Seared Sea Bass with Bok Choy and Yuzu Mushroom Broth

>>  Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As a person who travels and eats quite a bit, I always struggle with the same issue of "feeling gross."

You know the feeling. You travel to some amazing destination so you want to take advantage as much as possible of the food there. You plan out your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Even though you aren't even hungry by the next meal, you soldier on.

I typically try to compensate by walking a TON during my trips. Still, after a few days of non-stop eating, I'm usually ready to go home, cook healthy and simple "spa food", and let my stomach take a break.

This seared sea bass dish is something I concocted recently. It's based off of other broth-based fish dishes I've had at restaurants, and the flavors are inspired by my first, unforgettable encounter with yuzu kosho, now one of my new favorite sauces.

It's clean, light and healthy. At the same time, it's complex and full of interesting flavors. I think it's the perfect antidote to a heavy week of eating out.

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The Trout Inn (Oxford)

>>  Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This is the fifth and last post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, RicardKitchen W8, Fernandez and Wells, and The Turf Tavern and Jamie's Italian.

It's sort of awe-inspiring to stand in an old, old building that is so replete with rich history.

Welcome to the Trout Inn, an old, storied pub in Oxford that's been around since the early 1600's (!). The Trout Inn faces the Thames River and is a fantastic place for outdoor dining in the summer. The food's solid and the ambiance inside is warm, cozy, and all around really inviting.

There's so much more to the pub, however.

Because it's so close to Oxford University, it has a ton of cool history associated with it. For example, did you know that on this same riverbank Lewis Carroll (a lecturer of mathematics at Christchurch College) entertained Alice Liddell and her sisters with imaginative stories that would later become Alice in Wonderland?

Or that the Trout Inn was one of CS Lewis's favorite hangouts, where he and his literary buddies would often "sit on the wall with the Isis flowing below us and munch cheese and French bread"* ?

For some reason, knowing that these literary greats used to hang out at the pub makes it that much cooler to visit. It's like you're experiencing a bit of the past when you step into that warm, cozy bar.

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Oxford: The Turf Tavern and Jamie's Italian

>>  Monday, February 27, 2012

This is the fourth post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, RicardKitchen W8Fernandez and Wells, and the Trout Inn.

I guess it's a bit misleading to call my series "Winter In London" when a large portion of my trip was actually in Oxford.

Oxford is a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit if you have time. The train ride from Paddington Station in London is less than an hour. If you travel during off-peak hours (e.g. something like anytime after 9AM), you can save close to half off the fare of the ticket!

The city center itself is quite small, and most sites are within walking distance of each other.

This is Christ Church, an awe inspiring building whose dining hall was actually used in the Harry Potter films (yes, THAT dining hall with the sorting hat and all . ..).

I spent about 3 days in Oxford and had a chance to check out some of the famous pubs in the area.

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S'mores by the Fire + Giveaway!

>>  Saturday, February 25, 2012

I absolutely cannot believe it's already February and there's not a speck of snow on the ground.

I swear, I've never, ever experienced a winter like this before. In many ways, it's absolutely wonderful not to have to deal with slushy sidewalks, slippery driveways, and salt-laden shoes. On the other hand, I feel like we missed a season somehow.

It feels weird, and I'm starting to think I'm a seasons kind of gal, someone who actually enjoys the changes in the weather throughout the year. I wonder how I would fare in a place where weather never changes?

In any event, I'm still loving this mild weather we've been having. I couldn't ask for a nicer, gentler way of being initiated into the joys of traditional homeownership (shoveling, salting sidewalks, high heating bills, etc.). Perhaps we'll be in for a shock next winter.

Despite the fact that it's "mild" outside, the evenings still get chilly. Our new house has a fireplace, something I've never had the privilege of owning.

This past Valentine's Day I did something different. Bryan was out of town on a business trip, so I invited a couple of friends over, and we had a quiet girls' night in.

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Fernandez & Wells

>>  Friday, February 24, 2012

This is the third post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, Ricard and Kitchen W8.

Fernandez & Wells has only been open since 2007, but they already have four locations and a loyal following. It comes down to their simple yet effective philosophy:

"To provide freshly made, well-sourced food and drink in a space that is uncluttered, where the aromas are enticing and the service is friendly."

The menu items at Fernandez & Wells mostly hail from Spain - everything from chorizo sandwiches and morcilla (Spain's version of blood sausage) to one of Spain's most highly prized offerings, jamon IbĂ©rico (Spanish Iberian ham).

One my last day in London right before my flight back to Boston, I met up with fellow food blogger Jackie for a fun-filled Spanish-focused lunch. Luckily, Jackie grew up spending her summers in Spain. She not only speaks Spanish, she also knows a ton about their food.

