Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bo Tai Chanh/ Vietnamese Beef 'Carpaccio'

Since I can remember, for special occasions, my family has always been going to this one restaurant called Favori. It's not the best restaurant in town, but it has always been a tradition, one that we still keep to this day. Anyways, no matter what, two things were always true. First, my sister and I always had to get their delicious pineapple shakes! Second, we always started with the Bo Tai Chanh appetizer, because well, they make it the best and it's one of my absolute favorites!
Well, I've always wanted to make this at home and I've been eyeing The Ravenous Couple's recipe for it for quite some time! Well I've finally made it, and with some improvisations of my own, it turned out to be quite the meal. Basically it's almost like a mix between beef carpaccio and ceviche; thinly sliced beef 'cooked' only by the acidity of either lime or lemon juice. Then, topped and mixed with all kinds of goodness (as you can see below).
The beef is beyond tender, then mixed with an uber refreshing combination of herbs, mixed with a tangy and sweet sauce, and you get the great texture from the toasted peanuts and fried shallots. Also, you can make it spicy if you want to, like I did, by adding tons more jalapeno or Sambal. I didn't have jalapeno or Vietnamese corriander on hand so I used Sambal for spiciness and a mix of cilantro, mint and other herbs.

Mmmmm, see all that red Sambal? That's my favorite!
Mise en place: Vietnamese herbs, fried shallots, fresh shallots, toasted peanuts, cilantro.
I know this looks gross, but it's informative: how the beef should look as it's 'cooking' in the lemon/ lime juice. I like my steak rare, but if you like it cooked more - just marinate it for longer.
Bo Tai Chanh/ Vietnamese Beef 'Carpaccio'
Yields: 2 salad servings, 4 appetizer servings
Adapted from this recipe.

1/2 lb. beef (beef eye round or tenderloin), thinly sliced
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 tbsn. sugar
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsn. dried shallots (from Asian grocery stores)
2 tbsn. peanuts
2 tbsn. nuoc mam
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch of mint, basil or rau ram (Vietnamese corriander), coarsely chopped

In a large rimmed plate, spread the thinly sliced beef evenly throughout the plate so that it creates one even layer with the meat evenly exposed and not overlapping. In a small bowl mix together the lemon/lime juice and sugar until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the meat evenly and make sure all the meat is covered in the juice. Let the meat 'cook' in the juice in the refrigerator for 20 - 25 minutes (till the done-ness suits you). In the meantime, heat a small pan over medium high heat. Add the peanuts and toast until fragrant and golden brown. In the same pan, add enough oil to create a very shallow pool (about 1/4 cup) and heat. Once hot, add the dried shallots and fry until golden brown, then drain on a paper towel. Once the meat is ready, drain and squeeze any excess juice from the meat. In a bowl, toss together the meat, raw shallots, herbs and nuoc mam until dressed well. Assemble on a plate, then top with the fried shallots and toasted peanuts. Add more nuoc mam, if desired. Enjoy!

Mise en place.
The best mix of textures and flavors, seriously.

Tailored Tuesdays

1. Chloe 'Paraty leather and suede bag'
2. Proenza Schouler 'Long sleeved sequin top'
3. Citizens of Humanity 'Avedon slick mid rise legging jeans'
4. Pedro Garcia 'Emelyn satin pumps'

All images can be found atnet-a-porter.com.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet Basil Gimlets

I've been posting a lot of drinks lately, and I think rightly so! When the summer heat is oh so sweltering, that's when my mind is focused on only one thing: how to cool down and quench my thirst.
I happen to think these sweet basil gimlets are perfect after a long day. They are the perfect mix of sweet and tart but have this unexpected 'herbiness' that comes from the basil. The basil in them also makes them that much more refreshing. Mmmm.
Sit back, relax, and sip on this!
Sweet Basil Gimlets
Yields: 1 serving
Original recipe here.

2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 oz. simple syrup (or to taste)
2 basil leaves, thinly sliced or torn
lime wedge, for garnish

In a glass, combine the gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Tear or add in the sliced basil and mix well. You can add more lime or simple syrup to your preference. Garnish with a lime wedge or some fresh basil leaves. Add some ice and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lychee Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly & Granita

I love pomegranates. But I didn't really experience them until probably 3 years ago. Late bloomer, I know! I love the crunchiness of fresh pomegranate seeds but I also love the tangy kick you get from pomegranate juice.
Recently, Ryan from POM Wonderful sent me a case of POM Blueberry juice and I was so curious about what I could do with the wonderful product other than drink it, which I think is probably the best way to enjoy the stuff! Well, I found two amazing uses for the juice - as a icy cool, uber refreshing granita and as a deliciously creamy panna cotta. Oh man, I really outdid myself with this one!
I took it to the next level by topping the creamy panna cottas with some of the granita. Yep, was it good. First of all, the panna cotta was sooo creamy and soft (the way they are meant to be). But I think my favorite part was the pomegranate jelly. Maybe it's because I love jelly but this one was really good. Then... granita on top?! Yeah, it was a good idea.

Tip though, BE PATIENT! I obviously was not and poured in my pomegranate jelly layer before letting the panna cotta fully set, which ultimately led to a mixing of the two. It pays to be patient!
Wonderous POM Wonderful.
Lychee Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly
Original recipe here.

For the panna cotta:
1 can lychees, in syrup
2 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsn. sugar

For the pomegranate jelly:
1 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used pomegranate-blueberry)
1/2 cup sugar

Open the can of lychees and pour the lychees and syrup into a food processor. Process until smooth. There will be a lot of bits of lychee flesh and pulp, strain into a measuring cup until you get 1 cup of clear liquid. Place 3 tbsn. cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top, let sit while you do the next step. Combine the lychee liquid, cream, milk and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and it just comes to a boil. Remove the lychee mixture from the heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is fully melted and combined. Divide mixture among glasses and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

To make the jelly, place 3 tbsn. of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit while you do the next step. Combine the pomegranate juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat on medium, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatin and stir until fully melted and combined. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour over the panna cotta and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

You can also just enjoy the granita by itself, which is perfect for the summer heat!

Lychee Pomegranate Granita

Inspired by this.

1 can lychees, in syrup

1 cup pomegranate juice (I used blueberry-pomegrante)

sugar, to taste

Puree the lychees with the syrup and strain the liquid to remove extra large parts. Add the pomegranate juice. If needed, add some sugar (this is not likely, as the lychees are pretty sweet). Place in a freezer safe container that is open, such as a medium baking dish. Let freeze, scraping every 30 minutes or so with a fork until frozen but a bit slushy. Enjoy!

POM Wonderful is right!

Tailored Tuesdays

A summery outfit, but probably not summery enough for the heat we've been having!

1. Yves Saint Laurent "Entral metal bib necklace"
2. Rebecca Taylor "Printed silk blouse"
3. Tory Burch "Zip back 1/8th skinny jeans"
4. Tory Burch "Holland snake effect leather tote"
5. Alexander Wang "Jact studded sandals"

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thai Iced Tea

I freaking love Thai iced tea. But until now, I've always either bought it or asked my mom to make it. It's simple I know, but I never knew how to make it, arghh! So finally my mom taught me how, and since I love it so, I thought it imperative to pass the knowledge on. Please enjoy soon!
Slowly watch the half-and-half swirl around in the Thai tea goodness.
Tapioca pearls/ boba may be optional for you. They are necessary for me ;)

Thai Iced Tea
Yields: 6 - 8 servings

6 cups water
1 cup Thai tea
1 cup sugar
1 - 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
tapioca pearls/ boba, optional

Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Add the tea, then remove from the heat. Stir gently to submerge the tea into the water. Steep for about 3 - 5 minutes. The liquid should be dark orange in color. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter into a pitcher. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Refrigerate until cool. If you want tapioca pearls/ boba, cook them according to the directions on the package. Strain, then keep them in some warm simple syrup. When ready to serve, add some tapioca pearls/ boba, fill the cup with ice, then pour the tea into the cup until 3/4 full. Add the half-and-half until light orange in color (about 3 - 4 tbsn.). Repeat and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

Haha, I'm all ready for winter in the middle of summer!

1. Preen 'Line moss wool blend cardigan'
2. J. Crew 'Plaid cotton flannel tunic'
3. J Brand 'Low-rise skinny leg jeans'
4. Missoni 'Basco oversized wool blend knitted beanie'
5. Belstaff 'Agnes leather boots'

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Monday, July 12, 2010

The BEST Egg Salad Sandwich Ever

This doesn't usually happen unless I'm sleeping. And by this, I mean drooling. I am literally salivating looking and thinking about this egg salad sandwich. I don't think it can get any better than this sandwich, really.
I love watching 'The Best Thing I Ever Ate' on the food network simply just to hear the interviewees gush and reminisce about some of the best things they've eaten all across this country. I love how they get so involved with the food and get so emotional and in depth about it all. Well, one place that they visited was Europane, a little cafe in Pasadena, California famous for their egg salad sandwiches. After visiting and consuming one of these famed sandwiches, I was set on a mission to make one immediately.

That I did, promptly the next afternoon. Now I am set on spreading this good news of eggy delight throughout the realms of the internet. Here is, unabashedly, thee best egg salad I have eaten and made and I think, will ever make in my entire life.
Soft-boiled Egg Salad Sandwiches
Yields: 4 servings
Inspired by Europane.

For the egg salad:
8 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsn. chopped chives, plus extra for topping
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste

4 thick slices of crusty bread, toasted (I used La Brea Bakery bread)
sun-dried tomato pesto, store bought or made
mixed baby greens
1 small lemon

To soft-boil the eggs, heat a large pot of water (enough to cover the eggs) over high heat til a rolling boil. Drop the eggs slowly into the water using a slotted spoon, and cook on high heat (still a rolling boil) for exactly 5 1/2 minutes. Remove, drain and let cool. Once cool, peel the eggs carefully and place into a large bowl. From half of the eggs, remove the soft yolk (or else the salad will be too liquidy). Use a fork to break up the eggs (the yolks should still be slightly runny). Mix in the salt, pepper, mayonnaise, mustard, and chives. To assemble the sandwiches, take your toasted bread and spread some sun-dried tomato pesto on each slice. Top with some baby greens, then 1/8 of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the open-faced sandwich with some more pepper, chives and a squeeze of lemon juice. Repeat with the remaining slices and enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I totally screwed up my blog!! I hate these new blogger layouts. I was just playing around and accidently removed my whole layout and can't get it back. Please help!!!!


I just had to roll with the punches. Had a little bit of fun trying to liven up the new templates but will miss my old one too :( On the up side, I learned how to make my pictures larger, YAY!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie Macarons

I have had MANY trials and tribulations with the famed and glorious French macaron. I've even had success, but that was probably some anomaly blessed upon me by the French macaron gods. Ever since that success, I've failed more times than I can count. I ultimately gave up for a while, not because I didn't think I could eventually master the thing, but because I was sick of throwing food out; it made me so sad!
Well, it's been quite a while now and I felt that I had taken a break for long enough. I absolutely love French macarons. I try to eat them whenever I can since they are kind of hard to come by. It just makes sense that I would make them on my own. And that I did! I found a recipe that worked for me even though... well, it really shouldn't have worked at all. I did ALL the wrong things: didn't age the egg whites, didn't use parchment paper and used greased foil instead (I'm sure the purists are planning to tar and feather me in the near future)!
Ah, but who the heck cares when you've got these beautiful, utterly-freaking-delicious-magical-supreme beauties to chomp on?!?!?! Seriously I am SOOOO proud of myself. They didn't come out perfect, mind you, but the taste was phenomenal. The macarons themselves were crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Would you believe the greased foil actually worked too? My macarons had perfect shiny, untouched bottoms and... wait for it... wait a little more... okay fine... FEET. They had feet, the macaron gold standard.
The choice of fillings was of course, my favorite custard everrrrrrr. Please see my archives for the MANY uses of this famed custard, as the list is so long now. Perfectly creamy custard paired with perfectly tart raspberries. Really, I think I have died and gone to heaven...
Look ma - I got feet! Whoooopie!

Raspberry Cream Pie Macarons

Yields: 2 dozen macarons

Adapted from this recipe.

For the macarons:

1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tbsn.

1/2 cup almond powder or meal + 1 tbsn.

2 large egg whites, room temperature

5 tbsn. granulated sugar

red food coloring, about 5 drops

For the custard:

1 small box of instant vanilla pudding

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 clam shell of raspberries, washed, dried, and sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Have a pastry bad with a plain tip (about 1/2 inch) ready. In a blender or food processor, grind together the powdered sugar and almond powder/ meal to make sure there are no lumps. Add the red food coloring into the granulated sugar and mix until combined. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the dyed sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes. Carefully fold in the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (the batter should resemble thick magma/ lava). Pipe the batter on the prepared baking sheet in 1 inch circles (about 1 tbsn. each), evenly spaced 1 inch apart. Tap the baking sheet a few times on the counter to flatten the macarons. Let them sit in the open air for about 30 minutes then bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Let cool completely before removing them.

To make the custard, whip everything together until it is well combined and begins to thicken, about 3 - 5 minutes. Place in the refrigerator to cool and thicken some more until ready for use. To assemble, organize the macarons into similar sized pairs. Use a piping bag or a spoon to put some custard on one side of the macaron pair. Top it with some halved raspberries and smoosh (if that's a technical term) lightly with the other pair.

Tailored Tuesdays

I don't know why, but in the middle of summer, it's been gloomy and rainy. Not going to lie - I love it. And this is how I would dress accordingly:
1. Valentino "Jersey crepe ruffle jacket"
2. Tucker "Crepe de chine silk belted dress"
3. Antik Batik "Bongo fringed leather bag"
4. Antik Batik "Bongo beaded sandals"
5. Halleh "18-karat gold pillow earrings"
all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

So, here's another Pioneer Woman recipe. Fried, panko-covered, ooey-gooey mozzarella sticks. Yes. I did it, I made them. I had a craving, I gave in and now I have a smile on my face. A big smile because it was delicious, which is no surprise because after all, it IS a Pioneer Woman recipe.
Anyways this recipe is super easy. I actually didn't even really follow the recipe, and used it more as a guideline. I just felt like a little snack so I made a teeny portion for myself, eyeing everything. I literally whipped this up in less than 15 minutes. So if you're ever craving something salty, cheesy and yummy, this is it. I enjoyed mine with some of my homemade Korean-Mexican hot sauce hybrid because I didn't have marinara on hand, and let me tell you, it was pretty delicious.
Panko Mozzarella Sticks
Yields: 8 servings
Adapted from here.

16 pieces string cheese, removed from wrappers
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
3 tbsn. milk
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tbsn. dried parsley flakes (I used 2 tbsn. of fresh)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
Canola oil, for frying

Slice the string cheese in half (I sliced them in four for bite-sized pieces). Place the flour in a small bowl. In another separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the parsley, salt, pepper and garlic, stir to combine. In a shallow dish, whisk the eggs with the milk to combine. To assemble, one by one, dust the cheese in the flour, tapping the excess off. Next, dip the cheese in the egg mixture, covering completely. Then lastly, roll the cheese in the panko crumb mixture. Gently remove and place on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in a freezer for 20 - 30 minutes to flash freeze sticks.

To cook, fill a medium saucepan with the canola oil until it reaches a height of about 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. When hot, add the mozzarella sticks, 8 pieces at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow the cheese to bubble and leak. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Donut Man {Glendora, CA}

The Donut Man is one of those places that you hear of, either through word of mouth or through the portals of television or the world wide web. It's viral, spreads immediately and quickly, because well, it's that good.
The moment you step up to the window, your heart flutters as you see the rows upon rows of strawberry stuffed donuts. These donuts are the kind of creations that people travel far and wide for. They are seasonally available, and they also offer peach donuts when the season arrives.
Basically, these strawberry donuts are as close to perfection as it comes. The light yeasted donuts are stuffed to the brim with glazed, whole strawberries. You'd think that you'd die from overkill but they really took the time to figure out how many strawberries, how much sugar, and how much glaze to use so that it doesn't overwhelm you and isn't too overly sweet.
My second favorite though, has to be the Bavarian cream. I love, love, love, die for custard. If it's on the menu, I have to get it. This donut was literally stuffed with smooth Bavarian cream and then topped with some chocolate glaze... oh my goodness.
Other options, just as cute:
We also tried the apple fritter, which was ginormous! It was also super hearty, filled with large chunks of apple and raisins. Although this was good, I don't think anything can quite compare to Bob's apple fritters.

Europane {Pasadena, CA}

Ah! The Best Thing I Ever Ate is like my foodie guide to good eats. Whenever they mention a place that I can actually go to, I set my sites and try to accomplish them as soon as possible!
The show featured the egg salad sandwich, shown above. It's special because it's made of soft boiled eggs rather than hard boiled eggs making it incredibly creamy and lush. It's served open-faced with mixed greens and a sun-dried tomato spread. Topped with some Tapatio or Tabasco and you've got the best egg salad sandwich ever.

The meatloaf sandwich though, was also really spectacular. Lots of flavor, meaty, and filling!
We decided to finish our meal with some French macarons, which if ever I see available, I have to immediately get. These were nice and large and were good, especially the sea salt caramel, my favorite of the varieties. But sadly, nothing quite compares to Paulette's macarons.

Lola Gaspar {Santa Ana, CA}

Lola was a pure Yelp find. It was raved about numerous times so eventually I knew I'd have to try it. My friends and I headed here for happy hour to order some drinks and snacks. The food, overall was nothing spectacular except for the delicious niblets below. The drinks, also were average. I actually thought the margarita was disgusting though.
For their happy hour, I opted for the sangria. Though my friend didn't really like their version, I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn't too sweet and was refreshing on a summer day.
My ultimate favorite was the bacon wrapped, blue cheese stuffed, dates! I'd never had dates before, especially like this. These were tangy from the blue cheese, sweet and chewy from the dates and crispy and salty from the bacon. I wish there were like 20 on the plate instead of the measly 5!