Monday, February 3, 2014

Restaurant review: Ink

Molecular gastronomy. 

Everything at ink looked different than it tasted. Nothing was predictable. There really is no point at reading the descriptions on the menu because in this case, seeing is not believing. 


My boyfriend took me here for my birthday. We pulled up to the valet ($7) and walked right in. The host let us know that we were 15 mins early to our reservation so we took a seat at the bar and ordered a drink. 


Vodka: apple cider buttermilk kümmel pumpkin spice $13

- comes in a glass milk bottle with a cute straw. The drink was really good. You can definitely smell the pumpkin pie spice and the apple cider lightens the buttermilk. Not a strong vodka taste since the apple cider hides it a little



Mezcal: floc de Gascogne celery lemon cucumber $14

- refreshing and light but by no means light on alcohol. My favorite drink of the night 



We were seated soon after getting our drinks. The host seated us and brought out drinks over. Our server came to introduce the menu. She informed us that it's suggested for two people to pick 4-6 dishes to share. The menu was listed from lighter appetizers to hardier entrees. We were given a few minutes to look over our menu. 


Hamachi: fresh wasabi green apple lime $18

- the presentation is beautiful. The hamachi was fresh and fatty. The fresh wasabi complemented the fish perfectly. The green apple cut out some of the fattiness of the fish. The soy sauce was in the shape of crackers that melted in your mouth. 5 stars



We quickly learned that good here has to be eaten with a little bit of each ingredient in every bite to really get the chef's intended taste.


Beef tartar: heart of Palm sea bean chimichurri horseradish rye $15

- the presentation again was impressive. The horseradish was in the firm of white snow. The rye were shards of thin crackers. The beef was fresh and topped with the chimichurri that gave it a little salt. Heart of Palm was in the form of little droplets of jelly that complemented the beef nicely by adding a hint of sweetness. 4 stars 



Egg yolk gnocchi: mushroom brown bitter hen if the woods $15

- each gnocchi was filled with egg yolk so when you bite into it, the yolk oozes out and mixes well with the sauce. The mushroom brown butter gave a nutty earthy taste that cuts out the richness of the gnocchi. Loved up to the yelp hype. 5 stars 



Octopus: ink shells young fennel pimenton $22

- how can I go to ink without trying ink shells? This digs was my favorite. The octopus was grilled perfectly. Colored out the outside and perfect on the inside. It was so flavorful and not at all gummy. The shells by themselves were not really flavorful but they balanced the bold flavors of the octopus very well. The fennel added to the flavors of the sauce and bonded everything together very well. 5 stars 

 


Beef cheeks: parsnip bark watercress $25

- this was my first time trying beef cheeks and seeing how it's a lean cut of meat, I was afraid that it would be dry. However, this was so moist and tender. The parsnip bark was also new to me. It was soft and chewy. It was caramelized so there was an added sweetness. The watercress helped freshen up the whole dish. Another favorite. 5 stars




Heritage pork loin: onion caramel lardo cabbage $25

- I was a little hesitant to order pork since I'm not a huge fan. This pork loin was like none I have ever seen or tasted. The texture of the meat itself was so fine, almost like ham. It had nice grill marks and was very juicy. The cabbage was the star of the dish. I overheard the server at the table next to us day that it takes hours to cook the cabbage. The cabbage held it's wedge shape but melted in my mouth. It had an initial smokey flavor and a very sweet taste after that. Everything worked amazingly with each other and again had to be eaten with a little bit if everything in one bite. 4 stars


Our second round of drinks 


Punch $10

- it changes daily but this time it was blood orange. 


Blended scotch: toasted coconut thai basil cardamaro $14

- came in a frosted silver cup filled with pebbles of ice topped with a large sprig of Thai basil and mint. Kind of feels like you're drinking out of a plant. Nice infused scotch. Clean and smooth. 

  


We ordered more than enough to eat but of course, we had to have a dessert. 


