Saturday, June 30, 2012

From the Oven - Banana Cake

I have been eating a lot of bananas lately but I have this thing where I don't like bananas as soon as they turn fully yellow.  Because I have this peeve, I tend to buy bananas that are mostly green so they'd last longer.  Well, for whatever reason, the bunch that I bought the other day turned from 90%-green-10%-yellow to full on yellow with black spots in 3 days!

Since I can't let 3 bananas go to waste, I decided I should make something with it.    I wanted to make this vegan banana bread that I really liked from college but for some reason the link that my old roommate sent to me no longer works.  Also, I don't have a loaf pan & you can't make banana bread without a loaf pan.  So I took a chance and Googled "banana cake" & I found this recipe on  This recipe has 5 out of 5 stars from over 1000 ratings so there is no way I can go wrong; I hope.

The list of ingredients is pretty short...
     4 bananas
     2 teaspoons lemon juice
     3 cups all purpose flour
     11/2 teaspoons baking soda
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     3/4 cup butter, softened (this is 11/2 sticks)
     2 cups sugar
     3 eggs
     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
     11/2 cups buttermilk*

There are only 8 steps...
     Mash the bananas in a bowl & add in lemon juice
     In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, & salt
     In yet another bowl (a big one), cream together butter & sugar
     To the butter, add in vanilla extract & eggs 1 @ a time
     Add flour & butter milk to the butter/egg mixture alternately
     After everything is incorporated, mix in bananas
     Pour batter into a pre'greased 11in springform pan
     Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until the center is not wet

The recipe uses a 9x13 pan but I didn't have one so I used my 11in springform.  Whatever pan you decide to use, just make sure the batter doesn't go up past half way because the cake rises!  The recipe says to put the cake into the freezer for 45 minutes immediately after it is out of the oven but I didn't do that & the cake still turned out very moist & tasty.  There is also a frosting that comes with the original recipe that I didn't make because I think the cake itself is sweet enough & the frosting would just be overkill.

This banana cake is a great way to not waste food & it taste super delicious wether as a snack or as breakfast.  And the best part is...I don't know what color the banana is anymore so I can eat it all!

*If you do not have buttermilk @ home, you can try substituting it with 11/2 cups milk added to 11/2 tablespoons lemon juice & let it all sit in the fridge for @ least 5 minutes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

From the Oven - Raspberry Jam Crostata

We were celebrating a friend's last day @ work with a potluck & I wanted to bring something special & homemade since I always buy things from the store when we have potlucks.  And since we have braved the dangers of using the oven in my apartment without ending up in a fiery flourish, I decided that I should bake something.

The theme for the potluck was "Cuisines of the World" and while I would love to represent my heritage, not a lot of Chinese dishes are baked & even if they were, they are complicated as heck to make.  For whatever reason, Italy popped into my head and so I Google'd "easy Italian desserts."  After browsing through several recipes for Tiramisu & gelato, I fell upon this one from which sounded/looked delicious but was still easy enough for me to tackle.

This is what the finished product looks like.  I took some liberties with the original recipe by making my own raspberry jam as well as toasting the almond slices ahead of time.  I have also come upon a few tips that can help make this recipe a little easier in the future.

Here is what went into the crostata...
     For the raspberry jam
        11/2 cups fresh raspberries
        1 cup granulated sugar
        1 teaspoon lemon zest
        1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
     For the Crostata
        12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) butter @ room temperature
        1/2 cup granulated sugar
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        1/4 teaspoon almond extract
        1/4 teaspoon salt
        11/2 cups flour
        1/4 cup sliced almonds, raw or toasted

You can make the jam ahead of time...
     In a non'reactive pan - meaning not nonstick - over medium'low heat, put in all the ingredients.
     Smash the raspberries down with a spoon & let the whole thing come to a boil.
     Once it boils, reduce the heat down to the simmer for about 5 minutes.
     Turn off the heat & let it come to room temperature.
     Spoon into a container & put it into the fridge.

When it comes time to make the actual crostata...
     Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter & the sugar until it is light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla extract, the almond extract, & the salt; combine everything until smooth.
     Slowly, add in the flour & combine until the whole thing looks like wet sand.
     Take 1/2 cup of the dough and press it out onto a plate; put this into the freezer for an hour or so.
     Take the remaining dough & press it out evenly across the bottom of a 10in. springform pan.  Once this is done, spread a layer of jam across, keeping about a 1in border.  Take the frozen dough, break it into small'ish pieces, & sprinkle it all over the jam.  Finally, sprinkle the almond slices.
     Bake in a 350F oven for 30-50 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
     Let the crostata cool down to room temperature before removing the springform.  Slice it into wedges & serve.

Somethings that I found could've made the process easier were...
  1. Don't worry if the jam looks fairly fluid in the pan, it will thicken up in a couple of hours.
  2. The crostata never forms into a real dough as the original recipe says.  I found it easier to use a spatula instead of an electric mixer since the high speed can make the flour fly everywhere.
  3. Since the dough is like wet sand & therefore difficult to spread evenly, I found that you can put a piece of plastic wrap on top & use a small can/jar as a rolling pin to roll the dough around.
  4. The frozen dough was very difficult to get out of the plate so a piece of plastic wrap on the plate would help a lot.

And there you have it!  You can use other types of jam or even with real fruits.  I think the next time I am going to do fresh apple slices.  Mmm.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tasty Time - Starbucks Raspberry Pomegranate Refresher

Wandering around Target, we came upon an aisle of clearance alcohol.  But more importantly, across from this, there was an aisle of clearance energy drinks!  But even more importantly, squished in between the Monsters and the Red Bulls, there were these 2 peculiar looking cans that we've never seen before.  I know Starbucks makes coffee flavored energy drinks but this was new.  But it says its contains green coffee beans.  Well, it was less than $1.00 so I guess we've got nothing to lose.

Unfortunately, I was advised by my doctor to temporarily pause my caffeine consumption so this tasting is based purely on 1 (OK, maybe 2) sips.  On first impression, I tasted way more raspberry than pomegranate.  It also tasted like artificial flavoring but I am sure it was just a personal thing since the can says all natural.  Starbucks wouldn't lie, would it?  What I liked most about it was that it was not super sweet like other juice flavored energy drinks can be.

Nutritionally, 1 12oz can has 60 calories and contains 20g of carbohydrates and 13g of sugar.

While I am not one against energy drinks, & this was certainly one of the more tastier ones, I think I am going to stick with my usuals - coffee & tea - for my caffeine kicks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tasty Time - Dannon All Natural Coffee Yogurt

When I first started dating my boyfriend, he told me that he used to eat a Dannon coffee yogurt everyday after school.  Being somewhat of a coffee addict, I want to try anything that has to do with the beverage, even if it is as odd-sounding as a yogurt.  After searching unsuccessfully for this item for almost 2 years, I finally spotted it on the top shelf @ the grocery store. Score!

When I first peeled back the lid, I saw this light brown yogurt with a thick layer of yellow'ish liquid on top.  Mind you, the yogurt was still cold.  After a little bit of stirring, I took my first bite which could only be described as sour coffee.  Fortunately, the sour taste quickly goes away & I was able to get used to the flavor.  That being said though, I am still not a fan.  Nutritionally, each container is 160 calories, has 2.5g fat, 26g carbohydrates, & 25g sugar.

The boyfriend said it tastes better when it's frozen.  While I don't doubt that, I don't think I will be testing that out anytime in the near future.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Curry Up Now's Truck

Location: 38 Fort Mason, San Francisco, California 94123
Date: Friday, June 8th.
Food: Tika masala burrito
Price: $8.00
Comments: Interesting concept, quasi'failed execution.  The are big pieces of chicken, basmati rice, garbanzo beans, & onion inside of the burrito.  While it started out spicy, the tika masala sauce soon because sweet, rich & makes you not want to eat anything else.  On top of that, there were burnt pieces of chicken which were not pleasant surprises.

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Chairman Bao Bun's Truck (aka The Chairman)

Location: 38 Fort Mason, San Francisco, California 94123
Date: Friday, June 8th.
Food: Pork Belly Bun
Price: $3.75 (steamed); $6.75 (baked)
Comments: What a disappointment!  The bao tasted pre'made & it was dry.  The pork belly was way dry except for the tiny little bit of fat in the middle.  There was too much pickled daikon on top.  And the sauce that they try to hide in there?  It was so sweet I had to wipe it off with the daikon!  Seriously, if you're going to do pork belly, do it right; pick a style & do it right.

Friday, June 8, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Turtle Tower

Location: 5716 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, California 94121
Date: Friday, June 8th.
Food: Pho Ga
Price: $6.20 (regular); $7.20 (large)
Comments: This pho is not pho!  What I mean is that the noodles are not the usual thin ones that you get in beef pho but the skinny version of what you get in beef chow fun.  There is plenty of tasty, tender chicken & the broth is not the one used for beef pho.  The only big criticism is the incredible amount of cilantro & the lack of sprouts.  But @ least they gave us limes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - The Leader Board

As you have all seen, all 10 of you anyway, we are well on our way to devouring this year's 7x7 Big Eats List.  It is to our understanding that 7x7 Magazine does not rank the eateries & their foods, but where is the fun in that?  So to make things more interesting, the Boy has decided to start his own leader board of the things that we have tasted.  We will be posting this leader board every 10 places we try.  Here goes!

  1. Tartine Bakery
  2. Izakaya Sozai
  3. Hog Island Oyster Co.
  4. Bi-Rite Creamery
  5. Delfina
  6. Nopalito
  7. Turtle Tower
  8. Humphry Slocombe
  9. Scream Sorbet
  10. San Tung
  11. Anthony's Cookies
  12. Il Cane Rosso
  13. Papalote
  14. Namu
  15. House of Prime Rib
  16. Outerlands
  17. Muracci's Japanese Curry and Grill
  18. The Slanted Door
  19. Curry Up Now's truck
  20. Miette
  21. Chairman Bao Bun's truck (now named The Chairman)

Disclaimer: Please note that these rankings are made based solely on the authors' palettes & does not reflect the taste of other individuals or the eateries' chefs/owners; or the opinion of 7x7 Magazine.

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Izakaya Sozai

Location:     1500 Irving Street, San Francisco, California 94122
Date:            Sunday, June 3rd.
Food:           Tonkotsu Ramen
Price:           $9.00
Comments:  "This ramen rival any in New York."  That should about describe it all.  The
                     ramen was cooked to the perfect "al dente"; the pork had just the right
                     amount of fattiness; the yolk was not too overcooked; the broth was rich,
                     flavorful, but just a tad too salty.  While this is definitely the star dish, this
                     restaurant has many other dishes that are worth the reservation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Scream Sorbet

Location:     1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, California 94111
Date:            Saturday, June 2nd.
Food:           Any seasonal flavor
Price:           $3 for a single scoop
Comments:  Tiny scoop but it packs a big punch.  The blood orange flavor was really
                    strong & almost crossed the line into bitter.  $3 for such a tiny thing may
                    seem to be a lot but it is well worth it for a once in a while treat.  We also
                    tried the Coconut Thai Basil which was a little too lime'y & basil'y.  The
                    Coffee hazelnut our friend got was  repeatedly described as "Wow, there's
                    like 10 cups of coffee in here!  And real hazelnuts!"

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Humphry Slocombe

Location:     2790 Harrison Street, San Francisco, California 94110
Date:            Saturday, June 2nd.
Food:           Secret Breakfast
Price:           $3 for a single scoop
Comments:  Who knew bourbon in cornflakes can taste so good?!?  The actual ice cream
                    was creamy & really bourbon'y & the cornflakes added just the right amount
                    of sweet to the whole thing.  I think we got a little happy afterwards, if you
                    know what I mean.  We got this scoop @ the Ferry Building Farmers
                    Market so it is definitely lacking some ambiance which can only make this

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Namu's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Stand

Location:    1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, California 94111
Date:           Saturday, June 2nd.
Food:           Korean Taco
Price:           2 for $5.00 (or 1 for $3.00)
Comments:  Interesting.  These were definitely innovative but they were difficult to eat &
                    they weren't very Korean at all.  The chicken (left) was better than the beef
                    & the salsa on top was bland & took the flavor of  kimchi'y rice down.  Oh,
                    the seaweed was great except they got soggy & was difficult to wrap up the

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Hog Island Oyster Co.

Location:     1 Ferry Building #11-1, San Francisco, California 94111
Date:            Saturday, June 2nd.
Food:           1 dozen Sweetwater oysters
Price:           $24.00
Comments:  There is this rule to only eat oysters in months that has the letter r but as
                    long as they are selling them, I'l going to buy them.  These were meaty,
                    sweet, sea watery, & the metallic after taste just lingers in your mouth.
                    The only thing that I would have liked different was ice on the plate; they
                    make a huge difference in enhancing the flavor & texture of the oysters.

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Miette

Location:    1 Ferry Building #10, San Francisco, California 94111
Date:           Saturday, June 2nd.
Food:           Ginger Snaps.
Price:           $8.00
Comments:  Perfectly stacked in their container, these ginger snaps really snaps when
                    you take the first bite.  While you can definitely taste the ginger & the
                    spiciness does stay on your tongue for a while, you can also taste an
                    overwhelming amount of butter which was unexpected.