Ginger and Lemon Grass

So our day started out with music class for my toddler and then we were supposed to go to the Japanese Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  Well we got through the music class, then my husband decided to do some detours.  After that and an hour plus time passage, we decided to head to Brooklyn.  Yeah, because we can, and well right before we crossed the bridge, we started to examine our plan.  There was already traffic, it was warm outside (oh late April weather), we were starting to get hungry, and also we knew that it would be at least an hours drive from that point.

What to do, what to do!!  So we racked our brains and decided that going to the festival at that late time would not be that great as all the cool stuff always happens early on as well as we would only get to enjoy a few hours.  Also, it was 30 dollars per person.  That would be 90 dollars just to enter and then if we wanted to buy food, who knows, and parking if we could not immediately find a spot.  It was looking like an expensive and trying day.

So because of the traffic, we had a few moments to think. We turned to Yelp and Trip Advisor.  So we found ourselves in Whitestone, NY.  It is in Queens, off the Bridge.

We came upon this restaurant. We were excited as there were people waiting outside, which is a good sign.

We sat close to the corner and just smelled all the wonderful odors. We wasted no time in ordering. The taste of the curry dish we ordered reminded me of the ones I had while travelling. The chicken curry included bamboo shoots as well as sweet potato–that was great on day 2. I had a stuffy nose so only randomly did I taste the food but the following day, post stuffy head, the food was better. We had one of the spicy short rib sandwiches, which was large and had a strong 5 spice taste. That we liked. We also had the seafood and chicken pancake as well as spring rolls.

I noticed the fake but cool herb garden on the wall. It actually inspired my husband. The restaurant also makes this refreshing drink that includes water, cucumber, ginger and possibly one other ingredient I forgot. (nice differentiating feature)

What everyone seemed to be eating was the broth with a large bone in it. Not my thing but I am sure it was great as that many people cannot be wrong.

The service was decent and the place was nice in terms of decoration. It is a small place, so not much wiggle room and large groups need not apply. Parking can be a challenge but that just means a longer pensive walk from your transportation. The bus does pass by it though. It is in a partly residential area so only if you drive by it accidentally, will you see it. Its not on a main street.

The small menu works well. When I am hungry I am easily frustrated if I have to turn through a book.

It would be a repeat visit but it is kind of far from our normal routes so maybe other people can make it a regular place if they live in the area.

 

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Sparks Catering Services–Update June 2017

Hi,

Ever so often I post my offerings here.  Feel free to reach out to me here, at the email attached to my flyer or to my Facebook or linked in, depending where you are seeing this post.

 

Sparks Services Home

I am also offering lunch services.

Sparks Catering Services Lunch

 

Armed with my Instapot, wok and blender I can do most things. If I have not made in the past  I can certainly learn or give it the old college try!

 

Day out Filipino Style

1.  Wake at 530 am (lay in bed and listen to the animals outside)

2. Get out of bed at 6:30 am (pick your clothes and pack up your travelling gear for day-hat, water, sweater for ac in van, toddler gear)

3. Breakfast is being prepared at 6:30 am (the house helper is enticing you with the smell of bacon and rice from the kitchen)
4.  7 am family eats and then gets dressed

5. Leave at 8 am on organized transportation (bus that holds 11 total)

6. Road tripping till 10 am after stops for gas and water.

7. Destination 1- inside/outside church -1/2 hour (it is Sunday and the church throws open its doors and there are literally people congregated on the plaza watching the church ceremony (on big screens)

8. 10:30 am or so drive to destination 2

9. Arrive at destination 2 for 11: am and lunch located in a mall  (make use of the available bathrooms)

10. Lunch from 11:30 am to 1 and 1/2 hour b…sssiing in mall. (Mall life)

11. Quick stop to visit friend (chat and kids play in the park) and leave by 2.

12. Arrive to destination 3, a bday party at 2:45pm. We stay till almost 5 pm. (traditional Filipino bday party with all the bells and whistles-I had muscato wine.)

13.  5:00 pm on the road again.  All 11 of us tired, laden with gifts and bellies full.

14.  Reach home at 645pm.   Food is prepared already.  Too full.  Skip dinner.

Day is done, gone the sun, from the lakes from the hill from sky.  All is well, safely rest,  god is night.

 

That’s how it went down.

Time gets away!!

So much time. We left the house at 430pm, reached airport at 515.  We checked in then waited to waste some time till 830.  Lol and that we did: non fast food, bathroom  break, stroll, Halo Halo.  We are outside of check area. Hey its 745 as we wait for customs.  Oh yeah,  our flight is 820.   8pm we clear.  Oh we have to rush.  20 min to take off.  Too many people on fast walkway, we sidestep that,  too many things,  can’t run.   We near the gate and WTF gate change.  We take another fast walkway.  Oh its at least 820 by now.  We are nearing gate and a list of names is read and that sounded like ours.  Oh snackers,  are we the last to board. When is the plane supposed to leave.  We feel less like idiots when they continue to announce names.   We get on plane and all the eyes are on us.  Infamous almost.  Hmmm.   Sunday strollers!

Time.

My favorite time is eating time!!

Instant Pot Does it Again-Lamb

This time I thought I would try lamb.  As we know, lamb is not fast cooking and if not done right, well its just not done right.  So I embarked on finding lamb.  No stop & shop for this or little market.  I went to the source–Costco.  I found lamb pieces (w/bone, cut like oxtail) about 10 per pack.  I immediately searched for a recipe for lamb chops and then I remembered Lamb Tagine and it was on.  This is the recipe I found and as usual I edit a little to work with what I know and have.

4 lamb chops

1 tsp cinnamon,  1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger (I uses fresh)

1 tbsp olive oil, 1 small onion sliced (about 1 cup), 2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup dry wine (I had vodka so I used that), 3/4 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup dried apricots (I used raisins and then on the second round a mix of raisins and dates)

I added two small shakes of turmeric

At the end I added some rice flour to some of the sauce and made a roux to add to the pot for some thickening.  The sauce had an oily slick so I diminished it with the roux

So the end product was good.  I made it twice and I am thoroughly enjoying eating my lamb tangine with some rice.

 

My process–I added all the seasonings and the vodka to the meat with about a tsp of olive oil and let it sit. The following day I sauteed the  meat in the pot and then cooked it for about 20 minutes. (oh I should warn that I did not follow the process that came with the recipe)

After the first pressure cook I added the chickpeas and the raisins and let it go for another 6-8 minutes.  Presto-dinner made.  My rice cooker was going at the same time.

Lamb and me happy together. I thank thee Costco.

 

 

 

 

Self Censorship–Shiraz Persian Restaurant, Elmsford NY

With yoga pants, paint stained, I decided to Self Censor.

Immediately upon entering you notice a dimly lit separate dinning space under recessed lighting in a gray and white space. As we went through the galley area I peeked into the dining room and felt that I may not be up the the part in my yoga pants. The manager (jeans and white shirt) looked at us and before he even spoke, I mentioned that maybe I was under-dressed. So they offered the back room space and I felt it was only fair out of respect for the establishment as I was a little under dressed. It was fine and actually was a great space to contain my toddler.

So the area we sat in have a long a table which probably operated as a party space as it has room for 20 and it has space to lay stuff down by way of a ledge. Also you never really have to interact with the front guest unless, like we found out, they leave through the back where their cars are parked.

Okay so on to the food. Great dinner for what we ordered, which was not super fancy. We had stuffed dates (walnuts and blue cheese); King Kabob for two: beef fillet kabob, chicken kabob, koobideh kabob, saffron basmati rice, and roasted tomato: and chicken salad. It was good as we all cleaned the plates. We also has dessert-why not, my mom was with us and she is an ice cream child and we wanted to try something new. We tried Halva & Ice Cream- Combination of pistachio halva & one scoops of saffron ice cream.

