Monday, June 1, 2015

Coconut Dream Bars

With the warmer weather upon us, all I can think about is kicking back with an icy pina colada on a beach. I can almost feel the salty air whipping through my hair, the sand rubbing between my bare toes, and the ice cubes clinking against the glass in my cocktail...I've been playing a lot of tennis outside and there's nothing more refreshing than a cold drink after a sweaty match.

The scent of coconut brings me back to lazy summer days. These bars make great treats to bring to a picnic with your friends, to a barbeque, or why not take them to that dreamy beach with a pina colada in hand? 

These bars smelled remarkably good, I replaced some of the all-purpose flour in the original recipe with coconut flour. When I mixed the batter, I couldn't get over how aromatic the coconut flour was.  Coconut flour is also gluten-free for those looking for avoiding gluten in their diet and it's higher in fibre than all-purpose flour (for more info on coconut flour and it's benefits, visit

The bottom layer of these bars is a shortbread topped with a sticky coconut mixture. These bars are best the day they are made, the next day I found the shortbread had absorbed the moisture from the top layer and didn't retain its crisp texture anymore. Regardless, the filling is not too sweet, it's chewy and marries well with the buttery shortbread. 

Recipe here!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Momofuku's Blueberry and Cream Cookies

About a month ago I went to Momofuku's Daisho on University Avenue here in Toronto. My bestie and I had made reservations weeks before, talking on the phone about what we would order and how excited we were and again. Sadly, after our meal, we decided it didn't meet our expectations and agreed the food was overpriced. On the plus side, we still had a great time together.

We didn't visit the Milk Bar, though I've read plenty about it and have bookmarked recipes for the popular Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. I did however, make these blueberry and cream cookies. Isn't that fun to say aloud? Blueberry and cream cookies. Its name practically beckons for you to try them. 

They are buttery, chewy and crispy cookies dotted with dried blueberries and "milk crumbs". I just happen to have an old bag of dried blueberries kicking around in my pantry, I rarely use them because they taste are too sweet, almost medicinal if you eat them alone. But thrown into the cookie batter and left in the fridge overnight for the flavours to meld, the butter sort of tames the sweetness. 

The "cream" component of the cookies are homemade milk crumbs, a combination of milk powder, butter, salt and flour. I love this concoction, it's addictive and any leftover crumbs could be sprinkled on top of ice cream. These are best fresh out of the oven, the edges are crisp and the middle has that chewy denseness that I really enjoy. I saved some for a friend who ate three in one sitting, the best nonverbal compliment any baker could receive.

Recipe here!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chocolate Buckwheat Granola

There is a story from my childhood my parents love to retell over and over again. I don't mind hearing it, I always end up laughing at my childish behaviours anyway. So I used to take gymnastic classes when I was around 4-5 years old. Back then, we didn't have a car yet and it was our first winter in Canada as new immigrants from Hong Kong. You can imagine how much of an adjustment it is to go from a humid city to a place that gets walloped with snow and polar vortex and whatever the cruel Canadian winters can throw on you.

Based on my parents' account, they carried me from home to the community centre in the cold, hiking through thick snow as more of the white stuff continued to fall. They remember it was like -15 degrees, despite being bundled up in layers of clothing, it was cold enough to feel your bones hurt. When we finally made it to the gym, I refused to take my class. I didn't have a legitmate excuse, I was just being a stubborn brat and threw a tandrum, bawling when they tried to take off my puffy coat and coaxing me to go play. I relented and continued to cry. They were pissed. They didn't walk all this way in the brutal cold for nothing.

I find this story hilarious, I really was that stubborn (and still am sometimes). This year has been a harsh winter and I've been thinking about this story a lot. I was in Costa Rica for 9 days. It took me almost just as long to get over my stomach flu when I got back. But rejoice! I have my appetite again and have been eating my favourite foods again, including this granola. I eat it almost everyday with plain yogurt. It's crunchy, nutty and the addition of chocolate makes it even better.

It's full of rolled oats, buckwheat, sunflower and chia seeds, shredded coconut, and chocolate and peanut butter. I do prefer another granola I've made before, likening the sweetness. Still, this granola makes for a quick breakfast or snack and also gifts if you're the giving away type of person.

Recipe here!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Costa Rica


To say Costa Rica was the best trip of my life is a superlative, and it comes close. In many ways, it was a very enriching and fulfilling experience. What made it so fun and memorable were  the activities, the people I met, sharing these moments with my best friend, and finally, what I learned. I did a lot of things that I wasn’t planning to do, like whitewater rafting (I nearly drowned), bungee jumping (just testing my luck ykno), and though surfing was on my bucket list, I didn’t expect to ride the waves and manage to make a few turns. It was spectacular.

I’m lucky enough to have been able to travel at least once a year, but this trip was unlike my other trips because of the endless discoveries. Since I’ve been back home, I keep daydreaming of visiting Central America again, meeting fellow travelers who have an equal thirst of adventure. I yearn to share a few beers with the locals and broaden my Spanglish to more than just No hablo espanol! Pura vida! Gracias! I want to hike mountains, swim in waterfalls, eat the freshest tomatoes I’ve had in years. This trip made me realize how much I love adventure, it stretched my comfort level and I can’t wait to push more personal boundaries.

My best friend, Hayley and I make excellent travelling buddies. We’ve been to Cali last year and knew we would get along on this trip. Visiting Costa Rica with her definitely made the trip ten times better. We went to La Fortuna, Monteverde and then Santa Teresa for 9 days and wish we could have stayed longer.

We keep talking about returning to Santa Teresa. The beautiful sandy beach, the warm salty water, not to mention the ubiquitous tanned and hot men practically begs for another trip south. The beach has such a chill vibe, it was hard to leave. It doesn’t hurt that we also had some of the best meals ever there. I didn’t carry my camera with me when we went out to eat, but Burger Rancho, Habernero, Pizza Tomate, just to name a few, were a few of the most delicious restaurants we went to.

I'd go back in a heartbeat. What a beautiful country. For more pictures, click here.
Recipe here!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Apple Pound Cake

I must have a thing for pound cakes. I've made this this and this and they always come out divine. I could live off the scent of butter and sugar working it's magic in the oven, the comingling of different ingredients. I made this weeks ago but never got around to posting it, so here it is. Happy holidays and happy new year friends!

Recipe here!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beer, Mustard, and Cheddar Bread

This is probably not the best way to begin a post, but I was recently hit hard with Norovirus, a nasty stomach bug that put me out for a few days. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom and my smartest move on the whole weekend leaving the garbage can at my bedside. I even took a day off work, something I haven't done in two years. In my sleepy, feverish state, I tried to recall what I could have possibly eaten that could have caused such a violent reaction, only when I shared horror stories with my coworker did I realize I must have picked up the virus from work.

As I recovered in bed, lamenting over my sore back, I even thought of summoning up the energy to bake something sweet. That was wishful thinking. Maybe later this week when I'm feeling 110% better. Instead, I have this beautiful bread to share. It's got a load of heat that will linger in your mouth, so be sure to have some water nearby (I love spicy food, so this bread is right up my alley). It's messy to make and the beer isn't pronounced, but it's totally worth the fluffy, cheesy goodness. Now that my appetite has returned, I could go for another slice of this toasted with a slather of butter.

Recipe here!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rosemary Shortbread Bars with Dark Chocolate

I made these for my birthday and they turned out to be I suppose, a happy accident. I wanted to make two batches of brownies of the same recipe, one batch that used natural cocoa powder while the other used Dutch-processed cocoa powder. I’ve always used the latter but after reading Alice Medrich rhapsodize about natural cocoa powder I wanted to try it. Unfortunately, my mind was so focused on turning 27 and my quarter-life crisis (does that exist?) that I forgot to add eggs into the first batch of brownies. By the time I realized my mistake, the pan was already in the oven. FML. 

Anyway, here is the two layer shortbread and chocolate bar. The bottom is a crumbly rosemary shortbread, it hits all the right buttery notes and the herb isn’t overwhelming and resonates throughout the cookie. The chocolate layer on top turned out like a thick chocolate wafer. It’s barely sweet and compliments the shortbread nicely; the chocolate flavour was strong too, just enough to satisfy my chocolate craving. The chocolate layer tends to separate from the shortbread after I've cut and divided the pan, but its still delicious and everyone I gave these away to as gifts raved about them.

I still have about a cup of natural cocoa powder left over, I’m saving it to use in another chocolate worthy dessert. Any suggestions? Also, this reminds me of this Rosemary and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake and the delicious combination of chocolate and herbs.

Recipe here!