Too Much Food

What I've Been Up To Lately: Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brickle

Hello all! It’s been way too long. As an apology, how ’bout I share a recipe for a festive candy that is delicious and perfect for holiday gifts?

Cooking at Home: Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brickle

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brickle
Very lightly adapted from the awesome Macheesemo blog.
Makes one pan of candy
What you’ll need:

  • 2 sleeves of Ritz holiday snowflake butter crackers (or substitute with whatever cracker you prefer)
  • 1/2 C (or 1 stick) of salted butter
  • 1/2 C of brown sugar
  • 6 oz. (or 1/2 package) or dark chocolate chips
  • 4 candy canes, pulverized

The procedure:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.

In the meantime, arrange the crackers in the pan – try to nest them so that they are tightly packed next to each other.

Continue heating the butter and brown sugar mixture, without stirring, until the temperature of the mixture reaches 280F on a candy thermometer. Basically, you’re looking to reach soft crack stage.

Once the mixture reaches 280F, quickly pour the mixture over the crackers, and using an offset spatula, spread the caramel evenly over the crackers, then place the pan into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, so that the caramel continues to cook. The crackers will absorb some of the caramel, giving the final product its characteristic buttery crunch.

After 8 to 10 minutes, check to see if the mixture is bubbling and a nice golden brown; if so, take it out and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers. Wait for 5 minutes before attempting to spread the chocolate – the residual heat of the caramel will melt the chocolate for you, making the task easier later.

Once the chocolate has melted, use an offset spatula and spread evenly over the surface of the crackers, the top with crushed candy canes. Let cool for at least half an hour before placing the entire pan in the freezer to set up.

Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight, then lift the entire paper out of the pan.

Break it up and stuff into your mouth. Keep leftovers (if any) in the freezer.

Note: This would work well with other toppings as well – nuts, candy, cereal. Customize to your preference! :)

Cooking at Home: Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brickle

Mmm buttery goodness. Enjoy!

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Baking at Home: Weekend Mulberry Scones

Weekends were made for savoring a quiet breakfast; I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Sunday morning than with a cup of coffee and a freshly-baked scone.

Not much to say here about this recipe, it’s a classic amongst the blogosphere; it’s simple and the results are beautiful. The only change I made was that instead of using dairy cream, I used a vegan cashew cream (I had made cashew cream earlier in the week and wanted to see how it’d perform as a substitute for the non-vegan alternative). That being said, these scones still aren’t vegan, but if you substitute a vegan butter/margarine (such as Earth Balance) for the butter, you’d have an animal-friendly breakfast pastry.

Baking at Home: Weekend Mulberry Scones

Mulberry Scones
Inspired by K. Miller Photographs and recipe adapted from Savory Sweet Life .
Makes 8 regular sized scones or 16 mini scones
What you’ll need:

  • 9 oz. or 252g or 2 cups all-purpose flour (I recommend the kitchen scale when baking, always!)
  • 50g or 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 oz. or 4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (preferably as cold as possible, frozen is best)
  • 6 fluid oz. or 3/4 cup dairy cream or cashew cream
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups of frozen mulberries or your frozen fruit of choice
  • raw sugar for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon of honey for wash

The procedure:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the vanilla and the beaten egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk so that all the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the cold butter into the dry mixture until you get pea-sized crumbs of flour-coated butter. You don’t want to overwork the dough as this will contribute to tough, flat scones. Optionally, if you have a food processor, you can cut the butter in by pulsing the mixture a few times, one second each time.

Pour the cream and egg into the dry mixture all at once, and using a spatula, give it a few quick folds until the dough is evenly moistened and there aren’t any visible puddles of cream or egg. Add the mulberries and fold them in gently.

Pour your dough out onto your baking sheet and pat it gently into a circle that is 3/4″ in height. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, score the dough into 8 pieces. Separate them slightly if you wish.

Mix the honey with a splash of warm water and mix to combine. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the scones and sprinkle with the raw sugar.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms of the scones are a nice golden brown.

Enjoy them hot from the oven with some clotted cream or jam. As with all scones and biscuity things, these are best the day are made. However, you can freeze the unbaked scones and just bake one whenever the craving hits; just pop the frozen scone directly into a preheated oven and bake for 5 – 8 minutes longer.

Enjoy!

