Thursday, April 26, 2012

Konnichiwa Kumo!

Konnichiwa (kor nee chi wah)
Hello in Japanese

We've heard so much of this new Japanese, Chinese American type food buffet from multiple friends. We didn't think much about it because you tend to think buffets are the same.  Kumo though brought rave reviews from our friends.  I love all Authentic Asian as well as Asian American influenced food.  It's probably some of my favorite foods.

We had a day to enjoy dinner sans kids and I thought this would be a great day to give Kumo a chance.  We first thought to walk in and check it out and do a walk through, see what they had to offer, check out the environment and see what we superficially felt about it.  We were impressed!

We hit this apparent hot spot at it's prime Saturday Lunchtime.  There were so many people you could barely move but the food didn't suffer and wasn't scarce despite the rush.  We couldn't believe the selection Kumo had to offer.  It reminded me of a Asian American/Canadian buffet I would eat at when visiting family in Toronto, Canada called Mandarin.  Well honestly, I think as far as food, Kumo had more to offer and was much more relaxing.  We thought we would come back for dinner and eat.

What we were impressed with was the huge selection of so many different foods.  Vast amounts of various sushi, cold seafood, hot seafood and fresh steaming hot food, all the trimmings as well!

If you love seafood and I mean really like seafood then Kumo is a seafood lovers dream.  Dipping into the treasures of the exotic seafoods of the seas.  I am talking Spicy Octopus, Ginger Roasted Crab, Sushi, Dragon Fish, Crayfish, Clams, Oysters as well as Frog Legs that looked pretty meaty!  These fish dishes were steaming hot and they were aplenty.  You had basted, grilled marinated whole fish, fish heads and tails.  Take your pick, heads or tails!  I couldn't believe it and all I could think to myself was that if my dad was still alive, he would be drooling!  My dad loved his seafood, fish and especially the exotics.  My family is from the shores of Bari in Italy so fish is heavily consumed.  I kind of smiled when looking at the fish because it reminded me of my dad and it was bittersweet he wasn't here to enjoy it but probably was looking down at me daring me to eat it as he always did when he was alive.  Daring me to eat the craziest fish and seafood, most of the time of course I passed.

Seafood Aplenty!

You are probably wondering if I ate any of the seafood?  I was tempted because it did look so good but I don't think my stomach was all there, I didn't feel like peeling and I have had frog legs in the past (yes, it tastes like chicken).  I did see many people filling their plates with it.  So I assume it tasted very good.  

Speaking with my Asian friends, if you see Asian people eating at a restaurant that is Asian, odds are good that it's good Asian food.  There were many different cultures there, I live in a Ukranian influenced part in my city so there were Ukranian, Italian, Asian and American.  They knew it was all good and my gosh was the parking lot packed.  We arrived right when dinner started, 4pm.  My guess is that they serve for fish selections at dinner time.

They had a whole bar station dedicated simply to Sushi.  My gosh there was so much Sushi.  Your typical Sushi was created then a whole bunch of others I have never seen before.  There was Tempura, Avocado, Phildelphia and more, the list was long so maybe you need to see for yourself....

My gosh look at all the Pickled Ginger, I couldn't fit the huge plate of Wasabi!

This is my favorite photo, I love how the Sushi guys dressed in traditional garb was doing this plating.  Arranging in floral patterns and some placed nicely in fried wonton cups.  I didn't get to try it but my gosh it looked yummy!  Pretty!

I was delighted of course to enjoy the typical favorites.  I love to eat Lo Mein and it was really good, the crab rangoon were fresh, crisp and delicious.  The potstickers were soft, light and full of flavor.  The chicken for the sweet and sour chicken was perfectly battered and fried.  The sweet and sour sauce was that fake red sauce, which was disappointed because I would of loved to have seen the orange sauce with pineapples.  There was chicken teriyaki skewers, egg rolls, mango chicken, peppered chicken wings, and some huge BBQ Ribs and so much more that is so filling.

Here is their sweet rice, I don't know what it was like, Scott said it was good, it had raisins and fruit and what looked like crushed pink candy.

I really loved all the soups offered with Hot & Sour soup being my favorite.

So with all these savory foods you have to have some sweets.  They offered some Asian influences in desserts.  Fruit is huge and there was plenty of it, it was interesting to see coconut jello along side some strawberry jello.  The pure white color of the coconut jello was interesting and although I despise jello because being force fed after tonsil surgery in my teens and then adding the dessert as a painful enemy on my list, I just can't eat it.  They offered what looked like a great selection of desserts, but when we tried them they were dry, bland and not very good.  That was a let down because the presentation really fooled us.

The plate we tried....

However they were quickly redeemed by amazing us with a crepe station.  Not bad with what they have to offer as fillings.  There was a sweet bean paste, strawberry, peach filling and apple.  They had chocolate which we tried and despite the chocolate melting it seemed crunchy, I quickly figured that the chocolate was crushed crispy rice chocolate like a crushed Crunch bar, wish they would sub it for semi-sweet chocolate chips they would have a home run.  I also had a small peach filling one and it wasn't too bad with the whip cream and the birthday cake ice cream which was awesome!  I also tried their banana pudding and the strawberry glazed banana was also very good.  They are all so sweet and helpful and I loved that at the same crepe station they also make udon noodle soup in a broth a you can add whatever you want to it.

Udon Soup

My crepes were yummy, however I would of preferred some semi sweet chocolate chips instead of the smashed up crunch bar they were using.  Nutella and Bananas would be awesome too.  I wonder if I made the suggestion they would take it into consideration?

She was so sweet making my crepes and very helpful!  All the employees were awesome!

My plate of crepes and sweets.

I highly recommend Kumo.  If you are a fish person I would definitely do dinners.  If it's not your cup of tea then I would do lunch.  Kids have their own set prices according to age and you can visit their website for all that info at:  KUMO

It's a nice, clean and family friendly place to eat.  The staff is nice and informative and I think there is much to choose from and all the food is good.  The only thing I didn't like was the stir fry station.  I didn't think it was all that great and just will stick with what is on the buffet.  I had a lo mein stir fry done and it seemed watered down and not very flavorful.  I loved the Mango Chicken and plan on visiting again most likely during lunchtime.  I'll give you an update when I do!

Kumo Japanese Seafood Buffet on Urbanspoon

Have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quotations: Pablo Picasso

"Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." 
~Pablo Picasso
October 25, 1881-April 8, 1973

My favorite painting of Pablo Picasso:
"The Dream"

I have this hanging in my bedroom.  She seems so peaceful.  I've had her for over 10 years.  I agree with Mr. Picasso about encouraging children to remain creative into their adulthood.  So they see the world full of life, light and color!

Wishing you creative dreams,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coconut Crunch Cake

I was thinking of some dessert to make after cooking Chicken Parmesan and Pasta, I seemed to of taken on cooking and baking that night and I was like an octopus with 8 arms.  Looking back why would I of baked a dessert while making dinner.  Keeping an eye on the stove and the oven, mixing, draining and wrangling the kids, what the heck was I thinking.  Fortunately, I didn't burn anything!  =)

I recently started following a fellow blogger and she had on her home page as a banner the most delicious looking coffee cake with some streusel in the middle and on top.  I thought that would be great.  I thought I had all the ingredients, well starting everything together I noticed I didn't have everything that was for the streusel.  It called for Graham Crackers.  I thought I had some but I was wrong.  So I've made my own coffee cake in the past, a coconut version.  I thought okay, why don't I just change out the streusels, it's worked out!  So using a little bit of both recipes, I concocted one that turned out pretty fabulous I must say.  It's great warm or at room temp.  I would warm it up and serve it with vanilla bean ice cream.  Or as Scott did, warmed it up, added ice cream, whip cream and hot fudge!  LOL!  It was pretty massive, I still can't figure how he can be so skinny with how much of a sweet tooth he has!

I want to thank Michelle from Michelle's Tasty Creations for giving me influence on this dessert recipe.  I would say this is like a coffee cake, cake or something else very yummy and buttery, crunchy, moist, nutty and oh so yummy.  I love how the ice cream slightly melted and taking a bite of both the cake and the ice cream was mmmmmmmm, I think I had an out of body!

My intention was to make Michelle's Coffee Cake however like I said before I didn't have those Graham Cracker Crumbs.  So I took what she had for the cake, added something to it and then created my streusel.  I called it Coconut Crunch Cake.

Coconut Crunch Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 small box (4 serving size) Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding

Coconut Mixture:
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cups (small chopped pecans)
9 Tablespoons of softened butter
4 Tablespoons of milk


Preheat oven to 350'F.

Mix all ingredients of Coconut Mixture in a bowl and set aside.


In a separate bowl mix all cake ingredients with a mixer for about 2-3 minutes.

Pour half of batter into a generously greased 9x13 inch baking pan.  With your fingers place about half of coconut mixture around batter.

Pour leftover cake batter in pan evenly covering coconut mixture, spreading with a spatula if needed.

Bake cake for about 40 minutes until knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool, then spread the rest of the coconut mixture on top of cake spreading evenly.

Turn your oven on to the broiler and place cake underneath enough for broiler to heat topping and slightly brown.  This make take a minute or two but check on it to not brown, you will see the topping kind of sizzle.  Remove cake from broiler and let it cool.  It will look much like the picture above but a little more golden.

I thought it was easier to cut the cake with a thin spatula and picked up the piece with the spatula by digging the size of piece but digging only once.  A knife didn't work well because it drags the topping.  You will notice how the coconut mixture kind of fell to the bottom almost like a soft crust.

Serve warm or at room temperature with Vanilla Ice Cream or your favorite ice cream and/or whip cream.  I think this might be even more decadent with caramel ice cream topping!

I hope you enjoy!

Sweet Dreams, 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Scrumptious Fruit Tart

This Easter I decided to make 2 different desserts.  One that is decadent and one that is decadent but lighter.  So I made my Chocolate Flourless Cake and my favorite Fruit Tart.  It had been awhile since I made my Fruit Tart.  I use to make it a lot back in the day.  It's been years so I decided to make it this Easter.  I know there are different versions of this and you can certainly use the fruit you like.  I wanted to make a rainbow of fruits.  Starting from red to blue/violet.  Strawberries, Mandarin Oranges, Bananas, Kiwi, Blueberries and Raspberries.

I used a perfect sugar cookie crust and my mom's old world custard recipe.  Then I added the sliced fruit and then you have an impressive and yummy dessert!  Some like to also call this Fruit Pizza, but I think this title downplays the dessert.  You can make this into little tartlets using muffin tins and do individual tarts or one big 12 inch tart using a tart pan or a pizza pan.

It was a hit at Easter dinner at my parent's house.  It went so fast I almost thought maybe I wouldn't get a piece but I got lucky to get a piece.  Although it went fast and was disappearing quickly, it felt very nice to get the compliments that everyone loved it.  I felt very loved.  You know the feeling....

You can certainly do this the long way or the short way.  You can make the sugar cookie crust from scratch and the custard from scratch but I will also tell you the shortcut to a semi homemade version of this that tastes just as great at you take full credit of a delicious dessert.

Homemade Sugar Cookie Crust can be substituted for a prepackaged sugar cookie mix like from Betty Crocker.  I would suggest using the mix instead of the prepared dough.  Then for the custard substitute you can use a large box of Jell-O's Instant Vanilla Pudding mix except use 2 1/4 cups of milk instead of the pudding recipe's 3 cups of milk, the less amount of milk will make a Vanilla Pie Filling.  This will make more of a thick vanilla custard instead of a loose pudding that will not hold the fruit and be runny.

This is a step by step process of the recipe.  You can find my original custard recipe HERE...

12 Inch Fruit Tart
-Pizza Pan
-Assorted Fruit
-Custard or 1 Large Package of Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding mixed with 2 & 1/4 cups of Milk whisked until thick.
-Sugar Cookie to form a 12 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick or a Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix made according to package directions mixed with ingredients.

Make your sugar cookie mixture, roll into a ball....

Pat Cookie Dough into a circle leaving about a 1/4 inch edge for cookie dough to spread while baking.

Bake cookie at 350'F for about 10-12 minutes until cookie begins to be golden brown around edges.

Make your custard while cookie cools.  Let your custard cool until ready to spread onto cookie.  If using instant pudding, mix large box of instant Jell-O Vanilla Pudding with 2 1/4 cups of milk.

Slice fruits.  You can slice any fruits you'd like.  Set aside.  Spread Custard/Pudding around baked cookie leaving a 1/4 inch edge without custard.

Arrange fruit starting from the outside in.  Slightly layering them on the edges of each slice.  Use small fruits like Blueberries to fill in empty spots where custard is exposed.

This is a great way to impress guests or take to a get together.  You can make everything from scratch or do the semi homemade version.  Either way it will be one very awesome dessert!  This is a very versatile dessert and can be experimented using different fillings and fruits as well as toppings.

Have A Happy Easter,

My Easter Plate at my parent's house....
Italian Chicken Cutlets, Bocconcini with Olive Oil with Salt and Pepper, Onion Calzone and Lasagna!  Yum!  Our Traditional Italian Easter Dinner!  
Thank You Mamma!

Here are the eggs that my daughter, son, niece and nephews made!  They made them as wild as the wild monkeys they are!  It was great spending time coloring eggs with them!

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