Friday, April 27, 2012

Filipino Food: Pancit Canton

Hey Folks!

Remember back in 2009 then I visited that restaurant in Bed-Stuy called Umi Nom?  Well, it's one of my favorite Filipino inspired places to eat and they are still going at it after more than 3 years.  Back when I first visited Umi Nom,  the Chef and Owner was kind enough to let me into his kitchen and watch him prepare one of my most favorite Filipino dishes.  Here is that video which includes me making my version I learned from watching my wonderful Mother make this dish.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RC Helicopter

I love remote control helicopters.  They are one of my favorite toys.  Remember this vid from last Thanksgiving?

Recently I stumbled across this gem of a toy.  I think I would like one. Tell me what you think!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mini Cupcakes by Jae's Sinful Delights

If you’re like me, you do everything you can to make a moment with your friends or family absolutely perfect with every detail executed perfectly and as much as possible homemade. In reality, I end up frazzled and rushed and sometimes the last thing I am able to do is create bakery-quality cupcakes that both “Wow!” and push flavors to move and evoke emotion. As you all know, I love to bake and cook, but simply cannot always execute my ideas with todays busy schedules and the pressure of a party looming over me. As such,  I was so excited my close friend and talented baker, Jae, started his own cupcake business, Jae's Sinful Delights. The perfect fit for any gathering requiring a special touch that will keep guest talking and wanting an invite to your next soirée.

Jae's Sinful Delights is the latest creation of food enthusiast and Pastry Chef, Jae Camino. Jae has been baking since he was a toddler in his mother's kitchen, helping her run a successful catering business. Today Jae uses his innovative concepts with classic desserts and different flavor combinations to create unique products that set him apart from others in the industry.
Jae's Sinful Delights uses only the highest-quality organic ingredients, from cane sugar to real butter and eggs. No preservatives are ever used.
With locations in Miami and NYC, Jae is currently taking orders for all private events, weddings and birthdays by appointment only.
My personal favorite is the mini Coconut Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Bavarian Cream Filling & Dulce De Leche Butter cream frosting. It’s a perfect mini cupcake that’s both stylishly innovative and all together reminiscent of my childhood. 

 Along with producing full flavored and truly inspired cupcakes, Jae’s strong point is execution and presentation.  His attention to detail with every fondant lotus petal perfectly placed and every butter cream flavored with a balance never too sweet as to distract from the carefully harmonized cake that of each delectable bite is the foundation of why Jae’s Sinful Delights will and is already a force to be reckoned with in an already crowded and competitive arena both here in NYC and Miami.  Enough of me rambling on about the cakes and have a look at the pictures below.

 Also, visit Jae’s website at and be sure to order for your next birthday, dinner party, celebration or any casual occasion that could be livened up with a few mini cupcakes. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Learning about a Great Chef

Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and Ad Hoc at Home
A few months ago my sister gave me a gift of two books by Thomas Keller. If you don't already know, Chef Keller is an American chef, restaurateur, and author in California.  His restaurants in Napa Valley and New York City are destinations for food lovers all over the world and is the only chef to be awarded 3-Michelin Stars at the same time for 2 different restaurants. Chef Keller is a major force in the food scene to say the least.

Chef Keller’s book, The French Laundry Cookbook [Artisan, $27.33], is an amazing book that is more than a collection of delectable foods and informative cooking methods. Chef Keller presents, as he often accomplishes with his food, memories of food and glimpses into what makes him a wonderful chef.

Chef Keller gives us a history of his past and tells us stories that show his passion for his food and how each experience has effected him as a chef.  He talks about his first job as a chef at a yacht club and how he had learned to make and was in charge of the hollandaise sauce each morning for two years. Chef Keller reveals that this was altogether the hardest thing he had to make during his day as well as being the high point of his two years in that kitchen.  He goes on to describe his next job as a cook charged with cooking the staff meals at a restaurant in Rhode Island. There he learned the fundamentals of how to really cook. He learned about how to be passionate about the food you are preparing and how it effects you as a chef even when you were cooking for the staff using left-overs.

One of my favorite stories in the book is when Chef Keller tells about his job in North Palm Beach at Café du Parc. The crazy French chef was enraged to learn Keller didn't know how to truss a chicken. I mean really, what chef doesn't know how to truss a chicken? lol.  The Chef screamed and threw his knife at Keller. How could Keller call himself a chef? Keller no longer took it for granted that he knew everything and learned that if he was really going to be a chef, he’d better be prepared to teach people everything they needed to know to run a kitchen.

"Fish and Chips"
Thomas Keller is a chef of great talent and creativity. Reading his book, though, one realizes that he is also a person that has great respect for food. Food should not be taken for granted and should not be wasted. A simple lesson for all of us.

