Something's cooking in Apartment 205.

Archive for the ‘by Deanne’ Category

Grandma’s Green Onion Pancakes

In by Deanne, The Traveling Foodie on July 15 at 6:30 am

When I first arrived in Taiwan for my two-month trip, I was afraid that I’d be reluctant to go back to my parent’s hometown, Yilan, to visit my grandparents since Taipei was so much fun (shopping, karaoking, eating, the exciting, cosmopolitan area, etc). However, once I arrived at my Grandma’s house, I suddenly remembered why I loved my Yilan home so much. Three words: Green. Onion. Pancakes. They are so delicious and my Grandma is an expert at making them. Ever since I was a little girl, visiting Taiwan in the summer and getting eaten alive by mosquitos, I always looked forward to eating my Grandma’s green onion pancakes in the morning. Even today, long after my Grandma has stopped dying her hair black or going on three-hour jogs in the morning, I can still hear her hard at work in the kitchen, rolling out dough and frying it. The smell of toasted sesame is such a delicious smell to wake up to!

So this time, as a passionate foodie, I figured that one of my main objectives is to write down my Grandma’s most famous recipes. After all, she’s 89 and has nearly a century of experience under her belt. She was eager to teach me and had me help her make green onion pancakes:

Green Onion Pancakes

Green Onion Pancakes

For the uninitiated, green onion pancakes are a Chinese dish (and very popular in Taiwan street stands) that’s basically a flat bread with scallions or green onions (and in my grandma’s version, dried shrimp) rolled inside and pan-fried with oil. The result is a delightful, savory pancake (or more like flatbread for Westerners) that’s crispy on the outside and has layers of chewy bread on the inside. It’s so good that even when I was a picky six-year old who ate only plain rice and dumpling skins, I absolutely loved green onion pancakes. My favorite thing about my grandma’s version, above the ones I get at restaurants is how there are salty little surprises in the dough, with crunchy dried shrimp and green onions exploding with that hidden fifth flavor, umami.

The ingredients for green onion pancakes are quite simple, so it’s all about the execution. My grandma doesn’t use a formal recipe, she just does it by heart, so I’ve tried my best to convert her measurements and tricks for you all to try at home:

Grandma’s Green Onion Pancakes

Yield: 4 pancakes

Ingredients:

White flour (at least 4 rice bowls, or I guess that’s 4 cups–then extra for when you are kneading the dough)

Vegetable oil

Salt

Green onion, at least 1 1/2 cups, you can add more for sure, depends on your liking  (Tip: to ensure that your pancake doesn’t get a broken and funky-looking surface, prepare the green onions by drying them out in the sun first, then refrigerate or freeze)

Dried shrimp, at least 1 1/2 cups

Sesame seeds, at least 1 1/2 cups

Water

Add 2 spoonfuls of oil into a hot pan, then add 1 spoonful of salt and a small handful of flour. Stir. Then set aside.

Heat 1 and 1/2 cup of water over high heat, then stop the heat a little before the boiling point.

Add 1 spoonful of the oil to 4 cups/rice bowls of flour (1 bowl = pancake) in a large bowl. Slowly add the hot water to the mixture, stirring with your hands simultaneously until it forms flakes/clusters of dough. Knead the the clusters into one ball of dough. Transfer the ball of dough to a cutting board, then knead with both hands into a roll about a foot-long. Sprinkle the board with flour, then begin rolling the dough out into a flat, rectangular shape with a rolling pin.

Spread the oil/flour mixture from the pan across the dough (you don’t have to use all of it, just as necessary). Sprinkle the dough with dried shrimp and green onions (you don’t have to use all of your dried shrimp or green onions either, just as much as you want).

Roll up the dough from the bottom to the top, tightly like a yoga mat. Seal up the ends. Then section the roll into 4 by twisting them off and sealing of the ends (very important to seal off the ends of the small rolls, make sure none of ’em green onions are peeking out!) Slightly flatten the balls. Sprinkle and spread a little flour and water onto one side, then squish that side into a plate of sesame seeds. Roll out the balls (sesame side down) into flat circles, nearly one foot in diameter. (Tip: to get a really nice circle, turn the dough constantly as you roll).

Pan-fry the dough in low heat with lots of oil. Fry until golden brown, then cut into slices.

