Recipe: Matcha Ice Cream

Has it really been three years since I first made

green tea ice cream

 (eek, excuse the poor photos!)? That recipe was quite simple and pretty satisfying but recently, I was introduced to

Jeni's Ice Creams

 here in NYC and well, you can say I became a bit

obsessed

.

Jeni's ice cream does not use eggs and I've made ice creams without but they always turned out a bit melty/watery and not as creamy. Jeni's ice cream base uses cornstarch and cream cheese to hold everything together and creates a dreamy creamy ice cream that is not overly rich as yolk-based ice creams. And, Jeni's is not too sweet - I didn't even have to add extra sugar to balance out the bitter flavor of this matcha ice cream. All this to say, I could indulge in endless scoops of this ice cream compared to others that leave that unpleasant film-y mouth feel.

So, if you've never had Jeni's I suggest you make a beeline to one of their scoop shops, seek out one of their delightful pints, or make some to enjoy at home!

Matcha Ice Cream

adapted from

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

I like my green tea strong, but if you like yours less bitter, use 2 tablespoons of matcha powder. Remember, the flavor will dull a bit once it is cold. Omit the matcha if you'd prefer to experiment with Jeni's basic ice cream base. Please take note of the extra steps below if using non-homogenized milk and cream. 

Ingredients

:

2 cups whole milk*

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) cream cheese, softened

⅛ teaspoon sea salt

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

2/3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup (30 ml)

2 1/2 tablespoons matcha (green tea) powder

Directions

:

In a small bowl, make a slurry by mixing 2 tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch.

In a medium heat-safe bowl, whisk together cream cheese and salt until smooth.

Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Prepare a 1-gallon plastic freezer bag.

In a medium 4-quart saucepan, combine the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling over medium heat for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in matcha powder (if possible, sift the powder into milk mixture), then the cornstarch slurry.

Return the mixture to medium-heat and continue cooking until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and carefully pour into the heat-safe bowl containing the cream cheese. Whisk until smooth.

*At this point, if using non-homogenized milk & cream, carefully pour the mixture to a food processor or blender and process for 2 minutes. This process must be repeated after the mixture is chilled, before pouring into the ice cream machine in order to fully homogenize the milk.

Pour mixture into freezer bag, over prepared ice bath. Seal and submerge bag to chill until cold - about 30 minutes, adding more ice if necessary.

Transfer chilled ice cream mixture into ice cream machine/bowl attachment and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, about 20-25 minutes. Store churned ice cream in an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 3-4 hours.

A Sweet Day in Brooklyn for No Kid Hungry



We couldn't have asked for better weather at the Brooklyn Flea on Saturday for the NYC Bake Sale - thank YOU all for making a beautiful day even more so by sharing your love in baked goods and sweets. We couldn't have done it without each of our bakers, volunteers, sponsors and supporters!

Because of your support, we were able to raise  $1,865 $2,015 for No Kid Hungry!

UPDATED 6/16/14: NYC Bake Sale beat out all of the blogger bake sales this year to earn the $10,000 match in our name from Domino Sugar!!


Thank you to our sponsors for providing awesome raffle prizes to encourage donations:

Le CreusetKing Arthur FlourSweet & SimpleHoughton Mifflin HarcourtZugar HausChloe DoughySlopeGirl Knits

And a special thanks to the Brooklyn Flea for providing us with such a great space to host the bake sale. Until next year!

Toffee Bars & More Contemplating...



Why, hello there. It's been a while...for the past two weeks or so I've been back at work, albeit temporarily but it's nice being back in the "real world". A world where people aren't obsessed with food, keeping up with social media, or caring if their blog post/photos is up to SEO/food blogger standards. In this world, people still write down and share recipes on loose leaf paper ripped out of a notebook and don't care how many comments are attached to it. Can I just tell you how refreshing that is to me?

Perhaps I've been stuck in this food blogger bubble for too long. I've forgotten what it's like to simply share real food with real people. To bake out of love and enjoyment and sharing the results with those around you. To share without expectation, without the desire of mentions/comments/page views. To share with people that I barely know and see them enjoying my baked goods in person; not from behind a computer screen. To share with and teach those around me that don't necessarily know how or have the means to bake/cook from scratch...



I know my posts these past few months haven't been very encouraging or "sweet" as I had set out for this new year but I believe this is part of the process of me getting to that place. Something in me has shifted in the last few weeks and I'm beginning to question everything again. Perhaps it's because I've been immersed in bake sale planning for the past couple weeks and being on social media more than I care for, but I'm beginning to find this all exhausting. Especially the social media part.

And then I read this. It resonates with me so much. I don't have even a quarter of the followers she did but somehow I think I'm an influencer. An influencer of what? I don't know.

Why am I even posting these toffee bars? I don't have a story to go with them - I just want to share because they're a simple treat to whip up and because I'm really loving the not-so-new Alice Medrich [affiliate link] cookbook I picked up a not too long ago. I was going to tell you to buy the cookbook so you can get the recipe but of course everything is on the internet these days. So here you go!

Toffee Bars
by Alice Medrich

Yield: 24 bars

Ingredients:

For the crust: 
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups pecan halves

For the topping:
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup packed brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

For the rest of the recipe, click HERE

Coconut Yuzu Jam Bars & Baking for a Cause

If you follow me on social media, then you know I'm in the midst of 

bake sale planning

. Every spring, for the past three years I've gotten together with a group of NYC bloggers and bakers for a fun event benefiting 

No Kid Hungry

. Yes, it's simple as hosting a bake sale to make a difference in the fight against childhood hunger in America. You don't have to be a blogger to bake for this cause - anyone can

 host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry

.

Baking for good has always been close to my heart - ever since I started this blog and found out the many ways I could support important causes simply by doing what I love. Many of you know this already so I don't want to sound like a broken record. If you're interested in the many different ways you can use your baking talents for good, see the new link, 

"Baking for Good"

 I created in the navigation menu at the top of my site.

As for the 

NYC Bake Sale

 coming up on May 3rd, I'm thinking of contributing these coconut yuzu jam bars. Since we don't have yuzu fruit here in New York, and I didn't want to shell out $20 for a bottle of yuzu juice concentrate, I bought the next best thing - a jar of yuzu marmalde.  This yuzu-cha is actually supposed to be served as a hot beverage like tea (simply mix it with hot water). Hence, the word, "cha" which means "tea" in most Asian languages. However, I was just itching to use this marmalade/jam in something baked.

I remember pinning these 

coconut apricot bars

 recently and knew I just had to make them. For some reason, I had an abundance of sweetened coconut flakes in my pantry so these were the perfect thing to bake. In place of the apricot jam, I used the yuzu jam and left out the dried apricots. The result is a slightly gooey center from the jam - and a crispy cookie-like crust and coconut topping. It was almost like eating coconut macaroons in bar form, but with the brightness of the yuzu - just perfect for spring.

Coconut Yuzu Jam Bars

These bars would be lovely with all types of jam or maybe even a citrus curd.

I have listed the ingredients below - my adaptations/substitutions are noted with an asterisk. However, since I did not change the method, I have linked to the original recipe. 

Yield

: 16 bars

Ingredients

:

For the crust:

120g unsalted butter, melted

120g granulated sugar

50g sweetened flaked coconut

150g all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

zest of 1 lemon*

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the topping:

150g sweetened flaked coconut

50g granulated sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon almond extract*

3 tablespoons yuzu jam/marmalade*

For the rest of the recipe

,

visit 

Technicolor Kitchen

Special Ingredient

:

Yuzu marmalade - can be found in Japanese grocery stores or I found a similar one on Amazon.com 

(affiliate link)

:

Yuzu Marmalade from Yakami Orchard (10 ounce)

Even if you're not in NYC, you can support our bake sale by helping us promote it on social media, or entering one of the

raffles from our sponsors

(King Arthur Flour, Le Creuset, just to name a couple). Or

donate

even just $1 will help feed a hungry child. If you're in NYC, we hope to see you on May 3rd at the Brooklyn Flea! Thanks in advance for your support! 

For more information on how you can get involved, please visit our bake sale website:

www.bakesalenyc.tumblr.com

Recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Muffins



Why does it always seem like bananas turn brown before I even get to enjoy them? I like my bananas when they are perfectly yellow - perhaps even slightly under-ripened. So when they start to spot just two days after I bring them home from the grocery store, I tend to ignore them until they are barely yellow anymore.

That's what happened with a bunch of bananas last week and I had to go digging through my bookmarked recipes to see what I could make with them, despite the fact that I just recently posted a banana bread recipe. But this time, I paired it with chocolate - and well, how can you say no to banana and chocolate?


I was excited to use up some of the buckwheat flour sitting in my fridge - I'd been wondering what I could make with it. The combination of buckwheat and almond flours, dark cocoa, and bananas really makes these muffins quite exquisite (if you can even use that word to describe a muffin) and even nutritious!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Muffins
You'll want to make these not only because they use up your over-ripened bananas, but because you won't feel too guilty about having chocolate for breakfast! 

For volume measurements, see original recipe link below. Just an FYI, I adore baking with a scale so may fully convert soon - my baked goods come out so much better when measured properly with a scale. Plus, I don't particularly enjoy messing with all those measuring cups anymore...

Yield: 16 muffins

Ingredients:

75 grams buckwheat flour
75 grams almond flour
140 grams whole grain or all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used Trader Joe’s AP GF mix)
32 grams dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
75 grams canola oil
120 grams buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
330 grams (about 3 1/2 medium) ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
115 grams (about 1 1/3 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips*, plus extra for tops of muffins

* The original recipe called for 2/3 cups chocolate chips which, didn't convert to 115 grams as noted (I used chocolate chunks). I made the correction above to show 115g = 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips but baked with only 2/3 cup as I tend to like my goods less sweet. 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat oil and brown sugar until no lumps remain. Mix in eggs until incorporated, then stir in buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Turn mixer to low and stir in dry ingredients and mix until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin liner 3/4 full. If desired, sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips on top of each muffin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffin springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in tin and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy while warm. Muffins can be stored in airtight container for up to three days at room temperature, longer if refrigerated.

Source: Adapted from this New York Times recipe
Special equipment: Muffin/cupcake cups from The Cupcake Social

Recipe: Crunchy Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are traditionally known as Anzac cookies - however, I didn't want to offend anyone by calling them that since I did not use a key ingredient (golden syrup) in making these. I also read that using the name Anzac is restricted in some parts of the world, so I thought I'd play it safe and give them a different name. 


Before we talk about these cookies, can I just give y'all a big ol' hug? Thank you, dears for letting me hash out a few things earlier in the week. And thank you for sharing your experiences as well - it's so comforting to know I'm not the only one that faces these struggles. You've lifted my heart and spirit with your encouraging words. I'm so grateful for you (you know who you are)!

Now, I bring you cookies. They're a simple cookie because, to me the best cookies are the simplest ones. I don't need cookies stuffed in cookies, or cookies filled with bacon (but I wouldn't say no to one), or cookies with sprinkles. Just butter (browned would be nice though these aren't), sugar, oats, dried shredded coconut a bit of flour and a touch of honey.

Why, that's what we have here. These Anzac cookies from Alice Medrich's cookbook caught my attention due to its name but as I read further, the story behind them intrigued me. These cookies were thought to have been sent by wives to their soldier husbands in the Australian-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I. They are sturdy biscuits that can be shipped overseas and don't spoil quickly because of their simple ingredients.


I wouldn't mind getting a package of these cookies in the mail - they're crunchy, buttery, and hearty...almost like a crunchy granola bar in cookie form. The flavor is similar to the British flapjack, which I discovered a few years ago from the first No Kid Hungry bake sale I participated in. Hmm...I might just bake these for this year's NYC Bake Sale!

