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Showing posts from December, 2007

Creepy candles

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Mike and I won these creepy candles from my friends Helen and Dan's holiday party Yankee's Swap. All credits to Helen who picked out these candles. Imagine a huge factory far away in...I dunno, China? that makes baby-powder-scented candles in miniature glass baby-strollers. All hail to globalization. If you don't know what these candles are for -- well, aren't you glad this blog is informative of such useful products? These are all-occasion candles. For weddings we have the couples candles (yes the melting headless white candles) -- they do come in three so you have 3 chances of using them at your weddingS. Then the baby stroller candle for the baby shower, of course. Champaign candle for all-purpose celebrations. And finally, a watchful virgin Mary candle for those of you repenting your dirty dirty sins!

Birthday cake

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We celebrated my friend Vivian's daughter's first birthday at a Flushing seafood restaurant. I was tasked with the cake. Not able to find a bakery that would take an advanced cake order, I just made one myself. Vivian specifically instructed no nuts or chocolate. But I think we both had the same kind of cake in mind. I think all Chinese/Taiwanese kids around my age (umm I won't reveal the actual number here) would recall this kind of birthday cakes from our childhood -- layers of light yellow sponge cake and snowy white whipped cream mixed with various fruit chunks. The cake is usually plainly frosted with the same kind of whipped cream, and topped with more fruits -- but what is common to all these cakes are slices of canned yellow peaches 水蜜桃! To this day, canned peaches are still a guilty pleasure of mine. When I was little, I always begged my mom to get a can of peaches if I tagged along with her to the western-style supermarket.

Other than the peaches, I still used fre…

Moroccan Lamb with Quinces

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Well I pulled off the 10-people dinner party rather successfully, I must say. The Christmas tree provided very nice lighting and ambiance. My friend Yvonne brought the most amazing cheese (Vacherin Mont d'Or, supposedly available only once a year from a specific Swiss region) that the guests continued to rave about a week later. Mike was, of course, in charge of the drinks. He managed to give so much booze out that everyone was drinking water by the end of the night. I was way too tired to bother taking pictures. But here's an old picture of the Moroccan Lamb dish with couscous exactly how they were served. The recipe was, you guessed it, from Martha's magazine. The addition of saffron gave the dish an exotic edge, and the lamb was cooked to falling off the bones. In my opinion, the shank was such an amazing cut because all the connected tissue becomes a soggy sticky mess that creates a great mouth feel. The high-pectin content in quinces thickened the sauce very nicely, a…

My first Christmas tree!!!

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I had no idea Christmas trees are so expensive!! And I learned so much about having a tree -- it's not just the lights and ornaments. I learned about tree stand, tree skirt, and tree bags. I also learned of the different techniques of hanging tree lights to create different effects. I thought I was going to follow the directions and string the lights tightly on each and every single branch. But then I came to my senses. Now I just need a fireplace to go with my tree...

Pike quenelles with mushroom cream sauce

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I had planned to make this dish for my upcoming dinner party. The recipe came out of the Gourmet Cookbook, from which I have yet to make a bad dish; that is, until now. Quenelles are named such because of the shape -- any semi-solid food ingredients can be coaxed into a football shape with two large soup spoons. In this case the quenelles are made out of white fish paste, egg white, and heavy cream. I suppose this method came about when there were a lot of fish with too many bones. After the fish is ground up with egg white and then mixed with the heavy cream, the pasty mixture had to be forced through a fine sieve -- an undertaking that I soon realized would prevent me from ever attempting this dish for a dinner party, not to mention I would have had to double the recipe to accommodate the number of guests. The paste was so thick that it took A LONG TIME to get to the final fine paste. The obvious need was to get rid of the bones back when this recipe was devised -- but I started wit…