Friday, November 30, 2012

Beef Sukiyaki—With Pictorial


The very first time I’ve ever tasted a Beef Sukiyaki, it was way back in my Junior High School years when I was still living in Hong Kong.  I attended one of my good friends’ birthday party and her Mom prepared this memorable dish for all of us.  It was the best sukiyaki I’ve ever tasted.  The best, even until now.  I have to say, my own version came pretty closed to hers, but there was something sentimental about the very first time that I had this dish.  It was my very first time attending a friend’s birthday patty without my parents’ present.  That was something huge, at least, it was something huge for me back then.


Sukiyaki is a Japanese winter dish of soup, or stew, prepared and served in the nabemono (Japanese hot pot) style.  It consists of meat, usually thinly sliced beef, which is slowly cooked at the table, along with other vegetables and ingredients, in a shallow iron pot.  The sukiyaki sauce usually contains a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs. 


Hot pots” (or Chinese style fondue) are very popular in Asian cuisine, especially in the winter.  They are slightly different than sukiyaki. Instead of having a sauce for the base, Chinese style hot pots use varieties of soup base, usually chicken stock, beef stocks, or herbal soup as it’s base for cooking.  Then, the cooked ingredients are dipped into a bowl of raw beaten eggs with soy sauce (and chili oil if you like it spicy).  I grew up having hot pots every winter with my family.  It’s the best family-style kind of meal.  We gather around the table, mingle, and cook together as we eat, often for hours.  It’s the best way to spend quality time together, in my opinion.  Not to mention, super easy to prepare as well.  All you need to do is to get the the soup base and other ingredients ready.  Then, everyone cook whatever they like to eat at the table-side.    


Want to join me in the kitchen to see how I prepare the Beef Sukiyaki?  Come on over.

1) Remove the stems of the shitake mushrooms, it’s much easier to do so when the mushrooms are still dry.

2) Rinse and soak in the hottest tab water until soften (about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on thickness).

3) Thinly sliced the carrot and cut the preferred shape with a small cookie cutter.

4) Trim off, and discard the roots of the enoki mushrooms, wash, drain and set aside.

Pictorial A

5) This is the package of the Yam noodles that I’ve got.  Very healthy and naturally gluten free.  Very low in calories as well.  I have no idea why they are called yam cakes on the package though.

6) A close look at the yam noodles.  They are rolled up in small bite size bundles.  Cute and convenience.

7) I used some fried soybean curd this time.  You can use firm tofu if you like.

8) Last but not least, I’ve got some wonderful quality of Kobe Beef!  Juicy and tender.  So decadent. 

Pictorial B

9) In a medium nabemono, clay pot, or sauce pan, bring the water, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and sesame oil to a boil. Add the soften shitake mushrooms, cabbage and carrot, cook until almost cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Then add the Bok Choy, soy bean curd, enoki mushrooms and yam noodles into the pot until the liquid comes up to a boil again. When ready to serve, add the sliced beef into the pot. Remove from heat, sprinkle green onion on top and enjoy. (This part can/should be done at the dining table with a portable stove.)


My hubby was able to join me for lunch when I prepared this Beef Sukiyaki the other day.  It was warm and wonderful.  We really enjoyed this Beef Sukiyaki.  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.  Have fun cooking and stay warm.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Omni Royal Orleans—Hotel Review

Omni Royal Orleans Hotel - Luxury Hotel in New OrleansImage from the Omni Hotel & Resorts’ website

During our New Orleans trip, my Hubby and I had the pleasure to stay at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel.  We read some New Orleans hotel reviews before booking a room here.  Most reviews claimed that the rooms in New Orleans are rather tiny.  However, we thought the room we stayed in was pretty decent in size, especially with the reasonable room rate.


Omni Royal Orleans Hotel is conveniently located on St. Louis and Royal.  It’s pretty much walking distance to everywhere in the French Quarter and most of the happening places, such as the French Market, August Restaurant, Bourbon Street, etc.  We did rent a car for the commute from the airport to the hotel, and that was pretty much it.  We didn’t use the rental car on the days we were there sight seeing and dinning at all.  So, you definitely don’t need one to hang out at the French Quarter if you stay at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. 

