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Finch’s Inspired Pizza

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Finch’s is definitely one of my favourite cafe in Vancouver.  I’m so addicted to their baked blue brie, walnut, pear, prosciutto baguette and it has always been on my favourite item in their menu.  I love it so much that I even tried to make it at home.  All you have to do is to assemble all the ingredients into the baguette, and it’s done. BUT,  I still think they make the BEST ones here in Vancouver.  I still go to Finch’s for their amazing baguettes even I’m quite satisfied with my homemade finch’s baguette.(picture below)  This is how I pay respect to the food and restaurants that I love. 

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My homemade Finch’s creation doesn’t stop here.  I tried to put these ingredients into a pizza as well.

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Instead of using blue brie, I’m using mozzarella because I had a big block of mozzarella in my fridge. 

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Ta-Da!  This is my Finch’s inspired pizza! Yay!  I’m so happy with the result!  It tasted so good that I’m thinking of using these amazing ingredients into some other Finch’s inspired dishes again.  What’s next?! I’m wondering….

I got this pizza great dough recipe from Martha Stewart.

http://www.marthastewart.com/341925/pizza-dough

Ingredient:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 2 cups warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, preferably organic
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for bowl

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour; continue adding flour (up to 1/2 cup), 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead with lightly floured hands. Start by slapping the dough onto the counter, pulling it toward you with one hand and pushing it away from you with the other. Fold the dough back over itself (use a bench scraper or a wide knife to help scrape dough from surface). Repeat until it’s easier to handle, about 10 times. Finish kneading normally until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but a little tacky, about 10 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, 2 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.
  4. Scrape dough out of the bowl onto floured surface, and cut it into 4 pieces. Shape into balls. Dust with flour, and cover with plastic. Transfer to refrigerator, let rise overnight.
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Clams, Lasagna & Pizza

We had a mini birthday party for my friend, Toi at our place back in December.  It was a fun night filled with laughter and of course, FOOD.  I made a few dishes, but one of the dish turned into a disaster. Please keep on reading and you’ll know why.

For appetizer, I made the Clams in white wine, garlic and butter broth using the recipe from Martha Stewart.

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Ingredients:

http://www.marthastewart.com/356933/grilled-clams-garlic-white-wine-and-tomatoes

serve 4-5 as an appetizer

  • 4 pounds of clams
  • 4 cups of Chicken Stock (or any other Stock)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 shallot, diced
  • 3 Italian tomatos, diced
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. To clear out the salt and sand, put the clams in a colander and soak them in a large bowl for a few hours filled with enough water to cover all the clams, then scrub each clam on both sides under running water.
  2. Heat butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Cook shallot, onion and garlic for 4 minutes.

  3. Add chicken stock, tomato and bay leaves, bring it to a simmer.

  4. Add white wine and simmer for 3 minutes
  5. Add clams and covered, until the shells open.

  6. Discard bay leaves and unopened clams.
  7. Remove pot from heat. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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I also made a beef lasagna and a pizza, but the pizza above is a such a failure  :  ( 

I forgot to set the timer therefore the crust was over baked.  It was rough, hard and dry! The basil leaves and the prosciutto should have been cut into smaller pieces.  The cheese should be placed evenly all over the pizza and the crust should have been thinner!  Yes, Everything was so wrong about this pizza and I just hate it! LOL I guess nobody would believe that I really did try to make a few successful pizza before this one.  I’ll make sure that I can manage my time wisely next time when I have to make a few dishes at the same time. 

The next day I woke up, I was still a little mad about the pizza that I made! I knew I had to make a better pizza again to reduce my anger. I opened the fridge right away, took everything out and start making the pizza again.  The pizza turned out great and I’m glad I did.  Yup, I never give up when it comes to cooking. LOL!!!

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Please see my next post for the recipe of this pizza.

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DIY Baby Shower Decorations

Who says SophiaSofei is a blog all about food and cooking?  Besides cooking,  I’m addicted in making crafts as well.  I can sit in front of the computer and look for interesting and inspiring craft projects all day long  :  ) 

I’m so excited that my very best friend (my maid of honor), Julie is pregnant and she’s now in her 8th months!!! That’s just too exciting as she just got married earlier this year!  It was a great timing to throw her a surprised Baby Shower when I was in Hong Kong in September. 

