Monday, January 31, 2011

My Trip to Hong Kong (Day 1): Homecooked Dinner

When we landed in Hong Kong, we had some home cooked dinner before we headed tiredly to bed.

We had some Thai curry with meatballs which were pretty flavorful without being spicy at all. It was finally nice to eat something that was cooked and seasoned properly.

Along with the curry, we had some fresh veggies.
And of course, some white rice.
A nice home cooked meal after a long flight is just what I needed to sleep the night away and wake up refreshed the next day.

My Trip to Hong Kong (Day 1): Continental Airlines Food

We finally boarded our plane and lifted off safely. A few hours into the flight, we were served dinner.

We had a choice between sweet and sour fish or beef. I picked the fish and he picked the beef. Both came with some salad, a roll, and some Milano cookies.

Here's the salad. The cucumbers were actually crunchy and fresh tasting. The lettuce was expectantly lack luster along with the hard boiled egg. The worse was the mysterious fish that came along with the salad. I think it was supposed to be smoked salmon. However, it lacked any smoked flavor. It was more like dry, salty salmon. Without it, the salad would have been passable. I picked it out and ate the rest of the greens.
And here's the dinner roll with a good smearing of butter. It was soft and warm. Not too bad at all.
And the main course, the fish. The meat was dry and served with some gloppy sauce. The white rice helped disperse some of the orange gloppy sauce. However, it was a very meh meal. What did I expect though? Not much.

And here's the beef dish. Appetizing no? Actually not at all. The beef dish was completely over salted. Even the white rice and bland vegetables didn't tame it to become something edible.
After dinner, we were given a midnight snack: a burger and some ice cream. The burger seemed like the kind you could find frozen in your supermarket. It is what you expect. The ice cream was definitely the star there. Why? Because it was Haagen Daz. Milky, creamy, and delicious.
Here's a closer pic of the burger. Looks weird right? Yeah, tasted kind of weird too.
I'd like to add that throughout the entire 16 hour flight or so, we had to pay for alcoholic drinks. Yes, an international flight for that long, you still have to pay. That is all.

My Trip to Hong Kong (Day 1): Gallagher's Steakhouse @ Newark Airport

In the morning while waiting for my international flight, we thought it would be best to eat. Food on the plane is always mediocre to terrible. We took a stroll around the gate area and nothing looked appetizing. The best option was McDonald's. I wasn't about to risk getting an upset stomach right before a 16 hour flight. So we walked a little further and found Gallagher's steakhouse. Yeah, it was a little pricier than the fast food options. However, the service and food seemed to be significantly better.

With a beer to relax, I ordered up the cheeseburger ($14). It ground beef patty came with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a soft brioche bun. A side of fries came with the platter as well.

This medium rare burger was cooked to order and was certainly pink inside. However, it wasn't very good. In fact, it tasted kind of dry. I think the blend of meat wasn't that great. However, the fries were not as bad. The were crispy and tasted of soft potato inside.
The steak sandwich ($18) wasn't any better. It came with a side of their signature sauce which was just okay.
What was wrong with the steak sandwich? The steak actually. The thinly sliced sirloin was overcooked and chewy. The sauteed onions really did nothing. It was just a major fail for a sandwich.
As I unhappily ate the rest of the sandwiches, I looked around and saw that other people had ordered steaks or steak salads. Those dishes actually looked pretty good. The people eating it looked happy. Next time, I guess I'll stick with what the restaurant is known for. In this case, steak at Gallagher's.

Gallagher's Steakhouse
Terminal Access Rd
Newark, NJ 07114
(973) 286-0034

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ice Cream

Nothing special. Just some mint dark chocolate ice cream, some crunchies, and a fresh chocolate chip cookie.

Hot Dogs

Sometimes, I just don't feel like cooking. Also, I don't feel like ordering out either. So what's the fastest things I can make and still feel satiated? Hot dogs. Usually, I like to fry them up in a pan for a nice snappy skin. However, when I'm feeling lazy, I'll just microwave them. A couple of squirts of ketchup, mustard, and a sliced pickle makes this a full meal.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Holiday Leftovers (Part 3): Cranberry Sauce

Sometimes there's just way to much cranberry sauce left over and not enough people who enjoy it. So what do you do? You can freeze it for another day. Or, you can mix it up into a cocktail. The tartness goes well with a sweet clear soda like Sprite. I like to add a couple of splashed with gin and Sprite.

Holiday Leftovers (Part 2): Turkey & Stuffing

So you still have some leftover stuffing and turkey? Tired of those sandwiches over and over again? How about a dumpling instead? Yeah, a Thanksgiving dumpling. Little morsels of holiday any time you want right from your freezer.

First, strip all of the meat from the bones of the turkey carcass. You want to shred them into small bite sized pieces.

The take a dumpling wrapper add some turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry juice. If you don't have all of these leftovers, don't worry. Just turkey and stuffing would do. The gravy and cranberries help keep the dumpling moist.
Then just wrap them into dumplings by folding the wrapper in half. Use some water to moisten the edges and press firmly. Make sure to squeeze any air pockets out to prevent them from exploding while cooking.
When you're ready to eat them, simmer slowly in some salted water until they float. Be careful not to over boil them since they're already cooked. All you need to do is heat it through. You can also cook it in a pan with some browned butter so an extra rich meal.
So this is what they look like when cooked through. The skin shrivels up a bit but that's okay. It's a sign that it's cooked.
The flavor is pretty good. Each bite reminds me of thanksgiving and the holidays. And they keep really well in the freezer. So every time you're missing the holidays and the food, just cook up a few of these and you'll be brought back to those happy times.

Holiday Leftovers (Part 1): Stuffing & Ham

Some of you may have some holiday food frozen in your ice box wondering what to do with it. So here are some of the foods I usually make with the leftovers. First up, stuffing and ham.

Here, I took a generous amount of the stuffing and mixed in sliced ham. I also took some marinara sauce and mixed it in with everything. Make sure that the dish is quite moist. I baked it in oven for about 30 minutes until the sides are slightly browned.

Once heated through, I cracked a few eggs on top. You can take a ladle and makes a few indents first. After that, I shredded some cheese on top. I like to use pecorino but you can use any kind that you prefer.
Then back into the oven until the whites of the eggs are just done. Be careful not to overcook the eggs. They can get very rubbery.
While still hot, scoop and serve. The runny egg spills over the savory stuffing with flavors from the ham, tomato sauce, cheese, bread, and vegetables.
Mmm, so very good. This is one of my favorite things to eat after the holidays. It's really a great brunch dish. If you're staying with family, this would be perfect for the morning after. It's easy to make and serving a large party would be even easier.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jade Asian, again

Dim sum makes me happy. Good dim sum makes me even happier. So, back at good ol' Jade Asian in Flushing.

A nice variety of food including dumplings, sticky rice, phoenix feets, spare ribs, beef short ribs, and meat balls. Oh what a feast.

But we weren't satisfied with just dim sum this time around. We also ordered a noodle dish. This is seafood chow mein. The seafood includes squid, shrimp, and scallops. Some places also include conch but not this place. There are also mushrooms and leafy greens added. The noodle is cooked then deep fried for a crunchy texture. The seafood and sauce is ladled over the crisp noodles which softens parts of it slightly.

The result? A delicious noodle dish that can be crunchy at time and soft at other times. The seafood is just standard. The sauce is savory and a little gloppy.

I really enjoy Jade Asian. It's one of the few dim sum places that I keep returning to over and over again.

Jade Asian Restaurant
13628 39th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 762-8821

Shake Shack, again

Hello my dear friend, Shake Shack. I'm glad that you're now closer to my home so that I can easily grab a burger at any time without worrying about the wait.

A double shack burger this time. Two fatty beef patties with tomato and lettuce on a soft white bun. Oh and don't forget about the smothered cheese. Wrapped together into bites of satisfaction.

And what's a burger without fries? This time, it wasn't too bad. They were crisp and well salted. The inside was soft and creamy. A nice fry.
Is Shack Shake the best burger that I've ever had? Nope. Is it a good burger? Yes. Am I glad to have it as one of my neighborhood burger places? Certainly.

Shake Shack
691 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
(646) 435-0135‎

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunch Week 4: Roasted Vegetable Salad

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Roasted Vegetable Salad
There are a couple of things that I look forward to every winter: large roasted meats, and tons of roasted vegetables. I really enjoy the squashes and hearty veggies that come out when the weather turns cold. I think that they pack a lot of flavor, pretty hearty, and they're relatively affordable. So this week, I decided to roast up a bunch of my favorite ones and throw it all on top of some fresh arugula with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.

To start, you know I need to have brussel sprouts. I love these nuggets of goodness. Yes, it's a cabbage. However, when you roast them in the oven at 400oF for about 30 minutes, then they develop a delicious caramelized flavor that is so rich and sweet. It's indescribable and yet addicting. Just remember to season them salt, pepper, and oil before roasting.
While those beauties became utterly delicious, I worked on another roasted delicacy: butternut squash. This bell shaped pumpkin is also equally delicious when roasted. The high heat draws out the liquid; therefore, concentrating the flavors and natural sugars of the flesh. It ends up being something special that only really comes around in the winter.

The first step to prepare a butternut squash for roasting is to cut off the end. This way, you'll have a flat surface to work with. Then, take a sharp vegetable peeler and remove all of the thick skin. For more ease, you can also cut the squash in half horizontally before you peel it.
Once peeled, I sliced the pumpkin in half vertically. Here you can see where the seeds lay. Take a spoon and scoop all of that away. Even scrape along the sides to get all the stringiness out.
Then chop up the remaining pulp into small bite sized pieces. Season with salt, pepper, and oil. Into the oven at 400oF for about 45 minutes until caramelized and golden brown all over.
Like so. You can see that they've shrunken due to the roasting which releases the water.
Next up, a beet. I would say most people dislike beets. But it's actually quite tasty when roasted fresh. It develops a really nice and rich flavor that no other root vegetable can replicate. And this is what a beet root looks like. It's kind of ugly isn't it? But the good stuff is under that peel. But first, you need to roast it. Rinse the beet thoroughly to remove any residue. Then wrap it tightly with aluminum foil. Into the oven at 400oF for about an hour or so. It's ready when a fork goes through easily.
And this is what the beet looks like when roasted and peeled. Be careful when peeling it while still hot. It can and will burn you. If you don't want to wait for it to cool, hold it down on the cutting board with one hand using an oven mitt, then take a spoon and carefully scrape off the peel.
So tomatoes aren't really in season right now but when you roast them, they become quite good. The roasting just really helps intensify the flavor.
I took the cherry tomatoes and sliced them in half. Again, season with salt, pepper, and oil.
With that, I sliced up some red onions as well.
And to complete the roasting, here are some peeled garlic cloves.
All onto a baking sheet with the same seasoning. Into the oven at 350oF for about 30 minutes until slightly charred the the tomatoes are bursting with their own juices.
One of the other fresh elements besides the arugula that I decided to add to the salad is carrot. I took a vegetable peeler and just ran it over and over the carrot until I had thin strips.
And lastly, the protein. I decided to make some breaded chicken cutlets. Here you have some chicken thighs patted dry with paper towels. This helps the breading adhere and also creates a nice crust.
Then I set up my bowls of breading ingredients: all purpose flour, beaten eggs with a splash of milk, and seasoned bread crumbs.
First, I seasoned each of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then into the flour, shake the excess off, then into the egg, and last into the bread crumbs. Again, shake the excess off. Onto a sheet pan and into the oven at 350oF until golden brown. You can flip the chicken over halfway through in order to get both sides nice and golden.
Take all those components and throw it on top of some fresh baby arugula with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
This is one really hearty salad. Everything is super rich in flavor. The sweetness from the roasted veggies is slightly cut with the balsamic vinegar. I can't believe I'm going to say this but this is an awesome salad that I would gladly eat over and over again.