Crunchy Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
You'll have to plan ahead for these cookies as they are a refrigerator/slice-and-bake cookie. The dough requires at least 2 hours in the fridge. I sliced mine on the thicker side as the dough crumbled quite a bit when sliced thin. If this happens, just press the dough back together with your fingers. 

Yield: about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies, sliced about 1/2-inch thick

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons honey (or golden syrup, if you can find it)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill)

Directions:
In a food processor or blender, coarsely grind oats (not powdered). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir in coconut. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter, sugar, water and honey over low heat. Stir in flour mixture until flour is fully incorporated. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Prepare two large pieces of foil. Divide cooled dough in half and place each half on the foil. Shape into 8x2-inch logs, wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

15 minutes before baking, remove dough from refrigerator to soften at room temperature. Using a thin, serrated knife, slice dough about 1/2 inch thick (thinner if you want thin, crispy cookies) and place 1 inch apart on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until golden brown. Rotate sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Let cool on pans then transfer to wire rack. When cooled completely, cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Adapted slightly from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy

Sunday Contemplations


I don't usually post on Sundays but if you're one of the few regular readers around here, you may have noticed I didn't publish any new posts last week. I was in a bit of a funk and feeling under the weather. To be honest, it was more the funk-part that prevented me from blogging. After posting somewhat consistently for the last few weeks, I was getting my groove back but what quickly followed were those old feelings of inadequacy and defeat. Why? Because I started to immerse myself back into social media and stressing out over all of the amazing photos and recipes out there. I started to lose focus on why I started blogging again.

If I want this blog to be about more than just sweets/food, then I have to stop comparing myself to other food blogs. I have to stop caring about SEO, checking my stats every few hours, and I definitely have to stop checking to see if my Alexa ranking went up or down every freaking day (sad, I know). I have to stop caring that my Taiwan Tidbits posts receive fewer hits than my peanut butter-swirled banana bread post.

Checking my stats constantly to see what people are searching for made me realize that about 99% of the hits on my blog are for sweets recipes. So, it's a bit discouraging to know that if I post less recipes, then I will receive less visitors to my blog. I fell back into that "rat-race" mentality of wanting to keep up and publish a post just so I could get hits on my blog. But it's a vicious cycle in which, I then fall back into comparing myself to other bloggers.

Ninety-eight percent of the time I love reading and sharing my favorite blogs, but then there is that two percent - the two percent of me that gets ugly/jealous/envious/depressed all at the same time when I see bloggers (not just food) posting 3-4 times a week without skipping a beat, coming up with clever, new, extravagant photos/recipes/ideas that I know I just can't compete with at this point in my life.

So I'm done competing and comparing - with regards to blogging, as well as everyday life. With it being the Lenten season I've decided (albeit, a little late) to stop checking my stats. I've also cut down on my Facebook usage (that's another joy-thief) so that I'm not mindlessly scrolling through feeds with a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). I've "unfollowed" a lot of my so-called friends, whom in actuality are not my friends so that I only see those that I care about. I also streamlined my feed so that I don't see posts from friends that I already follow on some other form of social media like Instagram or Twitter. It gets to become quite overwhelming and not to mention, repetitive. If I want to know what's going on with you, I will make an effort to visit your feed/page or shoot you an email.

As for blogging, I have to stop thinking my photos/recipes/writing should be flawless before I hit that "publish" button. Honestly, if I waited for everything to be perfect, I would never post a thing. Not every post has to be stop-you-in-your-tracks amazing or mind-blowing. My posts don't have to be magazine-worthy or super professional. Who am I working for? It sounds immature, but I'll share what I want, when I want to. This recent post by the Amateur Gourmet really lit a fire in me to write this post. I've been wanting my blog to be an "anything goes" blog but have been slow to proceed for the fear of losing readers. I want people to read what I write, but I also don't want to feel stifled or limited by the fact that I have to keep the same format as every other (food) blogger out there.