Enjoy!!! :)

Advertisements

Go Crazy with Psycho Donuts

In by Deanne, Dessert First, Foodies on the Town, Foodies Take-Out/Bring-It-Home on March 26 at 11:58 pm

Do you go insane for donuts, candy, and all things sweet? If you do, then you should be put in a straight-jacket and tossed straight into Psycho Donuts, a donut shop with an insane asylum theme. The entire Psycho Donuts store is decorated with a freakish sensibility, from the twisted, Tim Burton-esque pictures adorning its white walls to its employees dressed in white nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms. There is even a booth with white, padded walls and a box of assorted masks for you to take memorable pictures in like a patient. Of course, one wonders how politically-correct this all is, but the atmosphere is reassuringly colorful and light-hearted.

As for the donuts themselves, it is as if the milquetoast Krispy Kremes we have come to know and love have been manhandled and pumped up with a Frankenstein treatment (in a good way). This means that Psycho Donuts pulls out all the stops when it comes to combining sugary, fried treats with bombastic creativity:

The Kooky Monster: crushed Oreos and white frosting

Feng Shui: green tea frosting with dark chocolate chips!

Key Lime Pie: tastes like the name. A donut with a bit of a sour zing to it.

Crunch Hunch: packed with chunks of Crunch bar!

Manic Malt: crushed malt balls

And my personal favorite…

'Smores: crushed graham crackers on top of marshmallow on top of chocolate icing!

And these are just about the tamest donuts available. If you want to see the zaniest creations (which include the “Headbanger”–a donut that leaks red jelly when you bite into it), log onto http://psycho-donuts.com/ to check them all out!

Psycho Donuts is located 2006 S. Winchester Blvd, Campbell, CA 95008.

Meaty Decadence at Alexander’s Steakhouse

In by Deanne, Foodies on the Town on December 26 at 11:20 pm

So my family decided to be extra-fancy this year and hold our Christmas dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse, located N. Wolfe Rd in Cupertino. And, boy, do they deliver here. It is a $$$$ American/Japanese steakhouse that serves the most luxurious cuts of steak any foodie can imagine: dry-aged porterhouse, rib-eye, and, yes, the one and only Japanese-imported Kobe beef steak. Sold at over $120 per plate at Alexander’s, genuine Kobe beef is from Wagyu cattle, cows that are reportedly fed beer, massaged with sake, and entertained with classical music. The result is a very fatty, well-marbled, tender cut of steak that is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Check out that intense fattiness! (image from House of Annie)

Did I order Kobe beef at Alexander’s? Unfortunately no, since the parentals weren’t too keen on busting their wallet on Baby Jesus’s B-day. We still had a fantastic meal, since Alexander’s is solidly luxurious all around. Case in point:

Amuse Bouche: Fancy Crab Bites, compliments of the chef

At Alexander’s, there is always a small bite or shot of a starter, compliments of the chef. This time, the chef served a bit of a crab-salad, with sprouts and a caviar on top. Fancy!

Drinks:

An Old-Fashioned and Mint Julep

My sister and I were inspired by Mad Men, and went for an Old-Fashioned and a Mint Julep.

Intermezzo:

An intense Mango Sorbet with Raspberry

As with all fancy restaurants, Alexander’s also serves a sorbet before they present your main dishes. The mango sorbet was very intense and sour, so it certainly cleansed my taste buds!

Main Dishes:

The Mélange à trois: steak tartare, shortrib canneloni, and filet steak

I ordered the Mélange à trois, because it was decently priced ($41) and had three styles of beef to offer. The best was the filet steak topped with a mushroom ragout. It was perfectly cooked (medium rare), very tender and juicy. The variety of sauteed mushrooms (shiitake, etc) in a creamy sauce added a woody sweetness to the steak. Delicious! However, the two other dishes on my plate were slightly disappointing. The shortrib cannelloni (that’s braised beef rolled in pasta sheets) seemed uninspired, and the steak tartare (that’s raw fresh beef, people) had Japanese influences like soy sauce that just ended up tasting strange and too salty. But overall, the dish was beautifully presented, as you can see above.

Filet Mignon with a tarragon-mustard beurre blanc demi-glace. A whadda wha?

My sister’s filet mignon ($38) was delicious. Again, perfectly cooked at medium rare, very thick and juicy, high quality cut of beef. The sauce is a blend of mustard and a rich butter sauce (white wine, vinegar, butter, and shallots) which was very complex and very creamy. The creaminess got a little overpowering for me, but I still highly recommend this dish.

Mac 'n Cheese with White Truffle Oil, biatches!

This was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Call me a simpleton, but I am just a fool for comfort food with truffle oil drizzled all over it. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever tasted better mac ‘n cheese in my life. On the first bite, I melted into a puddle of goo at the taste of rich and creamy cheese sauce with strong tones of white truffle wafting through. And then I just couldn’t stop eating it. My sister had to back me away from this flavorful side dish before I inhaled it all. I guess it was my personal Ratatouille moment! Verdict in all caps: YOU MUST ORDER THIS. THIS DISH ALONE MAKES THE TRIP TO ALEXANDER’S WORTHWHILE.

Dessert:

The O2 dessert. Melty goodness!

At the end of the meal, my family settled on the O2 dessert, or Oxygen. The presentation of this sweet treat was surprising and fun. The O2 is a unique concept: the bottom half of the sphere is chocolate cake, the top half is a hollow dark chocolate shell, and the center is a ball of chocolate pudding. The waiter then pours hot raspberry sauce all over the sphere, melting away the chocolate shell to reveal the pudding in the middle. Ingenious! There is also vanilla ice cream with malts on the side. The raspberry sauce was a little too sweet, but I was willing to overlook anything by that point because of the coolness of the experience!

Cotton Candy! Yay!

Just when you think dinner at Alexander’s couldn’t get any better, the waiters come and set up a huge swab of cotton candy as a complimentary after-dinner treat! Who knew such a serious and fancy restaurant had a sense of fun? :)

So, if you ever have a special event you want to celebrate at $$$$ Alexander’s Steakhouse, I highly recommend it! Bring your meat-lover friends and family for a night of all-out, luxurious carnage! This meat-lover was very happy and satisfied.

–Deanne

Roasted Garlic Mmmmashed Potatoes

In by Deanne, Cooking for N00bs, The Classic Foodie on November 23 at 2:24 pm
To continue the “old school” trend, I adapted another recipe from my Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, circa-1980, this time with  mashed potatoes. What is there to adapt you ask? The part about adding the heavenly scent of oven-roasted stinking roses:

Roasted Garlic with drizzled olive oil and rosemary. And a couple of burnt cloves in the back--whoopsie poopsie! :P

Roasted garlic is also very easy to make, and will make a huge difference in your mashed potatoes (that is, if you are as much of a fan of garlic as I am). Simply peel away the outer layers of an entire garlic head without the individual cloves falling apart, cut off the tops so all cloves are exposed, and then pour at least a tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil on top (the more the merrier). Make sure to rub it in for an even distribution of olive oil. I recommend adding extra herbs on top; I used rosemary. Wrap the garlic up in foil and scrunch it all up tightly. Put it into the oven heated 400 degrees, leave it in for 40 minutes or so. When it’s time, take the garlic out and squeeze the delicious roasted garlic pulp out of the individual cloves. For this recipe, set the garlic aside for now.

Creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes!

The potato part is also very straight-forward. I used fourteen medium-sized Russets, since it’s for a feast. I was too lazy to skin them beforehand so I boiled them with the skin on. I haven’t tried this technique myself, but according to a Japanese TV show I saw on Youtube, if you score all around the potato’s middle, then boil, set it in cold water for a few minutes, the potato will literally pop out when you squeeze it (I wish I knew about this earlier! It would have saved me 40 minutes). Set the potatoes in a big pot of cold water almost to the top with a teaspoon of salt. When it boils, lower the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, wash in cold water, peel, and then set about putting your potatoes through the ricer for an easier time of mashing. Ricers also make potatoes fluffier. Handy dandy tip: remember your roasted garlic? Now put it in between layers of potato in the ricer, squeeze–and Voila! Your garlic is now evenly incorporated into the mashed potatoes! No one will accidentally get a mouthful of clove! Yay! Now mix in a teaspoon of salt, some black pepper, a cup of hot milk, and 1/2 cup of butter. Good job, you now have a pot of roasted garlic mashed potatoes! Fancy-schmancy!

Old School Pecan Pie

In by Deanne, Cooking for N00bs, Dessert First, The Classic Foodie on November 21 at 10:16 pm

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, it might be helpful to know an ol’ trick or two. This classic pecan pie recipe is from Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, first published in 1980. Back in its hey day, this cookbook was a huge success and had a definite presence in all family households. So I thought it might be nice to dust off its cover, flip through the pages, and make an era come alive all over again!

