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 »

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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 »

Baltimore Good Eats – Bottega

September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Ever since I first heard about Bottega about a year ago, I’ve been waiting for any opportunity to try it. To my dismay, I found out they were temporarily closed for a period of time so it’s taken me this long to finally go but it was definitely worth the anticipation!

From its storefront in Station North, Bottega is very unassuming and if I hadn’t known about it, I probably would pass it without realizing that there is delicious food being created inside. When you walk through the entrance, you’re greeted by friendly faces of the staff and a vintage, rustic ambiance (noted for my future home) filled with natural light and worn wood. All of the food was absolutely delicious, which I will get to soon, but another bonus is the restaurant is BYOB! My friend Elaine and I brought a nice bottle of rosé to enjoy and our waitress offered to keep it chilled in an ice bucket for us by our table, which was much appreciated.

Bottega has an ever-changing menu that reflects what is in season, which is extremely evident in the dishes. The simplicity of the food allows the ripe, fresh ingredients to shine while incorporating a creative twist. Here is the menu as of the day this post was published:

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Bottega

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Nectarine – Tomato Panzanella

September 17, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Yes, I realize I am posting a recipe for a summer panzanella after Labor Day in the middle of September. Nevertheless, it’s been quite warm in Baltimore recently and I had delicious ripe nectarines and heirloom tomatoes that I wanted to enjoy before I’m inundated with apples, pumpkins, and all of the lovely autumn produce. Plus when I saw this heart-shaped heirloom tomato at my local farmers’ market, I just had to get it – so adorable!

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This panzanella is simple yet delicious because it really allows the seasonal, fresh flavors to shine through. With my green salads, I love having more toppings than the actual lettuce/greens and I feel the same way about panzanella so my bread to topping ratio is a little lower than other recipes. Feel free to play around with this on your own and switch up the flavors depending on your preference and what is in season!

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