Monday, November 21, 2011

Yo quiero taquitos a las 6!!

Yes, I woke up at 6am craving taquitos.

I hardly ever eat breakfast, especially on the weekend. I have no idea why. I just always have been that way.

I sat in my bed too lazy to wake up yet tooo hungry to ignore my stomach. It was yelling at me.  Thinking about how I am going to use up my 120 corn tortillas in my fridge (actually 40 in my fridge and 80 in the freezer).  Gotta love Costco. Less than $3 for 120 tortillas now that's a STEAL. 

Meat is not in my diet therefore I am on a constant mission to improvise anything I make.  Veggie patties mashed with onions and voilà! I have taquitos.

the filling
So I make the filling and roll. I roll and ended up with these. These bad boys weren't those frozen Jose-Juan-Tia Maria brands at the grocery store where they just put a little filling. I had them FILLED. I could only eat 3 at a time.

before I fry
There is the option to either fry or put it in the oven and bake it.  Being a very impatient person, I opted to fry mine.  I didn't have the patience to stare at an oven telling it to ¡apúrate!

My end result: 
I might have cooked em a little toooo long. Oh well. It was crispy. Served with salsa and sour cream (Yes I am aware sour cream is dairy and I shouldn't have it. But I didn't care)

I bet you can't tell that's not meat!

My veggie taquitos were good. Definitely going to start making this more often.

I guess this is the beauty of living in California.  You learn to make Mexican cuisine and get to the point of making "decent/good Mexican food" because you have something to compare it to.  Imagine living in the middle of Tibet or China.  If that is the case, your Mexican food is probably good there but don't expect too much when you return to the States- better yet, Mexico.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spicy Thai-m

Um, don't ask me to make something and expect it not to be spicy.

I am addicted to chili flakes, hot sauce, and peppers.  Anything, you name it. I'll eat it if it's hot. Don't give me mild, kinda-hot, give me HOT.

Funny story: The Dutch don't eat spicy. It's just not part of the cuisine.  When I was in the Netherlands, my girlfriends and I decided to head to a local Thai restaurant in the town square that we had never been to.  The choices were level 1 mild, level 2 spicy, level 3 damn hot. I looked in the kitchen and it was a small Thai lady cooking. I judge the level of spicy by who is cooking. She looked straight-Thai-local so I stuck to level 2. Good choice. I was fine, perfect amount of hot.  Didn't make me sweat but it sure made my Dutch friend sweat at level 1. She even order a glass of melk. But whatever, that's the joys of traveling. Food and culture.

When I was in Thailand, I brought home spices. Chili spices. Oh yes. Party in my mouth.

I bought a red curry paste that they sell by weight at the supermarket. Kind of like a Super Target but imagine everything in Thai. It was 17 baht. I have no idea what that translates to except for f-n cheap.

My mother tells me "I want Thai curry.  Go make some" "Yes mother (smile)"

I heat the oil and add some paste... I think it needs a little more... maaaybe a little more. Whoops. My bad. Too spicy for the people in my house except me. HAHA.  My mothers solution, a WHOLE can of Coconut Cream. Not milk. Cream. Oh maan. It made it sweeter, still good except it wasn't spicy anymore. Uber sad face. Whatever, I ended up doing the same thing again the second time around. I will never learn.

So here is a picture of my Pumpkin Red Curry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A failed attempt at American cuisine

So I have never made baked mac n cheese in my life. I think I have found the reason, more so an excuse as to why I have never tried. A large amount of butter, milk, pasta and cheese- heart clogging premature death menu.

After a semi-failed attempt at hiking today. Not even sure as to how that happened.. First, we don't know where to hike. Second, We didn't know how to get there. Third, once we got there, where the entrance to the trail was so we ran after a runner, realized there are cars and saw a lady go on the trail with her dog and followed her in a non-creepy fashion. Casual and cool.  I thought we were gonna have a nice ocean view. Yah, no that didn't happen. Just dry California mini mountains and doggie poo here and there.  In total, "our hike" was about 3 miles, we turned around and went to Jamba Juice and the SPCA.

Back to me being "American"

My friend wanted mac n cheese and picked up a Kraft Mac n Cheese box. I cringe at the color of neon orange and extra skinny pasta. I suggested, baking one since we had nothing else better to do. We had to break in her kitchen somehow. At the store I was looking at elbow pasta while she kept insisting on getting a fancy twirly bag of Target Archer brand thing. We get to the cash register and she goes "You didn't get the pasta!" "You didn't want elbow pasta!" "Ah, whatever we can use this Kraft box"

Big mistake. Not a baking pasta let alone an eating pasta.

We mix the butter and flour, add salt, eventually some milk. Whisk.  Whisk. Cheese. Boiled pasta. Bake at 375F for 20 min. No breadcrumb topping but probably not going to make a difference. That shit was NAASTY. eww.

The pasta was all soggy and soft..Pasty..kind of cheesy. This is probably good for after a late night out and you're drunk hungry.  

I'm not Mexican but I can make a decent batch of Mexican rice and beans. Mac n Cheese, add that to the failed attempt of American Cuisine #1. I probably can't make meatloaf either since I don't like meat and a block of meat is eww. 

Lesson from this failed attempt: Do not follow a pasta box recipe for Mac n Cheese.  Do not make Mac n Cheese. Stick to Japanese food.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sticky Thai time

I love Thai food and I have been blessed with having Thai family members.  So every chance I get, I am stuffing my face with an obscene amount of food I can't pronounce let alone know what it's called. THANK GOD for the internet. With a few descriptions of what I'm eating in Google, and either Wikipedia or a website will let me know the name. So that is exactly what I have done.

khanom tua pap

Today around 16:00, I was handed a bag of egg rolls, pad thai and (from my internet research) khanom tua pap.  It is a semisweet sticky rice with mung beans in the middle rolled in fresh shredded coconut, sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and sesame seeds. (If I am wrong, someone please correct me).  

So the outer part of the dessert is similar to mochi but is not as sweet. The mung bean is nutty yet adds texture to the stickiness of the outer part. Then comes my favorite. Coconut. I love coconut. I hated it when I was little, but not sure when, I fell in love with it. So back to the coconut on the dessert.  It adds a whole different dimension of nutty. The coconut shredded, creamy yet fresh flavor is a great compliment to the mung bean and slight sweetness of the mochi.  Then the sugar sprinkled on top layers another texture of graininess, so to speak. But it isn't in a bad way. Normally, it is served with a toasted sesame seeds and sugar, but I prefer sugar. I've seen online that there are different colors to the "mochi" portion but in reality, food coloring scares me to death. 

The next dessert that was in my goodie bag happens to be a coconut jelly. Simple coconut milk with gelatin.  It has a subtle coconut smell that is not overpowering so it is easy to eat. The texture similar to kanten (Japanese for agar- a gelatin made from seaweed).  The mold is quite eye catching but still makes me devour it in an instant. 

coconut jelly

I'll show more of my Thai dessert pictures at a later time from when I went to Thailand. 

More to come! Any suggestions to other delish Thai desserts/food, please share!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Under the weather...

I've been a little under the weather.  But my next review is already in my cupboard from Japan.  I've also discovered a supermarket I want to check out in the city so after I find something interesting there, I will share all.

Until then, explore your taste buds regardless of the weather!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How many marks does Denmark get?

Taste of Denmark- small local co-op bakery located in Downtown Oakland has been a local favorite for over 60 years.  It used to be called Neldams but changed ownership about a year ago.  I took notice of the establishment recently and decided to explore my European taste buds. 

Taste of Denmark is not super expensive but is not super cheap either.   It is filled with danishes, croissants, cakes, breads and pies with a small section for sit down eating.  Not only can you eat there, you can peer into a large window revealing the kitchen, that way you know you are not getting a weird cake made in some other kitchen.  It is kind of like stepping to the 1960s.   I never existed during that time but from my movie watching experiences, I feel like it is a cross of The Sandlot, New York and old black and white photos of the South (like the famous civil rights picture taken at Woolworth's lunch counter).  There is free parking across the street which is shared with another establishment.  But parking has never been an issue.  

I chose 2 kinds of cake with my mother- Raspberry filled mille-feuille with a chocolate frosting and a strawberry shortcake. 

The cake got a little ruffled during transport.  No biggie.
The raspberry mille-feuille cake was filled with a light whipped cream with a hint of cream cheese layered with mille-feuille and raspberry jam.  But between each light puff pastry you could taste the powdered sugar. There was perfect amount of mille-feuille.  Sometimes when there is too much, it makes the cake too flaky and dry.  The top was frosted with a rich milk chocolate and a swirly design of a pink chocolaty berry frosting.  It's not that faint pink color a baby’s room is painted-it was HOT pink.  WOOW. Hot pink on a cake, you know that's not natural.  The cake was definitely not a taste of Denmark.  I have never been to Denmark (yet) but it was American sweet. Those who have traveled abroad know America is just crazy for sugar. I have no idea why but the majority of cakes and cookies in America are piercing knives to my teeth.  I feel like a cavity would form while chewing.  I think I could have done with out the chocolate frosting since it tasted like straight Hershey’s chocolate bar, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. I think that there are too many layers of flavor for that cake. This can easily be shared between 2 or 3 people if coffee is served. 

