Oct 29, 2010

Semi-Thai Influenced Stir Fry Chicken with Basil

After cooking "tom kha gai," I still got some Thai basil left in the fridge,
Sometimes I tend to forget the leftover herbs and they just all slowly turned into something...mushy ( > _.<")
So this time, I was determined to finish all the basil before it goes to waste!

(Thai basil has a stronger aroma compared to the common ones you find in American grocery stores, it comes with harder texture too)

Ingredients (small portion)?

1 cup of bite size chicken
2 Thai chilies
2 lemon wedges
2 tablespoons of chopped Thai basil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon of fish sauce
Some olive oil
Some salt


Marinate the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce,
In the meantime, let's chop up the basil leaves, garlic, and chilies.

Drizzle some oil in the pan, turn to high heat,
Toss in garlic and chilies, sprinkle some salt, 
Cook for a short moment, don't let the garlic get burned.

Transfer the chicken, including the marinade into the pan,
Add additional 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha, and fish sauce,
Give it a quick stir, add the basil when the chicken is about 90% cooked through,
Quick stir again and wait till the meat is well done,
Serve will two lemon wedges (adds that fresh aroma to the dish).

Use dark meat if possible since it tends to stay moist in stir-fry dishes,
Please enjoy,
By the way, Happy Halloween!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Oct 26, 2010

Tom Kha Gai - First Time Making Thai Food!

Man...I got home almost close to 11 p.m. today,
My night class just went overboard and lasted till a quarter pass 10,
In fact, it was presentation night, and I haven't eaten anything since early afternoon.
(I get stomach cramps when I'm nervous...   > _.<")

All I was thinking during the second half of the presentation was food,
I swear I was seeing grilled steak and tom kha gai (chicken galangal soup) walking around the classroom.

Ahhhh tom kha gai, that sounds so good now,
It was my first time making this Thai soup a week ago, and I'm absolutely in love with it.

(Stomach rumbling)

Ingredients (4 to 5 bowls)?

3 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of coconut milk
3 stalks of lemon grass
6 to 7 slices of galangal
4 red chilies
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 lime juice
1 can/200g of straw mushroom
1 lb of chick thigh (cut into bite sizes)
1 cup of bamboo shoots (thin strips)
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro


Don't get intimidated by the ingredients lineup (like how I was before),
This recipe is actually fairly easy as long as you have all the ingredients on hand.

Have a medium/big pot ready,
Heat up the chicken stock,
Toss in galangal slices, lemon grass, and chilies while the soup is heating up.

*One way to prepare lemon grass:
It's similar to preparing fresh bamboo shoot,
First you cut out the leaf part, so now we're left with the stems,
Peel away the tough outer layers (approximately one to two layers),
Now that's the section we'll use in the soup.
Hit it with the back of the knife to help releasing the flavor,
Chop the stems into 2 inches length, we're all set!

Back to our soup pot,
Once the soup has been simmer for about 5 minutes, add the lime juice, fish sauce, and coconut milk,
Let it simmer for another 5 minutes,
The amount of lime juice, fish sauce, and coconut milk differ depending on your taste,
My version yields a pretty creamy soup,
I suggest you go easy on these ingredients first and gradually adjust into your preference.

Now add the chicken, straw mushroom, and thin sliced bamboo shoots into the soup,
Cook till the chicken is done, add the chopped cilantro to freshen up the flavor,
Couple minutes then the soup is ready to serve.

See, not hard at all right?
Basically we're just tossing everything into the pot and tasting constantly to make sure the flavor is right,
I really enjoyed this dish (big fan of coconut, and sour-ish food),
New found comfort food!

*I feel like I'm still seeing steak walking around..

Cindy's Rating: 7

Oct 21, 2010

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolate Tasting Note

Free chocolate~! Weeeeee!

Being part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program,
These sweet treats were sent to me for a quick tasting review,
Aren't you happy to find chocolate in an envelope?

