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Lemon Curd Tart with No-Bake Graham Cracker Crust

Sorry guys, it’s just been such a hectic month for me, catching up with work and with friends, getting ready for one of my closest friend’s wedding last weekend, and Dan’s visit. Things are settling down after almost two months of craziness.

I found time this week to make this lemon curd tart. It’s summer and I need my blast of citrus-y goodness. We had such a good week of sun, but now it’s drizzling outside and a cool breeze is coming through the back patio windows. I have a cup of hot tea and a slice of lemon curd tart topped with sugared berries…I’ll say this Sunday is going well.

I’ve been meaning to make something from the Ottolenghi: The Cookbook since I bought it in May (in May!!!). It arrived a couple of days before my vacation and it just wasn’t going to happen then. Woe.

Deeba introduced me to this lovely cookbook when she gave me the recipe for these successful macarons and after that, I just kept thinking about getting it. It’s easy to get obsessed about these things, and is surely making a nice profit out of my compulsive Amazon Prime buying fingers. Ha!

The second recipe I’m testing from the book is for lemon curd. I used to think that making curd is tedious. It conjures up memories of my grandmother making “ube halaya” (purple yam jam dessert in the Philippines) that requires continuously standing/stirring in front of the stove for a good hour or so. I wouldn’t dream of it in the summer, especially with the 2nd floor of the house (where the kitchen is) feeling like a greenhouse. Nope, there’s no A/C here.

When I browsed Ottolenhi’s recipe for lemon curd, it seemed easier than the key lime curd recipe I used for my key lime meringue pie. After all, it didn’t need a double boiler setup, plus almost all the ingredients are already mixed together before heating. I thought I just had a free pass to a quick vacation!

Summer Quick Tip #1: Choose recipes that require less oven face time. Look for mix-all-in-one-go types.

When it comes to the crust, I like a good crust, but there was no way I was turning on the oven. I sought out my go-to graham cracker crust recipe (minus the lemon zest) to replace a sweet pastry crust.

Summer Quick Tip #2: Try a no-bake crust.

I couldn’t be happier with the results: less work for me, but the lemon curd tart still turned out irresistibly zesty and the graham crust was amazing with it. Those who don’t like it sour tarts beware, the lemon-y goodness could knock you out. :) Kind of. When you add whipping cream on top, it will be fine. For me, sugared blackberries complement it perfectly.

The first bite is god-awful. I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone! :-)

I’m kidding of course. It’s pretty damn good!

The lemon curd requires 6 hours at the very least to firm up, but it won’t stand up well until you leave it in the fridge overnight. If you want to serve it as fast as you could, do this little trick I do for anything that needs a quick setting:

Summer Quick Tip #3: Add gelatin to curd (or no-bake cheesecake) to serve it in under 30 minutes, instead of waiting for a long chilling time.

It might not be the most elegant solution, but it does work and will satisfy most dessert-loving guests. It will also keep the hostess (who forgot to prepare her tart the previous night) stress-free. If you have family like me who simply cannot wait for dessert to be served, gelatin is a godsend.

And with that, I bid you a good summer week! It’s going to be rainy here, but I’m welcoming this break from the heat. Yeah, yeah, welcome to the weather up here. :)

Get the recipe for this Lemon Curd Tart with No-Bake Graham Cracker Crust

Posted in dessert, experiments, fruits, quick & easy, sweets10 Comments

Chocolate Easter Eggs

I’m not the type to post about Easter ‘food’. It’s not that I don’t celebrate it, it’s just…wow, I can’t even explain why there hasn’t been an Easter post in all of the 2+ year history of this website. I think things just get got too busy. However, things took a different turn. I got so inspired by Megan’s post yesterday that I postponed sleep for another day just to make, and post about, these:

Chocolate Easter Eggs

Because I’m a complete sucker for Kinder Surprise Eggs. I used to mail them to friends in the US, because apparently they’re banned there. [Fact: It is still banned and the US authorities urged Canadians to stop sending them as gifts last holiday season.]

Somewhere in one of my bins in the garage lies my Disney World of Kinder Surprise Toy collection.



Happy April Fool’s!

Who am I kidding? That toy collection does exist and I amassed them in my ’20s. I can’t believe I just told you that.

For a period in my life I dreamed of being a Kinder Suprise Toy designer. What? No, I wasn’t on something, I promise. I wasn’t kidding when I said I have so many of the toys. Love ‘em. And the chocolate? Milk chocolate and white chocolate egg “shells” get gobbled up in seconds. So when I saw that Megan made Kinder-esque eggs, there was absolutely no way that I can wait to try my hand at that. Even for one night. So I did what any food-crazy person would do: Labor. Until. Four. In the morning. So that I could somehow be a step closer to that dream (kind of).

Chocolate Easter Eggs

I always seem to want to make things at hours past midnight, so I had no choice but to use whatever chocolate I had because of the time. I had dark, milk and white Callebaut bars, and decided to go with dark and white so the shell won’t be too sweet. SO, SO YUMMY.

The Road to Pink and Green

It felt like the joke was on me last night. I was trying to formulate a way to make Martha and Not Martha‘s methods (I love saying both in one sentence) easier.

Do you know why there aren’t any plastic eggs chocolate egg tutorial? Because they don’t work. Imaginary varicose veins popped up after standing up to wash, wipe, and grease a dozen plastic eggs of different sizes, and then coat and cool four sets of them with chocolate, only to find out that the only way I was going to get them out is to scrape them. That kind of defeats the purpose of having the mold, doesn’t it? Boy, oh boy.

Eight of the plastic eggs (which were purchased ever so dutifully by my dear brother, who will go to stores if he isn’t busy doting on his two boys) came in plastic egg cartons. Even if I did say, Why the heck did you have to buy all those? I am grateful for that plastic tray. It was a lifesaver for the next “plan”.

So I got to Plan B, which wasn’t really part of the plan because I was trying to find the easy button, remember? After midnight, when you decide to take on a project like this: DON’T be like me! I didn’t have the gadget to semi-cleanly cut the egg’s butt (I call it that, no foolin’ around). I did what any self-respecting crafter would do: improvise.

To illustrate how I do it the rudimentary way, which I think is my punishment for looking for a way out of the well-known path, here is a little video for you:

Preparing an egg to make chocolate (Easter) eggs from Gourmeted on Vimeo.

It’s the best way to separate the whites from the yellows.

I’m. just. kidding.

After emptying out the raw egg, you wash the egg shells and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. I added about a teaspoon of vinegar. Make sure each shell is submerged by putting water inside it. To fish them out of the water after boiling, use a slatted spoon to carefully empty out the water from each, and rinse with warm water. At this point, you might want to (ok, stay with me here, don’t get grossed out) stick your pinkie finger in the egg and scratch off the white membrane that lines the egg shell. It takes some patience. Let the shells dry or put back in the pan with fresh water with food color, a little vinegar, and then boil. I attempted to use beets to color it, but it didn’t work for me. Maybe if I just painted it with the beet juice it would have been better, I am not sure. Suggestions, eggsperts? [Hah, corny.]

I dried out the egg shells, hole side down and propped on chopsticks held in a standing glass. Once dried, I put about 2 tablespoons of melted Callebaut dark chocolate into each egg shell, and turned it around to coat the insides. I drained the extra liquid chocolate back into my bowl of melted chocolate, and immediately placed the coated egg in the freezer. After coating and cooling chocolate, I proceeded for the 2nd coating of white chocolate. Same procedure as with the dark, but you may experience some dark chocolate melting. it’s ok.

** Before you proceed, I should warn you now that the photos you are about to see are awful. I used my point and shoot camera, without flash and hand-held to quickly shoot stuff as I go. Oh…and my method? It’s not neat at all. I need to find another solution next time.

Making the "grass"Melting the chocolate. I went for easy: I chopped the chocolate, placed half a cup in a small bowl and heated that in the microwave for 30 seconds before stirring. Place back for another 20 seconds. And then added another half a cup of chocolate to melt in the bowl. I made cup-batches at a time because it gets thick. Megan used another kind of chocolate and used thinners as well (which I have never heard of until I read her post (learn something new!)). Use what your preferred chocolate method is.

As soon as I finished dumping the excess chocolate, I put each egg shell again in the freezer. While the chocolate solidifies, I added green food coloring to white chocolate. Green = grass. To imitate the texture of grass, I placed parchment paper in the plastic egg holder and poured chocolate. I put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to let it harden a little, but still soft enough to manipulate.

Basically, the concept is to use this molded “grass” to seal the holes at the bottom of the shells, glued by more green white chocolate:

Easter egg toupee

Then cap off with the chocolate “grass”. You can carefully sculpt it if you like. You can also add more melted green chocolate for some artistic effect. To clean up messes, use a clean damp cloth or paper towel.

The "grass"

Place the eggs again in the freezer, and once solid, place at room temperature to “dry”. The egg shells might be initially moist due to the temperature change and humidity.

In the end, after all that hard work, it really is so pretty to look at them!

Chocolate Easter Eggs

These eggs were hard to crack! I don’t think it’s that suitable for kids. It’s more for adults.I was initially going to put wine candies inside but I accidentally burned the batch I made last night. Whoopsie. Next time!

Until then… Hope you all have a fun (extended/long/Easter) weekend!

