Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cafe Zitouna

Today, I went to Cafe Zitouna for lunch with my coworkers. It is a Moroccan – Tunisian halal restaurant on Polk Street. I ordered the super falafel sandwich and we shared a pot of Moroccan mint tea. The falafel sandwich had avocado in it which was a good surprising addition and the mint tea was very refreshing. I would definitely go back there to try out their kabab and tajine dishes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Soy-Braised Chicken

Tonight, I made Soy-Braised Chicken from Appetite For China. It's good, easy to make and I think it's pretty healthy. What do you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Braised Lamb Shanks

It was raining all day today so I decided to stay in and cook Braised Lamb Shanks... I got the idea from Helen Graves' Food Stories and the lamb shanks from Mission Meat Market. Of course, I made some changes to the recipe:
  • Asked the nice butcher at the market to cut each of lamb shank to 3 big chunks so I could easily handled them.
  • Marinated the shanks overnight with a mix of coriander, fennel, sweet paprika, chayenne pepper, nutmeg, black pepper and salt.
  • Had two sets of vegetables – one consisted of big chunks of vegetables (carrot, onion, leeks) that I browned, set aside and put back into the pot in the last 30 minutes of cooking and the other consisted of chopped vegetables which I used to enrich the broth while cooking the shanks.
  • Added currants and orange zests to the couscous.

In addition to the lamb shanks, I baked Oatmeal Cookies with freshly grated nutmeg, orange zest, currants and dried cranberries.

I don't mean to brag but I think I'm a pretty darn good cook – both the lamb shanks and the cookies turned out really well. Let's put it this way, I even forgot to pour myself a glass of wine (Argiolas Perdera's 2006 Italian red wine purchased from Biondivino) because I could not wait to eat. I didn't remember the wine until my second plate. Of course, I totally 'shuffled' in my food... whoops!

End of the night update: Total intake... two plates of lamb shanks & couscous and three cookies. Boy, I hope that I will get a bonus this year because I really need to join the gym.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of blogs and articles online about chickpeas. Since I was not planning to go out tonight, I decided to make Roasted Spiced Chickpeas instead. I used the recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen as a template and improvised it according to the spices I had at home.

It turned out pretty good, I loved the crunchiness and spiced flavor. However, for some reason, I couldn't eat more than five chickpeas together because my mouth would get really dry. I guessed that's a good thing since I would not gorge myself.

Farmers Market

Today was a beautiful, sunny and somewhat warm San Francisco winter day. I met with Mo-Fo and Danny at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. We started our Saturday rituals at the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk with some New Orleans Ice Coffee...

and we decided to share Porchetta Sandwich from Roti Roli and Chicken Chalupas from Primavera.

After eating, we got some fresh vegetables for the week. I love the fact the San Francisco has a great selection of fresh vegetables even during the winter time. I wished Porgy could have joined us today, he would have enjoyed it... maybe some day soon?

Friday, February 20, 2009


Today, I went to the Mission District in San Francisco with my coworkers for lunch. I decided to check out La Santaneca de la Mission after reading raved reviews on Yelp on their pupusas and the fact that I've been thinking about it since last week.

Since we were the only non-Hispanic people there, I had high expectation. I ordered a side of chicken tamale and a combination plate of one pork pupusa, one pork and cheese pupusa with rice and beans.

Although I liked the food and will probably come back again to try out other Salvadoran dishes, I prefer the pupusas from the Red Hook Food Vendors (at Brooklyn Flea Market) – flavor and texture wise. There are several other restaurants with good pupusas mentioned on Yelp, so my hunt for great pupusas in SF continues.

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

To celebrate President's Day, Porgy and I decided to have American food. We met our friends Dan, Aaron and Charlotte at City Bakery for the annual Hot Chocolate Festival. Today's special flavor was Darkest Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate. It was super rich so I only had a few small sips.

For dinner, we went to 67 Burger in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Porgy had the Cheddar Cheese Burger and a Stella, and I had the Bacon & Blue Cheese Burger with Brooklyn Lager. We both shared a side of curly fries.

They were good and moderately priced. Afterwards, we had to waddle home because we were so stuffed, but we didn't mind.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brooklyn Flea Market

Today, Porgy and I decided to check out the Brooklyn Flea Market in Dumbo. There were lots of interesting vendors, but I was most impressed with the food.

Unfortunately, we went there soon after breakfast (Merquez spicy lamb sausage sandwich from last night's dinner with Sal at Bedouin Tent ) so we were still somewhat full.

Near the entrance, we noticed the gorgeous pastries from Choice Market.

After looking around, we decided to get the Sampler Platter from Red Hook Food Vendors to share. It had tamales, pupusas (stuffed corn tortilla), chorizo sausage, fried plantains, rice, beans and red cabbage slaw. It was delicious.

When I'm back in SF, I'll be on the hunt for great pupusas. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Banana Bread

I had been thinking about making banana bread since the beginning of the year. I bought the bananas almost 2 weeks ago and waited patiently for them to get super ripe (the skin turned completely black and had a strong smell). I used the Banana Bread recipe from and made the following changes:
  • added 3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into the dry ingredients
  • folded in 3/4 cup of chopped toasted walnuts into the banana mixture
  • sprinkled with a topping of 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup flour, 3 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Since I didn't have a 9x5 loaf pan, I used an 8x3 disposable aluminum loaf pan and silicone cupcake molds – baking the muffins for only 30 minutes.

I was happy with the results. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Next time, I will improvise by adding other seasonings just for fun.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mrs. Mo-Fo's Birthday at Moss Room

This evening, we celebrated Mrs. Mo-Fo's birthday at the Moss Room located in the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

We really enjoyed the restaurant but it was only half full... I was not sure if it was because of the bad economy or because it was Thursday. I took pictures of the food, unfortunately most of them did not turn out well due to the low lighting in the restaurant. I really need to learn how to take better pictures in restaurants!

For the appetizer, I had the cauliflower soup, mackerels for the main course and vacherin for dessert. Vacherin is a blend of swiss meringue, coffee gelato, chocolate sauce, a flurry of almonds and creme anglaise. It's crazy rich but oh it was so freaking good!

Here are a few good pictures of food that we took: Grilled Monterey squid with saffron rice…

Lamb shank with pearl couscous…

and Roasted shredded brussel sprouts with chickpeas.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Had a relaxing brunch at Canteen: Egg Benedict and house coffee.

Chicken in Spiced Coconut Sauce and Chayotes Stew

Tonight I had Mo-Fo Duo, ShunBun, Danny and Craig over for an Indonesian dinner at my place. I made Chicken in Spiced Coconut Sauce (Opor Ayam) and Chayotes Stew (Sayur Labu Lodeh). I used to have them for Cap Go Meh (Chinese New Year Lantern Festival) growing up.

ShunBun brought a Chinese New Year Rice Cake (Nian Gao) which he deep-fried with some sugar, flour & water coating. It was my first time having it and I liked it. It reminded me of Japanese mochi cake.

I spent the afternoon making the spice paste for both main courses by grinding the spices using a mortar pestle and cutting up the chayotes into small toothpick-sized juliennes.

I used my Mom's family recipe for the Chicken in Spiced Coconut Sauce and Chayote Stew. To keep the recipe in the family (and close and trusted friends)... here's the NYTimes version.

End product: Chayote, egg, yellow tofu and chicken sprinkled with fried shallots.

Danny brought some French Macaroons and a couple of Chocolate Cakes from La Boulange Cafe & Bakery and I deep-fried some bananas for dessert - although the fried bananas tasted good, the texture was a bit too gooey for me. Next time, I will use plantains instead.

We washed down our dinner with these yummy wines.