Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Baking kind of Day

After a hard day at work, I finally finished a birthday cake for Miss Abby for her party at school.  Her favorite is strawberries, so I created this cake with Fresh strawberry fillings, fresh whipped cream, and Strawberry flavored pink cake just for her.  For cake topper, I made these butter cookie stars with her name on it and decorated it golden sprinkles.  I hope she likes it! 

Today is also Kiana's birthday, Cayenne was invited to her birthday party so I prepared a "My Bouquet" for her.  "My Bouquet" is my new product line that combines floral arrangements with handmade decorative butter cookies and chocolate dipped berries.  For this bouquet, I used a cute little pot along with some fresh cut flowers.  I topped it off with some flower and leaf shaped cookies decorated in whimsical colors and sparkles and hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries.  I also added a small toy for her as a gift within the bouquet.  It is so much fun for me to practice my cookie decorating skills!  The bouquet was well received.  The host shared the strawberries with other guests and saved the cookies for later.  The cookies are quite shelf stable so if you don't want to eat it, you can keep it as a memory for a very long time!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Central Space

Today I went to Holly Brown Coffee on Stanley Street in Central to meet a friend.  I have been there at night to get some Gelato for Cayenne after dinner at Luk Yu, but never actually set down for a cup of Joe.  It is a really big place with almost about 1500sf ground level and another similar size upstairs lounging seating area.  It was around 245pm and it was quite busy with people coming in and out for coffee, ice-cream and a light lunch.  My friend and I set down upstairs for a about 1.5hrs, I had a sandwich and Latte, and he had a latte and muffin.  I cannot help but wonder, can a place like this survive in Central with such high rent? Each person that goes in and out of there will have an average ticket about $50 to be generous. With a little rule of thumb calculation, they will need to serve about 150-200 customer a day to make ends meet.  I really enjoyed the spacious and comfortable environment, quality food, good efficient service and freshly roasted Tall Skim Latte for $38.  I actually think that they have everything that you can think of for breakfast, Lunch, simple dinner Dessert and even some coffee beans to take home.  I think it is a nice break away from crowded Central, will they survive the cruel rent of Central,  I hope they do, cause I like it!

After some errands and meeting Jonathan for a wine tasting event, I decided to go find some dinner while waiting for Jonathan to finish up.  Walking along Wellington Street, thinking what I should eat and what I want to eat, I stumble into Wang Fu 王府 traditional Beijing dumplings and dishes.  Small hole in the wall about say 700sf dining space, seats about 40ppl max.  I ordered their special of the day Fennel and Pork Dumpling, a cold potato salad and pickled cucumber.   It was delicious and the whole dinner cost me about $90.  The older gentleman manning the cash register, looks like he is from Beijing, also speaks good English.  He was helping the French table next to me navigate the menu.  I think his English is almost better than the French.  They have been in this location for quite some time.  With an average check for about $90 per person.  Again with some simple rule of thumb math, they need to serve 40-50 people a day to make it.  I have seen their place at lunch, it is always packed with people dining and people waiting outside for take-out.  I think they are doing quite ok, I hope they do cause I like it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Maple Soy Rosemary Rack of Lamb 迷迭香羊排

Rack of Lamb is always impressive to serve at dinner.  A little bit more special than steak and actually very easy to master.  I made this recipe so many times and everyone always enjoyed it.  It gives the lamb added flavor and punch. 

Maple Soy Rosemary Rack of Lamb

1 Half Rack of Lamb, about 6-8 bone per rack
½ Cup Soy sauce
½ bulb of garlic, smashed
3 tbs of Maple syrup
2 stem of fresh rosemary, smashed stems and leaves
½ tbs of whole black pepper
1 gallon Zip Block Bag
1 tbs of water

Put all the marinade ingredient in the Zip Block Bag, clean and dry the rack of lamb and place it into the marinade. Remove excess air, zip and place in refrigerator for about 12-24 hours. Best to do it the night before you go to bed and cook for dinner the next day. Put a pan underneath the bag to make sure it does not leak all over your fridge.

Grilled Method:
Prepare your charcoal to about medium high heat. Remove lamb from bag and discard juice. Put lamb on the grill around the flame, NOT DIRECTLY on the flame or it will burn. Turn on each side every 5 -7 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, lamb is ready when it reaches 140-160F. 140 for medium, 160 for medium well!

Pan Seared Method:
Pre heat oven at 375F. Use heavy duty oven prove pan, the heavier the pan, the more heat it produce and the temperature remains constant. Cast Iron is idea for a crisp meat crust. Pre heat the greased pan until you see smoke. Place lamb rack on the pan and you should hear the sizzle. Turn on each side every 5 minutes until meat is nicely brown. Place Pan directly into the oven or place meat onto oven safe pan and finish it in the oven until desired temperature 10-20 mins. You can sear the meat first and wait when you are ready to eat and finish it off in the oven 140F(medium)-160F(Medium Well).

Cut Rack into chops and enjoy! NOT cutting it from the start seals in the juice, also because it has been brined (wet marinated), it is extra juicy so no sauce is needed. Serve with Oven roasted potatoes with garlic, truffle oil and fresh rosemary, some butter pan-fried asparagus, and a little mint jelly, I think your honey will love you forever!

TIPS. By smashing the garlic and herbs, you release their scent and flavor. You don’t have to chop them nicely since you will not eat it at the end, so release some stress and smack them good! This Marinade is also good with duck or pork. Use a serrated knife to carve meats for less tearing of the muscle. You can marinade more meat at the same time and remove the brine and place meat in the freezer for later use. You can also serve this at room temperature, for a finger food appetizer.