Momofuku… a review.

June 9, 2010

I recently took a short trip to New York.  like 24 hours short.

A few days before the trip I got ahold of the most recent s.pelligrino 50 best restaurants 2010.  I was surprised to see momofuku ssam bar made 26 on the list.  I’ve previously been to the momofuku noodle bar, which was tasty; and the milk bar, which I absolutely loved.

I had visited the Ssam bar before because the milk bar is located in the back. I was intrigued by the newest review so I made a point to go eat there before we left.

I arrived with my mom a little before 6:00, through the unassuming doors before the Tuesday dinner rush and my mom and I got two seats at the bar.  we weren’t starving so we kept the meal light and wanted to order just a few dishes.  Here we go…

(Excuse the photos… taken from my mom’s iphone in bad lighting.)

first dish was a fuji apple kimchi; when I read the menu I believed I was getting their traditional hand pickled kimchi ( the best I have ever had! tired it last year at the noodle bar), with the addition of apples.  This was however just apples, replacing the cabbage entirely.  Served with a creamy dressing, a strip of bacon and a few leaves of arugula.  It was tasty, and the components worked nicely together, however I was craving the juicy and spicy kimchi I had had before and this couldn’t stand up to my expectations.

This next dish was a special of the night of something.  It was some sort of firm, raw fish with cucumber, candied mustard and green onion.  The sauce it was paired with was like a thick gelle, with a subtle flavor.  Honestly, I didn’t think this was worth the money we spend (probably like $12 or something).  The candied mustard was nice and surprising, but that was about it.

Next, we ordered a stuffed, deboned quail served with cabbage and a savory chinese broth.  This dish was the star of the show, the quail was delicately moist and tender and stuffed with a sticky rice that was perfectly sticky.  The broth had tones of five spice and star anise.  It was warming, comforting and delicious. 5 stars.

The last dish brought to us was the soft shell crab recommended by our waitress.  Was served with a few asparagus tips and I can’t even recall anything about the sauce at this point, so not very memorable.  The crab itself was perfectly fried, but that didn’t make up for the cost.  At 20-some dollars I could have gotten a perfectly tasty deep-fried soft shell crab at any Japanese restaurant in San Francisco for half the cost.

Dinner was decent, but from what I ate it wasn’t quite worthy of 50 greatest restaurants in the world.

Now of course I went to the milk bar, but I’ll tell you about that later.

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Blast from the Past

January 23, 2010

I knew I wanted to start my own baking blog from the time I was first introduced into the food blogging world.  Anticipating the start of my own site, I was a rampant baker and used my small digital camera to document every item produced in my kitchen, taking hundreds of shots of my cupcakes, cookies and cakes that I knew would one day be posted on my own blog.  However, now that I have my blog, I never look back or consider posting those old recipes I’ve made, however successful they were.  Maybe it’s the crappy lighting or blurry photography, or maybe it’s just because I can’t even keep up with posting my new recipes.  Well, today while looking through my iphoto albums, I was inspired to share some past photos and recipes of things I have made.  I do indeed have hundreds of photos sitting around serving no purpose!

Here is a brief excerpt of my baking, pre-rollininthedough.

Since I began baking, I have made a coconut cake every year for my mom’s birthday in October.  It’s her favorite, and I always try out a new recipe.  October of 2008, I was feeling ambitious and wanted to do something grand.  I found this recipe months before the date, and marveled over its impressiveness; I knew it was perfect.  However, when I read through the recipe, I was repulsed by the 10 sticks of butter called to make the entire thing.  I’ll repeat that: TEN STICKS OF BUTTER.  My family is pretty health conscious, so I tried to improve this buttery situation by opting out a few sticks from the cake batter.  Now I don’t quiet remember exactly what I did, but what I will tell you is to NOT do what I did.  If your going to make this cake, go ahead and make it with all its 10-sticks-of-butter-glory.  I followed the recipe for the frosting to a T and it turned out amazing.  Real vanilla beans.  As for my attempt to manipulate the fat out of this cake, well it had a weird flavor and dryness to it.  Looks impressive though….right?  I wasn’t confident enough to make a six layer cake, so I made it four layers.  I’m sure it will be amazing if it is done right.  Don’t mind if I just post a link, this recipe is super long: ultimate Coconut Cake

This next recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s Berry Surprise cake; a white cake with berries hidden inside, so when you cut it open the cake bursts with berries. This was a recipe done on a week of Tuesday’s with Dorie.  I fell in love with how this cake looked.  So pristine white, and berry beautiful 😉  One of my favorite blogs, Tender Crumb had one of the most beautiful interpretations of this cake which I was inspired to emulate.  I made this for my brothers surprise birthday party, so it seemed only fitting to make a Berry Surprise Cake. (I’m a corn-ball).  Known for over-doing it in the dessert department,  I also made ice cream sandwiches.  I can’t remember which chocolate chip cookie recipe I used (from the picture it looks like the NYTCCC), but I made two types of ice cream: strawberry balsamic and salted caramel.   What great flavor combinations,  if I don’t say so myself, these ice cream sandwiches were pretty dope 😀

To make the ice cram sandwiches, I let the ice cream thaw to room temperature, filled the cookies, wrapped them in plastic wrap and refroze.  Then about 30 minutes before consumption, I took them out of the fridge so they wouldn’t be hard as bricks.

