Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Farewell Epicurean Enthusiast

So I've debated this before...closing down this blog that is...and I even once wrote a farewell blog. However, I had second thoughts and deleted it before anyone could (hopefully) read it.

But here I am again.

However, because I am such a foodie I know that food will leak over into the other blog. So if you've enjoyed me here please feel free to zip over to Curves and a Camera.

Farewell my fellow foodies.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling

This last weekend our (extended) family got together to celebrate not only Mother's Day (we have 6 moms in our PNW family) but also the 4 birthdays we have in the month of May. We got most of us together (about fourteen of us) for a family potluck dinner, gift exchange and dip in my condo's newly redone pool (nothing fancy but at least the pool is no longer crumbling under your feet).

We had crock pot lasagna, Hawaiian mac salad, fruit salad, chicken and rice baked mini burritos and more desserts than you could hope for (2 fruit pies, a lemon bar, chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce and a chocolate cake). - we asked each of the four birthday people what they wanted as their "special something".

My youngest sister (who turns 21 TODAY!) asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberry filling. What my baby sister wants she gets. So here's what I did for her.

A trick I learned (Martha? Paula?) is to butter and dust your
cake pans with cocoa powder (for a chocolate cake) this way
you don't have the outsides coated in white flour.

3 POUNDS of diced strawberries later

1/2 of one cake round, chocolate frosting to seal the edges and prevent
strawberries from spilling out the sides

Layer all the way up!!

Crumb frosting layer
ta-da!!! Strawberries on top and white pearls on the sides

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chocolate Heaven Cocoa Brownies

I was bored last weekend. It was cold and rainy and I just wanted to bake something. So I looked up a cocoa powder brownie recipe - something I  knew I had the ingredients for. I'm so glad I did because these turned out to be THE BEST  brownies EVER. 

They're super moist - even days later sitting out on the counter in a tupperware they retained their moistness.  

Very light and fluffy - you have to like your brownies "cake like" they are so airy. 

The trick is to really make your 4 eggs light and fluffy through beating

Add both sugars (1 cup each)
Mix the 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder, 2 tsps vanilla extract, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 tsp sea salt
Add the 1 cup melted butter and mix well. 
The batter will be light and almost mousse like
Butter and flour an 8 inch round or square pan (don't forget to dust out the extra flour)
And if you can resist eating all the batter raw put it in a 300 (preheated) oven for 40-45 minutes

When you take it out it will be fluffy like a cake or soufflé but once it starts
to cool the whole thing sinks and makes a crater. THIS IS OKAY!
It still comes out DE-LICIOUS!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffin

I can't really remember why we started hoarding canned really only comes out once a year and apparently we were craving "pumpkin" something earlier so this last Thanksgiving we ended up buying a can of pumpkin every time we went to the store. 

Now, we have five or six cans of canned pumpkin. Haha. Well, that's just fine because that means I'm able to make these:

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins. Mmm

1 1/2 Cups flour, 1 T baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda,
1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup dry oatmeal (quick oats or instant - I used maple/brown sugar instant)
1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped fine pecans
(In separate bowl) 1 large egg, 1/3 c vegetable oil, 3/4 cup milk and 1 cup canned pumpkin
Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix until moist

Spoon into paper lined muffin tins (1/2 way) and bake in
(preheated) 400 degree oven for 20 minutes (or until done)
So yummy. The oatmeal adds a nice density and the nuts contrast the plumped raisins.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paula Dean Disappoints Me

Now when I say Paula "disappointed" me...I don't mean "Paula" as a person. Rather more a magazine. Recently I tried a Chocolate Pecan Crumble from her Paula Dean's magazine (Quick & Easy Meals) and this is what happened:

Don't believe the cover. I don't think she'd be smiling if she made the mess I'm about to show you.

Flour, sugar, cocoa powder...all looks normal right?

But then it had me poor the "brownie" mix into melted butter (above) and NOT mix it in.

And then you pour "boiling" water over the cocoa powder "crumble"...WTF??

And in the end it looked greasy/oily and just gross. It tasted okay - especially with vanilla ice cream

In the end it looked just awful....and I HIGHLY doubt that anyone in the Paula Dean kitchen test ran this before putting it in the magazine.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Searching for Onion Marmalade

So I have this giant bag of sweet vidalia onions sitting at home and while I'm planning on making French Onion Soup this week that won't use them all up. 

My mother had the idea of making Onion Marmalade - for having in salads, on sandwiches, with grilled chicken, etc. Trouble is I've never made an Onion Marmalade...or any kind of marmalade I have no idea where to begin. 

I've looked online and of course was overwhelmed by the thousands of recipes. But I want something someone I know has tried before, it doesn't even have to be someone I "KNOW" can be anyone but I want them to say "Try my recipe. It's the best because....."

So yes. If you are know of an Onion Marmalade recipe please pass it my way. 

