Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fun Foods Snackery - Allston

During the summer back in New Jersey, the town would hold a few festivals or carnivals at the local park, pool, or sometimes right in the middle of downtown. All of the local stores would have special sales and there would be all sorts of special one-time items from some of the locals with side hobbies: painting, knitting, carpentry, etc.

And as with most festivals, there was the festival food, ranging from italian sausages, funnel cake, and fried dough, to one of my favorites during the summer, snow cones! Nothing more than crushed ice with some colored flavor to it but wow, they sure were good in the heat of the summer.

Fun Foods Snackery brings back the snow cone with a huge new twist! They've turned crushed ice with liquid flavoring into a fruit-filled and ice cream topped treat! Not to mention the flower cup :)

Their signature snack is the summer snow, shaved ice with chopped fruit of your choice, some flavoring and a scoop of ice cream. Now that's a great summer snack!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cantonese Style Stir-fried Seafood

Now for the real post, I was a little tired yesterday so threw up the cannoli post real quick.

Every so often, Whole Foods has Mexican Bay Scallops on sale as one of their weekly buys. Being a scallop fan, I always pick up some for one of my favorite seafood dishes, a Cantonese stir fry with some oyster sauce. I also like to toss in shrimp and some fish (a fish that stays together well when stir fried) but I only bought additional shrimp for this meal.

One thing about Chinese cooking is that the actual cooking takes about 10-15 minutes usually. However, the preparation time can be long! I've spent over an hour chopping things just for fried rice! And fried rice takes 5 minutes to cook!

Anyway, this is one of the quicker recipes I've tried, after marinating the seafood, everything else gets thrown in quickly :)

I've listed the mushrooms as optional, they're mentioned in the recipe but I'm not a huge fan of them, so I don't use them :)

Cantonese Style Stir-fried Seafood

Serves 4-6 with rice
1 lb bay scallops
1/2 lb medium shrimp (heads removed, deveined, chopped)
5 tbsp canola oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 to 1 inch piece of ginger, grated (Or: slice about 6 pieces of ginger and peel)
4 scallions, chopped and separated
4-6 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 lb snow peas, ends removed
2 tbsp Shaohsing wine or sherry
1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cornstarch
2 egg white, lightly beaten (save the yolks)

1/2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp water
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp oyster sauce

Chinese mushrooms

1. Wash the scallops and shrimp. Slice each shrimp into 3-4 pieces, the bay scallops are small enough they don't need to be sliced. Mix the marinade with the seafood. Set aside for 10 minutes. Slice the veggies in the meanwhile
2. Prepare the sauce and set aside.
3. Heat a wok over high heat. Add 2 1/2 tbsp oil and swirl.
4. Add half the garlic, half the ginger, and half the white scallions, let sizzle.
5. Add the seafood and use a spatula to turn and toss the seafood for about a minute. Splash 1 tbsp of the Shaohsing wine around the seafood. You want the seafood lightly cooked on either side.
6. Remove the seafood, set aside. Add the rest of the oil with the garlic, ginger, and white scallions to the wok. Add the rest of the wine or sherry as well as the celery and snow peas. Toss for a minute.
7. Add the seafood back in along with the sauce (I also add the two egg yolks as well), toss for another minute or so to continue cooking the seafood.
8. Add the green scallions, give another few tosses with the spatula and remove from the heat. Add some sesame oil to enhance the flavor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cannoli Frenzy!

Mike's Pastry cannoli

Whenever I end up in the North End, I always try to grab a meal and dessert. It's hard to be hungry after a huge Italian meal but I just have to always have that extra cannoli. Usually, I'll stop by Mike's Pastries and grab their chocolate coated cannoli but sometimes the line is out the door and around the corner!

So after trying a couple other places, the roommate and I decided to have a taste test of our two favorite pastry shops, Modern Pastry and Mike's Pastry.

And our verdict? You can't go wrong with either one :P

Mike's cannoli is slightly larger but you do pay a little more for it, but other than that, I'd go for whichever line is shorter!

Modern Pastry cannoli

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Carlos Cucina Italiana - Allston

Fettucini alla Marysa

Usually, when I think about grabbing Italian food, the North End immediately pops into mind where restaurants are two storefronts apart and the cannoli are aplenty :P

But recently I ended up at Carlos Cucina Italiana right in the heart of Allston on Brighton Ave. I'd read a lot of reviews and news about Carlos' but I'd never had a chance to eat there myself...the only times I seemed to end up there were on Friday or Saturday nights and the place was always jam packed (which is a good sign I suppose!). Finally, I happened by during lunch last week with the roommate and figured what the heck, it wasn't busy so we might as well try it out.

The restaurant itself is pretty small, roughly 12 tables in total. The decor on the walls and the ceiling suit the Italian theme very well however the tables and chairs don't match up well at all.

After looking at the lunch menu, we decided we had to eat off of the dinner menu (after all, that's where Carlos' specialties are!) and the waitress was kind enough to suggest a few dishes.

I had the Fettucini alla Marysa and the roommate had the Gnocchi Spezzatino (pictures below). I devoured my meal with almost unnatural haste!

Gnocchi Spezzatino

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baked Chicken Teriyaki Wings

I originally made these wings along with some nice and spicy chili for the Super Bowl back in February but completely forgot to take pictures! I was too busy and excited to eat it all that pictures slipped my mind! But I did end up making the wings again for a friend's BBQ a few weeks ago and this time I did take a picture! I will be making the chili another time but we'll have to see now that it's warm outside!

One thing that always bugged me about chicken wings was cutting them into pieces. I did it once with a cleaver but then decided to let my guests/eaters do all the work from then on so I rarely cut them anymore :P Seriously, maybe I'm lazy but it's a lot of work!

Baked Chicken Teriyaki Wings

25-30 chicken wings
1 cup light (low sodium) soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
3-4 tbsp sugar
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
3/4 cup sherry wine
2 tbsp mirin
1-2 shallots, minced

1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken wings in a mixing bowl or pitcher. Mix well.
2. Place chicken wings in a large baking pan (be careful to get them in a single layer, don't stack!)
3. Pour the marinade over top. Let marinate for at least 2 hours, flipping the wings occasionally.
4. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half at 350 degrees, check the wings at the hour mark to see if they're finished.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pan fried seasoned tilapia

A while back I picked up some tilapia at Whole Foods during one of their weekly deals promotions. I was thinking I'd just bake it but one of my buddies quickly put an end to that by sending me his special recipe rub for pan frying.

The first batch I made, I didn't realize how quickly the fish would cook and ended up overcooking them (I don't cook fish that often, that should change soon though :P). The 2nd batch came out much better and held together out of the pan much better.

Next time I think I might add some flour and an egg to make sure the rub sticks to the fish a little better. Without the egg, some of the rub ended up flaking off as I turned the fish.

The measurements are approximate, I didn't measure them out this time.

Pan fried seasoned tilapia

3-4 tilapia fillets
1/2 tbsp Sea Salt (Other salt fine)
1/2 tbsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Rosemary
3-4 tbsp Italian Breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano

1. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary in a bowl, mix well.
2. Rub each side of the tilapia fillet with the mixed spices
3. Coat each fillet with breadcrumbs
4. Pan fry over medium heat with some olive oil.
5. When close to finished, sprinkle some cheese on each fillet

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Super 88 foodcourt - A smorgasbord of Asian cuisine

Crispy Basil Chicken

Super 88 is one of the local Asian Supermarkets (there's several other smaller markets around) to Allston. They have a pretty good selection of Asian sauces, vegetables, and snacks, among many other things. There's a large seafood section where you can get fresh (read: alive :P) fish or not as fresh (read: not alive) fish on ice. You choose a fish, tell the fishmonger, and he'll gut it, scale it, and if you want, remove the head and the tail as well. They also have a decent selection of meats, though I think the seafood section might actually be bigger but they have a coarse grinder for their meat, which is the way I like it. And I can't forget the fresh noodles that are stocked as well.

But one of the unique things about this Super 88 is that there's a food court, called the Super 88 Connection. There are about 8 (I might be forgetting one) places to get a freshly cooked meal, spanning Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian food. There's also a bubble tea stand, Lollicup that has a wide variety of sweet drinks.

Anyway, on this particular occasion, a few friends and I decided to stage a family-style lunch, that is, we all order something different and share. Ended up with quite a variety of food from four of the different restaurants...the basil chicken is shown above. All in all quite delicious, two of my favorite dishes to get at Super 88 are shown, see if you can guess which one! ;)

Basil Squid:

Vegetable Tikka Masala:

Lemongrass Pork:

Pork Kimchi:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Steamed fish with ginger/scallions

This is what the roommate whipped up while I was busy making the Ma Po Tofu. Super 88 had some farm raised tilapia for $2.99 a pound and who could resist that! Browsed through the stack of about 10 fish and got roughly a 1.5 pounder with bright red gills (a sign of freshness). Also picked up a mesh steaming tray for a plate to sit on while steaming. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the bigger trays that fit into a wok so this small one would have to do.

I was amazed at how little it actually cost to prepare the fish. There aren't a lot of ingredients required and most of them are pretty inexpensive. Then I thought about some of the prices I paid regularly at some restaurants and cringed. But hey, I always thought it was worth it :)

Anyway, the fish came out nice and tender and we picked it clean :P

Steamed fish with ginger/scallions

1 fresh fish (Usually end up with something like tilapia, haddock, or bass)
4 stalks scallions
Half of a ginger root
Some salt

Some vegetable oil
Some soy sauce (There's also special steamed fish sauce you can buy)

1. Julienne the scallions and ginger root, set aside. Each slice should be roughly 1-2 inches long. Set aside.
2. Give the fish a quick rinse. Make sure it's properly scaled and gutted (the market should do this for you). Rub a little salt on the fish.
3. Using roughly 3/4 of the scallions and ginger, place equal portions underneath, inside, and on top of the fish in a steam-able plate.
4. Steam for 15 minutes (more or less depending on the size of the fish)
5. When the fish is finished, remove from the steamer, discard all of the vegetables and fishy juices.
6. Place the last 1/4 of the vegetables on top of the fish. Microwave the fish for about 30 seconds to soften the vegetables
7. Heat some oil and the soy sauce in a separate saucepan.
8. Pour sauce over top (watch out for hot oil) and serve.

Note: We didn't have any Cilantro but that can be used as part of the vegetable mix as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ma Po Tofu

As promised, this is one of the dishes cooked last night.

I'd been on a kick to find some homestyle Chinese recipes and the roommate obliged with a few links. I saw this initially on eGullet and modified it to my tastes (a little spicier and saltier). That with the steamed fish made for a great meal :)

I use the Lee Kum Kee branded Ma Po Sauce. It should be available in any asian grocery.

Ma Po Tofu

Main Ingredients:
3/4 - 1 lb ground pork (coarse)
2 Stalks Green Onion
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Thai bird chillies (chopped)
1-2 tbsp grated ginger
32-36 oz soft/silken tofu (usually sold in packs of 16-18oz)

1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp light (low sodium) soy sauce
1 tsp ShaoHsing rice wine

Side Sauce:
3 tsp spicy bean (ma po) sauce
5 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp ShaoHsing cooking wine
1 tsp white vinegar

Side Sauce 2:
3/4 cup chicken broth (half a can)
2 tsp sugar

Sriracha Chili sauce to taste
white pepper

1. Mix all three sauces (marinade and 2 sauces) separately. Mix the pork and marinade and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Drain and wash tofu, cube and set aside.
3. Heat wok under high heat, add 3 tbsp cooking oil. Brown the pork (3-5 minutes). Remove pork and drain.
4. Add 3 tbsp oil. As soon as it sizzles, toss in the chillies, garlic and ginger.
5. After they start sizzling nicely, add the first side sauce (ma po sauce + hoisin, etc)
6. Give the sauce a couple quick stirs and add some chili sauce if you like.
7. Add the chicken broth and sugar. (Additionally, you can add some corn starch mixed with water if you want to thicken the sauce any).
8. Add the tofu and bring to a boil.
9. Add the pork and scallions, mix well, and add some more white pepper to taste.