Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Wish Came True - Homemade Kimbap At My Door!

So you all know that my sister Linda is a great cook. I've posted many of her homemade dishes and admit it, they've had you drooling. Now one of my colleagues, SS, also has a sister named Linda who is quite the chef. WITH A BIG HEART! She offered to make us gals a nice homemade lunch consisting of kimbap, inari (with extra radish, crab meat and ginger on the side), and instant ramen noodles! SS claims that they have to be eaten together and indeed, they paired well! I absolutely loved the mixture of hot, hot instant noodles with cold/room temperature rice. My personal fave was the inari. Look at the beautiful presentation!

SS also taught me another trick on how to wolf down a piping hot cup of noodles. Remove the lid, fold it into a cone (simple origami in her mind, but complex in mine), place some noodles in the cone to cool down, and slurp when ready! For someone like me who has a difficult time eating hot foods, this method is gold! Give it a whirl people! :)

My 100th Post Belongs to My Mama's Vietnamese Spring Rolls

It is only fitting that I celebrate my 100th post by revealing my most favorite food in the entire world. The ultimate Phan Fave. My mama's Vietnamese spring rolls. Yes, I would choose this meal if I was ever sentenced to the electrical chair.

While I'll never be able to share the entire recipe with you, I will reveal the goods. Partly because this is a family secret recipe but mostly because I don't even know the English names of some of the ingredients! And because a true chef does not use measurements and has the special gift of just adding to taste. I will however share that the filling is made with an amalgamation of ground pork, minced shrimp and crab meat, Chinese mushrooms, bean sprouts, vermicelli, minced shallots, eggs, pepper, garlic powder, fish sauce and soy sauce.

If you try to duplicate this recipe, it just won't happen. Especially because it's dipped in my dad's special vinegar sauce. Honestly, it's the best damn spring roll out there and you should feel privileged if you're one of the lucky few who have tried it!

A Dessert to Die For - Earl's Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding

One of my favorite desserts to devour from a restaurant (and believe me, I don't have very many) is the Earl's Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding. Essentially, this bad boy is assembled with a warm, rich chocolate cake drizzled in chocolate and toffee sauces, and paired with vanilla bean ice cream nestled in an edible caramel crunchy nest. It tastes very similar to a lava cake with ice cream but with added goodness. It's the perfect comfort dessert to end a well deserved relaxing night out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

7 Layered Finger Jello - Heaven on Earth

And my brother in law's Earth-angel-of-a-mom strikes again. You really have to be one of the nicest and most patient people on Earth to put together this rainbow finger jello with layers of condensed milk in between. It's such a treat when she gives us a whole tray of them. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm a 'Meat 'n' Potatoes' Kinda Gal

You know how people categorize some men as a 'meat 'n' potatoes' kinda guy? Well I'm a 'meat 'n' potatoes' kinda gal. Further to my earlier post on My Greek raving about their lamb and tarama, I also have a deep, deep love for their kalamari and beef/chicken souvlaki dinners. Again, their portions are just no match for any competing Greek restaurant and their meat offers a tenderness like no other. I'm telling you, it's a Phan Fave and well worth the drive y'all! AND, it's even better when you doggy bag the leftovers and have it the next day. Mmmmm, leftovers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bring on the Bao Bei!

I'm going to be honest right off the bat. Bao Bei is a happening place for overpriced, under-portioned food BUT the flavors are amazing, the crowd and decor is retro chic cool and their drinks are decent. We started the night off with a pitcher of their summer 'sangria-like' drink which was tasty and refreshing on a hot sweaty summer day!

First up, we had their Crispy Daikon Cake which really is a glorified radish cake you can get for $2.50 from any dim sum place. Tasty, but not tasty enough for me to go back for it. That is my new rule. You know it's good if you're already thinking about going back and ordering it again next time.

Their Shao Bing on the other hand is a must try. Braised pork butt (delicious sounding, I know) with Asian pear, pickled onion and mustard greens sandwiched in between crunchy sesame flatbread makes for an inventive do-over resembling a Vietnamese sub. Genius.

However another pet peeve I have of tapas type places are how menu items are portioned. In the perfect world, every tapas place would consider the amount of people in your party and account for that when splitting up the dish or counting the number of pieces per dish. It just really sucks when you go in a group of five, and the dishes are made for four. Seriously people, we would pay the extra $, just don't make two people suffer by having to share what is already a tiny piece of food!

Their pork potstickers were good and standard - the usual.

Their Warm Eggplant with a soy, garlic and ginger sauce was surprisingly very un-plain and satisfying for my taste buds. However I am a big fan of eggplant so I could be a bit biased.

Another creative dish they offer is the Mantou steam buns with braised beef shortrib, hoisin, scallions, pickled cucumber and roasted peanuts. A gloried 'cha sui bao' for those who know what I'm talking about. Perfectly marinated and easy to devour.

Now this dish really caught me off guard. First off, because I'm Chinese, I don't usually like to go out for Chinese food or order Chinese vegetables, BUT this Pearl Bok Choi dish with a ground pork and black bean sauce is to die for! I couldn't get enough of that juicy goodness the bok choi was swimming around in!

And my favorite dish of the night - the crispy pork belly with sauteed soybeans, Asian cucumber, chili, garlic, pickled red onion, tamarind and star anise tomato sauce. Let's face it, any item on the menu that says pork belly, or pork butt, or pork fatty anything is expected to be good. This one did not fail my theory.

And we ended the evening with a refreshing fried banana with lime and coconut sorbet dish. Oh and I might as well add that we REALLY ended the night with some Twilight action.

All in all, I might return here again one day if I'm feeling like a high roller, or if I know it's being paid for but probably wouldn't spend my own dime eating at this glorified dim sum joint for hipsters. I'm not bashing the food though, it's delicious, I just have to start watching every penny on my dine outs!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mmmmm Bop! For Kimbap!

My latest 'snack obsession' is what I call Korean sushi but better known as 'kimbap'. You can pick this up at your local H-Mart and enjoy immediately after purchase! No cooking instruction necessary. Served a bit chilled, this 'single maki' is made with sushi nori, cooked rice, salt, sesame oil, fish cake, radish, egg, cucumber, terryaki beef and carrot - all for only $2.99! Don't be fooled, there are quite a few pieces in this package to go and can fill you up for a nice small lunch or big snack. I crave this allll the timeeeeee.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Please Sir, I Want Some More ...' ... of RHM's PIE!

My my, what do we have here? RHM's plump pie filled with a delicious fruit filler and crispy crunch crust! I've sampled her blueberry and strawberry pie (with a scoop of ice cream and side of Jersey Shore of course) and they were scrumptious! Courtesy of RHM, here's how you can make one too.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is completely blended and appears crumbly. Mix in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, by lightly tossing with a fork. Divide the dough into 2 balls and roll each out into a circle.

Fold one circle of dough in half, and gently lift. Place into pie plate and unfold and add filling to pie plate. Fold second circle of dough in half and gently place over filling and unfold. With a table knife, cut off excess crust evenly so that 1 inch extends beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold under the excess dough and cut slits in top crust for steam to escape.

Yummy, take a look at that delicious filling. Here's how!


3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch (add a bit more to avoid a 'runny' filler)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups of fresh strawberries (can replace with whatever fruit you like)
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon and sprinkle over strawberries. When pie crust is laid out in pan, pour mixture into the pie crust and dot with butter.

Bake for 40-50 minutes and watch as crust browns and voila! EASY AS PIE!!!!

Oh and if you're wondering what this strawberry jam picture is all about, it's RHM's momma's fresh home made jam that she shared with us while we waited for the pie to bake! HEAVEN!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sawasdee Means More Than Just Hello, To Me It Means Great Food!

