Saturday, October 8, 2011


Hello, it's Ryo, your beloved photographer and infrequent poster!

Sadly, this is the first post in a couple of months. Also, there aren't any amazingly delicious or beautiful pieces of culinary delight that I have to share with you this time.

The first part of the school year has been hectic for both of us, although my workload in junior year is microscopic compared to Sydney's workload in Berkeley, who has been getting an average of 4 hours of sleep per night.

I have had some time to take some pictures lately, so I'll pick out some of the good ones to share a little later. My Uncle Mark has given me an external flash for my camera, as well as a sweet 105mm Nikkor lens! Still super psyched about that.

We haven't had many amazing food excursions lately (none at least in the same ballpark as Chez Panisse), but we promise to upload any other awesome experiences, food-related or not.

I'll leave you with my first attempt at a time lapse, taken over the summer. (Be sure to watch in HD.)

This particular time lapse was taken over the course of about two and a half hours. It was quite difficult because of the change in light due to passing clouds, but I'm reasonably happy with the result. Next time, I'll use my new neutral density filters (make-it-darker filters) to create longer exposures on individual frames. This should help overall smoothness.

If you want to see absolutely stunning time lapses, check out TSO Photography on Vimeo. His work is the best I have ever seen, even if it makes my own work look like crap.
Have a good day and I hope to post again soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So long, summer break

and hello, summer veggies!

School started up again for me last week but before life gets too crazy I thought it would be nice to add something to this poor, neglected blog.

This weekend, a good friend and I had a picnic on campus.  She brought some delicious homemade miso soup and hijiki rice and I decided to throw together some vegetables I bought at the Saturday Berkeley farmers market and make a salad.  Everything was so refreshing and wholesome and it was really nice to start off the year with some quality, home-cooked food.  

Arugula Summer Salad
red onions
heirloom tomatoes
yellow and green summer squash
mozzarella cheese
simple dressing: olive oil and vinegar mixed with finely diced clove of garlic and some chopped basil

Just mix the above ingredients +/- any of your choosing and lightly dress.  It's so summery and delicious!

This weekend also marks the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse so I thought it was very fitting that we cooked our own meal and used some seasonal ingredients.  Then I found out that Cheeseboard was giving out free slices that same night.  Oh well...
By the way, we got to go to Chez Panisse twice this summer.  I think my life is complete.

For dessert I made a peach galette.  I used a recipe I found online for the dough (a Lindsey Shere recipe too!) and just added some sliced peaches, also from yesterday morning's farmers market.

Unfortunately, the oven started smoking halfway through and all of the smoke detectors in my apartment went off.  After running around, madly waving couch cushions beneath the screaming alarms, I called the landlord.  Hopefully we'll have a new oven by tomorrow.  As for the galettes, they just got to sit in the cooling oven for the next half hour.  They probably could have used some extra time, but they turned out all right.  

The recipe for the galette dough can be found HERE.
The original recipe makes one 10-inch galette but I turned it into 4 mini ones.  I'd really recommend the dough because it turns out nice and flaky just like a pastry.  I would not recommend that you bake it in a faulty oven.
On a couple of the galettes I added some diced basil, just to be weird.  I should have added more or omitted it entirely because it wasn't really an obvious flavor and looked a little weird.  But experimenting is fun and I'd definitely suggest you try making these with all sorts of different fruits.  A plum galette sounds pretty good.

Now it's time to start they year off right and actually get some work done!  Hope to post again before too long.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strawberry Lemon Bars

A delicious summery treat!

Last night Ryo and I went to an elementary school teacher's retirement party.  She was quite an amazing person so it was sad to see her go.  
When we arrived there had to be around 100 people; old classmates, parents, other teachers, all reminiscing about the years past while eating plates full of food (it was a potluck).  100 people, give or take 100.  Ryo approximated 200 people.  Clearly we are great estimators. 
Anyway, back to these bars.
I decided on lemon bars when I noticed the ridiculous Meyer lemons on my grandmother's tree.  I swear, one of them was the size of a grapefruit.  How does that happen?!  I wish I took a picture, but I was too stunned by their gargantuan size and forgot.  So just imagine HUGE yellow orbs.  

The recipe I used was from  You can find the recipe HERE.
I chose this one because it also uses strawberries which are so pretty and red.  Also, a farm sells some really delicious ones only a few minutes from our house.  See, I also like to promote local farmers and use seasonal ingredients.  It's not entirely about aesthetics.  
The only thing I might change next time I make these is the amount of strawberries the recipe calls for.  No Recipes uses 3/4 of a cup but I think a cup or a cup and a quarter would be even more awesome.  
The bars turned out pretty delicious--not too sweet but so fresh and lemony.  
Ryo and I chatted with a few of our old teachers and when we looked back at the tables of food, most of our lemon strawberry bars had vanished.  Mission accomplished.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Greatest Cake Achievement

The Heaven and Hell Cake

Peanut butter mousse? Dark chocolate? Devil's food cake AND angel food cake?
I just couldn't leave this off the blog.
Plus, you have to love the name.

So here's the procedure: Layer devil's food cake, peanut butter mousse, and angel food cake.  Then repeat.

After layering, slather with ganache.

And devour.  In moderation.

I feel like a ton of pictures should suffice for this entry.
So just appreciate the food porn.  And if staring isn't enough, GO MAKE IT.  But preferably invite ALL of your friends.  Even the smallest sliver will knock you out.  
This is the perfect cake if you want something that both looks and tastes incredible.
It's hard to screw up when you mix peanut butter and chocolate.  Turns out, if you add fluffy layers of angel food cake with a hint of almond flavoring between them, something amazing happens.
The Heaven and Hell Cake.  Greatest cake achievement to date.

I used this recipe from Food o' del Mundo.  Whisk Kid also used the recipe and has some great pictures.
We pretty much followed the recipe exactly but reduced the coffee in the the devil's food cake by about half a cup because it made the batter too liquidy.

I made this cake for Ryo's birthday in January with Dylan.  I would definitely recommend making it with another person.  It's more fun that way and plus, it's an intense cake.  Also, licking all those bowls by yourself might not be the best for your health.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What to do with Persimmons

Yes, more persimmons.

Green salad with with persimmons, mandarins, apples, and pomegranate 

I know.  We just had a post about persimmons.  Some people love them, some people hate them.  I used to fall into that last category.  Now that I am older (slightly), wiser (hopefully), and have developed a much broader range of taste (really, I think my taste buds reproduced or something), I've come to accept them.  There's no way I would say I love persimmons, but I've definitely developed an appreciation for them, especially now that I've discovered how versatile they can be.

Our fuyu persimmon tree

We only have a fuyu persimmon tree, so this post avoids the hachiyas, used in most baking recipes such as in the persimmon cookies of our previous post.  It's a good thing our dogs love persimmons, because the tree bears more fruit than we could ever use.  Still, I have been trying to find as many recipes as I can that involve fuyus.  Here are five of my discoveries:

Sammy chowing on a fuyu

Beamer would like 10 more

1)  If you want to do something really simple, but still delicious, peel a fuyu, slice it up and saute it for a few minutes with maybe half a tablespoon of butter and and some cinnamon.  Oh my gosh, it's so easy and so good and it makes the kitchen smell amazing.  My dad claims that this recipe was his invention.

Persimmons sauteed with cinnamon
2)  Put them in your oatmeal!  I have an unusual obsession with oats and have tried many various combinations.  Sauteed persimmons cooked into some old fashioned oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar is pretty tasty.

Persimmons cooked into oatmeal!

3)  Bake them!  Hollow out a fuyu, chop up the insides and mix in some brown sugar and cinnamon before throwing it all back into the persimmon body.  If you have some walnuts on hand, they would also make a great addition.  Bake the persimmon for about 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Then eat it with a spoon.  

Baked persimmon with brown sugar and cinnamon

4) Make a salad.  I didn't actually do this myself but Dylan did and it looked delicious.  Throw in some pomegranate seeds and mandarins if you want some more seasonal additions.  Plus, it'll be even prettier.

5) Okay, finally, the recipe I've used the most.  Persimmon bread!  I've baked this too many times to count over break because not only is it a great way to get rid of some fuyus, but it's also healthy and delicious.  
I adapted the recipe from the blog, Cooking Books, and change it up a little each time I make it.

Persimmon bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
other additions: walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, you name it
3 mashed persimmons (2 if they're enormous)
1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl (everything after and including the persimmons on the above list).  Combine the dry ingredients (but not the additions, like walnuts).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix, but don't over mix.  Then add walnuts, raisins, etc.. in amounts to your preference.  I probably typically use about a half cup of chopped walnuts and a quarter cup each of raisins or cranberries, but I don't actually ever measure.  You can really add whatever you want though. Experiment! It's more fun.
Pour the mixture into a greased bread pan (9x5 should work) and bake at 350 for about 45-50 minutes.  It's going to be a pretty moist bread so don't be surprised if it doesn't seem done.  You can cover the bread with some tin foil near the end and bake it a few more minutes if you really don't think it's done.
Let it cool a little, slice, and eat!  It's great for breakfast or just a snack.

Fuyu persimmon bread!

I used to think persimmons were boring, bland, and just stupid. But after discovering all of these things to do with them, they've actually become pretty fun.  Try out some of these recipes or find some other cool ways to use persimmons and let me know!
If you run out of ideas, are completely sick of persimmons, and still have a bunch that are beginning to go bad, don't throw them away.  Throw them at things and convert old fruit into new fun.  See, you won't be wasting anything!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Persimmon Cookies

          With a spice glaze!

