Thursday, November 3, 2011

On hold...

Sorry this blog has taken a hiatus for quite some time!  Sadly, I will have to keep this on hold a while longer as other life events have overtaken my schedule.  I shall return "soon" with many new cooking/eating adventures and even new equipment! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Greek orzo pasta salad

With these hot days of summer upon us, it's nice to have a light, cool meal that doesn't require too much preparation.  It's easy to throw any veggies you have in the fridge into this pasta salad.

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cucumbers, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 lb box orzo pasta

4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons basalmic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to box instructions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Combine pasta and diced vegetables in a large bowl.  
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and mustard and whisk until well-incorporated.  Stir dressing into the pasta.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chocolate espresso roll-out cookies

I'm almost not too sure how to describe these cookies.  They are buttery like shortbread but not quite as crumbly and almost cracker-like.  The sweetness is subtle and nicely offset by the addition of sea salt.  It was hard to stop munching on these as I baked them and before I knew it I had eaten quite a handful without even feeling any cookie-overdose!  Someone suggested that these would be great for ice cream sandwiches and I think they would hold up quite well for that.  

Chocolate Espresso Roll-out Cookies
Adapted from smitten kitchen
Makes about 4-5 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lightly salted butter, room temperature (or one stick salted, one stick unsalted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
Sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  
  3. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and mix thoroughly.  In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powder in the vanilla.  Add espresso mixture to the large bowl and mix to combine.  Add cocoa and mix until combined.  Slowly add flour mixture and continue mixing until the dough is smooth.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap (or place into a gallon-sized ziplock bag) and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  
  4. Roll out cookie dough to 1/8" thickness on a well-floured surface.  Cut dough into desired shapes and set on cookie sheet.  These cookies only spread a little bit so cookies can be placed 1/2" apart.  Sprinkle cookies with a pinch of sea salt.  Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly puffy.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicken paprikash

Looking for a way to use up paprika (somehow I ended up with an excess of paprika from the bulk spices section), I came upon this recipe for Chicken Paprikash, a traditional Hungarian dish.  The sauce from this dish is slightly creamy and slightly smokey from the paprika.  It was great over rice and would be just as wonderful over pasta.  Though I used chicken tenders instead of skin-on chicken pieces per the original recipe, the chicken remained moist and flavorful.

Chicken Paprikash
adapted from Simply Recipes
serves 4-6

2 lbs of chicken tenders
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Let the chicken come to room temperature and salt well.  Meanwhile, slice the onions lengthwise.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  When pan is hot, add the butter.  Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until well browned.  Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add sliced onions to the saute pan and cook until lightly browned.  Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper to the onions and stir to combine.  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.  Return chicken to the pan and nestle down into the onions.  Add more chicken broth if it seems like the liquid is not enough.  Cover pan and cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest piece.
  5. When chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and remove the pan from the heat.  Slowly stir in the sour cream and add salt to taste.  Add chicken back into the pan and cover with the sauce.  Serve over rice or pasta or starch of your choice.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oven roasted corn on the cob

This is an easy way to prepare corn on the cob if you don't want to fire up the grill.  Roasting the corn makes it easy to shuck and de-silk afterwards.  You can add whatever toppings you like.  In this case I added parmesan cheese, chili pepper, and fresh ground pepper.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Serves 4

4 ears of fresh corn with husks on
Salt, pepper, and other condiments
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Place corn directly on the oven rack and roast for 35-45 minutes or until corn is soft.  
  2. Remove from oven and let cool until easy to handle by hand.  Peel down corn husks and use as a handle for eating.  Top corn with condiments of your choice.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chocolate Depression cake - eggless and butterless

 My friend's daughter turned 1-year old last week and I was asked to bake her (and the adults) a cake.  As with many youngsters, she's developed an egg and dairy allergy that I desperately hope she'll grow out of one day lest she miss out on so many tasty treats.  After browsing for an allergy-accommodating recipe, I learned that eggless and butterless cakes were quite popular during the Depression and wartime.  Back then, eggs, butter and other common staples were rationed and difficult to get a hold of.  As a result, this recipe arose where oil replaced the fat from butter and the combination of vinegar and baking soda replicated the rising effects of eggs.  The cake turned out great - fluffy, extremely moist, and full of chocolate goodness without being too sweet.  Everyone loved the cake and was surprised to hear it had no eggs or butter.  The cocoa powder is the driving flavor factor so be sure to use one that you like.   

