Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mike's Pastry (Boston, MA)

340 Hanover Street
Boston, Massachusetts

After dinner at Myers+Chang, we headed to my brother-in-law D's favourite spot for cannoli's in Boston. I think he makes a pit stop every time he goes to Boston. As we walked to Mike's Pastry, we passed another cannoli place with a long waiting line and Mike's was no different. The night was young so we got in line.

Mike's Pastry

As we neared the entry, my sister and I abandoned D. We don't like lines. As you can see from the sign below, it's pretty much a free for all once you get in, but I would describe it as orderly chaos. You could see service was very efficient. All that to get a box with blue writing; we saw quite a few people with the Mike's Pastry box throughout the day.

Mike's Pastry Mike's Pastry
No single file line! Are we in Asia?

D got himself and his twin brother chocolate chip cannoli's.


My sister and I shared a chocolate dipped one.


A few days after our visit, I read Cathy's thoughts on Mike's Pastry. She felt it was a tourist trap. My thoughts? I thought the cannoli was good but I think I've had just as good at other Italian pastry shops. (L has a weakness for one in Marché Jean-Talon.) It was nice to end our Boston weekend on a sweet note!

Miss.Adventure & Elle
My sister L (or Elle - she got herself a new blog!). There's no one I like to shop with better!

Mike's Pastry on Urbanspoon

Check out my attempt at cannoli's:
* Chocolate Cannoli

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Myers + Chang (Boston, MA)

1145 Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts

When our lunch and dinner plans fell through (diner FAIL), my sister recalled a recent post about Cathy's dinner to Myers + Chang. We found an Apple store, jumped on the internet and made early dinner reservations.

Myers + Chang Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang offers an Asian fusion menu and the decor was diner and Chinese influenced. My sister especially liked the place mats, which were just cut outs of Chinese newspapers. My sister L and I each started with a homemade soda ($5 each). I ordered the lychee-vanilla and L had the cherry-ginger. We could really taste the primary flavours, but I had a hard time tasting vanilla in mine. Still good though.

Housemade Sodas
Homemade Sodas.

I remember our waiter recommending ordering 6-7 dishes, since they are small plates and meant to be shared. We ended up ordering two starters and 3 main dishes. The dishes were on the small side, so we could probably have eaten more. First, we had a green papaya slaw ($6), which was very spicy, like the 3 stars on the menu warned. The slaw was very good, but the portion small. We also shared sweet potato fritters ($10) served with sriracha aioli. We absolutely loved these yummy fritters speckled with Chinese sausage.

Green Papaya Slaw Sweet Potato Fritters
Papaya slaw and sweet potato fritters.

My sister decided to share two mains. We first ordered the Cantonese BBQ Pork ($16), served with kimchee rice cake. The pork was good but I feel that I could get a lot of BBQ pork at that price in Chinatown. We did really like the kimchee rice cake; the kimchee's pickled flavours really came through.

Cantonese BBQ Pork
Cantonese BBQ Pork.

My sister and I drooled over Cathy's picture of the nasi goreng ($14) so we knew we had to order it! It was a combination of tasty ingredients (ground pork, shrimp, fried onions, pineapple, chili sauce) mixed with milk, and topped with a runny egg. I could have eaten bowls upon bowls of this Indonesian fried rice. This is definitely a dish I want to replicate at home!

nasi goreng
Nasi goreng, Indonesian fried rice.

Finally, the brother-in-law D ordered the panko-crusted lemon chicken ($14). The chicken was nicely fried on a bed of rice. The problem was the overly sweet lemon sauce that pooled at the bottom of the rice. It was like eating rice with syrup.

panko-crusted lemon chicken

In my fantasy restaurant, I would serve small plates of Asian food so Myers + Chang was really exciting in that respect. We liked most of the dishes, although they were a bit pricey for the portion sizes. I'm still dreaming of that nasi goreng...!

Myers & Chang on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quincy Market (Boston,MA)

I'm struggling to write these Boston posts and it seems the more I procrastinate, the harder it is. On to the post... After our first day spent shopping, the next day was spent walking around, with a dash of shopping. My sister L, her hubby D and I had planned very exciting food outings too, involved Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Unfortunately, they were massive FAILS. BOTH OF THEM.

Let me recount. First, we were going to head to Sam La Grassa's for a sandwich. It was only a few blocks from DSW, where L and I got ourselves new boots. We were confronted with a very closed store front. (In case you're wondering, I just checked the schedule: M-F, 10 am -3:30 pm. You're welcome.)

So we decided to head to our second triple D destination, Mike's City Diner. Having become the wiser, we called to check whether 1) it was open and 2) it was serving turkey. Yes, turkey. I was really excited about going to this diner that served turkey year round since we were in Boston for Canadian Thanksgiving (total coincidence that it's American Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!). The answers: 1) yes, they were open and 2) they were serving breakfast all day. (In case you're wondering II, daily, 6 am -3 pm. All day breakfast on the weekend.) Lesson learned? Research your eats!

So I suggested heading to Quincy Market for lunch. I know it's very touristy and commercial, but I seem to remember always eating there while visiting Boston. Because it was a long weekend, the market was packed, as in you could barely walk.

Quincy Market

D wanted chowder in a bowl. I decided to order there too, not wanting to wander too far. I was tempted by the bacon wrapped scallops (about $15, with a very sad salad). The scallops were really not that good, and the price ridiculous. It was a terrible call on my part. I should have found some deep fried seafood.

Chowder Chowder
Bacon wrapped Scallops Bacon wrapped Scallops
Chowder and scallops from Quincy Market.

It was a disappointing food outing because I had such high expectations. Sigh!

For more successful Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in Chicago:
* Cemitas Puebla
* White Palace Grill

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RendezVous in Central Square (Cambridge,MA)

502 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts

After a long day of outlet shopping in Wrentham, my sister L, her hubby D and I, ended up in the vicinity of RendezVous an hour prior to our reservation. We decided to try to get seated; the staff was accommodating and found us seats at the bar. We were served a plate of bread and flatbread with butter. My sister and I just loved the flatbread. We also shared 3 cheeses ($14) that came with sweet accompaniments (pears, jam, almonds). Unfortunately, I don't remember the names of the cheese but we enjoyed them all very much.

RendezVous RendezVous
Bread and cheese.

If you read my blog, you will realize that if there is scallop on the menu, I will order it. So along with our cheese plate, we shared seared sea scallops with Moroccan spices ($12). I liked the combination of the beautiful seared scallops with the exotic spices.

RendezVous RendezVous
Seared sea scallops with Moroccan spices

Since the entrees are seasonal, the items that we ordered are no longer online. My sister L ordered a steak with greens and onion rings. She enjoyed the meal while she ate it. Unfortunately, she didn't feel quite good later and thought there was just too much fat between the butter and the onion rings.


My brother-in-law D ordered the fish dish. I don't really remember the details of this dish, nor the fish. (That's what happens when you write posts a month after the event and relying on the online menu...)


I do remember my summer seafood chowder, with mussels and lobster. It had a light broth and large pieces of lobster. I did enjoy my dish but wish it was a bit heartier. I asked for more bread but I think was forgotten.


We all shared the apple-cranberry crostada with honey-lavender ice cream ($8). We thought we made a good choice for dessert and enjoyed the warm filling.

Apple-Cranberry Crostada.

It was nice to sit at the bar and see the bartender work. RendezVous was fully booked on the Saturday night we were there. The very friendly chef and owner stopped to say hi. There is a Sunday prix fixe menu that may be a good occasion to give RendezVous a try.

Rendezvous on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MuLan Taiwanese Cuisine (Cambridge, MA)

228 Broadway
Cambridge, Massachusetts

For Canadian Thanksgiving, I headed to Boston for a shopping trip with my sister and company. I thought I would take advantage of my trip and visit my dear friend E and her baby. When I last saw them in June, prior to my sister's wedding in Cape Cod, we actually tried to go to MuLan but it was too busy, and so we ended up having lunch at Legal Seafood. When E asked what I wanted for lunch, I suggested trying MuLan again.

MuLan Taiwanese Cuisine

I was really excited to try Taiwanese food with E, since her mom is Taiwanese. E told me, no surprise there, that the best Taiwanese food to have is in Taiwan. The restaurant was busy with a lunch crowd, but we were quickly served a soup, some peanuts and pickled vegetables, included in all lunch meals.

Hot & Sour Soup

We bypassed the lunch specials because I wanted something authentically Taiwanese. E suggested the beef with leek wrapped in pancake ($10.95). It is made up of scallion pancakes that can ordered on their own, and then filled with beef with a savoury beef and leek mixture. I had a bite of the accompanying peppers, which provided a lot of heat. While E thought this didn't taste like the same dish she's had in Taiwan, it was still very taste. I love the flavourful filling combined with the crispy pancake - a very filling dish too.

Beef with Leek Wrapped in Pancake Beef with Leek Wrapped in Pancake
Beef with Leek Wrapped in Pancake.

For our second dish, we ordered eggplant with basil sauce ($6.95). I just love eggplant (and have an upcoming Chinese recipe to share) and this dish was fragrant from the abundance of fresh basil.

Eggplant with Basil Sauce
Eggplant with Basil Sauce.

Between the very filling beef pancakes and the large eggplant dish, we had leftovers. Maybe one day I will get to visit Taiwan, but this will have to do for now!

Mulan Taiwanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Delicious Vietnam #7 Round-up

As mentioned previously, I got the opportunity to host the seventh edition of Delicious Vietnam, a food blogging event featuring Vietnamese food, created by Anh from A food lover's journey and Hong & Kim Ravenous Couple.

Delicious Vietnam

The submissions ranged from an outing to a Vietnamese restaurant to Vietnamese recipes, both traditional ones and with new twists! Without further ado and by order of submission, here are all the delicious posts:

* First off, my friend Cathy from Gastronomy shared her visit to Thiên Ân Bò 7 Món, where she and her friends enjoyed Vietnamese-style roasted catfish (cá nướng da dòn). I so wish I lived in California because that fish is calling my name!


* Julia from Beginner Mom on the Run made Vegetarian Vietnamese Egg Rolls. Her version like my mom's has tofu, but also has the added mung bean and taro root. I remember eating egg rolls in Vietnam with taro, a substantial addition. There is no fried egg roll that doesn't call my name, and I wish I had some right now!

Beginner Mom

* Lan from Angry Asian Creations submitted Butternut Squash Braised in Coconut Milk. This looks like the perfect fall weather recipe. I can imagine the coconut milk being sopped up by rice. In addition to the butternut squash, Lan added fresh bamboo shoots and beech mushrooms, which I had never heard of!

Butternut Squash Braised in Coconut Milk

* Next up is last month's host Doug from Javaholic. He submitted a Vietnamese Ahi Carpaccio recipe. Doug replaced the tradition beef in bò tái chanh with sashimi grade ahi tuna. Sounds like a tasty idea in my books!


* My submission was Tofu with Tomato Sauce. It's a great vegetarian recipe, quick and easy to make!

Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce

* Hong and Kim from Ravenous Couple made Vietnamese blood sausage this month. I have to admit that I avoided blood in my soups when I was in Vietnam but this blood sausage really intrigues me. The fresh herbs make it less scary to me and I'm so impressed they made sausage from scratch, casing and all!

Vietnamese blood sausage

* Anh from A food lover's journey, whipped up Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce, a beef version of xíu mại in her new kitchen (and you must check out her red kitchen bench and beautiful tile backdrop). These meatballs would be oh so good in a crusty bánh mì!

Beef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

* Finally, Deb from Bear Head Soup, submitted a dessert recipe Chè Chuối Chưng. Oh my, I could see my mom heading straight to the kitchen to make this version of chè with banana, tapioca and cassava.

