Friday, 28 December 2012

Salted Caramel mini Chocolate cupcakes

Was bored during this holiday season and didn't feel like doing any work, so I decided to bake!
Today's experiment is salted caramel mini chocolate cupcakes. These are mini chocolate cupcakes with a salted caramel filling, topped with dark chocolate salted caramel frosting.
The result turned out to be really yummy! =)

I adapted the recipe from here.

Using a mini muffin tray, I made 48 mini cupcakes with enough batter leftover for 4 madeleines. 
Alternatively this recipe yields 21 regular cupcakes.


For the cupcakes:

  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli cocoa powder)
  3. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 3/4 cup buttermilk (I made this by adding 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar to 1 cup milk)
  9. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  10. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  11. 3/4 cup warm water
For the salted caramel filling:
  1. 2 1/2 cups sugar
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  4. 2 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt, preferably Fleur de Sel
For the dark chocolate salted caramel frosting: (almost similar to before, with a caramel twist)

  1. 1/8 cup  unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 
  2. 1/8 cup boiling water
  3. 3/4 cups / 1.5 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  4. 1/4 cup confectioners’/icing/powdered sugar, sifted
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 227 grams good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips, found in Whole Foods)
  7. A sufficient amount of the salted caramel, from above, to your liking

Making the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Line mini muffin tray with paper liners. 
  3. Mix together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. In another bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in and mix until smooth and combined. Do not over-mix, to avoid a dense cake.
  6. Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. 
  7. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  (If you're making normal-sized cupcakes, baking time will be 13-15 minutes)
  8. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. (Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.)
  9. Make the salted caramel. While waiting for the caramel to form, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about half-way deep into the cupcake) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the narrower tip part. Keep the wider top part of the cone as a breadbowl-like cover over the caramel filling (see photos below for example).
Hollowed out cupcakes. The small pieces at the sides are the remaining top "breadbowl" covers

Sticking the breadbowl covers onto their respective cupcakes

Making the salted caramel filling:

  1. Heat sugar with the water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
  2. Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. 
  3. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. 
  4. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Be careful! Adding cream can cause the whole mixture to bubble!
  5. Stir in sea salt.
  6. Let cool for about 15 minutes; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable. 
  7. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm caramel into each hollowed-out cupcake. The caramel will slightly sink into the cupcake – just add a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.
  8. Cover the filling with the breadbowl-like cake cover from before.
  9. Use the leftover caramel for the frosting.
Caramel filling inside the cupcake

Making the dark chocolate salted caramel frosting:
  1. Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and stir until it cocoa has dissolved. 
  2. Beat the butter, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy–about 5 minutes. 
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate (cooled! If not the butter will melt), beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  4. Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated. 

Final step:

Pour the frosting into a piping bag (I used a ziploc bag and cut a small hole in the corner), and decorate the cupcakes!


This recipe was really easy to follow, with a minimal number of steps. 

On an non-baking related note, life can be quite funny/coincidental sometimes. I was at Boudin Bakery in San Francisco on Saturday to try their clam chowder breadbowl and watched the staff make the breadbowls. That very observation helped me make my hollowed-out cupcakes today, all I had to do was recall what I saw over the weekend, and repeat on a smaller scale!
Also, as I was baking, the whole ritual of following instructions and measuring out precise quantities felt very similar to doing experiments in the lab. In fact, I was reminded of one of my first research internships, when the professor asked me if I cooked, since doing experiments was just like cooking. Very true. I wonder if my general ease with experiments has been aided by my intuition in the kitchen, or even vice versa. Either way, I'm glad to be good at both, if not I wouldn't know what to do with my hands half the time :)

Finally, a candid photo of me filling cupcakes!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Creamy Mushroom Soup

I'm a huge fan of mushrooms and mushroom soup, so on Boxing Day I tried making my own creamy mushroom soup! This recipe was adapted from one I got from an English college friend 6 years ago.


