my dream cake

We’re getting close to our Songkran break, the Thai new year holiday. I’m planning on doing a lot of cooking and baking when I am home. For Easter, of course, and, well, also “just because!” Just because I want to.  I have been fantasizing about making this cake, the Crystallized White Rose Cake I saw on Butter and Brioche –because it’s so beautiful. Crystallized-White-Rose-Cake-940x627

It’s the kind of cake that has to be planned. I am searching for the ingredients and finding that two of them are particularly hard to find: rose extract and organic roses. One of the teachers at school tells me I should try Pahurat, the Indiantown of  Bangkok to find the rose extract. As for the organic roses, they have everybody stumped. What about orchids? They are edible and also very common. Every garden, nook, tree, and balcony have orchids hanging. When I am ready to bake this cake, I will cut  a spray of orchids growing in our pots upstairs, lovingly coat them with egg white, and sprinkle them with sugar.

ruammit burger with cucumber drizzled with sesame-soy sauce


Make this without a recipe.

I call it “ruammit burger” because ruammit in Thai means “mixed up together.”  my husband corrects me, “together with friends.” I suppose the ingredients are friendly, because they certainly complement one another! Just combine lean ground pork with lean ground chicken. The pork adds a little fat to the chicken and makes it tender rather than dry. Because I wanted to clean out my fridge, I added chopped cooked vegetables that were a bit soggy. Then, because they were soggy, I added a half cup of cooked red-and-brown rice to soak up the extra liquid. Then I added seasonings: a bit of ginger and garlic, some chopped Chinese celery (คื่นฉ่าย), chopped cilantro, a squirt of Sriracha, a dash of black pepper, salt, sesame oil, and fish sauce. Mix it all together and make into patties as wide as the palm of your hand. I grilled the patties in a skillet with a little rice bran oil, about 4 minutes per side on medium heat. For the vegetable side, I chopped up some fresh Holland cucumbers and drizzled a sesame-soy dressing on top. That’s it! No recipe necessary.

soy-glazed five-spice chicken legs and cilantro with sesame-soy sauce dressing


This recipe is a family favorite. I’ve reduced the calories by removing the skin from the chicken drumsticks. I really don’t miss the skin at all because I hate chicken skin unless it is absolutely crisp. The meat is tender, sweet, salty, with just a hint of anise.

Soy-Glazed Five Spice Chicken Legs
Prep time: 5 minutes plus overnight
Cook time: 28 minutes

6 chicken legs with the skin on
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice bran oil
1 teaspoon onion or garlic powder
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Cilantro with Sesame-Soy Sauce Dressing
1 bunch cilantro, washed and patted dry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Prepare the chicken legs. Grasp each end of the leg with a paper towel and pull the skin down over the tip of the bony end of the drumstick. Zip! Discard the skin. Repeat with the other drumsticks.

Place the prepared drumsticks in a dish with a cover or a glass food storage box with a clip on cover. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients until it emulsifies. Pour over the chicken and cover. Move the chicken back and forth to coat. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, shift the chicken back and forth again in the box. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade.

Heat a skillet with a little oil or cooking spray. Brown the chicken about 2 minutes per side. Pour on the reserved marinade and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until done.

Make the cilantro side. Whisk the sesame oil and soy sauce until it emulsifies. Drizzle all over the cilantro and gently toss. Serve chilled.

lime skillet soufflé with caramelized bananas


This recipe may seem complicated but it is actually quite easy to make. It is first cooked on the stove top then allowed to finish and brown in the oven. This is only the second time I’ve made it. The first time I made it in New York I used lemons. It has an intense citrus flavor which lessens somewhat as the soufflé cools. I served this version with caramelized bananas. I used the stubby fat Thai banana called kluay nam wa (กล้วยนำ้หว้า) which has an intense sweetness. If the bananas you use are as sweet, reduce the amount of sugar used to caramelize them by half.

Lime Skillet Soufflé (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 12 minutes

5 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice plus 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 4 small limes)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Special equipment:
10 inch aluminum skillet (do not use nonstick)

Cook’s note: Wipe out the bowl and beaters with vinegar before whipping the egg whites. I used an8 inch skillet so I reduced the heat to 325˚F or 150˚C.

First, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375˚F (for 10 inch skillet). In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and whip the white to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually whip in 1/3 cup of the sugar and salt and continue to whip the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks, 2-6 minutes. If using a stand mixer, gently transfer the whites to a clean bowl and set aside.

Cook’s Note: No need to wash the whisk attachments for the next step if using a hand-held mixer.

In another large bowl, whip the egg yolks and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar together on medium high speed until pale and thick, about 1 minute. When you raise the beaters, the egg yolks form a ribbon. Whip in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Using a wire whisk, fold one-quarter of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until almost no white streaks remain. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated.

Cook on the stovetop. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium low heat. Swirl the pan to coal evenly with the melted butter, then gently scrape the soufflé batter into the skillet and cook until the edges begin to set and bubble slightly, about 2 minutes.

Cook’s Note: I used an 8 inch skillet and had left over batter. I mounded as much of the batter as the skillet could hold. Next time, I will bake the leftover batter in buttered ramekins

Bake and serve immediately. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the soufflé until puffed, the center jiggles slightly when shaken, and the surface is golden, 7-11 minutes. Using a potholder (the skillet handle will be hot) remove the skillet from the oven. Dust the soufflé with the confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Per serving: Cal 180; Fat 6g; Sat fat 2.5g; Chol 180mg; Carb 28g; Protein 6g; Fiber 0g; Sodium 105mg

Serving Suggestion:
Serve with caramelized bananas. To caramelize, melt two tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add four slices of medium bananas and 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar. Brown 1-2 minutes or until thick and syrupy. If too sweet, squeeze lemon or lime juice on the bananas. Serve bananas with or without syrup.


chef’s ultimate grilled cheese sandwich

DSC04393 What’s your favorite foodie movie scene? My current favorite is Chef. I love the scene where Jon Favreau’s character Carl Caspar is making a grilled cheese sandwich to share with his son Percy. Watch the YouTube video here. Here is what I think he did.

First, he sprinkles olive oil on a countertop griddle. I believe the setting to be about medium to medium high, because any higher and the bread will toast too quickly. Then he butters two slices of farmer’s bread. He places the two slices buttered side down on the griddle with the oil. He  fries the bread on one side only, moving the slices around on the griddle, smearing butter and oil into an aromatic sauce that sizzles.

Then Favreau tops the un-fried bread sides with thin slices of cheese–looks like a fair amount of Cheddar and Gruyere topped with a couple of slivers of Parmegiano Reggiano. When the cheese looks a bit melty, he stacks the two halves, cheese sides together Finally, he spreads a bit of butter on the edges of the fried side of bread to make it evenly brown and crusty. Flips it over and butters the other side. When both sides are golden, when the cheese oozes out, it’s done. Slice. Share with Percy. Eat. Crunchy. Yummy.

After I watched Chef, I tried to replicate it myself–with some of my own touches. I used a much thicker slice of bread than was used in the movie. My cheese slices were thicker too. Gruyere is prohibitively expensive in Bangkok so I substituted Emmentaler. Instead of the Parmegiano, I added the red pepper cheese for a bit of bite. I ended up with a meal. It was filling, salty, gooey, tangy, and so delicious. The ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.



We talked to Taranee on her birthday yesterday, and she said she was going to make Chinese dumplings. It’s so cold in the States right now, everyone craves comfort food. I thought about these potstickers and so I reblogged the recipe from my old blog dated  Sunday November 28, 2010.

 A potsticker is a Chinese dumpling appetizer–or a snack. I only made these because they were an America’s Test Kitchen recipe but I wasn’t sure if they had an authentic Chinese taste! Having eaten potstickers before, I made some adaptations to the recipe. Diana and AJ both said they were “delicate” in taste,  because I had used the lighter-tasting ground chicken instead of an “earthier” ground pork. This recipe makes more than 24 potstickers–I have leftover filling and dumpling dough.

