Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolate & Green Tea Cake Balls

Unless you live under a rock, you most likely have heard or seen dozens upon dozens of pictures of Bakerella's Cake Pops (and balls, and other cute funky shapes) everywhere on the internet. She was featured (so was I, but that's another story) on an episode of the Martha Stewart show & she became an instant hit w/ the world. She's publishing her own book too from her crazy Cake Pop sensation.

The first time I tried making the Cake Balls was actually not planned. I made an awesome Chocolate & Green tea bundt cake, but when I turned the cake upside down, the cake fell apart. I was highly upset w/ myself. I went to bed after my disaster & had a restless night. My mind could not stop thinking about my cake mess left in the kitchen. Then a light bulb hit somewhere around 5am. Yes, I can get a little neurotic when it comes to my baked goods. I knew what needed to be done to my cake mess. It was 5am, I was tired & needed more sleep, so I laid there in bed for a few more hours, until it was time to fix my mess & make it into a masterpiece!
Here's a play by play of what I did:

Make 2 batters, one for Green Tea, the other for Chocolate.

Alternate Chocolate & then Green Tea to make a pretty swirl.

The silicon muffin pan came out perfect. These little guys were very tasty & cooked to perfection. Look at that swirl. It can't get any better than this. 
The bundt pan didn't look bad either...
...Until disaster struck. :(
Bakerella's awesome recipe to the rescue. Add some Green Tea frosting to the mess.
Roll some cake balls. Don't they look like meatballs? hehee Dip in chocolate.
Put on a baking sheet & let the chocolate harden in the fridge.
Don't these look like perfect truffle balls?
From an awful disaster to this wonderful tasty treat. The headache was definitely worth it. Yum!
 Thanks Bakerella!!!

Kyoto Sushi

Kyoto Sushi (Japanese & Thai)
153-11 Union Turnpike
Flushing, NY 11355

I've been going to Kyoto Sushi in Flushing, Queens ever since it opened a few years back. I've been going for so long that I can't even remember when they opened. They only get better with time. They started off w/ just the restaurant, then expanded next door to have private rooms for parties & gatherings, & soon, they will be offering catering services.

They offer these cute tatami rooms that gives you some privacy. You will need to take off your shoes. There will be a drawer right outside for you to place your shoes. I love the tatami rooms when I have a larger group w/ me. You should call to make a reservation to ensure you get a tatami because they can fill up fast.
On the other side of the restaurant, they have opened up private events room. It is also sometimes used for really large parties (of 20 ppl or more) for regular dining. It's a lovely space & offers many amenities if needed. It's great to hold bridal or baby showers, birthday parties, engagement parties, etc.

The food is always fresh at Kyoto Sushi. They have an authentic Thai chef to prepare the Thai foods. They have specially trained Japanese chefs for the fresh sushi that they get straight from the hangar. I know this only because I've had many conversations w/ the brothers who own & run the restaurant.

If raw fish is not your cup of tea, they also offer many cooked foods that can stave off your hunger: soups, salads, spring rolls, dumplings, yakitori, tempura, pad thai, fried rice, teriyaki, curries, noodle soups, stri-fried noodle, Kyoto steak, tamarind fish, fried ice cream, mochi & so much more. I'm drooling as I'm writing this.

I've tried many of the dishes they offer. My go-to appetizer is always the Tuna Pizza. It's not listed on the menu, but is sometimes listed on the specials menu located at the table. When in doubt, just ask the waiter for an order of the Tuna Pizza. It is delectable. Fresh tuna atop a pizza "crust" similar to Chinese pancake or a crispy Indian bread. They have 2 variations of the tuna pizza depending on the day. The one I love has avocado (like guacamole) and drizzled with a mayo-type sauce. It is SOOO good. It's my absolute favorite. I can eat this dish as my main entree.

They make a nice Pad Thai, but my favorite noodle dish has to be the Thai Angel. It's my other go-to dish. I do also love their Pineapple Fried Rice & Masaman Curry. Those are a few other dishes I would order if I'm in a group. I like to taste a little bit of everything.

They offer great value lunch specials as well. You can do take-out, get delivery (limited delivery area), or just eat in. They are super affordable for fresh & delicious food.

I love all the special rolls they offer. The Pink Lady & Dragon rolls are always crowd pleasers. I especially love the Scorpion King roll as well as the King Kong roll. Their regular rolls are also tasty as well. I am bias to the Spicy tuna & Spicy salmon rolls.

To please a large group, I normally would order The Royal Cruise which includes 28 pieces sashimi, 15 pieces sushi & 3 chef's special roll. For a smaller group, I'd order the Kyoto Love Boat which includes 18 pieces sashimi, 10 pieces sushi & 2 chef's special roll.

There's so many things to try that I can always find something new to try out on the menu. Don't forget the desserts. My bf's favorite is the Thai Style Fried Banana w/ Honey. He loves all things w/ bananas. I love the Fried Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream. I have a thing for anything w/ Green tea.

Try it out if you are in the neighborhood. There aren't many places in Queens where you can get fresh sushi for such a fabulous price. The waiters are friendly & always very helpful. The food is definitely worth trying out. You'll love it just as much as I do & will become a regular customer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coconut Cuppies & Pumpkin Spice Cuppies

I made these for my friend's joint Bachelorette/Bachelor's party in Atlantic City, NJ.
Coconut Cuppies w/ Coconut Buttercream Frosting & Toasted Coconut Flakes
Pumpkin Spice Cuppies w/ Pumpkin Buttercream frosting
I'm surprised they lasted the trip down from NYC to Atlantic City & they were perfectly fine the next day as well. I haven't really travelled long distances w/ cuppies & frosting much, so it was an experiment for me. I also imagined in my head the frosting will melt pretty quickly since it is made w/ butter. Luckily for me, they made it okay & many happy mouths gladly ate one or two or 5! That makes me very happy!

The vanilla cake w/ infused w/ coconut milk as well as the frosting. The coconut & pumpkin frosting was my own creation from experimenting. I haven't made either of the frostings again but I really need to write them down so I can re-create it again. Lesson learned. Both cuppies turned out fluffly & moist & were delish.

Tasting Panel:
BF: Loved the cake. Preferred the pumpkin since it was denser yet still moist. He ate about 4 or more as well.
K: Claimed the coconut was the the best cuppie she's ever had. She ate about 6 (I lost count) & grabbed 2 to bring on the ride home, but she said she doesn't think they will even make it into the car.
K's hubby: Loved the cupies & kept insisting I start my own bakery.
Bachelor: Loved the coconut cuppies. Have been telling me to make these again.
Bachelorette: Loved the coconut cuppies.
S: Ate 2 after gambling really late. Wanted more but wifey warned him not to eat too many. He has been asking for more coconut cuppies ever since. None of my other baked goods compared to the coconut cuppies.

Mondo Piatta aka EO

Mondo Piatta aka EO (Pizza)
171 3rd Avenue (btwn 16th & 17th St)
New York, NY 10003

Disclaimer: Sorry for my horrid photos. I left my camera at home so I had no choice but to use my camera phone. :-(

I went to eat at Mondo Piatta this past weekend. The owner was there & I chatted with her a bit. They will be changing the name to EO in the near future. She was very friendly & nice to my bf & I. She mentioned they only use fresh ingredients. They make fresh dressings every 3 days due to the quickness of the fresh ingredients going bad. I like knowing what I'm putting into my body & where the ingredients came from.

The place is cozy & cutely decorated. There are stool seatings & there's a little nook in the back for a slightly larger party (probably can fit 6 ppl comfortably). There's a small garden in the back where there are a few tables for customers to sit & hang out. It was much too hot to sit out there but I can imagine late summer/early fall/spring would be a great time to sit out there. They have the absolute cutest table set that I must get when I buy my own house. Oh my, it's ADORABLE!!! I MUST HAVE!!!!
Tell me that isn't just the cutest thing, EVER?!? Fine, so you don't agree, but I do have an obsession with the Smurfs, so that may have something to do with my strong love of the mushroom set.

Anyway, back to my food posting. The menu isn't huge, which I like since I don't like to get overwhelmed with choices. For starters, we ordered the Caesar salad (on the right), which had romaine, parmesan, prosciutto & focaccia croutons with a fresh homemade sauce. The dressing was light & not heavy like some other Caesars salads out there & they didn't drench my salad in dressing, which I appreciated. We also tried the Garden Citrus salad (on the left). It is made w/ cherry tomatoes, diced apples, gorgonzola, crushed walnuts, dried cranberries w/ a citrus vinaigrette. Oh, this was to die for. I could eat this every day w/ every meal, or just by itself. It was light, refreshing & perfect during this summer heat we are having in NYC. I will come back just for this salad. It is perfect in every way.
We enjoyed our meal w/ these awesome Bella Lula drinks (Lemonade & Orangeade) (sorry, that's the only link I can find which is not in English). They are not fizzy drinks, they were refreshing on a hot summer day or just to have w/ your breakfast. Not overly sweet at all. My bf loved the Fevertree Ginger Ale. He's a big fan of ginger ale, but he's very particular about them. He hates ones that contain high fructose corn syrup which can put you into a sugar coma. I've never seen these products anywhere before. The owner told me Jimmy Fallon came by & drank the ginger ale. He loved it so much, he wanted to take the bottle home!

