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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ramen Dojo

I made an amateur mistake. If I hadn’t blown out my taste buds ordering what I thought was a typical bowl of medium-spiced ramen, I’d be able to tell in you, in intricate detail, about Ramen Dojo, a get-there-early-because-it-gets-crazy spot in San Mateo.

I’d probably start by telling you about the three pork-based broths you can choose from: soy sauce, pork garlic, and miso. Then about your next decision - the level of heat - which begins with mild-spicy, then goes to regular spicy, and then extra spicy (you can see how I thought I was getting something in the medium-spice range here).

Next, if you wanted to fancy it up, I’d tell you all about their toppings. Their basic ramen comes with roast pork, fried garlic, mushrooms, chives, and a quail egg – but you can add extras like cod roe, kimchee, corn, or more eggs/noodles. The ramen also comes with a subtle, savory chicken “gravy” which is made from ground chicken, shiitakes and ginger.

Normally, I’d consider myself a pro when it comes to ramen. And spice-wise, I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve upgraded my heat tolerance (at least when it comes to salsa, or Korean tofu soup) from mild to medium. But I didn’t take into account that Ramen Dojo’s barometer of spice begins with spicy. My mistake.

But despite all my yammering on about the heat, I still really enjoyed my meal here. They share the same owners as popular Santa Ramen, as well as that same focused mission (and huge crowds). They concentrate on one thing and do it exceptionally well - with great care, authenticity and ingredients.

The broth had a silky richness and satisfying saltiness, the noodles were flavorful, and the toppings rounded out a nice range of crunchy, chewy, meaty textures. My rating is based on comments from my dining companions, including MFM who agreed about the spiciness, C. who appreciated the array of toppings, and D. who ordered the reddest, spiciest bowl of all and didn't even flinch (he's now my aspirational spice role model).

And then I’d probably wrap it up by saying they offer a few appetizers like takoyaki (squid balls) too – oh wait – that was served before I started losing feeling in my lips – so yes, I can confirm that those are indeed delicious. For everything else I’ll just have to go back another time and make sure I order appropriately. And you know, I can’t wait.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dulce de Leche Filled Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes
dulce de leche recipe adapted from Taylor takes a taste . . .
cupcake recipe adapted from Hershey's Kitchen
prep time: 30 min / cook time: 18-20 min


ingredients can be found here

1 c heavy whipping cream
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp dulce de leche
* If you want the frosting to be sweeter, you can add more.

* Make sure your cans are not dented or damaged in any way. Using a damaged can could lead to problems when cooking.
• Remove the label from the can.
• Place the can on their side inside the crock pot.
• Fill the crock pot with water so that there is at least an inch of water covering the top of the cans.
* Make sure that there is always enough water completely covering the cans.
• Set the crock pot on low and cook the cans in water for 8 hours.
• When cooking is complete, let the cans cool until they are room temperature.
* DO NOT open the cans when they are hot because the cans can explode.

• Instructions can be found here.

• Whip cream until it looks like whipped cream.
• Mix in sugar.
• Mix in confectioners' sugar and dulce de leche.
* I just mixed everything at one time (because I was being lazy), but you should really mix everything according to the instructions above to get the correct volume of the whipped cream.

• Using a paring knife, carve a small hole in the middle of the cupcake. Be sure not to cut too deep.
* You can use a spoon to gently remove more of the cupcake if needed.
• Spoon in a little bit of dulce de leche into the cupcake.
• Put the top back onto the cupcake and frost the top.

• If you don't want a domed top cupcake, fill the batter half way. You will end up with approximately 18-20 cupcakes.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Sandwich Spot

I hate waiting in lines, but don’t mind as much when it’s for something that’s really, really good. And it might be a coincidence, but the last few really long lines I’ve stood in have all been for sandwiches. The really, really good kind of sandwiches.

Ike’s took almost an hour (see post here), busy So. SF spot Little Lucca’s took 40 mins (forgot my camera that day), and my first thought when I saw surf-inspired Sandwich Spot’s out-the-door-line was to forget it and find another place for lunch. But my second thought was it must be good, since everyone else was doing it*. So I got in line, and 25 minutes later I was glad I did. It was delicious!

If ordering a sandwich named the Porn Star or the Horny Hapa sounds embarrassing, this might not be the place for you. I ordered the former (while blushing, just a little), a finger-licking combination of marinated chicken, teriyaki sauce, bbq sauce, Bomb sauce (more on this later) and cheese. MFM went for the meaty Johnny GoodTimes – which was stuffed with ham, prosciutto, salami and provolone. Both sandwiches were big, tasty and a deal at $7.99.

