Earl Grey Tea Sugar Cookies

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I can’t stop browsing the web. There are too many lovely Christmas posts, especially about holiday cookies! There are cookie swaps, cookie parties, cookie goodie bags, cookies cookies cookies everywhere! It’s my favorite time of the year.

Here are some that I particularly love:

I’m literally swimming in beautifully photographed posts of holiday treats. And I won’t have it any other way. These posts are inspirations, both for recipes, food styling, and food photography. Well, here’s my little contribution: earl grey tea sugar cookies. A little twist on a classic holiday treat. For fun, I crushed up some candy canes and sprinkled it on half of the sugar cookies.

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This little dog here? This formed, magically, from the scrapping after cutting out cookies. It almost resembles my dog Annie.

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There’s a little bit of a resemblance right?

I found these cookie cutters from Target. ‘Tis the season!
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Earl Grey tea sugar cookies-3Last week I volunteered for a children’s holiday party at work. It was lovely and I was overwhelmed by the cuteness of the toddlers. I can’t wait to roll out sugar cookies during Christmas time with my future kids. :).

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Save the scraps – you can reform and roll out again!

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The trip to soft and chewy sugar cookies is to undercook it a little. You want just the edges to be lightly golden brown.

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Bourbon Rose Caramels

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It’s the middle of December, and it’s almost that time of here when you start thinking about your past year’s events and the next year’s resolutions. Every year, I start a list of ambitious resolutions, but I almost always forget them. They’re also very generic: exercise more, be nice to people, work hard, waste less time. Generic, non specific, unachievable goals. Ok, maybe not unachievable, but I think I need more specific goals. I recently started reading a book called The Happiness Project, in which the author, Gretchen Rubin, decides to be happier by creating monthly goals that are realistic and doable. I think that’s a great idea, and while I don’t think I can set monthly goals, I do think starting off with a realistic goal might just be that first baby step to larger ones. For me, I started to consciously drink 1.5 liters of water a day. I know the recommended value is more than that, but I already drink water throughout the day – I just never kept track of it. I have this water bottle that is 0.75 liters. During work, I will have to make sure that I drink two full bottles a day.

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I’ll let you know how that goes. Back to this year. I got married this past year in June – probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. :). The reason i started thinking about this is that when I was planning (back in 2013), I wanted to do everything DIY. I did my own save-the-dates and invites, did a set of our own engagement photos, did my own flowers with my sister, did my own party favors. However, I quickly realized that I could not do everything DIY, unless I wanted to resemble a dehydrated scarecrow with my eyebrows permanently scrunched up in the middle before my wedding day. I did not, so I learned to delegate. I learned to take a step back and trust that whatever I choose will still contribute to a very personal, very Betty + Alex wedding. Oh the memories – watching Gilmore Girls while painstakingly cutting out cardstock on the floor with my large cutting mat and exacto knife from my architecture days; waiting anxiously for my stamps to arrive so I could quickly factory-style stamp my way through invites; forcing Alex to double-lick all the envelopes to ensure complete seals. It was a stressful time but also a very fun one :).

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Anyways, my yen for DIY didn’t end with the wedding. I still love to make my own cards. My biggest DIY hobby is probably this food blog. Making food, styling it, photographing it all myself. This year, I decided to make these bourbon rose caramels to give out to my dear friends. They’re soft, chewy, and have a deliciously subtle bourbon taste. The rose adds a subtle floral tone to it, making it a little more complex than a simple caramel. I wrapped them individually with parchment paper and will be handing these out like it’s Halloween again :).

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RECIPE: Bourbon Rose Caramels

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp butter (divided into 2 tbsp each, cut into small cubes)
2 tbsp good bourbon
1/2 tsp. flaky sea salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbs rose syrup

Directions

1| Heat the heavy cream, 2 tbsp butter in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan until it just boils. Cover and keep warm.
2| Line 8×8 pan with 2 long sheets of parchment paper, crisscrossed. Set aside. Prepare all ingredients.
3| Fit a heavy bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer. Add the corn syrup and sugar and heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until it reaches a dark, amber color, (8-10 min) swirling pan if necessary, as little as possible.
4| When it reaches 310F, remove from heat and gradually stir in warm cream mixture. It will bubble a lot, so please be prepared! Watch out for steam!!! Once it is completely incorporated, return to heat and cook to 248F.
5| Turn off heat, remove the thermometer, and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp butter, bourbon, sea salt, and rose syrup, if using. Pour mixture into your prepared 8×8 pan. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with more sea salt, if desired. Stick in fridge and let cool, 1 hour. Remove caramels by lifting both sides of the parchment paper. Invert onto another sheet of parchment paper and peel off original parchment paper. Using a very sharp and well oiled knife, slice caramels, 1″ pieces. Wrap in parchment paper, cellophane, or wax paper and store :).

*Remember to oil your knife after each cut :).

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Black Pepper Apple Hand Pies

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The countdown to Christmas has started. I’m almost embarrassed that I don’t have anything remotely Christmas related on the blog (yet), but that passed in almost 1 second. Because I have these lovely black pepper apple hand pies to present to you. I can make these relevant to the times- just watch: Apple pie is universal. Pies are made for holidays. Now they’re made into teeny tiny cute hand pies so everyone can have their individual portion. Multiple people = a party. A party in December = holiday part. So, these pies are holiday party pies!!!

I’m actually not kidding. I’ve brought these to parties, and they were a HIT. I just love pairing sweet with savory flavors. I always go to apple for pies, because they really are universal, but I decided I wanted to do something different with them. I’ve added bourbon to these before. I’ve added caramel. I’ve added cranberries to make a cran-apple pie. This time, I decided to play with the crust to add a subtle kick to it! It’s lovely!!! Also, Tasting Table regrammed these for one of their Follow Fridays on instagram. Isn’t that amazing or what? I practically fainted from fangirl overdose.

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December is such a busy month. I have a whole list – literally a 6″ long in my tiny handwriting, of baking projects I wanted to put together for you all! However, time just flows out of my fingers like when you scoop up sand. From engagement shoots to just planning our honeymoon (NEW ZEALAND TICKETS BOOKED!!!), I just haven’t found time to break out my new holiday cookie cutters and get making. I promise I will soon :). For now, please enjoy these hand pies.

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Matcha Green Tea Latte

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Hi everyone! Julie from The Feed Feed, a wonderful community and resource, asked me to help curate a matcha feed – you can check it out here. I had a really difficult time choosing which matcha product to include in the feed – I honestly wanted to choose them all!! The Feedfeed community is incredibly talented – I know where I’ll be going for inspiration!

For now, I’m going to continue with the matcha obsession and offer this simple recipe for matcha green tea latte. I used honey as a sweetener, because I choose honey over sugar any day of the week

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Matcha is a Japanese green tea that is ground into a powder form. It is said to have numerous health benefits, partly due to the fact that when we drink this tea, we drink the entire leaf instead of just the water brewed from the leaf. I personally love drinking matcha in any form – by itself, in a latte, or in hot chocolate. It’s also one of my go-to flavors for baking, and apparently everyone loves it as well!

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RECIPE: Matcha Green Tea Latte

I do not have a milk frother, but you can buy one for 2.50 at Ikea here. I didn’t want to wait until I had a chance to go get one, so I just whisked by hand :). Sometimes you just use what you have. I still remember when I was in college without any form of electric mixer, but I desperately wanted to make whipped cream for something, probably a pie. So I braced myself, turned on Gilmore Girls, and whipped the heck out of that heavy cream. Trust me, your arms get strong!

Ingredients
2 tbsp matcha powder
1.5 tbsp just boiling water – do not get a rolling boil, otherwise the matcha will be too bitter
1 tsp honey
3/4 -1 cup whole milk (I used 3/4 cup because I wanted more of the matcha taste)

Directions
1| Whisk matcha with hot water. Whisk in honey. Whisk whisk whisk until foamy. Set aside in cup, or two cups.
2| Heat milk in a small pan until it just boils – do not let it actually boil. Whisk or use a milk frother until foamy.
3| Pour foamy milk into matcha mixture. Whisk or froth some more. Sprinkle with some matcha powder.

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Matcha Vertical Cake Roll

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We’ve all had swiss rolls before – pumpkin rolls, strawberry cake rolls, and my favorite, matcha cake rolls. Now, I’m not cake decorator or even baker – I admit it: I’m terrified of making cakes. Crumb coats, frosting, just baking the cake right… there’s a million steps to perfecting layer cakes. On my wish list is this book by Linda Lomelino, because who can resist good photography, pretty cakes, and instructions on how to bake a cake?

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So I turn to the cake roll. Instead of the normal way to roll this cake, I rolled it vertically. It’s a fancy (ish) way to say that I cut it into strips and kept on rolling so it became a big wheel of cake and whipped cream. Then I just turned it on its side so that the swirls are facing up. I’m doing a horrible job of explaining this. One day, I will make a step by step photos post. I promise!! For now, hopefully these photos will help you get a sense of what it looks like.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers: Garlic Turkey Miso Ramen

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I for one am in a perpetual food coma. We had the whole turkey/stuffing/pie ordeal, then we had sushi the next day for lunch. I still feel like I’m recovering. However, the irrational eating doesn’t stop after Thanksgiving is over. Nope – I’ve got to find ways to use up all the leftover turkey, vegetable, and salted duck. That’s right – salted duck. My father-in-law has a specialty, which is NanJing salted duck, and he had to make us one for us to eat after he left. So now in addition to a bunch of leftover turkey, we have a whole salted duck. Yum, but what do I do with it?

One thing at a time. I decided some comfort food was needed after hosting, entertaining family, and cooking a big Thanksgiving meal. Plus, it’s about 20 degrees outside, so soup noodles were a must. I fried up the turkey with some garlic to crisp it up, then made ramen in a dashi miso soup to go with it. Baby bok choy and soft-hard boiled egg optional.

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Cranberry Orange Zest Ice Cream

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Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I was going to do a post on meatballs, but with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I decided to share this cranberry orange zest ice cream with you instead. I’m the type of person who only eats turkey with gravy. No cranberry sauce, no matter how delicious the sauce is. I like turkey and gravy. That’s it. However, I do still love cranberries and how representative of the holidays they are. They are tart and bright in both color and taste. How could I NOT do something with cranberries? I’ve shared a cranberry apple pie, and today I’d like to share with you cranberry orange zest ice cream. I use a standard custard base and an ice cream maker. I really love how bright this ice cream is – I don’t know how else to describe it! Try it out. There’s always a way to incorporate cranberries in your meal :).

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It’s Tuesday. I’m taking the time to relax. To take a step back and just do normal things (like blogging). To not think about the impending hours in the kitchen. To sip on some good green tea and just take a deep breath. I tend to pack my schedule very tightly and end up feeling winded. I have to forcibly remind myself to take a moment for myself. I’ve started the dry brine, drawn up my complicated chart of oven temperatures. I think the rest of the preparation can wait until tomorrow. Wednesday. Thanksgiving Eve.

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