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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies


makes 14 whoopie pies
recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
prep time: 45 min / cook time: 7-9 min

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c packed brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tbsp red food coloring (one 1 oz. bottle)

1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 375˚F.
• Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
• In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
• In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds.
• Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy.
• Beat in egg and vanilla.
• Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined.
• Stir in food coloring.
• Spoon batter in 1" or 2" diameter rounds, about 1/2" high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1" in between each round.
• Bake 7-9 minutes for 1" cookies or 9-11 minutes for 2" cookies, or until tops are set.
• Cool completely on baking sheets on rack. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets

• In medium mixing bowl beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
• Fold in marshmallow creme.

• Dollop filling on flat sides of half the cookies.
• Top with remaining cookies, flat side down.

• To get round cookies, use a cookie or ice cream scoop.
• The whoopie pies should be refrigerated for at least half an hour to let the filling set.
• If storing in the refrigerator, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Whoopie pies can refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011


In college, my roommate and bff (whose last name is Whang, so henceforth her foodie name shall be Whangers & Mash) gave me many nicknames, including Repeat Performance and Broken Record. While I think this may have been a jab at my tendency to do the same things over and over, I prefer to think of it as a nod to just being really, really consistent. Which brings me to Potrero Hill breakfast/lunch spot Plow. I attempted to go here 3 times, 3 weeks in a row. I couldn't help it. It's a place that's so good, you want to go to over and over and over again.

There are so many things to love about this place, which opened a few months ago in a former architectural firm's space, starting with the warm, homey decor and pleasant, friendly service. Then you check out the menu and see simple comfort food with the volume turned up to just the right level to get your attention. Like pancakes with lemon and ricotta, and a fried egg sandwich with artisan applewood smoked bacon and aoili. Even their toasted English muffin drizzled with honey and house made peanut butter sounds special.

I'm normally not a lamb person, but the roasted lamb sandwich was tender and garlicky, and their strawberry rhubarb cobbler made a rhubarb fan out of me. And you must, must, must try the potatoes (recently voted #69 on SFoodie's list of best things to eat in San Francisco) which are hot and crispy on the outside - soft and billowy on the inside. (See photo #7 above for how they start off, my guess is that they are deep fried to a delicious perfection right after this.)

One thing not to love? Well, it's tiny. Which means long waits, and cozy (bordering on cramped) tables parked right next to each other. Reservations are not accepted so my advice would be to go early, like really early - especially on a weekend.

On my last visit, I sat at the counter and watched the two cooks and owner Maxine Siu dart back and forth across the teeny tiny kitchen like one seamless, perfectly oiled machine. I'd give this place 4 and a half sandwiches, 2 thumbs up and a standing ovation, if I could.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seafood Paella

serves 4
recipe adapted from Almost Bourdain
prep time: 30 min / cook time: 40 min

12 clams
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 lobster tail
8 medium prawns, shelled and deveined with tails intact
12 small black mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 pinch saffron threads
1/4 c hot water
1 chorizo sausage
* I used spicy chorizo
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 c medium-grain white rice
* I used arborio rice
3 1/2 c chicken stock
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 c frozen peas
1 lemon, wedged

• Rinse clams under cold water and place in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water and soak for 2 hours (this purges them of any grit). Discard water and rinse clams thoroughly; drain.
• Combine saffron and hot water in small bowl; let stand for 30 minutes.
• Remove chorizo from the casing and crumble into the paella pan and cook until browned; drain on paper towel. Do not drain the oil.
* I didn't use any oil when cooking the chorizo.
• Add onion to same pan with garlic and paprika; cook, stirring until soft.
• Add rice; stir to coat in onion mixture.
• Return chorizo to pan.
• Add stock and saffron mixture; stir until combined. Bring to a boil; simmer uncovered, about 12 minutes or until rice is almost tender.
• Sprinkle tomatoes and peas over rice; simmer uncovered for 3 minutes.
• Arrange seafood over rice mixture (shellfish should be put in hinge side down) and cover pan with foil; simmer for 5 minutes or until shellfish have opened and prawns are cooked. Discard any unopened shells.
• Serve with lemon wedges.

• If you do not have a paella pan, you can use wide shallow pan.
• If you happen to have left overs, the paella will be more flavorful the next day. Reheat over the stove and add a little bit of water or broth if the rice becomes too dry.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I'm Chinese, and ordering dim sum at any other time of the day besides morning/early afternoon always struck me as a bit strange, and out of custom. Some people do it, as some restaurants serve it. And I'm sure it's just as good (if not a little lacking in freshness.)

