Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns

Today's Halloween! What's Halloween without Jack-o-Lanterns right? After dinner, we rushed to carve our pumpkins before the kids came around for their stash.

Here they are. I especially love my miniature pumpkin. So cute!! And so were all the little trick or treaters. The most memorable one was also a classic. It was a little kid no more than 3-4 years old in a pumpkin costume. Awwww! :)

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Cooking: Won Ton Soup

For lunch, we went to Amarin Thai in Downtown Mountain View which was myeh. I had the spicy beef noodle soup and Justyn had this Thai style bacon with spinach and rice. It satisfied my craving for Thai food, but I still want more! Our usual routine is going to this awesome Chinese bakery called Hong Kong Chinese Bakery which has extraordinarily good egg custards. Justyn loves these sweet pastries while I don't really care for them. As I waited for Justyn to order and pay for his egg custards, I spotted a sign on the wall that said that they sold won tons by the dozen for $3.25. I was already thinking ahead to what we were going to have for dinner so I said why not? We bought 2 dozen since 1 didn't seem like enough for two.

On the way home from work, we stopped by Lucky to get some veggies for the soup. Since I'm on a somewhat low carb diet, I wanted to pack the soup with tons of vegetables so I wouldn't still be hungry after dinner. I got some Napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and green onions.

When I got home, I prepped my ingrediants and all of the sudden a lightbulb went off. I looked at my ingrediants which were exactly what I needed to make Lion Head Stew ( Instead of the pork meatballs, I would use won tons as my protein/starch. The only thing I was missing were the dried shrimps, but the soup still came out well.

I sauteed the mushrooms, ginger, garlic and green onions first.

When everything was fragrant, I added the washed, chopped Napa cabbage. Once that wilted down, I added the chicken stock.

I let that come up to a simmer before adding the won tons which cooked for 10 minutes. In restrospect, I would've cooked these for about 15 minutes so the skins could soften more.

Here's the final product. It was flavorful, spicy (I added red chilies) and very comforting for a brisk fall day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PF Chang's & Earthquake

Alright, again I don't have pictures of food but who wants to look at PF Chang food (I can't even call it food porn). We went to PF Chang's (not my choice) tonight for dinner and ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad, Orange Peel Chicken (how does that even sound appetizing?) & Vegetable Curry. The waiter came by and asked what we wanted to drink. I had a Diet Coke and Justyn ordered some green tea. The waiter said "We offer organic or tropical." *screeeching noise* Hold on. Since when does green tea come tropical? OK, I know full well that PF Chang's is not an authentic Chinese restaurant so I'll let that slide.

The waiter stopped by to drop off the sauces. Hot chili paste, soy sauce, hot Chinese mustard, chili oil, and white vinegar. The next thing he did was explain each of those sauces and their flavor components. OK *screeeeeech noise* What?! He said "soy sauce is the equivalent of salt and chili oil is like Chinese pepper" OMG. Do I really need someone to tell me what is what? I think I know just based on my appearance. If I don't look exactly like a Chinese person, I sure as hell look Asian. I'm not going to give the waiter anymore crap because corporate HQ or policy probably mandates what the waiter says and does regardless of who the customer is. I just thought it was pretty funny. Justyn says that he probably knew what everything already was and probably felt stupid for having to do so.

My salad was extremely bland so I used "salt" & vinegar to make it taste better. The only things I appreciated in the salad was the nice frisse and cucumber to offer differing textures. The beef was lightly battered and deep fried to the point of jerky. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but it was sure hard to eat. As for the vegetable curry? I have no complaints. It had broccoli, carrots (blech), snap peas, mushrooms, peanuts & the tofu. The tofu was deep fried, but extremely mushy in the middle. I suspect they didn't know to buy the extra firm stuff so it would hold up. The curry sauce was decent though. I wouldn't mind having it again.

So there's my rant about PF Chang's and I agree with Justyn when I say if you eat there and like it, you don't know any better. And hey, that's OK because everyone's entitled to their own opinions.

In other news, we just got hit with a pretty hard earthquake (5.6). I was sitting in my living room watching Beauty & the Geek while Justyn was in the garage working. All of the sudden, I feel the couch shaking and the first thing I think of us getting up and running. Then it hits a little harder and I yell for Justyn. He doesn't respond and I immediately remember that he's in the garage. I run into the bedroom and open the garage door. I almost tackle Justyn to the ground hugging him because I was so scared. He led me to the front steps of our place in case an aftershock followed. Luckily *cross my fingers* one hasn't hit yet. My hands and knees were literally shaking for a good 20 minutes. What a night!