Directions to Omni Royal Orleans

We were lucky to get a free upgrade to the Premier Rooms with a Balcony.  It was nice to have the balcony as we got a pretty nice view and a place to relax when we hung out in the room.  The staffs at Omni that I spoke with, or had interacted with, were very friendly and professional.  Everyone from the customer service representatives, the doorman, to the front desk personnel.  They made me feel as we are their most important guests.


I captured the carriage passing by when I was hanging out in the balcony, just like the one from the Hotel’s site…but from a different angle and different timing.


For more information, here’s the link to the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel’s official website.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Hope you enjoyed reading the review. 

Disclaimer: and its owner were not compensated in any way to stay at this hotel nor to write review.  All opinions are our own.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving—Turkey for Dessert, anyone?


Turkey for dessert, anyone?  I don’t see why not if they are as charming and sweet as these Oreo Turkeys!  I can’t believe there are only a few days left before Thanksgiving.  If you haven’t take the real turkey out of your freezer (or get one from the market’s freezer), it’s about time to do so.  If your recipe has a long marinating/brining process, it could be already too late.  Opps…if that’s the case, don't panic! Go get yourself a pack of Oreo, some mini Reese's and confetti's...stay calm and make these sweet turkeys instead!  You won’t regret it. I promise!  And for the Thanksgiving entree, get a honey glazed ham instead.  I'm sure it'll be just as delicious.  


When I was making these Oreo Turkeys with my kids the other day, we had a blast.  It’s always warm and sweet spending time with my kids in the kitchen.  Not to mention, we can sneak a few cookies and candies along the "production line"!  When the “glue” is actually sweet and tasty, that’s a big plus too.  When I’m in the kitchen with my kids, the list of “What I’m grateful for this year…” simply goes on and on.  I feel blessed to have my kids around me, that they are healthy and happy kids. 


I probably don’t say or show it enough, how grateful I am for my lovely husband.  He works hard and studies hard so that the kids and I can play hard.  Smile with tongue out (Sorry, can’t help it, Honey.)  Seriously, I’m really thankful for everything that he does for the family, big or small.  He’s always so thoughtful, supportive, and caring.  What more can a wife ask for, right?  He’s really the perfect role model for the kids.   I’m truly grateful for that because sometimes I act like a kid myself. 

I’m grateful for my Parents and In-Laws, they are always loving, generous, caring, and supportive.  I’m grateful for my dear friends.  Although we don’t see each other often, some even live thousands of miles away, but I know I can count on them to be there whenever I need them.  I’m truly thankful for that. 

I’m thankful for you, my readers and blog friends around the world.  Without you, your supports, comments, feedback and trust (to try my recipes), probably won’t exist.  I’m truly thankful for that.


I’m grateful that you’re still here reading my post and didn't click away.  Winking smile I’m truly thankful for that!  As a way to say thank you, let me show you how to make these Oreo Turkeys.  First, gather all your ingredients.  Some Oreo for the base and rear end, Mini Reese’s as the body, Whoppers for the head, Cookie Icing for the eyes and act as “glue”, Candy Corn as the beak and feathers, tiny black confetti for the eye balls, pink Nerds as the waddle and some melted chocolate as “glue”.


Here’s the pictorial on how to get this turkey done without putting it into the oven.

1) Have all your ingredients ready, unwrap from plastic bags/wrapping papers, etc.

2) Split the Oreo open, gently press 5 candy corns to the edges (as feather).  Add some cookie icing on the candy corns tips and cover back the other side of the Oreo cookie, set aside.

3) Trim one side of the mini Reese’s as shown (for its body).

4) Take another Oreo cookie and smear a little bit melted chocolate on top (for base).

5) Take the Oreo with melted chocolate to a vertical position and place the “feathered” Oreo on the side.  Smear some melted chocolate on the cut side and flat side of the Reese’s and place on top of the “feathered” Oreo.  Slightly dip the Whopper into the melted chocolate and place on top of the Reese’s (as the head).

6) Place a small amount of cookie icing on top of the Whopper on both left and right side (as the eyes).  Top with black confetti as eye balls.  Cut the tip off a candy corn, dip the cut side of the candy corn tip in melted chocolate and place below the eyes (as the beak).  Dip the pink Nerd in melted chocolate and place below the beak (as waddle).  Leave the turkeys alone until the chocolate and icing are firmed up before transferring or packing.

