Cho Best Matcha Latte

Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte
Cho Best Matcha Latte

Hey there! How has your week been?? I've been taking things slowly lately. After a few really hectic weeks, my body just needed a major reset. Over the weekend, Reuben and I lived our best homebody lives. We finished Queer Eye in a day, caught up on the craziness of West World, and made pizza (Reuben made it while I melted on the couch). Speaking of couches! We did manage to leave the house for some fresh air and some West Elm research. Our TV watching spot is about to get a nice upgrade! Oh, and we also went over to our good friend's parent's house for a beautiful dinner party full of cheese, clams, and Polly Ann Ice Cream. It was the best! It's always so nice to have someone else prepare an great meal for you. Alex's parents have a house in the Inner Richmond, so not to far from us, and it is the most beautiful place. If you dream of the ideal San Francisco home, this is it. Bright, sunny, breezy, charming, and with a backyard full of plums and other tasty things. I wonder if they would let me move in??

The weekend was everything that I needed it to be. Calming. I feel like with all the travel and craziness over the last 6 weeks, I've fallen out of my daily rhythms. Since I typically have a bunch of things happening at the same time, whether that's balancing work with blogging or the handful of other side hustles or just managing to make dinner most nights, I need daily rituals to help ground me. For a solid 5 months I was really good at getting up early enough to make myself breakfast and a matcha latte. I'm not a waking up person... but once I'm awake I'm a morning person... if that makes sense. I always look forward to the morning so I could plate a pretty bowl of yogurt and whiz up a frothy and warming matcha latte. Those 15 minutes of calm and focusing on one simple task helped me set myself off on the right foot each morning. I've finally started getting back into that rhythm this week. Well not this morning, because I had to wake up at 4am to drive 1 hour for a 6am meeting... 6am meetings should be illegal, right??! But other than this morning and some sick vibes I've somehow combatted, I'm feeling good. 

Good thing too, because I need to get back into the kitchen and share some real food with you guys and not just popsicles and matcha lattes! This matcha latte is the best though. I promise! I posted an iced matcha latte recipe about a year ago and honestly, you can ignore that recipe lol. I've learned a lot about matcha and how I like to make own matcha latte at home over the past year. When I first had matcha, it tasted like seaweed to me... but eventually I got over that or maybe I've found better tasting matcha since them. If you're looking to purchase matcha powder I highly recommend Mizuba Tea Co. or Ippodo. I currently have Mizuba Culinary Organic Matcha in my kitchen and I really love it. The color is super bright green and the flavor is strong. I like to buy culinary grade matcha because I can bake with it too. You really shouldn't waste ceremonial grade matcha on baked goods. If you do buy it, make sure to store your matcha in a dark place, otherwise the sun with cause your matcha to turn a little pale green grey. I learned that the hard way!

My secret ingredient to Cho Best Matcha Latte is vanilla infused agave syrup. I've had many coffee shop matcha lattes, but the best one I've ever had was from this random coffee shop up in Tahoe. I can't even tell you the name of it right now. But I asked them what they put in theirs because it just tasted so unbelievably good. Sweet but not too sweet. The matcha flavor was strong and not diluted from too much milk or water. And there was an interesting flavor I just couldn't put my finger on. The coffee shop told me they used vanilla agave syrup! Such a good idea! Infusing the vanilla bean pod in the agave gives it a really beautiful, light, and almost floral vanilla flavor to the latte. It also works great in regular old coffee! I tried it this morning. Coconut butter is another secret ingredient I've picked up. It adds a really lovely coconut flavor and also helps make the latte extra thick and frothy without all the extra milk! I sometimes add collagen protein powder or maca powder for some extra health points, but you can experiment with whatever you like! Add a little dash of pumpkin pie spice in when October comes along.

Another secret tip for making Cho Best Matcha Latte is using a blender! Don't be ashamed. It's is like a million times faster than whisking it by hand, frothing your own milk, and then artfully combining everything. I love my quiet mornings. But I don't have hours to spend at home doing it all at a snail's pace. While my water kettle is boiling, I prepare everything else in the cup of my immersion blender, and then whiz it up for a minute once my hot water is ready. It's crazy easy. You can save the matcha whisk for a special occasion or if you want to fit in a morning arm work out.

I hope you get the chance to make Cho Best Matcha Latte soon! And I hope it brings you as much calm and joy as it brings me : )

*** Also happy birthday to Reuben's Mom today!!! and happy birthday Cho Momma tomorrow!!!!! Yay, Moms!


Cho Best Matcha Latte

makes one 12oz latte

latte materials:

1/2 cup warm milk
1 cup just boiled water
1 tsp matcha powder
1 tbsp coconut butter
1 tsp vanilla infused agave syrup (see recipe below)
* you could also use honey

vanilla infused agave materials:

1 vanilla bean pod
2 cups agave

vanilla infused agave syrup:

Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife lengthwise, careful to not cut the pod all the way through. Scrape out the vanilla "caviar" and mix with agave. Place the scraped bean pod in the agave as well. Seal up the jar and allow the vanilla bean to infuse for at least 24 hours. Remove the pod after 3 days and store the agave in a cool dry place.

hot matcha latte:

Combine warm milk, just boiled water, matcha powder, coconut butter, and vanilla agave in a blender or vessel for an immersion blender. Blend for 1 minute until frothy. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

iced matcha:

Combine hot milk, matcha, and agave in a blender or vessel for an immersion blender. Blend for 30 seconds. Pour over ice and add in milk.

Cho Best Matcha Latte

Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles

Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles

Gosh, I've been bad at this whole food blogging thing! Sorry I was absent for a while again. Life has been a little crazy. I feel like I say that once a month. As you probably know, I applied to be on The Great American Baking Show. That happened about 2 weeks ago and a bunch of crazy stuff has happened since then. Once I sent in my application, I took a deep breath and waited like 2 seconds. The next day I got a phone call that lead to another phone call, which then lead to a semi awkward facetime interview, and then all of a sudden I was preparing to do down to Los Angeles to audition in person. Holy cow! My little anxious heart was going to explode. So that's why I've been a little quite on the blog.

For the LA auditions I needed to bring a highly decorated bake, a pastry, and a loaf of bread following their super basic recipe. I had one week to figure out what I was going to make, practice each a few times, and figure out how the hell I was going to be able to bake all these thing at the right time so that they still taste good after a 7 hour drive to LA. Oh, and like still work a real full time job and deal with life all at the same time. I decided to a make a tahini layer cake filled with plum jam, covered in vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, and topped with matcha macarons and baked meringues for my decorated bake. There was a lot going on. For my pastry I made an oolong tea pastel de nata or egg tart if you're more familiar with the egg tarts you find at dim sum. The only component I've ever made before was the plum jam... and the bread sort of. So I was really pushing myself with this challenge.

Last week felt like Hell Week, which is what we would call the last week leading up to final reviews in architecture school. It's as awful as the name alludes to. We would stay up all night, eat a lot of vending machine ice cream sandwiches, occasionally suffer an x-acto knife injury, and design something eventually. I didn't really sleep, at least not peacefully. Did I mention that I'm an anxious person? I burned myself pretty bad on a 450 degree dutch oven while practicing my bread. I was being dumb and had a margarita that night... so don't drink and handle hot metal. But that bread was the best bread I've ever made! So that's something! It was a week of many many failures and a few successes. By the end of the week I was feeling somewhat confident in my bakes.

It had finally struck 6pm on Thursday and I was quietly packing up my things to head home and bake for the rest of the night. But my coworkers noticed and gave me a sweet little send off and cheered me on for the weekend. It was a great little boost that I needed : ) I headed home and baked for what felt like days. I slept for maybe 3 hours, got up at 3am to bake some more. Then all of a sudden it was 9am and I had a pretty cake, some egg tarts, and a b+ loaf of bread to transport down to LA. Thankfully Reuben also took the day off to be my personal driver, so I didn't have to be a zombie baker and a zombie driver at the same time. I thought I could sleep on the driver down there, but nope! I was a little too anxious to allow my mind to shut off. I just had no idea how this judging process was going to go. The unknown makes me nervous sometimes. I imagined that the judging would be like how my architecture critiques would go. I would stand up there, present my process and reasoning behind each bake and discuss their praises and critiques. That I felt comfortable with. But that's not really how it went down.

