Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!

I celebrated my 22nd birthday on March 23rd, 2013. I'm not that much into birthdays, not like I used to be. I feel like birthdays are hyped so much, it's too often a let down. That's probably part of the reason why I don't make a big deal of the day, or mention it to anyone. I'm not saying it's a bad day, nor do I have the birthday blues. It's just a day.
My family and I had a couple different plans, one of which included visiting Golden Bell (Korean) Restaurant for the first time. I've seen a couple of enticing pictures online which encouraged me to make the trip. However, when we got there, it was not at all what we expected. It was basically a fast food restaurant, but smaller than the norm. Even more unfortunate was the fact that what we planned on ordering was only being served at night. We did not bother dining there and since we did not make reservations anywhere else, we decided to go to Chaud Cafe and Wine Bar. We figured we'd without a doubt enjoy our meal there, so why not?
I didn't. Everyone else was content, but I was not satisfied. Content being the key word because it was not incredible, mediocre... at least this time. Of course the fries never fail to impress, it is the best. My sister started with the Cioppino which I tasted and it was good. It was definitely a starter, since the portion was pretty small. I forgot to take a picture, though.

We ordered a steak salad. It is a fantastic salad, and I probably should have gone that route if I wanted a salad. The steak was still tender despite it being well done (his preference), but he still thought it to be good... not great. The big pieces of Gorgonzola became overpowering, and if I did not warn him initially, it would have ruined the salad much earlier. 

Then we ordered a steak sandwich, which was also good, but still not great.

My sister had the burger which she enjoyed very much, fortunately. We also ordered a pasta with shrimp, but I also did not get a picture of that.

I ordered the lamb salad. The portion was quite small, especially compared to the steak salad, and it was dry and bland. The bacon bits did not help it much, and usually I love lentils, but I did not enjoy this.

For dessert, I had the apple crumble which is supposed to be served with a brown butter pecan ice cream which they did not have, and had to serve it with vanilla instead. I did not mind the vanilla much because I love the combination of apple pie/crumble with vanilla ice cream. However, I did not enjoy the apple crumble. The apples were cold and had a weird texture (a little bland as well) and the crumble had too many oats that were still dry and raw. I ended up leaving back more than half of the dessert, finishing the ice cream and only quarter of the apple crumble. It may be enjoyable to some, but I was disappointed.

We also ordered the banana beignets which everyone tried and enjoyed, except me. I was not in the mood for bananas, so I skipped it. They also respected our request to have to served alcohol free, so that was a plus.

The chocolate mousse was fluffy and not overbearingly chocolatey, so it was pretty good.

The flourless chocolate cake with intensely chocolatey. The chocolate lover would definitely enjoy it, it was alright for me. However, the sour cream sherbet was delicious and served well in toning down the intense chocolate taste.

All in all, everyone was content with their meal (except me), but it seemed to have been either a bad day for them, or us. My birthday was not filled with exceptional food like I had hoped, but it's okay because I'll be making up for that very soon.
The next day, my sister did make me meatball sliders (with homemade bread), served with mozzarella and marinara which was quite good. That was definitely and enjoyable meal. She also baked me a white cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries, so, I can't complain too much. My birthday wasn't all that disappointing.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade biscuits? Yes, please. Biscuits AND gravy? Heck yeah!
Recently we started a breakfast club at the office, where we all have a day of the week and we bring breakfast for one another. It's been going on for a few weeks, and it's been quite fun. My first week I made sausage and peppers, which is a classic that I love. I also made potato pizza another week. I was skeptical about potato pizza at first, but when it tried it... Wow. It's always great to try new things, no matter how odd they may appear. This week, I made homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. I actually did not get a picture of the biscuits or gravy I made this week, but I do have a picture of some I have made in the past. I thought it'd be a good idea to share my biscuits since it's an easy and extremely delicious breakfast.

Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, cold
  • 4 tbsp shortening, cold
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • To glaze: one egg beaten (with 1 tbsp. milk/water)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and shortening, and cut in with a pastry blender or fork until the it is pea-sized. Stir in the buttermilk. Do not to over-mix.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead the dough a couple times, just until it comes together. Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin until it reaches about 1” thick, then cut with a floured biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a lined cookie sheet, and brush the tops with the egg beaten with milk.
  4. Bake the biscuits for about 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and nicely risen.

