Party Food Recipes for the Super Bowl
The BEST Guacamole
Baked Buffalo Wings
Easy Spinach Dip
|Smoked Salmon Mousse|
Another thing I love to make for parties, although it doesn't seem particularly "manly" or Super Bowl appropriate is this Smoked Salmon Mousse. I love smoked salmon so it's an easy spread to make, and I promise you that it'd get gobbled up even if it's on the feminine side - maybe because it looks pink?
I'm also craving for a chili in this cold weather, so I might put together my chili-cookoff winning recipe overnight and bring it over to my friend's apartment.
Are you planning to cook for the super bowl? What recipes are you preparing? And, I guess the more important question, who are you rooting for? I'm from the Bay Area, so it's automatically the 49ers for me!
|Each one of these dishes at Mission Chinese Food will leave your mouth completely numb, but not in a good way...|
Mission Chinese Food is a staple in San Francisco, the Ma Po Tofu there is always on the 7x7 list for the top 100 things to eat in SF. So when Mission Chinese opened a branch here in Manhattan earlier last year, I knew I needed to try it, especially since I never had it in when I was living in SF. Last weekend, I had an amazing Sichuan meal in Philly (at Han Dynasty, in case you were wondering) and it left me wanting more. I figured that on this cold winter day, it was finally time to make the trek down to Mission Chinese for some spicy food to warm me up.
|Mission Chinese Food tucked away in the basement, and small hallway in the front feels like a basement frat party|
|The front of the restaurant is the kitchen, and you can see the cooks at work through the window in the hallway|
How long is the wait time on a Saturday Afternoon? 30-45 minutes.On a Saturday afternoon at 1:20, my friend put our name down for a table of 3 and we were told there would be a 45 minute wait. Great, so we had time to walk 10 minutes to Doughnut Plant and grab some amazing donuts,
|There isn't much seating room in Mission Chinese, probably only seats around 40 people at a time|
|The Menu - I wanted a bit of everything, so we ordered 7 things for 3 people...|
|The cocktails featured asian ingredients that came in plastic cups, wish I just ordered the $6 Brooklyn Lager|
What we ordered, ranked from best to worst
- Salt Cod Fried Rice, slow cooked mackerel, chinese sausage, lettuce, egg - $12.50
- Thrice Cooked Bacon, Shanghainese rice cakes, tofu skin, bitter melon, chili oil - $12.50
- Chongqing Chicken Wings, explosive chili, crispy beef tripe - $11
- My recommendations ends here... :(
- Smashed Cucumbers, salted chili, sesame paste, garlic - $4
- Mongolian Long Beans, zinjiang spices, horseradish, chili oil - $12
- Spicy Buckwheat Noodles, horseradish, cucumbers, bean sprouts, mala vinegar - $10
- Mapo Tofu, pork shoulder, boubanjiang, sichuan pepper - $12.50
Now, I'm not suggesting that any of these tasted BAD, but seriously after the first dish, my entire mouth was coated with chili oil, my tongue was tingling and my taste buds were overwhelmed and numbed. I know that Sichuan food is supposed to be spicy, and as someone who LOVES spicy food, Mission Chinese managed to completely put me off from eating 4 out of 7 dishes ordered. I never knew that things could be spicy in a bad way.
|Top Left, Clockwise: Long Beans, Chicken Wings, Smashed Cucumbers|
Sorry for the rant, but here goes... first, the timing of our dishes was terrible because we got all 4 dishes at once. I wish we had a 1-2 dishes at the time in the beginning to begin getting acquainted to the flavors, but nope. After a few bites, we got the rest of the dishes. This is already setting us up to fail.
For my first bite, I tried the Thrice Cooked Bacon, which I thought would be more bacon, less rice cake. However, that bite alone already started to coat my mouth in numbness. Not the flavorful savory 'nom nom nom' type of spiciness, but the 'do I really want to take another bite?' type of unnecessary spiciness.
Then came a bite of the Spicy Buckwheat Noodles, which I thought tasted okay. It pretty much tasted like buckwheat noodles mixed with the flavors of the Thrice Cooked Bacon. As we continued to eat and when our taste buds slowly recovered from the numbness, the buckwheat noodles actually tasted a bit off putting.
Let's move on to the famed Mapo Tofu that won the hearts from those at 7x7, basically it stems from the cooking style from the rest of the dishes - numbing spices. It honestly wasn't even that spicy, but with each bite that I took, the more numb my taste buds became, and it became unpleasant.
So the only thing that I thought that was pretty good was the Salt Cod Fried Rice, which contained NO spices, and also featured wonderful Chinese sausage. Honestly, you can't go wrong with Chinese sausage. It makes everything taste good. Also, since I could actually taste this dish, it was okay, but not spectacular, and with a price tag of $12, I would just go to another Chinese restaurant in Chinatown for something similar but half the price.
|Top Left, Clockwise: Thrice Cooked Bacon, Mapo Tofu, Salt Cod Fried Rice, Spicy Buckwheat Noodles|
For better Chinese food, just walk a few blocks and check out other much better and CHEAPER Chinese restaurants in Chinatown - I've never had casual Chinese food cost me $40 a person. Here are some of my favorites: Congee Village for good Family style food, Great NY Noodletown for wonton noodle soups, great Chinese BBQ, and finally Xi'an Famous Foods, for that taste of spice, similar to Sichuan flavoring, but not so overwhelming that it numbs all of your taste buds. And if you're trying to try something else that's been hyped but actually tastes good, try spending your $40 at Bo Ssam for a wonderful experience.
Have you been to Mission Chinese Food in New York or San Francisco? Am I missing something here and just not appreciating? Let me know your thoughts!------------------------
Mission Chinese Food | Yelp
|Quinoa Avocado Kale Salad - only takes 5 ingredients to make!|
This is probably one of the easiest and most delicious things you can make. It brings 3 of my favorite power foods together: quinoa, avocado and kale. What can be more healthy than that? For dinner, I like to pair this salad with my Miso Glazed Salmon. Dinner is served in 30 minutes or less!
Quinoa Avocado Kale Salad (Clean Recipe)
The direction is simple: add kale, olive oil, lemon juice in a bowl, and "massage" the kale for 30 seconds-1 minute. This will help bruise the kale a little bit and turn the leaves slightly darker. Then toss in quinoa, avocado, mix, season and and serve.
If you're prepping this to take for lunch, I'd say cut the avocado in the morning. While a browned and oxidized avocado is still okay to eat, it just tastes so much better when it looks fresh and green!
Readers - I'm still pretty new to using quinoa in my meals. Do you have any favorite go-to quinoa recipes? Please share in the comments below!
After the cheesesteak binge at Pat's and Geno's, my friends and I headed right for Reading Terminal Market to continue on our "Best of Philadelphia" food tour. Partly because we're fatties, but partly because we didn't want to miss out on the Amish Vendors. The Amish are only there from Wednesday-Saturday and tend to leave on the earlier side.
|Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia is a must for visitors, especially for anyone who loves food|
Tommy DiNic'sFrom my research, besides cheesesteaks, another Philly favorite is the roast pork sandwich at Tommy DiNic's inside Reading Terminal. When I first found the booth, I was REALLY surprised by how crazy long the line was. I think to say that the line was less than 100-people deep is an understatement. The line wrapped around the entire booth, and then snaked to double up in the line.
|Customers wrap around 2 sides of DiNic's booth, with lucky patrons eating away at the counters|
|The line at DiNic's was hungry people waiting in line made that section of Reading Terminal way too crowded|
So what was so good here that people lined up for over 30 minutes to eat? The Roast Pork Sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe. It's been voted as the best sandwich in America by the Travel Channel and fans say that this is even BETTER than the Philly cheesesteak, making it a must try for me in Philly.
|On DiNic's menu: Roast Pork Sandwhich ($8.25) plus Provolone and Broccoli Rabe (an extra $1.25)|
This is the 2nd post of my Weekend Trip to Philly series. Previous posts include Philly Cheesesteak in Philly (Pat's vs. Geno's) ....