The judging took place in the ballroom of the hotel the production company got us a room at, which was super convenient. Reuben and I arrived at the hotel about an hour before my tasting slot. So I had a little bit of time to calm down and make myself look like a presentable adult person. I carefully gripped my bakes and brought them down to the ballroom. The room was filled with who I assumed were producers, one of whom I recognized from facetiming and chatting on the phone with all week. Hi, Matt! They placed my bakes on a big Cheesecake Factory scale platter and carried them into another mysterious room. I guess I wasn't going to be in the room as they were tasting. Reuben and I waited outside for about 10 minutes until they were ready to bring me in. There were 2 people in there- baking experts. They told me that overall my bakes were really beautiful. I had a minimal but impactful style that was refreshing to see. That's a good comment, right?!! I was feeling good. Then they told me that the tahini in the cake was a little too savory and that the oolong tea turned my custard a little grey. Ugh, not good. But overall they said that everything tasted good. Cool. The second half of the session was them asking me if I've made x,y, and z. Have I made a 3 tiered wedding cake? NO. Have you made puff pastry from scratch before? NO. Have you croissants? NO. Have you made a mirror glaze? NO. I did say yes to a few things, but about 75% of the things they asked about I had never made before.

There was a knock on the door and my audition was over. It all happened so fast. I walked out, met up with Reuben, and we were directed to just hang around the hotel a little bit until the judges decided if I was going on to the last and final round of the audition, which would be a technical bake the next day. So we went to the hotel bar. I ordered a white wine and we watching the first 5 minutes of the incredibly disappointing game 4 of the NBA finals. I got a call on my phone from Matt, my producer, and he told me that I was not going through to the next round. I had only been at the hotel for less than 2 hours and already my weird baking journey was over. I teared up just a little bit, but held it together because I was sitting at the bar of a hotel surrounded by strangers. By this point I was mentally and physically exhausted. But my sadness quickly dissipated. I realized that I did it. I put myself into this weird and challenging scenario and followed it through. I felt proud of myself. And I felt a sense of relief honestly. I felt like throughout the entire audition process I was pushing myself into this mold that I didn't really fit into. I'm not really baker. I would never say that I'm a baker. I enjoy baking and love experimenting with my bakes. But I'm really a cook. I love chopping vegetables and eating noodles to much. 

Plus we now had the whole weekend in LA to just hang out! The production company paid for our hotel all weekend, so I pretty much worked really hard all week for a free hotel in LA. It was great! We found some great beer bars and some really really amazing food. The hotel was in Glendale, Ca, which has the largest Armenian community in the US. So we got to experience some top notch Armenian food. If you're in LA, you must try Mini Kabob in Glendale, it's sooooooo good! The Chef also had a taco pop up at Smorgasburg, so we decided to stay a little longer on Sunday and stop by for some free tacos and all the other crazy food you can find there. It was so much fun! I wish San Francisco had one too!

This whole experience ended up being really wonderful, and I have absolutely no regrets doing it. Thanks to all of you who were cheering me on throughout the whole process and sent sweet words to me when I told you I didn't make it through. Thank you to my friends for being there for me and not getting annoyed of me as I was live texting the whole experience. And the biggest thank you to Reuben! Seriously, what a guy. He has to deal with the not so fun side of the experience. Everyone else just gets to say, "You can do it!" and cheer. But Reuben had to handle the many times I broke down from stress and dramatic moments. Like when I burned my hand and cried all night. I get sort of mean when I get grumpy. But thankfully Reuben still loves me after this who experience. He's so kind and patient with me. Really could not have done this whole thing without him by my side.

So this story really has nothing to do with popsicles! But I've been meaning to share this recipe for like a month now... I got a little busy obviously. This recipe is super simple, super fresh, and really visually appealing if you're into geometric color blocks like me : ) I hope you enjoy them and have a great week!


Coconut Cantaloupe Popcicles

makes 10 popsicles

materials:

3 cups cubed cantaloupe
1 cup + 1/3 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (I used Noosa Yogurt)
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup

steps:

1. Blend together cantaloupe and 1 cup coconut milk until thick and smooth. Taste for sweetness. You can add a bit of honey or agave syrup if you prefer it a little sweeter. 

2. Pour cantaloupe mixture into your popsicle molds so that they are filled 2/3rds of the way up. Place the popsicles in the freezer, propped up at an angle and allow to freeze for 1 hour.

3. Mix together coconut yogurt, 1/3 cup coconut milk and honey or agave syrup until combined. Fill the remainder of the popsicle molds with the yogurt mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and place back into the freezer to completely set up.

