Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1st Birthday Blanket

My friends at home will celebrate their daughter's 1st birthday this weekend. I can't make the party, but I'm sending this blanket I just finished. The pattern is a Single Irish Chain Quilt Block. I could not add borders since the backing I had on-hand was not quite big enough, but oh well. This was "tacked" with embroidery stitches. Hopefully Miss L. keeps this blanket for awhile.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Search of a Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe

When I was little it was a rare treat to get my grandma to make Portuguese Bean Soup. The recipe calls for ham hocks, and she hardly had them on hand. The other option was to wait around for February and the annual Punahou Carnival, which was a place to buy steaming hot, Portuguese Bean Soup. Now that I live in the mainland, it's even harder to come by one of my favorite Hawaii foods. Thank goodness I am comfortable in the kitchen and can make my own soup. I just wish I could find a recipe I like.

This was second try at making my own Portuguese Bean Soup, and this time I found a recipe online. I did change a couple of things because I don't care for mushy beans and noodles, and potatoes melt as they cook. Supposedly this is the recipe used at the Punahou Carnival, but it doesn't taste quite right. Don't get me wrong, it does the job, but it's just not what I remember.

If anyone has any recipes to share or ideas on how to make this one better, please share. I think perhaps it's missing a bay leaf and celery.

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe
as found on recipezaar

1-2 lb. ham hock or ham bone
2 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 large potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 16-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. Portuguese sausage (outside of Hawaii, it's known as linguica)
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium head of cabbage, cubed (it sounds like a lot, but this is the right amount)

Boil the ham hocks or ham bone in 2 quarts of water until tender, about 1 hour. Save the stock and cut the meat from the bones.

Bring ham stock to a boil and add the cut meat and all the remaining ingredients except the cabbage.*

Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring frequently. If too thick, add a little water.

Add the cabbage, cook another hour until tender.*

Salt and pepper to taste.

*Fry the diced pieces of Portuguese sausage before adding to the ham stock to cut-down on the amount of oil in the soup. Add all ingredients except kidney beans, potatoes, macaroni and cabbage.
**About 30 minutes after adding the cabbage, add the beans and potatoes. About 50 minutes after adding the cabbage (20 minutes after adding beans and potatoes) add the elbow macaroni.

I just found an actual recipe from the Star Bulletin (the recipezaar site cites the Star Bulletin. Check it out because the recipe is a little different; including the use of celery!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Little European Bakery

I just found a delightful little European bakery near my job. It's called Swiss Delices. They feature a variety of cookies, cakes, breads and other savory pastries. My favorite is the Bird Nest cookie, which is a hazelnut macaroon with apricot or raspberry jam in the middle. Yum. I also tried the Humentachen and Almond Toffee Bar. Both are excellent.

The woman at the Castro Valley location is really nice, and I love her French accent. There is also coffee or soup and sandwiches for lunch. If you are ever in Castro Valley or Hayward, please stop in and help keep this bakery open!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Cookies for Easter

For my birthday I got a box of baking goodies, including little Easter-themed sugar figurines. It was perfect timing: last weekend Seth and I watched an episode of Everyday Italian on the Food Network, during which Giada was baking Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Since the cookies have a lemon glaze, I figured this would be a good opportunity to use the figures.

It's an easy recipe, and I just made two minor adjustments:
  • The recipe says to spoon about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto a baking sheet. On the show, Giada appeared to make smaller cookies, so I only scooped about 1/2 tablespoon.

  • I also adjusted the baking time down to 12 minutes from 15 (so that the edges were slightly golden) since I scooped out smaller mounds of dough

These are light, soft cookies. I happen to love lemon, so these are right up my cookie-alley.

Here is the recipe:

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
by Giada De Laurentiis


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-oz.) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients, about 1/3 at a time.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Best Birthday Card Year Ever

Yes, it's birthday time for me. To celebrate this year we had dinner at Angeline's Kitchen in Berkeley. It was great--if you go, get the hush puppies and the jambalaya.

When we got home I opened cards and presents; they were all awesome. In particular though, this was a fantastic year of cards. Between the Twilight card the Contreraseses sent to the "Everything you want costs money," card from Seth to the "Queen for a Day" card from Kris and Steve, I don't think I've ever laughed this much from my cards. And yes, the Queen card is my favorite. How can you not love it? The crown is made of cutout paper, costume jewels, and fuzzy feathers!

A giant thanks to everyone who thought of me.