Monday, January 28, 2013

Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb

I stated the dietetic internship food service management rotation two weeks ago. Hairnets and the smell of oil in deep fryer, it only gets better. Seriously. I didn't think I would like food service at all, but turns out I look forward to going back to the kitchen. First day at the rotation at a local Huntington Hospital, the food service director asked an intern and I to create a 5-week menu for the cafeteria. This sounds like a dream project for foodies/cooks/chefs out there, planning menu for 500+ people everyday for 5 weeks? Heck, yes! At least that was what I thought it would be like.

Here are some of the "criteria" and "must haves" for creating menus targeting a West Virginia population: deep fried liver, something deep-fried everyday, something cheesey or covered with cheese, a healthy entree would be nice but also offer a not-so-healthy one as well, leafy greens are cooked to preferably the color of green olives, and ranch dressing. Oh and friend chicken every Sunday because church goers stop at the hospital cafeteria after church for lunch (who would think a hospital is known for friend chicken after church?) wonderful dietetic intern partner and I came up with menu for the first week fairly quickly, then we ran out of ideas. I suggested we have a themed week, like Italian, Latin America, and Asia for rest of the weeks.  Thanks to big recipe websites out there, we managed to come up with a 5-week menu within deadline. First week of dietetic-intern-made-up-menu trial went well since we chose "standard" American comfort food. This week's theme is Italian, the executive chef already made several changes to our proposed menu...I will keep you posted on how this week's menu goes.

On to a different subject. This delicious Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb is made in yours truly's tiny apartment kitchen. No deep frying involved.

With the ease of accessing all sorts of recipes on-line with a click, I hardly buy cookbooks now. This book Rustic Fruit Dessert by Cory Scriber and Julie Richardson has great recipes on my favorite type of dessert. I love fruity desserts, and this book described the difference between buckle, cobblers, crumbles, etc...perfectly. The recipes are grouped by season, which is great for all the fresh cranberry I stocked up after Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb
Recipe from Rustic Fruit Dessert by Cory Scriber and Julie Richardson

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan
1 cup Vanilla Crumb
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (5 ounces) sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) cranberries, fresh or frozen

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
2. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer withthe paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. 3. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
4. Fold in 1 cup of the cranberries. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Distribute the remaining 1 cup cranberries over the cake and sprinkle the crumb topping over the cranberries. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Things with Eating Out

Korean, anyone?

I love eating out, especially when I am at a new area and trying out different food/cuisine. Luckily, Lexington has a great variety of restaurants and there are still many I'm itching to try out. Although I am far (very far) from notable and influential food critics like Gael Greene, Anton Ego, and Ruth Reichl, to name a few, I like to think of myself as somewhat of a food critic foodie. Mexican food. Ever. At Nopalito

As I learn more about the world of food, ingredients, and the art of cooking, I begin to take more notice of what I am eating when dining out. My palate has changed over the past few years. I pay more attention to how the ingredients fit with each other, the menu items,and most importantly, the taste of each bite. By all means I am a chef or claim to know everything there is about cooking and food. But I do want to share my thoughts on eating out.

Chocolate tasting at TCHO, where sharp palates are trained.

 Lovin' some Indian food at Taj India

The thing with eating out is finding where to go. When I first moved to the United States, I loved those big chain restaurants around the mall. Today, you might as well give me a block of salt to lick on. With the exception of all-day road trip and some much-needed quick meal, I do stop at fast food chains for a bite. I also can't pass up an ice cream cone during a day trip. What am I suppose to do when I go on a road trip and all I see are those big name restaurants around gas stations?

Hot dog, jalapeno poppers, fried pickles at a well-known West Virginia restaurant. What was I thinking? Those trips to the bathroom afterwards certainly taught me a lesson.

Eating out is not only to be social but also an exciting experience. Here comes the thing with eating out: eating with a group of friends who are not adventurous. I am sure some of you have friends like that. Those friends do not like to branch out of their food comfort zone. The ones who like to go back to the same bar and the same dining joint. I love my overnight oatmeal every weekday morning, but sometimes I want pancakes for a change. If you know what I mean. When you suggest a new place to try, you get shut down. Then you murmur underneath your breath wondering when you can go to that awesome restaurant you've been reading so much about, but still go to that same place, again.

Being in nutrition some doesn't help eating out either. Should I worry about getting my 5 fruits and vegetables a day or order the lamb shank with that amazing sauce that I know I will never achieve at home?

The things with eating out are complicated.
This is a matter of shaping one's culinary experience and expanding the food horizon.

