Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Last week for Christmas I made cream cheese cinnamon rolls. I thought it would be great for breakfast after having a wonderful Christmas eve dinner at Mo-Fo Duo's. I came across this recipe a few months ago at Joy the Baker and have been cooing over it ever since. Although it was a bit intimidating and complicated, her directions were very clear and easy to follow. The smell of the rolls baking Christmas morning was heavenly making it definitely worth the effort.

Here's her recipe with minimal adjustments from me...


For the Dough:
1 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more kneading
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

For the Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I didn't use this because BigDaddy is allergic to it)
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I substituted this with nutmeg)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I substituted this with honey)
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the icing:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk

  • In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to 115F. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Add remaining sugar, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Beat with a wire whisk by hand until well combined. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.
  • Add the butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes. The dough will be wet and sticky. Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. Set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  • While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, pecans, raisins, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the honey. Set aside.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface and gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky (for a couple minutes), adding more flour (a couple tablespoons of flour) as needed. Once it's no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before rolling it out.
  • Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10x10-inch square.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with a knife or spoon with it's smooth and spreadable.
  • Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square and fold the square into thirds. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square.
  • Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Some of the cream cheese might sneaks through so be gentle.
  • Turn the dough so that the short edge is near (or parallel) to you and brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter.
  • Pour all of the filling onto the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.
  • Carefully lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges and cut the cylinder into 8 equal slices.
  • Put the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish. Joy recommended light colored metal baking dish but I used a Pyrex baking dish instead. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours OR refrigerate rolls overnight.
  • Heat the oven to 375F and uncover the rolls. If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or so before baking. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • While the rolls are baking, whisk together the confectioner sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.
  • Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack. Brush with remaining butter and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a fork, drizzle the icing over the rolls.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Il Cane Rosso

Last night, after having a flight of wine at Press Club, I went to Il Cane Rosso in the Ferry Building with Porgy, Mo-Fo Duo, Auntie Sandy. It's a joint venture between Daniel Patterson of Coi and Lauren Kiino of (soon to be opened) Bracina and was first opened as a casual rotiseerie and sandwich shop earlier this year and started to serve early (5-8pm) dinner a couple months ago. Their menu is pretty straight forward yet high quality comfort food sourced from local farmers. Although Daniel Patterson is not the chef (Douglas Borkowski is), I still think that it's a good opportunity to sample DP food vision for a reasonable price. As usual, I forgot to bring my camera so I had to take pictures using my iPhone.

I felt so San Franciscan foodie because of we all sat on the hallway of Ferry Building in front the shop and that we had to endure the cold breeze every time people coming in and going out of the building. After checking out the menu, we all opted for the family style 3-course prix fixe dinner for $25 and picked the non-vegetarian option.

Arugula and radicchio salad with warm chicharrones, pecorino and sherry vinaigrette

House-smoked Marin Sun Farms spareribs with fennel-orange barbeque sauce and creamy Ridgecut polenta

Citrus torta with yogurt mousse and candied orange

In general, I think the food was great - although the ribs were a bit too salty for us. I loved the light and tasty salad with the chicharrones bits and the refreshing Citrus Torta. Porgy who usually only likes chocolate-based desserts even ate some of mine because he enjoyed it so much. I know I will go back there again for either lunch or dinner some time in near future.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Figs

I made this Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Fig dish for the Christmas Eve dinner at Mo-Fo Duo's. It was a combination of two recipes from David Chang's Momofuku book and Mark Bittman's Minimalist article. Porgy bought me a signed copy of the Momofuku book a couple months ago so I was glad that I was finally able to use it.

I loved Mark Bittman's idea of adding both the salty component (bacon) and the sweet component (fig) to the bitter and nutty Brussels sprouts but I liked having my sprouts halved instead of shredded (like the one in Momofuku book). Next time, I would add in some kimchi to provide some heat to the dish - as suggested by David Chang.

