Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mince pies

Apologies for the lack of posting. Life has gotten a bit busy over the last few months. Not sure how often I can blog, but I wanted to post this recipe for mince pies.  Mince pies are a tradition here in the UK.  They are a fruit-based sweet pie. Originally these pies had actual meat in them.

I used Paul Hollywood's recipe for mince pies but only the short crust pastry that he uses for his mince pies.

Here's the measurements for the short crust pastry (I've included the US measurements.)

375g plain flour (all purpose) - 1 1/2 cups
250g butter softened - 1 cup
125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling - 1/2 cup
1 medium egg
dash of cold water

However I prefer the smaller size pies. After preparing the pastry, I used this shallow bun tin instead.  I cut out circles that fit into the bottoms of the tin. Then I cut out lids with the fluted circle that's slightly larger.  For the filling I just used 1 jar of mincemeat which was only 0.75p at Tesco.  Make sure you don't overfill the pastry.  Also I added little stars on top. I wet the top with a dab of water and then placed the star on top. Next time I will bake it a shorter time. I think the longer bake time caused them to bubble out a bit.  This recipe made 24 mince pies. Also as Paul promised, no soggy bottoms!

Took some to the office, and they seemed to enjoy them. I will take the rest to my inlaws this weekend. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of mince pies, but since it was easy to make, I think it's something that can be made every Christmas season.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, August 17, 2012

yummy crumble

I've been trying to find the right balance of butter, sugar and flour to get a nice crunchy crumble topping. I think this might be a winner.

I decided to try using dark brown sugar which caramelizes very nicely with the butter and heat.

I used:
120g plain flour
50 g caster sugar
50 g dark brown sugar
75 g unsalted butter at room temperature

Actually the butter doesn't have to be at room temperature because it warms up as you start mixing the ingredients together. I recommend mixing it all by hand especially if you're using butter straight from the fridge.  Keep mixing until  you get a breadcrumb texture.  Then place on top of your fruit mixture. I decided to do another apple and rhubarb mixture which I posted earlier.

You can see the nice caramelization around the edges of the dish.  I topped it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to cool it down. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

fish cakes

One of my husband's hobbies is fly fishing.  He even ties his own flies.  I never mind when he goes fishing because usually 9 of out 10 times it means he will come home with a reward!  Last Saturday while I was cooking my boeuf bourguignon, he was out fishing.  To my delight, he came home with six trout shown on the left.  I learned that trout has similar qualities to salmon.  It has a pink flesh and similar consistency to salmon.  The taste is more earthy than salmon.  So I like to find ways to hide the earthy-ness.

Then my challenge to think of ways to use this salmon.  This time I decided to make fish cakes.  Rather than the usual tarter, we enjoyed our fish cakes with sweet chili dipping sauce.  I made a side salad using our homegrown cherry tomatoes. My husband said he wouldn't mind if I made it again. Nice and easy meal.

If you don't have breadcrumbs at home, try making your own. I just take the ends off the bread that no one ever eats, and let them dry out. Then I bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then pop them into a food processor to get your own homemade bread crumbs.  

  • 2 large potatoes cut into big cubes
  • 2 fillets of trout (or salmon)
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp flour
  1. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes until they are tender.  When done, let them steam dry for a few minutes. Then mash them in separate bowl.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, grill the salmon for about 10 minutes until fully cooked. 
  3. Once the trout has cooled, break apart the trout into flakes into the mash.
  4. Combine the trout and potatoes added some salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Make the fish cakes about 6cm (2 1/2 in) in diameter. You should have about 8 cakes.
  6. Dip them in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. (Tip: I use different hands for this step.   I use my left hand for the dry ingredients, and my right hand for the wet ingredients.)
  7. Chill the cakes in the fridge for about 30 minutes so fish cakes don't fall apart when you fry them.
  8. Place about 3 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on medium heat.  Cook the fish cakes about 4-5 minutes on both sides until they are nicely brown.
  9. Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce or any dipping sauce of your choice.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ever since I saw the movie, Julie & Julia, I've always wanted to make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourginion.  However, you do need the right cooking tools.  As a wedding gift, we received a beautiful Le Creuset casserole dish, something I've always wanted.  Granted, they are much heavier than normal pots, but they last a lifetime.

