Monday, March 22, 2010

Upgraded my blog!

I've updated to wordpress. Please visit this new link. Thanks!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Free Macarons!

There's Mother's Day, Hot Dog Day, Hot Chocolate Day, so of course, it would make sense to have a Marcaron Day as well! It all started in 2005, when renowned pastry chef Pierre Hermé and other members of the prestigious Association Relais Desserts started Jour du Macaron (Macaron Day). So every year on March 20, bakeries would give away free macarons and raise money for a worthy cause.

This is the first Macaron Day year for us in NYC! Some French bakeries around town are offering this sweet, little sandwich to people who love this expensive treat or just to satisfy the thrill of receiving freebies.

I visited two locations and chose two flavors - hazelnut and lemon. I wanted pistachio, but that ran out. :( I'm saving all hard-earned sweets for my mom.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lotus root is a root vegetable that's indigenous to Asia. A tubular squash infiltrated with holes, it has the unique element of fibrous strands as you cut through .

When chopped in stick forms, the crunchiness resembles celery and carrot sticks. You can also use them in stir-fry with a mix of vegetables or with sliced meat of your choice. It's a very versatile ingredient. Nutrition-wise, it contains iron, vitamins B annd C. The rich fiber content stimulates peristalsis and relieves constipation.

The lotus is also associated with enlightenment and the Buddha. While we appreciate the flowery part, let's not forget the rhizome that supports the life of this plant.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Success! Matcha Cookies!

It's raining cats and dogs in NYC today! But I still ventured out and paid the consequences with soggy socks, drooping sneakers, and wet feet.
A rainy day is the perfect excuse to stay indoor, but I'm not the type who bows down to water saturation. No. I'm crazy enough to fight away the wind and slanted raindrops just to run minuscule errands that could've waited till a sunnier day. I'm stubborn like that.

Though I did stay indoor the second half of the getting some work and also baking some cookies. To be more specific, MATCHA COOKIES! I haven't made these for quite awhile and since I'm meeting a friend tomorrow and I don't want to go empty-handed, I decided to take a therapeutic break in the kitchen and whip up a batch. I actually got more dough than needed, so I froze the other half for later occasions.

Now feast your eyes on some green deliciousness. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brownies anyone?

Sometimes, it's ok to indulge in a little sweet, especially if it's a one bowl miracle. That's right, this is a "one bowl brownie". No need to whip out your mixer; but alright, you do need to sift your flour and cocoa powder. I made this for a new friend I met. I hope she liked it. :)


1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter it up.
3. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
4. Add sugar and mix well.
5. Add egg, vanilla extract, sifted flour and salt, but don't overmix.
6. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lily Bulbs

People are becoming more and more health conscious nowadays. We are more aware of the nutrition label on a food package, invest more time in exercising or pay more attention to the media for the latest health updates. However, this is really just old news. Our ancestors already knew that each food owns its particular nutritional value. Granted they didn't have the jargon of vitamin A, B, C or D, they knew that certain food could heal or maintain a healthy body.
For example, Chinese cuisine is very particular with food combination, especially in soups. If you're not feeling well, then a particular organ is 'lacking' something. It's like the ying-yang concept. For myself, I prefer warming food in the evening. I can have a salad in the afternoon, but at the end of the day, I want to warm my body with something soothing and comforting. This post will feature a 'warming' food - lily bulbs. They are also used in herbal remedies. You can find them in Asian supermarkets. Once you open up the small package, you just peel them and make sure to wash them well (lots of dirt since they are 'bulbs' from the soil afterall). You can add the snowy petals to an Asian dessert soup, but I like to stir fry mine with other vegetables. I love their natural sweetness and delicate texture and innocent appearance. You just want to handle them with care and love. Here, I stir-fried the lily bulbs with watercress, wood ears, and brown rice.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snow Storm 2010

Will this be the last of it before spring arrives??

Did you enjoy the quiet time during the snowfall?

I could only remember two things - wet socks and an aching back from snow shovelling. In all, it wasn't that bad. At least I survived. NYC survived.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Random thoughts...

I took this random picture while I strolled around the Meatpacking District in Manhattan. I love rundown, realistic objects. If I had a choice of career, I would love to be a documentary photographer. It's a risky job, but it would be so fulfilling and meaningful.

When I saw this fan, I could imagine it had labored through many hours of usage, keeping the person/space cool and comfortable. Now that the weather is cold, this machine has no further purpose, but only as a decoration by a barred window. The fan's weathered condition hasn't been remedied by anyone. For once, I felt sorry for this object, wishing someone would at least brush off the prolific dust or at least adjust the fan so it isn't drooping its 'head'. We often under appreciate the small details around our lives.

Just a thought. A random thought.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year! Today is the start of the Year of the Tiger. Roaaarrr!
According to the lunar calendar, this year's New Year's Day conveniently falls on Valentine's Day as well, so people can just celebrate both holiday all in one! Recession-proof holiday I tell ya. :)

Lunar New Year isn't solely celebrated by the Chinese, as most expected, but rather other Asian countries also take part of the festivities as well, such as Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Yes, more excuses to indulge in various types of Asian cuisine!

As for Chinese traditions, there are dishes that are especially created for our new year and one of them is my favorite 'dessert', which is 'sweet mochi cake', also known as 'Nián gāo', which is a homonym for "higher year", but really a symbol for growth and prosperity. I love it because it's chewy, slightly sweet, and just very warming. I like to pan fry it a little to give it a more 'mochi' chewiness.

I was also in Chinatown, NY to join in the festivity (and crowdiness). Lots of confetti were flying around and kids everywhere were slapping firecrackers on the ground. Scared me to death! :)

Hope everyone had a fun Lunar New Year/Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Revive Leftover Bread - Make French Toast!

Let's face it. As much as we wanted (or tempted) to eat an entire loaf of freshly baked bread or bought one from a well-sourced bakery, we still end up with some leftovers in the fridge. Then I would go out and find another shop and buy something there and I would end up with a box full of old bread at home. What to do?? I don't want to feed them to the pigeons (don't want to attract bird doo doo for me to clean up) and I definitely don't want to trash them (a big waste of food!) Since I couldn't sleep this morning (perhaps I was worried about the snowstorm that was predicted for NY, but turned out pretty calm after all), I had some time 'to waste' so I managed to revive some of the old bread to create a french toast breakfast for mom.

It's quiet easy to cook this dish without much effort. All you need is egg, a touch of sugar, milk, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and my secret ingredient is corn starch to create a 'crust' on the french toast. For the final toast, I just sprinkle some powdered sugar more for visual effect than for the sweet taste. As for toppings? It's up to your imagination. I was lazy, but I went for the default maple syrup and butter. But if you'd like to fancy up the meal, you can easily make a fruit compote by cooking up some fruit with easy part sugar and water and reduce the mixture down to a thick sauce.

So the moral of the story is - Want not, waste not. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crunchy Food Texture...the Amazing Sprouts

We often only discuss food flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, spicy...), but the texture of food is just as critical to our eating experience. There are probably tons and tons of adjectives you can use to describe food, but as a starter, I'll begin with some:
"Soggy, crispy, crunchy, slimy, al dente, hard, tough, fibrous, delicate..."
Well, the list goes on and on. Of course, certain food pairs well with a particular texture, such as a crispy French fry, or al dente linguine; simultaneously, we try to avoid or prevent certain food that reflects a texture that contradicts its nature, like a soggy pizza, a hard chocolate chip cookie or a slimy steak (gross!)

At the end of the day, if I had to pick my favorite food 'texture', I would have to say crunchy, hence my default fruit is always an apple, my favorite meal is always a plate of fresh, raw greens with carrots, and recently, I've been very into eating sprouts. They are a nutritious powerhouse because they're basically beans and seeds and we know how healthy they are to our diet. I used to buy them from the health market, but they can be quite expensive. So, I ordered some seeds online and decided to sprout my own. It's really not that difficult. It's like caring for a plant. You soak them, rinse them and watch them grow! The process takes about 3 days (depending on the seeds/beans), but it's so worth it. They are a wonderful addition on salads, in sandwiches, or just as a snack!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Something not food-related.

Although I love to bake, I don't consider baking as one of my hobbies. It's just something I do when an event comes up or if I just 'felt' like being in the kitchen (and to remember to scrub down the kitchen really well afterward). I have (or had) other hobbies, such as photography, painting and music, but the first two became too expensive for me. Another art that I wished I had more time and money for is ikebana. I don't want to be great in it, just something I can do to ground myself once in awhile. There's a certain aesthetic element to a floral arrangement. It's not all spontaneous, but particular attention must be given to maintain balance and harmony. I came around a school that offered a free class (while I just had to pay for the material). I jumped at that chance to have my first ikebana experience. During that hour and a half of class, my mind focused only on how to beautify the space of the flower pot. The instructor showed me the different styles and certain 'rules' that one has to follow, but they all made sense because in the end, the arrangement came out beautifully. Although I couldn't carry the final product with me, I took a photo of it as a memory before I headed out of the classroom, down the stairs and out into the real world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Konnyaku Jelly