Posted in chocolate, experiments, sweets4 Comments

Light and Super Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake

Can you have a good cheesecake with just little sugar and no eggs? Can it be smooth and creamy, and melts in your mouth and before you could even think, you’ve already reached for your next bite? Why, yes and yes! Say hello to our family’s lifelong addiction: the no-bake cheesecake. This is also perfect for those who don’t like the heaviness of regular cheesecake. Perhaps you could even say it’s a tad better for indulgences, too. Maybe…I like to think that. -Joy

No-Bake Cheesecake

This is a personal invitation to try another favorite of our family. Signed, sealed, posted, it's yours to enjoy.

No-bake cheesecake and our family goes way, way back in the 80’s. My mother would spend Friday or Saturday nights on the dining table after dinner with her bowls, wooden spoons, stand mixer and springform pan to make cheesecake. The truth is, for the longest time I thought cheesecake was only made using my mom’s no-bake method. Hahaha.! Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t have the recipe anymore. I think everyone in our family will agree –that was gut-wrenchingly sad.

Uh, what are we going to do now?!

Sometime between my teenage years and our move to Canada, there was a cheesecake void in our household, we all got busy and us kids moved cities away for high school and university.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It wasn’t until 2002 or 2003 that I discovered (and had the inclination to make) a no-bake cheesecake recipe online. It didn’t quite taste like my mom’s but the methodology was close. I tweaked the ingredients until we were all satisfied with the taste. Then, at some point–GASP!–I lost the recipe. Gone. Not in my computer. Not in my mom’s. Our family friend, Tita Thess (go check her out, she makes gorgeous bead jewelry) even asked for the recipe many moons ago, but it turns out I never sent it to her. In between moving and traveling, and not being in the kitchen much, the recipe was gone. There was no trace of it.


For the longest time, I’ve put off creating a recipe from scratch to replicate my mom’s no-bake cheesecake because a) it’s so time-consuming to get the combination; and b) I almost had it and then I lost it! Exasperating to say the least. However, these are the things in life you just have to be grown up about and deal with–so I did. These were the only things I remembered it had and outlines my starting point:

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • some amount of sour cream
  • some amount of Knox unflavoured gelatin
  • graham crackers
  • sugar
  • butter
  • lemon zest (god…that lemon zest that I would forever associate with cheesecake!)

It’s rather vague to say the least. I’m looking at my notes on my calendar (yes, I know) and it was still back in the beginning of February. And let’s just say that my weight is pretty much indicative of the amount of cheesecake I’ve consumed to reach until March to get the recipe right. I just can be so dedicated to finding a “solution” to my problem that I will not stop until everything is resolved — in this case, until the taste, texture and consistency is correct.

How hard could it be to come up with our “holy grail” recipe?

I got the recipe for the crust right the 1st try, but the cake was lumpy because of the difference in temperature between the dissolved gelatin and the cream cheese mixture. It tasted good (not the best–too sweet), but one never should have to associate cheesecake with the word lumpy (= lame).

No-Bake Cheesecake

It doesn't look like much right out of the pan, but for our family this elicits groans with, "Put the topping already!"

On the second try, the cheesecake tasted better (still not perfect), but the texture was smoother. However, the cheesecake held up so well it almost looked fake, like when you buy cheesecake at a cheap establishment and it’s almost like buying white Jell-O. Not good.

No-Bake Cheesecake

You can make it party-ready by using the smooth edge of a table knife to scrape and smooth the cheesecake. Works like a charm.

And then the third: melts-in-your-mouth no-bake cheesecake. And I made it again and again. And it’s done.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It IS as good as it looks.

   Get the recipe for the No-Bake Cheesecake now! (PDF download included)

Posted in cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe11 Comments

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutella on crack — as in, Nutella made with more hazelnuts! Creamy, crunchy, and chewy Nutty Nutella Mochi (mochi = sticky rice cake) is like an Asian version of one of my guilty-pleasure chocolate, Ferrero Rocher. It’s very easy to make and lots of fun!

I used to be hooked on Ferrero Rocher as a child. I would have these gold foil-wrapped chocolates in my school bag and the pocket of my school uniform. When I discovered Nutella, it was like manna for my insatiable chocolate-loving young palate and definitely a much cheaper option than Ferrero Rocher. I would eat it mindlessly by the big spoonfuls (prior to Nutella, I consumed jar after jar of extra creamy peanut butter!). At some point I did learn to restrain myself…sometimes. Nutella lovers — you know what I mean, right? It’s just physically straining to not give in to the craving! Ha ha.

It is with glee that I will participate in World Nutella Day (hosted by these lovelies: Ms Adventures in Italy, Bleeding Espresso, and World Nutella Day) with this Japanese-inspired  treat:

Nutty Nutella Mochi or Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

I’ve always wanted to make stuffed mochi (addendum: I grew up with mochi or sticky rice cake, but we just call them by different names in the Philippines), so I thought I’d combine that with Nutella. And guess what? They are perfect together!

It’s very easy to make. Crushed hazelnuts and nutella are combined, lumped into balls and placed in the freezer to keep its shape when molding the rice cake around it. The rice cake is a combination of glutinous (sweet) rice flour, water and a little sugar. A little food coloring if you want to make it interesting. You can add flavors as you wish. The resulting paste is zapped in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then the wrapping begins!

The stickiness is the tricky part and it’s easy to solve by keeping your hands and work surface generously floured. Put in the freezer again to set. And voila! You got yourself some Asian Ferrero Rocher to snack on. No spoon needed.

I loved this experiment so much that I’m going to make more over the weekend. This will be a fun Valentine’s treat for friends, family and lovahs.

Happy World Nutella Day and Happy Friday!

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Posted in chocolate, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe, sweets22 Comments

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

This is the first pumpkin recipe I’ve ever made. Shocking for some of you, but growing up in the Philippines where pumpkins weren’t easily available, it’s not for me. I’ve never had the urge to buy them or even carve them, but I wanted to change that this year. I’ve inadvertently snubbed it in the the kitchen for far too long.

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

I picked some a common Asian ingredient combination: onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and cilantro.

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

Sautéed them…

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

Then I threw in some ground chicken in there.

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

And all these lovely flavors when into these pre-baked ‘bowls':

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

And voila, a very satisfying dinner:

Chicken Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

I must admit that even though I didn’t grow up with this kind of dish, it did taste like comfort food. The chicken was a tasty complement to the natural flavors of the pumpkin. And the chicken ‘stuffing’? Boy, that’s surely a winner. I’d make that and mix it with rice anytime!

STUFFED BABY PUMPKINS Download PDF recipe for Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

• 3 baby pumpkins

• 2 medium (2 to 3 1⁄4” in diameter) yellow onions, chopped

• 1 celery, sliced perpendicular to the length thinly (2-3mm thick)

• 5 garlic cloves, chopped (about 5 teaspoons chopped)

• 1 ripe tomato, chopped

• 1 medium (7-8” long) carrot, peeled and chopped

• 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken

• 4 stalks of fresh marjoram, stems removed, leaves chopped

• 4 stalks of fresh cilantro, chopped; and extra for garnish

• 1 lime, sliced

• vegetable oil

• salt

• pepper

• cayenne pepper


• Any size baking sheet

• Large pan


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the upper middle part of the oven.

2. Wash pumpkins and place upright on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on  the counter for 10 minutes.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

4. Slice the top portion of the pumpkin perpendicular to, and around, the stem using a serrated knife. Cut into the pumpkin to remove the stem. Take out the seeds and pulp with a spoon to clean out the insides of the pumpkins. Smooth the surface of the insides by leveling carefully with your paring knife.

5. Place pumpkins upright on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside.

6. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil on a large pan over medium to high heat. Sauté yellow onions until they become translucent. Add and sauté the following ingredients, for 30 seconds each according, to this order: celery, garlic, tomato, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, carrots and chicken. Mix the chicken with the vegetables for 2 minutes and cover for 10 minutes. Stir in 1⁄4-teaspoon cayenne pepper and cover again for another 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper as needed. I tend to like it spicy.

7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle meat mixture with marjoram, cilantro and juice of one lime. Give it a good stir before placing into individual pumpkin bowls.

8. Lightly put and press down stuffing into the pumpkin bowls. Distribute the juice of half the lime among the 3 pumpkins.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool on the counter for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with a cut stem of fresh cilantro.

Posted in experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, poultry, vegetables7 Comments

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘  At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog.  Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.

Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.

I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.

“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”

A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.

I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary.  Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.

So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.


Gourmet Loaded PotatoesDownload PDF recipe for Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]

  • 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
  • 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
  • 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)


  • Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
  • Electric mixer


1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.

3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.

4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.

5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.

6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!

Posted in appetizer, cheese, dailies, dairy, dining, experiments, fun, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables12 Comments

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup

This is my ode to the beet. I love it. It is good steamed/boiled, but why stop there? Surely the humble, yet provocatively deep red-colored, beet has more to offer beyond the boundaries of salads, or worse, as a natural red food color. The result of an evening of inspiration and creativity was this Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust. The yogurt syrup makes it even better. Oh my! Even the beet skeptic might be swayed to the beat of the beet!

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Yogurt Syrup

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Like a northern snowbird, I headed south last week. To get used to the time, I had this not-so-great idea to tough it out on my first night: stay up, finish writing this, get some work done, and be early to bed the next evening to ‘reset’ my circardian rhythm. My thirty-something body, on the other hand, had other plans–like succumbing to exhaustion before midnight, not feeling my laptop slip from the bed and not hearing the heartbreaking sound of the machine hitting the hardwood floor. Nope. I had woken up in a daze at 3am, local time, and slowly realized that ACK! MY LAPTOP!!! Blood drained from my face when I saw it closed, but monitor at the bottom. #$&(*&%! I leaped from the bed to assess the damage, praying that the screen didn’t $hatter into piece$.  Thankfully, everything was still intact except for the corner dent, and most importantly: it still worked! Whew. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to push my luck in the staying-up-too-late-to-post department for the rest of the week.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Beets, we meet again. You and your unpretentious exterior.


Your unassuming presence change once peeled and cut, and you resemble rubies or garnets.


Just looking at you make me smile. Jewels, you are.

Oh, god, I talk to vegetables. Secret’s out!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to being sane.

Enamored is an understatement as to how I feel about beets. I wanted to do something more than roasting and boiling them for salads. When I got more beets, I had PIE in my mind, thanks to the  apple pie and pumpkin pie I had in rotation in the kitchen, so pie it is.

For the crust, I wasn’t feeling the flaky dough crust, so I decided on a graham cracker crust. Well, well, guess who ran out of graham crackers (or crumbs)? Haha. I still had whole hazelnuts, so I ground them into powder consistency and added wheat germ and butter.

Ground hazelnuts

The ground-nut crust was borne out of last month’s almond-grinding for the macarons. Since then, I’ve ground more almonds and hazelnuts for crusts that have earned raves among family members.

hazelnut crust

The hazelnut and wheat germ crust went perfectly well with the beets.

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust

It could have been a planet’s unattractive red surface at first glance, and I wasn’t quite confident of the outcome that I was ready to toss it if it didn’t turn out good. However, my doubts melted after I took my first bite. I was in awe of how good everything melded together. It’s an odd marriage of ingredients, spices and textures, for sure, which really made for an interesting dessert.

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust

I wasn’t the only one taken by it, judging by how fast it disappeared from the pie plate, down to the very last crumb. And I mean…the very last.

If you haven’t had beets as a dessert, then here’s your chance! Yummy, yummy, yummy. Dare I say it’s even healthy?! I think so. :-)

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup Download the PDF Recipe for Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup



  • 500 grams fresh whole beets (approx 3-4″-diameter beets), peeled and cut into ½” cubes
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 7 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 3.5 oz shelled hazelnuts, ground to powder consistency in a food processor
  • 2 oz wheat germ
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar


  • food processor (for grinding hazelnuts)
  • 2 small mixing bowls
  • 9″ glass pie plate
  • 1 baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil


For the Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower middle position.
  2. Mix ground hazelnuts, wheat germ, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl to create a gritty paste.
  3. Transfer onto the pie plate. Press and level against the bottom and sides of the plate with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool on a trivet.
    Keep the oven on.

    For the Filling:

  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour and spread cubed beets on the parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. After removing, place the oven rack in the upper middle position.
  5. Put baked beets in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.
  6. Mix flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg using a spatula in a large bowl. Pour beets into the mixture and toss to coat.
  7. Beat eggs with heavy cream in the medium bowl from #5 with a fork. Pour over the beet and flour mixture, and stir together with a spatula until there are no dry spots left. Assembling the Pie:
  8. Transfer the beet mixture into the pie plate with crust. Level with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove pie from the oven. Increase the temperature to 400°F and place the rack in the lower middle portion of the oven. Cover the pie plate with foil and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  10. Cool the pie (still covered with foil) on the trivet for 30 minutes, then uncover and cool for 30 minutes more.

    Making the Syrup:

  11. Beat the icing sugar and yogurt together until smooth.
  12. Slice beet pie and serve with yogurt syrup. Instead of the yogurt syrup, you can also top with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche.


Beet preparation: The original recipe calls for cubed fresh beets that are pre-baked to cook and dry a little to make them chewy. You can also  shave or grate the beets if you have trouble chewing or if you don’t like them chewy; and you may then skip Step #4.

Serving suggestions: You can top the pie with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, instead of yogurt syrup. Best served warm. Re-heat in microwave for 10 seconds before serving.

Hazelnut Crust: Very versatile and I urge you to use it with other fruits (or veggies!).

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables18 Comments

Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water Buttercream

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S of Baking Without Fear.  She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I’ve been meaning to make macarons since spring, when it wasn’t warm and I could still use the oven to my heart’s content without creating a heat wave. Then I had an army of excuses: I had no almond flour, no candy thermometer, no time, and just the thought of making them only to fail was exhausting.

Of course, that’s what the Daring Bakers Challenge is for: to push you to do things you do not like (haha), but we enjoy tough love anyway. I’ve been so busy with other things that the deadline for the challenge really crept up and then whacked me on the head last night. Yes, I only did my challenge last night. Oh, not just last night…LATE last night.