This past weekend, a few friends and I went to Philadelphia for a weekend getaway. We left Manhattan around 10 AM on Saturday morning and got to Philly by noon. Our first stop? The most famous Philly cheesesteak shops, Pat's and Geno's of course!
|A Philly Cheesesteak with Provolone from Pat's - the original cheesesteak shop in Philly|
Pat's and Geno's isn't one cheese steak shop, they are actually two competitors across the street from each other. Pat's claim to fame is that it's founder, Pat Olivieri, created the cheesesteak sandwich back in 1930, so it is the oldest cheesesteak in Philly. Geno's opened their location right across the street 36 years later and claims to have perfected the sandwich.
Both Pat's and Geno's are opened 24/7 minus a few holidays, and sure, it might be considered a "tourist trap", but who cares? The experience is half the fun!
|The Face-off - Geno's on the left, and Pat's on the right, located on 9th Street & Passyunk Avenue|
Pat's vs Geno's, a complete comparison
|Cheesesteak with Provolone - Geno's on the left, Pat's on the right|
So, what's better? Pat's or Geno's? Cheez Whiz or Provolone? Decisions decisions...
|Bo Ssäm at Momofuku's Ssäm Bar in all its juicy glistening glory.|
What is Momofuku?Quite honestly, I didn't know about the Momofuku brand until my first visit to New York a few years ago. So, let me back track for you just in case: David Chang is a Korean-American chef who started the Momofuku restaurant group with a main focus on Asian cuisine. By 26, he opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC's East Village, in 2004. Since then, Chef David Chang has opened 4 other concepts in the city and has won various awards including the James Beard award and even has been awarded 2 Michelin Stars for his fine dining concept, Momofuku Ko.
In fact, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is ranked #37 in 2013 in The World's 50 Best Restaurants (Update: it's not on the list for 2013). So with a restaurant called Ssäm Bar, how can you not want to try the namesake, the Bo Ssäm?
|Ssäm Bar has a very casual feel to it, it features long tables for big parties as well as a long bar area for smaller parties|
|The Ssäm Bar menu features an array of asian inspired foods, a favorite is the steamed buns served with pork belly|
What is a Bo Ssäm? The Momofuku differenceSsäm is Korean for wrap - so if you've been to a Korean BBQ restaurant, you'll recall that sometimes you'll be given lettuce, ssamjang (the garlic pepper paste), raw garlic, rice and other goodies to wrap around your meats. Bo ssäm is therefore steamed pork wrapped with lettuce.
The Bo Ssäm by Momofuku really transforms the usual steamed pork and makes it a million times more flavorful. Instead of steaming it, Chef David Chang first dry brines a 6-8 lb bone-in pork shoulder (which is also called the pork butt, confusing, I know) with salt and sugar overnight. Then, the pork is slow roasted for 6 hours, allowing the meat to become fall-off-the-bone tender perfection. Finally he finishes it off by adding a layer of brown sugar and caramelizes it over the meat so that it adds an extra layer of crispy, sweet and savory goodness.
(Update: You can now make your own Bo Ssam at home. Here's my post on it!)
|In prep for the bo ssäm, bibb lettuce, and the 4 condiments: ginger-scallion, kimchi, minced kimchi and kochujang|
|A dozen oysters on the half shell to add to the lettuce wrap - soooo delicious|
|Along came the pork butt - this thing was heavvvvvy!|
As a result of the long prep time, you are required to order the Bo Ssäm in advanced - you have to make a reservation through their online system here. On any given night, they have reservations every 15 minutes from 5pm - 6:30pm and then again at 10, 11 and 11:30pm. So, you're likely either stuck with a pretty early dinner, or a really late dinner, and the 6:30pm slot gets filled up FAST on the weekends. It is recommended to serve 6-10 people - I went with a group of 10 people with a 1:1 guy/girl ratio, and we were all STUFFFED by the end.
