Monday, February 28, 2011

Croissant ~ Kim Saulter

Le P'tit Laurent

Le P'tit Laurent
Several of my friends told me Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday and that they can celebrate love everyday, they don't need to wait until February 14th. If that's truly the case, they should all plan on taking their beloved to Le P'tit Laurent for a cozy dinner for two.

I was recently invited to be a guest at Le P'tit Laurent and I can't wait to go back. It booked up quickly for Valentine's Day and it's no wonder why. Though located just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Glen Park BART station in San Francisco, it's the quintessential French bistro, decorated with all things French–a pressed tin ceiling, a collection of antique corkscrews, vintage posters and liquor signs. The waiters and waitresses are French. I can't imagine not being charmed from the moment you walk in.

The food is classic bistro fare, onion soup, mussels marinieres, beef bourgignon, cassoulet, frisee salad with bacon and poached egg, bouillabase. Call if French comfort food. These are familiar flavors, nothing fancy, but hearty and warming. I had the Rabbit Normandy, served with fingerling potatoes. It was rich and had a slightly tangy sauce. The portion was enormous. Prices are reasonable and there is a very good prix fixe for only $22.

For dessert, don't miss the "Pain Perdu" or caramelized French toast with ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. One bite and you will forget you are in San Francisco and all the cares of the world will melt away like the ice cream on your plate. And isn't that the point of going out to eat in the first place?

Le P'tit Laurent
699 Chenery Street @ Diamond St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 334-3235
Sunday - Thursday 5:30 pm thru 9:30 pm
Friday- Saturday 5:30 pm thru 10:30 pm

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Super blogger Sunday: Sandhya of Sandhya's kitchen

This week's featured blogger in Super blogger series is a first in a way that she was the first one to be featured as a Budding blogger in Sept 2009 when the series was started.....Meet Sandhya of Sandhya's kitchen who has come a long way from being featured as a Budding blogger to the Super blogger series..She is nearing 2 years of blogging and her continued stint in blogging has seen her posting different varieties and beautiful pictures..Read more about her
EC: Tell us something about yourself

Sandhya: Thank u Ec for this lovely opportunity ..Glad to get featured in the same place where I was first featured as a budding blogger.

My Blog baby sandhya's kitchen is turning 2 years ( growing into a toddler) by May this year..Its been a great journey throughout. Got myself an identity among friends n relatives...

My writing skills , photography and above all cooking skills have scaled drastically.. Every post brings a new definition to my creativity !! I try posting once a week.. This gives me my space in balancing time for my family n blogging. 3 years since I have been off work , but I m on 24*7 on the go with Lil V.

I m managing 2 other blogs , One is on my lil one Vedant which is quite personal.I have been recording his activities over a period of time and drafting them into posts. Tats when I started blogging. The other budding blog I m working on is HELP ME BLOGGING : This blog entirely features on posts how to improve / enhance your blogs .

EC: Who and what inspired you to start food blogging ?? Blogs that were an inspiration to you during your initial blogging days.

Sandhya : I started Sandhya's Kitchen to make a note of recipes from the family for my own reference. Slowly wanted to improvise it with a few pics.. But now it has become my full fledged hobby working for it .

Aah... There are quite a few blogs that have been my inspiration..

Meeta's Whats for lunch Honey . This blog has been something tat I have always loved reading and admiring for pictures.. Would be really excited the day Meeta visits my blog and leaves her verdict!!

Gordon Ramsay ..Love his presentation skills in tele programs..

EC: How much technical knowledge does one need for a neat and organised blog ?

Sandhya: Not much really !! Just basic knowledge .. Having working experience in IT , one wud definitely use it up where-ever possible.. Tats exactly what I hav done in my space. My blog Help me Blogging is an end result of this . Wherever I have had the need to search for gadgets / applications to enhance my blog or whenever I have encountered problems, I would end up drafting them in notepads with solutions. Now they are turning into posts..

EC : What do you feel are necessary for sustained blogging ?

Sandhya: Regular blog updating . Visit other blogs and leave comments. Facebook acquaintance.

EC: The pictures on your blog are beautiful..pls share some tips on food photography

Sandhya : Thank u.... :) I m still on a learning curve... My Canon 500 D is my companion .... I use both my lens : 18-55mm , 55-255mm . A new member to do them best is my Tripod...

I always click pics in Daylight . For the last 6 Months , I have started appreciating this and find a class apart standard in pics clicked in day light and any other time of the day. Just cannot click pics past dawn anymore.

Use white backgrounds like ur white duvet / dinning cloth , white thermocol for reflectors ,

Setting: use Manual mode ,minimum ISO and increase the capture time like 1/8th of sec - 1 sec ... For this you definitely need a Tripod.

EC: You have baked a lot..which is the recipe that would you suggest for a first timer and some tips on baking

Sandhya : Baking has been my newly fond passion.. I would suggest the Fairy Cup cake Recipe . Something tat most of my guests love .... Very easy.. and You will get them right.

Tips on Baking :

Always measure right.. There is no approximate measurement here.

For eggless baking , use Yogurt - an excellent replacer. I m in love with Silken tofu - they are fantastic replacers...

EC: Your favourite vegetarian recipe

Sandhya : Its Sev Puri ....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Corn and peas creamy salad


1 cup cooked sweet corn
1 cup cooked green peas
2 tbsp eggless mayonnaise
Salt to taste
Bit of pepper powder

Mix all of them together and serve immediately.

* Can add some crushed potato chips for kids.
simple and quick salad, creamy salad variety, how to make creamy salad, easy and healthy salad for kids, mayonnaise salad, hotel style salad

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ninja Professional Blender Review

Ninja Professional Blender review
I was curious to try out the Ninja blender and to see how it compared to my VitaMix. The VitaMix is tremendously powerful and makes the smoothest creamiest purees, sauces and smoothies. While I love it, I don't love the price, which is around $500.

I like the design of the Ninja. It looks sleek and similar to the VitaMix. The pitcher locks easily onto the base and has a very firm fitting lid with a spout to make adding ingredients or pouring easy. There are only a few buttons and they are all enclosed so it's easy to clean. The pitcher is lightweight and BPA free. The biggest difference in the construction is the blade configuration, there are 6 blades that run up the stem in the Ninja. They are very sharp!

So how did the Ninja do? I did two tests. In one I made a smoothie with milk, ice and a frozen banana. At least, I tried to make a smoothie. What I got was a smooth drink with little chips of ice. No matter how long I blended on high, I could not get the little chips to become smooth. This is something a regular blender also has a problem doing but my VitaMix does very well.

I also tried blending some very fibrous cooked sugar snap peas. The VitaMix blended them into a thin green puree with no chunks or lumps. The Ninja did break up the peas but the result was not liquid, but more like a medium thick puree. I could see each little bit of material broken into what looked like tiny squares, rather than microscopic bits.

I didn't feel my tests were really enough so I asked my parents to compare the Ninja to the conventional blender they have at home. They were able to turn ice cubes into snow in seconds and found it to be a significant improvement over their regular blender, an Osterizer. All in all, the Ninja does a WAY better job than most conventional blenders. So if you are looking for something significantly more powerful, the Ninja is a good choice. But if you are looking for something as powerful as the VitaMix, this is not it.

Here is a rough breakdown of the power and price of each:

Osterizer=500 watts $20-$80 depending upon the model
Ninja=1000 watts about $99
VitaMix=1380 watts about $500, depending upon the model

Which blender do you have? Which model do you think is worth the price?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Helen Roberts & the Kikkoman Test Kitchen

Helen Roberts
Chef Helen Roberts is the manager of culinary development and public relations at Kikkoman. She works on consumer recipes using the whole range of Kikkoman products from soy sauce to panko bread crumbs to soy milk and beyond. She used to work in product development and was hired because of her amazing ability to taste subtle differences in 16 different soy sauces! At the time she was hired, she had never even tried Japanese food.

Kikkoman kitchen
I recently got to visit Helen and her test kitchen in downtown San Francisco. What a treat! Helen is friendly, enthusiastic and has a great sense of humor, and so it was no surprise to see that her recently renovated test kitchen in San Francisco is cheerful and lively as can be. The kitchen has a big island, two stoves and a large refrigerator. It also has a big flat screen television with cooking shows on all the time and the radio set to "old school." By the way, is there anything better than cooking with Prince playing in the background?

Kikkoman recipes
I had a great time cooking with Helen, whipping up some recipes for Valentine's Day. She was working on a version of a recipe she swears convinced her husband to propose to her. She fills puff pastry shells with a cajun spiced cream sauce (made with soy milk) and shrimp sauteed in butter. Helen made us a snack to nibble on while we cooked and shared tips with me such as use a splash of soy sauce in the water when you blanch vegetables instead of salt.

I made one of Helen's recipes for crab stuffed mushrooms which came out beautifully which is a testament to her skills, because I was so distracted chatting that I did not follow the directions as well as I should have.

Kikkoman office mates
The other recipe I made was from 1984, and it was not created by Helen. It shows how much tastes change. The original recipe for Artichokes with Zesty Blue Cheese Dip called for only one tablespoon of blue cheese! Needless to say, it needed a little more. Ok, a lot more. I've adapted it here if you'd like to try it. Helen's office mates liked it a lot. I think it's a great choice for Valentine's Day, after all, it has plenty of heart.

Note: since this recipe calls for boiling rather than steaming, and I found the artichokes I used cooked very quickly. If you prefer, you can cook the artichokes any way you like.

Artichokes with Zesty Blue Cheese Dip
(adapted from the Kikkoman Kitchen)
4 servings

4 medium (about 8 oz. each) artichokes 


1/2 cup mayonnaise 

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms 

2 Tablespoons minced green onions
6 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese 

2 teaspoons Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce 

Grated peel and juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

To prepare artichokes, slice 1 inch off tops; discard. Cut off stems even with base; remove small outer leaves. Trim off sharp leaf tips (about 1/2 inch) with kitchen shears or paring knife or scissors. Rinse artichokes under cold water. (To prevent darkening, rub lemon half on cut edges of artichokes.) Arrange artichokes upright in saucepan. Add water to depth of 2 inches. Bring water to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, or until leaves pull out easily.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, mushrooms, green onions, blue cheese, less sodium soy sauce, lemon juice and peel.

Drain artichokes; cool enough to handle. To serve, spoon the blue cheese mixture into a bowl, and serve with the artichokes.


Happy Valentine's Day ~ Emmaflam & Miniman

For more minis by Emmaflam & Miniman of Paris Miniatures, visit:

Valentine's Day Morning ~ After Dark Miniatures

For more minis by Eve at After Dark Miniatures, visit: