One slow Saturday morning, I decided I wanted to make a citrus chocolate something. Orange and chocolate has always been one of my favorite chocolate combinations. Something about the combination of the citrusy acidity and the creamy cocoa tastes so complex and rich. I googled a bunch of recipes and this simple one from My Baking Addiction caught my eye.
The ingredients are basic, which is always the first thing about a recipe that attracts me. I don’t bake nearly enough to own all these weird baking-specific ingredients.
- 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I actually skipped this because, like I said, I don’t own baking things)
- 1 cup of milk
- zest of 1 orange (I would probably do zest of 2 oranges next time)
- 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chunks
My first time zesting an orange! Made the kitchen smell glorious. It was pretty cool to see the citrus oils spray into the air. Continue reading
104 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th streets)
New York, NY 10003
Before Hot Kitchen opened, the only Sichuan food I ate was from my own kitchen and the occasional trip to a random Gourmet Sichuan-esque restaurant. Most of these restaurants had the basic necessities: the double cooked pork, the mapo tofu, the GBSJD (we actually call it that – the 干煸四季豆, or dry sautéed string beans), the fish fragrant eggplant (check out my recipe here!). All these basics were too sweet, too greasy, and not spicy enough, and not nearly numbing enough. Hot Kitchen does all the basics a bit better, and has dishes beyond the basic Sichuan ones that I love. As a result, I go at least once or twice a month. The restaurant is always packed with sounds of home: loud chattering in Chinese and Qing Dao beers clinking.
I always get the 川北凉粉 or Mung Bean Noodle with Spicy and Peppery Sauce ($6.50). This is a Shi’s family favorite. The sauce is a classic Sichuan sauce. It’s spicy, sweet, numbing, and crunch from all the crushed peanuts. The noodles are served cold (goes great with the spice) and are thick but light. You know you’ve got some good noodles when they are elastic and don’t break on contact. Too many Sichuan restaurants in NYC use day(s) old noodles that are refrigerated, which causes the noodles to break. Hot Kitchen doesn’t!
麻婆豆腐 or Mapo Tofu ($13), always a must. Mapo Tofu sauce should NOT be brown. If you order this dish and get brown goopy sauce, you know your chef isn’t Sichuan. It should be bright red and way less viscous than goopiness. The tofu isn’t silken, but also isn’t that hard stuff you find at salad bars. It has enough density that it holds its own shape and doesn’t break. Hot Kitchen’s Mapo Tofu tastes pretty different from how my family makes it (we have more numbingness), but it’s still great. Super flavorful. Could just have this with a bowl of rice and be the happiest person ever. Continue reading
547 9th Ave (between 40th and 41st street)
New York, NY 10018
This charming, cozy little restaurant is just a stone’s throw away from Times Square. I’m going to be upfront and tell you that Capizzi invited me to come by and try their pizza, but I’m also going to guarantee you that I will always write unbiased reviews, regardless of who is fronting the bill. Having said that, believe me when I tell you that I was very happily surprised that this Midtown West restaurant ended up being a fantastic experience.
I started with a glass of Chianti as I waited for LAW to arrive. They have a bunch of different wines by the glass all for about $13 (can’t remember exactly).
I read the menu and really loved this little bit: “As I got older I realized it’s not just about good food. It was a passion, kind of like a sport, a love affair with food and Nature all rolled up into one.” Definitely resonates with me and the reason I even continue to have a blog in the first place.
When LAW arrived, we started with the special, which was a fresh housemade Burrata with prosciutto, artichokes, roasted peppers, and cherry tomatoes ($13.95). The platter did not look particularly fancy, more just like how you would serve something at home (everything tossed onto a very normal plate). This appetizer represented everything I love about Italian food: super simple and completely determined by the quality of ingredients. The burrata was SO creamy yet light. The tomatoes were perfect: firm, sweet, and juicy. The artichokes and roasted peppers were great as well. I could eat this appetizer all the time. Continue reading
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue
103 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th street)
New York, NY 10003
Mighty Quinn’s has been in my neighborhood for more than a year now yet I had not gone until just recently. It wasn’t until Chrissy Teigen (my major celebrity crush) posted that she came with John (because Chrissy is my crush, I am on a first name basis with John too) that I decided I needed to go asap. The line is always really long but it moves quickly. I would definitely consider this a fast food kind of place. Food is ready made and tables are first come first serve. (Btw, I didn’t have my camera with me so have these gritty iPhone pictures.)
Nice to see fresh vegetables in the kitchen.
LAW got the Brisket Sandwich ($8.75), which seems to be the crowd favorite as seen on Yelp and first hand at the restaurant. The brisket is sliced in front of you after you order and you see the fatty juices gush out onto the cutting board. Looked very promising but ended up tasting mediocre. It lacked flavor (which is made up for by the gallons of Mighty Quinn’s BBQ sauce on all the tables) but was very tender. The bun was cold and dry, which definitely didn’t help. Sad, sad disappointment. Continue reading
Peter Luger Steakhouse
(between 6th St & Driggs Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
I’ve been around the block now, nearly three years in NYC, and to this day, I only crave the steak of Peter Luger’s. 50% of the reason is that the steak is just so damn tasty. The steak has a crust that is so savory and charred that is also drizzled with extra steak oil before it is served. 30% of the reason is for the bacon. So damn delicious. The last 20% of my love for Peter Luger’s comes from the no BS attitude and air of the restaurant. Replace the usual white tablecloth stuffiness of a usual steakhouse with simple, rustic wooden tables.
