super crispy panko tempura

I fried up zucchini, portobello mushrooms, onion, and shishito peppers (not pictured).

tempura + panko = best of both

I was making Japanese curry (a recipe I never gotten around to posting). It’s a thick curry sauce served over rice usually with fried foods, more specifically panko breaded fried foods (like potato croquettes and shrimp). I fried up some spare veggies I had in the fridge.

I was trying to think of a way to get a super crispy light but crunchy coating. Then it hit me, instead of coating the veggies in egg then breading it, I was going to dip them in a thin tempura batter then coat them in panko. What I got was a study coating that did not turn soggy. (It’s important that the tempura batter is thin like heavy cream consistency, and NOT pancake batter.) I also didn’t lose most of the breading when it hit the hot oil (as I often get with an egg dip). The onion rings turned out especially well, the crispy exterior didn’t fall off with the first bite nor were the onions limp/overcooked.

I used a store bought tempura mix, it’s a huge time saver and I’ve never made it as good from scratch. Do check the ingredients, go for ones with the least amount of addictives and look for panko made without hydrogenated fats.

-Lina

October 9, 2010 at 12:01 am 1 comment

Panya Bakery

Panya bakery

8 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-1930

I just wanted to post these photos. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything in those cases.

-L

August 26, 2010 at 6:38 am Leave a comment

things from the garden

The garden yield a lot of cherry tomatoes, basil and cubanelle peppers (my bell peppers are few and slow growing). I haven’t been using my rosemary with all the basil around, rosemary will last far into autumn. Here I made a pesto with basil, garlic, walnuts, grapeseed oil, and a squeeze of lemon. I spread it on pizza dough coated in olive oil and push in the tomatoes. Since the pesto had no cheese it crumbled when you try to eat it but the flavors were amazing (you can add cheese to the pesto and it might hold together better). If I were to do it again I would fold the dough over the pesto and tomatoes.

I also made a gazpacho by blending the cherry tomatoes till it was liquid with a few cloves of garlic, a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar, and a few pinches of salt and black pepper. I add in diced up cucumbers, onions, and bell pepper. Topped with lots of torn basil and some olive oil.

The photos make the peppers look large, these are like 5 inches long.

So far I’ve only gotten one pepper to red.

The black bell peppers are really small but cute and tasty. I’ve been throwing them in any dish that needs more veggies.

-Lina

August 26, 2010 at 5:46 am Leave a comment

houston restaurant week 2010

It’s Houston Restaurant Week!!! One of the reasons I love that my birthday is in August. hehe. For those not familiar with Houston Restaurant Week (HRW), it started in 2009 as a week long event where Houston restaurants offered their usually snazzy and pricey meals for a fixed price of $35.00. Each meal has your choice of appetizer, main entree, and dessert! And, for each meal sold, $5 will be donated to the Houston Food Bank. As I mentioned earlier, it started as a week long event, but it was so popular that it actually went on for 3 weeks.

This year, HRW runs from August 1-21. There are over 100 restaurants participating, so if you’re from Houston and haven’t been yet, you’ve still got time! It’s also for a good cause, so you’re doing your part for our community. So, as of today, I’ve eaten at two restaurants. I’m hitting up one more tomorrow, and probably a couple more before it ends next week. Keep in mind that HRW is reservation only. If you go to the site, reservations are easily made with OpenTable.

Tonight, however, I write to you about Ray’s Grill in Fulshear, TX which is right outside of  the Katy/Richmond area. Most of you folks who live in the loop would never think to venture out that far, but I promise you, it is worth the trip. It is one of those hidden gems that you would never really know of unless someone told you. So, here I am, telling you.

The restaurant is quaint, but modern. There’s even a private room called The Maple Room at the back of the restaurant. The kitchen is open for all to see. The dimmed lights and live jazz band provided for a mellow ambiance. The staff was extremely friendly and we were seated promptly at one of the high tables viewing the kitchen. So my sister and I went on a Thursday night, which also happened to be Wine Tasting Night! I went in for food, and got to sample wine as well =) That makes for a happy Chelle!

**Note: I apologize for the low quality photos. I took them with my blackberry, and for you blackberry users, you know the photo quality is not up to par**

My sister was kind enough to give me her share as she is not the wine drinker. hehe. We were also first served their bread and cheese spread? I question it because we couldn’t decide if it was cheese or butter. That’s just how smooth it was and whatever herb/spice they put in it…yum. So, if someone from Ray’s is reading this, I’d really like you to know that the cheese(butter) spread is the bomb.com. But for HRW, their menu choices are listed here: http://www.raysgrill.com/wp-content/uploads/Menu-HRW2010.jpg

While my sister opted for the New England style seafood chowder, I decided on the jumbo lump crab cakes with a lemon butter sauce. They were delicious. I was nice and shared one with my sister, but I still remember the taste.  See, the problem I find at some restaurants is that the crabcakes have too much “cake” and not enough crab. The breading with Ray’s crabcakes were perfect. The crab meat was fresh and it was just so rich and full of flavor. And that lemon butter was heavenly. YUM. I did also have a few spoonfuls of the seafood chowder. So tasty! Even tastier when you dip your bread in it. hehehe.