It honestly feels so freeing to write this and I'm sure I've offended some people along the way which, is totally not my intention. This is just me, real-talking and admitting that I'm flawed. Admitting that I focus too much on pleasing others; worrying about how I look in comparison to others.

Finally, I want to be able to share a part of me that I feel has been missing from my past 4 years of blogging - even though I've been struggling in my faith in recent years, I believe in God and strive to know Him and His plan for me on a daily basis. I want to be able to write down and share my struggles with faith and perhaps connect with others going through the same thing. Most of the time, I feel like I'm running on empty - thirsting for more... thirsting for God.

Some of you may ask, why not start a separate blog to hash out all of these "feelings"? I actually did a couple years ago, but I wasn't being kept accountable and stopped writing after a handful of entries. This is the space where most people will read; there is a built-in accountability. I know I will lose readers, but that's ok.

It's time I find joy again...a true joy that cannot be wavered or stolen by comparisons.


Notes:
1. All images/graphics by yours truly - I will be sharing how I create them (without Photoshop or any fancy software) in a future post. In the meantime, feel free to share!

2. Part of the reason why I started sending out weekly newsletters was so subscribers can pick and choose which posts from the week they want to read. If you don't care for these type of posts but still want to read my recipe posts, you can - just sign up for my newsletter here (and if you're receiving this via email, scroll to the bottom and click "unsubscribe" so you will stop receiving emails from my RSS feed). Thank you!

Taiwan Tidbits: National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium

Welcome to the third installment of Taiwan Tidbits, a series that is nearing its end as I'm realizing most of the photos I've taken are of me/the hubs, or with family members and I don't feel comfortable plastering them on the internet. I will probably end this series with a compilation of links and blogs with more current posts about Taiwan. Thanks for sticking with me through these non-food posts. Happy Friday!

National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium, April 2009
When the hubs and I visited Taiwan back in 2009 for our honeymoon, we spent part of it exploring Kenting - which, is on the southern coast of Taiwan. I had never been so far south before this trip - it required a 2-hour ride on the high speed rail from Taoyuan (airport) to Kaohsiung, then a 1-hour bus ride to our resort in Kenting. All that on top of a 20-hour flight from NYC.

Needless to say, we were looking to relax and unwind from our wedding and travels so a beach destination was perfect. We took in the sun, strolled the street markets, and sipped tropical drinks on the beach. We didn't have much on the agenda except for a trip to the aquarium. I have always loved aquariums and while dating, the hubs and I visited a few together so it's become a special thing for us.


Our resort provided a free shuttle to the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium which, was about 20 minutes north. We really appreciated that convenience as we were still jet-lagged and my Chinese was rusty so procuring a taxi would have been a...challenge. [This was before we had smart phones!]


You may notice from the photos that there were no crowds - it was actually eerily quiet when we visited in April. I'm not sure if that's normal or if it was because of the time of year. Either way, we were perfectly fine with having the aquarium practically all to ourselves.


We spent a quiet, lazy day getting up close and personal with some creatures of the sea - my favorites were in the "Waters of the World" exhibit where the beluga whales resided, and the "Polar Seas" exhibit where, the penguins played! [Sorry, no photos of the penguins and most of the tanks since flash wasn't allowed so most of our photos were blurry as a result

There was also an impressively large kelp forest tank (yes, that's the hubs) that made you feel like you were really under the sea. 


The best part of the aquarium is that it sits along the shore - so we were able to enjoy our lunch with a view. Visiting the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium is like getting a 2-in-1 attraction where you have gorgeous mountain and ocean views outside, and wonders of the sea inside. What more can you ask for?

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Taiwan travel, I've actually done very little exploring in Taiwan. Besides my honeymoon, the primary reason for my trips in years past was to visit my extended family. Any tidbits from my personal travels may be outdated and even though I'll do my best to include current information/resources it's best to do your own research if planning a trip to Taiwan.