The two past weeks have been total back to back charette weeks. I started working at Bluestone Lane as a barista trainee / cashier / avocado toast maker / banana toast maker / whatever toast maker, while graphic designing avatars and logos for my UCLA doc friend’s health app, preparing UX/UI design slides for a grocery store while applying for a UX/UI bootcamp program, and collaborating geeky projects with AutoCAD like preparing this tantalizing pie for every mathematician’s favorite holiday: PI DAY.
Every time I think of the pi day, I flashback to my high school moment of being confused and excited to see swarms of tiny students carry all kinds of magnificent pies to their classrooms before first period started. Yet once I wiggled my way through geometry, I learned that geometry wasn’t as terrifying, that proofs weren’t as difficult as everyone made them seem, and pi was more than just a strange 3.14 number to memorize; it’s a glorious number that enables us all to calculate anything circular. Oh pi, I’ve always loved working with you in the classroom and in my kitchen.
So, what pie do we have here? I wanted to prepare a green dessert because I’ve realized I haven’t had a recipe for St. Patrick’s Day and found a cool lime pie recipe, but required too much work for me with the handmade crust and tools that I didn’t want to purchase, especially because I’ve been living with my brother in his tiny cute apartment. So I figured I could save myself (and ourselves) tons of time and money by preparing a St Patrick’s Day pie with a ready made crust that we can all find in Target and/or other grocery stores, and focus more on a creamy boooozy part, with the magic of 2 tiny bottles of tequila, fresh limes, and a tub of fluffy cool whip.Yes, every spoonful or forkful of it… is purely tantalizing. So, go grab your ingredients, your bottles of booze, and whip up some of your own pi day pie for pi day / St. Patty’s / whatever spring holiday or gathering.
Make the margarita curd: In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the lime juice, extra lime juice / tequila, sugar, eggs and egg yolk.
Whisk continuously and place over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until a creamy, thick custard consistency forms, 6 to 8 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the cubes of butter until incorporated and remove from the heat. Pour into the prepared pie crust. Freeze until completely firm, 4 to 6 hours.
Make the lime whipped topping by squeezing the juice of one lime into the 9 oz. cool whip tub. Using a spatula, mix the whipping cream and spread over the pie.
Freshly zest one lime onto the pie. Carefully place a 3″ ring mold over the pie and garnish the blueberries into the ring mold. Remove the ring mold. If you don’t have a ring mold, garnish with blueberries evenly over the pie. Serve immediately or tightly wrap and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days.
Pff… step aside winter, spring is finally reeeaally here!!! Other than a ton of flowers blooming and wonderful events like the superbloom, we’ve got picnics, bbq’s, the pool/beach?? er, in general, outdoor parties finally coming! There are several things you can bring to a spring/summer/outdoor/indoor party… yet my mom and I like to bring what we’ve been cooking for years: Buttery, savory, Garlic Dill Potatoes. It’s really simple, easy, and people go kinda gaga over it. Seriously. I think people are true suckers for garlic and bacon which is kind of our secret to be a winner at potlucks. You can add as many garlic cloves as you want – depending on your love for garlic. I made mine so garlicky that my mom told me I smelt bad. She also told me dill weed is good to reduce menstrual cramps….. Anyway, the smell of garlic and sizzling bacon by themselves on a pan will make anyone crawl for whatever dish it’s in. Oh, and if you/someone is vegan – (a few Instagram followers requested for vegan recipes) , just omit the bacon and the garlic and butter themselves will do justice.
There’s also an update! After my pecha kucha prsentation, a woman from Autodesk’s AutoCAD department found me and The Chef Charette blog after reading about USC’s pecha kucha night and…. emailed me asking if she could feature a story about how I use AutoCAD to develop all my recipes…Jeez, another dream has come true already this year. More public exposure! So I’ll be having a phone interview with her and another AutoCAD employee on Tuesday… please wish us luck that things will go well and we can develop something super cool.
Cut the potatoes in half, cut the halves in half, then cut the quarters in half, so that you have eight wedges from each potato.
Chop the bacon, slice the shallots into thin slices, and mince the garlic.
Heat the butter in a large skillet pan or wok. Add the bacon, garlic, shallots, then the potatoes. Let them brown and stir occasionally.
Remove skillet from stovetop and stir in freshly chopped dill weed.
Stir in the sea salt and desired amount of pepper. Serve immediately.