Che with toppings

Thank you to everyone for your delicious submissions! If you'd like to submit a recipe for the eighth edition, it will be hosted by Deb from Bear Head Soup. For more information, click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

I found this Smitten Kitchen recipe via A Cup of Jo and have been waiting for just the right occasion to make it. Finally, a trip to Boston during Canadian Thanksgiving seemed perfect. I wanted to make a big batch for my friends E and T, and for my sister and her husband D, as well as his twin brother J and his girlfriend R. Ooof!

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

I think sometimes the appeal of a recipe not only comes from the recipe itself but from a picture! I've been looking at Smitten Kitchen's picture since August, imagining myself making these exact crispy bars. Well, no surprise, they don't look exactly alike. My layers aren't as well defined and I have to work on being patient to cut proper squares. Aside from how the bars looked, they tasted awesome! Very, very rich. I can only eat a small square at a time. The crispy bottom and the chocolatey-peanut butter combination is reminiscent of Reese's peanut butter cups.

This recipe may seem long because there are three steps but it's really easy. The first step is the hardest (and it's not hard). The next two just involve melting chocolate and other ingredients and pouring out a layer.

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
From Smitten Kitchen.
I made 1.5 recipe because I wanted to make a larger recipe and use a 8" x 12" baking dish. I think this kind of threw the recipe a bit. My crispy layer was thicker than the picture and the peanut butter layer not as thick. Also, I used semisweet chocolate recommended by Smitten Kitchen instead of the milk chocolate (mainly because I already had some). I think because of this, there was not as much variation in colour between the peanut butter layer and chocolate icing layer.

For the crispy crust
* 1-¾ cups crisped rice cereal
* ¼ cup sugar
* 3 tbsp light corn syrup
* 3 tbsp salted butter, melted

Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. (I forgot this step with no problems!)
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Pour ¼ cup water into a small saucepan.
Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan - great tip or you get crystals like I have previously experienced!) and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined.
Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan.
Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil (this made me nervous so I lowered the heat to low-medium heat - the extra time allowed for me to prep the chocolate and peanut butter for the next step).
Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal.
Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan.
Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides).
Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

Mangled piece of butter Start with water
Add pieces of butter Reaching the right temperature
Add butter Pour onto rice cereal
(Side note: A tip for measuring butter when you have an undefined amount left over: Add a set amount of water into a measuring cup, then add pieces of butter until you reach the total of initial amount of water + amount of butter you need. For example, I needed ¼ cup of butter, so I started with ½ cup of water and added butter until I reached ½ + ¼ = ¾. Drain the pieces of butter. No more figuring out funny pieces of butter.) I then had enough butter to add to the sugar and corn syurp mixture and poured it onto the rice creal.

For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
* 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
* 1 cup creamy peanut butter

In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth.
Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly.
Pour the mixture over the cooled crust, using the spatula to spread the layer evenly.
Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chocolate & Peanut Butter
Chocolate and peanut butter.

For the chocolate icing
* 3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
* 4 tbsp salted butter

In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth.
Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread (actually, I found it easier to just roll it around until it coated smoothly, avoiding the risk of picking up any of the peanut butter layer with it - damn I wish I had read this part better!!) into an even layer.
Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.
Cut into 16 (at least! - I agree. These squares are pretty rich and I would cut them into smaller daintier squares next time) squares and serve.
(The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.)

Dark chocolate Dark chocolate layer
Adding dark chocolate.

I was rather stressed making this recipe because of the mere mention of a candy thermometer. I bought a very affordable one. It actually helped me be more confident making the caramel. No second guessing. I just waited for the temperature to reach 235F! I did not go without a gaffe; I forgot to butter the baking dish. I've done this before with very sticky results. Luckily, I think there was enough butter that I didn't have any problems removing the squares with a little spatula after cutting them. And I really enjoyed cutting these squares. Cutting through the rice cereal was oh so satisfactory!

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

I definitely will make this recipe again. It was pretty easy, although you should plan for the two hours required to allow the two different layers to cool down. I will have take-aways from my first try and make them even better next time!