Photos from Stockholm during Christmas time. Though I complain so much about how cold it was, it was actually quite beautiful when trees were all covered in frost.
Frosted winter wonderland, so long till we meet again.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in–you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.
Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.
Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and , very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.
Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.
(Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).
While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.)
Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.
Reduce the oven Temperature to 175 degrees C.
Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
The above recipe is adapted from the following two recipes:
Though I am not the most dedicated baker and I have probably made less than 10 pies in the past 4 years, I would still like to say that I have not been completely satisfied with the crusts of any of the pies that I made. Filling is just so much easier to make than the crust! Somehow, the crusts always ended up being either a little too dry or a little too hard. So, instead of making a pecan pie, I decided to make a pecan tart for our New Year’s house party.
Since the crust recipe did not call for kneading nor rolling, I really started to doubt the recipe when I was pressing the dough crumbs onto the pie pan (see the photo link above). Especially since I made the crust in winter so the butter stayed pretty cold, it was hard to stick the dough together. I added an extra york in but I think it is also OK to add a little bit of ice water to moisturise the dough. Just make sure it’s not too much water.
The tart had the exact same tart consistency as the strawberry tarts found at Japanese cake shops and cafes. I was pleased. It is going to become my go-to recipe for sweet pie crust. It is delicious!
Serve it with whip cream, but remember not to add too much sugar to the whip since the pie is rather sweet.
I am the only person I know who likes crispy cookies.
I have been studying ways of making crispy cookies and I would say that my biggest discovery is to make cookies by using granulated sugar. It appears that yellow sugar or brown sugar will likely give cookies a softer texture.
Like many of you, being a food enthusiast, I often search for new recipes online and see if I can make the best version of such and such. I wonder if what I am about to share is just common sense in the world of food enthusiasts (I hate stating the obvious, so please forgive me if it is). Instead of trying out a few of different recipes and see which one is the best, what I do every time I try to make something I’ve never made before is to compare a number of recipes of the same dish, combine or take out a few things, take some mental notes and then begin. Compare the similarities and the dissimilarities. Usually, by reading a few number of recipes, you will get to see what are the essential ingredients and what can be without. What needs to be done before what is extremely important. If you read through the steps and have a pretty good understanding of the process of making any particular dish, even if you’ve never made it before, the failure rate would be drastically lowered. If you are a picky eater like me, this tip can be a life-saver. I really don’t like wasting food and I really really don’t like eating stuff that doesn’t taste good, not even if it’s something I made.
I went through about 20 different recipes and decided to go with the following 2:
Here’s how it looks when they are side by side:
The two recipes look fairly similar, though one claims to yield 4 dozen and the other one claims 2…
Here’s what I get out of using the two recipes together:
Voila! Make them exactly the way you like them even if it’s something you’ve never made before. Mine were very crispy, not dry, with lots of raisin and a little bit of chocolate chips, exactly how I wanted them to be.
Banana Bread Recipe #1 a.k.a. Curtis’s Banana Bread
1 2/3 cups Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/4 cups Caster Sugar
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
3 large Ripe Bananas, mashed
2 tbsp Natural Yogurt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
Grease and line base of a large 13.5cm x 23.5cm loaf pan.
Beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer or with electric beaters on medium-high speed for 10 minutes, or until very thick and pale and the mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted. Reduce speed to low and beat in the oil in a steady stream. Mix in the vanilla and yoghurt and then the walnuts.
Add the bananas.
Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate soda and cinnamon together in a large bowl and pour wet mixture onto the dry mixture, folding gently but thoroughly.
Pour mixture into pan and bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean when tested.
Cool in pan briefly then turn out onto a rack to cool.
Banana Bread Recipe #2 a.k.a. Flour’s Famous Banana Bread
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs 1/2 cup oil 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Steps pretty much the same as the one above.
We love every each one of them, but trying to come up with heartfelt messages can be such a daunting task. Below are links that I find very useful in help getting the job done.
Examples of how to title the envelops:
Examples of thank-you note wording for bridal party:
Examples of thank-you note wording for best man:
Examples of thank-you note wording for guests who attended the wedding:
Examples of thank-yous note wording for guests who did not attend:
image source: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/0e/91/d6/0e91d65b96ffea0a9d7faea59ae8297a.jpg
Taking pre-wedding studio photos is a norm in East Asia. It’s quite similar to the concept of taking engagement photos in the America. The purpose of such is to capture more romantic moments in a quieter setting as opposed to photos taken on the actual wedding day which is mostly about putting on a show for guests who participate at a big banquet.
Unlike engagement photos, taking in semi-formal or casual wear, typically the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be will take pre-wedding studio photos in wedding dresses and tuxedos. This is often an opportunity for the soon-to-be-married couple to look at their best, especially since editing is a big part of the photo package. The edited photos will later on be used for decoration for the wedding banquet.
I am not sure why there’s such cultural difference, but I do notice that many Asian couples prefer what I call “celebrity-style” photo shoot. Many of them prefer to be much accessorised and pose in a way that is more likely seen in fashion magazines than in real life. This is rather different from the minimalistic approach of taking photos in simple and intimate setting that is popular in the West.
When my husband and I went to a photo studio to discuss the details of our pre-wedding studio photos, our person in charge had to double-check with every choice that I made since no one wanted to look “clean and simple” in their wedding photos. “Clean and simple” meant elegance to me but shabby in Chinese standard.
We didn’t end up taking our pre-wedding studio photos in Taiwan, but we still needed some studio photos for our debut wedding video, so we found a Swedish photographer to take our photos while we were on vacation in Sweden. Here are a couple of photos of the bouquet I put together from flowers picked from my mother-in-law’s lovely garden to be used for our photo shoot. I just love this kind of pale, muted colour palette.
Bridal shower, a gift-giving party traditionally thrown by the maid of honour or a good friend, a celebration for the bride-to-be is the most common in North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Here in Japan, it seems to be a thing that people have never heard of. I am so very lucky to have my maid of honour, who is my high school friend from Canada living in Japan as well. She planned a such a beautiful party. I had a blast. It’s a day that I’d always remember.
The theme was ‘British afternoon tea’. We had a bruschetta bar which included pan-fried baguette and three kinds of toppings such as a mix of tomato and basil, fresh ricotta cheese and a mix of avocado and shrimp.
It would not be a British-themed tea party without scones. I didn’t know what clotted cream was, though I am still not sure what it is. All I know is that it’s yummy and it can actually be found in the Japanese supermarket nearby. Mmmm…scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam…mmmm.
Here’s a couple of pictures of the advice box created by MK, my maid of honour. Sheep sticky notes for advices to be read next year in the year of sheep; pig ones to be read in five. How cute and adorable. And I got my very own BRIDE CHAIR!