Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Oscar Party Time on the Vegas Morning Blend

Alright all you movie buffs!  5 days and counting till the Oscars!  Here are some fun and easy recipes for you to make for your Oscars party!  You can make these babies as big or small as you'd like.  For the lazy folks who don't want to make tiny mouth size hors d'oeuvres, I've made them a little bigger and it'll be easier and faster to make and plate!

Watch the segment...here's the link!

Two types of Gougères (French Cheese Puffs).  A traditional one made with Gruyere cheese and the other with bacon, cheddar and chives.

You can easily pick up this mix from Williams Sonoma and add your own favorite cheeses.  I did in fact add a touch of salt and pepper to give it more flavor.  If you are making the traditional gougere with gruyere, I recommend that you use one that is aged for a minimum of 3 years for more flavor.  If not, the flavor will get lost and you can't really taste it. 

Then, I made a larger appetizer version of some hors d'oeuvres that we usually make in bite size form, which takes less time for people to prepare and less labor intensive.  If you want to make smaller bite size pieces, you can use round cutters, squares or any fun shapes you would like. 

Savory Tartlets... 

Oven Roasted Tomato - Caramelized Onion Tartlet

Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Blue Cheese Tartlet

Super excited to be the honorary chair for the California Teacher's Association - Read Across America 2011, reading for national literacy.  I'm reading Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketteman!  It's Read Across America Day on March 2nd, so pick up your copy, read it with your kids and help support CTA (a non-profit organization).  

Please go to their website for more information about CTA and Read Across America:

Have a fabulous week and serve up one of these tasty treats for your Oscar party! 

Recipes to follow.

Gougères (French Cheese Puffs)

Recipe courtesy of Doreen Fang

Williams Sonoma Classic Gougère
Makes about 35 gougères

1 canister          Wiliams Sonoma – Gougère Mix
¼ tsp                Kosher
2 pinches          Black pepper
1 ¾ cups           Water
4 oz                  Gruyère cheese, grated

Directions from canister:

Position 1 rack in the lower third of an oven and another rack in the upper third.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Put the gougère mix in a large bowl and stir in the water until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the cheese until well blended.  Let the batter rest for 2 minutes.

Drop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the gougères about 1 inch apart.  Bake until the gougères are gold brown and crisp when tapped, 32 to 36 minutes, switching the baking sheets between the oven racks and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking.  To test for doneness, crack open a gougère; the inside should be airy and slightly moist but not wet.

Let the gougères cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve warm.  Or let them cool completely and serve and room temperature.

Chef Doreen’s Variation

Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Gougère

1 canister          Williams Sonoma – Gougère Mix
¼ tsp                Kosher salt
2 pinch              Black pepper
1 ¾ cups           Water
4 oz                  Bacon, small diced, cooked till crisp and drained
2 oz                  Cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbsp              Chives, minced

Prepare the mix as directed and add the crisp bacon, grated cheddar and minced chives.  Let the batter rest for 2 minutes.

Drop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the gougères about 1 inch apart.  Bake until the gougères are gold brown and crisp when tapped, 32 to 36 minutes, switching the baking sheets between the oven racks and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking.  To test for doneness, crack open a gougère; the inside should be airy and slightly moist but not wet.

Let the gougères cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve warm.  Or let them cool completely and serve and room temperature.

Savory Tartlets
Recipe courtesy of Doreen Fang

Caramelized Onions

2 Tbsp              Unsalted butter
3 cups              Yellow or Sweet Onions, chopped (about 2 medium onions)
1 tsp                 Kosher salt
¼ tsp                Black pepper

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add butter, melt, then add onions, stirring and coating all the pieces with butter.  Stir onions often, but cook slowly till they turn amber brown.  Do not burn the onions, especially in the beginning of the cooking process.  Caramelized onions will take approximately 1 hour to cook, so stir of often.  Once the onions are nice and dark brown, you can let them caramelize and get a dark golden color, but do not allow them to burn.  Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.  If there is a lot of excess butter, use a paper towel and absorb off the butter.  This can be made a day ahead, stored in an airtight container, covered and refrigerated.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint                Grape tomatoes, sliced ¼” thick
1 Tbsp              Olive oil
1 tsp                 Kosher salt
¼ tsp                Black pepper
5 sprigs             Thyme, fresh
½ cup               Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (small)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Add the tomatoes in a large bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper and thyme.  On a rimmed sheet pan, lay the slices of tomatoes in a single layer.   Roast for 45 minutes, do not let them burn.   Remove from oven and cool. 

You can make this a day before, store in airtight container, cover and refrigerate. 

Wild Mushrooms

1#                   Assorted wild mushroom, cleaned, stemmed, sliced ¼” thick
6 lg cloves        Garlic
5 Tbsp              Olive oil
1 tsp                 Kosher salt
¼ tsp                Black pepper
7 springs           Thyme, fresh
1/3 cup                         Blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl add the mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and toss.  Combine thoroughly.  Put the mushrooms in a 9x13 baking pan and roast the mushrooms for approximately 45 minutes.  

Note:  You can use any type of mushrooms available in your markets, ie: White, cremini, portabello, chanterelle.
Variation:  This is also great with the caramelized onions

Puff Pastry
1 package             Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
1 large                   Egg
1 Tbsp                   Water

Preheat oven to 400°.  Follow defrosting instructions on package.  Once the sheets are thawed, score the puff pastry width wise while still folded in thirds, into approximately 1” pieces, making 7 equal pieces.   Cut it through all the way, then open up the 1” sections and cut where the puff pastry was folded. 

In a small bowl, crack the egg into in and add the 1 Tbsp of water and whisk.  Line your sheet pans with parchment paper.  Place 21 pieces on one sheet pan, and the other 21 pieces on another sheet pan, then brush with egg wash.   Put a piece of parchment on top of the puff pastry rectangles and place another sheet pan on top.  Bake for 30 minutes. Half way through, switch the baking sheets between oven racks and rotate them 180 degrees.  After the 30 minutes, remove the top sheet pan to allow the puff pastry to brown.  Bake for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Once they are done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing the parchment paper.

Makes 42 pieces


Oven Roasted – Caramelized Onion Tartlet
Assemble all your tartlets on a sheet pan, put a small teaspoonful of the onions on the tartlet, flatten, add about 4-5 slices of tomatoes, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese and bake off till heated and cheese is melted.

Wild Mushroom-Blue Cheese Tartlet
Assemble all your tartlets on a sheet pan, put a small teaspoonful of the mushrooms on the tartlet, flatten, add a sprinkling of the crumbled blue cheese and bake up till heated and cheese is slightly melted.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cooking, cooking and more cooking!

So I have the great honor of being the "Celebrity Chef" for an upcoming fundraising event to raise money for all the kitchen equipment in a jr high gym for my alma mater.  

What makes me really proud about doing this is that I'm helping bring in the equipment that will continue to make it possible for the kids to use the facility and encourage them to cook.  When I was in high school, they never had a culinary arts program, and 20+ years later...kids have such a great opportunity to learn more about cooking.  It's no longer called home economics.  When I was in high school, I rebelled against going to home ec and took auto mechanics because, one: I loved cars and enjoyed learning how to fix and do everything for my car by myself, and two: I don't like the idea that women had to take home ec to prepare me to be a "good wife".  Plus!  I already knew how to cook and cooked very well...so I didn't see the point in the class.  

I digressed...back to what I was talking about.  I've been working on a few recipes for my demo and here are a few snap shots of the recipes I made.

The first dish was inspired by my Chef friend Keenan in Hawaii.  I was visiting years ago and this was a dish that he made.  This of course is my interpretation of it...but I loved it so much that I wanted to try and recreate it with my own spin.

Japanese mushroom and Edamame Kamameshi. 

Though kamameshi rice dishes should be cooked in an iron pot, I put mine in the rice cooker.
Next dish...I really enjoy the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisines and wanted to create something that incorporated those flavors while still being vegetarian.  This dish is so versatile because it's so flavorful, has lots of textures and is really filling, even without a protein.  But it certainly wouldn't hurt to add some lemongrass grilled steak or chicken on here if you want the meat.

Spicy Vietnamese Vegetable Salad

And of for dessert, something light, springlike and refreshing was what I had in mind.  You all know how much I love ice cream and key lime, so I thought I would incorporate the two together.

Key Lime Semifreddo with fresh berries

I'm totally looking forward to this event and once I'm done with it, I will post all the recipes up to share with you.  I already had taste testers try the different recipes and got all thumbs up for them.  I hope the ladies at the event enjoy it too!

I have been cooking a lot lately and not eating out as much...but will try and share as many recipes with you guys as possible!  

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monta Ramen - Las Vegas

Monta Ramen
5030 West Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146-8715
(702) 367-4600

Hours:  Mon-Sun 11:30am-11pm

Let me say...when you are feeling crappy with a cold, there is nothing like something comforting for the belly.  For me...it's any kind of soup noodles, and I think that this is the same thing for many of you out there.

My friend Serena was visiting from the Bay Area and everyone was feeling a bit tired and under the weather, so a hot bowl of ramen was so tempting and perfect for all of us.  I've seen this place a couple doors down from Raku, and I believe another friend Tony had talked about it awhile back.

The art of the perfect bowl of ramen, finding that most exceptional hand made noodles has long been the pursuit of many who are hardcore ramen connoisseur.  One of my favorite movies is Tampopo - a Japanese film about a woman who owned a ramen shop, but everything from her broth to her noodles were lackluster and mediocre.  In this comedy, she beseeches the help of a truck driver and a few other special characters to help her create THE perfect bowl of ramen.

If you've never seen this movie and you love ramen or just food in general, you can appreciate what Tampopo goes through to create her perfect bowl of ramen.


A little basic history on ramen:


This place is tiny!  So, if you come during a peak time, expect to wait.  Lucky for us, we didn't have to wait.  We sat down and take a look at the basic menu...just a few choices, some enticing sides that one might always enjoy with ramen ie: gyoza, fried rice...oh...pork belly too!

I looked up from my menu and looked across the room and saw the specials board.  Oh baby...I liked the sound of that combination!  So both Serena and I ordered the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen.  Annie got the miso ramen.

I added corn and extra spring onions to mine.

The noodles we had in the tonkotsu ramen were thinner and a bit on the soft side.  I typically like my noodles with some bounce and bite and this just didn't have it.  The flavor of the soup was nice, the chasu (pork) was super tender and fatty, just like I like it.  I liked crunching on the bits of corn.  Over all it was ok...BUT, I wish that we had the noodles in Anna's miso ramen.  Now, her noodles were fatter and in fact had a bit more bite to it.  I will not pretend to know everything about all the different types of ramen noodles out there...and seriously, I had no idea that they used two different noodles for the fattier based soups vs. the non-fatty soups.  

I was really interested in knowing more about why we had different noodles so I asked the waitress and she explained that the skinnier noodles were always used with the tonkotsu ramen because the fat from the soup won't cling to the noodles as much and make it too fatty to eat.  Where as if they used the fat noodles like the ones in the miso ramen, all that fatty goodness (at least that's how I look at it) would be clinging and absorbing into the noodles and people don't like that on their lips I suppose.  haha  But, if we like those miso noodles in our tonkotsu, we can request it.  So, for all you lovers of fatty goodness, get the miso ramen with your tonkotsu!
Hmmmm...condiments.  The essentials like la-yu (hot sesame oil), vinegar, shichimi pepper, shoyu, garlic and pickled ginger. 

Gotta make a great dip for the gyoza!  

These were beautifully pan fried, nice and crisp on the bottom.  Nice flavor.

The pork belly bowl...

The pork belly was cut super thin and when eaten by itself was a bit salty, but the sauce on the rice was the bomb!!  You had to really eat the rice and the pork belly together to counter balance the salt factor.  I could've eaten just the bowl of rice with all that yummy sauce.

Kimchee fried rice...

No, you don't have to rub your eyes, it's white.  I know, you read kimchee fried rice and expected it to be red.  So did the rest of us.  This is the one dish that I wouldn't order again, ever.  It just really lacked flavor, namely, kimchee flavor, and I don't think I really need to say anymore about it.  Too bad.

Anyhow...I would like to go back and try the food again, when I'm 100% better.  Maybe the food will taste different.  I didn't like my soft, skinny noodles, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but I did like Annie's miso noodles much better, so I will have to request that next time.  I will say that the hot, spicy (from the shichimi pepper) broth and gyoza hit the spot for me and I really enjoyed that.  I still think there is better out there...but perhaps this is the best that Vegas has to offer?  I'm don't know...

Still in search for the best ramen in Vegas.  (You all know this is going to be tough.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Decadent Chocolate - Raspberry Mousse Cake from my Morning Blend segment

My super easy Decadent Chocolate - Raspberry Mousse cake.  The video from the show isn't up at this point, but here's the recipe so you can make it for your loved one(s)!

Yes, I did use a box cake for a few different reasons: ease, convenience and affordability for everyone.  Easy for kids to make, those who are not professional bakers, box cakes are pretty much bullet/fool-proof and it won't cost you arm and a leg to buy all ingredients because fine cocoa and chocolate can get expensive.  So I tried to keep all these factors in mind.  This is supposed to just be a fun, easy cake to make.

Decadent Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Recipe courtesy of Doreen Fang


Duncan Hines Decadent Chocolate cake mix

Follow directions on back of box for ingredients and baking for 2 – 8 inch rounds.  Use parchment rounds on the bottom of your baking pans to help the cake to release easier. 

Raspberry Mousse

6 Tbsp                   Raspberry Jam, seedless (divided in half)
1 ½ cups                Heavy whipping cream
¼ cup                     Powdered sugar
2 – 6 oz.                 Containers fresh raspberries (reserve 1 container for topping cake)

Chocolate Ganache

18 oz                      Bittersweet chocolate (not to exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 ¼ cup                  Heavy whipping cream

Special equipment:  pastry brush, parchment paper, 2 – 8 inch round baking pans, 8 inch cardboard cake rounds, offset spatula


After baking cakes per the directions on the box, allow to cool completely in pans on a cooling.  Cakes can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover cakes refrigerate.  (The cold cake makes it less crumby and easier to cut in half if you so desire)

Raspberry Mousse

Add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar into a large metal mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using either a hand held mixer or stand mixer, whip the heavy cream till they become stiff peaks.  In a small bowl, put 3 Tbsp of the raspberry jam, using a rubber spatula, mix the jam till it becomes smooth.  Add one third of the jam at a time to the whipped cream, gently folding the jam into the whipped cream till it is fully incorporated.  Put in freezer to set for about 1 hour.  Make sure that the whipped cream is not completely frozen prior to using.  You want it to be soft enough to spread still. 

Chocolate Ganache

Put chopped chocolate into a medium bowl.  In a heavy medium saucepan, add the heavy cream and just bring it to a boil then pour it over the chocolate.  Allow it to stand for 1 minute, the stir until the ganache is completed melted and smooth.  Set aside.

Cake assembly

 Prepare your cake cooling rack and place inside a rimmed half sheet tray.  Remove cakes from the pan by gently running a knife along the edges of the cake pan to release the cake and invert onto the cake round, remove parchment paper.  Now, set the second cake aside.  Place the first cake, top side down on a cardboard round.  Place your cake on the rack.  Get the remaining 3 Tbsp of jam, put in a small bowl and stir till smooth.  If it seems a bit too gelatinous, add a tsp of hot water to smooth it out.  Taking your pastry brush, gently dab on the raspberry jam on the top of the first layer of cake.  Now add approximately half of the raspberry mousse, putting it directly in the center of the cake.  Using your offset spatula, gently spread the whipped cream evenly over the cake, but leave about 1 inch of empty space from the edge of the cake.  You can add a layer of raspberries on top of the mousse, then put more mousse on top of the raspberries.  Now carefully put the second layer onto the first layer and put just a bit of pressure with your hand to flatten it down to the other cake layer.  The mousse will spread out and if some of it comes out, use your offset spatula and just run the edge along the cake to smooth it out and remove the excess.  If there are large gaps in between your cake, add more mousse into the spaces, but make sure to smooth it out so the edge of the cake is all even.

Get your ganache ready.  If it is cold, heat it up slightly over a water bath, till lukewarm so it is pourable.  We want to do a crumb coat first, which is a thin layer of the chocolate to create a smoother over all look in the end.  You can spread a thin layer of the ganache over the cake first, making sure it is covering the entire cake.  Use you offset spatula to help even out the ganache around the entire cake.  Chill the cake briefly just to set the crumb coat. 

Pour half of the slightly warm ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down and cover the sides.  Use the offset spatula to smooth out any areas missing ganache.  Freeze the cake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the ganache sets and repeat the pouring of the ganache and making sure it is covering the entire cake and spread evenly all the way around the cake.  Freeze for an additional 30 minutes to set the ganache. 

Arrange the raspberries on top of the cake, creating a heart.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve. 
Use remaining mousse and fresh raspberries as garnish with each slice of cake. 

Serves 8-10

 Happy Valentine's Day!!!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Big Game Day Food on Vegas Morning Blend

I just wanted to keep you all abreast of what I've been up to...and though it's not eating out constantly, I've been busy cooking and doing some segments on the Vegas Morning Blend.

This was from last week, I'm sharing some of my recipes for some Sticky sweet & spicy wings, Caramelized onion & scallion dip, and just some ideas for a pizza bar!


The staff at ABC13 - KTNV - loved all the food and were definitely licking their fingers after they ate the food.

Another segment on the Vegas Morning Blend coming up on Friday!

Sweets Treats from Jean Philippe @ Aria in Vegas

Jean Philippe Patisserie
@ The Aria 
3730 Las Vegas Blvd, South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Open:  Mon-Sun 6am-12am

I'm going to keep this short, sweet and to the point (or at least I'll try to). The desserts are beautifully made and my absolute favorite one of the four desserts we sampled was...
That exquisite green looking tart on the right in this picture above.  You read it...key lime tart!  The worst thing about this dessert was that I was forced to share this with two other people!  That was heartbreaking!  The bits of lime in sweet, sticky meringue was so refreshing.  Tiny brunoise (mini dice) of candied mango in the key lime curd and the sweet crust...oh my!!  The top green layer was white chocolate...and all of it was a delicious symphony in my mouth.  

We loved this dessert so much, my friend Serena bought each of us one more for our dessert after dinner.  At first we said we would just walk around and do some window shopping and come back to pick it up, but the lines there were long and we thought, we better check to see how many key lime tarts were left, and there were like four!  So Serena got in line immediately to buy them and have them hold it for us!  Smart girl!  Love you Serena and thank you for doing that!!

You can check out all the gorgeous desserts that just make you want to reach through the glass and stuff your face with all that heavenly yumminess!!  I can't wait to go back and try more! 

My fave key lime tart...and the Tutti Frutti - lemon/lime mousse, strawberry jelly, speculous sable.

The Tutti Frutti was ok, we were hoping for more punch in flavor.  But it's so unfair when compared to the Key Lime Tart.

The Caramel Lollipop...
 I believe there was caramel and peanut butter inside the lollipop.  Fun but a little hard to eat.  Love the look though.

Chocolate eclair...

I'm not normally an eclair person, it was very decadent and chocolatey.

We also picked up some restaurants, the Trio (tuna, brie and cucumber, I can't remember the third one right now...oh!  ham and cheese) and a proscuitto, mozzarella and pesto panini.

The trio was alright...but not something I'd run back for...BUT the panini was frickin' fantastic!!!  The bread was hot and crisp, the hot melted cheese and warm proscuitto mixed with the herbacious pesto was delectable and I can't wait to get it again!!

A little Chinese New Year decoration.

If you're ever in Vegas and have a bit of a sweet tooth that needs a fix...go down to the Aria (or Bellagio, since they have a location there as well) and stop by for some wonderful treats.  They also make crepes to order and have gelato.  Other sandwiches and salads are also available along with lots of great looking pastries.  I think I'll have to try one of the large flaky looking buttery croissants!

And if you forgot what my favorite dessert was...it's the KEY LIME TART!  Go get it! =)