Again, ruffled and my strawberry fell off. But I stuck that sucker right back on!
I also bought the strawberry shortcake. A classic to most people, but so different. It had a soft yet firm sponge cake. Not overpoweringly sweet. As you might have noticed, I absolutely love cake and anything sold in a bakery. The aroma of the sponge cake, chocolate, whipped frosting, fruit, cookies, and coffee is just overwhelming for me that I often walk out of bakeries empty handed since I simply cannot make a decision. Occasionally and most of the time, cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream the ratio is not to my liking. I like fruit but not too much cream (since I am lactose and in reality I am not a fan of milk-though I an addicted to all cheeses, except asiago cheese).  The top layer of cake is soft but the bottom layer of cake has been moistened and soaked in a sweet milk concoction of delish- similar to the tres leches cake.  The strawberries were fresh and big and chunky, which is always a plus.

Sorry my pictures are utter crap right now. I am just trying to get the idea across so you have some idea of what I am talking about.  I often get overly excited and impatient- I just want to dive right in (often my problem in cooking since I can't wait for things to cool and sample while cooking out of the pot).  

So after comparing the 2 cakes today, I am leaning toward the strawberry shortcake. Call me classic but cake is made to be simple.  Not overly done with food coloring, decorations that taste like chemicals, plastic decorations, drowning in whipped topping. It is a cake- one where you are to stop and enjoy that moment whether it may be at your house, job, and local cafe.  A hundred years ago, I don’t think that bakers made cake with all the preservative, food coloring, hydrogenated oil crap we put in our cakes today.

Taste of Denmark gets 3.5 out of 5 marks from me.  Has anybody been there and are there any recommendations?

Monday, September 26, 2011

1st post. 1st churro.

There are doughnuts in America, beignets in France and New Orleans, youtiao in China and sata andagi in Japan. But Spain and Mexico has the churro.  I guess fried dough is a globally embraced cuisine.

Disneyland.  That was my very first churro that I can remember.  It wasn't the best, but as a child, it was heaven.  The sugar and cinnamon was something I didn't get to eat often.

Fast forward 20 years later.

My first experience with a real churro was in Madrid, Spain.  A small café tucked away off the main street. Name of the café has slipped my mind. Blaming the birthdays.

In Spain, churros are not your typical $1 fried sugar coated dough from Taco Bell.  It is served with hot chocolate.  The chocolate is thick, obviously hot and not American chocolate sweet.  Simple and delicious.  America is on a constant mission to SUPERSIZE anything and everything, but the Spanish churros are smaller and more like fingerfood. Dip the churro in the chocolate and enjoy!

I was exploring a local Chinese market with my mother the other day and stumbled upon a box.  A yellow golden box with a free pastry bag- tip included.  What could be better?  My mother and I heard angels. Churros out of a box like pancakes made by Tres Estrellas.  You can't find that my Safeway.  It was just weird since we made this discovery at a Chinese market and not a Mexican market.  I guess this is one of the perks of living in America. It is a constant cultural adventure.  Although the 100 Yen Shop in Japan occasionally carries Crystal Hot Sauce. A miraculous find I must say. 

Given that it is a "Product of Mexico"- English and Spanish directions are a given, especially in California. I'm not kitchen challenged. Yes, there are somethings that I cannot make but for those who are, I think they would have turned this simple box into a fried disaster and a potential fire hazard.  The Spanish directions call for "Hierva aproximadamente 1 taza de agua" and "1 1/2 taza de harina" which from my five years of high school and college Spanish, is to boil 1 cup of water and 1 and 1/2 cups of flour (but not together).  Flip the box to the English side and it will instruct you to boil 1 cup of water and pour the water into the churro mix.  How much churro mix? I don't know. It's Lost in Translation. Plus, step 5 is to "Fry fte Churros until brown" - spelling error.  Got to love those spelling errors, typos, however you may decide to categorize them, it is an epic fail nonetheless.  The English side of the box says you get a "FREE PASTY Bag"- hooray. I love pasty bags. Not sure what it is, but anything that comes out of a box-food related, I'm sure you can't go wrong.  Just like those Cracker Jack boxes.

We fried. We dipped. We ate.

This is a simple and whoever is unfortunate to mess this up. I wish the best for those who depend on their cooking. But as the common saying, "Practice makes perfect."  Don't fry the churros till they are brown; Aim for golden.  That way it has that slight crunch yet, doughy on the inside.  The chocolate is optional.  My mother and I opted for more a smooth and silky chocolate, as opposed to a thick and creamy chocolate. 
I like my chocolate smooth.
In the end this box churro gets my Tres Estrellas for convenience, taste and price.  Less than $2 a box.  Sure beats pancakes on a Sunday morning.