  1. 10 oz mushrooms, chopped (I used 5 lb portabello mushrooms, and 5lb white button mushrooms this time)
  2. Half an onion, chopped
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 1 cup milk (I only have 2% milk at home, so I used that. Some recipes ask for whole milk or half-and-half)
  5. 2 cups chicken stock (I used packaged soup in a box from Whole Foods)
  6. 1/8 to 1/4 cup flour
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. Salt, pepper, thyme
  9. Olive oil
  1. Heat up the olive oil in the pot. 
  2. Stir-fry the onion and garlic until the onion is half cooked.
  3. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are cooked.
  4. Add enough flour to soak up the mushroom juices.
  5. Pour in the milk and chicken stock. 
  6. Heat up everything till simmering, but do not overboil.
  7. Add the heavy cream, stir until simmering.
  8. Add spices to taste.


We liked it!
However, as much as I like eating portabello mushrooms, I think their taste is a bit too strong in cream soup. Next time I'll use white button and brown crimini mushrooms instead. Also, for a stronger garlicky flavor, add more garlic. 
The consistency of this soup was less thick than what you get from condensed canned soup. If you want a thicker soup I suppose you can have a higher heavy cream: milk ratio, use whole milk or add more flour. 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Salted caramel chocolate fudge "Giant" cake

I had the inspiration to bake another cake today, so I decided to try this recipe!

Before writing about the ingredients/instructions, I must say that I am always horrified by the amount of sugar and butter that goes into cake and icing. Making the pastry myself only makes me feel slightly better since I can control how much 'junk' goes into it @_@

Anyway, I'm calling this a giant cake because we didn't expect it to be so big.. (although the recipe did call for three layers). I only made 2 layers of cake because I got lazy, so please note the change in the buttercream proportions!

The instructions are a little long, but here goes:

Ingredients (for a three-layered cake)

Dark chocolate cake layers:

  1. 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 2/3 cups sugar (I used 1 cup white sugar + 1 cup brown sugar in mine)
  3. 2 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
  6. 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  7. 0.6 cups vegetable oil 
  8. 1 cup buttermilk (I made mine with fresh milk plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar)
  9. 4 eggs
  10. 1 cup hot coffee 
  11. 2 tablespoons of vanilla
Salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream: (makes 2 layers of buttercream. During baking, I reduced everything to make only 60% of the original volume)
  1. 1.35 cup castor sugar - separated into 0.85 cup and 1/2 cup portions
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  4. generous pinch of sea salt (for the caramel, and additional sea salt, preferably Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling)
  5. 5 large egg whites
  6. pinch of salt (for meringue)
  7. 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  8. 1.3 cups unsalted butter
Dark chocolate fudge frosting:
  1. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
  2. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
  3. 1 1/2 cups/3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  4. 1/2 cup confectioners’/icing/powdered sugar, sifted
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 454 grams good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips)

For the cake layers
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease and line 3 8-inch cake tins, dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. 
  3. In a large bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients. 
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well with a heavy hand whisk for about 2 minutes. 
  5. Pour into prepared tins (batter will be quite liquid). Tap the tins on the counter a few times. 
  6. Bake each layer for about 20-25 minutes, rotating once (if necessary). 
  7. The cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out barely clean. Refrain from overbaking. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.

Preparing the salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream

Prepare the salted caramel first. 
  1. Place 130 grams/5 ounces/1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the castor sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. 
  2. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. 
  3. Remove from heat, and gradually add the cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter slightly (less if cream is room temperature). 
  4. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla. Let cool and start the buttercream immediately.
To make the buttercream
  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
  2. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 160°F and the sugar has dissolved. 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. 
  4. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more.
  5. Keep beating until it comes together.  
  6. With the mixer running on low, drizzle in the salted caramel sauce gradually, beating until well combined between each addition. 

Preparing the dark chocolate fudge frosting
  1. Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and stir until it cocoa has dissolved. 
  2. Beat the butter, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy–about 5 minutes. 
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate (cooled), beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  4. Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated. 

Assembling the cake
  1. Dollop a small bit of buttercream onto your intended serving plate/cake board. 
  2. Place one cake layer on and layer on about 3/4 cup of the salted caramel buttercream. 
  3. Repeat with the second layer of cake. 
  4. Place the last layer of cake on top and coat the entire cake with a crumb coat using the chocolate fudge frosting. 
  5. Refrigerate cake for 15-20 minutes. 
  6. Once the crumb coat is set, remove cake and cover with the remaining fudge frosting. 
  7. Return cake to the fridge and let it set, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or flaked sea salt to decorate.

