Friday, September 24, 2010

Zion Market bento boxes

Zion Market
4611 Mercury Street
San Diego, CA 92111
www.zionmarket.com

A few weeks ago, when I was doing some grocery shopping at Zion Market, I noticed that the guy in front of me had bought a bunch of premade bentos. I didn't even know that Zion Market was selling bentos, but sure enough, the next week I saw it on their ad.

I was pretty interested. Usually I get bentos from Nijiya, and while I enjoy them, it's always nice to have another choice.

Zion offers two types of bentos. One is a bento box with rice, your choice of meat (chicken, bulgogi beef or spicy pork) and some little side dishes. 

The other option is a bibimbop, except without the stone pot and crispy
rice. Instead you just have regular rice with all the things that
usually got inside bibimbop. I liked the side dish options better for the bibimbop but it barely had any meat. BF looked at it and said it was more of a salad..I guess it does look like a salad, except with rice instead of lettuce.

I chose the beef bento box. There was a decent amount of food, definitely enough for a meal. I liked the beef, but I didn't really like the sides though. One of them was pickled spicy peppers, which I didn't know until I bit into it.

For $5.99, it's a good lunch option if you are craving Korean food. I'll probably try the chicken and the pork at some point too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vanilla bean cupcakes

I recently bought Vanilla Bean Paste, which is a mixture of vanilla extract and vanilla beans. I like how it gives the vanilla bean flecks without costing as much as real vanilla beans. After I bought my vanilla bean paste, I immediately wanted to make some vanilla bean cupcakes.

I used a vanilla bean cupcake recipe from Annie’s Eats. The cupcakes came out nice and fluffy. I did expect a stronger vanilla taste with the use of the vanilla paste, but I didn’t really get that from these.

For the frosting, I dipped them in a thin layer of chocolate ganache. I then added some cute little sugar flowers I bought from my local baking supply store, Do It With Icing.

I liked these cupcakes, but I didn’t love them. Perhaps I’m just not a vanilla cupcakes type of girl. I might try this recipe again with sour cream instead because I’ve found that sour cream seems to add an even more fluffier moist batter than buttermilk. Or perhaps I’ll add more vanilla paste next time.

The recipe was a bit too much as written so I ended up reducing it.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Yield: Approx 15 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and
salt.  Whisk together and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, add in the softened butter (you can stick it in the microwave to soften)  and the vanilla bean paste and beat with electric mixer, until light and creamy in color.

3. Add the sugar to the butter mixture.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
4. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring
cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately
with the wet ingredients.

5. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each
about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in
the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1. Heat heavy cream in a small pot. Once it begins to boil, remove from the stove.

2. Pour heavy cream into bowl of chopped chocolate. Stir and mix until chocolate is completely melted.

3. Dip tops of cupcakes into the chocolate ganache.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nutella ice cream sandwiches

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.