Apple: caramel shortbread burnt wood semifreddo $11

- the server informed us to crack open the white dome which revealed a snow like concoction which I'm guessing is the semifreddo. It was on top of a light caramel flan and surrounded by balls of green apple. A bite of all that plus crumbs of shortbread was like a perfectly deconstructed apple pie.  



There was a drink in the menu that sounded perfect for dessert 


Aquavit: Riesling camomile honey orange oil bee pollen $13

- sounds sweet and refreshing but I did not like it one bit. It was really bitter. 



All in all, I left Ink pounds heavier and begging for more. I loved the adventure of putting all the flavors and textures together. Cannot wait to come back!


The menu 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Eclairs



I've always been afraid of making eclairs or it's less fancy twin, the cream puff. Then a video popped up on my youtube feed and I just had to try it. This recipe is a complete replica of the one posted on SortedFood, with a few minor changes. Also, since this is the first time trying out the recipe, I halved everything. Judging by the picture above, everything obviously turned out perfectly so next time, the recipe will be doubled (: 

Ingredients

for the choux pastry
  • butter (100g)
  • plain flour (125g)
  • 4 (Happy) eggs (never use sad eggs) 
  • pinch of salt
for the pastry cream
  • 7 (Happy) egg yolks
  • caster sugar (75g)
  • plain flour (25g)
  • 4 tsp of cornflour
  • whole milk (500ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, grated (I used one chunk of fresh ginger, size of a bottle cap)
  • 2 bars of dark chocolate (200g) (or enough to coat the top of the eclairs, optional) 
  • 1 piece of stem ginger in syrup (optional, I did not use it) 

Recipe

preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF)
add 250ml of water to a pan with the butter and a pinch of salt.
heat to a boil.
remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour until the mixture is coming away from the sides of the pan.
beat in the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated and glossy.
transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
pipe the pastry into lines onto a lined or non-stick baking tray, keeping plenty of space between them.
bake the pastry for 15 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. (took me about 20-30 mins to reach golden brown) 
beat the egg yolks for the pastry cream with the sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
whisk the flour and cornflour into the egg mixture.
heat the milk and the grated fresh ginger in a pan.
boil, then allow to infuse for 5 minutes.
remove the milk from the heat and strain through a sieve over the egg mixture, whisking continuously until combined. (using a whole piece of ginger instead of the grated allows us to skip using a sieve) 
return the custard to the pan and gently cook until it thickens and is not at all runny, unlike crème anglaise this can bubble and boil since the flour stabilises it.
put the pastry cream in the fridge to cool, then spoon into a piping bag.
slice the éclairs lengthways, about half way through to create a pocket.
pipe (or spoon, if you don't have a bag) the pastry cream into the pocket.
melt the chocolate in a microwave for about 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds.
dip the top of the éclairs into the chocolate, top with a little extra minced stem ginger and put them aside to set.
makes 20

Good Luck and Enjoy (:


Monday, April 1, 2013

Banana Brûlée


When I first bought my torch to make creme brûlée, I became obsessed. I wanted to brûlée everything! The first thing I saw in my kitchen were bananas so I had to try something. This is just something fun for friends or kids as a snack. It also makes perfect decorations to banana cream pies! The possibilities are endless (:

Ingredients: 

banana (cut into coins)
sugar (enough to sprinkle)

Directions: 

Cut bananas into coins and lay them on a flat surface (make sure it is not flammable)
Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on top of each coin
Torch each banana in a circular motion until the sugar bubbles and turns golden brown (make sure not to burn the sugar, it can happen in a matter of seconds)
Good Luck and Enjoy!

Strawberry Mango Fruit Roll-ups


Being a 90's kid, I loved fruit roll-ups. They were so addicting and as I grew up, I realized how bad they were for me. All that high fructose syrup and coloring does not need to be apart of my daily diet. Luckily, I found this handy recipe to make my own all natural fruit roll-ups. They kind of remind me of the fruit leathers that are sold at Trader Joe's. I love making these because it is an easy way for me to use up ripe fruits that are going bad faster than I can eat them.

Ingredients: 

3 mangos
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 tsp lemon juice

Directions: 

Preheat convection oven to the lowest setting. (Mine was at 170F. I used convection oven but regular works just as well)
Put all the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. (the mixture should be thick but runny)
Optional: strain mixture to remove all the strawberry seeds
Line a baking tray (not baking sheet) with plastic wrap.
Pour a thin layer of your fruit mixture onto the baking tray.
Bake for 4-6 hours. (conventional ovens will take longer)
Good luck and Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blueberry Muffins



I love blueberry muffins anytime of the day but they are heavenly straight out of the oven. This recipe produces muffins that are crispy on the outside and so moist and fluffy on the inside. You can get fancy with this and add a cinnamon topping but I like them just the way they are. Enjoy and Good Luck! 

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cup flour 
3/4 cup white sugar 
1/2 tsp salt 
2 tsp baking powder 
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
1/3 cup milk 
1 egg 
1 cup fresh blueberries 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400F 
In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder) 
Add the wet ingredients (oil, egg, milk) 
Mix until batter is smooth
Stir a tablespoon of flour to coat the blueberries and fold into the batter 
Fill the cupcake/muffin tin 3/4 way full 
Bake for 20 minutes 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Japanese Cheesecake

Recipe from: Christine

Ingredients:

  • 250ml milk
  • 250 gm cream cheese, cubed and softened at room temperature
  • 60 gm butter, softened at room temperature
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 55 gm cake flour
  • 20 gm corn flour
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 130 gm caster sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150C (302F).
  2. Use a large bowl, pour in milk. Place the bowl over simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Add cream cheese, stir occasionally, until completely dissolved and the mixture turns smooth. Stir in butter, till dissolved. Remove from heat. Let cool down a bit, then add the egg yolks and combine well. 
  3. Combine cake flour and corn flour. Sift in the flours into the cream cheese mixture, a small amount at a time. Mix well between every addition, and make sure there aren’t any flour lumps. Stir in freshly grated zest. Set aside.
  4. Place egg whites in a large clean bowl. (Note: Make sure there’s no oil or water in the bowl at all.) Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites for 3 minutes, then add cream of tartar and blend again. Pour sugar in the egg whites and blend until very stiff peaks form. 
  5. Fold-in the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture gently with a rubber spatula just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not stir or beat. For a better result, fold in egg whites with a small amount at a time, at least for 3 times. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the two baking pans. Place the pans into another larger baking tray. Add hot water in the tray up to half way. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. Test with a needle or skewer that comes out clean.
  7. Turn off the oven. Leave the oven door ajar for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove from the pans. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill in a fridge for about 3 hours. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Smores Cupcake


One of my favorite desserts is the Smores but growing up, I found campfires to be cumbersome and I hated the smell of smoke in my hair. These Smores cupcakes are the perfect way to enjoy a childhood treat while staying fresh and clean. The best part about these grown up Smores is that there are no butter in the cake itself. This makes my grown up mind a little happier because I'd rather splurge my calories eating Nutella. Best of all, there's no messy frosting to make so it'll cut your dish washing in half! Have fun making these and Good Luck! 

Ingredients: 

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions: 

line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350F
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt)
In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients
Beat on medium speed for one minute
Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don't worry)
Fill liners 2/3 full with batter (I found that an ice cream scooper works best every time)
Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes
cool completely on wire rack before frosting (leaving cupcakes in the baking tin will result in overcooked, dry cakes)
Frost each cupcake with a generous layer of Nutella
stick a few marshmallows on top of the Nutella
Burn the top of the marshmallows with a torch or on the top rack of the boiler for 1 min
For decoration, stick a small piece of graham cracker in the center.
Enjoy!