Posts tagged ‘matcha’

Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

Even as a little kid, I liked flying home. Not the chaos of the security checks, the trip itself, or even the weary drive back to our house. But I love that first step outside SeaTac Airport. When I exit the airport after hours of flight and days of vacation – I breathe in the Pacific Northwest air as slowly and deliberately as I can. No matter where I’ve been or how much I enjoyed myself, that first breath always tastes like the freshest, cleanest air I’ve ever known.

My flight back from Boston was forgettable. I took a taxi from my school at 5 am, spent a two hour layover in Chicago, and finally made it to Seattle after 12 hours. As tired as I was, I anticipated the step outside. I usually get this incredible emotion, a mix of contentment and familiarity, a rush of glassy lakes and painted mountains. I dragged my suitcase outside with me, looked out at the flat grey sky, and inhaled.

But… nothing.

Instead, there was something else – a strange feeling I couldn’t place. It sat in my chest, somewhat uncomfortably, even as the Toyota pulled up and I saw my mother for the first time since summer.

Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

When we came home, the first thing I did was walk to the kitchen. I expected fireworks to burst in my heart, rainbows to pump through my veins and surge out my fingertips when we reunited. Nothing had changed in my absence. The walls were the same marigold yellow, the same checkerboard tile covered the floor, but somehow it wasn’t the kitchen I’d remembered and missed. It looked cramped and dim, hardly big enough for three people and two dogs.

I wheeled my bag into my old room, pulled out my Boston sweatshirt, and fell asleep without unpacking.

Over the next few days, I saw Grandma and my parents, which made me feel like daybreak inside. Almost at once I caught up with old friends, a both strange and easy experience. But during the afternoon, with no classes or job to distract me, I got bored. If I wasn’t asleep, I suffered from bad headaches all day. And that uncomfortable feeling lodged in my chest hadn’t vanished.

By now, I’ve figured out what the feeling is… homesickness. I know it’s ridiculous to feel homesick for school when I’m home. I also see how pointless it is to wallow in sadness, pining for Boston, while I have three weeks left in this beautiful place. If I don’t appreciate the rain, family, and happiness I can only find in Seattle, I’ll regret it a month later when I’m gone.

Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

The solution for the headaches didn’t come in Tylenol. It’s a healthy combination of Mom’s noodle soup, Dad’s sweater hugs, damp dog paws all over my bed and the tug of a camera strap. It’s a sifting of flour on my apron and cinnamon dust on my palms. It’s not exactly a bitter pill to swallow.

One of the best things about being home is the food. Predictable, but it isn’t even the food as much as the ingredients. There are the luxury items I haven’t bought in college – all natural creamy peanut butter, the kind you have to stir up before spreading. Soft handmade tortillas, brown rice, even almonds! It’s a joyful thing to appreciate a quick handful of almonds before dinner. And produce! Even in winter, at home I’m eating crisp spinach and sweet Asian pears.

The school menu never changes, and most of the fruit comes out of a can, soaked in sugary syrup. At home, every flavor is amplified. The grapefruit I sliced with my first breakfast back was so clean and fresh, the sharpest thing I’d tasted in ages. After I devoured it, I thought about citrus the rest of the day. I’ve been drinking grapefruits the way parched survivors reach for water.

Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

Reacquainting myself with our kitchen is like slipping into a familiar song. Every measuring cup is where I know it’ll be. Pans still clink and clatter in our cupboard, and that old bag of shredded coconut still has some life in it. The microplane zester, still my favorite tool in the room, is just as sharp as ever. The result? Coconut-Grapefruit Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting.

Even baked into a cupcake, the grapefruit manages to refresh. It’s light and zingy, pairing beautifully with the sweetness of coconut. And the frosting? I wanted something mellow and subtle, and the green tea powder I bought from Pike Place Market over the summer was just the right touch.

When I opened that oven door, the warm air that surged up was so fragrant and sweet. I was caught off guard by how hot it was, and how good it felt against the oven mitt. Later, in bed, I rolled over and pressed my nose into my hair – it smelled like sugar. It was one of the best smells I’d almost forgotten.

I think I’ll bake again tomorrow.

[It's good to be back. See you in 2011!]

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December 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm 73 comments

Green Tea Shortbread and a survey

I have a confession to make. Don’t be mad, okay?

I’m not actually 17.

When I first unveiled my new food blog, the first thing my dad said was, “That’s a little precocious, isn’t it?” Maybe. I just didn’t see the point in using 16, since my birthday is in 2 1/2 weeks (!) and I figured I would just have to be a bit misleading for a month. It’s a little weird only being 16 – with a few exceptions, I’m one of the youngest food bloggers I’ve seen. On the one hand, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, with school and my limited time and budget. On the other hand, I think I’m getting a real leg up – I wonder how many foodies discovered their passion for cooking as young as I did! In this sense, I’m pretty lucky to be 16.

Anyway, the nice thing about turning 17, besides cake and finally fitting into my title, is the birthday present I’m planning. A real camera. My Kodak EasyShare is fine when I go to the park or for photos on vacation, but when I’m trying to zoom in on some crumbly shortbread action, it’s a little lacking. I’ve been looking around and I think I’ve decided on a Canon Rebel XTi with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. It’s a bit pricey for a hobby but my parents and I will share the cost… and hopefully I’ll be able to take the food photography that I see in my head!

What about you? What kind of camera do you use, and what do you suggest I buy?

But onto the recipe. I’m still on a matcha kick after getting a whole package of the stuff. Seriously, I dream in pale green.  These Green Tea Shortbread cookies are being shipped off to my mom’s best friend for her birthday. She loves buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies, and these were perfect.

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April 1, 2009 at 12:55 am 9 comments

Chocolate Matcha Bundt Cake and a celebration

Today one of my friends, P– came into 5th period English waving around a nearly-blank white piece of paper. He was trying to contain himself, but not all that well. Something was clearly up. He tried to look modest as he passed me the print out.

“Dear P.–, congratulations! We are pleased to announce that you have been accepted into the University of Chicago.”

The University of Chicago! I’m impressed, but I can’t say I’m surprised. He is not only an excellent student and a talented athlete but an all around great person. What’s even more amazing is he’s now four for four – he’s been accepted to the University of Washington, NYU, and Georgetown. All he has left to hear from are the Ivy Leagues – Harvard, Yale, and Columbia.

I am so proud of him. And that is why I chose to bake, to celebrate.

Well, not really. I don’t know about you but these days I’m finding that I jump at any excuse to cross a recipe off my humongous, out of control “must try” list. Someone’s birthday is coming up? I’m just as excited as they are. P– said it was hardly a special occasion, but no one turns down free cake.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make, too, after seeing Bakerella’s scandelously gorgeous Chocolate Matcha Bundt Cake. The chocolate against the green was stunning. It was kind of a no brainer.

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March 27, 2009 at 2:02 am 10 comments


Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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