There were a total of three flavors:
1. Ghirardelli Luxe Milk "All Natural"
2. Ghirardelli Luxe Milk "Almond"
3. Ghirardelli Luxe Milk "Hazelnut"

Frankly speaking,
I think these are my favorite Ghirardelli chocolate squares compare to other flavors,
(like the ones with caramel or raspberry in the center)
Especially the hazelnut one,
Well, I can be biased since I love hazelnut so much,
The nuts actually add an extra crunch for the chocolate squares, which I love!

The individual packaging makes it easy for me to bring to school as my "break time snack,"
Maybe it's better to have 2 squares in one package?! Or am I just getting greedy here?

*Heart* chocolate.

Reference link:

Oct 17, 2010

Love That Coconut Sauce! - with Chocolate Cupcakes

I just fell in love with my newfound treat - White Coconut Bar made by Lindt!

This is not a sponsored post or paid advertisement,
That big shout-out was from the bottom of my stomach heart.

This morning I was experimenting with some sweet sauce ideas,
Somehow this white coconut bar caught my attention,
It's been sitting in the fridge for at least couple month,
Before I decided to break it and melt it way, I took a bite,
Man, absolutely love it!

If you are a coconut lover, you'll just act like me after that first bite,
It was so creamy and "coconutty!"
What's even better? It got a ton of coconut flakes embedded in white chocolate,
Not that I'm regretting the whole bar was melted and made into cupcake sauce,
But to remedy my "loss," I shall stock up a few more bars next time shopping for groceries.
*That'll be tomorrow morning! Can't wait any longer!

Ingredients (for 6 big ones/8 smaller ones)?

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs

1 bar/3.5 oz of Lindt white coconut bar
2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit,
Line the muffin pan with paper muffin cups.

Put the butter and sugar in a big bowl,
Blend till the mixture turns fluffy,
Add one egg at a time and keep mixing the ingredients.
Once that's done, add two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream,
Continue blending in low speed.

Sift in the flour and cocoa powder,
Blend till fully incorporated and fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into each individual muffin cups,
Into the oven for about 20 minutes,
When the cupcakes are ready, remove from heat and just let them cool down a little bit.

For the sauce,
Simply melt the coconut bar and heavy whipping cream with a double broiler,
Drizzle the sauce on a serving plate,
Remove the paper cup and put the cupcake directly on the sauce,
I also added some chocolate sauce as decoration.

This recipe is good if you serve the cupcakes with some type of sweeter sauce,
Otherwise remember to add about 1/3 cup more sugar since the original recipe yields for a less sweet cupcakes.

Frankly speaking,
I think the coconut bar tastes better by itself instead of in a sauce form,
What can I say,
I'm just in love with that luscious sweet treat.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Oct 14, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 - WATER

Third time is the charm!

It's my third time participating in Blog Action Day,
Three years have passed, time truly flies,
And yes, we all realized time does passes by in a blink of an eye,
So instead of sitting there doing nothing, we all can start a small habit change in order to make our world a better place to live,
Come on my beloved readers, let's get movin! (shuffle shuffle)

The theme of the year is water.

Let me present you the data distracted from Blog Action Day 2010 to showcase the importance of water, and the seriousness of this issue:

"The problem of scarce clean water:

Nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes a litany of struggles, diseases and even death.

40 Billion Hours: African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.

38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.

Wars Over Water: Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa.

A Human Right: In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over. But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water. Water over-consumption in industrialized countries:

While the developing world faces a water crisis, those in industrialized countries consume far more than their fair share.

Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.

Technology Footprint: The shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with over 80 million active iPhones in the world, that's 40 million liters to charge those alone.

Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you're wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters.
Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled."

As a food blogger,
All I'm asking is please stop or at least reduce the amount of bottled water consumption.

Try to order regular water (or so tap water) instead of bottled water,
Especially in a fancy restaurant, they always further ask if you would like imported bottled water,
No need ok? Really, no need.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against bottled water,
I think every household should stock some only in the case of preparing for emergencies,
However, for regular consumption, just drink tap water,
Go get a filter or something if needed.

That's all I'm asking now. Something small.

*And recycle please.

Oct 9, 2010

dineLA Restaurant Week - Craft

Is it just me or...I feel like there's some sort of restaurant week event every other month?
Don't get me wrong, I ain't complaining,
You'll definitely see me dancing in circles if they hold this kind of promotion every day.
*munch munch.

So let me quickly share my thoughts on Craft before Restaurant Week ends,
*(October 10 - October 15, 2010).
By the way, I tried Campanile last time for lunch,
Here's the review,
The food was better than I expected,
You can even to-go some fresh bread since La Brea bakery is just right next door.

Back to Craft -

It's next to some commercial high-rise buildings,
I wonder if these executives dine at Craft all the time during lunch hours.

Right after walking into the restaurant,

Doesn't that makes you feel like shooting the maitre d' for fun??
Especially after 30 minutes wait,
oh yeah, we did wait for a while even after making a reservation few days earlier,
Maybe the Restaurant Week event is having an effect on this place.

Passing through the bar area -

As we settled down at our table -

Warm and cozy ambience,
Let me give you a brief intro of this place before my food porn starts,
Tom Colicchio is the man behind the entire Craft-series restaurants,
Sound familiar?
Maybe you saw him as the head judge on the Bravo TV show Top Chef?
Yes, That's the guy.
As for Craft - Los Angeles branch, Anthony Zappola and Shannon Swindle are the two head chefs in charge of the dishes.

Here it comes our bread -

I didn't get a picture of the butter that was being smeared all over the bread,
But seriously, it was good,
Pure buttery aroma, it was so creamy that I just wanna shuffle the whole thing into my fridge and eat it as dessert.
It is THAT good.

Friend brought a bottle of wine to go with our food -

Breathe -

(They didn't charge us the corkage fee)

Here it comes our first course, served in family style -

Braised octopus with mint vinaigrette.
Good but not spectacular.

Chicory salad with Asian pear and balsamic -

One of my top three dishes of the day,
Especially when you bite into the pear, together with little salt flakes,
They were having a little party in my mouth.

Sides, first is market vegetables -

Just regular veggies with some baby roots.

Italian butternut squash puree -

I seriously can't remember how it really taste like,
Everybody finished it way ahead of me because I was still taking pictures,
Sometimes my camera does get in the way of me enjoying food,
Oh well, feast with my eyes!

Second course, braised beef cheek,
Served with Yukon gold potato puree and orange -

You can really feel the collagen from the meat,
I was surprised how big these pieces are,
I guess same thing applies to beef tongue, I can never imagine a cow can have such a huge tongue...

Wild skate wing with Anson Mills grits and walnuts -

Never had skate before so decided to give it a try,
The texture is similar to flounder,
The semi-sweet walnuts definitely bring up the flavor, without it, it'll be a regular dish.

35 day dry-aged sirloin (not included in the dineLA menu) -

Comes with roasted bone marrow, topped with lots of chives.

How to describe the flavor of dry-aged beef..
It's a wee bit like eating a very well cured ham,
There were layers of different hints as you bit into the meat, really enjoyed it.

Room for dessert? Qui!

Chocolate panna cotta with hazelnut crumble -

I actually picked out the crumble even though it was made with my favorite ingredient,
Just..it was so salty...way too salty for dessert.
However, the panna cotta itself is very creamy, kind of like intensified chocolate milk in a panna cotta form.

Front: Ricotta cheesecake (not included in the dineLA menu)
Back: Spiced pear shortcake with Cajeta ice cream and candied pecans

Cheesecake - on the salty side.
Shortcake - tastes more like a scone but the ice cream part was good,
The pear that comes with it had a strong cinnamon aroma, if you are a cinnamon lover, you'll fall in love with it (sadly, I'm not).

Complimentary popcorn, chocolate rice crisps, and lemon marshmallows -

Chocolate rice crisps were so salty too...

Overall I think Craft did pretty well for savory dishes,
As for dessert, almost everything we had that night was over-salty,
I mean, I dig salty dessert..but this was way overboard.

Side note: service was attentive, friendly staff, always carry a sincere smile.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Craft Los Angeles
10100 Constellation Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 279-4180

Oct 3, 2010

Stepped On A Landmine...Cham Soot Gol @ Garden Grove

Korean barbeque is one of these dishes that can hardly get all messed up,
You figure out the marinade, soak the meat for hours, and slap it on the grill,
The end result should be: 1. good 2. very good 3. non-stop drooling good.

Sadly, I had an awful lunch at Cham Soot Gol in Garden Grove,
I can proudly announce that this is my first Korean barbeque place that I would never want to step in again,
Back in Taiwan, we call this kind of unpleasant dining experience - stepped on a landmine,

I actually searched Yelp for an all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque around Orange County area the night before my horrible lunch,
The 4 star rating caught my attention, and yes, it was Cham Soot Gol,
Being adventurous to try out new places, there I was 12 hours after -

Sunny day, bright blue sky; I was filled with delighted mood before entering the eatery.

Once the hostess set me and my friend down at the table,
Immediately, I can felt that everything was a wee bit sticky..oily per se.
Bleh, still tolerable, let's moved on to the menu.

$13.99 for lunch hour all-you-can-eat barbeque,
Menu includes:
Pork belly
Thin sliced beef brisket
Spicy pork B.B.Q.
Beef B.B.Q.
Chicken B.B.Q
Banchan (small dishes)
Choice of egg pot, bean paste stew, or tofu soup

What a deal (I thought).

Banchan came, they might look decent from the picture, but trust me, the taste is not.
The flavor was bland, definitely need more seasoning,
In addition to that, where's my kimchi?
Excuse me? I'm eating at a Korean barbeque place without kimchi!?
It's like going to a burger joint without french fries.

Good lord they did give me my duk bo sam (thin rice paper),
Otherwise I would just walk out the door without a word..
That'll be like eating burger without the buns!

Beer first, need to calm down a little bit...

Beef brisket came, normal quality,
Well, you can't really mess up un-marinated thinly sliced beef right?

So what people usually do is take some cooked meat, banchan, sauce, and just wrap them with the rice paper -

And eat it all at once, yummy!
The other Korean barbeque place called Shik Do Rak also offers thinly sliced pickled radish as another option to wrap the meat,
I'm totally in love with that,
The slightly sour-ish radish together with semi-greasy barbeque meat - to die for.

Then our "miscellaneous" marinated meat came up -

Put it this way, I had to dip them in a lot of chili sauce to make it more enjoyable,
I felt like the marinated meat from Korean markets can easily outbid this...whatever you call it.

The only highlight of the day, steaming hot egg pot -

Not letting my grudge get in the way of judging this dish,
It was good, especially when it's still bubbling hot,
The egg was silky soft with flavor similar to dashi.

Pork belly -

(Note that all their pots are semi...damaged?)
It came with a pot full of marinade in it,
Supposedly, you dip the pork belly with the marinade for a while before grilling.
This was my second favorite dish of the way,
Unfortunately, most belly pieces came with a few bits of unchewable cartilages that I either had to spit out or eat it with a broken jaw.

Will I come here again?
Hell no.
There're so many all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque around the neighborhood,
I seriously don't understand why this restaurant was 4/5 packed with customers.

If you ever crave for Korean barbeque (not all-you-can-eat type),
Check out Shik Do Rak or Park's Barbeque,
Especially Park's Barbeque,
Hands down still my number one Korean barbeque in Southern California,
It does come with hefty price though, but definitely worth the price.

In the meantime, I'll head back to the journey of finding that perfect all-you-can-eat Korean joint..

*I'll also visit Park's Barbeque again and write an update post on that.

Cindy's Rating: 4

Cham Soot Gol
9252 Garden Grove Blvd, Suite 10
Garden Grove, CA 92842
(714) 590-9292

Hours: Mon - Sun 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.   ( > _.< )"