Allison Day
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Archive for November, 2010

Chocolate Ganache

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I first met Jen Yu in person at IFBC, a couple of months ago. That woman is pure awesomeness… and I may have been just a wee bit star-struck when not only did she know who I am, but she invited me to go out for sushi after the first night with her and a couple of other bloggers.

Okay, so I had quite a few moments at IFBC where I was star-struck, meeting the food bloggers I’ve read for years.


Todd and Diane were our excellent hosts

At BlogHer Food, I got to hang out with Jen again quite a bit. (I ♥ her.) On our way to go eat dim sum with Anita and Shauna (we were ditching the BlogHer Food lunch for some awesome dim sum), she mentioned that she was going to be in LA a few weeks later.

“Really? When?” I looked hopeful. “I would love to hang out, if you have time.”

“Oh sweetie,” her expression was apologetic. “We have a lot of old friends who will be upset if they don’t get to see us, so we’re going to be really busy.” (She and her husband used to live in Southern California before they moved to Colorado.) Then she grinned. “But if I have time we definitely will.”

Look at those potatoes! You know it’s gonna be good.

I completely understood, and wouldn’t have blamed her one bit had I not gotten to see her when she visited LA. I was expecting that she wouldn’t have time – like I said, Jen is incredibly awesome, and it’s no surprise that a lot of people wanted to see her. Everyone adores her.

So you can probably imagine my delight when I got an email from Todd and Diane: “Jen Yu is in town! we were thinking of having a little gathering at our studio, a little intimate evening to hang with some good peeps.”

(When I saw the email I gasped, then darted out to the living room where Son was sitting. I must have looked like a little girl at Christmas. “Can we please, please, please go? Jen’s going to be in town and I’d really like to see her. Please?” He said yes. I was so excited.)

Started with a simple but delicious salad

I asked if I could bring anything, and Todd and Diane requested that I bring something for dessert.

I immediately got performance anxiety.

(Does that ever happen to any of you? You’re invited to dinner or a potluck or something with a bunch of foodies, and immediately there’s the worry – Am I going to be good enough? Are they going to like my food? What if it’s not ‘gourmet’ enough for them? Oh gosh, what if they hate it? Yeah, I get that all the time.)

Look at all these cool people I got to hang out with!

But a couple of days later, we were off to dinner with Jen, Todd, Diane, Rene, and Melissa.

Now, I raved about them two years ago, when we were invited to a food blogger dinner party at their house, but Todd and Diane really are the most fantastic hosts, and incredible people. I’m honored to be able to call them my friends.

One pot chicken

As usual, the food was so good. They started us off with this ridiculously addictive sweet onion dip, alongside some fresh cherry tomatoes from their garden, fresh passion fruit juice, and rambutans. I can never, ever make that dip at home, as much as I’d love to… because I would eat the entire batch all by myself. It’s so freakin’ good.

The dark meat was so moist and tender

Once everyone had arrived, we started on dinner. A fresh salad with sliced apples and pomegranate seeds started us off, and I think Todd made apple sidecars (?) for those who wanted them (neither Son nor I drink, so we didn’t have any).

These potatoes were TO DIE FOR

Then Diane dished out some delicious one-pot chicken and ohmygosh-to-die-for potatoes au gratin. I have a huge weakness for cheesy potato-y things. Oh man. So good.

Serving food, taking pictures… yep, food bloggers

Just based on the food, it was already a great meal. But what made it a really fantastic get-together were the people there. There were a good number of instances throughout dinner where we were all giggling uncontrollably at something or another. It was a really great evening.

Melissa and Jen

And then… it was time for dessert.

(This is the part where I got very self-conscious.)


I made cupcakes! I used this recipe for yellow cake cupcakes, and really liked it. It’s going to be my go-to yellow cake recipe now – light as air and wonderfully moist, I loved them (and they seemed to have been received well.)

… with chocolate ganache

For the frosting, I made a buttercream first… but I’ve never been a huge fan of buttercream frostings. I tossed that, and instead made my default frosting recipe – a ganache that my mom has been making for years. (I have no idea where she got the recipe from.)

Success! Everyone seemed to enjoy the cupcakes, and I caught Diane sneaking some of the extra ganache that had dripped into the container I had used to transport the cupcakes.

It was great getting to see everyone again!

Om nom.

I used this recipe for the yellow cake base of the cupcakes. This ganache recipe is certainly from somewhere… but I haven’t the faintest idea where. My mother has been using it for as long as I can remember, and she emailed me the recipe a few years ago.


  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together. Immediately mix in the water and powdered sugar.
  2. Mix until smooth. Pour over the cake. If you want it to be less runny when you pour it over the cake, then wait a few minutes first. It will set (eventually) at room temperature, or you can stick it in the fridge to get it to set quicker.

Kimchi, Bacon, and Fried Egg Sandwich

Kimchi, Bacon, and Fried Egg Sandwich

I like sandwiches.

I didn’t so much, growing up.

Cold, boring, lunchtime sandwiches just never did it for me. My mom tried peanut-butter and jelly (I never liked that combination, until I discovered what a difference toasted bread could make), luncheon meats (by lunch the bread would start to get soggy from the mayonnaise, and when I was younger I wouldn’t touch vegetables with a ten-foot pole), tuna salad (better, but again with the problem of soggy sandwiches… not to mention having tuna breath for the rest of the day), egg omelette (I recall this trend lasting for a while, but still, as good as it was, egg just isn’t quite as appetizing once it’s cold and has been sitting around for four hours.)

My poor parents. We were such picky kids, growing up.

But recently, that’s begun to change, as I grew up and realized there were so many other options of things one could put in a sandwich. Like… avocado! And bacon! And tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables)! And I have a particular weakness for banh mi.

Not to mention, there’s a gigantic difference between a sandwich that has sat around for four or more hours, between the time you’ve made it in the morning, and the time you actually get to eat it at school or work, and a sandwich that you get to eat the moment it’s ready. It’s like two completely different meals – one that can only be described as ‘meh’, and one that makes you want another sandwich because the first was so good.

So, despite being a food blogger, there come times when I don’t have much food in my apartment. And I’ll admit, some of those times I just make a bowl of cereal or ramen, rather than try to piece together a meal from whatever random things I have laying around. Especially when I’m starving, but I’m the only one home so it just doesn’t feel worth it to actually cook something.

But sometimes I do actually want a good meal, and that’s where this sandwich comes in. It’s made up of things that we almost always have in our fridge – bacon, eggs, kimchi, and bread. The first time I tried it I wasn’t completely sure how it would turn out… but it’s perfect. (The first few times I made it, Son wasn’t at home, and I teased him with pictures of my creation. I’m such a brat, sometimes.) It’s become my go-to sandwich combination.

Also known as my latest obsession


  • 1 croissant
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 egg
  • kimchi
  • mayonnaise

Cooking Directions

  1. Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan.
  2. Fry the egg in the bacon fat, until the white part is solid.
  3. Slice the croissant in half; spread mayonnaise on one side.
  4. Make a sandwich with the bacon on the bottom, then the kimchi, and the fried egg on top.
  5. Enjoy! Once you break the yolk, mop it up with the sandwich. Delicious.

Seared Scallop with Chicharrones

Seared Scallop with Spicy Mayo & Chicharrones

After my interview with the men of I Love Blue Sea, they sent us home with a gift of some beautiful black cod and scallops, which we cooked for my relatives that we were staying with that evening. With the black cod we made sashimi (very good!), faux-nagi, and miso black cod (recipe to come soon!). With the scallops we made Hajime’s Hotate, sashimi, and these delicious seared scallops.

Since I had wanted to stop by Boccalone in the Ferry Building to get prosciutto for the Hajime’s Hotate, I also stopped by the 4505 Meats booth at the farmer’s market (they’re there Thursdays and Saturdays) to pick up a few bags of their chicharrones, because I heard they’re to die for. (They are! Consider me addicted, now.)

After lunch at Tataki, Son and I got to thinking on the way back.

“You know what would be really good?” He paused for a long moment, keeping me in an impatient suspense while he thought about it. “What if… you know how they have bacon-wrapped scallops?”

I nodded, not sure where he was going with that.

“Well, what if we did chicharrones instead?”

“Yeah…” A slow smile grew on my face, as I saw what he was getting at. “That might be good…”

“With lemon juice,” he insisted.

“And something else…” I thought for a moment. “What if we put spicy mayonnaise on it, too? Add a little spice, to go with the spice in the chicharrones, a little creaminess…”

“Yes!” Son exclaimed. “This is going on the menu at my restaurant.”

(He has a hypothetical someday restaurant… anytime we come up with a particularly delicious recipe, it goes on the list of random things that will be on the menu if he ever opens a restaurant. Do any of you do that too? ;))

When we made this later that day, it was a hit. Delicious.

It’s definitely going on the menu.


  • scallops
  • clarified butter
  • mayonnaise
  • sriracha sauce
  • lemon juice
  • chicharrones (preferably from 4505 Meats)

Cooking Directions

  1. Pat the scallops dry between two paper towels.
  2. Heat the butter in a pan until it is almost smoking.
  3. Sear the scallops on one side without moving around for a couple of minutes, until caramelized on the bottom. Flip and cook for a minute longer, before removing to a plate.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
  5. Top each scallop with a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise, a squirt of lemon juice, and a chicharron.
  6. Enjoy!

Meringues with Fresh Berries

Meringues topped with fresh berries

A few weeks ago, Son and I drove up to San Francisco because I was going to the BlogHer Food conference. The organizers were awesome enough to put Son’s name on the list for the final afterparty (thanks, Jaden!), and, well, we loved it. The (entirely gluten-free) menu was amazing, the music rocked, and people had far too much fun at the photo booth.