1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 lb Brussels Sprouts, halved
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt & pepper to taste

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  • In a oven proof large skillet over low medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until it crisps (for about 8 minutes).
  • Put the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off the excess oil.
  • Remove most of the bacon fat, leaving approximately 2 tablespoons on the pan, and add the sprout halves cut side down in a single layer.
  • Increase the heat to medium high and cook the sprouts, undisturbed for 6-8 minutes until the bottoms are well browned (and burned a bit).
  • Add in the shallots, dried figs and 1 more tablespoon of bacon fat and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in the white wine and shake the pan to redistribute the sprouts.
  • Put the whole pan into the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the bacon back into the pan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with Mo-Fo Duo, Auntie Sandy and Drew. It was a lovely and mellow dinner with great food, great wine and great people. Can't beat that combination!

Auntie Sandy made her famous Prime Ribs blanketed with rock salts

Mo-Fo made the Leek and Potato Gratin (which was so much better than my attempt last month) and stir-fry Sweet Peas

I made Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Figs

After the dinner, we all played Pictionary and, for the first time ever, we won a game against Mo-Fo Duo while snacking on Mo-Fo's Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes.

Yes, what a wonderful Christmas eve dinner it was...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tokyo - Part 2

Finally I have some free time to catch up with my blog... a month later! I thought I would not be too busy after I got back from my vacation but I was wrong as both work and my new aquarium had been keeping me on my toes - who knows setting up an ADA aquarium would be that hard (and costly too).

Anyway, here is the second part of my blog entry on my trip to Tokyo. I was so excited to be in Tokyo because it is such a beautiful and lively city and of course because there were so many delicious food to try. Sometimes we had difficulties ordering food because most (smaller) restaurants don't have English menu and either of us speak Japanese AND that the Porgy is allergic to seafood. Fortunately, some of our friends do speak Japanese so when we ate with them, we did not have to worry about using an EpiPen on Porgy afterward.

Izakaya in Shinjuku Sanchome: Ground chicken satay and daikon fries, Chicken karaage, Fried chicken and cheese (katsu style), and Pan friend Japanese potatoes.

Cute street food vendors

Maisen, great restaurant specializing in Tonkatsu. It's located in an old bath-house. I had a Kurobuta pork tonkatsu.

Neyn, a yummy and super cute donut shop in Midtown Roppongi district.

All you can eat Shabu-shabu and Sukiyaki in Shibuya.
Lunch at Roppongi: Grilled fish for me and Oyako-don for Porgy.

Kanda Yabu Soba in Marunochi district: Duck Soba, Unagi Soba and Buckwheat Mochi

Toriyoshi, a Yakitori place near Harajuku.

Espresso martini, Manhattan and Grilled cheese sandwich at New York Bar (Park Hyatt Tokyo).

Fantastic ramen place underneath Shinjuku Station: Shoyu ramen and Gyoza.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Wow... what a busy few weeks it has been - mountainous work loads, dealing with the burglary on my storage area (lost my new All Clad pots and pans... bummer), setting up a new 50-gallon ADA aquarium and going to Tokyo with Porgy for a well-deserved vacation. Now I'm somewhat back to my routine again although I haven't been inspired to cook lately. Thankfully, Porgy stepped up and cooked for us in the past few days.

I'm blogging our Tokyo trip as a two-part series because we had so much good food there and of course the infamous Tsukiji Fish Market. We arrived at the market around 10 am so we didn't get the chance to check out the early morning auction. However, we were lucky enough to still see the bustling and feel the pulse of the market. It was fantastic in a way that is hard to describe. In addition to checking out the market, we also had a fresh delicious salty sushi donburi. Needless to say, I had a big smile on my face for the couple of hours that we spent there.

Clockwise from top left: Tsukiji market scene, the wooden cart they use to transport the fish, dissecting a whole tuna, selection of knives at one of the vendors.

Clockwise from top left: Wonderful and logical sense, variety of fish on display, front shot of the trucks that they use for transportation (I was smiling like that), octopus.

Whale meat kiosk (I didn't try one).

Various shots of fish and prawn. Look at the high quality of the products!

Cockles clam - i used to have steam cockles back at home in Indonesia. Yummy!

The restaurant that we went to for our sushi donburi breakfast

Clockwise from top left: amaebi (raw shrimp), tamago (egg), hotate (scallop), maguro (tuna), chopped tuna with scallions, ika (squid). Center: ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Red Wine Braised Shortribs ala Hubert Keller

Earlier this, I tried Hubert Keller's Red Wine Braised Shortribs after watching his Secrets of a Chef show on PBS - serving it with corned polenta, stir fry bok choy and a bottle of J Winery's 2007 Pinotage.

