pizza

there was a frozen pizza at costco with tomatoes, basil, and cheese that looked really tasty, so we tried our pizza with those toppings.

pizza

when it first came out i was like, “oh god, this looks terrible.” the cheese was like everywhere, and it was real watery from the tomatoes and cheese. BUT, even in this not so glorious state, it was delicious. we tried it with some balsamic vinegar too, like when you eat mozzarella, basil, and tomato with some balsamic vinegar. that was also good.

anyhow, the second time we made this, i patted the tomatoes dry and the cheese too, didn’t put too much sauce, and then it wasn’t watery. oh, also i like to eat cold pizza, but this one definitely tastes better warm. i guess because we put so much mozzarella, and when it’s cold all you can taste is like rubbery mozzarella. just stick it in the oven or toaster oven (i considered wrapping it in foil and sticking in the toaster at work but that might have been disastrous so i just ate my sad cold pizza that day), and it tastes great!

cake adventures

i volunteered to make marci and craig’s wedding cake! marci is cameron’s cousin, and she’s getting married in august. she originally wasn’t planning on having a cake, so i volunteered to do it because… it sounded like fun!

anyway, i bought this GREAT book called wedding cakes you can make by dede wilson. she covers every aspect of making a wedding cake, and most importantly, taste is top priority. so i bought a bunch of cool equipment 😀 i decided to make the basic vanilla cake since it’s my first cake. anyway, she recommends making a 6″ test cake, so I made that last week or marci’s wedding shower. mrs. taketa helped me a bunch with assembling this first cake, since she used to do some cake decorating.

so first i made the buttercream earlier in the week since it can be refrigerated for a week, frozen for a month. look at my shiny new mixer!

buttercream

she’s so beautiful, and i bought a matching red spatula. i think i should name my mixer. cameron suggested “missy” but i am not feeling it. for the buttercream, it starts off as a meringue, and then you add some hot syrup, then the butter after it cools, and finally a little vanilla. i actually added 2 sticks extra of butter because i’m bad at reading directions… but it was still tasty.

then i made the yellow cake. i messed up the first time and overmixed it so it was too dense. i made it again, and it was okay. then the cutting/assembling!

cake assembly

making the cake smooth is really hard, but dede had lots of good tips. and my nice new rotating cake stand was helpful. anyway, here’s the finished cake:

cake

i didn’t put moistening syrup in this one, but for the real one i definitely will because even this small cake started getting a little dry. the cake and buttercream tasted really good though. not overly sweet like a lot of cakes. look at the pretty layers:

cake sliced

it was a lot of work making this little cake, but i’m really excited about the wedding cake!

nian gao two ways

my mom didn’t have time to make delicious food for me, but she gave me a pack of nian gao (chinese rice cakes?) to bring back. so first we tried making it the way my mom makes it. this is the white rice cake kind of nian gao not the sweet brown kind we eat at chinese new year’s (both are very delicious).

mom’s nian gao
nian gao (Mom's)

some nian gao (like half a pack?)
some chinese mushrooms, soaked and chopped
at least 1/2 head napa, chopped
3-4 oz lean pork, sliced thin
a little chicken broth
some green onions, possibly ginger/onions, chopped up
soy sauce
rice wine
pepper

1. soak the nian gao in water overnight.

2. marinate the pork with some soy sauce, pepper, wine.

3. stir fry the pork with ginger/onions if you have them.

4. when the pork’s not quite done, put in the mushrooms.

5. then put in the napa.

6. then put in the nian gao and green onions with a little chicken broth.
7. cover, stir, cover, stir

8. when nian gao is soft, it’s done (5 minutes or less). can add soy sauce if needed.

comments: whenever i ask my mom for her recipes, it’s kinda hard to figure out the amounts since she doesn’t measure things. anyway, i really like my mom’s nian gao because it’s really simple, has good light flavors, and is really delicious. of course, ours didn’t taste like mom’s. 🙁 but it was still pretty good. ours came out a little watery – i guess too much chicken broth.

with the other half of the nian gao pack, i tried looking for a recipe for the shanghai nian gao, but i only found some recipes for shanghai noodles, but those weren’t really like how i remember shanghai nian gao or noodles. i just went on my memory, but it turned out pretty good!

nian gao (kinda shanghai style)

nian gao (shanghai kind)

nian gao (about half pack?)
choy sum, cut into 2″ pieces
pork, sliced thin (maybe .5 lb.)
dark soy sauce
wine
white mushrooms, sliced
green onions?? (i can’t remember)

1. soak nian gao overnight.

2. marinate pork with dark soy sauce, wine (maybe pepper?).

3. stir fry the pork (be more generous with the veggie oil)
4. when the pork is almost cooked, add the mushrooms

5. add the choy sum

6. add the nian gao and green onions. add more dark soy sauce if needed?

comments: this actually turned out really tasty even though i can’t remember exactly how we cooked it. for me, the main thing about shanghai nian gao is the dark soy sauce and oil sauce. i think i’ve had it with spinach, but choy sum was on sale and tasted good. the white mushrooms were on sale too, so i just added them, and they were happy as they soaked up the tasty sauce. this one isn’t as light as my mom’s and it’s got some stronger flavors. both are great!