Read more about my take on the service in my last Luger’s post before I had my awesome food camera. Pictures below are from my EPIC quarter century birthday. Continue reading
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010
You all know now that I love Eataly (especially after my trip to Italy). LAW and I were in the neighborhood and decided to grab a quick lunch. G.B. had told me numerous times that him and N.T. always split the Prime Rib sandwich from Eataly’s Rosticceria. This butcher counter sells a different meat per day of the week (for example, porchetta Thursdays and meatball Fridays). You can buy roasted meat and rotisserie chicken by the pound, or buy freshly made sandwiches and sides (they have roasted brussels sprouts!). Continue reading
103 1st Ave (between 6th and 7th streets)
New York, NY 10003
I love Filipino food. I didn’t really discover this until Jeepney (sister to Maharlika) popped up in my neighborhood and I got to try some excellent Bicol Express (slow roasted pork shoulder in coconut milk). I haven’t blogged Jeepney yet because I never have my camera when I go, but I definitely need to soon. It embodies everything I know about Filipino culture: fun, familial, loud, and delicious. Ugly Kitchen is another Filipino restaurant in the East Village that my friend L.B. is involved with (and even worked in the kitchen!). It embodies the same kind of vibe as Jeepney’s but is a bit more affordable (mains are $10-$15 whereas at Jeepney where they are $15-$20).
L.B. welcomed me and Y.N. with dangerous fruity cocktails that the bartender threw together as a special for the night. The most dangerous part of the cocktail was that it didn’t taste dangerous…
Y.N. asked for the most popular dish on the menu: The Ugly Grilled Chicken ($14), which consists of two pieces of fire grilled chicken with a Korean fusion marinade and a side salad and rice. As simple as this sounds, it tasted pretty damn delicious. The chicken was flavorful, had a strong charred flavor, and was fairly tender. As the chicken cooled down, it got less tender (so eat quickly!), but was still tasty. Great home cookin’ for when you don’t want to take out the grill (or don’t have one because you live in NYC).
L.B. got the Sizzling Sisig ($13), which consists of spicy minced pork belly, liver, pork cheek, all sautéed together in onions and soy sauce with an egg on top. The waiter cuts the pieces up on the sizzling stone plate when the dish is brought over. The bite size pieces are fatty, and super fragrant. It’s a classic Filipino dish that I haven’t quite learned to love just yet but can see why it is Filipino comfort food. Continue reading
Happy 3.14159265359.. Day! I’m not normally nerdy enough to celebrate the day (let’s be real now, the true reason I don’t celebrate is because I actually don’t love pie – minus Pearl’s summer blueberry pie… two and a half months away from my tummy). I don’t love desserts and I rarely bake because I don’t like to measure things, which generally causes a disaster in baking. But my team at work celebrates the day so I felt obliged to participate. I decided to make a no-bake pie to minimize failure.
This recipe is super duper easy. All you need is:
- 32 oreos ish (if someone steals one or two while you’re cooking, you’ll live)
- two packs of JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
- half a stick of butter (melted)
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 8 oz. tub of Cool Whip (go with extra creamy)
As I don’t bake very often, I don’t have any of the right tools. I read online that it’s easiest to crush oreo cookies in a food processor but why would I have one of those when I have knife and hammer skills? As you can see, I laid out Oreos in a ziplock bag and hammered them into crumbs. A lack of resources inspires innovation, guys. Do as you like as long as you break the cookies up. Continue reading
Eggplant really doesn’t get enough love. The craze was brussels sprouts in 2012, kale in 2013, not too sure what the vegetable craze will be this year… but I’m hoping that eggplant will make it to the list in the near future because it’s a damn good (and healthy) vegetable that too many people find repulsive. People who say “it’s the texture” are just being narrow-minded. The texture of an eggplant is similar to a zucchini!
Fish Fragrant Eggplant (鱼香茄子) is a classic Sichuan homecooked dish. As Appetite in China (where I got my recipe) says, the name is deceiving because it isn’t meant to taste like fish at all. The flavor is associated with how fish is often prepared in Sichuan cuisine, hence the name. It’s super easy to make and goes great with a bowl of rice. Very few Chinese kids hate eggplant and I attribute that to them growing up with this very specific dish. Continue reading
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles
144 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
If you haven’t already, it’s about time you make the trek deep into Manhattan Chinatown away from the fake Coach bags and thousands of iPhone cases on Canal Street. Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles is a tiny noodle shop on the very South Eastern tip of Chinatown. It’s been around for ages and is consistently rated as one of the best Chinese noodle places in the city. I.K., D.C, F.L., and I skipped the usual eggs benny and came here for brunch/lunch one weekend.
Prices have stayed cheap and options fairly minimal.
The restaurant is small and a little dirty. Expect to sit facing a wall or at a table with other noodle-slurping diners. Lam Zhou is a restaurant in its most basic and practical form: serves food and provides utensils to eat.
Notice that the chopsticks are from another restaurant. Seeing this made me miss home tremendously, because it reminded of how practical Chinese people are. Chopsticks are chopsticks!
As the name of the restaurant suggests, Lam Zhou is a noodle shop. It specializes in beef noodle soup where you can choose the beef type (brisket, tendon, oxtail, some combination, etc.) and the noodles (handpulled or knife-cut). I chose a brisket-tendon combo with knife-cut noodles. Continue reading