Foodie Friday

While visiting a friend yesterday, I was given a bunch of rhubarb from his garden. It has been awhile since I got to play with food, so the idea of making Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie came to mind.

First, you need 2 pounds of ripe, juicy strawberries. And 4 pounds of rhubarb stalks. Then completely remove the stringy skin off the rhubarb.

Once the rhubarb skin is removed. Slice the stalks into even thin slices. Do the same thing for the strawberries. I like thin slices because it looks better but more importantly; the filling will cook more evenly while the sugar and spices can penetrate into the rhubarb and strawberries easily.

Gently mix the strawberry & rhubarb slices with 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn starch, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper until it’s well coated. I use a 9″ spring form pan. Although you can use regular pie pan if you like.

For the crumble: In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 pound of melted butter. Stir until mixed but still crumbly. Fill pie crust lined pan with strawberry & rhubarb mixture and evenly top with crumble until the filling is covered.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Baked for about 60 minutes or until you see the thick juice, oozing and bubbling through the golden brown crumble crust.


The pie is really good as is. Although, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would definitely elevate the pie to a delectable sinful level — that you would be happy be devour without guilt. Bon Appétit!

Cook, Shoot, and Eat

I’ve been following Karen’s blog: Back Road Journal for some time now and what a world traveling blog it is. She has taken me on some amazing European trips, entertained me with her wonderful photos, stories and sense of humor; she also introduced me to many cuisines from around the world. Not only does Karen have a great passion for food, she is also a wonderful cook. I always look forward to see what recipes she would come up with. A few days ago, Karen posted a delicious looking recipe of Spaghetti alle Vongole; meaning in Italian, Spaghetti with Clams. I love how it sounds so exotic in Italian. Even though Karen had posted many yummy looking recipes before, for some reason this particular recipe stuck in my mind. While I was at the grocery store yesterday and saw a tank full of fresh manila clams — the idea for my 250th post came to mind. I decided to recreate Karen’s recipe and do a photo shoot to tell the story of making her dish.

The recipe is very easy. It would take less than 20 minutes to make the dish. However, it took me over two hours to make and shoot it. I had to stop and style each shot just right before shooting. Good thing my subjects were very compliant. Oftentimes in food photography, the dish becomes inedible by the time the shoot is over; but in this case, I was able to eat it. I had time it so that I knew when I was done shooting, the dish would make a great lunch. And it tasted absolutely delightful.

I love manila clams. Not only are they tasty, they provided me with wonderful memories of my children. When my boys were young, we used to dig for the clams at the local beaches. Oh… the joyful smiles and squeals of my children’s happiness were priceless.

One thing I discovered while cooking the clams — the sauce is actually really good as it is. The clams were really tasty coated with it —  much better than typical restaurants — of serving it plain with a side dish of melted butter to dip in. Boring… So… if you are looking for a new and flavorful way to eat clams, cook it with the sauce and just skip the pasta.

When buying wine for cooking, don’t just buy the cheapest. Buy the wine you would want to drink and that way you can have it with your meal. But since I don’t drink wine and mainly just using it for cooking and props, I do buy the cheapest.

The dish was a success!  And of course, it passed the stringent inspection of my personal foodie consultant.

Click here for the recipe: Spaghetti alle Vongole

Thanks Karen for the recipe. And no, I didn’t use cheese. 😉

The Belgian Waffle Maker

A few weeks ago, I added a new kitchen gadget to my collection — the Belgian waffle maker. I usually don’t like to buy these counter top appliances because they rarely get used and usually end up being a dust collector. Well… I love this little appliance. Not only does it make yummy, fluffy waffles in minutes, it’s also very photogenic. Since the weather is rainy and cold today, I decided to do a foodie shoot. I came up with this Strawberries & Cream Waffle Shortcake recipe. Enjoy! 😀

Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Waffle Shortcake
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients: Waffle
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
3 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Canola or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Buttermilk

Directions for waffles:
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until all ingredients are well mixed. The batter will have some small lumps. Follow waffle maker cooking direction as directed by the manufacture.

Recipe: Strawberry Cream Filling

1 Cup Chopped Fresh Strawberries
1 Cup Mascapone Cheese
1 Table Spoon Honey

Combine strawberries, mascapone cheese, and honey in a medium size bowl. Mixed well.

Recipe: Strawberry Sauce

2 Cups Chopped Fresh Strawberries
1/4 Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
1 teaspoon corn starch (mix with a tablespoon water)

Combine and bring to a boil in a sauce pan. Reduce heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Add corn starch to thicken sauce. Stir for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.


Fill one side of waffle with strawberry cream and top with strawberry sauce. Place another waffle on top to make a sandwich. Garnish with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry.