Three cups napa cabbage
Napa cabbage chopped finely down to two and a half cups
Salted napa cabbage draining in a colander
Ground chicken, ginger, scallion, napa cabbage, egg whites, and seasoning
The filling
Ready to make potstickers
A scant tablespoon of filling
Mound the filling in a slightly oval shape
Wet the edges with a fingertip dipped in water
Fold the dumpling in half, pressing out any air pockets and sealing the edges
Only two potstickers left!

For the potsticker filling
3 cups napa cabbage, chopped finely
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound ground pork or ground chicken
4 teaspoons soy sauce (recommend white soy sauce since it won’t color the meat)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 large egg white (original recipe: 2 egg whites)
4 medium scallions, chopped finely
1 large clove garlic (about 1 teaspoon), chopped finely

For the potsticker dumplings
1 package round gyoza or dumpling dough (See photo above)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup water

Make the filling. Combine napa cabbage and salt in a colander and set over a large bowl to drain. Salting the vegetable releases excess water. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the drained napa cabbage and combine lightly. The original recipe said to refrigerate 30 minutes or more until ready to fill dumplings, but I skipped this step.

Make the dumplings. Assemble dumplings as in the photographs above. Put each dumpling on a parchment lined baking tray. Be careful not to over lap the dumplings. The recipe said to make 24 but cook 12 at a time.  I froze the remaining 12 dumplings and refrigerated the leftover dumpling filling and dumpling dough. I will make more dumplings tomorrow.

Pan-fry the dumplings. Arrange 12 dumplings in a cold 12-inch skillet. Add oil and fry 2 minutes until the dumplings are browned on the bottom. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan by pouring it around the dumplings. It will sizzle, so be careful.  Cook, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 3 minutes. I found the water was not completely absorbed so I removed the cover and let the dumplings cook for another minute or so until the water cooked down to about a tablespoon. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce (recommend Kikkoman’s)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chili oil, optional
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, minced

I recommend, for an authentic Chinese taste, or just to spice things up, crumble a dried red chili in your fingers or chop up a fresh chili pepper and add to the dipping sauce. To make the sauce less spicy, remove the seeds and veins from the fresh chili, if preferred.  Put up any leftover sauce in the refrigerator. Caution: if you add dried or fresh chilies to the sauce it will marinate and become hotter!

P.S. I made 17 additional dumplings out of the leftovers!

Note: I reblogged this from my old blog dated  Sunday November 28, 2010.

beatty’s chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting


This is the darkest chocolate cake I’ve ever baked. It’s also the least sweet. The crumb was moist and tender, and the chocolate frosting was complemented by the smooth taste of espresso. Chocolate and coffee. A marriage between equals.

One of the quirky things about this recipe is that it calls for extra large eggs. Not exactly what’s available in the fridge, though, and I had to go out and buy them specially to make this cake. I did not have 8 inch cake pans so I used one 9-inch springform cake pan and baked the cake 45-50 minutes. It’s best to bake it in 5 minute increments and test.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (from Ina Garten)

Prep: 30 minutes
Inactive: 30 minutes
Bake: 35-40 minutes

2 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans OR
1 9-inch springform pan

Cake Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon flour for greasing pans
219g (1 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
400g (2 cups) superfine sugar
88g (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar topped with milk to 1 cup mark)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
112g or 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
170g (6 oz) semisweet baking chocolate (recommend Callebaut)
227g (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
19g (1) extra large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
156g (1 1/4 cups) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons hot water

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C

Prepare the pans. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and whisk in the 1/2 tablespoon flour. Brush butter mixture inside 2 cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment.

Make the cake. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

In another large bowl, combine the sour milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture on low speed. Add coffee and stir, just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack until cool, about 30 minutes. Turn out cakes and cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

Make butter cream frosting. Chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating 3 more minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until smooth and creamy.

Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot water. On low speed add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Do not whip.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the frosting is too soft, firm it up in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes before spreading it on the cake.

Assemble the cake. The cake must be thoroughly cooled before frosting, about 2-3 hours. If using the springform cake pan, split the cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom cake layer cut-side up on a cake plate. Frost the top of the layer then place the second layer on top of the frosted bottom. Frost the top and sides of the cake.