A dessert table at the BlogHer Food afterparty

But one thing that really stood out were the dessert tables.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse at BlogHer Food

Personally, I had a thing for the spoons of peanut butter and chocolate mousse. I’m a diehard peanut-butter/chocolate fan. Ooooh, they were so good.

Son, on the other hand, fell madly in love with the clouds of meringue, topped with fresh berries. (At least, I think it was meringue.) So much, in fact, that he’s been begging me to make them ever since we returned from the trip.

Meringue with Berries at BlogHer Food

Finally I got around to attempting the recipe, when I realized that a cupcake recipe that I was making (which I’ll post soon!) used four egg yolks – which would leave me with four leftover egg whites. Perfect!

I’ve never made meringues before. So… I didn’t know what to expect, when I was preparing them. After mixing for 5 minutes (shush, I’m impatient sometimes), I got discouraged because it was still a very liquid mixture. What did I do wrong?!?! So of course, I ran back to my computer and looked up meringues, to try to figure out why it just wasn’t working for me.

Turns out I was fine. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just hadn’t been mixing it long enough. Be ready to mix for at least 20 minutes (with my electric hand mixer, it took me 30 minutes on medium-high speed to get it to the proper consistency).

And when all was said and done? They came out wonderfully. The flat ones that I made (that you see in the photos) didn’t even crack! (The ones where I just dolloped a spoonful of meringue on the pan and didn’t flatten them at all did crack a little and ooze and bubble along the fault-line, but they were still tasty.)

They’re kind of like little clouds

Meringues, adapted from Authentic French Meringues on


  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups (270 g) powdered sugar
  • fresh berries

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whip egg whites until foamy using an electric mixer. Sprinkle in the powdered sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip at medium speed.
  3. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny like satin and you have stiff peaks. This can take about half an hour, using a hand mixer.
  4. Scoop dollops of the meringue onto the baking sheet, using the back of the spoon to flatten them a little and put a small indentation in the center of each disc of meringue. (Or you can pipe the meringue out onto the prepared baking sheet using a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip.)
  5. Place the meringues in the oven and place a wooden spoon handle in the door to keep it from closing all the way. Bake for 3 hours, or until the meringues are dry, and can easily be removed from the pan. (After 1.5 hours it looked like it was done, but it was still a little gooey on the inside. I recommend cooking them for the full three hours.)
  6. When the meringues are done, top with a few berried immediately before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta

Mozzarella and Tomato Bruschetta

I grew up in a household where we used a lot of processed, prepackaged foods. We made a lot of things from mixes, or from canned condensed soup. We would have never even considered buying anything but Skippy peanut butter, or Best Foods mayonnaise, or that round mozzarella cheese that comes shrink-wrapped.

I still love most of the foods I grew up with. I can’t help it, and it’s probably the same for most of you. It’s only natural to love the foods from your childhood.

But recently, I finally realized there was more out there. That I could eat better than that. That I could make things from scratch, which I’ve been doing for the last couple of years, but more importantly that I can buy quality food. Really, really, really good ingredients.

Last month, several things happened to open my eyes to this:

Andrew Wilder, a new food blogger that I met on the train in Seattle as we were both going to IFBC, decided to make October the month of unprocessed foods, and involve all sorts of bloggers in it. It was pretty awesome seeing this happen – when I first met him he explained to me how he was a really new blogger, trying to find his way in the world of food blogging. And then after the conference, after our plane touched down at LAX (we had the same flight back), we discussed his idea as we walked to the baggage claim area. He called it October: Unprocessed. And although I didn’t fully participate, it made me a lot more conscious about how I eat. Holy cow, I used to eat a ton of processed foods. He helped me become far more aware of that

I went to BlogHer Food. The conference was great and all, but what really moved me were my friends there. Jen, Todd and Diane, Shauna and Danny (and Lucy of course!), Penny, Molly, Anita, Aran, Irvin and AJ, and so many more… These are all people whose work I look at, and it’s all so inspiring. These people love food… and it shows in their blogs. I wanted to be able to love my food as much as they love theirs.

But most importantly, the one thing that made me want to completely overhaul the way I eat and cook were my Uncle Walter and Auntie Lydia. We stayed with them for a week after BlogHer Food was over. These people eat so well. Not only do they know of some excellent restaurants in their area, they also have a kitchen (and a good bit of their garage) filled with all sorts of fantastic food that they cook into excellent meals.

So my food habits have slowly begun to change. I shop at Whole Foods and the farmer’s markets more often than the grocery store I used to frequent. I’m demanding higher quality. I’m willing to spend a little more to eat better, because not only does it taste better, but it’s also better for me.

This simple recipe is an example of that. The tomatoes and mozzarella are from the farmer’s market, the bread was from Whole Foods. And it’s delicious.

In other words, fancy pizza.


Cooking Directions

  1. Thinly slice the French bread.
  2. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes.
  3. Toast on the ‘dark’ setting, or until cheese is bubbly. Or bake at 400°F for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!