Cuatro leches cake

We’ve been expanding our dessert repertoire, and I wanted to use up a box of cake mix we got from the free shelf in our apartment building. J suggested cuatro leches cake! It’s like tres leches cake (cake soaked in a mixture of condensed, evaporated, and whole milk or heavy cream, often topped with dulce de leche), but the cake batter also includes powdered milk. I’m not sure that the powdered milk actually does anything for the cake, seems like it might just be for bragging rights on getting 53 different milk ingredients into the dish.

This isn’t really going to be a recipe so much as a guide, since I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a cake mix. The cake is supposed to be a sponge cake, and there are lots of versions online. We added 1/4 cup milk powder to the boxed mix, and whipped the egg whites and folded them in.

Baked in the 13″ cast iron ’cause we don’t have a cake pan and the brownie pan was being used to make dulce de leche. We don’t have photos of that, but know that it made the microwave sticky inside and out.
Poke a bunch of holes and soak with a mixture of (approximately) 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of whole milk or heavy cream, and as much condensed milk as you want, up to 1 can which will make the cake very sweet. We used barely any condensed milk here, which made it a good level of sweetness in combination with the icing.
Cut up haphazardly, move to a smaller container because you froze half the cake, and top with dulce de leche or whipped cream!

The cake turned out really well, much better than I was expecting! J had described the cake as being soooo sweet that you can only eat about a 1 square inch piece at a time. This version is more like cuatro leches cake lite.

Better bagel batch

We tried making bagels again, same recipe. They turned out a lot prettier. In the shaping step, turning the dough into nice balls is pretty important, and cornmeal is important to prevent sticking.

The texture is not that similar to commercial bagels – ours are a lot fluffier. Malt powder may be the secret to the denseness of regular bagels.

Moroccan tagine

With tempeh.
  • Oil
  • 1 pound chicken or other protein (tempeh, tofu, beef, etc), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup quartered dried figs (about 2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Marsala or Madeira
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Brown protein in oil. Add all ingredients except for cilantro. Cook for about 10 minutes until protein is cooked through and figs are plump. Turn off pan and stir in cilantro.

The wine can be substituted with other alcohols. We’ve used shaoxing cooking wine out of convenience.

Gamjajorim (Korean potato side dish)

From Maangchi.

  • 2-3 medium potatoes (about 1 lb total)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (or honey or sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds to taste
  1. Cut potatoes into 2 cm cubes. Rinse. Cut onion into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cook garlic and potato in oil for a few minutes. Add onion. Add water and soy sauce. Simmer until liquid is mostly evaporated and potato is cooked, about 10 minutes. Add more water if needed.
  3. Turn off stove, adding sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Fried chicken bao

Bao recipe and spicy fried chicken inspiration – we used our own fried chicken recipe.

Okay, not beautiful but good. We ate the bao with mayo and gochujang.

I presume the dough recipe is good for other bao dishes.

Bay Area adventures with my dad!

My dad visited J and me this past fall in California. Unfortunately, he bowed out of staying with us, and didn’t get to experience that studio life!! But we did a number of other fun activities.

Fixing the sofa with dental floss was just one part of getting ready for the visit.
Indian pizza with my dad and friend A.
Peach Dutch baby (fondly called “the big pancake” in my family) for breakfast, recipe courtesy of my mom. We were too ambitious with the peaches – these are supposed to puff a lot more than this usually… I’ll post the recipe on here sometime and y’all can try it out.
Hangar One, completed in 1933, at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum. Lots of airplanes, old military uniforms, scale models of stuff, etc. There were a lot of interesting older buildings at the airfield. With more time, it would’ve been fun to walk around. Mysteriously, Carnegie Mellon also has an outpost here.
The underside of the Golden Gate bridge!! As seen from Fort Point.
Fancy dim sum restaurant! This is Koi Palace in Daly City. J heard about it from… somewhere. It’s supposed to be really good. We got there pretty early in the morning and briefly had to wait in line.
Some hiking~
We got rid of some bad lamps at Goodwill and picked up a new-to-us one! It’s made by Stiffel, my dad’s favorite lamp company. Apparently they’re normally quite expensive ($300) – we got this one for $25!
We also saw this cute replacement shade 🙂
Ate at Original Joe’s, a kinda fancy Italian place in SF.

We went to Santa Cruz and saw some old mission buildings. The actual mission was partially destroyed in a mid-1800s earthquake and replaced by another church. A replica was built in 1931. The only original building was used as housing for Native Americans.

Chocolate-walnut cookies

J and I, lacking chocolate chips, made a variation of the Levain cookie recipe. We used the same amount of walnuts, but left out the chocolate chips and added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder in place of 1/2 cup of flour. Maybe use only 1/4 cup of cocoa powder or bake less time – these were a little dry.

Mock-Levain chocolate chip cookies

So there’s this trendy bakery in New York City that is known for huge, rich cookies (the crowd favorite is chocolate chip-walnut). The problem is that the line is really long and the cookies are expensive.

So, J and I have been making our own versions of these cookies! There are a lot of copycat recipes online. This is the result of combining a few of them. The Brown-Eyed Baker one was a major contributor, but doesn’t have enough walnuts or chocolate chips in it and mysteriously calls for baking soda despite no acid in the other ingredients.

Chocolate chip walnut cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (or other refined cooking starch)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4-1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients. Add to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Bake cookies 10 min at 375°F (small cookies will be done, large cookies will be gooey).


  • The sugar together with the chocolate chips can make the cookies too sweet. You might consider reducing the amount of sugar in subsequent batches.
  • But don’t reduce the sugar if leaving out the chocolate chips.
  • Try leaving out the baking soda or powder. Another recipe we used only called for soda, which seems wrong.
  • Type of flour called for also varies by recipe. One reference called for all bread flour, and another half cake and half all-purpose.

Easy ciabatta

I’m going through old draft posts to see if any are still relevant. I think this was going to be a recipe, but I can’t for the life of me remember where it is from! Here’s one from Cook’s Illustrated, it’s probably fine…

We can never remember to take the picture before taking a bite 😬