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A few meals that I had recently at True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach. A restaurant concept by Dr. Weil, which features healthy, organic and functional foods that are light yet delicious. It’s become a new favorite of mine and if it weren’t such a drive from home, I’d go there more often.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA

The restaurant is immaculate and features an open kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing the food. There’s also an area with large tables, where they do demonstrations and lessons sometimes, I believe.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Cucumber Refresher: Cucumber and Honey Lemonade.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Hangover Rx: Coconut water, orange juice and pineapple.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Tuscan Kale: Lemon, parmesan and bread crumb. I’m used to eating kale cooked down and braised, but this crunchier, raw version was a good change from the usual.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Caramelized Onion Tart: Smoked garlic, black fig and gorgonzola. I’ve always loved the combination of a salty cheese with fruit, so I naturally loved this one. Put caramelized onions on top of anything == instant tasty.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Edamame Dumplings: Daikon radish and white truffle oil. My favorite of the night. Edamame and daikon were pureed to a silky consistency and dressed in a light broth, these were filling without being heavy. Highly recommend this one. Not sure of the truffle oil is real, but my tastebuds aren’t sophisticated enough to tell yet.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Wild Ahi Sliders: Wasabi aioli, radish, avocado and cucumber.

Another dinner, a few months later. It was my birthday and I decided I wanted to revisit because I was craving the edamame ravioli.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
(L): The Natural – Fresh ginger, agave and soda. (R): Medicine Man – Olivello juice, Pomegranate juice, Cranberry juice, black tea, soda water and blueberries.. I ordered the Natural; really gingery and spicy. I don’t like my drinks overly sweet, so this was good. Others, however, felt it was a bit too spicy for their taste. My dad and sister both ordered the Medicine Man, which apparently is an antioxidant powerhouse due to the combination of olivello, pomegranate and cranberry juices. Others enjoyed this more, but I felt it was a bit too sweet for my taste.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Top: Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon: Goat cheese, roasted cashews, and cold pressed olive oil. So refreshing and delicious. The classic combination of watermelon and feta cheese paired with fresh heirloom tomatoes was a bit hit, hitting all the right notes of sweet, savory and acidity. Bottom: Tuscan Kale. We had to get this again.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Spicy Shrimp and Asian Noodles: My dad’s dish. I didn’t try this, but he remarked that it was good.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Roasted Asparagus: Smoked mozzarella, red onions and marjarom. My sister’s dish. Another new favorite, the pizza dough was chewy and was nicely crisped on the bottom.

Eating Out: True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
Pan Seared Halibut: Snap peas, asparagus, purple potatoes and umami. I’m not sure what they meant by “umami” (perhaps this?), but this dish I felt was only ok; the halibut, while it was fresh, was slightly overcooked and bordering on rubbery. I also felt that it was underseasoned; I’m trying to remember what it tasted like and my mind comes up with a blank. The purple potatoes were slightly undercooked, resulting in some bites that were fine, and some that were crunchy. I would probably not order this again.

Overall, two lovely meals at a lovely place. I highly recommend recommendations if you have a large party as this place tends to be very popular for dinner.

True Food Kitchen
Fashion Island
451 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 644-2400

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 11 am to 10 pm
Friday: 11 am to 11 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 11 pm; Brunch served until 3 pm
Sunday: 10 am to 9 pm; Brunch served until 3 pm


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Back in March, Orange County held its annual restaurant week and my godsister and I decided to visit Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine in Irvine.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Winter Salad: Roasted Winter Squash, Frisee, Radicchio, Mustard Greens, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Beetroot & Orange Salad: Underwood Ranch Roasted Colorful Beets, Blood Orange, Hydroponic Watercress, Crispy Feta Cheese, Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

Both salads were really fresh and delicious and I enjoyed the fact that the salads were dressed lightly, allowing for the greens’s natural flavors to shine through. I could have done with more of the roasted winter squash though.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Mahi Mahi: Pan-Roasted Mahi Mahi, Avocado Lime Relish, Mascarpone Cheese & Caramelized Red Onion Risotto, Wilted Spinach.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Beef Short Rib: Slowly Braised Boneless All Natural Beef Short Rib, Cipollini Onion, Baby Carrot, Olive Oil Infused & Crushed Yukon Gold Potato.

Both proteins were well-executed; of the two, the short rib was my favorite: luscious and tender enough to be with just a fork. The sides for both were equally delicious; I loved mixing the tangy lime relish with the rich risotto.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Andrei’s Signature Carrot Cake: Spiced Carrot Cake, Maple Ice Cream, Walnut Brittle.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Farmer’s Market Fruit Cobbler: Warm Seasonal Fruit Cobbler, Vanilla Bean Goat Milk Ice Cream.

Eating Out: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine, Irvine, CA
Crème Brule Tasting: Cinnamon & Coffee Crème Brulee served with Hazelnut Biscotti.

The fruit cobbler was warm but a little watery (perhaps needed a little more binding) and I couldn’t really detect any of the tanginess that I expect when eating goat milk ice cream. That being said, it was still delicious. The carrot cake was lightly sweet and spiced and very moist and went well with the creamy maple ice cream. The brulees were both outstanding; beautiful to look at and taste.

Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine emphasizes using both local and organic ingredients; additionally, 100% of their proceeds to towards Andrei’s Foundation, a organization founded in memory of the operator’s family. For more information, please visit their website.

Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine
2607 Main St
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 387-8887

Hours:
Mon-Thu: 11:30 am – 10 pm
Fri: 11:30 am – 11 pm
Sat: 5 pm – 11 pm


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Ever since seeing The Food Librarian’s epic 30-days-of-bundts posts from last year and this year, I was determined to bake a bundt this year in honor of National Bundt Day. Armed with a basketful of persimmons (our persimmon tree was especially abundant this year again), I decided to bake some form of a persimmon cake. Since my dad had lamenting that he misses eating the coffee cake at Starbucks, I turned David Lebovitz’s Persimmon Bread recipe into a coffee cake by adding a streusel topping.

Baking at Home: Persimmon Coffee Cake Bundt

As this was my first time making a coffee cake, I didn’t realize that the streusel topping literally “melts” into the batter; what seemed like an adequate amount of streusel pre-bake came out kind of measly-looking in the end. However, my parents enjoy their sweets lighter and less on the sweet side, so this was perfect for them. If you enjoy a thicker streusel, I’d definitely suggest doubling up on the streusel portion of the recipe. Also, my parents aren’t the hugest fans of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg (these spices aren’t present in Taiwanese desserts at all), so I omitted them. If you wish to amp up the autumnal flavor of this cake, feel free to add those in to your taste.

I’m very happy with the way the recipe turned out, despite my multiple changes to the recipe (if you know me, you know I can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to recipe-following). The cake is flavorful, tender and moist, and has some great texture due to the addition of chopped walnuts and raisins. Perfect paired with a steaming mug of coffee for your breakfast or with a nice cup of tea in the afternoon.

Baking at Home: Persimmon Coffee Cake BundtBaking at Home: Persimmon Coffee Cake Bundt

Persimmon Coffee Cake Bundt
Recipe adapted from James Beard’s Persimmon Bread, via David Lebovitz
Makes 1 10″ bundt cake

What you’ll need:
For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1/4 C all purpose flour (210 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup granulated sugar, to taste (I used 75g, which is about 1/4 C plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon flavorless oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup persimmon puree, from extremely ripe hachiya or fuyu persimmons (this took about 4 small fuyu persimmons for me) (8 fluid oz.)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (3 oz., or 84g)
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used raw honey, which is semi-solid at room temperature, see special instructions) (160g)

For the streusel:

  • 1/4 cup almond meal (30g)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (30g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold (2 oz., or 56g)

The procedure:
Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar and salt. Cut the butter into the dry mixture (or use your hands to rub the butter in) until the dough looks crumbly and sticks together when you compress a bit between your fingers. Try not to overwork the dough as the heat from your hands will melt the butter. Just aim for a crumb consistency. Place in the the refrigerator until ready for use.

Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the center rack. Line a tube pan or bundt pan with parchment paper and coat with oil or butter, then dust with flour. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

If you haven’t already, take your 6 tablespoons of butter and melt it over low heat (do not let the butter brown or boil, we just want to get it to a liquid state).

Special instructions if you’re using raw honey: Add the raw honey to the liquid butter, allowing it to become liquid from the butter’s residual heat. Yes, I know this renders it “unraw”, but we’re baking a cake here, for goodness sake!

Set aside the butter mixture to cool while you work on the rest of the cake.

In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, and granulated sugar.

