Dec 28, 2014

Open Faced Blueberry Bagel with Creamy Scrambled Eggs and Apple Preserves

Wish you all had a wonderful Christmas with the loved ones, and tons of delicious homemade food. much I miss the freshly baked bread dipped in gravy made from the rotisserie chicken drippings when living in Minnesota. 

Such mouth watering feast does not come easily. All the prep work, cooking process, especially the cleaning afterwards can be time consuming. It's time to take a break but without sacrificing the joy of eating yummy homemade meal. A couple store bought blueberry bagels and high quality jam can save quite some efforts when preparing a simply meal for two.

Open-faced blueberry bagel with creamy scrambled eggs and apple preserves -

Ingredients? (for two)

  • 2 small blueberry bagels 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 sprig of thyme plus extra sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream
  • Some cream cheese
  • Some apple preserve or any preferred jam
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • Tiny pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Cut each bagel into two equal halves then transfer to a baking dish, cut side up. Heat them up in the oven with medium high heat, till the edges turns slightly crunchy or till desired texture.

Once ready, spread some cream cheese while the bagels are still hot.

Pinch the tip of the thyme sprig with one hand. In the other hand, run the fingers down to the bottom to get the leaves. Give them a few rough chops if the falling pieces are too big.

Beat the eggs together with 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, tiny pinch of salt, tiny pinch of black pepper, and some thyme.

Add the butter to a pan and turn to medium heat. Once the butter melts but not bubbling yet, pour in the egg mixture and stir constantly to prevent the bottom from hardening. Soft and creamy texture is what we are looking for so the cooking time is fairly quick, less than 1 minute. The eggs should still look semi-runny, kind of resembles soft cheese when ready. Scoop out the lightly scrambled eggs and add to the bagel halves. 

Add a spoonful of apple preserve or other type of jam on top of the eggs then garnish with thyme sprig. 

I got the apple preserve from my friend, which she used palm sugar instead of regular granulated sugar when making it - that's why the darker color. 

Can you see the creamy texture of the lightly scrambled eggs? It might take a few practices in order to get the right consistency. However, I personally think it's better to under-cook the eggs than having tough and drier version for this bagel recipe. 

Now that Christmas has passed, are you ready for New Year's celebration?

Dec 21, 2014

Enjoying Steak in a Less Guilty Way - Served with Arugula Salad

Just trying to balance off the beefy diet with some healthy greens.


  • 1 medium to large steak
  • 1 small box of arugula
  • 8 walnuts
  • Some honey
  • Small handful of dried cranberries
  • Some shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Some sea salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Little bit of olive oil


  • Some balsamic vinegar
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of sea salt
  • Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Remove the steak from the fridge and let it stand in room temperature for about 10 minutes before cooking. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush a thin layer of olive oil to a grill pan and turn to medium high heat. 

Once the pan gets hot, transfer the steak over. Do not move it once set down to the grill till about 30 seconds later, otherwise the meat might stick onto the grill. However, there's no need to touch the steak until its ready to be flipped. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side, the exact time varies depending on the thickness of the steak and how rare you'd like it to be. Medium to medium rare are good for this salad recipe.

Let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. While waiting, let's get the remaining ingredients ready.

Take a small non-stick pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in the walnut and toast till the nutty aroma comes out. Drizzle a little honey over the walnuts. The walnuts might stick to each other once cool down but just separate them by hand when plating. 

In a container, mix together about one spoonful of balsamic vinegar, small pinch of sea salt, small pinch of freshly ground black pepper, and some extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil should be a little more than the balsamic vinegar. Shake or mix well, this will be the salad dressing. 

Take a big bowl and toss the arugula with enough salad dressing. Plate the seasoned arugula to a big serving plate. Arrange some honey toasted walnuts, shaved Parmesan, and dried cranberries throughout. 

Lastly, transfer sliced steak next to the salad.

You can substitute the arugula with other types of salad greens. However, for such headstrong beefy steak, I think the peppery arugula pairs the best.

Other salad recipes:

Dec 14, 2014

Spicy Uni Pasta with a Touch of Sriracha and Kumquat Juice

Getting off the bed every morning in such a cold weather can be a tough task. My desire for warmth is also growing day by day. Hot drinks, mittens, blanket on the sofa, even the heated toilet seat provide a sense of comfort. Food-wise, if not having Chinese chicken soup nor western pot roast, at least something spicy would warm up the body from inside out.

The regular creamy uni pasta is not good enough in winter. However, using chili infused linguine and some Sriracha in the sauce, sounds like a good idea!

Spicy uni pasta with a touch of Sriracha and kumquat juice -

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 bag/250 grams of linguine with red chili 
  • 1 small box/100 grams of uni
  • 2 to 3 kumquats
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Some sea salt
  • Some dried seaweed flakes

  • Small amount of flat leaf parsley
  • Small amount of dill
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Use a food processor and blend together small amount of flat leaf parsley, dill, 1/2 lemon juice, small pinch of salt, small pinch of black pepper, and some extra virgin olive oil. There is no set amount for the herbs, if you like the scent from the parsley, then add more parsley; if you don't like dill, then don't use it. Just make sure to season the mixture with salt and pepper. Also drizzle enough olive oil to make the texture resembles pesto dressing.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add few pinches of salt. Add in the pasta and cook till al dente, drain well, set aside, and wait for the sauce to be ready.

Peel and chop the onion into tiny cubes. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, add in the onion along with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and a small pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Cook till the onion turns translucent then add in finely chopped garlic. Give it a quick stir.

Pour in the heavy whipping cream and most of the uni. Save a few pieces of uni to garnish on top of the linguine later. Also add about 1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha to the heavy cream. Use the spatula to break the uni into smaller pieces, it also helps the flavor to sink in. 

You can also blend this creamy sauce together with uni by using a food processor. However, I'd like to have larger chunks of uni for this recipe instead of smooth texture if mix with the processor.

Add the pasta to the cream sauce and mix well.

Plate the pasta and top with few pieces of uni, torch a little for a more intense aroma. Squeeze one kumquat juice for each portion. Sprinkle with some dried seaweed flakes and drizzle with some parsley dill dressing. 

You can even serve this pasta with some Tabasco sauce on the side. The sourish taste from the Tabasco actually works quite well with creamy uni sauce.

Other seafood pasta recipe:
Refreshing lemony shrimp pasta for a light weekend meal
Make ahead recipe: spaghetti with pesto made with anchovies, green olives, and parsley

Dec 7, 2014

Yes. I Do Like My Eggs Slutty (Eggslut Downtown Los Angeles/Grand Central Market)

I feel ashamed that I haven't discovered the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles sooner. Guess the OC bubble kept me away from such vibrant food scenes happening in the big city.

First time stepping into the market, all the fresh produce, butcher shops, healthy juice counters, food corners, and even petite Mexican grocery stores excite all my senses.

But what drew me here in the first place? Something slutty, something juicy - the infamous gourmet burger joint Eggslut -

Just like the name implies, egg is the main ingredient used for most of the dishes. Try to avoid weekend lunch rush hours, otherwise you might end up with a minimum of 30 minutes waiting line - speaking from experience. 

Besides the multi-cultural food scene, Los Angeles is also known for its traffic and parking issues. Luckily, there's a parking area designated for the market with entrance on Hill Street between 3rd and 4th. Free one hour parking with validation.

View of Eggslut from the street -

While waiting in the line (click on the picture for an enlarged view) -

Even though it says lunch menu, Eggslut actually only opens from breakfast hours till afternoon. Lucky Los Angeles residents who get to enjoy such great burgers in the morning -

Completely open prepping area -

Seared wagyu tri-tip steak, sliced and ready to be used as the main ingredient for gaucho -

Seating area for Eggslut is pretty limited with only a roll of stools -

However, there are many tables and few dining sections throughout the Grand Central Market. You can always bring the food and enjoy it somewhere else, just without the fun of watching Eggslut staffs transforming ingredients into delicious dishes -

Fresh juice -

Eggslut cheeseburger, single $8 with added avocado for extra $1 -

"Ground American wagyu beef, caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, melty cheddar cheese, and dijonnaise, topped with an over medium egg in a warm Portuguese bun."

The "Slut" in the making -

Slut $9 -

"A coddled egg on top of a smooth potato puree, poached in a glass jar and served with toasty crostini."

I would expect the Slut to be a burger, since this mainly burger/sandwich-related joint is called Eggslut. Surprisingly it was something completely different. A dish loaded with carbs but in a delicious way. Even without the smooth texture from the runny yolk, the potato puree itself is creamy and well seasoned. Imagine eating highly flavored mashed potato, something close that.

On the left: Bacon, egg & cheese $6 -

"Hardwood smoked bacon, over medium egg, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup in a Portuguese bun."

Oozing cheese on top of oozing yolk, there's no better velvety combo than that. Bacon slices were grilled nicely, creating crunchy edges without too much grease. No heavy sticky feeling even till the last few bites of the buns. In fact, I would love to order more if the line wasn't that crazy.

On the right: Gaucho $11 -

"Seared wagyu tri-tip steak, chimichurri, pickled red onion, shaved manchego cheese and seasoned arugula topped with an over medium egg, in a toasted veneto roll."

Moist steak and once again, oozing yolk -

The peppery note from the arugula adds a touch of fresh herbal note to this somewhat healthier looking but packed with guilty flavors combo. 

Tummy stuffed with slutty goodness, it was more than enough for me to last till dinner, until I made a turn and found a Mexican taco section just few steps away. Lengua, buche, cabeza, and all that exotic parts. Not mentioning the chicharrones piling up on the side. Maybe I'm still hungry.

Cindy's Rating: 7

317 South Broadway (inside Grand Central Market)
Los Angeles, CA 90013

*Free one hour parking with validation (entrance on Hill Street between 3rd and 4th)
*Open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nov 30, 2014

Quick Nutrition Boost - Vegetable Stew Using Instant Thai Style Red Curry Paste

You know you don't always have to follow the cooking instruction on the back of the instant sauce mix. Instead of using fruits and meat as suggested by my Thai red curry paste, I've decided use it as the base for simple vegetable red curry stew.


  • 1 packet of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 small bag of oyster mushroom
  • 1 Chinese eggplant (the long and skinny kind)
  • 1 medium broccoli
  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • Some steamed white or brown rice (optional)


Peel and slice the onion. Chop the cabbage into large pieces. Separate the broccoli florets into smaller pieces. Cut off the tough outer section from the broccoli stem and chop the tender center into bite size pieces. Slice the eggplant diagonally.

Drizzle just enough olive oil to the pan to evenly coat the bottom, turn to medium high heat. Add in the onion along with some salt and pepper. Cook till the edge of the onion turns slightly browned.

Add in the red curry paste and heat it up a little. Add in the broccoli, mushroom, and eggplant. Stir and mix well with the curry paste. 

Add in the cabbage. It might pile up like a small mountain but will gradually wilt down once heated up. Carefully give it a quick stir once a while. Pour in one can of diced tomatoes along with its juice. Also pour in the coconut milk, add the fish sauce and oyster sauce. 

Bring to a boil then keep the pot at a gently boiling state. Cook till the broccoli reaches desired texture. Taste and adjust the saltiness level with fish sauce. I prefer my veggies on the softer side so the stew took about 30 minutes for me.  

Serve over steamed rice.

You can definitely add some protein to the stew. Dark chicken meat or pork slices are two suitable options.

Nov 23, 2014

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner, It's Time to Start Eating Light so We Can Feast Fearlessly Next Week! - Lettuce and Prosciutto Salad with Poached Egg

Never thought restaurant quality salad can be so easy to recreate at home until I really start serving these healthy greens this year. Sometimes I even think fancy salad is actually much easier to prepare compared to fixing up a sandwich or a quick stir fry. The keys are using fresh and a wide variety of ingredients for the salad. You can even bring it up to another level by putting in some extra work such as searing a steak or using homemade herbed croutons. 

But don't go too far yet for this recipe especially plates after plates of food will be coming up soon during Thanksgiving. Get yourself a nicely cured ham slices or prosciutto at the grocery store and let's put together a big plate of salad greens. 

Lettuce and prosciutto salad with poached egg -


  • 1 bag of organic salad greens (I used lettuce but arugula would be a good alternative)
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • Small handful of mozzarella balls
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small baguette
  • Some dried cranberries
  • Some vinegar


  • 3 kumquats 
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Small pinch of fleur de sel


Add all the salad dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk till combined. Use few extra kumquats if a more sourish taste is preferred.

Thinly slice the baguette and transfer onto a baking dish. Slightly toast them in the oven with medium low heat till semi-crunchy. Remove from heat and set aside for later use.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add in few splashes of vinegar and make a swirl in the center. Lower the heat till gently bubbling. Crack the egg one at a time to a small bowl then pour  into the center of the water. Takes about few minutes, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the eggs. If there are some whites floating around, save them for other dishes, do not waste food. Transfer poached eggs to a kitchen towel, which will help drawing out excess water. 

Place the salad greens onto two serving plates. Drizzle the dressing throughout. Arrange the toasted bread slices, drained mozzarella balls, prosciutto, and dried cranberries around. 

Gently transfer the poached eggs to the center of the salad. Oops! -

At first I thought just one small bag of lettuce won't fill me up at all. However, after putting all the ingredients together plus some toasted baguette slices, it's actually quite satisfying. Especially love the bites when I got both the saltiness from the prosciutto and the sweetness from the dried cranberries!

Other salad recipes:

Nov 18, 2014

Spicy Stir Fry with Thick Cut Matsuzaka Pork and Salted Black Beans 辣炒松阪豬

Spicy food has been luring me over the past week. Not sure about the reasons behind, possibly due to my recent diet eating similar western dishes day by day - braised short ribs, bread and cheese, and salad. However, I did manage to spice up my leftover food such as serving the braised short ribs with Chinese noodles, adding lots of chili sauce, black vinegar, some soy sauce, and sesame oil. The combination between western stew and Chinese seasonings actually work pretty well.

That little twist on the stew brightened up my leftover meals, but my mind was still thinking about something truly Asian, something with a punch. Therefore, this spicy stir fry using Matsuzaka pork was born, matches perfectly with steamed rice, and definitely left me with a happy tummy, and even more leftover food to tackle with.

Spicy stir fry with thick cut Matsuzaka pork and salted black beans -


  • 1 lb of thick cut Matsuzaka pork
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of salted black beans
  • 4 red chilies
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha
  • 1~2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • Tiny pinch of black pepper


Peel and dice the onion into little squares. Discard the tips of the chilies and finely chop the remaining. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Cut the pork into big strips, about 1~1.5 inches in width.

Drizzle just a little bit of oil to the pan, not too much since the salted black beans were already stored in oil. In addition, the Matsuzaka pork contains more fat compared to other parts of the pig. 

Turn to medium high heat and add in the onion along with some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. Add in the garlic and chilies. Keep cooking till the edges of the onion turns slightly browned or right before the garlic starts to burn.

Pour in the sauce from the edge of the pan so it will get a direct heat contact and further release the aroma. Also add in the Sriracha and sugar. Mix well.

Add in the pork strips and mix a little bit. Add in salted black beans and cook till most of the liquid has been reduced and the pork got the brownish color from the sauce.

Other stir fry recipes:

Nov 11, 2014

Single's Day and Pocky Day Food Scene - Chocolate and Espresso Cupcakes with Almond Choco Sticks

November 11th is also known as Single's Day in China or Pocky Day in Japan. Don't we all just need more excuses to celebrate as many festivals as possible? The idea behind Single's Day is mostly due to the connection between singles and the number "1." On top of that, 1 also resembles the shape of a famous Japanese chocolate stick snack Pocky. Maybe we should have a palmier day on 8/8 then?

There's a game associated with Pocky Day on 11/11 in Japan called Pocky Tower, where you stack up chocolate sticks that looks somewhat like Jenga. As much as I would like to participate in such delicious-looking game, I do not want to open so many packs of chocolate sticks knowing that I would finish munching on the sticks until they're out of my sight instead of putting them back to the cabinet. 

To avoid such high risk of fluctuating blood sugar, let's skip the "tower" concept and toned it down to one single stick on a chocolate and espresso cupcake. 

Chocolate and espresso cupcakes with almond choco sticks -

Ingredients (for 6)?

  • 1 1/8 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of freshly brewed espresso
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • Some ganache
  • Some chocolate sticks (I used almond flavored chocolate sticks)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the muffin tin with paper cup liners.

Sift the following dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix the following wet ingredients in a large bowl: egg and sugar first, then add in the cream, coffee, and semi-melted butter. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches and mix well. Divide the mixture into the 6 paper cup liners and bake for about 15 minutes. Cracks on the cupcakes are normal.

Drizzle the ganache (simple ganache recipe can be found from my chocolate and banana bundt cake recipe) over the cupcakes -

Quick texture test. Ok fine, the truth is that the chocolaty scent overflows my kitchen, and I simply cannot resist the temptation any longer -

Velvety ganache on top and moist texture in the center.

Insert a chocolate stick to the cupcake before the ganache sets -

Don't know about you, but if I ought to "celebrate" Single's Day, I'll definitely surround myself with this cupcake and tons of chocolate sticks. 

Other chocolate related sweet treats recipes: