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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Parker house rolls

Boy do I love bread.
I love bread in all forms. sweet, savory, big, small, aisian, american, european, flat, ... not flat...?

As I looked for something new to bake for dinner, I found Parker house roll recipe by bobby flay :)
I just love parker house rolls, they are slightly sweet and kind of chewy. Some recipes suggested uing potato flour or just some mashed potatoes. I did not have potato flours, and did not want to make mashed potatoes, so I went with the recipe that did not ask for any other ingredients than what I already had in my pantry.

Salt is so important in bread making. I forgot to put it in until the dough had already formed. but I wasn't going to bake this whole tray of rolls without salt! I added salt little by little as I kneaded... not good. But bread without salt is really REALLY bland. sigh.

my rolls turned out fine though. lacking a little taste (salt) but good enough. after I serve some for dinner, I will pull them all apart and put them neatly into a freezer bag and freeze them that night. As I need them for dinner, I will pull what I need out of the bag, put them in foil, and heat them up at 35 or so. you could also nuke it for about 10 second twice.

recipe, adapted from bobby flay's(click here for the video)


1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups all-purpose flour


Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool. Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy. Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment and mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms.

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape into desired shapes. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

Read more at:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Panna cotta

Have I done a post with Panna Cotta before? I can't remember but it wouldn't hurt to do another one :)
One of my mother's request for our GA summery dessert was Panna Cotta. It's SUCH an easy dessert, I would gladly make it any day! it's almost as easy as making... jello. I really hope you are not lactose intolerant :( or maybe I do, so I can have yours too!

I've done Panna Cotta with many recipes, but this time I went with Giada's on Food network. As I read other Panna Cotta recipes and compared the amount of gelatin to liquid ratio, Giada's used a little less gelatin. And while some people like the soft almost pudding-like panna cotta, I like one that's got more body to it. So I used 1 HEAPING tablespoon of gelatin :) recipes like this isn't that sensitive, so you can use a little more or a little less, it's not going to lead to a complete failure :)

I also like Giada's recipe because she used mostly honey as sweetener. It adds a very nice mild floral sweetness to this already creamy mild dessert. I have made panna cotta with greek yogurt and mascarpone and stuff. But this one here is the most simple and basic. (and in my opinion, one of the best because of it's purity)


1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

I topped mine with home made blueberry sauce. but you can use any berries you have. I just don't like to use raspberries or blackberries, for their seediness. but if you are willing to take the time to sieve the sauce, I suppose it will all be good. I put about a cup of berries into a sauce pan, add about 2-3 tbs of sugar, a GOOD squeeze of lemon juice and zest of one lemon (and some cognac). bring it to a simmer and simmer for... maybe 10 min. blitz it in your food processor or a blender and let it cool before topping the panna cotta.

Hokkaido milk bread

Hokkaido milk bread using Yudane.

I think it is many of our fear to tackle bread. Especially larger bread. I feel like I am more likely to try rolls or even better, cinnamon rolls, for their smaller in size -making it less obvious for mistakes, not to mention the sugary filling that might mask the bad...

But I had been eying the recipes for a good white bread with tangzhong (yudane). I was so enthusiastic, that I even bought a pull man loaf tin :) (which I used with this, of course)
like any other recipe, there are TONS of options when you start researching. I followed this one from Warm Oven Wafts. Don't let this extra step scare you! It's just boiling flour and water, that's it!

This recipe was easy to follow and I basically followed it to the T. One change I had to make was using active dry yeast. So instead of adding the yeast with the dry ingredient, I warmed the milk with some of the sugar (to 105degrees) and bloomed the yeast in it and poured that into the well with other wet ingredients. Make sure to give your yeast more than just couple of minutes. I usually let it do it's thing for about 5.

I also do not have a very good stand mixer that kneads well, so most of the kneading was done by hand. it's really not bad though. just do knead for about GOOD and VIGOROUS 10 minutes! make sure your dough becomes nice and elastic before you call it a day.

Yield 240 grams
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water (1 cup milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
1.) Add flour and water in a pot and mix until smooth. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.
2.) Continue stirring mixture until lines appear in the mixture as you stir.
3.) Remove mixture from heat and transfer mixture to a clean bowl.
4.) Cover the mixture with cling wrap making sure the cling wrap wticks to the surface of the tangzhong. Allow mixture to cool and chill in the fridge for several hours, preferably overnight
5.) Let tangzhong come to room temperature before use. 

This is the consistency you are looking for. just like pudding.

Ingredients for the bread:
(adapted from Warm oven wafts)
makes one pullman loaf: GREASE your pan.

2½ cups bread flour
3tbsp+2tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
120g tangzhong (1/2 of tangzhong from above recipe)
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cubed, room temperature)

1. First nuke your milk to about 105 deg. mix in half the sugar and yeast and let it get foamy.
Combine the flour, salt, and other half of sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center. Add in milk, egg, yeast/milk mixture and tangzhong. Fit the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer and begin mixing on medium speed. Knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter little by little, and continue kneading. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic for about 20 minutes.

3 Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place dough into greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let ball of dough proof until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

4. Transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead into balls. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.

5. Now, you somehow fit these into your pullman loaf pan. I would look at Christine's blog for reference.
Basically, make a ball out of your quartered dough. Roll it into a disk. fold both sides in so it is folded in third. Roll that into a strip. Take one of the the strip and roll to the other end. repeat with all four and place them into the loaf pan seam side down.

6. Beat an egg and brush egg mixture on top.

7. Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes. If the top gets dar too fast, cover with foil at mid point. let it cool a little, until you can touch the pan, and pop the loaf out. cool it on a rack completely before storing. I went ahead and tasted when it was piping hot with some good butter. YES.

My raised dough. be patient, you have to let your yeast do its thing

quartered dough

Off to the final proofing!

I peeked. I happened to have a car in the garage that was still hot around the hood from running errands today :) perfect spot for my dough.

close-up for my pretty

Friday, July 19, 2013

Corn Potage

Now we can see corn in our grocery stores for like 20 cents an ear!! why wouldn't you gorge on them while they are so sweet and amazing (and cheap!!)

I think fresh corn looks like peals, don't you?

In Japan, we are just so fond of Corn Potage, for some reason. It's even sold in a small can in vending machines, hot, especially in the winter :) There's something that happens when you add that little bit of potato to this recipe. it makes it... corn potage-y.

As it usually happens to me, I didn't have exactly what the recipe called for, but close enough.
I got the general recipe from Foodjimoto, and followed all the steps as listed.

She has step by step pictures. It's very helpful!


5 ears of corn, cooked (I only had 4)
1 medium sized potato, diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced (I used a whole medium onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour (I probably only used about 2)

4 to 6 cups corn cooking water
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken bouillon
1 cup whipping cream (I only used about 1/3 cup of cream)

sea salt
white pepper (i only had black pepper)

garnish with chopped chives and cayenne pepper or paprika

Go to Foodjimoto for the instruction and more photos!

Monday, June 17, 2013

good food in an airport??

I travel a lot.
both domestic and international.

Occasionally, I try some over priced airport restaurants, but usually, I stick to my  pizza/ hotdog/ starbucks... safe choices. I was at a Seatac Airport recently around dinner time and Jason and I decided to treat ourselves at a fancy looking restaurant called "Anthony's".

This was after we were already sitting at a less desirable looking restaurant with an alaskan theme, I believe... They had the usual's, like burger, chicken fingers, wings... after looking at the menu for quite some time, we decided to desert the restaurant swiftly.

I had a small caesar salad with their "famous" chowder.  While I was not that impressed with the chowder, I had a very pleasant meal. While they weren't spectacular, they were both GOOD. AND under $10. Anthony's also has a deal with a local strawberry farmer who delivers fresh strawberries every morning, they said. there were three dessert items on the menu using those special strawberries. I went for it. I made sure I asked our very nice waiter about the strawberries. "Are they REALLY that good?" He assured me that it is. 100% skeptical, but I was craving for something juicy and refreshing, so I ordered their strawberries and chantilly cream for $6.

Boy, have I ever been that pleasantly surprised at an airport restaurant before. The strawberries were Legit!! their chantilly cream was not just sweetened whipped cream with booze in it. It had creme fresh in it too which made the whole thing so luxurious. Sure, I can't promise you that when you go, the strawberries are going to be as good. Maybe I got lucky... but boy was I on cloud nine.

Better Butter Chicken recipe

So, I've posted a butter chicken recipe before, but you know me... always looking looking for something better.
My best friend, you tube, had some awesome videos! many many videos.
I liked the one with VahChef. His charisma made it! I love people who are so helplessly passionate about what they do.

Oh how I judge things.

He doesn't say too accurately the amount of spices. But just look at the amount of chicken he is using and just trust your eye. I eye ball every time, and each time, it comes out delicious.

Like he says, I add some spices to marinate the chicken (I also add some yogurt to the marinade too), then some spices towards the end to adjust the seasoning. I see many ppl pureeing onion and tomatos separately, but I'm too lazy for that.  After simmering the Tomato mixture until tomatoes are mushy, I just blitz everything together.

here's the ingredient list of things I use...

for chicken and marinade:
5-6 chicken thighs cut into finger size strips
1 tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp ginger garlic paste (i just grate them with my microplane)
3 tbsp yogurt
1tbsp garam masala

For tomato "gravy"
3-4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, cut into rough dice

2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp chili pepper (more or less. whatever you like)
1tbsp garam masala
1tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 tomatoes
some cloves
one bay leaf
1 small can tomato sauce (you can really use any kind here. if you want to stretch the gravy, add more)
a little ketchup (yes, a secret)
salt and pepp
1/2 cream
maybe some sugar

1. I marinade the chicken for a couple of hours. I'm sure longer is better and less time is also fine.

2. in a large sauce pan, heat some oil and cook the chicken pieces until golden in color. cooking it all the way through at this stage is not necessary. remove from pan. set aside.

3. in the same sauce pan,  melt the butter and add onion, ginger garlic paste, bay leaf and spices. saute until onion is translucent. De-glaze the pan with water to get all the brown bits.  Add tomatos, saute. when tomatoes had some chance to mingle with hot butter and onion, add salt and pepper and cover to simmer for about 30 min.

4.  Once the Tomatoes are soft, carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and blend it til smooth. (I always wish that I didn't have to do this step since my blender is so teeny tiny that it requires a few separate batches. BUT, it DOES take the dish to the next level). Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and bring it to simmer. Put the chicken pieces into the tomato gravy and simmer for 10 min.

5. Taste for seasoning. crush the Methi (fenugreek leaves) in your palm and add it to the pot. add the cream. I usually end up adding more garam masala, chili, and or cumin. This is also where you would add the ketchup. It does make the dish more mellow. I usually end up simmering this for another hour or so, which probably is unnecessary :) but the chicken pieces really get more tender as time passes.

If the gravy is too... striking (?) add a small spoon-fuls of sugar at a time and taste. 

finish with some cilantro if you like.

ps. I have made this dish in so many different ways. as long as all the ingredients go in the pot, they usually come out tasting delicious. so experiment!