WOOHOOO!! it’s almost the big V-dayyyy. What could be better than celebrate it with some champagne AND ice cream?!
That’s right. They’re back. They’re cold. They’re sweet. And they’re fizzy. And they’re good for you and if you have a friend and/or lover, that friend.
I have an obsession with ice cream. I love how you can eat ice cream in a bowl, a glass, a plate. And we can all eat it on waffles and plop it on soda/champagne!
How was ice cream invented anyway?! Ice cream origins as far as the second century B.C., but there isn’t a specific date. Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call “sorbet.” Paris’s first cafe, Cafe Procope, introduced the recipe that blended milk, cream, butter, and eggs. But ice cream was still an exotic dessert offered to the elite…. But soon insulated ice houses were invented. Manufacturing ice cream became an industry in America, pioneered in 1851 by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell. Ice cream increased and became more widely available because of technological innovations like the steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment. Today’s total frozen dairy annual production in the states is over 1.6 million gallons! In 1874, the American soda fountain shop emerged with the invention of “ice cream soda.” In response to religious criticism for eating “sinfully” rich ice cream on Sundays, they left it out and invented the ice cream Sunday. The name was eventually changed to “sundae” to remove any connection with Sabbath. After World War 2, America celebrated its victory with ice cream.
This recipe only calls for 4 ingredients: strawberry champagne, (victory!) strawberry ice cream, strawberries, and pomegranate seeds.
Wash the strawberries, then slice and fill each glass with one sliced strawberry.
Pour the champagne so the glass is half filled.
Scoop one scoop of strawberry ice cream over the champagne in the glass.
Top with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately with a spoon. Enjoy!
Hey ladies and fellaaass, after being a bit dormant, I’m baaaaccckk! Since some of you freaked out over why my blog was missing for a week, I’d like to explain the few traumatic things that happened to me over these past few weeks.
But hey, at least 3 other fascinating things happened:
Defrost the puff pastry for about 20 minutes and set about 1″ apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 F
Brush the center of the puff pastry squares with olive oil and honey.
Slice the pears into 1/4″ slices.
Arrange about 3 thin slices of pears along the center of each pie tart, diagonally. Sprinkle desired amount of cinnamon and turbinado sugar over the pears.
Brush the edges of the tart crusts with the egg white. Fold over into pleats and brush egg white over the edges of the tart crusts. Sprinkle desired amount of turbinado sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Drizzle with more honey and sprinkle a few sprigs of fresh basil. Serve immediately!
Once upon a sunny Saturday morning, my friend Alfred Dicioco contacted me, asking me if I wanted his huge bag of pepperoni. As I gazed out at the bright sunny Saturday, I realized that what’s better than going out to enjoy the bright sunny day is to STAY IN to mix up a new recipe with pepperoni and take photos to make the most use out of the beautiful sunlight. (pats myself on the back*)
So I quickly drove out to Alfred’s to pick up my free, giant ass bag of pepperoni slices and invited Cheftofer over to help me come up with this recipe. As you might’ve heard, I’ve been collaborating with Cheftofer (follow him on instagram here) in creating some dessert recipes for his fancy schmancy dinner gigs like popcultivate. Chris is this chill stud / mad-scientist featured on Foodnetwork’s Cutthroat who I really enjoy cooking alongside. Aside from him being a talented chef, ladies – he’s single too ( think!) I give this man full credit for helping me cook the rest of the batches and holding my reflectors while I mainly styled and photographed.
So, what is this okonomiyaki? (oko-noh-mi-yaki) Okonomiyaki literally means “grilled as you like it” in Japanese..Some people refer to it as a Japanese pizza, probably because it looks like a pie, the ingredients/flavors/toppings are limitless, and it’s perfectly shareable! But traditionally, it’s this Japanese pancake that is most popularly served in two ways: Osaka and Tokyo style (sort of like New York style and Chicago style pizza) But hey! Here’s the chefcharette style: Okonomiyaki with pepperoni, shiso leaves, drizzled with a creamy pesto mayonnaise sauce.
Lastly – exciting news. I’m flying back to Japan with 5 other studly architects 11/25-12/05! Follow up with our adventures by following me and my instagram stories!
Wash and finely slice cabbage and shiso leaves.
Mince some garlic and cut the pepperoni slices and shiso leaves into fine strips.
Mix 1 C all-purpose (or okonomiyaki flour), 2/3 C water into a large bowl. If the batter is too thick, slowly pour more water in. Crack open 2 eggs and mix in the minced garlic and cabbage.
Spray or pour some oil in a fry pan until the pan. Once the pan is hot, Spoon the batter in the center of the pan and slightly turn the pan in a clockwise motion until the batter becomes about 9″ in diameter. Place the thinly sliced pepperoni on top and save desired amount if you’d like to garnish.
Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Flip, then cook this side for another 3-5 minutes. When cooked thoroughly, remove from pan by bringing a plate and flipping it onto the plate. Repeat the process for the remaining batter and make about 2-3 more okonomiyaki.
Prepare pesto mayo by mixing the 1 tsp of pesto with 1/4 C mayonnaise.
Drizzle with pesto mayo and garnish with freshly chopped shiso leaves. Slice up and enjoy!
Since I moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles in July, I’ve been particularly paranoid about gaining weight, especially because every meal I’ve been presented with has been twice the scale of every Japanese meal I’ve nibbled on. And, I have a problem with portion control because I barely eat at home with the various work, events, and meal outings I participate in with Yelp, other entrepreneurs, bloggers, engineers, designers. I’ve also been eating out more than ever because I currently have no kitchen! (peek into my LA studio that I’ve designed and settled into here) And lastly, I’ve been testing out and creating dessert recipes for pop up dinners and chefs, which requires me to repeatedly test sweet recipes.
So readers, I am pledging to you all how I am going to valiantly fight in the battle for good health and wellbeing: the fight against my sweet tooth, the fight for healthier recipes so that I can maybe compensate for the years I’ve lost from allnighters and charette from architecture school. Yes, and it’s not just for my own sake – I’m considering my future husband’s and children’s health, and all of you because some of you are my taste testing friends. I figured if I only stick to sweets and desserts, my teammates and family will probably be on the heavier side. I think all of us tend to cringe on how several healthy foods are very bland. Hell, but if you flavor a healthier ingredient with something healthy AND flavorful? Boom! I immediately thought of miso because of my memories of having miso-flavored-almost-everything in my meals in Japan. Miso considerate! eh? hah….. no. miso and mushrooms!
Miso has been a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine for centuries because of it is this flavorful, healthy paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a mold starter) The mixture can ferment anywhere between 3 months to 3 years, and produces a ton of enzymes, amino acids, making it a complete protein and additive to your diet. The bonding agent. zybicolin, is also effective in detoxifying and stimulating digestion!
So while I was limited in time/distance, I thought maybe the nearest Albertson’s would have it. I asked this young Albertsons dude in an aisle if they had any miso in stock. He shook in nervousness, avoided eye contact, and brought me to the soy sauce aisle and told me it’s probably there. PROBABLY? Look buddy, it’s probably not. Because miso must be refrigerated. C’mon America.
So I scrapped the hope of Albertson’s being a great alternative store for Asian ingredients, and drove down to Mitsuwa, one of my favorite Japanese supermarkets in Southern California. It felt like being home in Tokyo. seriously. I found a lovely display variety of miso, a pile of plump Japanese eggplants. and roasted sesame seeds. I rushed back home, and made this: Mini Miso Mushrooms.
Preheat the oven to 400 F and align a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Prepare the miso sauce by stirring 2 tbsp of miso paste, 2 tbsp of mirin, 1 tbsp of sake, and 1 tbsp of sugar altogether.
Mince the garlic and finely chop the eggplant. Mix the eggplant and garlic into the miso sauce.
Carefully remove stems from the bella mushrooms.
Spoon a small teaspoon of the miso sauce, eggplant, and garlic into the mushroom caps.
Chop one cherry or grape tomato in half, and stuff it with sesame seeds into the mushroom cap.
Bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes, or until filling is lightly golden brown. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve warm!
WELL guys, have you heard the big news? Besides Tokyo’s current butter shortage crisis pushing 450g of Hokkaido butter to a WHOPPING $15+, The ChefCharette is MOVING! That’s right, on July 11 I’ll be moving from Tokyo to Los Angeles. But don’t worry! I’ll get my feet back into my next kitchen (wherever that is?) and continue concocting recipes there too! It’s been a damn busy, emotional month of farewelling, finalizing drawings, prepping, and packing before I leave my Tokyo home. (Please forgive me for the delay in posts/responses) As I’m giving away bowls, sending my ceramics and utensils off, I share and end all things sweet with you in Tokyo: Matcha milles crepe cake with almond chantilly.