Now that I had this beautiful pot, I decided to make Julia's boeuf bourguignon.  You do need at least 5 hours to make this dish, so when you have a free Saturday or Sunday, this is a fantastic dish to make for your family or friends.It makes about 6 servings. 

I had to adjust a few things because I couldn't find pearl onions, so I used small white onions.  Here's a recipe for brown braised onions. Also I couldn't find bacon rind in time so I just sauteed the bacon in the dish first. And I decided to  use a whole bottle of wine. The recipe calls for 3 cups, but I added another 1/2 a cup. Also, I skipped the step of pouring it into a sieve. 

The preparation does take awhile, but once you get everything into the casserole dish, you basically leave it alone for the next 2 1/2 hours-3 hours.  I checked it every 30 minutes to make sure the dish was simmering slowly.  The aroma from the kitchen was intoxicating. I sat working on my knitting project while watching the olympics.  It was a nice way to spend my Saturday afternoon especially since Team GB did outstanding on Super Saturday with three gold medals!

I wasn't planning to eat it until the next day since my husband was away fishing.  However, I did take a little spoonful when it was done.  The beef was so tender  you didn't need a knife to cut it.  It just fell apart into pieces.  The dish definitely tasted even better the next day.  Before serving I topped it off with mushrooms sauteed in butter and olive oil.   The recipe suggested serving it with boiled potatoes and sweet peas along a nice beaujolais.

I even let our neighbor's cat, Zipper, have a taste.  I think he enjoyed it because he left a very clean plate.  Made doing the dishes a lot easier.

I hope my husband's office mate are jealous my his lunch I packed.  :)

Servings: Serves 6
  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Banana Coconut bread

What do you do with those very ripe bananas that are almost black, mushy and almost ready to toss? Banana bread! But rather than the normal banana bread, what about banana bread with a twist?

I have enjoyed using my Nigella Kitchen cookbook given to me by my dear friend, Dizzy. Most of these latest baking posts have been from Nigella.

I decided to try her coconut and cherry bread sans cherries because I didn't have any in my cupboard.   In baking usually you want to stick to the recipe, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to leave out the cherries.

What I liked about this recipe was instead of just a plain banana bread, you add coconut.  Here in the UK, they call it dessicated coconuts. How do I have this in my cupboard and not dried cherries? I was planning to bake something else with the coconut. Since it turned out so nicely, I think I will make sure I have coconut in my cupboard for the next time I have very ripe bananas.  My husband enjoyed it.  The bread was nice and moist.  What was a bonus? I didn't have to wait for the butter to get soft.  This step sometimes prevents me from spontaneous combustion , I mean spontaneous baking. Enjoy!

Hm.. just thought of something... what about adding pineapple pieces to make it like a pina colada bread?? Oh... something to try and experiment!

125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
4 small-medium bananas (approx. 500g with the skin on)
150g of caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g of dried cherries (optional)
100g of desicated coconut
1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C/gas mark 3. Put a loaf liner in your tin, or just line the bottom with baking parchment and grease the sides.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, take off the heat and leave to cool. Peel and mash the bananas in another bowl.
3. Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the bananas and the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and bicarb. Finally, add the dried cherries and coconut.
4. Fold well so that everthing is incorporated, then pour and scrape into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 5o mins, but check after 45. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the sides of the tin and will be bouncy on top. Leave it in the tin for 10 mins before transfering to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lemon Polenta Cake

This weekend is the start of the Olympics in London.  I managed to get tickets to table tennis.  My husband wasn't really ecstatic to watch with me, so my friend, Jen, said she would love to go. Also her husband, Ben, said he would do dinner for us. Since they were providing the main meal, I thought I would bring dessert. Jen & Ben are both allergic to gluten. Luckily I had another recipe that I wanted to try from Nigella, her lemon polenta cake.

