Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Although today is Christmas Day, I see it more as a holiday than a religious day. It's just a special day to spend time with family and friends and to give thanks to people we love and care.

The new year is just around the corner. Any new year resolutions?

World peace? ^_^

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bitter Melon

Sweet. Sour. Bitter. Salty. And yes, another recently popular taste term - umami. Which is your most prefer "taste"? I'm a bit of a rebel because I prefer 'bitter' taste. But no, I don't enjoy taking medicine (flashback of me spitting out syrupy, sweet/bitter cold medicine), yet when it comes to food, I would much rather pick a dish with a bitter flavor than a sweet one; hence, don't count me in for a dessert session.

One of my favorite bitter dish is made with of course, bitter melon, also known as goya (Japan) or karella (India). Different regional bitter melons also have varied appearance as well. For example, the Chinese ones have a smoother outer touch than the Indian ones that are like volcanic eruption, but the latter taste crisper than the former kinds.

The bitterness from a bitter melon helps to beat the heat, which is why the Okinawans have a popular dish called goya chanpuru that's a stir fry of sliced goya, tofu, and pork. Since I'm a vegetarian, I omit the meat and just add in other greens, such as scallions or extra chopped Chinese cabbages. Travelling in Beijing, China, I also discovered some locals who served bitter melon as a cold appetizer, which is quite refreshing during the summer season. Just blanch some sliced bitter melon and then drizzle sesame seed oil on top as a dressing. Light and healthy.

Although we're entering into winter, I still crave for some 'bitterness' when I need to rejuvenate my digestive system because I always feel refreshed when I eat my greens no matter what the temperature is outside.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baking Session for Party

Finally! My semester is over! Although I didn't pay $XXX per class, the department decided that we should use the last class to mingle/eat/drink/chat. Not that I'm going to complain because your mind just isn't there in the last class, you know?
So everyone was asked to volunteer to bring in something and of course, I like to use every little excuse to get into the baking mode. I needed something simple though because I don't have much time on hand, so a one bowl wonder sounds perfect for my schedule. Well, it's not exactly one bowl since I've to separate the wet and dry ingredients first, but easy enough to create less mess in the kitchen.

I've a canned pineapple on hand, so I wanted to bake a pineapple cake, but I wanted something WITH it. I realized I've some shredded coconut in the cabinet, so done deal! I'll bake a pineapple, coconut cake with cream cheese frosting! Not only it'll be a moist cake (from the fruit's juice), but I get to use up some of the canned goods AND it's not a chocolatey desserts as most people might have been indulging too much chocolate brownies/cookies/cake lately due to the holidays. And I wanted something fruity, so this was just perfect.

My friend tried it and she loved it because it wasn't too sweet nor too dense. If I had the time, I would make it a two layer cake, but for now, one will do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chocolate Ricotta Cake

There are fou reasons for this baking session. First, I needed to use up the remaining ricotta cake from my Thanksgiving tiramisu. Second, my friend is feeling down lately and doesn't have much of an appetite. My maternal instincts immediately click and wanted to bake her something. Third, baking has always been my therapeutic outlet and I find seeing something created from scratch to finish really rewarding. Fourth, well, I needed to write a new post!

This chocolate ricotta cake is like a one bowl wonder. Besides the sifting and the butter melting, the process is quite simple to follow. Better yet, it's vegetarian because no egg is involved! Well, there's still dairy, but if you don't eat egg, this is definitely a dessert to savor. So without further ado, I present you a very moist chocolate ricotta cake.


3/4 cup of ricotta cheese

2 cups of self-rising flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup of sugar

1 stick of butter, melted

1/2 cup of hot water


1. Preheat oven at 325 F

2. Sift flour and cocoa powder. Then add sugar, butter, water, and ricotta. Mix well, but don't over do it.

3. Butter a pan and pour mixture in.

4. Bake 45-50 minutes. Insert knife to test if the cake is done. If the knife comes out dry, then take the cake out.

You can serve this with some homemade berry sauce or add nuts as well. You're free to decide.