Nov 30, 2010

The Starving Can Wait - Beef Ragu with Rigatoni

This is how much I devoted to this dish.

I set my alarm clock at 8:45 a.m. this morning,
Just so that my beef ragu will be ready before lunch hour ends,
Did the alarm clock work? Well...the snooze button was pressed a couple of times..

Throwing the annoying alarm clock outside the window,
I still managed to munch on this dish by 2 p.m., 
End result? The wait was definitely worth it!

Ingredients (for 5 to 6 people)?

2 lbs of rump roast (beef round)
3 ribs of celery
2 medium carrots
3 plum tomatoes
1 onion
4 garlic cloves

1 sprig of oregano
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme

2/3 cup of red wine (use the one you enjoy drinking)
2/3 cup of beef stock

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some olive oil

1 box/1 lb/454 grams of rigatoni
1 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (plus extra for serving)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the beef into large bite pieces, season with salt and pepper,
Roughly chop the vegetables, including peeled garlic cloves and tomatoes.

Drizzle some olive oil to the Dutch oven till slightly cover the entire surface,
If you don't have one, no worries,
You can simply switch the ingredients into an oven-safe container for roasting.

Turn to medium high heat,
Toss in the beef chunks and sear all sides till slightly browned,
Once that's done, transfer the meat to a big bowl,
We'll put them back to the pot in a little bit.

Still using the same pot,
Toss in chopped onions and season with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes,
The amount of red pepper flakes is totally up to you (I used a lot!),
You can also drizzle some more oil if the mixture appears too dry.
Cook till the onion turned slightly translucent,
Add the garlic and keep cooking for about 30 seconds.

Add chopped celeries and carrots into the mixture,
Season with more salt and pepper, cook till the vegetables turn soft, about 5 minutes.

It's time to add the wine, beef stock, and tomatoes (including the juice),
Gently stir the mixture so that all the ingredients are covered with the liquid,
Put the herbs on top,
Cover the pot with a lid, into the oven for 3.5 hours.
(Almost fainted while waiting for my meal, especially when the aroma of wine and rosemary kept attacking my nose!).

*No peeking during roasting!

Finally, after long hours of roasting,
Take out the pot and just let it rest for about 10 minutes,
In the meantime, let's start preparing our pasta of the day - rigatoni.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil, add some salt to the water then toss in the pasta,
Cook according to package instruction,
Once done, drain the water and transfer to a big serving dish.

Back to my lovely beef ragu, right after I  remove the lid -

The beef still remains chunky,
However, the meat can easily fall apart with the help of two forks,
Again, it's totally up to you whether or not you want it chunky or flaky.

Taste the ragu and see if more salts are needed,
But don't add too much since we gonna mix in some Parmigiano Reggiano.

Carefully scoop or pour the ragu onto the pasta,
Grate at least 1 1/2 cups of Parmigiano Reggiano and pour the cheese all over the pasta,
Mix well,
Now you can taste it again and see if additional salts are necessary.

I even sprinkled more cheese on my individual serving,
The more the merrier! And look at that cheese oozing on top of my ragu!

One hearty meal,
I bet beef ragu is also good with regular white rice or brown rice,
Maybe that's what I'll have tomorrow,
At least this time I don't have to wait another 4 hours!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Dinner"S" - Asian Style

Happy belated Thanksgiving!
Everybody all gained some weight this week?
If yes (and a lot), then congratulations, mission accomplished,
Thanksgiving is at least 50% meant to be a fun week full of food, and fat,
But no worries, we'll all start working out the extra numbers, starting the following Monday!

So what have I been eating these couple days?
It's not just Thanksgiving dinner, it's dinner"S!"
One little greedy foodie!

First night, pre-Thanksgiving dinner - potluck style,
Instead of turkey, we had a giant lobster as our main course!

Lobster dish (before) -

Lobster dish (after) -

This crustacean was marinated first before deep frying,
Underneath the lobster is Chinese egg noodles,
In addition, every ingredients were drizzled with special-made sauce to boost up the flavor.