Now came to the moment of truth, picking at the Bo Ssäm! We were all given tongs to pick at the meat like salvages. I was lucky enough to do the honors of the first stab - the outside had a beautiful crunchy exterior, and the meats inside was so tender and by the time we hit the bone, the meat was just falling off the bone...
|The perfect wrap, the bibb lettuce helped elevate the experience - it wasn't just any old iceberg lettuce!|
|I loved putting all of the condiments in my wrap, and the oyster added that extra umami flavor to the whole thing|
|Halfway through the Bo Ssäm.....mmmmm.....|
Are you hungry yet? Cause I sure am! Just looking at these pictures is bringing me back to each delicious bite, down to the very last. Everyone at the table was a happy camper. So, an order of Bo Ssäm will run you $200, which includes the pork, the dozen oysters, the 4 sauces, lettuce and rice. I know it seems like a bit of a steep price to pay for what you're getting, but split between 10 people, the $20 didn't seem all that painful. However, I fully intend to try this recipe at home. For those of you who are curious, there's actually a pretty good recipe here on the New York Times for the Momofuku Bo Ssäm.
So in addition to the Bo Ssäm, we actually ordered a few other things including...
|Seasonal Pickles - I've never had pickled mushrooms before, but LOVE LOVE LOVE.|
|BBQ Pork Bun - not to be mistaken with their Steamed Buns which I believe is the more popular of the two|
|Market Veggies - the best bok-choy I've had in a long time, the fried shallots is golden, and the sauce was tasty|
Momofuku Ssäm Bar★★★☆ - Pretty good, worth trying
Good for: Large Groups, Casual, Friends
Come here for: Unpretentious & Delicious Korean Fusion food
Recommended Dishes: Bo Ssäm if you have a huge group (8 people+), or Rotisserie Duck for smaller groups
Neighborhood/Cuisine: East Village / Asian Fusion
|Chinese Pork and Daikon Soup, or "Tong"|
"Tong" is a staple in any Chinese home, and as my mom likes to tell me, a good soup is not only nutritious, but it will help make my skin glow, improve my health, and this case, maybe even help me avoid the flu. Actually too late, because I already have a runny nose and cough. This soup is helping nurse me back to health!
Regardless of the mysterious benefits or not, I have grown to love Chinese soup because of how soothing it can be on a cold winter day - just like a Chicken Noodle Soup! As you can see in the photo above, this Chinese Pork and Daikon soup recipe doesn't really require too many ingredients. Essentially, it is the American equivalent of broth, except instead of tossing out all of the veggies you cooked in your broth, in a Chinese soup, you eat all of it.
|Green Daikon is the preferred daikon to be used in soups with longer cook times as the flavor is sweeter|
Of course, not all Chinese soups are as simple as this recipe. Often times, a lot of extra Chinese herbs goes into "tong", but my favorite has always been the ones with the fewest ingredients. The two vegetables that I'm using today is green daikon and carrots. This is definitely not the first time I've made this soup - it is really just my easiest way to get a taste of mom's home cooking. So, in my trial and error, I've found that green daikon tastes better in soups that you have to boil for a long time.
White daikon, which you can sometimes find in typical American supermarkets, results in a rather bitter after taste at the end. I've used it in other recipes such as making a quick boil broth for shabu, but I would advise against it in this recipe. However, if you can't find green daikon, it won't be the end of the world to just use white daikon instead.
|Chopping up the carrots and green daikon into big 1-inch chunks|
|Dried dates, dried goji berries, and dried scallops|
In addition to the vegetables, I add some additional dried ingredients to the soup. I feel like most of these are optional, but let me tell you why I've added it to my soup.
