Beef Fillet Hors d’oeuvre with German Mustard

Beef Fillet Hors d'oeuvre German Mustard

While making a beef wellington today, I came up with the idea of making an additional hors d’oeuvre using the extra beef fillet I had. With the following simple steps, a plate of colorful appetizers came quickly:

Ingredients:

– Beef fillet with fat trimmed

German Mustard

– Crostini pieces

– One fresh tomato

– Two ounces of fresh spinach leaves

– ¼ ounce of fresh rosemary

– Two table spoons of plain yogurt

– Two teaspoons of sugar

– Olive oil

Procedure:

Cut beef fillet into small pieces. Add sage leaves in olive oil over medium heat; when heated, add beef fillet pieces. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Cut beef fillet into small pieces. Add sage leaves in olive oil over medium heat. When heated, add beef fillet pieces. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Mix three ounces of German Mustard with two table spoons of plain yogurt and two tea spoons of sugar.

Mix three ounces of German Mustard with two table spoons of plain yogurt and two tea spoons of sugar.

Wash the tomato and spinach leaves. Cut the tomato into small pieces.

Wash the tomato and spinach leaves. Cut the tomato into small pieces.

Crostini can be made by baking slices of oiled baguette in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spread the mustard-yogurt mixture on top of the bread pieces; then, add a beef fillet, spinach leaf, and tomato piece on each piece.

Spread the mustard-yogurt mixture on top of the crostini pieces; then, add a beef fillet, spinach leaf, and tomato piece on each piece.

Enjoy this quick and easy hors d'oeuvre!

Enjoy this quick and easy hors d’oeuvre!

Snapshots of Napa Valley

Located in Northern California about 1.5 hours from San Francisco, Napa Valley attracts tourists from far and near for its famed wineries and fascinating food. With hundreds of splendid wineries and dozens of top-rated restaurants, Napa Valley is popular among those who seek the ultimate wine and dine experience.

During a recent trip to Napa Valley, I got a chance to take picture of a few famous restaurants and wineries.

The French Laundry by Chef Thomas Keller. The world-famous restaurant is located at an ordinary-looking farm house in Yountville, Napa Valley.

The French Laundry by Chef Thomas Keller. The world-famous restaurant is located at an ordinary-looking farm house in Yountville, Napa Valley.

The French Laundry has its own chef’s garden. The fertile soil in Napa Valley cultivates some of the freshest produces for fine dining.

The French Laundry has its own chef’s garden. The fertile soil in Napa Valley cultivates some of the freshest produce for fine dining. The freshness of the garden vegetables enhances the restaurant dining experience.

The French Laundry’s garden is open to the public.

The French Laundry’s garden is open to the public.

The Bouchon Restaurant, another famous restaurant by Thomas Keller in Yountville, Napa Valley.

The Bouchon Restaurant, another famous restaurant by Thomas Keller in Yountville, Napa Valley.

Castello di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Napa Valley. In addition to wine tasting, a tour is offered inside the Tuscan castle. “Castello di Amorosa” translates to “castle of love” in Italian.

Castello di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Napa Valley. In addition to wine tasting, a tour is offered inside the Tuscan castle. “Castello di Amorosa” translates to “castle of love” in Italian.

Why do people love to wine and dine in Napa Valley? Perhaps, the answer is in the lush greenery of the vineyards.

Why do people love to wine and dine in Napa Valley? Perhaps, the answer is in the lush greenery of the vineyards.

 

A Visit to The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America is well regarded as the best culinary school in the United States. I was always curious on how the school cultivated many of the world’s most successful chefs.

During a visit to The Culinary Institute of America’s California campus, I was able to find some clues.

The Culinary Institute of America has four campuses in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore. The California campus nestles at the heart of the Napa Valley wine country, overlooking fields of grape yards and dozens of bustling wineries.

The Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, California

When I visited yesterday, the school was closed for the summer break, but luckily, there is a one-hour weekly cooking demonstration to food enthusiasts from around the world. The demonstration simulates an actual cooking class at the school by a regular instructor in a real classroom.