We finally got to our pizzas. We ordered 2. They are 12 inches, which makes a great personal pizza. We ordered the Mushroom & Carmelized Onion which had ricotta, portobello & shiitake mushrooms, carmelized onions, porcini essence & truffle oil.
They only serve thin crust pizza. I loved that they were crisp & light. I hate having to commit to a thick crust. I usually would peel off the large crust on top & give it away or discard it, which is really a waste. There were no waste w/ these pizzas. The pizzas were not greasy & they weren't laden w/ too much cheese or sauce. Just enough toppings to get a little bit of everything in each bite. It was not salty at all, which is a plus in mine & my bf's book. We are very concious about our salt intake. Him having high blood pressure in the past & me just being really sensitive to salty foods. Please do not mistake not salty for tasteless. I know some people love extremely salty foods, so if that's what you're expecting, you will not get it from Mondo Piatta. We were really pleased w/ the pizza.

The 2nd pizza we ordered was the Supremo which had cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, basil, olives, jalapenos, sausage & pepperoni.
This one was good too. I normally don't like red peppers or olives, but this pizza really worked. I didn't think it was possible, but after eating 3 slices and the salads, I was full. My bf was full after 4 slices & salad, which is amazing. I'd have to mention that if it were a bigger guy, they may need more than 1 personal sized pizza to get full. I did not feel heavy from the pizza whatsoever, which was a plus to me. I hate having that food coma feeling.

They do not offer fountain soda. Everything is bottled & they sell some rare drinks that even Whole Foods do not carry. I have to admit, I drank a Boylan's Root Beer too. I couldn't help myself, it sounded so refreshing, but it is carbonated so I was burping up a storm. hehee I had my last slice a little while later, so it got a bit cold, but the crust was still crisp & the toppings were delish. I do love cold pizza at times too.

Overall, I think the food is excellent w/ fresh ingredients. The staff is friendly. They are a new business, so I'm sure they have some kinks they'll need to work out, but it was a pleasant experience on a hot, lazy summer day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yum Yum Too

Yum Yum Too (Thai restaurant)
662 9th Ave (corner of 46th St)
New York, NY 10036

I went with a group of 10 for dinner on a Saturday night. Amazingly enough, street parking was pretty easy to find. Most of the group ordered from the prix-fixe menu, where they had 2 options. One was only $15.95 (soup, appetizer, entree & dessert) & the other was $22.95, which had the same amount of food but had a better selection (crispy duck, fish, etc).

My bf & I decided to share one $22.95 prix fixe & add an order of the Beef Drunken Noodle. Both the prix-fixe & a al carte portions were the same...HUGE! Everyone shared just about everything, so it was great to try all the dishes out. When they say spicy, they mean spicy! My tongue was burning but in a good way. Maybe I'm just a weakling, but others who love spicier thing had burning tongues too.

The Galanga Coconut Soup was a bit too salty for bf's taste, but I enjoyed it. It has pieces of chicken in it.

The Thai Dumplings (chicken stuffed w/ shrimp & crab meat) were decent. I always love the Thai dipping sauces. One was the peanut sauce, the other is the cucumber vinegar sauce).

The Crispy Basil Red Snapper was the entree. After taking off the meat, they deep fry the remaining bones for a tasty treat. Most Asians love to eat every part of a fish!
The Beef Drunken Noodle was very tasty & like all the other entrees, it was huge! This is my favorite dish to order at Thai restaurants.

I also sampled the Roasted Duck Tamarind (spicy & not spicy version) & they were both very good. The meat was juicy & tender. The Pad Thai wasn't overly salty, which I liked. The noodles were cooked perfectly, so it was clumping together & the flavor was very good.

And finally, it was time for dessert! BF ordered the creme brulee (as well as 2 others at the table). What came to us were 3 totally different creme brulees! Who knew?!?!? They didn't give us a choice, they just gave us whatever they felt like, which was fine by all of us! We got: Ginger, Thai-Iced Tea & Green Tea (I think or honeydew... it was hard to tell).
BF ended up with the Thai Iced Tea flavored Creme Brulee, but he just about ate all the Ginger one too! tsk tsk...

Overall, it was a good place to have dinner. It wasn't overly crowded & they had a table in the corner to fit all of us without making us feel cramped. The cost was very resonable for NYC. It came out to about ~$20 per person.

Almond Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

I've been on a cake baking kick lately. I've recently made an Almond Cake with a Strawberry Buttercream Frosting. The cake is dense, yet moist & soft. I added too many teaspoons of Strawberry jam while making the buttercream so it's a tad sweet but the cake isn't overly sweet so it was a good mesh together. Overall, this was yummy, but more expensive to make then most cakes since it requires Almond Paste, which is pricey.

Tasting Panel:
BF: Loved the dense texture of the cake. He prefers dense cakes over fluffy ones.
BF's Aunt: She said it reminded her of the cakes she used to bake when she was younger & she loved it.
CD: Loves anything almond so he was all over this cake. He didn't want to share with his wife!
CD's Wife: Liked the cake but husband didn't leave her enough to try.
BF's Mom: Love the cake but thought the frosting was a tad too sweet.
BF's Sister: Thought it was too sweet. (Note: She usually thinks EVERYTHING is too sweet).
Mom: Didn't hear back from her, but knowing her, she probably scraped all the frosting off.