In a medium bowl, mix together the 2 eggs, persimmon puree, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and honey (if you haven’t already added it to the butter mixture). While stirring the liquid ingredients, slowly pour in the butter, incorporating it well.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir with a spatula until there are no visible lumps of flour. Add the chopped walnuts and raisins, and stir a couple of more times to evenly distribute them.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth it out, trying to get an even distribution. The batter is a relatively thick one, due to the viscosity of the persimmon puree and honey. Take the streusel mixture and scatter it over the top of the batter. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack, then slice and enjoy! If there are leftovers, wrap them well in plastic wrap to prevent the cake from drying out. If the cake is well-wrapped, it will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. Past that, I’d keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for future snackage.

Baking at Home: Persimmon Coffee Cake Bundt
Enjoy!

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Cooking at Home: Kuih Keria
The perils of taking photos at night when you’re standing in the kitchen with your contacts out: Blurry shots.

Way back in July, my mom gifted me with a cute mini-deep fryer for my birthday. I was simultaneously excited and apprehensive at the same time; would I succumb to deep-frying anything and everything that I had? By the end of the night, I had already drawn up grandiose plans to deep fry oreos, twinkies, mushrooms, onions (ala Chicken Charlie) but I never followed through, putting health concerns first.

Cooking at Home: Kuih Keria

With the temperature in Southern California finally dipping down to the low 60′s this week (yes, my friends, I consider low 60′s cold. I know I’m a wimp), I finally decided to bust out the deep fryer in an attempt to put on another layer of fat in anticipation of winter. I had some beautiful Japanese sweet potatoes so I decided on making kuih keria, a simple but lovely Malaysian street food.

Kuih Keria is just a combination of flour and steamed sweet potato flesh, shaped into rings and deep fried. Traditionally coated in a sugar glaze that’s left to crystallize (allowing for a great crunch when you bite into one), I opted to just coat them in a layer of granulated sugar. If you’re interested in a great and informative blog post about kuih keria, check out Eating Asia’s article on a father-daughter team in Melaka, Malaysia that turns out beautifully caramelized/glazed kuih keria.

Cooking at Home: Kuih Keria

These are delicately sweet, unlike their American counterparts. This donut relies on the sweet potato’s natural sweetness, so try to pick the best sweet potatoes you can for this recipe. These are lovely fresh out of the fryer, with the granulated sugar coating providing a sweet crunch to the fluffy dough. I imagine these would be great in the morning paired with a fresh cup of coffee.

This recipe makes a small batch, as I was testing my fryer. Feel free to double the recipe and make more (you’ll probably want to).

Cooking at Home: Kuih Keria

Kuih Keria
Recipe adapted from Seasaltwithfood
Makes 5 mini donuts.

What you’ll need:

  • 125g sweet potato, steamed and mashed
  • 25g all-purpose flour
  • 8 g glutinuous rice flour (a.k.a. sweet rice flour or mochiko)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • additional spices to taste (cinnamon would go nicely, I think)
  • oil for deep frying
  • granulated sugar to coat

The procedure:

Place oil into deep fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 375F. If you don’t have a deep-fryer, heat up enough oil in a thick-walled pot (at least a depth of 3 inches, I’d say) to a temperature of 375F. As in all situations where there’s a big vat of hot oil involved, make sure you keep an eye on it!

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, glutinuous rice flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and salt. Add additional spices, if using. Add the mashed sweet potato flesh and knead until you get a moist, soft dough. If the dough is too wet, add flour one teaspoon at a time until you get a workable dough. If your dough is too dry, add some lukewarm water; trust your instincts as different sweet potatoes vary in water content. Try not to over-knead though, as overcompacting and overworking the dough will result in tough donuts.

Divide the dough into 5 portions, about 35g each. Use your finger and thumb to poke a hole in the middle, making a cute little donut. You are free to roll out the dough and punch them out if you have donut cutters as well.

Place some granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and have it ready. Place a rack with a paper towel underneath it for the donuts that come out of the fryer. Having tongs ready right about now is good too.

Test your oil to see if it’s hot enough; a great test I’ve always used is to stick a wooden chopstick into the oil. If bubbles form immediately and quickly around the chopstick, the oil is ready. If the bubbles are slow to form, it’s definitely not hot enough. Fry the donuts, two to three at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot. Adding them all at once will make the temperature of the oil drop too much, resulting in oily donuts. Fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through, about 6-7 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, drain the donuts and immediately drop them into the shallow sugar bowl, turning them to coat. Place on the rack to cool briefly and continue to fry the rest of the donuts.