These sandwich places have all found a crowd-pleasing formula. Besides long lines, another thing they all share is dutch crunch bread – and everyone seems to love this slightly sweet, crunch-topped bread. Everyone also loves a kickin', garlicky sauce. Aforementioned Ike’s has Dirty Sauce, Little Lucca has Original Garlic Sauce and the Sandwich Spot has the appropriately-named spicy/garlicky Bomb Sauce - which was amazing since it was actually distinguishable in my sandwich which was also dripping with BBQ sauce and teriyaki.

With so many good sandwich options in the Bay Area, how does one choose? Generally speaking, I’d probably go to Little Lucca’s for a more traditional sandwich, Ike’s if I wanted to go unconventional, and to the Sandwich Spot if I wanted something somewhere in between - and also if I wanted to sit, since it’s the only one of the three that offers actual seating. It's small - just a few tables - but it's nice plus, especially if you can't wait (like me) to sink your teeth into your sandwich right away.

*I'm pretty sure this is how lemmings get into trouble.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

makes 4 servings
recipe adapted from Closet Cooking
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 13-15 min

1/2 c plain yogurt
* I used greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 small onion, grated
1 tbsp garlic, grated
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin, toasted and ground
1 tsp coriander, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken, cut into 1" pieces

• Mix all ingredients in a large freezer bag EXCEPT the chicken. Mash together to mix.
* You can do this in a bowl if you want, but why wash another bowl.
• Add salt to taste.
• Place the chicken in the bag with the marinade and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably several hours to overnight.
• Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
• Remove the chicken from the marinade and skewer it.
• Grill the chicken until cooked, about 3-5 minutes per side.

• Be sure to oil your grill pan well to avoid sticking.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

True Grit(s)

I love Oscar Night, or any awards show night for that matter - especially when there's food and drinks (and catty red carpet fashion commentary) involved. And this year I attended a viewing party that involved a very Top Chef-esque challenge: to create and bring a dish inspired by an Oscar nominated movie.

I studied the list of nominees. I was too intimidated to try an Inception-inspired Dream Cake, or some kind of blackened poultry dish a la Black Swan. And kid-friendly fare, like PB&J or s'mores for Toy Story 3 was already taken. So I settled on grits, for True Grit, which I thought was brilliant idea - though a few people were confused and mistook it for something else (as if there is a movie named True Polenta).

Thanks to quick-cooking grits (which were the only kind available at the store that day) this recipe filled two very important criteria - it was easy and it was delicious. Crowd-pleasing ingredients like bacon, sausage and cheese helped, as did the creamy, comforting grits themselves. My overall review? These grits were a hit!

serves 6-8 as a starter

recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria/Paula Deen
prep time: 20 min / cook time: 20 min

3 c water
dash of salt
1 c quick-cook grits
1/4 c butter
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
14 oz. smoked sausage, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 c thinly sliced green onions
*I omitted this, and it was still delicious!

salt & pepper to taste

• Boil water and dash of salt in a medium/large saucepan. With a whisk, slowly stir in grits. Cover and reduce to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese until combined. Keep covered until ready to serve.
• Fry bacon bits in a large skillet until brown and crisp. Drain. Add sausage to the skillet and fry in bacon grease, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, parsley and green onions and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place grits in a serving bowl. Pour sausage mixture over the grits. Garnish with bacon bits and season with salt/pepper.

The original recipe calls for shrimp, but I used sausage for a non-seafood eating friend. You can easily switch the sausage for 1 lb. of peeled, de-veined shrimp and add 4 tsp of fresh lemon juice to the garlic, parsley and green onion stage.
Finish with a dash of your favorite hot sauce, if desired.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guava Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

makes 30 cookies
recipe adapted from Ina Garten
prep time: 45 min / cook time: 20-25 min

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
* I used salted butter
1 c sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
* I omitted the salt since I used salted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
7 oz. sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam

• In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined.
• Add vanilla.
• Separately, sift together the flour and salt.
• With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.
• Mix until the dough starts to come together.
• Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk.
* I rolled the dough into two disks because my dough was a little crumbly.
• Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
• Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
• Roll the dough into 1 1/4" balls.
* If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 oz.
• Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut.
• Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger.
* I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper.
• In a microwave or over the stove, heat jam until liquified.
• Drop 1/4 tsp of jam into each indentation.
• Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown.
• Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

• Sifting the flour over parchment paper makes for easy pouring.
• Do not over fill with jam. The jam will spill out while baking.
• Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.



Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Namu by Numbers

Namu is one of those special, San Francisco-esque places that diners and critics love to write about. If you Google or Yelp it, hundreds of glowing reviews about this Korean-inflected spot pop up. So instead of adding to that long list, here's a quick hit of numbers to know:

1. 10. Namu's ranking on 7x7's 10 Best Burgers in SF list, and I couldn't agree more. The burger is cooked to a juicy perfection, and made truly unique with soy glazed onions, picked daikon, mustard and aioli. For $1 more you can add kimchi relish (totally recommended).

