Thursday, March 4, 2010

La Sirene in NYC

One of my friends is leaving us! She's going to South America to teach English. We were sad to see her off but we did feel happy that she was venturing off to pursue an interest of hers. To celebrate, we went to La Sirene in Tribeca for a farewell dinner.

First we order two different styles of clams since clams are a very popular French dish. We ordered the classic clam dish (bottom) and the chef special (top). Everyone liked the chef's special the most because the curry really did accentuate the flavor of the clams more than the classic. The classic was very plain; the taste reminded me of boiled clams.

Next we went on to order the Goat cheese tart, which definitely became an absolute favorite for me and my four friends. The creaminess of the goat cheese just melts in your mouth with each bite. I would go back to the restaurant just to have the goat cheese tart again.

For our main dishes, we ordered the Hanger Steak, Roasted Lamb Leg, and the Skate Fish.

The Hanger Steak was ordered medium rare. The steak was very tender and the mixture of the herb sauce really made this dish a real enjoyment.

The Roasted Lamb Leg was very flavorful. The creamy, wine sauce with the lamb was delicious. Very creamy and very flavorful. However, the leg was very chewy, like it needed to be roasted a bit more to achieve a more tender texture.

The Skate fish was a-okay. The mango on top of the fish was an excellent touch. I love sweet and salty dishes. However, the fish gave me a rough texture rather than a silky to the bite feel.

Last but not least, DESSERT

The profiterolles are so good. It is hard not to be good given that it is drenched heavily in chocolate syrup....

We also had the peach, and the pear dessert which both kind of tasted the same since both had ice cream and whipped cream with almonds, but just different fruits.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vietnamese Pork Chops

The pork chops disappeared so fast that I only had one left to take a picture of!

My brother LOVES these pork chops that we get when we go out for Vietnamese. Everytime we got out for Vietnamese, he would always get the Pork Chops with rice dish. So for today, I thought I tried my hand in making them....

One of the big problems I found with this recipe is that there are very limited places in NYC where you can go to request thinly sliced pork chops. Most supermarkets or local butcher shops have cut these meats beforehand and displayed them for purchase.

Fortunately with the help of my mom, I found a local butcher shop that was able to custom-cut my pork chops and asked them to cut my pork chops as thin as they could.

Marinate: (for 4 thinly sliced) pork chops
- 3 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs minced garlic
- 1 tsp ground pepper

1. Mix the ingredients above.

2. Sit the pork chops in marination for at least 30 min to allow the marinate to settle in. I had them in the marinate and sitting in the fridge for the whole day until ready to cook for dinner.
3. Grill pork chops until you see the sugar marinate starting to caramelize on pork chops.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cuban Sandwiches

So I did manage to have enough bread to make Cuban sandwiches for everyone! Although the ends of each loaves were stolen by who-knows-who, the leftover baguettes were enough to make sandwiches.

French Baguettes

For this weekend, I decided to make Cuban sandwiches for the whole family. Instead of Cuban bread, I decided to use french baguettes as a substitute. To impress my whole family and to also save money from buying bread, I decided to make the baguettes out of scratch. Once out of the oven, it was so delicious that I couldn't help but sneak a couple of slices for myself....heheheheehe.....hopefully I will have enough for the sandwiches....

You can find the original recipe at, however, I changed some of the directions around due to my experience in bread baking and also did not use a bread machine since I didn't have one.


1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups or more all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active rising yeast

1. Place water, sugar, and yeast into a medium size bowl and let proof for 10 minutes. This mixture should double in size. If it doesn't double at all, then it cannot be used for this recipe since this indicates that the yeast is inactive.
2. Pour yeast mixture into a big bowl and add salt.
3. Add in flour. Stir until dough cleans the side of the bowl.
4. Flour a flat surface and knead your dough until dough is soft and not sticky. Add more flour if necessary. You want to knead until your dough does not stick to your hands.

5. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Covering greased dough to let rise for 30 minutes
30 minutes later....

6. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Roll up dough tightly, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. (You can also mix an egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water to brush over the top of loaf for a golden brown look; I did without the egg yolk graze since I wanted to keep the baguette low cholesterol).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thrift Shopping

Glancing through the Housing Works website at the beginning of this year, I had noticed that they had a $20-bag sale on Saturdays at their warehouse at Long Island City. Housing Works is a non-profit organization that provides housing services, AIDS-related services, and many other services to the community. The organization operates thrift shops around NYC in which it takes donations and resell them, donating all proceeds to the organization to fund the services provided to the community. The way the bag sale worked was that you would purchase a paper bag from Housing Works for $20 and stuff it with as much as you can.

I mentioned this $20-bag sale to a friend, who is an avid thrift shop shopper. She was very excited and wanted to go check it out. Curious as a cat, I went with her.

The experience, I must say, was pretty enlightening. Many people showed up at the sale. I was scared at first; there were so many people and the clothes were being thrown all over the place that I felt like I was swimming in an ocean of clothes. There was a point in which I couldn't even walk since I was knee-high in clothes.

But I must say that this bag sale was a great deal; definitely my money's worth. As my friend and I went around the warehouse, I saw many different clothes that carried brand names such as Ann Taylor, Kenneth Cole, United Colors of Beneton. I even saw this woman who found a leather jacket in one of the bins. Isn't it so surprising how you can find great deals like this? I got a lot of items (mostly accessories) for an overall of $20 only. Sugar sweet life....

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Tonight we headed to WD-50 for dinner. My friend had heard reviews about this place and how it's cuisine is created using molecular gastronomy to perfect the different dishes on the menu.

The place was located on 50 Clinton Street, which was a street that I usually do not venture onto. Why? No other reason besides that it's far away from the area that I work, live, and hang out at. Surprisingly so, the whole street seems to under gentrification into something more elegantly bourgeois. You can see that as you walk along the street and notice many local mom & pop stores and fabric stores. A few condominiums also have developed along that street and the new stores popping up all give out a new clean-cut high tech look compared to the old stores.

Back to the restaurant:

The place was designed in an elegant way. With a bar at the front of the restaurant where one can look through the store windows to the street, the inner half of the restaurant contained many seating booths.

Dishes are all cooked at a low temperature and took some time to come out. It gave my friends and I some time to catch up with old times and to chat about each other's lives.

When the dishes came, we ordered:

Skirt steak (medium rare): Nothing too spectacular, but the steak had a slight peanut flavor and was also accompanied with peanut sauce noodles
Duck Breast: Absolutely delicious. Extremely tender, no fatty tissue, and very juicy despite beating duck breast.
Lamb shoulder, pine nut "baked beans": The meat was tender, but really salty. The baked beans was pretty interesting since it was made with pine nuts packed with a slightly sweet baked bean flavor.

For dessert, we had everything on the menu!!!! Yes, we ordered all seven. My favorite was the jasmine flavored custard with banana ice cream. Unfortunately the lighting did not make it easy to take great pics. I think it's time for me to search for a new camera to add some quality to my blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Applesauce Bread

I made applesauce a couple days ago and had a lot leftover. The applesauce was tasty and sweet, but my family was skeptic about eating it. Mumbled and grumbled about being too healthy and about not wanting to eat babyfood. Anyways, in an attempt to finish up my homemade applesauce, I searched for recipes that called for applesauce and found Applesauce Bread. The overall outcome did not look as appealing as I hoped it to be, but the bread turned out really moist and tasty. It was a great snack and extremely healthy since there was no oil involved in the recipe. However, being an extremely picky eater, I didn't find the bread that appetizing and will not be making it in the future. Good luck to you applesauce bread!

Homemade Applesauce


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream (or buttermilk)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
2. Beat together eggs and sugar.
3. Blend in applesauce, and then sour cream or buttermilk.
4. Mix in flour, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon in separate small bowl.
5. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in raisins.

6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 80 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Tea Eggs


6 eggs
2 tablespoons premium dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (or more) black tea leaves
4 pieces star anises
small strip of dried mandarin peel
Around 6 cups of water (will vary according to pot sizes)


1. Place unshelled eggs in pot of cold water - cold water should just about cover eggs. Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Remove the eggs. With a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in two or three places.

3. In the same pot, add all the other ingredients, stir, cover and simmer for 2 hours, adding water when necessary. Drain, serve eggs hot or cold. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

McDonald's Caramel McCafe

My dad got me (or got himself, actually) a cup of McDonald's Caramel McCafe. He past by McDonald's and decided to try it out. My dad is a bit of a coffee connoisseur himself, so he likes trying out different types of coffee-related drinks. Of course, he had me drink it first as a Guinea Pig, said that I was to try it first and he'll finish it up if it's good. It was good thinking and good thing he did since...

It was a bit disappointing to me the low quality the McCafe was. I opened the cap to the cup and it seemed that I didn't even get my own money's worth. Look at how much space was still leftover....

Besides this point, the taste was AWFUL....I felt like I was drinking sugar and water instead of a coffee drink. There was no coffee drink whatsoever in the drink. Good thing I tried it out first. When I told my dad my review, he knew not to drink it until he was able to get a cup of milk to mix in with the drink. He had enough health problems already and he did not want Diabetes to be the one next on his list....

Old-Fashioned Cupcakes

I just talked to a friend today on gchat. It was on my plan for next month to go visit her in Japan, but she told me today that Japan has become the 4th biggest country of concern for the Swine Flu. It's scary how this epidemic is spreading so rapidly.

At the same time, it reminds me of how I went travelling throughout China after the 1st SARS breakout and before the 2nd SARS breakout. I went to China around January after the 1st SARS breakout was calmed and all the locals starting settling back into their normal lives. After travelling to different areas of China, I rested awhile in BeiJing, and was just about to plan my next trip around the country when the 2nd Breakout broke out in Guanzhou some time in May. My mom freaked out on me, booked me a one-way ticket back home, and rushed me back to the States...

Seems a bit Dejavuuy to me since I'm now about to plan my trip to Japan and again to China when I am faced with another epidemic....

A shout out to my friend in Kyoto, Japan....wishing her good luck and a safe healthy return back to the States.....

Cupcakes for her....made from a recipe from Cheryl Day that was feature on Paula Deen's show.