My friends and I have always been fans of Restaurant Week. As new college graduates living in the Bay Area, Dine About Town in San Francisco (which also begins this week and lasts from Jan 15-31), we always made an event of picking out the best restaurants of the bunch and treating ourselves to a taste of the finer things in life. It helped expose me to fine dining and for that, I am forever grateful.
I like to think that nothing in life is ever truly free. We've all heard criticism of why Groupon restaurant deals aren't good for consumers - bad service from servers, limited menu options, etc. - well, the same can be said about menus during Restaurant Week. Check out this blog post from Serious Eats about why you should Skip Restaurant Week.
However, I'm an optimist who likes to think that sometimes, you can win and score a great meal for less. And you know what? I've only had great restaurant week experiences.
Best Restaurant Week Deals
- Restaurant Week Menu offers dishes that are pulled from the regular menu and not special dishes made for the cheaper price point.
- The prices of the 3 dishes combined on the regular menu comes out to more than the Restaurant Week price - this is supposed to be a good deal after all!
- Servers don't treat me like an underclass citizen for ordering from the Restaurant Week menu.
- Must have Dinner Menus - I can't take a 2 hour lunch to enjoy a three course meal, so a good deal is a deal I can participate in. However, a $25 three course lunch isn't a bad deal either.
|Sunny Side Up Egg w/ Fried Green Tomatoes | House-Smoked Brook Trout w/ Corn Bellini | Beet Salad|
|RECOMMENDED - Lobster Bolognese ($5 tasting menu supplement)|
|Bucatini & Cherry Tomatoes, amatriciana-style, house-cured pork, red onion & garlic|
|Roasted Chicken w/ wild mushrooms & gnocchi | Codfish w/ lobster marinette | Heritage Pork & Baked Beans|
It's that time of year again for the Winter New York City Restaurant Week ! It begins tomorrow, January 14th and lasts until February 8t...
This challenge is a bit similar to my Seven 7×7 Restaurants in Seven Days series I wrote back in 2011. Notice a pattern here?
So before you start thinking that I ate at michelin star restaurants 7 days in a row for this personal challenge, that's not what happened. I was in a rut and trying to figure out a way to write my way out of it. Michelin Stars was my inspiration.
In addition, I want to point out that I only got into the "fine dining scene" very recently. I had my first Michelin Star experience at Arzak in San Sebastian and it blew my mind. It was really eye opening to see how playful and fun food could be. It's not to say that I haven't always loved food, but the combo of diving right into Foodie Heaven and living in New York City has really increased my exposure to nom-ing on these delicious meals.
Writing up these 7 posts was a fun way for me to reflect on each of these meals individually and has allowed me to have a better insight to my personal preferences in what I really want out of these meals. To recap, here were the seven restaurants that were in my series (sorting it by price per person):
One Michelin Star
- Sushi Abazu, NY - a la carte menu
- Commis, Oakland - $75, 8 courses
- Gary Danko, SF - $107, 5 courses
- Gramercy Tavern, NY - $116, 6 courses
- Blue Hill at Stone Barns, NY* - $148, 8 courses
Two Michelin Stars
With all that said, here's two main findings that I have from writing up these posts:
1. I like dishes with interesting plating and like to play with my food.
|Burgers on a Chicken Foot Plate|
|Blue Hill at Stone Barn's interesting poached egg, beans and liquor dish|
Later through the night, Blue Hill served soft boiled egg dish, where we were told to pour in liquor as we're about to finish the bean and ham hock soup. The alcohol really helped bring out some more of the smokiness of the ham hock and it was a bit fun being able to be the one to decide just how much I wanted to add, and when I would add it.
This would explain my less enthusiastic reviews for Gary Danko in SF and Gramercy Tavern in NY - they both represent pretty traditional fine dining courses whereas Blue Hill and Commis adds the extra theatrics that I like with my meals.