The instructor we had was Chef Ken, a soft-spoken man with a gentle smile. The demonstration was how to make the Italian version of Rissole. At the end of the demonstration, the food savvy audience gave an appreciative round of applause for his lively explanation of the ingredients and procedure. What impressed me most, though, was how he introduced food culture and history as well as cooking tips and tricks—all during the course of demonstrating a single recipe.

Culinary-Demonstration.IntroduceCulture

When making the dough for the Rissole, Chef Ken talked about the concept of Mediterranean “wheat” as well as Chinese “mian” (“flour”), how people in various parts of the world prepare dough, and how the particular Italian style dough he was making was different. In a casual and natural way, I quickly learned about an important piece of food culture and history.

 

 

Culinary-Demonstration.BatterThe audience is free to ask questions anytime during the cooking demonstration, just like students in regular classes. When the lady sitting behind me asked about pancakes while Chef Ken was making dough, he gave a detailed suggestion on how to make batter for different purposes.

Culinary-Demonstration.tricks

 

When another audience asked what kind of salt he was using, he gave a thorough explanation on different kinds of salt and their features (though he noted that all basic salts were the same in taste).

 

Sitting in the classroom, I learned tricks for battering and tips for choosing salt.

Imagine how much one can learn from enriching and inspiring classes like this every day! Suddenly, it occurred to me that perhaps this is why The Culinary Institute of American is the cradle of so many top culinary professionals in America.

As the school’s website says, The Culinary Institute of America not only trains students in cooking, but also instills in students values of “excellence, leadership, professionalism, ethics, and respect for diversity”  through the cooking curriculum.

I had a wonderful trip today!

Photos of the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California:

 

Overlooking the wine country.

Overlooking the wine country

The Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, California

The Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, California

2016 International Youth Food Culture Contest

On a cool summer evening two years ago, a seemingly ordinary image on Food Network caught my attention.

A young girl in a remote, poverty-stricken village in Southeast Asia was clinging to a picture she drew — a picture of local produce. Her face was beaming with the happiest smile. On the side of her drawing, a few words were neatly written which translated to: I love to cook.

Instantly, my heart lightened up. I might not know which language this girl spoke or where her village was, but I could feel her joy, pride, and hope—the language of food is universal.

This marked the beginning of the concept of International Youth Food Culture Contest, a food-focused writing and art contest for middle and high school students around the world. In both the 2014 and 2015 contests, we received entries from students in four continents of the world. The wonderful entries expressed thoughts, shared experiences, voiced passions, and showcased talents—all about food. I am glad and grateful that the contest, sparked from a small TV image, has connected so many people through food.

Submission for the 2016 Contest is now open. Submission guidelines are available here. There is no fee to enter.

If you or a friend is interested in the contest, we would love to hear from you! The submission deadline is July 31, 2016.

Enjoy your summer!

When Technology Comes to the Dining Table

By now, we have all become familiar with touch screen devices in airports, libraries, and other service facilities. But have you used a small screen at a restaurant table to order food, play games, and pay bills?

Today, upon arriving at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Fremont, California, I saw a cute, little device sitting on every dining table. The touch-screen device called “Ziosk” is the latest gadget that allows customers to study menus, make orders, call servers, pay bills and even play games at the tips of their fingers. I tried it for the first time. It turned out to be simple, convenient—and fun!

This new gadget sits at every dining table.

This new gadget sits at every dining table.

You can study menus, make orders, call servers, pay bills and even play games at the tips of your fingers.

You can study menus, make orders, call servers, pay bills and even play games at the tips of your fingers.

Explore menus

Explore menus

Explore menus.

Explore menus.

Explore menus

Explore menus

Make orders.

Make orders.

You can play games while waiting for your food.

You can play games while waiting for your food.

Check your bill.

Check your bill.

Make payment.

Make payment.

Take your receipt.

Take your receipt.

The device brings ease and comfort to the patrons while reducing the workload of the servers. It also speeds up the process of ordering and making payments. And best of all, you do not need to be a techie to make full use of it.

When technology comes to the dining table, amazing things happen!

A Taiwanese Dim Sum Experience in Silicon Valley

I have long heard about Din Tai Fung, a popular international chain restaurant known for its exquisite steamed soup dumplings (“XiaoLongBao”) and other dim sum dishes. Originated from Taiwan, the chain now has many locations throughout Asia, the U.S. and Australia. The restaurants are usually situated in trendy shopping malls and bustling business centers.

Image1Recently, Din Tai Fung opened a branch at the heart of Silicon Valley. For the first few weeks, people had to line up for hours in the crowded Valley Fair Mall just to get into the door. To accommodate the overwhelming enthusiasm of foodies, the restaurant just started to use online reservations to fill in all its seating. Lucky to get a table reserved a week ago, I went there today to experience the quintessential Taiwanese dim sum.

I was not disappointed, as you can see from below:

Open kitchen.

Open kitchen.

Making dumplings. Looks fun? Wait till you eat.

Making dumplings. Looks fun? Wait till you eat.

“Fish Dumplings” – love the soothing tenderness.

“Fish Dumplings” – I love the soothing tenderness.

“Pork XiaoLongBao” – love the juicy meat filling and the exquisite folds.

“Pork XiaoLongBao” – I love the juicy meat fillings and the exquisite folds.

“Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce” – love the luscious aroma.

“Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce” – I love the luscious aroma.

“Vegetable and Pork Wonton with Spicy Sauce” – love the robust taste.

“Vegetable and Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce” – I love the robust taste.

“Snow Crab & Pork XiaoLong Bao” – love the exotic flavor under the delicate dough skin.

“Snow Crab & Pork XiaoLong Bao” – I love the exotic flavor under the delicate dough skin.

What is this?

What is this?

“Shrimp & Pork Pot Stickers” – love the subtle savor under the crispy skin.

“Shrimp & Pork Pot Stickers” – I love the subtle savor under the crispy skin.

Sitting in a mall in San Jose, I was savoring a tradition an ocean away. The food at Din Tai Fung, with the original finesse and flair of Taiwan, allowed me to experience a wonderful piece of Chinese culture.

When cultures transcend borders, food always leads the way.

I wish everyone an exciting and enriching summer experience!

Salmon Guacamole Chips – A Snack Experiment

We all have that “hungry” moment: walking home after a long day of school, the stomach craves a tasty snack—as tasty as possible.

Experiencing such a hunger attack today, I opened the fridge and created the following snack.

Unused-Image-SalmonChips

Ingredients:
– Fresh avocado
– Fresh mango
– Fresh corn
– Fresh lemon
– Salt
– Tortilla chips, alternatively, regular chips
– Salmon sashimi or “sushi-grade” salmon, alternatively, cooked salmon.
– Washed spinach leaves

Procedures:

Peel fresh avocado and mango, and cut into small pieces.

Peel fresh avocado and mango, and cut into small pieces.

Smash avocado. Add mango pieces. Mix thoroughly.

Smash avocado. Add mango pieces. Mix thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squeeze fresh lemon into the avocado mix. Mix thoroughly. Add salt.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the avocado mix. Mix thoroughly. Add salt.

Cut kernels off the cob of a boiled corn.

Cut kernels off the cob of a boiled corn.

Add corn kernels to the avocado mix. Mix thoroughly to make guacamole.

Add corn kernels to the avocado mix. Mix thoroughly to make guacamole.

Cut salmon sashimi or cooked salmon into small pieces.

Cut salmon sashimi or cooked salmon into small pieces.

Add salmon pieces, guacamole, and spinach leaves to tortilla chips.

Add salmon pieces, guacamole, and spinach leaves to tortilla chips.

The snack was so appetizing that I quickly finished two plates. There is a famous saying about appetizers: “Appetizers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite.” This was certainly my case today, and I truly hope that this snack and appetizer can bring you a moment of joy.