Friday, May 11, 2018

Sprouting Cherimoya Seeds

I tried to germinate Cherimoya seeds from organic Cherimoya I purchased at one of the food co-op.  I thought the organic ones would not be so 'zapped' by whatever during the transport and its seeds are not sterilized.  Of course, I have no clue at this moment about the agricultural import process and what all that sterilization would do, but that organic Cherimoya cost me $12 for less than 1 pound size.  Tried a couple of different ways to germinate the seeds, but no reaction.  I was very patient.  I decided to discard them and try the seeds from Cherimoya I purchased from the Asian market.  I know for one thing that Cherimoya seed takes a 'long' time to germinate - at least three months.  And its worth the waiting.  After planting the seeds in organic soil (placed inside the house - next to the patio door,) Cherimoya seeds finally sprouted.And I am glad I planted about 10 seeds. 
    This is the sprouting of the first seed.  I was so happy to see it.  I saw it carrying this big o'le pod on its head.  I was concerned that it is to heavy for it... so... I took it off to help out.  Well.  A big mistake.
After watching a few others sprouting and weather got warmer, and I was too busy to tend to them a couple of days, those seeds sprouted with big pod on their head grew bigger and taller than the first one.  Sad.  So the 1st one remained dwarfed as is.  Now I know the pod contains some kind of nutrients it needs to grow until it is all used up, and it drops off on its own.
These ones followed after two weeks.
They are quite strong to hold up those big o'le pods up.
It can even hold it at an angle.
Sorry, Number 1.  I removed your pod too early.
A new ones coming through.
 These groups was taken outdoor.  They seemed to know that they are not indoor, and they are not sure to poke their heads out or not.
 See how they seem to hang onto their pod.
Their future is yet to be seen.  I don't know if they will grow and make it in Sacramento as the other Cherimoya I had a few years ago.  That one died from frost bite one winter because I used the wrong cover to protect it during the winter.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Yummy Carrot Cake with Avocado Oil


Carrot Cake!  It's been a long time since I made last one... I don't even remember when that was.  I searched all recipes, and I chose this recipe I found at foodnetwork by trusty Alton Brown.  But as usual, I make my own variation.  I did not cover mine with cream cheese frosting or the butter, except for buttering the cake pan to coat with flour.  I used sour cream instead of yogurt.  I used Ceylon cinnamon. Organic eggs.  And a couple of other changes in spices . . . using what I have in my pantry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (countertop electric oven - my gas oven is out of commission at the moment)
Smear 9x3 inch glass cake pan with unsalted butter - sides and bottom. 
Sprinkle flour freely to cover.  Set aside.
    12 oz, approximately 2-1/2 C, unbleached flour, plus extra for pan
    12 oz grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp ground cloves
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp Kosher salt
    10  oz sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
    2  oz dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
    3 large Organic eggs
    6 oz Daisy sour cream
    6 oz Non-GMO Avocado oil
    Handful of Raisins.
    1/4 C of ground flax seed mill
Wash the carrots and grate with food processor or hand grate.  Transfer to a bowl.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add dry mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour. Add ground flax seed mill and raisins.  Toss well.
In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and sour cream.
With the processor still running drizzle in the avocado oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan.

If you would like to frost the cake with cream cheese frosting follow the instruction here.
After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely.
Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Yield: approximately 2 cups

The cake is moist and delicious.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Photo Journal of Ella Dinning Room and Bar in Sacramento

I had a great opportunity to visit Ella Dinning Room and Bar in Sacramento the other week.  http://www.elladiningroomandbar.com/
Not that the place is untouchable, it is just a place I kind of would feel out of place visiting by myself.  There are many restaurants I visit including Bouchon in Yountville with no problem, but I am not quite certain what's about Ella, I feel ... well, the opportunity came for a bunch of convention attendees to be invited to attend evening cocktails.  We got the entire place to ourselves.  Here is my photo journal.

















 Friendly chefs




 Look up and open the windows!!


 The best part of it all...we were guessing... lemony creamy custard?   on top of crushed graham crackers?
 The chocolate cup was very good, but we loved the lemon cup the best.



Friday, April 06, 2018

Making Hwa Juwen with Vermicelli and Pork

This is another one of my adventure last summer.   Time really flies.  I was not able to finish the blog after starting it. Although this did not turn out like the ones I made a few moons ago, it still tasted good.  What is an adventure, if everything turn out perfectly.
I have made this before the Hwa Juwen - the 'flower' roll with vermicelli (reconstituted Chinese bean thread).  It is one of my favorite.  Normally, you would not see this much vermicelli mixed in it.  But since this is mine, I did what I like.
Premix reconstituted bean thread noodle (shred cut with kitchen scissors) with stir fried ground pork and some shredded carrots for color. 
Add some salt and white pepper for taste.
Prepare the BAO dough.
Roll out the dough, fill the dough.  Slice the dough and roll the dough.
The BAO dough called for the milk powder, but it turned out that dry powder milk did not add any value to the final product as far as some people claim that it Whitens the dough and having too much rice vermicelli  as I have done didn't help either.  I should just fill it with just enough for the look and stir fry a side dish to go along with it.  (I think I was being lazy.)
Prepare the basic BAO dough.
Let it rise to double.
Roll out and fill with reconstituted bean thread vermicelli stir fried with ground pork and some shredded carrots.   You could add chopped green onions or chopped curly parsley, etc.
Roll up the dough.
*DO NOT slice through to the bottom - make three or four slice cut but not sliced down at the bottom.

On top of a pot with boiling water, in steamer basket, place the filled Hwa Juwen on top of a cut parchment paper-preferably organic.
Steam at high heat for 25 to 30 min.  
*Tester:  Open the steamer's cover slightly and Quickly without burning yourself, remove one of the Hwa 
Juwen to taste.  Quickly return the steamer's cover.
If the dough does not feel sticky and the texture well formed and the pork is cooked.  Power off.  Remove the lid. Remove the steamer baskets off the steamer pot onto a drying rack