Ube Cheesecake

Quickie post today, recipe only.

Ube Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut Crust and Blackberries
Ube Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut Crust and Blackberries

Ube Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut Crust and Blackberries

Makes a moderately tall, 9-inch cake – serves 12

Toasted Coconut Crust:

  • 1 c unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1 sleeve Maria biscuits, roughly broken up
  • 1/3 c coconut oil, melted
  1. In a skillet, stir the coconut over medium heat until golden, crisp, and aromatic. Transfer to a plate, spreading it out evenly, and let cool completely.
  2. Add the toasted coconut and Maria biscuits to a blender or food processor and blend do a sand consistency.
  3. Transfer the crumb mixture to a bowl and stir in the coconut oil until the mixture resembles damp sand.
  4. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and press the crumb mixture firmly into the pan to form the crust.
  5. Chill the crust thoroughly in the fridge, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden and lightly browned along the edge.
  7. Cool completely while you make the cheesecake batter.

Ube Cheesecake Filling

  • 2 small ube or purple sweet potato – scrubbed clean and steamed until tender
  • 750 g 2% cottage cheese
  • 500 g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, with a rack set at the lowest part of the oven and a rack at the center. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack.
  2. Break the steamed ube into pieces and blend on LOW SPEED until smooth and thick with the cottage cheese. (Vigorous blending may destroy the protein structure of the curds and prevent your cheesecake from setting properly. You’ll know you’ve taken it too far when you’ve essentially liquefied the mixture.)
  3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, coconut extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
  4. Pour the ube mixture into the cream cheese mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
  5. Once your oven is preheated, pour water into the preheated sheet pan (step 1) to quickly create steam.
  6. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, place on another sheet pan, and bake on the top rack for 50-60 minutes, or until the edge is slightly puffed and only the center has a slight jiggle.
  7. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool until warm enough to touch with the oven door slightly ajar.
  8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before covering with foil and chilling completely in the fridge (preferably overnight).
  9. Run a thin blade between the cheesecake edge and sides of the pan before unmolding.
  10. Top with blackberries, whipped coconut cream, diced mango, or any other topping that you feel like.
  11. Slice with a sharp chef’s knife dipped in hot water, cleaning and reheating the blade between each slice.

Resistant Little Heart

If you’re cooking for a woman, make a good risotto and a salad. If you don’t have time to make dessert, you can go and buy some macaroons to have later.”

-Wolfgang Puck

The man’s right. On so many levels that probably never crossed his mind when he said those words.

One. Women I know love risotto. While there’s evidently something very attractive about the idea of rice that’s so immensely creamy and sensuous that it becomes one with your tongue, I would argue that it’s the al dente heart of that rice, a proof of perfect sensibility and restraint, that makes risotto that much sexier than rice pudding. You can quote that.

Two. Women are defensive of their toys, I mean, kitchen. Because, just like how children are forever fearing that their out-for-the-evening parents are late to return because they’ve died in a car crash, we girls grow up to fear that boys will burn down our kitchens once 30 minutes pass. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me. But that doesn’t matter – risotto only takes 25 minutes, phew.

Three. Women love men who can cook. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. It’s just that everyone loves to have someone close who will, on the right occasions, cook for them. It could be a best friend, a brother, perhaps from a different mother, who cares? Who cares if they bought the dessert? They cared enough to make you risotto.

I cared enough to make risotto.

In all honesty, that’s all you need to make a good risotto. It’s not some pretentious art as gastromedia casts it. The only thing, which isn’t even difficult, is the constant stirring. Stirring increases the amount of the rice’s surface area which comes into contact with liquid, which in turn helps release the starch. This means you will have a very creamy risotto as the “creamy” texture is essentially the married portion of stock and starch.

And at all costs, keep tasting – that’s key to catching your perfect al dente!

I remind you that you should

stir up the gift of God

which is in you through

the laying of my hands.

-2 Timothy 1:6

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As much as I love risotto, I think I would still appreciate it more if it goes along with several varying textural components, not to mention a even coverage of all the flavour bases. Here, aside from the creaminess and al dente of the rice, there is equally the buttery firmness of the halibut, the crunchiness of its skin, as well as the near-transparent crispness of the fried basil and ginger. The acidity of the lime is hardly detectable in the finished dish, but it is crucial to the balance of flavours – it’s what keeps you coming for another bite without feeling weighed down.

Ingredients for the green basil risotto, serves 6:

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 c diced white onion

1 1/2 c short grain rice, do not rinse this!

2-3 tbsp green curry paste, depending on its strength

4 c unsalted chicken/vegetable stock

1 can unpasteurized full-fat coconut milk

1 c gently packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 lime, juice only

sea salt, to taste

To make the risotto, melt the coconut oil in a deep saucepan or small pot. Add the onions and sweat them until soft, being careful not to brown them. Tip in the rice and stir until the grains are evenly coated with oil and are translucent. Stir in the curry paste until fragrant.

Pour in 1 cup of stock and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue to add stock, 1 cup at a time, still stirring and keeping the heat low for about 15~18 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the fatty portion of the coconut milk with the basil and lime juice to a vibrant green milk shake. Chill until needed. Stir the remaining watery portion of the coconut milk into the rice.

Once all the stock has been absorbed, taste your risotto and see if you like the doneness. It should be very creamy, but still retaining a bit of nutty texture in the center of each grain.

Incorporate the coconut basil mixture and take away from the heat. Spoon onto warmed plates and top with the seared halibut, fried basil and ginger (follows).

Ingredients for the crispy-skinned halibut, fried basil, and ginger:

2/3 c mild vegetable oil, for frying

12 ginger slices, thinly sliced with a mandoline or very sharp knife

18 fresh basil leaves

1 lb thick halibut fillet, cut into 6 neat portions

sea salt

To make the fried garnishes, heat the oil in a small saucepan until a chopstick’s point submerged bubbles vigourously. Add half the ginger slices and fry, spooning the oil over the slices occasionally until golden and crisp. Take them out and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the ginger.

To fry the basil, lower a couple basil leaves to the hot oil – be careful, it will sputter. Fry for 5-10 seconds, until crispy and bright green. Drain on paper towel.

For the halibut, blot the portions dry with paper towel and season the skin side generously with sea salt. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat.

Add a couple spoonfuls of the basil frying oil to the pan and swirl to coat in a shimmery layer.Place the halibut portions (don’t crowd the pan, do it in two batches if you need to), skin-side-down in the pan and leave them there for 3 minutes, to really crisp up the skin. Flip them over and cook for another 1-2 minutes, you want to see a thin line that is still translucent beige along the sides. Transfer them onto the plate, keeping the skin side facing upwards, and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before plating.

Plate up and serve with a salad as WP suggests or, if it’s a chilly day where you find yourself, consider steaming some green beans and yellow zucchini to brighten up your day!

Enjoy! (And for once, dessert is optional!)

giv’em the karats, but save me the carrots

Is it wedding season or what!? This summer alone five couples I personally know (as in not my great-aunt’s friend’s son-in-law’s nephew) are getting married! It really is stunning here in Vancouver at this moment though. The days are long, and tender foliage shimmers under the late afternoon sun, casting my studio in its bosky glow.

And of course, with this buzzing symphony of summer weddings, you can’t help but get a little bit bubbly about all the new beginnings. I mean, if you live in Canada it’s hard to consider spring as the season of new life and energy, but summer is a whole different story (even here in the laid-back West). For me, summer’s when I’m most inspired, and when I have the luxury to dream. I do find myself doing more things outside the box (euphemism for my narrow comfort zone), so maybe that’s pushing me to find out more about myself, and the God who I trust – what He has given me, what He wants me to give.

I’m clear on this fact: God has given me full-on freedom to explore, grow, and lead in Him. As for the rest of life’s worries, He says, He will shoulder. All I have to give is, ironically, my all. But hey, I think that’s a pretty good investment if it’s the Creator rooting for me.

So for now, I’ll take the carrot – to cultivate, to nourish, and to share. Because I can’t yet see the beauty in a karat.

In the meantime, congratulations to all the gorgeous brides out there! You are not just beautiful, but strong and courageous. All the best and be very blessed.

I want you to be free

from anxieties.