Halva was interesting. Here are the thoughts going through my head while tasting:chocolatey sweetness, piercing but definitely like a sandy powder and dry pistachios accents.

I was pleased with the food and would like to go back and try something different. The people are nice and accommodating and they always kept checking in on us. They also did not turn up their noses when I asked for sweet wine with my dinner. Sometimes you just want what you want.

Location-not much parking in front and as it is on a small strip at the beginning of town. On the side street and in the back is additional parking. I believe they owned two shop spaces so the second one was Shiraz Gourmet market. That will be for next time.

taro turnoff

Taro Turnoff

In my quest to be better and to speak up I embarked on being someone else for a little while. So my family and I made a plan to walk on a known trail as a way to pass time with each other and to see all the interesting things you see when you are just wondering.

Being a frozen yogurt person, I stumbled upon a place close to the start of the trail. I had already planned to get yogurt earlier on but this was a calling. On the way in we saw an advertisement for bubble tea. We have tasted bubble tea in a few places but never in a yogurt and crepe shop. yogurt shop

So I tried taro, cookies and cream,  and European tart frozen yogurt. My husband opted for the taro bubble tea. Well we watched the girl make and an realized that it was a powder and she made it  with milk plus crushed ice. When we got outside and my husband was drinking it he made the comment that it was severely watered down and he could barely taste the taro. Well, my taro yogurt it was strong and familiar. So I kept telling my husband that if it is bad he should say something. He kept saying no it was okay but I could see him sulking with his lightly flavored ice milk. So I made up my mind to let them know and also to satisfy my husband with the taro yogurt.

I went in to the place got the replacement yogurt and then barked into my complaint. I asked them if it was supposed to be strong and the guy muttered something about it being kind of strong. I told him that my husband was disappointed and that I am getting the taro fro yo to replace the drink and to get a proper taro flavor. Well the girl looked at me with some weird disbelief and the guy apologized and he said the taro fro yo was on the house. I told him that I was in the food business and was a little bit of a critic. (unnecessary but it made me feel like king of the hill.) So I went outside and presented the taro fro yo to my husband.

So now we were out to just walk around the town, so much for the trail. We walked to the main area and saw bubble tea again and this time it was in a Chinese restaurant. So we indulged and we were satisfied. It was the almost real deal. 12 dollars plus my spending.

 

if you are going to do it, go full tilt (no half a… here)

Heated Brownies

SO I HAVE BEEN ON THE BROWNIE TRAIN LATELY.  A FRIEND ASKED ME TO MAKE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN BROWNIES.  IT WAS MY FIRST TIME TO MAKE AND I WAS NOT EVEN SURE OF THE TEXTURE NOR THE TASTE REALLY.  THERE WAS NO BUTTER, EGGS OR FLOUR.  IT WAS JUST THREE INGREDIENTS -PUMPKIN, COCOA POWDER AND PEANUT BUTTER. THREE DAYS LATER I WAS ACTUALLY IN THE MOOD FOR BROWNIES SO I USED SOME SWEET RICE FLOUR AFTER FINDING ANOTHER RECIPE.  I ADDED ALL THE “MEAT” BACK OF COURSE.

I HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN BAKING BROWNIES ALMOST EVERY TWO WEEKS AS A PART OF MY INTERNSHIP/JOB.  RECENTLY I HAD TO MAKE A SPICY ONE AT THE BEHEST OF THE OWNER.  SHE ADDED HABANERO AND CHIPOTLE TO THE MIX.  I FELT IT JUST TASTED LIKE I ADDED POWDER TO A MIX.  IT HAD NO BITE OR AFTER TASTE.  I REALIZED THAT MY BOSS HAD NOT DONE THIS BEFORE.   I WAS JUST ONLINE AND I SAW A SUGGESTION FOR ADDING IT TO THE BUTTER MIXTURE.  WHEN MELTING THE BUTTER, PUT YOUR HOT RIGHT IN THERE–POWDER OR ADD WHOLE PEPPER INTO POT AND MELT BUTTER, THEN REMOVE PEPPER AFTER BUTTER IS FLAVORED.  I THINK I HAVE TO TRY THAT FIRST AND SEE.

