WE'VE MOVED

Hello!

Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!

Sincerely,
Syl

Monday, October 24, 2011

Momofuku Milk Bar

Written by Christina Tosi
Foreword by David Chang
ISBN 13: 9780307720498
ISBN 10: 0307720497
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Momofuku Milk Bar follows a similar look as the Momofuku book, making it an obvious companion. It is a book that appears clear, simple, and effortless. Momofuku only featured the fried apple pie, which Christina Tosi explains was the main dessert she first wanted to finalize when they started out. Now, Tosi shares the much loved cereal milk, cookies, cakes, pies, fillings, liquid cheesecake (yes, you read that correctly), brittle, panna cotta, croissants, and the mother of all dough.

Some of the ingredients required for the recipes were unusual for me. I don't normally see citric acid, freeze-dried corn, feuilletine, milk powder, grapeseed oil, gelatin sheets, or glucose in my cupcake recipes (did you know, Momofuku had a short-lived cupcake program when they first started out)! But, when in doubt on where to purchase the materials, Tosi turns you towards Amazon.com.

The first recipe was for Cereal Milk. It is comically easy to make. Have you ever had cereal and ended up with leftover milk at the bottom of your bowl? Then you have made cereal milk before. While it can be viewed as laughable that Tosi steeps the cereal in milk for the sugary flavour, it is the simplicity of it all that astonishes us. Tosi turns that addictive Cereal Milk flavour into panna cotta, ice cream, and pie.

Moving on to one of the loves in my life - cake. Because their cakes are not frosted on the side or decorated, you would think they were a no-fuss kind of deal. You would be wrong as Tosi is strict on measuring everything by the gram and constructing every layer perfectly. The sides are still smooth and perfectly aligned. Why do we frost the side of cakes anyways?

Most of the photos in the book are small and not every photo gets a full page spread. They don't do a lot of step-by-step photos (in the style of James Peterson's books), in fact, there are sometimes photos of equipment, staff members, and ingredients.

Not all the photos are styled, you get a very raw vibe, a very what-you-see-is-what-there-is. The end papers showcase all the different crumbs, the half title page - crack pie, the title page - a busy Christina Tosi crossing a slushy New York street, the table of contents - a chef assembling a cake. That photo in the table of contents caught my eye. It is clearly the arm of a chef. There are what looks like burn marks or injuries - this is not a model's hand. I like that is shows that working in a kitchen isn't easy, you need to be a "hardbody." I'm mentioning the photos because I know most people (like myself) love beautiful food photos for each recipe (we want to see how the final product looks), but this isn't one of those cookbooks, so be prepared.

Overall, if you enjoyed Momofuku, chances are you'll like Momofuku Milk Bar. The desserts are manageable to create, and once you have the basic crunch and crumbs made, the cookbook builds upon these recipes. You'll have fun and you'll surprise yourself with how sweet simplicity can taste.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lindsey Reeder from Random House of Canada for sending us a review copy of Momofuku Milk Bar. No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book.

Now, would you like to see me make my first crunch?
Above: Look at the cornflakes before they were crushed with all my strength. No seriously, my arm was a bit sore after all those crushes.

Below: Now look. The cornflakes are in smaller bits.
Cornflake Crunch
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
(Makes about 4 cups)

5 cups of cornflakes
1/2 cup of milk powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
9 tablespoons of melted butter
  1. Heat the oven to 275°F (135°C).
  2. Pour the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them to one-quarter of their original size.
  3. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt. Toss to mix.
  4. Add the butter and toss to coat. The butter will act as a glue and bind the dry ingredients into small clusters.
  5. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the cornflake crunch before storing or using in a recipe.
You add butter to bind the cornflakes, milk powder, sugar, and kosher salt together. Thus, creating small clusters.

