Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spinach - Green Monster Smoothie, 3D Chihuahua Cake, Sanji 海贼王 Cake, Trafalgar Law 海贼王 Cake

Hello Helloooo! Wow, seems like a while since I posted, I have been busy with cake orders as you seen from my last posts. You may think it's just a few cakes but to me as a stay home mom with a non-stop 2 year old, it's very difficult to make just a "few" cakes because I'm just one person who have to do the prep work, baking, icing, stacking and decorating while I have to cook 3 meals, do chores, take care of a baby, all at the same time.  So to finish all the cakes in time I pull another one of my amazing All-Nighters, this time its 3 days and 3 nights without sleep...well I did take a 2 hour nap, but still tired plus I had my period so extra extra T-I-R-E-D!!!  Mostly I recover after a good uninterrupted 6 - 8 hour sleep, however, my little one caught a little bug on her day out to the park so she was vomiting all night so that's 4 nights with no sleep! I finally got REAL sick, so sick I cant get out of bed for 2 days! I never had that before because whenever I'm sick I still run a normal life,that's how sick I was.

Feeling very weak I asked, actually I begged, my husband to watch baby so I can get to bed early, he unwillingly agreed.  I woke up for a bathroom break only to find him with his eyes glued to the TV screen and our gorgeous baby girl sitting on top of the kitchen table in which she climb up to reach for a box of chocolate on top of the fridge which, I had thought, is out of her reach!  I nearly burst to tears with anger because I was just so tired and for the rest of the night she is literally bouncing off the walls!!!!!! There goes 5 days with less than 4-5 hours of sleep. 

Now after almost 2 weeks I'm slowly recovering from being sick and very tired.  Baby and I need something very healthy and yet taste good, so I took out this recipe I had since last Halloween of this healthy drink that is lovable even by the little ones!!  I think it's the name that got me...lol
I was a little hesitant when I read that one of the ingredients is Spinach...I was like eww, blended spinach?!
if that original blogger didnt swear that even little ones will drink it and that it's healthy, which we really need, I wont even try it.
I mean, every mom probably go through with one of the kids being a picky eater or even if not a picky eater, we always worried about the kids not getting all the veggies and fruits needs for the day...now as summer is coming, they get the nutrients and able to quench their thirst?! bring on the blenders!!!!!!!

Note: There is green smoothies made with different greens such as kale or chard, and all sorts of combinations of fruits.  The person played around with various combinations and this is her favorite version.

Green Monster Smoothies
Yield: 2-3 servings
1 banana (frozen or not), cut into chunks
1 cup chopped frozen pineapple
1 pear, coarsely chopped
1½ cups orange juice (In my opinion, I'll add more next time since I actually like it more liquidy)
2½ cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried, I'd put less the first time
1-2 tbsp. honey  (it was pretty sweet from the orange juice and fruits already but add to your taste)
3 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional, I recommend only put in for adults)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Try it with apples, strawberries, mangoes or even carrots! There is so many options you can play with!!

Cheers to good health!!!!! EnJOy!
Continue down for pictures of this week's cakes I've made!

 This is a 3D Chihuahua Cake with white suit and red bowtie! I made it for a guy who ordered it for his friend's birthday, it was a very rushed order since it was made at the last minute and I think I'll need to work on it's ears, I was laughing as I put it on, looks like elf ears! hahaha.  This was my 2nd carved dog cake...Look at my first 3D dog cake which was made like errr...around Christmas? hence the Christmas tree : )

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Here is another cake from this week, a 海贼王 Cake with a sugar Sanji topper.  I have no idea what the anime is called in English.  To tell you the truth I never saw it before, though I need to watch it since there is a lot of inquiries about 海贼王 themed cakes.  I actually made another 海贼王 cake last year, a Trafalgar Law Cake, I'm guessing that's another character in that anime, all I know is that they are all pirates that are outlaws or something.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Japanese Cheesecake, Interior Designer Cake and White & Red Cake

 This week has been quite a busy week and I haven't been able to take pictures of all the cakes I've done but here is a few.  One of the cakes was a Japanese Cheesecake, it may be known as Japanese Souffle Cheesecake or Japanese Cotton Cheesecake.  Whatever it's called it's a favorite amongst my family and friends. 
It's soft & creamy, less fat and less dense than the original American Cheesecake because its main ingredient is LOTS of egg whites, which also serves as a healthier choice!  

Another highlight, the cake is topped with whipped cream that is specially sweetened with a Logan flavored Honey, absolutely amazing with the cheesecake.

 My friends & I can finish one 8 inch in one sitting, I can possibly do that myself with a awesome pot of hot Dragonwell Tea or some soothing green tea!  MmmMm!
It took me a long time to find a good recipe and after like 40 pounds of cream cheese used in the process of finding the perfect recipe for myself...I finally got it! There is so many recipes out there and many had produce a very dense type of cheesecake that can make someone say "oh, nothing special about it" but I finally made one that can live up to it's name Cotton...Souffle, so soft and moist a perfect marriage of  cheesecake & sponge cake.

 This cake was requested by a awesome guy for his girlfriend.  Chocolate cake with whipped dark chocolate ganache, definitely for a chocolate lover!  When he first contacted me to make the cake, he also sent me the sketches he drew as an idea for how he wanted the cake, I was actually pretty amazed at how well he can draw, but mainly I admire people who is prepared...ready and knows what they want.   Although I didn't really go with his design, I took the main ideas and make it the way I envisioned it.  I mean I always have to put their budget in mind and design it the best I could within that limit. ^^
So there you have it!  Happy Birthday Miki! - a mickey/minnie mouse lover and a interior design student with a love for red and black. I think I have a talent for interior designing, dont you think? hahaha   


Here is the other cake, a 3-tiered cake...white with red floral designs and a pretty bow with spiral curls.  After changing his mind 3-4 times, the birthday boy finally decided to settle on this style cake.  He had his friend send me a picture of this design from another cake decorator and hoping I can reproduce, so I cant take credit for this design.  Although we changed red ribbons around each base with white bead border instead and added the bow topper too.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pistachio Financiers with Candied Kumquats

On my weekly trip to the Chinese Markets, some Kumquats caught my eyes.  For those who are unfamiliar with Kumquats, they are little citruses that really resembles oranges, except in oval shapes and is much smaller in size. In many cultures Kumquats are grown in pots and put around the house as an ornamental plant,  I'm of Chinese heritage, so these little citruses are not a unfamiliar sight as I was growing up.  Kumquats normally tend to pop up in the markets around Chinese New Years since the name in Chinese meant "Good Luck" "Good Fortune" or something similar.   I remember when I was young, Kumquats were bought and put around the house during New Years, and after a week or so, my parents tend to put them in a huge glass jar and preserve them in salt. Over time, all the juice from the fruit is diffused into the salt. Then throughout the year they appeared again many times, and why? because I was told that a few salted kumquats with a few teaspoons of the brine/juice may be mixed with hot water to make a remedy for sore throats.  A jar of such preserved kumquats can last several years and still keep its flavor, so I guess it's a pretty good investment.
However, I'm born the States so I never really have the tendency to buy or preserve these Kumquats, and OH MY! it's been like 10 years since I even touched one of these! hahaha, gosh and I thought I was more Chinese than most of the ABCs  [American Born Chinese] that I know.  I mean, I cant survive one day without eating rice! Chinese enough? XD 

Normally I'd pass them in the market without giving it a second look, but this time, upon seeing these Kumquats, I suddenly really missed Mom and even those not so good childhood memories.  In the mist of memory recalling I mindlessly put a package of these little orange-y goodness in my cart and brought them home.  Since the Lunar New Year, which was the end of January, has long passed, there isn't a lot for me to buy to preserve in salt.  So I decided I'm going to candy the Kumquats because, gosh, as a sweet/pastry lover, it's not surprising that when I look at everything I tend to think of a way and try to incorporate it into a dessert. ^.^  I never thought I can use it this way!  I'm actually all late into the excitement of Kumquats since it has made a decent impact in the food industry in these past couple of years, I see them in desserts, food, cocktail drinks and even once in a Japanese restaurant I dined in!  Sushi & Kumquats? heck yea! it tasted really good, surprisingly.

So I saw these delicious looking Pistachio Financiers at the Cannelle et Vanille blog and yes...with Candied Kumquats!! I got so excited and decided to try her recipe! I was sooo excited! It was also really good!  Next time I want to try it with All-Purpose Flour since it didn't list what flour she used and I tried it with Pastry Flour like we did in the French Pastry School. 
I also want to say how much her blog inspire my baking AND photography, amazing lady!

 Candied Kumquats

200 grams sugar
200 grams water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1 pint of kumquats

- Bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan (enough to cover the kumquats) and add the kumquats. -Blanch them for about 30 seconds and drain them. Discard the water. Repeat the process two more times. This will eliminate any bitterness from the kumquats.

Make a simple syrup with the first three ingredients by bringing them to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the blanched kumquats and simmer for about 15 minutes in low heat. You can drain them, let them dry and coat them in sugar or you can store them in the simple syrup in the refrigerator.

Pistachio Financier

120 grams egg whites
125 grams sugar
Zest of half a lemon
55 grams flour
25 grams almond meal
30 grams pistachio meal
150 grams unsalted butter, browned and strained, cooled

- Cook the butter in a small saucepan until it starts to foam and dark particles start to form on the bottom of the pan. It will smell nutty. Strain the butter and let it cool.
- Whisk the first six ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly add the brown butter and whisk until it is incorporated. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator overnight.
- Pipe batter into silicon mold, top with candied kumquat and bake at 375F for about 10 minutes or until golden. Time will vary depending on the size of the mold.

Source: Cannelle et Vanille

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pipe Cleaner Daisy Rings Tutorial & DIY: I [heart] Sweets cell phone cover

Being that it's March already, I yearned for the beautiful flowers and lushes green grass.  However, I live in Chicago so Spring never really touches us until late April and it won't be until around Mid-May before we are guaranteed to have stable warm weather. >.<
This post's highlight is the tutorial of how to make Daisy Rings out of your very common and over-looked childhood craft object...yes...pipe cleaners.  I first encounter this was when the Pipe Cleaner Lady was a guest on Martha Stewart's Show.  I was just simply fascinated on how easy yet how darling this rings are,  I was like wow! those are soooo cool! I can't wait to make some for all my girls!  Hope you have as much fun as we did!

Step 1:  Choose 3 pipe cleaner of your favorite color, twist the middle, fan out like cat whiskers

Yup! Just like cat whiskers! Here is my sweet baby wanting to make one also!

 Step 2:  Wrap it around the finger you like to wear it on, and twist the pipe cleaners together but make sure it's fits nicely and just enough tightness so you can slip it on and off without complications!
 Step 3:  After you twist it to ensure it stays together, fan out the pipe cleaners to get the idea of where your petals might go.

 Step 4:  Start rolling them up starting at the end, make sure you roll them tightly or they might come apart later

 Step 5:  There you have it! you can know adjust the petals so they are nice and evenly separated.
 Step 6:  On Martha Stewart's Show the Pipe Cleaner Lady rolled up another pipe cleaner for the center. What I did was I just bought some of these cute little pom pom balls and used a hot glue gun to secure it in the center...SO cute! aren't they?!

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But it seems like my DIY mood haven't been satisfied with just those adorable rings, I decided to add some sweetness to my cell as well.  Don't laugh! I mean, Hey! I'm a pastry chef/cake decorator! I make sweets for a living!
So here's at my latest DIY project! This cute I [heart] Sweets cell phone cover for my lovely Sony Ericsson. It's my first time, I kind of messed up a little with the over-use of "whip cream" because I was just trying to cover up some flaws. Ok, I'll tell you, I finally went to sleep after finishing this cute cover, then I wake up in the morning with my cell gone, OMG! I panicked and ran out to the living and saw my baby sitting on the living room floor, patiently picking the pearls and plastic sweets off my phone!!!! you just can't believe how ANGRY I was!!  Sighs...
So now here is the picture of the restored Sweetness Cell Phone Cover.