Which made me wonder about newly-opened
Kasumi, who only serves ramen during lunch. I'm not sure if it's a Japanese-custom thing, or a Kasumi-thing, but I do suspect the staff would be richer if they got a nickel every time someone tries ordering non-lunch ramen. Which includes both me & Addiecakes'. In fact, we watched the party next to us get up and leave when they discovered that ramen wasn't on the dinner menu.

They should have stayed. Because the izakaya-style food served in the evenings is fun (who doesn't enjoy eating food on skewers), nicely presented, and delicious. Highlights include bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms (and who doesn't enjoy bacon), fresh and nicely-seasoned salmon/tuna poke, and a very interesting and delicious broth-poured-over-rice dish called ochazuke.

Luckily, our first visit to Kasumi was during the daytime, and we tried and liked the ramen (shoyu for me, and spicy-miso for her). The soup was tasty (if not a little lacking in depth and flavor as some other ramen spots we've tried) and the noodles had a nice, chewy bite. The accompanying gyoza and chicken karaage were fine, too - though I'd probably try other appetizers on my next visit.

Kasumi is run by the same folks who own Shabu House in the Richmond (one of Addiecakes' favorites) and the service is great. In fact, it was a very sweet and knowledgeable server who kindly informed us that the bamboo vases on each table were receptacles for the neatly storing used yakitori sticks, instead of littering the table, as we had been doing. It was a Homer (D'oh!) moment for sure. Well, now we know!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Guinness Mousse Cake

makes one 9" cake
cake recipe adapted from
total prep time: 1 hr / cook time: 45-60 min

3/4 c sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 c Guinness Stout
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c granulated sugar
2 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 small box of chocolate instant pudding
1 c milk
1/2 tsp espresso powder
2 c heavy whipping cream

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp espresso powder
1/8 c milk

• Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
• LIne and butter a 9" spring form pan.
• Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan. Add butter in spoons or slices, heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat.
• Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar.
• Beat the sour cream, eggs, salt and vanilla and pour into beer mixture.
* I just whisked this in a bowl.
• Whisk in the flour and baking soda.
• Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin. Bake for 45-60 minutes.
• Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack.

• In a large bowl, whisk pudding, espresso and milk with electric mixer on low speed 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
• Add heavy cream.
• Beat on high speed 1-2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
• Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy.
• Sift confectioners' sugar, cocoa and espresso powder to butter mixture and beat.
• Slowly pour in milk.
* You may use more or less milk, depending on the consistency you are looking for.

• If the top of the cake crowned (like mines), use a long serrated knife and with a gentle sawing motion, even it out.
• Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper.
• Smooth the chilled mousse over the cake.
• Position the top layer of the cake over the mousse and gently press down.
• Using an offset spatula, fill in and smooth the mousse on the side of the cake.
* Optional: decorate with cigarette cookies, shaved chocolate or cocoa powder.

• The cake needs to be refrigerated for at least two hour to let the mousse set.
• If you add cigarette cookies to the sides, they won't be as crunchy the next day. So if you make the cake ahead of time, add the cookies the day you play to eat it.
• I thought the buttercream was a bit too sweet, so you might consider a whipped cream frosting or putting some of the mousse filling on the top.



Wednesday, February 09, 2011


It's kind of funny - on my last two vacation, 2 days in LA and New York felt too short, but somehow 4 days in Vegas felt like more than enough. Maybe it's because I'm not big on gambling? And not being a big gambler leaves little else to do but eat. (And see Cher.) So here are some of the food highlights. (I'll share Cher at another time!)

I've always dreamed that if I could choose any Iron Chef (American version) to cook me a meal it would be Mario Batali, hands down. (Choosing from the Japanese cast would be darn near impossible, it would be like choosing your favorite child, you just love them all). Batali has a few ventures in Vegas and we picked a casual spot, Otto Enoteca in the Venetian. Green Light: Delicious housemade Bucatini All'Amatriciana with spicy tomato sauce and cured pork was every bit as tasty as I'd hoped Batali's cooking to be, and was also the restaurant's most popular dish, says the waiter. Yellow light: the thin-crust pizzas with goat cheese/pancetta and guanciale (an Italian bacon made from pig jowls) and topped with eggs were fine, just not particularly as memorable as we had hoped.

