Monthly Archives: January 2011

Lemon Curd Muffin Bars

Tomorrow is my first day back to work ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and it is also my boss’ birthday. So to “celebrate” both of these things, I made a yummy breakfast treat to take in. Not wanting to take in the usual cupcakes or loaf of banana bread, I searched for something new and found THIS blog. I’ve been wanting to do something with lemon curd for a while, so when I foundย  Marie’s recipe for lemon curd muffins, I was very excited. You can find the recipe here. I made the first batch as muffins and they were definitely delicious so I whipped up a double batch and made the rest as bars.

My only substitutions were safflower oil for sunflower oil and raw sugar. They turned out wonderfully and I will definitely make these again. Co-workers, I hope you have room in your bellies tomorrow morning.


Taco Friday, yes please!

Yesterday we celebrated our friend Whitney. She got an awesome new job that she had been wanting… what’s more exciting than that? I mean, if you have to work… and since she does, we decided to throw her a taco party! Or rather Brad and I made tacos, both fried and grilled. We had a nice little spread including friend calamari and hush puppies. Unfortunately you don’t get pictures when we grill outside in the winter because it’s too dark. We did enjoy candlelit tacos and s’mores by the fire along with some yummy coffee bean coffee. Luckily Lance & Whitney are great company and we really enjoyed spending the evening with them.

Crispy Fried-Fish Tacos

Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonasie

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Fish “Batter”:

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 pound white fish – Tilapia, Black Cod or Halibut

2 large eggs, beaten

3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

12 corn tortillas, warmed

shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions, cilantro

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

Combine the dry ingredients in a plastic bag and coat the fish. After thoroughly coated, dip the fish in the eggs and then cover in panko crumbs, fry.

 

In addition to the fried fish tacos (halibut) and fried calamari, brad grilled some of the black cod on cedar planks. We also enjoyed guacamole and chips with fresh tomato salsa and mango salsa from Whole Foods. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the hush puppies, here is the recipe:

1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix

1/2 cup self-rising flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk or beer

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the center of mixture.

Combine egg and next four ingredients, stirring well; add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened,

Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into hot oil and fry in batches, 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

 

Now I’m hungry again.


L.O.V.E.

If I ever move out of California, it’s now ok because I am the newest owner of one of these:

Coffee Bean’s Kaldi machine (find more info here) – YEAH! Exciting, I know. I’m sure that the only person in the world that will truly understand this is my bestie Kristi. No one enjoys CB as much as we do. And unfortunately for her, she lives in Virginia and doesn’t get to experience this love on a daily basis like I do… it’s very disturbing when I stray my home-state of California and a CBTL is nowhere to be found. Now, if I ever venture away, I will have my caffeine love with me, tucked away safely on the counter. Oh, and yes, I really did ignore my poor puppy for 30 minutes while I set up my new “coffee station”. And I must say, I’m quite pleased. Luckily Bella forgave me and is sleeping soundly next to me while I type.

 

So, although this isn’t food related, I’m hoping to enjoy my “homemade” English Breakfast Tea Lattes in the morning, with a homemade biscotti (coming soon).


I am not the Muffin Man

naturally

Muffins are delicious. In fact, I would go as far as saying that are as good as cupcakes. They may not be as light, but sometimes a dense, naturally sweet morsel of goodness sans the icing is just what you need. And beats the heck out of eating a donut (although I still would like to make the “healthy” donut recipe I received a few months back).

After watching the sun rise with Bella, I was bored and she was napping, so I decided to make some muffins. Brad was still sleeping so I thought, what a great treat to wake up to in the morning (yes, I really am that nice!). I was really in the mood for a cranberry almond muffin, but after searching the cabinets, cranberries were not to be found. And a new puppy and sleeping boyfriend don’t make for an easy trip to the grocery store. So, as Bethenny Frankel would say, use what you have. (BTW, I was a fan of this before she started saying it ๐Ÿ™‚ Just sayin’)

Sooooo, we have, white chocolate chip and almond muffins. Mmmmm. I based my “base mix” from the 1 Mix, 100 Muffins book (you can buy it here or keep reading for the recipe):

Here is the basic mix – you can add anything you want to the mix. I find that fruits and nuts are the easiest. When you get into the savory muffins, which the book has, they call for things like sour cream or corn meal, which isn’t hard to add, but sometimes isn’t always on hand and personally, I can’t really improvise on ingredients like that. I don’t know the difference of adding milk vs buttermilk or sour cream or what have you.

