water for about 15-20 minutes to soften. Bring the water a fast boil and drop in bonita flakes. Turn off heat and cover to let it cool. Strain liquid through a sieve and use your fingers and sqeeze out most of the flavor. Set is aside for later.
Dipping Sauce:
3) In a saucepan simmer kaeshi and dashi stocks over medium heat. Let it simmer for about 5-8 minutes, remove and let cool. Season to taste. You can easily prepare this ahead of time.
Cook the noodles:
1) Add enough water to a large pot and bring to a fast boil. Add the noodles a little at a time. Stir to make sure the noodles are completey covered in water. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the noodles or follow directions on the package.
2) Test the noodle, it should be cooked through but not soft or mushy. Pour the noodles into a colander and reserve some of the water. Run cold water to cool down the noodles. When the noodles are cool enough to handle, take a handful of noodles and wash it under the water until the water is clear. This helps removes any traces of starch on the noodles. Drain well and set aside.
3) Arrange noodles in individual plates and set out dipping bowls for the sauce, and condiments. Fill each dipping bowls halfway with dipping sauce.