A woman’s love affair with doughnuts

There is no doubt that Bostonians love doughnuts. After all, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on every other block. The city even has a doughnut named after it (Boston Creme, anyone?). I mean, who can blame them? There’s something special about that fluffy, sugary, fried dough. I am not from Boston, but I’m in no way above the temptation of fried dough goodness. When Krispy Kreme closed all its stores in Hong Kong overnight ten years ago, a part of me was taken away…  Since then I go on a doughnut hunt whenever I’m out of town, independent joints or big chains, I visit them piously, almost like pilgrims.

These local doughnut places in Boston have survived the turf wars with Dunkin’ Donuts, many supported for years by a fiercely loyal clientele… and it’s not hard to tell why!


Union Square Donuts

20 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch is a real show stealer

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Kane’s Donuts

90 Oliver St, Two International Pl, Boston, MA 02110

Great selection of fancy donuts. Go for glazed and creme brûlée if you’re committed to an ultimate sweet tooth experience.

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Twin Donuts

501 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

Highlight is definitely the inviting neon sign!

Blackbird Doughnuts

South End, 492 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

We all need a confetti doughnut from time to time to celebrate life!

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Red Apple Farm

100 Hanover St, The Boston Public Market, Bostom, MA 02108

An apple a day keeps the doctor away…
So, why not eat your apple in donuts form?

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Flour Bakery

12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02210

Not really a doughnut shop, but the bakery’s renowned sticky sticky bun, especially when fresh out of the oven, mimics the flavours of  a doughnut.

 

Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

This, friends, is the moment we’ve been waiting for- spring is finally here! Beach vacation, sunshine, and sandal season are right around the corner. As the day gets longer, it’s the time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather (instead of working in the kitchen). For a quick springtime snack, light and easy is the name of the game. With this recipe, you can pull off some bakery-worthy pastries at home in just 30 minutes. Perfect for any time of the year, but I swear: they just taste better in spring!

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Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)

1 pack Cream Cheese (8 ounces), softened

4 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1 cup canned Cherry Pie Filling

Icing sugar for garnishing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Take out a sheet of puff pastry and thaw for 10min.
  3. Cut the sheet into 6 equal pieces.
  4. With a knife, score ½” border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry. Use a fork to make five or six pricks into the area within the border (this will stop the center of the dough from rising).
  5. In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
  6. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the middle of each piece of dough and spread around evenly.
  7. Add about 6 cherries into the middle of the cream cheese.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

 

Crumbliest Scones

These are essentially British, delicious and simple to make… Get baking and fill your home with the smell of freshly baked scones!

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It is no secret that I have always wanted to open my own cafe. And this is the sign that I will put up at the storefront when a batch of scones are hot and ready (Yes! I stole the idea from Kripsy Kreme’s neon sign!!).

scones

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Ingredients (serves 8):

Plain flour, for dusting

1.5 cups self-raising flour

40g butter, softened and cubed

3/4 cups milk

1 cup dried fruit, e.g. cranberries/ raisins (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Sift self-raising flour into a large bowl.
  2. Rub butter into flour using your fingertips, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the centre. Add milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. Add in dried fruit if any.
  4. Knead gently until smooth (don’t overwork the dough or scones will be tough).
  5. Pat dough into 2cm-thick. Cut out 8 rounds using a 5cm round cutter.
  6. Place scones onto baking tray, 1cm apart. Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and well risen.
  8. Serve warm with jam and cream.

Rustic New York Style Cheesecake

 

Phew! I survived another V-day! Never have been a big fan of this “Hallmark holiday”, I sometimes like to think of myself as a Valentine’s day scrooge with a secret desire to ruin everyone else’s best laid plans (like booking every other seat in the cinema so couples can’t sit together!!). That being said, I think romance and love and caring and all those gushy sweet feelings we have for others should be celebrated every day… Why not start doing so by making this cheesecake for your loved ones?

Because a piece of classic New York cheesecake- likes any great love, never goes out of style. ❤

p.s. I like to have mine looking all rustic, cracked and glorious… but do feel free to add any toppings you like!

Yield an 8-inch cake (3 inches in height)

Ingredients:

Crust-

16 digestive crackers, crushed  

3 tablespoons butter, melted  

Filling-

3.5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese  

1 1/4 cups white sugar

3/4 cup milk

4 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract  

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

1.      Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 8-inch pan.

2.      In a medium bowl, mix digestive cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of pan.

3.      In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar with hand mixer until smooth. Blend in milk, and then add in the eggs (one at a time), mix until just incorporated.

4.      Add in plain yogurt, vanilla and flour, mix until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

5.      Bake in preheated oven for 50min. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 2 hours to prevent cracking.

6.      Sprinkle icing sugar on top. Chill in refrigerator until serving.


No-peel Apple Cream Cheese Tart

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am a BIG sucker for apple tarts. Indeed, I like all sorts of apple desserts- apple turnover, tarte tartin, apple strudel, etc etc… As much as I like these aromatic pastries filled with the unmistakable scent of cinnamon, I seldom make them on my own because I hate peeling apples!!! So you can probably imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this no-peel apple tart recipe. ♥

Happy baking everyone!


Pastry:

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

70g icing sugar

125g unsalted butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

Beans for baking

Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon

Topping:

3 apples (cut into 8 -12 slices each)

4 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.
  2. To make the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until crumbly.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks, roll into a ball. If the pastry is still too dry, add 1-2 tbsp water until it comes together.
  4. Place the pastry in your tart pan and, using your fingertips; evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Gently pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.)
  5. When ready, place the tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
  6. Beat cream cheese using a hand mixer until smooth. Add sugar gradually until incorporated. Add eggs (one at a time) until thoroughly combined.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended and smooth.
  8. Carefully pour the filling into the pre-baked tart shell and then bake the tart for about 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is set. Transfer tart to wire rack to cool and start making the topping.
  9. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoon brown sugar. Sauté the apples, frequently stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes until they just begin to turn tender. (Be careful not to overcook at this stage as the apples may become puree!)
  10. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar and add cinnamon. Toss the mixture gently and cook over medium heat for an additional 1-2 minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize, and the apples are crisp-tender.
  11. Arrange the apple slices in an overlapping spiral pattern. Pour the remaining caramel sauce on top of the apples.
  12. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving!

Whirlwind to Sydney in 36 hours

Question: What do you do when you are in Sydney?

Answer: EAT, visit some friends, go to the Sydney harbor, Bondi Beach…

Question: What do you do when you are in Sydney, and you have been there a few times before?

Answer:  EAT, you can still visit your friends, I guess…

Question: What do you do when you are in Sydney, you have been there a few times before and this time you are there for 36 hours only?

Answer: Oh, that leaves only eating!

Question: Where then can I find something good to eat in Sydney?

Answer: Go to these places!!


The first thing to draw your eyes in this patisserie is the trays of delicately constructed slices of cakes- watermelon cakes in particular. Topped with strawberries and edible flowers this dessert is just heavenly freshness! There is a generous slice of watermelon in the middle, but the layers of evenly spread almond meal help to absorb the moisture and stop the watermelon from making the whole cake soggy.

Newtown is an interesting neighbourhoods, the beating heart of Sydney’s bohemian arts scene. Do spend some time exploring the local art galleries and street art murals afterwards.

Black Star Pastry Newtown: 277 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042

A must-go whenever I’m in town! While oyster is a popular choice for many, I had my heart stolen by the scampi sashimi long ago. Originated from NZ, the scampi is slit down the center which allows you to easily split the crustacean into halves and pull out the sweet and buttery flesh that literally melts away in one’s mouth. Absolutely divine!

Sydney Fish Market: Bank St & Pyrmont Bridge Road, Sydney NSW 2009

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My favorite hotcakes in the whole wide world. Period.

bills: 359 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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Instead of macarons, these colorful babies are called zumbarons here. The name may be different but they taste as good- light and crisp with a gooey center, just the way they should be.

p.s. glad to see more and more zumbo stores, not just in Sydney, but across the entire Australia!

Zumbo Patisserie: 296 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041

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Warning: Contains Outrageously Good Doughnuts

A rapidly growing doughnut chain, Australians’ equivalent of Krispy Kreme that sells yummy, funky and not so little doughnuts!! I love the quirky little names they give to each of them. Love At First Bite is my personal favorite — a doughnut covered in cinnamon sugar and filled with half a bottle of Nutella.

Doughnut Time: 500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

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A rarity: Sydney when it drizzles. The city keeps surprising me in one way or the other.

Baked Oysters with Miso-Mayonnaise

I am a real party animal, house parties, to be exact. Nothing beats sharing hearty laughs and intimate conversation with your closest friends in a cozy environment. The truth is, I approach house parties with the same mix of excitement and apprehension you might feel before a first date—what if my home looks messy? What if I get an elaborate menu planned, and then they cancel at the last minute? And obviously you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard… To ease off the pressure of hosting a house party, every hostess should have a few quick, easy recipes up her sleeve for any event on the calendar.

Made this very simple dish with the leftover miso from last week, this serves as a great snack or party appetizer, taking next to no time or effort to do. Add this dish to your arsenal and you won’t regret it, I promise!

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Ingredients:

½ Dozen oysters

¼ Onion (minced)

1 cup Japanese mayonnaise

1 tablespoon miso

1 teaspoon butter

Paprika (for garnishing)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the miso and mayonnaise into a smooth paste; set aside.
  3. Heat up butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, sauté the minced onion until they turn transparent.
  4. Divide the onion evenly into shells and top off thickly with the miso-mayonnaise mixture, make sure to completely cover everything in the shell with the mixture.
  5. Place oysters in the oven on the top rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. The tops should be a nice dark brown when done.
  6. Remove oysters from the oven, garnish with paprika and serve!

 

Sous Vide Miso Maple Salmon

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a year is always a good time for me to review my resolutions and take stock of what I have done over the past year. In 2016, I ditched Korean fried chicken for the Chairman’s smoked pigeons, feasted on numerous macarons and cupcakes, and let countless meals go cold in the search of photographic perfection. As I loosen my belt and take a look at the culinary fads that flooded my social media feeds in the past year, including superfood sensation (kale chips? really?), sweet-savory creations and an array of pimped up ice-cream sundaes crowned with egglettes, I wonder how many of these gourmet trends can stay in the scene.

2016 was also a year for upgrading my kitchen gadgets- I owned my very first sous vide machine!! Sous vide cooking was developed in the mid–1970s by chef Georges Pralus at the Michelin Three-Star Restaurant, Troisgros, in Roanne (still remember this place?) initially as a means of cooking delicate foie gras. In the last two decades, sous vide cooking has become the secret of top chefs at major restaurants around the world. This alternative method of cooking promises incredibly succulent meats without having to worry about overcooking, charring, timing. Unlike the aforementioned culinary fads, I’m sure this gadget will be something I swear by for the years to come.


Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 12-ounce skinless salmon fillet
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

1) Set the water bath to 104ºF (40ºC).

2) Place the salmon in a large zipper lock bag. Add the miso, mirin, and maple syrup. Seal the bag tightly.

3) Place the bag in the water bath and set the timer for 30 minutes.

4) When the timer goes off, gently remove the salmon from the bag and discard any remaining cooking liquid.

5) Heat up oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the salmon and sear until well-browned on top and bottom, about 1 minute total.


 

 

Dutch Baby with Blueberry Compote

I’ve always been amazed by how many different breakfast food you can create using just milk, eggs, and flour; here is one of the more interesting examples.

Oh, did i mention that everything comes together in about 30 blessed minutes?

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Ingredients:

Batter:

3 eggs

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup whole milk (warmed)

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Blueberry compote:

1.5 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

Grated zest and juice of a lemon

Powdered sugar,for dusting

Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Combine eggs, flour, milk, salt, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.
  3. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  4. Place butter in the skillet, as soon as the butter has melted, add batter to the pan.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven.
  6. Bake pancake until puffed and golden brown all over, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Lower oven temperature to 150°C and bake five minutes longer. It will deflate as soon as it’s removed from the oven.
  8. Dust pancake generously with powdered sugar and top with 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Serve with blueberry compote.

For the blueberry compote: Combine the blueberries, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and zest in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.


Fettuccine with Black Truffle Cream Sauce

Still trying to process the shock, disgust, horror and anger I get from reading the news, both local and international.

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t updated my blog/ Facebook for some time. I was, in the past few months, taking some major moves in my career. And I have been working my butt off to adjust to the transitions. In difficult times like this, I am particularly grateful for all the men in my life, who treat women with respect. I grew up getting all the education I needed; my father often reassures me that it is okay for a girl to be smart and ambitious. When I was too tired to cook after work, my husband would just get us takeaways, without the slightest complaint. I have never felt duty-bound to complete all the household chores, I needn’t be the domestic goddess of the house or the new Martha Stewart – I can just be myself!

Cooking has always been a meditating process for me; I feel a sense of tranquility and peace whenever I cook. Tonight, I felt something more – while I cooked, I thought of all the strong women in my life, starting with my mother, all my girlfriends… colleagues… Susan B Anthony… Claudette Colvin… Instead of feeling confined in a box, like many women before my time did, kitchen is a place where my dreams flourish. To me, food is the key to different cultures… Through all the kitchen experiments, I learn to be a person with an open mind.

So, I feel it really personally when I see how women are being demeaned, devalued and degraded publicly, how some leaders rule by intimidation, how they stifle opposing voices and diminish the potential of their citizens… it is just saddening to see how the world is moving backward…

I guess we all need a hearty truffle pasta like this to heal our souls.

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoons minced garlic

8 ounces fresh fettucine

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons truffle paste

Truffle shavings

1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions

  1. Add salt and olive oil to water, bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile cook garlic in butter over low heat.
  3. Add heavy cream and simmer until thickened.
  4. Cook pasta until al dente and add to cream; toss to coat.
  5. Whisk in truffle paste into pasta and remove from heat.
  6. Season with salt and serve with truffle shavings or fresh truffle.