Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Favorites and Happy New Year!

You know the holidays are wonderful indeed, but all the food and presents and festive gatherings can really make you feel spun about and hardly able to tell head from tail. To the point that your usual "Monday Favorites" were buried and forgotten until this morning! (This being a completely hypothetical example, of course =p) I hope you're all similarly and quite happily occupied and thus not too disappointed when my Monday post failed to materialize on time. Well fret not for I have returned ;)...and with not only my trusty selection of drool-worthy food photography features but a few trailers for movies and shows I'm particularly excited about at the moment. The BBC show, Sherlock, is actually going into its 2nd season on New Year's Day (*squee*) but I've opted for the season 1 trailer below since you simply must start at the beginning (easily done as it's only 3 episodes, all of which are on Netflix Instant!).

And both because I'm currently digging all things Benedict Cumberbatch (he's the star of Sherlock) AND because it's a genuinely addictive show, I recommend you check out the British radio show Cabin Pressure, which follows the crew of a hilariously problem-prone single-plane "airline." As always, enjoy! I won't be checking in again 'til next week, so I hope you have a fun and safe New Year's!

Mini Meringue Tart Photograph from Jan Luijk
1 Jan Luijk-Mini Meringue Tart Stand
Raspberry Ice Cream-Filled Eclairs and Almond Cream Puffs Photographs from
2 TasteAu-Choux Cream Filled Puffs Fingers Raspberry Ice Cream Idea
Draped Wedding Cake by Sharon Wee Creations
3 SharonWeeCreations-Draped Fondant Wedding Cake Idea
12 Rikkims-Chestnuts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mexican Tea Cakes (Guest Feature on Food Network UK)

Mexican Tea Cakes
Almost a year ago I shared a recipe for my favorite holiday cookies, the wonderfully nutty, buttery, and powdered sugary balls known as Mexican Tea Cakes...or Mexican wedding cakes or Danish wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes or snowballs or butterballs...and the list goes on. No matter the title, these babies have universal appeal...or at least I've always thought so! Luckily Sanjana of Food Network UK - who also writes one of my favorite blogs, KO Rasoi - felt the same. The recipe and photos as well as a short interview with me are being featured today on Food Network UK's Locally Sourced blog. I'd love it if you'd take the time to check it out =D!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oops! So About Last Night...=p

Dear readers, if you subscribe to my feed, you've probably been getting a massive amount of "new posts" in the last 12 hours. I am incredibly sorry for all the posts re-published in your readers and perhaps (though hopefully not) via email! I had a technical issue with the Blogger platform and had to re-publish all my posts multiple times just in order to keep the links to my old posts intact. All of those issues have now been RESOLVED -- thanks in advance for understanding!

2011 Holiday Card
Unfortunately, part of the solution required that I switch my blog to a different site under Blogger. My domain remains the same at 6 Bittersweets, so few people will notice any difference. There's just one exception: those of you who follow me via Google and/or subscribe to my Blogger feed will need to switch over to my Feedburner OR e-mail subscription services in order to continue getting updates for new 6 Bittersweets posts. I love connecting with each and every one of you, so I really hope to continue our exchange despite this hiccup. Again, all you need to do is click on either of these links to subscribe to a working feed: (1) Feedburner RSS feed or (2) e-mail subscription.

Happy holidays, and hope to see you all on the other side =D! 

Much ♥,

Saturday Favorites

I'm finally taking GREs next Tuesday, so I figured I'd get my favorites post out ahead of the usual schedule. This way I can give studying my undivided attention next week. Enjoy and don't forget to take some breaks from the holiday insanity every once in a while ;D!

Hazelnut Nougat Photograph from Pinot & Dita
1 Pinodita-Hazelnut Nougat Candy
Citrus Fruit Granitas Photograph from Armin Zoqbaum
2 Armin Zogbaum-Citrus Fruits Orange Grapefruit Granita Tequila Idea
3 Roost-Cranberry Almond Mini Upside-down Cakes Idea Sifter Propwish

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Filmography: Looking Back and Ahead

Both P and I have a great love of well-acted, thought-provoking, and/or fun movies and TV series. Although I've only taken to mentioning this on the blog recently, it's a passion of mine nearly on par with food and music. Hopefully some of you feel the same because I simply can't resist sharing the video above. It's a retrospective that artfully weaves scenes from 230 films of 2011 to remind us of the incredible ways this medium can uplift, excite, provoke, and transport us...even if just for a few hours!