Pecan pie fresh out of the oven, with moody urban background

Making pecan pie is surprisingly easy. For this recipe, I used ready-made, unbaked crust (yes, the actual recipe calls for making your own crust. . . but we all cut corners here and there). I whisked 3 eggs, mixed in 1 cup dark corn syrup, a little bit less than 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk well. Then I prepared the nut/crust portion by creating 1 layer of pecan pie in any pattern you would like. Of course I had a little fun first:

A smiling, content pie.

A freaked out pie.

A pie with Cal insignia!!! Go Bears! (in honor of a proper trouncing of Stanford earlier today)

As fun as it is to make designs, you do want to pack as many pecans as you can into one layer, so that it comes out more like this:

Try to arrange the pecans in an aesthetically pleasing pattern

Next, carefully pour in the mixture as to not disturb the pecans’ pattern. Then pop it into the oven (heated 350 degrees) for about 1 hour. Take it out when you stick a knife in 1 inch from the edge and it comes out clean. Cool. Enjoy!

–Deanne

Deanne’s Simple Salmon

In by Deanne, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie, Uncategorized on November 8 at 4:24 pm

If you are ever looking for a main dish that is impressive yet easy to make, this Simple Salmon recipe is the way to go! This recipe is in no way completely original or creative, it simply involved one hungry Cal student with fresh salmon in the fridge, and some spare olive oil and seasoning in the cupboards.

P1100723

For this last-minute recipe, I sprinkled liberal amounts of olive oil and fresh lemon juice and rubbed it into the salmon filet. Then I topped it with all sorts of basic seasoning: salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme. Next, I baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes (depends on the size of your salmon filet). The baking time is absolutely crucial–make sure that you do not dry out the salmon! Stop when the salmon has just turned from orange-raw to a rather pale pink; you can check by inserting a fork and examining the color of the inner portion. If you have removed the salmon from the oven at the perfect time, the texture should be flaky yet soft and creamy. Hints of lemon will really accentuate the taste.

And voila! You have your fancy baked salmon in under 20 minutes! Quick, easy, delicious, and packed with Omega-3’s! Truly a win-win situation.

Extra: If you are a fan of crispy salmon skin, I recommend also rubbing olive oil and lemon juice to the bottom skin portion of the filet. It will be come crispy with baking and taste like salmon chips. Bon appetit!

Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Pot Pie

In by Deanne, Foodies on the Town, Foodies Take-Out/Bring-It-Home on October 25 at 9:27 pm

We’ve all experienced chicken pot pie at some point in our lives. Some of us are lucky enough to experience chicken pot pie in its purest form: your grandma/mother’s home-cooked chicken pot pie, lovingly baked with roughly chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, and real chicken. Others, myself included, have only had its pallid, frozen cousin: the “mini” personal pot pie with a 4-1 ratio of artificial gravy to chicken. The frozen chicken pot pies are usually noxiously creamy, so I’ve avoided them ever since I first ventured to try one as a child after watching Chicken Run (2000). Although that movie should technically dissuade viewers from eating chicken pot pie, after an intimate hour-and-a-half sympathizing with chickens trying to escape pot-pie doom . . . But I suppose I wanted to see what all the hoo-hah was about.

The chickens dance too!

The chickens dance too!

Nonetheless, I had heard that Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Pot Pie is quite tasty, so I went ahead and bought one for a special Apartment 205 get-together dinner. And the results definitely surpassed expectations:

Creamy chicken stuffing... flaky crust... om nom nom nom!

Creamy chicken stuffing... flaky crust... om nom nom nom!

I bought the large pre-bake chicken pot pie at Bakesale Betty’s (located 5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland) and left it in the freezer for a day. Even after freezing, the freshness of the ingredients used at Bakesale Betty’s really comes across in the scent and flavor of the pie. There is a generous amount of chicken chunks, carrot, onion, and celery in thick, creamy gravy. Traces of basil and black pepper are detectable. It is very filling, and I am sure that the entire pie will last me a week (a huge plus for busy college students). The winning characteristic of this pie is its delicious, flaky crust; it does not get soggy easily and remains in luscious, buttery condition above the mess of chicken stuffing. The only downside is that the pie was slightly more expensive than the usual, at $25 per large pie and $6 per personal pie, but Bakesale Betty’s is really the place to go for legitimate, generous pies! One day I shall return for their famed fried chicken sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.