But that's okay, as I have plenty of memories from Hash House A Go Go to make up for it. Spotlight: The. Best. Fried. Chicken. And. Waffles. Ever. It's at least a foot tall of sweet, salty, fried, fluffy goodness. With bacon BUILT-IN the waffles. Their open-face chicken pot pie was tasty too. We visited the Imperial Palace location, they are in The M Hotel and the Sahara too.

Also fun, if not a little schtick-y was
Max Brenner's at Caesar's Palace. Everything, from the bright dictionary-of-a-menu (with names like Illegal Chocolate Pancakes and After Party Belgian Waffles) to fans artificially wafting in chocolate scents to our server named Hollywood (he swore that was his real name) seemed over-the-top. But appropriate. This is Vegas, after all. Green light: My favorite thing was the dark hot chocolate, served in an adorable vessel named the Hug Mug. Also tasty were the cinnamon apple white chocolate truffle cream French toast and the strawberry-topped waffles.

We also tried Top Chef Master Hubert Keller's
Burger Bar in the Mandalay Bay and sampled a variety of burgers from the menu - from classic to fancy to mini (a trio sliders which included natural beef, Angus beef, and buffalo). I can't say it was the best burger any of us ever had, but paired with onion rings, sweet potato fries and a Kahlua shake, it was a fine, hearty meal.

Special Mention: I forgot my camera that day, but the frozen hot chocolate from
Serendipity 3 at Caesar's was also a winner. I can't speak for anything else (the sandwich, salad and tacos we also ordered were just okay) but the FHC won't let you down!


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Easy Puff Pastry Chicken Pot Pie

serves 4
recipe adapted from Real Simple
prep time: 35 min / cook time: 20-25 min

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
* I used a whole small onion
1 tbsp flour
3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
* I used 2/3 c because I don't like the filling to be too soupy
1 10 oz. box frozen peas and carrots
* I used half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 3-4 lb. rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
* I cubed my chicken
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

• Preheat oven to 400˚F.
• Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
• Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
• Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
• Still stirring, slowly add the broth. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
• Add frozen vegetables, chicken, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
• Fill oven-proof ramekins and place on cookie sheet.
• In a small bowl, whisk the egg and put aside.
• Cut puff pastry sheet into squares to cover the tops of the ramekins. Puff pastry should be large enough to drape over the sides.
• Lightly brush the edge of the ramekin so that the puff pastry will stick.
• Place puff pastry over the top of each ramekin and gently press the edges to stick.
• Brush the tops of the puff pastry.
• Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
• When baking is done, let it stand for 10 minutes.

• If you want to add a little more flavor to the puff pastry, simply add some herbs or green onions to the top or roll it into the pastry.
• This recipe also works great with turkey.



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

All Season

Growing up, my mom always said that the sign of a good Chinese restaurant is roasted animals hanging in the window. Hearing the familiar twang of our village dialect is always reassuring too. Which means even more when the restaurant you’re visiting is located in a typically non-Asian neighborhood.

But news in the Chinese food community apparently travels fast. And on a recent Sunday, the normally quiet parking lot of the Diamond Heights Safeway was bustling. And atypically full.

After 30+ years in this location, Yeh Wah closed its doors last summer and the word on the street was that because rents became too high. The neighborhood waited with baited breath to see who would take that space. (In a moment of wishful thinking, MFM even wrote a letter to Ike’s Place suggesting he move there after a dispute with his landlord). Eventually, All Season (a Chinese restaurant with one location in the financial district) put up signs that they were moving in. But people were still skeptical.

Somehow, it’s working. It’s probably a combination of the free, easy parking, roomy-and-pleasant (by Chinese tea house standards) atmosphere, and actually good-tasting, authentic food. There were crowds of people lined up by 10:30am for dim sum on a weekend, and I was happy to see a lot of my favorites – like steamed turnip cakes, sticky rice with chicken, and shrimp dumplings being carted around. They even had some more traditional dishes like chicken feet and congee. And everything was tasty.

But here’s the rub - it's not exactly cheap. In Chinatown, or other Chinatown-like areas like the Sunset or the Richmond, you can find cha siu baos for .50 or .75 cents, certainly less than the $1 each they charge here. And a plate of chow mein or fried rice will set you back $12. I guess you can’t have everything. But for tasty and authentic food, the ease of parking, and the luxury of being able to carry a conversation with the people you are dining with, it’s well worth it. Plus, I think it’s a kick just to hear the twang of all those Chinese dialects in a place you’d wouldn't even expect it.

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