I definitely have the cooking bug this weekend. I literally dreamed about making chocolate chip cookies this morning. I was precisely measuring out the batter for each cookie when I woke up, at which point I quickly made a mental checklist of recipe ingredients to see whether I could have cookies for breakfast.
For Thursday dinner we had breakfast fare: buttermilk pancakes with blueberries, ham steak, home fries, and fruit salad. I love breakfast food. You want cake for breakfast? No problem, just ask for a "muffin." I'm not a fan of hyper-sweet cereals, but there's plenty of that available, plus the good stuff like oatmeal and muesli. There's the wonderfulness of pancakes, waffles, French toast, potatoes, fruit, eggs, omelets, frittatas, ham, bacon, fruit juices, yogurt. It's the best.
One of the best parts of our Taiwan trip was having a great breakfast every day at the Grand Hotel. I'm terrible about skipping breakfast, but it's a habit I determined to stop after returning from the trip. The hotel buffet had plenty of things you'd see at a traditional American breakfast: cereals, eggs, French toast, ham, muffins. There were plenty of dishes I'd never seen or tried before, too.
On the first morning, for example, I tried "hairy meat," which is understandably hard to explain. Katie will have to tell us exactly what that is, but it's a pork product of some type, and it looks like little brownish shavings. I don't remember liking it particularly, but it's a common food there. I also saw the "hairy meat" on rolls at several bakeries, for example.
There was a good selection of noodles and fish every day. Other than that, I liked turnip cake, which is a dim sum dish made with an Asian radish and rice flour, so I'm not sure why it's translated turnip cake. There were some other good dim sum choices, like dumplings and rice cakes - not American rice cakes, but little steamed rice flour balls filled with bean pastes. I also ate red bean pancakes. Once I had congee for breakfast. It's a rice porridge with pork or another meat in it. I could definitely go back to having fried rice and cabbage at every breakfast.
The fruit and salad buffet tables were great. Wendy and I started joking about how Mom and Katie said the watermelon was the 'world's best' every morning. We ate a lot of lychee, papaya, and melons. There was a passion fruit jelly that I ate on my French Toast that I really loved. I wish I could find something like that at the store. There was a drink called Calpis available. I googled it and it looks like it's a Japanese drink similar to yogurt. That was pretty good, too.
There was a platter of duck eggs at the buffet, and I wish I had taken a picture of that. Each egg was various shades of green from the outer to inner layers. I was the only one that would try it, and yeah, I didn't finish mine. The only thing on the buffet that I detested and couldn't even force myself to swallow was the cured tofu with mung beans. It tasted incredibly salty with a slightly sour and bitter flavor as well. Truly awful!
From the Marco Polo HongKong Hotel, the buffet item I remember was Bircher Muesli. Not very Chinese, I know, but I think that hotel caters to white tourists anyway, and so the food selection was very boring. The first time I ever tried muesli was at the Bellagio Buffet, and I thought it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I'm still googling like mad trying to find a recipe for that stuff that looks right. The recipes I've tried thus far have been too heavy on the nonfat yogurt. I'm looking for something more indulgent!
Now I'm planning the menu for Wendy's birthday dinner. So far, Giada's Stuffed Mushrooms have made the list. Wendy loves mushrooms and this is an easy recipe. I'm thinking about doing roast beef for the main course, but I'm also considering chicken entrées. For vegetables, I'm trying to branch out beyond potatoes or asparagus. They're so played. What are the odds of my finding haricots verts at United? I'll settle for green beans with a compound butter. Hmmm, we'll need some bread. The birthday cake is the Chocolate Blackout Cake with Coconut Buttercream which seems to be everyone's favorite.
Last week in honor of April Fool's Day I made two versions of Alton's Moo-Less Chocolate Pie. I thought it apropos, since the pie's base is tofu. Surprise! Why do people have such strong opinions about tofu when it doesn't have any flavor on its own? I made a pie for the fam with milk chocolate chips, instead of semi-sweet, and sans Kahlua. I hear Scott took a bite and liked it, but refused to finish his pie slice after Wendy told him it had tofu in it. "I thought it tasted funny," he said.