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Today I made a Hello Kitty Cake using fondant! I really enjoy making nerdy themed goodies and decorating them. I’m not a pro, but I love baking as a hobby. P…

Gordon Ramsay: How to Cook the Perfect Steak

You can now pre-order Gordon Ramsay’s new book – Ultimate Home Cooking – before it’s release 29th August 2013. Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course is out…

Top Ten Kitchen Gadgets from the 2011 International Home and Housewares Show

Subscribe then check out the written versions: or Here are the top ten gadgets and products…

Sautéed Chanterelles with Garlic

We’ve sauteed white mushrooms before, now we’ll work with chanterelles. Chanterelles are golden-color fleshy wild mushrooms that have a relatively mild and slightly fruity flavor. I’ve noticed they hold their […]

Recipe: Uni encased in tomato water jelly

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of whipping up a real feast. The occasion was the birthdays and wedding anniversary of my brother and his wife, which all fall on the very same day in November. Because of our current work and child schedules, Su-Lyn and I don’t find the time to entertain as often or as dramatically as we used to. But for this dinner, I decided to go all out.

The menu consisted of seven courses, as follows: uni encased in tomato jelly; slow cooked prawns with scrambled egg and crab roe; foie gras with roasted figs and bocconcini; roasted bone marrow over porcini risotto; charsiu pork medallions with roasted brussel sprouts, spaetzle and pomegranate seeds; Japanese short rib curry; and matcha tiramisu. Several of the dishes were concepts I had been pondering for weeks. While others, like the marrow and risotto, were ideas inspired by what was available when I did my grocery shopping the day before the dinner.

In the past, when Su-Lyn and I had more time, we used to enjoy testing out new recipes, refining them a couple of times before unleashing them on guests. These days, however, we’re always running out of time. (In fact, it’s gotten so bad that a few weeks prior, when hosting some food journo friends visiting from the UK and realising that we weren’t going to have the time to prep the meal, we convinced one of our invited guests–fortunately a chef himself –to cook the whole meal for us… but that’s another story which I’ll write about in a few weeks.) So to make a long story short, we simply don’t get the chance to test recipes anymore. And since the majority of dishes for my brother’s and his wife’s birthday dinner were new things I’d come up with, I simply had to cross my fingers and hope they’d look and taste as good on the plate as they did in my mind.

In addition to my brother and sister-in-law, two other couples joined us. And everyone brought lots of wine — the highlight from a night of highlights was probably the 1969 Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva that my sister-in-law’s soon-to-be brother-in-law brought with him. I think, in all, we opened 8 bottles of wine that evening, and ended the night sipping some 1998 Suntory Single Cask whiskey I had carried home from Tokyo this past September.

The meal, thankfully, was a success–obviously enhanced by good wine and conversation. At the end of the night, I asked Su-Lyn which was her favorite dish. She said she liked the uni and tomato jelly the most, which was really cool because it was the dish I was, in some ways, the most stressed out about.

I don’t know how or why I thought up the idea of trapping a tongue of uni inside a rectangle of tomato water jelly. I guess I figured that the flavors of sea urchin and tomato would work really well together. I also really liked the visual idea of serving a clear or semi-clear jelly with this bright orange tongue encased inside it. It was simply a dish I wanted to try making. And hoped that my guests would enjoy it. Fortunately, the dish came together really well and paired gorgeously with a lovely cult red Burgundy that one of our guests brought. Having made this once, it’s a dish I’ll definitely make again when entertaining.

While simple in concept, and simple in ingredients–uni and tomato, plus a few other things is all this really calls for–the dish does take a while to prepare (because of the tomato water) and is expensive (because of the uni). But if you have the time and the bucks, give this a whirl.

Photo taken by Henry Hariyono and generously shared here.

The post Recipe: Uni encased in tomato water jelly appeared first on Chubby Hubby.

Christmas, Italian Style

Italians really know how to celebrate Christmas, called Natale in Italian. It’s not about tacky decorations or shopping frenzy, if there is any excess, it’s of delicious food, well wishes and love for family. The traditional celebration of “La Befana” for the epiphany, Christmas eve midnight mass and multi course meals with lots of special dishes are all wonderful, but it’s the “fare gli auguri” that I appreciate most about Natale. 
Like so many concepts in Italian auguri which is translated as “best wishes” is a multilayered and complex concept and almost impossible to fully translate into English, and it has significant religious and moral dimension. And I promise if you spend time with Italians around the holidays,  you will experience it. My friend Valeria describes it much better than I possibly could. 
"Currently auguri is used for every good wish, from a birthday to a degree to a wedding. But I think that Christmas "auguri" are special because it is the end of the year and we all pause to take a look at the year passed and start thinking about the next one, so it is a time for reflection and balance. We usually are grateful for the good things we have and wish to improve the not so good ones, so auguri is a wish to improve and do better, but it is not referred to material wealth alone, it is in general a wish for improvement and happiness." 
Really, what could be better than that? But it has to be experienced. Short of going to Italy for the holiday, I encourage you to attend some of the Italian events in the Bay Area where you can enjoy a bit of this very Italian, true spirit of Christmas.

Mercato di Natale 
December 7 & 8 from 10 am – 6 pm at Fort Mason 
Germans aren’t the only ones with Christmas markets! This Italian Christmas market takes place this Saturday and Sunday December 7 & 8 from 10 am – 6 pm at the Museo Italo-Americano at Fort Mason Center Building C. There will be artisanal Italian foods, handmade jewelry, accessories, craft items and more. I hope to see you there! 

Festa dei Dolci Italiani 
December 12th, 7 pm at Fort Mason tickets $35
This annual holiday event at the Museo Italo Americano is hosted by the Museo Auxiliary. Wine, prosecco, cheese and fabulous sweet and savory treats prepared by Auxiliary members will be served. RSVP to 415.673.2200 or email for an invitation. 
An Italian Holiday Dinner  
December 19th, 6:30 pm at Cavallo Point tickets $95
Learn to make Casunziei all’Ampezzana (red beet tortelli with brown butter and poppy seeds)
Tagliatelle al Cacao con Speck e Panna (cocoa tagliatelle with smoked ham and cream) and Lasagna alla Bolognese (classic bolognese lasagna)
I highly recommend Viola Buitoni’s classes. I can’t imagine a better Christmas present for yourself or someone you love. I finally got to take one and it was even better than I could have imagined. Viola is from a family famous in Italy and the world for both pasta (yes, that Buitoni) and Perugina chocolates. While the family no longer runs either of those companies, Viola’s firsthand knowledge and her warm and encouraging manner will inspire you to tackle any Italian cooking project with confidence. Her classes virtually always sell out, so sign up for updates from her blog so you will know as soon as classes are announced.  Her pasta and polenta classes in January still have a few spaces at 18 Reasons (check the schedule for more details). 

Announcing The Baking Bites Cookbook Kindle Edition!

A few years ago, I released The Baking Bites Cookbook. It was (and still is) a beautiful paperback cookbook that featured more than 50 recipes and tempting full-page, color photos of every baked good inside. I have gotten many requests to update the book and make it available in a digital format, and I just recently put the finishing touches on The Baking Bites Cookbook – Kindle Edition! This new edition of the book includes several revisions and is updated with a few new recipes, like one for a Mexican Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart, that were not included in the first edition.

The e-book can be found on Amazon and read on any Kindle or other tablet running a Kindle app. It is not currently available in other digital formats. So if you are an e-book reader, head over and download The Baking Bites Cookbook E-Book today for just $7.95!

If you’re like me and still have a soft spot for “old fashioned” books, you will be glad to know that beautiful paperback copies of the first edition of the cookbook are still available! These copies don’t have the new additional recipes that are in the Kindle edition, but they make fantastic gifts and I will sign each and every copy that goes out to give it that personal touch. The list price for the paperback book is $19.95, but if you order it directly from me, it’s only $16.95, including free US priority shipping. Paperback copies of the first edition can be found on my sale page.

Off Topic: Robot Turtles Board Game Kickstarter

I don't often get really excited about a Kickstarter campaign especially since a couple projects that I've backed haven't turned out as well as I had hoped (although there are others that have been quite successful). This one unites my love of programming and playing games into one board game for young children. My Emma is too young (she's only two months old) to play this game, but I plan on sharing it with her in a couple years. During the last few weeks, they've developed rules for grown ups so Robot Turtles: The Board Game for Little Programmers isn't just for kids anymore. The campaign only runs until this Friday (Sept. 27, 2013), so if you are interested, I encourage you to pledge sooner rather than later.

