Mar 31, 2013

ROCQ Cafe - A Local Gem in Lake Forest, CA

I've been driving pass by ROCQ Cafe so many times but never really had any thoughts about giving it a try, until one day my friend suggested having a weekend brunch there last week. 

The minute right after I walked inside the cafe, the place gave me a cozy and welcoming feeling instantly. Well, to tell you the truth, I was mostly blinded by its ordinary green and white signage outside the cafe and would have never expected such a cute design for the interior.

On top of that, being around the neighborhood for quite some time, I know the quality of the restaurants here, sustainable but not outstanding. Therefore my mind just automatically blocked me from trying out most of the eateries around the area.

Brunch is only offered during weekends at ROCQ Cafe. In addition, this place only opens during day time (in case you're thinking about dining here during late hours).

Our seats (so cute)! - 

Menu - 

Inside the menu - 

My friend's fluffy looking coffee - 

Counter area - 

 Eggs benedict with crab cake $11.95 - 

"Crispy potato, roasted tomatoes, hollandaise sauce"

My classic French sandwich croque madame $9.95 - 

"Ham, Swiss cheese, bechamel sauce"

I rarely order croque madame so I'm not really in a good position to determine whether or not ROCQ Cafe did a fine job on this dish. However, I do know that my croque madame was really yummy. The crust was slightly crunchy and together with runny egg yolk created a luscious combo. The bechamel sauce was not over-powering so the savory flavor from the ham still shines through.

Perfect bite -

Besides these two dishes, there were other classic French selections such as coq au vin, crepes, and quiche.

To make our brunch even better - 

We selected one lavender macaron, one pineapple macaron, and a "green" colored vanilla cake - 

My friend said ROCQ usually makes heart shape macarons, but it was around Easter time so they changed to egg shaped macarons, which we did not choose. 

I was never a big fan of macarons until I tried Ladurée, the case still applies today.

Not sure about the coloring of the vanilla cake, which somewhat resembles active fungi. Taste-wise, the cake is decent and moist.

The portion is on the smaller side here at ROCQ Cafe. I felt like I need two orders to fill my appetite. However, I do eat a lot for my first meal of the day. The truth is the food here is not extraordinary awesome but it ain't bad at all. I wasn't overly impressed but the cafe surely proves itself to be one of the best choices around the neighborhood if you're looking for a light meal. And somehow I've been having this urge asking me to come back again. Perhaps the cozy vibe of the place has something to do with it.

Cindy's Review: 6

22722 Lambert Street
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 916-0722

Monday - Friday
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Catering service available, check out ROCQ Cafe official website for more details.

Mar 25, 2013

Penne with Fennel, Corn, Spicy Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese

Once a while besides the regular pomodoro, alfredo, and pesto sauce for pasta, I'd like to play with other ingredients and see what I can come up with. This time, penne with fennel, corn, spicy sausage, and ricotta cheese -

Ingredients (4 to 5 portion)?

  • 1 pack/500 grams/17.6 oz of penne
  • 1 pack/450 grams/16 oz of spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 box/425 grams/15 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 ladle of pasta water
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Small pinch of dried mixed Italian seasoning


Bring a big pot of water to a boil and pour in about a small handful of salt. Pour in the pasta and give it a quick stir. Cook till al dente in texture, about 11 minutes. Remember to stir it once a while making sure the pasta are not sticking to each other. Once done, remove the penne from the water and set aside for later use. Make sure not to discard the pasta water or try to save a few ladles before pouring it down the sink.

Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the surface in a big pan. Add in diced fennel bulb along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of red chili flakes. Turn to medium high heat and cook for couple minutes.

Add in smoked paprika and mix it up a bit. Transfer the spicy sausage into the pan. If you can't find sausage meat without the casing, just slice them about 2 mm in thickness instead. Cook for about two minutes then sprinkle some dried Italian seasoning into the mixture.

Add in the corn (drained) along with some freshly chopped dill and ricotta cheese. Let everything cook for a little bit longer. Gently pour the cooked pasta into the mixture and add one or two ladles of pasta water to dilute the sauce. Mix well and garnish the plate with some fresh dill.

Mascarpone was actually my first choice instead of ricotta but somehow couldn't find it at the grocery store. Give mascarpone a try if possible, which should yield an even more luscious and creamy sauce for this recipe.

Similar posts:
Spaghetti saffron style with prawns, smoked bacon, and asparagus
Thai style stir fry ground pork with spaghetti and lots of pecorino romano
Very bacony and garlicky spaghetti

Mar 19, 2013

Red Guava and Mild Cheddar Sandwich

Quick afternoon snack fix. All you need is nice quality toast, cheese squares, and jam!

Red guava and mild cheddar sandwich -

Ingredients (for one)?

3 slices of white bread based toasts
2 mild cheddar cheese squares
Some red guava jam


I've got this jar of red guava jam from my friend as a Christmas present (thank you!). Red guava is one of the popular fruits in Taiwan. Its exterior looks almost identical to regular guava. However, unlike the common kind which comes with white colored center, the red guava comes with red colored center, similar to a very condensed watermelon hue. Taste-wise, the red guava is sweeter and softer in texture.

Toast the bread till slightly crunchy on the edges. I picked up a cream based white toast from a local Korean bakery. I suppose creamy bread works better for this recipe.

Basically just spread some jam onto the bread and stick the cheese squares in between when the toasts are still hot. That way the cheese gets to melt nicely and helps binding the toasts together.

Cut the toasts into squares or triangles before serving, so you can share it with others!

You don't have to use guava jam. Other flavors such as strawberry and cranberry both work well with mild cheddar cheese.

Mar 11, 2013

Scrambled Eggs Stir Fry with Oyster Mushroom and Pork Slices

What an unhappy night. Unpleasant things can surely be prevented if people can just observe more instead of jump right into assumptions. I'm glad I've still got my food bloggie here. I guess writing food related posts not only makes me happy, it also calms me down and steer my minds away from negative thoughts.

So here I present you, stress relief scrambled eggs stir fry with oyster mushroom and pork slices -


0.5 lb of pork slices
4 eggs
About 1 dozen oyster mushroom
4 garlic cloves
1 stalk of scallion
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon of black vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger
Some Sichuan peppercorn oil
Some olive oil
Some white pepper powder
Small pinch of salt
Some toasted white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine


Discard the stem and chop the scallion. Break 4 eggs into a bowl and add in the chopped scallion, small pinch of salt, and small pinch of white pepper powder. Beat the mixture till fully incorporated.

Cut away the rough skin from the ginger before grating it, need about 1 teaspoonful. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. As for the oyster mushroom, cut the bigger mushroom lengthwise.

Marinate the pork slices with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine, takes about 15 minutes.

Drizzle enough olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add a few more tablespoons of oil on top of that especially the eggs tend to absorb lots of oil during the cooking process.

Once the oil gets hot, pour in the egg mixture. Wait till the edges of the egg settles a little bit before scrambling. Do not over-scramble the eggs and try to get big bite size pieces instead. Just make sure not to stir the mixture too often, you can even leave it till almost cooked through then start scrambling the eggs. Cook till the eggs turn slightly browned. Remove from heat, set aside for later use.

Drizzle some more olive oil just to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium heat and toss in chopped garlic. Cook till the garlic starts to turn slightly golden brown on the edges, add in grated ginger and pork slices. Give it a quick stir.

Add the oyster mushroom into the pan and stir to evenly coat the mushroom with oil. Sear for about 30 seconds then add in the following seasonings - 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce, and 1 teaspoon of black vinegar. Use 2 teaspoons of vinegar if a more sourish taste is preferred.

Mix well, making sure all the ingredients are coated on the mushroom and pork, then add the scrambled eggs back in. Give it a quick stir and drizzle some Sichuan peppercorn oil in the end to add more kick to the dish.

Sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds before serving.

Hope you like it!

Other recent Asian stir fry recipes:
Dried radish and ground pork stir fry
Garlicky eggplants stir fry with scallops X.O. sauce
Golden needle flower buds and two mushrooms stir fry
Stir fry ongchoy with shrimp paste and fish sauce

Mar 3, 2013

No Fuss Onion and Black Pepper Beef Stew

It's been a stressful night. For some reason a few of my friends have been encountering some technical difficulties with their iPhones. All the contact information just disappeared out of nowhere. Well, it's my turn now, and on top of contacts, all of my pictures (mostly food pictures) are gone! Oh these yummy food memories..

Definitely not fun spending my Sunday evening trying to figure out how to restore everything back to where it supposed to be. After several rounds of updating, reloading, and re-entering numerous data, my phone is finally..or more like semi up and running like it used to be. Now it's just the matter of how to get my frustrations and irritated mood out. Not so surprised for a food lover, writing recipes actually calmed me down slightly. Just enough to suppress the urge of throwing my phone out of the window.

No fuss onion and black pepper beef stew -


1 lb of large beef cubes (you can just use whichever parts you like the most)
2 large onions
Some beef stock
Some soy sauce
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add in the beef cubes. Bring to a boil again and cook for just a little bit longer in order to draw out the dirty brownish bits floating on top. Make sure not over-cooking the meat. One done, drain well and set aside for later use.

Peel and slice the onions into thick strips, toss them into a pot (I chose a large iron cast pot because it preserves the heat well). Drizzle just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot and turn to medium heat. Sprinkle couple pinches of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. To give you a better idea, I grind the peppercorns at least 50 times for this recipe. Yes, you heard me right, minimum 50 grinds.

Give the onion a quick stir and cook till slightly browned on the edges. Add in drained beef cubes and sear for couple minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture once a while. Pour in room temperature beef stock till just cover the top of the ingredients. Gently scrape the brown bits sticking on the bottom of the pan, they adds tremendous amount of flavor to the stew.

Pour in just enough soy sauce to flavor the stew. Taste it and adjust with your own preference. The entire stock is going to be reduced till only little juice left. Therefore, try not over-season with soy sauce. As the stock keeps reducing, the flavor will get more condensed and the same for saltiness level.

Bring to a boil and skim away the dirty brownish bits floating above. Turn the heat down and cover with lid. Make sure the stew is bubbling just a wee bit throughout the rest of the cooking time. Keep stewing till the juice has been reduced, took about 4 hours for me.

At least half of the onion will be gone, or melted after such long hours of cooking time, but its sweetness remains in the fork tender beef stew. The pepper provides warmness and a kick to the beef. I prefer to serve it over steamed white rice with some fresh leafy greens on the side.

You can even make the stew in advance and store in the freezer. Just make sure to steam the beef stew instead of heating it up on a stove or with a microwave, otherwise you might end of with charcoal-like beef with textures like chunks of wood.