Sweetness: Cheddar Covered Grilled Banana

Dessert, Others

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Banana: a simple, reliable, and nourishing fruit. Good to eat raw or cooked. What I love about cooked banana is its natural sweetness. Pair it up with a sharp cheddar and you get a great dessert in no time.

This dish is Jeff’s favorite. I had written about it a while back, but this time I grilled it on a stove top instead of inside the oven.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4-6 bananas (find ones that still have greenish color near the stem)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Steps:

  • Peel the bananas and slice and cut in half (1 banana into 4 cuts)
  • Heat up a non-stick pan, low to medium heat
  • Add butter and let it sizzle
  • Add bananas and let them cook until the bottom part turn into golden color, flip them over (about 1 — 2 minutes each side)
  • Turn off the stove, move the bananas to a plate, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top

Enjoy!

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Sweetness: Mung Beans in Coconut Milk

Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Others

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It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.

Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.

Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.

Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:

We need:

  • 2 cups of mung beans
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 or 2 inches of ginger
  • 6 cups of water

Steps:

  • In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
  • Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
  • Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
  • After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
  • Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
  • While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
  • Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
  • Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next dayIMG_20160615_204919

 

 

 

Rhubarb Crisp

Dessert

I had never tried rhubarbs before. One of the neighbors found out about this and she gave me some from her garden. She convinced me of their delights when made into a crisp. I found Mark Bittman’s recipe and the rest is history. Convinced and sold! I might go to my neighbor’s house and ask for some more rhubarbs. Oh, and I think I will be making crisps of different fruits all summer long. What a fantastic rustic treat!

Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb crisp

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies (a la Jeff)

Baking, Dessert, Snack

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

The snow-covered streets looked beautiful this morning. Snow clump plopped down quietly from the tall evergreen right in front of my apartment window. Peaceful, calm, bright, and sunny. (“Just like on the cover of Christmas cards I saw when I was little,” my mother would always say whenever she’d visit.) Such a different scene from the past two gloomy, windy, and snowy days. When I wrote this post, the AM temperature still read three degrees Fahrenheit tough… It sure has been a cold December in Michigan.

blue sky

Distractions to take the mind off the bitter cold and to stay cheerful are necessary. Mine include: Netflix, good books, movies. Jeff and I also take up my friend Lindsay’s suggestion: baking! Jeff likes the idea very much that this blog post is actually about these delicious and savory cookies he made last night.

Gouda Cheese Butter Cookies

Gouda Cheese Cookies

Gouda Butter Cookies

Here’s Jeff’s creation, inspired by the Dutch-influenced Indonesian holidays cookie: Kaastengels and Nutella butter cookies that we made last week:

Yield: about 100 mini cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 egg yolks (2 for the cookie batter and 1 for the wash to brush on top of the cookies)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of Gouda cheese (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Steps:

  • Beat butter and two egg yolks with a mixer. Add vanilla extract.
  • Slowly, add flour, beat
  • Add cheese and salt, fold. Use both hands to mix.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pick up a handful of dough and, on a clean cutting board, roll and shape into a super long and a rather skinny finger (as long as the cutting board). Then cut the long finger dough into one-inch pieces. Repeat and use up all of the dough.
  • Transfer the mini pieces to two large baking sheets (layered with parchment paper)
  • Brush the top of each mini finger with egg yolk wash
  • Bake for 20—25 minutes
Have a great day, folks!

Have a great day, folks!

Nutella Butter Cookies Covered in Powdered Sugar

Baking, Dessert

Nutella Cookies by Tiny Chili Pepper

A conversation with a friend about Christmas season and baking:

Me: “So Lindsay, we always have good conversations about history, tradition, and culture. Question for you. Do you think there’s a traditional connection between Christmas season and baking, cookies especially? Seems like many people get into this intensified baking mode this time of year.”

Lindsay: “I have no idea if the two are traditionally linked, but they were in my family. My mother would often make sugar cookies and almond sugar cookies. Plus, I’ve always lived in a cold climate, so baking gives an excuse to turn on the oven! It’s also a cheerful, indoor activity that can lift your spirits when it gets dark so early. So those are my reasons.”

Fresh from the oven drop cookies

Hmm, makes sense to me. Linked or not linked, holiday or any day, baked treats sound good. But like Lindsay said, these short, cold, winter days do create a perfect and inviting atmosphere for fresh-from-the-oven cookies, or pastries, along with steaming hot coffee or hot chocolate, don’t they? That and for bundling up!

Nutella Cookies

All these talks about baking cookies with Lindsay made me want to do it too! Jeff nodded enthusiastically when I asked if he’d helped last night. I leafed through a cookbook and found a truly very easy cookie recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies. The recipe called for: butter, flour, powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract, and Nutella. That’s it! All we had to do: beat butter and some sugar with a mixer, added the flour and vanilla extract, formed the dough into tiny balls, dropped them on baking sheets, baked for 12 minutes, and rolled the cookies (after cooling down for a few minutes) in the rest of the powdered sugar. Not too sweet or chocolaty and perfect with coffee! 

Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies

Click here to see the full recipe

Happy baking and have a nice weekend to all!

Warm thoughts to all of us in winter wonderland.

Giada’s Blueberry Banana Bread

Baking, Dessert, Snack


 

Banana Blueberry Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

Ah, the good old banana bread: rustic, classic, and reliable. A fantastic company for coffee over breakfast or snack time. I simply love it. Not to mention the aroma it creates in the apartment when I bake it.

When I started learning how to bake, I picked beginner-friendly recipes. One of them was this wonderful Dark Chocolate Banana Bread  recipe by Baker Bettie. It became a favorite. This summer, I found another hit: Banana Blueberry Bread by Giada De Laurentiis. It has made a few appearances since then. I love how the spicy nutmeg and cinnamon reveal their wonderful presence in every bite.

A favorite: banana-blueberry bread

I follow the recipe with a couple of minor adjustments:

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper to line my oven loaf pan
  • Bake the bread for 55 minutes instead of 60 minutes (my apartment’s oven tends to get really hot I think)

To see the highly recommended recipe, please click here: Banana-Blueberry Bread

Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Peace

Plum Cake ala Food52

Dessert

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When it comes to dessert, I tend to go rustic. I see this pattern on my blog too. Most dessert recipes I do involve a high degree of simplicity and…lots of fruits! Fruit cake/pastry/cookie appeal to me. They taste amazing and look genuine, sincere, and friendly. I find their uncomplicated nature to be charming.

Speaking of rustic dessert, I saw an attractive recipe from Food52 the other day: Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums. Being crazy about plums, I had to try it. Though I couldn’t make mine to look as pretty as Food52’s (yet), the cake came out great, sweet, tart, and lemony–delicious, as predicted. (Notes: Mine was sweet enough, so I didn’t dust the cake with powdered sugar as the original recipe suggested. I also sliced my plums into thinner cuts.)

Hope you like it and thank you for stopping by.

Peace

Click here for full recipe: Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums 

Grilled Nutella Sandwich Dusted with Powdered Sugar

Dessert, Snack
Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar by Harini

Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar (by Harini)

Years ago, my friends and I frequented Quartino in Chicago. We would go to this Italian tapas restaurant, usually, right after work. Most of us worked, some lived, in downtown Chicago at that time. So Quartino was a good place in a central location  for a bunch of friends to regroup and replenish. We’d sit at the lively bar section, crowded our small table with wine, pizza, cheese, various small plates, and some desserts. Conversations about work, bosses, coworkers, relationships, dating, would swim together with other topics like cultures, politics, and whatever world affairs happening at the time. Time has flown by, people have moved away, but Quartino remains to be a memorable hang out spot for me.

grilled nutella sandwich by Harini

Recently, I had the chance to return to the restaurant with a couple of old friends. One of them had mentioned Quartino earlier that day and our afternoon saunter just happened to take us close to the place. So we took it as a sign to pay a visit.

Far from feeling hungry, we just ordered drinks. But then my friend Farah asked the server, “Do you guys still have Nutella Panino?” The server said yes and took the order. I had forgotten about this simple/cannot-go-wrong dessert. Then I remembered how most of my sweet tooth friends loved this grilled Nutella sandwich. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a sandwich filled with Nutella spread, grilled, cut up, and dusted with powdered sugar!

Back in my apartment, I made my version of the panino for Jeff. I think it may have made him fell in love all over again—either with me or with Nutella 😀

So here’s how I do my version of Nutella Panino.

(Eater discretion is advised)

To serve two, we will need:

  • 4 slices of bread (I am loving these Wholesome Oatmeal bread at the moment)
  • Nutella spread
  • A little bit of butter
  • A little bit of powdered sugar

oatmeal bread

Grill the sandwich and gently press down with a small pan lid

Steps:

  • Heat up a small non-stick pan. Stay on medium heat. (I don’t have a panini press so I grill the sandwich manually)
  • Spread Nutella on one side of a bread and cover with another bread
  • Add a little bit of butter on the hot pan until it is melted
  • Place the sandwich on the pan, grill, and press very gently with a small pan lid until the bread gets that nice golden color
  • Turn and grill the other side
  • Remove and let it cool down
  • Repeat the steps for the other sandwich
  • Cut up the sandwiches
  • Dust with powdered sugar

Great snack to serve with dark, robust coffee.

Hope you like it and thanks for visiting!

Buon Appetito!

cut up Nutella sandwich by Harini

Nutella sandwich by Harini

To my old Chicago pals

Easy Apple Tart

Baking, Dessert

I love fruit pastry. In fact, a lot of the baking recipes I’ve blogged involve fruits. Jeff and I would have these baked goods for breakfast with our coffee or as a snack with hot tea at night. So when I saw this recipe from Ina Garten, I couldn’t wait to try it. It’s unbelievably easy and delicious. All you need are apples, puff pastry sheets, a little bit of sugar, and unsalted butter.

As usual, I do a little tweak to the original recipe:

  • Instead of Granny Smith apples, I use Honey Crisp apples (since these tend to be sweeter than Granny Smith)
  • I put the pastries in the oven for about 30 minutes instead of 40. I think my oven gets super hot and I try to avoid charring the bottom parts of the apple tart.
  • I also prefer to go without using the apricot jelly and Calvados. I think the apple tart taste great as it is.

The warm, buttery, flaky, light, sweet and tart, and refreshing qualities make these apple tarts so inviting. What a nice fall treat!

Have a great weekend!

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread – Venturing into the Baking World

Baking, Dessert

I used to avoid baking. It just seemed very complicated. The attitude changed when I found Baker Bettie. She bakes and writes fantastic recipes I actually want to try. Her creativity in flavor combination and in presentation makes baking look like fun. Now, I am inspired!

A novice in the baking world, I appreciate friendly recipes. In the past I’ve tried and written about one of Baker Bettie’s recipes: Soft and Fluffy Blueberry Lemon Cookie . Recently, I tried her recipe on Dark Chocolate Banana Bread with Cayenne…with cayenne! A girl after my own heart! The fine blend of dark chocolate, bananas, cinnamon, and cayenne worked wonderfully. Though quite subtle, the cayenne and cinnamon definitely gave a very nice spice hint to this classic bread. Simply delightful.

Pictures of my recipe trial result: