Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to Europe - Finland

On my way back to Croatia, my first stop was Helsinki (Finland) but unfortunately only the airport...Even so, I had the opportunity to try some of their delicacies. I was surprised with how exquisite the products were.  

My pick was the Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian Pasty ( I thought all this time it was Pastry, I am not even sure what Pasty is)

It was a rye crust with creamy rice filling topped with salty butter/egg spread. Loved it!
Sure enough, once I came home I attempted to make it. As you can see on the photo below, it looked quite similar. 

Everything was wonderful, but the crust was way too hard. I did moisten it with butter and milk solution but it didn't work as well. As I watched a youtube video on how to make the Pasties, I noticed they dip the whole thing in the butter/milk solution! I guess that's why it was softer, because a dough made of flour and water cannot be soft. 

All in all, it was delicious and the filling can also be made with potatoes, but I prefer rice. 
Here is the link for the recipe! Enjoy! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I remember the day I discovered Milk Tea. My dearest friend from India has showed me how they drink their tea (since he was shocked in our way of drinking it with water) and I loved it! 
As I child I would often visit friends from Vienna with my parents and they always drank strong black tea with a touch of milk which is essentially what milk tea is but slightly altered. It is commonly enjoyed in the UK, India, Austria and Asia and I am sure elsewhere. They are all so similar but yet so different.   

My favorite is the Hong Kong style Milk Tea. It is so smooth, rich, creamy and strong at the same time. When I first tried it, I LOVED it and had waaay too much of it which made  me shiver from the high amounts of caffeine.Oops...

When I came to HK, I had to have milk tea each day! It is served in most places and the whole process is quite interesting. As you can see on the photo above, there are four pots of super strong black tea which are brewed and then strained through huge "stockings". You can order it hot or cold. Most commonly is served hot. 

The process of making it is very simple, I have attached a link here. I prefer to have mine hot with evaporated milk rather than condensed.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hong Kong part 2

In this part I will show you pastries I "picked up" on the way while sightseeing (I was always looking for bakeries). I knew about some products I tried while I was still in NYC, but this was as authentic as it can get.
Hong Kong has many bakeries with amazing and unusual pastries and breads I have seen so far. What I've noticed, all the breads and super white and extremely light and fluffy. Yes, they do contain high levels of food additives which gives that particular texture, but that's what makes them so delicious :) 

On the inside of this bun there was a layer of glutinous rice dough and the middle was completely liquid! I am not quite sure what it was but to me it seemed like sweetened egg yolk that just oozed out (trust me, I tried taking a picture, but it went all over the place).

This was my favorite while I was still in NY. Pineapple bun or with it's original name Bolo Bao literally means Pineapple bread (also the only and most important word I know in Cantonese besides thank you). It has a fluffy texture with a sugary, crispy, buttery top, mmmm. You can get it plain or with many different fillings, but the most common and traditional one in HK is plain (still warm), with a chunk of cold butter inside. Holy Bao! I didn't know what to do with myself how good it was.

Egg tart is the most traditional Cantonese dessert. They are made everywhere, but it is very hard to find a perfect one, which I was lucky enough to experience. Some have shortcrust, some kind of puff pastry. The one above was quite unusual because as I was told, most people only eat the filling not the crust, and this particular one was cup shaped because of how much filling it had. It was very good until I tried the one below. This place specializes in egg tarts that are served still warm with the custard center still partially liquid. The crust, custard, flavor, texture, everything was perfect. 

Here we have a small tapioca and rice flour bun, more salty then sweet, flavored with black sesame.

HK is also the king of sago or tapioca pearls. I remember when I first came to the States I was served a tapioca pudding, boy I hated it. It was the first time for me to experience that kind of texture which I adore now. I went to this place by recommendation from my fellow and absolutely amazing coworker and friend who is from HK. In this cup from the bottom are small tapioca pearls, mango puree and chunks united with smooth coconut milk. Slightly sweet, perfect dessert. 

This was some type of laminated dough, but layered with a chocolate paste. Texture was quite good, but the flavor of chocolate or coco powder wasn't as good. Still, very nice idea and definitely eye catching!

I will do another post on Hong Kong, because there are a few more things I'd like to share with you! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hong Kong part 1

What a city! It was my first visit to Asia and what an experience. I  must say though, Hong Kong is nothing like rest of the China. It is almost like NYC but packed. Super tall buildings, lots of people, and high humidity. 

I was very excited to see my other half  who works there as an executive chef and could show me around the city and give me a good culinary tour. First stop was "Sun Tung Lok", and the third restaurant in HK to hold three Michelin stars. They are famous for their shark's fin dumpling/soup and suckling pig delicacies. 

     I loved how you see small food joints everywhere around the city. You can sit down, have a bowl of noodles and be completely satisfied for only $4.

I absolutely love how Jasmin rice is eaten everywhere. It is always perfectly cooked, served mostly with a choice of roasted pig (in this case suckling), duck, steamed chicken...and my favorite ginger scallion sauce. I could put it on anything. 

 I used the opportunity to buy some local spices like ginseng, goji berries, black sesame seeds and Chinese cane sugar. I use ginseng mostly in tea, but also as an addition to soups alongside with goji berries and ginger. Black sesame should be toasted first, mainly because it is easier to digest and the flavor is more pronounced. This applies to any other seed. Do you see how this lady's using this forgotten method to calculate the price?

This is the market in the Central. It is opened every day and you can buy anything from eggs, spices, vegetables, dry goods, but also fish, shellfish and meat that is sitting outside without refrigeration.

There is a high consumption of soy products including firm and silken tofu made daily.

When I saw there is rice pizza...Let's  put it this way. There is rice anything!!
All of their foods are mostly presented in a window display but made of plastic. They did a pretty good job I must say. 

My next post will be focused on my area - sweets!! I had to give a bit of of introduction first and then we can move onto the best part ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

New blog, new start, new life

The day has come when I had to have my last sip of a perfectly brewed espresso topped with smooth and silky Hudson Valley milk at Stumptown coffee roasters. I am sure I will be heading to New York again, but when that'll be...I don't know at this point. 
I am happy I have finished my US journey so successfully and enjoyed every bit of it. These past five years have really changed who I am today and enriched me in both professional and personal way. 
In the meantime I have visited Hong Kong, Budapest and Vienna and now I am finally home after a year. I will be talking more about Hong Kong and Budapest in the next posts, but now I will put my 10 favorite food places in NYC as promised ;) 

1. Stumptown coffee
2. Recette
3. Daniel
4. Eleven Madison Park
5. Mamoun's falafel 
6. Pho Grand
7. Blue Ribbon Sushi
8. The Breslin
9. Momofuku noodle bar (go for kimchi and steamed buns!)
10. Union square greenmarket