Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vacation Food

I spent this past weekend at Seaside (in Oregon) on a mini-vacation and I thought I'd share some photos of the yummy (and meh) food I had.

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First the meh.

Now we have a Pig'n Pancake in Portland but this was the ORIGINAL :)
My "poached" eggs were more like soft boiled.... how hard is it to poach an egg!?
Overall it was just "meh" and not that impressive - same as the one in Portland.
*               *               *

Now for the "not too shabby".

Camp 18 is out on Hwy 26 - it's a restaurant and logging memorial -
went once before and the food wasn't too bad. Mostly though you go for the fun atmosphere

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Now for the yummy.

We originally had plans to go to a Southern place - but it apparently closed (for good)
the previous weekend, so this was one of the restaurants recommended
to us by the woman at our hotel front lobby.
As soon as we saw "Fried Artichoke Hearts" on the menu I was hooked -
they were garlic covered and so yummy.
You almost didn't need the garlic lemon ailoi dipping sauce
I ordered a Huckleberry Mojito before my dinner - only part of the meal I regretted. It was a tad too sweet (too much Huckleberry syrup) and left me burping tasting Huckleberry all night.
Mom ordered the Cod fish and chips
I ordered the 1/2 order of Baby Back Ribs...and we swapped 1/2 way through the dinner
...just so we got a taste of everything, not because we weren't enjoying the food

At the end of our meal we thought we'd take a dessert back to our hotel room to share later that evening. We asked to see a dessert menu....a few minutes later our waitress comes out with a tray of desserts! No menu just a visual display. They all looked yummy but we went with a chocolate layered cake. Can't go wrong with chocolate can you?

The vacation was refreshing and fun and the food was yummy. What else could I ask for?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lemon Confit Shortbread

Next weekend I'll be making a Lemon Confit Shortbread for my mother's 57th birthday. I found the recipe last year in the NY Times.

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Recipe: Lemon Confit Shortbread Tart

Time: At least 2 hours

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 lemons, preferably thin-skinned and seedless
3/4 cup sugar.

1. For crust, combine flour, salt, butter and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix with your fingers until it forms flaky crumbs and lumps. Mix in egg, almond extract and lemon juice. Continue to mix until it clumps; at first it may seem very dry. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day ahead of baking.

2. For confit, slice off and discard ends of lemons. Slice 5 crosswise, peel and all, as thinly as possible. Remove any seeds and place in a bowl. Peel skin, including white pith, from remaining 3 lemons, then slice thinly crosswise, and add to bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Toss and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

3. Place lemon slices and their juice in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook down until lemons are candied and small amount of liquid in pan is sticky and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

4. To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Roll one ball until large enough to fit into a 9-inch round tart pan. Dough will be crumbly (more shortbread than pie crust); if it falls apart, press it back together. Spoon confit over crust, spreading evenly. Roll out second ball of dough and place on top, sealing edges but making sure no crust overlaps the rim (or tart will be difficult to remove later).

5. Bake until edges of tart are lightly golden, about 35 minutes, then sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Return to oven for about 10 more minutes; edges should be lightly golden and crust cooked through but not browned. Serve warm or cooled.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

*               *               *

I'm not a huge lemon-dessert person so I think I might make a side of coconut milk whipped cream for the side. 


One 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar or more to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla or more to taste (optional)

Large bowl
Hand beaters or a stand mixer

1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and leave it there until well-chilled; I left mine in overnight.
2. Open the can of coconut milk. There will be a firm, waxy layer on top.
3. Scoop out this firm layer coconut cream that has solidified at the top of the can.
4. Stop as soon as you reach the water at the bottom of the can; don't include anything but the solid cream. (You can use the water in smoothies, or just drink it straight.)
5. Place this cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl.
6. Turn your mixer or hand beaters to high speed, and whip the coconut cream for 3 to 5 minutes.
7. Whip until it becomes fluffy and light, with soft peaks. Mix in sugar or vanilla, if using.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shower Rama

There's a Thai restaurant we go to down from our house that serves a pretty good Thai Rama* (actually they call it Shower Rama)  - my mother normally orders it with chicken) and after the first time we tried it we realized how easy it would be to make at home.

At that's exactly what we had for dinner tonight (although I also cooked up some eggplant to have with mien).

Start with cooking the rice
Chop eggplant - leave on skin
Lightly salt dices
In hot oil - saute onions and garlic
Cook eggplant until soft and translucent. Add soy sauce and more garlic
Saute fresh spinach - sweat down
Cook chicken with a teaspoon for peanut butter sauce**

Happy Eating

*Rama - I don't really use measurements... and I couldn't find an actual recipe I thought was close enough to mine to "promote"

** One cup of creamy peanut butter, tablespoon of honey, dash or two of soy sauce - heat until thin and creamy... add water to make thinner if needed

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Blogger

Guess who was featured on Jess Barnes' blog Life...Live It!...........?

ME of course!!

Check it out here

She's also on twitter @Jess_Barnes

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 C white granulated sugar

Cream the above together on hight for 5 minutes until smooth.

Add 2 eggs (one at a time, mix well)
Add 2 tsp vanilla

Reduce speed and add:

1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 2/3 C flour

Mix well and add one bag Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips

For chewy cookies - chill for at least 1 hour

Drop spoons of dough on greased cookie sheet. 
Pinch of Sea Salt on top of each cookie dough ball. 

Bake at 350* for 18 minutes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Guru

W/ Bacon Fat
There is just something satisfying about a homemade chocolate chip cookie. The entire process is comforting and warming (and not just because the oven is turned on). My family could (and would if I let them) just eat the dough without ever having it baked. 

Chewy pieces of cookie with a chocolate chip in every bite. 
Little pillows of yumminess!

Then I stumbled across Ross Sveback who has become my chocolate chip cookie guru.

First I find his recipe for chocolate chip cookies using rendered bacon fat as the shortening. 

W/ Sea Salt
Then I find he has a Salted Chocolate Chip cookie recipe....and if that isn't good enough I finally learn (thanks to Mr. Sveback) that the trick to a chewy cookie is to let the batter sit overnight before baking!

Now I have beautiful chewy-sea-salted-dark-chocolate-chip cookies in my kitchen just asking for a cold glass of milk. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wonton Magic

Sitting around the house today trying to figure out what to have for lunch.... shuffling things in the refrigerator I find left over BBQ pork, 1/2 container of wonton wrappers and Pumpkin butter. Hm? Fried BBQ pork wontons and for dessert fried pumpkin butter wontons. Yum Yum.

We bought this because it was too hot to make our own

I did NOT combine this with the pork - they were 2 separate wontons.

Just a teaspoon worth of filling

Folded and sealed with egg whites

All fried and golden delicious

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pass a bib please?

"Some foods you eat to stay alive, others you eat because not to would be a crime. Here are those foods worth traveling the world to gorge on."

I was sent to CNN to find the World's 50 Most Delicious Foods.... and I'm not talking just anyone's grandma's chicken soup. They have specific dishes from specific countries/regions. Some look/sound more scrumptious then I can wrap my head around. I haven't put the entire article below just the countdown and what I consider the highlights (one's I've tried I've made red, if I've eaten it in/from the country listed I've bolded it as well).

*               *               *

50. Buttered Popcorn: United States

49. Masala dosa: India ("A crispy, rice-batter crepe encases a spicy mix of mashed potato, which is then dipped in coconut chutney, pickles, tomato-and-lentil-based sauces and other condiments.")

48. Potato chips: United States

47. Seafood paella: Spain (Paella is a saffron-flavored Spanish dish made with varying combinations of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken, and seafood.)

46. Som tam: Thailand ("Variations include those made with crab (som tam boo) and fermented fish sauce (som tam plah lah), but none matches the flavor and simple beauty of the original.")

45. Chicken rice: Singapore (The national dish of Singapore)

44. Poutine: Canada ("French fries smothered in cheese curds and brown gravy...Our Canadian friends insist it’s best enjoyed at 3 a.m. after “several” beers.")

43. Tacos: Mexico

42. Buttered toast with Marmite: Britain (Marmite is dark brown-colored savory spread made from the yeast that is a by- product of the brewing industry.)