And wanting to look forward as well as backwards, I've also included trailers for 2 of my most highly anticipated movies this season: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What are some others you all are excited to see? I'd love to hear what's on your radar in the comments!

Oh and in case you didn't recognize her, check out this comparison of Rooney Mara (the actress who plays the main character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) before and after her makeover for this role. Would you have recognized this as the same girl? (I sure didn't...) I'll never doubt the transformative power of makeup, hair dye, and facial piercings again 8p!

Rooney Mara Before and After-horz

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Favorites (It's Starting to Feel A Bit Like Christmas...)

It's almost Christmas! Can you believe it? Although I'm not religious, like many, I've still grown up exchanging gifts with and celebrating together with family and friends 'round this time of year. I'll be especially grateful this year when (or IF =p) I survive til Christmas day past finals and GREs! The decorations, holiday ads, and even watching an interview with my favorite Scottish actor have gotten me thinking about Santa. The actor gave me quite a chuckle when he admitted he'd always thought Santa threw presents down the chimney until recently. As for myself, I've never gone through believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or anything like that. I'm kinda glad I avoided the let-down of learning they weren't real, but I have to admit a part of me is curious what it's like to be experience the childlike wonder of discovering "Santa's" gifts on Christmas morning. Perhaps I'm romanticizing it too much? Anyway, here's the latest round of food photography favorites with a healthy dose of holiday spirit!

P.S. - In case you missed it, I've now added photos to my Champagne Brownies post =D. But I have to warn you...these babies are dangerously addictive. Who knew dark chocolate and champagne would make such a great pair?

Beets Photograph from Wrightfood
1 Wrightfood-Beets Ingred
Shrimp Soba Rolls from Kitchen M
2 KitchenM-Shrimp Soba Noodle Rolls Idea
Plum Clafoutis Bars from Delicious Magazine
3 Deliciousmag-Plum Clafoutis Bars Idea
Sweet Potato Gratin and Stuffed Acorn Squash Photographs from Johnny Miller
5 Johnny Miller-Sweet Potato Gratin Casserole Acorn Squash Stuffed I</div><div style=

Friday, December 9, 2011

Champagne Brownies for Nelly!

Marnely of Cooking with Books, affectionately known as Nelly to many of us, is one of the kindest, most generous food bloggers (and people) I've had the luck to "meet." Though I haven't had the chance to greet her in person (yet), Nelly was one of the first to befriend me when I joined Twitter and was always there to help a girl out, whether that meant retweeting my latest posts or using her cooking chops (from her C.I.A. training and other experience) to answer my frantic questions O=).

Bubbly Brownies
So when Nelly announced not so long ago that Murray, the love of her life, had proposed and that they were about to embark on a journey of a lifetime together, you can imagine how delighted we were for her and how many of us wanted to give back just a little of what she'd given to all of us. Fortunately, Sanjeeta of Lite Bite stepped up to the plate and put together a fun n' fabulous blog hop today. There's just 1 day left before Nelly takes the big leap, and we wanted to send as much love to her as possibly before the Big Day!

Brownie Collage
I knew almost right away what I wanted to make for #NellysBigDay: a rich brownie with a champagne twist. Dark chocolate to remind them that while any real journey will have its high points and rough spots, taken together the experience will be most sublime. And both their love of each other and depth of appreciation for their life together will be greater as a result. Of course, the champagne is in tribute to the sweetness and exuberance of young love with the hope that they'll be as excited to be joined in 40 years as they are on Day 1. Congratulations, Nelly and Murray -- wishing you both a lifetime of happiness!

Biten Brownies
Fudgy Champagne Brownies [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Lovescool via She Who Eats
Makes about 16 servings (9-inch square pan)

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Let the brownies cool completely before cutting. I recommend placing them in the refrigerator overnight or freezer for a few hours to set if you want really clean cuts. This is a great way to use up champagne that you've accidentally let go flat (not that we ever have that problem around here lol).

15 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for buttering the pan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar PLUS 1 1/2 Tbsp, divided
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (4.5 oz.) all purpose flour
1 cup champagne, divided

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (leave extra overhanging the edges for easy removal) OR line pan with heavy duty foil and generously grease foil with butter.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler. If using the microwave, heat in 30 second increments and stir between each addition. Do not overheat or chocolate will seize.