When The Weather Is Bad

Well… at least yesterday’s snow didn’t stick around. I guess I can tolerate the rain and wind better than snow. Anyway, since it’s too wet and cold outside; I decided to use the opportunity to work on my food portfolio. Then I realized with the nasty weather; I’ve been lazy about going to the grocery store. And all I have to work with were a couple of very ripped bananas. I decided to make Banana & Walnut Pancakes. A couple of hours later, I got some pretty interesting shots that I think will work well for my portfolio. Hope you enjoy the pictures and of course the pancakes. If you like bananas, you will love this recipe — which I will post on my Foodie With Camera website.

A New Pie Experiment

Here it is… the recipe for the new pie I’ve created: CranApple Crumble Pie w/ Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce. From the photos, it looks like a lot of work but it actually took only about 1-1/2 hour of prep and cooking time. I would say the difficult part of this experiment was the photo shoot. The lighting was difficult because there were no natural light available. Though, making sure to not burn the food while taking photos or getting the camera all sticky was the most challenging. This is when being good at multi-tasking comes in handy. I hope you enjoy the post and any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you… and Make a Great Day!

Peel and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick, then cut the slices to about 1″ pieces. For even cooking time, it’s important that the thickness of the apple slices are as even as possible.

In a large bowl, combine apples slices, dried cranberries, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper. Gently stir until well mixed. And pour the filling into a prepared pie crust. Evenly sprinkle pie with streusel crumb topping.

How to make the streusel crumb:

1/4 Cup Butter (lightly melted: about 20 seconds in the microwave)
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Rum

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, flour and sugar. Add rum and toss with a wooden spoon to make crumbs. Take a hand full of the crumb mixture and squeeze gently to make larger clump. Break the clump of streusel over the pie filling. Repeat using all the streusel. Do not press the streusel into the filling.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.

Cranapple Crumble Pie with Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce
Serves 6 to 8

I used a pre-made pie crust. It’s faster and less messy. For the apples, I used Fuji Apples — it’s sweet and juicy but hard enough for baking.

How to make the pie filling:

4 Cup Sliced Apples (I like using Fuji Apples for its sweetness)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Tablespoon Corn Starch
2 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Tablespoon Rum
1/4 Cup Butter

1. Peel and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick, then cut the slices to about 1″ pieces.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples slices, dried cranberries, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper. Gently stir until well mixed. Set aside.

3. Melt butter and rum together in a small pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil for about 30 seconds. Pour hot butter rum mixture into the pie filling mixture and stir gently — until all apple slices are well coated.

4. Pour filling mixture into a prepared pie crust.

5. Sprinkle streusel crumb evenly over the pie.

Bake pie in a 350 degrees oven for about 30 minutes. Check to make sure the streusel crumb isn’t too brown. Cover pie with a piece of foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. By now you should see thick hot pie juice bubbles out of the crumb topping. Take out the pie and let cool before taking it out of the spring-form pan.

Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter. Add apples and saute for a few minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot or the butter will burn. Pour in apple cider and add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir apple mixture and when it boils, turn the heat down to medium. Cook apple mixture for 20 minutes and add the rum.

How to make the Apple & Butter Rum sauce:

2 Cup Sliced Apples (cut into 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Regular Sugar
1/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Apple Cider Juice
1/3 Cup Rum

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter. Add apples and saute for a few minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot or the butter will burn. Pour in apple cider and add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir apple mixture and when it boils, turn the heat down to medium. Cook apple mixture for 20 minutes and add the rum. Make sure to stir occasionally. Continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. The apple slices should be soft and almost translucent.

Assemble the dish:

Place a slice of pie on a plate and ladle a couple of tablespoons of the Apple & Butter Rum Sauce around the pie and top with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Oh, For The Love of Rum!

I’m not much into drinking liquor but I love cooking with it. Thought I would try something different and make a recipe with lots of butter and rum. I decided to create a recipe for a pie. The result: Cranapple Crumble Pie with Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce; a sinfully delectable pie that would make Captain Jack Sparrow a very happy pirate — singing, Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum.

One of my favorite things to do besides cooking is developing recipes. And even though I owned over 100 cookbooks, I have a habit of not wanting to follow the recipes exactly. I find recipe development exciting and fun. It’s interesting experimenting with all the different ingredients and discovers new tastes. The difficult part about recipe development for me is keeping track the exact amount of the ingredients. I am one of those cooks who eye balls the ingredients instead of measuring. Though, I would say most of my recipe experiments have produced good results. There have been times where it even exceeds my expectation. And yesterday’s experiment was one of those great moments. The butter and rum add a luscious quality to the pie. It tastes savory, yet at the same time delicate and not overly sweet. And the aroma of the spices permeates your senses, creating a sense of warmth and comfort for the home. This would be the perfect pie to make for the holiday dinner. I will have the complete recipe with photos for tomorrow’s post. 🙂

Keep Your Heart Merry with Chocolate

Nothing warms the heart and soul like a good cup of hot chocolate with a towering heap of whipped cream. 😀

Very Merry Hot Chocolate

Make 3 Cups
1 Cup Powder Milk
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
3 Cups Boiling Hot Water

In a heat resistant bowl — combine powder milk and chocolate chips. Carefully, stir in hot water and whisk until powder milk and chocolate chips are completely dissolved. Pour hot chocolate in a mug and topped with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Guilty Pleasure…

The pot of water on the stove was bubbling viciously; ready for execution. As I stood over the intended victim, he was struggling to move his claws across the counter — a last feeble attempt to escape the inevitable. Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming guilt on being the executioner. And at that moment, if I were living next to the beach — I would have pardoned him. “Okay Em, be tough! You can do this…” I told myself. Quickly, I pick up the crab and with one swift move… it was over. He fell into the boiling hot-pot and within seconds, the crab’s claws stopped moving and he changed into a bright orange hue. Breathing a sight of relief, I set the timer for 20 minutes. However, by the time the timer went off; I’ve already lost my appetite for eating the crab.

After a few days, I decided to make crab cakes for today’s post —Crab Cakes w/Honey & Dill Aioli Sauce. If you ever want to impress someone with your culinary skills, this would be the dish. It’s actually very easy and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Caution: Those of you with a weak heart, it would be best to buy the pre-cooked crab. And please let me know if you have questions or need more information for the recipe. Enjoy! 🙂

Crab Cakes w/Honey & Dill Aioli Sauce

Serves 2 to 4 (Make 4 Patties)


1 Pound Crab Meat (About 1-1/2 pound crab before extraction)
1/4 Cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon Lemon Pepper Salt Mix
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Egg
1/2 Cup+ Butter (for frying)
Romaine Lettuce (for assembling)
1/4 Cup Flying Fish Eggs (for assembling, but it’s optional)

How to Make The Crab Cakes:

1.      Extract the crabmeat from shell. If you don’t like this part, you can buy pre-shelled crabmeat. Though, it will be more expensive.

2.      In a medium size bowl, combine: crabmeat, breadcrumbs, lemon salt pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, dill, and egg. Use a wooden spoon and mix thoroughly — until all the ingredients are well combined.

3.      Divide the crab cake mixture into four servings, approx. 1/4 cup. Shape each serving into a round patty.

4.      Melt butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and starts to bubble, add crab cake patties. Since the crabmeat is already pre-cooked, you only need to fry the patties for a few minutes per side or until golden brown. Make sure the heat doesn’t get too hot or else the butter will burn.

5.      When done, remove crab cake patties from heat and place on a paper towel for a minute to absorb any excess butter.

How to Make The Sauce:


3 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Honey
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Dill
1 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Garlic (1 clove)

1.      In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Assemble The Dish:

Place a crab cake patty on top of romaine lettuce. Drizzle a tablespoon honey dill sauce over crab cake and top with flying fish eggs. You can omit the flying fish eggs if you don’t like them.

Easy, Classy Fruit Salad

Asian Pear & Pomegranate Salad w/Honey Mint Dressing

Make 2 Servings

1 1/2 Cup Asian Pear (Sliced)
1/4 Cup Pomegranate Seeds
2 Teaspoon Honey
2 Tablespoon Fresh Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint Leaves (chopped)

Whisk orange juice and honey together — set aside. In a medium size bowl, combine pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and chopped mint leaves. Add orange honey dressing just before serving. Gently, toss all ingredients until the fruits are well coated.

Food Portraits

While I enjoy photographing various subjects, food seems to bring me the most joy. I don’t find myself struggling with it like I do with some subjects, such as sports and landscapes. Through this blog, I’ve discovered my most favorite subject to photograph is food — I love styling, cooking and creating recipes. I’ve decided to go with my passion and is working on building a food photography portfolio. While I will continue to show other subjects, you will be seeing more food related photos and stories on my blog.

Here are a few food portraits.

Fragrant Pears  (Taste like Asian pears, crunchy, juicy with a hint of sweetness.)


Fresh Mint

As I was taking the portraits, a new recipe came to mind: Pomegranate & Asian Pear Salad w/Honey Mint Dressing. It turned out really good — light and refreshing. I will share the recipe and step-by-step photos for tomorrow’s post.

It’s More Than Just A Cookie – part 2

“The cookies tasted terrible. They were hard and lumpy. Instead of the enjoyment I had envisioned; I was told not to make any more cookies. With tears in my eyes, I threw all the brown poop lumps into the garbage.”

