Chinese/American Thanksgiving 2014

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I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner for the past two years, for friends. As someone living far from home (all the way across the country), I usually am not home for Thanksgiving. Thankfully, I am able to celebrate with my friends. Last year, I had my first year as a hostess for Thanksgiving. The previous year before that was a potluck, so it was a little different. I went crazy. I had excel spreadsheets of oven temperatures, times, and what I can do on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of that week. It was crazy, but it worked. This year, Alex’s family is coming over (yay!!!), which means the pressure is on. Sort of – not really, because I know they would love anything that we make. I decided to put together a Chinese-American fusion Thanksgiving. I did a “Friendsgiving” a couple of weeks ago with a sampler of the food I’d planned to make for Thanksgiving. I think it turned out well :).Recipes linked!! *In my Friendsgiving 2014, I made a chicken instead of turkey, using the same seasonings and flavoring :). I’ll be making a real turkey for the real day, though!

Thanksgiving 2014 Menu

Butternut squash soup
Fall Harvest Roasted Vegetables
Scallion Pancakes
Tangerine Kale Massaged Salad
Maple Cinnamon Oat Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Chinese Sticky Rice (No Mi Fan)
Sichuan Fried Green Beans (Si Ji Dou)
Balsamic Roasted Tomato and Carrot Cobbler topped with Cornbread Gruyere Biscuits
Citrus Herb de Provence Turkey with gravy
Apple Cranberry Pie
Browned Butter Pumpkin Pie

How does that sound? :)thanksgiving2014-5 copy

Maple Cinnamon Oat Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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I don’t particularly like melted marshmallows (gasp!!!). When we went camping or just sit around the fireplace with marshmallows on sticks in our hands, I’m enthusiastic about the ritual of toasting marshmallows, but I never really chomped down with eagerness. However, I just LOVE sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, topped with marshmallows. The way the marshmallows melt with the mashed sweet potatoes speaks to me the way toasted marshmallows never will. This is something I came up with last year, and it was a huge success! It consists of mashed roasted sweet potatoes, maple syrup, granola, and brown sugar. Crunchy, and healthy (except for the marshmallows, but honestly, you can omit this if you want). I tell myself that this is healthy because there are oats in this dish! Don’t tell me otherwise please.

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RECIPE: Maple Cinnamon Oat Mashed Sweet Potato

Ingredients
3 lbs sweet potato
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

SWEET POTATO:
1| Preheat oven to 400F
2| Place potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 min to 1 hour, until fork tender. Cool. Reduce temperature to 350F. Meanwhile, make topping – mix the below ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Oats topping
1.5 cup homemade granola (or store bought)
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
mini marshmallows, to your preference. 

3| Peel potatoes. Lightly oil a gratin (pie plate or casserole dish would work too, or individual ramekins :])
4| Using an electric mixer, beat sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, milk, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
5| Spread mixture onto dish.
6| Sprinkle granola mixture on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Add marshmallows in the middle and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until there is a light golden sheen to them.

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Apple Cranberry Pie with Orange + Cookbook Giveaway!!

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Even though I love summer, hot weather, and abundant fresh berries, there’s always a unique, special anticipation for the holiday season. For me, that’s November – January. I’m not big on Halloween, but once we start gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m your girl! I love the Thanksgiving feast, the use of cranberries, the endless presence of apples and pumpkin, holiday cookies, and presents!!! Christmas tree!! Ornaments! The list goes on!!! I get way too excited, so please pardon my enthusiasm. Nothing says holiday quite like cranberries and giveaways!! The Harvard Common Press generously sent me a cookbook, “PIE” by Ken Haedrich. With 300 recipes, including several pie crust ones, I almost staggered under the sheer volume of this cookbook. After flipping through it, all I could think about was making pies.

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Isn’t this method of decorating the pie crust beautiful? It’s so incredibly easy, I almost feel as if I’m cheating. You take a tiny cookie cutter and just have at a rolled out pie crust. Save the cutouts and line the edges and ta-da! You have a lovely,intricate pattern for a pie crust. applecranberrypie-5

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I love how the cranberries give the pie such a vibrant red color.

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This cranberry apple pie with orange was inspired by Ken Haedrich’s Freeform Cranberry apple orange pie. The only changes I made were the use of my own pie crust (I’m just very particular about my pie crust), the brown sugar addition, and the increase in ground cinnamon. However, I’ve included the pie crust from Ken Haedrich’s book as well, for reference.

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In the spirit of the holiday giving season, Harvard Common press is generously offering a copy of this book to a reader!! All you have to do is follow me on Instagram and leave a comment about your favorite pie on this blog post. I will randomly choose a winner in 1 week. *limited to US and Canada residents

Have fun, all!

RECIPE: Apple Cranberry Pie with Orange
*Adapted from Cranberry-Apple-Orange Freeform Pie by Ken Haedrich
- I used my own pie crust you can find here, but I’ve included Ken’s for reference!

