food & drink


days when I crave clotted cream + jam + {scones}

city sights, food & drink

dutch babies, aka german pancakes

The German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby and a host of other names, is one of the most strange looking foods I’ve encountered so far. It’s soft, airy, light and slightly sweet— in other words, perfect in texture and flavor (at least in my opinion). But with its upwards-sloped sides and uneven wave-like texture, the german pancake looks slightly bizarre at first sight. If it’s not love at first sight, it sure is love at first taste. This recipe I adapted from a generic one. It uses less eggs, more sugar, and keeps the condiments simple. It’s quick and quite easy to make. It’s also less of a hassle than standing at the stove making individual pancakes because the german pancake just takes a hand-free 20 minutes in the oven. Since it’s still summer in San Diego (as it always seems to be), I diced some soft, juicy yellow peaches and nearly over-ripe bananas to serve next to the german pancakes.

German Pancake Recipe


4 eggs

1 cup soy milk

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

peaches and bananas, or other fruit, diced/sliced!


1. Preheat 400 F. Place one 15″x9″ baking dish or two 9″ cake pans in the oven with two tablespoons of butter. 2. Mix the eggs, milk, sugar, salt. I’ve done it by hand and with a blender, both work perfectly well. Add the flour, mix until fully incorporated. 3. Open the oven and carefully make sure that the butter is melted and covering the entire base of the pan(s). Pour in the batter and be careful of the hot butter! 4. Bake 20 minutes. 5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle powdered sugar and almonds on top. 6. Slice and serve with fresh fruit!

food & drink

whole-wheat + half-the-fat croissants

>Human nature really is perverse. How is it that I can never be happy with what I have and where I am at the moment? In high school I couldn’t wait to get out and start college coursework. All my life in the US I wanted to travel (and live) in some European country. When I finally get to England, I want to go back to sunny California. Now, in this now too-sunny California, I miss the cloudy drizzly days of Oxford.

The main thing I miss about living in the city center at Oxford? The ease with which I could stop into a café at eight in the morning to start off my day with a freshly baked croissant and an americano. I could go on about the americano found at Zappi’s Bike Café (a must go-to café if you’re in Oxford). But for now, I’ll keep it to the croissants.

There are no café’s close by where I live in the ‘burbs, so I decided to just make my own croissants and, since we have a cool stovetop espresso maker, I get my americano as well.

So, partly because of a new-found health consciousness and partly because I didn’t have enough white flour on hand, I adapted Tartine’s* croissant dough recipe and made whole-wheat-and-half-the-fat-croissants instead.

Whole-Wheat + Half-the-Fat Croissant Dough Recipe

—> Preferment

3/4 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 & 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

—> Dough

1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup soy milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

—>Roll-in Butter

1 & 1/4 cup unsalted butter

—>Egg wash

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup soy milk
pinch salt


1. for the Preferment . Warm the milk to take the chill off and pour into a mixing bowl. Add yeast, stir to dissolve. Add the flour. Mix until a smooth batter forms. Cover and rest for 2-3 hours or until almost doubled in volume OR overnight in the refrigerator.

2. for the Dough . Add the yeast to the preferment, mix until combined. You can use a mixer with a dough hook but I did it by hand just fine. Add half of the milk and continue to mix until incorporated.

3. Add both flours (all-purpose and whole-wheat), sugar, salt, melted butter, rest of the milk until it becomes a loose dough. Rest for 15-20 minutes.

4. Knead the dough for another 4 minutes and be careful not to over mix. Cover and let rest until the dough increases by half, about 1 & 1/2 hours.

5. Place dough on a lightly-floured surface. Press into 2-inch thick rectangles. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

6. for the Roll-in-Butter . Cut the butter lengthways in half and arrange the pieces as a single block. Place block between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to incorporate the butter into one large rectangle. Place in refrigerator to chill.

7. Laminate the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle of 28 by 12 inches. Place the butter-rectagle in the middle of the dough. Fold the right third of the dough over the butter rectangle and then fold the left third of the dough over that. Roll out of the dough and fold into thirds. Repeat this three times, each time wrapping the dough in plastic and chill for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.

