Caramelized Shrimp Tacos + Monterrey, Mexico trip

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What foods come up in your mind when summer finally starts? For me, it’s ice cream, grilled vegetables, salads, berry pies, cocktails, and tacos. Tacos are such an outdoor food, don’t you think? I still remember the best taco experience I’ve ever had: cabrito tacos and pork tacos in Monterrey, Mexico. Alex and I flew down to Monterrey to attend Sam Hurd’s workshop. You can read about our experience here. Naturally, I wanted to try as many local foods as possible. Surprisingly (or not), I spotted familiar chain restaurants such as Chilis and Applebees! Alex and I avoided these restaurants. They aren’t even restaurants we’d go to in America, so why waste our time there in Mexico?

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Lavender Honey Peach Buttermilk Pie

peachbuttermilkpie coverWhat a mouthful. Lavender honey peach buttermilk pie. What can I say? I love putting together different flavors, and honey and lavender are just subtle enough to be placed with peach. This custard pie is sweet, refreshing, and permeated with the peach flavor. Topped with a greek yogurt cream and honeycomb, I can almost say it’s healthy. Well, not really, but the point is, it’s not exactly the most unhealthy dessert right? I used lavender as a secondary taste, and it worked out really well in this pie. Lavender can often be an overpowering flavor, so I ground it up with sugar – think of it as using a lavender scented sugar, if you will. The point is, it’s August. Peaches are ripe. Go pick some peaches. And make this pie.  Continue reading

Lemon Blueberry tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

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I made this for a friend’s birthday party last week, and I’ll be making this for a work barbecue potluck next wednesday. With blueberries abound both in grocery stores and the farmers markets, it’d be a shame not to incorporate them into some sort of dessert. Fruit tarts have always been a favorite of mine. I know I’ve announced my love for pies over and over again, but chilled fruit tarts, especially in the summer, are a close second. It’s the crumbly crust paired with chilled vanilla pastry cream and topped with fresh fruit. Blueberries are (in my opinion) a superb choice because they are not too sweet and not too tangy. In fact, I remember years and years ago, when I was taking my SATs, my parents told me to bring blueberries, because they were “smart foods”. Ok. I know that’s nonsense and that blueberries will not suddenly boost my mental intelligence, but there was something comforting about bringing fresh blueberries as a snack during break. I still bring blueberries to work as a snack :).

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Strawberry blueberry basil pie

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Everyone knows that I love pies. So much, in fact, that we had pies in lieu of cakes at our wedding!!

I love the warm buttery crust that breaks apart at the slightest touch of your fork. I crave the burst of tartness and sweetness with the first bite. I find it hard to restrain myself from diving in right when it comes out of the oven – but I must remind myself to let it cool, to let the filling set. If you think I have a hard time with this, you should watch my husband! When I make apple pie, there’s no stopping him! I recently started my own little potted herb corner in my apartment. I have basil, thai basil, and mint. I decided to combine the flavors of blueberry, strawberry, and basil together to form a pie, and here is the verdict: This flavor combination is delicious! There’s the sugary sweetness of strawberries with the tarty sweetness of blueberries.  For a future pie I think I will try just blueberries and see how that works out. I’m going to pat myself on the back and say that basil is a fantastic herb to pair with this pie. I’m all for the underlying subtle flavors, and this pie definitely provided.

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pizza topped with prosciutto, goat cheese, caramelized onion, and roasted cherry tomato

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This is possibly the best combination of toppings a pizza can ever have. After the first bite, I knew that this was the pizza. The sweetness of the caramelized onions pairs perfectly with the goat cheese and crispy prosciutto. The roasted cherry tomatoes underscore the simple marinara base sauce on top of the pizza. The basil gives it a subtle freshness. This pizza is killing me! I wanted to eat more but I had to share it with my husband. This pizza is not too greasy, not too cheesy, and not too salty – the perfect pizza. Let me present: prosciutto with goat cheese, caramelized onion, and roasted tomato pizza.

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Earl Grey Macarons – Nut Free

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A fact about me: I am allergic to tree nuts. I’ve never paid much attention to this and simply dismissed the foods I could not eat, even though my friends would always lament when they discover I can’t eat Nutella, honey roasted almonds, carrot cake, or Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Honestly, I don’t remember what nuts taste like, so I just laugh and pretend to sympathize with them… for myself. However, the real challenge came when French macarons became wildly popular: cute, meringue-like cookies sandwiching buttercream in flavors from grapefruit to lavender. The dessert-addict inside myself screamed at me to risk it and just take a bite! However, the minute I even step into a Ladurée store, I start to react. So, when I was with my friends in New York and Paris, I lounged awkwardly outside the store, eyeing the long queue of fashionable women, trying to seem nonchalant about one more pastry I cannot eat.

I should explain. French macarons are made with almond flour. Please don’t ask me why – I think all purpose flour will glutenize or something like that. There are many articles online about this issue. The point is, I can’t be too close to those cookies. I can hold a box with the macarons safely stored inside, but put me in a Ladurée store with almond flour floating in the air? Nope. Since two years ago, I’ve been wanting to take a crack at nut-free macarons. I scoured the internet and discovered that pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds can be used as a substitute. The online consensus seems to be that pumpkin seeds have the least flavor when used as a replacement. My sister Lucy (who is also my identical twin and is a phenomenal baker – she should really start a food blog) recently mastered the art of the macarons, so I implored her to teach me how. Finally, after two years of dredging up the courage, I made nut-free macarons.

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Homemade Challah

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Whenever I even attempt a low carb diet, I cave to bread. Bread is one of those foods that I can never ever cut out of my diet. I made this bread with ulterior motives. I really wanted to use it for french toast. Since I was too lazy to go to the store to pick up some challah or brioche, I decided to try my  hand at making bread. After it came out of the oven, though, I could barely stop myself from gobbling it all down! This bread is delicious!!!!!! Also, I braided bread. Isn’t that cool?

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