Friday, January 23, 2009

Party at Miki's!

So tonight, I had a few lady friends over for a little get together... I of course was excited because I got to cook and bake for my friends!

The menu was this:

1. Pasta Salad with Roasted Balsamic Vegetables and Feta Cheese
2. Vegetarian Chili

3. Cocoa and Cinnamon Popcorn

4. Cherry-White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

The only thing that I used a recipe for was the cookies. I starred it in my google reader because they described my favorite kind of oatmeal cookies: Crispy and Chewy! The recipe can be found here at Taste Buds.

I didn't want to use milk chocolate chips, and I had bought a bag of tart cherries earlier today at Trader Joe's so I made Cherry-White Chocolate Oatmeal cookies :-)




Oh.My.Fu**.... these were effin good. They were exactly how they described them. Crispy and chewy in the right spots. The edges were nice and crispy. The middle had an awesome chew and the oats definitely helped. And what can I say about the perfection of sour cherries and sweet white chocolate?

Crunchy Brownie Bars

Sunday, I was supposed to go snowboarding but it didn't happen because I looked outside and thought it was snowing too heavily to drive.

Of course it stopped snowing by like 9 AM and wished I had gone :-( But I made the most of it with Ed, and we just did lazy things. Nintendo Wii, movie, baking!

I had a box of No Pudge Fudge Brownie mix. I have vowed to try and never make baked good using a mix, but these, I keep in my pantry! They are really good for a no-fat brownie! My only problem is that it's like really sticky. But it tastes really good!

My usual pizzazz that I add to these brownies are adding peanut butter chips and/or topping them with marshmallows, but I remembered these brownies that I saw on my google reader a while back and decided to make them instead!

They are called Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars and I found them here at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Lately, I've been adapting recipes to the ingredients that I already have because I'm too lazy to go back out to the grocery store to get them. So these were quite different.

First of all, I didn't have marshmallows (ha!), and I didn't have any milk chocolate chips. So I left out the marshmallows altogether, and I used butterscotch chips instead. I figured I like the peanut butter-butterscotch combo so why not? Also, the only crunchy cereal I had was a Japanese version of cocoa krispies, so I used that.

It came out so good! It was like a layer of crispy fudge on top of a layer of brownie!

Fudgey and dense brownie + crispy/creamy topping= Craziness in my mouth, and I love it! (My friend Ashlee had them and said they were "like crack"... so if you like crack, this is definitely for you!)

The Ed man gives it a hell yeahhhhh!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Daniel NYC... so French!

My experience at Daniel in NYC on Monday was probably my most French experience ever... i mean everyone had a French accent!!! It was so cute!! There was this charming young French boy whose sole purpose was to show people the staircase that led to the restrooms!!!

The service was so proper, as if the waiters and waitresses and everyone else had trained their whole life to work at this hoighty-toighty restaurant. Except, they weren't snotty and like condescending. Just really there to make your experience as pleasant as possible :-)

My mom and I did the Three Course Prix Fixe... which was more like 5 because of the Amuse Bouche and Petits Four + Fresh, Warm Madelines! Sorry for the ghetto IPhone pics.... I was so pissed when I realized I forgot my camera :-(

For Appetizers:

Pan-Fried Foie Gras with Pineapples

Abalone in the Shell with Potato Gratin
Both of these were specials of the day. And both of these were so perfect. I mean everything from the flavor to the texture to the presentation was perfection. The Foie Gras was fresh and rich, and the sweet pineapples were so refreshing with it. The Abalone.... omg, it was sliced very thin and layered over this cheesy, creamy, potato-y stuff inside the shell. And on the side were these crispy deep-fried veggies :-)

For Entrées:

Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce

Wagyu Beef Steak
Entrées were so delicious as well! My sea bass had this delicious and beautiful reddish purple sauce. My favorite part about this was actually the rolled up potato side dish!! It was so good! And my moms steak was tenderrrrrrrrrrrr and delish! However again, my favorite part of this was the Spinach balls with Blue Cheese!

For Dessert:

Cilantro Poached Pineapple with Coconut

Chestnut Sablé with Nutmeg Cream
We decided to get one from the fruity desserts and one from the chocolate desserts. The pineapple was presented like a napolean in that the pineapples were thinly sliced and layered between these tender biscuit like cookies. It was good but nothing really spectacular. The chestnut one that my mom got was delicius! There were little chunks of chestnut that me and my mom were fighting for haha!

But that wasn't it!! Then came a man who came over with a basket of warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven madelines that everyone raves about. I think the man's sole purpose in the restaurant was to serve these beauties haha! Anyways, they were light, sweet, and the perfect size! The petit fours were a nice addition but definitely not necessary. I noticed that they used a lot of Yuzu in both their sweets and non-sweet dishes so I got excited (its a fruit that is used a lot in Japanese cooking!)
See here:

Petits Fours


All in all, it was a night of feeling like a Queen being served the finest food :-)

60 E. 65th St
New York, NY 10065
Phone: 212-288-0033
Fax: 212-396-9014

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jade Garden in Hartsdale

I'm on a new restaurant kick! I'd been craving Dim Sum for 2 months so I declared yesterday Dim Sum day at Jade Garden! I went with Ed, my mom, my bro, and his lady.

The only other dim sum place that I can compare it to is Central Seafood because that's where my family and I go for Dim Sum. They had all the items that Central Seafood, and it was helpful that they had a visual menu so that we didn't forget anything!

Here's what we got:

Leek Dumplings... My favorite dumpling ever... The filling was good. It had little shrimp in it too. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite out of the other dumplings because it was too doughy :-( THe one's at Central Seafood are MUCH better!

Xiaolongbao (AKA Soup Dumplings)... OMG these were amazing! We haven't had good soup dumplings in so long because the one's at Central Seafood are dry and not-soupy at all!

Sticky Rice... I don't eat this because it fills me up too much, but the other diners said it was good.

Squid with Vegetables... Very good! The squid was soft and not rubbery (which is always a good thing)! The sauce was like an oyster sauce like Chicken with Broccoli. Also, the squid had a very grilled flavor... it was really good!

Pork Bun... I'm not a fan of these to begin with so... yeah.

Vegetable Dumplings... I found it unusual to find corn in these! But they were reallly good!

Shrimp Noodle Rolls... These were good as well, but nothing really different from Central Seafood.

Pork Shumai... Uhmmm super yum! These were super juicy!

Spring Rolls... I never get spring rolls, but my brother is a huge fan so we got them. And I tasted it and it was really good... especially the filling. My brother proclaimed that he "loved" them!

Bean Curd Skin with Pork and Bamboo Shoots... This was actually one of my favorites. The one's I have at Central Seafood don't have that much filling (if they do at all), so I really like these here.

Fried Taro Puffs.... Oh man!!! These were one of the highlights as well! I mean look at the lightness and crispiness of that thin shell! The outside was very different from the one's at Central Seafood. These were lighter and crispier and didn't have that "panko" crust to it. And the insides were so creamy!!

Noodle Soup with Pork and Zasai... It's been so long having noodle soup as well! And these were great! Thick noodles and a really awesome soup! It also had red and green bell peppers in it which was kinda like... I dunno, not Chinese dish-like. But whatever, the dish was so good!

And finally this place does it up. It ain't just fortune cookies you get with your check...

They thank you with the sweetest oranges!

Jade Garden
156 S. Central Ave.
Hartsdale, NY 10530
Phone: 914-288-0081

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SOMA 107

So after a stressful week, Ed said he wanted to take me out to dinner. We were planning on going to one of my favorite restaurants, Kraft in Bronxville, but I decided I wanted to go somewhere new... Before he picked me up, I was reading Liz Johnson's blog and she wrote about SOMA 107 (where she has posted the menus), so we made a spontaneous trip there!

The space is really trendy and Manhattan-esque. When you first enter, there is a bar area, and you have to walk past that to get to the dining area. The dining area is quite large. Unfortunately, when we got there at around 7, there were only like 2 other groups eating. The dining area is spacious and cozy.

We had an excellent, bubbly waiter named Ben. He was very helpful in explaining all the dishes and checked up on us, but not obsessively :-) Our water was constantly filled and we got everything we needed in terms of service.

Onto the food...

2 Crusty Rolls

Baby Rocket Salad with Fire Roasted Peppers, Red Beets, Bocconcini, and Balsamix Vinaigrette... This salad was eh... maybe it was because I asked for the dressing on the side but the arugula was like really stiff.

Kobe Beef Corndogs with Chipotle Pepper Ketchup and Honey Mustard. YUM!!!! One order of this special appetizer came with 4 mini corn dogs.

The outside was nice and crispy and not too thick, and the "hot dog" was noticeably fattier... it was delish! The spicy ketchup was awesome as well!

Chorizo Crusted Swordfish with Roasted Butternut Squash, Charred Yellow Pepper Sauce... This was awesome. The Yellow Pepper Sauce was quite salty, but besides that, the fish was cooked well! It was nice and moist. The crust was also quite flavorful and went with the mellow swordfish. The "mashed" butternut squash was sweet and delicious. A nice contrast to the other peppery flavors.

Sapporo Reserve Braised Short Ribs with Curry Cauliflower Purée, Garlic Shanghai Baby Bok Choy, Natural Reduction. Yummm.... the meat was super tender, fatty, and delicious! The cauliflower purée tasted more like mustard rather than curry, but nonetheless delish.

We took dessert home to enjoy later...

Blackout Chocolate Cake... This was good. It was a chocolate cake, with chocolate mousse covered in chocolate ganache. It was alright but doesn't compare to Lulu's :-)

All in all, it was a really good dinner. The only thing is, it's quite expensive. Me and my boyfriend don't drink so with 2 apps, 2 entrees, and dessert, the bill being like over $110 was quite a lot for us. I would go back but probably only for a nice occassion :-)

FYI- It's really not a "Pan-Asian" restaurant like people think. It's not like Haiku where they have like different Asian dishes. Check out the menu. The other dishes look quite interesting.

SOMA 107
107 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: 914-682-6795

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

And a haircut!!

I cut it all off!! Im feelin' really ballsy... I might cut it even shorter, maybe a pixie cut! Ok, relax. I love my new haircut!!

But even more important is that I finally baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies that I was happy with! I'm always having problems with either the taste or texture. But the one's I made yesterday were OhHhHhHhHhH SO GOOD!

I've used this recipe before that I found on Brown Eyed Baker's website. It's a recipe from Baking Illustrated called Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sounds perfect, right? But, I didn't like it. It was like too cakey. I wanted them like doughy, moist, chewy... you know?

But everyone else who made them LOVED them, so I had to try again. Plus, my PMS was really kicking in and I needed some kinda chocolate treat.

First off, this time, I tried the shaping technique that they (try) to describe. It's kinda confusing to me but I did my best. It's to get that crinkly, rough top. Obviously, looking at that picture, some came out pretty and some didn't haha!

On the other tray, I just did regular balls :-)

The only thing I (thnk) I changed this time is that I used that Billington's Natural Dark Brown Molasses Sugar instead of the Domino's Dark Brown Sugar that I used last time. I still don't know if there is a difference between the two sugars (they smell totally different) but it really made a difference in the texture of the cookie. And the flavor!

It was so thick and chewy, just like the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies that I made last week. After cooling, the edges became crunchy, but the inside was still moist. And the flavor was so deep... it went so well with the bitter-sweet chocolate!

On a random note, the flavor of the Dark Brown Molasses Sugar reminds me of "kuromitsu"... its a Japanese sauce that's used in desserts. I think it's just a Molasses sauce. So I know brown sugar is brown because of molasses. But is there like more molasses in this Billington's sugar?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dark Brown Sugar vs. Molasses

So what is the difference between Dark Brown Sugar and Molasses Dark Brown Sugar?

I am so diggin Martha Stewart's recipes lately, that when came across the recipe for her Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies on my Google Reader, I knew I had to make it!

This cookie was absolutely divine! I added a little more fresh ginger because I didn't have ground ginger. Also, I used Dark Brown Molasses sugar instead of "molasses". What's the difference? Apparently, it didn't matter because the cookies were delicious! The cookies were incredibly spicy, incredibly moist and chewy, and very chocolatey!




Ginger Cookies on Foodista

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Did Martha Again

Lately, when I need a dessert for some kinda gathering, I think of going to Martha Stewart's website first. I've been really loving her recipes!

So Wednesday was a perfect day to bake because it was:
1. Snowing
2. New Year's Eve!!

I was planning on baking Molasses cookies or gingery cookies, but guess what? I have no ground ginger! And my car's awful in the snow, so I had to work with what I had! I was pretty limited though because I didn't even have chocolate chips!!!

I narrowed it down to Martha's Rocky Ledge Bars, but I knew I would have to make substitutions because I didn't have caramels, semi-sweet chocolate chips, or the marshmallows. I did have the white chocolate and butterscotch chips.

So I desperately looked around to try and find a candy that could possibly replace the texture of a caramel. I found these:

They are called "Milky" and they are these old school Japanese candies that I grew up on. It's a semi-hard candy, but when you keep it in your mouth for a few seconds, it starts to become chewy. So I chopped a few of these and dumped them in the batter.

I also like different textures running through my food, so I wanted something crunchy. No walnuts. Hmmm... another Japanese import!

Cocoa Krispies! I just sprinkled these on the top.

And the results?

I thought it would be like disgustingly sweet from the white chocolate and butterscotch but it was alright. I mean it was really sweet so a few bites is enough. Also, as the picture on Martha's website suggests, it's not a moist, cookie dough, like blondie... it's quite cakey. Not like all the way cakey but definitely a hybrid of dough and cake. I like my blondies and brownies super fudgey and moist!