Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Last week, we visited San Francisco (S.F.) for the kids’ Spring Break vacation, more about that in the next posts. We do have some friends and relatives residing in S.F. So, naturally, I asked one of them to recommend a good Chinese restaurant to us. Her reply was a little shocking to me. She said the Chinese restaurants in S.F. are not quite up to par and they would travel to Los Angeles (L.A.) when they want good Chinese food. I haven’t been to San Francisco for a while so I took her words for it. So, today’s Dim Sum restaurant review is from one of my favorite Chinese restaurant located in….guess where? L.A. of course! Sorry to those folks in S.F., but after trying one of the “better” Chinese restaurants in S.F., I do have to agree with my friend that L.A. has better Chinese restaurants, over all.
Lunasia is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants for Dim Sum. Dim Sum (點心) refers to a style of Cantonese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Eating dim sum at a restaurant is usually known in Cantonese as going to "drink tea" (yum cha, 飲茶), as tea is typically served with dim sum. The picture above is the tea menu available at Lunasia. Each one is unique and pairs well with the food.
The picture above is the Pork Dumplings (鹹水角). This is one of my favorite things to order at Dim Sum restaurants because of the unique flavors and texture. Also, it’s a lot of work to make them at home. The dough is made out of gluten rice flour so it’s sticky and chewy. The dumpling is filled with pork, some pickled veggies and this one comes with shrimps as well. Then the whole thing is deep fried (something I seldom do in home cooking) to obtain the crispy shells. The picture below shows you the inside of the dumpling.
Next, we have Pan-Fried Turnip Cake (香煎蘿蔔糕), see picture below. Since I do make my own during the Chinese New Year, I do prefer my own version because I put more fillings into them. Don’t get me wrong, these are quite good compared to many other restaurants out there. Also, I don’t make them often as there are quite some steps involved. So, this is a very good option when we crave for the turnip cakes.
The one in the picture below is the Home Style Chicken Wrap (順德大良雞卷), comes with a sweet and spicy sauce underneath. The fillings obviously is made with ground chicken, and mixed with some mushrooms. Then it’s wrapped in bean curd skin (腐皮) and fried. The flavor was great and it was quite delicious. It has the balance of savory, sweet and spicy all in one bite. The only drawback was that there were only two of us, and this is quite a lot of meat to consume. So, order this if you have a bigger party to share with.
Next, we tried the Braised Mushroom with Brown Sauce (烤夫), see the picture below. It’s a very famous dish originated from Shang-Hai (上海). In addition to the braised mushrooms, there are also wheat gluten (麵筋), and black fungus in this dish, served with a sweet and savory brown sauce. My Hubby (the Shang-Hai-nese) said this was very authentic and yummy.
Up next is one of my favorite vegetarian Dim Sum dishes, Veggie Bean Curd Wrap (羅漢腐皮卷). The fillings were bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots, all wrapped with Bean Curd and fried to crispy perfection, while the veggies inside are still juicy and tender. I highly recommended this one.
The picture below is Egg Roll Rice Noodle (街邊炸兩腸粉). This name was taken from the restaurant’s online menu. However, the “Egg Roll” doesn't quite fit with the actual dish here. This is actually the Chinese savory doughnut (油炸鬼), not egg roll, wrapped with a thin layer of rice noodle. The sauce is a very low sodium soy base sauce, topped with toasted sesame seed. And it’s perfect to dip into a little Hoi Sin Sauce (海鮮醬), that's serve on the side. The savory doughnut inside is still crisp and the rice noodle wrapper should be silky smooth and tender. hm….I love this one! And not too many restaurants offer this dish anymore because the savory doughnut is another difficult item to make.
Can you believe the two of us ate so much food, and it was for lunch!? Yes, we did. And up next are Shang Hai Pork Dumplings (上海小籠包). Shhhhh….but I do like those from (here) way better! But when you crave for these along with other dim sum, go ahead and order these. These are very decent, in deed.
Last but not least, you can’t go to Dim Sum without ordering Jumbo Shrimp Har Gow (蝦餃皇), a.k.a. Shrimp Dumplings! These were some of the best Har Gow I've had at Dim Sum. As the wrapper outside is super thin, the shrimp filling is juicy and super bouncy, just how a great shrimp dumpling should be!
To put things into perspective, check out the picture below to see a comparison of the size of the Har Gow and my fist! Yup, they don’t call these Jumbo Har Gow for no reason!
If you’re interested in visiting Lunasia for Dim Sum, you can find more information below. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy today’s post. Take care and eat well!
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine (凱旋宮)
Address and Phone number:
500 West Main Street Suite A
Alhambra, CA 91801
Dim Sum: Monday - Friday 10am - 3pm
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 9am - 3pm
Dinner: Monday - Sunday 5pm – 10pm
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.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I grew up with creamy corn soup since I was little, did you? It's probably one of my best friends at the dinner table (or late night supper) in my college years as well! Unfortunately, those that I had devoured without the slightest hint of hesitation were limited to the canned version. ahem....
I have to say, I loved the canned version, too. That was kind of like comfort food to me. So, why make it from scratch, you might ask? It's simply because that's the difference between a pretty good soup, and a totally awesome one! Yes, try it once with the fresh corns and you'll never turn your head back to the canned isle in the supermarket, ever again! And really, there isn't a lot more work to do to put this fresh Creamy White Corn Soup together compared to the canned version. So, that little step of chopping the fresh corn kernels off the cobs is well worth the investment of your time.
There’s a little secret in making this soup nice and thick, creamy without using too much cream. Ready for the secret? The natural starch from the fresh corn. To be more specific, the starch between the corn kennels and the cobs. So, make sure to scrape the cob real good to release the starchy power! Oh, there’s one more thing, my childhood version of this soup didn’t have the fancy crispy prosciutto on top, of course. But that’s a wonderful addition and simply turning this soup from homemade comforts to somewhat gourmet.
Want to see how I make this Creamy White Corn Soup with Crispy Prosciutto? Follow me to the kitchen!
1) Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Place prosciutto on a silpat/parchment paper lined baking pan. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.
2) Remove from heat and let cool on wiring rack.
3) Simply make sure each corn kennel is nice and plum, and not dried up. Don’t be afraid to peek inside the husk. And only remove the husk right before cooking. That would keep your corns nice and fresh for the longest time.
4) Cut corn kernels off the cobs.
5) Make sure to scrape the starch off the cobs as you cut.
6) In a large saucepan, bring the corn and chicken stock to a boil. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 5 minutes. I used a low sodium chicken broth, you can use anything you like, even vegetable stock would be nice in here as well.
7) Remove the soup from heat, with a handheld blender, puree the soup to your prefer consistency. You can also do that with a blender or food processor too.
8) Season the soup with granulated garlic, parsley, white pepper and salt, to taste.
9) In a small bowl, mix the corn starch and water together until smooth and no big lumps.
10) If you used a blender, return soup to the saucepan and reheat. Slowly add the corn starch slurry while gently stirring the soup. Let soup return to a boil.
11) Then, remove from heat and stir in the cream.
12) Ladle soup into bowls and crumble cooled prosciutto on top. Enjoy!
You might noticed that I used white corns here. I think they are sweeter than the yellow ones. But of course, you can use either, or both. The natural sweetness from the corns is amazing. The crispy and salty prosciutto on top compliment this creamy soup perfectly. I hope you’ll take advantage of the sweet corn season (From May through October) and give this recipe a try. Do you have a favorite corn recipe? Don’t forget to share in the comment below. I would love to try them too.
Props and Tools used in this post:
Small Bamboo Spoon (Click here to see similar product)
Shoji Paper Roll Up Window Blinds used as backdrop (Click here to see product information)
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Last week, I made these Strawberry Macaron Flower Pops for someone’s house warming party. I think they made quite an unique and elegant centerpiece. Don’t you agree? Best of all, they can also double duty as dessert for the gathering. How cool is that? If you have medium size glasses or vase, fill them up with sugar and you can easily arrange the flower pops on top, pretty much like arranging real flowers (I made myself sound like an expert in arranging real flowers while I had close to zero experience on that subject matter! ha!)
I absolutely adore how cute these flower pops turned out. You can check out the Strawberry macaron shells recipe here. But instead of piping them in circles, I piped some in flower shapes. Once the macaron shells are baked, simply pipe the strawberry buttercream fillings onto one shell, gently press a lollipop stick in the middle and press on another macaron shell. (I used these lollipop sticks.) Then, your Strawberry Macaron Flower Pops are ready for display and admiration!
Besides house warming parties, I think these flower pops are also perfect for bridal showers, tea parties, weddings, to celebrate Spring, or simply, just because. My little girl love them and she was so excited when she saw these pops! The smile and excitement on her face was precious! So, make some flower pops, and make someone happy. The satisfaction and happiness you’ll receive in return are priceless!
Last but not least, I want to wish you all a wonderful Easter weekend!
Thursday, April 10, 2014
I have been really into the Spring time spirit lately. It's a wonderful time of the year; the weather is perfect, spring break is on the way, and I really look forward to spend some time with the kiddos for the time off. It's always a great time to get together with friends and have a little party or gatherings as well. And this Smoked Salmon Blossom Appetizer is just want you needed to put on the menu. It's easy to prepare, elegant, and super scrumptious!
For this Smoked Salmon Blossom Appetizer with Cucumber and Herbed Cream Cheese, I used crispy brioche toasts as the base. (Click here to see the one I used.) Then, topped with a spread of creamy and tangy herbed cream cheese, cover with a layer of refreshing and crunchy cucumber slices, and finally, the star of the show, a slice of flavorful and fatty smoked salmon rolled into a blossom. The combined flavor is simply amazing and I love that it's like a beautiful garden on a plate.
It's really simple to prepare and here's the step-by-step pictorial and a few tips for your reference.
1) In a small bowl, stir the lemon juice, sour cream, and chopped dill with the cream cheese until well combined. The key is to use room temperature or softened cream cheese. That would make it a lot easier to mix all ingredients together.
2) Spread a thin layer of the herbed cream cheese on the each toast. You can also use your favorite cracker as well. Just make sure that you assemble these right before serving so the crackers won't get soggy.
3) Top the cream cheese with a few thinly slices of cucumber on top, let the cucumber slices to over-lay each other a little. I used Persian Cucumbers for this recipe. The skin of the cucumber is tender and edible; it's pretty much seedless and perfect for this recipe. You can use a mandolin to thinly slice the cucumber, but I found that a sharp knife did a way better job.
4) Last but not least, roll the smoked salmon into the shape of a rose. Simply pick up one end of the salmon and roll it tightly, starting from the center. it'll form into a blossom easily. Of course, you can garnish with a small spring of dill on the side as well.
I hope you'll give this beautiful appetizer a try. I'm sure you and your guests will love it. As they are so easy to prepare and so much fun to eat. Until next time. Please take care and enjoy the nice weather of Spring!
Friday, April 4, 2014
Easter is just around the corner. I truly adore this time of the year as Springs symbolized growth and new lives. (In case if you wonder...NO, I'm not pregnant, I'm just referring to my plants in the garden!) Another great news for foodies? It’s the strawberry season! Although I pretty much get strawberries all year round in California, I know many of you had been looking forward to the strawberry harvest time for a while. The inspiration for these Lemon and Strawberry Cream Sandwich Cookies? The Easter bunny of course. And I love pairing strawberries with lemons, as the refreshing and citrus aroma compliment well with the sweet and tart strawberries. Okay, these are not exactly Easter bunnies as you might already knew. It’s a very famous children books/cartoon character called Miffy. Click here to the link for the Miffy Cookie Cutters if you’re interested.
I added some almond meal (almond flour) in the cookie dough for a hint of nutty flavor. The cookies are packed with lemon zests and the lemony aroma truly shines through in these cookies. The cookies alone are wonderful and makes perfect ice cream toppers, such as this one. The strawberry cream filling is one of the easiest fillings I've ever made. Yet, it’s packed with wonderful strawberry goodness and flavor. Both the cookies and strawberry cream are not overly sweet. But if you like yours sweeter, feel free to add a bit more powdered sugar when you make the fillings.
I can’t wait to take my Kiddos out to the annual Easter Egg Hunt. I know, that sounds like a big even/outing. Actually, we usually just “hunt” the goodies packed plastic eggs at the backyard. However, my kids always look forward to it and enjoy it so much every time. I love it when little things in life like this can bring so much joy to them. Do you have any plans for Easter? I would love to hear from you.