Here's his recipe with a couple changes:

4 pounds bone-in short ribs
salt and pepper
chayenne (my addition)
chili pepper (my addition)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 stalk lemongrass
1 1/2 cups red wine, pinot noir preferably
1 cup strong coffee (my addition)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 sprig fresh sage

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Heat olive oil in a 5-quart saute or casserole pan over high heat.
  • Lay the short ribs out on a clean work surface and season all sides with salt, pepper, chayenne and chili pepper.
  • When oil is almost smoking, add ribs and let sear on high heat, 5 minutes per side or until well browned. Use tongs to rotate the ribs.
  • Once browned on all sides, remove ribs with tongs and place on a baking tray.
  • Add onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic to the same pan.
  • Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of the knife, slice, and add to pan. Saute vegetables for 2 minutes, or until softened.
  • Over high heat, add red wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon as wine comes to a boil.
  • Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parsley, beef stock, coffee and sage leaves to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ribs back into pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Place casserole in pre-heated oven for 1.5 hours. Remove cover and continue cooking for an additional 1 hour.
  • When rib meat is very tender, remove ribs from oven, using tongs to place on baking tray. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  • Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan, removing all of the vegetables. Over medium low heat, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes until darker in color and thicker. Add the ribs to reheat.
  • Serve ribs with sauce over polenta and bok choy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Flourless Spiced Apple and Almond Tea Cake

A couple weeks ago I came across Flourless Apple and Almond Tea Cake at Citrus and Candy. The recipe seemed simple enough to follow and would be a perfect mid-day snack when I'm needing an energy boost.

In order to cut cost (since I bought most of my ingredients at Whole Foods), I decided to make my own almond meal by grinding the almonds in the food processor. It turned out delicious, but unfortunately was on the crumbly side because I couldn't grind the almond meal small enough. Next time I'll make it easy on myself and buy the almond flour, hopefully then it will turn out better. Lesson learned... In baking, just follow the recipe and not improvise like in cooking.

Here's the recipe according to Citrus and Candy, with the changes that I made:

3 small apples - cored and cut into 8 wedges
30g (1.06 oz) unsalted butter
4 cloves (the original recipe only calls for 2)
4 cardamom (my addition)
50g (1.76 oz) raw caster sugar (I use powdered sugar, a mistake here. Maybe using regular sugar will be better?)
75g (2.65 oz or 1/2 cup) raisins

260g (9.17 oz) almond meal
220g (7.76 oz) almond
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground ginger (the original recipe only calls for 2)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (my addition)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my addition)
4 eggs
230g (8.11 oz) raw caster sugar (I used regular sugar)
125ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup

Apple and Almond Topping
2 red gala or granny smith apples - cored and thinly sliced
50g (1.76 oz) almonds, roughly chopped
20g (0.70 oz) unsalted butter - melted and slightly cooled
sprinkles of raw turbinado sugar

  • In a pan large enough to fit the apples in a single layer, melt the butter over medium heat and add the apples, cloves, cardamoms and sugar and mix to coat.
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are starting to color and softened.
  • Remove the cloves and cardamoms, and add raisins and stir for a minute or two until raisins have softened.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 160C (325F) and grease and line a 10-inch springform tin with baking paper.
  • In a food processor, pulse the almond meal, almonds, baking powder, ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon until roughly chopped. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and maple syrup until thick, pale and fluffy - at least 5 minutes with an electric mixer. Note: After 5 minutes, mine still looked a bit watery and didn't get thicken up.
  • Add the almond nut mixture and gently fold to combine.
  • Add the apple mixture and gently fold to incorporate. Pour into a cake tin.
  • Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake batter, overlapping a little to make a decorative circular pattern. Sprinkle the nuts over, drizzle with melted butter and scatter with sugars.
  • Bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes (mine was closer to 75 minutes) until skewer comes out clean of cake batter.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the cake pan before slicing and serving.

Shredded Beef with TriColor Beans and Tofu Puffs

I love using tofu puffs in Chinese dishes because they absorb the sauce's flavor very well. This Shredded Beef with TriColor Beans and Tofu Puffs is a nice comfort stir fry dish to be eaten on Sunday night. The crunchiness of the beans compliments well with the tofu puffs.

