From savory dumplings dipped in soy sauce and chili paste to sweet deep-fried sesame balls, here are my top eight picks for my favorite dim sum plates. What’s on your list?
1. Har Gow — shrimp dumpling
2. Spinach shrimp dumpling
3. Chicken feet with black bean sauce
4. Bee’s nest taro puff — fried taro dumpling
5. Shiu mai — pork dumplings with diced mushroom
6. Char siu bao — steamed barbecue pork buns (click here to learn how to make baos from scratch)
7. Custard tart
8. Deep-fried sesame seed ball with sweet red bean paste
Where can you enjoy fresh and great-tasting dim sum in the Bay Area?
365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
101 Spear Street between Howard Street and Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
662 Commercial Street between Kearny Street and Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Lelenita’s makes delightful tres leches cakes and other Nicaraguan baked treats like the Pio Quinto, a Nicaraguan rum cake with walnuts and dark rum.
Many people believe that tres leches, a popular Latin American cake, originated from Nicaragua. There are actually two types of tres leches. One is the deliciously moist traditional sponge cake soaked in a glaze made of three types of milk, and the other is a sponge cake with a fruit filling, usually strawberry, which is not soaked in a milk glaze and is less sweet. Both are topped lavishly with meringue instead of the more common whipped topping. Meringue actually makes their cakes truly Nicaraguan. But if meringue is not your thing, Lelenita’s can bake you a cake with either a vanilla or chocolate flavored whipped topping. They also make delicious and detailed decorated cakes for weddings and all occasions.
Just for You is the place-to-be for tasty big breakfasts: fried eggs, ham, home fries and their freshly baked cornbread. I love my cornbread sweet rather than savory, but not too sweet and I love it moist with a little bit of gritty texture. Just for You’s has all these wonderful elements. Enjoy it with a generous spread of butter or with their sweet strawberry jam. The corncakes are equally good, too. They have that melt-in-your-mouth, buttery and gritty goodness that I love. And a visit to Just for You is never complete without indulging in their puffy beignets. So delightful.
Inspired by Just for You’s cornbread, I ventured out, bought myself some corn meal and made my own cornbread. And there’s no better way to enjoy a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven piece of cornbread in this cold winter than to pair it with a tasty bowl of hearty homemade chili. For that, I solicited Dennis’ help to make his mom’s homemade chili, the chili he grew up with in chilly Ohio.
1-1/4 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. You can use a pyrex dish, a non-stick baking pan or you can also use a muffin pan to make corn muffins.
Combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine the milk, oil and egg in a separate bowl. After mixing them well add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and pour into your baking dish. Note that the original recipe called for a cup of flour to a cup of corn meal but for a grittier texture I added a 1/4 cup more corn meal and used 1/4 cup less flour in this recipe.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Mom’s Homemade Chili
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder or freshly minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Great-tasting chili is very much a cook-until-the-way-you-like-it sort of comfort food. So feel free to experiment with the spices as you wish.
1 to 1.5 lbs of extra lean ground beef
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 medium to large size onion diced
1-2 green or red bell peppers chopped
Worcestershire sauce (start with 1 Tbsp and then add more to taste)
Cooking time is 2-4 hours. Slow cooking is best.
Brown the ground beef in a large stew pot over medium heat. Don’t thoroughly cook the meat but only up to a point when most of the fat has come out. If you prefer a finer texture break up the ground beef completely but if you like a chunkier chili, as I do, break it up in larger bite size bits.
Extra lean beef (less than 5% fat) is recommended, which is the healthiest choice. If you do use extra lean beef there is no need to drain the fat out. Otherwise, drain the beef fat using a colander and return it to the pot. I think it’s a smart idea to give up the beef fat so you can indulge in butter with your bread later!
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, and peppers to the browned beef and mix well. It will be pretty thick but there is no need to add water here as there will be plenty as the vegetables continue to cook. Add the Worcestershire sauce and chili spices and mix well. Let this cook and come to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the red kidney and black beans to the mix and stir well together.