This is how I roll…

Macarons with Lemon-Rosewater Buttercream

My fellow Daring Bakers have talked about their failures even after numerous tries with the recipe posted by the challenge’s host, so they eventually sought someone else’s recipe. I followed suit. I was doing this last-minute that I really cannot afford to try many times just to make it work. I need it to work the first time. Tall order.

I’ve had my eyes on Jef and Eliza’s ( macaron recipe for the longest time, so I picked that. Others I know used Helen’s ( or Aran’s (Cannelle et Vanille) recipes — and hundreds of readers can attest to the reliability of their recipes, so do check them out.

Ok, so I sort of used the recipe from My Food Geek. I made a boo-boo. What else is new? To make the long story short, I could not follow baking directions for the life of me. My macarons probably have way too much sugar in them. The truth is, now that they answered my question, my macarons shouldn’t have had sugar syrup. Haha. What do I know? As long as I saw magma-like batter last night, I thought I was doing the right thing. No wonder I’m bouncing up the ceiling all night and I’m having major drawbacks from the sugar rush this afternoon.

I won’t even tell you how many mushroom-like sugary caps I’ve eaten. I even had to bite into another one for the photos. Good reason, no?

Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water Buttercream

I really am just glad that they closely resemble the real thing, except for the fact that:

  • These babies have ‘skins’ that remind me of ostrich eggs; and
  • They have prim and proper “feet”. They stay within the perimeter of the mothership, no feet sticking out to the sides. No, ma’am. You’d think my macarons went to the Miss Manners night school for misbehaved macarons!

Their skins are so smooth and almost pebble-y. I did not use blanched almonds, so you see the flecks of almonds on them. What’s more, I made penance for my tardiness with the Daring Bakers gods by not only grinding my own almond powder, but painfully sifting it. It think that paid off.

Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water Buttercream

One pivotal factor that made these macarons look like this is the drying/wait time. The first 3 trays that I put in the oven didn’t have time to sit. I mean, c’mon, I’m not a patient person at all. After 3 erupting episodes, I quickly searched on the internet and found out from a Pierre Hermé (the god of macarons) recipe that you should let them sit to brood and ponder their soon-to-be esteemed footed life for at least 45 minutes. So I did that. In the meantime, here are the remains of the magmatic macarons that certainly weren’t shy about their eruptions. [Some went totally criminal: Macawrongs!]



The 4th tray in the oven, which sat on the counter for the longest 45 minutes of my past-midnight baking shenanigan, came out with beautiful, proper hats and walking feet. As for the filling, I made buttercream and used the rose water given to my friends. That thing is strong…like, I-want-to-put-it-on -me strong. But it was delicious.

Macarons with Lemon-Rosewater Buttercream

I think I will try to make some again this week, if I don’t die from all the sugar. Hah.

I’ll post the recipe tonight! Watch out for my blank promises. LOL.

Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water Buttercream (recipe last updated 11/12/2009)

These are my first ever macarons and I completely made a mistake on the recipe I was following. Download the PDF recipe for Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water ButtercreamThis mistake, however, gave me such smooth, perfectly shaped macarons. A number of people still requested the actual recipe I ended up with for the macarons. So here it is!

This recipe makes about 30-35 sandwiched macarons.



  • 100 grams egg whites (give or take, 3 large eggs), divided
  • 100 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 100 grams sliced or whole almonds (can be blanched or not, up to you)
  • 180 grams granulated sugar
  • 90 grams water

Macaron Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 teaspoons rose water [You can use less for just a tiny hint.]
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • a drop or two of red liquid food coloring (Optional. Amount will vary depending on your color preference.)


  • Food processor or grinder/chopper
  • Hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • 2 Large size bowls
  • 1 Medium size bowl
  • Small sauce pan
  • Candy thermometer
  • 2 to 3 baking sheets (we will bake double-panned, having an extra sheet will allow you to continuously bake one batch after another)
  • Silicone baking mat or Parchment paper sheets to fit cookie sheet
  • Piping/Pastry bag with plain tip (a storage bag like zip lock would work, too)
  • Spatulas


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F with the rack in the upper middle portion. You can pre-heat later on during Step #11). Place baking sheets one on top of the other (called double panning) and place the baking mat or parchment paper on the topmost sheet, and set aside.For the meringue cookies –
  2. Grind almonds and confectioner’s sugar together in a food processor for 2-3 minutes, until you get a a powdery texture. If you have a mini one, you can use half the sugar for it to fit.
  3. Sift mixture into a large bowl. If you still have big pieces left, put them back in the grinder.
  4. Stir 40 grams of egg whites (about 1 egg white) with the ground almond mixture using a spatula. Mix until you get a uniform paste. Set aside.
  5. Whisk 60 grams of egg whites (about 2 egg whites) on high speed in a large bowl until you achieve soft peaks. Set aside.
  6. Pour water and granulated sugar into a small pan and place on your stove on high heat with the candy thermometer dipped into the mixture. Allow to boil until it reaches 230°F.
  7. Resume whisking the egg whites on med-high speed in the large bowl and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl. Whisk for about 10 minutes. You will end up with a puffy and shiny meringue.
  8. Quickly fold meringue into the bowl with the almond paste for 30 seconds, then slowly to check the consistency. Do not overmix. The resulting mixture would be thick, fluffy and viscous. It will not be watery. It will almost feel and look like marshmallow fluff.
  9. Transfer meringue mixture into a pastry bag.