We're not done yet, we needed that crunch to make...
Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
(Makes 15-20 cookies)

2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 cups of Cornflake Crunch
2/3 cups of mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups of mini marshmallows
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Scrape the sides and add the egg and vanilla. Beat for 7-8 minutes on high. The mixture should look puffy and voluminous, with soft peaks.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together on low, no longer than 1 minute!
  4. Scrape the sides and add the cornflake crunch and chocolate chips. Mix on low for less than 30 seconds. Mix in the marshmallows on low until incorporated.
  5. Plastic wrap the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to one week. Do not bake the cookies from room temperature - they will not hold their shape.
  6. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  7. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop, arrange the cookie dough on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans, at least 4 inches apart. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.
  8. At the 18 minute mark, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center.
  9. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
Okay, so how were the Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies? They smelled good, they looked browner than they should have, and the texture was rock solid. So they didn't turn out the way we imagined, but I think I can troubleshoot for next time:

I know we didn't over mix, we timed everything with an alarm and was paranoid enough to mix everything by hand starting with the fourth step. Because we were eager to eat them, we picked the minimum fridge time of one hour - probably not long enough. I would leave them overnight next time (not a week, who can wait a week??). Finally, my oven was too hot. Lower the temperature and keep an eye on the cookies at the 12-15 minute mark. Mine were definitely over baked. So much for recreating this photo.

What I found amusing about the whole ordeal was that Tosi created this cookie because someone over toasted the cornflake crunch for the cereal milk panna cotta. Refusing to let it go to waste, the Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies were born. So I wonder, what would they create with over baked cookies?

So our first batch of cookies were not perfect, but they were still edible and quite tasty. My baking partner in crime, Julia, recommended dipping these cookies in hot milk. We did. And it was amazing.

One final thing before this post gets too long, Howard and I visited two Momofuku Milk Bar locations during our trip to New York in September:

15 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

This was the first Milk Bar we visited! It is on street level, so we passed by it before going for lunch at Má Pêche downstairs.

My prix-fixe meal at Má Pêche came with a Momofuku Milk Bar cookie. Our server recommended the corn cookie, but I really wanted to try the compost cookie. I enjoyed the compost cookie, but after reading the cookbook, I'm kicking myself for not also getting the corn one.

251 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003

This location was across from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. After lunch, we ran across (in the pouring rain) to try the famous crack pie.

This location was smaller than the midtown one, but has a table by the window. So we ate crack pie by the window and watched the rain storm grow stronger.

The pie was kept in the fridge, so it was chilled when we bit into it. It was very sweet and we weren't blown away by it, but we can see how this can be addictive when you're in the mood for munchies. This officially wrapped up our mini Momofuku tour. =)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Caramelized-Apple Crêpes

Ooo I love spontaneous posts! After yoga this morning, I was going to attempt an omelet in the style of Jacques Pépin for brunch. I had watched his video and thought I could practice some of his techniques.

Little did I know that when I stepped into the kitchen, there would be a huge bowl of apple slices. My mom was in her make-four-apple-pies mode! I remembered seeing the caramelized-apple crêpes recipe beside the pancake ones and decided to test it out instead.

Caramelized-Apple Crêpes
Recipe adapted from Gale Gand's Brunch!
(Makes about 4 crêpes)

2 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of salt
9 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons of unsalted butter
1 McIntosh apple, thinly sliced
  1. Whisk the eggs and milk (Gale recommends using whole milk, but I only had 2% in the fridge) together in a bowl.
  2. Whisk in the salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and flour until incorporated. Set aside. (Gale recommends setting it aside for 30 minutes, I basically used the batter once my apples were caramelized.)
  3. Using a nonstick 8-inch skillet, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and cook until it reaches an amber colour.
  4. Add your apple slices to the pan. (Gale's recipe calls for 3 Granny Smith or Honey Crisp apples slices - a total of 2 whole apples. I only had McIntosh apples and covered the whole bottom of the skillet with the slices.) Cook the apples until they are golden brown on the edges. I also flipped my apples.
  5. Pour (I used a ladle, it is approximately 1/4 cup) the batter over the apple slices. Lift and swirl the pan so that the batter covers all the apples and reaches the edges of your skillet.
  6. Let it cook until the underside is brown. Use your spatula to flip the crêpe and cook the other side until it is slightly brown.
  7. Transfer the crêpe to a platter (Gale recommends you keep it warm in a 200°F or 90°C oven).
  8. Repeat the process from step 3 to make three more crêpes.
  9. Serve with lemon juice and a dusting of confectioners' sugar. My mom and I both liked the addition of the lemon juice.
Don't you like it when the light is able to go through your thin crêpes?

I have never caramelized apples before, I highly recommend it. It was fun and it smelled so good!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Miette

Happy National Chocolate Cupcake Day! That's right, put October 18 in your calendar so you won't forget. I can't be reminding you every year. ;)

To celebrate, I would like to share a new chocolate cupcake discovery. This year, I made Miette's double chocolate cupcakes three times.

