Search This Blog

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Japanese Lunch

Japanese food is very popular in Taiwan. We had lunch at a popular Japanese restaurant in Changhua. There was no English translation for the restaurant name.

Salad with shrimp, seaweed & potato

Amazing platter of fresh sashimi

Rolled sushi in the background and fish roe in the foreground

Minced squab with lettuce leaf

Shabu shabu pot with meat and vegetables

Shabu shabu pot with seafood. Notice the whole crab at 1:00.

Sticky rice with crab

Swordfish artfully presented with bonsai plant

Fish bones--this was actually very tasty.

Sautéed tender filet mignon. This had a nice peppery flavor and the meat melted in your mouth.

You end every meal with fresh fruit. This one had oranges, guavas, rose apples and cantaloupes.

2013 11 26

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pork Floss

A very popular food item in Taiwan is pork floss. It's pork that has been braised until tender then dried. It's used as a topping for congee (rice porridge), as a filling for buns and pastries or as a snack on its own. It's delicious and makes even plain rice flavorful.


2013 11 26

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Back to our Taiwan adventure...

Baguashan in Changhua has a 22 m high Great Buddha Statue. This is a quiet park with no admission fee.


The statue is hollow and contains dioramas depicting the stages of Buddha’s life.

Gods & goddesses line the path leading up to the Buddha.

Behind the Buddha is a 3-storey Great Buddha Temple.

Behind the temple is a quiet park with a pagoda


2013 11 26

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dick's Bakery

Dick's Bakery is located at 1593 Meridian Avenue in San Jose. I've gone there for years to get their chocolate chewy cookies.

These are light, chocolaty cookies for $0.70 each. They're crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Dick's Bakery is also famous for burnt almond cake. I'm not a fan of the cake and have never tried it. 

Danish for $2 each. I did not like these. They're very pretty but taste just like the pastries that come wrapped in plastic from Costco. Definitely not worth $2.

2014 02 22

Monday, February 24, 2014

Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Festival

The 33rd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Festival was held on Saturday, 2/22/2014. It was held on the boardwalk and was incredibly crowded. There were professional and individual teams. Cooking started at 10 am, tastings started at 1 pm and winners were announced at 4 pm. Each tasting kit included 5 tickets, a paper cup and a spoon for $9. There were also People's Choice tickets to give to your favorite team. Parking was $12 in nearby lots.

I thought the best chowder was made by a culinary school made up of high school students from Manteca. Their chowder had just the right creaminess without any hint of flour thickening, their potatoes were perfectly made and there was great flavor.

2014 02 22

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pacfic Orchid Expo

The 62nd annual Pacific Orchid Expo was held this weekend at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The Gala was on Thursday night and included music, appetizers and wine. Tickets were $40. The orchid exhibits were gorgeous and the marketplace was open. It was so hard to decide which of the exotic orchids to buy. The event is presented by the Taiwan Tourism board.

General admission ticket for the rest of the weekend was $13.

2014 02 20

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Perfect Scrambled Eggs, Finally

I can't believe it's taken me so long to finally figure out how to make perfect scrambled eggs. My eggs have always been hard and I like small pillows of fluffiness. I finally figured out that the eggs have to be cooked over medium heat. Here's how to do it:

Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs
2 egg whites
Salt & pepper
1 Tbs oil or butter

Whisk the eggs & egg whites until frothy. Add salt & pepper. Heat a small fry pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbs oil or butter. When heated, add the eggs and stir the eggs when small curds form. Take it off the heat when there is no more liquid.

2014 02 17

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wednesday Night Dinner

Here's this week's Wednesday dinner at Flavor Bistro. All this for $18.95 per person.

Cured olives.

Chicken Parmigiana--these were not breaded. It was a tender piece of chicken in tomato sauce and cheese. Delicious!
Creamy Garlic Potatoes
 Rughetta Pasta--oops, forgot to take a picture. The pasta was very flavorful with a garlicky sacue.
Grilled Eggplant--shaved thin and tender.
Sautéed Spinach
Farmhouse Soup--sweet potato and leek soup.
Organic Romaine Salad with Lemon-Romano Dressing. Loved this dressing--better than Caesar. 

Warm Stone Oven Bread
Chocolate Foldovers with Whipped Cream

2014 02 19

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Penne with Italian Sausage & Eggplant

I was watching "The Kitchen" when Brian Boitano made Rigatoni with Spicy Chicken Sausage. He had eggplant in the dish. Since I had some eggplant I needed to use, I decided to give his recipe a try. Here is the original recipe:

I thought the recipe was a little boring, so I made some modifications. Here's my recipe:

Pasta with Spicy Sausage & Eggplant

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb mezze penne
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 baby eggplant (about 6 ounces) stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsp Creole seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pkg creamed spinach
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

In the asparagus water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. If large chunks remain, put in food processor and pulse. Transfer the sausage to a plate.

Add ¼ cup olive oil to the skillet, add the eggplant, season with 1 tsp Creole seasoning and pepper, and cook until brown and just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plate and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Saute mushrooms until brown. Transfer to plate and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the asparagus, sausage, eggplant, mushroom and creamed spinach. Add red wine vinegar. Add the remaining Creole seasoning.

Add the pasta, Parmesan and parsley.

Taste the pasta and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a large bowl and serve immediately.

The creamed spinach added a nice sauce and the Creole seasoning gave it a zing. I liked it.

2014 02 16

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parish Cafe, Healdsburg

I love New Orleans. It's my second favorite US food city after San Francisco. Parish Café, located at 60 Mill Street in Healdsburg, serves N'awlins cuisine. I was afraid to try it because it's hard to beat the real thing but Parish Café did not disappoint.

Beignets--$5 for 3. These are light, fluffy with a burst of steam when you bite into them. They're not quite Café du Monde or Café Beignet but they're pretty good. My only complaint is the price. Hard to justify $5 for 3 pieces of fried dough.
Eggs Nouvelle Orleans--poached egg, lump blue crab meat, shallots, housemade hollandaise served on Cousteau baguette for $18. The crab meat was flavored with Creole seasoning and was delicious with the yolk from the poached egg. One egg was perfectly cooked while the other was slightly overcooked but overall this was delicious.
The special of the day was poached egg with fried oysters and crawfish for $16. This was very flavorful and the oysters were nicely fried with a coating that was not too heavy. There were, however, only 2 oysters and a few crawfish, again making this dish not high on the value scale.

Overall, I liked the food and will be back. If it was better priced, I'd be back more often. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch. It's a small place, seating only 22 inside. There is outdoor seating as well. We arrived at 9:35 am and had a 5-minute wait. When we left at 10:15, there was a line out the door. Lunch is mainly po-boys and is served after 11:30 am.

2014 02 16

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chocolate Ganache Tart

The dessert for the Valentine's Day dinner was a chocolate ganache tart from My husband modified it a little. This was thick and rich and had a nice little zing with the pepper.

Here's his version:

Chocolate Ganache Tart

For the crust:
8 Tbs unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
3 Tbs granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped, bean reserved
¼ tsp fine salt
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tbs unsalted butter (½ stick), cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine salt
½ tsp Espelette pepper
1 egg yolk
For the raspberry sauce:
4 cups frozen raspberry
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the crust:
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Combine butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt in a large bowl and stir until evenly incorporated. Add flour and stir until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Sprinkle dough over the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a measuring cup or your fingers, evenly press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan (flour the cup occasionally to prevent sticking).
Cover the tart shell with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Once chilled, prick it all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
For the filling:
Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl; set aside.
Combine cream, sugar, salt & Espelette pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid is just at a simmer, about 4 minutes.
Pour cream mixture over chocolate and butter and let sit until melted, about 4 minutes. Gently stir until smooth.
Beat egg yolk and add a little of the chocolate mixture. Continue adding chocolate a little at a time until all the chocolate has been incorporated.
Pour ganache into the cooled tart shell and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

For the raspberry sauce:
Place raspberries, sugar, and reserved vanilla bean from the crust in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until raspberries start to break down and syrup has thickened, about 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve with slices of tart.

2014 02 14 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rice Pilaf

My husband made rice pilaf to accompany the lobsters. He added just a small amount of curry to give it some flavor.