Here's how my cake batter looked like:

After combining both cake layers with a layer of salted caramel buttercream:

 It looks like a GIANT MACAROON. I flipped the bottom layer so that the flat part was contacting the buttercream
 Here you can see how much my top layer rose.
 After frosting with fudge!

It looks better after setting!
Taste test: the cake tasted a little too strongly of baking soda, so maybe next time I'll add slightly less of that. In general everything tasted nice, but the cake layer might have been a bit thick, though moist, relative to the buttercream (probably why the original recipe asked for 3 layers). 

Chocolate Malteser cake

It was the boyfriend's birthday last week, so I decided to try to make my first cake! (plus my first time at icing a cake!) I made a chocolate malteser cake, using the recipe from this site.

For the cake:
225g butter
225g castor sugar
80g malted milk powder
50g cocoa powder
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
4 tbsp milk
For the icing:
250g powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
45g malted milk powder
125g softened butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 packet Maltesers, halved

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 180 C (or ~355F). Grease and line two 9-inch cake tins.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until blended. 
3. Add the malted milk powder, cocoa powder, eggs, flour and milk, and beat together until smooth and creamy.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins, and bake for about 30mins, or until well risen and firm to the touch. 
5. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:
1. Blend the boiling water, malted milk powder and cocoa powder together in a bowl, then set aside to cool. 
2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and half of the powdered sugar together until creamy, then add the remaining powdered sugar and the cocoa mixture until well blended. 
3. Sandwich the two cakes together with half of the icing, then spread the remaining icing over the top. 4. Decorate with Maltesers around the sides of the cake.

** I only have one cake tin, so I had to cut the cake into half.
Here's what it looked like after baking! (The pock-marks are where I poked the cake to check if it's been cooked)
 My almost-successful attempt at a clean horizontal cut to the cake:
 After icing it! (not bad for a virgin attempt, if I say so myself)
To ice the cake with minimal crumbing, I plopped a dollop of icing in the center of the cake, and then spread it out with a big knife, without turning the knife back in the reverse direction. 
The cake turned out a bit dense, but was still yummy!
If I were to do anything differently, I would probably use two cake tins, as specified in the directions, because it took me an hour to fully cook the cake (and I suspect the top and bottom were a tad burnt). 

Cake-making was surprisingly fun, so I'm going to bake more cakes in the future ^_^

Friday, 30 November 2012

19 Things to stop doing in your 20's

Totally food-unrelated again, but hey we can all learn lessons from this:

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Recipe to try this weekend!

I think I'll try making fresh pesto this weekend!
Going to use this recipe~
Maybe I'll make pasta or lamb with it, or just mozzarella with baguette and pesto!


We were on our way to San Francisco on a rainy weekend and saw this huge rainbow!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


I made my own bento today! (I bought all the ingredients from the supermarket though.) There is pickled radish, pickled plum, masago, tamago with soy sauce and wasabi and seaweed atop rice.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Just chillin'

I know I haven't written in a while, and this post isn't going to be about food either.
Lately I've noticed a change in my attitude toward people and encounters, from a particular, impatient attitude to one that is more 'zen'. I don't get as frustrated when I have to wait long in line, when the driver in front is being an asshole, when people are being rude.  I just take out my book and read, shake my head, laugh it off and change lane, or just ignore and shrug them off.
I wonder if it's got to do with having lived in London and California, losing some of that mad-rush I-don't-care-I-have-somewhere-to-go / i-must-have-an-issue-with-everyone mentality from Asia, or just a process of growing up? Nevertheless, acquiring the ability to choose what I should be truly expending my energy on has made me a happier, more carefree person. And I think everyone should do that too -- after all, getting angry with the random person who bumped into you and didn't say sorry will only bring you grief, while they just move on with their lives unconcerned.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Little (not) pig little pig

We went hiking at the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Reserve on Sunday, and saw some interesting stuff!
First, there was a model airplane flying area with lots of cool airplanes doing tricks.
Second, there was a farm in the middle of the reserve with goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.! It was the first time the boyfriend has seen a live pig, so it was quite an experience. One would have thought that pigs were small and cute like in the Babe movie, but they are actually quite huge, most probably bigger than I am. There was a pink pig and a black one. The black one reminded us of black pig pork. Yum.