Dining Out: Pakta (Barcelona, Spain)

One of my most memorable meals during my recent trip to Spain was at Albert Adrià's Pakta, so that's the one that I really have to write about. My husband and I were so lucky that we scored reservations during the few days in May that we were in Barcelona, but I think that was partly due to the fact that the restaurant only opened in April so the buzz hadn't gotten out of control yet. When we went for dinner (at 7:30, which is an absurdly early time for most Spaniards), our waitress Sussie told us that the restaurant was in its seventh week. Therefore, we got to be some lucky guinea pigs for some of the menu items that Adrià wanted to try out.

Giblet Gravy

This is an updated version of my old (ancient) post about how to make Turkey Gravy, which I posted back in the dark ages of 2007. And in internet years, let me tell you—that was a very, very long time ago! This is essentially the exact same method, only the photos are new and therefore much less grody, as many of my food photos were back in the dark ages of 2007, and hopefully, the instructions are even more clear. But feel free to hop between the two posts if it helps.

Gravy is everything. Absolutely everything. You can have a perfect turkey and luscious mashed potatoes, but if you don’t have a dark, decadent gravy to spoon over the top, what’s the point of even living?

Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic.

But the good news is this: Making good gravy isn’t difficult! It just takes patience, perseverance, and the sheer will to make gravy so good, even your picky and opinionated Uncle Festus will come back for seconds.

Here’s how to do it!

Turkey GravyFirst of all (speaking of grody), you need to boil the neck and giblets, also known as the bizarre stuff you find in the bag inside the raw turkey. I always take them out of the turkey and rinse them, then store them in a ziploc bag in the fridge overnight (because I’m brining the turkey overnight, and I remove the interior bag first.)

Turkey GravySo while the turkey is roasting the next day, place the neck and giblets into a medium saucepan, cover it with water by about 2 inches, and bring it to a boil. After it boils, reduce the heat to a strong simmer and cook them for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meat is totally cooked through.

Turkey GravyRemove the neck and giblets from the water (but keep the water on standby; you’ll need it later!) and when they’re cool enough to handle…

Turkey GravyUse your fingers to pick off as much of the neck meat as you can, trying very hard not to think about the phrase “neck meat” while you’re doing this.

Turkey GravyThis is good stuff! And it’s luscious in the gravy, baby.

Turkey GravyYou also need to chop up the giblets, which are my favorite part of the gravy.

Turkey GravyI like them diced pretty finely, though, as the flavor is pretty durn strong.

Now just set all the neck and giblet meat aside while you make the gravy!

Turkey GravyNow, after you remove the turkey from the oven and remove the turkey from the roasting pan, carefully (don’t burn yourself!) pour all the drippings from the pan into a large heatproof pitcher. (Set the roasting pan aside, but don’t wash it!) Let the liquid sit undisturbed for a bit, long enough for the fat to separate from the drippings.

The separation will be obvious: The fat rises to the top, and it’s a thick, greasy liquid. The drippings stay at the bottom, and they’re more of a cloudy liquid filled with little bits.

Turkey GravyAfter the two are totally separated, use a ladle to carefully skim off the fat and transfer it to a separate bowl. Just lower the ladle straight down and slowly allow the fat to spill over the sides and into the well. (You can also use a fancy fat separator…I just don’t have one of those.)

Turkey GravyNow, when you’re ready to make the gravy, set the roasting pan over the stove (I usually straddle it over two burners) and turn on the heat to medium. Pour in some of the fat (how much you add depends on how much gravy you want to make.)

Turkey GravyWhen the fat is heated, sprinkle in some flour. Again, how much you add depends on how much gravy you want to make!

Turkey GravyWhisk it all together and check the consistency: Basically, you want to make a nice paste. If it seems overly greasy, whisk in a little more flour until it looks right. If it seems too thick and it’s hard to stir, drizzle in a little more fat.

Turkey GravyWhen the consistency is right, you then need to take the time to cook the roux so it gets nice and brown! Just whisk it constantly as it cooks, and when the color looks nice and deep golden brown…

Turkey GravyPour in a good amount of low-sodium broth: You can use chicken, turkey, or vegetable—whatever makes your skirt fly up. After that, pour in half the reserved turkey drippings (you can always add the rest later if the gravy needs it.)

Turkey GravyWhisk in the broth and cook it for long enough for the gravy to get nice and thick; this can take from 5 to 10 minutes (or more, depending on how much volume you’re talking about) so just be patient and keep on whiskin’!

Turkey GravyIf the gravy isn’t thick enough, keep cooking it until it thickens. If it gets too thick, you can always thin it with some of the giblet broth.

So while I’m at it, let me give you the breakdown so we have it straight:

Fat = the grease that separates from the drippings. This is combined with flour in the roasting pan to make the roux.
Drippings = the cloudy, messy liquid that separates from the fat. This is added to the roux along with the broth to make the gravy more flavorful.
Broth = I usually use storebought, either turkey, chicken, or vegetable. This is added to the roux to make the gravy. Always use low-sodium (or, even better, no-sodium broth) to control the saltiness of the gravy.
Giblet broth = the liquid left in the saucepan after you boil the neck and giblets. This is used to thin the broth if it gets too thick.

Turkey GravyThe very last thing to do is to add the shredded/chopped neck/giblets to the gravy…

Turkey GravyAlong with (after you taste it) salt and pepper. Note that if you brined the turkey, you likely won’t need much salt at all! So always, always, always taste the gravy before adding any salt.

Mmmm. GRAVY!

Sorry to shout. I just can’t control myself.

Turkey GravyAhh. There’s nothing better in the world.

Turkey GravyEnjoy every single bite!

The printable below, but in a nutshell:

1. Boil the neck and giblets in a saucepan of water.
2. Chop the giblets and pull the meat off the neck.
3. Reserve the giblet water.
4. Roast the turkey, then pour all the pan drippings into a pitcher or bowl.
5. Allow the drippings to separate from the fat.
6. Skim off the fat and put in a separate bowl.
7. Add fat back to the roasting pan over medium heat.
8. Whisk in flour, cook the roux until brown.
9. Add storebought broth (or homemade if you have it!)
10. Add the separated drippings (start with half, work your way up.)
11. Stir until thick, add more broth or giblet broth if needed.
12. Add giblets and neck meat.
13. Add salt and pepper (taste first!)
14. Serve hot and bubbly!



Giblet Gravy

Prep Time:
5 Minutes
Cook Time:
20 Minutes


  • Giblets And Neck, Saved From The Uncooked Turkey
  • Drippings From Roasted Turkey
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour (more If Needed)
  • 4 cups No-sodium Chicken, Turkey, Or Vegetable Broth, More If Needed
  • Salt And Pepper (gravy Won’t Need Much Salt)

Preparation Instructions

First, take the giblets and neck from the raw turkey and cover them with water by 2 inches in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer it for 1 hour to both to cook the meat and to make a giblet broth for the gravy.

Remove the giblets and neck from the water (don’t worry; they’re supposed to look really grody) and set them aside. Keep the giblet broth in the saucepan for later.

When you’re ready to make the gravy, pour all the drippings from the turkey roasting pan into a bowl. Set the pan back onto the stove.

Let the drippings sit and separate naturally, then use a ladle to carefully separate the fat from the liquid drippings (the fat will be on top, while the drippings will settle at the bottom).

Turn the heat to medium and add about 1 cup of the fat back into the roasting pan. Sprinkle the flour all over the fat and immediately begin whisking it around to make a paste. Add more flour or fat as needed to create the right consistency: You want the mixture to be a stirrable paste and not overly greasy. If it looks a little greasy, whisk in a little more flour.

Once the paste/roux is the right consistency, whisk it slowly for a few minutes, allowing it to cook to a deep golden brown color. A nice brown roux is the secret to good gravy, baby!

Once the roux is ready, pour in 1 cup of the drippings (the stuff that separated from the fat earlier) and the chicken or turkey broth, whisking constantly. Then just let the gravy cook and thicken, whisking constantly for 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, use your fingers to remove as much of the neck meat as you can and chop up the giblets into fine pieces. Add as much of the meat to the gravy as you’d like: Add it all if you like a really chunky giblet gravy, add a little less if you like the gravy more smooth.

If the gravy seems too thick, add more broth and/or a little of the reserved giblet broth (the water used to cook the giblets.)

Finally, season the gravy with a little bit of salt and plenty of black pepper! (Be sure to taste it and make sure the seasoning is perfect.)

Serve the gravy piping hot at the table.

** Note: You should be prepared to add more broth, so have extra on hand!

Posted by Ree on November 25 2013