Halloween Shennanigans

On Saturday we went to Jason's house for a Halloween party. It started at 1:00pm, but Justyn had some stuff to do during the day so we weren't able to make it until about 7:00pm. It was a really good time.. I know I had a lot of fun. Here are some pictures rather than try to detail what we did. I don't know what it is, but I have a knack for knocking people's drinks and making them spill. I accidentally got some red wine on their carpet, but luckily they had some Resolve on hand which made clean up a whole lot easier (the pic where I'm on my knees helping Angel wipe it up)

Oh yeah and in the picture where I'm drinking Cutty Shark (Shit), I'm pretending to stir around some chicken curry that Jason made. It was really spicy! He also made some beans which were out of this world. I just had to post that to make it somewhat food related right? I haven't been cooking lately hence the lack of cooking posts. It's this low carb dinner thing. I started eating low carb for dinner so I haven't been making what I really want to eat! I promise I'll post up some food posts sometime this week.

Thanks for inviting us Jason! We had a great time despite.. you know haha. Thanks to Helmi for the pictures. I'll have more to post as soon as my sister emails them to me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cooking: BLE

Friday & Saturday we went out to eat a lot. On Friday night, Justyn took me to our favorite Italian restaurant, Tomato Thyme. He ordered his usual of spaghetti and meatballs which was great as usual. I had one of the Chef's specials which was beef short ribs with a side of spinach and mushrooms with mashed potatoes. My tastebuds must've been off because I thought it was a little salty. Justyn thought it was fine.

On Saturday, Justyn and Alex went to breakfast and shooting at Metcalf while I stayed home and bummed around. Eventually, I took a shower and got ready for Lemons which is a race with lemon cars. Weird I know.. It was really dusty and windy at the Altamont track and we ended up getting a face full of exhaust fumes and dust. Yuck. For dinner we went to Chevy's because I didn't feel like eating anything else and I actually like the place. Well their chips and salsa anyway. This time the food was mediocre at best but things definitely improved with the hueg margarita I had. The bartender didn't even charge us for it which was awesome. I could easily see it being over $10 if he charged us. I fell asleep in the car on the way home.

To make up for the fact that we went out to eat a lot the next morning, Justyn and I walked to Safeway to pick up groceries for grilled cheese sammiches. He had been craving them for a while and I had a craving for this sammich that I saw in Food & Wine magazine. They had done an article and recipe write ups from Thomas Keller on eggs. The sammich was called BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich. How can you go wrong with bacon, egg & cheese? It was soooo good.

I didn't add mayo or pepperjack cheese so it was a little different, but nontheless spectacular. The cheese and egg were gooey and bound the sammich perfectly. I wouldn't use any other lettuce than butter lettuce because it just matches so well with all of the other ingrediants. We baked the bacon instead of pan frying it because it comes out more straight and perfect.

So without further adieu... here it is. I couldn't find my camera so I used Justyn's cameraphone.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Aww! Thanks Tigerfish!

Tigerfish posted on her blog ( that she thought I rocked. That's so sweet! I've never gotten a shout out on a blog until now. Don't those tamarind prawns look good? Once I find some tamarind paste, I'm gonna try this one out!

Cooking: Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I was in the situation as Rasa Malaysia having leftovers and not knowing what to do with them. OK, I didn't know what to do with leftover lemongrass and shallots. She knew exactly what to do, which was to make Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken. When I saw her post yesterday morning, I knew exactly what I was going to do for dinner.

The only things I needed to get at the store were chicken (I used skinless bonless chicken thighs) and garlic. For a veggie side dish, I wanted to do Chinese broccoli, but Justyn said I used that too much (who complains when their loving wife is making them dinner?) so I ended up getting regular broccoli and shiitake mushrooms.

The one thing you might notice here is that there aren't a lot of pictures of each step I took. That's because I was nervous making this dish. It instructed me to make caramel! What?! I've never made caramel before. So I got all my ingrediants in place before actually cooking. Instead of mincing the lemongrass (white part only), I used my microplane and grated it into a fine dust. Chop here, mince there and I was done. The chicken was marinating in a soy sauce (I substituted fish sauce with premium dark soy here), minced garlic, curry powder and sugar. I also added a tablespoon of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce when it came down to cooking.

I heated up some water to blanch my chopped broccoli and then started making the caramel. Everything came together nicely except I misread the instructions. Instead of adding a couple tablespoons of water to the pot, I added the caramel to cold water. The caramel seized up into a pretty amber brown blob. As Wandering Chopsticks already knows, I'm horrible at following directions so she'll probably laugh here hehe. I told Justyn to help me redo it and this time it came out right.

