Wednesday, September 22, 2010
You know what has been my most popular post the last few months? My post on nutella chocolate chip cookies. I am surprised at how popular this post is; it's up there as one of my most popular of all time. These cookies have been a big hit with my family as well. We all love how the cookies stay fudgey and chewy rather than turning hard/stale/cakey the next day.
So I know the days are getting shorter and Fall is pretty much here, but I'm still trying to hold onto summer. We had a nice, sunny weekend, so I decided to make ice cream sandwiches.
I made my nutella chocolate chip cookies and I made my nutella ice cream. I froze the nutella ice cream in a cylindrical shaped container that was approximately the diameter of my cookies the night before. The next day, I used a knife around the edges until the ice cream came out, and then sliced my block of ice cream and put them on the cookies.
The result was a sweet delicious messy treat. Because the ice cream is homemade and meant to stay soft and creamy, it melted pretty fast. I wanted to take more pictures of these, but I honestly didn't have time because the ice cream kept dripping.
You can find the nutella cookie recipe here. I'd recommend reducing the white sugar by about 1/4 cup. I found the cookies a bit too sweet this time, and the nutella flavor not as noticeable.
You can find the nutella ice cream recipe here.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
3860 Convoy St, Ste 105
San Diego, CA 92111
I’ve been wanting to try Spicy House since it opened over a month ago, but something always came up, and so I didn’t get around to it until this past weekend. Occupying the former Shanghai City, the signs hanging from this new restaurant can make things very confusing. The name of the restaurant is “Spicy House,” yet two signs hang below saying “Shanghai City” and “Spicy City #2.”
So which is it? Is it related to the other Spicy City? Is it still Shanghai City? The answer is yes, sort of, and more. Heh. So here’s the rundown as I know it (and confirmed from talking with the one of the owners). Spicy House is owned by the owners of Spicy City and the former owner of Dede’s (he sold Dede’s, and it’s now under new management. He also owns A Cafe with someone else.) They decided to keep the chef from Shanghai City, so the menu consists of some of the Shanghai city dishes, the majority of Spicy City’s menu, some of DeDe’s menu and some dishes I don’t recall seeing before on any of the menus.
The result is a large location, with lots of menu offerings, and customers visiting who are fans of DeDe’s, Spicy City and Shanghai City. When I arrived on Saturday night, the restaurant was packed with quite a wait out the door. Obviously the formula is working.
One thing I noticed when I entered was that the restaurant needs a better ventilation system. Or they need to turn on their air system. People in the waiting area were coughing up a storm because the breathing air was clouded with spiciness.
The other thing that needs work is the staff. The staff seems unable to handle the busy crowds. Perhaps they need to be trained by the Spicy City employees, who always seem put together and amazingly efficient with that busy spot.
After being seated, we had no menus or silverware. The waiter noticed, left to get it, then promptly forgot about us until he came back around again. We finally got our silverware, and then had to order water about four times, each time from a different employee, before finally getting some from the former DeDe’s owner. As one of my dinner companions observed, the staff here are like goldfish with a seven second memory retention. None of them could seem to remember any of our requests.
When we finally got our menus, I was overwhelmed by the large selection. It was hard to choose, but in the end we opted to try some new dishes that we don’t normally order at the other spicy chinese restaurant locations in San Diego.
Like its counterparts, Spicy House offers a select choice of cold appetizers up at the front next to the register. You can order a plate of three for $5.50. I thought the selection was really small compared to Ba Ren and Spicy City. We ended up ordering a thinly sliced spicy beef tender dish, seaweed salad and marinated gizzards. I wasn’t very impressed with the cold appetizers, but they were alright.
I had been searching the menu for a dish that Kirk of mmm-yoso ordered, a fried eel dish, but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I missed it. Anyhow, with my mind stuck on eel, I decided to order a braised eel dish.
The dish was pretty large and made up entirely of eel, to my delight. It was cooked in a brown garlic sauce. The sauce was slightly too sweet for my taste, but other than that, I enjoyed this dish.
We also ordered the cumin lamb. This dish seemed much smaller. The cumin taste was really strong. The spiciness level was a bit too mild for me.
We also ordered a fried chicken cubes with hot peppers. This is one of my favorite dishes to order at Ba Ren. It is usually cooked with so many peppers that the chicken pieces actually numb your mouth with spiciness. It burns, but once you get used to it, the chicken starts to taste sweet. It’s an addicting experience. The chicken here was not cooked with enough peppers. It wasn’t that spicy and the peppers didn’t really seem to seep through the batter.
Our final dish was a seafood soup stew. There were pieces of fish, squid, shrimp and it was served in a broth with glass noodles.
I’m not quite sure where I rate Spicy House yet compared to the other offerings in San Diego. I need to come back a few more times and try some more items out, especially the usual items I order. Ba Ren is definitely still my favorite. I think I may rank this spot above Spicy City only because the menu offers more and there is a lot more space.
You can read mmm-yoso’s posts on Spicy House here and here.
You can read A Radiused Corner’s post on Spicy House here.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival, is a Chinese holiday which falls on September 22, 2010 this year.
During this holiday, it is tradition to eat mooncakes. If you've been to a chinese supermarket lately, you've probably seen the large display of these little desserts, which are usually tucked inside elaborately decorated boxes (I always keep the boxes to store stuff.)
Last year, I went a little overboard on buying mooncakes, so this year, I decided to keep it simple. Since mooncakes are not very healthy and a bit on the pricey side, I limited myself to a single mooncake. Normally, I buy a box, invite people over and we cut the cakes and serve it with tea. The problem is, I seem to be the only person who really enjoys mooncakes and then I end up eating way too many.
In many parts of Asia, this holiday is celebrated with lantern decorations, a lot of food, dragon dancing, etc. The mooncakes offerings have also gotten more elaborate and expensive through the years. I've seen several asian blogs that showcase the intricate mooncake designs that come out each year. Unfortunately, I have not seen them in the US. In the US, I've only seen the traditional golden brown mooncakes.
There are many myths and legends surrounding the Moon Festival. Almost all of the tales end with a person being up on the moon. It is said that on the day of Moon Festival, the moon is especially big and bright, and so people often search to see if they can see this person who lives in the moon. I remember searching in vain when I was a little girl.
Mooncakes traditionally have a round shape. They are golden brown in color. The outside is a thin layer of skin, and it is mainly made up of filling. The most traditional fillings are red bean or lotus paste. The most expensive mooncakes are usually white lotus paste with a double egg yolk in the middle.
Mooncakes are very sweet and are traditionally served with hot tea. I've always thought it is ironic that the mooncake is a chinese dessert. Coming from a chinese family, my parents are always complaining of desserts being too sweet or too rich. Most chinese desserts are very light and not that sweet. Chinese cakes are usually like chiffon cakes, and the breads are also lighter and airier. Chinese people also are very health conscious. They eat a variety of herbs and ingredients because of the health and medicinal benefits.
And yet the mooncake seems to represent all the things that chinese people don't like in food. It's extremely sweet (most people can only eat it in small quantities) and extremely unhealthy. My mom is constantly warning me not too eat too many.
You can read more about the different Moon Festival myths here. You can see my post from last year here.