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El Mono Fresh in El Cerrito

Hooray! You are so welcome. So glad you enjoyed your meal. I had totally forgotten to mention how good the aji verde sauce was, glad you got a little cup of it.

When your sister returns, I'm sure if she asks them to make the chupe de camarones on the "soupy" side, that it will help avoid a repeat of the too-dry "wet paella" problem that tre2012 encountered.

El Mono Fresh in El Cerrito

I hope you enjoy it and have a tasty meal! If it matters, all my meals were dinners, I don't know if they have different cooks for lunchtime or not.

El Mono Fresh in El Cerrito

I really enjoy El Mono. I've been there three times (for dinner only, not lunch) and have never had a bad meal. The staff is sweet and friendly and tries very hard. They aren't the best trained yet at making sure waters are filled and dirty plates replaced quickly, so bring your good humor.

The chupe camarones we received was definitely soupy, like a bisque poured over rice. As it sat, the rice absorbed the broth so it got thicker and thicker over the course of dinner. Didn't mind that though as it meant the rice just got tastier and tastier. Everyone who tried it really loved it.

I also tried and liked the parihuela soup, which is somewhat like a cioppino, though on the spicier side and with a (to me) more interesting flavor profile. The seafood was all perfectly cooked, which is hard when the broth is so hot (temperature wise). It was fabulous spooned over some rice and beans.

My SIL ordered the choritos con pan al ajo and really enjoyed it. The mussels came in a creamy sauce that was just spicy enough for her (but not too spicy), with some sort of very flavorful smoky crumbled meat (beef maybe?) to make the sauce just as delicious as the mussels. She scraped the bowl clean.

The hamburgueson was a fine hamburger, nothing special. But you have to like onions. They mix a lot of onions into the beef.

Their causa de atun was like a tasty creamy mayo-less tuna salad. Not the most thrilling or daring of flavor profiles but I liked it a lot, and think it would make a yummy light lunch on a hot day.

One of the times I went we had some small kids with us. The chaufa de pollo (chicken, egg and rice) dish we got for them was pretty tasty, if a little too salty from a heavy hand with the soy sauce. It was almost exactly like a chicken fried rice you might get at a chinese restaurant. The chicken was tender and juicy and the egg bits had lacy crispy edges. The kids also nibbled on the sweet potato fries, the papa a la huancaina (potatoes and cheese!) and the tiny empanadas.

El Mono has my favorite canchas, tiny and very corn-tasting. A crisp shell with a soft middle. So very snackable.

I agree that El Mono's ceviche is not the best but I like it, and have definitely had worse. My favorite ceviche is still the one from Limon (Valencia) particularly before the fire.

I love beef heart and the anticuchos at El Mono are pretty good, though not quite as flavorful as the ones at La Mar or El Chalan. But they are way better than Furia Chalaca's, which always taste liver-y and burnt to me.

El Mono's helado de lucuma is seriously very good- much creamier than El Chalan's which is always a little oddly grainy to me (not icy, just... grainy).

The only thing I've had at El Mono that I don't really care for is their chicha morada. It's a little watery and thin tasting. My favorite chicha morada is Limon's. But El Mono's maracuya passionfruit juice is very tasty and sweet.

I like El Mono a lot and will go back many times more I'm sure. It's very convenient for me and I like their seasoning profile. I love Peruvian food and am so excited to have a good restaurant near me. But I'll still go to other restaurants if I want specific dishes like the tripe dish I adore at El Chalan, or the fancy tiny causas at La Mar, or the ceviche and chicha morada at Limon.

SF birthday dinner for a 7-year-old

If you will be going to Musee Mechanique (love that place!) you could go for sundaes at Ghiradelli Square afterward.

If you don't want to wait until you get home, near Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf and Musee Mechanique there is our own Ripley's Believe It or Not, a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, a "San Francisco Dungeon" (theatrical creepy history), and a Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze.

SF birthday dinner for a 7-year-old

Japantown thirded! I loved Japantown as a kid (still do, actually). If you can go during the day and she likes tea and scones, you could get a reservation to do a fancy afternoon tea at Crown and Crumpet, which is in the lobby of New People Mall (across from the regular Japantown Mall).

As Goldangl95 said, the various shops are really fun to spend time in. I practically tried to move into the bookstore and sanrio store as a kid (though the sanrio store is gone now, alas) and I probably would have spent all my allowance on stickers and stamps if Ichiban Kan and Daimo had been around when I was a kid.

And food! I loved Mifune for (as Calvinist mentioned) the fun kid's meal on a train-shaped tray. The taiyaki (redbean or chocolate-stuffed fish-shaped pancakes) at May's Coffee shop are great if you can get them freshly made. Also there are good crepes at Sophie's and cute cupcakes at Cako. Moyo frozen yogurt is also really fun if you have a picky eater who likes sweets. Every kid I've brought there has loved being able to pick their yogurt and toppings and mix n'match to their heart's content. Mango and bubblegum yogurt swirls topped with captain crunch and gummy bears? Go right ahead. After all, I don't have to eat it! :D

If your daughter likes mochi, don't miss Benkyodo and their mochi. If you're lucky they'll have some stuffed with fresh strawberry or blueberries which are so yummy. They're closed on Sundays.

Oori - on Solano [Albany]

Just went here and enjoyed it! I love onigiri and make them at home. So I definitely wanted to try this spot out.

Pic clockwise from bottom/front: Grilled salmon, unagi (with green drizzle), crab, spicy pork.

I liked the Grilled Salmon a lot. It was not oversalted, and the fish was fresh tasting. Plus they were generous pieces of salmon in it. My only complaint is that the teriyaki sauce was so mild that I couldn't taste it. Since the salmon had great flavor on its own I didn't mind really but it wasn't teriyaki flavored to me. The Unagi was nice, not too sweet, which I appreciated. The crab was fine, a mild creamy crab and mayo salad on rice. The spicy pork was actually spicy and had nice flavor, it was my companion's favorite.

Still a little hungry, I ordered the miso soup, the tofu onigiri and a plain onigiri with brown rice. The tofu was fine, nothing special. I could taste teriyaki sauce on the tofu and I appreciate that it wasn't candy-sweet, but the tofu needed something with a bit more oomph. Surprisingly (to me) the plain brown rice onigiri had great flavor with a nicely balanced sushi rice. The miso soup was also very tasty. Light, not too salty, not too miso-y.

For about $24 we had a very nice lunch. I'd go back.

A note of caution, the nori gets soggy and chewy really fast with the fresh rice and moist fillings, so just be prepared for that. It didn't bother me, but some people really like that crisp nori thing.

BBQ Teriyaki chicken in El Cerrito

The annual bazaar at Sycamore is a really great local festival. They have been doing this so long that it's a really smooth-running machine and yet still retains its sincere charm. Everyone seems to be smiling, it's infectious. Hot tea is free. They have teriyaki chicken, manju, futomaki, spam musubi, chirashi, and inari (as the OP mentioned), but also hamburgers, blackbean burgers, hotdogs, udon and curry rice. Plus a bakesale booth with tons of different cookies, quickbreads, and sometimes pies. Recent(ish) addition is an ice cream booth.

You don't need to buy raffle tickets (you can pay for everything with cash) but they can be spent same as cash and you get an entry into their raffle drawing for prizes donated by lots of local businesses.

Other non food stuff: they have the plant sale that glencora mentioned, as well as a silent auction (gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, movie tickets, gift baskets, etc). Lots of skill games for the kids (with prizes they can win), and a full lineup of live music performances (taiko mostly).

I've gone for years and always have a great time.

Afternoon tea places for a birthday?

Have to put in a plug for lovely afternoon tea at Pardee Home Museum in Oakland, though I think it may be hard to get a reservation there these days since they have a bunch of rave reviews and only do one seating at a time. Price went up to $30 (from $25). Still a steal.

cooking for yet another party of mixed food needs

Is the person allergic to onions allergic to all alliums or just onions? Is garlic okay?

Assuming garlic is okay, a few ideas:

Taco bar with corn tortillas (soft and crispy). For the main protein, grilled fish for the pescatarian and grilled beef or chicken for everyone else. Skip the onions or grill them separately for people to add themselves. Might as well grill/roast up some corn on the cob too, sprinkled with salt, lime and chile. Those who can have dairy can have it elote-style with cheese. Maybe have dairy-free paletas/popsicles (fruit, coconut, sweet potato) for dessert.


Skewer up some meats and veggies, make a few sauces to drizzle/dip into (hummus, roasted red pepper sauce, tzaziki for those who can have dairy, herb pesto, etc), serve with a rice pilaf (no onions), flatbread for those who can have it, and a side of fruit salad.


Japchae (korean noodle salad- the noodles are sweet potato/mung bean so should be gluten free, but of course check) tossed with lots of slivered veggies. Make one batch with veggies and tofu, mix the other with beef. To go with that, I love bindaetteok (savory mung bean pancakes kinda like potato pancakes) and they should be gluten-free and easy to make without onions. Maybe make some kimbap (often fish-free). Serve with some soju or sake :) Dessert could be shaved ice with fun toppings/syrups?

Best of luck! If you can make a multi-component meal I think you'll be fine. It's so kind of you to take their preferences into account for this meal.

Off The Grid -- El Cerrito

I think it may have just been an unlucky pick. They alternate two different lineups. My favorite of the two is the one next week. I like:
Liba Falafel has delicious falafel, soups and salads, and their fixin's bar is fun.
Seoul on Wheels has really good kimchi burritos with spicy pork
Ebbet's Good to Go has very nice grilled cheese sandwiches
Bacon Bacon's "Belly" sandwich is pretty tasty if you like good breakfast sandwiches. I like their chili too (comes with goldfish crackers).
Chairman Bao's sandwiches are very good but a bit small for the price
HapaSF's lumpia are good, and I thought their pancit was decent, if a little too salty
CupKate's (not Kara's Cupcakes) cupcakes are fantastic. Frostings aren't hideously sweet and the cakes are tender and flavorful. If you like apricot, the July seasonal apricot-almond cupcake is really good.

I don't often visit during the line up you were at, but Go Streatery often has tasty things. I love their oxtail and grits, it's rich and delicious. A little pricey but their flavor balances are nice. I haven't had Smokey's BBQ but I was pretty underwhelmed by An the Go. I found the meats were oversalted and overcooked. I don't think you eating there at 9pm was the problem- I was there at 7pm and the famed garlic noodles tasted like doughy undercooked chow mein noodles dripping with garlic oil. It was kinda gross. I have friends who adore them though, so it may just depend on the cook manning the noodle station that day.

Hope you find something you like better!

When your family just has to have bread bowls...

I third the recommendation for Boudin at the Wharf. They claim the bread is freshly baked on site, which may make it a touch better than the ones you are used to at Disneyland (unless they bake their bread bowls onsite too).

But to avoid too much of the touristy feel, I go upstairs to the restaurant (Bistro Boudin You avoid the cafeteria-style zoo in the downstairs Baker's Hall Cafe, and you get a view of the wharf and water if you sit by the window. If you don't go in the middle of the lunch or dinner rushes it can actually be a fairly peaceful little break from the otherwise chaotic Pier 39/Fisherman's wharf experience. They take reservations, so you shouldn't have to stand in line either, which I usually have more than enough experience with when in that area. Menu items are more expensive than they are downstairs though, so keep that in mind if budget is an issue. Chowder and breadbowl downstairs is $8.95. In the restaurant it's $9.95 for petite (which I think is similar to the size served in the cafe but I've never actually compared them) and $14.95 for the large/regular (which I'd never be able to finish, but hungry kids might). And the menu has many other seafoody things for you if you don't want chowder (local oysters perhaps? Crab bisque?


And while you're there (or if you have to wait for your table), you may want to check out Musee Mechanique (free to enter but the machines are coin-operated) or the USS Pampanito ($3 a person for the self-guided tour but for $6-$12 additional the audio tour is well done) which are both pretty fun to walk through.

You'll be in the right area to walk over and get those Ghiradelli fudge sundaes after dinner/lunch too :)

Ramen Street Festival part of J-Pop Summit, SF Japantown July 19-20, 2014!

I just went today (Saturday July 19th) and it was insane. Unless you adore long lines and standing in a claustrophobic crowd of unmoving people in the sun for hours, I would not recommend it. Although perhaps they will have worked out some of their timing issues for Sunday.

Some of the (many) problems:
* They started serving ramen 60-90 minutes after the promised opening time (11am). So the lines kept building with no food coming out to get things moving. People who showed up at 9:30am got ramen at 11:30am. But they were doled out in a slow trickle. Maybe a few bowls every 5 minutes. I showed up at 10:45am, was ~40th in line about 15 feet from the booth. I got my ramen at 1pm.

*There were separate lines for payment and service at each booth, so after you stood in one crazy line to order, you had to go stand in another one to actually get the food.

* None of these details or reasons for the delays were made clear to the crowds. Captive audience- they could have just made a few announcements.

*The lines were extremely long with no shade and people were stuck elbow to elbow. The line behind me stretched down the block and around the corner by 11am. I suspect the people near the end probably had to wait upwards of 4-5 hours, if they got any food at all.

*Each ramen restaurant had a separate booth and line (meaning 8 lines, each a block long, all coiled up and packed into one street), so you had to wait in each line if you wanted to try different kinds.

And after all that, the kicker was the ramen I had was pretty bad. I got the Horayia miso ramen (I wanted Men Oh or Tatsunoya but was outvoted by my companions because they don't like tonkotsu broth and for reasons I won't get into, we couldn't divide and conquer to stand in multiple lines). The noodles were really thick so they stayed firm, but the broth was so salty even I couldn't handle it and I love salt. I could barely choke down the amount of broth that clung to the noodles. I ate all the toppings because I was desperate for something to dilute the burn of salt blowing out my palate. I could have driven down to Mountain View and had a far superior bowl at Orenchi or Maru Ichi in the time it took to get this bowl.

Plus the lines created a real traffic jam at the already popular JPOP festival. Such a mess.

If you go on Sunday, a few tips.
- Show up early.
- Accept that you're going to be standing in a very long line
- Bring water and snacks and use the bathroom before you stand in line.
- Each line has a picket sign that indicates the end of the line. Find it and then pass it to the people who queue up behind you.
- Beware linecutters. Because the flow of the other festival goers often cut right through the lines and it's such a completely gridlock, it will be hard to recognize if someone has cut into your line or is just desperately trying to escape but is blocked in.
- aim for one of the tonkotsu ramen, they're the only ones that I heard people say were maybe worth the wait.

Hope this post saves someone else some of the aggravation I went through today!

Thank goodness I went to Benkyodo before all this drama and picked up a box of their delicious fresh mochi and manju. It did help make the wait a bit more tolerable, if not enjoyable.

Benkyodo in San Francisco's Japantown [San Francisco]

For those who don't want the heartbreak of arriving at Benkyodo to find that they are sold out of almost everything: you can call a few days before and they will set aside a box for you for pickup at the time of your choosing (I don't live in SF so it's a special trip to head to JTown).

It was very easy and meant I could insure that I had a really nice variety of mochi/manju even when I showed up at 3pm on a Saturday. They didn't seem to have any constraints on how many pieces I had to order. I got a dozen, approximately 1-2 pieces of several varieties and 4 ichigo (of course!).

As a note- when I picked mine up they were down to just a few ichigo and two other kinds (kuri and habutai). Everything else was sold out for the day.

Need tips for poaching eggs in tomato sauce

I make my shakshuka with a very thick chunky sauce. I just make a hole/well in the sauce with a spoon, like I'm planting a seedling, and crack the egg into that. The sauce creates a sort of poaching cup to keep the whites contained and brings the egg closer to the heat at the bottom so the whites cook faster (and the yolks don't get so overcooked).

Then I put a lid on the pan to trap in some of the heat to cook the top of the egg without having to spoon tons of sauce on top of the eggs. Seems to work pretty well. The edges are a bit ragged where they cook into the sauce a bit, but the rest looks like a cross between a sunny side up and a poached egg..

For a pretty brunch presentation I think you'll have to take the other advice on this thread and poach separately and spoon the sauce over/under the egg. When you cook a lot of eggs in the sauce, you get bits of the whites in the sauce and the edges are messy. Tasty, but not fancy-looking.

I eat mine with couscous, though I imagine polenta is very delicious too.

Apr 23, 2014
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Weekday Lunch for 23 (Berkeley or Oakland)

Tribune Tavern?

Chowdown at Ran Kanom Thai noodles

Appreciate you organizing this ridge! I had a great time. My first chowdown!

I agree, the two papaya salads were pretty much the same, though I think I slightly preferred the Lao style for a bit more evenly distributed flavor. The green mango and anchovies was interesting. I liked the texture (crunchy and juicy-soft) and the ingredients individually were good. But personally the combo of salty fish and sweet fruit is not my favorite.

Loved the Nam Kao Tod (sour sausage with crispy rice). I agree that it was light on the crispy rice but heavy on the yummy sour sausage and cilantro so I can't really complain.

With the waitress's recommendation we got the Thai boat noodles with beef and the wide rice noodles. A really excellent combo. The noodles were toothsome, slippery, and soaked up the tasty broth beautifully.

Pad Thai was surprisingly sweet, given how unsweet most of the other dishes were.

I enjoyed the khao/kaw soi, it's probably my third favorite version. Favorite is from Lotus of Siam in Vegas, where the last bits of broth-soaked noodles in the bowl can turn an otherwise convivial table to bitter rivals. Nothing I've had since has even come close. I like the one at Muang Thai in Albany a bit better than Ran Kanom's as MT's has a more forward curry taste, but this one was pretty good. At least it wasn't overly sweet or fatty. I don't want it to be like dessert noodle soup.

That black rice dessert was amazing. Perfect texture and balance of sweet and creamy, with just enough salt to keep it from being cloying, but not so much that it tasted salty. The chunks of soft taro in it tasted like little pillows of coconut milk, how does she do it? Taro in dessert soups is usually so bland and mushy. The other desserts were very good too (especially the young banana) but the black rice is one I'll go back for.

I took many of the same photos that hyperbowler did, so I wont bother with repeats but I do have a shot of the khao soi.

Will a new ice cream maker make my ice cream set firmer?

I have both the bowl-style (Cuisinart) and the compressor style (Secura) icecream makers. My freezer never got cold enough for the Cuisinart's bowls and they took up a lot of room. It was a huge pain. So I got rid of it. I think the Cuisinart is probably one of the best of that style. The one time I was able to stash the bowl's in a friend's freezer (bottom freezer, much colder than mine) the icecream did set up beautifully. But that doesn't do me much good unless I always go over to my friend's house when I want ice cream. So unless you're also going to be able to get a separate good freezer, I don't think getting a Cuisinart is going to help you enough to make it worth the extra $$

The compressor style suits me personally. It still sets up soft-serve level but still at least scoopably firm. I really like that I can do as many batches and flavors as I want without having to deal with re-freezing the bowls. And because I sometimes experiment with different non-dairy bases, it's nice that I can make just small 1 cup or less batches.

But given your limited fridge space, it sounds like the ice and salt kind may be best for you. They seem generally cheaper than the Cuisinart and freeze more reliably and you can make ice cream as soon as you pick up a bag of ice.

Feb 12, 2014
greymalkin in Cookware

baby pig?

I ordered a whole roast suckling pig from Gum Wah in Oakland Chinatown five years ago and then again a year and a half ago. In 2012 it was about $140 for a 30lb pig (~$4.50/lb). I think they had littler pigs (15-20lbs) for slightly more per pound price. I really liked it- the meat was nicely cooked, not too salty, and the skin was crackly.

The staff there was great. They had a staff member who spoke english which was super helpful as I don't speak Chinese and had questions about the pickup logistics. They package it in a foil lined box so it was easy to pick up. I think that you can ask for it whole (not cut-up) if you want to do the honors yourself, but I got it cut up and they arranged it so it was still recognizably a whole pig.

When I did a taste test of the various roast pigs, Gold Medal was also tasty.

Are there any restaurants in the Bay Area with kid play areas?

In El Cerrito (which is near Kensington and the Kensington Circus mentioned upthread) there is Nong Thon.

It's a Vietnamese restaurant on San Pablo and Central Ave. I personally don't like their pho (too light and plain), but the other dishes are pretty good. It has an area for kids to play and has some toys there. Plus the restaurant is large and can easily accommodate groups if you wanted to eat out with other families or friends. Warning that service can be slow and erratic though, so don't go if you're in a rush.

And it's right next door to the Cerrito theater where you can go for a movie before or afterward! :)

Flavours for Japanese Cheesecake other than lemon?

vjb, I have eaten a fairly wide variety of things as well (though not as many as you- what an impressive list!) and I had a similar reaction to durian candy. I don't mind some funk in my food but that was just not something I could take.

The pineapple ginger and quince jams sounds like they would both be delicious on a cheesecake, especially a more cake-y/bread-y cheesecake like this. Hey you could spike the jams with liquor to make the glaze- that might be fun (and make them less sweet)! Something like rum with the pineapple one and sake with the quince one?

Dec 18, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Flavours for Japanese Cheesecake other than lemon?

You've had a lot of great tips about flavoring so far so I'll start by addressing the cornstarch question. Because the Japanese cheesecakes are more like a souffle than traditional American cheesecakes (which is all I have to compare them too), I suspect the cornstarch/cornflour is used to insure delicate crumb and possibly assist with the souffle-like rising, much like using cake flour for angelfood cakes. I saw several recipes that used cake flour too. If you don't use a very fine flour, you'll probably need to be really diligent about whipping your eggwhites and incorporating them carefully to create lift and fluffiness and that melting texture. Even with that, it may be denser than you expect your Japanese cheesecakes to be.

I agree with Caroline1 that lemon is a very common and maybe even "classic" flavoring for cheesecakes. I expect that you could add flavoring in any format (liquid, paste, mash, powder...) so long as you can get it to incorporate into the cheesecake evenly. But I'm sure you're aware that the amount of that flavoring may need to be adjusted. And adding too much may change the texture completely.

A glaze may be the safest approach to see if you like a particular flavor combo. Actually doing a plain cake and several different flavored glazes would let you try out several flavors at once.

At the bottom of this link are links to various bloggers doing some different flavors of japanese cheesecake, including some made with cheddar and Parmesan instead of cream cheese.

Best of luck in your Japanese cheesecake quest!

Dec 17, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Cookie basic

It seems like the advice already given in this thread about the melted butter is probably the direction you should try first.

If you want to fine-tune your cookie-texture, here's a pretty nice description of what the various ingredients do in the creation of various cookie textures and tastes.

If you have time and want a more amusing way to learn about cookie customization, the whole Good Eats episode "Three Chips for Sister Martha" is worth a watch if you can find it. It's the episode that has the recipe that jaykayen posted.

Dec 08, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Dinner for group of 8, near AT&T Park on a Saturday [San Francisco]

A huge thank you to everyone who replied. We ended up at Zare at Flytrap and everyone loved it.

I have to give mad props the kitchen and crew at Zare. We got stuck in horrible traffic and were 45 minutes for our reservation, but they still managed to squeeze us in AND get us in and out the door in 30 minutes so we juuussst made it to Cirque in time. That is some serious expediting, as that included some time for us to actually read the menu and order.

I had a bunch of starters: a wonderful fall salad with beets, kale, and roasted butternut squash, and the pistachio meatballs, which were as delicious as the first time I had them. Shared the hummus trio with the table and got one person who is very suspicious of beets to actually try the beet-hummus and they liked it!

Other dishes we ordered (there were several duplicates): the kholrabi soup was perfect on a chilly evening, the short ribs were incredibly tender, and the lamb burger was perfectly cooked (despite the rushed timeframe), just the right size, and very flavorful. Even the side dishes were good- the fries had a saffron aioli with a delightful tangy floral taste, and the bread had this clever pesto-like dip made of feta and herbs.

I will be going back again and heartily endorsing Zare to everyone else who will listen :)

(Oh and the Cirque show was fabulous too. It was a really wonderful evening that could have easily gone disastrously wrong.)

Folks who aren't vegan/vegetarian: your favourite way to eat tofu

So sorry I missed replying to this! I haven't really tried aging the dressing, though I have eaten it on leftover already mixed up salad. It wasn't that great but wilted cold lettuce isn't really the best way to showcase anything, so I wouldn't use that to judge it by. It did seem to mellow the sharpness of the garlic and mustard, so you may be onto something with this idea. Perhaps I'll give this a whirl the next time I make it.

Dec 07, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Ideas for Baby's 1st Birthday - Theme Monkey

Love the ideas that have been posted so far!

This may be hard to do for 100 people without everything melting but a banana split bar (with chunky monkey ice cream of course!) could be a lot of fun. I did a sundae bar once and the adults had even more fun than the kids. Get creative with the toppings, as a monkey might. Cereal, granola, dried fruit, caramel corn.... If you want to stay away from the logistics of meltable icecream, you could use yogurt instead. I personally love bananas drizzled with yogurt and topped with cornflakes. When you pile on the toppings and whipped cream, it's still a pretty indulgent treat.

A riff on the previous cupcake suggestions: I made mini banana cupcakes once using a mini muffin pan and candy cups for liners. Frosted them with pipeable vanilla whipped cream tinted yellow or green (or leave natural if you like). Very simple and perfect for little kids who sometimes can't even finish a whole regular cupcake but love the idea of their "own" cupcake.

A bit healthier: a pile of fruit cut into large-ish bite sized pieces that can be eaten with your hands like a monkey or a fork if you're feeling dainty (cubes of melon, strawberries, raspberries, slices of banana, chunks of apple, etc.) with yogurt, honey and pudding dipping sauces. Put the fruit on a banana leaf or line a bowl with banana leaves.

Pile of veggies and cheese cubes treated the same way as the fruit

Decoration suggestions to add to the others you have:
Clean banana leaves to line serving platters and bowls, or even perhaps to act as a tablecloth if you can find lots of them (I can get them frozen at my local asian market for very cheap).

Lots of green and brown crepe paper streamers draped over the trees and fences to be jungle vines (so they can be messy and sag and wrap around trees in a creative way)

Planning this far in advance, I'm sure the party is going to be wonderful!

Dec 03, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Folks who aren't vegan/vegetarian: your favourite way to eat tofu

rockycat, I usually make it and use it the same day because it's so fast in the blender. I don't know how long it will last in the fridge but I suspect that it probably won't last more than a few days before it starts separating as the tofu starts weeping whey and the raw garlic gets funky.

I would advise doing a partial batch first or give yourself time to tweak it. It took me a few tries to get the amount of garlic, mustard and Worcestershire sauce to my personal tastes. If you don't like garlic, start with just a little, this is very garlicky. Some people in the recipe comments also added anchovies, extra salt or lemon juice.

Nov 26, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Folks who aren't vegan/vegetarian: your favourite way to eat tofu

I love using it in Caesar salad dressing. Even though it reduces the fat, it is a decent bit of protein so I don't feel like I'm starving an hour after eating just salad.

Nov 24, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

why does my frozen rice became yuck when nuked?

Do you mean "yuck" that it's dried out and plastick-y in texture? Or that it has a bad flavor? I can't help with any flavor issues, but I can help if it's a texture problem.

I freeze rice all the time, it's really convenient to have a single portion of rice to eat for lunch or as a side to a quick dinner.

Key is not to let the rice dry out before freezing. While the freshly cooked rice is still moist and warm (not too hot to the touch), wrap a scoop of it in plastic wrap securely. You can shape the scoop of rice into a flat shape for easy stacking in the freezer if you want (I make them little square blocks). Seal the rice packets in a ziplock/sealable bag (squeeze out as much air from the bag as you can to help reduce freezer burn).

Then when you microwave a frozen rice packet, leave it in the plastic wrap. I nuke it on high or 50% power, don't need to use defrost if it was sealed up well enough. The moisture trapped with the rice will resteam the rice into almost-freshly-cooked texture. It will be a bit drier or mushier in spots, but still much better than refrigerated rice.

If you don't like microwaving plastic wrap, you can remove it from the plastic wrap and put the block of frozen rice in a microwave safe bowl with a microwave safe lid that will trap most of the steam and that should work too.

I don't know what method of cooling rice would help with thawing except to not let it cool entirely before freezing.

Hope this helps!

Nov 24, 2013
greymalkin in Home Cooking

Dinner for group of 8, near AT&T Park on a Saturday [San Francisco]

That's a very good point, that parking lot is pretty huge. Thank you for all the additional suggestions! All three menus look really great. Mmm...uni flan...

Dinner for group of 8, near AT&T Park on a Saturday [San Francisco]

Very good to know, thank you!