Cheesecake Flan

Cheesecake Flan 1

I forget how I came across this recipe, but it contained two things I love, cheesecake and flan, so I knew I had to make it. Although I overcooked my first batch (an issue I will address with I provide instructions for the recipe), the second batch I was much more careful and the results were amazing. The texture was perfectly smooth and silky. The hybrid of the two desserts is interesting, and I debated for a while whether or not I liked it enough to want to share it. The first one I had was very, very tangy, predominantly the taste of cream cheese, and only sweet enough when I ate it with the proper amount of caramel from the bottom. This was about 1/2 hour after I took them out of the oven. I didn’t like it so much.

Cheesecake Flan 2

However, the second time I had it, after a night in the fridge (the flan, not me), it was more flan-like than cheesecake. Perfect sweetness and texture of the flan, and an occasional tanginess to kick. Maybe inverting it onto a plate made the caramel spread more evenly and made it taste better. Perhaps the 3rd time tasting it will reveal the answer. Anyway, I think this recipe is interesting enough by itself to share, and my 2nd flan was quite delicious. Its a little heavier than flan, but not as heavy as creme brulee or cheesecake. Think of it as a heavy flan, or a light cheesecake I suppose.

Anyway, I got my recipe from the Food Network, and here are some tips to help.

  • The baking time for this recipe called for 30 minutes at 325F. People get varying results probably because the amount of water they use to fill the container is different. I used a 9×13 baking pan with ~6 cups of water and the flan was fully baked at around 30~35 minutes.
  • Your flan is over-baked when the top of the custard is puffy and has bubbles in it
  • You can substitute low fat cream cheese with regular cream cheese if you would like.

Have you ever made any desserts that was a fusion of two separate desserts? How did it turn out? Tell me about it! I would love to try more interesting mashups.

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OTB Bicycle Café

South Side isn’t a place I go very often because its not easy to get to, and parking is usually a pain in the ass. Both my current roommates work in South Side, and one of them knows the restaurants here very well. He told me that OTB Bicycle Cafe had the best fries he’s ever had, and a peanut butter jelly burger. A what? Yes, peanut butter jelly burger. Think your normal lunch sandwich, but with a delicious burger patty in it. Their menu had 3 different burgers that contained peanut butter in it (not all burgers had jelly with it). We happened to ordered all three of them.

The Fixie - Topped with relish, blackberry preserves, and Wholey's homemade peanut butter. Its our PB&J burger and you'll be craving it once you try it!

The Fixie – Topped with relish, blackberry preserves, and Wholey’s homemade peanut butter

As you can see, the peanut butter comes on top, lathered on thick. The blackberry preserves are beneath the burger, and I don’t remember any relish on my burger. The peanut butter itself was delicious – thick, gooey, and incredibly peanut-y. The peanut butter was also a lot sweeter than what I expected on a burger, not that it was too sweet, but its that I expected them to try to bring out the savory side of peanut butter. The blackberry preserves went really well with the burger, kind of like some sort of chutney. However, I didn’t find the whole peanut butter jelly burger very… transformative. It was like I was eating, well, a burger with peanut butter on it. I’m not so sure if this burger was as successful as I would have liked.

The Banana Seat - topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas wrapped in crispy bacon

The Banana Seat – Topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas wrapped in crispy bacon

I didn’t get to try this one, but I feel like it has a higher chance of success because of the bacon and peanut butter combination. The banana I’m not so sure about…

The Dirt Rag Delight - topped with American cheese, dill pickle, and Wholey's peanut butter

The Dirt Rag Delight – topped with American cheese, dill pickle, and Wholey’s peanut butter

My roommate added bacon ($1 extra) to this burger, and I felt like this one was more cohesive than my burger. Although I’m not fond of pickles, the savory component brought the peanut butter and burger together more. Plus, bacon and peanut butter is amazing.

Our meals came with fries, which are tossed in herbs and possibly Parmesan cheese. We agreed that it tasted like sour cream and onion chips, so maybe some sort of  dried onion seasoning?

Full meal with fries plus an extra helping of peanut butter

Full meal with fries plus an extra helping of peanut butter (extra)

I wouldn’t say I fell in love with this place, but it certainly served up some interesting burgers. I would love to have one of the other peanut butter burgers to myself for another try though!

OTB Bicycle Café
2518 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 381-3698
Have you been here and tried their interesting peanut butter burgers? What do you think? Please let me know!
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Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki 1

Growing up, I’ve always disliked eggs. I remember my mom used to ask us at dinner if we wanted a fried egg for dinner, and I would always say no. Although I grew up liking dan bing (Chinese egg pancakes), it was definitely the bing, or pastry part, that I liked better. Then, after watching a lot of Good Eats, I realized it wasn’t eggs that I disliked, it was overcooked eggs that I disliked. Overcooked eggs are smelly and unctuous, so I always prefer them a little undercooked, at least a little creamy.

Tamagoyaki 2

With that in mind, I tried to make my version of the perfect tamagoyaki. I watched the tamagoyaki video by Cooking with Dog, which is an adorable channel in which a poodle seems to narrate the the steps for making Japanese food while a Japanese women cooks. Anyway, tamagoyaki literally means “fried/baked eggs,” and its typically a rectangular sheet of egg rolled up seasoned with dashi (Japanese fish stock), soy sauce, and sugar. The original recipe called for parsley, but I didn’t want to bother with it because really, who is ever able to taste parsley anyway? I also didn’t have dashi on hand, so I substituted it with some chicken broth powder. After a couple tries, I think I have this recipe down.

Tamagoyaki 3

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp stock of your choice
  • 1 1/3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soysauce
  • Cooking oil

Note: I use 1 tsp Lee Kum Kee Chicken Bouillon Powder and add it to 3 tbsp water to make the stock

Procedures:

  1. You will need a Tamagoyaki pan, but if you don’t have one a small frying pan is fine, preferably a non-stick one. Heat the pan up with medium heat and add a small bit of oil of your choice
  2. Beat the 3 eggs and add the other ingredients (not including oil). When the pan is hot, use a ladle and add 1 spoonful of the egg mixture. You want to have enough egg mixture to cover a thin layer at the bottom of the pan.
  3. The egg layer should not bubble or sizzle while its cooking. If so, turn down the heat. Give it 2-3 minutes to cook until the egg layer is not liquid, but not necessarily cooked through. Roll the layer up using spatula and chopsticks, making the rectangle roughly 3-5cm wide. Push the rolled up egg to the side of the pan.
  4. Pour another ladle of egg mixture onto the pan, making sure the egg touches the original egg roll. Repeat the process of rolling the egg and pouring the egg mixture. When you are rolling the egg, be careful because the edge of the egg roll and the new egg mixture is fragile, and breaks easily.
  5. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Tamagoyaki 4

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Port Wine Sauce

Panna Cotta sans sauce

Panna Cotta sans sauce

I was fairly surprised how well this recipe turned out to be. I only bookmarked this recipe because I had some port wine left that I needed to use up, and I had put off making it for a couple of weeks because it wasn’t really a recipe I was excited about. However, the result turned out to be a deeply chocolate-y and luscious panna cotta with a nice tangy sauce to go with it. Not bad at all.

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Sauce 2

The original recipe can be found at Baker’s Royale.

Yield: Makes a total of 20 oz. about 5 servings

Ingredients:

Chocolate Panna Cotta

  • 2 cups plus 1/4 cup of half & half or heavy cream
  • 1 envelope plain gelatin (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Port Wine Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Procedure:

To make chocolate panna cotta

  1. In a wide bowl, pour 1/4 cup dairy and the packet of gelatin on top. This is to allow for blooming, so that it melts and gelatinizes evenly.
  2. In a small pot, combine the rest of the dairy with the cocoa powder. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before heating it on the stove. Add the sugar and bring it to a simmer.
  3. Place the chocolate in a bowl, and pour the hot mixture over it. Allow it to sit for another 5 minutes and stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and pour the solution through a sieve.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate dairy mix onto the gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Pour into 4 or 5 ramekins. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight covered loosely.

To make port wine pomegranate sauce

  1. Add port wine, pomegranate juice and honey into a pan and cook, only letting it simmer. Stir until the liquid is reduced to your liking.
  2. Drizzle on top of set chocolate panna cotta at time of serving.

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Sauce 3

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Liebster Awards

A couple of days I was nominated for Liebster Awards by Becca from Bee Sweet Surrender! What is Liebster Awards? Its…

“The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.”

It was incredibly sweet of Becca to include me, especially since I was didn’t think many people followed my blog. Liebster Award is an award by bloggers given to other bloggers. There are a few qualifications:

  • The award is given by bloggers to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.
  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers to pass the award to, and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.

The questions I was asked are:

1) What’s the craziest combination of food you have ever attempted to blend together?

I don’t think I’ve ever done anything drastic, but I recently made cheesecake flan which turned out to be a heavy flan or a light cheesecake. I was delighted that it actually worked out so well.

2) What is your favorite book?

This one is tough. I’ve been reading a lot of novels recently, but I think my favorites are the Divergent trilogy (the 3rd book comes out October – I can’t wait!), and the Fever series.

3) If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?

I’d commandeer my baking class’s equipment and bring it with me to Chicago! Its everything any baker would need in their kitchen.

4) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you chose?

Probably some smaller city in France. I love French cuisine, and it would be awesome to experience it firsthand for a couple of months I think. People say Paris is not a very friendly city, so I don’t think I’d like it there.

5) What’s one life lesson you’ve learned/experience that you think is worth passing along?

Stay away from recipes that call for flour in volume. I’ve always had a lot of trouble making those recipes to begin with, and even if it were successful it would be hard to replicate. Also, CHOOSE YOUR RECIPES WISELY! There has been too many moments where failure could have been avoided if I was more careful.

6) What’s something you hope to accomplish this year?

Becoming a better cook and baker!

7) Favorite nail polish color?

I have this amazing China Glaze nail polish called Sweet Hook, and its this light purple/lilac color.

8) If you could pick one food to not have any calories and therefor you could eat it endlessly… what would it be?

I think it will be mochi, especially warabimochi. I love the texture of it, although generic mochi is also very good!

9) When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Haha, apparently when I was in kindergarten I wanted to own my own business (which I don’t remember), but in elementary school I wanted to be a teacher because I thought that was the ticket to letting me order kiddos around. I was a very bossy child (perhaps still am?).

10) Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Oh my, I don’t know. I guess Vivian Leigh, since I was named after her. Plus she’s classy and gorgeous.

11) Would you pick a truth or a dare?

Dare! What’s the fun in truth ;D

11 fun facts about me:

  1. I didn’t know how to bake ANYTHING until Fall semester of my Junior year (~2 years ago)
  2. I speak 3 languages: English, Chinese, and Japanese
  3. I’m heading to Chicago for culinary school starting this August
  4. I’m not very fond of Taiwanese cuisine, although the way I cook is very much influenced by it
  5. My music genre of choice is metal, although I am starting to listen to more electronic music (dubstep/glitch/interesting things)
  6. I will eat almost everything other than bitter melon and maybe frogs or insects.
  7. Despite being from Taiwan, that’s the only country I’ve been in in Asia.
  8. While most people check the news during their morning routine, I check “food news,” which consists of Serious Eats, Saveur, Food Republic, and various blogs that I like following
  9. I’m running out of things to say. My favorite color is purple?
  10. I like watching people play video games than playing it myself.
  11. I don’t really have a favorite food. What I want to eat depends on my mood in that moment.

And now the blogs I choose for this award:

Emily Cooks Vegan, Made by Mike, and Food is My Life.

That isn’t even close to 11, I know, but I don’t follow too many blogs. I’m also not sure if they have more than 200 followers, but oh well.

My questions to bloggers:

  1. What is your favorite dish to eat, and your favorite dish to make?
  2. What are your favorite restaurants?
  3. What is a food/dish that you think EVERYONE should try at least once in their lives?
  4. What do you do in your spare time?
  5. What are your dreams?
  6. What made you start baking/cooking?
  7. What is your job in real life, and do would you want to change that?
  8. What is the biggest failure that has happened in your kitchen? And the biggest success?
  9. What are you excited for?
  10. Where is one place you would like to visit and why?
  11. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?