Chocolate Depression Cake
Makes one 9x13 cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa power
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. 
  3. Create a small well in the dry ingredients.  Add all the wet ingredients into the well and stir until well combined.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared 9x13 pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely.
  5. Top with powdered sugar or frosting as you please.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pistachio bread pudding @ Cafe Chloe, San Diego

Pistachio bread pudding
After our pre-lunch stop at Tacos El Gordo, we went to Cafe Chloe in downtown San Diego for a late lunch.  Cafe Chloe is a small French wine bar and cafe.  The European decor, wall-length windows and open doors leading to the sidewalk patio seating really reminded me of a cafe in Paris.  Even at 2pm this place was still bustling with patrons, some having a late lunch like us and others chatting it up with glasses of wine.  Cafe Chloe serves up an afternoon "urban tea" in addition to breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  Menu items that caught my interest included the savory custard, dungeness crab cake tartine, brie and herb omelette, and croque madame.  Mimosas scattered the tables and certainly seemed like a hit item, especially since the cafe offers four varieties - pomegranate, orange, lavender-lemon and asian pear sorbet mimosas.  We ordered 3 dishes and a dessert to share family-style: steak and frites, poached eggs, whole wheat pancakes and pistachio bread pudding.  The bread pudding was definitely the star of the meal and it was actually the first item that we devoured when all the food came out.  Topped with espresso caramel and vanilla ice cream, the bread pudding was moist and dotted with texture from the pistachios.  We had a corner slice so the top edges were nicely caramelized with a slight crunch.  The caramel sauce had a hint of espresso and was not overly sweet.  The vanilla ice cream (possibly homemade?) paired well with the warm bread pudding in texture, temperature and taste.  
Steak and frites
Poached eggs
Whole wheat pancakes

The steak and frites came out with a good portion of medium-rare cooked flank steak atop a mound of frites with a small side salad.  The steak was very well-seasoned and seared, especially flavorful with the pat of port butter served on top.  The poached eggs came atop a slice of french bread with wild mushrooms and sage-truffle beurre blanc, served with a small salad and asparagus spears .  The eggs were poached perfectly and the wild mushrooms were fresh and delicious.  The whole wheat pancakes were covered with tart cherry syrup and served with applewood smoked bacon.  The bacon was cooked to a nice crispness.  The pancakes were tasty, but on the thinner side and we should have asked for the syrup on the side.  The pancakes in the middle of the plate were soaked in syrup yet there wasn't enough syrup to spread to the outer portions of the plate.  All of our orders were good but the pistachio bread pudding was the most memorable.  I'll be having more of that dessert to accompany some mimosas next time. :)

721 Ninth Ave #1
San Diego, CA 92101

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tacos El Gordo

Tacos de Adobada
After an exhilarating (aka nerve-racking) morning of skydiving above San Diego county, we were ecstatic to be back firmly on the ground and hungry from a whole morning of waiting for our jump time.  We stopped in Chula Vista at Tacos El Gordo for a pre-lunch snack.  They have an interesting setup to ordering food: a long cafeteria-like counter had several lines, one for each type of meat.  They serve several types of meat including pork adobada, asada, cow tongue, tripe, and even cow brains.  At the front of each line you approach the counter and tell them how you want your meat served: taco, tostada, mula, quesadilla, etc.  The crew makes your food right when you order it so it's incredibly fresh and hot.  After you get everything, you pay for your food at the front register. I ended up with tacos de adobada and tacos de asada.  The adobada is spicy pork that is shaved off a rotating spit of meat, just like gyros.  It was moderately spicy, juicy with streaks of fat and slightly charred at the edges.
Tacos de Asada
The asada is the usual chopped up marinated beef and though it was good, I would have opted for more tacos de adobada instead.  It was my first time trying these tacos and I thought they were some of the best tacos I've had this side of the border and certainly delicious after a crazy (!) morning.