Now, here’s the fun part, or well, at least Dennis thinks so. Take a break and let it simmer for about an hour while stirring it occasionally. Come back and taste the chili. If you think it needs a little more oomph add more Worcestershire, salt, chili powder and perhaps more garlic powder or freshly minced garlic. Cook for another half an hour on low heat and stir well occasionally. Continue adding more salt and chili powder if you prefer but remember to stir everything well. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Great-tasting chili is truly a season-to-taste slow cooked meal. Chili powders have different levels of potency so feel free to experiment.
Enjoy a bowl of chili with a piece of warm cornbread or some saltine crackers on a chilly winter day. Some folks love red onions or grated cheddar with their chili but I love it just the way it is with some sweet cornbread.
For breakfast, scramble some eggs in butter and top it with chili and a piece of cornbread.
By the way, I don’t think I have found the best chili in the city. San Francisco doesn’t really strike me as a city for chili but maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?
Two old cranes loom large over the Dogpatch. You simply can’t miss them.
I actually think these old cranes are very cool. Well, I think the Dogpatch is very cool. It is a bit rough but, definitely, in a good way. Old Victorians and old industrial and commercial buildings that survived the 1906 fire and earthquake mixed with new and modern loft apartments and cool cafes and restaurants give this tiny nine-block neighborhood a really interesting character.
The Dogpatch is an enclave of industrial worker’s housing in the once-booming San Francisco Central Waterfront district. The city recognized it as a Historic District in 2003. It still feels industrial but it also feels neighborly. It was recently hailed as one of America’s best neighborhoods by Men’s Journal and recently featured in the New York Times.
I love its dog-friendly Esprit Park surrounded by quiet streets where dogs can run and play. I love its 260 sunny days in a year, on average. And I love its burgeoning dining scene. Fried eggs and cornbread with strawberry jam for breakfast at Just for You. House-smoked pastrami sandwich with bacon snickerdoodle for lunch at Kitchenette. A cup of Blue Bottle Coffee at Piccino Coffee Bar. A bottle of Malbec with cheese and olives at Yield Wine Bar. And a plateful of fried chicken with red beans and rice and yams for dinner at Hard Knox Cafe.
And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the equally cool 18th Street in Potrero Hill is just a quick brisk walk away. Hop on the T to get to downtown or on the 22 to get to the Mission. The choices are endless.
Here is a link to read more about the story behind the city’s working class historic district. It is a great resource about the history and architecture of the Dogpatch. And here are more information about the restaurants mentioned in this blog.
Just For You Cafe
Piccino Coffee Bar
Yield Wine Bar
Hard Knox Cafe
If round things are a symbol of good luck and prosperity then I think there will be lots of it in the New Year. We may just need to work doubly hard to find it.
Here’s hoping for the best for everyone. Happy New Year!
Just right outside the city is the House of Silvanas Bakeshop. This tiny bakeshop in Filipino-town Daly City truly lives up to its name: it’s the House of amazing Filipino sweet treats, from food for the gods to polvoron.
Food for the gods are tasty candy bars made of dates and walnuts. Polvoron, on the other hand, is powdered milk candy, which is basically toasted flour, sugar, butter and powdered milk. I fondly remember enjoying making polvoron with my mom growing up in Manila. She would mix all the ingredients and toast them in a huge wok and I would mold them into oval-shaped candies. But I remember getting too frustrated though when I tried wrapping them in delicate Japanese paper.
But the real reason to make the trip to this bakeshop are their deliciously crunchy and creamy silvanas.
A silvana is a layer of buttercream sandwiched between two cashew-meringue wafers, coated with cookie crumbs. For those who grew up in the Philippines, it’s the cookie version of Sans Rival, a rich Filipino cake with layers of meringue, cashews and buttercream. It comes in truly Filipino flavors: ube or purple yam, buko pandan or coconut and mango. And there’s chocolate, mocha and strawberry, too. They are best enjoyed frozen. The crunchy wafers and the yummy buttercream just delightfully melt in your mouth.
The House of Silvanas is a bit of a trek from the city but it’s well worth the trip. Just a note though that the bakeshop is in a rather inconspicuous location, tucked away in a shopping center. The obvious landmark to watch out for is a weathered sign that says bake shop to your right along Gellert Boulevard.