Time to saute the chilies, lemongrass dust (sounds like a drug huh?) and shallot. Then I added the chicken and caramel mixture. The aroma that wafted from the wok was heaven. Sweet, savory and spicy. I was drooling, but I kept my mind concentrated on cooking.

It paid off.. Here's what came out.

While Justyn helped me snap pictures, I quickly washed out the wok and stirfried the garlic and shallot with some oyster sauce. Then I added the mushrooms and mixed until they wilted down a bit. Next the blanched and drained broccoli and a dash of soy sauce goes in with a tab of honey. Just combine until everything is heated through and serve!

Do you like my little pumpkin?

Rasa Malaysia is a genius. Justyn plopped down to dig in and the first thing out of his mouth was "Mmm! GOOD!". I agreed in silence because I was starving. Delicious!


Cooking: Assam Pedas Fish

Thanks to Rasa Malaysia, I've been inspired to cook something new! Actually, I've made a couple dishes now. This one and her Lemongrass Chicken which I'll post after this. I apologize in advance. The pictures are crappy because I used Justyn's camera phone.

It was a miserable rainy and cold day on Friday so I needed something spicy and stew like. This would be the perfect thing to get me through the weather. We ended up going to Lyon Supermarket on Capital Expwy. to get all the ingrediants since they would most likely have everything we needed. Unfortunately, I ran across a couple road blocks with the tamarind pulp, palm sugar & fish curry powder. Instead, I actually found some tamarind pods. I thought to myself, you can't go wrong here because what better than to have the real thing right? I also had a hard time finding palm sugar so I figured I couuld just substitute regular sugar with that. One other thing I couldn't find was fish curry powder. The recipe says I can use tumeric, but I bought some other curry mix in hopes that it would all work out. However, I was pleased to find that the supermarket had Pomfret. I had done some research to see what other fish I could substitute with (Pompano or Tilapia). Come to think of it, I should have gone with the Tilapia since they had live ones. Ah well, next time.

When I got home, the first thing I did was make the spice paste which consisted of lemongrass (white part only), shallots, garlic, chilies (I used some pickled thai bird chilies I had in the fridge), and belacan (shrimp paste). I needed Justyn's help to pound all of that because my arms are totally weaksauce. It's nice having a man around even if they're somewhat slobby hehe..

Next, I cut the okra in half lengthwise and tomatoes smaller than what the directions said. Hey, I was hungry OK?

I got all of the other ingrediants ready by the stove so I wouldn't stress out.

First I sauteed the spice paste. Woo! This stuff is really pungent. My house immediately smelled like an Asian kitchen. Justyn plugged his nose in disgust. Whatever! Sometimes the smelliest stuff tastes the best right? I added the curry powder next.

I added the tamarind water (OK, here's where I may have messed up). The pods are very different from the paste and according to my research, you have to cook the innards of the tamarind pods for a LONG time before you can make it into a paste. Well crap, nobody told me that. So I ended up soaking them in a bunch of hot water which softened them up enough for me to extract the seeds. I tasted to water to see if it was strong enough and it really wasn't. It tasted like slightly sweetened water. *sigh*....

Anyway, when the mixture came up to a nice simmer and thickened a bit, I added the okra and tomatoes.

I let all the ingrediants meet and greet each other before adding the fish. I covered the dutch oven and let it go for about 6 minutes until the fish was done. I actually had to flip the fish over once to make sure it was cooking in the sauce on both sides.

That's it! I served it with rice and garnished with some chopped up mint and cilantro.

Justyn thought the fish was cooked perfectly, but didn't think the sauce went well with it. I think it had largely to do with the fact that I didn't have tamarind pulp on hand. I also skipped out on adding the sugar because I thought the mixture was sweet enough. On the other hand, the okra was really really good. I guess that's a vegetable that's meant to be stewed like that. They melded well with the spice paste. I thought it was a decent dinner so I asked Justyn if he would ever want me to make it again. He said NO!!! :( Well, RM, I'll be making it again whether he likes it or not. This time, I'm gonna make sure I have all the right ingrediants. Thanks for the recipe!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Save teh Drama For Yo Mama!

Alright, drama time. I recently visited mom's blog (I won't post the link here and I'll explain why in a bit) and saw that she made Assam Pedas Fish stew from RM (Rasa Malaysia's beautiful blog). My mom neglected to give credit to where she got the recipe from but I didn't think anything of it at the time until I saw the same recipe on RM's blog. I then wrote my mom an email letting her know she should really give credit to whomever she got the recipe from.