          The persimmon season is finally coming to a close.  This is probably a good thing as our antiquated oven has already cranked out 10+ loaves of persimmon bread in the past couple weeks.  If I make any more for my family and friends, persimmon bread will probably become the new fruitcake.  Although, I'd like to think it wouldn't be so greatly despised because it actually tastes pretty good.  This persimmon bread recipe uses fuyu persimmons which is strange since hachiyas are typically the preferred choice for baking. Maybe I will do a separate post on this bread later, but for now it's all about the cookies.
          These persimmon cookies use hachiya persimmons.  A quick differentiation: fuyus are shorter and flatter while hachiyas are longer with a more pointed bottom.  Hachiyas are also softer, whereas fuyus are more crunchy.  If you don't even know what a persimmon is, that's weird, but not completely unforgivable.  Click here to go straight to the persimmon Wikipedia page.
          My mom wanted me to bake some of these cookies to send to our grandparents who currently live in Hawaii and miss the persimmons on our ranch during the winter months.  Since I don't have many things better to do over break and since baking is pretty fun, I welcomed the task.
          It is the start of a new year and most people want to kick off January eating healthier so I decided to modify the typical recipe a little.  Below is the slightly changed recipe with original ingredients and amounts in parentheses.

Persimmon Cookie Recipe--makes about 6 dozen.  (My batch made 77!)
1 1/2 sticks butter + 1/4 cup mashed prunes (instead of 1 cup shortening)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup peeled and chopped persimmon (about 2 large or 3 or 4 small persimmons)
1 cup whole wheat flour (instead of 2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
2 cups uncooked old fashioned oats
For Spice Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk (almond milk worked nicely)
1/4 tsp nutmeg and/or cinnamon (do both unless you really can't stand nutmeg)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease some cookie sheets. Combine the butter and sugars and beat until thoroughly blended. Add the egg and beat well, then beat in the persimmon pulp. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add to the first mixture and beat until completely mixed. Stir in the walnuts, raisins, and oats. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have puffed and browned slightly. While baking, make the Spice Glaze.  To do so, combine the powdered sugar, spices, and milk and mix well to dissolve any sugar lumps and to create a smooth, runny glaze.  When the cookies have come out of the oven and are still hot, brush or spoon on the Spice Glaze, then transfer to racks to cool. 

          If you really don't want to make this healthier version, just add the full two sticks of butter or 1 cup shortening and use 2 cups of all-purpose flour.  But really, you can barely tell the difference, especially if you've never even had persimmon cookies to begin with.  Plus, Ryo thought they tasted identical.
          This recipe really makes a lot of little cookies, so be prepared to share.  Or don't.  They're pretty good, we wouldn't blame you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Baking

          Snickerdoodles and Sweet Dreams Cookies


After a long hiatus, our blog has finally resumed. Sydney came home from Berkeley a week before Christmas after enduring a grueling week of finals.
She didn't have much time to rest, though. The following day, we had our annual Christmas get-together with our friends. Our Christmas custom for the past couple years has been to give each other baked goods instead of material items as presents. Naturally, we seized this opportunity to make a blog entry about it.
Sydney and I decided to make two different kinds of cookies to give. I chose the classic Snickerdoodles, while Sydney elected to bake "Sweet Dreams," which is a tasty cookie with a chewy mix of walnuts, chocolate chips and wonderful spices. Sydney got her recipe from our wonderful grandma, while I followed a recipe off Presidential Cookies, a cookbook about every president's favorite cookies (something that our grandma also gave us). The recipe that I followed for the Snickerdoodles was Grover Cleveland's favorite cookie.

I chose Snickerdoodles because they are relatively easy to make and they turned out nicely when I made them a few years ago.
The process for making the Snickerdoodles is fairly smooth and simple. There are three basic steps: First, I prepare the dough with butter, eggs, sugar, and flour. Then, I put it in the fridge to chill it. After that's done, they are rolled into balls, covered with cinnamon sugar and popped into the oven for around 8 minutes. Snickerdoodles are very rewarding to make because they are as yummy as they are pretty to look at!

Snickerdoodles from the Presidential Cookies cookbook
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Beat eggs and gradually add sugar.  Stir in butter and mix well, then add vanilla.  In a different bowl, sift flour with salt and baking soda.  Add this mixture to the egg mixture and mix thoroughly.  Chill dough for about 2 hours.  In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.  Form cookie dough into 1-inch rounds.  Toll balls into the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place coated balls on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown.  Makes 3-4 dozen.

Syd's Sweet Dreams are up next.

Sweet Dreams Cookies!
Hey, it's Syd! As Ryo said, it's been hard to keep up the blog during the semester. We're sorry for the long break, but since we're now on vacation (or at least I still am), hopefully we'll be able to post a few entries.
When Ryo had cleared the counter of everything snickerdoodley, I made some of our grandma's Sweet Dreams cookies, loved by anyone with any sense. The recipe is as follows:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg room temperature
1 t vanilla
2 cups unbleached all purpouse flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
½ t salt
1 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
Cream butter using an electric mixer. Beat in brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Blend into butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm (can be prepared 1 day ahead). Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease baking sheets. Break off small pieces of dough; roll between palms into 1 inch rounds. Dredge rounds in powdered sugar. Arrange rounds on prepared sheets spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to racks and cool. Store in airtight container. Makes about 6 dozen.

I actually didn't use an electric mixer, as the recipe suggests, and they turned out great.  I prefer to avoid the mixers unless it's absolutely necessary.  It's just so much more fun to mix by hand.
Anyway, Sweet Dreams cookies are really a perfect winter/holiday cookie because of the pleasant blend of spices. Try them out! You really won't regret it unless you end up eating the whole batch yourself.