Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

In preparation for the holidays ...

Barney's New York SF store window

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival 2010!

November is one of my favorite months because of (1) autumn colors, (2) Thanksgiving (i.e., days off work to stuff your face), and (3) the Foodbuzz blogger festival! The second annual event was just as awesome as last year's, with even more bloggers in attendance. It feels great to be at an event where one of the first things someone asks you is, "What's your blog about?" or "Have you tried those cupcakes?!" instead of inquiring about your education or job or kids or mortgage payments. (Yes, those can be important too, but sometimes far less interesting!)

Tons of yummy food...


...helpful blogging and cooking workshops...

...networking with other foodies...

...and of course, freebies!

Check out the link below for more photos!

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Gala Dinner on Saturday night due to advance tickets for the West Side Story musical at the Orpheum (which was fantastic and made me want to learn how to speak Spanish and twirl in mid-air). But thanks to all the vendors and food bloggers who made the Festival so wonderful and fit for foodies! And the biggest thanks to Foodbuzz for making all the magic happen! Can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spook-tacular Cupcakes!

What's even better than trick-or-treating? Making your own treats for the occasion! For Halloween, the boyfriend and I baked up some red devil cupcakes and decorated them with festive frosting.

For the cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 20 cupcakes)
  • 15-ounce can of sliced beets
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Drain the beets, reserving 1/2 cup of the juice. In a blender, puree the beets with the reserve juice to make about 1 1/4 cups of puree. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs well. Thoroughly whisk in the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, and beet puree until very smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, whisking until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the cupcake tin and bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the frosting

I was actually inspired to decorate these cupcakes from a Food Network photo,,1977,FOOD_9936_36613.html, and used their recipe for a fluffy meringue frosting. Beware - we ended up with way too much frosting, so if you're not making a ton of cupcakes, you might want to cut the ingredients down proportionally (starting with 4 or 5 egg whites instead of 8). Or you could improvise like we did and use the leftover meringue to make cookies!

All that fluffy goodness!

It was our first time piping, and it was surprisingly fun ... and harder than it looks on tv. I tried making blobs to simulate ghosts, but I don't think I used enough frosting. We used a supermarket tube of black-colored icing to add the eyes and other design touches. I think some themed candy would've been awesome too!


Joe's Shanghai

I made a trip to New York in September for my grandfather's 80th birthday (yup, that's a big one). Several of my friends had always raved about Joe's Shanghai steamed pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao), so I had to give it a try. To be honest, I was skeptical about being able to find really good xiao long bao in the States, having grown up eating way too many less-than-mediocre versions with thick skin, rubbery meat, and more oil than broth dripping out at first bite. Plus, doesn't Joe's Shanghai sound pretty American?

All that skepticism flew out the door because these little dumplings were the foodie highlight of my entire trip. The skin was tender and soft, and the juicy pork filling was highlighted with a touch of sweetness from some crab meat mixed in.

But the best part was the BROTH. Oh my god, it was just a perfectly seasoned, savory, slurp-worthy burst of flavor in each little pouch. Now this is how xiao long bao should taste every time!

The other items we tried were solid, but pretty forgettable compared to the dumplings. I'll just stick with the dumplings next time!

Fried onion pancake

Garlic stir-fried veggies

There are three locations in New York; I went to the Midtown one. The Chinatown location is reportedly the best, although I suspect that it's not as clean or friendly. But those dumplings are definitely worthy of all the hype.

Joe's Shanghai
24 W 56 Street
New York, NY 10019