Category Archives: 2012

december: lisa’s cherry pie

Firstly, I need to apologise for the lateness of this post. As usual, Christmas/New Year was a whirlwind of activity, and I didn’t get a chance to sit down and upload my December creation until now. Not an excuse, I know, but better late than never right?

December = Christmastime and for me, when I think of Christmas, I think of all the gorgeous Summer fruits that come into season. I’m thinking mangos, berries of all sorts and most of all, cherries! There is not one Christmas party that we go to where there is not a bowl of luscious looking cherries on the table.

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This year was no different. A week prior to Christmas, I had a family BBQ at my place. Of course someone brought a huge box of cherries, too much to be eaten on the day of the BBQ. So I thought, here’s my chance to make a cherry pie! Much talked about, especially in North America, but not around their Christmas.

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This pie is best eaten still warm after baking, with a dollop of really good vanilla bean ice cream. So if you’re short on preparation time on the day, the cherry filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Also, if you don’t have a cherry pitter, it’s just as easy to split the cherries in half to remove the seeds. I hope you enjoy this cherry pie dessert! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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december: jasmine’s coconut mango sago

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This Christmas, I wanted to establish some new family traditions for the holidays. K and I used to travel during the holidays to either visit friends and family or to take a relaxing break. After the arrival of baby A, travelling has taken a back seat, so we stayed in Sydney this year and visited friends and hosted small lunch get togethers during the holiday season.

In Australia, Christmas is in summer and it has taken me a while to get used to that. Instead of the heavy foods that I am used to having during this time in Canada (baked yams, turkey and stuffing, rich cakes, roast veggies, etc) we had a variety of fresh ingredients and a lot of seafood this year!

I didn’t do as much baking and cooking as I would have liked this year, but I did end up trying some new recipes. I also used some traditional recipes to prepare baked goods as gifts for friends. The gingerbread recipe in my November post was a hit! It is also a really handy recipe because the dough freezes really well. So I would freeze half a portion of the dough and bake a batch of fresh cookies each time I needed to gift them to someone.

K’s favorite holiday dessert I made this year was a coconut mango sago. Simple, cool and fresh. The sago recipe is versatile and can be served with any type of fresh fruits. I used mango for this recipe, but it also works well with cantaloupe, honey dew and sweet potatoes.

I brought the sago to a friend’s house for a lunch bbq and served it cold with mango slices. Perfect for a hot summer day :)

december: kerri’s mini chocolate christmas puddings

I wanted to put an HK take on the Christmas baking this month, but it seems there’s nothing really different about how Christmas is celebrated here, except that many local families don’t really celebrate it. It’s really the tradition of the West, so that left it open for me to bake anything I wanted!

B & I decided last year to host an ‘open house’ of sorts, where those who didn’t have family to spend Christmas Day with could share a meal with us. We thought this would be a good thing to do each year while we’re in HK, because there are many ‘orphan’ friends that don’t have families to celebrate with like we would back home, including us! So this year we had a mixture of expat friends who didn’t travel or go home for the holidays, and some local friends whose families don’t celebrate Christmas.

Along with our Orphan’s Christmas, there were also a few other events we attended this year. So there was much Christmas baking happening in my kitchen that I could probably do four posts for this month! But I’ve chosen the most festive looking one :)

For my puddings, I used a brownie recipe that is a little more on the cakey side but you can use any type of chocolate cake you like. It’s really just cake crumbs and ganache, mixed together and moulded into pudding shapes – easy peasy! You could probably add dried fruit too if you want, like dried cherries, cranberries or sultanas, to give it a more christmas pudding  essence.

mini choc xmas puddings1I actually made this recipe up, so the amount of ganache you need will really be judged as you mix it into the crumbs. You want a consistency that is still quite dense and able to hold it’s shape well.

mini choc xmas puddings2For the ‘custard’, I used a simple icing sugar mix and some peppermint essence for a minty flavour. I love choc mint :) I couldn’t find any suitable decoration here in HK, so bought some gummy lollies and cut them to shape. They did the job alright, don’t you think? :)

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They make a cute little gift packaged in a box or in small bag tied with ribbon, or a petit four to serve with tea after a Christmas feast. Either way, everyone will love them!

Thank you to all of you who have followed our blog this year – we hope we’ve been able to give you some ideas for your own baking at home, and inspired you to bake even more!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a very Happy New Year!

You can find the recipe here.

december: anna’s summer fruit pavlova

I’m celebrating Christmas at home in Australia this year, the first time since moving to New York six years ago. On the long flight over, I’d planned out in my head exactly what I wanted to make for my December blog dish, a cookie version of peppermint bark, a classic American holiday treat.

My boyfriend’s parents live in the Blue Mountains, a couple of hours out of Sydney. We arrived at their house yesterday and my blog dish plans went out the window when I saw a bowl filled with the most amazing summer fruit, including huge mangoes and ripe passion fruit, not to mention freshly picked raspberries from the backyard! Raspberry Plant (533x800) Freshly Picked Raspberries (800x533)I immediately knew I wanted to make pavlova to incorporate all the fresh fruit into my dish. Pavlova is the perfect dessert during Christmas-time in Sydney. It’s so light and airy, perfect for the hot summer weather, especially if you’ve just eaten a big Christmas lunch!Summer Fruit Pavlova (800x533)I used raw sugar instead of the caster sugar the recipe called for, so this resulted in a slightly darker and denser pavlova than usual, but it still had the crispy meringue crust and soft interior of any good pavlova. The cold whipped cream and fresh summer fruit made a perfect combination. If you’ve never eaten or made pavlova before, you should do it today! It’s really easy and delicious. The recipe makes 8 – 10 serves, but we finished it between 6 people. This version is nothing new or fancy, but how many people can say they’ve used just-picked raspberries from the backyard?!Pavlova Freshly Picked Raspberries (800x533)Find the recipe here.

november: anna’s spiced raw granola bars

We hosted Thanksgiving lunch for 16 people last week. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment that is fairly big by NYC standards… but it’s still a NYC apartment! Our dining table only fits 8 people, so we had to rearrange the furniture and bring out the desk from our study / second bedroom and form a long table down the middle of our living room! Somehow, the two tables were almost exactly the same height and width!
We tried a new method of cooking the turkey – brined, sous vide and then deep fried (courtesy of a Michael Voltaggio recipe – any Top Chef fans out there?). It worked out perfectly! The breast was juicy and flavorful and wasn’t dry at all. The turkey drumsticks were also bit hit, not only because they were tasty, but also because they were huge and looked cool! This cooking technique also allowed us to free up the oven for cooking other dishes. We also had a whole leg of bone-in ham and sides including duck fat potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon and truffled mac and cheese, which are now traditional because we made them last year also! We ate and drank into the night, and there were plenty of leftovers for the rest of the weekend.
After all the eating and drinking, I wanted to make something that is actually good for you. I made a batch of granola bars earlier in the month, and they were delicious, but I found them to be a bit too sweet, and although they were called “raw” bars, they were baked at a high heat. So I did some Google research and discovered that raw bars can be made by dehydrating instead of baking! The maximum cooking temperature for raw food is 105 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently not all ovens go that low, but luckily mine does. I made further adjustments to the recipe to cut down on some of the sweetness and reduce the calories, and then dehydrated the bars in the oven. It took about 12 hours to get to the texture that I wanted (a firm chew with some crunch). These bars can be made gluten free and organic, just make sure you buy gluten free rolled oats and organic ingredients. You can really use any combination of seeds, nuts and dried fruit that you like!
I was happy with the final product. These are great for breakfast on the go and they are very filling, despite only having around 220 calories per bar! Find the recipe here.