It seems quite tedious to cook and stack crepes as perfect discs, but once you practice and figure out the right hand swings with some classy jazz (and while getting your hands dirty, some rachet hip hop – if you will) you’ll find the whole pouring batter + pan rotating + crepe flipping + crepe stacking = a very delightful process. You don’t need an electric mixer (though preferred), nor a special crepe pan. Just use good quality butter (even if it costs you a horrifying $15), sift your dry ingredients together, stir them vigorously to rid of any pimply bubbles, let this happy batter rest in the fridge overnight, get your circular pan HOT, and find your own comfortable crepe preparing hand motions to make perfect discs! Of course I still have my own traumatic disasters in the kitchen (see below, figure 1) but as my 3rd grade classmate always reminded me, patience is a virtue; and as my dad always told me, practice makes perfect. (…as close to perfect as I could, figures 2 and 3).
I end Tokyo with matcha milles crepes for 3 major reasons.
In making this recipe, I tweaked my favorite crepe recipe, Julia Child’s master crepe, by adding tablespoons of matcha and sugar. I also spread almond chantily (adapted from my last chantilly recipe) in between each of the 16 layers, and dusted this 16 layer matcha milles cake with extra matcha powder and confectioners sugar. So there, you have it…. Tokyo, I’ll miss you truly, love you always.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Then stir in milk, water, melted butter、and vanilla altogether until well incorporated.
Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and matcha into the egg mixture. Mix altogether until well incorporated.
Tightly close the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan, and then tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly. (Keep the batter at the outer edges to keep the weight from the center for flipping ease).
Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook briefly on the other side.
Cool on a rack or between baking sheets as you finish preparing the rest.
To make the cream chantilly, mix all the 1 cup of 47% heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in a metal bowl with a stand or electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Bring the first layer of matcha crepe onto a cake stand or a plate large enough in diameter to hold the cake.
Carefully spread a layer of cream chantily over this crepe and continue to stack the cake, continuing to spread the chantily in between each layer.
Dust with a mixture of 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of matcha powder over the top. Carefully cut slices into desired sizes and serve immediately.
Thank you Tomizawa for always promising me good quality flour. Jiyugaoka’s Today’s Special for supplying me with winning plates. Farewell, love always.
If my office isn’t asking me to prepare a banquet menu, order desserts, bake sweets, book banquet reservations at “cool, hip, international” restaurants, it’s WHAT?! To prepare jugs of sangria in our kitchenette for our in-office shinjin kangeikai party. Yes, for all 58 employees to go straight from preparing final construction documents on one desk to go _____ on another desk on a Thursday night.
Why? Well, April marks a month of several celebrations: the beginning of spring, new school year, and initiation ceremonies for university graduates who join their first new companies. Traditionally, several new employees begin their first day of work on April 1 and walk in as a pack into the office, all studly in their full suits. After a bit of training, Japanese offices like mine formally welcome and introduce our new employees to everyone by pairing them with senpais (elder mentors) and hosting a 新人歓迎会 (shinjin kangeikai party) As an employee who’s on a second year in the company, my doki/colleagues who joined my year and I were appointed to organize and prepare all major party-related events of this year. Fun, right?
Although red wine seems like a more popular choice for sangria, I decided to make a “lighter” sangria to celebrate spring that weekend and use sake. After sake tasting at the sake store just down the street of my house, I found this fukumasumune sake a perfect choice for sangria. Light. refreshing. DAZZLES in your mouth. Using a bottle of this, a bit of simple syrup, and fresh citrusy fruit swirled in, my Barcelona buddy architect Fernando and I quickly consumed my whole test liter. Oops.
When preparing your sake sangria, stir in some club soda and lots of ice to lighten if the alcohol is too strong and buy plenty of sake bottles so your guests can actually enjoy them too!
Prepare simple syrup by boiling 6 tbsp of water with 6 tbsp of sugar over a stovetop. Remove and set aside to cool.
Slice 1/2 grapefruit, one orange, one lime, one lemon, into thin slices.
Pour the entire bottle of sake into a glass pitcher along with the simple syrup. Stir together.
Stir desired amount of slices of fruit into the pitcher of sake. Stir well. Add club soda or more ice to taste.
Chill in refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours.
Garnish with extra slices of fruit and/or mint leaves just before serving!