Mango Butter Mochi


Nothing says summer to me more than Hawaii.  As I’ve written in quite a few blog posts, it is a rare summer that we don’t visit the islands.  We’re skipping Hawaii this year so I am trying to bring some of that island vibe to my cooking.

Mochi is a chewy dessert that you’ll probably find at most luaus, church picnics, family parties throughout Hawaii mostly because the ingredients are easy to find and the mochi so very easy to make.  In fact, it’s best not overthink the butter mochi and appreciate it for its rich, chewy and sweet simplicity.  I added the mango just because I had a couple on hand that were starting get overripe.   The mango gave it a fruity tang that managed to cut down its buttery richness.

Tip: You’ll find that the slightly burned and caramelized corners are the best part of this dessert.


16 oz box sweet rice flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 ripe mangoes, chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz evaporated milk
13.5 oz coconut milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the wet ingredients until combined.  Add the mochiko flour and baking powder and stern into the wet mixture until there are no more lumps.  Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 1 hour, until top is golden brown and set.  Cut into squares and enjoy.


Panettone Bread Pudding


During the holidays, I get really ambitious and have visions of making instead of  buying all my Christmas presents.  This almost never happens because I am told I have really good taste in gift cards.


One year, our friends participated in a gift exchange where the only rule was that every present had to be homemade. This was our bounty of homemade jams, freshly baked rolls, breads, Meyer lemon curds, bread puddings.  We did this exactly one year.

From time to time though I still get inspired  to make my gifts and I channel said inspiration from my grandmother’s metal mixing bowl.  My mom tells me this bowl is almost as old as her which means it’s hovering around 70, or as my mother reports, 64.  She and this bowl have been 64 for the past 7 years.  My Christmas presents this year were Panettone Bread Pudding.  Panettone is a rich, eggy, spongy Italian bread dotted with candied fruit, nuts and raisins.  And because I’m using Lola’s bowl and bread puddings are super easy to make, it’s really hard to mess up.


1 pound loaf Panettone, cubed/torn in 2-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
8 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Spread Panettone bread pieces in a greased 9x13x2 baking pan. Leave uncovered in the pan overnight to dry out and make it stale. The dryer the bread the better as it helps soak up the custard.
  • Whisk all the wet ingredients together and pour the custard mixture over the panettone bread pieces. Press down gently to make sure all pieces are submerged.
  • Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until the center is set and no longer jiggles.*
  • Drizzle some melted vanilla ice cream over the panettone bread pudding for a decadent vanilla cream sauce and sprinkle some turbinado sugar to make it extra comforting.

*Water baths or bain marie are allegedly essential for bread puddings because custard likes to be heated slowly to prevent curdling.  The water bath keeps it from cooking too quickly.  I’ve never done this and my bread puddings have come out fine.

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Chocolate Pots de Creme


Pots de creme, pronounced ‘Poe-day-krem’ is my new bestie.  That along with cauliflower rice might very well be my go to low carb duo in 2018.  Pots de creme is this amazingly smooth, velvety rich mousse-like dessert that I always seem to order when we eat out. Now that I know how to make it I will likely not order it in the future and pay 8$ for a thimble-sized serving.

It’s so simple to make and very low in sugar because I use dark chocolate with 6 net carbs. Take caution though with the dark chocolate you use because I’ve had the Montezuma Absolute Black Chocolate  and I swear it was like eating charcoal or dirt. I wound up spitting  it out after chewing for a few minutes and it looked exactly the same as when I first put it in my mouth. Simply Lite is much better both in texture and flavor

What I love most about chocolate pots de creme is how seemingly decadent it is and somehow still manages to be low carb.

*Makes 3 servings


2 eggs
1 T honey
1 t vanilla extract
3.5 – 4 oz dark chocolate
3/4 c coconut milk


Throw everything except the coconut milk in your blender or food processor and blend unttil smooth and chocolate is pulverized. Heat the coconut milk either in the microwave or stove top until almost boiling. With blender on low, slowly drizzle in the coconut milk and blend until mixture is thickened. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Top with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.





Tiramisu: A Haiku


Tiramisu: An Ode

Spongy decadence
Your caffeinated sweetness
it awakens me

Most of the recipes I write about in this blog are steeped in childhood memories or memories of the first time I had the dish in a restaurant or at a food truck.  That is not the case with tiramisu.  I don’t remember the first time I had it or where, and more importantly, how I felt about it.  I can still remember the first time I took a bite of the ginger spiced cake, for example, at Chow.  Or the time I had tempeh and didn’t realize it was tempeh, which was a good thing, otherwise I would have lost my tempeh(been waiting to use that pun for weeks now.)

Alas, I’m not Lidia Bastianich and tiramisu doesn’t inspire those childhood memories for me.  What it does inspire is poetry, hence  this haiku.

But finally, last night is a tiramisu memory that won’t fade for awhile.   Last night, we attended a crab feed at my son’s school and there was a silent dessert auction with a variety of desserts donated by members of the school community.  Some were homemade, others were store bought and fetched above modest prices from generous contributors.  We love our school and when close friends on the crab feed committee asked for a dessert donation, tiramisu instantly leapt to mind.

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I was a little (a lot) anxious about how it would taste, too runny, heavy on the rum, etc, etc.  Then came the moment of reckoning and I worried that no one would bid on it–like a girl going to her first dance and then doesn’t get asked by anyone.  I put a lot of pressure on that tiramisu.  Because I’m a dork, I stalked that auction table repeatedly and eventually sent my homie Marie to check on its current going price.

The tiramisu got asked to dance.  At a final selling price of $130, the tiramisu had, in fact, been elected prom queen.

Processed with MOLDIV


Tiramisu Recipe (adapted from: The Best Tiramisu You Will Ever Make: Ask Chef Dennis)


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese – room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 -7 oz packages Italian ladyfingers
  • 1 cup cold espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup dark rum ( Ron Mocambo is my favorite)
  • 1 ounce cocoa for dusting


  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl on  top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Keep stirring because you don’t want scrambled eggs.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. Add mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone egg mixture and set aside. The mascarpone does not have to be at room temperature, but it will be easier to mix in.
  5. Mix the cold espresso with the dark rum and dip the lady fingers into the mixture for only a second–don’t soak them or run the risk of overly soggy lady fingers.
  6. Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish (or container similarly sized)
  7. Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.
  8. Repeat process with another layer of lady fingers, alternating the mascarpone mixture and lady fingers
  9. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  10. Dust with cocoa before serving.

Ube or Not Ube-that is the question- Crinkles


Ube crinkles are magical, purple caky cookies that make your eyes momentarily roll to the back of your head upon first bite.  Imagine the velvetty, pillowy give of a red velvet cake but with the rich moistness of ube. Ube  is a Filipino dessert made of mashed and sweetened purple yam and is often used in other desserts like ice cream and cakes.


These cookies are easy to make and are a beautiful shade of purple.

Ube Crinkles, adapted from Bake Happy

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 cookies


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup ube jam, recipe here or buy at your local Filipino grocery
1 teaspoon ube flavoring
1 cup powdered sugar


Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cream butter and sugar with your mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.  Add in ube jam and ube flavoring then gradually add in the dry ingredients.  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and chill for 2-4 hours.

Using a regular ice cream scoop, scoop out about 1/2 a scoop of batter.  Roll the cookie dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar in a bowl to ensure even coverage.  Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.


Ube and ube flavoring with creamed butter and sugar mixture


Batter up



Ube Wan Kenobi


Ube, a dessert made of purple yam, makes a frequent appearance at Filipino family parties.  I would see my aunts and mom scoop heaps of it into the corners of plates after mounds of rice and adobo and lumpia, as if it were an afterthought. It often winds up atop some rice or near the chocolate meat (not ever gonna post a recipe for that here, sorry).  It’s so easy to make, I’m not sure how it made its way into this blog.  But not one to ever resist an opportunity to pun, this recipe proves you don’t need to be a jedi knight to make ube.