2 Cups Flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 Cup sugar (or brown sugar)

2 Eggs

1 Cup milk

6 Tablespoons sunflower oil or melted, cooled butter

1 Teaspoon vanilla

So that’s the basic. The book is broken into sections of indulgent, savory, sweet, celebratory, etc. It’s actually a good buy for less than $10. So as I am typing the recipe, I realize I forgot to add the butter. Now this could solve one of my problems OR, it could have just saved on some calories. Either way, the muffins still worked. The one problem I did encounter was the paper cups sticking to the muffins – so not cool, but that could have been from the lack of butter or oil, not sure. But apart from that, I added white chocolate chips and slivered almonds to the mix. I also sprinkled with raw sugar and a few more almonds before popping them in the oven.

400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Consume while warm and with coffee, is preferred ๐Ÿ™‚


Heaven In A Biscuit

This is why I bake. Seriously.

When something turns out so wonderfully delicious and perfect, it makes me so happy. And then I know that I want to keep trying new things and pushing my limits.*By the way, if you read my Denver posts, you may notice a similar resemblance to the Pao de Queijo served at Fogo de Chao – they are very, very similar. I would say that the main difference is the type of cheese used, which, you could actually use any kind you want. Not that these were bad, but I’m looking forward to asiago and fontina… MMMMMMM

Today I received an email from DailyCandy like I do every other day but this time, I actually made it. This caught my attention and turned out so well, I might have to go back and look at the older ones I have saved for later. It all started like this:

Nicole has been craving meat, mainly ribs, but brisket as well. This craving has been going on for well over a week now, and so we decided to do something about it (I’m waiting for as I type this). After work, she is bringing over ribs and we are going to BBQ, sit by the firepit and admire our lovely puppy Bella ๐Ÿ™‚ Ahhhh, the sweet life! I have been preparing for this BBQ all day preparing Gram’s Potato Salad (the only one I will eat), a yummy green salad with raspberries and almonds and Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s French-Style Cheese Puffs (from the blog). At first I was really excited about the potato salad, but then I tried the “biscuits” and for the first time in my life, the potato salad isn’t my first priority (I’M SORRY GRAM – but seriously, make these). I will be enjoying all of it, however, including the ribs and s’mores that Stacy is bringing.

Gram’s Potato Salad (she actually uses onions but since I despise raw onions, she made it without once, since then, I’ve been hooked!)

Potatoes: peel, cut and boil until soft; cool

Eggs: hard boil (see my perfect HB recipe here), cool, peel and cut

Mix the eggs and potatoes together; add mayo, mustard, salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate. Eat, and repeat (the eating part). As with most foods that I really, REALLY like, it is so simple but the taste is delicious – quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, mashed potatoes, tomato soup (these are my favorite foods) … they are easy, but they work and there are so many “twists” you can add to them.

Ok, on to the French-Style Cheese Puffs (by the way friends, I will be making these for Angie’s Superbowl Party):


Breaking in Knives and Banana Bread

So I finally broke in my yellow Kuhn Rikon knife. How? You may ask? By slicing the crap out of my thumb. A good knife is never fully broken in until you have lost a finger – or part of one, in my case. My left thumb is no longer rounded at the top but instead is lacking a good chunk of the “roundy” part. It will grow back (I hope). Oh, and in case you are wondering how this came to be, I was cutting a sandwich in half. Yep! That’s it. It wasn’t when I was slicing onions, tomatoes, cheese or avocados or actually anything cool. I was merely cutting my sandwich half when I nearly lost half of my thumb. It is currently bandaged and I’m wincing in pain as I type ๐Ÿ™‚ kidding

Ok, I made the second recipe from my BabyCakes cookbook (first was red velvet cupcakes but I haven’t posted it yet). If you like moist, yummy banana bread that happens to be wheat-free, gluten-free and sugar-free, you should definitely try this. If I wouldn’t have told you all of that and just had you taste it, I bet you would have liked it. I feel like making it every day, because yes, our loaf was gone in a day and a half.

Ingredients – HINT, you probably have to go to the store – and I’m talking Whole Foods, Central Market, Lazy Acres kind of store

2 cups baking flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free)

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup coconut oil (plus more for the pan)

2/3 cup agave nectar

2/3 cup rice milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

 

DIRECTIONS – the short version

Oven 325

Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil

Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl and add each of the wet ingredients, one at a time, stirring between. Gently fold in the mashed bananas.

This batter will make 2 loaves but I don’t suggest halving the recipe. If you don’t need two loaves, you can store the second bit of batter in the fridge for a day or two, otherwise, make two loaves and freeze the other. Erin’a directions for cooking are to rotate the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes and cook an additional 35 after. I actually had to cook for another 10 (but my oven has been kind of screwy lately, so … just keep an eye on it, is my suggestion). Let it rest in the pan for 20 minutes after cooking and then enjoy!

SUGGESTION:

Because a certain someone in our household (hint: it’s not Bella) has a GIGANTIC sweet tooth, I drizzled the second loaf with agave nectar on the top before baking. I really think this added to the flavor and gave it a darker, richer color too, which I thought was nice. If you like sweet things, you may want to try that. I enjoyed it both with and without butter but warm from the oven was the best way.


Trifecta Complete – Denver, Day 3

I have a new hero. Her name is Chef Jen Jasinski and she owns and operates three restaurants in Denver, Colorado – all of which, we happened to gorge ourselves. Well, one, we just tried. After our first night at Rioja, it was no coincidence we ate at the other two restaurants. We headed back to Larimer Square to check out a doggyย  boutique… Bella is so spoiled, but we missed her so much, it seemed easy to drop the kind of cash that we did. Besides, in retrospect, she only cost about a dinner and lunch ๐Ÿ™‚ Her three new collars:

Brad picked the camo and fishing – which can only be used in a hunting or fishing setting. I picked the bella bean cupcake collar and matching leash – I wish it was pink, but alas, bella and cupcakes will have to suffice. It’s a little too big now, but after seeing her today after four days, she will definitely grow into it quickly!

 

Ok, back to Chef Jen. We went to Euclid Hall for lunch. Located just around the corner from Larmier Square, Euclid Hall was probably my favorite. It’s like bar food gone wild – but amazingly wild and good and fantastic – all in one! We started off with the bone marrow.

Let me start with this – mouth-watering, amazing, probably the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Hands down, great. Honestly. If you haven’t tried this, I suggest we evaluate our friendship. Although I don’t know how to prepare this myself, the waiter explained that it’s soaked in milk before it’s prepared. He could have said it was pulled out of the gutter and if it still tasted the way it did, I would have been licking the ground begging for more. For those of you who had it, you know what I’m talking about.

For the main course, I had the Roasted Duck Poutine – duck gravy, black pepper and Wisconsin cheddar curds over hand-cut French fries. If you don’t know what “poutine” is, google it and then try it.

Brad had: Euclidean Cheeseteak – cheddar gougere, house-made cheese sauce, sliced Prime tri-tip steak and pickled peppers and onions. He also ordered a side of House-made Kenebec fries with a bacon aioli.

Unfortunately I am back in Santa Barbara as I write this, and I kid you not, my mouth is watering. I’m sad because I know I cannot get anything like this here. However, probably for the better since I don’t even know how much weight I’ve gained yet. I did, however, bring back Chef Jen’s cookbook Perfect Bites, so I will be updating all of you when I try out my first. thing… I’m thinking it’s going to be the Cardamom Pork Belly!!! Mmmmmmmm.

Ok, dinner. We went to Bistro Vendome, also on Larimer Square and directly across the street from Rioja. I also read somewhere that it was rated “best patio dining”. Considering the tables were covered in snow, I’ll take their word for it. Word on the (Denver) street (from EVERYONE we talked to) is that it’s usually sunny and the snow doesn’t last for longer than a day. We were assured that we came at a unusual time. Unusual or not, it was clear that the patio would have been a nice option sans le snow. We did, however, enjoy a tasty meal inside.

For our starter, we ordered the special of the night: thymus gland (aka sweat bread) wrapped in bacon with white beans, crimini mushrooms and les haricots verts over a pear and port reduction. We made the mistake (?) of googling the thymus gland while eating… actually, it wasn’t that bad. We were very confused though, because when our server explained it, we were thinking more along the lines of actual bread… regardless, it was great! We were later surprised with OUR VERY FIRST AMUSE BOUCHE!! It was a warm chicken salad with asparagus and sweet potatoes and tossed in a vinagrette. Yummmmm.

Now for the main course… drum roll please.

Me: Truite en Croute de Pisaches: sauteed pisachio and spice crusted trout, new potatoes (AMAZING), asparagus, bacon, onions, red peppers, parsley oil

Brad: Elan Facon Bourguignonne: red wine elk stew, crimini mushrooms, haricot vert, onion, tomato, parsnips, fried sweet potatoes

There really aren’t enough good things that I can say about Chef Jen or any of her restaurants (Chef Matt Anderson was at Bistro Vendome). We had a wonderful time in Denver and as you can see, we ate really well. I’m sorry that I couldn’t update you in real-time and I didn’t provide a lot of pictures. I hope that in reading this, you are inspired to 1 – go to Denver because clearly they are being overlooked and 2 – try something new. Although you don’t have to go as far as have thymus gland or bone marrow, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to the kitchen for me…