I was wondering what to top the cake with because it seemed a bit plain.  Luckily, Jen had some extra strawberries so we added those on top of the cake.  It turned out very moist from the lemon drizzle you pour on top when it's done. Definitely a recipe I will try again whether you are allergic to gluten or not.

  • for the cake:
  • 200g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup, below)
  • for the syrup:
  • juice 2 lemons
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin


  1. Line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
  4. Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
  5. Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  6. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.
  7. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.
  8. Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.
  9. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flourless chocolate cake

Knowing people who are allergic to gluten has allowed me to try recipes that they can eat.  We have a monthly department meeting, and I signed up to make dessert.

Hmm... what could I make that is gluten-free?  How about a flourless chocolate cake? I found a recipe from Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Kitchen. This recipe can also be found online.  Her version is a flourless chocolate lime cake with margarita cream.

I decided to leave out the lime and the margarita cream because I didn't have any lime or margarita ingredients.  Overall, it was an easy recipe, but it was helpful having a freestanding mixer (one of my lovely wedding gifts which I LOVE).

I baked it early in the morning, and I had to remind my hubby not to be tempted to eat it.  I did tell him that I would save him a slice.  I recommend cutting into 10 slices because it's a pretty rich cake. I doubt anyone will complain.

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 6 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 teaspoons best-quality cocoa powder, 
  •  icing sugar, to dust (optional)
  • 1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4, line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), then set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale and moussy. I do this using a freestanding mixer, but a hand-held electric model would be just fine too; obviously, by hand is possible but would demand tenacity and muscle.
  4. Mix the ground almonds with the cocoa powder and fold this gently into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate and butter.
  5. Pour and scrape this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes (though start to check at 35); the cake will be just firm on top, but still have a bit of wobble underneath.
  6. Remove from the oven and sit the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool. Once the first heat has left it, drape a clean tea towel over the cake to stop it getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected; it’s crunch I’m avoiding here.
  7. When cold, unmould, dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

Back in the states, I was introduced to Wegmans chocolate macaroons.  I have been searching for a recipe or trying to find an equivalent.  I think that I've found a substitute. It's not the same, but it definitely hits the spot!

These are Mrs. Crimble's chocolate macaroons.  I was introduced to it by my friends who are allergic to gluten.  Who says you have to be allergic to gluten to enjoy Mrs. Crimbles?  The combination of chocolate and coconut is very nice.

Now I am on the hunt for a good coconut macaroon recipe to try and make my own. I would love to try and make them more like Wegmans which has a fuller buttery taste to them.  Maybe I need to come up with a whole new baked good line. Mrs. Turners? Hm... Watch out Mr. Kipling and Mrs. Crimbles. You may have some competition.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spicy Braised Chicken Stew (Dak Doritang)

Over the weekend, friends of mine from Australia were visiting.  Initially we made plans to go out for dinner, but I decided that I wanted to cook.  The husband usually leaves comments on my food photos.  I decided to make spicy braised chicken stew (dak doritang). People called it different names. I've always know this dish as dak doritang. I went to my trusted Maangchi to find a recipe for dak doritang.  I added about 4-5 large carrots cut up into 2 inch pieces when  I added the potatoes.

As I tasted it, I wondered how my non-Asian Aussie friends would handle heat. Luckily, they love spicy food, so everyone enjoyed the meal.

And for that added touch, my husband set the table for our dinner party.  He brought a whole Asian feel to the tablescape. He even found Asian folk music for dinner music.  Not bad for a British man, eh? 

Another funny thing. As I was cooking, our neighbor's cat, Zipper, came over to the kitchen. I think he smelled something good, and he wanted a taste.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):
1 kg Chicken wings & thighs
¼ cup soy sauce,
¼ cup garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar,
2-3 med size onions (halved)
2 green onions, chopped
3-4 large potatoes.
4-5 large carrots, cut into 2 in pieces.