New oven is here!

Spanking new oven set, now with 4 ventilation fan settings, self-timing oven and a shiny ceramic top stove, whee!

Indo Cafe (Saratoga)

This is a small Indonesian family restaurant/caterer tucked away in a back alley of Saratoga downtown. Despite all, it is surprisingly delicious! The food isn't too expensive too. We've only been there twice but were impressed on both trips. The Nasi Goreng was ridiculously and yummyliciously spicy, as is their Nasi Kuning and Nasi Uduk. My favorite is the fried whole egg with sweet chili, yum yum yum!!
The Nasi -- plates taste like nasi lemak when added with chili! The rendang is Indonesian-style,  different from Malay-style, so we weren't used to the taste. But the chicken and potato patty is yummy!
We tried the curry puffs and otah-otah, but weren't super duper impressed. So we'll just go there for main courses!

Disclaimer: beware of post-meal food coma

14443 Big Basin Way
SaratogaCA 95070
To go to the restaurant, turn right upon entering Saratoga downtown into the public carpark. The restaurant is close to the second set of lots, next to the UPS store.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nata de coco

One of my favorite jelly desserts!
I add nata de coco to my plain froyo + mochi, nata de coco to milk tea (from the bubble tea shops), nata de coco to vanilla ice-cream, and nata de coco to my warm earl grey tea!
I heart you nata de coco 

Just some facts about nata de coco I learnt today:
It is from the Philippines.
It is produced from "the fermentation of coconut water, which gels through the production of microbial cellulose by Acetobacter xylinus."
Production process:

  1. Extraction of coconut water
  2. Fermentation of the coconut water with bacterial cultures
  3. Separating and cutting the produced mat of nata de coco
  4. Cleaning and washing the acetic acid out of the nata de coco
  5. Cutting to packaging
Courtesy of wikipedia
Aren't microbes amazing? They produce yummy food like cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut, beer and nata de coco!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Miso-marinated fish

I bought frozen fish from the supermarket today, so I tried experimenting with marinating fish with miso today!
I had leftover spring onions and an onion from last week, so I decided to add those in as well, to give some 'kicks' in flavor.
The fish I bought today was basa fish, apparently a type of catfish and a cheaper alternative from Vietnam to haddock or cod. Here's what I did
1. Rub a big lump of white miso all over the fish (I didn't take time to let it thaw out before starting the marination/)
2. Chop the spring onion into coarse chunks, and the onion into large but thin slices.
3. Mix the onions in between the fish fillets.
4. Let the fish marinate and partially thaw out.
5. Pan-fry the onions (till half-cooked) before adding the fish. Keep turning the fish to prevent it from sticking to the pan, and keep the onions above the fish so the meat comes into full contact with the heat.

Even though I didn't let the fish completely thaw before cooking it, it turned out fine because the water from the frozen fish melted and mixed with the miso, making a thick miso sauce that seeped into the meat and flavored it.

Simple but delicious! /please

Paris Baguette

I can't believe that I haven't written a post about Paris Baguette yet. This is one of my favorite bakeries in the Bay Area so far, which offers a wide selection of Japanese-bakery-style pastries. Every pastry I've tried so far has been delicious -- high toast, green tea pastry, red bean pastry, sweet rice pastry (my ultimate favorite! This has azuki inside mochi inside pastry), tuna melt sandwich, strawberry shortcake (my all-time favorite cake), green tea pumpkin shortcake, etc.

I should post photos of the pastries next time before I eat them too quickly... 

Anyway, we heard that Paris Baguette in Palo Alto started selling shaved ice, so we went to try it yesterday. It was rather... disappointing =/ My boyfriend described the experience quite aptly -- "This is what you get when a bakery tries to sell shaved ice." Indeed. 

From the first look, it really looked promising. Lots of fruit, azuki on top, even mochi bits. Yummy, right? 

WRONG. Look at what's wrong in this picture. THE ICE IS WRONG. This is not the shaved ice I was expecting. I was hoping for shaved ice like the one you get from Taiwanese places, where you literally SHAVE snowflakes off the ice, not grind it up like ice-kacang or lame american snowballs =(
Or maybe I'm just pampered....
Ice aside, the strawberry sauce they poured over the ice was a little weird =/ And the melon didn't go well with the strawberry and kiwi, because the melon taste overwhelms the light kiwi taste! 
There was a huge lump of vanilla ice-cream in the middle of the whole ice tower, which was a surprise. Pleasant for some, not so much for us I guess, because it made the whole thing taste pretty random, as if they couldn't decide which style to make it in...
Or maybe we were just affected by our disappointment with the ice =(

Back to eating pastries for us..
*There is another branch of this bakery in Sunnyvale. The Palo Alto branch is newer and bigger. This is also a Korean bakery that makes Japanese-style pastries, just putting it out there. 

Paris Baguette (Palo Alto)

383 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 838-0404

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tobiko and Seaweed on Rice

I bought tobiko from HanKook supermarket the other day, and made a yummy afternoon snack with it!
I simply put a whole dollop of tobiko on top of warm rice, mixed in some wasabi+soy sauce in, and added seaweed on top.

yummy!  /blush

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Making dumplings (水餃)

I hand-made dumplings for the first time in 10 years today!

Here's roughly how I made them (total yield was 35 dumplings):

1. 1/2 lb ground pork (see Note 1 below)
2. 7 chives, chopped into small sections
3. 7 water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
4. Liberal amounts of sesame oil, white pepper, soy sauce and tsao-hsing wine
5. Dumpling skin (I used the Hong Kong 水餃 one from Ranch99)

Note 1: I found out that using ground pork is not a good idea; the meat ends up being a lump and doesn't have the nice chewy texture. Next time I will buy a chunk of pork and chop it up into small pieces (oh I can already imagine the pain in my arms).
Also I didn't use enough chives.. the chive flavor didn't get through the meat (though it smelled really good before being cooked!). Next time I will use a higher chive-to-pork ratio.

1. Mix the pork with the chives, water chestnuts. Add enough seasoning to your liking for flavor.
2. Put a portion of the pork onto the center of a dumpling skin.
3. Wet the entire edge of the dumpling skin with water (this makes the dough stick to itself). 
4. Fold the skin into half, and make 6 pleats on one side of the skin, 3 on each side. Press to seal tight. (A video demonstration can be found here). 

To make boiled dumpling, simply place in water or your desired soup base. I used plain water this time and the dumplings tasted a little flour-y, so I will experiment with using either salt-added or chicken stock-added water.

To make gyoza, heat up some oil on a pan, and fry the dumplings until they are halfway to crispy. Then add some water to the pan and let the dumplings simmer as the water boils away. This will help the dumplings cook more quickly. Keep simmering in water as long as you think the meat filling is still raw. When the filling is cooked, proceed to pan-fry the gyoza until you achieve a nice golden-brown skin.

Condiments I used to pair with my dumplings were chili with soy sauce (you can use dark or light), and vinegar with chopped ginger.

Freshly-made dumplings

Gyoza with chili+soy sauce and vinegar+ginger

Boiled dumplings

Friday, 10 August 2012

Red Hot Wok (Cupertino)

This is a taiwanese restaurant. I would give 2 stars for the food, and 4 stars for the shaved ice.
We walked in and the waiters/waitresses were friendly enough. We ordered the three cup chicken, garlic kang kong, fruit fried rice, hot plate beancurd, and the inn spare ribs. The food took forever to come, and they forgot our fried rice order until we asked them for it for the 4th time (45 min after sitting down). They were super apologetic the entire meal, but unfortunately good service cannot make my stomach happy with the small portions that didn't carry enough flavor. The only thing I really liked was the kang kong, but you can't really go wrong with garlic stir-fried veges (if not you should just close shop). The three cup chicken was only ok. I guess I was expecting the same as what I had in Taiwan, or even at Rose Tea Cafe in Pittsburgh, PA. Nevertheless, my expectations weren't super high since I was famished anyway. The flavor was there, but just wasn't intense enough. And the small claypot  was only 70% filled with food, which is like ?!?! No comments about the beancurd or spareribs. The fried rice was interesting, kind of like pineapple fried rice, but the portions were seriously disappointing, and I could have easily whipped it up in 5 min myself.

