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Sunday, November 23, 2014

MMMmmmmmmmm....Donuts...

I love donuts and great tasting ones are hard to come by in San Diego. There are many options though when you are in the Los Angeles area. I recently found a place in Koreatown that serves fresh donuts 24/7! It's called California Donuts! Been there over 3 times and have never been left disappointed or presented with not so fresh donuts. My personal favorites are the classics: Sugar Twist, Sugar Glazed Twist, Chocolate Twist, and the regular Sugar Glazed and Chocolate donuts.

Where are your favorite places to get your donut cravings fulfilled???














Monday, November 17, 2014

I've Gotcha some Matcha! -- Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

So as Winter approaches, I become ironically more and more fond of ice cream.  This time, I decided to make Matcha Green Tea ice cream.  This flavor is a classic Asian ice cream flavor, but sadly it is not so common here in America.  Luckily for me, I happened to have some milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and powdered green tea sitting around... and an ice cream maker at my disposal.

Ingredients:

- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tbs matcha green tea powder

Directions:
  • In a bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks thorough, then mix together with 1/2 cup whole milk and 3/4 cup sugar. 
  • Heat the mixture in a double-boiler and stir frequently to avoid clumps.  Cook over medium heat until you achieve a custard-like consistency. (I actually used too much milk, and it took too long for my mixture to thicken so I ditched the double boiler and heated the mixture directly in the pot while stirring VERY vigorously.)
  • Remove the custard from the heat.  Mix in the remainder of the whole milk. Add in the green tea powder.
  • Allow the custard to chill in the refrigerator overnight
  • Don't forget to freeze your ice cream maker bowl as well!
  • The next day, take your custard mixture and mix in the heavy cream.
  • Put the entire mixture into your ice cream maker, and allow to churn until you achieve a soft-serve ice cream consistency.
  • Place ice cream in a freezer-friendly container and freeze for several hours before serving.
 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Super Fruit of the Season: Pomengranate

It's the season for Pomegranates! They are super nutritious and healthy. A method to choosing great Pomegranates is by how dark red the outer skin is. Since most fruit markets tend to pick them much earlier before they are ripe, you will also want to wait until the skin has a somewhat soft texture before considering opening it up. You should be able to dent the skin with a gentle press with your finger nails. Also another good indicator is by looking at the crown top of the fruit. You'll see a bunch of thin pedals inside and as it concave inwards towards the center that means it's ready to consume.

Pomegranates have one of the most powerful anti-oxidants of all fruits. Anti-oxidants help protect healthy cells from damage caused by normal body functions. This fruit has potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects as well. Helps lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and other cardiac risk factors. Studies have also shown that it helps protect/relieve against depression and osteoporosis.

When was the last time you had a Pomegranate???






Friday, November 14, 2014

Fresh Scottish Salmon Whole Fish

Step aside the Baja Hiramasa, step forward the Scottish Salmon! I bought a fresh whole Scottish Salmon from one of my favorite wholesale sustainable seafood markets in the city. I am someone who enjoys getting whole fishes as you know for sure how fresh it is by feeling, smelling, and of course seeing it.  Of course part of the fun is testing your knife skills by filleting it yourself, knowing where it's from, and how it looks in a photo! Have you ever done this before? Let me know!






When it comes to the "feeling" sense, you can make sure it's good by ensuring there are no bruises on the body, no unwanted sliminess, and that it's relatively slippery to hold. If you have gone fishing before and held a live fish, you know exactly how it should feel.

When it comes to the "smelling" sense, you need to make sure it doesn't have a fishy smell. It should smell like the fresh ocean (or lake) it came from. The smell should be pleasant and if there is any sense of rejection or undesirable smell, it may not be that fresh.

Lastly when it comes to the "seeing" sense, you want to ensure the fish eye balls are perfectly crystal clear. Also another good indicator is to look at the gills and look for a deep red color. Also look to ensure there's no unexpected physical bruises on the fish.

Look at those Crystal Clear Eyes

Filleting Commences

Watch out for Bones!


Nice Presentation after the Filleting

Fillet Blocks

Sashimi!



Monday, November 10, 2014

Your Highness, let me present to you the "Princess Cake"

The Princess Cake, a cake that truly lives up to it's name.  The simplicity of ingredient, but complexity of flavors and textures brings this cake up to the top few slots on my list of favorite cakes. 

Princess Cake
Name: Champagne Bakery and Bistro
Google Maps: Click Here!

