Sunday, November 10, 2013


Restaurant review: Isola

When parents come visit for a week in NYC... that is the prime time to try the restaurant I would normally hesitate going into :) 
On their last night in town, I asked what kind of food they wanted to eat, and they said Crudo. 
We had already gone to Sushi Yasuda, so they had their fare share of Japanese raw fish. They wanted something creative and new.

So I believe I just went on yelp and typed in Crudo in NYC. 
a few places popped up, but with my gut feeling and other ppl's review, I decided to take them to Isola.

I high fived myself so many times that night. This restaurant was a peeerfect choice for my parents!
We ordered MANY dishes. many small plates, and just branzino as a big main dish, and two deserts. We had two kinds of crudo, like three veggies, one or two cooked seafood dish.... and EVERYTHING was delicious. 

I was pleasantly surprised with their pricing too. No, their portions are not large, but I have gone to many restaurants in NYC that would charge you double for their dishes! their flavors were delicate and entertaining... I thought if I were to come with my friends, we would just order bunch of small plates and be completely happy paying maybe 35 per person? not bad at all.

Their sea food is super fresh and service is friendly.  It's attached to a hotel lobby, so if you have a little one, it's still an OK option because you can just take them out to the lobby for some "site" seeing and exercise :)


While I couldn't get a reservation at a few other restaurants on my list that night, this place was more than accomodating. 

Isola... I will come back for you.

p.s. the lighting was .... dim, so pictures did not turn out as decent, but take my word for it, they were delicious

Panna Cotta was to die for!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Estonian Kringel

This was my second attempt to making this gorgeous bread.

First time wasn't bad, but this time, I guess with all the bread making practice I've been getting, it turned out so much better!
I think last time, I thought more layers the better:  So I rolled the dough pretty thin.  But my immediate thought after it came out of the oven and into my mouth was: "the layers are too thin..."

So this time, I stuck to the instruction and rolled my dough pretty much around 12x18. I didn't even use the rolling pin much. Just gently patted the dough until it reached that shape.

Boy, the smell of your entire apartment when you bake this is just... out of this world. I wanted to open my front door so my neighbors can get their fix too :)

I got the recipe from Home Cooking Adventure. Her pictures are far better step by step, so please go check it out.


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup (30 g) melted butter
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) softened butter
  • 4 or 5 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

  • 3 tsp grounded almonds, optional 

1.  in a small bowl, warm your milk and sugar together : 110 degrees. then stir in the active dry yeast and let it get foamy while you measure out the others. 

 2.  in a large bowl, measure out the flour and salt. pour the activated yeast+milk+sugar, egg yolk, and melted butter. Knead until it is springy. I kneaded about 7 min, maybe. No dusting of the surface necessary, this dough is very good. put it in a greased bowl (i just put it back into the large bowl with a little oil) and let it rise til it's doubled in size.

3. while you wait for the dough to rise, mix the filling ingredients. 

4. When the dough is doubled, preheat the oven to 400.

5. flour the surface a little. pop the puffed dough out of the bowl and gently deflate it as you roll it to about 12x18 in rectangle. you may not even need a rolling pin. 

6. leaving about a tablespoon of it, smear the filling evenly, then sprinkle some almond powder if you are using it. then tightly and gently, roll the dough into a log. 

7. cut the log in the middle leaving a bit on top attached, as you can see in the picture. then braid (or twist, really).

8. cleverly, bring the two ends together and tuck the ends under... it doesn't REALLY matter how it looks... its really going to look impressive at the end anyways.

9. brush the surface with the left over filling and pop it in the oven for 20-25 min. 

10. if you'd like, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Oh David Leboviz does not disappoint.

This is a very dreamy Ice cream.
You see salted caramel EVERYTHING... EVERYWHERE. But that's a welcome thing for me.
I love it. I try salted caramel ice cream whenever I can at those small creameries.... this one really does go neck to neck with any of those fancy creameries! 

Yes, compared to our normal ice cream base, this one does require a bit more preparation.
But boy, is it worth it.

Like he says in his recipe, even when it is churned, and frozen, the ice cream is very soft. It never really hardens like the other base.

Who cares ;p

I made the mix-in caramel first. Failed.
I make caramel like that all the time for flan, but for the fear of under-cooking the caramel, I over cooked it a bit.
The line between a good amber caramel with a tiny bit of bitterness and caramel that is just purely burnt is... very fine.  Fine line, indeed.

So I went ahead and make the base. I told myself that I did not need the extra sugar in the finished product.  (but i did make some at the end... couldn't resist. yes it turned out fine:))

DO have everything ready, especially for the caramel base part. You do not want to have any accidents with hot caramel. You want it to go as smoothly as it looks on tv cooking shows :)

Recipe, courtesy of David Lebovitz.

For the caramel praline (mix-in)
  • ½ cup (100 gr) sugar

For the ice cream custard
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
  • 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
  • scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream 
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Go to his blog for step by step instructions!!

  •  My bad burnt caramel...

     successful start of the custard base. lumps go away after a while

     when you add the butter. it bubbles. it bubbles more with the cream

     after adding the cream bubbles!

    When after milk's been added. calm.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Have you seen the Movie??
It's one of our favorite Disney animation :)

My husband first tried to imitate the dish from the movie and what do you know?
It's delicious.

It's such a healthy and beautiful side dish that's somewhat economical and Oh, So Easy!
I basically do what I think they are doing in the movie....

 you will need:

Yellow squash
Egg plant (thin and long kind)
Roma tomato

Marinara sauce

1.Thinly slice all of your veggies.

2. in a oven proof vessel of your choice, put a thin-ish layer of tomato sauce at the bottom.

3. As you can see in the finished produce, you just want to start laying the veggies so it looks pretty.

4. salt, pepper liberally. (if you want to add herbs, do it! our jarred marinara sauce has a good bit of spices and herbs, so we don't bother usually)

5. bake in 400 degree oven until veggies are tender

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Apricot Jam

Apricot jam, I think is the king of all jams.
My mother uses as a glaze for many of her French pastries.  I did not see the appeal as a child, but Now, it's one of my favorite along with home made Marmalade :)

Oh the lack of flavor in those store bought jams! How do they manage to subtract so much flavor from fruits??! I used just some cheap apricots from the deli close by and when I sampled them on their own, they were... "meh".
So I was worried how the jam would be, but the taste got concentrated.  It became this rich, amber-ish Orange, a little tangy goodness!!


apricots. seed take out and i ripped them into quater, no knife needed. I used about 10...
vanilla sugar. about 3-4 tbs. (just use a bit of vanilla extract if u don't have this)
cognac, just a splash
lemon juice. a splash

**everything here can be according to your liking. just taste as you go and keep adding sugar if it is too tart. Go with smaller amount of sugar than you think you need because once you put them in, there's no taking them out.

1. put apricots in a heavy bottomed pot with sugar, lemon juice, and cognac. place it on low heat and just let it be, stirring once in a while.  just the stirring motion will break up the meat of apricots.

2. I don't use any thermometer or anything. I just let it simmer until I like the consistency. if you let it go too far, the jam will be too thick. I add a little more lemon juice towards the end to 'tighten up' the flavor.