Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread

Another variation on my favorite pumpkin bread recipe is a chocolate chip studded version.  Because chocolate makes everything better. =)

The little bits of melted chocolate match perfectly with the moist pumpkin bread, making a perfect snack.

I can never decide which version of pumpkin bread I like best. I guess it just depends on what I’m in the mood for.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (adapted from this recipe)

Yields: Three 7 x 3 inch loaves

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line three 7×3 inch loaf pans with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.

4. Using the hand mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chips until chips are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pans.

5. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hot Pot Palace Buffet


Hot Pot Palace Buffet
1628 Hostetter Rd
San Jose, CA 95131
(408) 392-0566

This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday.  We were initially going to attempt to check out Kome in Daly City, a place that opened about a year ago and we attempted to try around the holidays but weren’t willing to wait two hours.  I did some research and apparently it is still crazy packed on weekends, with an average of an hour and a half wait. We tried to make a reservation, but they only take reservations for a party of 15 or more.

So after some researching, we came across Hot Pot Palace Buffet, which opened a few months ago. There were a couple of things that seemed interesting about this place. First, everyone is given an individual hot pot. There are also eight soup bases to choose from. In addition to all you can eat hot pot, they also serve a selection of hot foods including several dim sum items.

The Hot Pot Palace location used to be another chinese restaurant. So when we entered, the set up looked like a regular chinese restaurant rather than like a buffet place or a hot pot place.

I chose a chinese herbal broth. It was similar to the one served at Little Sheep.

Here’s the mushroom broth and the spicy sichuan broth.

The nice thing about individual hot pots is that you can control what goes in and everyone is responsible for finishing their own portions. There tends to be a lot of nonclaimed items in a group hot pot.

The hot pot items were your typical hot pot items. They had a couple of greens, fish pieces, three kinds of fish balls, fried tofu, fresh tofu, frozen tofu, squid, baby corn, beancurd strips, mussels, seaweed knots, mushrooms, lamb, chicken, beef, intenstines, tripe.

The hot food selection actually looked pretty interesting. There were a variety of dim sum items like tripe, spareribs, various steamed buns, shrimp dumplings, steamed chinese broccoli, pork shu mai, egg tarts, and miniature pineapple buns. Since this was a former chinese restaurant that served dim sum, the dim sum items were actually pretty good and much better than the dim sum items you would normally expect at chinese buffet spots.

They had a couple of “American” items that made me laugh because they came straight out of Costco: bagel bites, corn dogs and dinosaur chicken nuggets. I’ll admit it, I had to have a corn dog. Other hot food items included clams and crayfish. Here’s some plates of food from my group that I took pictures of:


They also had fresh vietnamese spring rolls.

For dessert, they offered some cakes which I didn’t try and shaved ice.

I had a good time here. The buffet items were generally of higher quality than typical chinese buffet spots and I liked the all you can eat hot pot. Inevitably, there was the comparison of this place to Hot Pot City. Hot Pot City does have more hot pot items for dinner and it also has the grilling section which this place does not offer. But I like how it offers other hot food items and I like the individual hot pots.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the pillowy soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I made last week, but I was also curious to check out some other pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipes.

I found a promising recipe from Handle the Heat, who got the recipe from the Food Network.  The recipe was pretty simple to put together and required more spices than my previous recipe.

One thing I noticed was that this dough was a lot easier to work with. The pillowy cookies had a really sticky dough, and this one was more firm.

One of the problems though was that the dough didn’t really spread when it baked. So it maintained all it’s uneveness. I would definitely make sure to make the rounds as smooth as possible next time before popping the dough into the oven, and also flattening the cookie dough before putting them in the oven since they spread so little.

The spices ended up being a little too much for me. And I was disappointed that they didn’t bake as pretty. The texture was cakey like my other recipe, but not as soft and melt in your mouth as the other recipe. I prefer the other recipe I used, but some may prefer this recipe if they want a stronger pumpkin spice taste.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (slightly adapted from recipe found on Handle the Heat)

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the white and brown sugars and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Slowly beat the flour mixture into wet batter.  Stir in the chips with a large wooden spoon.

4. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets ( I would recommend making smooth balls and flattening the cookies because they don’t spread much) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges.