Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Kumquats Simmered in Sake

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.


Anything simmered in sake sounds pretty good to me.

Make it cute little kumquats, and I’m sold.

“Kumquats Simmered in Sake” is from the new cookbook, “Preserving the Japanese Way” (Andrews McMeel) by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, of which I received a review copy.

Singleton Hachisu is a native Californian who moved to Japan after falling in love with a Japanese farmer. Ever since, she’s dedicated herself to learning, documenting and teaching the ways of farm food life in Japan.

It’s a cookbook that will leave you with newfound appreciation for the art of preserving — salting, pickling and fermenting the Japanese way. You’ll learn how soy sauce is made, as well as her favored brands; and how to make your own miso, kimchee, tofu and soy milk.

Preserving the Japanese Way

There are inspired recipes such as “Cucumbers Soused in Soy,” “Green Beans Cloaked in Miso,” and “Sake Lees Ice Cream with Figs.”

I snagged kumquats at my local Japanese market for this easy recipe, as well as the shiso leaves and sake that was needed. In fact, I bought so many kumquats that I ended up making a double-batch of this recipe.

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Wake Up and Smell The Coffee (And Chocolate) On Valentine’s Day

Coffee and chocolate -- a perfect match.

Coffee and chocolate — a perfect match.


Not quite tall, but definitely dark and handsome, this cake is the perfect companion for Valentine’s Day.

“Double Chocolate Espresso Wake-Up Bread” is from the new “The Everyday Baker” (Taunton Press), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Abigail Johnson Dodge, a baking expert and contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine. It’s filled with 176 recipes for sweet and savory treats, as well as plenty of technique tips, including how to judge the best ripe banana for making banana bread, assembling and filling pastry bags, shaping baguettes like a pro, and fastest way to pick leaves off thyme stems.


The recipes are perfect for the home-cook who wants to make something pleasing but doesn’t want to spend three days doing so. Enjoy everything from “Make-Ahead Chocolate French Toast” and “Salted Caramel-Toffee Icebox Cake” to “Goat Cheese Olive Spirals” and “Black Pepper Cream Crackers.” Each recipe also includes “Twists” — recommendations for changing-out the flavor of each or re-sizing it.

This particular recipe may be called a bread, but it’s really full-on cake.

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There’s Always Room for (Almond) Jello

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.


Like most everyone, my first taste of jello as a kid was of the wiggly green (lime) or red (cherry) variety.

But my heart belongs to the white type.

Namely, almond jello. As in the Chinese version so often offered at dim sum or — if you’re very lucky — at the end of a banquet dinner (just say “no” to red bean soup!).

It was cut into little cubes, spooned into a Chinese rice bowl, and topped with canned fruit cocktail, lychees or mandarin oranges, with their sugary syrup, too.

OK, farm-to-table it was not.

But after a multitude of warm, savory dishes, it sure hit the spot. It was cold, a fun texture, heady with the taste of almond extract, and sweet from the canned fruit and thick syrup.

As a kid, I would make it all the time at home. It’s that easy. If you can make regular Jell-O, you can surely make this with your eyes closed.

I admit it’s been years since I’ve made it, though. My love for baking won out, and I’m more apt to be baking a batch of cookies than stirring up a pan of flavored gelatin.

But Danielle Chang got me in the mood to revisit this old-school Chinese dessert.


Chang is the founder of the LuckyRice festival, a celebration of Asian cultures and cuisines, which takes place in seven cities, including San Francisco.

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Rewarding Yourself in the New Year — The Fika Way

Isn't it time you took a little break?

Isn’t it time you took a little break?


Go, go, go!

That’s how our lives are these days.

But I’m here to say it’s time to stop, stop, stoppppppppp.

At least once in awhile.

The Swedish way.

As in fika.

It’s the art and practice of taking a break to enjoy a coffee with a little treat.

And in Sweden, it’s a custom adhered to at least once a day.

Doesn’t that seem positively wonderful and civilized?

A few minutes to unplug, to stop typing, to put down the phone, and to just take a breath and be present with your surroundings and companions.

It’s what we should all do more of in this new year. It’s what we all deserve, too.


“Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break” (Ten Speed Press) will put you in the mood to do just that.

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Christmas Biscuits? Why Not!

Merry Christmas with out-of-the-oven, homemade biscuits!

Merry Christmas with out-of-the-oven, homemade biscuits!


As you ready to open presents this Christmas morning or prepare for the big holiday feast to come tonight, wouldn’t a pan of fresh, warm biscuits hit the spot?

Imagine them slathered with sweet butter and marmalade for breakfast today or alongside glazed ham tonight.

Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine sure is.

Biscuits don’t get any easier or more irresistible than these from Howard Bulka, chef-owner of Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria in Palo Alto and Redwood City.

The Palo Alto location is all about pizza. The Redwood City one, with its much larger and fully equipped kitchen, goes beyond the charred, flavorful pies to include everything from house-made pasta to classic burgers, too.

What’s more, the Redwood City one also offers weekend brunch, which includes an astonishingly great array of baked goods. This is where you’ll often find these heavenly biscuits offered.

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