The shaved ice was not bad though, comparable to Satura next to Jang Su Jang in Sunnyvale. The mango puree and mango chunks went well with the shaved ice, which looked like frozen mango juice. 

If I were to return, it would be for the shaved ice (though at $7.45 for the small portion, I would just go to Satura).

I'm going home to cook myself my second dinner.

I know I sound bitchy here, but I'm just really overly disappointed by my underwhelming dinner =(

10074 E Estates Dr
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 996-2999

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mozzarella on baguette with olive oil

This is one of my favorite home-made snacks! It's really simple to make too --
1. Buy mozzarella cheese (the large ball or bocconcini, not shredded), a baguette and some olive oil.
2. Cut the cheese and baguette into chunks.
3. Place the cheese on top of the baguette.
4. Place in an oven (or toaster oven) at 250F for a few minutes, until the baguette is slightly toasted, or the cheese has melted slightly.
5. Drizzle some (just a little, don't soak it!) olive oil on top of everything, and serve!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Cold brew coffee

We just found out about cold brew coffee from Whole Foods Market! The coffee is really concentrated, so you dilute it down with water or milk to yield a nice, smooth drink. Yum! I don't normally drink coffee because I'm very sensitive to caffeine, but this didn't make me jittery at all. Kept me awake though, on the car ride to Monterey a few weeks ago.
So we are trying to make our own cold brew using ground Philz coffee beans. Our first experiment will be with my boyfriend's favorite flavor, Tesora, a medium roast.

Here are the ingredients:
1. French press
2. Ground coffee (we will be trying coarsely ground beans this time, hopefully we don't have to use an additional coffee filter)
3. Water @ room temperature (3 parts water to 1 part coffee beans) --> we boiled our filtered water first to kill off any bacteria (I'm a microbiologist after all, careful as always)

1. Add water to ground coffee inside the French press. Stir as you add the water (This moistens the beans to ensure an even brew)
2. Cover the French press with the lid placed lightly on (do not press down!), or use clingwrap to cover the top of the pot.
3. Leave overnight, or for 12 hours, in the fridge.

To enjoy, add one part milk or water to one part coffee concentrate!

UPDATE: We left our beans in the water for 12 hours, and it was great! Despite grinding the beans coarsely, there were still some particles in the coffee from the French press. To yield the nice smooth texture, we still have to use a coffee filter! 

oven broken =(

Our oven at home is broken, so no baking for a while =( Hope our landlord fixes/replaces it soon!
We've been eating out for the past week, and it's so easy to forget to eat our veges.. need to make a conscious effort toward this end!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Moscato and sweet wines

I've started pairing home-cooked dinners with wines lately. Sometimes I buy reds and whites to match the food I'm making, but other times I succumb to buying my favorite moscato and sweet wines. It doesn't help that I have a sweet tooth!
Just listing a few of my favorite sweet bottles so far (not exclusive to dinner-pairing, we drink these while watching movies) : Martini Asti, Firefly Ridge Moscato (only $5.99 from Safeway, what a steal!), Barefoot Moscato (only $4.99 from Walmart), etc.
I also like Choya Umeshu plum wine -- the original one with plums and the new black sugar version are really good. There is also the royal honey one that I only found at the Singapore airport which is pretty tasty as well.
Sangria's delicious too, maybe I should learn to make my own sometime.
I'm really thankful we live in California and close to Napa Valley, so wine is cheap. Safeway and Trader Joe's (this also has its own housebrand bottles) are good places to buy good quality but inexpensive wines.
Just saying. Now back to work

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sakura Teppanyaki (Redwood City)

