Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fashion cupcakes

Cupcakes have certainly become a part of pop culture and an art form
Shot by Swedish photographer Therese Aldgard and styled by Lisa Edsalv, the two created a decadent, precious line-up of luxury brand cupcake sets.

They were inspired by Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin and Betsey Johnson.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brie-stuffed burger, bruschetta inspired

Michele invented this delicious burger, by stuffing buttery brie cheese inside the patty, and combining the burger with a sweet n spicy bruschetta relish

Toasted ciabatta bread, with some of the bread filling scooped out

A slice of brie stuffed inside the burger patty, seasoned with salt and pepper. Broil in oven.

The relish is consisted of: diced grape tomatoes with 1/4 diced yellow onions and 1 chopped Serrano chili, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper ( just like making a sweet n spicy bruschetta mix)

Meaty and cheesy, wrapped in a fragrant, fresh toasted bread, combined with flavors of fresh onions, allowing a kick from the Serrano as the juicy sweet grape tomatoes cuts through the richness and the spiciness... This burger was absolutely Glorious!

Sunday morning

What do I look forward to the most on the weekend? Spending a peaceful, quiet Sunday morning with a skinny latte and the Sunday NYTimes

Sunday morning, sunshine dreaming
All night dancing
Christmas morning, candles burning
All night dancing....

Cloudy morning, ice cream toppings
Music’s playing
High street shopping, chocolate cravings,
Baby’s crying

excerpted lyrics from Utada Hikaru's Sunday Morning

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Taiwan strives to become global

Taiwan Tech Firms Strive to Be Global - an article By Ashlee Vance from the NYT

More and more Taiwanese manufacturing companies are trying to climb up that value chain...

Taiwanese companies that built music players, laptops and cellphones to precise specifications dictated by customers like Apple, HP and Motorola have now sought a more direct route to consumers. A few of the Taiwanese companies have even developed reputations as technology leaders.

Last year in 2008, Asustek was the fastest-growing PC company in Europe. Acer, which sells computers under its own name as well as through acquired brands Gateway, eMachines and Packard Bell, is the fastest-growing PC maker over all, according to the research company Gartner.

Despite their sales gains, the Taiwanese companies still have a long way to go to match the marketing flair of an Apple or H.P. Asus and Acer are strong in Asia but they remain largely unknown to consumers in the United States. They do little direct selling to individual or corporate technology buyers, preferring to work through retailers and other intermediaries...but once they start to figure out to tap into the US market,....watch out for these Taiwanese brands!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Due Panini

Scrumptious Bánh mì - Vietnamese sandwiches, BBQ pork and pork pate. A product of the Indochinese French colonialism, this is fusion at its best! A combination of French baguette, pate and mayonnaise, with fresh Vietnamese native ingredients such as pickled carrots, peppers, and fish sauce.
( This heavenly Banh mi was devoured from Cali Sandwich and fast food at Travis Street)

Simple, classic Italian Panino -mozzarella and high quality prosciutto grilled in a sandwich press. Panini is traditionally served without any kind of sauce or topping, it is a purists' sandwich, just letting the salty prosciutto, creamy mozzarella shine through a fresh ciabatta bread.

The word "panino" is the singular form for small bread in Italian, with the plural panini.
So folks, there's no such thing as paninis!
( This was chowed down at Nundini Italian deli food store at the Heights )

Friday, June 12, 2009

Southern Italy, December 08

orange trees in Napoli

pastries in Napoli



oranges in the winter


Thursday, June 11, 2009

we love soba

Light, tasty and Japanesey
....we heart soba!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

chicken n rice

Chinese chicken n rice


steamed rice

2 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

two tablespoons of sliced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

white pepper

soy sauce


In a rice cooker, pour water in the bottom and lay chicken in a small bowl.

Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold tap water. Cut off excess fat. Pat dry and sprinkle with salt.

Place the chicken breasts in the steamer, and steam for 25-30 minutes (until the juices run clear). You may also throw some stalks of scallion, cloves of garlic, or slices of ginger for extra infused flavor.

Espresso in a culinary context

When Michele and I were visiting NYC last month, we went on the search for good espresso bars...and luckily, we stumbled upon Cafe Grumpy, which was very close to our hotel.

A small hidden gem, this cafe welcomed us with sounds of people chattering and foamers screeching when we opened its doors, and we were greeted with rich aromas from coffee beans and scents of freshly delivered Sunday Times.

Crowded with hip, young coffee- buzzed New Yorkers cupping their mugs, although all seats were taken, a kind man pointed to us that the bench outside was unoccupied, (and the space was just enough for 2), so we sat outside and enjoyed espressos in our laps and listened to the rare peaceful composure of the city on a Sunday morning.

Cafe Grumpy was featured in the New York Times, an article named "Espresso's New Wave Hits Town"

It reminds me of why we love artisinal coffee, from the roast, the dose, the tamping, and the latte art. I always savour the heart or leaf made from the steamed milk, because it really does make my latte taste better... it feels like careful attention and love from the barista!

There are four critical components to preparing espresso: it must be freshly roasted, freshly ground, properly dosed, tamped correctly and monitored during extration. If done correctly the resulting espresso will be smoother, more romantic, and more flavourful, the crema will be darker and thicker.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baked eggplant zucchini parmigiano

For an easy side dish that's a great match for this hearty tomato and cheese baked eggplant, I blanched some Chinese brocolli on the side.

For Baked eggplant zucchini with parmigano reggiano:

1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about eight)
2 eggs, beaten with a fork, and a dash of salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 - 4 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch think pieces
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can of tomato paste
two garlic cloves, minced
fresh oragano , 2 sprigs
fresh basil one sprig
fresh parsley 1 sprig
1 and 1/2 cup shredded parmigiano reggiano


For the tomato sauce, in a sauce pan heat up some olive oil and infuse the two minced garlics. When they start to bubble, add in one can of tomato paste, and use the jar to add one cup of water. Add in the fresh chopped herbs - oregano, basil and parsley and cook until it comes to a small boil. Add salt and pepper to season, and set aside.

Preheat oven with a baking sheet inside to 375°F. Coat eggplant slices with beaten egg, then bread with panko crumbs. Spread oil on hot baking sheet and place eggplant slices on it in a single layer. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake another 10 minutes.

On another baking sheet, sprinkle the zucchinis with salt and pepper and olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 475°F. In an oven proof dish, layer pasta sauce, then eggplant, then zucchini, and top with cheese. Repeat, finishing with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and turns golden in spots, about 15 - 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chinese mustard greens soup

Chinese mustard greens are delicious, and they make an excellent, light and easy soup. The longer you cook the greens, the sweeter the soup becomes. So take your time with this one!

Remember to wash your mustard greens thoroughly. There is often dirt caught between the stems, and mustard greens easily catch insects when they are being grown as plants. But don't let this scare you away! Just clean and wash well.

What I do is I chop off the mustard green stems and add them to the soup earlier, so it gets more time to cook. I throw in the leaves later, before I turn off the stove heat. Chunks of chicken thighs go best, and if you have dried Chinese mushrooms, that's even better. Below are two versions of Chinese mustard greens soup. A simpler version, and my version that has slightly a bit more ingredients, but makes the traditional soup more dynamic.

Simple version of Chinese mustard greens soup:

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/3 pound of chicken thigh, boneless, skinless, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon sliced ginger root
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups sliced mustard greens
white pepper


* tip: you can blanch the chicken first, if you like, and set the chicken aside. If you leave the chicken in the soup too long, it could become too dry.

Heat chicken stock in a pot and add sliced ginger. Bring to a boil, stir in sliced mushrooms. Next, throw in the stems of the mustard greens. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the stems are soft. Add in the already blanched chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a couple more minutes, and then add the mustard green leaves. Cook for around 5 - 7 minutes and turn off heat.

My version of Chinese mustard greens soup:

4 cup of low sodium chicken stock
5 dried scallops
1/3 pound of chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into chunks
1/2 Daikon, cut into chunks
1tablespoon sliced ginger
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced ( best to use Chinese dried mushrooms)
4 cups sliced mustard greens
white pepper


Soak the scallops in water for 15 - 20 minutes. Heat chicken stock in a pot using medium heat, and when it comes to a small boil, add scallops by using your hands to break them apart. When the stock has boiled, add in daikon, ginger slices, sliced mushrooms, and mustard green stems, for about 30 minutes or until the daikon is soft. Next, add already blanched chicken chunks, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mustard leaves, cook for 5 - 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to season, if needed


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Festa della Repubblica - Italy's Republic Day!

Auguri, Italia!

June 2nd, " Festa della Repubblica” is the Italian national holiday!

We were invited to celebrate Festa Della Republica at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts Caroline Weiss Law building . There was hor d'oeuvre, drinks, Lavazza coffee, desert and lots of mingling with the Italian community in Houston. All the Italian women looked fashionably chic!

The “Festa della Repubblica” is Italy's national day. It commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when the Italian population was called to decide either a monarchy form or a republic form of government to give to the country, after WWII and the fall of Fascism.

On this day, Italy become Republic after 85 years of monarchy.

Interesting to note, that while Italy is rich in culture and arts, and I'd think this holiday should be as big as July 4th Independence day, it's not widely celebrated. Religious holidays are a much bigger deal... The Italians go all out on the gifts and the foods at Christmas and Easter, but no one seems to really celebrate National day....
The Taiwanese are big on traditional cultural holidays, but the National Day October 10th is such a big deal. Taiwanese people are in general fanatic about politics... not only are there big parades and celebrations on October 10th, but also even young people party at nightclubs for Taiwan National Day.
I guess in a way it's showing how we want to differentiate ourselves from that big land across the Taiwan Strait!