Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today's lunch

A few days ago, I've made Chapati Bread and I've put leftover uncooked dough into the freezer. Normally in Indian Restaurants, Chapati Bread (or flatbread) is normally served with some type of curry or a stew. Since I have leftover uncooked frozen Chapati, I decided to make Curry. This curry isn't authentic because the method of preparing this curry is different from Indian-inspired curry. I will explain why this isn't authentic in a bit.

The recipe that I've used today was from a YouTube channel called ochikeron. The recipe is called Basic Curry Rice, so clicking on the link the recipe is not authentic Indian curry; it is Japanese Curry. I've made my own changes to the recipe by adding in Chicken Drumsticks. I'll explain what I've done to the recipe to make it my own. 

First in the large pot, I've done what ochikeron instructed in the video. At the same time, I've preheated a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat with a tablespoon of oil. Seasoned the drumsticks with salt, pepper, half a tablespoon of curry powder, and a dusting of flour (so the curry powder doesn't burn while it's browning in the hot skillet). When the skillet is hot, crane the heat to medium-high heat and place the drumstick in. Sear the chicken until all sides are browned, then set aside. In the large pot with the potato mixture, add in the water and the drumsticks together. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. At this point, I followed ochikeron's instructions until the very end. Serve over rice or with a side of Chapati Bread and lunch is served. 

Ochikeron used in her recipe called Vermont House Curry Sauce Mix. I buy my Curry Sauce Mix at my local Asian supermarket. I'm not sure if American supermarkets will have it, I haven't checked. 

Here are some photos:  

After making the curry and serving it on a plate, I cooked the Chapati Bread using a medium nonstick skillet and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray. Place the frozen dough onto the hot skillet and cook on both sides for a minute or until the dough starts to form big bubbles and brown. 

After scarfing the curry down, I've decided on small changes that might boost the flavor a bit more.
First, the chicken didn't absorb the curry powder, so I'm going to omit that next time. Additionally the flour made a mess in the skillet and it didn't help the curry itself, so I'm omitting it as well. At this point, I will brown the chicken until dark brown color so the end product is more appealing to the eye. In a traditional curry, chicken meats are usually "fall off the bone" tender. If you want "fall off the bone" tender, proceed with the same instruction above, but if you want the chicken to look appealing, put the chicken in the curry 8 minutes after the pot boils.

I will try this method next time I make curry. Leave any suggestions in the comment box.

Tomorrow I'm working on a different recipe, so subscribe to me for updates.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Almost everyone has this happened to them when they make a new recipe; You first gather your ingredients and then you start to mix everything together. Suddenly you have leftover egg yolks (or whites), butter, milk, etc... As a inspired chef, I have to find ways to make those leftovers into something new and delicious. So for today, my leftover ingredient was egg whites. I made Dinner Rolls yesterday and the recipe called for egg yolks, so I put the egg whites into a separate container and then pop it into the fridge. Next day I decided I would try make Meringue Cookies. 

Meringue Cookies - made from egg whites and sugar. (That's it!)

The recipe that I found used the same amount of egg whites that was in my container, so I thought it was perfect to make these light and airy cookies. Here is the recipe

Now my pictures, the best part of my entire blog. Enjoy the food porn everyone!

I wanted to take a photo of them on a plate, but I didn't have a dark enough colored plate to highlight the white color of the cookie. The taste test for these cookies were interesting because when you break the cookies in half, they crumble into little pieces. Once you put these cookies in your mouth, it starts out being crunchy and then slowly it melts like cotton candy. So light and just the right sweetness. 

The only down side about making these cookies is if you use a piping bag, it gets really messy; really fast. At the end, my hands were covered with white fluffy meringues and when you work with meringue too long, they will stick to your hands. In addition to piping, I used a 1/4 inch round tip and it took some time to pipe them out, so either get a larger round tip or use 2 spoons like the recipe says. Its cleaner. But if you have special guest visiting, then pipe them out into a pretty design and serve it them. 

Let me know in the comment box what your leftover ingredient was and what did you do with them? I'd like to know! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

One of those days...

Today was one of those days where I wanted to get in the kitchen and cook up a storm! So I thought about it through and I wanted to make a couple of things. Namely Frost a Cake and Homemade Dinner Rolls. In this blog, all I've been showing are baked goods without any decorations. I wanted to show what I can do as  Pastry chef and maybe you can critic on my works. I'll put up some pictures of past works of cakes that I've made including the one I've made today. For today's cake, I didn't make enough frosting to cover the entire cake, but I adapted to meet the needs of my objectives for today.

Here comes the pictures!

This cake was made today, and it was unfortunately a boxed devil's food cake mix. So the frosting is homemade and really sweet. I've created the frosting using this recipe.I'd add less 10x sugar to make the frosting a bit less sweet. 

My past works are:

Green Tea Cake

Strawberry Green Tea Cake

That's all I've done that I remembered. So Let me know which one is your favorite. 

QUESTION: Can you tell the difference between the photo quality? For today's recipes, I decided to use my camera. The quality is a lot better than the iPad, but the only con is that I have the connect the camera to the computer with a USB, which takes longer than automatically updating into my Photo Stream Folder.

Now for my Homemade Dinner Roll, I couldn't help myself when they came out of the oven. I was drooling so fast. I hope you do too. The pictures are as followed:


The recipe is from Laura Vitale. I love her recipes because it has the right amount of seasonings in her dishes. I've used quite a bit of her recipes already. Now the Dinner Rolls were so SOFT, LIGHT, and BUTTERY! 
Best combination EVER!!!

In this recipe, I've changed how the method was written. Instead of using a stand mixer with a hook attachment, I used my hands and a wooden spoon. I used less flour than it called for. In this particular batch, I've used a total of 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour. After mixing 3 cups of flour into the mixture, I pulled the sticky dough out of the bowl and then kneed in the last half cup until it wasn't sticky anymore. Afterwards, proceed with the rest of recipe as written. The result was a softer, lighter, and buttery roll. Serve it with the next family gathering and you will be giving this recipe away.

Please let me know down below whether you like my Camera's quality or iPad's quality. In addition to that, any tips or suggestions you'd like to share, please feel free to let me know.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

So for Today's lunch

Last night, I've made Meatloaf and had some leftovers. I wanted to make something to finish the leftovers, but I couldn't think of anything. After some much research around my binder full of recipes, I came across an AllRecipes recipe for Indian Chapati Bread. An Indian Chapati Bread is a flatbread made from wheat and all purpose white flour. 

Unfortunately having Meatloaf and a flatbread isn't enough because both of the components are dry, so I decided to make a Cheddar Cheese Sauce to bring everything together. The result was a somewhat healthier version (if I had some lettuce and tomatoes) of a Bacon Cheeseburger. The flatbread was crisp and crunchy, but still soft and pliable. Its similar to a Tortilla. If I had a piece of lettuce and tomatoes, the picture would look much better. Nonetheless, the product tasted good.

I mentioned above that Chapati Bread was made from Wheat Flour. The brand I used in my local supermarket was the King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. 

Using my French rolling pin, I rolled the dough until it was flat as a tortilla. The dough is pretty easy to work with. 

Following the recipe, in a skillet, I place the flatten dough onto the pan and let it cook for about a minute. This is very quick and easy to do. It took about 40 minutes to complete finish everything.

Flipped it and it should look like this.

This recipe produces 10 medium sized Chapati Bread. I didn't cook the whole batch, so the TIP of the DAY is to place each Chapati between 2 wax papers and store them in the freezer for about a month. So any weeknight you don't have a starch on your place. Try this healthy alternative.

If you've cooked all the Chapati Bread, then you can let them cool completely, and store in the fridge in a plastic bag. Whenever you want to eat it, take them out and wrap a few in wet paper towel, then microwave them for 25 seconds. The result is a softer flatbread and you can wrap, dip, or tear anyway you want. The recipe for the Indian Chapati Bread is at the beginning of this post. Click it and let me know how your turned out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

An Almost All American Dinner!

Today, I decided to make dinner for my family, which included my Parents, Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle, and Little Cousin. I wanted to make something that goes well with silky smooth Whipped Potatoes. So I thought maybe Pan-seared Steak, Pot Roast, or Braised Short Ribs. Unfortunately two of them would take all day to make and one of them is very pricey for my budget. Since I'm on a budget and need a quick fix, I turned to Meatloaf. Not the most elegant dish, but it sure is quick cooking and cheap.

At the end of this post, I will mention how much I've spent on this meal that served 8 people with leftovers for tomorrow. So lets begin with the menu for tonight's dinner:

Entree: Meatloaf
Side Dish: Whipped Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Boiled Vegetable.

The dish looked something like this:

I put my own spin on the Meatloaf recipe, by placing a few thinly sliced bacon on top of the meatloaf, which kept it really moist and delicious. The overall dish was Delicious and very All American except for the Boiled Yu Choy. I will apologize for how the gravy was poured but the food still tasted delicious. 

