Custard, floral, fruit, Places, Recipes, Tropical

Welcoming Spring: Flowerbomb Verrine

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Today is the first day of Spring, and while you could hardly even tell Winter came to Southern California this year, I still anticipate the sunshine and flowers and general sense of renewal that comes with this season. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, nor have I ever been the type to keep them, but there’s something about Springtime that just makes me want to make everything better: my life, my health, and my overall happiness. Lately I’ve noticed that I haven’t quite been myself and things have been very… off. So while I won’t go too far into personal details here, I’ve resolved to fix that, albeit slowly, as well. Baby steps.

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Yesterday was my day off and since the hubby was at work, I took a nice, quiet stroll through the San Juan Capistrano Farmer’s Market, which was a mere 10 minutes from our home. While the farmer’s market itself was small, downtown SJC during the daytime is always a bustling place, filled with rich history and culture. It happens to be my favorite place to relax; there are antique shops and little markets and boutiques all without the LA prices, so if you’re ever in South Orange County, I highly recommend stopping by. I got the lovely mix of flowers in the picture above for $4 at the market. Aren’t they stunning??

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For a while I’ve wanted to come up with a very floral dessert, and yesterday I finally decided what I wanted to make: something with very simple components, but bursting with the flavors of Spring. I made a verrine with a Honey Panna Cotta, a Feijoa and Strawberry Rope, and a Lavender Broth, and garnished it all with some edible pansies. For the panna cotta I used local honey made from avocado blossoms: while it’s not quite as floral as say, an orange blossom honey, it’s very buttery, which combines really well with the already rich and creamy dessert. For the rope, I used very ripe feijoas and wild strawberries. Feijoas are also known as pineapple guavas; they have all the tropical notes that pineapples and guavas have, but the meat is smooth and more creamy than it is tart. The rope gives the dish a nice fruity pop when you take a bite. The lavender broth combined with the feijoa strawberry rope cut into the richness of the panna cotta really well, and make for a dish that swells with springtime goodness. Basically, I want to jar it and use it as perfume.

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Flowerbomb Verrine

For Honey Panna Cotta:

Makes 3 verrines

165 g heavy cream

20 g granulated sugar

20 g honey

3 g granular gelatin

15 g cold water

Bloom your gelatin in your cold water and set aside. In a small pot, combine heavy cream, sugar, and honey and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat and stir in bloomed gelatin until completely melted. Let mixture cool a little, then carefully pour into verrines. To achieve the tilted glass look that I have in my pictures, I set my glasses into the wells of a large muffin pan, and tilted them slightly to the side while ensuring they have enough support to stay tilted when filled, then filled them just under half-way. Chill panna cottas overnight.

For Feijoa Strawberry Rope:

90 g Feijoas, ripe, trimmed and seeded

45 g strawberries, trimmed and quartered

150 g granulated sugar

2 g granular gelatin

10 g warm water

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Bloom your gelatin in cold water, set aside. In a small pot, combine Feijoas, strawberries, and sugar, and bring to a boil. While stirring, let mixture boil until fruit has softened and broken down considerably, and sugar syrup reduces (I brought the entire mixture to 110C). Stir in your bloomed gelatin until it has melted completely, then remove from heat and stir in your lime juice. Blend the entire mixture together until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve onto a lined sheet pan. Discard any pulp, and cover and chill the puree overnight. The next day, scrape puree (it should be firmer and more like a paste by now) into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Ateco #801). Keep cold.

For Lavender Broth:

1 Tablespoon dried Lavender buds

30 g sugar

230 g water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 drops purple color (if desired)

Combine lavender buds, sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a saucepot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and chill overnight. The next day, strain out buds and add color if desired. Carefully pour into verrines with chilled panna cotta, and then pipe Feijoa strawberry paste into a long rope around verrines. Garnish with edible flowers if desired.

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Breakfast, Cake, fruit, Places, Recipes

Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Doughnuts

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So, I’m a thief. Kinda. As in, I totally didn’t come up with this idea myself, I saw it somewhere else. But hey, they say imitation is the best form of flattery, right? When I was a kid, Good Humor’s Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar happened to be one of my favorite ice creams growing up.

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Yeah, you know the one. So when I heard there was a bakery in LA (a cute one, at that) that made doughnuts resembling a favorite childhood treat, I decided to make the trip on my next day off to check it out. And it was good! It was good, BUT, Lord knows I don’t have the funds to drive down to LA every time I crave that cakey goodness. I had to figure out how to make it myself, from the comfort of my own home.