41. Stinky Tofu: Southeast Asia

40. Marzipan: Germany

39. Ketchup: United States

38. French Toast: Hong Kong (You got it. Not France. Not the USA. Hong Kong. "Unlike its more restrained Sunday brunch counterpart, Hong Kong-style French toast is like a deep-fried hug. Two pieces of toast are slathered with peanut butter or kaya jam, soaked in egg batter, fried in butter and served with still more butter and lots of syrup.")

37. Chicken Parm: Australia

36. Texas BBQ Pork: United States

35. Chili Crab: Singapore ("Spicy chili-tomato gravy tends to splatter, which is why you need to mop everything up with mini mantou buns.")
Fish and Chips

34. Maple Syrup: Canada

33. Fish'n'Chips: Britain

32. Ankimo: Japan (Monkfish liver)

31. Parma ham: Italy ("You see it folded around melon, wrapped around grissini, placed over pizza, heaped over salad.")

30. Goi cuon: Vietnam (Goi cuon is also called a Summer Roll "This snack made from pork, shrimp, herbs, rice vermicelli and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper is served at room temperature.")

29. Ohmi-gyu beef steak: Japan

28. Pho: Vietnam

27. Montreal style smoked meat: Canada (The meat is cured for 10 days)

26. Fajitas: Mexico

25. Butter garlic crab: India

24. Champ: Ireland (An Irish national dish of "mashed potato with spring onions, butter, salt and pepper, champ is the perfect side with any meat or fish.")

23. Lasagna: Italy

22. Brownie and Vanilla Ice Cream: Global

21. Croissant: France

20. Arepas: Venezuela

19. Nam tok moo: Thailand ("Grilled pork combined with lemon juice, green onions, chili, mint sprigs, fish sauce and toasted rice.")

18. Kebab: Iran

17. Lobster: Global

16. Egg Tart: Hong Kong ("Like many classic dishes, the Hong Kong egg tart marries two contrasting textures: crusty, flaky pastry and jiggly, trembling custard. It’s sweet, it’s delicious and it’s best eaten hot from the oven on the street while queuing up to get just one more.")

15. Kalua Pig: United States

14. Donuts: United States

13. Corn on the cob: Global

12. Shepherd's Pie: Britain

11. Rendang: Indonesia ("Beef is slowly simmered with coconut milk and a mixture of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, ginger and chilies, then left to stew for a few hours.")

10. Chicken muamba: Gabon ("chicken, hot chili, garlic, tomato, pepper, salt, okra and palm butter.")
Tom Yum soup

09. Ice cream: United States

08. Tom yum: Thailand

07. Penang assam laksa: Malaysia ("Poached, flaked mackerel, tamarind, chili, mint, lemongrass, onion, and pineapple.")

06. Hamburger: Germany

05. Peking duck: China

04. Sushi: Japan

03. Chocolate: Mexico

02. Neopolitan Pizza: Italy

01. Massaman curry: Thailand ("Emphatically the king of curries....Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savory, its combination of flavors has more personality than a Thai election.")

There's WHAT in this cookie?

So I'm putting this out there now. If you're a vegetarian, devote Muslim, Jew, or Seventh Day Adventist....or if you just don't like/eat swine this recipe is not for you. If you're not open minded or adventurous in your eating you might want to join the non-pig eaters. Go to the next entry. It'll be better.

Okay. Are we alone?
Now let's discuss BACON FAT.

In my house growing up, and even now as an adult, having a coffee cup of rendered bacon grease in the refrigerator. It's something my German great grandmother taught my grandmother, who taught my mother, who has taught me. 

For the longest time it grossed me out beyond belief! The cholesterol... the fat.... cooking with grease! Yuck! But the thing is we don't use it that often or in that much food. To help brown pork chops and the pork roasts. But the one area that we use it in - that often makes people gag unless you too had a German grandparent - we use it in Molasses Cookies!

It's an old German recipe (or so says my family) - using the bacon grease in place of butter or some other shortening. I've tried them without the bacon fat and it's just not the same. So today when The Stir had a chocolate chip recipe using bacon fat I was intrigued. It's too warm for baking but as soon as it cools down I'll be trying this recipe out.

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Bacon Fat
from Chef Ross Sveback


1/2 cup rendered bacon grease
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Sea salt for sprinkling on top (optional)


1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream bacon grease, butter, and brown sugar together, scraping bowl if necessary to combine.

2. Add eggs, vanilla bean paste or extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt -- mix on medium low to combine.

3. Add flour and stir to incorporate -- scraping bottom of bowl to ensure all the flour is mixed together.

4. Add chocolate chips and nuts, then stir again. Let dough rest for a half hour.

5. Scoop spoon-sized balls of dough onto baking sheets.

6. Bake for 16 minutes at 350, turning pans or rotating them bottom to top if necessary depending on your oven halfway through the baking time.

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack until you are ready to eat them.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In-N-Out or Five Guys? Where's Your Burger Loyalty?

Today the Los Angeles Times tweeted an article about how Five Guys and In-N-Out were beating out fast food places like Burger King and McDonalds (well "Duuuuuuh!" was my thought).

"McDonald’s and Burger King have tens of thousands of U.S. locations, but when it comes to consumers’ favorite quick-service restaurants, smaller companies like Five Guys, Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out leave their giant competitors cooked." (I went to a Chic-fil-A once and just wasn't impressed)

Again.... "Duh" was my first response (I think I need to work on my internal monologue vocab....)

There was another article...this time comparing Five Guys and In-N-Out.

"We chose this over In-N-Out," said Gueghlein, chowing down with family members at the Five Guys in Valencia that opened in January. She liked the fresh, flavorful burgers and hand-cut fries at Five Guys — as well as the novelty of trying something new. "It's the fourth time we've been here since they opened."

Now, I am a Southern California girl. There's no denying that. Doesn't matter where I move to or how long I'm there, I was born and raised on the San Diego beaches and eating In-N-Out. However, two years ago I moved out of California and away from In-N-Out.

I first went to Five Guys when visiting one of my BFFs in Seattle. OMG! It was so yummy. I loved that they were making fresh patties visible to the diners. I loved that their fries were thicker cut and had the skin still on them. I love that I can get a "Cheese Veggie Sandwich" (a burger with no meat for those of you who haven't been to a Five Guys) on days when I'm not feeling like meat. Mmmmm.

Then a few months back they opened a location about 15 minutes from my house. Yippee! I took my mother there as soon as they opened - she moved to California in the early 60s as a child and grew up on In-N-Out. First words out of her mouth after trying a Five Guys Burger "Oh my. This is better than In-N-Out. And I'm a California girl!" Haha.

"But to really make inroads here, Five Guys will have to get past a major hurdle: the intense loyalty of In-N-Out customers." (Well apparently not if their "loyal" customers are like my mother)

We agree the one downside of Five Guys is their buns. They don't hold up to the heft of the burger and toppings (but this is also a complaint with In-N-Out) - they need something with more umph.

Have you been to a Five-Guys? Have you been to an In-N-Out? Which do you prefer?

Cinnamon + Apples + Goat Cheese + Honey = OMFG!!

I get an email newsletter from The Stir and today they had this recipe. It's still a bit too warm to turn the oven on but you better believe the next evening it dips into the 50s or 60s I'll be coring apples and stuffing with honey goat cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...oh, sorry about the drool there.

Posted by Kim Conte
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/3 cup brandy
1/4 cup raisins
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 large apples
3/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Finely chopped toasted walnuts

1. In a small saucepan, heat at the brandy over medium heat. Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with the warm brandy. Let sit until plumped, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

2. In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese, honey, lemon peel, and 2 teaspoons of the reserved brandy until smooth. Add the raisins and mix until well blended. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 20 minutes.

3. Scoop out the stems, cores, and seeds from the apples, leaving the bottoms intact. Using a paring knife, peel the skin from the top inch of the apple. Stand in a baking dish.

4. Divide the goat cheese mixture into 4 equal portions and stuff into the apples.

5. In a bowl, whisk together the cider, sugar, cinnamon and the remaining reserved brandy. Pour over the apples. Bake uncovered until the apples are tender, 45 to 40 minutes, basting every 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the apples on plates and spoon the pan juices over them. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and serve immediately.

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