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Homemade Soy Milk

>>  Thursday, February 23, 2012

As a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, I grew up loving the taste of fresh soymilk. Fresh soymilk is such a staple in a traditional Taiwanese breakfast, where it is often enjoyed hot with a deep fried culler (you tiao) and a sesame flatbread (shao bing).

When I was a kid, my mom used to make fresh soybean milk at home. The process was laborious. First, you soak soybeans in waer overnight. Then you steam the soy beans, blend them (in small batches), squeeze out the milk with a cheesecloth, and then slowly cook the entire mixture again over low heat.

The process would take all day, but the results were delicious.

More recently, my mom told me that my uncle (who is vegan) now makes soymilk at home using his Vitamix blender. Since I have a Blenctec blender at home, I decided to try it myself.


I don’t think I’m ever going to buy soymilk at the market again. Not only is this stuff delicious, it only costs  a few cents to make (even organic soy beans are pretty cheap), and I can make it anytime I crave soy milk.

First of all, I do want to clarify that the soymilk that comes out of the Blendtec tastes like fresh, Asian soymilk. It has the full glory of the soy bean taste, which I love, but which some people may find to be too strong.

This does not taste like Silk vanilla flavored soymilk. Instead, it tastes more like the thick, creamy stuff you can buy in Chinatown.

I think it’s absolutely delicious.

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Food Blogging & Photography Workshop at ITASA in Atlanta

>>  Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did you ever think Taiwanese meat sauce over rice could look so beautiful?

I was floored and blown away by the creativity of the students at my workshop this past weekend at the annual East Coast ITASA (Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association) Conference at Georgia Tech University.

Yes! I gave my first food blogging workshop and it was super fun! Here's a recap of what I talked about, as well as some photos from the workshop itself!

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Boston Rescue Mission Fundraising Update

>>  Saturday, February 18, 2012

I am thrilled to report that the Tiny Urban Kitchen fund has currently raised over $3700 for the Boston Rescue Mission!

Thanks so much for those of you who donated generously to help those in need. Homelessness is a serious problem in Massachusetts.

On Superbowl Sunday, fellow food bloggers Michelle from Fun, Fearless in Beantown, Elina from Healthy and Sane, Meghan from Travel, Wine, and Dine, and I spent our afternoon cooking and serving our ever-so-popular bacon wrapped pork loin at the Boston Rescue Mission Sunday Community Dinner.

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Grilled Skirt Steak (Tacos)

>>  Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unlike most American cooks, I am woefully inexperienced when it comes to cooking meat.

I guess we seldom (if ever) grilled meat at home growing up. My mom never made large roasts in the oven, or baked a whole chicken. Instead, our meals were predominantly Chinese stir fry dishes, which typically consists of tiny, cut up pieces of meat quickly cooked with tons of vegetables.

I'm not exactly complaining. I'm a vegetable lover at heart, and it if weren't for my love of sushi, I could seriously consider becoming a vegetarian.

Nevertheless, writing this blog has made me expand my horizons and explore areas I never dabbled in before.

Even though it's the middle of "winter" (umm, where's the snow?), we rolled out the grill last week in order to make skirt steak tacos.

I am continuously surprised at how easy it is to cook meat.

This skirt steak recipe is really simple; doesn't require too much advance planning; and tastes delicious. Just marinate the steak in a lovely concoction of lime juice, blood orange juice, garlic, and cilantro for about 30 minutes. It grills up beautifully and tastes fantastic.

We made used them to make tacos, but you could easily make fajitas, sandwiches, or any other dish that requires small pieces of sliced up steak.

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Om (dinner)

>>  Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We’d been to Om a long time ago, for brunch only.

Even though it’s quite close to where we live, Bryan and I never really had much interest in trying it out. Perhaps it was the mediocre reviews we read. Or perhaps it’s because Upstairs on the Square, one of our favorite summer hangouts, was always right across the street, beckoning.

This changed when we heard that Patricia Yeo, previously from Ginger Park (and before that, many places, including Mesa Grill and AZ in New York), was going to become the new executive chef.  

How often does a chef move from New York City to Boston to open up a place?

One evening last fall, when the weather was still barely warm enough for us to sit outside, we walked over to Om to try Chef Yeo’s new menu.

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Area Four

>>  Monday, February 13, 2012

A massive, fire-roaring brick oven in the center of the room.

A huge chalkboard neatly filled with the day’s food and drink offerings.

Floor-to-ceiling windows streaming in tons of sunlight.

The moment I entered into the space, I instinctively told myself, “I love this vibe.” Area Four is modern yet relaxed; trendy yet chill. It’s very, very Cambridge. I immediately decided I really, really wanted to love this place. Who wouldn’t want such a cool and inviting space to also have fantastic food?

Thankfully, after that visit, Area Four has become one of my favorite new restaurants in Cambridge.

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>>  Friday, February 10, 2012

Foumami chicken cutlet
You know it was bound to happen right?

It's an ingenious concept that was just waiting for someone to pick up.

First, start with the Chinese shao bing, a flaky, savory pastry that the Chinese have been eating for centuries as a outer "shell" to wrap you tiao (Chinese fried crullers) or beef and scallions.

Next, fill it with all sorts of different creative, non traditional but tasty Asian meats and vegetables.

Finally, open up a trendy sandwich shop where people can pick and choose what they want.

It's like a creative Bao Haus, but applied to shao bing sandwiches. Imagine a shao bing sandwich with Korean bulgolgi inside, or maybe filled with a Japanese pork cutlet (tonkatsu)?   The possibilities are endless.

If executed right, it's a clear winner, no doubt.

Guess what? Michael Wang, a son of restaurant owners in China and an MBA from Harvard, has done just that in Foumami.

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10th Annual S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competion (New England Regionals)

>>  Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Last night was a really, really exciting night.

Six extraordinarily talented culinary students, each representing a different local school, competed under intense pressure for the New England Regionals crown at Bunker Hill Community College.

Stakes were huge. The winner would be flown to Napa Valley to represents New England in the Nationals Competition in March. Winner of the  Nationals Competition would receive $10,000 along with a one year paid apprenticeship from one of the chef judges.

Each competitior had exactly 2 hours to prepare and plate a final dish for the judges to try.

This year I got a really special treat.

I got to be one of the judges!

This means I finally had the privilege to taste all of the impressive dishes the competitors made. Can I tell you how hard it is to watch the judges eat year after year when all you can do is take pictures?

I was thrilled.

Here's my recap of the fun evening!

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Kitchen W8

This is the second post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, Ricard, Fernandez & Wells, Oxford, the Turf Tavern and Jamie's Italian, and the Trout Inn.

If you have any choice in which season to visit London, I would highly recommend the spring.

I first visited London this past year in April when flowering trees were all in full bloom. I stayed in a lovely hotel right in Kensington. Kensington is a leafy and affluent area on the West side of London. It's surrounded by other posh areas like Notting Hill and Knightsbridge.

I loved just walking around the neighborhood. There were tons of gorgeous houses, tree-lined paths, and quaint little streets. Artisanal bakeries, little boutiques, and other small shops lined the streets near my hotel.

My favorite part was this gorgeous garden right next to my hotel. I finally had a chance to walk through this garden to visit Kitchen W8.

Kitchen W8 is a new, one-Michelin starred restaurant opened in 2009 by Phil Howard, chef-owner of 2-star Michelin restaurant The Square, and restaurantaur Rebecca Mascarenhas. Humbly named after the the city zone in which it resides, Kitchen W8 aims to be your local restaurant that is your "home from home."

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Bob Bob Ricard

>>  Monday, February 06, 2012

This is the first post in the series Winter in LondonOther posts include Bob, Bob, RicardKitchen W8Fernandez and Wells, The Turf Tavern and Jamie's Italian, and the Trout Inn.

Would you believe it if I told you that I canceled my reservation at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant to come to this Russian/English place?

Crazy? Perhaps, but there was a reason.

I was so very, very exhausted.

I had been commuting to our offices near Oxford each day, getting home close to 8PM each night. I was starving, and really didn't feel like waiting until my 9PM reservation to start my dinner at Gordon Ramsey.

So I canceled it, hoping to find something a bit closer and sooner. Thankfully, my local London food blogger friend Jackie had e-mailed me a list of interesting restaurants to try. After looking at various menus online, I settled upon Bob Bob Ricard, a newish (opened in 2008) Russian/English restaurant in the heart of Soho in London.

Though some may argue that neither Russia nor England is known internationally for its cuisine, I was actually quite pleased with the food. Furthermore, Bob Bob Ricard is really, really interesting in so many other ways, making it a worthy destination in London.

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Winter in London

>>  Friday, February 03, 2012

I've mentioned before that my husband travels a lot for work (often resulting in opportunities to eat some fantastic food around the world).

Once in a rare while, the tables will turn and I'll be the one going on a business trip by myself.

This past December, I had the privilege of visiting London and Oxford in early December, smack in the middle of the holiday season. It was my first time staying in the old, beautiful city of Oxford. It was also my first time seeing London filled with Christmas trees, colorful lights, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming posts of food I enjoyed in England, as well as just some cool photos of Oxford and London.


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you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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