Pie Crust by Ken Haedrich -
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water

1| Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of small peas. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all of the fat is cut into small pieces. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture. Add the remaining water, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Dough made by hand often needs a bit more water. If necessary, add water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until the pastry can be packed.
2| Using your hands, pack the pastry into a ball (or 2 balls if you are making a double crust) as you would pack a snowball. If you’re making a double crust, make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be your bottom crust. Knead each ball once or twice, then flatten the balls into 3/4-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.

Cranberry Apple Pie with Orange
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large baking apples (I used Granny Smiths), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
juice and zest of one large orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg
splash of water
Demarara sugar

  1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
  2. Combine the cranberries and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add all the remaining filling ingredients, tossing well to combine. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F a few minutes before you start to assemble the pie.
  3. Roll out 1 disc of pie dough. Place on top of pie pan. Spoon filling into pie pan. Then, roll out 2nd disc of dough. Do a lattice crust or this patterned one (to do that, simply take a tiny cookie cutter and cut dough out in a pattern. Gently lift onto the pie pan). Crimp edges or place cutouts around edges. Let rest in fridge for 15 minutes.
  4. Make egg wash: whisk egg with splash of water. Brush surface of pie with egg wash. Sprinkle generously with demarara sugar.
  5. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and rotate the pie 180 degrees, so that the part that was facing the back of the oven now faces forward. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly up, 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and leave a comment on this blog post – what’s your favorite pie? to enter the giveaway!!!

Chania – Crete, Greece Part I

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It’s been awhile since I looked at these photos. It just takes one photo for all the memories to rush back at me. The girl talk, the warmth of the sun, the fragrance of the gyros – precious tidbits of sensory memory that will always stay with me. When we went to Greece, we landed in Athens but immediately embarked to the island Crete. There, we visited Chania, Loutros, and Elafonissi. Then, we went to Santorini, where we stayed in Oia. We departed from Athens, finishing up with the obligatory (but exciting) trip to the ruins. I have way too many photos for the whole trip, so I’m going to divide it up into Chania, Loutros, Elafonissi, Santorini, and Athens.

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I’m in the middle. From the left: Rina, Lucy, me, Ivy, and Diana. Irene is taking the photo!!

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dazzling sunsets

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The whole gang in Chania :)

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One of my favorite activities to do in Greece was to wake up at sunrise and eat breakfast outside. There was always fresh fruit (peaches were my favorite), strained Greek yogurt, and thyme honey.

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Honey Plum Tarts with Rough Puff Pastry

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I made puff pastry for the first time, EVER! Before you get impressed and think that I’m an amazing baker, I will admit that I made a rough puff pastry. It’s different from a true puff pastry, but honestly, the result is phenomenal. I was skeptical at first, but the resulting puff pastry was flaky, light as air, and simply perfect for this tart!!

It’s November. I finally started to look at photos from our trip to China and Japan… back in July. How did this happen?! Actually, I do know the answer to that: wedding season. Since we returned to Boston from our trip, it’s been nonstop weddings, engagements, consultations, photo editing, and album design. What a great season it’s been – and it’s not over yet! We have our last wedding of the season this weekend, and I know it’s going to be a great wedding. Looking forward to it, and I know I’ll be wearing a beanie, finger-less gloves, and 10 layers of sweaters.

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These tarts are so easy to make, and puff pastry can be made ahead of time. As holiday parties are coming up, I think these will be my go-to pastries to bring. I’m all for anything hassle-free. Plus, the most complicated part about assembling this tart is cutting the plum thinly. This pastry is that easy!!!

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RECIPE: Honey Plum Tart
Puff pastry by BBC Good Food

 Ingredients
About 300 g Puff pastry (half recipe)
4 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
lemon zest from 1 lemon
raw sugar, for sprinkling (or you can use granulated, or demarara!)

Directions
1| Preheat oven to 425F.
2| Cut pastry into two long rectangles and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
3| Prick all over with a fork.
4| Place plum slices on top, leaving about 1/2″ space around edges.
5| Rub lemon zest and sugar together. Sprinkle on top of plums.
6| Bake tarts for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through!! Puff pastry should be golden, puffy, and flaky. Brush or drizzle with honey when they are removed from oven.
7| Optional: top with powdered sugar!!!


 

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Scoopsies Ice Cream: a giveaway!

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Giveaway for TWO pints of ice cream at the bottom of this post!

Boston just had its first snow this past Sunday. It was cold – so cold that I had to bring my beanie out and zip up my rain jacket all the way. Rain was falling – pouring, actually. I was driving in downtown Boston, and the weather just soured my mood. I lashed out verbally at other drivers, angrily waited to merge, and swore at double parked cars that forced me to move to the other lane (Guys, I’m not that scary. I’m exaggerating :)). Suddenly, I noticed that the rain drops were falling more slowly, that they were larger and pale in color. Were these the first flurries of the year?? Yes!!! A part of me, that part that grew up in California, never knowing a white Christmas, was enchanted. Eventhough I spent four years in St Louis, where it does snow, I still love the feel of snow floating down. When it collects and becomes slush, that’s a different story. But I can still be enamored by the initial flurry.scoopsiesgiveaway-3

The thing about ice cream is that it’s a universal food. By universal I mean that it can be consumed year round. When it’s gray and gloomy outside, curling up with a fresh cup of coffee and a bowl of homemade ice cream is the perfect past time. Add in a good book or movie (or blogging?), and that is a solid weekend afternoon. When I first heard of Scoopsies, I thought, Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this? It’s a genius idea! Homemade ice cream delivered to your doorstep. These days, CSA’s, meat shares, plated meals delivered to your door are all the rage, because they’re great! Supporting local businesses and eating locally is something I firmly believe in and try to do as much as possible. I promised myself that if I did a giveaway on this blog, it’d be 1) something I would personally recommend, and 2) that I’d try to keep it local to Boston.

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First of all, can we just pause and think about the fact that Chloe offers flavors such as Salted Sage Oreo, taza sea salt + Almond Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Ricotta? I’ve never seen such combinations! I wanted to try each and every one. The ones I have here look similar, but if you look closely, the textures are slightly different. The one on top left is Smoked Sea Salt Caramel, which is self explanatory, and the bottom one is Anise & Orange Zest, made with Jersey Cow milk! The texture! The taste!!

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Scoopsies is kind enough to offer TWO pints of ice cream to one lucky person in the Boston area! You heard me – TWO!!! Now you can choose both smoked sea salt caramel and anise and orange zest!!


GIVEAWAY:
2 PINTs ICE CREAM delivered to your doorstep!
*Only great Boston area residents

To enter, please do the following:

“FOLLOW” @bliu07 and @Scoopsies on Instagram
“LIKE” Le Jus d’Orange and Scoopsies on Facebook
Leave a comment on the blog post and tell me which flavor you’d choose if you won!!!

Flavors rotate, so check Scoopsie’s page for updates, but currently these are offered:

Thai Iced Tea
Lavender Honey
Turmeric Winter Spice
Pistachio & Rose Kulfi
Roasted Plantain with Coconut
Vietnamese Coffee
Chocolate Chip Cannoli
Black Sesame
Cinnamon Chai Cookie
Smoked Sea Salt Caramel
Ceylon & Meyer Lemon
Kale
Taza Sea Salt & Almond Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Ricotta
Rosemary’s Baby
Pumpkin Pie
Our “World Famous” S’moreo
Salted Sage Oreo
Anise & Orange Zest
Vegan Turkish Coffee

Winner will be chosen randomly on November 19th! UPDATE 11/19: Congrats to Becky, the winner of this 2 pint giveaway!!


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Jasmine Green Tea Pancakes

Jasmine Green Tea Pancakes-3 copyI love anything infused with tea (remember these earl grey tea sconesearl grey tea ice cream, and green tea ice cream?). My sister threw my bridal shower with a theme focused around tea! We had three types of tea and had a very classy tea party, and I loved it. So what do I do with the leftover varieties of tea? I incorporate it into my food of course. Please enjoy these jasmine green tea pancakes. They are incredibly easy to make with ingredients you probably have already in your pantry. You can substitute jasmine green tea with earl grey or other teas.

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RECIPE: Jasmine Green Tea Pancakes

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp loose leaf jasmine green tea (or, 2 tea bags)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
coconut oil for cooking (I prefer coconut oil, but you can use butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray)
1/2 tsp ground up jasmine green tea leaves.

1| Place loose tea leaves in a tea strainer. Place in a small saucepan, and bring milk to a gentle simmer. It’s easy to scald milk, so keep an eye on it. Remove from heat and let the tea seep for 10 minutes.
2| Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
3| Wait for milk/tea to become cool (or at least lukewarm!!). Remove tea leaves.
4| Whisk egg, milk, and vanilla together. Add this mixture into dry ingredients. Add 1/2 tsp ground up jasmine green tea leaves.
5| Fold until just combined – do not over mix.
6| Let batter rest for 10 minutes.
7| Heat up a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spread a thin layer of coconut oil on pan.
8| Drop 1 ice cream scoop full of batter (or, 2 tablespoons) into pan. Fit however many you can, but make sure there is enough space to spread. Let it cook – tiny bubbles will start to form on the surface, about 2 minutes. Be patient! Flip, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

TIPS

  • If you’re not serving them immediately, you can keep them warm in a single layer in the oven. Do not stack them, because the steam will cause pancakes to be soggy. I usually heat my oven to 200F and spread pancakes out on a baking sheet.
  • There are two steps you should not skip: 1) sifting dry ingredients together – this gets rid of any unwelcome lumps 2) letting batter stand – the starch molecules in the flour will be swelling, absorbing the liquid present. This will contribute to a thicker consistency. During this time, air bubbles will also be making their way through, ensuring a delicate texture.
  • Do not over mix. I feel like I say this in a lot of my recipes, but that’s because it’s true!! If you over mix you will get flat, not fluffy pancakes -and let’s be honest, who wants those?

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