I love butter cakes. They are simple, and sweet. They taste great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  I saw a recipe for a pumpkin butter cake on Table for 2…or more. The cake looked so delicious. I knew I had to try it.

I don’t have any pumpkin so I decided to try making a version with some sweet potatoes. Specifically I decided to use a japanese sweet potato, called satsumaimo, which has a yellow flesh and a purplish red skin. This type of sweet potato is more starchy than the common ones found in American grocery stores. They are also very sweet. I always find yams to be too runny and wet, so I prefer these japanese ones because of the starchier texture.

The cake come out beautifully. The outside crust had an almost sugary crunch. The inside was soft, smooth, sweet and oh so delicious. This cake didn’t last long.

I definitely will make it again and I’ll try the pumpkin version once when I get some pumpkin.

Sweet potato butter cake (adapted from Table for 2 … or more)

Yields: One 7 x 3inch loaf

100gm sugar
100gm butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
150gm cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
100gm steamed sweet potato
3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 7 x 3 inch loaf pan.
2. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.
3. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
5. In a food processor or blender, puree the steamed sweet potato and milk.
5. Add in half of the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture. Then add in the sweet potato puree and mix until combined.
6. Put in remaining flour and beat until just combined.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until done when knife inserted comes out clean.

Ever since my visit to Sea Harbour Restaurant for their upscale style dim sum, I’ve been wanting to try Elite Restaurant, which is another popular spot for upscale dim sum.

It was relatively crowded when we arrived, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes. After we were seated, I browsed the menu. One thing I immediately noticed was that the menu was not as expansive as the one at Sea Harbour.

Here is the menu:

Pineapple buns with chicken filling

I love pineapple buns but I’ve never seen them with chicken filling. I thought the sweet savory combination sounded promising. Unfortunately, the filling was way too salty.

Shrimp har gow

The shrimp har gow were really big, but I found the wrapper to be too sticky for my liking.

Roasted bbq pork

This was one of the items I was most excited to get. I was craving some crispy pork skin. When this was presented, it looked pretty disappointing. The pork looked small and shriveled and the skin was charred. It actually tasted a lot better than it looked. The pork had a great smokey flavor and the skin was crispy, though slightly burned.

Scallop dumplings

Coconut rose pudding. I love the cute heart shape.

Dry scallop roll fun

The inside was filled with pork. There was only scallop on the top.

Mango pudding. I was disappointed by the presentation. It looked like they had just bought it from the store

Crystal jelly cake

I usually enjoy this jelly, but I didn’t like this version. There were too many tea leaves inside the jelly and the tea flavor was too strong. BF said it was like eating grass.

Steamed taro cake topped with dried shrimp.

The dried shrimp added a nice flavor. The taro was a little bland though.

House special sugar cake

On the first bite, there was something about it I didn’t like, but I couldn’t place it. I took another bite later and figured out what it was. It tasted like burned sugar. Sure enough, upon close examination, even though the cake is such a dark brown, I could see black on top.

Congee with frog legs

All the congee items were pretty pricey. I had a delicious congee at Sea Harbour, so I was hoping for something really good here. But the congee was bland. Very very bland.

Shredded taro cake

The taro cake was made up of shredded crispy pieces of taro. It was a different way to eat taro and I liked it.

Shark fin and red clam dumpling

We had a similar dish at Sea Harbour. The one at Sea Harbour was gorgeous and one of my favorite dishes. However, the version here was pretty bland. The inside tasted pretty good, but the outside surf clam wasn’t very tasty

Shark fin dumpling.

This item we also had at Sea Harbour. I thought the Sea Harbour one had been a little disappointing. The broth was bland and the dumpling filling wasn’t that special. I really really loved the shark fin soup and dumpling here. The soup was flavorful, we got a nice little chunk of shark fin, and the dumpling filling was like biting into seafood heaven. It had crab, imitation crab, scallop, shrimp, sea cucumber. This was my favorite dish we ordered here.

Steamed turnip cake.

Pan fried turnip cake is a dim sum staple. I’ve never had a simple steamed version but I really enjoyed it. It was simple, you could really taste the daikon and the slightly sweet nature of it.

The service was really friendly here and very attentive.  I’m so used to poor service at dim sum, that I was constantly surprised by how great the service was here.

At the end of the meal, I felt myself trying to decide which place I had liked better: Sea Harbour or Elite. It was hard to decide because each had their good points and bad. Overall, I like the food better at Sea Harbour and I love all the choices.  The Elite menu is more limited. However, a limited menu means a smaller bill. Our bill at Sea Harbour was almost twice as much as our Elite bill because Sea Harbour offers a lot of specialized dishes which are quite pricey.

The wait time was shorter at Elite and I liked their service better. Both places had good service, but the Elite servers were friendlier. There were more “misses” on dishes at Elite, but the ones I liked, I really really liked.

I’ll probably come back to both again, depending on what I’m in the mood for, but I probably slightly prefer Sea Harbour more.

Elite Restaurant
700 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-9998

Elite Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bubble brioche

Brioche is a french bread rich with butter and eggs.  It’s a great bread for dinner rolls, sandwich bread, hamburger buns and french toast, just to name a few.

I’ve been wanting to make brioche for a while, but it is time consuming. Bread generally is already time consuming because you need to let the bread proof. Brioche requires an additional step of having to let the bread sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight after proofing. It’s not actually hard to put together, but it is the wait that can be tedious.

This weekend, I set about making some brioche for the first time. Small brioche are often made in brioche pans, which resemble tartlet pans. The pans are quite pricey and hard to find so I decided I didn’t want to spend the money on these pans. I found cute bubble brioche on Cook like a Champion, which uses a muffin pan and opted to try those instead.

Recipe wise, after reading through quite a few recipes, I chose Salad in a Jar’s recipe.

I was happy that my first attempt came out so well. I had a scare when my dough didn’t seem to be proofing after I removed it from the fridge. (I then stuck it in the oven that was still slightly warm and the dough began to rise). The bread came out tender, soft and buttery. I loved these, especially straight out of the oven. I also like the bubble shape and the ability to peel off the little bite-sized chunks.

The smell of the oven when these were baking was incredible as well. I plan on making these again in a loaf form so I can make some french toast. Now that I know how to make brioche I can’t wait to try some different variations.

I used this brioche recipe. And I used this method for the bubble brioche look. I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.