8. Make the Croissant. Roll into a rectangle. Cut long triangles. Roll up from the longer end to the point of the triangle. Curve the ends to make the classic croissant-shape. Let rest for 2 to 3 hours.

9. Preheat the oven at 425 F.

10. Brush the croissants with the egg-yolk glaze.

11. Place the croissants in the oven, immediately decrease the temperature to 400 F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp on the outside and light when picked up.

12. Eat! Remember that they are best served warm, so either eat all at once (like I would love to have done) or just reheat in the oven at 375 F for 6 to 8 minutes. My toaster oven worked fine on the “Toast” setting.

Another “plus” for being back in San Diego: I finally get to pluck figs off of our fig tree. They’re sweet and perfectly ripe— unlike the overpriced imported and apparently sugar-free figs I found in Oxford.

*I would love you forever (and feed you endless desserts) if you gave me this…

food & drink

seeded bread rolls, inspired by trip to germany

During my last term at Oxford, I went to Cologne, Germany with a friend. We saw the small German town and hopped on a train to go to Venlo, Netherlands to check out their horticultural festival. At Cologne, we visited the Chocolate Museum, ate some Wienerschnitzel, and tasted their local beer (which I didn’t like, but I don’t really like beer). Of course we visited the famous twin-tower Cathedral, the Kölner Dom, which is apparently one of the tallest cathedrals in Europe (The title of biggest goes to St. Peter’s in the Vatican, I think).







My short time in Germany left me with one main impression: Great Bread. This isn’t the kind of bread that France is famous for— the pain de baguette made with white flour. Nope, this is a bread made of whole wheat, rye, spelt, and unabashedly rich in fiber, dark, and dense.

Like most cities in Europe (I presume), Cologne was studded with bakeries at nearly every street corner. In one of the bakeries we went to, there were walls with shelves of different kinds of breads. This wall was partitioned to two parts: mid-dark breads and dark-breads. It seems that white flour was reserved for pastries and pretzels, while most bread rolls and loaves contained a large portion of wheat.

One of my favorite breads was the seeded wheat bread rolls that were used to make hearty, meaty sandwiches. I still dream about them sometimes. So instead of dreaming, I decided to make it. Below is my white-flour adaptation of the seeded bread rolls I fell in love with at Cologne.

Seeded Bread Rolls


Dough A:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water

Dough B:
1 & 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg

Seed Mixture:
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds


Combine the ingredients for Dough A. Shape into a rough dough, do not knead overmuch. Let rise for 1 hour.

Combine the ingredients for Dough B and then Combine Dough A with Dough B. Knead into a smooth ball. Let rise 1 hour and thirty minutes or until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and shape into a roll. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then cover the dough with the seed mixture.

Let rise for about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.

In a 375F preheated oven, place the tray of seeded bread rolls for 5 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

These rolls were soft, light in texture, and full of flavor from both the slightly sweet rolls and the variety of seeds. I hope to make a wheat-flour version soon!

food & drink

step-by-step: how to bake french bread (pain de baguette)

Having lived in Berkeley for four years, I have become accustomed to the ease with which one can obtain high-quality artisan breads. Acme Bread and Cheeseboard’s Bakery, to name a few, create wonderful pieces of carbohydrate-goodness. Yet I grew up in the back countries of suburban Southern California and the closest thing I had to a bakery was Panera. Honestly, someone needs to take the bakers at Panera to Paris or San Francisco to show them what bread is supposed to taste and look like.

Lacking any proper boulangeries but dreaming of real bread from pictures on the internet,  I spent my pre-college years attempting to bake the quintessential french bread, or baguette de pain. Now, after my foray into the gastronomical worlds of the Bay Area and Paris, I am still ever obsessed with bread. So basic and fundamental, so easily ignored on a table full of exciting appetizers and gorgeous main dishes, excellent bread is, however,  a life-changing experience (if only for a few minutes of consumption and mastication).

[As a side note, one must go to Germany to eat the bread there as well. Their breads are more dense, chewy, often made with whole-wheat flour and covered with a wonderful combination of seeds. One major thing I remember about my trip to Cologne was the bread.]

So, because of a couple of requests from friends that I teach them to bake bread and the rather unfortunate fact that the process takes a little under two days, I decided to create a step-by-step tutorial on the how-to’s of creating artisan-style French bread. First, the recipe:

French Bread Recipe

or pain de baguette… recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart’s.


2  1/4 cup flour (all-purpose or bread flour and/or wheat flour; it depends on how dense you want this bread. N.B., the more wheat flour you use, the more water you would need to compensate)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tbs water, room temperature (add 1 tbs at a time as necessary, since humidity, type of flour, etc. changes how much water you need for a proper dough).

You need the above ingredients twice, as you make the first half of the dough 24hrs to three days before, keeping it in the refrigerator, and the second half on the day you wish to bake the bread.

Also, I like to use SAF Red Instant Yeast, which allows you to skip the ‘add warm water to yeast and wait 10-15 minutes’ part. It’s quite reliable and lasts for a long time in the refrigerator/freezer. It’s available in Costco and online.


Step 1: Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. As you can see, I accidentally added a bit too much water and it’s a bit gloopy. Not to worry if this happens, you can just knead for a longer time when you combine this dough with the second half of the dough (more preferable), or add a bit more flour (not too good, since it messes a bit with the salt/flour/yeast ratios).

Step 2: Cover and let rise 1 hour, and then knead a bit to let out some of the gas that has been developing in the dough. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours (up to three days). Make sure that this bowl is big enough, since that yeast will make the dough rise to twice its size! I’ve made a mess in the fridge before when I unthinkingly put a large chunk of dough to let rise in the fridge over night. There was a carb-volcanic explosion the next day.

As you can see from the photo below, the consistency of the dough has changed. It’s more bubbly and a bit more smooth.

Step 3: Remove the dough from the fridge and let sit for 1 hour. You want to make that cold cold dough come back closer to room temperature!

Step 4: Mix the ingredients listed above to make the second half of the dough and add it to the first half. Knead it to a rather rough ball. You don’t want to knead it too much in the beginning, it’ll be a waste of energy anyway! You’re not trying to develop the gluten at this point. The dough should come together and look something like this:

Step 5: Let rise for approximately 2 hrs, or until the dough doubles in size. 

Step 6: Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. This should not be too hard since letting the dough rise will have allowed the gluten to form all by itself. I wanted to get photos of my kneading, but it was hard to do since I need both hands. Suffice it to say that you take the end of the dough farthest from you, fold it towards you and push down into the rest of the dough by the heel of your hands. If this is hard to visualize, there are a number of videos you can find on youtube.

Step 7: Divide the dough into three pieces after letting the dough rise for another hour.  

Step 8: Shape the three pieces of dough. First, fold the dough into itself to create a single seam and to begin making a loaf shape. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes when the dough starts pulling back into itself. 

Step 9: Roll out the dough into long, baguette-shaped pieces as pictured below. Let rise for 1 hr and 3o minutes. 

Step 10: Move onto a cookie sheet drizzled with some olive oil. Then, score the dough with a sharp knife. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top of one and caraway seeds on another. You can brush the tops of the baguette with egg whites. It will allow for a darker color and for the seeds to stick to the dough.

Step 11: Place in oven that is preheated at 375 F for 35-45 minutes or until golden-brown. I also like to put a small baking pan on the rack below, filling it with 1 cup boiling water right as I place the dough in the oven. This creates steam, making the bread rise longer. 

Although this bread tastes wonderful all by itself, I decided to make some bruschetta for lunch in order to get some vegetables in our diet.


serves 4-5


3 medium-sized tomatoes
1 small onion
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black peppers
5 cloves garlic
if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand,
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup grated parmesan or sharp white cheddar cheese


Dice the tomatoes, onions, and finely mince the garlic. Combine and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Place a spoonful of the mixture on slices of bread that are lined up on the baking sheet. Grate some cheese over the bread and pop in the oven. Broil for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and the bread nicely toasted.

Or, you could just slather on some blueberry-goat cheese…