Sunday, March 31, 2019

Flank Steak Marinade

Flank Steak Marinade - made March 16, 2019
I so enjoyed the bulgogi I made with flank steak that I was emboldened enough to try my own flank steak marinade.

Actually, it was mostly because I bought mirin to make a recipe I found on pinterest but after I bought the mirin, I couldn't find the recipe again. I thought I'd pinned it but I had pinned so many similar recipes that I couldn't find the exact one that prompted the mirin purchase. Most of the steak marinade recipes on my pinterest board called for lemon juice. I didn't have lemon juice and I stubbornly wanted to use mirin so I made up my own recipe.

I know enough about my taste buds to know which spices were "safe" for me to use. Meaning they would more than likely work well together and I like their flavors. Nothing exotic or too spicy. This is a basic mixture that you let the flank steak marinate in for a few hours then fry or grill.
I have to admit, this turned out well and I could understand the cook's love of just throwing stuff together to come up with tasty dishes. I don't think that'll ever come naturally to me as I have a baker's penchant for wanting things to be exact and measured but I did enjoy putting this together and - bonus - having it turn out.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds flank steak, cut into thick strips
  1. Combine marinade ingredients except for flank steak, stir well to combine. Add strips of flank steak, mixing to coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in large frying pan. Stir fry steak for several minutes until desired doneness. Serve warm.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Restaurant Review: Jazmine

Jazmine - lunch on March 2, 2019
Part of the fun in moving to a new place is exploring the local cuisine and discovering new restaurants. I was taking my parents around on their errands and we decided to try a Chinese restaurant nearby.
Chicken Chow Mein
With a Bay Area, Californian's somewhat finicky palate when it comes to Asian food (I've been spoiled for the past few decades living in an area with a plethora of different cuisines), I was pleasantly surprised by the tasty dishes at Jazmine.
Jazmine Ramen
The Chow Mein was typical chow mein - nothing wrong with it but not sure I'd remember it later. The Jazmine Ramen was a bit more special with the addition of a poached egg cooking in the hot broth. The yolk wasn't fully cooked so if you broke it up in the hot soup, it added a nice richness to the broth.
Garlic Noodles
I have a high bar for garlic noodles thanks to Xanh's but Jazmine's version was also delicious. I like the simplicity of noodles and garlic.
Pork - Peking Style
My favorite was the Pork Peking Style. My cousin Camille had introduced us long ago to that version of any Chinese meat dish prepared "Peking Style". As near as I can figure, that usually means something very lightly coated with enough crisp on the outside that held up a tasty coating of sauce. It isn't breading but likely a very light dredging in flour. Not enough for you to even see it but you can taste it in the texture. Delicious.
Ginger Beef
Lastly, we had the Ginger Beef, also quite good. Overall, Jazmine was a nice discovery whenever we want Chinese food.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Restaurant Review: JX Cuisine

Restaurant Review: JX Cuisine - dinner on June 7, 2018
This is a long, long overdue restaurant review of a place less than a mile from my old house back in California. Or you can consider it a filler blog post as I haven't been baking much lately so I dug this out of the draft folder since I had the pictures anyway :).
Beef Chow Fun
Ironically, I first heard about JX Cuisine from work. One of our benefits is if you work late (past 7 pm), you're allowed to order dinner from up to a $20 allowance, Monday through Thursday nights. It's been some months since I've left work before 7 pm so eating at work is typically my norm. rotates a number of local restaurants you can order from and they'll deliver to the office. Although the menu comes out the Friday before with the next week's dinner offerings, typically you have until 4 pm the same night to order dinner in time, unless a particular restaurant sells out of their allocated dinners to the company.
Xiao Long Bao
JX Cuisine first hit my notice because the first time I tried to order from them on a Monday morning for a Thursday night dinner, they were already sold out. Huh? Sellouts aren't uncommon and usually signal a really good restaurant. Thwarted (and curious) what all the fuss was about, I met a friend there for dinner at the restaurant itself to see what the fuss was about.
Steamed Rice
The restaurant itself wasn't crowded on a weeknight for dinner and service was pretty prompt. The Xiao Long Bao were my favorites that night followed by the Orange Peel Beef. The Chow Fun was pretty typical of a Chinese restaurant; pretty tasty but not sure I'd go out of my way for it, especially since I hadn't realized it came with bean sprouts (I'm not a fan of bean sprouts). Overall, the food was good but I'm not sure I understand the early sellout every time JX Cuisine is an option on the menu. My Chinese coworker explained they had a lot of specialty dishes that people really loved, especially those more familiar with "authentic" Chinese cuisine. Ah. Clearly my Westernized taste buds didn't pick those out of the menu, lol.
Orange Peel Beef

Friday, March 15, 2019


Bulgogi - made March 5, 2019 from Testing Trendy 123

Okay, this is probably the tastiest beef dish I've made in months. And so easy too. Throw the ingredients in a bowl, let the flank steak marinate for an hour or more then grill or stir fry. I don't have a grill so I went the stir fry route.

At first I was going to bust out the Instant Pot to make sure the beef would be tender but I've had years of enjoying  the marinated flank steak my uncle used to grill at family barbecues and knew I didn't need to tenderize the flank steak. As long as I didn't overcook it.

This turned out beautifully. Not soupy like my other Instant Pot experiments, nicely tender while still pink (not red) inside and it had flavor. Not something I can always claim when I cook stuff. I didn't have any cooking wine but that was the only thing I left out. Next time, I'm not so sure I need all those sesame seeds but the rest of the ingredients were on point to make a tasty, easy stir fry.
1 pound flank steak
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
dash of black pepper
splash of white cooking wine

  1. Combine marinade ingredients.
  2. Thinly slice the steak and marinate for at least several hours. Grill just a few minutes per side or pan fry. Serve warm.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Texas Sheet Cake Brownies

Texas Sheet Cake Brownies - made February 17, 2019 from The Brownie Lover's Cookbook by Daniel Humphreys
I think the "brownies" part of the title is a misnomer. Brownies to me are more dense and fudgy than cake and normally don't have much, if any, leavening. This was made as a normal Texas Sheet Cake, including baking powder for the leavening, and had the lighter texture of a cake, not a brownie.

And like all the other previous Texas Sheet Cakes I've made, it's delicious. Like cut-yourself-another-piece delicious.
I'm in experimenting mode for my niece's wedding this fall. I think I mentioned my wedding gift to the bride and groom was to make their wedding dessert bar for the reception. My niece likes Texas Sheet Cakes and wanted to have that as one of the dessert offerings. I'm trying to fancy it up so rather than baking it as a sheet cake and serving it as cut squares (pssh, anyone can do that), I toyed with fancying it up and baking in silicone dome molds. Turn it over dome side up and blanket with the frosting for a smooth(ish) glazed look. I may also drizzle the glazed domes with white chocolate or caramel or milk chocolate

These turned out delicious as most of the Texas Sheet Cake recipes I've made have. But, as aforementioned, these were too cakey to be brownies. They weren't even cakey brownies. They were....cakes. Which I'm fine with. I just don't think I can call them "brownies". They're little cakes. Delicious little cakes but cakes nonetheless. Next time I need to thin the glaze a little so it pours more evenly and doesn't set so fast. But I think I'm getting close for this section of the wedding dessert table.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons milk
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the sour cream and eggs; set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add water and whisk in the cocoa powder until combined. Bring to boil before removing from heat.
  4. Cool mixture slightly then temper into the egg mixture, before adding all of the wet ingredients and beat until smooth and combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Icing: in a medium saucepan, combine milk with cocoa powder and butter. Whisk until melted and smooth. Bring to boil before removing from the heat. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until well blended and no lumps remain. Spread frosting over warm cake.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Browned Butter Fudge Brownies

Browned Butter Fudge Brownies - made February 13, 2019 from The Food Charlatan
I credit The Food Charlatan with the recipe that was one of the most popular I'd ever made and served for one of my holiday dessert parties: the Brownie-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies.
So this brownie looked promising, especially as it was billed as the "best" brownies ever. You know I'm always a little wary about "best" hyperlatives. Not because I question whether it'd be good or not but we all have our own preferences and one person's "best" of something might be someone else's "okay". Nothing wrong with that; we all have different taste buds and that's a good thing.

Case in point, I'm sure most people would like these brownies. Fudgy, dense, chewy - all hallmarks of a good brownie. But in my case, I found these a little too sweet for me. I don't know if my sweet tooth was off when I made this as I rarely find things "too sweet". But although these had unsweetened chocolate, I think there was a little too much sugar for me to offset it.

For those who prefer more chocolate than sweet in a brownie, I'd recommend cutting back on the sugar by maybe 1/4 to 1/2 and mixing in a couple tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in place of a couple tablespoons of flour.

1 1/4 cups salted butter (2 1/2 sticks), melted and browned (go to original blog for instructions on how to brown the butter)
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To the just melted and browned butter, add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until melted and combined.
  3. Add sugar and whisk together. Add salt, water and vanilla; whisk to combine. Stir in eggs, one at a time, whisking until each egg is incorporated. Stir in flour until just combined. Whisk until batter is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle chocolate chips, if using, over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, not raw batter. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Instant Pot Korean Beef

Instant Pot Korean Beef - made February 17, 2019 from I Heart Eating
Another easy beef dinner recipe where you throw ingredients into an Instant Pot, turn it on and come back in 40 minutes. I've done a few of these in the last few weeks and I have to admit, while they all "turned out" (in my parlance, that means I didn't give myself food poisoning with my own cooking), I'm not sure they stand out or would be something I'd serve to someone other than myself.

But I think that could also be due to my not eating any of it with rice, pasta, bread or any other carb that makes life worth living. Which means the sauce from each dish goes to waste since it's not flavoring rice or pasta or being soaked up with crusty bread.
It's got brown sugar so I can't say it's strictly low carb but compared to my previous carb consumption, it's all relative. Good ,easy option for a weeknight dinner. Would be good with rice. I assume.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup beef broth
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2-4 tablespoons Gochujang sauce, depending on desired heat (I didn't have any so I omitted it and added sliced onions instead)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3-4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the roast. 
  2. Place cubed roast into Instant Pot. Pour sauce over cubed meat.
  3. Close the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is turned to "sealing".
  4. Press the Meat program button and adjust the time to 40 minutes.
  5. Once it has finished cooking, allow beef to remain in pot for 25 minutes of natural pressure release.
  6. Carefully release any pressure left at the time by turning the pressure release valve to "venting". Serve warm.