As with all fried goods, enjoy these donuts as soon as possible as their deliciousness is inversely proportional to the time out of the fryer.

Enjoy!

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85度C , Taichung City (台中市), Taiwan85度C , Taichung City (台中市), Taiwan
My last post at my other blog got me thinking about the time I spent in Taiwan last year . . . and the lovely snacks I ate while I was there. Here was a light lunch I had at a bakery chain named 85度C:

85度C , Taichung City (台中市), Taiwan
Now, this sandwich (4 layers of white bread, with alternating layers of ultra thin omelet and ham with mayo) doesn’t look like much, but ask any Taiwanese and they’ll tell you this is the ultimate comfort food. I remember growing up eating these as a kid; when my classmates’ moms packed them tuna salad sandwiches, I brought these. The bread’s always super soft and fluffy, and paired with a cold cup of green tea or soymilk, this meal makes this girl very happy.

85度C
Locations throughout Taiwan

and :
85C Bakery Cafe‎
2700 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA‎
(949) 553-8585‎

Hours:
Mon – Thu: 7 am – 10 pm
Fri – Sat: 7 am – 12 am
Sun: 8 am – 10 pm


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I haven’t tried much of the breads at the one in Irvine, so I can’t really vouch for their quality. However, there’s always a huge line out the door whenever I’m in the plaza, so there must be something about it.

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One of the few places in South Orange County to get a traditional Taiwanese breakfast is at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館) in Lake Forest. We’ve been coming to this tiny hole-in-the-wall (attached to a Quality Inn motel) for as long as I can remember and it’s been turning out traditional versions of the comforting, starchy Taiwanese breakfast that my parents and I love. It’s a family-run business, with a cook that’s always willing to modify dishes to your liking and a friendly waitstaff. Charlie and Vivian are the two family members that work the front of the house, and they always make efforts to make everyone feel like they’re family. Aside from hopping on a plane and flying over to Taiwan, Formosa is the best place to get your breakfast on. (Note: Formosa also serves great lunch specials and dinner entrees, so hop on by and give them a try as well).

We always start with a few bowls of savory soybean milk (鹹豆漿):
Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
A bowl of this milk comes piping hot with chopped pieces of pickled vegetables and is laced with black vinegar; chopped pieces of Chinese cruller (油條) give it textural contrast. For those who prefer a less-savory start to their morning, Formosa also offers the sweet version of the soybean milk (甜豆漿); which comes out unadulterated and unsweetened but with a shaker of white sugar, and leaves it up to the diner to sweeten it to his/her liking.

Three of the best things to enjoy with your soybean milk are Chinese crullers (油條), sesame flatbreads (燒餅) and five-spice beef stuffed sesame flatbreads (五香牛肉燒餅). The usual way to eat the crullers is to stuff them inside the flatbread (yes, you just made a starch-filled carb sandwich, isn’t it glorious?) and eat it between bites of the soybean milk. It’s enough starch and oil to cure any hangover. The five-spice beef flatbreads here are quite good also.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
Shrimp stir-fried rice noodles (蝦仁炒米粉). Some Chinese restaurants tend to ruin this dish for me, frying the noodles so dry it feels like you’re swallowing hay; others tend to overdo it with the sauce, rendering the noodles limp and overly salted. But Formosa manages to achieve the right balance: the noodles are just sauced enough so they retain some moisture, yet they retain a right amount of chew. I also love the fact that they don’t skimp on the fried egg; my chopsticks always tend to hunt out those glorious bits of scrambled egg hidden in the nest of noodles.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
Fried chicken drummettes. I’m not normally into chicken but these are delicious. These wings fried until the skin is so crisp it shatters when you bite into it and flavored with an addicting white-pepper rub. Those who love wings should definitely order these.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
. . . and here comes the offal. My vegan/vegetarian friends, please look away. This is MY dish (mine being the fact that no one else in my family besides my dad and I really like eating this). Pork intestines are stir-fried in a spicy/sour sauce with pickled vegetables (大腸炒酸菜). It’s umami to the n-th degree and these are definitely worth trying, even for the offal-phobic (rest assured, there’s none of the stinkiness that sometimes comes with eating pork intestines, Formosa has always cleaned them well enough). Gross-looking? Maybe? Delicious? Definitely.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
Soup dumplings (小龍包). These come four to a steamer; hefty pork-filled dumplings that are filled with steaming porky broth. Be careful when you pick them up with your chopsticks; you don’t want to tear the skin and lose any of the broth. Do yourself a favor and put some black vinegar and shredded ginger that’s offered with the dish into a spoon, place the dumpling on top, and eat it all in one glorious bite.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California
The last dish: glutinous rice roll (飯糰). This is the ultimate Taiwanese comfort food: shredded pork floss, pickled greens and a Chinese cruller (yes, we Taiwanese like pairing our starches with MORE starch) are stuffed into a roll made of fragrant glutinous rice and steamed. Totally gut-busting but delicious anyway. Just make sure you remember to peel off the plastic wrap before you dive in.

