I always look forward to the fortune cookies given at the end of a chinese restaurant meal. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of recipes for fortune cookies, claiming they are quite easy to make.

I think fortune cookies would be a fun dessert for Chinese New Year, or a fun personalized treat for your special someone on Valentine’s Day (especially dipped in some chocolate), so this weekend I thought I’d try making some.

The cookie batter was pretty simple to make. I had a hard time understanding how I was supposed to shape the fortune cookies. I finally found some  great step by step pictures here.

You have to fold the fortune cookies while the cookies are still hot because as soon as they  begin to cool they won’t be able to be shaped. It was a little painful working with the hot cookies.

My cookies didn’t come out exactly right. Even while hot, I couldn’t seem to get the dough to bend without cracking slightly in the middle. Also when the dough did finish cooling, it never completely turned as crispy as fortune cookies are supposed to, but instead remained a little chewy.

I’m not sure where I went wrong. I’m probably going to try again with another recipe. Since this was a test run, I actually didn’t put any messages in these fortune cookies.

Fortune cookies (slightly adapted from recipe found on Ceramic Canvas)

Yields about 10 cookies

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp pure almond extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 TBL all-purpose flour
1½ tsp cornstarch
8 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tsp water

1. Write fortunes on pieces of paper that are 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract, and vegetable oil until frothy, but not stiff.

3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, and sugar into a separate bowl. Stir the water into the flour mixture.

4. Add the flour into the egg white mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be runny, but should drop easily off a wooden spoon.

5. Place level tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Gently use the back of the back of a spoon to make circular motions on the surface of the batter to form circles with about 3.5” diameters.

6. Bake about 14-15 minutes until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns golden brown and they are easy to remove from the baking sheet with a spatula.

7. Working quickly, remove the cookie with a spatula and flip it over in your hand. Place a fortune in the middle of a cookie. To form the fortune cookie shape, fold the cookie in half, then gently pull the edges downward over the rim of a glass, wooden spoon or the edge of a muffin tin. Place the finished cookie in a muffin tin so that it keeps its shape while it cools. Continue with the rest of the cookies. View here for good step by step photos.

Yes, my family went to Tomi Buffet twice over the holidays. You can read about the first visit here. Sure there are tons of other restaurants around, but how many of them offer all you can eat fresh uni and giant clams and other goodies for less than $20 per person?

There were some changes on my second visit, so I thought I’d post about them.

The first thing we noticed on our second visit was that that word had gotten out about Tomi. For our first visit, the place was full but there was no line. Just a mere week later, despite arriving early, there was an hour wait and it was pretty much like that for the rest of the night.

My biggest worry was that they would be out of uni and giant clams. On my first visit, those most sought after items had been hidden and you had to request it from one of the sushi chefs working behind the glass. I was annoyed on my first visit that they tried to limit you to one order of each by claiming they had run out if you asked for it a second time.

However, on this visit, the uni and giant clams were on display. You still had to ask the sushi chef for it rather than being able to get it yourself, but everyone could see it so everyone was asking for it. Surprisingly, despite it being out in the open, there was uni for most of the night. They didn’t run out until after 8. The big clams did run out fairly quickly after we got there though.

An additional item I noticed on the sushi section of the restaurant that wasn’t available on my first visit was black caviar, which I really liked. One of the things I like about this place is that you can make special requests to the sushi chefs. So for example if you want caviar sushi, but you don’t want to eat rice, you can just ask for a scoop of caviar.

Another big difference  from my first visit was a change in the hot food items. On my first visit, the big ticket item in the hot food section were big clams. This time it was lobster.

The big change in the dessert section were the additional ice cream flavors available. On our first visit there was only chocolate. On this visit, there was green tea, mango, vanilla and chocolate.

The ice creams all tasted really artificial, so I only got one scoop of each flavor.

One thing I found strange was that the item that was the most popular were the steamed mochi. People were waiting in line for 20-40 minutes for the plates of mochi to come out and only two platters came out at a time, and not very often. I liked the mochi but I didn’t think it was worth standing in line waiting for. They honestly didn’t taste very different from the frozen ones I buy and steam.

Luckily, we sat near the mochi station, so I was able to see when they came out with fresh mochi and got some without having to wait around forever, but I was so amazed that throughout the night people kept waiting in line for so long for the mochi to come out.

There was also more fruit on this visit, such as papaya, which I love. I didn’t take as many pictures as my previous visit, since the rest of the food was pretty much the same. You can read my first review for more pictures and a more thorough review.


Here is a collage of the pictures I did take:


One other observation I found interesting is that there are quite a few customers here tend to be a lot more “pushy” then at other buffets. I remember when I was reading reviews for Kome, the sister restaurant of Tomi. A lot of reviews complained about people cutting in line. There were quite a few complaints about older asian woman who were cutting.  I rolled my eyes at the time, thinking that this is typical behavior that I’ve witnessed at asian buffets. But I was wrong. The line cutting is pretty extreme at Tomi. There are definitely quite a few people, who are downright rude and have no scruples of outright cutting in front of you after you’ve been waiting a long time for a popular dish. I’m pretty sure it’s the same people that I read about in the reviews.

Other than that though, things are pretty good. Hopefully Tomi will maintain its high quality sushi and food for a long time. It’s been so refreshing to get a buffet that actually serves good quality sushi.

Tomi Seafood Buffet
2200 Eastridge Loop
San Jose, CA 95122
(408) 239-1000

I’ve had popovers at restaurants before and love them. They are an eggy bread roll that is hollow inside. The name is derived from the fact that the bread pops above the top of the mold when it bakes.

I had no idea how easy popovers were to make until I read about them on the meaning of pie. The batter is so easy to whip together. You just need a large bowl, whisk and some basic ingredients: eggs, milk, flour and butter.  And if you don’t own a popover pan you can use a muffin tin. They do take about 40 minutes to bake though so you have to set aside some time for these.

My first batch actually popped up much higher than this one pictured. But the first batch I actually baked them at too high of a temperature so the crust turned a dark brown. The second batch I don’t think the oven temperature was high enough. The original recipe calls for lowering the temperature halfway through baking. As  a result, my popovers didn’t pop as much.

I really enjoy these popovers. They are soft and eggy and best eaten warm. You can add whatever you want to them or just leave them plain. I chose to add pepperoni and cheddar cheese and some parsley since my pepperoni pizza puffs were such a big hit.

You can make these in a muffin tin if you don’t own a popover pan, but they won’t puff as much. I ended up buying a this  6-Cup Popover Pan since I plan on making these a lot.

Pepperoni and cheese popovers (adapted from recipe found on the meaning of pie)

Yields 6 regular sized popovers (using the 6 standard popover pan)

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus additional butter for each popover cup
1/2 cup of chopped pepperoni
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt with a whisk. Add in the eggs, whisking after each addition. Add the milk then the melted butter until batter is combined and no lumps remain. Mix in the pepperoni and cheese.

2. Place a small pat of butter (perhaps a little less than a teaspoon) in each cup of your popover pan and place the pan in the oven until the butter melts and the pan is hot. Remove the pan from the oven and fill each cup about 2/3 full.

3. Return the pan to the oven and bake the popovers for 20 minutes at 400. Then reduce the heat to 350 and allow them to bake for another 20 minutes. Do not open the door in between. Remove them from the oven and serve immediately.