Friday, March 7, 2014
Is it Spring yet? It sure feels that way in Southern California. In fact, it’s been feeling like Spring (even feels like Summer in some days) all winter long. I had been wanting to take the kids up the mountain to play with snow. Unfortunately, we might have to wait till next winter and hope for some colder temperature before that can happen. All these Spring-like weather made me long for some cool desserts. That was how this Coffee Panna Cotta with Mascarpone Cream was created. Well, the warm weather is not totally a bad thing after all, I guess.
I adore coffee, and any coffee flavored desserts. If you are like me, give this recipe a try. I’m sure you would agree. The panna cotta itself is smooth, tender and with a well balance of sweetness and a hint of bitterness from the coffee. The mascarpone cream is silky smooth with a hint of creaminess. I topped each dessert cup with a whole coffee bean for some crunch and extra coffee flavor. It’s a decadent dessert so I put them in small serving cups, a good measure for portion control. Yes, I need portion control when it comes to coffee desserts.
This is a super easy recipe to prepare and definitely a perfect made-ahead one. Therefore, these Coffee Panna Cotta cups are perfect for parties and gatherings, or simply everyday enjoyment. I’m a happy camper to find these little dessert cups whenever I need to get something from the fridge! Hm….My Hubby might tell you that I had been “needing” things from the fridge more often than usual lately.
I hope you enjoy today’s post and recipe. If you've tried this recipe, don’t forget to stop by and leave a comment and let me know what you think. Until next time....always remember, share a little love and dessert with your loved ones for a sweet ending.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
I finally gave in! You might ask what have I given in to? Well, as many of you know that I’m weak and softhearted when it comes to kitchen gadgets, photography props and my Kids; okay, and probably my Hubby, too (all in no particular order). This time around, I gave in and got a waffle maker! Well, I still can’t quite believe that I didn’t have a waffle maker until recently. But ever since Alice (yes, sorry I can’t help it but to give the waffle maker a name, she’s a beauty!) arrived in my kitchen, I had been putting it/her to great use. From these basic waffles, to chocolate ones, and waffle cookies, etc (I’ll be sharing the other two recipes with you in the near future). Oh my, I’m so glad I took Alice home and didn’t hesitate a bit, okay, maybe just a tad. But it’s totally worth it in the end.
These basic waffles are light, crispy on the edges, airy, fluffy and tender on the inside. The perfect waffle with a hint of vanilla aroma. I love the subtle tanginess from the buttermilk which balance well with the sweet maple syrup.
My Hubby loves his waffles in the more traditional way, which is served with a slice of soften butter and maple syrup (just like the one shown in the picture above). I love it like that too but the full size waffle is a bit too big for me and the Kiddos. So, I made them in smaller sizes as well and they were perfect portion for a light breakfast or an afternoon treat.
I totally adore the smaller version as I can get more crispy edges for each waffle. These basic waffles are a cinch to make, too. Best of all, they can be stored and reheated really well. I usually double the recipe and cook all the waffles at once. The extra waffles can be stored in freezer-safe ziploc bags until you need them. To reheat, simply pop one or two in the toaster oven until warmed up and crispy. They are perfect when you’re in a rush to get breakfast on the table (and I always seem to be in a rush, especially in the morning!)
My Kids love their waffle with a little freshly whipped cream and strawberries slices. I like this version just as much as the traditional one with butter and maple. I highly recommend that you try both and decide which one you like better. I bet it’ll be a tough decision for you to make too. But hey, why just pick one when you can enjoy both, right?
I hope you enjoy today’s post and recipe. Stay tuned for more yummy recipe and restaurant reviews in the near future. Last but not least, thank you, Alice, for joining our family! We love you! And we will live happily ever after. The End!
P.S.: Click here to see the adorable pictures of Alice!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
My Hubby and I love Japanese food, especially sushi and sashimi. But they could get quite expensive when you dine at a fine Japanese restaurant. Of course, there are many all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants out there, but those that we've been to, were only mediocre in quality. When it comes to raw fish and seafood, you do want to dine at a place with great quality and fresh ingredients. We were so happy when we discovered the restaurant “Sake 2 Me Sushi” last year.