You need three ingredients:

1 lb purple yam, grated and mashed which you can buy frozen in Asian grocery stores

1 can condensed milk

1/4 c. melted butter

You mix all three over medium heat until the whole liquidy things turns into a solid purple jammy consistency.

That’s it.  It’s almost as easy as converting oxygen into carbon dioxide.  But then you can make amazing things like:



Carrot Cake


The state of denial should be our 51st state.  It is our most populous state and one frequented by nearly all of us, some daring to never leave.  Because once you do, you will be sure to return.  You see, denial is the thing that allows us to get out of bed in the morning and to proceed with our day thinking that we will be productive, make a difference and have a profound effect on the world around us.  It is the thing that allows us to act within the confines of the law, and allows government and societies to function. Without it, our lives would come to a grinding halt as we all come to the collective realization that the world and most of its inhabitants are really a bunch of amoral craptards and we are all hurtling towards certain doom.

I’ve just finished an hour of exercise, so forgive the stream of consciousness rant.  I didn’t take a breath while composing this witty prose (denial, again).

Carrot cake is one such example of denial.  It’s got eggs and nuts (protein), carrots for beta carotene and better vision, raisins have fiber.  What could possibly be wrong with carrot cake?   Ignore the 2 cups of sugar and 1+ cup of oil and extend your stay in the state of denial.  All are welcome.


2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 c grated carrots, approx 1 pound
1 c sweet flaked coconut
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt pan.  Set aside
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil, and eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the carrots, raisins, walnuts, and the 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.


Carrot cake, pre-icing

carrot cakeNot as pretty as Nothing Bundt Cake, but close enough

Apple Tart


Has it really been a month since I blogged?  YES.  It was a very eventful October.  Between moving the little guy to a new school–yup, that happened–more on that later and then the gnarly cold and canker sores brought on by the stress of said events–’twas a busy month. I know that was one long run-on sentence but it’s felt like one long run-on month.  And as for the school thing–let’s just say that JJ and the old school were like a pair of mismatched shoes and after much heartache and deliberation (all on our part, the kid was oblivious–he went to one school Friday and another on Monday with nary a reaction) we decided to change shoes one month into the school year .  So far, best parenting decision.  Ever.

I first fell in love with Apple Hill in 2009 when we went with some friends and I bought freshly pressed apple cider.  And apple fritters.  With nuts.  Without nuts.  Apple doughnuts.  All apples, all day.

Actually, I fell in love with Apple Hill at this very moment.


It was a cold morning in early November, 2009 and you can feel the hint of frost while still being able to pick apples right off the tree.  This is one of the many reasons I love living in California.  You drive a couple of hours and you hit mountains and pick apples.  Another hour or so, you get snow.  And you turn around, drive another few hours and surf.  I am very lucky I get to experience this interesting and complex array of microclimates and geographies–all breathtaking.

This past week-end, we once again made the 140+ mile and 2-hour trek to Placerville to meet up with some old friends and even though the weather was close to being unbearably hot, it was still a great time.  It’s hard to get one’s brain wrapped around the warmth of braised stews and hearty apple pies to ward off a chilly fall evening when it’s 86 degrees out.  But still, it was nice to labor under the delusion of fall when you’re in the midst of apple orchards.

There are about 12 pounds of apples of different varieties on the kitchen counter so I decided to put a dent in it by making an easy apple tart. Tarts are beautiful, tasty and so very easy because of my new culinary BFF, the puff pastry. Puff pastry is good for both savory and sweet dishes–they are my go to for tea parties, breakfasts (see post on Panera souffle) and desserts. They’re versatile, cheap and readily available.

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
4 small (6 ounce) Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
3/4 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares. Divide the pastry between the prepared sheet pans and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.

Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples across the pastry and place one slice of apple on each side of the arranged slices. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and dot them with the butter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. When the tarts are done, heat the apricot jelly until runny and brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly. Loosen the tarts with a metal spatula so they don’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.




Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich


Today was one of those days that was bad when it started and got worse as it progressed. I dropped off J at school so it was a good beginning.

“J, can I hold your hand?” I asked as we were walking from the car to the drop off point where the kids meet up with the teachers. “Or do you just want me to let go because you’re a big boy now?”

“No, I’m not that big yet Mommy. You can still hold my hand.”

My heart melted.

The day turned to pot after that with one setback after another–stuck in traffic, unproductive meetings, poorly hatched decisions, etc, etc. But when I take life and work too seriously, as I sometimes tend to do, I take a step back and write. I write about what I felt, I write about why that feeling and what created it. This is a good exercise because as my friend Jim likes to say, “Feel the feeling, don’t be the feeling.” This is not always an easy distinction for me especially when my instinct is to eat through my feelings as I imagine coming home, sitting in front of the TV and devouring a juicy bacon cheeseburger and salty chili fries. But I remember when I weighed 60 pounds heavier and all the feelings were stuck underneath all that food so I exercise restraint.

Today, however, was a day for ice cream sandwiches. Homemade ones with oatmeal and dried cranberry cookies and vanilla bean ice cream. There are days when being decadent is not only completely warranted, it’s necessary. And it’s OK so long as it’s one ice cream sandwich and not one per hour.

1 generous scoop vanilla bean ice cream
2 oatmeal dried cranberry cookies
1 T chopped peanuts

Scoop ice cream between the bottoms of 2 cookies. Roll sides on a plate of chopped peanuts. Freeze for about 30 minutes or until firm. Enjoy after aforementioned horrible day.





Friends and I decided to end the work week with Happy Hour at this upscale, fake Singaporean lounge/restaurant called Straits in Burlingame.  You may have heard of it? Skinny Eurasian girls in short white flowy dresses and legs that go ON serving drinks and rendering short, stubby girls like me speechless and a tiny bit jealous…Yeah, THAT Straits.  Anywhoo, I had to procure some shredded phyllo because I vowed never to feel that insecure about being 5’3″ and chubby again.  So I had to recreate this dessert we sampled, banana wrapped in shredded phyllo, if anything to not have to return to Straits and stand next to Leggy McCleavage.

One week-end, I did some research (Google) and found out that shredded phyllo was in fact called Kataifi and commonly used in Greek and Mediterranean desserts.  One of the reasons I love living in the Bay Area is the diversity in our communities, hence our food.  I found my magic ingredient at Crossroads World Market, this awesome ethnic market less than 7 miles from my house and stocked with jams, greek yogurts, a salad bar with a bounty of gold raisins, dates, dolmas and other beautiful and tasty Middle Eastern eats.

My fatty fat arse is in trouble.

imageAt $3/box for the kafaidi, and cheap for such an awesome find, I also got some Greek yogurt, puff pastry, almond cookies, dolmas and some Russian beer.   (Bet your thought bubble says, “No wonder’s she’s chubs!”)  There are aisles of fragrant teas, cookies, candies from parts I didn’t quite know because I don’t read ‘world’–they came from all over–and cheese and feta and wines and pita breads, lavash, jams and tahinis.image


imageAnd yes, we tried our hand at bananas wrapped in kataifi and it looked like this.

imageIt did not go well.  We had a great time though, perusing the aisles at Crossroads, buying up jams and candies, the ingredients of which were completely unknown to us so we basically didn’t know what we were eating.  And then breaking into uncontrollable fits of laughter when we finally fished out this sad mess of a banana that looked like a bald guy whose blonde toupee refused to stay on.

Go visit Crossroads.  Great market, with tons of variety and reasonable prices and friendly staff.  Pro tip: check out that fresh and insanely thick and rich Greek yogurt that you can turn into this