Tacos El Gordo
689 H Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bailey's Irish Cream chocolate chip cookies

I intentionally looked for a cookie recipe using Irish Cream since I bought a bottle earlier this year for Chocolate Guinness and Irish Cream cupcakes.  After perusing many recipes for Irish Cream cheesecake, Irish Cream brownies, Irish Cream ice cream...(they all sounded amazing! I noted a few to try...sometime)...I finally found one for Irish Cream cookies.  This recipe calls for cake flour, but I didn't have any so I used normal flour instead.  This probably affected the cookie texture since my cookies came out a bit "cakey" and not as moist and chewy.  The extra dark chocolate chips made up for that, though.  The pecans and coconut added texture and their flavors blended well with the subtle Irish Cream taste.  Not so sure if I would make this recipe again, but if I do I'd be interested in seeing how it turns out as a loaf instead of cookies. :P

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from
Makes about 3 dozen

2 1/4 cups cake flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter 
1/2 cup granulated white sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 cup Bailey's original Irish cream
2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips 
3/4 cup shredded coconut 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread pecans in a single layer on a non-stick or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake about 5 minutes until aromatic.  Keep an eye on the pecans since they scorch easily.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together.  Add egg and continue mixing until fluffy.  Add vanilla and Bailey's Irish Cream and mix well.  
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just blended.  Stir in coconut, pecans and chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Drop cookie dough 1.5 tablespoons (OXO medium cookie scoop) at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart from one another.  The dough is fairly soft but the cookies do not spread much when baking.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven until edges are lightly golden.  Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peter's Gourmade Grill

With nothing more than a small table for two and five counter seats, this "hole-in-the-wall" joint leaves quite an imprint on my taste buds and memory.  Peter's Gourmade Grill is located in a gas station - it actually shares store space with the Valero gas station convenience store.  This short-order grill has quite a varied menu, including burgers and chicken sandwiches, burritos, and sweet potato fries.  We opted for the ABC burger, grilled chipotle chicken sandwich, and greek fries.  The ABC burger (pictured above) comes with fresh-cut avocado, thick-cut bacon grilled to crisp perfection and hearty melted cheddar cheese.  The burger condiments of ketchup, mayo, mustard, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce and sliced pickles blend together for a well-balanced taste.  Though the burger patty could have been juicier, the bacon, avocado and pickles really make this burger stand out.
The chipotle chicken sandwich has two grilled chicken breasts, melted cheese, shredded lettuce and spicy chipotle sauce.  The chicken was very juicy and half the sandwich (plus fries) was enough to be filling.
The greek fries come in a surprisingly large portion, more than enough to split as a side between two people.  The fries are topped with a generous helping of feta cheese, gyro meat, and chopped onions and tomatoes.  Served with tzatziki sauce, this is a full meal in of itself.

Despite its obscure location, there was a steady stream of first-time and returning customers during our evening meal at the counter.  Most people took their orders to-go and some even ordered ahead to avoid lines and waiting.  Do expect a wait since the kitchen area is small and all the food is cooked when ordered.  This was definitely the best gas station meal I've had and somewhere I'd go back to again.

UPDATE: They moved!  Find their new location here.

