Category Archives: recipe stories

Meals 113: Our garden and creme brulee


As you can see, our office garden is flourishing. We’ve got lettuce, radishes, carrots, parsley, and beets. This photo was actually taken a few weeks ago; by now, the plants have almost outgrown our plot, and the vegetables are ready for harvesting.

As if I need yet another excuse to eat at work, my co-worker Sandy made awesome creme brulees at home and torched them in the office right before serving. Delicious. She used Alton Brown’s recipe.

Breakfast: Puffins cereal with soymilk, Odwalla Green Superfood juice

miso soup, okonomiyaki, sushi, squash

Lunch: Miso soup, okonomiyaki, avocado carrot sushi rolls, roasted squash, mixed greens

Creme brulee

Midday dessert: Sandy's creme brulee

Dinner of carrots, kale, roasted turnips, pork belly

Dinner: Carrots, kale, roasted turnips, pork belly



Blueberry mochi cake

blueberry mochi cake process in photographs

Thought I’d dedicate an entire post to my favorite thing to bake: blueberry mochi cake1.

I’ve ruined plenty of Western-style cakes and cookies, but mochi cake is the one thing that turns out yummy every single time. Apparently, I’m better with sweet rice flour than all-purpose wheat flour. Perhaps it’s my Asian roots talking?

Nah. It’s just a ridiculously simple recipe.

Marshall’s friend Kevin first discovered the mochi cake recipe years ago at The Food Librarian, and I’ve been addicted ever since. Slightly sweet and chewy on the inside, buttery and crisp on the edges, with juicy bursts of blueberries throughout. Irresistible.

Mochi cake is gluten-free, and there is a dazzling array of substitutions for the blueberries. Thanks to the research of my friends Amy and Eric (the Seoul Patch chef who used to be my roommate), here are some combinations known to be good:

  • Persimmon
  • Raspberry
  • Bananas, cinnamon, and pecan
  • Bacon and apple
  • Strawberry and chocolate chip
  • White chocolate chip and coconut flakes
  • Red bean and coconut flakes

…basically, you can embed anything small and sweet into mochi cake, and the result will be delicious. Limitless possibilities.

Pieces of blueberry mochi cake

Blueberry mochi cake slices. Noms.

Blueberry Mochi Cake

Adapted from The Food Librarian

1 pound Mochiko sweet rice flour (1 box)
1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted
2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz can)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 oz fresh blueberries

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a large bowl, combine (by hand) the sugar and melted butter. Add evaporated milk and mix well. Add eggs and mix. Finally, stir in baking powder, mochiko, and vanilla.

3) Spread a thin layer of the batter into a 9 x 13 pan. Then sprinkle some blueberries on top. Repeat a couple of times. Construct like a lasagna of blueberries and batter.

4) Bake for 1 hour, until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

1Captions for each frame of the opening image:
1. Blueberry mochi cake ingredients
2. Pouring melted butter into sugar
3. Just before stirring butter into sugar
4. Well-combined mixture of sugar and melted butter
5. Pouring evaporated milk into mixture
6. Just before stirring milk into mixture
7. Well-combined mixture of sugar, melted butter, and evaporated milk
8. Addition of four eggs
9. Addition of vanilla and baking powder
10. Pouring Mochiko sweet rice flour into mixture
11. Stirring in rice flour
12. Well-combined batter, ready for layering
13. First layer of mochi cake batter in 9″x13″ Pyrex
14. First layer of blueberries
15. Second layer of mochi cake batter
16. Complete mochi cake, after baking for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Meals 79: Holiday outing with the girls


Sylvia Yun, Karen Nga, Megan Li, Joanna Chin, Jen Lee, Amy Zhou at Shabuway

Dinner with the Nubies. This doesn’t happen often enough!

Went out for shabu shabu with my college girlfriends, and showed them my new place in Mountain View afterwards. For dessert, we had my snickerdoodle cake and Joanna’s chocolate chip bourbon cookies. The cookies were absolutely divine! I’ve been having a hard time baking cookies, so I’m definitely going to give Joanna’s recipe a try. They were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, dense all around, and had an awesome boozy finish. Definitely not your average little kid’s cookie. Scroll to the end of this post for the recipe!

Whole wheat English muffins and Activia yogurt with apple slices

Breakfast: Fuji apple slices, light vanilla Activia yogurt, whole wheat English muffins with Smart Balance

gimbap, dduk bokki, and salmon sashimi

Lunch: Gimbap (Korean-style sushi with spinach, carrots, pickled radish, egg, and fish cake), dduk bokki (rice cake logs in spicy sauce), and salmon sashimi from Hankook Market

Shabuway Kobe beef dinner

Dinner: Kobe beef shabu shabu with ponzu and sesame sauces from Shabuway

Corn ice cream with salted caramel ribbon

Dessert: Corn ice cream with a salted caramel swirl from Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (I ended up in SF at the end of the night)


Meals 78 + Snickerdoodle cake


chocolate frosted cake with alternating curled white stripe details

Snickerdoodle cake with chocolate frosting and a cream cheese filling.
Baked for a small get-together with my college friends.

The illustrated cake recipe is at the end of the post. Enjoy!


candied sweet potato wedges

Breakfast: Candied sweet potato wedges

latkes and applesauce for lunch

Lunch: Mixed greens salad with feta cheese, applesauce, potato latkes

Chicken breast, spinach, carrots, and broccoli dinner

Dinner: Spinach, carrots, broccoli, chicken breast

Reese's pieces and chocolate chip cookies

Dessert: Reese’s pieces and chocolate chip cookie


Snickerdoodle Cake

1 package (18.25 oz) of plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1) Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place parchment paper into the bottoms of both cake pans, cutting to shape if needed. Set the pans aside.

2) Place the cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowls with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side. Wrap a damp towel around each cake pan to keep the cakes flat for a more professional-looking layered cake.

3) Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 27 to 29 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes more.


Snickerdoodle cinnamon cakes straight out of the oven, leveled and drying on wire rack

Cakes cooling on wire rack. Note that I had to level these cakes because
I neglected to wrap the pans in a damp towel before baking.

4) Meanwhile, prepare cream cheese frosting and chocolate frosting.


Martha Stewart's cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting

Martha Stewart's sour cream chocolate frosting

Chocolate frosting

5) Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting, reserving about half a cup for decoration. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer.


cinnamon snickerdoodle cakes with cream cheese frosting in between them

Cakes with cream cheese frosting filling in between them

6) Using the chocolate frosting, frost the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes.


snickerdoodle cinnamon cake frosted with dark chocolate

The frosted cake.

7) For the decoration, pipe the cream cheese frosting in stripes on top of the cake. Use a toothpick to then make alternating sweeps perpendicular to the frosting stripes.


bird's eye view of chocolate cake decorated with alternating curly white stripes

The decorated cake.

Meals 65 + caramel brownies + banana cupcakes

The night before a holiday bake-off at work, I took a crack at making the chocolate caramel brownies I had tried at Robin’s birthday party a few weeks earlier. They turned out less than stellar, so I also baked banana buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting; half of these ended up burnt, but the other half tasted pretty darn good. I give credit to the buttermilk, and to the food I ate earlier to fuel my baking frenzy:

Breakfast: Whole wheat English muffin with Smart Balance, Activia yogurt, and clementine

Dinner: Bin dae dduk (Korean mung bean cake), teriyaki potatoes, wild rice, kimchi

And now…the illustrated brownie recipe!


Chocolate Caramel Brownies

6 ozs evaporated milk
14 ozs caramels
18 ozs german chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter (melted)
6 ozs chocolate chips

Caramel brownie ingredients

1. Melt caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in microwave until smooth, stirring often. Set aside.

2. Stir cake mix, butter, and the rest of the milk together. It will look like cookie dough.

3. Press 1/2 of the dough into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper (NOTE: I forgot the parchment paper this time around, and I regretted it). Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees F.

4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on hot baked dough.

5. Top with melted caramel mix.

6. Cover with the rest of dough by flattening it in sections between two pieces of waxed paper and placing them on top of the caramel until it is completely covered (NOTE: I didn’t do this intermediate flattening step in the picture, which is why this batch did not turn out so well). Bake 14-18 minutes more.


I wasn’t a huge fan of how this batch of brownies turned out, so I baked some banana buttermilk cupcakes too.