Sandbox Bakery, Bernal Heights San Francisco

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sandbox Bakery, San Francisco
Sandbox Bakery, San Francisco

My friend Sumi and I went to Sandbox Bakery in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco. The owner, Mutsumi Takehara was trained at La Farine and Chez Panisse...with time at Rubicon and Slanted Door. With that past, I knew it would be delicious.

Sandbox Bakery, San Francisco
The bakery has a lovely display of yummy pastries. They sell single drip coffee as well as some savory foods too. See the full menu here (prices I quote are from a January 2013 look at the website menu).

Sandbox Bakery San Francisco - Ginger Scone
Ginger scone. If there is a ginger scone in the bakery, it is going into my bag. I love ginger scones. This one was very light and tasty. I would definitely buy it again. $2.00

Sandbox Bakery San Francisco
Top: Melon pan. This is a very light, sugar topped brioche. I could probably eat a dozen of these...but they are brioche so that probably isn't the best idea :) $2.25

Bottom: Curry pan. Oh, this is yummmmmy. You can find a curry pan at many Japanese bakeries and it is an easy way to get a bite to eat. $3.00 (online menu, but from the photo I took, it looks like it is more than $3.00 now - anyway, worth it)

Sandbox Bakery - San Francisco, Negi-Miso Kashi Pan
This is the Negi-Miso Kashi Pan. It is challah bread with miso paste and green onions inside! Challah and Japanesey flavors? Lovely, and my favorite item from our little visit. $2.25

If you are in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco, be sure to try out Sandbox Bakery!
Sandbox Bakery
833 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
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Arugula Salad with Blood Oranges, Beets, Avocado and Almonds

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Argula Salad with Blood Oranges, Beets, Avocado and Almonds
Arugula Salad with Blood Oranges, Beets, Avocado and Almonds

I went to the Bay Area last weekend and had the most lovely time! The next few posts will be about the trip.

While there, my friend Sumi made the most delicious salad for lunch for me and my other UCLA roommate, Diane. I'm lucky to have such wonderful friends - you know the ones where you pick up just where you left off no matter how much time there is between visits? Sumi and Diane are those friends (although I promise to visit more frequently so the stretches aren't so long!)

Sumi went to the Ferry Building's Farmer's Market and found great citrus including blood oranges, and golden beets. She adapted a vinaigrette from a Martha Stewart cookbook.

We microwaved the beets to save some time. I love golden beets - they are sweeter than red beets, and they don't get all over your added bonus.

Lunch at Sumi's
Sumi picked up some Asian favorite. Asian pears are perfect for a snack tray because they don't brown like regular apples.

The salad was a reflection of California agriculture! Everything was grown locally: arugula, avocado, blood orange, almonds, golden beets.

Poached Pears
Because Sumi is just kinda awesome, she had some poached pears in the refrig. These are Harry & David pears too - awesome! Topped with caramel sauce, ice cream and/or herbs...lovely finish to our delicious lunch.

Lunch at Sumi's
That's all you really need.

San Francisco Golden Gate Park
After lunch, we went for a hike (Diane and I call it that) or walk (Sumi's description) in Golden Gate Park...passing the de Young museum, Stow Lake and getting to the top of Strawberry Hill for some fantastic views of the beautiful city and county of San Francisco.

Salad ingredients:
Golden beets - peeled, cooked, and diced into bite-size pieces
Blood oranges
Shaves of parm cheese

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil (depends on preference)
1 t grated orange zest and 1 t grated lemon zest
1 T - 2T orange juice (depends on preference)
1 t lemon juice
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 small shallot, mince
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dress salad. 
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Cake Decorating Birthday Party

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cake Decorating Party
Cake Decorating Birthday Party for Lucia

My UCLA college roommate, Agnes has two beautiful girls, Lucia and Julia. Lucia turned 11 years old (can't believe she's that old already!) and we had a cake decorating party with her friends to celebrate.
Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Lucia the birthday girl and her 4" decorated cake

Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Agnes bought some ready made "buttercream" from the cake supply store, and I made the little 4 inch cakes. Yes, somehow I have FIVE 4" cake rounds in my closet. Oh yeah, I also have 7 off-set spatulas. What?!

I made two batches of Flour Bakery Yellow Cake. This is seriously the best yellow cake on the planet. Made with cake flour, this cake has a terrific crumb and flavor. It's a winner. (See this post for the cake with a chocolate ganache frosting and check out Amazon for the book).

Since parents and siblings want to see the beautiful cake, I decided to have the kids decorate the cake and take it home whole. I made some chocolate cupcakes to decorate and eat at the party with ice cream.

Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Some of the prep included putting up wonderful decorations from Holland. Agnes had them in the dorms and our apartment back in the day, and I find them just lovely. (Agnes also introduced me to Nutella back in 1989 when you could only get it in specialty stores). She received a set of flower decorations from her aunt in Holland.

Agnes found Betty Crocker Fondant Topper kits at her local Vons store. I've never seen them before. Although the directions to microwave them for a short time freaked me out (you wouldn't do that with "real" fondant, right?), the fondant worked out. It was convenient because you didn't have to dye fondant (crazy messy), it gave you more than enough for 10 little cakes and it came in many colors. Worth it for a party. I ended up kneading all of them by hand instead of using the microwave because, just my luck, I feared I would end up with a melty mess. The kit comes with some cookie cutters, and Ag had a slew of small cutters too.

We colored buttercream, put it in disposable plastic pastry bags and used basic round and star tips. We also put out a bunch of toppings such as colored sugar, sprinkles, chopped candies, mini M&M, and all things kids (and adults) enjoy.

Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Agnes bought bakery boxes, and I picked up gold cardboard cake rounds (six inches). This makes the cake look uber professional. Your kid only turns 11 years old once...go for the finishing touches.

L's Cake Decorating Birthday Party
Aren't these kids talented?! All the kids were from 7 years old - 11 years old.

If you want to host a cake decorating party, here are some hints: (I've never done anything like this before)

1. Have more frosting than you imagine any human should consume. We bought two bins at the cake decorating shop and it was close (I had the kids go really light in the center of the cake). Make a few batches of buttercream. If you don't use it all, you can always freeze it.
2. Close off frosting bags with rubber bands or binder clips. I don't frost much (that is the beauty of bundt cakes, cookies and coffee cakes) but I can handle a piping bag. But a 7 year old may not get the physics of squishing the bag in their cute little hands. Next time, I'll be sure to tie off the ends of the piping bag with rubber bands or binder clips.
3. Bake and freeze the cakes. In my cake decorating class, we always worked with frozen cake. It is easier to cut and shape. Don't go crazy prepping the frosting and baking cakes the day before the party. Bake the cakes a week earlier, wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Besides you'll probably need to make a few batches to get enough cakes (unless you have endless numbers of cake pans)
4. If you don't have 4" cake pans (or whatever size you want to make), just make sheet pans or 9 x 13 of cake and cut out circles of the correct size.
5. Parchment paper is your friend. I purchase pre-cut half-sheet parchment sheets by the THOUSAND box at my local restaurant supply house. I used it as a placemat for each kid, as well as practice sheets for demonstrating piping frosting. Wax paper would work too.
6. Many hands need many people. Luckily, Ag's mother and mother-in-law were on hand to help serve lunch and help the kids at the "fondant station."
Cake Decorating Party - Lucia's 11th Birthday
Sister Love! Younger sis Julia sings her heart out during "Happy Birthday!"

Happy Birthday Lucia! It was such a fun, sugar filled day! :) - mary
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Milk & Cookies Bakery Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, January 14, 2013

Milk & Cookies Bakery - Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Milk & Cookies Bakery Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I borrowed the eBook of Milk & Cookies Bakery cookbook from the library. So high tech to get an eBook from your library...does your library offer this service? You should check it out if they do. It's convenient and allows you to check out eBooks in your pajamas, and browse a cookbook before purchasing it.

This cookbook has several "base" recipes followed by "add-ins". This chocolate chip recipe starts with the Vanilla Base and has two types of chocolate added. You can also use the Vanilla Base to make Milk Chocolate Orange Cookies, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, and Dark Chocolate Toffee Cookies.

Milk & Cookies Bakery - Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
The vanilla base has oat flour as well as all-purpose flour. It's old fashioned oatmeal pulsed in a food processor until fine.

Milk & Cookies Bakery - Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
The chocolate chip has two types of chocolate: bittersweet shavings or curls, and semi-sweet chunks (I used semi-sweet chips). The directions say to blend it in the KitchenAid until streaky, then scrape the dough onto a floured surface and finish "mixing the dough by using a light kneading motion, working until the dough is just blended." After, you blend in the chocolate with a wooden spoon.

I was unclear if I was supposed to knead the Vanilla Base together, then put it back into the mixer or bowl to mix in the chocolate with a wooden spoon. I ended up blending the whole thing on the counter and made a crazy mess.

My cookies are smaller...the recipe yield is 2 dozen and I got about double that.

Milk & Cookies Bakery - Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
For some chocolately good cookies, try these Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies from Milk & Cookies Bakery.

Recipe: Available on Cooking Channel HERE
From the book Milk & Cookies: 89 Heirloom Recipes from New York's Milk & Cookies Bakery

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JustJenn's New Year Oshogatsu Feast 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
New Year's Feast at JustJenn's House!

My friend JustJenn cooked, baked, and then cooked & baked some more! She hosts a great New Year's Oshogatsu feast on New Year's day. Fun times!

Here is JustJenn's post about it as well as the recipes. I'll just leave you with some photos so you can get jealous. I mean, enjoy the deliciousness with me.

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
What a spread!!!

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
Shrimp salad

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
Sushi from old school Sakae Sushi in Gardena

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
Somen salad

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
Root beer pulled pork, guava jelly chicken wings and tamale pie... perhaps not enjoyed by our samurai ancestors in Japan, but us Japanese Americans put our own spin on things.

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
Guava jelly chicken wings

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
You had to save lots of room for dessert - homemade an mochi, brownie mochi, mochi bundt and broken glass bundt!

JustJenn's New Years Oshogatsu - 2013
I brought a bundt, of course! And the mochi in the ozoni soup was from our annual mochi making day.

Thanks for a delicious New Years lunch, JustJenn. What a great way to start the year!

For more info and recipes, see JustJenn's post! Also, don't forget that JustJenn has a MOCHI COOKBOOK! From sweet to savory - find it on Amazon.

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Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making with the Family for New Years

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
As we've done since before I was born, my family and friends came together on the Saturday before New Years Day to make mochi - a Japanese pounded rice patties used on New Year's day to give you good luck, longevity, good times, and a shot at George Clooney (what? that's not the promise of mochi? Hmmm...)

As I've described in posts from 2011201020082007, my family gets together annually to make hella mochi. Hella.

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
This year we cooked 200 pounds of rice. Yes, that is 20 bags of rice. Luckily, my friend Rosie was on winter break from Johnson & Wales. She washed all 200 pounds of rice! She's starting to look Asian now, huh? :)

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
We woke up to RAIN. What? This is Los Angeles! We haven't had rain on mochi day for years so we were pretty disappointed. The annual bouncy house had to be cancelled - so sad because you can get a good workout in the bouncy house (if you are in Los Angeles, try Planet Bouncy - Owner Sergei is a UCLA Bruin and they did a great job last year).

But is pouring rain going to stop a bunch of Japanese Americans with determination? No. We put up some pop tents and rain jackets. Above, my cousin, brother and cousin-in-law make mochi (this process is repeated for about 6 hours). Hot rice goes into the grinder and gets extruded. The mochi is cut off, and then handed to the catcher who rolls it into a round shape before placing the hot mochi onto a full-sheet pan.

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
This year I set up a Mochi Tasting Table. I saw it at a church function and thought it was a great way to introduce people to the different ways you can eat mochi...however, everyone just stuck with the standards: shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and kinako. We had: nori (seaweed), ponzu sauce (wasn't even opened), shoyu (soy sauce - light salt (next year, I need to have both the "red" and "green" bottle because some like the full sodium effect), kinako (roasted soybean flour & sugar), grated daikon radish, wasabi paste, and natto (fermented soybeans). Natto is a crazy very acquired taste - I find it gross, but one person did eat their mochi with it! Somehow, there is a Diet Coke in my photo...ignore that.

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
Mochi, mochi, mochi...

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
We ate and ate and ate - this is only a few of dishes. In the upper left hand corner is Spam Musubi...I'll have a post (and giveaway) soon. Someone "new" to mochi making (we always get a few new friends each year) brought Beer Can Chicken...they are totally invited back. My cousin grilled Korean BBQ at 8 am, in the rain, before coming over. That's dedication.

Mochitsuki 2012 - Mochi Making
There are pans and pans of mochi by the end of the day. We pack it up and most people deliver it to friends so they can have fresh mochi on New Year's morning.

Although the house is covered with mochiko flour and I'm exhausted by the end of the day, it is so worth it to see lots of relatives and friends. And since we had rain this year, I think we're guaranteed clear skies for the next ten years.

Check out my friend JustJenn's post about the day! She has a lot more "process" photos so if you are interested to each step, check it out.

Happy New Year! Next up... I go to Jenn's house for a New Year's feast (with mochi, of course!)

- mary the food librarian

Related mochi posts:
Fmaily Mochi making: 201120102008, 2007
Sweet mochi with red beans
Chocolate Brownie mochi
Zunda mochi
Blueberry Mochi cake
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