Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cake Weekend

To celebrate a birthday and a wedding this weekend, some cakes were in order. The first cake was as delicious as it was beautiful. I had heard of this bakery called Sweet Lady Jane over the years, but never had any occasion to buy anything from there. I read on yelp that the "Triple Berry Shortcake" was definitely one of their customer favorites. So I rushed to the bakery after work, worried that there wouldn't be any good cakes left. But there were no problems when I got there at 6pm on a Friday. $38 later, I had me one of these, a 6 inch (yes 6 inch, so whats that $6.33 an inch?) Triple Berry Shortcake that came with 3 complimentary candles!

Alas, I have no pictures of the inside because once I cut it, I only wanted to eat it with the ravenous appetite that is the ambition of my unhealthy existence. But here is a picture off of yelp.

It easily fed 7 people with still more than half the cake left. It was a big hit, so I'd definitely come back here again. Maybe I'll try the other cakes.

Sweet Lady Jane
8360 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 653-7145
Find it on Yelp

Next on the weekend cake tour, Wedding Cake!

Lovely cake, isn't it? Too bad it was not as delicious as it looked. Just your average cake (sorry Sam!) But with all those flower, it was such a sight to see. The lighting was really great too so the pics came out really nice, altho I think the shrinkage effect ruins it. Damn that shrinkage!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Leek and Corn Risotto

Risotto is such a labor intensive dish, if you ask me. It's not just something you can start and walk away. Sometimes I don't know why I bother to make it cuz it's not like I love it to death. I suppose I just attempt to vary up the starches in my meals when it comes to American food, you can only eat potatoes so many times. So I was at a tasting for my brother's wedding food at the Huntington Hilton and I had a wonderful leek and corn risotto. It tasted simple enough, so I thought I'd try to make a version.

The first time I made it, I wasn't so impressed. I think it was the frozen corn that I used. This time I used fresh corn, which was really sweet. And maybe the stock I used was different.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 leeks chopped (when I say 2, I mean 2 well prepared leeks minus all the tough greeny parts which really leaves you with mostly the whites) approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 1/2 tsp chopper garlic
2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cups white wine
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

"In a heavy pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the leeks are soft but not brown and the corn is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, until each addition of stock is nearly completely absorbed. Continue until all of the stock has been added and the risotto is creamy."

So although it doesn't look terribly delicious, it was tastey but didn't taste quite as delicious as the risotto from my brother's wedding dinner. The color was somewhat off as well, looking more brown than clean and creamy white. That was probably due to the stock. I really think a good risotto starts with an excellent stock. And in this case, the fresh corn made the difference and using mostly the whites of the leek.

Be prepared for an incredible amount of leftovers. I'm only feeding 2, but this recipe could probably feed 4-6.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chocolate chip cookies version XS

So a year ago I visited my sister in SF. A night out for sushi was followed by dessert at Citizen Cake.

Citizen Cake's familiarity to me was due to Chef Elizabeth Faulkner, who I had seen on an episode or two of Top Chef. I think shes a pastry chef, but the place is also a restaurant with full bar. But definitely ppl come here for the cakes.
I tried the retro tropical shag and the after midnight chocolate cake. Both weren't that memorable. Not something I'd go back for. What was memorable was getting free cookies cuz we stayed until closing so they started giving away the pre-packaged cookies. One of the cookies was delicious! There was something different about it, and after sufficient googling, I came across this:

"Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts" by Elizabeth Falkner (Ten Speed Press, 230 pp., $35)

She talks a lot about using organic ingredients and this particular recipe uses different types of sugars to create new flavors. This was totally a new concept to me. I never knew there were different types of brown sugars, or sugars other than brown and white. Anyways, the cookies came out somewhat similar to the ones I had from Citizen Cake. Whether they are the same ones, I'm not sure. The only thing I'm sure of is that the cookie from the store had something different about its texture, and this recipe contains old-fashioned rolled oats which I figured must be the secret.

Chocolate chip cookies version XS
1 1/4 cups (4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
Serves 48

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup (about 8 1/2 ounces) firmly packed dark muscovado sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) Demerara sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups)

The special sugars were hard to find. The regular supermarkets and Trader Joe's did not sell them. But Whole Foods had them as expected. They were kinda pricey, $4-5 for 1lb, but I figured I'd test out the recipe and see if it was worth the cost.

"In food processor, pulse oats 15 to 20 seconds. Most of the oats will look like coarse sawdust, but you should still have some recognizable flakes."

"In saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, let cook about 3 minutes, or until it browns slightly. Add oats and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes, or until you can smell a toasty fragrance. Take the pan off the heat as soon as you detect a hint of toast. Spoon oats onto baking sheet or sheet of parchment paper, spread them out with the spoon, and let cool."

"In large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together remaining 12 tablespoons butter and muscovado sugar until smooth but not overmixed. Add Demerara sugar and vanilla and stir briefly, just to mix. Add egg and stir just until combined."

"Transfer cooled oats to medium bowl. Sift together flour and baking soda onto oats. Add salt and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir just until combined. Add chocolate and stir just until evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop up 1-inch balls of dough with spoon or mini-scoop and set them 2 inches apart on pans. Bake, rotating pans after 4 minutes, for 7 to 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed but still soft. I like a medium-crisp cookie, so I bake these for 10 minutes, but experiment until you find the optimal baking time to suit your own tastes."

This is what happens when you don't follow the instructions of "set them 2 inches apart on pans"

I did a better job on the next batch

"Transfer to racks and let cool. Cookies will keep for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container, but they won't have as much flavor as the day they were baked."
They look pretty ugly, but they tasted pretty good. More special than your ordinary chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'll prob try making them again without burning them =)

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Friday, May 22, 2009

OC Restaurants

Break of Dawn 


Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa

Kappo Sui

Sushi Wasabi

Vien Dong

Read more »


Chocolate Chip Cookie XS

Pecan Crescent Cookies 


Leek & Corn Risotto

Chinese Chicken Stew

Clay-Pot Miso Chicken

Bistro-Style Short Ribs

Honey Mustard Turkey and Mushroom Sandwhich

Tori Soboro

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Portland Restaurants


Beaker & Flask 


Beijing Hot Pot

Built to Grill 


Davis Street Tavern

Dump Truck

Farm Cafe 

Korean Twist

Mother's Bistro & Bar 

Nong's Khao Man Gai

Paley's Place


Red Onion


Somtum Gai Yang 


Two Tarts Bakery 

Veritable Quandry

Whiskey Soda Lounge

Read more »
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