Happy Eating.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipe: Chinese Honey Garlic Chicken

I was chatting with a friend recently about a Honey Garlic Chicken dish she'd had at a local Chinese restaurant long ago and hasn't been able to find another version since. I found this recipe online and thought I'd give it a try, give her my thoughts and then encourage her to try it herself.

I changed the recipe's the original but here's how I changed it:

1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1” chunks)
Oil (for deep frying)

2 Cups McCormick Beer Batter mix
1 Can of Beer (you can use water or juice or any liquid)

1 ½ tablespoons oil
2 teaspoon ginger (minced)
5 tablespoons garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons honey (I used 6 but it was too sweet)
3 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 3 teaspoon water)
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

Step 1: In a large bowl mix all batter ingredients together until smooth. Add the chicken to the batter tossing to coat.

Step 2: Heat a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Fry chicken bits in patches for 2 minutes or until batter becomes firm. Drain on paper towels.

Step 3: To make the sauce. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in your wok. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add salt, honey, vinegar, and water. Mix well. Combine 3 teaspoon of water with 2 teaspoon of cornstarch. Add to the sauce and Simmer for 2 minutes.

Step 4: Coat chicken with the sauce and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve with white rice.

I fried up the chicken (make sure your oil is HOT otherwise the chicken just absorbs the oil and that's gross). I also didn't toss the entire batch of chicken in the sauce but let people drizzle however much they wanted on their own plates (keeps batter from getting soggy).

It turned out pretty good. A little sweet (added too much honey so I've reduced it on the above ingredients).

I'll probably change it up a little again next time but will be trying it again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Restaurant Review: La Buca

Last night was Date Night with mi madre!! A friend of her's from work was graduating from the Rose City School of Burlesque so we were going to show our support for him. We had time before the show so I went hunting for a restaurant in the area for us to try.

Usually when I'm looking for a restaurant within a very specific area (like only a few blocks off our driving route) I ZOOOOOOOOOOOM in on Google Maps, open links to any of the restaurants shown, and then Yelp them to see reviews. Well on Monday I came across La Buca.

Now, being third generation Italian and having been raised on my grandmother's marinara, it's hard to please me with an Italian restaurant....and even harder to please my mother! (Who isn't Italian but married into one for twenty years).

La Buca got 4 of 5 stars on Yelp and had a pretty good looking menu (and way not expensive btw). So we thought we'd give it a shot. Let me just say we are both so glad we did!

It's on the corner of a small block of other restaurants (and just down the street from the Bossanova Ballroom where the show was) and had a very casual inside. A mix of modern art and movie posters, small simple tables, the industrial warehouse look that many places have in Portland.The kitchen was open to the view of the diners, where a dread-locked young woman apparently ruled the kitchen alone.

We ordered our drinks (my mother's wine came in a juice glass) and decided we'd start with sharing an order of Pomodoro Bruschetta (for an extra .75 we added prosciutto) basically toasted bread with a large shmear of garlic, diced tomatoes, fresh basil all topped with melt in your mouth-paper thin slices of pork. I'd go back JUST for the prosciutto!!

My mother decided to order the pasta special for her entree - it was a ribbon pasta with a beef/lamb/pork bolognese sauce. I, of course, snagged a bite (or two) and it too was delicious. I love a fat noodle (as I like to say) and the meat sauce was just so tender. The waitress told us it was her favorite and she wishes it was a regular item on the menu.

I ordered the pesto basilico (pesto with pine nuts, basil and walnuts) with a linguine. It was okay. Probably my least favorite of the night but still really good. The pesto sauce was fresh and you could taste every individual ingredient. It was just a little heavy on the walnuts - which I'm not a huge fan of.

Both our pastas came with bread, butter and olive oil & vinegar. The balsamic vinegar was really nice - helped make up for the slightly stale dry bread.

With an hour until the performance and with our dinner being so could we not at least ask to look at the dessert menu. ;) We ended up sharing a tirimisu. Not the best either of us has had but definitely not our worst either.

In the end we both agree this is a place to come back to. There are a number of menu items I'd like to still give a try...and like I said earlier, they could just plot a plate of that prosciutto in front of me and I'd be a happy girl.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Italian Bread Salad

Last night we had an Italian Bread Salad - it's super easy and was super yummy. Being a Wednesday it was quick and easy tossed together dinner - next time though I'll add a bit more things (like red onions, artichoke hearts, etc). Here are the photos I took.

Sliced hard salami
Fresh cherry tomatoes (store bought)
Mozzarella (this wasn't the best it had no flavor) :(
Really whatever you want.
Then toast up some garlic bread and chop into "crouton" size bites
Toss it together with mixed greens and your favorite vinaigrette (we made our own)

Portland Seafood Company

The Gorgonzola Fries I've talked about....

All that was left afterwards...

The Seafood platter - fish, shrimp and clam strips
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