It’s located in a small plaza in Tustin, Orange County. It’s totally a hidden gem in O.C.! Okay, may not so hidden anymore after this post. But I can’t resist to share with you how much we love this place. If you like Japanese food and live around the area, you've got to give this a try. As soon as you sat down and got your drink order settled, you’ll be served with this “Crab Meat Nacho”. They even serve a non-spicy version for my kids (see picture below). These were so good; imagine crispy chip on the bottom and creamy crab meat on top, with just the perfect amount of sauce and spiciness. Yes, I think it’s the chef’s tactic trying to fill you up a little before you order the all-you-can-eat sushi.
Yes folks, this place is an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant! What’s differentiate this restaurant from the rest? Their sushi and rolls are all made to order. So, nothing lying around unattended. Their quality are just as wonderful as many other made to order sushi restaurants. Plus, you can also order a-la-carte or cooked items from the menu if you like. But with their wide selections of sushi, cut rolls, hand rolls, appetizers, soup, etc; all included in the all-you-can-eat price, why would you want to order anything else? Well, expect that we did order noodles for the kids as they don’t eat raw fish, just yet.
As mentioned above, there are many selections on sushi. The "must try" ones are the “Peppered Salmon” and “Peppered Tuna” (see picture below). As you can see, they are topping with a sprinkle of pepper and slight charred. So succulent and the slightly smokey flavor is simply amazing. The fish has this melt in the mouth texture and you can taste the natural sweetness from the fish.
If you've been to an all-you-can-eat sushi place, you know the fish and rice ratio could be quite off; with a tiny piece of fish on top and a huge rice ball on the bottom to fill you up. However, it’s NOT the case here with Sake 2 Me Sushi. Check out the picture below, see the fish to rice ratio? So generous! The price is very reasonable as well. Only $19.95 for lunch and $23.95 for dinner (as of 2/22/2014). Please check their site here for update on prices and menu.
Yes, they have many cut rolls and hand rolls available included in the all-you-can-eat price. But to me, the cut rolls have more rice in them so you'll be full much faster compared to nigiri sushi. So, I usually go with the money items. Another great thing about this place is that once you've placed your order, your sushi come out at a reasonable time without a long wait. Don’t you just love that?
If you’re interested to check out the price and menu, simple chick here to visit their site. They also have a branch in Montclair and Rancho Cucamonga. But I haven’t been to the other locations. So, after reading all these positive points, you might ask me, what’s the “catch” (no pun intended)? Well, there really is no catch. But with the price this good and food that fresh, you know the line is going to be long if you don’t go early. For weekends, make sure to arrive before 6 p.m. for dinner. Otherwise, it’ll be quite a long wait. My Hubby and I had been there on weekdays for lunch and there was no wait time. And you can chose to sit at the sushi bar as well to watch the chefs prepare your sushi, right in front of you. Pretty neat right?
Thank you so much for reading and I can't wait to share more of my favorite restaurants with you in the near future.
Restaurant Review Disclaimer: uTry.it restaurant reviews are solely based on our experience at each restaurant we visit. They were just our opinions. uTry.it and its owner were not compensated in any way to dine at these restaurants nor to write reviews.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Socca, or farinata, is an Italian thin and unleavened pancake (or crêpe) made with chickpea flour. Can’t you tell I’m on a crêpe mission these days? I hope you didn’t miss the luscious Simple Sweet Crêpe recipe from my previous post (please click here for the recipe). Since Soccas are made with chickpea flour, they are naturally gluten free. So, if you, or know anyone who’s on a GF diet, these would be wonderful savory crêpes to add to the menu. Even if you're not on a GF diet, these are too scrumptious to pass up!
I love the nuttiness from the chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) flour in these soccas. Below is a picture of the one that I used. The chickpeas flour is widely available in most health food stores and supermarkets these days. If you can’t find yours in the local market, please click here for the product online. Hm…after checking, I noticed it’s even cheaper online than the one I got from the market. Guess I’ll be taking advantage of the online one next time.
These Socca turned out soft and tender with a hint of spice and earthy flavor from the cumin. They really stand up to strong flavors so I paired them with sautéed crimini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and spinach. I dolloped some Fresh Thyme Crème Fraîche on top for a little creaminess.
There’s no right or wrong way on how to enjoy these soccas. But I do like to get a little bit of everything all in one bite; soccas, mushrooms, spinach, fresh thyme and Crème Fraîche. These soccas are decadent and satisfying. Yet, they are also low in carbohydrates, and a great source of protein and fibers. I say, they are the perfect healthy savory crêpe to enjoy without scarifying flavors.
Want to follow me to the kitchen to make these soccas? Come on in!
1) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, the olive oil, salt, and the cumin.
2) This is how the batter looks after whisking. Very smooth and not too thick.
3) In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium-high heat. With a measuring cup, pour around 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan. Lift and tilt the pan to coats the batter evenly onto the bottom of the pan.
4) Cook until the edges begin to bubble and the bottom side turns golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. With a heat-proof silicone spatula, flip the socca and continue to cook the other side until golden, around 3 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
5) Now, we’re ready to prepare the fillings. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until slightly golden brown and fragrant.
6) Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the mushrooms begin to soften.
7) Then, add the thyme leaves and wine. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.
8) Remove from heat and add the spinach. Gently toss the spinach and the residual heat will wilt the spinach. Then, fill each socca with fillings and enjoy!
Super easy, right? They look more complicated and sophisticated than they actually are. The beauty of these soccas is that they are very versatile, you can fill them with whatever fillings you like. Since mushrooms and spinach are my family’s favorite, so those were what I used. You can even make the batter or even the soccas and fillings ahead of time. Simply fill and roll them right before you’re ready to enjoy. They really make a wonderful brunch, or great for a light dinner as well. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try soon.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Happy Early Valentine’s Day to all of you. I know, it’s not Valentine’s Day until Friday, February 14th. But this year’s Valentine’s day is more special because the Chinese Valentine’s Day (January 15th on the Luna Calendar), also falls on February 14th (the Western Valentine’s Day as we all know). Sounds a little confusing? Never minded. Let’s just look at that as another
I don’t know why but I think strawberries are very romantic and always associate them with Valentine’s Day. Maybe because of their vibrate red color, and the lovely pink hue that they yield when mixing them into desserts? I simply adore the beauty of strawberries, and my kids always agree.
This Valentine’s Day, let me present to you this decadent Strawberry Panna Cotta with Macerated Strawberry. The panna cotta is slightly sweet, tender, smooth and has the melt in the mouth texture. The Macerated Strawberry is sweet and tart at the same time, the strawberries are slightly softened but still remain a good bite to them. In this case, a perfect pair with the panna cotta. I serve the Panna Cotta with a couple of Vanilla Bean Sweetheart French Macarons on the side for a different texture. Traditionally, Panna Cotta is inverted onto a dessert plate before serving, just like the one shown on the picture below. But, I also love to serve them in individual tea cups, which make them a little more adorable and easier for my kids to handle.
In case you like to serve them the traditional way, here’s a little pictorial to show you how.
1) First, place the chilled panna cotta in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds.
2) Wipe the bottom of the ramekin with a paper towel so the condensation doesn't go into your dessert.
3) Cover the ramekin with the dessert plate you intended to serve the panna cotta on.
4) Carefully invert the plate along with the ramekin. Keep your fingers crossed! Remove the ramekin and spoon on the macerated strawberries.
P.S. If the panna cotta doesn't fall onto your dessert plate easily, dip the ramekin in the hot water for a few more seconds and repeat the steps. The length of time needed depends on the temperature of your water. The hotter the water, the less time is needed.
This is such a simple dessert to make, but it got the “Wow” factor. I hope you’ll give this a try and I’m sure the sweethearts in your lives will love it just as much as mine. At least, my two little Valentines are totally in love with this dessert.
I hope you enjoy today’s post and recipe. And remember, we shouldn't just celebrate with our loved ones only on Valentine’s Day (although it’s always nice to do something special on this day). You can make everyday special and lovely when you show your love; with a warm hug, a gentle kiss, or softly whisper “I love you” to those who you care about. It could be Valentine’s Day all year round.