Allison Day
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Archive for October, 2008

Biscotti – TWD

Orange-Pecan Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate

As always, on Tuesdays, it’s time to post the Tuesdays with Dorie pictures. This week, Canela y Comino chose biscotti. Normally, I am not a huge biscotti fan. I find that it’s too hard to bite into, and in general, not very enjoyable for me. My mother, however… she’s on the other end of the spectrum. She loves biscotti. So my first thought when I heard that this week’s TWD recipe was biscotti was… mom?

Since my mother would be the one eating most of the biscotti, I decided that it would be best to call her and determine what flavor combination she would prefer. Let me just say, my mother is a genius. The substitutions she picked resulted in some amazing biscotti.

Instead of almond extract, I used orange, and replaced the almond slivers with chopped pecans. Once the biscotti were twice-baked and cooled, I dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate – a perfect finishing touch. I brought them to a family gathering, and everyone loved them. Want to make them yourself? You can buy the cookbook here!

Such delicious biscotti!

Tanto Izakaya – Sunnyvale, CA

Tanto Izakaya

Every now and then, Son has to travel up to Sunnyvale for work. Now that I’ve graduated and am no longer required to be in Southern California all the time, I travel along with him. When we are in Sunnyvale, we will often go to dinner with his co-workers. This week we visited a Thai restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, neither of which I’m going to review. However, we also went to a Japanese Izakaya – Tanto.

For those unfamiliar with this type of restaurant, an izakaya is like the Japanese version of a tapas restaurant. Many small dishes are served, and meant to be shared by the entire table rather than as individual meals. However we instead decided to order dishes individually, instead of to share as a table.

Son and I ordered several dishes to share between the two of us. The first to arrive was the edamame. This was, well, meh. Nothing special. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely could have used more salt.


As we always do when offered, we ordered a sashimi dish. Since we like to try new types of sashimi when given the opportunity, we decided to try the white tuna. This was alright, not something I’d order again though. Whoever sliced the sashimi did a poor job – they looked like chunks of meat rather than expertly sliced sashimi. The taste was… interesting. Much meatier than other types of fish, and while it wasn’t going bad, it didn’t have the same sort of fresh, clean taste that most types of sashimi have.

White Tuna Sashimi

Son’s favorite dish was the Hotate Butter Uni Nose. This was a sauté of mushrooms and scallops in butter, topped with uni and ikura. He thought that the scallops were perfectly cooked, and the uni reminded him of eating crab eggs. He really enjoyed the salty uni, and easily ate most of the dish by himself. (I only got one scallop!)

Hotate Butter Uni Nose

My favorite dish was the anago tempura. This consisted of a fillet of anago (eel) coated in tempura batter, then fried and sliced into inch-wide slices. Delicious. I have never had eel prepared in this fashion, but my goodness, it is delicious! The crunchy fried tempura batter complements the meaty, soft anago flesh. Incredibly good. I would get this again, and even make it at home if given the opportunity!

Anago Tempura

Although no one would admit to it, someone ordered sashimi spring rolls. Since the dish went unclaimed, everyone tried a piece of the spring roll. Son enjoyed it, although in my opinion it was just alright. The sashimi was very chewy which made the rolls difficult to eat, and I wasn’t blown away by the combination of sashimi and vegetables they used in the roll.

Sashimi Spring Rolls

Although we didn’t get pictures of most of the other dishes at the table, we did sneak a photo of the tempura dish next to us. The typical sweet potato, green bean, and other vegetables were present, but there were also a few types of tempura I had never seen – lotus root tempura and shiso tempura. Definitely out of the ordinary, but the person who ordered it didn’t complain, so they must have been good.

Vegetable Tempura

At the end of the meal, several people at the table decided to order fried bananas with vanilla ice cream. Like most of the dishes here, I found this to be just okay. The ice cream was pretty much regular vanilla ice cream topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and the banana was like any other fried banana I’ve had. This is definitely not something I’d order again… I could make it better and for less money at home.

Fried Banana with Vanilla Ice Cream

Note: I know there have been a lot of restaurant reviews lately, but I promise I’ll be back to recipe posts soon. I’ve been traveling for two of the last three weeks, and when I was home I barely had time to make two TWD recipes, never mind trying to cook other foods!

Chocolate Ganache, and Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake – TWD

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake?

Welcome to week two of Allison screws up the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe! Last week, the crème brûlée had all it’s parts, tasted delicious, but just wasn’t very pretty. This week, however… oh dear. The recipe was for Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake – sounds simple, right? Well, that which *should* have gone wrong turned out fine, while that which should have been easy-peasy failed miserably.

I do not own a springform pan. I did not have time to go out and buy a springform pan. The recipe says to use a springform pan. Um… oops? Instead, I used an 8″ circular cake pan. You know I breathed a sigh of relief when the cake turned out beautifully. I don’t think anything was lost by using a different pan! *whew* Thank goodness I at least got the base of the recipe right!

Caramel Chocolate-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

Well, let’s see. If I got the cake right, what else could I possibly mess up? That’s right, the topping. I was *supposed* to make a caramel topping for the cake. Should have been pretty simple, right? Or not. The recipe said to cook the caramel 5-10 min before putting the heavy cream and butter in. I cooked it 20 minutes, and it still wasn’t darkening much, so I put the dairy in. Crudmonkeys. Bad idea. The topping turned out to be a soupy mess, and cooking it longer in hopes that it might caramelize only turned it into a *stinky* soupy mess. Dang.

Normally, I would have tossed it and tried again. But, um, that was the last of my heavy cream. And I didn’t have time to go to the store, because I had to leave on *another* trip. Shoot. After a few moments of panic (what the heck am I going to top this cake with?!?!), I called my mother in hopes that she had a frosting/glaze recipe that was easy and that I wouldn’t have to buy extra ingredients for. My mother is a lifesaver. She has a chocolate glaze recipe that she uses quite often that worked wonderfully with the cake. And I managed not to screw it up. Yay!

Although I’ll bet the caramel topping would have been wonderful, I thoroughly enjoyed the cake with the chocolate glaze, garnished with peanut halves. Yum.

Delicious and chocolate-y!

The original recipe for the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake can be found on Wee Treats By Tammy. I give to you the recipe for the chocolate glaze:


  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter together.
  2. Add the hot water.
  3. Quickly stir in the powdered sugar.
  4. Pour the glaze over the cake, let cool.

Waiola Shave Ice – Honolulu, Hawaii

Waiola Shave Ice

One of the places we were told that we must visit in Honolulu was Waiola Shaved Ice. (The other place was Mana Bu’s, but we unfortunately never got to try it – the day we stopped by, they had closed just an hour after opening, so we missed it.) On our very last day, the day where it just happened to pour rain all day, we stopped by after checking out of our hotel.

We decided to get the ice cream bowl and the azuki bowl with mochi balls. Two bowls was a bit much for us to finish, but they were still delicious. We got rainbow flavorings and condensed milk on the ice cream bowl – a few scoops of ice cream, topped with shaved ice. The azuki bowl consisted of shaved ice, topped with azuki beans and condensed milk, and surrounded with pink and white mochi balls.

Ice Cream Bowl

Son loved the ice cream bowl. While I found the flavorings (particularly red – cherry?) reminded me of medicine, Son absolutely loved the varied flavors. It went very well with the ice cream, and the bowl even came with a straw to drink the melted shaved ice! Quite enjoyable.

The flavors sink into the middle, but still yummy!

I, on the other hand, preferred the azuki bowl. I love the flavors of the azuki beans, and although these weren’t quite as sweet as I would have liked, they were still delicious. I especially enjoyed the mochi balls. As we all know, I can never get enough mochi. The only thing I disliked about the bowl was the shaved ice – it was just ice. No flavoring, no nothing. The azuki beans and mochi would have been immensely more enjoyable with ice cream, since that would at least add some sweetness. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the bowl.

Azuki Bowl with Mochi Balls

We were glad to have been able to try Waiola Shave Ice, with one reservation – we wish we had chosen a hotter day to go!

Roy’s – Honolulu, Hawaii


After a day spent relaxing on the beach, we decided to go somewhere nice on our last night in Hawaii. We checked our nifty little list/map of yummy places to eat in Honolulu, and settled on Roy’s.

Roy’s fancy menu cover

After we ordered, the first thing that came out was a bowl of edamame. Normally I adore edamame, and can down a whole bowl by myself. Not this time. They were seasoned with salt, chili pepper flakes, and sesame oil. While Son enjoyed the edamame, I found it to be too oily for my tastes. I prefer my edamame plain, seasoned only with a little salt.

Seasoned Edamame

I love escargot. It’s not often that I visit fancy restaurants that serve the dish, so when I am I always get it. (Which has been about twice in my lifetime.) I love the texture and flavor of the little snails, and heck – who doesn’t love a good butter sauce?


The first time I had escargot was when I was eighteen. The guy I was dating at the time decided to take me to a nice French restaurant for my birthday. We got escargot as an appetizer, and even though at that time I wasn’t fond of trying exotic foods, I loved the snail dish. It was the one bright spot in an otherwise unpleasant birthday.

Scooping one escargot out

As I expected, I loved the escargot. The buttery, cheesy (?) sauce was amazingly delicious, and the little crostini that came with the dish were a perfect accompaniment to the rich snails. While Son wasn’t exactly impressed by the escargot, I absolutely adored them… I ended up eating most of the six that came as our appetizer.

Escargot on a crostini

I ordered a Slow Braised and Charbroiled Short Rib dish that came with a sort of scalloped potato side and grilled vegetables. The short ribs easily yielded to my fork, and were incredibly tender. I loved the buttery potatoes (of course, I love nearly any potato dish), and the grilled vegetables were delicious as well. However, I wouldn’t order this again – if I went back, I would order one of the other delicious-looking dishes on the menu.

My beef short rib dish

Son decided to get the Roy’s Classic Trio of Hibachi Grilled Salmon with Citrus Ponzu Sauce, Roy’s Original Blackened Island Ahi with Spicy Soy Mustard Butter, and Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette. As I mentioned in my edit of the Sugoi review, Son will leap for misoyaki butterfish any time he can get it.

Roy’s Classic Trio – 3 fish dishes and a scoop of rice

Son found the salmon to be nothing special. Of the three fish dishes in his meal, this was undoubtedly his least favorite. He found the sauce to be a tiny bit sour for his tastes.

Hibachi Grilled Salmon with a Citrus Ponzu Sauce

He somewhat enjoyed the blackened Ahi tuna. This dish reminded him of sushi – not incredibly special or out of the ordinary, but still very delicious. Although it came with a wasabi sauce, he found it to be a little bland compared to the other two dishes.

Blackened Island Ahi with a Spicy Soy Mustard Butter

And then there was the misoyaki butterfish. Oh my goodness, the butterfish. This was easily his favorite dish of the entire night, and possibly of the entire trip. If he could do the meal over again, he would order just the butterfish. Really, his only complaint about the dish was that there wasn’t enough of it. The soft flaky fish, the spicy-sweet misoyaki glaze… I think he’s in love. I might just have to be jealous.

Misoyaki Butterfish with a Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette

For dessert, we got Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé – Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Hot, Molten Center; served with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream. The waitress said this takes 25 minutes to make, so we ordered it when we ordered our meal. This was delicious, yes, but not ohmygod amazing. As with any chocolate cake (which reminded me more of a brownie), we easily finished the dessert and enjoyed it. However, this struck me as something I could make just as well, if not better, at home. From a restaurant such as this, I expected more “amazing” and less “meh, it’s good, but I could do better.”

Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé

Overall, we enjoyed our meal. The food was delicious, and the environment was somewhat elegant. My only real complaint was the service. While our waitress was very professional, knew the answers to every question we could possibly think to ask, and was incredibly polite, there was another waiter who would come and refill our water. Every five minutes. Never mind that the glasses of water were huge and we had barely made a dent in them, he would still come by and top the glasses off. I’m sure he was just doing his job, but my goodness did that get annoying. Otherwise, a great experience!

…served w/ Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream