Monthly Archives: August 2013

chicken ballotine, Jacques Pepin’s recipe

chicken ballotine
i watched Jacques Pepin deboning a small chicken on his public tv show, and i was really mesmerized by the chef’s technique. and the result i already know is delicious–having seen a favorite chef post online about her daring challenge. i just had to try it for myself. (i love our Filipino version**, stuffed with meat, but this is a simpler, straightforward yet still bold and tasty stuffing..)
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kua pao, gua bao

sadly, it is also sadly misrepresented as Chinese hamburger.
kua pao. gua bao. yum.
i watch a couple of cooking shows on Saturday mornings, and one of them featured this assembled bun, gua bao, or what we call kua pao in the Philippines. i got so nostalgic for it–the last time i ate it was three years ago, at my father’s wake, when my brother brought a big box of it to the inner sanctum–and back then i couldn’t eat more than a bite though as i was feeling ill. the sad situation got so much sadder.

it’s a wonderful snack composed of a soft white steamed bun. sort of shaped like a clam, that you slice and fill with a savory pork belly slice and top with cilantro, hot sauce and chopped peanuts. i promise, it is so good you can’t eat just one. i looked for recipes online, but then i coaxed my husband to look for a version in town to satisfy my craving in a snap.
kua pao of love
we went to JoJo Taipei, in Allston just outside of the Boston University line, and we ordered several Taiwanese dishes, dim sum style.
fried intestines
deep fried pork intestines, stuffed with scallions. if only they were stuffed with hot green peppers instead! still, a very welcome treat. i’m so spoiled :)
the special spicy beef noodles
my #2son proclaimed this a winner, but then again he’s a noodle monster…spicy beef and noodle soup.
it’s a treat to have a different kind of dim sum experience, no carts and not as much seafood choices, and to me, it’s very similar to Szechuan style dim sum like at Mary Cheung’s in Cambridge. i highly recommend the savory soy milk soup, dragon (soup) buns, and scallion pancakes, both plain or stuffed with beef.
overall, i love their gua bao though the sugar mixed into the ground peanuts was a bit startling for me. (they also sprinkle it on top of dessert steamed fried buns drizzled with condensed milk). i would definitely go back there for more, or ask my daughter to bring me home some, if she were so inclined to visit home and feed her poor old mother. 😉

tribute to a bicycle race from Paris to Brest: a choux pastry wreath filled with pastry and whipped creams

this looks really complicated but it really is NOT.
wow that sounds like a bravura statement from me, the one who hasn’t been baking as much as i’d like due to unforeseen circumstances. i miss baking so much that i’ve pushed myself to the brink!
this pastry is something i’ve been wanting to try to make ever since i heard about it from so many TV chefs and so many cookbooks. looking at it closely it’s just a cream puff, reconfigured. just make it in steps, and it won’t be so overwhelming. i think a lot of wanna-be pastry chefs start out with choux pastry–the same one used for cream puffs! as i did when i was in my early teens, ages and aeons ago–because it is so easy to work with.
for this, Paris-Brest wreath with praline cream, first make the pastry cream, then leave to chill in the refrigerator.
pastry cream, chilling
start the almond praline, which is a caramel poured over almonds, then left to cool and harden, before grinding.
almond praline, cooling off
almond praline, powdered
the praline will be blended into the chilled pastry cream.
make and form the choux pastry while still warm. can you tell i’m not an expert at piping anything? i kind of groan at the mess. i think i don’t like that there’s a lot of batter left in the plastic bag! i’m OCD like that….
choux pastry wreath
bake and cool, then split the wreath horizontally, scrape off excess dough, then fill with praline cream and whipped cream.
Paris Brest, not too elegant
“Suddenly feel like screen goddess in manner of Grace Kelly…
… though perhaps ever so slightly less elegant under pressure.”
–“Bridget Jones’ Diary,” Helen Fielding.

here are my cream puffs, and i always gladly share the recipe if anyone is interested.

nostalgic for summer, already: our summer coolers 2013

wait, is summer over?
it sure feels cool around here, and i keep overhearing people grumbling that summer season has ended. hope not! if it is, then it sure was a short one. we did have a ten-day-or-so stretch of a heatwave and we scrambled for ways to keep cool.

raspberry cheesecake bites
raspberry cheesecake bites: bake cheesecake (with shortbread cookie crust) in a loaf pan then top and cool with raspberry gelee topping, and cut into little squares.
avocado with sweet milk
this always gives the uninitiated quite a shock: avocado with sweet condensed milk! yes, sweet avocado.
thirst quencher, root beer float
pretty burgers all in a row
outdoor dining at the shake shack: we wanted to check out all the hullaballoo, with a rootbeer float and burgers and fries. verdict: it was just fine, though pricey and…”i’ve had better,” quoting a line from “Liar, Liar” heehee
coffee espresso chip
our favorite ice cream flavor this season: coffee espresso chip
summer beers
sampled a few new summer ales…
Switchback ale
some on a pleasant log cabin in Vermont.

grilled outdoors….
grilled "maskara" and an ear :)
and when it rained, grilled indoors.

tabletop grilling
grilled meat in lettuce and rice-paper wraps with Korean hot sauce.

i am doing an equivalent of a sun dance, praying for more sunny hot days as i browse through my grilling cookbooks and ice cream maker recipes. please don’t let summer be over.

Do You Need That? Common Food Prep Equipment

When opening a restaurant, it can be tempting to want to stock your kitchen with every piece of equipment and gadget available. However, depending on the types of food and beverages you’re serving, you might not need one of everything. You can find information on the newest food preparation equipment at Read on to learn more about common food preparation equipment.


What they do: Blenders are great for handling a variety of beverages and foods at a high volume and quick pace. Smoothies, cocktails, soups, sauces and purees are all made possible by the humble blender.

Do you need one? Probably. Virtually every type of restaurant serves a variety of menu items that require the use of a blender.

Immersion Blenders

What they do: Immersion blenders can be used to blend food in any container and can have a variety of attachments for different types of mixing.

Do you need one? Yes, especially if you don’t have a blender.


What they do: Just what the name says – mix ingredients together. Mixers are ideal for large volumes of food and are a must for baking.

Do you need one? Yes, the only question is how big do you need your mixer to be?

Slicers & Grinders

What they do: These handy devices grind meat, and slice cheeses and meats.

Do you need one? If you are a deli or serve sandwiches, yes. Meat grinders are also ideal for restaurants that serve burgers or that make their own sausages.

Food Processors

What they do: Everything. These machines are the all-purpose, go-to devices of any professional kitchen. Food processors mix and puree, grind and chop, and will do so at high volume.

Do you need one? Probably. Unless you choose to use more specialized equipment, having a food processor is a convenient way to have the capabilities of multiple tools in one piece of machinery.