i sent an email to frank warren, the founder/keeper of postsecret, regarding a little copyright infringement. the post is no longer up, but i have not heard from mr. warren.
so, now what? do i wait for another book to come out to see if it was included? should i write mr. warren and extract a promise that it won't be published?
i think i'll go bake a cake.
i sent an email to frank warren, the founder/keeper of postsecret, regarding a little copyright infringement. the post is no longer up, but i have not heard from mr. warren.
strawberries are in season in japan, and we on the island are lucky enough to have some of the sweetest, tiniest specimens available to us. although i think that wild strawberries are the ideal fruit, these glossy red, sweet, juicy, half-a-bite-sized jewels are pretty darned close. the first punnet barely survived the morning, eaten with nary an adornment, with much satisfaction.
ms. sam reminded me that it is st. george's day today. this means pretty much nothing to me, but put me in the mood for a bit of afternoon tea; however, the afternoon turned out to be gorgeously sunny and breezy, so i wanted to spend the majority of it outdoors, and not over a hot oven. luckily, putting together some semblance of a cream tea needn't take more time than necessary--i managed to get one together in less than 20 minutes, with only the slightest bit of help from a previously purchased jar of double cream. i just modified a favourite cream biscuit recipe, and yesss, microwaved some of the strawberries from my stash for a not-so-jammy but very delish vanilla-infused fruit...soup. okay, jammy soup. still, it soaked through the whisper-light scones and stood up admirably to the heaving glory of the double cream and sated that particular desire.
and thus so, i was on my way, belly full of berries and wearing a sunny sunday smile.
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tbsp sugar
1-1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
preheat oven to 450˚F.
mix all ingredients together to form a stiff dough. knead on a floured surface lightly, then roll out the dough to desired thickness and cut out as desired. you can rework the scraps to cut out more. bake for 10-12 minutes until puffy and lightly golden.
microwave strawberry jam
1 punnet of strawberries
1 vanilla bean, slit down the middle
sugar to taste (1/2-1 cup, usually)
place all ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. microwave on 'high' for 6-8 minutes, until all the sugar has dissolved and the strawberry juices have thickened slightly. refrigerate until ready to use (this will taste better after several days, but can be used immediately).
banana cupcakes with a chocolate ganache filling and topped with a double-squidge of mascarpone frosting and a teeny candy-coated chocolate banana. i was reading an article featuring my favourite cupcake lady, chockylit, and i decided to try the banana cupcake recipe from kara's cupcakes. instead of the cream cheese frosting used in the recipe, i just used the leftovers from my previous cupcake efforts. i didn't find the cupcakes to be particularly banana-y, so i refrained from using the coffee ganache leftovers from the last time; however, the frosting and ganache still almost completely overwhelmed the 'nana cakes, so hopefully next time my bananas will be tastier. i just never know how a rotting banana will go.
a few days ago, it was alizinha's birthday; as she is a contributor to cupcake central, cupcakes take the cake, and an early admirer of the greenbanana cupcakes, these are dedicated to her. parabéns e muitas felicidades!
chocolate-coffee cupcakes, with a just right amount of mocha ganache and a generous squidge of mascarpone cream frosting. from a daniel boulud recipe. at first i thought that the ganache would just be OTT (yeah you know me), but was hooked at first bite. readers, i ate this one. and it was delicious. easily one of my favourites.
the recipe says it makes 30 standard-sized cupcakes, but i made 18 espresso cup-sized ones (four ounce sized ones, i think), and had quite a bit of ganache and cream frosting left over. hm. what to do, what to do....
whilst commenting on the last post, junebug mentioned that one of my images showed up on a postcard sent to postsecret. if you don't know about postsecret, it's a blog where you can anonymously send in homemade postcards with a secret written on it. it's described as an "art community", although i imagine there's quite a lot of emotional and psychological "unburdening" going on as well. regarding the art of the postcards themselves, there are cards that are no doubt original works, but many of them seem to be stock postcards embellished creatively.