Rice Pilaf

¼ cup oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups basmati rice
1 tsp curry
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Saute the shallot in 2 Tbs oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Season with salt & pepper and cook until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and remainder of the oil. Stir until the rice is light brown.
Stir in the curry and coat evenly.
Add the broth and increase the heat to medium. Add the bay leaf and rosemary. 
Cover and cook until all the broth has been absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from the heat and let set for 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary and bay leaf. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

2013 02 14

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day Dinner

My husband hasn't been home for Valentine's Day for the last 10 years. This year he made up for it by making Valentine's Day dinner. It was definitely a winner!

He found a recipe for Grilled Garlic Tarragon Lobster Tail here:

2014 02 14

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Chloe's French Café is the best sandwich place in Santa Rosa. It's located at 3883 Airway Drive, Suite 145. Look for the Landmark Executive Center--Chloe's is located in the back of the large brick office building. Too bad it's open only M-F from 8-5.

I ordered a cold sandwich--the Roast Beef with sugar caramelized onions, blue cheese and the best garlic aioli ever. I had mine on French baguette which was just the right soft interior and crusty exterior. Also loved the homemade sweet pickle slices. Good portion for $8.50.

2014 02 12

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday Night Dinner

Here's this week's selection:

Guazzetto--Day Boat Scallops, Jumbo Prawns, Mussels & Calamari Served in Brodetto Di Vino Bianco Flavored with Organic Heirloom Tomatoes & Sweet Basil, paired with 2012 Amalaya Vino Blanco de Altura, Torrontes Riesling, Valle Calchaqui, Salta, Argentina

Risotto Al Savor--Arborio Rice Cooked with Prosciutto Di Parma, Organic Endive, Ricotta & Parmigiano-Reggiano with Walnut Gremolata, paired with 2011 Kenwood Vineyards & Winery Jack London Zinfandel, Sonoma Mountain

Brasato Di Maiale--Slow Cooked Pork Medallion Served in Sugo D'Arrosto Flavored with Porcini Mushrooms Garnished with Fontina Creamy Polenta & Winter Vegetable Ragu, paired with 2010 Matchbook Vineyard Tempranillo

Limone-Mirtillo Vol-Au-Vent--Puff Pastry Filled with Lemon Curd Topped with Organic Blueberries Served in Raspberry Coulis, paired with 2012 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Vignailoli di Santo Stefano

2014 02 13

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nonna's Chicken

This was a recipe my sister gave me. I didn't have any tomato sauce so I used chopped tomatoes instead. I think it really needed the tomato sauce and will have to try it again. Using chopped tomatoes made it too watery.

Nonna’s Polenta with Chicken and Mushrooms

¼ to ½ c olive oil
1 frying chicken, cut up
1 onion, diced
1 T each fresh rosemary and sage, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
½ c chopped parsley
½ c white wine
1 lb mushrooms, sautéed
1 4-6 oz can tomato sauce
½ c chicken broth
Soft Polenta (recipe below)

In a large skillet, heat oil and saute chicken until nicely browned on both sides.  Add onion and seasonings and cook 10 to 15 minutes.  Add wine, mushrooms, tomato sauce and broth.  Cook, covered 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Pour chicken over soft polenta.  Serves 4.

Soft Polenta

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup Fontina cheese
Stir polenta into chicken broth using a whisk. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and stir periodically. Cook for 45 minutes. Stir in shredded Fontina cheese and cook until melted.
2014 02 11

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dynamite Chicken

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. I found it in the SF Chronicle cookbook and modified it a little. It's so easy and yet so flavorful.

Dynamite Chicken

2 lbs skinless chicken thighs with bones
½ cup cilantro leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground chile
¾ cup salsa
1 bottle beer
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the chicken and cut off any large pieces of fat.  Blot the chicken dry.

Combine the cilantro, garlic, salt and ground chile in a food processor.  Chop to a coarse puree.  Rub the chicken with the mix.  Place the chicken in a Dutch oven. Add the salsa & beer, cover and bake for 1 hour.  Uncover and roast 10-15 minutes longer, basting the chicken with the pan juices a couple of times.

Serve over broken rice.

2014 02 08