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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐

It's a popular and easy to make spicy dish consists of ground beef or pork, tofu and a spicy chili sauce from the Szechuan Province in China. There are different variations but this version I'm making is my mom's recipe.

This recipe serves 4-5 people.

  • 1/2 lb ground pork or beef
  • 1 lb medium firm tofu, in 1/2 inch cubes (no silken tofu since it will turn into mush)
  • 1 tbs veggie oil or any light tasteless oil
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 3 tbs thinly sliced scallion/green onion
  • 2 tbs spicy chili bean paste 辣豆瓣醬 (add more if you like it more spicy)
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsb sesame oil 
  • 1 tsb dry sherry or sake
  • 1 tbs corn starch dissolved in 2 tbs cold water
Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Brown the minced meat in the veggie oil on medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir-fry for a minute. Add the sauce, tofu and 1 tab sliced scallion then stir gently. Let it simmer until the sauce thickens (10 minutes). Serve in a big enough bowl then sprinkle the remaining 2 tbs of sliced scallions on top. Serve with steamed white rice or pour some over ramen!

Since J won't eat Mapo Tofu I made him Filet Mignon instead.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shake Shack Review

Yes, it is the same Shake Shack that originally started at Madison Square Park in NYC. The MSP location even got a webcam so you can see how long the line is in the summer (sometimes over an hour!). A lot of people in the area (lower Fairfield County) were extremely excited about it opening in Westport, I think more than Tarry Lodge. Me on the other hand had my reservations. Having grew up in Southern California I'm naturally bias to IN-N-OUT. I tried my hardest to have an open mind. We got there around 7 PM and the line was almost out the door. I was impressed by how fast the line went.

Here is our order: 2 Shake Burgers ($4.75 each and doesn't even have bacon), 1 large root beer ($3.40), french fries ($2.75) and a strawberry shake (tiny cup for $5). The total with tax came to $21.97.

So was it worth the $$?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! The burgers were small and tasted average. French fries taste like the average fast food crinkle cut fries and the shake was ok. IN-N-OUT totally blow Shake Shack out of the water. Heck, even Duchess' is better. I really do not understand what all the hype is all about. I will go back again but not for the burger; for the frozen custard since by the time I was done with the burger the line got way too long (out the door on the deck).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Westport Restaurant Openings

One of my earlier posts was about Mario Batali opening a new restaurant in the Saugatuck section of Westport (down the street from where we live). Well it's here! It's called Tarry Lodge which has another location in Port Chester, NY. It is a joint venture of Batali and Joe Bastianich, who is the son of Lidia. I remember I used to watch Lidia's cooking show on PBS during college between classes.  J and I were on the Harley today and saw there were people dining in there. We went in and found out today is their soft opening. The grand opening will be next Tuesday the 19th. Which is one day before Shake Shack (opening Wednesday). We only took a quick look but so far the interior looks nice but I found it to be a little dark. Our goal for next week is to eat at both restaurants. I'm more excited about Tarry Lodge since the menu looks simple and delicious. Having lived in Southern California, most burgers can't compare to In-N-Out. To me Shack Shake is just another burger joint, maybe it will change my mind but I guess we will find out next weekend.

A side note. Tonight for dinner we went to the new Asian Buffet in Orange with J's family and Father Seraphim and his family to celebrate Father Seraphim's birthday. Being a food snob, J refuse to eat anything there so I had to make him dinner when we got home. I have some Kobe beef patties from Trader Joe's so that's what he had.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trash the Dress Preview

Our photographer posted some of the teasers on their Facebook page so here they are...

Beef Lo Mein & Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

My sister in-law Dawn is having her second child this coming Monday. I can't say I know how she's feeling but I know that being pregnant in this crazy hot weather is not easy. I wanted to bring her some noodles since she really likes the Asian foods I make. For the Beef Lo Mein, I used the recipe from Steamy Kitchen since it's very similar to the noodle my mom makes. I added scallions and swap out the Chinese broccoli with frozen stir fry veggies. For the noodles, instead of dry noodles I used the fresh Chinese egg noodles from the local Chinese grocer.   I also made Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge since I was craving chocolate. I used recipes of peanut butter fudge and regular chocolate fudge then cut each recipe in half since I didn't want to end up having 5 lbs of fudge.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

White Chocolate Berry Coffee Cake

Stop and Shop was having a buy one get one free for the small package of blackberries and raspberries so of course I had to get them. I ate some for breakfast yesterday and used the rest to make this coffee cake.

  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen berries of your choice
Streusel Topping
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 8x8 pan. 

Cake part- In a large bowl, cream together all the wet ingredients except the berries then add all the dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated. Fold in the berries into the cake batter. Pour the berry cake batter into a greased 8x8 pan. 

Streusel part- In a small bowl, mix together the streusel ingredients then sprinkle the mixture on top of the berry cake batter. 

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Easy Steak Dinner

Normally I use Filet Mignon since it's J's favorite but any steak connoisseur will tell you that fat equals flavor so my preference lies with Delmonico or Rib-Eye. Since none of the above cuts were on sale I decided on getting the NY strip that was on sale. I rubbed the meat with veggie oil and Worcestershire sauce then sprinkled Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning on both sides. For side dishes I just quickly sautéed broccoli, onion and green peppers. J also got a baked potato loaded with butter, cheese and sour cream. I skipped that since I'm trying to eat healthier.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Whoopie Pies and Trash the Dress

Happy almost 4th of July! Tomorrow (July 3) my in-laws are having their 4th of July pool party not only did I make a Sopapilla Cheesecake but also two kinds of Whoopie Pies; Chocolate Whoopies with marshmallow frosting and Carrot Cake Whoopie with Cream Cheese Icing. I really wanted to make something more complicated like a two tier cake with fondant but then I'm so busy lately I just said screw it.

Trash the Dress Photo Shoot (click for explanation)
Today J and I had our Trash the Dress session with Photology Studios. I really don't see the point of keeping it in pristine condition if I can't sell it (I'm 4'11'', size 2 so I don't know who is going to buy it). I found out about them through one of my high school friend Allison (her husband is the super talented main photographer!). Not only did we shoot with J's Harley Davidson but also in the water on Woodmont Beach. I definitely was not afraid to get dirty! When we were on the beach there were a group of people having a get together and they couldn't believe I went into the water with my dress. Even the Police Officer who was driving by slowed down to look. I really can't wait to see the final result!

Thanks Allison, Xuan and Xuan's sister (our second shooter)!

Below are some of the stains collected from today's shoot. There are some light stains on the upper part of the dress but most stains were on the bottom. Since my mom wants me to keep the dress I guess I'll bring it in to get it dry clean but I won't be upset if they can't get the stubborn stains out.