Doesn’t that look lovely? That my friends is the NY Strip Steak over a bed of french fries, topped with their barbecue sauce. My steak was properly cooked at medium well, flavorful and juicy. I usually find bbq sauce to be too tangy for my tastebuds, but Ray’s bbq sauce was just right. It was a great balance of sweet & tangy. My only complaint is that I wish there was a little more bbq sauce ^_^ The fries were fantastic. Sure, they’re just fries you think, but I love how crispy yet soggy they were. My favorite kind. ❤

And so we moved on to dessert. I honestly did not think I’d be able to eat any more food, but I had to be a soldier and go forth with my sweet treat. I present to you beignets with coffee ice cream. On my first bite, I cut off a piece of the most sugared beignet, took a spoonful of the coffee ice cream and had my first bite of delicious. There’s really no other way to describe it than that. The beignet wasn’t too heavy and the coffee ice cream had great flavor and wasn’t too rich. If I remember correctly, I ate maybe half of it. One serving is definitely enough for two, maybe even three if you’re in a sharing mood, but I guarantee you will fight for that ice cream.

Ray’s Grill also has Sunday brunch from 10:30-2:00. It’s a $20 buffet and I’ve been told by several people that it is excellent and not your typical brunch fare. I’ll be taking the family out there one of these Sundays. I appreciate the fact they are reservation only. My family is fairly big now. When we go somewhere and reservations are not allowed, it’s a pretty long wait to seat 7 people. We don’t have the patience for that when we’re hungry.

Thank you Ray’s for a fabulous dinner. I’ve already told my friends about you and I’m sure we’ll be back, because I’m dying to try that fried macaroni & cheese with lobster and white truffle. ^_^

-chelle

August 11, 2010 at 5:18 am Leave a comment

tomatoes are in…

The first big haul.

The tomatoes are coming in fast, while there’s only three peppers out there now. They are so sweet I can just eat these tomatoes like fruit (yes they are fruit). Also great with a little olive oil, salt, black pepper, and basil.

When I plucked the purple pepper last week, it didn’t developed seeds yet. So maybe I was a little impatient, tho after plucking it started producing more buds. The pepper was very fruity, a little tart but not bitter in any way. I made a pasta salad with the first harvest.

First harvest

Pasta salad with herb infused oil

  • 2 1/2 cups fusilli pasta (cooked to desired texture in salted water)
  • 1 small onion (sliced thinly and rinsed)
  • 1 small bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • small bunch of basil (torn)
  • small bunch of thyme (or a few sprigs of rosemary)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/3 (to 1/2) cup olive oil
  • 1 large lemon (zested then juiced)
  • small can of kippered herring or tuna or sardines (optional, you can also add cooked lentils or beans instead)
  • salt and black pepper

Heat up the olive oil over medium low heat with the thyme (either tied and remove later or strip the leaves into the oil), the basil torn into small pieces, and the crushed garlic. Simmer for a few minutes till it starts to smell fragrant and before the garlic turns dark . Put the pasta and everything into a large bowl, pour the oil and lemon juice (and zest) on top, toss together then salt and pepper to taste.

-Lina

July 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm 1 comment

in the garden again

This year I started my garden on time, instead of just planting now. So everything is in bloom. I have bell peppers of various colors (they are call ‘color bells’) but so far I only see green and this dark purple looking one (I know they will change when they start to ripen). I’m growing cherry tomatoes again, but this time instead of ‘sweet hundred’ it’s ‘sweet million’. There is a noticeable increase in the number of flowers and I expect a whole lot of tomatoes.

Chives, mint, thyme, oregano, and rosemary survived another year.

-Lina

June 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

austin eats part 1

I went to Austin this past weekend just to get away. It was relaxing and I had a great time. I’ll have to post about it next time, but I’ve taken part of a wellness/health program at my Drs. office and for the first two weeks, I can only eat fruits and veggies. For a girl that loves meat and rice and chocolate, it’s been tough. Luckily, Austin is quite health conscious and I found great food while there.

First stop on Saturday was brunch at Eastside Cafe with my cousin and her husband. I hadn’t seen them in years and they said this place had yummy food and the freshest veggies. The restaurant is cozy, dainty, and the service was excellent. They grow their own veggies in the garden out back, which you can stroll around in while you wait for your table, and they raise their own chickens. I believe all their veggies served come straight from the garden. As you sit down, they bring out these mini cornbread muffins and oh how delicious they smelled.

I had a mixed greens salad with goat cheese and tossed in a rice wine vinaigrette. It tasted so different from what I’ve had before. It tasted so fresh. No photo, but everyone’s seen a salad before.  But, what I loved most was their roasted acorn squash with a soy ginger sauce.

Doesn’t that look awesome? I just took a fork, scraped the side, dipped a bit and took a bite. It was so tasty and I was in love. My cousin’s husband ordered a veggie burger, but my cousin ordered this artichoke manicotti, which is “Carrot pasta filled with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, pistachios, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese.  Topped with sun-dried tomato cream sauce and parmesan cheese.” I was jealous she got to eat that.

For the sake of a photo op, and because what kind of review is this without dessert? They were kind enough to eat this delicious cherry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. Aren’t they the sweetest? By the way, cherry cobblers and cherry pies are in my top 5 favorite desserts. I was brave and strong willed and did not falter. Behold.

As much as I wanted to take a bite of that, I couldn’t. Instead, I watched my cousin and her husband devour it. =( When I’m untubby and can eat that again, I’m coming back for sure. Haha! This is definitely a place to return to and Austinites, if you haven’t made it out to this place…GO!! They take reservations, prices are decent, and food is delicious.

– chelle

May 21, 2010 at 2:40 am 1 comment

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