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Showing posts with label #FoodieChats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #FoodieChats. Show all posts

Monday, August 3, 2020

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake

Whoa. Technicolor.

Can we be real for a second? Sometimes, you want cake. You really want cake. But it's in the middle of the summer and it's just too dang hot and humid to even think about turning on the oven. Even during the famous Midwestern False Fall, it's humid. So what's one to do when you want that cake but don't want to heat up your whole house? Use a rice cooker to make a cake! 

This is the perfect recipe for that summery situation of wanting a light spongecake without sweating yourself into a puddle. If you have no choice but to cook this cake in an oven, keep reading! I've got your answer below...

Disclaimer: I'm an Asian-American person that (mostly) grew up in a white family. I had a brief phase where I wanted to be in fashion design, but once I realized that I'd much rather be tubby and eat good food, I signed up for culinary school. I went to Culinary school and learned the old-school French ways of cooking, which means my first formal exposure to cooking rice that was of the Western-style, which is to say in a pot on the stove. It wasn't until living with my mom, a full indigenous Filipino woman of Pampanga, that I learned the proper way to cook rice. She never had a rice cooker but just used a pot and the old finger-trick. (Jo Koy talks about it here.) I didn't buy my first rice cooker until I was 30 and am decidedly ignorant about all the glorious things you can do with this amazing machine. I am now in love with it and use it constantly. I stand before you now and I'll say it out loud: I'm a Janie Come-Lately. Please be kind to me, fellow Asians.

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake
adapted from Cooking Tree's recipe
yields 1 cotton-soft cake
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150 g sugar, divided
  • 30 g raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp ube extract
  • 110 g all-purpose flour
  • 20 g tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 40 g olive oil
  • 40 g almond milk
  • 30 g ube jam
Gently oil the bowl of your rice cooker or steamer with either olive oil or coconut oil. If you do use a steamer, you can either use a bowl or little individual ramekins. I wouldn't use paper cups for this, as it's going to be steamed for quite some time! 

Separate the eggs, with yolks in a large bowl and the whites in the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Combine the honey, egg yolks, half the sugar, ube jam, and ube extract in a large bowl with a balloon whisk until light and fluffy. It's good for your arm to work this hard, so spend at least 60 seconds on whipping by hand! The idea is to dissolve everything together in a beautiful, thick purple paste. 

Measure out the olive oil and almond milk in a small, separate bowl, and set this aside. Whisk together the two flours, the baking powder, and the salt in another bowl. Spoon in your flour mixture to your egg yolk mixture and whisk gently to create a paste. You're only going to want to do this about a third of the dry ingredients at a time to prevent lumps. Don't worry too much about the gluten!

Whip the egg whites with the other half of the sugar until stiff peaks form. It's going to be tripled in volume, and oh-so-glossy. If they look dry, you've over-whipped them, and the cake won't be as nice, so please err on the side of 'under'-whipping, as you're going to already have some leavening from the baking powder. Does that make sense?

Whoa. Groovy, man.

Add in a dollop of the egg white meringue to your purple yolk mixture. Use the whisk to stir it gently and lighten your batter. It's going to be a little thick, and it's a-okay if you lose a bit of the volume of the egg whites in this step. Add in about a third of your remaining egg white mixture and fold in gently, using the whisk instead of the spatula. It's going to take a little longer than usual; be patient.

Switch to the spatula and fold in your remaining egg whites as gently as you can. The most important thing in this step is to make sure that they are fully incorporated with no streaks of white in your purple batter. Next, take a healthy spoonful of the batter and add it to your almond milk and oil mixture and stir together until homogenous. Scrape this mixture into your big bowl of batter and fold it all together as gently as you can. 

Pour your batter into the prepared bowl of your rice cooker and smooth out the top. Give the pan a few good taps from the bottom to break up any large bubbles, so the only bubbles you get are fine and even. Ten taps usually do the trick for me!

Put your rice cooker bowl in the machine and push to the "STEAM" function, and set it for 65 minutes. 

Note: You will need a good rice cooker for this recipe to have the same results as I have here. I have this one here by Zojirushi, and it comes with all the bells and whistles. If you don't have a rice cooker and are absolutely dying to make this cake anyhow, you may do this:

Follow the usual instructions only pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is dry. Please note to not open the oven to check it until at least 35 minutes has passed. You must also note that it's very important that the oven be already quite hot and ready for this cake, as it won't rise the same without that heat.

This is quite a long time to cook for a steamed cake, so let's use up some of that time to talk about what ube (pronounced "oo-bay") is!

Ube is a beautiful species of the tuber family that is quite high in sugar, incredibly flavorful, and shines like a jewel with vivid purple color. This is also known as a purple yam or the greater yam. It has a creamy, almost coconut-like taste that's unique to Southeast Asia! You'll often see it in Philippine desserts, as well as Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. You can grow them, but most recipes you see calling for ube will usually mean ube halaya or ube jam. You will be able to find this item, jarred and ready to go, in any Asian grocery store with a Filipino section. The extract of this item is quite powerful, so use it sparingly. 

A note about this ingredient: it's very high in sugar already, and when you add sugar to preserve it, it'll be even sweeter in the jar. Make sure you taste it before you make it into a pie so you don't use too much sugar. To make an ube pie for Thanksgiving, I like to simply use a whole jar of ube halaya, some coconut cream, a few eggs, a dollop of tofu sour cream, and salt for the filling. Bake as normal for a pumpkin pie, and you'll have the most technicolor-looking pie you've ever seen. It's almost as bright and colorful as my Pandan Custard Pie!
When your timer signals that the cake is ready, open the rice cooker and let the steam escape for about 5 minutes. The cake will have pulled gently away from the pan and the sponge will be firm, yet springy, to the touch. 

Turn the cake upside down over a cooling rack and let sit for another 10 minutes before you gently remove it from the bowl. This may take a spatula, but please, for the love of all that is holy, don't use metal on your nonstick surface. Remember, the cake will have reached the top of the cooker, and some of the bubbles might have popped a little when you open the door to it. It's not the end of the world if, when you turn it out, it sinks just a tiny bit. I swear it'll still taste delicious! Let cool completely before cutting and serving. To cut, I suggest using a serrated knife and using long, gentle strokes. Don't push down - just let the weight of the knife to the work for you.  

You can enjoy a slice of this cake with some coffee or iced tea! This is a delicious cake all on its own, so I don't think this cake needs any kind of icing at all. If you absolutely must give in to temptation, may I suggest that some fresh whipped cream might not be amiss should you be so inclined? Personally, I just like this cake plain!

My dog is behind me, isn't he?

Store this cake in an airtight container. It keeps well for several days, just as moist and tender as the day you made it. If I'm being honest, though, I've never let it survive for longer than 48 hours before it gets gobbled up.

I love this cake because it's incredibly tender, so easy to do, and you don't have any baked-on mess to clean up. I know the value of easy-to-clean stuff at this time. Between volunteering, writing, schooling, and doing the part-time influencer thing, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time on the dishes at home. I'm sure that a lot of you here in the United States are feeling some emotional exhaustion from the quarantine, and while I don't know how things are going overseas, I know that there are more than a few of you that have lost their jobs, lost their loved ones, and even more in this uncertain time. 

It's hard now, and it's normal to not feel normal. I understand that we'll likely never have our old 'normal' back again, and that's okay. We're in the middle of a global revolution, and I for one am ready to see what the next chapter holds. Keep holding on, just a little longer, and I know we'll be okay. In the meantime, find yourself some solace in happy distractions, like an oh-so-pretty ube cake. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chocolate Cake with Fresh Strawberries

I've been focusing a lot on my Instagram lately. It's odd; I always get notifications for new followers, and when I check, the number almost always is the same, or possibly one or two lower than last I checked. I can only guess that - between the hours that I've checked - I've gained one and lost two, or some combination of that. I can't quite fathom why, but I can only assume it's because I don't post as often as a high-follower-having instagrammer might post. Eh.

I love Instagram because I think it's one of the most-pure social media outlets there are. Minimal ads, no add-ons for the interface, just captured moments with a caption, and that's it. You can like it or not. You can follow or unfollow. There's not a huge amount of drama that can happen in that simple space, and I think that's why I love it. It just captures moments and that's it. It's a beautiful way to experience and savor our reality, and I'm 100% for it.

For those of you that may follow me on Instagram, you'll know that my life revolves around three things: my work, my pets, and my garden. Sure, I'll post the occasional style photo of what I'm wearing and what kind of makeup I'm doing(sometimes in my pink wig), but not as often as the food stuff. That being said, I like to think of myself as more of a lifestyle blogger than a food blogger. I try my best to live sustainably and do my best to recycle and produce as low waste as I can. I buy in bulk, for example, and try to make my own sodas. I also compost instead of throwing away biodegradable waste. I'll admit that it's more of a time-based project than anything, but it's worth it when your garden thrives more and more each year you invest in it. That being said, it's still a food blog, and I love food.

I've been on a cake kick lately, which is lucky considering I'm doing a friend's wedding cake come this Halloween. Since the flavor profile was strawberry and chocolate, I wanted to get a little practice in before the event, so I needed guinea pigs. Luckily, the birthday parties of both a dear friend and a soon-to-be sister-in-law would fulfill this need for me.

The first cake I made was this gorgeous strawberry cake. It was bright pink inside(which you unfortunately can't see because of the lighting of the night club we were at) with an Italian Buttercream frosting, a much lighter and more tasty version of the plain old American Buttercream we all might be used to at this point. I learned this amazing new marbling technique for decoration where you smear the sides of the cake randomly with different shades of a certain color and then frost them all together in irregular ways to achieve this effect. I also love the drip cake trend that we've been having lately, with asymmetrical decorations on top. I think it looks so much more organic and natural than anything constructed, which I find so much more appealing.

This cake is chocolate on chocolate, with the fresh strawberries for color and a little contrast in texture. It's insanely rich and dense, and just perfect for a birthday party. This cake makes three nice layers, so you'll get something that's wonderfully tall, which is completely instagram worthy. Oh, and just in case that wasn't instagrammable(is that a word?) enough, it's entirely #dairyfree!

Chocolate Layer Cake
yields 3 8" round cakes
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

For the Cake

  • 4 oz baking chocolate(I like guittard dark), broken up in pieces
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee
  • 6.75 oz vegan sour cream(I love the tofutti products for baking)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 oz brown sugar
  • 7.75 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 oz coconut oil 
  • 4 oz grapeseed oil
  • 10 oz AP flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Ganache
  • 1 lb good quality chocolate, 58% cacao or higher
  • 8 oz coconut-almond milk blend(I like Blue Diamond brand)
  • 0.3 oz coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray three 8" baking pans with pan-spray. Drop in a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder into the middle of one of the pans and knock it around to spread it. You're basically coating the bottom and sides of the pan with cocoa powder, and then knocking the excess into each of the other pans, so that all three are evenly (and thinly) coated to keep your batter from sticking. This allows easy release from the bottom and a good rise on all sides for the cakes when they bake. 

Put the cocoa powder and broken-up baking chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and pour in your hot coffee, and whisk until everything is smooth. You might have to microwave the mixture to get the chocolate to melt, but cross that bridge if/when it comes. Once that's all nice and together, scrape in your tofu sour cream and whisk to combine, ending with the vanilla extract. Set aside. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. Set that aside. (Yes, you're working with a lot of bowls. Deal with it.)

Combine the sugars and coconut oil in the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until incorporated, which will take about two or three minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Yes, it'll look crumbly and not that creamy - that's okay! Add in your grapeseed oil in a thin stream as it whisks, and it'll get nice and fluffy...or, at least, fluffier. Add in your eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, leaving at least 30 seconds between each addition, and scraping down your sides between so as well. This takes some time, but trust me - the next part goes fast!

Remove your bowl from the standing mixer and grab a spatula, then alternate folding in your flour and the chocolate mixture, about a third at a time, ending with the dry ingredients. You don't want lumps, of course, but it's okay if you have them, as you don't want to overmix your batter. It should be rather smooth and smell quite chocolatey. 

Using a disher, divide the batter evenly between the three pans. I love using ice cream dishers to do these kinds of things, as the results are always consistent, so plan on investing in a large-ish ice cream disher should you plan on producing layer cakes on a regular basis. Once all of your batter is divided, knock the bottom-sides of your cake pans to evenly distribute your mix and knock out any particularly large bubbles that may be lurking insidiously. Yes, you want bubbles, but you want small and even bubbles rather than large ones. 

Bake for 20 - 24 minutes at 350, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and springs back when the top is lightly touched. Let the cakes cool, in the pans, for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, make your ganache.

Simply combine all ingredients in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water and gently melt together. Use a spatula and not a whisk to combine everything, and please be gentle with it. You don't want to create air bubbles in a ganache, lest it turn sandy and the color go off. Once everything is mostly melted together, turn off the heat and let it hang out for about 15 minutes. By this time, your cakes should be ready to come out of the pans and ready to layer up.