10. Pipe mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Create small domes about 1-½  inch in diameter, 2 inches apart from each other to allow for spreading. If you have 3 baking sheets, you can pipe on 2 sheets.

11. Leave on your kitchen counter for at least 45 minutes, to allow a film to develop on each circle.

12. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 12 minutes.

13. The cookies should be easy to peel off the pan. If not, put return the baking sheet into the oven for 2 more minutes.

14. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring. Bake the next pan. Don’t forget the 45-minute sitting time for the piped meringue.

15.  The baked cookies have a smooth, eggshell-like top, a soft-ish center, standing on frothy-looking “feet”.

For the buttercream –

16.  Mix butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Pour confectioner’s sugar and mix with a spatula until most of it is incorporated. Beat for a few seconds.

17. Pour rose water, lemon juice and a drop of food color and mix with a spatula first, before using your mixer.

Assembling the macarons –

18. Spread buttercream on the flat side of the meringue cookie and top with the flat side of another meringue cookie to form a sandwich. Press lightly.

Enjoy, but watch out for the sugar rush!

Posted in baking, Daring Bakers, dessert, experiments67 Comments

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake and a Fall Giveaway

I’ll tell you one of my guilty obsessions this past summer: Rachel Zoe. [I know. Heehee.] For the past two hours, instead of writing up the recipe for this Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake, I had to fix this website due to my BIG mistake of upgrading WordPress (my blogging platform). Yup, it screwed up the layout. All I could mutter was one of Rachel’s infamous phrases: I DIE. Thankfully, I was able to fix everything back to normal, and I still have enough time to give you a recipe and other fun stuff. Yay.

Remember the Quick Apple Crumble with Cranberries from a couple of days ago? You can make it into something else…something even more wonderful that it already is:
Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

Four taste-testers don’t lie: this is some heavenly combination! A layer of light and moist cake underneath a generous overlay of sweet apple chunks and plumped up dried cranberries, then the coating of  crunchy, buttery cornmeal streusel… I mean, could it get any better than that?

All it took was a bite...

All it took was a bite...

When you think about it, it’s a cake, that’s a pie, that’s a crisp! Haha. Oh, and  just one of the many ways to enjoy the gifts of the Fall season that I so love.

Speaking of Fall...we’re excited to collaborate with Vault Communications and Aloutte Cheese for a fantastic Fall Wine and Cheese Party Giveaway! It’s been a while since we’ve thrown a contest, oh dear. But check it out!

Gourmet Fall Cheese Tasting Party Giveaway

  • Mariposa Gourmet Two-Toned  Wooden Cheese Board w/ Wine & Cheese Access. (Board is made of Natural Wood.)
  • Cheese Markers
  • Customized Cheese Rating Cards w/ Pens (Party of 10) – customized with your name and date/year of party.
  • Alouette recipe cards for entertaining
  • Alouette coupons for Baby Brie, Spreadable and Crumbles
  • Slow Down & Savour Tips

Let's Slow Down & Savour Life Wine & Cheese Giveaway

Let's Slow Down & Savour Life Wine & Cheese Giveaway

That’s right, you’ll get all of these lovely items (a $150 value). Wine, wine glass and fruits not included. ** IMPORTANT: PRIZES CAN ONLY BE SHIPPED IN THE U.S. **

To enter, just answer this question in the comments section:

How do you slow down and savour life’s moments?

If you tweet about it, let us know in the comments. Each legitimate and unique comment to this post qualify as one entry.

Contest ends October 29, at 12 noon. Good luck!

[Contest disclosure: We have received the same items from Alouette Cheese, c/o Vault Communications. We have no advertising/sponsorship commitments with either company.]

Oh, and here’s the recipe:

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

It’s a cake, that’s a pie, that’s a crisp– light, moiDownload the print-ready PDF recipe for Apple Crumble Upside Down Cakest cake underneath a generous layer of sweet apple chunks and cranberries, sprinkled with the crunchy and buttery cornmeal streusel.

Ingredients [Serves 8]

Apple Filling

  • 3 medium-sized apples, peeled, quartered, chopped into ¼ x ½  x ½ -inch chunks and fills about 5 cups. Use what you have on hand or your preferred variety. (I used Okanagan Fuji apples.)
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon triple sec liqueur (optional)

Crumble/Streusel topping

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Place the rack in the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside.