Came here for a late dinner after watching the newest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises!
This was only our second time at a teppanyaki restaurant, and it was pretty entertaining. The waiters and chef were quite funny, so dinner was a pleasant experience. The food was good too. We ordered two dinner sets -- fillet mignon and tuna. Each set came with soup, salad, fried rice, shrimp appetizer, some onions and cucumber, and main course. 
The soup and salad were so-so; the soup tasted like water + MSG + onions, while the salad had some sauce we didn't like. The rest of the food was nice though. The first hot dish was fried rice, which was quite delicious. Shrimp appetizer comprised of two succulent pieces of shrimp, and our order of medium-cooked meat was quite well-made. We liked the fillet mignon better than the tuna, due to the tenderness and flavor, although we must say that both portions were hearty enough. Every dish was cooked with both oil and butter, although one should simply eat without thinking about the fat content and just enjoy the enhanced flavors. In addition, two dipping sauces were provided, ponzu and some diluted thousand island -- i liked the latter better since its taste wasn't too strong to mask the original flavor of the food.
The couple next to us ordered a seafood lovers set, which consisted of scallops, shrimp, and lobster. Their food looked really good, so we might try that on our next trip!
All the food prior to cooking

Performance by chef where he put alcohol and oil into some onions and set it on fire

Tuna and shrimp appetizer

Fillet mignon

2198 Broadway St

Redwood CityCA 94063

Friday, 27 July 2012

Salmon baked rice

Made salmon baked rice last night! I made the cream sauce from scratch for the first time too. Here's what I did (sorry we don't have any photos this time, since we were too hungry):

1. Rice (I cooked 1 cup)
2. Half an onion, chopped
3. Chopped mushrooms
4. Vegetables (I used broccoli last night)
5. Some cheese (I used mozzarella last night)
6. A deep dish

1. Cook rice, and leave to warm.
2. Pan-fry some onions and mushrooms, before adding the vegetables. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are fragrant, and the vegetables are half-cooked.
3. Beat some eggs with black pepper and some salt, and mix evenly into the warm rice (see comment here).
4. Add the egg-coated rice to the pan, and pan-fry until the egg is mostly cooked. Add some cheese so that it's nice and stringy inside the rice.
5. Pour everything into the deep dish.

1. Rub over with some black pepper and cajun powder.
2. Pan-fry with some oil, until the fish is half-cooked through.

Cream sauce:
1. 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2. 3 medium cloves of garlic
3. Half an onion, finely chopped
4. 1 teaspoons of salt
5. 0.5 teaspoon of black pepper
6. 1 cup heavy cream

1. Melt the butter at medium heat in a pot or pan.
2. Fry up the garlic and onions just before they are fragrant
3. Add 0.5 teaspoon salt and all the black pepper to the garlic and onions. Fry it up till fragrant.
4. Stir in the heavy cream and let boil. Add the remaining salt (this is to enhance the flavor of the sauce. Add at your own discretion).
5. The sauce will thicken as the water evaporates. Take the pot off the stove once you are satisfied with the sauce thickness.

Making the baked rice:
1. Pour half of the cream sauce onto your rice that is already inside the deep dish. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the rice and sauce.
2. Place the salmon in the middle of the dish. Add the remaining sauce and cheese, so that the whole dish is covered in cheesy goodness. I used 2 cups of cheese in total for this dinner (we really love cheese on baked rice)
3. Place everything in an oven set at 350F. It doesn't matter whether you preheat the oven or not, the cheese takes time to melt anyway.
4. Your meal is ready when the cheese is all melted and forms a brown (not black!) crust! You will also notice that the cream is bubbling from under all that cheese, so be careful when you're removing it from the oven.

Afterthought: Most of the cream sauce drained through and was absorbed by the rice while baking. If you like to see a layer of sauce on top of the rice when you eat, you can make a higher sauce:rice ratio, or make a thicker sauce.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Sura sushi (Mountain View)

Sura is one of our favorite sushi restaurants in the Mountain View area! We like how their fish is really fresh, and it's never crowded. Their salmon is really really nice and their rolls are yummy.
My boyfriend likes their lunch bentos since it's cheap and generous. I didn't realize how big the lunch bento was till yesterday! It came with a salad, miso soup, and 2 or 3 items (depending on what you order). I could barely finish half of my bento, but it was pretty good. I ordered california roll, grilled saba, and tempura. I think the tempura breading was a little thick, but everything else was nice.

My lunch bento minus one california roll

Some of my favorite sushi!

2000 West El Camino Real  

Mountain View, CA 94040