Dessert First + Alessi: Roasted Strawberry and Marshmallow Ice Cream

May 9th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Ice Cream, Recipes

Strawberry Marshmallow Ice Cream in Alessi Big LoveStrawberry and Marshmallow Ice Cream in Alessi Big Love

Hello! I'm excited to announce a collaboration between Dessert First and Alessi for the month of May: four recipes by me, photographed in some of Alessi's beautiful and distinctive pieces.

This partnership came about a couple months when I was invited to preview some of Alessi's newest pieces for spring and summer. I've long been a fan of Alessi's designs, which range from playful and whimsical to elegant and timeless. 

After expressing my long-standing enthusiasm for Alessi's products, I was thrilled when the company asked if I'd like to pick out several items and feature them in my posts. Alessi has a long history of creative collaboration with not just designers but other creative artists. While they have commissioned recipes to go with their products, they don't have many dessert recipes. I was happy to step up and help fill in that gap.


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Sweet on Short Notice: Strawberry Tarragon Fools

June 4th, 2013 · 6 Comments · Fruit, Recipes

strawberry tarragon fool

Hey, how is it June and almost the middle of the year? Funny how having a baby completely skews your sense of time (i.e., how do entire months pass by without my realizing? I am staring at a not-so-tiny-anymore baby so I know months happened, but darned if I can explain where they went).

And as all parents know, once you think you’ve figured things out, every thing changes. I was actually weirdly excited when the pediatrician said that baby wouldn’t be ready to start eating solid foods for a couple more months. Because honestly, I’m not ready for that challenge yet. I’ve got the feeding thing down, can we keep it this way for a while? With my return to work, some more fun balls get thrown into the air as well. Some days, I feel like I’m pulling it off. Other days, I feel like I’m scrambling to pick the balls up off the ground before anyone else notices.

So thanks for sticking by while I get through the transition back to work. I still have a lot of news, reviews, and recipes to share. Like this one, a truly last-minute dessert for when I’m stuck at home with a crying baby and am desperately scouring the fridge:


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Strawberry and Rhubarb Scones with Vanilla Whipped Cream

April 15th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Fruit, Pastry, Recipes

strawberry and rhubarb scones

Along with all the lovely growing, blooming things that herald spring is the baby in our home! Isabelle is three months today and I think she may have hit her growth spurt early. She’s a chubby bundle now!


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Driscoll’s and Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

May 14th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Cookies, Fruit, Ice Cream, Recipes, San Francisco, SF Events

strawberry ice cream overhead

Thanks to all of you and your support of sated magazine! As a reminder, there are couple days left in the giveaway to win a free copy of the first issue. We will also be announcing pre-order information very soon, so please keep checking back!

I apologize for the late post; what with trying to finish up work on the first issue, plus a visit to wine country last week (writeup of that trip forthcoming as well!), I was finally able to sit down and share this very spring-y strawberry ice cream with you, as well as the trip to Pebble Beach that inspired this ice cream.


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Happy Pie Day: The “I Heart Summer” Pie

July 4th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Events, Fruit, Recipes, Tarts


Hello all, hope you had a great Fourth of July! Today is Pie Day in the blogosphere, if you didn’t get the announcement. Everyone has been invited to bake pie – any pie, and write/photograph/tweet/blog about it. So if you see a great deal of pie on the internet today, I hope it entices you to go out and have a slice of something sweet.


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Strawberry Mango Verrine

May 21st, 2008 · 19 Comments · Custards, Fruit, Recipes


Apologies for my absence last week – I was working on a post that hasn't quite come together yet. Perhaps the brief heat wave we had was partly to blame: who wants to be inside plinking away on a computer when it's a beyond-gorgeous 90 degrees outside with nary a cloud in sight? For once, the tourists in their shorts and sandals weren't out of place, and the city was suffused – nay, drenched in a swell of sunshine that smelled of suntan lotion and ice cream instead of sea and salt and fog.

I walk across my kitchen on bare feet, luxuriating in the smooth feel of the wood, sun-warm even after the rays have long passed. Outside the window, a sunset trails its fingers of tangerine and raspberry and plum and caramel across a darkening sky. Later, when the colors have been scrubbed clean to black, we hear a familiar whistle and pop and look back outside to see fireworks blooming almost shyly from behind Coit Tower. Such a tease of summer. We pull our chairs out onto the balcony, and it's still so comfortingly warm that I think of childhood evenings in San Jose, where many a balmy summer night was spent outside riding bikes and listening to crickets. This night in San Francisco, it's so warm we can wear just tank tops and shorts, and we sit in our chairs watching fireworks glimmer in the sky in some unknown celebration but which we decide is just a spontaneous expression of the pure happiness that comes with being alive on a beautiful day.

So no, I didn't quite get around to doing a post.


But my mother came into town at the end of the week, and I knew she would be expecting a dessert. Something simple and not too sweet, to suit her tastes, and something that wouldn't require me to use the oven in an already-hot kitchen. Answer came in the form of the tumble of fruits on my counter – fruits and summer go together like swimsuits and swimming pools.

Strawberries and mangos – two fruits I love and my mom loves too. I thought of the fruity concoctions served at Hong Kong's Hui Lau Shan, and decided on a strawberry and mango verrine – or a parfait, if you prefer. Layering various components in a glass is one of the simplest and loveliest ways to present dessert.

The mangos were quickly pureed with a bit of lime juice (lemon juice works just as well), and the strawberries cubed and tossed with a bit of sugar. For the top layer, I wanted to do a traditional pastry cream, but I thought it might be a little heavy – most traditional Chinese desserts shy away from heavy, cloying fillings – and lightened it with some whipped cream.

The result is like the thrill of diving into the deep end of the pool; you dip your spoon in through the various layers, coming up to air with a spoonful of pleasure. As with all parfaits, this is easily adaptable to any fruit that suits your fancy: try to go for a mix of colors, tastes and textures (as I contrasted the smooth mango puree with the chunks of strawberries). 

I think my mom enjoyed it, and best of all, she's around for a while longer so I get to celebrate this beautiful weather with her some more. Hope you are enjoying May as spring unfurls towards summer.


P.S. I'm just getting back into the blogging groove after finishing my book, and I barely have time to write about what I'm baking, let alone what I've been reading. In lieu of a book-review post, check out the sidebars for what's been gracing my kitchen table lately – hope you find a tome or two to tempt you!

Strawberry Mango Verrines

Makes about 4 servings

1 cup (218 g) milk

2 Tablespoons (30 g) + 3 Tablespoons (44 g) sugar

3 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons (14 g) cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup heavy cream

3 to 5 mangos (about 600 g total)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 pint strawberries

sugar to taste

To make the pastry cream, combine 3/4 cup (172g) of the milk with 2 Tablespoons (30g) of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles appear on the edge of the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons (44g) sugar in a bowl.

Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup (46g) milk in a small bowl and then add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine.

Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in the vanilla.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface, and refrigerate until needed.

When you are ready to use the pastry cream, whip the cream in a mixer to soft peaks, and then fold gently into the pastry cream to lighten.

To prepare the bottom mango layer, peel the mangos and slice away the flesh from the pit. Cut the flesh into small cubes – you will need about 300g total.

Puree about 100 g of the mango cubes with the lime juice and up to 1/4 cup of sugar to taste until smooth.

Pour the mango puree into the bottom of 4 glasses, filling about 1/3 full.

Wash and hull the strawberries, and cut into small cubes. Toss with about 1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) of sugar.

Pour the strawberries on top of the mango layer in each glass.

Spread the pastry cream on top of the strawberries in a smooth layer.

Decorate the top with sliced fruit.

Refrigerate for about a hour before serving.

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