Pictorial A

That’s it.  Pretty simple, right?  Oh yeah…I’m packaging these Oreo Turkeys and they will be delivered to some happy tummies.  Last but not least, I’m submitting this post to Kitchen-PLAY.  They’re having some fun contest and giveaway.  Check it out or join in for some fun.


So, what are you thankful for this year?  Please share because I always love to hear from you.  Take care, have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hearty Beef Stew


As the temperature gets lower, this Hearty Beef Stew is one of my “go-to” comfort food to make.  It’s a tried-and-true recipe that I can guaranteed you’ll love.  I used to make this recipe on the stove top with an Dutch Oven.  Part of it is because I love browning my meat to develop the depth of flavor before cooking it low and slow to tenderize the stew.  But the main reason being that I didn’t have a slow cooker (yeah, I know I know, I couldn’t believe it either), until a month ago.


My In-Laws gave me a Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System that they received from a friend.  My In-Laws knew I’m going to put it to good use so they passed The Ninja onto me (thank you!)  After the very first try, I already love this machine!  First thing first, I make this recipe in large quantity that is good for at least 8 to 10 servings so that I’ll have plenty leftovers to enjoy the very next day.  This Ninja is perfect because it has a 6 quart capacity that is sufficient for this recipe.  Remember I mentioned I love to brown my meat before slow cooking?  I bet the person who invented this cooking system is a seasoned chef.  Yes, I can brown my meat in the very same unit before adding liquid for slow cooking.  Not only it saves me time from washing another pot, but also, I don’t lose any of that browned meat flavor that I love so much.  Plus, I don’t have to “babysit” my beef stew when it’s cooking on the stove top!  That is a big plus.  I know it sounds like a commercial, but no, I’m not getting paid to review this product.  Although I know a few Ninja moves here and there but I bet the Ninjas have no idea of who I am!  It’s just something that I’ve tried and loved, so I wanted to share with you all.  If you wonder what that “3-in-1” part is about, this cooking system also has a steam infused baking and steam infused roasting functions besides slow cooking, that I have yet to try.  I’ll sure report back once I did. 


On certain days that I’m in a rush to put this stew together before I need to get out the door, I’ve developed a few “short cut” steps that I’m going to share with you as well. 

Want to come into the kitchen with me to see how I prepare this dish?  You’re going to love how simple it is.

1) Peel and cut 2 medium onions in quarters. (Short cut: use 1 pound of frozen pearl onions.  Yup, no cutting nor peeling involved.)

2) Peel and cut the carrots in 2-inch chunks. (Short cut: use 1 pound of baby carrots, again, no peeling nor cutting needed.)

3) Dice a pound of tomatoes (Short cut: used a 14 ounce can diced tomatoes). 

4) Cut the beef chuck meat in 2 by 1-inch chunks, its a bit bigger than bite size pieces because they will shrink after the cooking process.  (Short cut: some markets sell them pre-cut.)

Pictorial A

5) Season the meat with steak seasonings and sprinkle with flour/corn starch.

6) Gently toss the meat to evenly coat with the seasonings and flour.

7) Set the machine to “Stove Top High Heat” for searing. 

8) Add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Pictorial B

9) Sear the meat on all sides.

10) Takes about 2 minutes per side, until they are nice and brown.

11) Add the liquid, I used a cup of dry red wine.

12) And 1 cup of Beef Consommé (or beef broth).

Pictorial C

13) Add 3 bay leaves, a bunch of fresh herbs that includes fresh thyme, rosemary, and oregano (tide them with a kitchen twine for easy retrieval of the stems). 
(Short cut: substitute fresh herbs with 1 tablespoons of dried herb, such as Herb de Provence.)  I also added a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes of Tabasco, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a tablespoon of tomato paste into the pot.

14) Set the Cooking system to “Slow Cook Low”, set it to 8 hours. 

15) Cover the lid.

16) And your Hearty Beef Stew will be ready and waiting for you when you get home from a long day of work feeling tired and hungry! 

Pictorial D

Simple enough, right?  It really is.  This Ninja Cooking System is making my life much easier especially when I’m more busy these days as the Holiday Season approaches.  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, weather with a Ninja, regular slow cooker or stove top.  It’s perfect for Fall and Winter and it’s totally my kind of comfort food!  I hope you’ll love this recipe as much as my family does.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eton Mess with Dark Chocolate Strawberry Meringue Roses


It’s already November!?  I couldn’t believe 2012 is almost coming to an end.  I felt like 2012 just started not long ago.  Is it just me or are you also having the very same thought?  Thanksgiving is around the corner and I have many blessings in my life to be grateful for this year.  Hehe….no, I’m not so ahead of myself and post a Thanksgiving post now at the beginning of November.  I just wanted to say, I’m so lucky and thankful to be living in California, where I basically can enjoy these sweet and juicy strawberries almost all year round.  Of course, besides being grateful for the strawberries, I’m always grateful for my friends, my family, my readers and chocolate (although not necessarily in this order). 


Recently, one of my customers ordered these Dark Chocolate Strawberry Meringue Roses.  It’s a recipe I originally posted back in February of 2011.  I make these meringue roses from time to time.  It just happened that the day that I needed to make these meringue roses for delivery, it was a rainy day!  If you’ve made meringues on a rainy day before, you know just how much fun I was having.  Smile  I had to bake these roses for an extra long time and keep them in the fridge at all times to keep them nice and crisp.  Luckily, I’ve received very positive feedback.  Phew….

If you haven’t try these meringue roses, you should!  They are light, crisp, packed with sweet and tart strawberry flavors (with freeze fried strawberries in them).  However, instead of using chocolate chips (as stated in the originally recipe), I chopped up some Valrhona 70% dark chocolate and melt them in the double boiler instead.  Yes, the Valrhona is more expensive than packaged chocolate chips, but totally worth it.  You can taste the difference in them.  And the (correctly tempered) chocolate layer simply adds another layer of crunch that you don’t get from packaged chocolate chips!  The extra time to temper the chocolate is totally worth it as well.


I can’t help myself but to make another batch of these Dark Chocolate Strawberry Meringue Roses for my kids.  These are one of their favorite treats.  Instead of eating them as is, I transformed them into Eton Mess.
Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consists of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream.  Back in the 1930s, Eton Mess was served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against the students of Harrow School, hence the name.


Are you still here?  Just checking.  Enough with the history, let’s get into the kitchen and make a mess…I mean, make a Eton Mess. 

1) First, let’s prepared the strawberry sauce.  Place 1 pound of the whole strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan.  With a potato masher, crushed the strawberries over medium-high heat. 

2) Add the fresh thyme leaves now…but don’t be like me, take the leaves off the stems so you don’t have to “fish” the stems out later on, or simply tie the whole thing with a kitchen twine for easy retrieval.  Bring the mixture to a full boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy.  While the mixture is cooking, sliced the remaining one pound of strawberries.

3) Remove from heat and add the sliced strawberries.

4) Then, stir in the framboise liqueur. Let cool completely and chill in refrigerator.

Pictorial A

When the strawberry syrup is cooled, whip the heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peak form.  To assemble the dessert:

1) Spoon a couple tablespoons of strawberry syrup into a tall glass.
2) Top with some freshly whipped cream.
3) Crush some strawberry meringues on top.
4) Spoon more strawberry syrup on the meringue.
5) More whipped cream.
6) Top with some more meringue (crush or not).  It’s easier to eat if you crush them, but it makes a more beautiful presentation if you leave the meringue roses whole.

Pictorial B

If you wonder how to pipe the meringue roses, here’s a picture to show you how.  I used a Wilton 1M star tip.  Starting in the middle and gently press the meringue batter and makes 2 full circles as the arrows shown below.

How to Pipe Rose Meringue

This “dressed up” Eton Mess is simply divine.  Imagine this, refreshing strawberry syrup with a hint of citrus, layer with freshly whipped cream and crunchy strawberry meringue cookies...that were dipped in dark chocolate!  Oh my, I need serious help here not to finish the whole batch all by myself.  These are fun dessert to make for your upcoming family gatherings too.  Simply have all the components prepared ahead of time and have the guests put their own desserts together.  Winking smile  Yes, it’s more fun to eat when they get to make their own glass….and less work for you. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy today’s recipe.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

August, New Orleans—Restaurant Review


My husband and I visited New Orleans a while ago.  You can read up on the places we visited in this post here.  I promised to do the hotel and restaurant reviews on the places we stayed and dined at.  I’m so sorry for the delay.  Without further ado, here we go. 


August was one of the restaurants we dined at during our short trip to New Orleans.  August serves contemporary French cuisines that use local ingredients. The restaurant is owned by Chef John Besh, who was trained in Europe with the depth of Southern Louisiana roots.  Our server was very friendly and shared the history of the building with us.  Unfortunately, I’ve already forgotten most of them.  Yeah, my memories has been bad after having kids.  Ahem, I’m not trying to blame my forgetfulness on the kids but the timing matches.  I’m sure many moms out there can relate.  Anyway, as you can see, the building is beautiful and elegant.  Let’s just leave it like that.  I really love the wine cellar that was located right above the dining area (see picture below).  


Here’s the Tasting Menu that both my husband and I ordered.  However, we didn’t do the wine pairing.


I did start the evening with my favorite cocktail though, an Apple Martini.  I love the generous alcohol portion in this cocktail!  It’s a wonderful balance of sweetness and tartness in this drink.


We were offered some warm bread as well.  Lovely crust outside, perfectly soft and chewy on the inside, served with soften butter!


This Soft-Boiled Egg (picture below) with Caviar was perfectly done.  An exquisite amuse bouche to start a meal, complementary by the chef.


Since California banned the selling of foie gras, my husband and I shared this Foie Gras 3-Ways, that was not on the tasting menu, just to satisfy our cravings.  Each one was so unique.  I love the foie gras tart with blueberry sauce the best.  The champagne jelly in the middle was a wonder complement to the foie gras “cake” in the middle as well.  I was hoping the foie gras flavor would be stronger in this dish though.  I guess I would need to just have a sliced of seared foir gras on its own next time when I’m not in CA. 


Up next was the House Cured Belly of Gulf Coast Lamb, Pickled Watermelon, Fried Biskayne Peppers.  It’s light and refreshing.  The Cured Belly was perfectly done.  I love the salty and meaty bites contrasting with the fruit and pepper.


Crispy Gulf Shrimps and Louisiana Popcorn Rice Risotto with Stewed Convey Rise Heirloom Tomatoes.  This dish came in such a generous portion.  The crispy shrimps were so flavorful and perfectly crispy, which compliment well with the creamy risotto.  As this is a very rich and filling dish, I was afraid I would get full if I finish the whole plate, I kid you not.  But I couldn’t help myself but kept going back for more until it’s all in my happy tummy!


Roasted Breast and Slow Cooked Leg of Chappapeela Farm Ducklings, Creole Cream Cheese, Blueberries and Rapini.  The ducklings were very tender and moist.  It’s perfectly cooked and the sweet blueberry sauce was a great contrast with this savory dish.


Cast Iron Roast Flat Iron Steak of Two Run Farm Beef, Tete Tortelli, Crushed Field Peas.  The steak was very juicy and tender as you probably can tell from the picture below.  Another perfectly executed dish. 


Chocolate “Chess Pie”, Valrhona Feuilletine and Peppermint Ice Cream.  A nice and rich chocolate cake paired with a super refreshing peppermint ice cream.  The peppermint flavor was a bit too strong for our liking.  But the chocolate cake was wonderful and decadent.


Assorted Mini Desserts.  Noticed there was one piece “missing” on the far right?  Yeah, I ate it before I took the picture.  It was a crunchy coconut ball with a creamy coconut filling.  So good even after all these food that we’ve consumed.  Smile with tongue out

If you’re travelling to Louisiana and interested to dine at August, I suggest that you call and make a reservation ahead of time.  See more information below.
301 Tchoupitoulas Street  New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 299-9777

Restaurant Review Disclaimer: restaurant reviews are solely based on our experience at each restaurant we visit.   They were just our opinions. and its owner were not compensated in any way to dine at these restaurants nor to write reviews.