Entries from January 21st, 2009

Back from Asia – and a Book Event!

January 21st, 2009 · 17 Comments · Field Guide to Cookies, Travel


Hi all! I've just returned from a wonderful, entirely too-short trip to Hong Kong to visit my family and Japan for a little adventuring. I wish I could have stayed for much longer: I always feel like just as I've settled comfortably back into a routine with my sisters and parents, I have to leave them again. Not to mention that departing from two cities known globally as food meccas always makes my stomach shed a tear. I already am rifling hourly through memories of my culinary experiences: charcoal cookies with black sesame cream, pale green wasabi ice cream, maguro freshly cut from the fish moments before, Peking duck at a Michelin two-star, eggettes eaten steaming hot in the street, and macarons everywhere – in Hong Kong!

It appears the macaron craze is not confined to Paris or the blogging world. Hong Kong has definitely embraced the French delicacy, and macarons of all hues and flavors are showing in little boutique bakeries that look like they could belong on a chic Parisian boulevard. Check out these utterly adorable cow macarons made for the coming Chinese New Year (Year of the Ox, natch!)


I'm eager to share some more about my trip, but it's taking me a while to sort through my filled-full camera memory cards. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy a few shots I took while I was traveling through Wakayama, Osaka, and Kobe in Japan:

It actually snowed! Just a gentle fairy-dusting of white, but magical nonetheless.

Lobster two ways: first sashimi, then cooked into an uber-tasty broth.

Omikuji, Japanese fortune telling strips, at a shrine.


Fresh hot red bean manju – perfect on a frosty afternoon.

So many more pictures – I'm looking forward to sharing more soon! However, right now I'm eager to also share with you an event I'm doing for my book, Field Guide to Cookies. (It's also the reason I couldn't stay longer in Asia!)

I'll be speaking about Field Guide to Cookies (and serving some cookies) at Omnivore Books in San Francisco this Saturday, January 24, from 3 to 4 PM. If you haven't been to Omnivore and you're in any way a foodie, you must! A store dedicated only to books on food, you'll find all manner of cookbooks and food literature, many of them old and hard-to-find. Celia Sack, the owner, has long specialized in antiquarian books, especially cookbooks. Now her rare, precious finds can be browsed by any curious food lover. I'm honored that Omnivore Books is carrying my book and I'm pleased to be speaking there this Saturday! If you're in town, please do stop by!

Omnivore Books
3885a Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

Link to the event on their page


See you there – and Happy Chinese New Year!

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A Happy (and Sweet) New Year to All!

January 1st, 2009 · 24 Comments · Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes


Happy New Year and best wishes to you all! 2008 was certainly an exciting year for me and I am looking forward to what 2009 will bring. (Already my to-do list is growing long and ambitious).

Last night was low-key and cozily mellow; perhaps appropriately, the city was blanketed in a soft grey shroud of fog, so the fireworks could be heard but barely seen. It felt like the mists of memory were already drawing close over the ending of the year; in the brightness of morning, the fog melted away over a city that seemed, if not totally shiny and new, dreamily fresh and serene under a soft sun.


We toasted with Prosecco and nibbled on crisp sugar cookies as clock struck midnight. Prosecco is a dry, sparkling Italian white wine – a terrific alternative to champagne and an excellent base for mixing up some cocktails. Combined with a little pomegranate juice and rosewater, we had a rosy way to toast in the new year. Actually, it's so tasty you might try to find any excuse to make it again. I also baked off some chocolate sugar cookie dough – a very handy thing to have on hand as you'll never let a sweet tooth catch you unprepared!

My 2009 is kicking off with a little adventure – I'll be leaving for Hong Kong next week, so I'll hope to come back with fresh inspiration from all the sweets to be found there and some new recipes for you!

Happy 2009!


Pomegranate Prosecco Cocktail

about 4 to 6 glasses

1-750 ml bottle Prosecco, chilled

1 cup pomegranate juice

1/2 teaspoon rosewater

Pour Prosecco into champagne flutes. Combine the pomegrante juice and rosewater in a pitcher, and divide evenly among the flutes.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

About 3 dozen cookies

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. In stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Scrape the bowl sides and bottom well. While mixer is running on low speed, gradually add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Add the flour mixture gradually while mixer is running on low speed. Mix until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and uniform.
5. Divide dough into 2 pieces and flatten into 1/2 inch thick discs.
6. Wrap up dough and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this point the dough can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. To defrost dough, place in refrigerator overnight.
7. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 325°F. Grease several cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
8. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with more flour. Gently roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
9. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on sheets about an inch apart.
10. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks with a metal spatula to cool completely.
11. Once cookies are cooled, decorate them with icing and colored sugars.

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