Sawasdee on Main Street is my favorite Thai place. To be honest, I can't say that I am an expert on authentic Thai food and a lot of Thai places do taste similar to me, (my other two faves are Urban Thai and Chili House) but this place always has amazing service, timeliness of food, fresh ingredients and just feels homey to me. Plus I love giving this place business as it's owned by an old high school friend of mine so I can count on my experience being great every time. My friend AF mentioned that she always has to try the fish cake at Thai restos so we opted for that as an appetizer. The 'Tod Mun Pla' was served with cucumber sauce and was tasty indeed.

Secondly, we each had a bowl of their 'Tom Yum' soup which was spiced just enough - to get your nose running but not dying for a glass of milk.

And of course no Thai meal would be complete without a plate of Pad Thai. I used to hate this 'ketchupey' dish but now I couldn't imagine life without it. I wonder if I'll be brave enough to attempt this dish in my own kitchen? Stay tuned and you'll find out!

The next two dishes were recommended by our server Natachai, tiger prawns stir fried with broccoli in a black pepper sauce and fish in a three-spice sauce. Both were delicious but I must say that the fish was a winner for me this night. Fried perfectly with enough chilies to get the heat going (and yes, ask for that glass of milk now), but flavorful enough to keep wanting more.

Another staple of mine in Thai eating is a nice green creamy curry with chicken atop coconut rice. Comfort food is the best thing people, especially in this cold cold weather!

And you guessed it, another plate of deep fried bananas with mango and coconut ice cream. I love how these pieces are bite size and shareable for the entire table.

And I just had to add their stuffed deep fried chicken wings in here (which I had at a separate take out time at home). This is their specialty. Deboned and stuffed with mushroom, carrot and noodles, this is a must try when dining at Sawasdee!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coconut and Lychee - A Must in Thai Desserts

One of my favorite perks of my new office is being steps away from Chili House! Which means if I'm still a bit hungry after eating my home cooked lunches, I can scoot on over for some savory dessert and fruit-i-licious drinks! Now I've tried plenty of deep fried banana and ice cream desserts but this particular coconut ice cream at Chili House is by far the creamiest and most flavorful of them all. I wonder if it's made in-house or store bought? I must ask them on my next visit.

And of course I opted for a virgin Royal Thai which is a freaking delicious drink made with blended lychee juice and coconut milk, topped off with a plump lychee! The alcoholic version is called 'Woman on Top'. Don't get me wrong, Chili House also has other amazing desserts and yummy foods too but today's focus is on my two favorite recent finds there. Also, please be aware that Chili House is now closed for lunch (until spring 2011) and open for all-you-can-eat dinners with 29 items for just $16!!! I will definitely blog about that once I hit up the buffet!

Friday, October 1, 2010

LC Strikes Again, This Time with Lemon Chicken and Pea Risotto

So my gourmet chef of a sister strikes again. This time, with savoury pea risotto and succulent lemon chicken (with a side sauce too!). She gets fancy guys. I don't know if I'll ever have the patience to cook risotto. Considering you have to constantly stir over the heated pot, dripping sweat, checking on everything else that's cooking. But I do love to eat it so I will give it a whirl one day and share my experience with y'all! She paired this meal with some good ol' homemade bruschetta and buttered carrots. MMmmMMm.

To her, everything is 'easy to make'. And although she lets me share her recipes with you, you'll never be able to eyeball everything the way she does. This woman needs no recipes! But, I promise you, it's not too hard to attempt at home and you'll continue to impress your friends. Her risotto is prepared by sauteing onions and garlic first, then adding the rice for 2 minutes. Here's the repetitive part. Adding ladles of chicken stock, stirring, waiting for the rice to absorb the liquid and then continuing until desired consistency. Repeat until rice is 'al dente'.

The lemon chicken marinade consists of fresh rosemary, thyme, olive oil, lots of lemon juice and lemon zest and marinated for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill or roast in the oven, squeeze lemon on top and season generously with salt and pepper to finish. Juicy AND healthy, this is a killer combination. :)