Peter's Gourmade Grill
16851 McFadden Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shanghai pan-fried dumplings (sheng jian bao)

Every time I pass through Alhambra, I love to stop by Kang Kang Food Court for their Shanghai pan-fried pork dumplings.  At 8 dumplings for less than $6, this is one of the best items available for a quick and delicious snack.  Pork and its juices are encased by soft, chewy dumpling skin and pan-fried to create a crispy golden brown crust on the bottom.  Any seasoned dumpling eater will warn you not to take a deep bite into these dumplings, lest the scalding soup inside renders your taste buds useless for the remainder of the day.   An insider's tip to eating these is to poke a small hole in the top of the dumpling to let some steam escape.  Then pour a small spoonful of the supplied vinegar dipping sauce into the hole and wait a few seconds as the sauce cools down the dumpling.  Cradling the dumpling in a spoon, slowly bite through the dumpling skin and slurp up the inner liquid as you take your bite, being careful not to lose any of the precious flavorful juices.  The piping hot freshness and delectable filling really make these dumplings one of my favorites!  

Kang Kang Food Court
27 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(Additional locations in Monterey Park and Temple City)         

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lemon almond cookies

This recipe, a nice detour from the usual chocolate-containing cookie, is a light flavor for the coming of summer.  Containing lemon zest as well as lemon juice, the citrus flavor shines through each bite and the almonds distinguish it from a typical sugar cookie.  The cookies bake up pretty thin, with a soft crunch along the sugary edges and a chewy texture throughout.

Lemon almond cookies (from une Gamine dans la Cuisine)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spinach pesto chicken pasta

We had some friends over for dinner and made a quick pesto chicken pasta, using ingredients from my definitively favorite store: Costco!  I included a package of frozen spinach and it added a good flavor while boosting the veggie content.

Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta
6 servings

1 lb pasta (preferably short-cut pasta like rotini, farfalle or penne)
1 10oz. bag frozen chopped spinach
1/2 white or brown onion, diced
2.5 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
2 cups shredded chicken (we used Costco rotisserie chicken)
1/3 cup pesto sauce (homemade or from Costco)
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook frozen spinach according to the directions on the package.  Drain spinach and set aside.  In a saucepan on medium-high heat, saute the diced onions until soft and translucent.  Add spinach and grape tomatoes, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente, according to the directions on the package. When draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid.  Rinse pasta with cold water to stop cooking and return pasta to the large pot.
  3. Stir the spinach, tomatoes and onions into the pasta.  Add shredded chicken and pesto sauce and stir to combine.  If the pasta is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta liquid until desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hollywood Food Tour

This past weekend we went on a Hollywood Food Tour led by Six Taste Food Tours.  Thanks to a good deal from Groupon, we enjoyed a full afternoon of walking and eating (mostly eating) for nearly 4 hours!  Our group of 10 people met up at the Kodak Theater and embarked on our eating adventure.  At each stop, a table was waiting for us and 2-3 dishes were brought out for us to share family-style.  We visited a family-owned Italian place, a Mexican grill, a hot dog stand, a lounge, and a diner.  My favorite dish was Chicharron de Queso (pictured above) from Loteria Grill.  The ultimate cheese skirt, this griddle-toasted cheese was both chewy and crispy and tasted great accompanied by guacamole and salsa.

We had a light brunch in anticipation of all the food we'd be eating that afternoon, but we were still incredibly full by the end of the tour and skipped dinner entirely.  It was lots of fun to try new places, hear food-related historical stories, and meet new friends who were equally passionate about eating.  My only complaint is that I wish there was more walking between each that I'd be able to eat even more. :)  

Friday, April 29, 2011

(Browned butter) chocolate chip cookies

This is my go-to recipe for a good chocolate chip cookie - soft and chewy in the middle, buttery and crispy on the edges. This time, however, I decided to tweak it a little and try browned butter.  The resulting flavor and appearance came out noticeably different! A deep caramel flavor permeated the cookie, the texture was akin to a chewy snickerdoodle and ridges formed all over the top surface.

Note: The browned butter was fairly hot when I mixed it with the sugars, causing the sugars to melt (perhaps too much!) and the overall dough to be more wet. I had trouble incorporating the butter and quickly melting sugars by hand so I ended up using a hand mixer. I'd definitely let the butter cool more next time.