Eating Out: Brunch at Formosa Restaurant (台灣小館), Lake Forest, California


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Formosa Chinese Restaurant (台灣小館)
23702 Rockfield Blvd
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 458-7125

Hours:
Tue – Fri: 11 am – 9:30 pm
Sat – Sun: 10 am – 9:30 pm

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Long time no post! Life has been a bit crazy around here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped cooking or baking. No recipe today, but since it is Dragon Boat Festival, my mom and I spent the day wrapping up homemade vegetarian 粽子 (pronounced “zongzi”, a type of stuffed glutinous rice dumpling). We decided to switch it up by using purple glutinous rice and filled it with deep fried taro cubes, marinated tofu, 5-spice boiled peanuts, and braised shittake mushrooms. It was my first time learning to wrap these, but I think I did all right!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! (端午節): Homemade 粽子 (Glutinuous Rice Savory Dumplings)
The cross section.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! (端午節): Homemade 粽子 (Glutinuous Rice Savory Dumplings)
Unwrapping.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! (端午節): Homemade 粽子 (Glutinuous Rice Savory Dumplings)
And eat!

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Mochi Brownie Two-Bites
By now, y’all know that I dislike anything mochi or mochi-like (I know it’s uncharacteristically un-Taiwanese of me to not like mochi), but I think I’ve finally found a mochi recipe that I actually enjoy! I present to you:

Mochi Brownie Two-Bites
Mochi Brownie Two-Bites!

Granted, you put chocolate in anything and I’ll eat it, but that’s beside the point. If you really think about it, mochiko (also known as mochi flour, sweet rice flour, glutinous rice flour) is really suited for brownie making. I don’t know about you, but my idea of a perfect brownie is one that has a thin, crispy shell that yields to a fudgy, chewy interior. Brownies made with regular wheat-based flours run the gamut from being fudgy to cakey, depending on how long you bake them. Two minutes too long in the oven and your perfect fudgy brownie has become a dry, stiff piece of “cake.” However, you don’t really run into that problem if you replace regular flour with mochiko; mochiko, when baked, becomes chewy, with your baked good having a crispy interior and a chewy middle. Sounds like the perfect brownie to me. And best of all, if you’re gluten-intolerant, this recipe is gluten-free!

This recipe comes from The Cinnamon Quill, a beautiful food blog that I discovered recently. If you enjoyed this recipe, please hop on over and comment there as well.

Mochi Brownie Two-Bites

Mochi Brownie Two-Bites
Recipe for Dark Chocolate Infused Mochi Cake via The Cinnamon Quill
Makes 12 mini cupcake-sized brownie two-bites.
What you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. (1/2 stick, or 4 Tablespoons) of butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for dusting the pan
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 C dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2.2 oz. mochiko (sweet rice, or glutinous flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 oz. (or 6 tablespoons) lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The procedure:

Spray a 12-cup mini cupcake pan with vegetable oil or rub with butter, then dust lightly with granulated sugar. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine melted butter and sugar, whisk until pale and completely incorporated. Add the lightly beaten egg and mix again until completely incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, mochiko, baking powder, making sure no lumps remain. Add this dry mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix lightly with a spatula until there are no visible pockets of dry mix. Pour the coconut milk and vanilla over the top and fold into the batter until the batter isn’t lumpy. Divide evenly amongst the cupcake tins. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies rest 5 minutes in the tin before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely before eating.

Will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days and can be refrigerated. However, with most foods made with mochiko, refrigeration renders them much denser and slightly more chewy. If this isn’t to your liking, you can microwave them gently and they should soften back up.

Note: This recipe is welcome to add-is like chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and dried fruit. I wanted to experience pure mochi-ness so I opted out.

Mochi Brownie Two-Bites
The obligatory innards shot. Mmm.

Enjoy!

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