Here are the other pictures I've taken of the Meatloaf:

Now for the pricing, the whole meal was about 25-30 dollars. Not so bad when it can feel 8 people. 

Let me know what is your go to "cheap and quick" meals. I'd like to learn and save some money while doing so. It's a win win situation!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Love for Cantonese Cooking (5)

I haven't posted anything for the past few days because I haven't found anything interesting I can photograph, but I assure you that I'm still cooking. 

Today I wanted to make delicious Steamed Turnip Cake. Steamed Turnip Cake or Pan Fried Turnip Cake are common dishes in Dim Sum. I adore the Oyster Sauce that they pour out on the side of the plate. It pairs well with it for some reason. 

I have to give some credit to wantanmien. They provided the recipe for me to use and the end result was a soft, slightly bitter taste from the turnip cake. Its enjoyable. Especially when it was pan fried (Sorry I didn't take that picture, TOO DELICIOUS), the crust and the oyster sauce took it to a new level.

In the picture, you will see bits of dark red, black, and some light green. Those are the ingredients for the filling that I've mixed into it. They are my favorites. It consisted of Dried Shrimp (Re-hydrated), Dried Chinese Mushrooms (Re-hydrated), Chinese Sausage, Chinese Cured Smoked Belly, and Green Onions. The combination is good, but I will change the ingredients for the filling soon to incorporate Fermented Vegetable, and Fresh Ground Pork. The filling should be a lot "meat-er". 

The quality of the pictures are poor, I'm sorry. That's just the iPad 2 that I have. 

If you'd like to see me try to make something, Please leave it in the comment box below and I'd be happy to experiment with it. I think I need more inspiration from others. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

What I had for lunch today

Waking up today, I didn't think I wanted to make anything, but turns out I had to make lunch for my family. So I made a quick trip to my local supermarket and I picked a few ingredients to make my healthier spin of a classic Italian tomato sauce called Amatriciana. 

Before I begin, I wanted to show the picture of what I use at home to cook my sauces. I know it's not the best pot, but I use what I have just to save some money for more dishes to post on this blog. It also shows my stove, so all the dishes I've made, its her babies (and I'm the godfather haha). 

Now I know many people like to use their own type of tomatoes whether its fresh or canned, I'd like to show what I use for the past few months. Every tomato sauce that I've create that took about 30 minutes to put together, used Pomi chopped Tomatoes. You can check their site about their product, Pomi Product. Pomi isn't canned; it's actually in a paper container. (Very Green!) The product is good for quick sauces because they don't contain a ton of tomato juice that can dilute a quick sauce. Pomi also doesn't need much sugar, so if you like your pasta sauces a bit on the sweeter side, use this Pomi and you cut out on the calories from the sugar. Try it out. There's also another Pomi product that I've just came across; it's the Pomi Strained Tomatoes. I will one day try that product out to see if it makes a even quicker sauce. 

Now the final product of all that I've talked about, the Amatriciana. Amatriciana is a tomato based sauce that usually consist of cured pork cheek, Pecorino Cheese, White Wine, and Tomatoes. This is one of my favorite Italian pasta dishes and will try it anywhere I can. Unfortunately I didn't plan on making lunch and I couldn't get my hands on cured pork cheek, I simply used turkey bacon (I thought it would be healthier and it was on sale.) At the beginning I said that this isn't the traditional Amatriciana, so the turkey bacon was my first substitution. I didn't use Pecorino, so I used Parmigiano-Reggiano. I didn't have white wine at home, so I used leftover beef stock (just a splash). Lastly the tomatoes from Pomi. Those are all the ingredients for the dish that I've took pictures of below.

My apologizes, I forgot to mention one ingredient. The Pasta. This pasta is special because when I was young, I've learn that one pasta shaped can hold on to this thick and rich tomato sauce. The name of this pasta is called Bucatini. This long pasta actually has a small hole, which soaks up the thick sauce that a Amatriciana is. So in restaurant menus, you would see this dish written as Bucatini alla Amatriciana. I love it.

The green bits are finely minced scallions or green onions. They're just for decoration to make the sauce brighter and look appealing. If you were to serve this, please use finely minced parsley. The grassy flavor pairs better in this dish.

After lunch, I was bored, so I decided to make Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are really small cookies that pack a nice note of sweetness, and silky rich milk chocolate chips. I ate like 4 of them already. I used a tablespoon scoop and they flatten a bit, but they are so worth it. Best snack I've had in a while.