Browned butter chocolate chip cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 3 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups dark chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 325F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. To brown the butter, first heat a skillet or small pot on medium heat.  It's best to use stainless steel cookware for this since it's hard to see the butter color in nonstick cookware.  Add the butter and stir frequently until melted.
  3. Continue cooking the butter.  It will start to develop a white foam which will then settle.  Keep stirring the butter and look for brown specks forming at the bottom of the pan.  The butter should start developing a nutty aroma.  Remove butter from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl to prevent the butter from overcooking.  Allow butter to cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, combine both sugars and add the browned butter.  Stir thoroughly until well blended.
  6. Add the vanilla, egg and egg yolk to the large bowl and beat until mixed and fluffy.  Stir in the dry ingredients, one third at a time and stir until just blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
  7. Drop cookie dough 1.5 tablespoons (OXO medium cookie scoop) at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart from one another.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven until edges are lightly golden.  Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  
Whenever making cookies, I like to flash freeze half my batch of cookie dough.  To do this, line a 9x13 baking tray with parchment or wax paper.  Drop cookie dough 1.5 tablespoons at a time onto the baking tray, fitting them as close as you can without them touching.  Place tray into the freezer for 15 minutes or until dough is hard enough to cleanly pick up.  Store cookie dough in a ziploc freezer bag or a tupperware.  When you want to bake them, simply add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.  A supply of frozen cookie dough comes in handy to satisfy sudden cookie cravings and last minute dessert ideas.  I confess that sometimes I'll just take a ball of cookie dough and nosh on it straight from the freezer! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basil cucumber egg salad sandwich

With an abundance of hard-boiled eggs from the Easter weekend, an easy solution was to make egg salad and make lunch for the week.  The cucumber and celery added a satisfying crunch and the basil added an herby freshness.  I didn't have mayo on hand so ended up improvising with honey mustard, which was not as creamy but certainly a sweet, healthier alternative.  This was great on rye bread and would be good on any other hearty bread too (squaw, pumpernickel, whole wheat, etc.).

Basil Cucumber Egg Salad
4 servings/sandwiches
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
3 stalks celery
handful of fresh basil, chopped 
1 tsp paprika
 salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup honey mustard
  1. Dice the eggs, cucumber and celery and place in a large bowl.  Add basil, paprika, salt and pepper to taste and mix.
  2. Add honey mustard and stir thoroughly.  Add more honey mustard or mayo if you prefer your egg salad more creamy.  Toast some bread of your choice, rinse some veggies and make yourself a sandwich!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken enchiladas

With leftover chicken, corn and tortillas, all I needed was a quick stop at Trader Joe's to get everything else for these delicious enchiladas.  What a great way to use up leftovers and also have enough for a second meal!  It's easy to substitute ingredients in this recipe, making it ideal for cleaning out the fridge.

4-6 servings

2 cups leftover meat of your choice (shredded chicken, ground beef, etc.)
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chilies
2 tsp chili pepper
12 flour tortillas
1 16oz jar salsa of your choice (I used TJ's Chipotle Salsa and it gave it a good level of spiciness)
2 cups shredded  cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
1 can sliced olives
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Stir-fry the meat, corn, black beans, tomatoes, green chili and chili pepper in a saucepan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Remove filling from heat and let cool slightly.
  2. In a 9x13 baking pan, spread 1/3 of the salsa into the bottom of the pan.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the filling evenly down the center of a tortilla.  Roll tortilla tightly around the filling and place seam side down in the baking pan.  Pour remaining salsa evenly over the top of the enchiladas.  Spread cheese and olives evenly over the top of the salsa.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.  Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cheddar & green chili scones

We were signed up to bring Sunday School breakfast again this week and I was set on making something sweet and something salty. I made a batch of the blueberry cream scones and decided to try another one of Smitten Kitchen's recipes for cheese scones. I didn't have jalapeƱos so I used half a can of chopped green chilis. These turned out great and the best part of all was the crispy cheese skirts! Now I want to bake up cheese crisps and crunch on them all day...

