I’m happy to announce that my cake phase is over…for now. I'm taking a break from baking cakes at least until I start my cake decorating classes in a few weeks. I've move on to the food in parcels phase. To start off this phase, I made Lo Mai Gai or Nuo Mi Ji. I think food wrapped in leaves deserve their own little category.
I don’t usually get to eat Lo Mai Gai except for when we go out for dim sum. If I had to choose only one item to eat at dim sum, this is it. I can sit there and eat an entire parcel all by myself. I usually do not because I always feel bad about eating the entire thing. That's why we always order two or three.
A few years ago, I went to dim sum with a bunch of girls. We then went to the Asian grocery store near the dim sum restaurant. My friend asked me if I could help her find all of the ingredients to make Lo Mai Gai at home. Asian food is complicated in the sense that most Westerners do not possess the necessary equipment or ingredients at home. This dish requires at least one if not two different types of steamers. I’ve been able to get away with just one steamer but it took some experimenting to successfully cook sticky rice without a sticky rice steamer.
I prefer a higher proportion of rice to meat so if you like more meat than rice, decrease the amount of rice to two cups and the broth to one cup. I prefer my rice to not be mushy so I use less broth than other recipes I've seen. You can also change the proportion of types of protein. I like using boneless chicken thighs without any char sui because I never really have Chinese barbecued pork around the house. I think the best part of the filling is the Chinese sausage so I use a little more than what is usually found inside your typical dim sum parcel. You can also add diced shrimp if you’re feeling it. I don’t like the smell of shiitake mushrooms so I rinse them really well and use a measly four mushrooms for the 8 packets. Use more if shitakes are your thing. Asian food is very forgiving. Adjust the proportions to your tastes.
This is a recipe for the Spring Fling cake sold at The Market at Larimer Square. It is a very unusual zucchini-based cake frosted with a whipped cream and cream cheese icing and topped with an abundance of fresh fruit. The first time I had the cake was for a celebration at work. I didn’t realize the cake cost $150 for the full sheet. This recipe is for the 10 inch round that retails for $50. When I lived in Lodo, I frequently walked over to The Market to buy a slice. A slice cost just under $7. I think it’s worth every penny.
The cake itself is not hard to make. It just requires gathering many ingredients together. The Market usually tops their cake with strawberries, mango, kiwi, black grapes and mandarin oranges. I omitted the blueberries listed in the recipe because I don’t ever recall having blueberries on my cake. I consulted the picture on The Market's website and I didn't spot a single blueberry. I also subbed blackberries for the black grapes because I was feeling it.
The recipe below was published by the Rocky Mountain News. It calls for a 10 inch round cake pan. I didn’t have a 10 inch round so I used a 10 inch scalloped pan instead. I’ve also successfully used this recipe for cupcakes by filling the pan about three quarters full.
San Diego taco shops usually have at least two different chicken burritos on their menus: a shredded chicken burrito and a grilled chicken burrito. The grilled chicken or pollo asado is usually seasoned diced chicken; grilled on a flat top and stuffed inside a ginormous flour tortilla with pico de gallo and guacamole while the regular chicken burrito is simply filled with stewed and shredded chicken. I enjoy both versions but I find the shredded chicken easier to replicate at home than the pollo asado.
Growing up in San Diego, these taco shops have a special place in my heart. They are unique to San Diego. The style is very different from Mexican restaurants found in other parts of the country. I think it is a regional development due to San Diego's proximity to Tijuana (TJ). Where else can you find carne asada fries? Most of the shops are independently owned (with a few chains thrown into the mix) but they taste very similar. (Of course there are standouts but you can pretty much walk into any taco shop in San Diego and walk out pretty happy.)
Looking for a great taco shop in San Diego? Below are a few of my favorites.
JV’s in Linda Vista/Morena: 1112 Morena Boulevard http://www.jvsmexicanfood.com/menu.htm
El Cuervo in Hillcrest: 110 West Washington Street
El Cotixan in Clairemont: 4676 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard