Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good Friday. Very Good Friday.

Good Friday.
It all started with some cod fish, and some fresh asparagus on sale. The frozen cod package has a suggested recipe on the back: "Cod Herb de Provence". Unfortunately, I do not the "Herb de Provence", so I substitute with a mix of basil, parsley, thyme and even some chopped green onions. And I called that "herb de Friday" :) Very simple and quick recipe. But I found it very plane to not sautee the vegetables, so I put them back on a skillet after the baking to finish them up.

Cod in Herb de "Friday"
12 oz Cod Fillet, around 2-3 fillets
5-6 stocks of asparagus, sliced thin
1 tomato, diced
1/2 onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 cup mushrooms
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup white wine

Herb de Friday: basil, parsley, thyme, mixed for 1/2 tsp. Throw in a green onion, finely chopped.

Heat the oven to 425 degF. Cut the parchment paper into around 18 inch long. Place each of the thawed cod fillet into the center of the parchment paper. Divide the vegetables and the herb into equal portions, and place them on the fillets and top with around 1/2 tsp of butter. Fold the parchment paper so to create an envelope, and fold over the edges to seal the pouch. Place the pouches onto a glass baking pan, splash with the white wine and bake for 15-20 minutes. Test to see if the vegetables are done and the fillets are flaky.
My vegetables were thoroughly cooked after the 20 minutes time, yet the fillet was quite done. So I took out the fillets and returned all the juice/soup and vegetables into a skillet for a quick heat. This actually add a bit of sautee taste to it than the otherwise-baked-vegetables.

A good dinner was followed by good desserts. Or more like, good party. It was my good friend's birthday that night, and a very very extremely talented girl made this cake for the party.

Angry Birds!

 This is really something. And we didn't even get to eat it. I mean, who could be so cruel to kill those birds and pigs?

It was such a good night. A very Good Friday. Too bad the weekend is over now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Up and coming in Austin

I have never quite enjoyed Texas. I'm allergic to mosquitoes, and I get bitten 10 out of 10 times I go to that state of mosquitoes incubator. I have numerous scars/pigmentation marks left by mosquitoes, and I can almost tell you which city of Texas each of them is from. Almost, because there are just too many, and I start losing track...

So when my dear friend told me to visit Austin, TX and how "up and coming, hip and cool" this city is... Doubts are all I have. Really, Texas...? Do they not have mosquitoes in Austin then?

FINO: You can find Fino quietly sitting among all of the yoga buildings around it. With huge patio and lounge sofas, it definitely created a very relaxing, high end social/happy hour with the treehouse style type of feel. We came in a little after dark, and decided to sit inside the cozy modern dining room instead.

Chef's special treat of the night: Beet soup. Fino is proud to be using mostly local and seasonal ingredients. Just a spoonful. Refreshing and completely opened up your palate for more. That should be the "hip and cool" part of my friend's description of Austin. I think.

Fino brands themselves as mixed Mediterranean, North African, and mostly ethnic fusion cuisine. Portions are generally smaller in the Tapas style, so you get to sample more with your group. And doesn't healthy eating all start from smaller portion?

PEI Mussels: dolin dry vermouth, bay, lemon and aioli. That combination would have won me over anything. Aioli especially. That with my mussels? Sold. Dish was perfect!

 And what dinner is that without a fancy drink? White wine sangria and Bee's Knees speciality cocktail. Gin, lemon juice and honey. Woo~

Salmon for the entree: Crispy skin with just perfect temperature. The salmon was just cooked through enough without feeling greasy. The bed of corn and tomatoes was amazing. Sweet and juicy corn was just so perfect for that evening of early Autumn.

Scene changes: Now we are switching out focus from healthy, sustainability conscious eating to....
MASSIVE MEXICAN BUFFET!!!! at Fondas San Miguel. San Miguel is among of the earliest authentic Mexican cuisine established in the USA. It's not just Mexican food anymore, it is truly cuisine. They not only focus on making and serving good traditional Mexican food that would change your perception of "burritos", they also broaden your understanding of Mexican culture with all their decor and artworks from Mexican artists.

