The working life---the dawn of a new era

Or so it seems to two college graduates. And so it is with trepidation and excitement that we venture into this world, armed with a handful of recipes and an old spatula. Two women from both ends of the world, bonded by years of friendship and a newly discovered passion for cooking and baking. Care to join us?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bittersweet Chocolate and Cardamom Cupcakes

While searching for ideas for chocolate desserts, I came across quite a few recipes that used bittersweet chocolate and cardamom as the main flavor combination. I was curious to try a dessert that was flavored with a spice and chose this cupcake recipe. I couldn't find ground cardamom so I grounded my own with a mortar and pestle (I don't have a spice grinder). I had less than the 1 1/2 teaspoons called for in the recipe but I found that it was more than enough to be able to taste it in the cupcake. My palate is probably  not sophisticated enough to appreciate the cardamom in the cupcake because I did not enjoy the spice in my sweet cupcake. However, it was a good recipe, the cupcake was moist and the whipped ganache frosting was not too sweet.

Click here for the recipe.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Asian Pesto Chicken Salad

Remember the Asian Pesto I used on the sandwich two weeks ago? Well, I had a whole bunch of leftover pesto sauce, and decided to use it on one of Ming's recipes--Asian Pesto Chicken Salad.

It was relatively easy, the most time consuming part was deboning the chicken, but that was only because we didn't have any boneless chicken, so I had to make do. I didn't really tweak anything in terms of the recipe--to summarize without giving away the whole recipe, he just asks to mix together chicken that you've sauteed, orzo, tomatoes (chopped), and spinach with the pesto sauce.

I got mixed reviews from the family:
Mom - good, but too spicy
Sister - good, but can get old pretty fast
Cousin - alright, too sour

So overall, I think the recipe was not bad, I might do it again, but maybe use a little less jalapeno and not add as much lemon. Good try!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

My sister and I were invited to a dinner at a friend's house, and my basil plant was growing at an alarming rate, so I decided to make some bruschetta to bring. It was pretty easy to make--Again, I didn't really rely on just one recipe (looked up quite a few online), so no link, but here's roughly what I did: 

5 roma tomatoes (diced) - the recipes I found online asked for plum tomatoes, but we just had roma at home, so I made do with what I had
appox. 1/3 c onions (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
approx. 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
approx. 1 c fresh basil (chopped)

I basically just mixed all the ingredients together and added salt and pepper to taste. I already had some toasted bread at home, but if you're interested in making some, the recipes I found just asked to slice a baguette, brush some olive oil on top and bake for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apple Turnovers

Cinnamon and apples -one of my favorite flavor combinations. I'll try making anything with this combination -muffins, pancakes, pies, crumble. On a trip to Montreal, I had the best-tasting apple turnover at Olive+Gourmando. The filling was copious, puff pastry -crunchy, and the outer coating of cinnamon sugar -just right. I have yet to find a place in Manila that serves an apple turnover as satisfying; so, I did what anyone with a serious craving would have done -I made my own.

Unfortunately my apple turnovers did not turn out as well as I had hoped. I did not have enough turnovers to find the perfect time, somewhere between 18 (under-baked apples) and 25 (burnt puff pastry) minutes. I used 4 apples as the recipe called for but found that I had enough to generously fill 10 turnovers; I had trouble sealing my turnovers as can be seen in the picture above. I made cinnamon sugar with fine sugar and sprinkled it over my turnovers before baking. The sugar did not crystallize as I had hoped and I found that the apple filling was sweet so there was no need for the outer sugar coating. However if you really like cinnamon sugar, I suggest using coarse sugar.

Click here for the recipe.

Individual Hot Chocolate Cakes

Whenever I see an individual warm chocolate cake in the dessert menu of a restaurant, I have to try it no matter how full I am. There are times when it disappoints -the cake isn't warm, there is no molten center or it is simply over-baked so the sides are burnt. I found this recipe from David Lebovitz's blog and was pleased with the results. I stored my ramekins in the fridge and just popped a cake in the oven whenever I was ready for dessert. I tried different baking times and found that 12 minutes will bake the cake entirely while 10 minutes was just right to leave a molten center.

Click here for the recipe.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cashew Curry

I tried my hand at cooking again. This time I wanted to make something I could eat with rice. I chose cashew curry because I figured vegetables would be easier to cook than a meat dish. The recipe was taken from, the writer of which focuses on cooking natural and whole foods and ingredients.

I overcooked my cauliflower and I got mixed reviews on the amount of curry powder used. My brother thought there was too much and my other brother thought there wasn't enough. I highly recommend adding the cashews after the dish has cooled for longer so they don't cook and lose their crunch. I would make this dish again. It was healthy and easy to cook -only one pot was needed.

Click here for the recipe.

Warm Chocolate Tart

I had leftover cream and chocolate from making a chocolate-coconut cake so I looked for a recipe that listed  these as the main ingredients. Luckily, Francois Payard's Simply Sensational Desserts (the same book I took the Chocolate-Coconut Cake recipe from) has a delicious and very simple recipe for warm chocolate tart.

The most time-consuming part was making the sweet tart dough from scratch since you will need to refrigerate the dough between steps. After I pre-baked my tart shell, there was a crack in the side so I patched it up with some bread. It would have been better to just not throw out my excess tart dough.

This is definitely one of my favorite desserts. It was easy to make and the chocolate ganache was rich and creamy.

Click here for the recipe.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Turkey Pesto Sandwich

This past Friday was more of a low-key event--sandwiches and some Wingstop (yum!). I made asian pesto sauce the night before from the book Simply Ming (delicious!--pesto made with fresh basil, mint, cilantro, peanuts, jalapeno and lemon zest). I toasted ciabatta bread with pesto sauce slathered on one side, and slices of Yancey's Fancy Jalapeno & Peppadew Cheese on the other. Afterwards, I put some turkey slices, lettuce, onions and avocado, and voila! Delicious! I would have to say, best sandwich I've ever made--best dish out of everything I've posted (except the pizza :P which reminds me--I might make some more pizza... with the extra pesto sauce I got!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Marinated Tofu with Edamame Stir-Fry

Another Friday night, another night to experiment with recipes that look good.  This past Friday, I decided to try making Asian Ginger Soup, Marinated Tofu with Edamame Stir-Fry, and Cold Soba Noodles. While the last Friday dinner was a success, this one was, sadly, more mediocre than great (hence, the short post).

I got the recipe from a magazine, so unfortunately, no links for today! Basically, I marinated the tofu in a mixture of rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, chopped ginger and chopped garlic for 30 minutes. After frying the tofu, I stir-fried edamame, sliced mushrooms, bok choy, bell peppers and onions, added the marinade (thickened with cornstarch) and finally, topped it off with the cooked tofu. I've thought of a few tweaks I can make to the dish--when I've perfected it, I'll definitely post!