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Essentially what I did was find a basic cake doughnut recipe and adjusted it so I could get something closest to what I thought would do proper homage to the ice cream itself. After a few failed attempts (who knew doughnut batter could be so taxing??) I finally rendered a recipe I liked, nay, ENJOYED, and am thoroughly pleased with the results. The hubby ate two of them right after I finished taking these pictures, so I’m gonna go ahead and say he enjoyed them too!

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Progress pics! Crushing the freeze-dried strawberries, the finished strawberry streusel, and the batter after I piped it into my oiled pan. Since I’m not quite ready to invest in a doughnut mold, I used a silicon savarin mold that I already had at home. The results were exactly what I wanted them to be, so money saved on my side!

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Needless to say, I am very happy with the results and this little adventure was a very refreshing break from all the European-style desserts I make at work (tons of fluff, or as a dear friend of mine calls it, “floofsy”). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some indulging to do!

Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Doughnuts

makes 8 (2.5″) doughnuts

For doughnuts:

135 g All Purpose flour

5 g baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

110 g granulated sugar

10 g freeze-dried strawberries, crushed

108 g sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

50 g egg (1 large)

30 g butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl,ย  whisk together your flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until there are no lumps. Stir in your crushed freeze-dried strawberries. Make sure there are no large pieces of strawberry, as they will become chewy once baked. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla extract, almond extract, egg, and melted butter until smooth. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry, then gently fold the two just until the batter comes together. It is very important that you not overmix the batter because there is a lot of flour, so be careful! Fill a piping bag with your batter and pipe into an oiled doughnut pan or savarin mold, filling them 2/3 full. Bake in your preheated oven for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of your doughnuts comes out clean. Note that my baking time may be slightly longer than yours if you didn’t use a silicon mold, so feel free to peek in the oven as it gets closer to that 20 minute mark! Let doughnuts cool completely before removing them from your pan.

For Strawberry Streusel:

18 g granulated sugar

15 g brown sugar

108 g butter, cold, diced in 1/2″ cubes

148 g All Purpose flour

13 g freeze-dried strawberries, crushed finely

Preheat your oven to 340F. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine granulated sugar with brown sugar and cold diced butter. Paddle until cubes of butter have broken up, then slowly add your flour. Mix until all the ingredients start to come together and form pea-sized lumps. Dump streusel onto a sheet pan lined with a silicon mat, spread out evenly onto sheet pan, and bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then stir around with a spatula and bake another 10 minutes or until streusel is an even golden brown color. Let cool completely, then pour into a large bowl and toss with crushed freeze-dried strawberries. Use your fingers to toss around and break apart any large lumps.

For Doughnut Icing:

124 g powdered sugar

15 g water

1 g almond extract

Stir together all 3 ingredients until icing is smooth and fluid. This icing is basically just a glue that helps the strawberry streusel to adhere to the doughnut, so no need to double glaze or anything of that sort (unless you like your doughnuts super sweet, then feel free!). Take 1 doughnut and dunk the top half into your icing, let any excess drip off or scrape excess icing off along the side of your bowl, then quickly dunk it into your streusel. Repeat this process with each of your doughnuts, and let icing set before digging in. Have fun!

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Cake, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookies, Custard, DIY, fruit, Petit Four, Places, Wedding

Wedded Bliss Part 4: The Cake, The Day

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After over a year of planning, last Saturday Robert and I finally got married! A couple of hours ago we just got back from our amazing honeymoon (woot Vegas!) so now I finally have some time to show you guys a couple of pictures. I’m not going to post up too many pictures just because the photographers we hired need a couple more weeks before all the images are edited, but I just wanna give you guys a taste of our special day.

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Macaron craziness. I made roughly 400 macarons to give as our favors for our guests. Soo much effort but it was totally worth it! Each person got a raspberry lychee rose macaron, a hazelnut caramel macaron, and a dark chocolate, olive oil, and fleur de sel macaron.

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All packaged and ready to go! Because of the massive number that I had to make and how tiny our apartment is, I would say this was more than a challenge, but it all worked out in the end. I also had some help from the hubby with packaging them ๐Ÿ™‚

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Trying to Tetris the tiers of our cake into our fridge. The cake was literally the easiest part of the wedding planning. For a long time I already knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to look, and it definitely helped that I build wedding cakes at work all the time.

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The finished cake: coconut sponge cake, lemon curd filling, and Italian buttercream. We had one of Robert’s friends help us deliver the cake and stack it the morning of, so that was a good amount of weight off of our shoulders and it turned out looking just as awesome as I imagined. I love how rustic and homemade (but also clean and finished) it looks.

