Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti

December 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Who else has been busy baking up a storm for the holiday season? I participated in Food52’s Holiday Swap for the first time this year and it was so fun putting together a package of treats, including these biscotti and butter cookies, as well as receiving one in the mail! I love gifting homemade goodies because I think people really appreciate the love and time that goes into making them. Plus it is the holiday season so bring on all of the sweets!

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This is my all-time favorite biscotti recipe. Most biscotti are so hard that you feel like you’re going to break a tooth eating them. These biscotti, on the other hand, are still crisp but have ground pistachios added to the dough to help the cookies break apart more easily. That means you can actually enjoy them whether you eat them alone or dip them into your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate!

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And since ’tis the season after all, I added dried cranberries and dipped the biscotti in white chocolate with a drizzle of dark chocolate. I absolutely love biscotti with some chocolate on them because when you dunk them into your hot drink, it gets all melty and is oh so comforting.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday!

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie

November 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I think one of my favorite types of desserts to bake are pies. They are cozy, comforting, and unpretentious. I love baking them from scratch, starting with the buttery, flaky crust to the delicious sweet or savory filling. Even though it takes a bit longer to make this way, there is something special and satisfying about making the entire thing with your own two hands and lots of love.

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I absolutely adore The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book because it focuses on local, seasonal ingredients and literally every recipe I make from it turns out amazing. I still have yet to visit the storefront in Brooklyn so until then, I will just have to continue baking my way through the pie book. The pie crust recipe is my all-time favorite, and it reminds me of the crust from the homemade pies my family gets from a local farm stand – incredibly flaky and really flavorful, thanks to the cold butter and apple cider vinegar.

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This Salted Caramel Apple Pie is one of the best apple pies I’ve ever had. In addition to the crust, I love that the apples are thinly sliced so the apple flavor is distributed evenly throughout the pie. The filling is surprisingly not too sweet, even though you pour a generous amount of salted caramel over the apples. There is just the right amount of spices to give the pie some warmth and remind you that ’tis the holiday season.

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Mini Pumpkin Pizzas

November 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Thanksgiving is less than a week away!! These past few weeks have been so hectic that Thanksgiving completely snuck up on me. I absolutely love baking pies, cheesecakes, and other sweet treats with pumpkin, however I decided to change it up a bit and use pumpkin in a savory way. I couldn’t resist using these fun pumpkin cookie cutters from CookieCutterKingdom and decided what better way to use them than by making pumpkin pizzas! These mini pumpkin pizzas are great snacks, especially to appease your guests as the rest of the Thanksgiving feast is being prepared!

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These pizzas are versatile and super easy to make, especially by using store-bought pizza dough. The smooth pumpkin puree provides a saucy base for the melty Gruyere, roasted squash, and earthy sage. I absolutely love these flavors together – it’s like you’re holding fall in your hands!  « Read the rest of this entry »

Pumpkin – Chocolate Marble Bread

November 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I wait the entire year for this opportunity to add pumpkin into everything and have it be socially acceptable. I love how pumpkin reminds me of fall, my favorite season, with its bright orange color that reflects the changing colors of fall foliage and warm, cozy spices that often accompany it. I feel like it’s an unstated rule that you are required to bake with pumpkin at least once during this time of the year. So let’s get to the point and talk about this incredible Pumpkin-Chocolate Marble Bread!

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As a general rule, chocolate improves almost anything it is added to. This loaf is no exception. The ribbons of chocolate swirled throughout the pumpkin batter provide not only a beautiful contrast in color but also an added depth of flavor. It is so easy too – you just mix some of the pumpkin batter with cocoa powder and then have fun swirling the two batters together! Why choose between pumpkin and chocolate when you can have both for almost little to no extra effort?

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This Pumpkin-Chocolate Marble Bread is extremely versatile – it is simple and not too sweet so it can be enjoyed as a breakfast treat or afternoon snack yet it is impressive enough to serve to guests. It is moist and perfectly spiced to help counteract the sugar and really make it an autumn dessert. Your home is going to smell absolutely lovely while this is baking in the oven. Don’t be surprised if you end up making this multiple times this week!

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Fresh Fig Tart with Orange Cream

October 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I used to not pay much attention to figs, maybe because I was always preoccupied with juicy berries in the summer and crisp apples in the fall. However when a family friend gave us some fresh figs from her fig tree, I was surprised at how delicious they were! When they are ripe, the figs are creamy, sweet, and have a beautiful pink or deep red color inside. They make a great healthy snack or you can do as I do and put them on top of a tart filled with orange cream and pretend your dessert is healthier because it has fruit on it. To each their own.

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This tart has become one of my favorites! My relatives were coming over to my house for dinner and I wanted to make a dessert that wasn’t too heavy but would be a nice, sweet ending to the meal. I normally gravitate towards berries but I wanted to be mindful of the season and then I stumbled upon this great recipe for a fig tart.

The crust is perfectly buttery but isn’t so flaky to the point that it falls apart when you try to slice into it. It is also really simple to make as it doesn’t require chilling or rolling, which gets the tart onto your plate and into your mouth that much faster. Even if you haven’t had luck with a traditional tart or pie dough, you can definitely make this one – trust me!

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The original recipe filled the tart with a lemon curd that was emulsified with lots of butter to create a light, creamy filling. If you’re thinking I’m about to say I decreased the amount of butter, you would be mistaken. You need all that butter for the right consistency! However instead of lemon juice, I simply switched it out for freshly squeezed orange juice.

The hint of orange flavor in the filling with the fresh figs on top help maintain the lightness of this dish (despite all the butter – so sneaky). I drizzled some honey on top of the figs for some added depth of flavor and shine.

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Cheese Blintzes with Cardamom-Spiced Apple-Honey Compote

October 1, 2016 § 3 Comments

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I can’t believe it’s already October! The transition from summer to fall has been so drastic in Baltimore as it has been grey and rainy almost everyday for the past week. I’m hoping it turns to some nice, dry fall weather soon to go apple picking! Fortunately I got some great honeycrisp apples, my favorite kind, from the farmers’ market to make an apple-honey compote to serve with these cheese blintzes (i.e. crepes filled with sweet cheese) for Rosh Hashanah.

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Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts tomorrow at sundown so these would be perfect for a holiday brunch! I always think it’s funny how much I am immersed into the Jewish culture, considering I am not at all Jewish and I am Chinese American. However, my family has worked and now runs a Jewish specialty catering deli in Manhattan called Sables. We’re actually celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, which The New York Times covered. It took me awhile to realize that most other people, especially other kids when I was growing up, have never had latkes, whitefish salad, or cheese blintzes before, which have always been normal to me, alongside xiao long bao, oxtail, and chicken feet.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

September 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I’ve been eating bagels with lox and cream cheese for as long as I can remember. It was always a staple at my house so now whenever I have it, I’m reminded of home. These cute smoked salmon tea sandwiches are my take on a slightly more elegant lox and cream cheese experience perfect for brunch and entertaining guests.

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I’ve added fresh dill to the cream cheese and refreshing slices of cucumber to help cut through the richness of the buttery puff pastry and lox. I also love how the seashell shape makes them extra special!  « Read the rest of this entry »