oh snaps!

April 28, 2006 at 4:57 am (mirepoix)

Foothill College was the place to be…

Monday, April 24
Halo Halo Food Workshop
A sweet, creamy and filling dessert, Halo-Halo (from the word halo which means mix) is a favorite Filipino dessert or snack. It’s a mixture of sweet preserved red beans and chick peas, coconut meat (macapuno), jackfruit (langka), pounded dried rice (pinipig), sweet yam (ube), cream flan (leche flan), shreds of sweetened plantain (saba), crushed ice, and milk or coconut milk topped with ice cream. The Foothill Filipino Club will demonstrate how Halo Halo is made, and then make your own.
Time: 12:30–1 p.m.
Location: Room 3523
Free Admission


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chinese wedding party 101

April 27, 2006 at 6:38 am (reflectionary)

Awww hell, and it wasn't even a Chinese wedding dinner party…

A friend of mine from San Diego who is getting married in July had just sent out an email to all his guests about the intricacies behind a Chinese wedding banquet — food playing a central role to the celebratory event. At the last wedding I went to, the MC tried to squeeze tiny tidbits about the rituals like the bouquet toss and wedding cake but somehow it got all lost in the buzz around the groom seranading the bride. The open bar didn't help much either for retaining the knowledge. (BTW, the invitation my friend sent is beautiful and tri-lingual [in Chinese, Vietnamese and English] and I think it is lightly jasmine-scented but I could be hallucinating.)

For the most part, our wedding will be pretty traditional. In the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, there were guides such as the "Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial" laying out the rites considered essential to any Chinese wedding.

A number of rituals were discussed there, such as the preparation of the bridal bed, typically installed by a bearer of many children to ensurefertility for the couple, the hair-combing ceremony the night before forboth the bride and groom as a rite of passage as they transition frombeing a son/daughter to husband/wife, and the tea ceremony to serve tofamily members on both sides to receive their blessings for the union.The color red is symbolic for all joyous Chinese events. In a wedding, this may be in the invitations, decorations, clothing, and other motifs. Although not required, red may be worn throughout the wedding by the bridein one or more of her dresses and by the guests.Ubiquitous in any traditional Chinese wedding, the Chinese characterfor "Double Happiness", dating back to the Tang Dynasty, is in the front of all our invitation envelopes and is taped and framed against the walls of the restaurant, bedrooms, corridors, and homes.Here's a link that gives some of the history behind the symbol (http://chineseculture.about.com/library/weekly/aa120799a.htm)

In many Chinese weddings, eight and nine are good numbers. Eight ("baht") rhymes with "faht" ("to prosper"), whereas Nine ("gou") is a homophone tothe Chinese word for "long". Many of the dishes are symbolic for wishingthe Chinese couple prosperity, happiness, longetivity, and peace together. At our banquet, there will actually be 11 courses total. However, most Chinese actually do not count the appetizer plate or the dessert. Excluding thesethen, we have 9 main courses, served family style.

In many of the plates, such as the lobster, fish, and chicken dishes, you'll notice that these items will be served in its entirety, head and all. A Chinese proverb says to "have head have tail," to mean "completeness". Here are some of the menu items to expect:

An appetizer plate
Cold cuts, jelly fish, and roast pork. Pork is served here to
represent virginity. In the past, wealth had been measured by
the amount of livestock a family possesses. The groom's family will
offer a whole suckling pig for the bride's family as a gift.
Its presentation at the engagement is no simple feat,
so any family going through the trouble to offer this gift to
the bride's family meant that the bride was of good and pure

Garlic Stir-Fried Scallops
Scallops are symbolic for wealth, as many items that pertain to
currency have a derivative of its character in Chinese.

Roast Squab
Squab is a small, fledgling pigeon and is used here as a symbol for
peace to wish the couple a peaceful life together. The word for
it in Cantonese is "Yi Kap", which also sounds like the words for an
"an easy fit" in Chinese.

Abalone with Shitake Mushrooms
Abalone (pronounced "Bao-yu" in Cantonese) sounds like the phrase
"assurance of surplus". The Shitake Mushrooms enhance the flavors
and relate back to the texture of the Abalone.

Shark-Fin Soup with Crabmeat
This makes a good brothy complement next to all the other dishes.
For its cost and symbolism for wealth, serving shark-fin soup is
typically reserved for special occasions such as weddings and
major birthdays. As sharks do not get cancer, many Chinese also
believe that it's good for you,

Lobster stir-fried in Chicken Broth
The word for Lobster ("long ha") is literally "dragon shrimp"
in Chinese. Commonly used for celebrations, the dragon is a symbol
for strength. In a wedding, the Dragon represents the Male in the

Chicken stuffed with Kum-Hua Ham
A more romantic word for Chicken in Chinese is "Fong".
Literally it means "phoenix" and is a symbol for the Female
in the union. The Ham ("Kum-Hua") literally means "Golden and

Cantonese Style Steamed Fish with Ginger & Scallions
Fish is a symbol for abundance as any waters that have plenty of fish
will also have a lot of natural resources the fish can feed on. Its
word in Chinese, "Yu", is a homonym for "having enough".

Noodles in Abalone Sauce
For its length, noodles are symbolic for longevity in the Chinese
culture. This dish is served to wish the couple a long, happy marriage.

Chow Fan (Fried Rice) with Scallops
There's a fried rice dish with a tomato based fried rice
on one side and normal fried rice on the other, symbolizing both
sides coming together. But we don't like this dish and
just opted for normal Fried Rice with Dried Scallops.

Dessert – "One Hundred Years of Good Togetherness"
This sweet dessert is served to newlyweds to wish them a sweet life.
The hot sweet soup should contain lotus seeds (symbolic for fertility)
and a bark-like vegetable (bak hop, literally "hundred-togetherness")
to wish the newlyweds one hundred years of togetherness.

Other protocols at the Banquet:
The banquet starts with a meet-and-greet and guest sign-in at the door.
In a traditional Chinese wedding, most of the guests will choose
to give red envelopes stuffed with cash at the reception area to wish the
couple a happy marriage.

Food will be served about one hour from the start of the reception, with
a brief introduction of the bride, groom, and their family members.
About halfway through the banquet, the bride and the groom will make
their way around the tables, making toast with their guests and thanking
them for their attendance.

During the banquet, the guests may slap their chopsticks or utensils on
their plates to coerce the bride and groom to display their affection for
one another, typically to get them to kiss. Tricks may be played on the
bride and groom throughout the night. (I'm not encouraging any of you to
do so…)

At the end of the night after the cake has been cut and served, the couple
and their parents will be at the door, thanking all their guests as
they leave.

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i actually love the portability of books.

April 26, 2006 at 8:30 am (mirepoix)


i am suffering from gastronomic literary schizophrenia!

treasures, they are.

how the true top chef concept started out.

at the dollar bin at the friends of the cupertino library bookshelf.

on sale at whole foods.

gotta mix it up.

tonight, my sis and i made dinner for cousins j and c. she made a bomb broiled salmon, spicy mushroom meat marinara and i took care of dessert.  


*you may enrich the cheese mixture with 3 egg yolks and 1 egg, however, if you chose to leave it out, this recipe works too.

get it:

whipped cream

1 cup whipping cream

2 tbs. sugar

cheese mixture

16 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

coffee soak

2 c strong coffee, warm (or for a fuller coffee flavor – 2 double shots of espresso mixed with 1 cup warm water, mixed with 2 tbs. kahlua for a fuller flavor)

2 tbs. marsala wine

2 tbs. sugar

1/4 cup sweet cocoa


1. whip 1 cup cream and 2 tbs. sugar till it forms heavy peaks. set aside in large bowl.

2. blend 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup sugar, marsala wine and mascarpone cheese. using a spatula, fold a little straight whipping cream into cheese mixture to lighten it. continue to gently fold cheese mixture into bowl with remaining whipped cream.

3. quickly drop ladyfingers in coffee soak. line bottom of dish with a layer of soaked ladyfingers. layer whipped cream and cheese mixture on top. repeat step 3.

4 . dust with a layer of sweetened cocoa powder right before presentation

tiramisu tips: soak ladyfingers in warm, strong sweetened coffee to avoid getting dry centers without oversoaking. i learned it the hard way ; ( also, sour cream does NOT equal a substitute for masarpone cheese. milo or ovaltine makes for a tasty chocolate powder dusting.

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i like it hot.

