UPDATE — If you want to buy some ube pancake mix, I am offering them for sale through my new food company Whisk’d! You can buy some bags online at my Square site here.
I’m obsessed with ube, the purple yam indigenous to the Philippines. This obsession first started when I bought that box of ube purple pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, which unfortunately is a seasonal item and is no longer sold there. Now I want to see that purple hue everywhere. And apparently so does everyone else. Everywhere I go, ube powder is sold out! I specifically went to a small Filipino market called Johnny Air Mart in the East Village (Ave A between 13th and 14th) and the woman there told me that she keeps selling out of all of her ube ingredients. I did manage to find ube extract online, and when my Butterfly ube flavoring finally came in the mail, I was so excited to experiment with an ube pancake recipe. The results were fun and purple and made me so happy. I don’t need to wait around for Trader Joe’s to bring back the purple people ube eater happiness, I can do it on my own!
Coconut cake is my favorite kind of cake. I would choose coconut over yellow birthday cake any day. My favorite coconut cakes in the city are from Baked and Balthazar. But alas, Baked closed down its Tribeca location for good (their Brooklyn location is still open), and Balthazar shut down its Soho location due to covid. I’m left without any options for coconut cake nearby, so I’ve decided that I’ll have to make it myself in the meantime. My daughter’s 17 month birthday was coming up, so I thought that now was as good a time as any to try to tackle this coconut project. I pulled out my trusty Joanne Chang’s Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe cookbook, which has a white coconut cake recipe on p. 176-177, and eagerly started prepping.
I’ve never been to Joanne Chang’s famous Flour Bakery in Boston, but I do have her cookbook, and after having made her banana bread, I’m definitely a big fan. Lately I’ve been on a big baking kick, and I was inspired to pick back up her book and make something new. My friend Timmie told me she made Chang’s currant spelt oat scones, which was published in Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes. Nobody really gets excited by scones, do they? They look so dry and oversized…especially with oat and spelt in there. But she swore by these, and I can confirm that these are buttery and delightful.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of matcha baking recipes. Matcha, the trendy green-tea powder that’s now offered in lattes and drinks everywhere, is a very complex ingredient. It’s a bit of an adult taste, since it has an earthy, bitter aspect to it, so using just a tad too much can totally ruin your dessert, but if you use too scant an amount, then it’s as if you used none at all. But after a lot of tinkering, I’m happy to have successfully pulled off a super easy matcha blondie recipe. When I pulled the blondies out of the oven and took a bite, I felt like Goldie Locks when I thought to myself, this is just right.
I discovered that making a really good roast chicken is actually incredibly easy. A roast chicken suggests some sort of a special event, like Thanksgiving or a family Sunday supper, and so you think that this type of dish requires a lot of time and preparation. I came across a Thomas Keller roast chicken recipe on Epicurious–the title “My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken” caught my eye–and I was impressed by how little work was involved. Basically you salt and pepper the bird everywhere, stick it in the oven for about an hour, let it rest in its own juices for 15 minutes, and you’re done. I thought a Thomas Keller recipe would involve a lot of complicated steps, but it really is very easy to execute, as demonstrated by my ability to successfully execute it multiple times.