SO SPICY BROWNIES MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER.  I PERSONALLY BEEN USING A RECIPE FROM ALLRECIPES-CALLED THE EASY BROWNIE RECIPE.

IF YOU HAVE A SUGGESTION, THEN LET ME KNOW.  WHEN I GO THROUGH MY TRIAL I WILL BLOG ABOUT IT.

HOT IS BACK!!!

sample recipes 1

Sweet Heat Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

 

 

Bread Pudding

In Nordic countries, it is called Ollebrod.

Grub Street Article

ollebrod

 

So I was a little curious who else had bread pudding tendencies.  This is what I found.

Thank you wikipedia:

including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Slovakia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, India (Double ka Meetha), the United Kingdom, and the United States. In other languages, its name is a translation of “bread pudding” or even just “pudding”, for example “pudín” or “budín” in Spanish; also in Spanish another name is “migas” (crumbs).[citation needed] In the Philippines, banana bread pudding is popular. In Mexico, there is a similar dish eaten during Lent called capirotada.[1][2]

Bread pudding like banana bread it a way to recycle your food and give it a second life.  Now when you cross bananas with bread pudding you get something wild. Now lets not forget the chocolate.  (oh now I think I have to go bake something–banana bread with chocolate chips and nuts–not bread pudding but don’t worry, that is coming soon.)

 

Food is never dead until it is rotting.

 

 

 

 

3 PLACES TO OFF RADAR TO EAT-WESTCHESTER

So to all the people living in the Westchester area–lower that is, here are a few finds that can satiate your hunger for some inexpensive food, decent portions and a real authentic feel.

One day we were in Yonkers and after going to Longhorn Steak House and Red Lobster we opted to YELP it and see what the people were saying.  So we ended up in the back of Mount Vernon at a Brazilian place called Chalanas that operated partly like a churrascaria. There was a little area where the guy was cooking meat on spits and also grilling.  It was the size of a bathroom and that was all the space he needed.  Then they had a buffet area: plantains, beans, roast pork, roasted chicken, potato salad, two kinds of rice, and the list goes on.  So we had some of both (the cooking meat and buffet) and we only spent 19$-my husband and daughter were with me.  We were filled and satisfied.  It was not fancy but the place was small and felt like 95% local people, which is great as there were no pretensions.

The second place is in Hartsdale at 10 Cross Street.  It is a small Mexican Restaurant. (Laguana Gourmet) Its so small, it is inside a house practically and partly.  There is no grand parking scheme, so only a few people at a time and probably a lot of people walk as it is close to major apartment complexes. (guessing?) It is off of Central Avenue almost hidden away.  The first time we went, we were not sure where it was.  The food counter area is like a small parlor with only a few tables to sit -2 really.  Then up a  1/3 set of stairs to the right is a small room that has tables around the perimeter-maybe 8 and that is where we sat. The few times we have been there it has only ever had one other set of people there and sometimes none. (sitting down but people going going to the counter to pickup)  The food is good however.

The third is in Port Chester and it on the main drag, Main street towards the Greenwich line to be exact.  This one is our go to for Peruvian–Pollo A La Brasa.  (right next door is a bbq place and that is good to but we are doing South American  (plus Mexican) restaurants in this blog)  It is like a large cafeteria but with a mirrored wall.  Whenever we went it was always 75% plus full.  Our favorite dish is Lomo Saltado.  We had the chicken  (Pollo Saltado) but the beef (Lomo) is the best.  They also have their own drinks. That is fun as well.  Street parking is paid parking so just get prepared.

So give them a try and if you visit or know someone who has visited, please feel free to comment.