April 25, 2006 at 5:09 am (masarap/taste good, reflectionary)

there are a few things i've learned from my tatay. i learned how to wash rice before cooking it (called saing). i learned how to shuffle a deck of cards right before playing solitare. i found the pleasure in sitting quietly on a spring afternoon listening to baseball on the radio. but the two things that that i remember the most from my tatay is how to make bibinka and how to make ginataan. i think i'm straight with the bibinka, but the ginataan is a little more tricky.

ginataan is a warm, coconut milky creamy dessert that is like comfort food with a lotta surprises in it.

sometimes, there's some jackfruit.

sometimes, there's saba cooked in brown sugar syrup in it.

sometimes, some taro root.

other times, there's sticky rice balls.

or, a pleasant purple surprise – ube (purple yam). the way i like it is with corn, rice, and bilo-bilo (small sticky rice balls).

today, i made my first batch with the aforementioned ingredients.

get this stuff:

1 cup sweet rice flour

1/4 cup water

1/2 tbs. vanilla

2 packages frozen coconut milk (thawed)*

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup sugar**

1 can coconut cream

1/2 package frozen sweet white corn (trader joe's is the sweetest)
1/2 cup uncooked rice, rinsed

do it:

1. heat coconut milk, milk & cream in a pot on medium heat till it simmers. add rinsed rice.

2. in a separate bowl, combine rice flour with just enough water to hold the dough together (approx. 1/4 of a cup). you want the dough to hold shape but not be super sticky.

3. once rice is soft, make small dough balls and place in pot. cook dough for 5 minutes, simmering on medium heat. add frozen corn and bring back to simmer. mix in vanilla and turn off heat.

4. get your ginataan on.

there could be many different variations of this dessert. you could add cocoa powder to make it chocolaty, or some fresh mangoes right before serving it to give it a little tang, chop up a bit of plantains and simmer for awhile. the possibilities are ginormous. 

*i like using the frozen coconut milk because it tastes more fresh than canned, however, canned will work as well.

**adjust the sugar to suit your taste. add a bit more if you have a sweet tooth ( :

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April 22, 2006 at 6:45 am (mirepoix)

porto's – glendale & burbank

to die for cheese rolls, yummy fresh fruit tarts and savory croquettes.

fiorillo's – santa clara

pasta milanese

my parents said they used to take me here when i still had no teeth.

engine co. no. 28 – downtown LA

southern style pan fried chicken

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maple banana bread

April 7, 2006 at 6:40 am (masarap/taste good)

making banana bread makes me feel good. really, taking darkening bananas and turning it into something delicious is a good feeling, like drinking warm milk when you wake up in the morning. not to mention, it makes your house smell incredible…! my aunt once told me that when you are trying to sell your house and hold an open house, you should bake chocolate chip cookies to entice the potential buyers. if i ever sell my house in the future, i'll be baking a maple banana bread.

i made the following recipe and running out of half of the intended maple goodness, i improvised and used condensed milk, which turned out great. it made the bread fluffy and creamy, moist and with the right amount of sweetness. i also like this recipe because it doesn't have a whole lot of refined sugar. next time i'd try it with a full dose of maple syrup and see how it turns out.


4 cups of unbleached flour

2 large eggs

1 cup (2 sticks) melted sweet butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 mashed super ripe bananas (about 2 cups)

6 tablespoons milk 

3 tablespoons brown sugar

ready, set, go:

1. heat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. mix butter, bananas, and eggs in a bowl. mix in maple syrup and condensed milk. add milk.

3. combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl.  

4. combine flour mixture into wet ingredients only till all ingredients are combined. the secret to a good banana bread is to NOT OVERMIX. mix just well enough for everything to pull together.

5. divide batter into two 9X5 inch loaf pans. sprinkle brown sugar on top of each loaf. bake for about 40 min. or till clean knife comes out after being inserted in the middle of the loaf.

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too cool.

April 3, 2006 at 3:23 am (mirepoix)

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a lil dusty cocochoco pic

April 1, 2006 at 7:24 am (mirepoix)

"most creative" award – truffled bibinka with reduced coconut milk sauce and toasted coconut
march 1, 2006
oakland asian cultural center

the great cook-off fundraiser

the judges: Chef Hung Le (Three Seasons), Chef Weerayut "Oudi" Utedpornratanakul (Malacca), Chef Dennis Wong (Le Soleil)

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