4. Enjoy once completely frozen!

Spring Chicken Siu Mai

Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Main
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai
Spring Chicken Siu Mai

Ah, it feels good to be home : ) Reuben and I just got back from 9 wonderful days on the East Coast! We danced around, ate, and celebrated love with some of my best friends in New York City. Then we got some quality time in with his parents in cute little Roosevelt, New Jersey. His mom made us brownies and this incredible chorizo, chickpea, and cod stew that I'm still dreaming about. Triple C! I also developed an addiction to these coconut and seedy cluster things they kept at the house. I'm still dreaming about them and trying to find the time to recreate them myself. THEY ARE SO GOOD. At the tail end of our trip we spent the last weekend in Philadelphia. It was MUGGY. I forgot what that type of weather felt like. It was so hot and wet, the second you went outside your skin was instantly damp. Living in San Francisco has made us wimps. We live in a bubble of constant 65 degree weather and any temperature slightly above or below that is either hot as balls or cold as tits. Is cold as tits a saying??? I caught myself telling someone in Philadelphia how we don't eat outside in San Francisco because it gets down to 55 degrees at night and it's freezing. I realized I sounded like an idiot. My inner midwesterner was embarrassed.

Despite the muggy weather in Philadelphia, I absolutely loved it there. Reuben and I have been wanting to make a trip out there to see if we could potentially move there. I think the answer is yes, definitely yes. The food was so great! We ate at 2 Michael Solomonov restaurants, Dizengoff and Abe Fischer. Insanely good! We would have made it 3 if I didn't feel like a meatball the whole time and had some actual stomach room to grab a donut at Federal Donuts... next time! Center City was super cute and charming. Super walkable too! I was worried that Philadelphia would be missing all the Asian food we're spoiled with by living in San Francisco, but then 1 block from our Airbnb was a ramen place that made brisket ramen with kimchi and a matzo ball and all my worries disappeared. It's hard to compare any city to San Francisco, but I think Philadelphia has all the amenities and culture points we need, but just a lot cheaper and a little more charming with all the cute old neighborhoods. Downtown Philadelphia is also not nearly as poopy as Downtown San Francisco... ugh, gross. If/when we move there I'll just have to buy a bunch of loose summer dresses and shorts to help acclimate to the weather. 

Since we've been living in the Inner Richmond, which is the Asian food mecca of San Francisco, I've developed this irrational fear of not having access to great Asian food whenever we move. We just have the best Thai, Burmese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants within 4 blocks of our apartment. But the day that we move will come, and I will be prepared to make my favorite dishes!  I'll probably never be able to recreate the magic that happens in the kitchen of Good Luck Dim Sum, but I'm feeling pretty confident that my dumpling making skills will satisfy my cravings. These Spring Chicken Siu Mai were inspired by all the beautiful spring produce popping up at our farmers market. I love this season so much! It's almost as great as late summer, when all the tomatos and stone fruit taste like candy. The chicken siu mai are a lot lighter and maybe slightly healthier than the traditional pork and shrimp or beef fillings. Once it's all steamed together it tastes super fresh and sort of like all the best parts of your spring garden rolled up into a little dumpling. Bonus points for it being super easy to assemble too. No fancy pleats or pinching necessary!


Spring Chicken Siu Mai

makes 36 dumplings

Materials:

1 lb ground chicken (turkey works too)
1/3 cup fresh peas
1/3 cup diced carrots (same size as peas)
2 spring/green onion stocks - whites and greens thinly chopped
1 egg
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
36 round wonton wrappers
extra peas and carrots for garnish

Steps:

1. Combine ground chicken, peas, carrots, spring onions, egg, cornstarch, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and white pepper in a bowl. Gently mix together with your hands or a rubber spatula until evenly combined, avoid over mixing. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marinate.

2. Place a heaping tablespoon (about 1.5 tablespoons) of filling in the center of your wonton wrapper. Fold up the side of the wrapper, but leave the top of the dumpling open. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Cover prepared dumplings with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Top each dumpling with either a pea or a cube of carrot for garnish.

3. Boil water in a pot and place a bamboo steamer (the same diameter as the pot) on top. Line the bamboo steamer with cabbage or a parchment paper disk with perforated holes. Arrange dumplings in the steamer, cover, and steam for 7-8 minutes.

4. Remove dumplings from the steamer and enjoy by dipping into some dark soy sauce.

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