Simply take each layer and spread about a third of a cup of ganache between each one, then coating the entire concoction with a thin layer of the ganache before setting in the fridge. Remember, you only want this to set, as you'll be glazing more ganache on top. I personally like the more rustic approach for these kinds of cakes, but you can be as refined as you like with it. I used fresh strawberries, mini meringues (a la Dominique Ansel's book, The Secret Recipes)  and shards of Hershey's special dark chocolate bars to decorate the top of this cake. You can decorate with whatever you want, so long as you play with height, color, and texture. Just make sure to set it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving it, especially if you want nice and neat layers at the end!

Okay so it's not the prettiest picture - that's why it's not on Instagram!
It seriously only took a couple of hours from start-to-finish, and most of that was just waiting on things to bake, cool, or set. There was a lot of Netflix between those times, as well as plenty of time to perfect my party makeup or get a nice outfit together. However you spend your time waiting, I hope you've enjoyed this brief tutorial. Now get out there and share your life! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Raspberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Pretty in pink
I scream! You scream! The police come! It's awkward!

But, seriously, I love ice cream, even though it doesn't tend to love me back. B has a pretty severe lactose intolerance, so out of laziness, I just flat-out don't buy dairy products anymore. Yes, you read that right; I don't purchase dairy products because I'm lazy.

Yeah so we're a family of lumps. Wanna fight about it?
See, I don't want to make the effort of cooking two separate meals at night, and dirty two sets of pans, just because I might feel like having a little butter on my pork chops. Frankly, now that veganism has made so many demands of food companies, I'm reaping the benefits. I can have cheese that melts and stretches and tastes like cheese. I can have butter that's not butter at all but still tastes like and behaves like butter when I bake it. Finding milk has been the actual struggle, but I find that the almond-coconut blends from SO Delicious and Blue Diamond have been the best matches for us. They're drinkable and tasty, and act quite similar to dairy milk in baking and pastry applications. I use the SO Delicious brand of coconut milk when I make ice cream, and it hasn't failed me, yet!

I made this flavor of ice cream because of a serendipitous find at the Overland Park Farmer's market in Kansas City, where I live. I like to go to the farmer's market on Saturdays and walk around, get fresh fruit, people watch, and maybe get myself a new bouquet of flowers from the very nice Vietnamese family at the end of the line. I'm extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful farmer's market near me; not a lot of people have it, and for that I'm truly grateful.

Plus, like, you'll occasionally see THE BIGGEST CABBAGES EVER
There's a shop I sometimes partner with called The Tasteful Olive. They specialize in artisanal oils and vinegars, in just about every flavor you can imagine. Lemon olive oil. Blood Orange White Balsamic Vinegar. Chili Almond Oil. Oregano White Balsamic Vinegar. The list goes on and on, and I frankly couldn't even begin to fathom how they keep track of it all - but I'm grateful that it's there and I'm grateful that they do. As it just so happens, the lady that I buy my berries from had fresh raspberries, and the raspberry balsamic vinegar I'd found at the end of the market was just too perfect-sounding to pass up. Now, I could make a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette for all of my salad greens when I got home, but where's the fun in that?

Raspberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Yes. You have to weigh the berries.
  • 150 g white sugar
  • 45 g coconut milk powder
  • 600 g SO Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, divided
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15 g powdered gelatin
  • 170 g fresh raspberries
  • 32 g Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar(Aged Balsamic works, too!)
Measure the coconut milk and then sprinkle the gelatin over the top in a single layer to allow it to bloom. Combine the egg yolks and sugar via whisk in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Whip until fluffy by hand, and then add in the bloomed gelatin along with half the coconut milk. 

Bring to 185 degrees F, whisking constantly, then remove from heat. Add the remainder of the coconut milk and the balsamic vinegar. Add in the raspberries and then puree everything in a blender. You may strain it, if you like, but I don't mind the seeds. 

Transfer the blended mixture to a plastic container and chill in an ice bath. You can also set it in the fridge overnight, but it's up to you on how long you'd like to wait. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I used an ice bath and stirred constantly to cool down as quickly as it could. Once chilled enough so that it's - at very least - room temperature, process in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. My machine took about 30 minutes to process the dessert, and it took an additional 2 hours for my freezer to harden it enough to eat. (This is also because my freezer is crazy-strong and it’s brand new. If your fridge is a little more seasoned, let it hang out for at least 4 hours or so, ideally overnight.)

I love this ice cream because raspberries epitomize the absolute height of summer flavors for me. The tangy brightness of the raspberries and the deep and mouth-watering tang of the balsamic vinegar somehow made this ice cream the absolute ideal for me. I can’t quite explain it, but something about the ice-cold creaminess plus the fresh raspberry taste plus that tangy mouthfeel a good aged balsamic vinegar gives you on the inside of your cheeks is just so well-rounded and satisfying. It’s as if you reach the zenith of tasty mouthfeel and think to yourself: “Ah, yes. There it is.”

Oh, and if you're not following me on Instagram, please feel free to! I show a lot of neat stuff on there, both from work and from home life.
A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and please let me know if you try out this recipe! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spicy Garden Pesto Pasta

I love pasta. I am safely pro-pasta. In fact, if I were to run for President of the United States of America, I'd say "Hello, I am WannaBGourmande, I am pro-pasta, and I am running for president." I'd clearly get elected because there are literally zero qualifications at this point to run the arguably most-powerful country in the world. (I hope I get to look back on this post and laugh.)

I'm an avid gardener, and wannabe homesteader. I sometimes think about changing my name to Wanna B. Homesteader, but that doesn't quite have the fun ring to it as 'gourmande' does. Plus, if my initials ended with "H", I couldn't call myself "Notorious WBG." Ultimately, I don't feel truly right calling myself a homesteader if I'm still living on the grid, but I try every day to live a better, more wholesome life through my food, through the ways I consume products, and the ways I live. I've sort of decided to call myself a lifestyle blogger, without the excessive posts on pinterest and falling into the trope of 'rich girl pinterest'. You know, chia seed smoothies in mason jars with organically-grown kale from the co-op? I want to write about cooking and being a chef and eating well on a tight-ass budget, because that's the truth that I know and have lived. Anyway, on to the eating.