In another story, Chef Keller talks about working in a small restaurant near Catskill, New York where he asked his rabbit purveyor to show him how to kill and skin a rabbit. The purveyor brought back twelve live rabbits and showed Chef Keller how to kill, skin, and eviscerate one of the rabbits and promptly left. When Keller tried to kill the first rabbit he did a horrific job. The rabbit screamed and broke it’s leg trying to get away. The next ten went somewhat more smoothly but Keller learned a valuable lesson from that first rabbit. Because killing the rabbits had been such a terrible experience, he would not waste them. He would use all his powers as a chef to make them into beautiful dishes. He learned that a cook should never squander anything, ever. Something that all of us should take note of as we cook as well as when we eat.

The French Laundry Cookbook contains a wonderful variety of dishes that define what gourmet cooking is all about. It includes 150 recipes from Poached Quail Eggs with Smoked Applewood Bacon to Pan-Roasted Maine Jumbo Scallops with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus Puree. Even if you never make a single recipe from this book, you can't help but share Chef Keller's passion and exuberence for good food

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Foie Gras in Brighton Beach

"It's like that summer in Minsk after I left the force.”
I said to Kit as we were seated at our table at Cafe Volna, one of Brighton Beach’s iconic restaurants on the wide boardwalk. The menu is worn, a laminated and faded historic document, a compilation of the motherlands favorites (herring, pickled cabbage, borscht) and New World delights (chicken tenders, shrimp scampi, foie gras for $25). As we sat in the room filled with old Russian gentlemen sporting Yeltsin haircuts, track suits and lots of chest hair as well as small grandmotherly ladies with beehive hairdos and tattered dresses, we drank our vodka and waited for our food to come.

I had ordered the Foie Gras as my main and some potato dumplings to go with it. Kit got the Chicken Kiev. I wasn't so impressed with the Chicken, but the Foie was out of this world. It was cooked very simply, seared on toast, and served with some unfortunate canned fruit. When it came to the table, as you might have guessed, I disregarded the fruit and just went straight for the Foie. I could not have been happier at that moment.

I love this ingredient. The full taste, the rich texture, the pure luxury, a velvet track suit and gold chain for your tongue. Some people can only eat this a little at a time. I like it in big portions. lol.

Maybe some day I will make a vid of how I prep Foie Gras, but for know here is just a written description on my simple take.

On the occasion that I do serve it, the seared slices are usually placed on toasted challah. I know the challah doesn't need anything at this point when serving with the Foie, but I like to put a little garlic and parsley infused duck fat on a thick slice and toast it to a golden hue.

To add a sweet factor, as per usually done with this ingredient, I like to add a dollop o f ripe, champagne mango puree. Nothing special. Just get some great mangoes, blitz them and strain. To add some texture and a sweet crunch, I suggest making a simple toasted hazelnut brittle. Melt some sugar, add some toasted hazelnuts. Cook for 1 minute. Spread out on a Silpat and let cool until hard. This will help keep the mouth-feel of the whole dish interesting on the palate.

To finish, garnish with some cilantro stems. In the picture below, I made some caramelized onions. It's not necessary and I wouldn't add it in the future. Enjoy!

Here's my finished product:

Cafe Volna
3145 Brighton 4th St
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Neighborhood: Brighton Beach
(718) 332-0341

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Roasted Ancho Red Velvet Cakes

Roasted Ancho Red Velvet Cakes

Okay, I'm back! Let's get started with the classic favorite, Red Velvet Cake, and add my twist.
(Disclaimer: The video is a little much in the beginning, but it's only in the begining. lol)

Roasted Ancho Red Velvet Cakes
I've been wanting to do this for sometime now, and though some view the trend of combining Chiles with Chocolate as over, what taste good is good! My great friend Adrian said, 'Let's make a new video!' So here it is.

The addition of the smokey ancho paste add a very subtle, dark, complexity to the vague chocolate mystery that is Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet is a classic from the south that are simply a light cocoa cake that originally gets it's red color from the reaction of the vinegar and buttermilk with the cocoa powder. Nowadays, to drive home the point that the cake is really of the Red Velvet variety, red food coloring is added. I guess you could try and use beets to enhance the color naturally, but that's probably more effort and time than one would normally like to allocate to an afternoon baking with friends.
All that to say, these are delicious cupcakes. Enjoy!


  • Vegetable oil for the pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled white vinagar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons roasted red ancho chili paste
  • dash of red pepper flakes

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup condensed coconut cream


Preheat the oven to 360F. Line pans with cupcake papers.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
In another bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla .
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add the ancho chili paste and red pepper flakes. Taste and ad more or less depending on your taste.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
For the Filling:
In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, coconut cream and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the cream cheese mixture.

At this point, I have taken you as far as I care to go. What you do after this is up to you. Personally I would put the filling in the cakes and share some . But that's just me. Enjoy!
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