6. The number of bowls of ramen they make nightly. Reportedly quite labor intensive, with handmade noodles, pork-miso broth, pork shoulder, veggies, kimchi, bean sprouts and a fried egg. I've tried it and it's good, but I prefer my ramen a little simpler. (6 [pm] is also the time to get there if you want to score a bowl.)

4. The number of shiitake dumplings (photo #6 above) in an order, and also the amount of time in seconds it will take you to inhale these juicy, flavorful, and addicting appetizers. Add another 4 seconds for the amount of time it will take you to lick the bowl of the richly layered, just-as-addicting dashi broth.

83. The ranking SF Eater gives their dashi braised oxtail & daikon on their list of SF's 92 Best Dishes. It's rich, tender, meaty and so, so flavorful (see pic #5) and the cooked-for-hours daikon just kind of melts in your mouth. And the luscious, almost buttery sauce is so good you'll want to drink it. Namu is also #21 on their Essential SF Restaurants list.

1. The spot its yuzu french toast lands on my Favorite Desserts this year list. Made with my current #1 obsession (yuzu) - this fruit-topped, caramel-drizzled treat (see pic 7) is a classic example of how they can take something familiar and transform it into something new and completely brilliant. (Also see Korean tacos, #90 on 7x7's 100 Things to Try Before You Die list).

0. The exact number of dates MFM and I had been on before we had dinner here many, many moons ago! Also the number of times I didn't enjoy my meal here. Or received poor service. Or went home hungry. I could go on and on...


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

serves 10
recipe adapted from La Fuji Mama
prep time: 10 min / cook time: 16-20 hours

5-6 lb. boneless pork butt or pork shoulder
3/4 tbsp Red Hawaiian sea salt
3/4 tbsp Black Hawaiian sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp liquid smoke flavoring

• Pierce the pork all over with the tip of a sharp knife.
• Place the roast in a large slow cooker and rub the salt all over the meat.
• Drizzle the liquid smoke all over the meat.
• Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 16 to 20 hours, turning the roast over once half-way through the cooking time. When the meat easily shreds with a fork it's ready.
* Depending on how hot your low setting is on your slow cooker, you may or may not need the full 20 hours.
• Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred with two forks, adding drippings from the slow cooker as needed to moisten the meat.

• Use less salt if you are cooking a smaller roast.
• Leftover ideas: quesadilla, macaroni salad, sandwiches or tacos.



Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Our Year In Food

2010 was a memorable year.

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series. Apple launched the iPad. And we unveiled a "baby" of our own - exactly one year ago this very blog, Samiwich & Addiecakes went live.

It's been one busy year! We launched on March 1, 2010 - and 58 recipes, 60 restaurant mentions, and 18 food-inspired nicknames later, we're still going strong.

We started the blog as an extension of our Facebook and Twitter postings, and quickly realized our love (bordering on obsession) of baking and eating made it easy to share something every week.

Back then, we brainstormed a bunch of names, (we were almost Foodielicious, which sounds so strange to us now!) but somehow Samiwich & Addiecakes just fit. Everything else, like the design (Addiecakes' awesome work), rating system and foodie names just followed naturally.

Thinking back, here's some of our highlights from the year:

Addiecakes' Favorite Post: Dulce de Leche Macarons, I never thought I'd be able to make a decent looking macaron. (Thanks Peachie for sharing this recipe with me!)

Addiecakes' Worst Post: Green Tea Macarons (so bad they never made it as a post). They turned out to be burnt flat disks. Brown, no longer green. No feet. Just plain ugly and would never pass as a macaron. No point in mentioning the filling since I didn't even get that far.

Addiecakes' 2011 Goal: Include more cooking, which is a huge challenge for me because I love sugar. That's why I have Dessert Nights and not dinner parties.

Samiwich's Favorite Blog Moment: I have no idea how they found us, but seeing our blog featured on sites like and in the Phoenix New Times

Samiwich's One Thing I Learned: Seeing a year's worth of posts makes me realize I eat out a lot. Like a lot, a lot.

Samiwich's 2011 Goal: To continue trying to make posts interesting, colorful and sound more personal than another Yelp review. It's also been suggested more than a few times that I take some kind of photography class.

It's been a great, great year.
Thanks to all of you for your comments, suggestions and support! And special thanks to Ivy (we still have to come up with a name for you) for getting us started!

We hope that you all will continue to read, comment and subscribe as our second year in the blogosphere begins. You can also drop us a line at:, we'd love to hear from you!

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