31 December 2013

Minado Sushi

I can't decide whether I like "traditional" sushi or newly invented crazy sushi. On most days, the plain salmon nigiri or salmon + avocado maki suffice to make me happy.

Yesterday and over Thanksgiving break, my family and I went to Minado and they have very bizarre sushi varieties. It was quite interesting.

 The above include a fried piece of Spam sushi (the one with the nori wrapped vertically around a fried rod), an oddly-sweet kiwi sauce roll (neon green sauce), a slightly off scallop sushi, a fried chicken sushi (between the scallop and seaweed salad ones), and some others that I don't remember. I recall there being some bell peppers in some of the sushis, and one of them was avocado, salmon, and Washington apple. I initially couldn't figure out what the apple was, and guessed melon. Funny how when a cube of food is put out of context, it is difficult to pinpoint what it is. The Spam one was just bizarre and the kiwi sauce was bad (but my brother enjoyed it).

This was from Thanksgiving. One of the rolls  (the one with the leafy stuff) was the Texas roll and it had a chunk of cooked cow. I don't recall what the other rolls included. Their spicy mayo sucks. Too much mayo and not enough sriracha.

Overall, it was quite fun trying out all these bizarre and novel rolls.

29 December 2013

Interview Travelling (Seattle WA, Madison WI, San Jose CA)

This semester was crazy because I was interviewing for a job, which involved quite some travelling. In this haze, I somehow managed to visit a whole handful of airports and hotels. The places documented here include Seattle, Madison, and the Bay Area.

I had a nice breakfast at the hotel. I know that it's not the fanciest but it beats most of the breakfasts and lunches I've had all semester (wow, I sure have been neglecting my ... life). I mean, hot food! More than one item in my sandwich!

I went to downtown Seattle after my interview and got some pumpkin and coconut gelato at Gelatiamo. I didn't particularly enjoy the pumpkin one because it felt too heavy. I got to sample the rice gelato, which was delicious (but I wasn't in the mood for it). They had all these beautiful baked desserts but I really wasn't in the mood. I languidly walked around downtown chomping on gelato, checking out people going to dress-up/Halloween parties. 


I went to dinner at The Crab Pot with a friend I hadn't seen in almost exactly 7 years.  The Crab Pot is famous for, well, the crab pot.

The bread was really dense and hard to chew (or I was just tired) and the entire place was happy and rowdy. We were given mallets and cutting boards! Bibs! I did not wear the bib because it just felt over the top. The food arrived in a giant bucket and was poured onto the table. Cleanup was therefore very easy. What a feast! I really enjoyed the corn, mussels, clams, and sausage. There was a lot of overcooked shrimp, but the crab was good. Everyone was super nice and I found the place unique. I would definitely go there every time I visit Seattle in the future.

The SeaTac airport has the best restaurant ever - Anthony's Fish Bar!! This place made me so happy! I got delicious clam chowder and mediocre Alaskan rockfish taco with mango (awkwardly sweet and fishy, while also savoury).

 Cold rockfish taco on the plane, while attempting to study.

An airport store had quite the selection of candy (blurry due to my phone camera).

I had a layover in Minnesota, where I bought some candy corn gummies (which tasted like generic gummies) and a "Montana bar", which was actually just a oaty bar covered with chocolate and coconut.

Madison, Wisconsin
At the layover in Cincinnati, I got a turkey club from the Wolfgang Puck restaurant/bar. I find it humourous that Wolfgang Puck's name is being used in restaurants at airports, since I associate airport restaurants with... well, solely Burger King or restaurants along those lines.
The sandwich was ok.

I had a super fancy breakfast at the Concourse Hotel on the morning of the interview, but I was too nervous to enjoy it. I had an amazing meal during my interview!

Bay Area
My first flight got delayed so I had some time to check out the crochet cakes in display cases at the Philadelphia Airport. They are really nice and I think I would make some when I have time.

In N Out Burgers!! Whoo! Our cab driver was really nice and we made a pit stop here (latent dream come true!) and I wanted to buy everything. I got a chocolate shake that I had to chug down because I forgot that I wasn't allowed to take this through airport security (I had made the same mistake in Seattle where I bought some coffee right before entering security).

The burger, fries, and In N Out sauce packets did make it through security! Huzzah! I got to eat them both cold while waiting for my flight. At that point, I wasn't even hungry. The burger was fantastic.
 The animal fries were not that good. They were really soggy, possibly due to it sitting in a paper bag for half an hour, but I was not impressed.

I had a layover in Phoenix, where I found the presence of "Icelandic water" quite funny. The airport was completely packed with people, even though it was one in the morning. I was tempted to get a pumpkin shake but at that point I just felt exhausted and thirsty. Deflated would be a good word, and the only thing I wanted was to  sleep horizontally, undisturbed for 15 hours.

24 December 2013

Pinwheel Cookies

Oh, it's been a while. So much has happened and much delicious food and little alcohol (huzzah! I can legally drink now!) has passed through my digestive system. And now starts the frantic trying-to-stuff-as-many-posts-into-2013-as-possible. Today, I will talk about making pinwheel cookies. Below are 93 cookies.

I made nutella + jam + dried fruit pinwheel cookies in 2007 or 2008 and they turned out pretty hard and sweet. I guess they were acceptable. I don't recall how I rolled the cookies though, since I don't recall it being a tedious task. Last night, however, rolling the cookie logs took way more time and gnawing away at confidence than I anticipated.

I made a double batch of this typical sugar cookie recipe, which yielded about 100, or 8 dozen cookies and end bits that the little ragamuffin (my sister) nibbled up raw. I left them in the fridge overnight and baked them this afternoon.

Ingredient Changes:

-- 2 cups of sugar instead of 2.66 cups
-- 2 handfuls of melted chocolate chips in half the dough, yielding a light tea+milk type of brown rather than a dark brown.

Regarding the Method:
I don't have parchment paper. I reused an opened-up cereal bag, which worked pretty well as a cookie log wrapper. Unfortunately, the dough was really soft so it was hard to move around. Flouring the surface really helped.

The first method included rolling out both doughs and then folding one on top of the other, and peeling the plastic back. This sort of worked but was really tedious.

I also tried just squashing chocolate dough onto the rolled-out vanilla dough but that was also tedious. Most of the logs (I ended up with three 30-cm-ish logs, each yielding >30 cookies) were just really squishy due to it being a balmy room temperature. Most were done using the roll-two-blobs-and-smoosh-together method. Even though the doughs were not rolled into perfect rectangles, with some trimming and squishing around, I ended up with dismal looking logs, that, the next day, magically sliced into artistic pinwheels. I put two of the logs in a plastic bread bag and kept the other one rolled up in the cereal bag in the fridge.

Next time, I will probably chill the dough for an hour rather than for 20 minutes. A lot of the rolling was done by eye, and my cookie sizes ranged from Oreo-sized to Navel orange-sized.

How surprising! They actually look beautiful!!
The cookies were sliced at about 7 mm ? and baked on the middle rack of a 350 F oven for exactly 10 minutes. It turns out that the bottom rack is no place for a cookie-to-be, and a aluminum foil pan yields a longer cooking time for the cookie. So, I stuck with the cookie sheet I got for my 15th birthday that is still intact and loved.

Perfectly cooked and no burned edges!

The spots on the cookies are chocolate chips that did not melt completely.

The cold logs are only sliced immediately before placing onto the pan and baking. Although I buttered the pan with a butter wrapper for the first batch, subsequent batches did not require any pan-buttering. The trick is to swivel the cookies off the sheet as soon as the sheet is taken out of the oven. At this point, they don't stick to the pan. This means very hot fingertips and quick scooping of cookies onto a spatula, and then the cooling rack (or directly on, if you like hot fingertips).

The cookies do expand a bit during cooking and unfortunately I had to squish some cookies together because I didn't want to bake a batch of only 3-5 cookies.

Look at this stack of equal-diameter cookies!