I actually prepared the dough and cut it out the night before, then baked it in the morning. It's great because you can prepare it and store it for later use so it can be a quick and convenient breakfast, even on a weekday. These would even be great to replace dinner rolls or to make a sandwich. It's versatile. I think I'll be cutting and freezing some dough for when I'm in the biscuit mood with little time.
Usually I'd make the gravy with sausage (I like Johnsonville), but one of the girls in the office does not eat pork so I used minced beef to make the gravy. I seasoned it well, sauteed it with a bit of olive oil then added cream, a bit of flour (to thicken), and a little grated parmesan. Easy and full of flavour!
Everyone enjoyed this breakfast (especially my brother who wants me to make it again).

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sushi Pizza at South Vino

Sushi Pizza at More Vino

This is not a recipe or a review, I'm simply sharing my love for sushi, and my fun lunch I had yesterday at South Vino (More Vino's South restaurant).
 We tried the sushi pizza for the first time, and it was brilliant. Absolutely delicious. It started with a nori base with a thin layer of rice, with salmon, pineapple, olives, onion, colby jack and parmesan. It was so good on it's own, I didn't bother using wasabi or ginger, as I thought it would ruin it. On my last piece, I tried a bit of wasabi and regretted not having it on every piece. It costs a few dollars more than a roll, but you get twice as much and it tastes great. Something different, but not straying too far from the likes of sushi.
We also had a roll (can't remember the name), some wings and dumplings. We don't usually order anything other than a couple of rolls, but it was a nice change of pace.

Fried Dumplings with Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Sriracha Wings with Honey-Mustard Sauce

Salmon, cream cheese, shimp, tomato salsa and garlic sauce (roll).

Just a few other fun days of sushi:

Laughing Buddha



Yum, I could eat some more now!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Chaud Cafe and Wine Bar

What I had here... THIS was a meal! Wow. Everything we've tried here has been brilliant... Even the fries. The fries! Best. Fries. Ever.

Best fries with arugula mayo, fried calamari with roasted pepper dip.

Chaud Cafe and Wine Bar, located at One Woodbrook Place is a friendly environment with amazing food at affordable prices. They have a variety of cuisines varying from pasta, sandwiches, soups and more. The soup of the day is a fantastic deal, and always the two different ones I've tried (so far) are quite good. The mussels soup was quite good, when dipped with the bread, it was amazing!

Mussels Soup with Toast and Herb Butter

I did notice something however, which I thought was worth mentioning. I saw some reviews by local (well-known) food bloggers from Chaud Cafe. The quality (and quantity) of food seemed to surpass what they actually serve to customers who might not be advertising for them. Or maybe they just choose who they want to serve in a particular way. For example, our scallops dish was significantly different from the one seen on the local food blog previously mentioned. It's unfortunate especially if an individual sees the photos and decides to try the restaurant based on that. They may be disappointed. I think it would be a good idea to acknowledge it on my next visit.
Regardless, the food is still very good, and the portions are quite good, especially for the quality of food and the prices. The soup of the day, for example, is TTD$30.00 (plus Service Charge and VAT). The mussels soup was very flavourful and included pieces of mussels, which is quite exceptional for the price.

Seared Scallops (with guava sauce), cheesy grits and sweet potato hash on top.

The restaurant never seems to be overly crowded so the service is always speedy and efficient. The servers are also quite friendly and willing to assist you with anything you need. Good service is a big plus in my book. Parking is readily available at One Woodbrook; the restaurant is just above the south carpark.

Smoked Salmon open-faced Sandwich

The steak salad... Wow. I had already started before I took the picture because it looked and smelled so good. And when I tasted it... Perfect to my specifications and properly seasoned (salt), which makes quite the difference. Most definitely one of the best salads I've ever had.

Steak Salad

You can't go wrong with Hot Chocolate. And at TTD$12.00...