Beat the salt, vanilla and 1 3/4 cups of sugar into the melted chocolate mixture. Let cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time to the chocolate mixture and beat thoroughly to incorporate. Add the flour and mix vigorously for 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons of champagne and mix slowly until the champagne gets evenly incorporated into the batter. Then return to vigorous mixing for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist, but free of batter, about 40 to 55 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring remaining 2 tablespoons of champagne and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to a boil, then keep at full boil for 1 full minute. Immediately use a pastry brush to brush the warm brownies with the champagne glaze. The liquid should be completely absorbed into the brownies, leaving a moist, shiny top. Let cool then enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Post: Coconut Rice

You may have noticed that I'm not posting recipes as frequently these days. With both final exams and GREs descending on me in less than 2 weeks, I've simply had to shelf my planned posts until winter recess (with one exception this weekend ^-^). Luckily my dear friend Sala of Veggie Belly has kindly stepped in with an absolutely delicious and doable recipe for her fragrant coconut rice! You may recall that I shared a chocolate chestnut cake roll on her blog back in June. We lived not too far from each other then and I've really missed her company since she moved to the West Coast. While I've never tasted this specific dish of hers, I've sampled enough of her cooking to have confidence that all her recipes are dynamite! Please give your warmest welcome to the exceedingly sweet and talented Sala!

What I enjoy the most about blogging is the fact that I’ve met some amazing, like-minded people through blogging. And that’s how I met Xiaolu; through my blog. After weeks of emailing back and forth, we met up for a meal. It was the start of a great friendship, and exchange of ideas. I’ve come to admire Xiaolu for her passion for baking and blogging, and her meticulous food styling. I’m delighted to guest post today and share with you a simple, flavorful, childhood recipe.

Coconut rice was a staple school lunch. I’d take it to school in a little tiffin box, and it always tasted great, hot or cold. Now, coconut rice has become a standard weeknight meal for me. It’s easy to put together and served with a steamed or curried vegetable like my cauliflower broccoli poriyal or some spinach dal and some yogurt, makes a complete meal.

Good quality, fresh coconut is essential for this recipe. You can find fresh-frozen grated or shredded coconut at Indian and Asian stores. Just break off a chunk and let it thaw on your counter top.

If you like some fruity sweetness in your coconut rice, throw in 2 tablespoons of raisins or dried cranberries or dried apricots.

Holiday Cookies Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my holiday cookies giveaway! The randomly selected winner is Lindsay Harmony (comment #60)! Congrats and please look out for my email soon about the details of your prize =D.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Favorites and Some Thoughts on "Shame"

UPDATE: Michael Fassbender just won Best Actor in this year's British Independent Film Awards for his performance in Shame! Congrats, Michael! You really earned it =D.

I was actually planning a recipe post for this weekend, but what can I say but that life had other things in mind 8). Instead I'm now gonna post my weekly favorites a day early and hope to have some pastries up by mid-week!

Among the things that kept me from baking this weekend was the D.C. premiere of Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen's incredible movie, Shame, about a sex addict in NYC whose predicament only gets worse when his unstable sister drops in to live with him. Yes, it's NC-17 but NO it's not at all like porn or even a sexy movie. I didn't find any of the scenes gratuitous and would even say that a story like this simply could NOT be told without graphic scenes.

The point of the movie, at least for me, was not necessarily about just sex addiction but about the desperate lengths many of us go to in order to numb the pains of our past, the loneliness and isolation of the present, or whatever other demons we each carry invisibly on our shoulders like so many Atlas's. It's definitely not easy to watch Shame, but I strongly urge that you do. For one, you won't want to miss Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan's Oscar-worthy performances. Morever, with sex addiction becoming more and more common these days, I hope this movie will spark more dialogue and understanding, and discourage blind judgment.

Thanks to any of y'all who read through my 2 cents on Shame. But I think the food photos are why you're really here. Right, right? This week was fabulous for finding inspirational food photography because Donna Hay magazine finally joined Zinio!! If you're not familiar with Zinio, it will allow you to read Donna Hay electronically on a subscription that is MUCH cheaper than imported copies ($60 versus $13/year). And noooo iPad required! So I hope you'll understand that my excitement about this resulted in adding a lot of Donna Hay photos to this round-up. They're plenty easy on the eyes, though, so I assume you won't mind ;p.

Raspberry Ice Cubes Photograph from Donna Hay (Issue 59)
1 Donna Hay-Raspberry Ice Cubes Idea
2 Aisha Yusaf-Mushroom Tube Pasta Pesto Cream Sauce Idea
3 Dvita-Plums and Grapes
Chickpea Tomato Spelt Soup from Martha Stewart
4 Martha Stewart-Chickpea Tomato Spelt Soup Idea