Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake with Edible Gold Leaf

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake with Edible Gold Leaf

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake with Edible Gold Leaf 

I recently made this chocolate raspberry truffle cake with edible gold leaf for my father-in-law’s wedding, and it was such a hit that I had to blog about it! This decadent cake tastes like a dense, creamy chocolate truffle with tartly sweet raspberries. And chocolate lovers will rejoice, because this is a flourless chocolate cake that’s then topped with chocolate ganache—double chocolate! Whipped cream accompanies each slice and provides a lighter note (yes, it’s that dense) to this luxurious cake.

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Experience Japanese-Homestyle Cooking in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Japanese-Homestyle Cooking Class in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Japanese-Homestyle Cooking Class in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Whenever I travel, I try to immerse myself in the culture and experience local cuisine. I enjoy dining out, visiting markets and cafés, and tasting different regional specialties and styles of cooking. But I also like to see how the locals cook, as restaurant cooking usually differs significantly from what’s prepared in the home. That led me to Mayuko’s Little Kitchen.

Mayuko is a young Japanese woman, who quit her job as a cosmetics manager to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a cooking teacher. She teaches out of her small Tokyo apartment located on the border of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in a quiet residential area just off the main bustle. Her classes give an intimate glimpse into Japanese cooking.

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Greek Salad with Oil and Vinegar Dressing

Greek Salad with Oil and Vinegar Dressing

Greek Salad with Oil and Vinegar Dressing

Salad. Most people will want to stop reading there, but that would be a mistake. This Greek salad is anything but boring and insubstantial; rather, its many ingredients provide a full range of flavors and textures that will leave you satisfied.

Crisp romaine lettuce forms the base of the salad, but the magic of the salad comes from its many toppings: assertive red onions, peppery radishes, juicy tomatoes, cool and refreshing cucumbers, sweet-tangy peppers, crunchy celery, savory feta cheese, briny Greek black olives, meaty anchovy fillets, fresh parsley, and pickled capers. Basically, there’s something to activate every taste receptor.

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Korean-Mexican Burritos with Kimchi and Red Rice

Korean-Mexican Burritos with Kimchi and Red Rice

Korean-Mexican Burritos with Kimchi and Red Rice

I’ve always been curious about different cultures and peoples—their ways of life, their world views, and yes, their food. Even just looking at America, there are huge regional differences between parts of the country, and complex ethnic tapestries make up our cities. Now more than ever, it’s important to recognize and celebrate that diversity. It’s what makes this country great.

One day you can pick buckets of Georgia peaches in the blazing summer sun, pausing under the shade of a tree to taste the sweet, succulent fruit. Meanwhile, just across the border in Florida, you can walk into a Cuban restaurant and experience Caribbean flavors. Or try cooking Korean bbq for the first time—it’s fun and tasty even if you don’t know what you’re doing. When I went with my friends in Chicago, we had to figure out what order to cook everything in on the fly, with the server demonstrating as new platters of meat were brought out and placed in the thick stone pan in the center of the table. In New York, you can try a dim sum place in Chinatown, where you’ll be offered tray after tray of strange delicacies. When we went, we were seated in a large, crowded banquet hall; carts whizzed by, stacked with metal steamers containing all sorts of dumplings, steamed buns, custard tarts and puddings, and a variety of vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes. The carts momentarily paused by our table; the servers opened the lid to the steamers to reveal the mysteries inside. Half the time, we didn’t even know what we were taking!

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Eating Tonkatsu at Katsukura Shinjuku Restaurant

Tonkatsu Pork Filet and Prawn at Katsukura Shinjuku

Tonkatsu Pork Filet and Prawn at Katsukura Shinjuku

Katsukura Restaurant is located on the 14th floor of the Takashimaya Mall in Shinjuku, a short walk from Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens.  Katsukura specializes in tonkatsu—a Japanese dish consisting of pork that has been coated in flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs, and then deep fried. This preparation produces delicately airy pork with a crispy exterior. If you visit Japan, you must try tonkatsu at least once!

Katsukura is a tourist-friendly restaurant. Upon arrival, they brought us cold barley tea (commonly served in the summertime in Japan) and offered us English menus. Fans of Japanese whiskey will be happy to see that you can order a high-ball of Yamazaki or Hakushu for around ¥650 (~$5-$6 USD). This is not bad at all given the price of Japanese whiskey in the States!

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