Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Recipe: Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Bean and Amaretto Whipped Cream

French toast is perhaps my most favorite breakfast food. It's so buttery and alluringly aromatic. And when a special someone makes it for you, you can't help but feel all warm... what a perfect way to start a day. If only every day could start like this! Most days I try to cram in as much sleep as possible. I wake up before the Sun decides to grace us with its presence, around 5am and log into my computer at work around 5:45am. This is just enough time to brew a cup of hot green tea and peel open a cup of light yogurt before its pretty much go go go till the end of the day.

On this particular day I was dealing with a few substitutions. I usually like to use challah and whole milk but I had a brioche loaf and soy milk on hand so that'd have to do since I was not in the mood to step out of the house yet.

  • 1 medium sized brioche loaf or choice of bread
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp superfine sugar
  • Seeds from 1 whole vanilla bean
  • Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  1. Cut a few thick slices of the brioche bread and place to the side
  2. Beat eggs and 1 tbsp of superfine sugar into soy milk
  3. Split vanilla bean and scrape half the seeds into the egg and soy milk batter
  4. Add a few splashes of Amaretto to the batter and give a good mix
  5. Dip each of the slices of bread into the batter and make sure it gets a good soaking
  6. Heat up a large pan with a pat or two of butter and brown the battered slices, 2 at a time till desired
  7. Beat 1/4 cup superfine sugar, remaining vanilla bean seeds and a few splashes of Amaretto into the whipping cream until cream has risen in volume and stiffened
  8. Enjoy!
I had some Trader Joe's Grade A medium amber maple syrup on hand but I found the French toast with whipped cream alone, untainted by maple syrup delectable already. Why brave the long weekend lines at a cafe for breakfast when you can stay in your jammies and whip up something just as delicious? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Honeycomb Anyone?: Temecula, CA

My mom often tells me stories of her childhood which usually involves some element of mischief. My great grandmother used to own a plantation in Thailand filled with durian and mango trees and I think several other tropical fruits. My mom lived in bustling  Phnom Pehn as a kid and would often escape to my great grandma's sleepy country escape to play and of course gorge on ambrosial fruits. She like to describe with relish one of her childhood mischiefs which was to run into the forest, climb up a tree and dive elbow deep into a wild hive to retrieve golden sweet honeycomb. For the life of me, I can't imagine putting up with all the stinging for this indulgence. But my mom is quite headstrong, even to this day so I wouldn't put it below her.

This past Saturday I went wine tasting with friends in Temecula and one of the wineries we hit up was Leonesse. I ended sharing a flight since we had planned on visiting several wineries that day. The site was quite picturesque- a drive through the country to a lovely tasting room set atop a vast expanse of vines. The wine was quite delish and though the focus of this visit was suppose to be the wine... I ended up becoming intrigued with a little stand to the side of the tasting room. A woman with the Temecula Valley Honey Company had set up shop so I soon found my way in front of her table tasting honey. The honey was divine but what caught my eye were the square containers of honeycomb. I remembered my mom's story of risking life and limb to snatch honey from a wild hive and that's when I decided I had to grab myself some honeycomb. All the pleasures of enjoying this decadent treat without the consequences right?

We had about 12 people in our group feasting on light savory snacks so I figure I'd throw in this delightful treat to sample as well. This really was indulgence and luxury in a spoonful. The lady had recommend having this with a sharp cheese and warm sourdough but I didn't have any on hand so a simple spoon would just have to do. I could taste the fragrant flowers the bees had visited and the comb provided an interesting nice semi-chewy texture that encased the cells of raw honey. This delicacy was definitely too incredibly rich to have more than a few spoonfuls at a time so I'm quite glad that it would keep well under regular room temperature storage conditions. 

I didn't get a chance to chat long with the lady running the stand that day but she did mention that her stand was in several farmers markets throughout San Diego County. So if you are interested in finding this vendor, I'd check with your local farmers market or call them up to see what their schedule is.

Leonesse Cellars
38311 DePortola Rd.
Temecula, CA 92592
11am-5pm daily

Temecula Valley Honey Company
41717 Lawson Circle
Temecula, CA 92592

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Top Chef Master Rick Bayless at Macy's Mission Valley in San Diego Thursday, March 26th

Hi Readers!

I got some info from Lauren with EVERYWHERE that Rick Bayless will be in San Diego this week to do a demo and book signing at Macy's Mission Valley Home Store. Get your reservation in if you plan to attend since space is limited. Following is the info sent to me.

Top Chef Master Rick Bayless is doing a free cooking demo and book signing at Macy’s Mission Valley Home Store in San Diego.
Macy’s Mission Valley

Home Store, Main Level, School of Cooking

1555 El Camino De La Reina

San Diego, CA
Thursday, March 25
6:30 pm
RSVP: Space is limited so reservations are required. To reserve a seat, call 1-877-884-3751

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recipe: Burrata Cheese with Fresh Basil over Multi-Grain Chip

So did summer decide to greet us early in sunny San Diego? Warm weather calls for a light refreshing mid-day snack. I finish work most days around 3pm so dinner time usually falls around 4pm and by then I'm not looking for a snack. I want a hearty meal! But I do like to enjoy this on a lazy weekend when I'm not feeling all frazzled with having spent 10+ hours in front of a computer.