this is the one junebug referred to:
this is my original photo:
obvs, not a stock postcard, but not the sender's original image, either (and bless you, junebug, for not thinking that i sent in the card--perhaps you knew i'd never go to a bakery for cupcakes ;)). the anonymous sender did not ask my permission to use the photo, and as many of you know, i've had problems with unauthorized use of photos before. although i wholly appreciate postsecret, they say by sending in a card to them, they in effect own the copyright on the card, and can publish it as they wish. (ironically, although i am allowed to publish one photo from their site as a link to theirs, had i embellished upon it by declaring the photo as mine, i think i might actually violate their copyright.) i also somewhat appreciate the sentiment of the sender, but i'm not sure how i feel about my image being used in conjunction with it.
i'm having a creative commons/copyright dilemma, basically. since the postcard was sent anonymously, do i contact postsecret? i don't necessarily want this person's entry deleted because i'm all pissy about the photo, but then again, i want to take a kind of hard line against photo-stealing.
tg suggested it, so here it is, a real live comments party of sorts. so, comment, please. i'm still mulling everything over.
addendum: questions: okay, if you find an image somewhere, copyrighted or not, and then put words on top of it and call it "art", does it in effect become your image as a whole? do i even have a right to object at this point, and if i don't, what is the point of having a creative commons partial license anyway? since i have a full copyright on the blog along with creative commons, am i effectively cancelling out the creative commons license by having the other?
update 18april06: if you tried commenting earlier and it didn't work, try it now. i have no idea what happened, but it should be okay now. also, i actually do have a (non-postsecret) secret to reveal....
...you make lemon chiffon cupcakes with lemon-vanilla butttercream, and top them with a lemon-lime marshmallow slice. of course :)
just when i think i've hit my stride when it comes to this blog, i notice i'm hemorrhaging blog hits at an alarmingly quick rate--i'm down to about 40 per cent of the volume i had at the beginning of the year. at this rate, by the end of the month, i'll have a negative percentage of people coming by. ah well. i was worried yesterday, and now i am not; i am content with what it is, and perhaps it's time to work on some overdue projects. for those of you who have chosen to stick around, welcome, and a heartfelt thank you.
it just means there's more cupcakes for us.
1 cup unsalted, softened butter
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest from one lemon
cream butter with an electric mixer. gradually add the sugar, and beat at medium speed. the mix should look a little crumbly. add vanilla and zest. beat in enough lemon juice to make the frosting light and fluffy.
no joy in the kitchen these days. i had that cupcake fiasco, ruined a roasted turkey (all 17 pounds of it!), wrecked a couple batches of cookies....aww, it's too sad to get into. needless to say, my latest culinary endeavours have involved the words "reheat" and "takeout".
however, there was a request for cheesecake--not the typical new york baked style, but something slightly more asian, slightly more tropical. in saipan (a neighbouring island), the pacific gardenia hotel has a gelatin-set cheesecake topped with fresh mango, and that is what my mum was looking for; i don't have the time or dosh to hop on a (albeit 25-minute) flight over, so i had to make one. or two. or five.
still futzing with the recipe, as i found it to be lacking in depth and slightly too-soft set. however, this is the basic in case you'd like to experiment: sponge cake base, brushed with a sugar-orange liqueur syrup, followed by a mix of cream cheese, condensed milk and gelatin folded into whipped cream, and topped by "petals" of mango set in a mango-orange juice glaze. soft, light, whippy, and fruity. it doesn't taste as rich as you'd imagine, and it's easy to hoover up a good portion of it before you begin to worry about the alarming calorie content. i think i needed a bigger mango to make bigger petals for a prettier flower; however, the mango was about 2 minutes away from being overripe, and just this side of sweetly, stickily perfect. just like the cake over all.
now to make it perfect....
update 12april06: still by no means perfect, but here is the working recipe for the mango cheesecake.