3. For the apple filling

  • Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Toss the apple chunks in it.
  • Melt butter over high heat on a Dutch oven until it begins to turn amber in color and the milky froth from the butter has almost cleared (don’t allow it to burn).
  • Add the apples into the pot and reduce heat to medium-high. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries and stir. Cover for another 5 minutes or until the apples begin to soften and break down in the steam. Juice will collect on the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove from the heat and pour over a strainer with a large bowl underneath to catch the juice.
  • Pour the juice back into the Dutch oven over high heat and mix it with heavy cream and triple sec liqueur (if used). Stir until the mixture is reduced and thickened. It’s done when you drag your wooden spoon on the bottom of the pan and it leaves a trailing line. Turn off the heat and toss the apples and cranberries in it.
  • Transfer the fruits and any remaining liquid into the prepared cake pan. Lightly press into an even layer. Set aside.

4. For the crumble/streusel topping:

  • Mix flour, brown sugar and cornmeal in a medium bowl with a fork. Drizzle melted butter while continuing to mix it until it forms pea-sized chunks.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the streusel mixture evenly on top of it.
  • Bake it in the pre-heated 425°F oven for 5 minutes. Watch closely once you hit the 4-min mark. It might start to burn depending on your baking sheet.
  • Take it out of the oven and set aside to cool on a trivet for 5 minutes. Toss the crumble with a small spoon to prevent it from burning if it is already getting dark. Set aside.

5. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F with the rack in the same position.

6. For the cake:

  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat the brown sugar and eggs in a large bowl until thick and homogenous, for about 45 seconds.
  • Slowly beat in butter until thoroughly combined. Add heavy cream and vanilla and continue to mix. Pour flour mixture and blend until just combined.
  • Pour batter into the cake pan and spread evenly over fruit.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven until cake is golden grown, about 35 to 40 minutes. When you insert a toothpick into the center it will come out clean.
  • Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes before running a knife around the sides of the cake pan.
  • Carefully invert cake pan onto a large plate, and allow the cake to cool for another 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with some vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped crème or crème fraîche on top.

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, contest, dessert, experiments, liquor33 Comments

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

In the course of my adventurous summer with food, when I tried ingredients I’ve never eaten or cooked before, I picked up a rutabaga. Also called swede, yellow turnip, or wax turnip, it is part smooth, part rough/hairy/bumpy, hard and so foreign to me. I laughed when I got home because I absolutely had no idea what it tasted like. I just assumed it can be boiled. Peeling it revealed what looks like a raw sweet yellow potato flesh. Trying to cut into it tested my patience. Be very careful when slicing it raw. Save your hands and fingers. They are tough little buggers that could roll off your cutting board and kitchen counter if you don’t hang on to them.

Ever since I got it, I can only think of cooking it with coconut milk.  No idea why, it just sounded delicious at the time. Then someone from Twitter asked me if I use turmeric in my cooking, and I replied ‘No’, so the next day I decided to remedy that and added the ginger-family spice. It made the rutabaga in this recipe even yellower. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was known as “Indian Saffron” due to its wide use as an alternative to the pricier saffron, and it is a significant ingredient in commercial curry powders, thus the resulting taste and color of a curry dish:

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

It was just the right blend of subtle flavors, without overpowering the rutabagas. Biting into each chunk of rutabaga feels like biting into a vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and squash, without the latter’s mushiness but a hint of its taste. I love that it holds its shape without easily disintegrating when cooked. The peppers were a nice complement to the rutabaga and coconut milk, and the turmeric added just enough character to the taste of the dish. Having this for dinner one quiet, dreary evening brought a smile to my face. I just love it when my food experimentation works out. Mmmmm….

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

Ingredients (serves two)Download the print-ready PDF recipe

  • 1/2 lb tenderized pork loin cutlets
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1- to 1.5-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • canola oil
  • coconut oil


1.    In boiling water with a pinch of salt, cook the chunks of rutabaga until tender; about 25 to 30 minutes in medium heat. Strain and set aside.

2.    Heat a large frying pan, with about 1/2-tablespoon canola oil, in medium-to-high heat. Once the oil is hot, cook each side of the pork cutlet till golden brown (not burnt), about 3 to 4 minutes each side.

3.    Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2-teaspoon coconut oil. Saute the onion slices for a few minutes until they become transparent, and then add the chopped garlic and bell pepper slices. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the rutabaga chunks. Fry until the edges of the rutabaga begin to brown.

4.    Pour coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir and wait for it to boil before adding more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve over the pork cutlets and enjoy with steamed rice.

Posted in Asian dish, experiments, healthier choices, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pork, vegetables16 Comments