Hot Chocolate

It's quite unfortunate that I am yet to try dessert... But I will be soon, and I will be posting. We just get a bit excited and order a lot of food and eventually become too full to have dessert. But, we won't allow that to happen next time!

Mushroom Ragout Pasta

The pasta was not bad. I love pasta and have tried so many different pastas, so it takes a really great pasta to impress me. This pasta did not do it. The ingredients were fresh and a good choice as a vegetarian option, but I probably would not have the pasta again. I did not say it was bad though, just not the best.

Overall Experience: Fantastic quality, quantity and taste.
Will I return?: Tomorrow, maybe? Those fries are calling my name!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Special Birthday Lunch

Last week was the birthday of someone very near and dear to me. It only made sense to cook a great lunch in order to show my appreciation, as I knew that was something the person would appreciate as well. And he did, he enjoyed it very much (thankfully), and enjoyed the leftovers the next day. My sister indulged a little in it, and was delighted.
It consisted of a simple seven courses. However, time did not allow for proper food styling for the pictures or presentation, so I worked with the time I had. I did not want to keep him waiting, really. Here's what I prepared!

The first course was the Appetizer, which was a crostini made using a fresh baguette I got from the bakery, cream cheese, pink salmon that was briefly broiled, capers, and fresh dill from my sister's garden.

The second course was the Soup: Light onion soup in a beef broth.

The third course was the Salad. My version of a Caprese BLT. I'd normally add basil but he would not have liked it. It's skewers of tomato pieces (couldn't find cherry tomatoes or I would've used that), soy mozzarella cubes, turkey bacon, arugula from the garden as well (as the lettuce) and an olive oil, balsamic vinegar dressing.

The fourth course was Seafood (and pasta). I made a spicy pumpkin pasta with sauteed lime shrimp.

The fifth course was a Palate Cleanser (especially because the seafood was spicy). It was a frozen lemon-pine cocktail (with a little vodka).

The sixth course was the Meat. I prepared a creamy cauliflower puree, mustard glazed rosemary lamb chops and a side of garlicky green beans.

Finally, the last course was Dessert. I contemplated making a lot of different things including a coconut-pine panna cotta or homemade tiramisu but I did not have the time to do those things, so I cheated a little with cupcakes. He likes pina coladas, so I made a cupcake around those flavours sans the rum because he shared with young siblings. It was a pineapple flavoured batter with a bit of pine jelly in the center with a coconut infused buttercream and dessicated coconut. And of course, like every good pina colada, a cherry on top.

I had a blast preparing this meal, even though it was time consuming and quite tiring. I'm excited to make more meals like this for people who'd enjoy it.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Herbs, Spice and Everything Nice

I thought it'd be a nice idea to showcase a little of my sister's garden since she lets me steal some herbs etc. from her once in a while for my cooking (as long as I cook for her too). I don't really have time for a proper garden right now, but she recently started and seems to enjoy it a lot. She's slowly building up a garden, but it's definitely more hard work than expected. The best part of having a garden is reaping (literally) the benefits. Seeing something grow, nurturing it, and then the taste of fresh herbs and other produce is incomparable.


Baby Tomatoes

Cayenne Peppers



Baby Squash in the making.






Different Variety of Basil

Purple Basil


It's pretty great to see her so enthusiastic about something. Can't wait for the garden to grow. Will definitely be making some recipes using these!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Salmon Cream Pasta

I mentioned that I love being cooked for, right? Well, especially after a long day of work and school, coming home to find something that tastes great, prepared especially for me, is awesome.
My sister made me dinner on this night: Cream pasta (not Alfredo) with pink salmon and bacon-wrapped rosemary shrimp.

Salmon Cream pasta, bacon-wrapped rosemary shrimp and homemade pesto.

I'll ask her to write up a recipe soon so I can add it as a guest post.
It was fantastic, by the way. The pesto was a really great touch, she picked the basil leaves from her garden. She's been spending a lot of time recently building up a garden. She's actually working quite hard at it and enjoying the rewards. The dill (garnish and in the cream sauce) was from her garden, as well the rosemary in the shrimp.
Thanks so much for dinner, Amy!