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.