Easy Homemade Pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Cool water, as needed

Making your own pasta is rewarding in both the culinary sense and the emotional sense. When making pasta, you can use the dough as a sort of worry stone. You'll have to knead the dough to be quite glutinous(no gluten-free pasta here; sorry, guys) and chewy, so you can use this moment to have your own version of tactile therapy. Go ahead; take the opportunity to imagine strangling your annoying coworker as you work the dough into the counter...because yes, Janet, I'm sure in your day you did just 'deal with it' even though the reality of anxiety and depression is that nobody ever got diagnosed properly, but sure, my generation totally invented mental illness.  But, seriously, there's no Netflix in prison, so just take your frustrations out on the dough and it'll be ready in no time.

You can combine this dough in the bowl of a standing mixer or do it the old-fashioned way, which is what I prefer. Simply pile your flour in the middle of your impeccably clean counter and make a well in the middle. Dump your eggs and oil in the center of the well, and use a fork to sort of break it up and beat it together. Using a dough scraper and your hands, fold the flour over and over each other to mix, then knead. Knead this for a solid five minutes, and remember that it's totally okay that you skipped arm day at the gym because of this.

Wrap your dough and let it rest for about ten minutes. If you have a pasta machine, take the time to set it up now. If you don't, you can easily just use a rolling pin to create long sheets of pasta and cut tagliatelle strips with a knife that you've rubbed with flour. Otherwise, once your resting time is up, roll and use your pasta machine as needed. Don't have these neat beechwood pasta racks? You can use plastic coat hangers(no seriously) or just pile them in 4 oz nests like these for easy portioning. If you don't intend to use them that evening, simply allow them to dry overnight, pop them in plastic bags (with a silica gel pack if you're feeling fancy), and then store them for up to 6 months in your pantry.

Green Garden Pesto
(rough estimates; use what you have!)
  • 2/3 fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup nasturtium leaves
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 9 small hot chile peppers, pan-roasted and seeded
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
So here's the only bit of cooking that you have to do for this recipe: blister the peppers. I have so many tiny cayenetta peppers from my hanging basket planter, it's not even funny. You can wait until they turn red or use them green(which I like to do for this recipe), but be advised that they are spicy, so use with discretion if you're sensitive to that! I like lots of peppery bite, so I used plenty. This is easy: just take a saute pan, heat it up - without any fat in it, mind you - and blister the skin of the peppers. Just cook them until they're soft inside, and then remove the seeds by popping off the tops and just squeezing the insides out, like you might for a tube of toothpaste. 

This is the easiest pesto ever - just pop everything in a blender and blitz until smooth. You can add more mint, more basil, more parsley, whatever! I like lots of spinach in this because it gives such a nice sweetness and a bright green color to it. The nasturtium is used because I have lots of it, and it has a nice peppery bite to it. I've got more mint than I have basil, so I used that, as well, but not too much as to prevent it from overpowering anything. You can substitute the nasturtium for tarragon, chives, or olive oil instead of coconut/grapeseed. Use what you have; this recipe is meant to be easy!

For this recipe:
  1. Cook your pasta in boiling water. (90 seconds for fresh, 7 minutes for dried)
  2. Drain your pasta.
  3. Toss your pasta in a spoonful of pesto sauce and a dab of butter.
  4. Serve.
Thats. It. 

I served mine tonight with a center-cut pork chop, and some braised swiss chard with corn and leeks. It was a simple meal, and the only thing I really had to buy was the pork chops, which were from a BOGO(buy one, get one free) sale at the Hen House down the street. You don't even need the extra stuff; just a few shaves of parmesan or even a poached egg will do for a light dinner.  This, obviously, can be very easily made vegetarian, and even the most-discerning guests will appreciate something that you grew and made by hand!

A post shared by Kolika of Pistachio Bakehouse (@wannabgourmande) on

In reality, I spent about $5.49 for a nice meal for two people, considering everything else was already available in my home and garden. I know you won't be able to buy a house with that kind of savings, but you can certainly splurge on one more avocado toast at brunch when you're only spending roughly $2.25/per person, per meal, in your own home. The only real investment here made was time, which took - roughly - 40 minutes from start to finish. It might take the average home cook a hair longer, but it's still a simple meal that's economic, has a teeny-tiny carbon footprint in comparison to going out to a restaurant, and is very tasty. 

Oh, and you don't have to have a big garden to grow the herbs in this recipe; a sunny window box with mint, basil, nasturtium, etc., in it will do just fine. You can garden. I believe in you. You can empower yourself and homestead in a tiny apartment, in your own quiet way. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pan-Asian Burgers

I make no qualms about my ethnic background, especially because there's no use hiding it. I've got a big round face and slender, almond-shaped eyes, and high-ass cheekbones. Strangers have always made it a point to remind me of my ethnicity, often before introducing themselves or asking me my name, so I've used my ethnic make up as armour since a young age. It doesn't help that I was the product of an Asian woman and a white man, and then later raised by the white half of my family, so I had absolutely zero cultural identity growing up, aside from Catholic church services on holidays, golf, and passive-aggressive comments about each other's life choices behind each other's backs.  You know, standard stuff.

Anyway, I love burgers. Like most Americans, the classic ground beef base for a burger is my go-to. I am, however, of a multicultural persuasion, so I always feel the need to give everything a simple twist here and there. Coming into my own brand of adulthood, one of the most-liberating things I've discovered is just not giving a damn about what anyone thinks of me. It especially comes in handy when people make offensive comments about race, especially mine. I've stopped being self-conscious at making a "what the actual fuck" face when someone implies that the burgers from the McDonald's in Japan are made from dog meat. I don't give a frog's fat behind in calling someone out on offensive behavior. I am alive in the time of an American revolution; I feel lucky to be here, and - as the great Lin-Manuel Miranda said: "I am not throwing away my shot."

I'll stop now. On to the burgers.

Pan-Asian Burgers
(yields 5)

  • 1 lb 86% ground beef(I like loin, but chuck is fine, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 Tbsp wasabi sesame seeds(or just 1 tsp wasabi powder and 2 tbsp sesame seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 scallion, diced fine, all the way up to the greens
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Cheddar, shredded(B & I are both lactose intolerant, so I used Daiya cheddar shreds for mine!)
Combine all ingredients (except for the cheese) in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Cover a piece of your counter with plastic wrap and take out a round cookie cutter of your desired size. It can be small for sliders, or large for big jumbo-sized quarter-pounders. I had a nice 3.5" round and it worked fine for my needs. 

Using a spoon, fill the mold you've chosen full of your burger mixture, and tamp it down well. These will help you create perfect portions for yourself, get that nice restaurant shape, and ensure that everything will cook evenly. Plus, it's fun for kids to help you with, if you have those sorts of little dudes in your house. 

Protip: If you have picky eaters in your family, invite them to help you cook! A sense of ownership will ease their troubled minds(and tummies) and they'll be more-likely to try something new.

Damn. Look at that sear. 
Heat your saute pan and turn your oven to broil. Lubricate your pan with grapeseed or coconut oil, and let get hot. Salt your patties with kosher salt while the pan is heating; waiting and letting it draw out a bit of moisture is how you get a nice crust on your burgers, so long as your pan is - again - crazy-hot. Once your burgers are in the pan, seasoning side down, season the other side so that you'll get the same effect when you flip them. 

I like a medium-rare burger, so that means about 3 minutes per side. Once all of the burgers are cooked, pop them on a small sheet pan and top them with a sufficient amount of cheese. I'm with a severely lactose intolerant partner, so I use Daiya's products for my cheese substitutes, which are honestly some of the best I've come across thus far. Despite the fact that I am an Asian woman, I am - oddly - not lactose intolerant. (About 90% of East Asians are lactose intolerant.) I can have cheese when I'm alone, but it's basically my dirty little secret that makes me only mildly bloated from time-to-time. Anyway, go ahead and pop those bad boys underneath your broiler for a nice melt.

I make bread for my bakery, so I had a wheat loaf lying around. I cut 1/2" slices and toasted them for strength and crunch. I've got a fully-working garden, so I grabbed some red leaf, nasturtium and curly green varieties for my burger situation. The rain has been crazy lately, and combined with the nice warm sun gives me the biggest nasturtium leaves I've ever seen. Seriously, it covered the whole burger patty! I just love its peppery zing, and it's so visually stunning. I'm in love with its hydrophobic qualities, as well, and take every opportunity that I can to photograph it. 

I mean, seriously. Look at that gorgeous nonsense. 
Burgers are a perfect canvas for doing anything you want. You can make this even more ethnically flavored by omitting the cheese and topping with some kimchi. Turn this burger around by exchanging the oyster sauce for white miso paste, or maybe adding some fresh ginger and fish sauce instead. I promise you that it'll taste great; the majority of the world's population seems to adore these flavor profiles, so there's certainly no harm in giving it a go.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flour Tortillas

You can take the girl out of Tucson, but you can't take the Tucson out of the girl. Sometimes, you just get a hankering for the good food of your childhood, and though you may not be hispanic, the latinx food of your upbringing and formative environment sings the siren song to your stomach. Yeah, yeah, I know, they're just tortillas, but once you've had a good tortilla, you'll understand. Here's how!

Flour Tortillas

  • 8 oz bread flour(my own adaptation; I just prefer it)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 oz warm water
  • 1 Tbsp lard(yes, LARD. Don't use shortening or oil. Use lard.)

Dump the flour, baking soda, and lard onto a cool marble surface. Cut the lard in using two butter knives. You can also put this in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment, but this is the way I learned how to do it, so I prefer it by hand.

Yeah, yeah, I've got a marble slab in my kitchen. "Check your privilege, Chef". Right...
If doing this on a cool surface, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the water. Using a dough scraper(or your hands, if you like), pull the flour over the water, over and over again until everything is combined. Knead the dough until it's very smooth and elastic, about five minutes. You could save yourself the arm strain and do it in the standing mixer, but I like getting the workout in.

Once the dough is pulled together and feels quite tight, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it hang out on the counter for about 10 minutes to rest. This lets the glutens relax a bit so they're easier to work with and roll. After that time is up, divide the dough into eight equal portions and begin to roll.

 Cover the little dough balls with that same sheet of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while you roll. I roll my dough out flat into discs using a rolling pin, then stretching them by hand just a little as they relax. I keep track of which discs I have rolled first, and then go back over the sequence once or twice, to get them super-thin.

At this point, I like to dust mine with just a little bit of flour, and then let them hang out for a few minutes while I get my griddle ready. You might also want to think about any meat or veggies you're prepping for the meal that's actually going with these puppies, as - in a perfect world - you'll want to eat your freshly-cooked tortillas with your freshly-cooked meal... My point is: timing. Timing is everything.

Get a thick-bottomed skillet or griddle nice and hot on the stove. I prefer a fairly high heat for my tortillas, to do them quickly, but if you'd like to do a medium heat, just until you're confident, then that's fine, as well. All that must be done is to cook them until they bubble up and get golden, then flip over.

If you have an actual tortilla warmer, then dear Gods, use it. If you don't, simply get a ceramic plate and clean tea towel to keep them nicely wrapped until it's time for dinner. The tortillas will keep for at least a week, but I promise you that they won't last that long.

I love fresh tortillas with carne asada. You can also have them around to make quesadillas, cheese crisps...whatever! If you have avocados, make some guacamole... Or just eat them as simple tacos with some grilled meat, peppers, and corn. Few things in life are as lovely as a warm tortilla, so I highly recommend you trying these. Also: please grill corn inside its shuck. Not only is it the easiest cleanup ever, but it steams and grills at the same time! If you really want a southwestern flavor profile, squeeze lime juice, cotija cheese, and mayo over your corn before eating. I know the mayo part sounds weird, but don't knock it til you try it.

Boys be texting you like
Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Dubliner KC

I've been exchanging some tweets with The Dubliner, a pub in Power & Light District in Downtown Kansas City over the passed few days. As you can see from above, they asked if I'd ever given them a try before, and the answer was no. This is our story...

I, admittedly, don't tweet a lot on my personal life. I spend a good portion of my Instagram time promoting my business and my life as a chef, and my twitter is basically reserved for Foodiechat Mondays. I'm frankly having a rough time balancing personal and business time, considering I'm burning the candle at both ends. This is why I cherish the time I get to spend alone with B., and be out and about having fun.

I tweeted at The Dubliner, telling them to gird their loins, at about 5:45 pm on a Thursday night. When we entered, the place was completely empty, save for an adorable blonde server that took care of us promptly. We sat up in a booth, away from where the crowds would likely be, so we could enjoy our meal and conversation. Eating out is sometimes difficult, as B has a pretty severe intolerance to dairy, We tend to stick to most Asian places when we eat out, as it's almost a guarantee that dairy isn't on the menu anywhere except for crab rangoon. That being said, we found something to eat.