I sat on the steps feeling dejected from my failed attempt at baking and was afraid that Tina would be disappointed with me. The next day, I went over to Tina’s as soon as I got home from school. And when she asked me about the cookies, tears welled up in my eyes as I explained about the failed cookies. Instead of being upset, she just smiled and comforted me. She explained to me the importance of the ingredients I had omitted. Then she went on to bake the cookies again with me so that I could see it done properly.

I’m happy to say, the cookie lesson paid off. Defying my dad’s order of never to make cookies again — I baked three-dozen gooey, chewy, mouth-watering cookies that forever changed the opinions of my family about my baking ability. As for Tina –to say she was a nice neighbor would be an understatement. Tina was the special “mom” to me for the next three years. And to this day, her many life lessons stayed with me.

 That’s why every time when I bake chocolate chip cookies; it is more than just cookies for me. It’s about someone showing love and kindness. And perhaps that’s why Chocolate Chip Cookies is the most popular. It’s a simple cookie — yet when you bite into it; the warm and fuzzy feeling you get is unexplainable.

So… here is the recipe to make these wonderful cookies. I hope they will make you feel warm and fuzzy…  🙂

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
2 cups Chocolate Chips (12-oz. pkg)
1 cup Chopped Nuts

Make Approx. 36 Cookies

Preheat: Oven to 375 F
Combine: Flour, baking soda and salt in small bow. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Baked: For 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The direction on the package seems simple enough. However, as I have discovered during my first attempt; the direction can be misleading for someone who is not familiar with baking techniques. Tina gave me some tips not listed on the package direction and that is to — scrape the bowl constantly during beating of the dough. This insures all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. So that the cookies will spread evenly during baking. And another tip is to not add all the flour mixture at once. It will save you a great deal of mess if you add about 1/2 cup at a time but also you would not lose any ingredients. As I’ve learned the hard way that even 1 teaspoon can make a big difference between success and failure on the outcome.

Here is a tip on how to get perfect, round, even size cookies  — the ice cream scoop. It is one of the must have cooking tools to have in your kitchen.

Have fun and enjoy!

It’s More Than Just A Cookie – part 1

I’ve eaten many varieties of cookie but none stirs my heart and soul as much as the chocolate chip cookie. That’s because this was the cookie that started it all — the cookie that taught me an important lesson about using the right ingredients — even if the amount seem insignificant.  Above all, it was the cookie that set the foundation for my love of baking. 

I still remember the day I discovered this wonderful creation and how amazed I was by it. I was in 6th grade and was my next-door neighbor’s official baby-sitter. When I showed up at her door that day, I was met with a delicious and wonderful odor. It was a smell completely foreign to me. And then Tina greeted me with a plate of chocolate chip cookies — fresh out of the oven.

At the time, I didn’t know what they were. I had only been living in the United States for about a year therefore, a lot of things were still unknown and very strange to me. When I took that first bite, I was hooked. The cookie was warm and the chocolate… oh my goodness… those amazing gooey chocolate morsels… pushed my taste buds into overdrive. I was familiar with chocolate but it was a luxury item for me. In Taiwan, chocolate was a very rare treat because it was expensive — an equivalent of five U.S. dollars for a Hershey’s chocolate bar and this was in the 70’s. Needless to say, when Tina showed me the Nestle Toll House chocolate chips package; my belief at the time that all Americans were super rich was confirmed. It was a stereotype image I was bombarded with while living in Taiwan. Of course, I later learned about the delusion of the stereotype — but that’s another story.

After devouring about half a dozen cookies, I wanted to learn how to make them. Tina gave me a pack of the chocolate chips and told me to follow the recipe direction on the back. She assured me the cookies were easy to make. Excitedly, I went home with visions of chocolate chip cookies and the enjoyment my family would have eating them.
The next day, I took out the package and read the recipe on the back. As I read the ingredients list, there were a couple of items I was unfamiliar with and didn’t have; baking soda and vanilla extract. I had no idea what these ingredients were and I didn’t even know how to pronounce vanilla extract. Since Tina wasn’t home, I couldn’t ask her. And my sisters and brother didn’t know either. Oh well… I thought…  and made the cookies without the two ingredients. My reasoning — it couldn’t have been important since the recipe asked for such small amount. Well, I learned the small amount was indeed very important when I took out of the oven; a tray of cookies that looked like lumps of brown poop — as my brother had commented. The cookies tasted terrible. They were hard and lumpy. Instead of the enjoyment I had envisioned; I was told not to make any more cookies. With tears in my eyes, I threw all the brown poop lumps into the garbage.