Sunday, April 29, 2007

The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

And truly it was. I think these will become a staple. They're quite simply the perfect little dessert if you're having people over for a low key dinner. Plus they're smaller, so you can have one or a few. They're so simple to whip up, they look spectacular, and they taste amazing. Our local farmer produce market Youngstocks (a little corner outdoor store that sells the most amazing fresh produce for a fraction of what the large stores are selling less tasty produce for) has had the most amazing strawberries. Those of you that know me really well, or have known me for a long time know that I am usually extremely picky about my strawberries. Ever since my trip to Norway where the strawberries taste like candy, I have been a strawberry snob. Our strawberries, for whatever reason, are often almost always tasteless, watery, and generally sour, even when they should be sweet. So when I bought a box of them a few weeks ago at Youngstocks and the checkout clerk told me he had bought some the night before and they were "amazing" I took it with a grain of salt. I got home, and low and behold, they were amazing, comperable to those in Norway. Seriously. Plus they cost $1 less a box than they do at Fred Meyer, and probably $2-$3 less than they cost at Haggen. I've got my fingers crossed this good strawberry trend continues well into the summer, I've got my eye on a Strawberry Tiramisu recipe.

These tarts have a shortbread crust, a lemon cream cheese filling that has the texture of a nice smooth cheesecake. The lemon zest gives them a real freshness, but it's not overpowering. And topped with a fresh strawberry, this is probably an ideal dessert for me. It's small, it's fresh, it's sweet, it has a cream cheese filling, it's just perfect. And oh-so presentable. They're the perfect ending to any meal along side a hot cup of black coffee. Try these out, you won't be dissapointed, I promise!

Recipe: Shortbread Tart with Cream Cheese Filling and Strawberries

Makes: 15 Tarts

Shortbread Dough:

1 stick unsalted butter room temp
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cups flower
1/2 TBS corn starch
pinch of salt

1. Cream butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.
2. Add remaining dry indgredients and combine well.
3. Spoon equal parts of dough into your mini tart shells (dough will be sticky) and smooth out and into edges.
4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden dough and prevent puffing up during baking.
5. Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Check on dough every 5 minutes, if puffing up occurs poke with a fork.
6. Allow to cool

Cream Cheese Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar* (or more depending on taste/consistency)
2 TBS heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon

*To be honest I kind of just pulled this out of my ass, and I didn't measure a lot of things. You'll want enough sugar for your filling to be thick but not too sweet. I also put the filling in the refrigerator for a while before piping into cool shells which made it a little thicker.

1. Cream the cheese and sugar together for a fe minutes until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Combine.
3. Add heavy cream to combine.
4. Refrigerate while shells cool.
5. Pipe into shells using a star tip.
5. Top with hulled strawberry
5. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.




Vietnamese Pork Sandwiches., originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

This weekend was quite possibly the lovliest weekend I've had in a very long time. It was near perfect.

I started my weekend out by exercising my ass off at the gym on Friday morning (my 5th day in a row, yay). Friday evening my mother took T and I out for dinner (in celebration of his promotion) to a new steak house that Anthony's opened. I honestly don't like Anthony's that much. But this place was really, really good regardless of my low expectations. I had a pomegranate martini that was delicious, T had two 007 martini's, and my mother had a double vodka martini. We started the meal with a king crab, scampi, artichoke dip and oh man, it was killer. Really truly good, you could tell they made the sauce themselves, it wasn't a glob of bottled mayo with the seafood mixed in. And the bread that comes with it (plus you get another basket when you sit down) is the best bread I've ever had at a restaurant. Seriously. It's like a very thin homemade cibatta topped with garlic, lemon, parsley, parmesan and olive oil, it was blow your mind good. I can't even explain how good it was, I just can't put it into words.

Saturday morning we woke up to sun (yay!). Our bedroom window is east facing, and we have these chocolate/golden color curtains, so when the sun comes dancing in through them the whole room glows. It's a wonderful way to wake up. I woke up early, and T was still snoring away (probably partly due to the 007 martinis floating around in his system) so I grabbed my laptop and began looking at garage sales (one of my favorite Saturday morning activities, garage sale-ing coffee in hand) and low and behold one of the best garage sales of the year was scheduled to start in half an hour. Suprisingly this sale is at a church. But it never seems to dissapoint. So I shook Thomas awake, we grabbed Thomas' sister, coffee and headed out. And we scored quite a few amazing things. First I found a glass coffee/tea pot (seen in the strawberry tart picture), a very cool teak deer statue, a gorgeous copper/chocolate Haeger vase, a beautiful art deco tea cup, and an adorable lime green plastic beach bag, just to name a few things. Every peice was a dollar or less (most less). Seriously amazing! After the most successful garage sale-ing in a long while, we picked up a few sandwiches and some sparkling lemonade from the grocery, threw a few cups and a large blanket into my new beach bag and headed to a secluded beach here in Bellingham where we had a wonderful picnic. It was very sunny, there was a breeze, but even that was warm. It was great. After that, we came home, laid out in the backyard and read the Yellow Submarine (another garage sale score), made a fort, and played with the dogs.

Sunday was the norm, grocery shopping etc.
But that brings us to the picture above (I'm sure you're thinking, finally). They are Vietnamese Pork Loin Sandwiches, with pickled carrots, red onion, ciclantro, and cucumber on a sesame bun. These were really good. T was pretty skeptical at first, but when all was cooked and ready he ate two sandwiches. He would've eaten three if I hadn't torn the pork out of his hands and packed it up in the fridge. We had my mother over for dinner too, which was nice, it's something that rarely happens. We either usually go out, or we drive out to her house. I absolutely adore having people over for dinner, especially when we can eat out in the backyard.

Anyway, these sandwiches were a huge hit. They're almost sweet, but sort of spicy, with just the right amount of salt. I like pork that is slow cooked better, otherwise it's kind of chewy and tough. Since you reduce the sauce and baste the meat after it marinates for 2 hours I don't see why you couldn't just slow cook this stuff for 4-6 hours whole and cut it after it's cooked. I guess roasting it in the oven is much easier, and a lot faster. It was good though. And not to hard, it doesn't take too long to whip up or cook. But it does have to marinate for at least 2 hours. So unless you get home early, or make it the night before, this is probably best left for your days off. I found the recipe at another food blog and I don't remember which one, so if it was yours let me know and I will gladly post a link and give you credit! This was definately perfect for a backyard picnic barbeque. I paired it with an edamame salad and a nice Robert Mondavi reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We all had blue plastic plates so clean up was a breeze. After dinner while we waited for the coffee to brew we enjoyed some good conversation, more wine and the sunset. We ended the evening with a scrumptious dessert (post to follow) and a strong cup of coffee. I've already got my gym bag packed for tomorrow and a sandwich made up with the leftovers, so I'm ready (marterialistically speaking) for Monday.

Recipe: Vietnamese Sandwiches

For pork: 

1 (1-pound/0.5kg) piece boneless pork loin
1/4 cup (60ml) hoisin sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional, or 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup (60ml) honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

For sandwiches:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup (60ml) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or enough to make a mildly salty brine
2 cups (500ml) peeled and shredded carrots
2 cups (500ml)peeled and shredded daikon radish (traditional, though I left this out)
8 small baguettes (petit pains), preferably from a Vietnamese bakery
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks 
pickled jalapeƱo pepper slices, or chopped fresh chilies, to taste
fresh cilantro sprigs

To prepare pork, remove and discard any sinew and trim off large pieces of fat on the exterior. Cut pork across the grain into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) thick slices (if you're having trouble with this, it helps to partially freeze the meat first). Transfer pork to a large sealable plastic bag. Stir together remaining ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Add to pork and turn pork to coat, then squeeze bag to eliminate as much air as possible and seal. Marinate pork, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours.
Mix together the warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until everything dissolves and add the carrots and daikon (if using). Let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain well before using.

Put a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F/220C. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade, and position pork strips 1 inch apart on a wire rack set above a foil-lined roasting pan. Bring marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan (marinade may look curdled), and boil until it has reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Brush some marinade over pork and roast for about 10 minutes. Generously baste meat again with marinade, turn each piece over, and baste again. Roast pork for 15-20 minutes more, basting 2 or 3 more times with remaining marinade, until cooked through, glistening and caramelized around the edges. Cool slightly, and trim into pieces that will fit inside the baguettes.

Warm the baguettes slightly in the oven to revive their crispiness. To assemble the sandwiches, cut open the baguettes on one side, slather with mayonnaise, and layer some of each of the remaining ingredients.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Birthdays Are Coming. . .

Rayne's 16th Birthday, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

While going through some of my older photos and posting a few on Flickr I realized there are a few birthdays in the near future. Unlike last year, I think I'm going to try to keep it laid back this year. I'm used to making huge deals out of birthdays, I think from 14 years old on. My closest friends and I would always try to do huge, whacky, suprising parties/events etc. for eachother for our birthdays. And last year was a big year for birthdays Rayne turned 16 and Thomas and I turned 21 all big birthdays. Understandably big deal birthdays. But not this year. Oh no.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Meringue and Cupcakes, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

To be honest I was a little bummed on how these cupcakes turned out, but only in their last stage, the meringue decorating stage. So in all honesty I guess that would be my fault. I have never in my life made meringue and I'm not sure if I did it correctly. I guess looking back on it they're not all that ugly, but at the time I was ready to throw them in garbage. Had it not been for their phenomenal flavor and the fact I was bringing them as a gift, I may have. Once I got them down to Seattle though I wasn't as unhappy with them as I was earlier in the morning, maybe it was because I only got 6 hours of sleep. You be the judge I guess, ugly or not? All in all it was fun to make them, and they turned out pretty enough, and they tasted amazing. For the recipe vist Cheryl over at I would highly reccomend it, although they are mighty expensive to make for a cupcake (almond paste costs about $8 and you use the whole thing, not to mention the cost of 8 oz. of fresh raspberries in April) but it's worth it for a once in a while fantastic treat. Quite possibly the best cupcake I've ever had.


Nut Cup

nut cup, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

The ricottta, raspberry, almond cupcakes, ready for the oven. . .

Matcha Cupcakes

matcha cupcakes, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I was initially extremely excited about making green tea cupcakes. The color was awesome, if you like green, the color of these cupcakes will surely excite you as they did me. However I don't think I used enough matcha in them. The batter tasted like matcha, but I think the flavor baked out. And I didn't have enough matcha to add to the cream cheese frosting so I just dusted the tops with it, sad. Oh well, now I know. I used my sour cream batter which I think was a bad idea becaue it's so thick. I think a chiffon style cupcake would be light enough to pick up the subtle flavor of the matcha. If you are interested in the recipe see my first food post. Take out the lemon etc. and add two teaspoons of matcha (not enough matcha though). I'll have to keep experimenting with this one. I'll get it right though. Trust me, I heart matcha and I heart cupcakes, the marriage of the two is too much an exciting thought not to continue experimentation.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

My First Maki

my first maki, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

I think it turned out pretty well. It consisted of spicy crab, avocado, smoked salmon and cucumber. To get great tips on how to make sushi, or sushi recipes check out It's a great site to get you started. The rice is really key in perfecting the taste of your sushi, I think you need to start with a good rice base and go from there. I wasn't too impressed (especially the next day) with the rice we made, but it did the trick. The whole meal was quite delicious, there was a huge spread of food which consisted of a "make your own sushi" table, veggie tempura, gyoza, and coconut shrimp. I was so hungry by the time we finished cooking that I only managed to take a picture of my maki. After that I just wanted to spend time with friends eating around the fire.

By the way, the cupcakes were a huge hit. Woo-hoo!


Simplistic Complexity

Whoa. I don't know how to describe how amazing these cupcakes turned out. They are almond/raspberry/ricotta cupcakes. They are so moist, yet quite sweet but in a very pleasant not to overpowering way. The flavors are extremely complex but simple. Excuse my silly reference, but it is, like a party in your mouth. A very elegant party, but a party none the less. I'm bringing them down to our friend Beth tomrrow in Seattle who is making us lunch. I wanted something that would knock her socks off. I think these will do, I'm dubbing them "the best cupcakes I've ever made". And they are, quite literally, that. Seriously amazing. That's all I can say. I'll post finished product pics tomorrow or Sunday. We had a few people over this evening for a backyard bon-fire and "make your own sushi" which was fantastic. (I'll be posting my sushi too, thanks to's fab tips). Also look forward to future posts about my first attempt at Matcha (green tea) cupcakes, and some damn fine coconut shrimp. For now, enjoy this porntastic batter picture. Mmm.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday means Shish Kabobs

kabobs, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Asher made these shish kabobs on Saturday night. They were delicious. Since I didn't make them I don't have the recipes. I know the beef is jerk seasoned and the chicken is a lime cilantro marinade. They were good!

Friday, April 06, 2007


Sugar Cookies, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

No, as I think I might have mentioned I am not one bit religious. So all this holiday holds for me is pastel colors and an opportunity to bake like a bat out of hell, if a bat out of hell were to bake, which he probably wouldn't.

I'm also considering trying my hand at a cheesecake/cake combo with raspberries and either vanilla bean whip cream "frosting" or meringue. If you don't understand what I mean, flickr searh Juniors Cheesecake, same idea different components. Since I bought 5 dozen eggs, it seems only right to make something with meringue no? I guess you'll have to wait and see.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Hungry but still eating well.

Asian Chicken Salad, originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

Just because I'm eating less, and less junk, and exercising more doesn't mean I have to eat bad. This salad is jam packed with all sorts of goodies, and tastes wonderful. I'm still a little hungry though, it's going to take a while for my stomach to get used to eating less carbs/starches. Oh well. I can take it.

Recipe: Asian Chicken Salad


8 large washed chopped romaine lettuce leaves
1/4 chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
1 carrot shredded
1/4 cup red onion sliced thin
2 chicken baked boneless skinless chicken breasts
Asian dressing (I used Ghiradinis sp? Asian Sesame)


1. Throw everything together. Toss. And enjoy!