Between the time it took for us to place our order and get our food, the Dubliner filled up to the rafters, and our poor server was running around like a madwoman - not surprising, considering she was the only one on the floor. We later found out(after a 30 minute wait for our food) that the manager had sent the other two servers home, thinking that they wouldn't be busy on the Thursday before First Friday. Unfortunately, all of the Downtown office scene had decided to stop in for a post-work drink and some food. Oh well. Such is life.

Remember: in the UK, their chips are our fries, while our chips are their crisps.
B ordered the Fish & Chips, and got it with malt vinegar, only because I told him to try it. The fish was moist, the chips were good, and the portions were nice. All and all, it was a really solid fish and chips. I liked how it was served on a nice plate, yet still seemed 'homey' and 'bar food'y. Yes, there's a great bit of virtue in those gastropubs that I'm such a huge fan of, but it was certainly refreshing to just have a real honest-to-goodness regular pub meal.

Chicken & Rashers was my meal of choice, and boy howdy was it good. It was a hair underseasoned, and the cream sauce was barely reduced and tragically runny, but the roasted carrots and potato puree was very good, and the meat itself was nice. Oh, and in case you didn't know, a 'rasher' is just Irish bacon! Super good, house-cured, and decently executed. I have to say that, again, it was nice to skip the 'gastro' and just eat the 'pub.' The portions were great, filling, and pretty good. I imagine that if I were drinking, this would be an excellent drunk food for me.

The dessert was a yummy apple cake with vanilla ice cream on top, which was super sweet, and very stick-to-your-ribs. I know that the butterscotch sauce was made in-house because it was really grainy; this happens if you stir the sugar at the wrong time during cooking, and is an easy mistake to make, especially since one often doesn't go into a pub for something sweet. It's 100% understandable that they wouldn't have a dedicated pastry chef, and put this on the pantry cook's shoulders, so I'll absolutely give them a pass on this.
The Dubliner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
All in all? A pretty solid meal. I'm not a big drinker, but I can see the appeal of being at a nice, solid Irish but after work. I saw a ton of young professionals from offices nearby in downtown, meeting for an after-hours drink. The Dubliner has its demographic down, and make no apologies about it. Honestly, it's sort of nice to see something un-ironic nowadays.

I won't say the Dubliner is great, but it's good. It is a solid, good pub, that makes no apologies about what it is. Will I be by again? Possibly, since I don't drink often. If I am bumming around downtown, however, I'll absolutely stop in for a sandwich or some sort of lunch.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ja-PANcakes - Japanese Cotton Pancakes

I'm all about Instagram. You've probably seen these adorable little Japanese Pancakes all over Instagram, in fact, and I frankly couldn't resist the siren song of Keeping Up with the Joneses. Everything about these are just so satisfying to look at! Perfect uniformity, height...anyway. 

See, B and I are pancake fiends. I've got my stand-by recipe that I do if I want them quickly and they haven't failed me, yet. I have my recipe from Martha Stewart, adapted for our dairy-free lifestyle. I'm not horribly lactose-intolerant, but having a partner that is severely so, you learn to work around it, and it's actually been quite a bit of fun to learn under constraints. Coconut milk has been a spectacular dairy alternative, and I'm a big fan of lard as a butter alternative for cooking and baking, as well as coconut oil. Coconut oil is also really good for your scalp, so if I'm at home, alone, not baking for anyone other than me, and I get some coconut oil on my hands, I'll rub them on my scalp or my ashy knees or lips or something. (Don't judge me or pretend like you don't also have secretly sorta gross habits. You do.)

The thing about these pancakes is that you actually do need some special equipment to do them exactly like these. You'll need:

  1. A blender(pitcher or immersion)
  2. A few metal ring molds of same size
  3. A nice nonstick skillet
  4. A disher*
You CAN get passed the blender bit, but it'll require several extra steps. Either way, here we go!

Japanese Cotton Pancakes
adapted from Popsugar's recipe
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 fl oz coconut milk + 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 oz AP flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pan-spray A/N
Heat your skillet on a medium-low flame and prepare your ring molds. I used pan spray for the molds, but you can use some vegetable oil with a pastry brush, if you prefer, just to make sure that both the pan and the molds are well lubricated. Have your disher or large spoon set up, as well, just to make sure you're ready to cook at your pancake station. Pop your ring molds on there, too, and 

In the pitcher of your blender, combine the eggs, coconut milk, vinegar, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend together, starting at the lowest setting, to combine, then turning it all the way up to high just for 3 seconds, to really whip those eggs up. (It's the fluffy eggs that make this pancake rise!)  Add in all the rest of your ingredients and blend on a low setting for a few seconds, until it's a smooth batter with no lumps. You may have to stop and scrape your blender down, and that's fine, so long as you end up with a lump-free product in the end.

By now, your pan should be plenty warm, so go ahead and turn it down to the lowest possible flame you can. If your pan also has a lid that fits on it, go ahead and grab that, too; it's not necessary for success, but it will help you in the end, especially when it comes time to flip your cakes.

Using a disher, drop some batter into the center of your prepared ring molds until they're half-full. If you have a lid, use it now, and put it on. Set your timer for 4 minutes, and walk away. Don't mess with them, don't poke at them...just let them do their thing. 

I only had two ring molds of the same size, so I did two at a time!
Your leaveners are creating bubbles, along with the ones created by your eggs, and as the heat transfers from the pan to the cake, the cake around the bubbles is getting firmer and firmer. You don't want to jostle your cakes at the wrong moment, or your bubbles will collapse and fall flat...which is the absolute opposite of what you want. 

Image may contain: food and indoor
I also made a couple using an egg-shaped cookie cutter, just because I was curious...

While we're waiting, let me tell you a quick way to get past the "no blender" thing, if you're dealing with it...

Before you begin, separate your egg yolk from the whites. In a medium bowl, using a whisk, whip my hand the egg yolks, salt, vanilla, and sugar, until they're light-colored and thick. Add in your coconut milk and vinegar, slowly, to create a thick sort of custard. In a separate bowl, take your egg whites and beat them with an extra teaspoon for sugar using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a standing mixer) until stiff and glossy peaks form. Fold in your whites to your yolks, one third at a time, until combined. Simply sift in your dry ingredients, a little at a time, folding in gently until everything is incorporated. You've just created, basically, a sponge cake that's ready to be fried. Awesome!