I got the strawberry balsamic recipe from Tender Crumb blog as well: here

Salted Caramel Ice cream recipe:

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Adapted from David Liebovitz

2 cups whole milk, divided

1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)

Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.  The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup of the milk.

Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally, I’m going to share with you the first paid order I did; how exciting!  I remember slaving over these mini cupcakes all day.  It was so much work, but it was also well worth it.  I felt so accomplished and everybody loved these Chai tea and matcha green tea cupcakes (not pictured).  These were made for the Marin Chinese Cultural Association Asian scholarship dinner, so I went with tea flavors. Michelle from une-deuxsenses blog raved about this chai recipe, and I used a matcha cupcake recipe I created myself.  My first attempt at Swiss Merengue buttercream, it was glorious.  Recipe is here

A sample of past baking.  I can promise more is to come……

to be continued!

New Year’s Resolution

January 18, 2010

New Year’s Resolution:

1.  Blog more.

I’m trying not to bake as much after the holidays;  take a break if you will.  After a record-breaking butter intake in December 2009, it only seems fitting.  So I’m trying to eat right, stay healthy, exercise, and well… blog.  But less baking and more blogging doesn’t particularly make sense!  Well, I though about this, and there is more to blog about than just French pastry cream and butter pie crust.  My baking adventures are not limited to my own little kitchen.  I will still be baking, with a more health conscious approach  and also find fun things I can share with you all.

However, I did promise you that recipe  for the chocolate toffee shortbread from Christmas in my last post.  So easy and a great crowd pleaser.  I gave several bags away as gifts.

The Shortbread:
2 sticks softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups flour

Mix until crumbly. Press into 9×13 pan and bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until the top is just lightly browned.  Poke holes with a fork to let the steam escape.

Like This…

I then made Elizabeth Falkner’s sinfully delicious sticky toffee sauce.  This is easy and utterly amazing, I have yet to taste anything else like it.  Use it to fill cupcakes, top ice cream. layer in cakes or anything else, the possibilities are endless.  This sauce gives a decadent, rich, buttery and slightly salty flavor to anything it touches.  I knew I wanted to use it in this bar.

Sticky Toffee Sauce: (makes about 3/4 cup)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

Use a medium sauce pan to melt the butter over medium/ high heat.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and add the brown sugar and cream, stirring just to moisten the sugar.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes or until the thermometer registers 225 degrees F.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt and set aside to cool.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for three days.

I cooled the hot shortbread for about 10-20 minutes and then poured the sticky toffee sauce.

Make sure to spread it all over the surface, then refrigerate for about 20 minutes to set up

While the shortbread chilled, I melted about 2-3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips over a double broiler, and added a few teaspoons of canola oil.

Pour the chocolate on….

definitely missing something…. to make it more festive I sprinkled gingerbread men on the surface 🙂

Chill the entire thing for about an hour to let it set completely.  You can take it out and slice it right away, then let it sit out because it tastes best at room temperature.

Perfect!

I happen to be up in Seattle at the moment visiting my sister and another special friend… I made her favorite cookies to bring up to her.  Look out for the recipes in my next post!

Christmas Cookies

December 25, 2009

Here is just a fraction of my holiday cookie baking.  Sadly, these were the only two recipes I managed to take pictures of so far.

Anyways, on a happier note I just won a giveaway from Patrica’s blog: http://browniesfordinner.com/!  Patrica has such a wonderful blog with tons of recent holiday cookies.  I won Dorie Greenspan’s famous book!  Something I have wanted to get for over a year now. I read the email about two minutes ago and it absolutely made my night!  I have never won anything like this before. yay me.

I made sugar cookies.  This recipe is from recipiezaar and claimed by a blogger to be the best recipe ever.  Although I didn’t find them to be “the best”, they were pretty decent.  I made a batch of royal icing from Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition desserts and  decorated them with sprinkles.

Granny’s Sugar Cookies
Recipezaar
Makes approximately 84 cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (do not substitute!)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream sugar and butter till fluffy; add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture till completely blended. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour to prevent sticking. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just faintly golden around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with frosting if desired.

To make about 1/2 cup of Royal Icing, combine an egg white and a pinch of cream of tartar in a bowl and whisk until foamy.  Sift 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and add to the egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time.  Beat for about 2 minutes until smooth. Can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Next are the S’mores cookies.  These are supper delicious with crushed graham crackers, Hershey’s bars, and mini marshmallows.  They have been making an appearance on tons of blogs and I knew I had to make them!  Somehow, my cookies didn’t turn out looking quiet as beautiful as everyone else’s. They ended up looking pretty chunky and rustic looking, not very round and flat, but I think it gave them good character 🙂 I love how you can see the Hershey’s chunks!  Please Enjoy!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, remove from oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a piece of a hershey’s bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for 3 more minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

cookie marathon

October 25, 2009

I love baking cookies. Chocolate chip cookies at that.  It’s my instant gratification.  I find it so comforting, using the same, simple ingredients and easy method. I can say with confidence that I have made hundreds and hundreds of cookies, if not thousands.

And let me tell you that I do make a mean cookie.  I can tailor them to your liking.  I am good at suiting particular tastes.  For my dad, I need to make them chocolaty and crispy/ crunchy.  While my mom needs nutty, chewy, gooey cookies.  Therefore, I always have to make several recipes and have the cookies going at different times in the oven.  You will never catch me making cookies in which I do not make at least two different types.  I call these my cookie marathons.

You get so used to the process.  You also have to make sure your doing all the steps right to get a perfect cookie:

1) cream the butter and sugar.  Until light and fluffy!!  This will take at least 2 minutes with your stand mixer, even longer.  Don’t be afraid to over beat, you want it to be bright white.  Although I promise that a perfect CCC recipe will use mostly, if not all, brown sugar (you get that yummy depth of carmely flavor!).

2)mix in your extract and egg(s).  Only notes are pretty much make sure you don’t have a bad egg….yuck!  and use REAL vanilla extract.  None of the fake sh*t.

3) mix in your dry ingredients.  These have all been prepared and sifted in a separate bowl prior to everything else.  Add gradually and mix until just combined.  Then I always crank it up to max speed for less then two seconds just to get everything off the bottom and sides.

4) Stir in your mix ins.  Chocolate- I used semi/bittersweet chocolate.  Usually 60% coco, and I like to buy the disks or a large bar so I can chop it up! You can really taste the difference when you invest in a good quality chocolate! (I was able to bring these disks back from Jacques Torres boutique in New York City!) I like this better than chips because then you get nice fat swirls/ globs/ and irregular chunks of chocolate throughout the cookie. YUM.  Oh and walnuts are almost just as important.  It is incredible what added nuts can do to any cookie!!

5) now treat yourself to some delicious cookies dough 🙂  wrap it tightly in wrap and put in the fridge to chill overnight!  I usually will bake up one half-sheet pan worth of cookies right away and store the rest in the fridge… just because I am impatient.  Plus, you also get to witness the incredible difference chilling your dough makes!

I do have a favorite(s) CCC cookie.  These are not them. (I promise a post will go up of my favorites). Every time I bake cookies I try out a different recipe. I bookmark so many that I want to try, I can’t afford to make my favorites all the time. These were four new recipes.

Vegan CCC

I’ve never consciously baked vegan before.  These cookies looked amazing, so I tried them out.  I didn’t have and molasses so I added a splash of dark rum….. kind of weird, hahha ….my odd little interpretation.  They turned out tasting like chewy graham crackers!!  Perhaps I baked them a little too long?  I don’t know but they were good, just not what I was expecting to make.

Granola CCC

I love granola.  We had a bag of homemade granola my aunt sent to my family from the east coast. No one had really touched it, so I figured I would bake with it because I had  seen this recipe.  They turned out to be my dad’s favorite of the bunch.  Good, chewy texture, but almost a little dry.  The granola I used was basically toasted cinnamony oats, not the tradition store bought kind.

Regular CCC

These were just plain old CCC.  Yum, although not my favorite.  They turned out a little to cakey for me.  I like em chewy and gooey like my mom.  I’ll try these again and perhaps underbake them a bit.

Mint CCC (scroll down the link for recipe)

I have made mint CCC using mint chips, but never with peppermint extract.  I had a bit left from making mint chip ice cream last holiday season, so I used the last few drops, filled the bottle up with water and used another teaspoon of the minty water.  The recipe calls for two teaspoons, but that was plenty mint!  These were the best of them all! Chocolaty delicious and minty!! yummm. Make these!! Damn good.