This light snack came to me one day as I stared at the contents of my fridge/pantry and was feeling too lazy to hop in the car and grab something from the market. Not too shabby for slapping something together to qualm hunger pains ehh? The flavors of buttery creamy burrata, fresh ground pepper, Mediterranean sea salt, fresh basil leaf, aromatic white truffle oil and slightly spicy balsamic vinegar over a crunchy chip is quite tantalizing on the tongue. Hope you get to enjoy this as much as I did.

Picked up the White Truffle Oil from Whole Foods. Never fails to make that great dish just a little more special.

This Balsamic vinegar came from a Sotto Voce stand across from Pike's Place in Seattle. It's amazing for salads or dipping.

I had picked up some Burrata from Trader Joe's the other day. For those of you with a ravenous appettite or a small army to feed, I have seen it at Costco lately. I believe its sold in a tub of 3 plump buttery balls for $6.99.

Oh these are my favorite go to wraps. Healthy and tasty at a decent price of $5.99 for 18 wraps (3 individual packs of 6 wraps) at Costco. Not to mention they keep very well in the fridge so no rush if you get tired of eating them.

  • 1 Flatout Multi-Grain wrap
  • 1 ball of Burrata cheese
  • fresh basil leaf
  • white truffle oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground back pepper
  • sea salt
  1. Cut wrap to desired chip size and toast in toaster oven to desired color/crispiness
  2. Break up burrata cheese into chunks and top over cooled chips
  3. Top with fresh basil leaf
  4. Drizzle truffle oil and balsamic vinegar
  5. Hit with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt
  6. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oink Oink... Pig You Say?: Lion Plaza Market Deli -San Jose, CA and Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka- Ubud, Bali

A few weeks ago I headed back home for the most important holiday of the year. Nope it isn't Thanksgiving or Christmas.... it's Chinese New Year! This holiday always brings back a flurry of warm memories from my childhood as well as create new lasting memories. Family, great food, visiting the temple and relatives, oh and who can forget the all important red envelopes? The food for this holiday has always been a feast and we made everything from egg rolls, fried noodles, steamed fish and chicken to even banana wrapped sticky rice...except for the bbq meats. My parents claim that the last time they ordered a whole suckling pig to gorge on was for my 1st month birthday since I was the first born. Don't I feel special? No that's a lot of pressure. Being born first and a girl into a Chinese household is not an easy task. Why do you think I ran to sunny San Diego the first chance I got? Kidding.

To commemorate 2 kids out of school and shoved into the "real world" with one more soon to come and the little one entering high school... my parent somehow got it in their mind to get a whole suckling pig this year. What were they thinking? We are a small family of 6. I saw the photos from my birthday celebration. The pig could feed a small village and thats what showed for the event. How were 6 people going to even make a dent in this here pig?

Did I say I regret them bringing home this magnificent beast from the deli by Lion Plaza market? No! The aroma was like perfume to my nose and believe me it was terribly difficult waiting to dig into this little piggy while we made the proper offerings to deities and ancestors. The crunchy amber red skin beckoned at me to just snap off a piece but I had to be good.

After what seemed like an eternity we finally gathered around the table to feast on this pig and the other delectables we had prepared in the morning. I decided to try out the face but it really wasn't crunchy like I had hoped... it was actually a little chewy. So I set my eyes on a rib next. No disappointment! The meat was tender and well seasoned. The skin was irresistibly crispy and crunchy. It was a shame we couldn't really make a dent in the overall amount of this pig when it was all said and done that day since it just doesn't taste as good as it ages.


My favorite roast pork still remains Warung Babi Guling(roasted pig) Ibu Oka in Ubud, a town in Bali, Indonesia. Oh goodness, I still have fond memories of this roast pork I tasted last summer. Was it worth the flight? Yes! Would I go back again just for this? Yes Yes!! Our trusty guide actually happened to live in this town so he was very aware of this joint in which the locals and tourists alike clamored for a tasty meal on the cheap by American standards. Ubud is an hour away from Legian beach where my lady friends and I had rented a quaint villa in town for our stay. We felt very fortunate to find a driver who was very knowledgeable and spoke pretty good English to take us around the island and show us around his hometown.

Sorry we didn't arrive when a pig was getting pulled out so I wasn't able to get a shot of a pig not cut up yet.

I decided to get the special which came with soup, some rice, a few cuts of meat, a few slices of skin, what looked to be water spinach and a drink. The meat wasn't bad. It wasn't as tender as I had hoped but quite flavorful. What really caught me was the skin. Looking back... I should have just had one big order of skin. Hah! I don't think my tummy would have been happy with me after but seriously. This glassy looking skin was amazingly crispy and crunchy and seemingly had no fat like it had been rendered off. It was like eating thick kettle chips I kid you not.

MMM.... skin.... I know some people would be kinda grossed out to eat so much skin but it was just so incredibly flavorful and had an amazing crunch. If it weren't for my fullness, I probably would have gotten that extra order of skin. I actually had contemplated ordering togo to snack on the ride back but I figure it just wasn't going to taste as good. Sides, coming back for the pork would be a nice excuse to come back to Bali.

We had some pretty amazing tropical fruit on the island and mangosteen was definitely up there. We kept on eyeing it on the table we sat at but didn't partake. It wasn't till we had left that our driver informed us that these fruits were gratis. Darn!

Lion Plaza Market Deli
1710 Tully Rd.
San Jose, CA 95122

Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka
Jln. Suweta, Ubud
Bali Indonesia

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