The venue of the baby shower is already really nice, so I just wanted to have some simple decorations with bunting flags, helium balloons and some centerpieces on the table.

I’m glad the bunting turns out great with the setting of the room.  It matches perfectly with the fireplace!

Julie has a hobby in making beautiful bridal bouquets, so I though she might like some decorations with a bunch of flowers.  I’m definitely not talented like her in handling fresh flowers, so I decided to make her something special with faux flowers which could be served as a gift too.

I got her (her son actually!) some super cute onesies and socks! OMG they are so cute!!!

Thanks to Martha Stewart for showing the video on how to make these baby onesies into roses, otherwise I have no idea what to do with them.

I made 2 small bunches with 6 onesies and 2 pair of socks.  I’m glad that not a lot of people noticed these “roses” are made out of onesies, so I guess I blended them in nicely with the faux flowers.

We had a LOT of fun at the baby shower, although some of the drinks tasted weird and the portion of the food were too small, we all had a great time with Julie, and I do miss all my friends badly!!! I’m so looking forward to visiting Hong Kong again and meeting Baby XX! 

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Stay Full Stay Happy

Hello again!  I know it has been 2 months since my last update!  I went to Hong Kong to visit my families and friends and also had a wonderful trip in Taiwan where I had a LOT of delicious treats.  The picture below mostly sums up what I’ve eaten in the trip and yup, I gained some weight of course :”)  The trip in Hong Kong and Taiwan was pretty intensive, but I managed to get the most out of it. Now,things are slowly getting back to normal after this long trip and I’ve got a lot of new plans going on in my mind  :”) 

Life is too short!  Let’s get things started!!!

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Pigs In a Blanket

I tried to commit myself that I must update my blog at least once every week, but there are a lot of things going on lately which keep me busy at all time.  Anyways, summer is here and the weather is soooo AMAZING Every Single Day!!!!  Ed and I finally had a picnic with friends and the best thing is that we had it at the beautiful English Bay before watching the fireworks.  How amazing is that!?!

I guess I baked too much lately, so when it comes to choosing finger food for our picnic, I could only think of quiche, pastry, cakes…etc.  I was just too excited making all these baked goodies, but I did not realize all these baked goodies taste the best only when they are served warm.  By the time we’ve arrived at the beach, set up everything and took out the food, the food were cold and stiff.  The lesson to myself is, NEVER bring pastry/quiche/baked food (except cakes) to the picnic! LOL! I guess I should have made some salad and cold canapé instead. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 pack of wieners
  • Dijon Mustard
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions:

  1. Cut puff pastry sheets into small squares about 2 x 2 inches
  2. Cut wieners into thirds
  3. Spread 1 tea spoon of Dijon Mustard on each puff pastry sheet.
  4. Place wieners on puff pastry sheet and roll up the sides and press firmly.
  5. Brush each Pigs in a Blanket with the egg wash (egg yolk).
  6. Preheat oven to 350ºF and bake on ungreased parchment paper for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Serve Warm and dip with Lots of ketchup!

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Chairman Ting’s Art Show, HOMOSAPIENESE

My talented friend, Carson Ting (aka Chairman Ting) had his first solo art show, HOMOSAPIENESE, at Walrus last week showcasing ten interesting and beautiful drawings about human. I was fortunate enough to have a sneak peek of his drawings a while ago, and I was so amazed by the drawings!  I LOVE this interesting concept of combining some totally unrelated people into a human being!!!  This is something that I’ve never seen and thought of before!   I was so looking forward to this, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the show :  (   It was a shame, but if you missed the art show like me, the drawings are still up at Walrus until September!!! Check out his website too for more of his amazing work.  www.chairmanting.com

Although I couldn’t be there that day, I made some goodies and Ed bought them to the show.  I made some Lavender Macarons, Grapefruit Macarons, Black Sesame Macarons and Matcha Red Bean Balls.  I got some extra Red Bean Paste after making the Matcha Red Bean Balls,so I used that to make some cupcakes as well.  It was a bit tough for me to make so much food as I’m not a professional, but it was a great experience and I enjoyed it. 

Congrats to Carson and Walrus again for the success of the art show and thanks all those who enjoyed my food at the show!

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Salad - Sesame Chicken Cucumber Salad

Summer is finally here!  Yay!!! It means we’re going to have 2 months of amazing weather here in Vancouver, lots of BBQ, picnics, ice-cream and lots of outdoor activities!    It also means I have to make refreshing dishes because I tend to lose appetite when the temperature is high.  I think I’ve had enough greasy and fat food over the year and it’s time to eat healthier!!!  I was searching for all kinds of salad recipes online and saw a very mouth watering Korean Chicken Salad at Beyond Kimchee and couldn’t wait to make it something similar to this.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 English Cucumber in thin slices
  • 2-3 tbsp of crushed toasted sesame seed
  • 2 pieces of Chicken Breast
  • 1 tbsp of Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp of Black Pepper
  • 1tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 3 tbsp of sesame salad dressing

Direction:

  1. marinade the chicken using the soy sauce, black pepper, sugar, 1/2 tbsp of salt for 30 minutes and steam for 25 minutes.
  2. Chill the chicken and shred in small pieces by hand.
  3. Wash the cucumber, cut in thin slices and place in a bowl.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of salt and toss the cucumber.
  5. Let it sit for 15 minutes and drain the water.
  6. In a large bowl, place the Shredded Chicken, Cucumber, Crushed Sesame Seed, Honey and Sesame Salad Dressing and Mix.
  7. Serve for 2-3.

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Having Brunch at Home

I love making breakfast, but when you need to wake up early on the weekdays and have to get the breakfast done by 8:15am, you can’t really do much.  To me, Weekend means sleeping in and having a great brunch!  Without the rush and pressure, I can spend some time to style the plate and make some great coffee.  It’s weekend, so it’s perfectly fine to slow down a bit and enjoy your day with your loved ones.  : D

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Baking Class - Whole Wheat Breads

I’m so into pastry and baking these days.  I’ve already made over a hundred of macarons in different flavors, some scones and some cakes over the past few days!  I don’t know why, but I just enjoy it so much that I can spend the whole day in the kitchen without feeling tired.  LOL!!!   Anyways, after attending the baking class by PICA, I decided to learn a bit more about bread baking.  I attended a bread making class by UBC farm taught by a great Artisan Baker Florin Moldovan. We got to choose white, whole wheat or 50/50 for our bread, and I chose whole wheat.

100% Whole Wheat Bread Formulas (75% Hydration)

Whole Wheat Flour     1050g

Water                      788g

Salt                         21g

Yeast                       11g

We started off by mixing the ingredients to combine into a dough.  Oh Gosh, it took a lot of energy to make it into a smooth and uniform dough!!!  It was a big dough, and I felt my arm was tearing apart in the middle of mixing.  (Oh well….my arms are not strong enough I guess!)  Anyways, I still made it to the end and the gluten developed at least.

After finished mixing, we had to allow the dough to ferment for hours, so we had to take it home to bake.  I’m glad that Florin had prepared his dough in advance and it was ready to be baked in class, so that we could sample some nice bread.

This is Florin’s bread!  It was soooooooo good!  I just couldn’t wait to bake my own!!

After getting home, the dough expanded and I’m having a HUGE dough now!  Great!! I’m gonna make some loaves in different sizes.

Folding is fun.  It reminds me of wrapping gyozas a couple weeks ago.

After folding 4 sides, the dough has to be sit for another hour or so to redistribute the yeast for continued growth, then divided into smaller portion.

Actually, there are few more steps after shaping the dough, like rounding, panning and scoring, but my hands were sticky, so I was too lazy to take more photos :  P

Anyways, here’s my cute little round whole wheat bread!  Isn’t it adorable?!

I also made some mini loaves as well with different scoring method.

and of course, the loaf shaped wheat brad! 

The loaf looks a bit too short I think, but it tasted great!!! Ed said it tasted like store bought wheat bread!  (but of course he’s always biased when it comes to tasting my creation)  Anyways, it was a really great experience, and I’m sure I’ll keep making my own bread from now on. 

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