1 prepared sponge cake (make your own, or store bought)
sugar syrup (you'll only need a scant amount)
orange-flavoured liqueur, to taste
2 packets unflavoured gelatin
1/2 c. water
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
1 300ml can condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. heavy whipping cream
6 large, ripe mangoes
1 packet unflavoured gelatin
1/4 c. water
1/2 mango juice
1/2 orange juice
cut sponge cake in half lengthwise, and fit into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. add orange liqueur to sugar syrup, and brush or drizzle this mixture on top of the cake. set aside.
sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin into 1/2 c. of water, leave for 2-3 minutes until dissolved. add the can of condensed milk to a saucepan, along with the gelatin mixutre, bring to a boil for a minute or so, then take off the heat. cut the cream cheese into chunks and whisk or blend into the condensed milk mixture. add the vanilla extract and blend well. leave to cool thoroughly. whip the heavy whipping cream in another bowl, then fold the cream cheese-condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream. pour on top of the cake base, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
dissolve 1 packet of unflavoured gelatin into 1/4 cup of water, leave to sit for 2 minutes. mix the mango and orange juices in a saucepan, add the dissolved gelatin and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. leave to cool.
peel mangoes and cut the flesh along the pit into 2 "cheeks". slice the cheeks down the "short" side into uniform pieces (these will be your "petals"). arrange the mango slices by slightly overlapping each piece, and going around the pan in a continuous concentrical spiral--when it gets too difficult to continue, cut a chunk of mango off the sides of the pit to fit in the center. drizzle the juice-gelatin mix over the mangoes, filling in any gaps. chill again for another 2-3 hours, or overnight.
makes one 8-inch cake. note-i actually made these with dessert molds, and managed to make 6 3-inch desserts from the recipe.
i don't really cook many local chamoru dishes at home because there are so many people i know who cook them better than i do, and are quite generous about sharing. the food is generally simple, relying on what is fresh from the land and sea. much of what you'll see in chamoru cuisine is influenced by the early spanish and portuguese explorers and the techniques and some of the ingredients they brought from the americas. one of my favourite dishes is chalakiles, a stew usually made from chicken, toasted ground rice, coconut milk, and coloured with achote, or annatto seed.
i don't really know the origins of this dish. i do know that during world war 2, rice was in short supply, so many dishes were created to extend the amount of rice in a meal; however, i suspect that the origins of this stew go much further, as the flavour and cooking technique is similar to pozole, a pre-columbian stew made from hominy or a lime-treated dried corn kernel known as maiz blanco, pork, and chili. in fact, the story goes that pozole was created in honour of the arrival of the conquistadores at tonalá, mexico by their queen, cihualpilli. cihualpilli, chalakiles...similar ring to it, no? well, whatever, that might be a stretch. (and the stuff they served to the spaniards? that was long pig, not regular pig in there.)
anyway. many people won't make chalakiles because they believe you still have to toast the rice grains and then grind them down, which can be quite tedious; also, because stewing chicken is often used, and it takes several hours to cook it until it's tender. the version i make was borne from the fact that our family roasts a lot of turkeys (maybe once or twice a month)--since i cook the bird in one of those roasting bags, i often have quite a lot of roasting juices and meat left on the carcass which would otherwise go to waste. it's a good way to make use of any poultry carcass you may have on hand, and economical--aside from the achote, it is very much a 'make something out of nothing' sort of dish. since time is always a problem, this is another one of my crock pot/slow cooker specialties; just bung all the ingredients in the pot, and dinner's done. also, instead of going through the rigamarole of toasting and grinding rice, i just use cream of rice cereal, and toast it in the microwave. really. it works. the flavours are mild but the dish itself is hearty--it's a nice mix of meaty broth, nutty rice, and sweet coconut, along with the other mellowed out spices.
roasted turkey or chicken carcass, with some meat still on the bones
water, stock or roast juices, enough to cover the bones
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 chili peppers, chopped finely
1/2 cup of achote water (made by soaking achote seeds in water) or liquid achote, as needed (i use liquid, obvs)
1 cup cream of rice
1 can coconut milk
place the carcass into a crock pot, and cover with liquid of choice. let simmer until the meat comes off the bone. carefully remove all the bones from the pot, leaving the meat and liquid. add the onion, garlic, chilis, and achote water to the pot, and cover.