On Sunday I get a call from my mom asking me why I posted her link on RM's blog. I told her that I wanted people to know that she had a nice blog. She then started telling me that I shouldn't have linked it to others because it's purely for her "circle of friends" eyes only. What? If you post a blog on the internet, it's bound to reach other people as well. People always link others to websites. It's not an uncommon thing right? So I tell her that she should always give credit where it's due because you simply can't claim other people's recipes as your own. It's rude and it's just common courtesy. Anyway, I got pissed off at her so that's why I've taken my mom's link off my food blog. I don't want to be associated with this kind of behavior. So there's my drama for the weekend heh.

Mom - If you read this, you really should know better. It's not a matter of simply deleting your posts. Just edit them (ask dad how to do that) and include the link where you got the recipe from.

Weekend Update

It's been so busy lately that I haven't really had time to cook new recipes and post them. I promise this week, I'll make at least one or two new recipes.

Over the weekend, Angel & Donoho came over to plan out a rough itinerary of what we'll be doing in France & Italy in a two weeks span in December. We had to knock that task out of the way so we could do some major partying. I don't remember much except doing shots in the back patio with Cupini, Justyn and the two of them, running through the sprinklers when it was really cold out, having silly conversations and playing Wii Bowling. Despite the fact that I told Justyn that I'd never bet him EVER again, we made a bet to see who would win. It was weird though. This time, I actually won under pressure! Now he has to deliver flowers to me at work haha! For dinner I made the "Asian Glazed Salmon" and some green beans from: I include carrots because you all know how much I hate them. I added soy sauce, chicken stock and cornstarch to the recipe to make a sort of sauce which everyone adored.

Oh.. here are pictures of Angel explaining to my hubby, how a tampon works. Hahaha good stuff!

On Sunday, we went to our favorite Japanese restaurant called Hanamaru. Yeah, remember the post I made and couldn't remember the name of the restaurant? That's it! We ordered some tako yaki, Santa Cruz roll (green tobiko, avacado, scallop and seaweed) and some other sushi which stuffed us into a food coma. By the time we got back to my house, I was exhausted from the food and the night before, so we spent the rest of the day playing video games and chilling. Towards the evening, Angel and I went to the grocery store to go shopping for beef stew ingrediants. She was so impressed with the salmon recipe that she wanted to make it for Monday's dinner. She left soon after that. Donoho helped us clean up a bit before heading out himself and by the time dinner was ready, it was past 8:00pm. That's a late dinner for us so I served the beef stew half an hour before it was supposed to be ready. The beef was still a bit tough, but still edible. After dinner, I stayed up watching The Next Iron Chef & some other shows before passing out on the couch.

It was an exhausting weekend but as always full of fun!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cooking: Chicken Marsala

I recently saw Chef John's (of Chicken Marsala recipe. It looked really good and even made it onto so I decided to make it for Sunday dinner. It's a fairly easy recipe if you follow Chef John's video directions. You can watch the video here:

Here's how it turned out. It was pretty flavorful, but Justyn felt that I should have cooked the chicken and sauce further to marry the flavors more. I thought it was pretty good, althought it needed a little more seasoning. I may put this in my collection of recipes for weekday dinners since it was so easy and quick to make.

Jim's 40th!

VTRWeasel of BARF had his 40th birthday party on Saturday. I made some "Chinese Baklava" for finger food from Tigerfish's blog which turned out better than last time. Justyn helped me this time so the puff pastry dough wouldn't melt so fast. It came out perfect! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of it. I always forget to do that when things come out good.

So we took showers at around 5:30pm (yeah, it was a lazy Saturday) and took off. When we got there, I immediately had a Bombay martini with no olive and then a ginger margarita. The ginger margarita was really good. Not too sweet and balanced perfectly with the tequila. And mind you, I don't like that stuff.

V (Jim's fiance), brought out the presents for him to open. We ended up getting him a game called Last Word, which we tried playing but due to the limited amount of space it didn't work out. Drinks flew by and the last thing I remember doing was playing pool with Justyn and betting $50. I lost, but was very close to winning. Dammit!

We left shortly after that because Justyn was tired and I was ready to go. On the way home, we ended up getting pulled over. The cop smelled alchohol on me and asked if Justyn was drinking tonight. He answered no and instead of keeping my mouth shut, I said "No! I'm drunk" in that classic drunken slur. It was hilarious when I remembered the morning after.

Review: Under the Sea

You might be able to spot some yelpers in this picture!

On Friday night we went to a Yelp meet that Walter P. set up. The meet was supposed to start at 8:00pm, but later in the thread, it said that they were meeting a half hour earlier. Luckily I caught that or we would've been late. Or so we thought. We arrived five minutes before 7:30pm and asked the hostess if there was a reservation under Walter P. She said no, so we thought that the event got cancelled. We waited 5 more minutes before sitting down at the sushi bar and looked at the menu to see what we wanted for dinner.
I used the bathroom and as soon as I walked out, I recognized the infamous Walter P. with his friend in tow. I introduced myself and pointed out where we were sitting as he grabbed a table near the window. We ordered some unagi, smoke salmon and hamachi sushi while the sushi chef made something wonderful. Scallop topped with kewpie mayonnaise on top of a California roll baked until the top was golden brown. Damn... that looked really good. Justyn had his eye on a different roll that had the word "crap" in it. That was a good laugh when we asked the chef about it. He said it was intentional. Alright. So we decided to go with the scallop California roll sushi called Baywatch since it looked so good.

Eventually a lot more yelpers arrived and since we didn't have a reservation, we pushed tables together and Justyn and I moved to the other end of the sushi bar to hang out. It turns out that Walter P. dialed the wrong number to make reservations.

Service wise, it was alright. The sushi bar was backed up with orders which is a really good sign except you get your food when the sushi chef gets to it. I think we ended up waiting almost 20 minutes before sushi got to us. I was a little bothered by that, but you really can't blame the one chef making all the sushi for the restaurant.

I was really hungry by the time our food arrived and I have to say that it was worth the wait. The hamachi was very fresh and almost melting in my mouth. In my opinion, it didn't even need soy sauce. The smoked salmon sushi was a little on the salty side, but that's to be expected. The unagi was especially delicious and had tobiko on top which was a nice garnish unlike other places that serve it. The Baywatch was what drew me to this place. It had a spicy kick to it and the scallop was expertly cooked. The kewpie mayonnaise and scallion garnish on top made this my favorite sushi ever. I loved every single bite of it.

After eating, we hung out with felow yelpers a while before going to bed and crashing.

Review: Tofu House

For Esther's birthday which isn't until the 10th, we took her out to a Korean restaurant recommended by her. She got there earlier to nab a table. A restaurant that's completely packed at 1:00pm is a great sign. This restaurant had to mess up a lot in order for me to not like it. Every table was slurping away on their boiling cauldrons of spicy soupy tofu goodness. Unfortunately, service was their downfall. We waited almost 5 full minutes before getting out silverware, another 5 minutes for water and 15 minutes before the waitress came by to take our orders. If you don't think that's a long time to wait, it is. Especially for lunchtime where most people only get an hour for lunch.

Onto the main point though. The food? It was pretty decent. I understood why most of the clientle were Koreans. I burned my tongue on the bi bim bap, but I couldn't help it. It was good. I wanted to taste Esther's dish, but I didn't want to be rude and stick my contaminated spoon in her tofu cauldron. I did try Justyn's kalbi beef which was also pretty good albeit a little on the sweet side.

We ended up having an hour an a half lunch, but it was all good. You can't beat good company and great food!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Review: Union Chinese Restaurant

The first thing we noticed about this place after driving past it a dozen times was that it has been there for a long time. You're really not coming here for the fantabulous food. It's half about the food and half about atmosphere.

We walked into the restaurant around 5:30pm and the place was empty. Yeah, not a good sign but we were hungry so we stayed. We decided to get the 2 person dinner which includes egg rolls, choice of soup (we got won ton), rice and two entrees.

As we waited for our eggrolls and soup, an Indian customer walked in to order take-out (I figure that's how this place survives rather than dine-in customers). She ordered a dish that has pork in it and instead of the waiter just putting her order in, he said "This dish has pork in it, do you want to substitute it for another kind of meat?" The customer was a little taken back as was I. A restaurant that actually pays attention to that level of detail is good in my book. She ended up substituting chicken for the meat. Sweet!

So after all that took place, the waitress brought over our eggrolls which were cliche in with that bright red, probably not natural sauce. I loved it and I don't know why. The soup was pretty good too albeit the won tons tasted more like potstickers but yet again, I didn't mind. On a side note, the waitress did put more stuff in Justyn's bowl than in mine which was funny. It was almost like she was telling me I needed to go on a diet or something. She also put all the carrots in his bowl rather than in mine. I hate carrots so that was a nice touch intentional or not.

The two entrees and rice came soon after that and we dove in. Unfortunately the Mongolian Beef had carrots and the Almond Chicken had water chestnuts which Justyn doesn't like, but we still devoured almost all of it.

I really can't put my finger on it, but this place has a sort of charm to it. I had a really good experience here. I went in knowing that this place wasn't going to be a great place to eat, and maybe that's why I was so impressed.