Some live clams on the counter -

Steamed egg with clams -

This steam egg was silky and flavorful,
I got the "miracle ratio" for the main ingredients from my friend,
Maybe one day I'll cook some kind of egg custard dish and share it with you guys.

Stir fry cabbage with fermented bean curd -

Another clam dish, stir fry style with lots of Thai basil and garlic -

My stir fry ground pork, semi-Thai style,
Similar sauce recipe can be found here.

Scrambled eggs with Thai basil -

Our dining table was full of homemade goodies,
My friends all cook like real chefs, lucky me!

A meal won't be complete without something sweet right?
So here it was, chocolate chip cookies by me,
The texture is more like shortbread cookies instead of the "regular" kind,
*I looked through my blog and found nothing in regards to "regular" chocolate chip cookies recipe,
But I made it so many times already..?...
Maybe it's time to add another dessert post once I get to digest all the food in my system,
By the way, the recipe for this version of chocolate chip cookies will be posted in the near future. 

.....The very next day...real Thanksgiving dinner,
This time, I got to enjoy the food without running around in the kitchen,
Thank you Su Family!

Turkey two way,
The first one is roasted turkey with Chinese sticky rice as stuffing -

The bird might look small from the picture,
But don't let the image fooled you, the portion was huge!

The other half of the bird went to a big pot of soup with Chinese medicinal herbs -

I only had a small bowl, see, not so greedy afterall.

Stir fry greens with scallops -

Stir fry pork liver slices with Sacha sauce -

Stir fry veggies with Sacha beef -

Fried meat balls (very moist inside!) -

Roasted beef -

Braised daikon with dried scallops (chopsticks tender) -

Fried taro ball -

I think all the gyms will be full people sweating the fat off the following Monday, and Tuesday...maybe Wednesday too.

It's all worth it.

Nov 21, 2010

Hearty Soup Asian Style - Miso Soup It Is

The weather is finally feeling more like winter here in Southern California,
(Can't really complain much huh?)
What's better than a hearty soup that can warm up your tummy?
By the way, it'll only take less than 20 minutes to do so!

Ingredients (4 to 5 bowls)?

7 1/2 cups of hot water
1 1/3 cups of diced chicken
1 1/3 cups of diced soft tofu
2/3 cup of dried seaweed
1/5 cup of Japanese soup base (some soy sauce will do too)
2 tablespoons of red miso
2 tablespoons of white miso

Sesame seeds


Have 7 1/2 cups of water in a soup pot, bring to a boil,
To fully dissolve the miso into the pot, simply mix in 2 kinds of miso gradually instead of dumping them all at once,
A whisk can be a wonderful helper here.

Once the miso are fully incorporated into the water, add the chicken and bring to a boil again,
Afterwards, add the tofu and dried seaweed flakes,
Here's a picture of the dried seaweed I used (looks like tea leaves) -

You can get it at any Asian grocery store,
The flakes open up easily once submerge in water,
You can quickly rinse it under running water for cleaning purpose.

Back to the soup,
Bring it to a boil again and turn to medium heat, let it simmer for a little longer,
Taste it and see how much soup base needs to be added,
My recipe uses 1/4, which can be a too salty for some people,
So I suggest just use a little bit at a time and see how it turns out,
Plus different miso brands come with different saltiness flavor,
In this case, I say just trust your taste buds ( > _.^)b

The soup is basically done,
You can sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds before serving,
Just adds more nutritional value that way.
To bring it to another level,
Have a small pot ready for poaching the eggs,
Semi-cooked eggs are unbelievably delicious with miso soup!

Side note:
Thanksgiving is coming up,
Are you ready for all the turkey goodness?

Cindy's Rating: 8

Nov 18, 2010

It's Good to See You Again - Koi Palace 鯉魚門

Can't believe it's been more than 3 years since my last visit to Koi Palace,
It's a famous dim sum/seafood/tea house restaurant in Northern California,
Here's the link to my old post.

I consider myself high maintenance when it comes to food,
Even 3 years ago, Koi Palace got a very high rating - 8 from me,
I was about to bump up the score to 9, but the wait at the restaurant just gets on my nerves,
Despite that,
This is still hands down my favorite dim sum place.

See all these people waiting? There're more standing inside the restaurant -

We called in earlier to get a number, but that ain't get you anywhere,
Upon arrival, me and my friends still lingered outside the restaurant for at least 40 minutes,
Fortunately, it's all worth it.

"Number 421, 421."
Thank god it's our turn, we entered the hallway with our heads up high,
Finally, it's OUR time to munch on all the goodies,
You guys just keep waiting there staring at the live lobsters crawling in tanks (evil grin*).

Here're some dishes that were not mentioned from my old post,
Whole crab meat filled dumplings 原隻蟹肉小籠包-

What a luscious dish,
Look closer to the picture, you can see all the real crab meat inside that thin layer of dumpling wrap,
A mouthful of seafood jewels.

Rice roll with shrimp stuffing 蝦腸粉-

Shrimp stuffed eggplant 百花鑲茄子-

Shark fin dumpling in broth 鮑翅灌湯餃-

Ok, I usually don't eat shark fin due to animal protection kind of thing,
But this place got the ingredient from a legal farm so I felt a little bit more justified,
*Plus my friend ordered it.

Either way, this dish was da BOMB!
The dumpling skin was paper thin and fully soaked up the flavor from the broth,
To die for.

Shrimp dumplings 蝦餃-

Roasted suckling pig 化皮乳豬-

This was mentioned during my last review,
I don't wanna skip this dish at all, it's my all time favorite dim sum item,
You get the crunchiness of the skin with a layer of silky fat underneath,
All the pork lovers out there, you've got to try this!

Egg yolk lava bun 奶黃流沙包-

Creamy and steamy hot egg yolk mixture inside the bun,
I lava it!

Black sesame glutinous ball 擂沙甜湯丸-

Sugar egg puff 鬆化沙翁-

Tastes like extra fluffy and airy donuts.

Highly recommended Chinese restaurant in Northern California,
Just remember to call in and reserve a space first,
Maybe cheat a little bit, tell the operator an earlier time,
Like schedule for 12:30 but you won't show up till 1,
Not sure if it'll work, but since the wait is definite, won't hurt giving it a try!
(shhhhhhhh it's not my idea**)

Overall rating: 8 (so the high score remains)

Koi Palace (Daly City)
Serramonte Plaza
365 Gellert Ave
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 992-9000

Nov 12, 2010

Stir Fry Udon with Sacha Sauce - 沙茶炒烏龍麵

San Francisco here I come!
This is going to be my long craved weekend getaway, packed with lots of action shots and mouth watering restaurants!

"But!" Before I leave for my afternoon flight, here's a quick blog update,
(Something to keep you guys' stomachs rumbling while I'm gone..-evil grin-..)

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 people)?

1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin

3 packs/600 grams of instant udon
1/2 onion
1/2 small carrot
3 Thai chilies
4 stalks of bak choy
8 shitake mushroom
2 garlic cloves
230 grams of sliced pork (about 16 - 18 slices)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of sacha sauce
1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce
Some olive oil
Some salt
Some black pepper


Let me give you a brief intro of sacha first,
It's like one of Asian's all time favorite sauce. Seriously.
There are different varieties such as "ma la" (super spicy) or vegetarian.

The most common place you'll find sasha sauce is at a hot pot joint, where people mix sacha together with other condiments such as scallion and cilantro to make the dipping sauce.
It is also often used in barbeque by smearing the sauce on meat and vegetables,
(Soooo good!).
As for our udon,
We are going to use the most basic, original sacha as this stir fry dish's seasoning agent.

Move on to the preparation work,
Slice the onion, carrot, and mushroom,
Finely chop the garlic and chilies,
Remove bak choy stems, cut larger leaves in half.

Marinate the pork slices for at least 15 minutes.

Boil a big pot of water to cook the udon,
Once the noodles are about 80% done, drain well and set aside.

Have a pan ready, drizzle some olive oil, toss in sliced onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper,
Cook till the onion turns translucent, add chopped garlic and chilies,
About 20 seconds, pour in the pork slices and the remaining marinade,
Let if cook for 10 seconds, add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sacha, and chili sauce,
Give it a quick stir then add the thin carrot strips,
About 30 seconds, toss in the mushroom.

Save the bak choy for last since it cooks through faster than other ingredients,
Taste the mixture once the greens are fully cooked,
Use more oyster sauce if not salty enough,
However, it should be saltier since we gonna add the udon, which will dilute the flavor,
Also definitely use more chili sauce if you're a big fan of spicy food like me.

Once you get an "OK" for the sauce check, toss in drained udon,
Mix well, cook for a little bit longer so the noodles can absorb all that yummy sauce.

I really like this dish (especially when I make it "super spicy" style),
Hope this post is good enough for you to feast with your eyes during my short disappearance,
Just wait,
There will definitely be lots of mouth watering pictures next week!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Nov 9, 2010

Something Good with Beer - Mentaiko Baked Potato

Tired of same old potato dishes?
Wanna try something new?

This simple Asian/Japanese influenced recipe can definitely jazz up your meal,
By the way, did I mention it's good with beer too?

Ingredients (for 1 potato)?

1 medium size potato
5 tablespoons of mentaiko
2 tablespoons of Japanese mayonnaise
Some seaweed flakes
Some toasted sesame seeds
Some butter


Simply mix together the mentaiko and mayonnaise, there we have it, the sauce -

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the potato, you can either boil it first or just use the microwave,
If you're boiling it,
Bring a small pot of water to a boil,
Toss in peeled potato and cook till you can easily poke a fork/chopstick down to the center.
If you're using the microwave, again, put the peeled potato on a small bowl,
2 minutes at a time for about 6 minutes,
Remember to change sides in between.

Once the potato cools down a little bit,
Slice it, about 2 mm in width.

Line up tin foil on a baking sheet,
Cut the butter into small squares.
Here's how we gonna do it,
Put one butter square on the sheet,
Lay one potato slice on the butter, press it down a wee bit if needed,
Drizzle the sauce over the potato, repeat the steps for the remaining slices.
*Butter prevents the bottom of the potato slices from drying up.

Don't worry if the potato slices are tearing apart,
You can just treat it like clay and form the pieces together again,
It'll all stick together after baking.

Into the oven for 14 minutes,
Quick check, if the sauce still looks semi-wet, turn to broil and cook for few more minutes.

Sprinkle some seaweed flakes and toasted sesame seeds before serving,
Mentaiko makes this dish slightly spicy,
That little kick is perfect!
(Good for football season huh?)

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 5, 2010

4 Ingredients Chocolate Pastry with Step-by-Step Pictures

This recipe is perfect for kids,
Actually, you can have a little fun and make it with them,
Only 4 ingredients are required...well, if you count water as one,
All you need to do is chop, fold, brush, and bake,

Ingredients (for 4)?

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 bar/4 oz of 60% bittersweet chocolate
1 egg
1 tablespoon of water


Thaw the frozen puff pastry according to package instruction,
(I simply left it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit,
Line the parchment paper on a baking sheet,
It'll save some cleaning work for you later on.

Chop up the chocolate bar into smaller pieces,
You can definitely substitute that with chocolate chips -

Unfold the puff pastry,
You might need to roll it out a couple times if the surface is uneven,
Cut into 4 large pieces -

I'll use one of the square pieces as demonstration,
Put the chocolate pieces along the top and bottom parts of the pastry -

Fold the top and bottom edges and seal them nicely -

Here's the side view so you know what I'm talking about -

Fold that in half and put the sealed side down -

Side view picture,
You might want to pat it down and make it flatter than the one shown here,
That way you'll get a nicer, more rectangular shaped pastry -

Beat one egg together with one tablespoon of water, that'll be the egg wash,
Brush evenly on the pastry surface,
Transfer them to the oven and back for 18 to 20 minutes,
Or until the top turns slightly golden brown.

Here are the final products again,
I cut one of the pastries in half so you can see the goodies in the center,
Look how flaky the pastry turned out to be,
What a nice and easy afternoon treat.

Better eat it while fresh off the oven,
Otherwise, warm up the pastry in the oven again before serving,
Don't use microwave! It'll make the whole thing soggy ( > _.< )/

Cindy's Rating: 7