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Cutting into our cake. The gumpaste peonies held up throughout delivery and the day of, so I’m pretty proud of that as well.

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Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed my little post about our big day. The weather was amazing, the food was amazing, and the entire day couldn’t have been any better. I am now happily married to the most amazing man I’ve ever met, and looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with him. While I didn’t get a chance to post about some of the other wedding-related crafts I made (our guest book, our painting, the chair hangs, etc.) hopefully you all got a good taste of what went on during these “Wedded Bliss” posts. Love you guys, and thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Home, Places, Wedding

Wedded Bliss Part 1: The Move

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So, I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, but Robert and I finally moved in together! Yayy! The last 2 weeks or so we’ve been trying to settle into our new apartment in beautiful Laguna Niguel, CA. As our wedding day nears, you can expect quite a few posts about crafts I may be doing for the wedding or test runs that I’m doing for the cake, and maybe a random post here or there on something I’m interested in at the moment.

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And as for our new place, Robert and I both love it. We’re just 5 miles from the beach, and it happens to be gorgeous so we’re pretty happy about that as well. And guess what else?

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We finally have our own kitchen! Yayy! No more worrying about random roommates stealing my food or getting in the way of Robert’s family when I cook in their kitchen, haha. I know it’s tiny, but it’s amazingly freeing to finally have one of my own. Right after we moved, the kitchen was the first thing I set up; there was no way I was unpacking for anything else!

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AAND yesterday I finally finished unpacking and organizing all my craft stuff. I also took my VERY old wood laminate desk (I’ve had it since I was in elementary school!) and sanded it down, painted it an off-white color, and changed out the drawer pulls to something more antique-looking to give it a cute shabby-chic look. After looking over and over for a new and affordable desk (ha) I thought that this was probably the best solution for a tight wallet, and I think I was right!

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Cute, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little blip about a new stage in my life and the life of my future husband. Expect more posts about the wedding, and happy blogging!

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Art, Crafts, Places

Beachy Keen

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I don’t think I could ever live anywhere but southern California. I would just miss the beaches, the people, everything, way too much. All summer Robert and I have been hopping to different beaches; Corona del Mar, Huntington, Encinitas, all just a drive away. And it never gets boring.

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Another view of the waters of Corona del Mar.

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And another painting by yours truly. It turned out a tad more cutesy than I would have wanted at first, but hey, I’m working on it! Still like it though, haha.

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Keep swimming and you’ll get there, friend….

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DIY, Fashion, Places, Sewing

Maxi Dress and a Day with the Fiance

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Since work has been getting a tad stressful lately, I’ve been looking for any excuse to get out of the house or to atย  least spend some time for myself and Robert. A few days ago I finished sewing a maxi dress, and since today was my day off (finally!!) I wanted to take it out for a spin, and what better place than the beach?

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It was a bit windy, yes haha. A lot of inspiration came from this ($3,000!!!) Chloe dress, but I chose a slightly bolder print and avoided the sheer overlay fabric. Robert and I are becoming regulars at the local swap meet, and I jumped for joy when I saw this fabric; for 6 bucks it was a pretty good steal.

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We paid a visit to Baguetier because I wanted to try out their raspberry rose croissant, which I’m sure is a take on Pierre Herme’s gorgeous Croissant Ispahan. It was pretty damn good too, although I would have wanted the rose flavour to be a tad more pronounced. Still totally worth the money, I’d say.

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Overall, it was a pretty amazing day. Tomorrow we plan on going to the fair, so here’s hoping your weekend is as good as (if not better) than mine!

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Dinner, lunch, Places

Epic Meal and a Trip to the Beach

I’ve really only ever bought one thing from Williams-Sonoma, but for at least a year now they’ve continued to send me catalogs. Usually I would quickly flip through the magazine, sigh, and look at things I wish I could afford. This time though, they didn’t skimp on the recipes, so I decided to try one out and see how it went. Today Robert and I made Pasta alla Carbonara, which turned out to be simple but very flavorful.

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The ingredients: Pecorino Romano, pancetta, eggs, spaghetti, and olive oil.

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Frying the pancetta until golden brown

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The results. Did not skimp on the extra pecorino and red pepper flakes! This was a really good recipe, and even though it had eggs, pork, and pasta, did not feel heavy at all, which I definitely liked.

After eating, we spent the rest of the day at the beach, admiring the (surprisingly!) good weather.

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One good thing about living in Orange County is that you’re always minutes from the ocean.

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After a long work week, a trip to the water is just what we needed (:

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