Another name for "konnyaku" is "devil's tongue". No, it's not a voodoo delicacy, but rather a healthy block of jelly made from konnyaku potato and calcium hydroxide that's commonly found in Japanese dishes. It has recently gained popularity due to its fiber value and it's low in calories and contains no fat; hence, it's also considered a 'diet' food. But I don't like to think this way. I love its texture (a little slimy, yet firm) and I love to decorate it to beautify my meal. Because it has no 'taste', you can dress it up anyway you like. Pair it with your favorite sauce or flavor, stir fry it with chopped vegetables (I like to use slivered carrots, sliced celery, mushrooms and diced scallions) or add it to your raw salads. Yes, you can eat konnyaku raw too, just remember to rinse it before eating it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Special Kind of Salad That Needs "Pampering"

I admit, I've been addicted to reading food blogs lately. I have a few 'go-to' ones that I comb through daily since there are just so many out there in cyberspace. To me, food blogs can be categorized into two sides - the 'cooker' and the 'restaurant-attender'. Of course, there's a gray area, but in general, you see this trend.
I like to read the 'cooker's' blogs for recipe inspirations and practically 3D-liked photos of food. But I also like to read the restaurant reviewer's writings to prep myself for times I need to pick a place to dine out. Albeit I don't dine out often, but I think my vocabularies actually improved just by reading these posts!

Most food blogs are either dedicated to dessert or the 'health' road, you know, the cooked oatmeal, the Lara Bars, or the obscene variation of salads. Last year, I was obsessed with steel cut oatmeal, but I have passed that phase. Not a big oatmeal morning person afterall (and you?) But recently, I'm embracing the incredibility (is there such a word?) of avocado. Yea, it's high in fat, yadda yadda yadda, but a little goes a long way and I think it's a much healthier spread than butter or cream cheese. I'm even thinking of subbing it in some baking recipe. Just to experiment with it. So many foodie blogs are featuring this so called 'massaged' kale salad. Yes, you actually put you hands into the chopped greens and rub it like you would to marinate a chicken or a turkey. The 'massaging' helps to break down the cellular structure of this difficult to digest raw kale. Most recipes ask for a bit of salt, olive oil and of course, avocado, but I omit it (not a salt person, sorry) and just use avocado and good olive oil. I let the combination sit overnight and I think my kale salad still softened enough for me to eat. I also 'massage' in some diced tomato and black pepper, but basically, you can add any vegetables you like. I love this salad. I just can't imagine how refreshing this would be on a hot, summer day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Birthday Treat - Chocolate Hershey's Kiss Mini Cake

When i finished my academic work study, the department I worked with presented me with a mug full of Hershey's kisses. Unfortunately, I'm not a chocoholic (Gasp!), so I've been brainstorming how should I deal with these mini sugary seductions. Then, my friend's birthday was this last weekend and since I'm on a tight budget (tuition is really expensive...), I usually bake goods as a birthday present. So far, nobody has complained...yet. This time, I baked a chocolate cake adored with a kiss...a Hershey's kiss. This recipe is really for cookies, but I used a toaster instead of an oven, so I had limited heating space.

I always recycle the aluminum tart tins from the Chinese bakery's egg custard tarts. My mother always complains that I collect so much 'garbage', but instead of 'buying' the tart bases, I'm reusing the old ones. Isn't that more environmental and economical? :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Diner Food

How did your new year start? Mine wasn't too pleasant. First, I didn't sleep well last night, then I had a bad lunch experience at a supposedly 'fancy' restaurant. I had confirmed if the lunch prix-fixe was available even on New Year's Day, but when I arrived, it was a different story. Also, when I ordered some take out from a Chinese restaurant, instead of what I paid for, I received a carton of cabbage instead. Apparently, someone else took my 'more expensive' order. Well, luckily, the restaurant will replace my order when I go back to get it tomorrow (which I've to purposely travel there) and the man over the phone was very polite and courteous. So guess it didn't end up to be so bad...

Anyway, on a more positive note, I haven't had a creative outlet lately, so I went on a photo shot this morning. I love vintage buildings, especially old-fashioned diners. If I had to choose, I still prefer the elbows on the table dining experience over a 5-star one. I savor casual things over elegant ones I guess. When it comes to diner food, I looove the toast. Don't know why, but it always come out perfectly crunchy and well...toasty. It's probably a shocker to you, but I often order the 4 steamed vegetable plates. Yea, it's probably frozen vegetables, but I always get a baked potato as my 'starch' on the plate and I just adore it since I've no patient to bake one at home. Who has time to wait 45 minutes for a meal? :) What's your favorite diner food?