If you want the recipe of any dish above, leave me a comment and it will be up on the next post.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Love for Cantonese Cooking (4)

When I was young, it felt like I was in a Dim Sum Restaurant almost everyday. Every time I'd go to the restaurant, I'd get the Mini Egg Tart when I see them. They were like candy to me. Combination of crisp crust with the silky egg filling, it was heaven to me. Unfortunately, eating one plate of Egg Tarts isn't so good for one's health, so I don't get it as much in dim sum restaurants now. 

Fortunately today I was craving them, so I decided to make Mini Egg Tarts. Unfortunately I didn't have any of the molds for it, so I went out to the city and bought a couple of them. I was trying a new recipe from wantanmien. (Click on the link to see the recipe) So after an hour, these Hong Kong style mini Egg Tarts came out like these:

They were puffed and they smelled delicious. Unfortunately I couldn't eat them since they were too hot and if I took them out too early, they will fall apart on me. Just in case you didn't see the video, a pro tip to getting out the egg tarts is to take the same empty mold and enclose both tart mold together. Then flip the mold with the egg tart upside-down, and give it a tap. It should pop right out very easily and then place them into your serving platter. I decided to place them on the plate below:

They remind me of the same ones I usually eat at dim sum restaurants. It brings me back to my childhood. And best of all, they are SIMPLE! Try the recipe it out.(I'm going to try the recipe out tomorrow again, but a bigger batch. Those who live close to me, you know what that means) Let me know how it went.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Special Food Blog

I mentioned on my last food blog that I'd make a Cantonese dish, but unfortunately I made that certain dish and forgot to take a picture of it. It was delicious and full of flavors. I will make another batch and remember to take a picture this time. 

So instead of the Cantonese dish that I love so much, this post is pretty special to me because it marks the time well spent with my Grandma. My Grandma is the first person to really get me into the kitchen by having me help her make these dumplings below.

If I remember correctly, when I was a little boy, I helped fill these dumplings up and pressed the dough balls into round circles. Now I'm learning how to make these dumplings from start to end, but I can definitely say that I'm no where near perfection because my Grandma can tell whether the dough is too dry, too wet, or will collapse when cooked. I want to perfect this so bad, just to have a piece of Grandma when I grow old. The picture above has a combination of both my Grandma's work and my work, based on this picture, I can't tell the different which is my Grandma's and my work, but when I was making it with her, I could tell that my dumplings needed work. 

After steaming the dumplings in a basket for 7 minutes, they look like this.

These dumplings where soft while retaining a "bite" or in Italian "al dente". The filling was a mixture of broccoli stalks, Chinese Radish (Chai Tou; they are a flat circular root vegetable that has a green skin and stalks emerging from the top center of the root), Fermented Vegetable, Chinese Sausage, Fresh Pork loin, and Seasonings. 

I thought this post will help me remember my Grandma's cooking and how special it is to receive it. 

First Dining Blog

As I mentioned in the first post I've ever made, I said that this is a blog dedicated to everything related to food and dining. Since the last 4 post were all the foods I've made, I've decided to write a blog about dining. On this particular day, I came back home stuffed to a point of a "food coma". ("Food Coma" - the feeling that you cannot talk to anyone and trying to discreetly digest the food that you've so much enjoyed slowly) I will describe this exciting day only mentioning the restaurants with photos to accompany them.

Beginning with lunch, my friend (who's name shall not be mentioned) and I went to a place called Caracas Arepas Bar on E 7th street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. The space is really small like a typical Manhattan 1 1/2 room apartment, but the decor makes up for it. The surrounding environment is comfortable and rustic as well. We went at the right time where we got bar seats (it is actually a good place to sit in; I'll let you know what happened). The photos were taken in poor lighting. I want to apologize in advance.

We order the following from the menu:
Sidekicks (Appetizer) Croquetas
Arepas - La de Pernil, La Surena (2), Leek Jardinera

Croquetas (We didn't take the picture because it was half eaten and we were hungry!)
These small fried potato cakes had a nice flavor, but there was a flavor that wasn't really pleasant. We couldn't but notice that the oil that they used to fry our Croquetas was old. I hope they changed it after our order. All in all its worth trying, maybe you wouldn't have the old oil like we did. Beside who doesn't like mashed potato formed in the balls and then deep fried with a thin crust. Reminds me so much of french fries but bigger.

La Surena (also didn't take the picture; We were too hungry)
This is my favorite! It has big flavor and a kick that makes it really delicious. At the end, there was large puddle of gorgeous flavor that was use to moisten the crusty corn flour buns.

La De Pernil
This was a mild flavored Arepas, it was also a bit spicy which made it very delicious but not as good as the La Surena. There wasn't juice that spilled out of it, but all in all, its worth a try.

Leek Jardinera
A vegeterian sandwich with a very mild flavor. The leek flavor was muted by the sun-dried tomatoes, but with company of the soft white cheese, the sandwich is pleasant. Not one of my favorites, but it is my friend's favorite.


The link to the menu is here, but you have to click on the Dine In Menu.

Now the good part about sitting at the bar, during our lunch, we watch the bartender mix drinks for the other customers and we mentioned that those drinks looked good. Little did we know, the bartender made more of one drink and gave us a sample of one banana milk shake with a touch a cinnamon. It was slightly sweet and the banana was fresh, but the cinnamon was what made it over the top. I think we just love cinnamon, which is good since it has a lot of good antioxidants.

After that somewhat large lunch, we went out for a walk and a few hours later we went to Eataly, which is E 23st between 5th and 6th Avenue. This place is always packed but the wait time for a table was only 20 minutes. The actual wait time for us was about 10 minutes. The service was excellent, except for the part where we didn't get bread and oil.

We had:
Papperdelle con Panchetta e Funghi
Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo
and 2 glasses of Barolo 2007

Both pasta were very hearty and filling. Paired with a good quality wine; the flavors were magnificent. The wine was surprisingly dry for a red, while still having the acidity, which gave it a well rounded body. My friend surely enjoyed it.

Tagliatelle had pieces of short ribs which made the dish hearty and very filling. The pieces of short ribs were about the same thickness, but not the same length, so the dish seems cohesive.

Papperdelle reminds me very much of Chinese Ho Fun, which is the same shape but its made with rice flour. The flavors were meaty as well because of all the Wild Mushrooms (Oyster mushrooms, Cremini mushrooms, and one more that I couldn't pinpoint). This pasta was good overall, but when it started to get cold, the sheets of pasta started to stick, so either eat fast or keep the pasta moving.

The menu for Eataly is here.

This whole day was enjoyable and I would go back to the two restaurants again and again for the foreseeable future. I will post more dining experience my friend and I have and review about. I also incorporate some of my friend's criticisms so you'd get more point of view toward one restaurant.

Let me know your favorite NYC restaurant and maybe we'll try it out. Til next time, I hope you give the two restaurants a try.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year all!
Hopefully this New Year will bring tons of joy and happiness to everyone, as well as making all the New Year's resolutions come true. If you are one of the people who says to lose weight, I would say on this day, "NOT YET! But afterwards, you can." Its still the holidays, we can still splurge the some extra calories.

My idea of a simple splurge would be to make a Croquembouche (Cream Puff Tower). This seemingly simple and very elegant dessert consist of a somewhat dry exterior "puff" with a custard filling, then it is drizzled with hot burned sugar (known as Caramel), so everything can stick together.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to make the custard filling, so I decided to go with a whipped cream filling. I used the cream puff recipe from Gale Gand (Cream Puffs) and I added a few more steps to the process to make a drier product so the whipped cream filling doesn't soften the exterior puff too quickly.

Once all the cream puffs were cooked and cooled, the caramel must start cooking since you need hot sugar to stick everything together. In the meantime, make the cream filling and start piping everything. Lastly, line a cake round with wax paper and then start building. Depending on how many cream puffs you have made, that will decide how tall the tower is. In this particular day, my best friend and I made 3 batches of Gale Gand's Cream Puffs recipe (which came out to be about 40+ puffs). The tower was made with about 20 of the cream puffs. After building the tower, my finished product looked something like this:

This New Years day party I attended a Potluck hosted by one of my close friends. We were able to choose which course to bring, so I've chosen the Pasta course and the Dessert. Little did I know that there were going to be more than one dessert but it's always healthy to share the stage with everyone's creations. When everyone came in, the table looked something like this:

The buffet menu consisted of:
Bacon wrapped Quail Eggs
Chicken Drumstick Curry
Medium Shells in a Homemade Meat Sauce
Tomato Mushroom Fettuccine in a Alfredo Sauce
Pizza Hut Tuscan Pasta
Muffin Size Egg Tarts 
Cream Puffs
Cream Puffs Tower
No bake Cheesecakes (which were in the fridge)
and then some drinks.

There was a whole Roasted Chicken that was bought on the later part of the party.

It was fun and I enjoyed the party. Hope everyone learned a bit. Feel free to comment! The upcoming post will be the continuation of my love for Cantonese Cooking. You will have to wait and see what I come up with.