From top the bottom, the layers are:
1) Chocolate ganache on top
2) Hazelnut-chocolate mousse
3) Plain cake layer
4) More Hazelnut-chocolate mousse
5) Crispy wafer
6) Dense Hazelnut filling
7) Plain cake layer

My only criticism is that the cake layers could be a little more moist, but given how much mousse in the cake, the cake as a whole does not feel dry.  It's not overly sweet, and my favor part is having the crunch of the wafer amidst the soft creamy layers.

Slice of Princess Cake
Almond Wall


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chinese Soy Milk Recipe -- Dou Jiang (and You TIao?)

Anyone who grew up in a Chinese household knows that REAL soymilk is not Silk or any of those other common American brands... Vanilla soymilk? Chocolate soymilk? Blasphemy! Let me introduce you to the traditional Chinese-style soybean drink that is so pure, it literally is made of just water, soybean, and sugar.

Soy milk, or "dou jiang" was created in the Han Dynasty (yeah that's right, thousands of years before Silk existed!).  As you know, the Asian population is largely lactose intolerant, meaning that we do not have the enzymes to break down lactose, a type of "sugar" in milk. Soy milk is a great alternative to milk: it provides the same amount of proteins, more fiber, and less cholesterol/fat.  In Taiwan, soymilk is a staple food and is on everyone's breakfast platter (accompanied by a nice fried piece of dough called "you tiao").

Enough of  that, let me introduce you to the ways of making your very own soy milk!

Ingredients:
- soy beans, organic (16 oz)
- water (16 cups or 4 liters)
- sugar (add to taste)



Directions:
1) Allow soybeans to soak in water overnight. After soaking, they will expand, and some of the "skin" will peal off easily too.  To the best of your ability, remove the skin, but it's okay to leave some in. Discard the water you used to soak the soybeans.
soaking the beans

expands after soaking

2) In several batches, blend together the soybean with the water in a high speed blender.




3) Collect the blended mixture is a very large pot and heat the mixture on medium-high heat.  Keep the milk over a rolling boil for 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently as the pulp can settle and burn on the bottom of your pot!

4) Extra optional step: use a hand blender and blend the heated mixture in the pot as it continues to boil.  By blending the mixture after the soybeans had a chance to cook a little, you are more likely to be able to break it down further, releasing more nutrients and flavor.

5) After you finish boiling, allow the drink to cool a bit (to avoid burning yourself). Strain the mixture through a large cheesecloth.  I have sew mine into a nice pillow-case shape to easily pour things into it.  Give the bag a nice strong SQUEEZE to extract as much fluid back out.


 
6) Just for fun: you can use the soybean pulp as a face mask! It has been shown that the nutrients in the soybean pulp can moisturize, exfoliate, and whiten your skin.  Beware, it's very crumbly and can get very messy! One way to keep things together is to mix the pulp with an egg and some honey!! :)

7) ENJOY!!!
Final product!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dinner Lab: Modern Mexican by Chef Daniel Espinoza

A whopping 93% of folks say his food belongs on a menu? This chef must really know what he's doing. He's one of the finalists to open up his very own restaurant as part of this Dinner Lab experiment. I got the honor to taste his 5 course meal and I'm here to break down what was served. For those that do not know what is "mole", it's a generic name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine. It usually consists of one or more types of chili peppers, black pepper, cumin, cloves, anise, tomatoes, garlic, sesame seeds, and sometimes some dried fruit or chocolate. Basically everyone in the pool! If you love "mole" then this would have been a delight for you! I'm only so-so with the taste of "mole". The highlights for me were the Caesar Salad and the Duck Breast! Yes, Caesar salad originated in Mexico! Not in Italy!

Chef Daniel Espinoza

Sous Chef
First Course:

Atun
  • Albacore Tuna, Mole Vinaigrette. Toasted Tamal Crumble, Pickled Pear


Second Course:

Ensalada de Cesar paired with Farmhhouse Ale [Saison Dupont, Barasserie Dupont, Belgium]
  •  Grilled Romaine, Shaved Crouton, Spicy Parmesan Vinaigrette, Freeze Dried Corn


 Third Course:

Tostada de Cochinita
  • Banana Leaf Braised Pork, Habanero Vinaigrette, Lentils, Beets

 Fourth Course :

Mole de Zarzamora paired with Chimayo [Tequila, Apple Cider, Creme de Cassis, Lemon]
  •  Duck Breast, Blackberry Mole, Red Quinoa, Almond Espuma


 Fifth Course:

Taza de Camote
  • Sweet Potato Pot de Creme, Rosemary Meringue, Edible Flowers