JalapeƱo-Cheddar Scones
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chinese braised beef and eggs

Shao bing jia rou (aka sesame pancake with braised beef shank) is a standard offering for Taiwanese breakfast. Fragrant toasted sesame bread filled with flavorful beef, scallions, cilantro and's a nice filling way to start the day! We decided to make this for our Sunday School class this week. We braised the beef a few days ahead and also used the braising liquid to make soy sauce eggs.  As with many Chinese dishes, this one had no specific recipe beyond the list of ingredients provided by my mom. Below is my best guess at the details. :P 

Sesame pancake sandwich (Shao bing jia rou)
6 servings/sandwiches

1 6-count package sesame pancakes (available at a Chinese supermarket)
1 lb sliced Chinese braised beef (recipe below)
1 green onion, sliced into strips
a few sprigs of cilantro
1/4 cup braised beef sauce (see below), hoisin or plum sauce
  1. Toast pancake in the toaster.  Carefully slice pancake in half longitudinally, leaving one length intact.
  2. Spread desired amount of sauce inside the pancake and place 2-3 slices of beef (may vary depending on size/thickness of slices).  Add green onion and cilantro to your liking.  Repeat with remaining pancakes.
Chinese braised beef (Lu niu rou)
3lbs beef shank
2 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine
10 star anise
2 Tbsp szechuan peppercorns (optional)
1 stick cinnamon
5 slices ginger
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Place beef shank into boiling water and let cook for 5 minutes.  Remove beef and discard water.
  2. Place the water, soy sauce, rice wine and spices into a large stock pot on high heat.  After the liquid boils, place beef into the pot and let it boil for 5 minutes.  Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer the beef for about 3 hours, turning the beef over every 30 minutes so that each side of the beef gets its turn sitting in the braising liquid.  
  3. Remove beef from the liquid and let it cool.  Refrigerate overnight and then slice the beef against the grain into thin slices.
  4. The remaining braising liquid can be used to braise eggs, chicken, tofu, seaweed, etc.  After you're all done braising to your heart's content, simmer the leftover liquid on low heat until it reduces into a nice thick sauce, perfect for the beef or on plain white rice.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Roasted vegetables

One of my favorite, simple ways to prepare veggies is oven-roasting them. Cut up cauliflower and broccoli (and any other veggies of choice) and toss them in some olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Roast in a single layer at 400F for 30-40 minutes. The high heat caramelizes the veggies and brings out this great nutty flavor!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blueberry cream scones

What to do with leftover cream?  Make breakfast for the week!  This first attempt at scones turned out quite well....fluffy on the inside with a satisfying buttery, crunchy exterior, dotted with dried blueberries and laced with a subtle hint of grated ginger.  The basic cream scone recipe allows for add-ins of your choice.  Definitely a keeper!

Dreamy cream scones

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chocolate guinness and irish cream cupcakes

 I've been eying this recipe for quite a while and finally got around to trying it.  An incredibly moist chocolate Guinness cupcake, filled with Bailey's irish cream ganache and topped with Bailey's irish cream frosting.  The alcoholic flavors played off each other very nicely, each distinctive yet subtle enough to let the chocolate shine.  We had some problems with the ganache separating, but thankfully we were able to recombine the mixture...though the consistency was not quite suitable for ganache.  In the end, we decided to make a second batch.  I'm sure we'll find a good way to use up the first batch, even if it means eating chocolate by the spoonful!  I'm not letting my beloved Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips go to waste!!

Chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes

Friday, March 25, 2011

The beginning of something not so new

Here begins my attempt to share a big part of my life (ahem...aka food) and interests with my fellow foodies, friends and family.  This semi-comprehensive bulletin board will be a collection of personal cooking adventures as well as eating out adventures.  It will more than likely be more salivating than entertaining (or maybe those two are equivalent for you), but I suppose that's why you're here to begin with. :)