I love my food adventures, what about you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

KYFB Monthly Cooking Challenge: Lemon Cranberry Scones

The Kentucky Food Bloggers are starting a monthly cooking challenge, and for January we are starting off with citrus. I have always hated when recipes call for one tablespoon of lemon juice, what am I supposed to do with the rest of the lemon? Keep in the fridge until the next time another recipe calls for lemon juice/peel then discover that months-old lemon is already moldy? I went for the cheap way, those 99 cents yellow and green squeeze bottles sure come in handy. But this means artificial flavored lemon juice = weird and fake taste.

"A splash of lemon juice can enhance the natural flavor of any ingredients, just as a dash of salt does."
- Joy of Cooking

My favorite citrus to use is Meyer lemons, a lemon-tangerine cross, are less tart and pungent and often used in dessert, salads, and fruit salads. I love the pungent citrus scent of the Meyer lemons.  Sometimes I wish I live in California, so I can plant lemon trees and have lemons whenever I please. Perhaps I can convince Jake to buy me a dwarf Meyer lemon plan. These scones are perfect with a cup of hot tea, and for those who stocked up fresh cranberries after Thanksgiving (I might have 3 or 4 bags somewhere in the freezer...).

Lemon Cranberry Scones
Recipe from Gourmet

2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 3 lemons; preferably Meyer)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse, or 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. With a vegetable peeler or a zester remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.
3. In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.
4. In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.
5. In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
6. On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.*The dough was too sticky for my to work with, I used a large cookie scope to measure out dough directly onto baking sheet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

San Francisco

The internship has generously gave the interns an extra week off (with take-home assignments, of course). Lucky me. So I took the opportunity and visited my sister who lives in San Francisco. It has been more than ten years since I first visited the Golden Gate city with my family. Named one of the top cities for foodies by Travel+ Leisure, I indulged in Asian dishes that I have missed so much and the ever-changing California cuisine. 


On my first full day in SFO, my sister took me on a 30-mile bike ride. Biking in the city means constant up and down hill, more like a workout than a tour of the city. After brunch at a French-style bistro Zazie, we biked up Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge to small towns on the other side of the bay.  While my sister rode past by me in her fancy-pants road bike, I cruised along the bike lane juggling my camera and the bike handles. 

We hiked 6 miles through Muir Woods into Mt Tamalpais in pouring rain. The shivering cold and wet day was rewarded with the best Korean food (Muguboka Restaurant) I've had in a long time. Bibimbop and seafood stew with 14 side dishes. It was heaven.

I took a chocolate factory at TCHO near Fisherman's Warf. It was a tour that opened up a new world about gourmet dessert. So long commercial chocolate. Tasting chocolate is just like tasting red wine. Different cocoa beans will yield different flavors. TCHO created a flavor panel consisting of citrus, chocholatey, fruity, floral, earthy, and nutty. Never chew the chocolate, always let it melts on your tongue and enjoy the flavors of real cocoa. 

Like other tourists, I watched the sea lions amusing their onlookers and I also bought a sourdough from Boudin Bakery. I wanted a hearty bread bowl of clam chowder. Every restaurant at Fisherman's Warf claimed to have the best and the original sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder. Then it came down to dim sum or clam chowder for lunch. Dim sum won.

I loved the food and the scenic views of San Francisco. It definitely lives up to its standard as the top cities to visit. My short visited ended with authentic Mexican food at nopalito. No heaping amount of chedder cheese on top of every dish. I am talking about homemade corn tortilla, slow braised carnitas, fresh ingredients. That's how I wish I eat and cook everyday. Every meal cooked for those who enjoy good food.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Happy New Year!

Between the holiday travels, endless Christmas cookies and meals, opening presents, and seeing old friends and family members, I have been neglecting my little blog.

As From Horses to Photography enters it's second year, I noticed I blog more and more on the food that I devoured and cooked with painstaking effort. After all, I live to eat. Blogging opened up my eyes to the culinary world (and Top Chef!), bringing new ideas and meeting home chefs. I begin to contemplate whether to change the theme of From Horses to Photography. What I learn about blogging is that every blogger should write from their heart, and not something to impress sponsors and/or readers (but still keep the content interesting).  

Being a future-dietitian, talking about food is inevitable, and food is my passion. So I decided to include more posts on food and food-related issues. From Horses to Photography is still going to be about my simple life in Lexington and the foods I chow, with photos as challenges of my ever-improving photography skills. Stay tune for more of my adventures.
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