The unmarried man is anxious

about the things of the Lord,

how to please the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:32

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Ingredients for the Tropical Carrot Cake, makes two 9-inch layers:

3 c oat flour (grind oats in your coffee/spice grinder)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 c brown sugar

1 large orange, zest only

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla paste (use pure vanilla extract if you don’t have this)

1 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

1 medium, ripe banana

2 c coarsely grated carrot

1 c finely chopped fresh pineapple

1 c sultana raisins

1 c chopped walnuts, toasted

To make the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack placed in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Whiz the brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, olive oil, and banana in a blender or food processor until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes a thick caramel consistency.

Pour the brown sugar mixture into the flour mixture and stir just to combine. Fold in the carrot, pineapple, raisins, and walnuts until well combined.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pans and smooth out the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. The cakes should have crisp and very golden brown tops, and the sides should be pulling slightly away from the pan. Cool completely, cover, and chill overnight.

Ingredients for the Coconut Vanilla Bean Mousse, makes enough for 2 layers:

400 g traditional or silken firm tofu

1 can coconut cream, chilled, solid fat only

1 generous tsp vanilla paste

2-3 tbsp agave nectar, to taste

To prepare the tofu, tip out any liquid in the container. Rinse the tofu under cold running water, and put it back in the container. Fill the container to the top with filtered water, and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Repeat this step.

Drain the tofu and pat dry with some kitchen towel. Fold a new sheet of kitchen towel in half and place it on a clean working surface. Cut the tofu into 2-cm thick slices and arrange them, cut side down, on the kitchen towel. Cover with another folded sheet of kitchen towel. Put a heavy wooden cutting board on top to give it some pressure. Let sit for 10 minutes. Change the kitchen towel, then let it sit for another 10 minutes to fully extract the moisture.

Puree the tofu in a blender or food processor and puree until extremely smooth. Add the coconut cream, vanilla, and agave and blend until creamy. Cover and chill completely.

For the cake assembly you’ll need:

1/2 c pineapple compote (home made of course, or yuzu preserves, even sauteed apples will work)

1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

To assemble the cake, run a knife along the sides of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert one cake layer onto your cake stand and peel off the parchment. Cover the top with the pineapple compote, and invert the remaining cake layer onto the cake. Cover the entire cake (top and sides) with the mousse frosting and smooth it out.

Garnish with the toasted coconut and edible flowers (not necessary, but it’s pretty!)

Store in the refrigerator and, as always, enjoy (with a nice cup of earl grey or black coffee)!

PSL: Plus Some Love

On those Saturday mornings when I lay, semi-tucked in between my duvet and bed sheets, and realize once more that aside from the whirring of the heater there is no other breathing thing in the apartment but me, I ponder:

what do I live for today?

Should I get up, plant my feet in my slippers, then shuffle them over to the bathroom? Or maybe I should turn my back to the tangerine hue that seeps past the canvas blinds and forget again.

Then I remember,

The Lord says,

“I will guide you along

the best pathway for life.

I will advise and watch over

you.”

-Psalms 32: 8

Simple, I like. No complicated choices, just one: do I get in that Audi R8 V8 Coupé with the one who’s got it all, and all under control?

Yes, I’d like that! Seriously, I know it’s hard to get up in the morning sometimes when there seems to be a lack of reason. But I choose to see any new day itself as the reason to get up. Why stifle a budding new day with 30, 000 presumptions before it’s even had a chance to unfurl its tender leaves? No reason, for real this time.

So no, I will not shuffle to the bathroom and convince myself that I have a migraine. And no I will not shun the smile of the sun.

I will make myself breakfast. And I will eat it like a boss.

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Ingredients for the Pumpkin Spice Latte Loaf:

2 1/2 c oats

1/2 c shredded coconut

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/3 c dark brown sugar

1/3 c medium maple syrup

1 c pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp each instant coffee granules, cinnamon, ginger

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cloves

1/2 c full-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped white chocolate, optional

To make the pumpkin loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Put the oats and dried coconut in a blender or food processor and grind to as fine as possible, about 2~3 minutes depending on the efficiency of your device. Dump the oat flour mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the baking soda and baking powder.

Put all the remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the oat flour mixture and stir until almost combined, add the white chocolate, and stir until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40~45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

Serve it in thick slices the next morning with some homemade (yes you can!) coconut butter if you didn’t add the white chocolate, or slightly toasted, warmed in the microwave, or simply as it is! Trust me, be in quite some love!

Hey, Pumpkin

Tell me, because I have to know, and it is a subject of legitimate concern:

is brunch a vanishing art?

Wait, wait…WAIIIITTT!!! I don’t want to hear it! Because I love brunch.

Brunch implies that life doesn’t have to be stuffed and jammed like a croque monsieur with answering phone calls and delivering papers at the last minute. Brunch implies that there’s a table of, perhaps two or three whose affection for one another is not a function of how many words fly across the plates per minute.

Brunch implies that we have slept, we have plenty, and who gives a care to the rest of the day?

We are together, soul and stomach, at brunch. At peace. At last.

You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

Your towns and your fields will be blessed.

Your children and your crops will be blessed.

The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed.

Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed.

Wherever you go and whatever you do you will be blessed.

Deuteronomy 28: 1-6

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Ingredients for the oat and pumpkin spice pancakes:

1 cup oat flour (grind rolled oats in your Vitamix, blender, or food processor)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom (yeah you don’t need all three, just one of them would do nicely so take your pick!)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

2 tbsp flax seeds, finely ground, mixed with 6 tbsp water (or use two free-range chicken eggs)

 

To make the pancakes, in a large bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and dry spices, set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, and flax eggs until smooth (or whiz it in the blender for extra tender and fluffy pancakes!) Pour the wet mixture into the flour  and stir to combine. Let it sit at room temperature for 5~10 minutes (don’t skip this step! Since oats don’t have gluten, they need more time to absorb the moisture.)

Preheat a lightly oiled crepe pan or heavy nonstick pan to medium-high heat.

Drop ice-cream-scoopfuls of the rested batter onto the hot pan. Cook for 3~4 minutes per side or until golden, fluffy, and cooked through. Be patient with these little cakes, they take longer than their wheat counterparts!

Serve with lots of maple syrup, and whipped coconut cream to your liking.

Enjoy your brunch!

 

Paradis

Have you ever felt like that poor goldfish featured in that horrible children’s asthma ad –

out of the water?

I’m not about to go about some crazy rampage to tear to the ground whoever thought that it was fair to torture that goldfish. I assume that simple-minded thing didn’t even get paid for his life-risking performance. But then again, three seconds later he would have forgotten that anything of the sort ever happened to him.

But I am going to ask another question.

Why do we feel out of the water? Because, to tell you the truth, ever since we’ve been squeezed out of our mother’s womb, we’ve been out of the water. Maybe we should get used to it. Maybe we should rethink what water means to us. Maybe we should redefine water.

What is your water? Some place where you can shine, perhaps? A close-knit haven where you are sheltered by those who love you and whom you love, even? For most of us, our water is what rinses away the grime and dirt from a day’s work. Our water is what we gulp down without a second thought but helps us through the scorching noontime. Our water is where we sit by, to listen to its melodious giggles and gurgles and forget about slander and accusations.

It is what forms us, and it is in our form.

What is your water?

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing

love upon me,

and through each night I sing his songs,

praying to God who gives me life.

Psalm 42: 8

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Ingredients for the Chai Tea Jelly with Coconut Milk:

3 1/2 cups filtered water

3 chai tea bags

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp agar agar powder

To serve:

crushed ice

chilled coconut beverage

natural sweetener of choice – I like the flavour of honey – to taste

To make the chai tea jelly, bring the water to a full boil in a clean pot then turn off the heat. Throw in the tea bags, cover, and let it steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and whisk in the brown sugar and agar agar until fully dissolved. Strain the tea into a square glass baking dish (9×9 inches). Let it sit until cool to the touch, then cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight, to set.

To serve, shake up the ice, coconut milk, and your preferred sweetener in your cocktail shaker. (Yes this should remind you significantly of a very popular Taiwanese beverage!) Pour it into a glass, to just over half full. Take a sharp knife and cut the chai tea jelly into rectangular strips, or cubes, it’s really up to you. Add this to the glass of shaken coconut milk. Poke in a straw, swirl it around, and you have it!

Enjoy it very well chilled, freshly shaken!