Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras at Creola

344 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 654-0882
My coworkers and I went to Creola for dinner one night, and it happened to be Mardi Gras! Upon entering, the restaurant hung a lot of the purple, green and gold decorations, and there was a live band playing in the back. After we got seated, the waitress brought out some beads for us.
We ordered a bunch of appetizers to share and then our own entree.

The shrimps in Shrimp Bourbon Street are huge! Very juicy but lacks a little flavor.
Shrimp Bourbon
The Crawfish Hush Puppies are very soft and the sauce is so good with it. I thought there are crawfish in the hush puppies but they're only in the sauce.
Crawfish Hush Puppies
The Oyster En Brochette is one of the best oysters I had. It was soft, flavorful and not mushy at all!

I ordered the Wasabi Crusted Ahi for my entree, and it was grilled perfectly. The wasabi crust was soft, mushy and spicy but does not have that nasal-clearing effect at all. The soy glace was so good! I couldn't stop dipping my tuna into it. The portion was huge! I never seen such a big piece of ahi tuna served before! Very worth it.
Wasabi Crusted Ahi
Even though I was stuffed after my entree, I couldn't resist ordering beignets for dessert. Warm and fluffy but not as fluffy as expected. The mangoes sauce was a bit too mild, it would be nice if it's more flavorful.

Oh yes, and don't forget to order some beer. I never finish a bottle of beer before, but I finished one at this place! I really like the Ambita Purple Haze, it's like a sweet light beer brewed with berries, so it's very easy to drink. If you want something stronger, get the Ambita Amber, much more hoppy.

For Mardi Gras, the house gave us a King Cake, and whoever got the slice with a plastic baby in it gets a free t-shirt! It was a fun night!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Very Pink Birthday

My friend Meiling referred her cousin, Sandy to me for her daughter's very pink birthday party a few weeks ago. I had the pleasure to help Sandy bake 6 dozens mini cupcakes for her lovely pink dessert table.

Vanilla cupcakes in pink cupcake liners, and topped with pink fondant flowers.

Pink frosting with white liners and topped with white edible pearls.

Meiling, Sandy and their families are one of the most artistic and creative people I know. I always think that they should start a party decoration or hosting business, because all their decors and table settings are always beautiful and amazing!
photo taken by Sandy

Isabelle is one lucky little girl. I'm sure Sandy spent a lot of time on the birthday party!

photo taken by Sandy
Ahh! I love the pink!

It was a pleasure having Sandy as one of my first customers. Seeing her pictures from the party and hearing about her feedbacks made me so happy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nutella Irish Cream Cheese Macaron & Macaron Baking Tips!

I wanted to make some macaron for my friend's dinner party, but I was super pressed for time. So I wanted to make one with a simple flavor but complicated when combined with others. The first thing that came into mind was nutella since it comes in a jar. After thinking about it for a few minute, I'd decided to make a chocolate shelled macaron since I just need cocoa powder. Lastly, I want to mix the nutella with some cream cheese Irish cream filling. Each ingredient is simple and can stand on its own, but also tastes great when combined with each other.

85g almond flour
150g powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 egg whites (aged, optional*)
5 tbsp granulated sugar

8oz cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Bailey Irish Cream

Macaron Shell/Cookie:
1. Prepare baking sheets by stacking two together and top it with parchment paper or silpat.  Preheat oven 375 degree.
2. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
3. Add granulated a little at time, and whisk egg whites until stiff peak stage.
4. In another bowl, sift all the dry ingredients for the shell.
5. Add them to the egg whites by batches and mix by folding.
6. Mix all the ingredients together until a lava-liked smooth consistency is reached.
7. Pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe 1 1/2 inch circle worth of batter about one inche apart.

8. Air dry the macaron until when you touch the top of the shell, it does not stick to your finger. Should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate the baking sheet 180 degree half way through baking.
10. After 10 minutes, open the oven door a little bit to let air out, and keep it open a bit and bake for another 2 minutes.
11. Let macaron cool before adding the filling.

1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until soft.
2. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar. Add it to the creamed mixture a little at a time.
3. When sugar is combined. Add the Irish cream.
4. Pour filling into a piping bag.

1. Spread nutell on one of the cookie shell.

2. Pipe a bit of Irish cream cheese filling, just enough at the center. It will spread once you put the second cookie on.

3. Place another cookie onto the filling.

Viola! Chocolate shelled macaron with nutella and Irish cream cheese filling!

*Tips for Making Macarons:
  • Aging the egg whites decreases some of the moisture content. I tried both aging and non-aging, both yield a little different but still good macaron.
  • Sifting the dry ingredients helps with light and chewy texture.
  • Air drying the macaron before baking allows a crust to form for that crunchy outer layer.
  • Using silpat or two baking sheets help even out temperature, so the bottom of the cookie won't burn as easily.
  • Letting oven door open at the last two minutes helps let out the steam and also decreases the temperature by a little so won't overbake or brown the top.
Good Luck!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Forget the Bread!

Forget the bread in a sandwich! I figured if Denny and IHOP can stuff a waffle with strawberry and other sweets, why not stuff it with savory items? I'm going to use my leftover waffle batter to make myself a sandwich...or should I say stuffed savory waffle.

It's super duper easy. It's like making a waffle but just adding extra ingredients during cooking. I'm going to use smoked ham, tomato, spinach and cheese.

1. Prepare waffle batter and laddle it over the waffle maker.
2. Let it cook uncovered for a minute.
3. Add your sandwich ingredients of choice.

4. Spoon a thin layer of waffle batter onto the sandwich ingredients.
5. Close waffle maker lid and let it cook according to the waffle maker instruction.

Since you can't really add spread like mayo, ketchup or mustard in this sandwich, you need to really rely on the flavor of your ingredients or waffle. Or, you can dip your waffle in a sauce as you eat.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Semi-Homemade Dinner: Chicken & Waffle

On lazy nights, I don't have the energy to cook up a meal. So to make life easier, there's always take-out. And sometimes, I just want to add a personal touch to the take-out so that it seems like I made an effort or like I accomplish something for the night.

Tonight, I feel like making waffles! I bought a waffle machine three years ago, and it'd been collecting dust since then. Tonight is the night for it to shine!

Always grease the waffle maker before pouring batter 
Have you ever play a word game in which one person say a word and the other person shout out the first thing that came up in his or her mind. Well, waffle made me think of  chicken! So I told my boyfriend to go grab some fried chicken while I mix up some waffle batter at home. We are lucky to have both KFC and Popeye nearby; we're having Popeye's tonight.

I got this basic waffle recipe from one of my idols, Alton Brown. He's a genius, and his recipe are always very simple and delicious.

Top it all off with maple syrup and down it with an iced cold beer (or just water for me)!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blue Fin Tuna from Japan

Every year in December, I look forward to my boyfriend's company holiday party. Not only do they always host it at an awesome venue, they also always cater delicious food!

This year, the company imported a 50lb Blue Fin tuna from Japan! They held the party at Ozumo, a Japanese restaurant, so they placed the whole fish by the sushi bar for display until it was time to slice it. At the party, we were free to eat as much Blue Fin tuna along with a table filled with yakitori, tempura and terriyaki. We were also free to order anything from the cocktail and sushi bar. It was a Japanese cuisine lover's dream come true!! I didn't eat any of the yakitori, tempura and terriyaki, because I was determined to fill my belly up with my favorite cocktails, the Blue Fin and some of my favorite sushi and sashimi.

When it was time to butcher the fish, everyone gathered.

The chefs carefully clean the fish, and then started removing the head by slicing at the collar of the fish.

After the head is removed, the head chef sliced the fish in twos.

The chef was careful with the fish, and he used a clean towel to keep the fish clean and sanitize.

The most expensive and delicious part of the tuna is the fatty part or toro, which is all located in its belly. I could not stop staring at it as the whole belly was placed in front of me at the sushi bar!

There are two types of toro. There is chutoro, which is the fatty part located on the side of the fish belly. It is much leaner than otoro, which is the fattiest part located at the underside of the tuna. It's so fatty that it melts in the mouth!

Joy in my belly!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

HK Style Baked Chicken Over Fried Rice

I grew up in Hong Kong, thus are exposed to Hong Kong style cafe food a lot. I love the breeze of air conditioning and the smell of the cafe when I stepped into the store. I like how fast the food comes out and I get a choice of milktea or iced tea with my entree. And I love how the food is consistent every time! One of my favorites is Baked Chicken Over Rice. It consists of a filet of pan-seared chicken thigh over a bed of fried rice, then topped with a sweet tangy tomato sauce, and then baked in the oven with cheese.

[ Ingredients ]

For chicken:
2 filet of chicken thigh
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of grinded black pepper
1/4 tsp of powdered white pepper
1/2 cup of flour

For the fried rice:
2 cup of overnight rice
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt

For the sauce:
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 tablespoon of ketchup
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoon of water
cheese, amount to liking

[ Instruction ]

For the fried rice:

1. Heat a frying pan with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add eggs.
2. Stir fry the eggs until done. Place it in a bowl.
3. Add another 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and stir fry the rice. When the rice stopped clumping and separate by grain, add in the pre-fried eggs.
4. Add salt and mix.
5. Divide rice into two oven-safe dishes.

For the chicken:1. Marinade by mixing all the ingredient EXCEPT for the flour with the chicken. Let it sits for 20 minutes.
2. Pat both side of the chicken on a plate of flour. Shake off excess.
3. In a heated frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pan-fried the chicken.

For the sauce:
1. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F.
2. In a sauce pan on medium heat, sautee garlic, onion and bay leaf until brown.
3. Add in carrots and tomatoes. Cook until soft, mix occasionally.
4. When carrots and tomatoes look soft, mash them with the spatula. The mixture should looks watery.

5. Mix in ketchup, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and sugar.
6. Let the sauce simmer on low for ten minutes.
7. In a small bowl, mix corn starch with water to rid clumps.
8. Add corn starch mixture into the sauce. Mix.
9. Simmer for five minutes. The sauce should thicken.
10. Laddle sauce over the fried rice.
11. Sprinkle cheese over.
12. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until the cheese melt or brown.


Don't forget to add some veggies for a complete diet!