But, let me rewind a bit. The cover of this cookbook caught my eyes. It was such a simple cake (called the Tomboy), but conveyed so much charm that I looked up the Miette bakery in San Francisco. The website made me want to visit San Francisco - soon (fingers crossed)!

Then, there was this cute video from the publisher:
Written by Meg Ray, with Leslie Jonath
Photographs by Frankie Frankeny

ISBN 13: 9780811875042
ISBN 10: 0811875040
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Hardcover: 224 pages

I could not wait for this book to be released! I liked the way Meg Ray thinks, a piece of cake every morning!

Sadly, the pistachio and strawberry cake she makes in the video is not in the cookbook. =(

Scalloped edges. As if this book needed to be any more charming!

What I actually liked most about the book is the portion of Ray's dessert recipes. The cakes are smaller in size, 6-inch to be exact. Perfect for me, I like small desserts!

Back to the cupcakes, I made them three times because they were good. They were moist, soft, and rich with chocolate flavour. For some magical reason, these cupcakes were the most evenly and uniformed looking cupcakes I've ever made. These are now my go-to chocolate cupcakes. =)

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
From Miette
(Makes about 24 cupcakes)

1½ cups of all-purpose flour
1¼ cups of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
2 ounces of 70% cacao chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of buttermilk
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup of vegetable oil
2¼ cups of sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and have all ingredients at room temperature. Place your cupcake liners in the tray.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water in. Whisk until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and vanilla together.
  5. Using a stand mixer, whisk the eggs on high speed until foamy (about 2 minutes). On low speed, add the oil. On medium speed, whisk until combined.
  6. Once again, on low speed, add the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Then, add the buttermilk and vanilla mixture. Add the sugar and whisk until the batter is smooth (about 2 minutes).
  7. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the dry ingredients. Mix and fold using a rubber spatula, it's okay if the batter looks a bit lumpy. Don't over mix.
  8. Pour the batter through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop.
  9. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed or until a cake tester comes out clean after being inserted.
  10. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let it cool. Make sure they are completely cooled before decorating.
I frosted mine with a light green tea buttercream and sprinkled milk chocolate Callebaut crispearls on top.

Muah! Even chocolate loves chocolate.

Disclaimer: A review copy of Miette was sent to us for review from Danielle Johnson at Raincoast Books. Thank you! No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ladurée and Sucré

864 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(646) 558-3157

Look at the rain on the window! Still soaked, we walked eight minutes south from Lady M Confections to Ladurée. Howard hates wet and squishy socks, but he kept us on course (he loves me so). I was almost ready to give up. I just really wanted a hot shower and to change into dry clothes.

But, as it was our last day in New York, we weren't going home without visiting the newly opened and first Ladurée location in North America. We were going to get our Upper East Side on and try their famous macarons.

There was a bit of a line up there, but Ladurée had lots of helpful staff behind the counter. There were macaron towers on display around the entire shop. The famous Ladurée boxes - in pink and green. And do you spot the wall of ribbons?

We decided to get half a dozen of macarons. My colour of choice? The distinguishable green. I was absurdly pleased to finally be owning the box.

Howard said I should keep it as a jewelry box - yes... if I had jewelry (hint hint Howard).

It felt so dainty and precious to open the box and unveil the macarons!

From left to right: vanilla, raspberry, coffee, coconut, lemon, and morello and almond.

Other flavours we wanted, but were sold out that day: pistachio, chocolate, and salted caramel.

If you look at the photo above, you can see that the macarons don't look perfect. For some, the pied (feet) of the macarons were broken. Then, some had more fillings than others, this is also visible in the photograph.

I will admit, not getting to try the flavours we intended to and seeing the less than perfect macarons was a disappointment. I mean, this is the place for macarons, they are famous worldwide, and it just felt like there wasn't enough of an effort put into these dainty treats.

How about the taste? Ladurée recommends that you consume the macarons within three days after purchase and that they should be stored in the lower part of your refrigerator. We didn't eat them at the store (there is no seating there) and had to commute by subway back. We did our best to keep the little box of macarons safe in our bag, away from the rain. However, I think the humidity in the subway might have still gotten to it.

When we ate them that night, a few of the macarons felt soft, but we'll never know what the original texture was. We can say that the flavours were scrumptious. The vanilla and coconut ones pleasantly surprised us!

Wait, I'm not done yet! I picked up another treat at the store:

That's right. Ladurée's Sucré: The Recipes. This book was on my wish list last year, but I never found it in bookstores and was uncomfortable ordering it online. There is a French version, so make sure you get the English one if you can't read French.

Just like the macarons, the book is wrapped and nested inside a box.

With bated breath!

The cover of the book is wrapped in fabric! I would have never guessed that, it just makes it one of those books you want to touch.

The edges? Gold of course.

The Ladurée macaron recipe? Check!

The desserts still keep their French names, but don't worry, the instructions are in English.

Just adorable!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lady M Confections

41 East 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
(212) 452-2222

I know we already tried the mille crêpes cake at Ippudo the night before, but I still wanted to visit Lady M! They have other beautiful looking desserts too.

That day, there was a torrential downpour. Guess what? We weren't prepared. We had one umbrella to share, but it didn't matter. We got soaked. I even ended up throwing away the pair of shoes I was wearing that day.

It didn't help that we were in a posh neighbourhood and most of the clientele in the shop were also very upper class. There we were. Howard and I dripping wet and looking poorly among all the beautiful desserts.

We were told to leave our umbrella up front so that the water wouldn't drag all the way to the back where we were seated. Our server was friendly and service was quick.

I ordered the earl grey tea to warm up. I was delighted with the brown sugar rock candy! I used it to stir my tea, no sugar cubes for me!

Since we enjoyed the cake so much, I ordered the mille crêpes cake again. It is composed of approximately 20 paper thin, hand-made crêpes layered with a light and creamy custard.

Lady M also has seasonal mille crêpes throughout the year. Chocolate, chestnut, coconut, coffee, and green tea. I didn't see any displayed that day, but I would love to try the chocolate and green tea flavours!

Howard tried the strawberry mille feuille. Paper thin puff pastry layered with sponge, cream custard, and strawberries. This cake was also delicious and Howard recommends it. But, if we had to choose, we'd go with the mille crêpes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ippudo NY

65 4th Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088

On the same day that we had lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar, we had dinner at Ippudo. I figured the ramen from both places would still be fresh on our minds so we could do a little comparison!

My aunt and uncle were telling me that they've eaten there before. Not their cup of tea because it is an izakaya, so they thought it was too noisy and dark (hence our terrible photos). Hehehe, grown ups!

We tried to go early to avoid the long line ups, luckily it was only a five minute wait as they were still settling customers in.

They have seating right by the kitchen and communal tables all around the restaurant. There are booths for larger parties as well.

It really is a ramen bar! Some of the booth tables had this feature too.

So let's start comparing! We ordered their Hirata Pork Buns, described as steamed buns filled with pork, served with Ippudo original spicy buns sauce. It turns out, we couldn't compare the flavours since they were completely different. This was saucier and was accompanied with lettuce instead of hoisin, scallion, and cucumber. The Ippudo sauce was good, but the tenderness of the pork wasn't close to Momofuku Noodle Bar.

From their specials, we tried the Ika & Shishit Isobe-age. This was fried squid and Japanese peppers coated with a nori tempura batter. There was dipping sauce, a wedge of lemon, and green tea salt to complete the taste.

I didn't try the peppers for fear that it would be too spicy, but I did enjoy the squid. A Japanese twist to calamari!

This was my ramen, the Shiromaru Hakata Classic. The original "Tonkotsu" noodle soup topped with pork loin chashu, kikurage, menma, memma, red pickled ginger, sesame, and scallions. When served, we are told to mix everything right away.

I didn't add any extra toppings, but you can here for an extra fee. Boiled egg, poached egg, leaf mustard, bamboo shoots, braised pork belly, pork, or Ippudo's original spicy paste are all additions.

My ramen was tasty and I prefer the noodles here. Momofuku's is a bit firmer - Howard prefers it because it's chewier - but I like Ippudo's softly cooked noodles.

Howard tried the Karaka Miso Ramen. A soybean paste and pork noodle soup with Ippudo's special blend of hot spices, topped with pork chashu, cabbage, kaiware radish, menma, fresh grated ginger, and scallions. That ball sitting onto of the meat in the photo? Grated ginger. It made the dish spicy and tasty.

Howard's verdict? He liked the soup and ingredients from Ippudo, but preferred the noodles from Momofuku.


I was a little apprehensive about ordering dessert since we were going to visit Lady M Confections the next day. But, in the odd case we didn't make it there, we ordered the Mille Crepe Cake.

Delicious and we loved the texture! This has moved up to Howard's favourite cake. Now... I must try to make one at home!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini Momofuku Tour

Aside from visiting all the dessert shops, Howard and I wanted to do a Momofuku tour. At the time of this post, there are four Momofuku restaurants in New York City: Noodle Bar, Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Má Pêche. In addition, there are Momofuku Milk Bars, but more on that later.

To plan it, we looked at the restaurant hours, checked which ones took reservations, and read through the menus. While we would have loved to eat at all four, we decided to skip Ko because it was out of our dining budget.


Má Pêche
15 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

Monday, we made reservations to have lunch at Má Pêche, not knowing how packed it would be. From our experience, not very! We probably could have walked in. To get to Má Pêche, you pass a Momofuku Milk Bar on the main level (which was, I have to admit, a huge distraction for me).

The hostess was friendly and took us downstairs to the dining room. There's a tiny bar to the right of the stairs, the kitchen straight ahead, and the tables arranged in a large "X" shape. The dining room has high ceilings since the main floor doesn't cover it.

Looking around, it looked like most of the other diners were having a business lunch. A few couples and casual groups. Howard and I probably stood out as tourists since we were dressed pretty casually.

Our waitress was nice and helpful, we asked for recommendations and chatted about the menu. She strongly suggested that we also visit Ssäm Bar.

I ended up picking the prix-fixe:
1. summer rolls - pork, lettuce, hoisin sauce, peanut (pictured above)
2. rice noodles - spicy chicken, bok choy, basil, tomatoes
3. compost cookie - from Momofuku Milk Bar

The summer rolls were not different from how we would make them at home. So this appetizer didn't shine, but what we both noted was how fresh it tasted. I'm not sure if freshness is a flavour or just a comment on how natural the ingredients are.

The rice noodle dish surprised me, it wasn't the kind of pasta I had expected from a French-Vietnamese restaurant. Nor was the chicken spicy! For Howard's entrée, he had the brisket with noodles, cabbage, and herbs. That dish had the pho noodles I liked!

Howard and I also shared the crispy pork shank with yogurt, lime, and jicama. While it is listed under large plates, it's not very big. We both probably had three bites each. That dish deserved to be tried, it was well-seasoned and tasty.

Sorry for the lack of photos, but it was dim inside the dining room and we just ate!


Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, we were among the group of people waiting outside for lunch service to begin. We got to sit at the bar this time (click here for our first visit), but not the one facing the kitchen.

We don’t usually get a drink, but the lychee soju slushie (pictured above) sounded fun. It was pretty strong, I could have used more lychee. =P


To start, we got the famous pork buns, filled with hoisin, scallion, and cucumber. How do they get the pork so soft and lush?


I was there to try the kimchi stew with braised kimchi, pork shoulder, and rice cakes... but they were out of rice cakes. So here is my second choice, the spicy chicken ramen with tuscan kale, smoked sesame, and nori.


Howard got the chilled spicy noodles again! The waitress had to ask if he’s had it before because this dish is spicy, so be warned!


Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Friday, in the pouring (and I mean pouring) rain, we made it to Ssäm Bar for their duck dishes! FYI, they have hand dryers in the washroom, it helped me dry off a little bit.


We saw the sign on the door, reminding customers to keep the volume down for the neighbours. We can see how fun and rowdy this place can get during happy hour and into the night. The dark wood furnishing was nice and the open kitchen is always fun to watch.

At that time, there was someone taking photos inside the kitchen... hmm another cookbook project or a reporter?

It was counter service at lunch, so we ordered and took our playing card sign to a table of our choice.


The fried duck dumplings with summer beans and sriracha mayo. The dumplings were nicely fried, not overly oily or greasy. I didn’t care for the dip, but I’m not a fan of mayo.


The spicy fingerling potatoes with chili black bean sauce was appetizing. Howard mentioned that his father also makes a similar flavour (but not with potatoes).


Mmm our main dish! Rotisserie duck over rice with duck scallion, ssäm sauce, and crispy shallot. We went all out and added the lettuce and chive pancake.

Momofuku, we applaud you for making pork and duck taste so good.

We look forward to what Momofuku brings to Toronto next year!
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