Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Recipe: Low carb "coconut rough" bites

Whether you're looking for 'fat bombs' to add fat calories or whether you just need a sweet treat without breaking a low carb diet this low carb rendition of an antipodean favourite is just delicious.

Low Carb Coconut Rough

1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup Splenda
50g unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tbpsn cocoa
2 - 4 tbpsn cream or coconut cream


  • In a pan melt the coconut oil, this will be soft at room temperature and will require only light simmering
  • Add the Splenda and stir until the sweetener is melted
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler and add to the oil mixture; then add the cocoa and mix thoroughly
  • Add the shredded coconut and stir while heating on a low temperature
  • Slowly add the cream, for a vegan variation use coconut cream
  • Cook until all the coconut is soaked through with the fudge mixture,
  • When the mixture has reached the consistency of gravy turn the heat off
  • Take a small pan or tupperware container - I used a 10cm * 15cm container
  • Pour the hot fudge mixture into the pan, you may need to tap the container on the bench to get the coconut mixture to create a smooth top
  • Leave to rest until close to room temperature and then refrigerate until solid, preferably overnight
  • If a white layer forms on the outside this is excess coconut oil that has not soaked into the coconut and is perfectly safe to eat
  • Cut into cubes, this recipe should make around 25 pieces
  • A shout out to Guittard 100% Cacao baking chocolate which is delicious and the lowest carb chocolate I can find on the market
  • Calories listed are for the whole batch per piece macros are 62 Calories, 1.6g Carb (1.3g net), 6.7g Fat

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Sweet Maple, San Francisco

One of the things they don't tell you about growing up is how wonderful brunch is, a misspent youth meant I rarely saw lunchtime on a weekend. You get a little older and a lot less single and find yourself spending less time hugging the bathroom floor on a Sunday morning; suddenly breakfast sounds like a great idea.

Finding a great brunch spot in a new city is often a gamble involving overcooked eggs and generous but doughy pancakes. Luckily for us it turns out that one of the best brunch spots in San Francisco happens to be in our building.

Sweet Maple is a bustling cafe in Pacific Heights, at the corner of Steiner and Sutter Streets; often found with a large cult following queued up on the sidewalk outside. They only open for Breakfast and Lunch (9am - 3pm) and have a menu to match, but with this kind of business you can't imagine they need to open for dinner.

The waits can be long; being in our building we have the choice of pottering down at will but I would recommend coming before 10am or after 1:30pm on a weekend. The cafe caters well to the queue though with magazines, free coffee and water on hand as well as numerous chairs and benches.

Americano $2.75USD (milk based espresso drinks $3.75USD)

The coffee is easily the best I've had in San Francisco. They use all single origin coffees with a standard 2 shots per drink; delicious.

Big Hip French Toast - Millionaire style $12.95USD

The cafe really has every breakfast option one could imagine but what they are famous for is the "Millionaire Bacon" thick cut apple wood smoked bacon baked in Maple Syrup and Spices. You can add eggs and the famous bacon to any French Toast order.

Hass Benedict $13.50USD

I love the variations they have on classic dishes here; in this case I have ordered an eggs benedit with slices of roasted turkey, an entire avocado and a divine Chipotle Hollandaise. The sauce is delicious and the meat flavourful and moist, though I do not eat them I am assured that the side order of varietal potatoes is excellent.

The selections are endless though - all the meats are grass fed and delicious, the bread products are top quality (a notable a rarity in the US). Though pricey at $4.75 the homemade sausages, pork lime or chicken apple, are a definite must as a side for the protein lover. Fruit, pancakes, egg dishes and even lunch meals like salads and burgers are available. There's also a huge range of sides and additions for an extra on your meal, I can't imagine anyone not finding a dish they loved. Everything is delicious and the entire restaurant is filled with smug looking patrons.

What amazes me more than than the food is the service; despite being busy we are seated quickly and attended to graciously. The food comes within a few minutes of us ordering. What else can I say? This is almost the perfect brunch venue, much recommended and I look forward to taking visitors.

Sweet Maple 

2101 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA ‎
(415) 655-9169 

Sunday brunch perfection
Come early or late or expect to wait

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Yank Sing, San Francisco

Yum cha is the ultimate meal for me; tiny surprise morsels that fly by, a thousand tastes to share and a new surprise every time. When I heard that there was a James Beard award winning dim sum restaurant in San Francisco I just had to go. 

On a Sunday the place is thrumming with customers, the restaurant is decked out in the atrium of the Rincon Centre an upmarket shopping mall near Divisadero. Despite the many extra tables and our reservation we still have to wait 25 minutes with a motley crew of ravenous looking customers. A healthy number of eager looking Chinese mothers are in attendance - always a good sign at a Sunday dumpling event. 

My approach to yum cha is to get as many dishes as possible so I can try everything; even at the risk of leaving things behind. To be honest this isn't ideal at Yank Sing which is a good 3 times more expensive than any yum cha I've been to outside a casino. Still now I know what is worth separating me from my dollars and next time I'll come in with targeted ideas of what to choose. 

Szechuan green beans

A good rendition of this dish, the garlic is roasted and chewy but nothing extra exciting. 

Peking Duck with wheat buns

I don't understand the use of Vietnamese wheat buns in Chinese food in the US, but the sauce is delicious and the duck is crispy and sweet. 

Xiao Long Bao

These are good, the juices are warm and delicious and the dumpling is turned with spectacular care. Unfortunately spoilt by years of Din Tai Fung in Sydney we are a little disappointed that the skin isn't a little more dainty. 

Green Onion Pancake

Light, delicious, morish. The flakiness of the pastry makes me suspect they use lard, when it's this good it's worth it. I would come back for this dish alone. The cake is accompanied by a sticky satay sauce that sticks to the roof of your mouth in a satisfying fashion. 

Beef ho fun

The texture on this noodle could have been better, it felt like it had been in the steam trays too long. The filling is nice and peppery though. 

Fried pork breakfast bun

This is one of those dishes I look out for but isn't always available at every dim sum place. Instead of the white soft mantou style bread that Hong Kong made famous in the west with the char sui bao these Shanghai style baozi are made with a thick pastry skin more like a dumpling. Fried crisp and steamed to perfection, worth looking out for.

Combination Taro dumpling

This is always my favourite yum cha dish and if I can't find it I'll order it. Soft taro mash is filled with a meat and vegetable filling and then deep fried until the taro puffs up like a crisp cloud. I order these and they come out piping hot and wonderful, another 'must have' order on a return trip.

Dan Tart

I passed on the tarts but the boy managed to finish the plate despite crying full, which is a good sign. 

Mango Pudding

My weakness are the creamy squishy desserts and they have a mango pudding so I'm set. My only wish was that they served it with evaporated milk as you get at home. 

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the menu and my bill was in Chinese; so what do I mean when I say it was expensive? We went for brunch with 3 people and drank mostly tea and soft drink and the bill was over $200. I admit that I ordered a lot (not everything got photographed) but even still the same meal at home would have cost $90 and been of similar quality. When you compare to other dumplings in the Bay Area I can see why it gets such smashing reviews - good quality and authentic Asian cuisine can be very hit and miss. That being said I've enjoyed meals of $12 in tiny bakeries in Inner Richmond must as much.

The service is what you expect at a yum cha restaurant; fast paced, a little rushed and a little pushy. You can see the occasional American diner who is confronted by this but a lifetime of eating in hole in the wall Chinese eateries and I expect nothing less. Yum cha is always best observed with someone who either speaks Chinese or recognises the food; otherwise you can get some interesting surprises. I am happy as larry though, they have all my favourite dishes and at excellent quality. 

Not an every week brunch, but definitely a good spot for visiting guests or celebration meals. 

Yank Sing

101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA ‎
Ph: (415) 781-1111

Upmarket yum cha 
Watch what you order and make your dollars count