Once your 4 minutes are up, remove the cover(if you're using it) and carefully flip over your cake-in-mold and let it cook for another 3 minutes. Once it's done, you can simply remove your cake from the mold and pop them in a warm oven on a plate while you make the rest, repeating the process until you have no batter left. If you have made too many pancakes(somehow) then simply wrap the remaining cakes in plastic and pop them in the freezer. Pancakes and waffles freeze perfectly, and are easily brought back to life with a quick blast in the microwave or on the stove. (Side note: waffles will reheat fine in a toaster.)

These may not turn out perfectly your first time, but that's okay. The fear of doing something wrong should not stop you from trying anything new. It's exceedingly rare to get something perfectly right on the first try, so don't beat yourself up if they haven't perfectly risen. After all, at the end of the day, you'll still have pancakes. 

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Plus, if you have a few that have risen uneavenly, you can have fun stacking them in different ways...

Enjoy with maple syrup if you want to go the American way, but in Japanese restaurants they use fresh fruit and custard sauces to eat them! They're still pancakes, though, so they're 100000% up to you on how you eat them. I personally love this date syrup I found from a company called The Date Lady. Date syrup has a really exotic and deep flavor to it, and it's a great alternative to honey! These pancakes are quite sweet already, so I don't think they need a lot of syrup, but you be the judge on what you like. They're like little cakes, but with a crispy exterior...super fun and expertly delicious!

Image may contain: dessert, food and indoor
Another great thing about date syrup is that it goes great with maple syrup, because you CAN have it all.

I hope you've enjoyed this simple recipe! If you try it for yourself, please comment below, and let me know how it went. I love hearing from all of you, and I love answering the questions you all send in. Seriously, it makes my day to know that at least one or two people are somehow benefitting from these silly little recipes. As always..

Happy cooking and happy eating!
Image may contain: food
If you wanted to eat these by hand, I wouldn't judge you.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Butternut Squash Muffins

Want more pictures? Follow me on Instagram @WannaBGourmande!
Fall is here and my inner Basic Bitch is going bananas. (Follow my favorite tag #basicbitchesunite on instagram) Pumpkin Spice is King during these fabulous months, and his lovely Queen Apple Cider reigns benevolently at his side. That being said, there are more than enough fruits and vegetables to go around during this time of year that you can consume to maintain your seasonal lifestyle.

Things that are in season, in America, this Fall:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
  • Cranberries
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
    • Here in Kansas City, you can find the wild ones!
  • Pomegranates 
    • Persephone Returns to her Husband, Hades!
  • Squash of all varieties
  • Pawpaws
    • True American Fruit!
  • Chinese long beans
    • These are AMAZING on the grill!
  • Okra
  • Green beans
  • Quince
    • Important: Cook these for jams and jellies...they are inedible while raw!
  • Sweet potatoes
I personally have found everything except for the pomegranates at my local farmers market. Since I work at a farmer's market, too, I often get the pick of the litter in exchange for cookies or a loaf of bread. Bartering between market stall owners is honestly the main way I get groceries nowadays. I, of course, shop at wholesale stores for my bakery, Pistachio Bakehouse, but I barely go to the grocery store every other week for myself, mostly for toiletries and dog food. Otherwise, I barter with my farmers for produce and I go to The Local Pig(famously local butcher in Kansas City) for my meats and eggs. 

Cooking and eating seasonally is a challenge, and I'd be a jerk to say otherwise. I'm fortunate enough to live in the Midwest, where everything grows. I won't be so lucky in the winter, so I'll have to find alternative methods of finding food, but until then I'm sure I can find a way.

There's been a plethora of butternut squash around me as of late, and I just adore it. Squash is a fabulous food full of potassium and high amounts of fiber, making it a great choice for your heart and bones. You can roast it in chunks, but I find that it's much more versatile in the puree form, especially because this is how you use it for pies, cakes, muffins, etc. Here's how to roast it for puree:

We got these from a local farmer, since mine didn't turn out so great this year...
 Cut your squash in half using a big fukken knife and score in hatch marks using a smaller knife. Scoop out the seeds and, if you're a gardener, too, set aside to wash them free from the pulp and let dry for planting next season. (This does take some work, but it's an investment of time now to pay off later in spades.) I had about ten squash to work with, but simply use this formula:

Per 1 Medium Squash:

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz(4 Tbsp) butter, really really soft
  • Two or three nice sage leaves from the garden
Rub the sage leaves a few times between your palms to release the oils. Rub the butter all over the fleshy side of the squash, then rub in the sage and salt. Roast first at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 and then continue roasting for another 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and then cover with aluminum foil. Let set for about 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle with your hands. 
dat color tho

Scoop out the squash from its skin and pop it in a blender/food processor, and puree until smooth. You can pop this mixture into mason jars and can it for later use, or you can use some now for muffins! This is makes and exceptionally delicious spice cake and it's just lovely with a hot tea or a cold morning. 

Butternut Squash Spice Muffins
Adapted from Quick Breads by Liz Franklin


  • 320 g Cake flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 100 ml Maple syrup
  • 50 g coconut oil
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp Rum extract(optional, but yummy!)
  • 150 g butternut squash puree
  • Strusel topping, if desired
Strusel Topping
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
Make your strusel first by combining all ingredients in the bowl of your standing mixer and blending with the dough hook until it all comes together when you take a handful and squeeze it in your fist. You can set this aside in a separate container, in the refrigerator, for up to a month. Make sure you write the date using a piece of tape and a sharpie! Organization will set you free...

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Combine your dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda, salt, brown sugar) in the bowl of the standing mixer and mix to combine with the paddle attachment. Add in your fat and stir for about a minute, until the mixture is sort of crumbly-looking. Add in your liquid ingredients(maple syrup, extract, eggs, and squash) all at once and stir until everything comes together, but do not over-mix. It's 10000000% okay if the mixture is lumpy, just be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl once more before popping it in your mold.

This recipe makes a very nice loaf cake for your eating pleasure, but I much prefer to have them in individual muffins, lined with paper. The reason I don't just spray the bejeezus out of a muffin tin and pop in my batter? Well, there are a few...

This recipe is what is known as a quickbread, and therefore "rises quickly." In order for it to get a nice top, the batter has to be able to climb the sides and stick to them so it expands as it bakes. If I were to spray the pan, my batter would release easily from the sides after baked, sure, but they'd be sadly short and muffin-top-less. If I have a loaf pan, I'll simply spray and then flour, so that it'll both be easy to release but the batter will have something to cling on to as it rises, resulting in lovely, even bubbles and a light, fluffy muffin. 

Here's a little naughty Chef's trick: After I've panned my batter(put it in the pans), I let it sit for about 5 minutes while the oven gets up to temperature. Quickbreads are meant to be quick, yes, but baking soda is activated by both moisture and acid. Since this is a fairly low-acid recipe, you have a little leeway to let those flour granules soak up some of that lovely moisture from the eggs and squash. Sugar is also highly hygroscopic, so the high amount in this recipe helps you keep this muffin moist anyway....but why go halfway when you could go all the way by letting it rest?

Once my batter is panned and rested, and my oven heated, then go ahead and sprinkle on that yummy strusel topping, if you're using it, and bake. Set your timer for 25 minutes and then check them with a toothpick. If you're super-precise like me, you should temp your cakes/breads/quickbreads at about 200 degrees F with a thermometer. Mine took about 27 minutes in my oven at home, but your oven will likely behave differently.

Allow the quickbread to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan, and then cool completely before cutting into it. Enjoy it with some warm apple cider and an infinity scarf while you drag your boyfriend Jeremy to the apple orchard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Corner Restaurant: Water for Ants

Farmer's Breakfast

I'm pro-breakfast. I've been to The Corner Restaurant once before, and had a vaguely icky experience(more because of the company I was with than the restaurant itself), but I was looking forward to being back. I was crazy-hungry and B. and I decided that if the wait was too long for Sunday brunch(more than 30 minutes), we'd go somewhere else. The wait was estimated at 20 minutes, but only took 15.

We were seated at one of the hi-tops in the "bar" area underneath some exposed insulation and hanging lamps that looked like they were from a really trendy salvage yard. Our server's jewelry was really cool(I remember the gold piercings sort of glimmering through the sunlight) and she was friendly enough, albeit a little slow and seemed a bit distracted.

Many of the newer, hipster-esque, nose-to-tail style restaurants seem to have been jumping on board with this trend that the tables should be set with their own chilled wine bottles full of water, and have teeny tiny water glasses to accompany said water. I have no idea if this is to keep the servers sane while the customers suck down water by the thimble-full, or if it's to give the diner a sense that they're at a friend's house, serving themselves. Either way, I'm not sure I'm a fan of it.

What is this??? A water glass for ANTS???
One might argue that the glasses are to portion soda sizes or juice sizes, but it just seems a little ridiculous for a water glass. One might also argue that I'm just a greedy American girl that's used to giant-sized everything and I also have giant hands so everything in my hands look small to me. Either way, it was really annoying when the water bottle became empty halfway through the meal and nobody refilled it. I would have flagged someone down, but it was a busy Sunday brunch, so I think that everyone sort of had tunnel vision, just trying to get through the push.

After a 25 minute wait, I got the farmer's breakfast/Babe's breakfast(pictured above) which came with two eggs, a hash brown, two slices of bacon, and two slices of toast with jam and butter. It was well-prepared, although I like a really soft poach and for the egg yolks to just come sort of flooding out. My egg yolks were, runny, but  poached medium, so the egg yolk remained fairly solid. Am I splitting hairs? Of course. Would anyone other than a really annoying food blogger notice? Likely not.

It's not running like a herd of stampeding buffalo. 
Another thing was the hash brown. It was kind of like a little hockey puck of potato. It was decently seasoned, crispy-ish, and ate well...it just seemed like kind of an odd portion. It was fine-looking, sure, but I think the unusual shape was offputting. The bread and jam were great(the jam was made by a local purveyor) and the bacon was nice and crispy. I give the dish a 7 out of 10.

B. got the pear pancakes with the cilantro salad. He said the cilantro thing sounded weird, but I really love cilantro so I talked him into it. The pancakes were huge, which seemed odd considering the portion size of my plate, and there were four of them. Four pancakes, all bigger than your face. That's a great value, for sure, but the pancakes had some issues.

Just so you now, B. is a 6'2" MAN. He's not like a skinny "dude,", he's a MAN.
Like...with MAN shoulders and stuff. And a beard. So those pancakes are big.
For one, those are way too big! If you're going to serve smaller, more refined portions of hash browns, eggs, etc., it seems inconsistent to cook giant pancakes. Also, the pears in the actual pancake itself seemed like they weren't cooked at all. It appeared as if the water in the pears had sort of seeped into the batter and affected it in such a way that they were (tragically) undercooked. When we asked our server if the pears were poached at all before they were added the the pancake. She said she knew they were cooked, "probably sauteed."

A saute is when you cook on high heat with a little bit of fat in the pan. A saute is usually a quick cooking method in which you get some nice color on your items. There were no signs of color on these pears, so I'm not sure how they were cooked, if at all. But the point is that the pancakes were too big, not cooked, and the pears inside(though tasty) weren't really helping. I think that if they sort of were diced up in pretty little cubes and were poached, drained, and then folded into a well-rested buttermilk pancake batter, it would have been better. I also think the portion sizes were way out of control, but I will say it was sort of nice to have pancakes for two more days once they were heated up in the oven.

Another slight annoyance was that our server took forever to get us our check. We were really hungry and ate quickly, sure, but I could see her(and several other servers) cleaning the tiny ant glasses and talking in the corner while we(and the table next to us) were looking for someone to bring them/us the check and clear away the plates. I could hear the couple next to us mumbling about how slow the service was.

I tend not to be impatient when dining out, as I've worked in the industry for over seven years now, so I know how things go on busy Sunday brunches and have empathy for the poor sleep-starved bastards behind the flat-top. I understand that Sunday brunch sucks for the servers and for the cooks. I don't understand why that has to translate to the customer experience. I think I would have been less apt to judge if I hadn't been staring at an empty water glass and bottle for 15 minutes during my nice and salty bacon binge.

The Corner Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoOnce we finally got the check and got out of there, it had been nearly an hour and a half. That seems long(to me) for a busy place in Westport looking to turn tables and serve customers quickly. Granted, there are people that like a long brunch and want to sit and enjoy their food, savor the conversation... B. and I aren't those people when we're tired and hungry, which we were that morning.

All in all, I like The Corner and I'll likely be back again. But I think it's safe to say that it's a good brunch, versus a great brunch. What's wrong with a good brunch? Nothing at all! A nice, good brunch is a Godsend after a night of drinking. B. and I seldom drink, but there were points that I did have a drunken hangover brunch...and if I was having a drunken hankering for some brunch, this would be the place to be. Being a sober and annoyingly thirsty food blogger, though, I don't think I'll say "this is the place to be" for The Corner Restaurant. I'll say "this place has a good brunch with items from local purveyors, so you'll definitely feel good about supporting them."