Cooking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  1. Cut 1 kg (about 2 pounds) of chicken wings or chicken thighs into bite sized pieces. Wash and  drain.
  2. Make seasoning paste by mixing ¼ cup  soy sauce, ¼ cup of minced garlic, ¼ cup hot pepper paste, ¼ cup of hot pepper flakes, and 1 tbs of sugar.
  3. Put the chicken and 2 or 3 medium sized onions (2 cups’ worth) into the seasoning paste. Mix it with a spoon.
  4. Add 2 cups of water to the pot and mix it up.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium high heat for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, peel 3-4 large potatoes (600 grams: 1.5 pound). Wash and drain them, then cut into large chunks 2 inch across. Set aside.
  7. Chop 2 green chili peppers and 2 stalks of green onions into small pieces. Set aside.
  8. 20 minutes later, add the potato chunks and chopped green chili peppers to the pot. Stir with a spoon, then let it cook with the lid closed for another 20 minutes.
  9. Open the lid and cook another 3-5 minutes. Keep the lid open to boil away some broth and thicken.
  10. Occasionally take some broth from the bottom of the pot and pour it over the top so everything gets some delicious broth.
  11. Transfer it to a large serving plate and sprinkle 2 chopped green onions over top.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Apple and rhubarb crumble

My colleague brought into work some rhubarb that she cut from her garden. So I decided to make an apple and rhubarb crumble. After reading a few reviews on BBC good food website, I decided to combine two recipes.

4 stalks rhubarb
3 Braeburn apples
150g unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp caster sugar

120g plain flour
60g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces

1. For the fruit filling, pull any tough strands of skin off the rhubarb - don't peel it completely or you won't have any colour left. Cut the stalks into fairly chunky pieces so they keep their shape and don't end up as a purée when you cook them. Peel and core the apples and cut them into similar sized chunks; we use equal quantities of each to balance the flavour.

 2.Melt a knob of butter in a pan and sauté the fruit to drive off any extra water. If you don't do this now it will release a flood of liquid into the crumble and make it soggy. Add the cinnamon and sugar. Cooking the fruit right through at this stage means all you have to cook at the end are the crumble toppings, which is great if you are serving them at a dinner party, as you can finish them off in the oven during the main course.

3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter, then rub into the flour using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. Do not overwork it or the crumble will become heavy.

4. Pour the fruit into baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top. Don't pack it down, just let it take shape naturally. Bake for 40-45 minutes until nicely browned on top. I like to serve this crumble with custard. I haven't found a custart recipe so for now it's Ambrosia custard from a can.

Friday, July 6, 2012


My friend has started a cake business, and my work has hired her for two occasions. Her first cake was amazing! It was in the shape of a globe for a family moving away.  Her second cake was my request because we needed a cake for our UK reception.  She made the top layer an apple cake with white chocolate ganache (for Rich because he loves anything with apples), and the bottom layer was chocolate with chocolate ganache. 

Then we had a farewell party for two friends at work.  So we gave her a henna design, and she replicated onto the cake.  This cake was gorgeous! Almost too pretty to eat.  But eating it wasn't a problem.

I hope my friend's cake business really gets going. Hopefully she'll start a page on facebook soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sunday Roast

Usually on Sundays my husband will make a Sunday roast which is a traditional British main meal served in the early afternoon.  It is made up of a meat, potatoes, vegetables and sometimes a Yorkshire pudding if you're having beef.  He makes a really good Sunday roast.  This past Sunday he was busy out in the garden so I thought I would give it a go.

First I pour one cup of vegetable oil into a small baking tray and heat it up on the oven at 180 degrees C. While this oil is heating up, I boil 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chucks. Boil them halfway. When you can stick a fork into it and it seems partly done, take them off the stove. Drain them, and then shake them up on the pot to break them up a bit.

Then place the potatoes into the pan with oil. When you put in the potato, the oil should sizzle. If it doesn't, heat the pan longer.  Prepare the chicken by putting them into a baking dish with some oil, salt and pepper.  At the same time, place the chicken into the oven.  We like dark meat, so I used chicken thighs and drumsticks.  Bake for about 40 minutes with the potatoes until the chicken is done.

The potatoes are done, then they turn nice and golden brown.

Then I boil frozen peas until they become soft.

For the gravy, I use already made gravy.

And then you're done! For my first time, it wasn't bad, but I still prefer my husband's Sunday roast. Maybe b/c I don't have to prepare it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bakewell Tarts

My husband loves cherry bakewell tarts. We usually have a box of Mr. Kipling's cherry bakewells in the cupboard.  I wondered. How hard is it to make a cherry bakewell tart? Is Mr. Kipling the only one who can do it well?

I used this recipe from BBC good food website.  However, this recipe makes a loaf size tart.  I was able to make about 35 tarts without blind baking them.  I baked them for 20 minutes at 160 degrees

Next time, I'll use a large pastry cutter to make bigger pastry shells. I'm going to try and make them like Mr. Kipling.

Mr. Kipling, we're having a showdown.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting

 At work, every other week we have coffee morning.  Since I had some nice ripe bananas (basically black), I decided to make these banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

I found the recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. I must have seen this recipe awhile ago and just saved it. Instead of chopping peanuts for a topping I decided to top them with dark chocolate shavings. To make the shavings, using a large knife, scrape the knife towards you along the chocolate bar.  Then you get these nice shavings. Something I learned from Jamie Oliver.  Very easy and quick! This recipe says it makes 12, but I doubled it and made 32 cupcakes.  The frosting recipe was enough (and some) to frost all 32 cupcakes.

Even though it was my first time making them, it was a hit. I think my office enjoys being my guinea pigs. :)

Makes 12 Cupcakes



  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (133g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
  • Chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts (optional)



  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F (Gas Mark 4/ 180°C). Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.
  • Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).
  • Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.


  • Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally. Sprinkle lightly with chopped peanuts, if desired. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Victoria Sponge Cake

For my one month anniversary, I decided to make a British cake since I married a British bloke, . What is more British than a Victoria sponge cake named after Queen Victoria. She enjoyed a slice of sponge cake with her afternoon tea (stated by wikipedia).  Victoria sponge cake is made of two vanilla cakes with cream and strawberry jam in the center.

I followed a recipe from BBC good food website. (This recipe is all in metric units.)  Sadly I haven't figured out my oven so the top layer did not bake entirely so the middle sunk.  However, I think it turned out nicely for my first Victoria sponge cake.

We enjoyed it for dessert, and I've brought most of rest into my office to enjoy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kung Pao and Hot and Sour soup

Because my friend, Jen was going to have surgery, a friend organized meals for her family so she wouldn't have to worry.  I signed up for last night.  I decided to make a Chinese meal, but it had to be gluten-free.  So the menu was shrimp fried rice, kung pao chicken and hot and sour soup.  I've made shrimp fried rice before, but I had to search for the recipes for kung pao chicken and the hot and sour soup. Hopefully Jen's family didn't mind being guinea pigs for me. I don't have a recipe for the fried rice. That will have to come at a later time.

Overall, it turned out really well! Next time I want to make both of them spicier. They both could use more of a kick. Instead of changing the servings on the recipe for the kung pao, I just doubled it and followed the recipe as is.  It makes it easier to follow it. I did receive a wonderful message from Jen's family telling me how much they loved the meal. So these two recipes are definitely keepers!

Now, I just need to find a good Chinese take-out place in my town.  Yes, I can cook it, but sometimes you just want to call for Chinese take-out. There's something about eating out of those Chinese take-out boxes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Apologies to any readers following this blog.  I've been a bit busy getting engaged, planning a wedding, and getting married.  Now that I'm settling back into married life, I plan to post regularly to this blog.  So readers, don't lose hope!