BTW, do you know that purple beans would change its color to green when fully cooked? I didn't know that, I wonder why...

1 lb stir-fry beef meat, shredded (cut into strips)
1 lb of green beans
1 lb of yellow beans
1 lb of purple beans
1 pack of tofu puffs
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon of chinese shaoxing rice wine
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of corn starch
1/8 cup of water
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 teaspoon of corn starch, diluted in cold water in a small bowl

  • Marinate the shredded beef meats with garlic, soy sauce, mirin, shaoxing wine, salt, white pepper, red pepper flakes and corn starch for at least 1 hour.
  • Before stir-frying the beef, add a tablespoon of oil to the meat so it won't stick to the pan.
  • Stir fry the beef with a couple tablespoon of oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat until just cooked. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, stir fry the onion for a couple of minutes with a small amount of oil.
  • Add in the beans and water and cook covered for 5 minutes until the beans are just al dente.
  • Add back in the beef, tofu puffs, oyster sauce and dissolved corn starch. Mix well.
  • Add the chopped parsley and stir together.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banana Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Last night I made Banana Blueberry Lemon Muffins for my office's bake sale as part of Week of Caring/Community Support month. I used the recipe from Dragon's Kitchen and made some adjustment (added one more banana and blueberry) because I wanted the muffins to be lighter and more fruity. In addition to the muffins, I also made our Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies - we refrigerated the dough for 24 hours for better texture and more concentrated flavor.

2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 oz blueberries
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons raw sugar

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease muffin tin.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and lemon rind.
  • Beat together bananas, eggs, brown sugar, butter, lemon juice and vanilla until blended.
  • Stir in dry ingredients until blended. Stir in blueberries just until combined. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, dividing batter equally.
  • Sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the muffins.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

The San Francisco weather has been so strange lately. One day, it's above 80F and sunny... and then it'd be cold, windy and in the 50's next day. It's totally affecting my appetite and what I'm craving for. This Thai Coconut Chicken Soup is a versatile dish that can be eaten during warm or cold weather. The light coconut milk broth with hints of lemon grass and galangal would cool you down and the spiced chillies would warm you up. I love sitting on my couch and slurping this delicious soup while watching campy TV shows or movies.

Note: You might be able to find Galangal in Asian groceries. It's a relative to Ginger root but tastes different and more fragrant. If you can't find it, according to some websites, you can substitute it with ginger and some lime juice.

1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut in strips
1 lb red potatoes, cut into quarter
1 can of straw mushrooms
3 cups of coconut milk
1.5 cups of water
2 stalks of lemon grass (cut into 3-inch lengths and pounded)
6 kaffir lime leaves (lightly bruised to release the flavor)
6 slices galangal
5 dried red chillies, seeded and soaked with water
5 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of half lime
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

  • Stir fry the onion with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the lemon grass, galangal, dried chillies, kaffir lime leaves and stir fry for a few more minutes until fragrant.
  • Add coconut milk and water into the pot and bring it to boil.
  • Add the potatoes and bring to boil again.
  • Add straw mushrooms and chicken and boil it on medium heat for a few minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add lime juice and fish sauce to taste.
  • Add chopped cilantro before serving.

Greek Bread Salad (Panzanella)

Lisa & Aaron invited us to their place for a dinner party last Saturday. Since Lisa is a very good cook, I thought I should make something delicious and tasty but not too complicated for me to follow (I had hungover from the night before) - so I went through Barefoot Contessa recipes online and found this yummy looking Greek Panzanella. This dish has a nice Greek twist with the addition of olives and feta cheese and it's easy to make to.

The menu:

Pre-dinner snack:

Greek Panzanella:

Super-moist Roast Pork Loin:

Farmer's Market roasted baby squash and red potatoes:

Thanks for a lovely dinner, Lisa! Next time, it's our turn to have you guys over for a mellow Saturday night dinner. Or we can just do an all out sushi dinner while we're in Tokyo. =)

Here is the recipe of the Greek Bread Salad from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa... Enjoy!

Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

  • Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
  • Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables.
  • Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  • Serve at room temperature.