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Saving Starry Kitchen's balls

Starry Kitchen's famous crispy tofu balls.
Starry Kitchen's famous crispy tofu balls.
Courtesy of Starry Kitchen

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Crispy tofu balls that is. The restaurant business is a brutal one - especially in LA. Overhead is expensive, customers can be fickle, new eateries open all the time, only to fold in a matter of months. And Nguyen Tran, knows this all too well.  For the past five and a half years, he and his wife have operated a highly-rated restaurant called Starry Kitchen. But now they've reached a crucial moment where they've decided to go big... or go home.

They're tired of doing popups around Los Angeles and they want a permanent restaurant space to call their own. So, they're turning to Kickstarter and the community with the hope of raising $700k so that they can launch their own restaurant, and so that they can keep serving their famous crispy tofu balls.

Check out the website SaveOurBalls.Org for more information about how you can help Starry Kitchen survive.

You can also call the hotline at 518-417-Ball.

Nguyen sent over some holiday dessert recipes, which we've included below.

Pandan Chocolate Chip Cookie
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp of pandan extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in eggs and extracts.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Dough will be thick and sticky. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Drop 1 Tbsp balls of dough onto cookie sheet OR used a standard-sized cookie scoop. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  Do NOT cook them longer than 10 minutes.  

Remove and let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to cooling rack.

Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Apple Crumble
Makes about 9-10 of the 4 oz foil ramekins

1 ½ cup of packed pumpkin puree
2 ¾ tsp of gelatin powder
1 cup of cold water
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of whole milk
¾ cup of packed brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla extract

Add gelatin powder to ½ cup of cold water and let it bloom

Combine cream, milk, ½ cup of water, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract & pumpkin puree and heat up. Once it gets to 125 F, add the bloomed gelatin.

Oil ramekins and pour liquid in and keep in fridge to set for 4 hours or overnight.

Apple Crumble

1 ½ cup of AP Flour
¾ cup of white sugar
¾ cup of brown sugar, packed
½ tsp salt
½ cold unsalted diced butter
5# of green apples
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp of the freshly squeeze orange juice
2 tbsp of the freshly squeeze lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven 350 F

Peel, core & cut apples into cubes.

Combine applies with zest, juices, sugar & spices and pour into a sheet tray line with parchment paper and oil spray.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, & cold butter in a bowl of an electric mixer with fitted paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until mixture is crumbly & butter is size of peas.  Scatter evenly over the apples.

Bake 45-1 hour until top is brown & apples are bubbly.