I'm telling you, this is a must visit place! It's pricey, it's massive, but it's a Sunday brunch buffet with the most amazing Mexican cooking! Unfortunately, Mexican food tends to be quite heavy and even though it's a buffet, I could only load myself with this huge plate of corn bread and green tamale.... before my stomach complained for space ... But I didn't give up. I managed to hunt down the meat table with the pork in moles sauce.... desserts with almond flan and rice pudding....

Staffs are extremely friendly in explaining the dishes and making sure your plates are, overloaded...

Keep making laps around the buffet tables, people. You will need that exercise to burn off those food.

I'm not saying I'm much a tree hugger. But this city of Austin was much more than I expected and very much differ itself from the rest of the state. Food culture is surprising excellent. Unfortunately, mosquitoes were still around. And that weekend, I came home with 15 more on my legs, plus looking at the amount of food I consumed, I would say that the Yoga retreat in Austin was.... indeed, extremely "rewarding".


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Patisserie 46 out of Paris

What is a better scene? French man in a patisserie in Paris? or French man in a patisserie in Minneapolis? Hands down I'd vote for anything Parisian, but with limiting funds and plane tickets, I'd take the Minneapolis option. But don't be disappointed? A trip to Patisserie 46 may serve you just as well as a trip to Paris, without the $2000 credit on your card.

Macaroon macaroon and macaroon... Oh lord, if this world is one sweet sugar candy house, I would only live in the house of macaroon... Ok, maybe that's too weird. But this should help you understand my obsession of macaroons...

Strawberry, lemon and chocolate. Perfect crust, perfect sweetness and perfect texture. The fillings are chewy yet soft. The ones I have elsewhere in MN just can't compare. Among all things being the authentic, it's also in the perfect size. A bite and half, and I bet that bite and half has already pushed my calories intake to the limit...

Among all, this bakery truly deserves its Patisserie name. It serves more than just muffins and cookies, it also features full line of elegantly prepared and crafted pastries: from French macaroons to American oatmeal cookies.

The only thing better than macaroon is Napoleon, or mille-feuille. Layers of vanilla cream, custard, and puff pastry. It's always a mess eating mille-feuille, but who can resist the crusty puff pastry and the rich and creamy custard layers?

And thank John Kraus, dedicated pastry chef returning from France, eclair is finally done right. No excessive icing or frosting on top. Just perfectly filled custard or cream along the long dough. French man approved eclair is the way to go.

Pastry like the Patisserie doesn't come around often. Taste and memories like France is also unmatchable.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Persillesovs is Parsley Sauce

Don't ask me how to pronounce it. Persillesovs. Persillesovs. It's Parsley Sauce in Danish.
I know I love cooking Asian food. I love eating French cuisine. And yet, I have no idea what Danish cuisine consists of.

My first attempt on Danish food: Persillesovs. It's a sauce generally used on boiled potatoes. More commonly served with fried thick bacon, and called Stegt flæsk med persille sovs 
Another word I would not attempt to pronounce. Browsing through all the recipes and thinking of incorporating my day-to-day Rosemary Garlic Pork Loin with a little Danish infusion, I found this Persillesovs recipe to go with the boiled potatoes. Never know what do they eat anyway. Why not give it a try?

Persillesovs (Parsley Sauce)

2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped parsley

Melt butter in a sauce pot (look how cute my petite sauce pot is!! *cough, sorry. I got  a little carried away.).  Add in flour. Remove it from heat and stir in milk slowly. Stir constantly and keep adding milk till the desired consistency has reached. Add in salt to taste. Finally, add in the chopped parsley. Serve over hot boiled potatoes.

Sorry. It's that easy and uninteresting. After melting the butter and adding in the flour, I got a little confused. I had no idea what the "desired consistency" was supposed to be?! Flour and butter just clumped together, and it kept soaking in the milk! I finally transferred it to a small bowl to allow the mixture to cool off before adding in more milk, and it did reached a light creamy (almost like chowder soup) consistency.
This is not only a great sauce for simple potatoes, but also pairs pretty well with the roasted pork loin. Light parsley flavored creamy sauce over the rosemary garlic pork loin, it definitely was a pleasant surprise from the Danish.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Taste of the Nation Minneapolis


This gotta be my lucky night. Never had so many good restaurants all under one roof, serving good food for the public, all for charity. 100% of the tickets all proceed to the Taste of the Nation to help fight childhood hunger. Looking at all the effort in setting up the place, all the equipments, bars, and extra promotional effort for the public relations, and everyone is busy working for nothing... Not for the VIP tables, not for any special coverage in the newspapers. Just for the invisible hunger around us. 
More than 12 million children in America worry about having the food they need. That's one in six children. Next time when you go to the playground outside of your neighborhood, you can count heads: One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Hungry. "The invisible hunger is everywhere." Yet, no one acknowledges it here, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. You would be surprised.
Share the Strength program develops partnerships to address state specific needs. It works through grants, partnerships and nutrition programs to help families find more ways to feed their children basic and nutritious food. 

So let the party begin. Restaurants are serving cocktail style food, not just cocktail shrimps, but elegently prepared fine cuisine. Moto-i: Asian marinated pork bun.

112 Eatery: Lobster with cheese and dill. It was a hard decision to choose between Haute Dish and 112 eatery for my favorite dish of the night, or even my favorite restaurant in the TC. The lobsters were so succlent and juicy, so refreshingly paired with the dill and sea salt. Not a big fan of the cheese at the bottom, but it did give the lobster meat a little cheamy taste.

Saffron: Laughing bird shrimp. Part of their signature menu item. Shrimps and beets cooked in spices to bring out the exotic flavor.

Sea Salt Bakery with the mousse cakes. Sweet treats are always good. But what's better is the Guide to an Uptown Living book. I must say, I was very tempted to buy it...

Brasa: Smoked pork belly with onions and roasted pork loin with jalapenos. These are amazing. The smoke pork belly was so flavorful and so tender to eat. It didn't even feel greasy or fatty with the pork belly. The reason why I love pork fat is all described in this smoke pork belly sampler.

La Belle Vie, Sea Change and Solera: Look who's here? Chef Tim Mckee! And of course, a whole crew from the three restaurants are so busy working their tables. Foie Gras from LBV, Creamy Shrimps from Solera, and Crab Mousse Dip from Sea Change. A full attack of flavors and creme and yummy three tables in a row. I just realized how much I have missed the taste of foie gras... ahhhh!

And thank you for your patience. I'm finally going to cover the Haute Dish, with all the antipication built up through out the post, what did Haute Dish make?
The up-most delicious and gastromonic explosion dish of the night: Haute Dish's beef and potato. Sounds too simple? I just don't know what to name it... Tender, super tender beef with fried mashed potato. Served with creamy sauce and top with green beans. It's not just the simple steak and potato. Maybe I was just hungry, but having Haute Dish running out of food to serve mid way through the event meant something right?

 What a wonderful night of food and drinks experience! Those cucumber tequila was no joke. And the summery red wine which tasted like a white wine... which name I forgot! Nuvo?Nova? or Nano? I must find out, and that wine must goes to my soon-to-be-purchased wine fridge.

And guess who else is there? Chef Alex Roberts of Brasa and Alma. Ha! This guy is one amazing dude. Very friendly and extremely talented. Listening to him talking about how much he appreciates Asian food and culture just makes me warm and fuzzy inside. And of course, I am sure all the chefs and cooks there that night would be equally appreciative of different food and culture. I only got to talk to Chef Alex... Ah! What a night!

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