place the cream of rice in a dry pan, and toast over medium-high heat or place it in a microwave safe container (i suggest using a pyrex-type measuring cup). heat on high for 5-6 minutes. carefully remove the container with oven-proof mitts and swirl it gently; as the rice separates and dries out, it will begin to brown. continue swirling until it is uniformly toasty brown. leave to cool.
once the rice has cooled (don't add it hot! believe me, it's not fun), add it carefully to the pot, and cover. leave the crockpot on low, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and has softened (1-2 hours). prior to serving, add the coconut milk, and allow the mixture to warm through.
i was asked to contribute a recipe to the latest issue of guahan magazine, a local magazine (guahan is the ancient/chamoru name for 'guam'). so what did i write about? a hawaiian favourite, oxtail soup. ha.
actually, it's a dish of chinese origin that was embraced by the okinawan population in hawaii and modified; to make matters slightly more complicated, i offered a version that borrows heavily from vietnamese cuisine, with loads of fresh herbs and a bit of citrus to lift the meaty, gingery, star anise-scented soup. this is much like the oxtail soup that i've tried at the mermaid bar in the neiman-marcus in ala moana (don't laugh, it's good) in honolulu, but owes a lot to the straightforwardness of the soup at the kapiolani coffee shop. the essentials are the meat and gingery,spicy broth, and everything else is extra; it all depends on how simple or how complex you want it to be.
despite its lengthy ingredients list, there is little work involved; the hardest part will be waiting for it to be done. if you are proficient with a pressure cooker, your waiting time will be reduced significantly; if you lack the time, this recipe can be adapted for a crock pot--assemble it before work, and come home to delicious scents wafting from your kitchen.
addendum 05april06: this is one of those soups that tastes better the next day; it definitely benefits from an overnight stay in the fridge.
oxtail soup, hawaiian-style
3-4 lbs oxtail, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 head of garlic, crushed
1 piece fresh ginger (approx. 3-inches), thinly sliced
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
3 lemongrass stalks, cut and crushed
or 1 piece dried orange peel
or 6 lemon leaves
water or chicken stock (about 3 to 4 quarts)
garnish (use all, or choose as you wish):
mustard greens, cut into 1/4-inch strips
thinly sliced red onion
chili water/hot pepper flakes
place oxtails, sesame oil, salt and pepper in bowl; toss to coat. let it marinate for about an hour.
in a large stockpot, add about a quarter-inch of cooking oil. brown the marinated oxtails over medium-high heat; remove the meat from the pot, and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, and sauté until the onions are translucent. return the oxtails to the pot, along with the ginger, star anise, bay leaves, and lemongrass. add enough water or chicken stock to cover the meat completely; bring to a boil. turn down the heat, and simmer for approximately 2 hours; skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface. When the meat is fork-tender, remove the oxtails, and strain the soup into a clean saucepan; discard the boiled vegetables and spices. skim the fat off the soup, return the oxtail to the pot, and bring to a simmer. serve with garnishes of your choice.
i had my mind on making espresso chiffon cupcakes with a coffee mousse filling and espresso-flavoured buttercream; in fact, i did make all three components, but when they came together it didn't turn out as i had expected. the cupcakes were ugly, and the mousse and buttercream boring.
as i had quite a bit of batter left, i made a thin sheet cake, intending to make some sort of swiss roll, but the blipping pan was warped, so the cake came out sadly uneven. again, cake ugly. in an attempt to save that, i cut out circles of the cake and topped them with some of the iced coffee mousse i made from a sara moulton recipe. i added the tiniest of drops of orange extract to the mousse, which rounded out the flavour nicely, and possibly saved the whole venture from being a complete disaster.
old template or new template? discuss.
update 04.02.06: okay, a not-a-lot-but-still-obnoxious amount of spammed comments have come in, which only confirms my dependence to word verification commenting. had to change the template to something which would allow this; i think it still maintains a lot of the cleanliness and whiteness (sorry, tg!) that i'm looking for.
still working on a masthead.